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Used to Be a Sweet Kid

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What happened to you, Tai Lung?

"They were kids that I once knew, now they're all dead hearts to you..."
Stars, "Dead Hearts"


This applies when a villain or other dark and troubled/troubling character was not so as a child: the trope name also tends to appear as a Stock Phrase in these cases. Works, and audiences, may vary considerably as to what point they consider a character to be past the adolescent stage here, but post-adolescents in general need not apply.

Aversions will usually be notable here, given expectations that Children Are Innocent, or that there's at least some Ambiguous Innocence even when Kids Are Cruel, so people will tend to assume a Start of Darkness must have happened, and that there will be a Freudian Excuse that will explain (if not excuse) all. By extension, this trope frequently applies through subversion, inversion etc. where an Enfant Terrible, Creepy Child, or Ax-Crazy junior initially manages to get past everyone's radar but is actually a little horror from the start. ("And he seemed like such a nice kid"). Often, it is not clear which a character fits under, which in turn often leads to a Flame War, especially if the character is also a Draco in Leather Pants.


Generally, the trope tends to be reserved for villains near the Big Bad end of the villain spectrum, but can also be played for What Measure Is a Mook?. Also, while this is most commonly a villain trope, it can apply to characters who are not so much aligned with evil as troubled, bitter and twisted, cynical, jerky, despairing, lacking in emotions or insane. Or an Anti-Hero. Or just going through puberty. (In the latter case, expect the parents to invoke the trope name.)

When played straight, this trope tends towards Rousseau Was Right, though if other villains and darksiders in the same work do not fall under this trope, Rousseau may have only a partial victory, and the trope is sometimes used as the exception that proves the rule in Hobbes Was Right or Humans Are the Real Monsters scenarios. Also frequently used, straight or otherwise, to make more or less anvilicious points about free will, destiny, individual responsibility, or the moral version of Failure Is the Only Option.


Handled well, this trope can really add depth and complexity: handled badly, especially by combination with a poorly executed Freudian Excuse, it tends to cause Badass Decay and Villain Decay.

Often related to From Nobody to Nightmare, though the character may be of some prominence from an early age, or even from birth. This subset of the trope can be heart-breaking, as when a long-awaited Chosen One turns bad. Also often the precursor to Break the Cutie and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. In these cases, expect it to be Played for Drama with extra Tear Jerker moments. It's also often invoked to make the audience Cry for the Devil. If they weren't just a sweet kid, but a Kid Hero, they may be a dark version of Kid Hero All Grown Up.

Sometimes, the "used to be nice" stage may be revealed only retrospectively, often by a third party, and the villain himself/herself may treat the "sweet kid" stage as an Old Shame that undermines their Villain Cred. This last one may be Played for Laughs, as the villain furiously denies their Pet the Dog past, often complete with stomping on cutesy childhood toys and memorabilia. Or it may be Played for Drama in an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight with the good guys.

Compare to She's All Grown Up, in which the character may have been a sweet kid, but is now a very attractive woman. Compare Used to Be More Social in which the character used to be a social butterfly, but has become introverted and withdrawn. Contrast Reformed Bully, a character who was mean and/or smug while young, but is a much nicer person now, and Former Teen Rebel, a character who was rebellious and immoral while young, but is no longer like that.


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  • Accel World has Nomi, a.k.a Dusk Taker. In the last two episodes of the anime, it's revealed that his mentor, who introduced him to Brain Burst, used and abused him to the point of breaking. When he's defeated, and the Brain Burst (and his memories of it) erased, he reverts back to being a cute boy.
  • The first line in the Baccano! novel set in 1705 is from Huey Laforet's mother, talking about how innocent he was. A couple of hundred years since, he's become a Mad Scientist who sees all humans (including his own children) as "raw materials."
  • Surprisingly, Guts from Berserk was actually a sweet and innocent kid. The downfall started when he was three and his foster mother Shisu died of the plague, leaving him to be raised by his sadistic and hateful foster father Gambino. Even after being trained for war and serving on the front lines, he was still a pretty innocent kid, until the night after his first battle when Gambino sold him to another soldier for three silver coins, a soldier who liked little boys in the wrong way, resulting in a traumatic rape despite Guts' best efforts to fight the man off. The following day when Guts coldly murdered the man was the point of no return. When he was finally forced to kill Gambino in self-defense and was driven out of the camp by a mob intent on killing him, he became bitter, hateful and cut off from other people.
  • There was a time when Ichiko Sakura, the protagonist of Binbō-gami ga!, was an adorable, cuddly little kid. Then one of her "friends" just had to badmouth her in front of their mutual love interest, driving the little kid over the edge and giving said "friend" a beatdown. That little incident, combined with the lack of parental attention throughout most of her childhood (although it is ultimately revealed that her parents never intended to work away at the expense of spending time with her), unless her butler and surrogate father figure Kikunoshin Suwano counts, molded Ichiko into the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing she has become when the series first started. Fortunately, the genuine kindness in her has never been fully extinguished, and interactions with the few people willing to put up with her snobby, higher-than-thou attitude, such as Suwano, next-seat crush Keita, best friend Ranmaru, and even her Sitcom Archnemesis, misfortune goddess Momiji, helped improve her personality into a girl who's more than willing to put herself on the line for the people she genuinely cares for.
  • Black Butler:
    • Ciel Phantomhive. He's a cynical, callous, and very driven 12-year-old (or 13, depending on how far you are in the series), is a Chess Master and Wise Beyond His Years. He has no qualms about getting involved in dangerous missions and will command his badass butler Sebastian to kill someone without a second thought. He has also been shown slapping and insulting individuals for being too comfortable with touching or speaking to him. The only individual he appears to genuinely care for is his fiancee, Elizabeth Middleford, although he does seem to view her as a bit of a distraction and a nuisance, at times. In the anime, he appears downright cruel at times, although in the manga, he is simply just icy and elitist. It's eventually revealed that he was a happy, loving, carefree child before his tenth birthday. Then his parents were murdered, the mansion set on fire, and he was kidnapped by a fanatical cult. He was locked in a cage with other children his age, was implied to be raped, was force fed all his meals, and eventually was to be a child sacrifice until he accidentally called upon the demon Sebastian in his desperation to live.
    • Alois Trancy in the second season. He was shown to be cute and innocent as a child but then his foster family died in front of him, from unknown supernatural means, including his adoptive brother and only friend, and then he was horrifyingly raped and abused by his master, Lord Trancy, alongside other boys. A few years later he's shown to be creepily Ax-Crazy.
  • Yuno from Black Clover is a non-villainous example. His personality was much more sweet in his childhood than in the present. He used to cry a lot and was much more shy, and was always looking up to Asta instead of teasing him. The change was most likely due to the promise he made to himself of never crying again, after Asta protected him against a robber.
  • Black Lagoon:
    • Sofia Irininskaya Pavlovena, a.k.a. Balalaika, used to be a pretty, young and seemingly friendly girl who wore her hair in Girlish Pigtails and whose dream was to do her family proud in the Olympics as a sharpshooter. That is... until the Afghanistan War.
    • Revy had a horrible childhood where she was beaten up by corrupt cops for doing nothing wrong and then raped by one who threw her in jail. She then murdered her abusive father for not caring about what had happened to her. Her past turned her from an optimistic, religious child to a spiteful, gun-crazy, God-hating, gun-for-hire with an occasional tendency to go on psychotic rampages.
  • In Brave10, Little Anastasia is adorable. She turns out real cold when she becomes an adult, courtesy of the boatload of trauma that follows.
  • On a heroic example, Boruto. In The Last: Naruto the Movie he is a happy, friendly toddler who loves and respects his father Naruto. By the time he is an academy student he has become resentful of his father due to his job as hokage keeping him away from his family. He still loves Naruto but acts like a jerk towards him and calls him out often. Boruto also suffers from being quite a bit overconfident and cocky when it comes to being a Child Prodigy and due to his Heroic Lineage.
  • Code Geass:
    • Mao was a sweet, innocent little boy until C.C. gave him his Geass power. After she abandoned him in the hope of making him not rely on her it ultimately broke him completely and drove him insane, so he turned into a Psychopathic Manchild with no grip on reality who Mind Rapes the local All-Loving Hero and the Knight in Shining Armor and kidnaps the Ill Girl... To say that his opponent, the Ill Girl's Dark Messiah, was pissed off at him, is an understatement.
    • This is a prominent theme in Code Geass, while some characters like Rolo are proven to always have been killing machines since childhood (and often, like in Rolo's case, thanks to the brutal training and brainwashing coming from the Geass Cult), loads of characters started out like sweet kids even up to the Emperor but also including, C.C., Suzaku, possibly Cornelia and Clovis, Karen and Lelouch Lamperouge.
    • Suzaku is a bit of an odd case, since while he was mean to Lelouch and Nunnally at first, he was a good kid at heart who eventually befriended the siblings. After killing his father, and especially after Mao reading his mind and confronting him over what he did he was never the same again.
  • Simply one person: Doctor Jizabel. If you've read Count Cain, especially volume 7 and more especially the Misericorde chapters you know he's a perfect example.
  • Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop actually used to be a very sweet idealistic child from what could be told from the lost tape found from a time capsule. It is a very sad comparison to how they are as an adult.
  • A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy... At the very beginning of the series, he is sweet to the point of being ridiculous, but after he is physically and sexually abused by his stepfather for 6 months, he finally snaps and kills him via Vehicular Sabotage. Actually, it is Jeremy's sweetness that causes his Trauma Conga Line in the first place; he refuses to seek help because it would mean ruining his mother's happy marriage. Although more of a Conflict Ball with Fille Fatale problems than evil, he never really snapped back. Arguably, Jeremy still is a sweet kid- he just has some issues he needs to work through.
  • Deadman Wonderland:
    • Before the earthquake, Minatsuki Takami aka Hummingbird appeared to be a sweet adorable child. Then after her mother grabbed a pot of flowers and left her to die, her more sadistic tendencies began to arise.
    • Also applies to Genkaku of all people, when it revealed that he was once a kind forgiving buddhist priest who was constantly bullied and beaten and once fed an injured cat. It was until the earthquake that he lost his sanity.
  • Teru Mikami of Death Note was a really sweet kid who would always defend the weak and was a Bully Hunter. As he got older, the fact that most people seemed to tolerate bullying gave him an intense sense of Black-and-White Morality which was strengthened when some of his bullies ended up being killed in an accident. Once he got his hands on the titular Artifact of Doom, he ended up as the craziest person in a series filled with some fairly unstable people.
    • To a degree, also Misa Amane. Had her parents not been killed by a burglar when she was a little girl, she would've possibly grown into the same beautiful and popular Idol Singer she was in canon... but without the Ax-Crazy Yandereness.
    • Light Yagami. Nice, normal family, top of his class, popular with other students... and he's killed God knows how many people by the end of the second episode.
      • Light and Misa were distinctly never normal; they have emotional impairments of some kind. It's possible Misa developed her psychopathic tendencies somewhere between her parents' deaths and meeting Rem, given she's had actual trauma and a showbiz career to mess with her head, but Light is pretty...empty.
      • Or not—the fact that he dropped tennis because it was pointless and several other moments indicate that, even if he was always broken inside, it had been getting worse before he found the titular Artifact of Doom.
      • When Light temporarily forgets about the Death Note, he returns to being a nice, morally sound person. In other words, he was just a REALLY bad case of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Ken Ichijouji from Digimon Adventure 02. He got better.
    • This trope tends to recur throughout the manga adaptations of Digimon. Digimon V-Tamer 01 had Neo Saiba, and Digimon Next had Shou Kahara. They also got better at the end.
    • Kiriha Aonuma from Digimon Fusion is shown to be gentle as a child in his back story. His father critiques that Kiriha must learn to be stronger, which leads to him being a Jerkass. He gets better as well.
  • Lucy from Elfen Lied, who started out as a kind-hearted but shy little girl, but through enough torment, crippling loneliness, and a psychotic inner voice became an Ax-Crazy mass murderer bent on killing all humans.
  • Prince Emilio from Endride used to be pretty happy kid who earnestly admired his Parental Substitute King Delzaine, until he overheard that Delzaine had killed his real father, prompting a long, revenge-fueled emo phase that the other heroes struggled to pull him out of.
  • Tabitha aka Princess Charlotte of The Familiar of Zero. Before her mother went mad to save her from an assassination attempt from her Evil Uncle, Tabitha was a Cheerful Child. Now she's The Stoic and very quiet.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Laxus Dreyar was once a cheerful young boy who idolized Makarov, his grandfather and guildmaster of the title guild. Due to the influence of his father Ivan, and his growing resentment at his accomplishments being compared to Makarov's, he grows more and more bitter until he finally tries to take over the guild by force and remake it in his own image, the final part of his plan being to beat Makarov in combat. He never gets the chance to fight Makarov, his plan being thwarted by the guild as a whole and Natsu and Gajeel team up to defeat him. Later averted when he returns after being expelled from the guild, as a much kinder and less prideful person.
    • Mirajane Strauss is an inversion. She's very sweet and caring now, but in her younger days she was a Bratty Half-Pint who was always picking fights and constantly insulting Erza. The change was so jarring that Gildarts (who only visits the guild once every couple of years) didn't even recognize her at first and had to be told that it was her. The change was the result of Lisanna's (supposed) death. When visiting Edolas, Team Natsu finds that Mirajane's Edolas counterpart is exactly like her, rather than her opposite.
    • Zeref. A young, brilliant student at the Mildia Magic Academy, the death of his younger brother Natsu drove him to delve into forbidden magic in order to find out a way to revive him. Everything went downhill from there, and by the present day, he's an almost complete immortal who is desperate to die, after having been constantly rejected by humanity and watching his life's works be misused for evil. Eventually, it becomes too much and he seeks to wipe out the human race for their sins, and/or finally die when they figure out a way to kill him. Either way, he gets what he wants. When it becomes clear that nothing will ever kill him, he reveals that his threat was a case of Exact Words: He wants to use a Reset Button spell to relive his life from the beginning with all of his previous memories intact, which would allow him him to alter history so radically that the present world, and everyone in it, will be Ret-Gone.
    • Jellal Fernandez was the irrepressibly kind leader of a small band of kids enslaved in the Tower of Heaven, until Erza was taken away and tortured in another friend's place. When he tried to rescue her, he got caught and was tortured in her place...and when he couldn't take any more of that, another mage took control of his personality and life. For eight years. Jellal became a psychotic cult leader determined to resurrect Zeref, brainwashing most of his friends in turn and exiling Erza when she didn't go along with him. Team Natsu stops him, of course, but after his Unexplained Recovery and Laser-Guided Amnesia, he becomes his kind and noble old self again — only to be utterly horrified by his former actions. Jellal still hasn't forgiven himself, despite the confession of his brainwasher that none of it was his doing.
  • Fist of the North Star: There was a little boy who loved his adoptive father, a martial arts master. Then his father decided to take in some students and teach them his art. The boy felt left out, especially when his father refused to teach him. The boy pushed and begged until his father decided to teach him as well... and that little boy grew up to be Jagi. The story doesn't have a happy ending.
    • There was a tiny baby, abandoned by his parents and adopted by another martial arts master. Though trials were difficult, and the regiment strict, never once did the little boy feel that it was a burden, being driven by nothing more than his love for his adoptive father. Then came the time, when he became 15, to inherit his master's style after a final trial and become an adult. The little boy's name was Souther, and neither does this story have a happy ending. Well, almost had.
    • There also was a young boy, left orphaned with his younger brother, who knew that crying will not make things better, and instead aspired to become stronger along with his brother. As the two get adopted by a martial arts master, the two finally learn to become stronger and this young child aspires to greater glory in his quest for strength. This boy grew up to be Raoh, but his story does have a happier ending.
  • A shockingly tragic example happens with one of the main female characters of Food Wars!. She used to be a kind, optimistic girl who always encouraged everyone to do the best they can. But her father, who wanted to refine her culinary skills, put her in a Training from Hell which twisted her into a hollow, unfeeling prick who coldly kicks down those she deems as failures. When her family found out what happened, they disowned the father. But the damage was already done and it would take her roughly ten years to recover the kindness she once had. And who is the girl in question? None other than Erina Nakiri.
  • In Free!, the backstory shows Rin Matsuoka as a Cheerful Child. The death of his father and training overseas, however, changed him into a deeply wounded Jerkass. Lampshaded in-story, where Haruka chides him for not smiling like he used to.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Scar is an older example. In the flashbacks, he is shown to be once a good if very strict person who genuinely cares about his family and people. Having lost everything he held dear, he became a ruthless Serial Killer in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge we know today.
    • The 2003 anime version of Wrath is introduced as a young Wild Child before being revealed to be a homunculus. Envy feeds him red stones which makes him do a Face–Heel Turn into a full Enfante Terrible. In the end he's mellowed down but is solemn and depressed, especially after the death of his mother Izumi, who he had finally accepted as his mother.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, one side story focusing on Sousuke and Kalinin's backstory showed that Sousuke was this. During his childhood, when he was rescued by Kalinin and they spent time together, Kalinin was shown to love Sousuke and grow so attached to "that sweet and gentle boy" to the point where he really wanted to adopt him as his own. Then they got separated, and the next time they meet, they met as enemies, with Sousuke becoming the Nietzsche Wannabe Stoic that we know today.
  • Yuno Gasai from Future Diary wasn't always such a psycho girl. When Yukiteru and Minene go three years to the past it turns out that despite her abuse, she still was hopeful and idealistic.
    1st World Yuno: When did I become so twisted?
  • The titular character of Gabriel DropOut, was originally a sweet and idealistic young angel, who wanted to help as many people as she could. But a mere few minutes into the first episode, she has turned into an uncaring Jerkass Gamer Chick, who scoffs at her old values. Though she claims she was always like this deep down, she just couldn't express herself and had to delude her self into thinking she wasn't back in heaven. Whether or not that's true, is up in the air.
  • Gundam:
  • Clair Leonelli of Heat Guy J. He used to be a cute chibi with a very demure personality. After years of abuse from his dad, he eventually went insane, killed his father, and became Daisuke Aurora's puppy-kicking arch-nemesis. He does get a Heel–Face Turn, however.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Resident Psychopathic Manchild Russia, who was just adorable and sane (and oh-so-woobie) as a child. Then came this and this, and I don't think this did him any favors.
    • There's also his sister, resident Yandere Belarus. We see her in her, Russia's and Ukraine's backstory as a cute little girl who clings to her brother and pouts to her older sister. And then, we see her now, as a scary strange girl in a frilly Elegant Gothic Lolita dress...
    • America from England's perspective, who used to be a sweet boy and just adored England. Then, we all know what happened next.
    • England too, apparently. The youngest we've seen him was in the Passing Through The Year 1000 strip, when he happily agreed to let France pretend to have conquered him. From there he became a very unhappy child, then a "juvenile delinquent" who's hobby was piracy, and eventually settling into the Tsundere we know and love now.
  • The main character Jae Hyuk of the manwha Immortal Regis started out as a sweet Ordinary High-School Student devoted to caring for his Ill Boy little brother. Then both of them got dragged into another dimension full of swords and sorcery and monsters. Jae Hyuk is forced into the role of The Hero while his little brother eventually becomes the host of the Big Bad. Over the course of the series Jae Hyuk becomes more and more jaded and bitter about having his old life ripped away from him (being turned into an undead abomination didn't help either). In the sequel series Cavalier of the Abyss which takes place years later, Jae Hyuk has become the new king of the other world. The first thing we see him do is ruthlessly order The Purge of a village of suspected rebels — men, women, and children alike are all put to the sword. He also chops off the arm of a soldier who questioned his orders. He's not so sweet anymore.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Jotaro Kujo. First we see him in past as an little boy playing with mom and as an model student, and on the next page he's in a cell, terrorizing fellow prisoners and telling his mother to shut up.
      • Subverted later on in the manga when Alessi uses his stand to de-age Jotaro to about seven years, and Jotaro was still capable of pounding Alessi pretty seriously, and still had his not-accepting-any-nonsense mentality which, given the way Alessi's stand works (its victims don't remember anything from the years they lose), Jotaro must have had even then. Then again, it takes time for the memory loss to kick in, so who knows?
    • Diego Brando was shown to be a really nice kid in his childhood. That is until his mother died from being overworked by the unfair farm owner they were working for. That combined with the knowledge that his father had abandoned him drove him to become ruthlessly ambitious to prove that he's above people like his father by any means necessary.
      • Subverted with his original universe counterpart Dio Brando though, who despite having a similar abused childhood is noted by Speedwagon to be someone who's completely evil by nature.
  • Reinhard von Lohengramm invokes and subverts this from Legend of Galactic Heroes. Flashbacks show that as a child he was perfectly-content to live an ordinary life with his elder sister and best friend. And then said elder sister is forced to become a member of Emperor Frederick IV's harem leading Reinhard to grow obsessed with obtaining the power to save his sister and become Emperor himself to gain revenge against the Goldenbaum Dynasty and their supporters. He succeeds and actually institutes proto-constitutional reforms in the empire making it a better place to live for its people compared to the Free Planets Alliance, but in the course of doing so he makes Machiavellian decisions such as but not limited to: turning a blind eye to rebel nobles launching a strategic nuclear attack on a frontier planet and killing four million people, as well as executing rebel nobles and their male relatives aged 10 and above before exiling their remaining relatives to the frontier. However his reforms DO subvert the trope to an extent, as while he is certainly feared by his enemies, he is respected and even devoted by the majority of his subjects, and it's implied that his new dynasty would preside over a new golden age for Humanity.
  • Lampshaded in Lucky Star, when Konata and Kagami talk about how when criminals are arrested in real life and people who knew them are interviewed, they will always say things to the effect of, "he wasn't a bad kid." Kagami then says that if Konata ever gets caught, she'll tell the media that she had "always figured she'd do something like that".
  • Lychee Light Club: Tamiya at the very least, and he still is to an extent.
  • Alviss of MÄR.
  • Ilulu from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid was friends with human children when she was younger (which is unheard of for dragons, especially chaos dragons), but the death of her parents at the hands of humans and being taught to despise humans afterwards turned her into an Ax-Crazy monster. She gets better thanks to Kobayashi.
  • Roberto, The Dragon from Monster, is retrospectively revealed to have been a sweet kid (gave up his cup of hot chocolate to give it to a sick friend, liked to collect bugs but would always let them go because he couldn't bring himself to kill them). Then the Orphanage of Fear really got to him - and as for the later character he shows in the story proper, let's just say "wouldn't hurt a fly" is not the phrase that leaps to mind.
    • Averted with Johan Liebert, the series' Big Bad. Sure, he has suffered the Kinderkeim 511 cruel methods of raising, but he was evil before that. He had the evilness none of those children would have achieved.
    • Peter Capek is another example. Once an ordinary kid, now a Mind Rape-inflicting fiend.
      • Even played with with Peter Capek, as his semi-Forgotten Childhood Friend, who grew up to be a normal dentist, attempts to kill him for what he's become at one point. His friend is shot dead before he can get a shot off, and seeing his now-remembered friend's death effects Peter for the rest of his life (a few more days).
  • Enchu of Muhyo and Roji used to be quite nice and hard-working in comparison to Muhyo, and especially cared for his sick mother, hoping to become an Executor and support her. Losing his mother to her illness and his chance at getting the position resulted in him turning evil. After realizing the truth, that Teeki killed his mother in order to take advantage of his potential he reverts to his former personality, continuing his Magical Law studies even while incarcerated.
  • Michio Yuki from Osamu Tezuka's MW is a sweet-natured, rather shy kid till the age of nine when he gets, in short order, taken hostage, molested, and exposed to potentially lethal neurotoxins that fuck up his mind terribly. After that, he goes "a bit" off the rails.
  • There's a downplayed example with Katsuki Bakugo in My Hero Academia. Even as a child he was prideful and rough around the edges, but he was an honest friend to Midoriya and was willing to stand up to bullies. Then his Quirk came in, and all the praise he received for it started going to his head, which gave him a brittle ego and amplified his Hair-Trigger Temper.
    • In a straighter example, this turns out to be the case with Tomura Shigaraki. As a child, he was kind and helpful to those around him, and even aspired to be a hero, not unlike Midoriya and the rest of his U.A. classmates. However, he spent years living under the thumb of his abusive father, and began to resent the rest of his family as well, who were too afraid to stop the abuse. Eventually, after a beating from his father, he undergoes a Traumatic Superpower Awakening where he accidentally kills most of his family with his Quirk, before intentionally murdering his father. It's after all this that he was found by All For One and groomed to be a villain.
    • There's also Shoto Todoroki. As a child, he was a sweet little boy who dearly loved his mother and looked up to All Might as a hero he wanted to become. But unfortunately, his father, Endeavor and his Training from Hell, as well as pushing his mother to her breaking point, caused his personality to radically change. For the next ten years or so, he becomes a cold and resentful person, openly defying his father in any way he possibly can. Thankfully, he gets better during the Sports Festival, and is slowly regaining parts of his old personality.
  • Osamu Tezuka loved this trope. Most incarnations of Rock have a similar story. Perhaps the most heartbreaking example is Adolf Kaufman, one of the three title characters of Adolf. As a child he befriends a young jewish boy and resists his Nazi father's hateful ways, but he's soon shipped off to a Nazi training school and it all goes downhill from there...
  • Miharu Rokujou from Nabari no Ou.
  • Naruto has done this repeatedly with major characters:
    • Gaara, despite his great power, just wanted to have friends. However, after one horror too many, he snapped and became an Ax-Crazy Dark Magical Boy with Omnicidal Maniac tendencies. He got better after the main character beat some sense back into him again.
    • Sasuke used to be a genuinely likable, out-going child. Then his brother Itachi broke his mind repeatedly and other shit happened to the poing of becoming at some point The Dragon of the Big Bad. Sasuke went through this twice. Even after the Mind Rape and trauma he was an asocial, aloof boy but not too off. It's during the Chunin Exams, especially just after them, where he began going off the handles. Fortunately, he gets better in Part 2 thanks to Itachi and the Four Hokages, then tried to make a revolution with him as the center, and finally Naruto cements his conversion.
    • Neji at age four was very kind and innocent, and when he first met his cousin Hinata even called her cute. But then, he learned the true meaning of the Caged Bird Seal when his uncle used it to torture his father. To top it off, his father later sacrificed himself to prevent a war between Konoha and Kumogakure, and Neji grew to resent the main Hyuuga family, growing into an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who loved to put his opponents down with speeches about how Hard Work Hardly Works and You Can't Fight Fate.
    • As a child, Nagato looked like he could be a Messianic Archetype. Then... things hit the fan, he renamed himself "Pain" and decided it was better to be a Dark Messiah.
    • Orochimaru was one of the Legendary Sannin, and he showed great promise as the next Hokage. He was a kind and helpful orphan, but then he got the idea that he could either bring his dead parents back or extend his own lifespan enough to meet them again when they got reincarnated, if he got more powerful. And he started doing questionable experiments, and became a monster.
    • Itachi himself was an adorable boy who genuinely loved his brother and his village. After shit hits the fan, he seems like the biggest Jerkass in history, until we find out why he is how he is. He had watched countless people die in a bloody world war, and it gets worse after that.note 
    • Sasori. His parents died when he was very young and his grandmother kept lying to him that they were away on a mission. He grew so alone from the lack of love from his mother and father that—when Chiyo taught him the art of puppets—his first two creations were that of his Mom and Dad. But they could never replace the kindness, love, and affection that human parents could provide, which lead to the development of his twisted views on immortality, the sanctity of life, and how it was so fleeting and needed to be preserved... Cold, emotionless, stoic, and impatient with wasting time. Gee, thanks Sand Village!
    • The Kyuubi, erm, Kurama of all people... the other Bijuu too. We see them all as young beasts with the Sage of Six Paths shortly before his death, and Kurama is tearing up at the imminent loss of the man. It turns out that countless years of being treated as monsters led them to become what they are, but they've now found a human they can believe in: Naruto.
    • Konan. She used to be a sweet little girl, then things happened.
    • And as of chapter 582, if his flashback is to be believed, Kabuto.
    • And now it seems that the Big Bad is this trope as well. Chapter 599 is a montage of Obito Uchiha as a kid, leading up to his Heroic Sacrifice and supposed death. It then cuts to the present where Tobi's mask has shattered to reveal himself as Obito.
    • Even the real Madara Uchiha qualifies. Flashbacks reveal that he was a genuinely nice and dorky child who was so sensitive to his surroudnings, he claimed he couldn't pee if someone was watching them. He also would apologize frantically if he thought he hurt someone's feelings (like when he met Hashirama) and wanted to end the disasterous clan wars to protect his baby brother.
    • Pretty much any villain in this series whose childhood we get to see ends up being this, it's one of the themes of the series - people aren't born evil, the ninja system makes them that way.
    • Furthermore, every single of these former sweet kid have direct parallels with Naruto - in short, they are essentially what will happen if Naruto snapped.
  • Adam Blade from NEEDLESS, who is, to put it mildly, a violent Comedic Lolicon Anti-Hero. Even his foster-father wonders just what had gone wrong in the process. This is actually a plot point that is currently on-going in the manga.
  • Shinji and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and practically the entire cast. Rei in particular seemed to be downright cheerful until her first clone met its demise.
  • In NTR: Netsuzou Trap, Hotaru is the kind of girl who'd feel up her best friend Yuma and even have make-out sessions with her as "practice" for Yuma to do similar things with her boyfriend Takeda, even though Hotaru has a boyfriend herself. Yuma, who's known Hotaru since they were young, recalls that Hotaru was once a Shrinking Violet who often got bullied, forcing Yuma to save her. The change didn't happen overnight, but it's still drastic enough that Yuma makes note of how different teenage Hotaru is from her child self.
  • One Piece has Big Mom's Mommy's Little Villainess, Charlotte Pudding. The flashback from chapter 862 shows that save for her Third Eye, Pudding used to be a normal little girl. Then, all the verbal and physical abuse coming from Big Mom, her older siblings and other kids piled up... and she snapped. Now she's one hell of a Jerkass and a willing accomplice in Big Mom's schemes.
    • Even more so, Big Mom herself. 866 and 867 are dedicated to her early years, showing her as a genuinely sweet gigantic child who already was a Person of Mass Destruction at age five, and had no control of either her Super Strength and voracious appetite. Around 60 years later, she's a far more ruthless, batshit insane Queen.
    • This is also invoked in regards to Boa "Pirate Queen" Hancock. A flashback shows her as a cute, even rather sweet cabin girl from a Kuja ship.... Then she and her sisters were kidnapped, branded, force-fed Devil Fruits, and totally traumatized - which is the big reason she's such an aloof, bitchy, cold Lady of War in the present.
  • Raven/Gilbert Nightray of PandoraHearts was absolutely adorable as a child. Following his Break the Cutie event he became a brooding, serious man with major issues. He can still act sweet without meaning to sometimes, though.
    • Oz could count as this, too. Even when you consider the fact that he used to be this innocent little stuffed rabbit who was turned into a Chain of destruction against his will.
  • Tetsunosuke and Suzu of Peacemaker Kurogane.
  • A Pokémon manga called How I Became a Pokémon Card has a chapter on a boy. He's a sweet boy who takes in an injured Persian who ran away from a group that keeps "precious" Pokemon to stare at all day. Who's this boy? The infamous Yakuza boss, Giovanni.
  • Pokémon:
  • Pokémon Origins suggests this with Giovanni. During Red's gym battle with him, Giovanni realizes how Red's attitude and respect for his Pokemon not only reminded him of his own days as a fresh-faced Trainer before becoming the leader of Team Rocket, but also how it reignited his passion for battling Pokemon for reasons other than business.
  • Project ARMS: Most of the Egrigori experimental children were like this, before whatever processes they were put through were completed. The Keiths mostly became bloodthirsty psychopaths who had no problem killing anyone they had to and Alice developed a dark side to her previously sweet personality after being shot and taken over by an AI. The fact that the kids were treated terribly and given almost no positive human contact could explain a lot (Keith Green genuinely grew to love Katsumi because she was the first person who was nice to him.)
  • Though not exactly sweet, Fushimi of Project K was far more mellow and... well, sane during his middle school years. It wasn't until after joining HOMRA and slowing becoming a Green-Eyed Monster that he made the leap from lonely introverted kid who clung to his best friend into a full on Jerkass Stalker with a Crush. Love Makes You Crazy indeed.
  • Psychic Squad: Kyousuke Hyoubu is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who uses terrorist methods and has a Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers! attitude, but as a child he used to be a kind-hearted and polite Wide-Eyed Idealist who actually wanted to use his powers to help ordinary people.
  • Psyren Big Bad Amagi Miroku 'Grigori #06' is an extremely homicidal Magnificent Bastard who decided to Kill All Humans except those with Psychic Powers who are willing to help with the plan, after spending most of his childhood and adolescence as a government test subject. However, several years into being a test subject, while his twin #07 was nonresponsive and #05 had already defaulted to hate, #06 was still the sweetest kid. The fact that he held onto the hope of living as a human being the longest seems to have enhanced the virulence of his hatred once he gave up.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • While the primary cast is made of kids by most definition, Sakura Kyouko used to be a sweet, good Japanese Christian girl who only wanted to help her father in spreading the word of his God. Unfortunately, when Minister Sakura figured out that Kyouko used magic to bring people to his church, he snapped, killed his family, and then committed suicide. Only Kyouko survived. No wonder she's such a misanthropic Jerkass.
    • Homura used to be clumsy and sweet, but fighting the scheme of an Eldritch Abomination in a "Groundhog Day" Loop and repeatedly losing her beloved Madoka warped her into a cold, lonely Anti-Hero that, in The Rebellion Story, would end up as a goddess of evil.
    • There are the Witches. Although we don't get backstories for all of them, the few who are explained universally fit this trope. Charlotte, the Witch who decapitates Mami, used to be a bubbly child named Nagisa who was obsessed with cheese. Octavia von Seckendorf used to be Sayaka, easily the most idealistic of the protagonists. And in the timelines where she becomes a Witch, Madoka becomes Kriemhild Gretchen, a monster that Cthulhu would check for under his crypt before going to sleep.
  • Lucia, from Rave Master. He goes from being a sweet little 6 year old who hides behind his mom when he sees a stranger to being a psycho-killer at the age of 16. He's somewhat forgiven for that because he spent the ten year gap between those two points locked in prison for no good reason after having to watch his mother get shot down.
  • Believe it or not, Queen Nakia from Red River (1995) fits in perfectly. The homesick and scared teenage girl who was forced to marry an much older man as a part of an alliance between the Hitites and the Babylonian in the backstory... well, she grew into a massive Manipulative Bitch and Hot Witch, who is also the Big Bad of the story.
  • Nanami of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Also, in episode 9 there is a back-story to Saionji's childhood depicting the origins of Saionji's current controlling, depressed Jerkass personality; when he was younger, he was more easygoing and kinder.
    • And there's an even bigger case in the general backstory. Oh, Prince Dios alias Akio Ohtori, how low you have fallen. From a literal Knight in Shining Armor to the Big Bad? Woooooow.
    • Nanami's brother Touga plays with the trope. On one hand, Nanami's childhood memories of him paint him as a much kinder big brother than he is in the series' present. On the other, the flashback he shares with Saionji portrays his pre-teen self as something much closer to a Creepy Child; he casually plays with little Utena's hair, has virtually no reaction to her situation (contrasting with kid!Saionji), and already shows signs of becoming the Manipulative Bastard he is as a teenager. Later, it's strongly suggested that even his past kind behaviour towards Nanami was an act, as he claims that he never really loved her and only pretended to care because his father wanted him to. Finally, Word of Enokido is that Touga really was a sweet kid a very long time ago, but changed drastically soon after he and Nanami were sent to the Kiryuus.
  • In Sailor Moon, Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn) is shown as a cheerful child with adoring parents—until the accident that kills her mother, wounds Hotaru fatally, makes her father either "rebuild" her and puts himself willingly under the orders of the Big Bad (manga) or sign a desperate Deal with the Devil to save her life (anime), and sets the catalyst for the S season going. Even though Hotaru remains kind and sweet, she becomes withdrawn and is considered creepy by nearly everyone save for Chibi-Usa and the Inner girls because of her illness, healing powers, and dark aura. When she's reborn and raised by her father (anime) or the Outers (late anime and manga), she's a cheerful sprite again except for when her older, wiser personality slips through.
  • Sakurako aka Youya from Sakura Gari was a sweet and adorable child, right until she witnessed the death of her mother under some very screwed up circumstances which turn out to be even more screwed up than they appear. She then became a seriously Creepy Child, eventually revealed to be a total Yandere.
  • Sakuya Ookuchi from Sensual Phrase once was a kind boy who lived alone with his Broken Bird mother. We meet him, however, as a massively screwed-up Bastard Boyfriend.
  • Chouji Suitengu, back then known as Ueno Takeshi from Speed Grapher was a pretty sweet kid, who loved playing games with his little sister. Then his parents were murdered for not being able to pay their debt to the Roppongi Club. Suitengu was sold off as a child soldier, almost killed during his final mission, and then turned into a Frankenstein stitch job. Nowadays, he's a textbook example of Four Eyes, Zero Soul.
  • Barnaby Brooks, Jr. from Tiger & Bunny was a joyous, trusting child constantly showered with love and care courtesy of his very affectionate parents. But they were murdered right in front of his eyes when he was just four years old, resulting in Barnaby becoming cold, cynical, consumed by the desire for revenge and reluctant to trust anyone; up to the point where he has avoided close relationships with other people for 20 years. Subverted towards endgame in that he regains traces of his original personality upon befriending the show's Idiot Hero, Kotetsu.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, this seems to be the standard.
    • The Kirishima siblings are revealed in flashbacks to have started out as cheerful, happy children. In contrast to Touka, Ayato was leery of humans from an early age while she readily embraced them. The loss of their parents, and betrayal by an elderly neighbor drove the siblings onto the streets where they would be forced to grow up fighting for their lives. Both became bitter and violent, though Yoshimura's intervention allowed Touka to slowly begin rebuilding her life by the time she's introduced. Ayato refused this help and instead run away, ending up as one of the commanders of the organization, Aogiri.
    • Similarly, Nishiki Nishio started out unhappy about having to eat humans and eager to live a normal life. Then a human betrayed his sister, and got her killed. He decided he would never trust anyone again, and became a territorial jerk that tried his best to keep his emotional distance. Not that it worked in the long run....
    • As a child, Kurona and Nashiro were very cheerful and sanguine until they witnessed the brutal murder of their parents at the hands of a ghoul. The trauma caused by their deaths has caused them to become cold, distant and relatively nihilistic. They decided to become ghouls because they considered being human and living in the current " twisted world" to be the cause for their misfortunes in life.
    • Kishou Arima, of all people. A flashback to his childhood at a Tyke Bomb factory shows him seemingly crushing a butterfly in his hand. Later, it's shown that he actually caught it and secretly released it out a window while smiling happily. Rather than an emotionless killing machine, he was actually a gentle child raised as a weapon and came to hate himself because he could only "take" from others.
  • Millions Knives, the Big Bad of Trigun. Anime him... kinda, but the psycho tendencies were there even before he flipped out and became a full-blown Creepy Child. Manga Knives... had something much better to flip out over, and before that, just listen to the kid.
    Knives: There's no difference between people's hearts and ours, so if we try, I'm sure everyone can understand each other.
    • This attitude did not survive contact with For Science!! Look at your big sister's preserved vivisected corpse, and the records of how the only people you've ever known experimented her to death before she was a year old! See the lovely metastasized cancers from all the scans!
    • It's obvious Vash was a cute kid, who briefly believed Humans Are Bastards after finding out about his and Knives' sister, but snapped out of it thanks to Rem, but flashbacks reveal Wolfwood was as well...more recently than you might think. And Livio, despite already being psychotic at the time, too.
    • Manga Legato gets a dubious entry, because while there is nothing innocent about his flashback (he was a kept catamite who was discovered in a plan to kill everyone he'd ever known and was therefore being raped to death when Knives turned up and coincidentally sliced up everyone but him, because he subconsciously used his psychic powers in self-defense), it's practically impossible not to get choked up at the look on his face when he realizes Knives is going to allow him to live and follow, and he admits he has no name.
  • Airi "Nora" Nobara from Wasteful Days of High School Girls used to be just like Loli when she was a child, and was promised a pet cat by her father. Eventually, however, there was never any cat, and her father kept delaying again and again until one day she found out he's actually allergic, so pets are a no-go. She's been having major trust issues since.
  • Rinne Berlinetta from ViVid Strike! was originally a shy little orphan who was fortunate enough to be adopted by a kindly rich family and slowly started to break out of her shell (even growing especially close to her adoptive grandfather). Then she spent several months being bullied by some girls at school, culminating in them destroying a precious family heirloom and beating her unconscious. Because of this, she was unable to be there when her grandfather unexpectedly died, and she beat the bullies half to death the next day. By the present day, she is a cold martial artist who often leaves her opponents in tears and -in the words of her Childhood Friend Fuka- has "the look of somebody who despised the weak."
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba was once like this; just ask Mokuba. Their stepfather Gozaburo's harsh, strict, and at times cruel methods to mold him into a successor was the biggest factor towards him becoming an arrogant and selfish Jerkass with a win-at-all-costs attitude. In fact, when Seto finally lost in Battle City, the extent to which he had changed is what finally made Mokuba too disgusted with him to continue pandering to him.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's Kaiser Ryo. As shown in a flashback, he used to be a sweet, idealistic kid. Somewhere along the line, he became the stoic, cold, Aloof Big Brother of season 1. It's even more jarring after he freaks out and becomes Hell Kaiser.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman. He's not evil, but he became dark and bitter after his parents were murdered.
  • Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, started out as a sweet, adorable little girl who, granted, had been born into a mafia family, but had not a bad thought for anyone. Then, when she was eight years old, her family was murdered in front of her at dinner. Then the Gotham police sent her a "condolence" card that read "Many Happy Returns!" Then she was taken to Sicily to be raised by her cousins, who turned out to be mafia assassins. They raised her to believe that the mafia were good-guy Robin-Hood types, and to believe in omerta, and to avenge her family, and, to that end, they trained her as an assassin. Then they were arrested by the Italian government as part of a crackdown on organized crime, and she was sent to boarding school in Switzerland, where she learned the truth about the mob. After an upbringing like that, it's hardly a surprise that she became a ruthless vigilante killer.
  • Tim Drake was very much a sweet kid when he sought out Batman to try and save him from himself. The Trauma Conga Line that has followed has noticeably changed him to the point that he's willing to use the Scarecrow's fear toxin and has a hit list that includes large swaths of the Justice League as a precaution alongside the expected villains.
  • Magik was Colossus' sweet kid sister. Then... stuff happened, and she is now the franchise's main Designated Hero / Villain Protagonist / Nominal Hero / Anti-Hero, Depending on the Writer. Regardless of that, she's always her team's Token Evil Teammate and a Sociopathic Hero.
  • X-Man: Nate Grey, while not a villain, used to be this. Grown in a tank, briefly made an appearance as a small child and was so adorable that he elicited Cuteness Proximity in none other than Mr Sinister. Even after, when he escaped from the cloning tanks as a teenager, he ended up an idealistic revolutionary - surprisingly idealistic, considering it was the Age of Apocalypse. Sinister killing his Parental Substitute, Forge and another of his companions, while an assassin killed another of his companions, and finding out that he was Laser Guided Tyke Bomb with a self-destruct switch significantly embittered him, and while he remained a Knight in Sour Armor, he eventually drifted into a stranger and more ruthless form of Anti-Hero (developing Blue-and-Orange Morality as part of his 'Mutant Shaman' thing didn't help), while his renewed idealism was shattered in Dark X-Men and he ended up becoming an Anti-Villain in Uncanny X-Men (2018) and Age of X-Man - until he realised that for all his best efforts, he'd become as bad as Apocalypse, if not worse.
  • Iznogoud: Amazingly, Iznogoud. Iznogoud's Childhood reveals that he actually once was an adorable, good tempered, sweet kid who got along pretty well with Haround and Dilat.
  • The Joker, Depending on the Writer, and to the extent that he gets a childhood backstory at all (and which may or may not be true), and possibly Batman himself, when given a Darker and Edgier interpretation.
  • Chris Genovese/Red Mist/The Motherfucker from Kick-Ass. Volume 3 reveals that as a child, he used to be a fan of X-Men to the point where he would dress up as Wolverine on a daily basis.
  • Jason, the protagonist of Long Ago And Far Away used to be the heroic "Child Knight" who saved the land of Elvenwood from the evil Witch-Queen Nexis. In the years since then, he's become a 30-year-old Jerkass who can't run his comic book store.
  • The Mighty Thor: Depending on a whole lot of things Loki might have been one of these after getting over the abusive blood relatives and before the adoptive ones and fate itself turned out to be jerks too and he stepped on his path of darkness. We can't really tell for certain because all stories of his childhood are plagued by unreliable narrators. Generally if Thor or Loki himself tell about those times then he was a sweet kid, if anybody else then he was always evil apparently. But the theory got more believable when he was reborn as a child and turned out to be... a nice kid albeit also very rebellious and mischievous with serious problems fitting in.
  • According to the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) comics, King Sombra was one before his mother revealed his true nature to him and he was corrupted by the power she gave him, leading to him conquering the very ponies that he had lived most of his life around.
  • Herr Starr, a Big Bad note  from Preacher was this, until a bully-induced trauma that cost him an eye, his hair, and a good chunk of his humanity, before he'd even hit puberty.
  • There are a couple of Star Wars Expanded Universe webstrips set between the original and prequel trilogy. They cameo Ysanne Isard, Big Bad of the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics, as a little girl. She idolized her father, Director of Imperial Intelligence, back then, although her innocence was in doubt even then, since he brought her to see his work, which involved hunting down and killing Jedi. As she grew up she was groomed to be a field operative, and started cultivating connections, which worried her father to the point that he sent her on a suicide mission. She survived, came back, trumped up a treason charge, executed her father, and took his place.
  • Superman:
  • THANOS, of all beings. In his youth, he had a loving father and many friends despite his strange appearance. He was also a Friend to All Living Things, and sickened when he was first made to dissect something. Then he learned that the cave creatures he had befriended killed and ate his Eternal friends, causing him to be blamed for it. There was also that little matter of the crush he had on a vicious friend ( Death) who manipulated him into doing things that lead him to become evil.
  • The Garth Ennis penned tale "The Tyger" shows a snippet of the childhood of Frank Castle before the days The Punisher MAX. He's a quiet, thoughtful young man who does well at school and is quite close to a girl his age. Events of the one-shot however show that Frank was surrounded by the refuse left by mobsters from an early age, and it left its mark.
  • Surprisingly, THE VENOM SYMBIOTE is this. All it initially wanted was to be bonded with Peter. Unfortunately, Peter's rejection and Eddie's hatred taught it anger and it hasn't really looked back since, though it has had it's anger purged so it's much more mellowed out.
  • X-23: The entire plot of The Killing Dream, the first arc of her solo series, revolves around an apparition that may be the Enigma Force showing Laura that she wasn't born an emotionless killing machine, but that the Facility consciously destroyed her innocence. That she is inherently a good person despite the evil she's done is critical in helping her throw off the demon attempting to recruit her to his service. Innocence Lost actually shows what was done to her, as well as small glimpses of the sweet and innocent child she was before the Facility tried to break her. Much of Laura's life after escaping the facility is spent trying to repair the damage that was done to her.
    • Xander Rice is first introduced in Innocence Lost as a wide-eyed toddler whom Martin Sutter has to tell his father won't be coming home. He grows up with such deep-seated loathing of Wolverine as a result, that he takes it all out on Laura just because she's Logan's clone. And then he doesn't so much jump off the slippery slope as he does take it with a rocket-powered toboggan and keep going.
    • In subsequent books, even Kimura, of all people, is revealed to have been the product of an abusive upbringing and didn't used to be the Ax-Crazy psychopath Laura was introduced to by the Facility.
  • Magneto from X-Men. Had the Holocaust not happened...
  • Wolverine was once a gentle, sickly little boy named James who wanted only to play with his friends Dog and Rose and his puppy. This ended the day that Dog propositioned Rose, causing James to report him to his father. This set off a chain of events that led to Dog and his father storming James' home and slaughtering his family, which in turn caused his mutant powers to manifest themselves. Everything has been downhill for him ever since.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye:
    • It's revealed that Megatron was originally someone who wrote poetry and abhorred violence. That all changed the day he was caught in a bar brawl and got incarcerated, then was badly beaten by Whirl, causing him to embrace violence as a means of changing the system and leading to the entire Cybertonian Civil War.
    • Whirl himself was originally a watchmaker until he was captured by the Senate, who had tried to recruit him based on his combat abilities. They tortured him by subjecting him to Empurata, a form of punishment that removed his entire face to be replaced with an expressionless single mechanical eye and replaced his hands with pincers so he could never perform the delicate task of watchmaking again. This lead to him becoming the Heroic Comedic Sociopath he is in the present time.

    Fan Works 
  • Mare of Steel; Princess Celestia mentions that Prince Blueblood used to be much more respectful when he was younger. This is a plot point, as it turns out that General Zod replaced Blueblood several years prior to the story's beginning.
  • The whole point of Of Ramen and Wooden Skates is showing Orochimaru from the perspective of someone outside his team who knew him before his Start of Darkness.
  • Unsurprisingly, Frieza's backstory in Savior of Demons shows that he was, as a child, not the psychotic killer he is at present. However, there are a few hints that he was manipulative and self-interested, as when he lied to his father about going with Kooler to see the Saiyans. He was not an Enfante Terrible from the very start, though.
  • In The Swarm of War, Alena (the new Queen of Blades) was taken into the Swarm when she was five.
  • As flashbacks in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Twilight Child show, the main character was an almost painfully cheerful foal, a far cry from the emotionally broken teenager she's become when we first see her.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures and W.I.T.C.H. crossover fic Kage, Miranda is a untrustful and jaded shapeshifter teenager who hates both Queen Elyon and Prince Phobos vehemently, and her main concern is her own survival. However, it's revealed that when she was five years old and more innocent, her parents were burned right in front of her by Kur after she tried in vain to save them by revealing herself. She was afterwards recruited by Phobos, becoming cynical about trust and embittered at those she regards responsible for her parents' death, including Elyon.
  • Yin And Yang Series: Nikolai Kezanstav. He met and befriended an alien while young, but as he grew up, be began to desire his best friend's technology more and more. He eventually ends up enslaving the alien with mind control.
  • Harmony Theory has Charisma, The Dreaded Blood Knight and The Dragon to one of the stories big bads, who is revealed to originally have been a sweet filly who liked to dance around and had a loving family, until her "talent glyph" appeared and basically marked her as a natural born killer and drove her to murder her own brother, leading to her being disowned by her family and leading her down the path she chose.
  • Roman Torchwick in In the Kingdom's Service used to be Oobleck's team leader before Oobleck sacrificed them and thousands of others to seal the tunnel to Mountain Glenn. When Jaune sees a picture of Oobleck's old team, he notes the sheer joy and pride in his team on Roman's face and is awed by how much the two had changed in the last twenty odd years.
  • In Karma in Retrograde, Touya Todoroki was an aspiring hero student who loved his siblings and wanted to rescue them and their mother from their abusive father's influence. Somewhere down the line, he fell down the path of villainy, becoming the murderous Dabi who is disillusioned with hero society. A de-aging Quirk brings Touya back to the surface and lets 1-A see who he originally was, but the effects are temporary and he will eventually return to being Dabi no matter how badly he wants to remain Touya.
  • In the Danny Phantom fanfic Resurrected Memories: The original Amberline Mclain was implied to have been a very shy, but still decent person, who truly loved her little sister and just wanted friends and a chance to achieve her dream, but severe bullying at school, being raised by neglectiveand controling parents and being stood up by her crush, toped off by dying young had jaded and embittered the girl into becoming the vengeful Ember McLain.
  • Several characters are this in the Pokémon fangame Pokemon Rejuvenation:
    • Team Xen Admin Nastasia is cold, cruel and completely remorseless in regards to her involvement in terrorist attacks; making even her coworkers question why she is so ruthless. It is later revealed that she used to be Anastasia Bellarosa, a sweet but shy and introverted girl with an overbearing mother and only one friend, Maria. She then went through extreme traumatic events, such as watching Maria be sacrificed by her cult leader father and almost be killed by a meteor. It is still unknown what exactly caused her transformation. However, she still has some goodness within her, as she ensures you receive your mother’s Sylveon and appears to still care about Ren, who she met as a child.
    • Fighting leader Keta/Kenneth is an even more tragic example. When he first arrived in the Aevium Region, he was an idealistic young man longing to improve the lives of those affected by the calamity Storm-9. After managing to do that by rebuilding Sheridan Village with his wife Taelia, he was given an ultimatum to kill her, whose sender had already killed his mother. He refused, and lost both her and their child Nora in the process. He mistakenly believed Taelia blamed him, as his mind was manipulated by the mysterious Freya, who saw him as a mere puppet. Years later, after finally reconciling with his brother Deagan, he too died seconds after. The last straw was him being recruited by Team Xen and being forced to sell his villagers’ lives in exchange for his own, at which point he asked an Oracle to completely separate himself from his emotions, isolating himself from the ones who still loved him.
  • In Crimson and Emerald, Enji Todoroki as a teenager was actually the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder in his group of friends, using his powers to help keep them out of trouble. Then he became the pro hero Endeavor and unhealthily obsessed with overcoming All Might, and used his family as stepping stones to do so.
  • In The Power of the Equinox, Brutus Meadows is Scootaloo's alcoholic and abusive foster father who ends up killing in anger his wife Vibrant Glow whose gambling addiction has eaten up most of his savings, and he tries to kill Cheerilee simply for discovering that crime. However, when Brutus is dying, the flashbacks he has show that he was an adorkably shy colt when he first met at school his future wife with whom he later adopted Scootaloo when nopony else seemed to be doing so. Sadly, his wife's gambling debts led to him becoming an alcoholic and forget his love towards both her and Scootaloo.
  • A Sadness Runs Through Him COMPLETE Snowtuft Warriors AU Map: Snowkit was a gentle and sweet kitten who became angry and bloodthirsty in adulthood.
  • All the Kiryuin children in Natural Selection used to be a loving trio of siblings who looked out for each other and were all relatively kindhearted to varying degrees. Overtime, Ragyo's abuse, manipulation, favoritism, and all around cruel parenting broke each of them.
    • Satsuki used to be the loving elder sister to Ryuko and Nui. However, her human nature and lack of Life Fiber biology led to her getting Ragyo's abuse at its worst, either being beaten or flat out molested if she ever talked back. She eventually fled into exile after Honnouji's founding and would become an overly stoic, cold revolutionary who borders on suicidal in her efforts to defeat her mother, no longer capable of feeling happiness.
    • Ryuko used to be a loving, if bratty, middle child who cherished her older sister. Her being Ragyo's favorite due to being the perfect hybrid of human and Life Fiber, she was subjected to the most manipulation, and Satsuki's later abandonment was the straw that broke the camel's back, causing her to become a genocidal tyrant who thrives on mass-killings and wants to tear her sister apart.
    • Nui, while already a Creepy Child at a young age, did love both of her sisters with all her heart, could be persuaded from her darker impulses with a bowl of ice cream and just wanted to play with her arts and crafts. She grew up conditioned to be the Grand Courturier of REVOCS and expert torturer by Ragyo. By the time the present day story starts, she's Nui as she was in the main series.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A non-villainous example, Chaz, from Airheads, used to be called 'Chester' and play D&D.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017) gives this backstory to the Beast. Belle learns from Mrs. Potts that the Prince was a sweet, innocent little boy until his mother died, leaving him in the hands of his cruel father, who shaped him into the selfish, arrogant Prince Charmless whom the Enchantress eventually cursed.
  • Red Skull from the infamous Captain America (1990) movie. Before the Supersoldier experiment — nice kid playing on piano. After the experiment — crazy nazi with Super Strength who wants to rule the world. How much this applies in this case is debatable. The experiment used on him is supposed to magnify the subject's personality, which would indicate that he was already evil, he just had it dialed Up to Eleven.
  • The titular Kane from Citizen Kane.
  • Godzilla Junior is a subversion. On the one hand, he did start out as a bubbly, friendly and docile baby mutated Godzillasaurus. On the other hand, while he's not downright malevolent as a teenager, he is still a Godzilla and will utterly thrash you if you dare harm humanity. (Too bad that didn't work too well against Destoroyah.) Godzilla: Final Wars even originally was going to show (and the final cut even heavily implies) that incarnation of Godzilla is Junior. While still not a villain, this incarnation is definitely playing at Good Is Not Soft at absolute best.
  • The Highwaymen: After tracking the pair for months with no success, Hamer and Gault circle back to Bonnie and Clyde's hometown, where Hamer confronts Clyde's father Henry. The man explains that Clyde wasn't born evil, but he knows that the nature of his son's crimes mean he's marked for death. He just begs Hamer to end it already to spare the rest of the Barrow family any more suffering.
  • In Holes, when Kate Barlow recognizes Trout Walker's accomplice as a former student of hers, she actually seems disappointed that this is what's become of her.
    Kate: Oh, Linda, you were such a good student.
  • The live-action movie of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! does this to the Grinch, complete with a Freudian Excuse.
  • Kung Fu Hustle has Sing, a low-level thug who wants to join the Axe Gang, but used to be a Heroic Wannabe who intervened when a Cute Mute girl was being harassed by bullies trying to steal her lollipop. It was only after the bullies beat him to a pulp that he gave up on his heroic aspirations.
  • Maleficent does this for both the title character and King Stefan, the latter of whom is the Big Bad. Yes, the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" was once a friendly, loving girl, who was in love with a human - but their love was destroyed by political feuds between their kingdoms. In the end, Maleficent does a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Subverted, or possibly entirely inverted, with Eddie from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if we are to believe his dodgy scientist uncle, Dr. von Scott: "From the day he vas born, he vas trouble/he vas the thorn/in his Mutter's side".
  • In Room, Ma/Joy Newsome is not a villain or even a bad person, but she is understandably deeply troubled from being held captive and raped by a stranger for years. She lampshades this trope herself, and how impossible it would be for her to be anything but, in an argument with her mother in the film.
    Ma: Don't ever tell me how to look after my son. I’m sorry if I’m not ‘nice’ enough for you. Maybe if you hadn’t been in my head saying ‘be nice’ that day I wouldn’t have gone to help him.
  • Dark Alessa in Silent Hill is the dark side of a child who she states was a "a good little girl" prior to being burned by a cult and turning her psychic vengeance onto the people of the town.
  • Star Wars:
    • Anakin Skywalker. Innocent, friendly, bright-eyed mother's boy who builds robot buddies turned into, well... Darth Vader
    • Shown mostly in the novelization, but Boba Fett turned from a sweet kid who idolized his father into a bounty hunter who had to be reminded to curb his penchant for disintegrations.
  • Judging from the flashback at the beginning of Thor, Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a good relationship with his brother Thor and their father and had a penchant for mischief before the jealousy settled in. Loki was much the same in original Norse Mythology, sans the jealousy issues. Thor and Loki were frequently involved in mischeivious pranks, and nobody thought too much of Loki's shenanigans until one of them got Baldr, the incredibly popular god of beauty, killed.
  • Tragedy Girls completely averts it with our two Villain Protagonists. Despite having loving parents and stable, happy upbringings, they've always been psychopaths.
  • Erik in X-Men: First Class until, well, the Holocaust and the death of his mother. And Raven, who is still rather innocent for the majority of the film and is absolutely horrified when she sees Charles get shot, yet that doesn't stop her from going over to the dark side.

  • From Aunt Dimity Down Under: The expat Americans Angelo and Renee Velesuonno knew Broken Bird Bree Pym since she was ten years old, and Angelo hangs this lampshade when they meet Lori and Cameron for dinner in Ohakune, New Zealand. His description of Bree: "Nice kid, good manners and sharp as a tack." The Velesuonnos go on to say they were shocked at the recent changes in her appearance, particularly the choppy haircut.
  • In Jonathan Carroll's novel Bones of the Moon, the main character's husband comments that the boy who lived in the apartment above them, dubbed "The Axe Boy", was always such a good boy before he was arrested for chopping up his mother and sister.
    "He seemed like a good kid, didn't he Cullen? 'Axe Boy'? Jesus, what a thing to call someone!"
    "Danny, our young friend 'Axe Boy' Alvin Willians chopped his mother and sister into pieces exactly one floor above our apartment. A good boy he is not."
  • Carrie White, from Carrie is described this way in an interview with a woman who met her during their childhood. She specifically points out the dramatic difference between the girl she knew and the tortured soul who appeared on the cover of a news magazine after massacring several teenagers and turning a city into a ghost town and wonders what Carrie's mother could have done to her to mess her up so badly.
  • In John C. Wright's Titans of Chaos, Amelia thinks that the maenad she is working out how to shoot was once a sweet little baby. She braces herself by defying A Million Is a Statistic.
  • The long-awaited giant children in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are this, until they get possessed and Ax-Crazy.
    • Also, from the new chronicles, Roger Covenant. Probably.
  • The general response to Sefalet with regards to her left-hand mouth in Dirge for Prester John.
  • Lorelei of Eludoran before her Start of Darkness. Pendarynn and Sheriden also qualify.
  • The Indian Prince's boy from Raymond E. Feist's Faerie Tale, who we are told was once a nice boy.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Subverted in two ways with Sirius Black: it turns out he never joined the Death Eaters at all and was always a good-hearted young man. At the same time, calling him sweet was a bit of an overstatement since he was also a notorious prankster and a bit of a showoff though not a bad person at all.
    • Snape seemed to have been about as good as a kid raised in an abusive and poor household could be expected. And while he eventually did a Heel–Face Turn to Dumbledore in his twenties, there was a period of time when he served Voldemort and remained bitter enough that many people believed he still was evil into his thirties. His adulthood was more of a case of Good Is Not Nice than anything.
    • Also played with Peter Pettigrew. While there were accusations thrown that he hung around the Marauders mainly because they were popular, he did stick by them for the most part and learned to stick by his werewolf friend, Lupin. Despite this, he would come to betray them for Voldemort.
    • Quirinus Quirrell was apparently a very gifted wizard who, like any true Ravenclaw, loved to learn and study. However, years of abject bullying by his peers drove him to try and become a great wizard to show them all and be remembered. However, before he could do so, he happened to meet Voldemort on a trip to Albania...
    • Averted with Voldemort. Tom Riddle was rotten to the core even as a small child.
    • Inverted with Dudley Dursley, who is a brat and a bully as a boy, but begins to grow out of this after he's attacked by Dementors in Order Of The Phoenix. In the final book, he's the only one of the Dursleys to express concern over what's going to happen to Harry after they part ways, and also gives him a relatively friendly goodbye.
  • The protagonist of Vernon Scannel's poem "Incendiary"
  • Francis Dolarhyde, aka the Tooth Fairy, from Red Dragon. Played for one of the more selective instances of Cry for the Devil in the first film version, Manhunter:
    Jack Crawford: You feel sorry for him.
    Will Graham: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks.
  • In More Than This, Regine the Scary Black Girl tells Seth she used to be a nice person, before her mother married an abusive man.
  • The short story "The Diary of Luke Castellan" shows this off with the titular Luke, a villain-turned-hero who used to be a very sweet kid. Or, as in this chapter of history, a sweet teenager. He's brave, protective, caring towards his little adopted family, to the point that he closely resembles the later hero of the series, Percy.
  • In ''Radiance, Severin didn't grow up to be evil, but she was estranged from her father, tough as nails, and not particularly affectionate towards anyone who isn't her boyfriend. Her father's personal video reels show that when she was a child, she was an adorable Daddy's Girl who loved to play and run around her father's sets.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire contains several examples:
    • the Stark Kids, before they were all broken and put on their Jade-Colored Glasses. An example that is easily missed are Catelyn Stark's memories of Petyr Baelish as a mischievous, bold and sweet-natured little boy, who believed in all the songs and started out as idealistic as Sansa.
    • From the backstory, Aerys Targaryen aka the Mad King believe it or not. It was said that he was an nice young man with a very promising future as king. But then the Defiance in Duskendale happened where he was taken hostage by some rebellious lords refusing to pay taxes and his time in captivity broke him. As soon as he was released, he went on a killing rampage murdering all those responsible and slowly degenerating into The Caligula. At the end of his life, he was so universally reviled that by the time the series takes place, referring to someone as Aerys is analogous to comparing others to Hitler in our world.
    • Downplayed with Tywin Lannister. He wasn't exactly nice back then, but according to his brother, he was much better as a person while his wife was around, since she was one of the few people that could make him smile or laugh. After her death, he became an even colder and harder man that blamed his son Tyrion for causing her death and hated him so much that he ordered the gangrape of Tyrion's childhood girlfriend.
  • The Children of Chrysalis in Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars started as cute, precocious, intelligent and good natured kids. Then in the real world they grew up as despots, warlords or just plain insane.
  • The Mord-Sith from The Sword of Truth series. Every year, six of the kindest, sweetest girls in the entire country are chosen to be trained as Torture Technicians. The kinder they are, the better.
  • In Torn by Cat Clarke, it's revealed that Tara used to be an extremely sweet, kind young girl until when they were younger, Alice, then Tara's best friend, grew irritated with how she and Tara were the least popular girls in school and purposefully started to avoid her in an attempt to join in more with other kids. Of course, it backfired horribly.
  • Tortall Universe: In The Numair Chronicles the reader is introduced to Prince Ozorne as a student who, while arrogant and prejudiced, is a genuinely loving, loyal friend, unlike the horrifying murderous tyrant he is as an adult in The Immortals.
  • Warrior Cats: Tigerstar, big bad of the entire series, is seen in the prequel Bluestar's Prophecy as a sweet, innocent, adorable kit who loves his mother and grows into a well-meaning but aggressive apprentice thanks to his Ax-Crazy mentor. Same with Scourge, who in his backstory was an inquisitive, cute little kitten who had bad things happen to him, turning him into a crazy killer.
    • Same for Brokenstar/kit; "Look! I'm a tree!"
    • Also for Hawkfrost, shown in the Tigerstar and Sasha arc as a cute kit who loves his littermates, and is broken-hearted when his brother Tadpole drowns.
    • Thistleclaw even qualifies, once promising his nursery denmates "I'll make sure the wind doesn't blow you away."
  • Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin was a full-on aversion of this trope from birth - or so his Unreliable Narrator mother claims.
  • Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall is portrayed as being open and friendly in childhood, a stark contrast to the increasingly guarded man who ultimately presides over the Kangaroo Court that executes Anne Boleyn and her five supposed lovers.
  • Nikita of The Girl from the Miracles District has several Happy Flashbacks that show her as a cheerful, if... unusually-raisednote  child before her her father kidnapped and tortured her, turning her into an aloof, emotionless woman of the present day.
  • Discworld's Sam Vimes might be the setting's incorruptible Big Good, but he's also a cynical, grumpy self-described 'bastard'. But when we meet his younger self in Night Watch young Sam is a bright-eyed idealist who believes in heroes and justice and invites his new sergeant around for tea with his mum. In the words of his time-travelling middle-aged self, "You're not me. I don't think I was ever as young as you. If you're going to be me, it's going to take a lot of work. Thirty damn years of being hammered on the anvil of life, you poor bastard. You've got it all to come."
  • In The Split Second by Daphne du Maurier, Susan is a sweet, lively, affectionate nine-year-old in 1932. Come 1952, and she is a bitter, rude woman who constantly snaps at her own little son. Justified, since she gets orphaned very early and her only relative left is her bitter and rude estranged aunt, not to mention that war breaks out when Susan is only sixteen.
  • The Machineries of Empire: The Immortal Ruler Nirai Kujen lived in poverty as a child and entered politics in part because he believed nobody else should go hungry. As a ruler, he became a sociopath concerned primarily with physical pleasures, scientific experiments, and maintaining his immortality. He's implied to have surgically removed his own conscience to cope with The Chains of Commanding early on.
  • Nevermoor: In the third book, Morrigan is able to peep in on lessons from generations past via a Pensieve Flashback, and is stunned when she sees the Big Bad, Ezra Squall, in his youth. In stark contrast to the Faux Affably Evil sociopath she knows, in the past, he's mostly seen trying to learn how to use his powers, enjoying his lessons, and laughing and having fun with his friends. The same friends he'd later go on to kill. All Morrigan can do is wonder, "What happened?"
  • The Outside: Evianna Talirr was once a Spoiled Sweet Cheerful Child, but she was punished harshly throughout her childhood in an attempt to stamp out her heretical tendencies. The treatments succeeded only in turning her into a bitter misanthrope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Through Malcom Merlyn's flashbacks, we see that his son Tommy used to be a relatively innocent child who idolized his father before they began to drift apart, resulting in Tommy becoming a notorious womanizer who began to resent his father.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 character Valerie Malone, revealed during the civil rape suit she files against Noah by Steve.
  • The Salamanca twins from Breaking Bad were seen in a flashback to be normal, energetic kids who cared for each other. They grew up to be emotionless killing machines for the cartel.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When transformed back into a teenager ("Band Candy"), Principal Snyder was shown to be a relatively friendly dork and seemingly looked up to the Scoobies. He even liked Oz's Cool Hair!
  • Notably averted on Dexter. Dexter is shown to have killed his neighbour's dog because it barked too loud as a child, and even at that time Harry seemed aware that Dexter was a psychopath.
  • Doctor Who: The Master was apparently a sweet kid until he looked into the Vortex at age 8, and heard the drums. Then he slowly went batshit insane.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • According to Cersei in "Mhysa", Joffrey was a very happy baby when he was around her and showed no signs of his later sociopathic behavior until much later... but either she's leaving out the part in the books where he cut open a pregnant cat as a child or the incident was Adapted Out.
    • All audiences get to see is his worst side, but it's implied that Viserys had been a reasonably nice guy at one point before the hardship of his own and his sister's life broke him. In the books, Daenerys specifically points at the moment that Viserys was forced to part with their dead mother's crown for money to survive as the point where Viserys started to snap. This is in parallel to their father, who is known as the "Mad King" but was also reasonably sane as a younger man, up until an incident where he was betrayed and held hostage by one of his own vassals and locked in a tower for half a year.
  • Harry Enfield and Chums's Kevin was a well-behaved, if hyperactive, boy until he turned thirteen, at which point his hormones kicked in and turned him into the teenage horror we all know and love.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider Double's movie, Big Bad Katsumi Daido/Kamen Rider Eternal is described this way by his mother. He's an unusual case since he died and was brought back to life by Mom's research, which may have had some effect. However, as the Eternal Returns prequel movie shows, the complete flip to evil happened when he and his fellow undead mercenaries tried to save Foundation X's psychic test subjects and failed after the Hope Spot.
    • In Kamen Rider Wizard, the Monsters of the Week, Phantoms, start off as "inner demons" which kill their hosts if they cross the Despair Event Horizon and take on their human form as a disguise. They're actually entirely different beings from their hosts, but to those not in on The Masquerade, this trope seems to be in full effect. In particular, one episode had Haruto dealing with a young woman who doesn't understand her college friend's bizarre shift in attitude, and Haruto chooses to tell her that the friend went oversees to study film making rather than crush her with the painful truth. The biggest exception to this is Gremlin, who was a Serial Killer before becoming a Phantom, and ends up becoming one of the most monstrous Kamen Rider enemies in a long time.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Taiga Hanaya was introduced as a smug jerk steamrolling everything in his way. Kamen Rider Snipe: Episode Zero prequel special reveals that he used to be a kindhearted doctor, who failed to save a patient and lost everything (his job, his licence, his faith in the world) as a result.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: In 2068, Ohma Zi-O is the greatest tyrant of all history, who reduced the world to wasteland and rules it with an iron fist. In 2018, the ordinary highshool student Sougo Tokiwa is a sweet kid, even if a little odd at times and with bit of an ego. Finding out what happened inbetween nad stopping it is what Zi-O's main story line is about.
  • Law & Order: SVU episode "Swing", Elliot Stabler's interaction with his mother highly suggests that he was a sweet kid with a dream to become an architect. His mother even suggested that he's turned out like his father.
  • Ben Linus from Lost gets a story arc showing him as an innocent kid who was abused by his father. Also includes the Moral Event Horizon. Although Ben was sorta creepy even as a kid.
    Sawyer: (to Sayid) How are you doing?
    Sayid: A twelve year-old Benjamin Linus just brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I'm doing?
    Sawyer: Sweet kid, huh?
  • Once Upon a Time Both Rumplestiltskin and Regina. Rumplestiltskin was a coward, but loved his son deeply. His efforts to protect his son were what turned him into a monster.
    • It's taken even further with Regina. She was a genuinely good person who loved a stable boy. Her first interaction with Snow White is actually saving her, and she is later the one to tell her that "true love is the most powerful magic of all''. Then her mother murders that man she loves, an attempt to bring him back fails (other characters deliberately sabotaged it to drive her over the edge), and decides revenge is all she has left.
      • It's turned back on Regina with Greg Mendell/Owen Flynn - being confronted with the fact that it's entirely due to her actions that he turned from a sweet and happy child into a magic-hating torturer drives her to an attempt at Redemption Equals Death to stop his plan.
    • Inverted with Queen Eva, Snow's mother. She used to be a spoiled brat who spitefully tripped Cora. But by the time she married and had Snow, she became a much kinder person and quick to lecture Snow's own bratty behaviour.
    • Killian Jones was a good-hearted man who loved his brother and was a lieutenant of the navy, and even criticized a fellow soldier for sneaking alcohol into the ship. It was his ill-fated trip to Neverland, which led to his brother getting killed by poison, and his guilt and anger at the king who sent them there to retrieve the poison to use as a weapon, that drove Killian to being a selfish, hedonistic pirate who would later be known as Captain Hook.
  • In Popular Emory Dick notes his twin sisters Emily and Emma used to be nice, but after puberty they became burgeoning Alpha Bitches. They show up in the episode wearing tight tops and skirts really short for their age, and ask Nichole and Mary Cherry to train them on how to be the top girls in the junior high. They later even turn on Nicky and Mary, wearing dresses and furs at a party the same as what Nichole and Mary are wearing.
  • Smallville: Lex Luthor doesn't really count as in his case it's a Face–Heel Turn that happens during the show, but his younger half-sister Tess Mercer does. Just compare the woman from the flashbacks in "Toxic" to the cold Broken Ace in the present day timeline.
  • Max's older brother Billy from Stranger Things he started out as a very nice kid who genuinely loved his mother, but his cruel abusive father treated him horribly and eventually turned him into the psychopathic asshole he is in the present.
  • Debbie Pelt from True Blood. It's almost painful to watch a flashback that includes the sweet, well-intentioned girl you know will become a V-addicted nutcase.
  • Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Stinger/Sasori Orange is introduced as jaded and withdrawn person, who only works with the team out of neccesity. The feelings are mostly mutual but then they start finding out bits about his past. He was raised by his kind older brother, who protected him from the older tribesmen bullying him. Stinger had to watch as his Blood Knight tendencies slowly eclipsed his good nature and as if that was not enough, Scorpio later joined Jark Matter and led the assault on his former tribe, killing everyone else but Stinger. Needles to say, Stinger is very messed up person.

  • Played for Laughs in Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa. Joe's neighbors viewed him as this ("He used to cut my grass, he was a very nice boy."), until he discovered rock 'n roll.
  • The song "Junge" by German band Die Ärzte:
    And you were such a sweet child
  • Used in Lordi's "The Kids Who Want To Play With The Dead", which is a blasting of the the old media's hatred of the new media and love of blaming them ("The must have been some dangerous toys, and the music sings of murderous ploys...")
  • Alice Cooper, "No More Mr. Nice Guy". First person, too.
    • "I used to be such a sweet sweet thing till they got a hold of me..."
      • Although he's a pretty nice guy as an adult. The song's arguably about the way the media painted his character based on his stage appearance.
  • Averted in "Only a Lad" by Oingo Boingo.
  • The Decemberists' song The Shankill Butchers:
    They used to be just like me and you,
    They used to be sweet little boys
    But something went horribly askew
    Now killing is their only source of joy
  • The sweetest Girl by Nicki Minaj. "She used to be...(Yeah, she used to be the sweetest girl!) When a good girl gone she gone forever."
  • Morrissey, "Used to be a Sweet Boy" and "The World is Full of Crashing Bores."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Even fans who watched NWA Wildside had to look twice before they realized the obnoxious braggart out to retire Booker T, Luke Hawx, was once the sweet Altar Boy who hung out with Seth Delay, Matt Sydal and AJ Styles. Hawx doesn't like them anymore either.
  • The Norfolk Dolls of the FWA/WWA Academies started wrestling in their early teens and were instant hits with the little girls in attendance. Melody would increasingly pattern herself after her manager, Sam Knee, going by such names as "Melody Knee" and "Sammi Baynze", also becoming quite The Bully in to wrestlers she was once like.

  • Bleak Expectations:
    • Series Big Bad Mr. Benevolent was a good-natured kid. Then there were three abusive stepfathers, the first of whom deported or killed all his friends, the second murdered and ate his pets, and the third had him sent to Antarctica. By the time he gets back, he learns his mother had been doing all this to make sure he became a complete bastard, because he's descended from Judas Iscariot's accountant. However, it's learning that his childhood sweetheart had married another, which he just missed, and getting taunted about it by an obnoxious kid that pushes him over into full evil.
    • Protagonist Pip Bin. In his early life, starting in his mid-teens, he's generally good-natured (if a little Victorian, and entirely thoughtless). By the point of the framing story, the elderly Sir Phillip Bin is a curmudgeonly, sexist jerkass of the highest order.

  • Jae from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues used to be an average young girl with dreams of being a florist, but when her parents got too strict with her she became surly and rebellious, eventually joining up with Daigo's gang.
  • The Doomy Adventures of Irken Doominess:
    • Melissa as a smeet was a very frail and kind irken, until she was abused by her classmates, lost her sanity, began killing lots of people, got a taste for human blood and overall became quite messed up.
    • Gar, who was normal as a smeet, got ridiculed by everyone, was singled out to be the tallest's personal Chew Toy, started Hearing Voices, and got a major Sanity Slippage which resulted in her trying to kill the tallest.
    • Deef might qualify since Word of God states his mother cared about him up until the age of six when she decided he was able to take care of himself. He still lives with her but seems neglected by her. That said, Deef isn't insane, he's just strange and has No Social Skills.
    • Inverted with Nel who used to be a homicidal jerk and is now a very nice human.
  • Happens frequently in Survival of the Fittest if you read pre-game. Many characters come off as likable, friendly people, only to be broken once the game starts, in a good portion of cases turning Ax-Crazy. As a result, you will be seeing this trope a lot, especially if the character showed up in pre-game frequently or there are any flashbacks involving the character.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s monsters tend to have their own stories. In the case of the charmer monsters, Eria is hinted to grow up into Gishiki Ariel. It is unknown whether or not this was of her own free will or if she was brainwashed like other Gishiki monsters. However she went from sweet little girl into ruthless warlord.
    • Her friend Gagagigo started his carrier as the little and cute Gigobyte and fights along with Eria. As the grown-up Gagagigo he eventuelly left her and someday he fought Freed the Brave Wanderer, ended up being trapped in another dimension. He met Marauding Captain and fought against Inpachi, who later appeared again as Blazing Inpachi; the Marauding Captain took the bullet, which inspired Gagagigo to do the same for one of the Captain's men during the war against Invader of Darkness. Later, in hope to defeat Invader of Darkness, he asked the Mad Scientist Kozaky to make him stronger who rebuild his body to the corrupted Giga Gagagigo. When he fought against Freed the Brave Wanderer again in his native dimension, he got an own attack reflected and lost. Obsessed to continue gaining strength to defeat his rivals, he continued his rampage and eventuelly transformed into Gogiga Gagagigo and truly lost his soul.
      • The following story (which is "written" many years after his transformation) inverts his dark development as he fought Freed the Brave Wanderer again, finally overpowering him, but Marauding Captain appeared and protected him, before Gogiga Gagagigo gave him the finishing blow. Instead of following his corrupted instincts, Gogigo Gagagigo understands Marauding Captain's actions, and forsakes his quest for power. Thus, he finally becomes the strong warrior of justice he once sought out to be, Gagagigo the Risen.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag ends with a scene of Edward Kenway helping his young son Haytham see the stage at a theatre performance, and also promises him to take him out for chocolate afterwards, both of which cause young Haytham to express childlike, genuine happiness and enthusiasm. Compared to the cold, ruthlessly pragmatic Templar grandmaster Haytham was in Assassin's Creed III, the difference is stark and troubling.
  • In Baten Kaitos, Geldoblame, the reviled leader of the Evil Empire, is shown in the prequel Origins as the assistant of the local Reasonable Authority Figure, and helps the heroes out on a number of occasions. Near the end, we see what caused his Start of Darkness, and it ain't pretty: said Reasonable Authority Figure turns out to be only acting as such, and informs Geldoblame that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. He doesn't take it well.
  • An almost heroic example in Borderlands. During the intro, you can see a rather brawny but cheerful child playing around with his puppy. Would you believe that child grows up the be the surly, hulking Blood Knight berserker mercenary known as Brick? Or that the reason for this change is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge at the death of that puppy?
  • Ayane of Dead or Alive, according to Dimensions, used to cheerfully play with her sister Kasumi all the time, before circumstances related to Kasumi being favored, then leaving the village to get revenge for her brother caused her to become embittered and hostile toward her.
  • The Dept. Heaven series spends a game showing us firsthand what a sweet person Gulcasa, the Hero Antagonist of Yggdra Union, used to be before his life caved in on him just when it had started to go right. Granted, side materials and Yggdra Unison, the Gaiden Game where he's one of the main characters, go to show that he's still an incredibly nice guy off the battlefield, but given that the Sympathetic P.O.V. is kept away from him for most of the main game, you'd never know it.
  • Wirt, the unfortunate peg-legged boy from the game Diablo. He wasn't always the Jerkass he is in the game: he was a normal kid from the city of Tristam, until he was abducted by demons and pulled inside the Cathedral. Griswold managed to save him, but not only Wirt lost his leg but also a big part of his sanity.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: A former friend of Dallis says sadly that she used to be a kind, quiet, loving girl before she ended up overseeing the Final Solution against Sourcerers. The endgame reveals that Dallis was actually killed and replaced by an Eternal, making it a Subverted Trope.
    Nebora: People... do change, don't they?
  • Konnan of DragonFable, who used to be Yulgar's apprentice and used to look up to heroes. Then Akriloth happened.
  • Inverted in Dragon Quest V; Harry is a vile, abusive spoiled brat as a boy, but years of hardship and suffering turn him into a kind, honorable and selfless young man.
  • Played straight with Terry in Dragon Quest Monsters and Dragon Quest VI. Life between the two was rather harsh between the two games (highlights include an evil king forcing his beloved sister into prostitution), turning him from an adorable heroic figure into a darker antihero.
  • Porky Minch of EarthBound may not have ever been a "sweet kid" by any stretch of the imagination, but he was certainly a normal one. Throughout the course of the story, events slowly dragged him in and corrupted him, to the point where he became The Dragon to Giygas, and may actually have been pulling Giygas's strings by that point. When that fell through, he disappeared into time, later resurfacing to invade and corrupt the Nowhere Islands, dismember and reassemble its wildlife, and slowly suck the soul out of Tazmily Village until everyone left for his city. All of this was done out of sheer boredom and shows absolutely no remorse for anything, believing himself to be victimized and in the right.
    • In the end, it's shown that Giygas and/or the Mani Mani Statue were playing on his desire to be liked, when he states one of his main motivations for destroying the world to be so that "...everyone who won't like me is gone."
    • There's also Giygas himself, in the first game, according to Maria. Ultimately it's the lullaby Maria sang to him as a child that forces him to retreat.
  • Back in Fallout 3, Arthur Maxson was a dorky and cute young boy who very clearly had a crush on his Action Girl mentor, Sarah Lyons. By the events of Fallout 4, Arthur is the Elder of the Eastern Brotherhood and has strayed far from the humanitarian policies Owyn and Sarah instilled into the Brotherhood while they were in charge - Arthur wants to destroy all feral Ghouls, Super Mutants, Synths and the Institute with extreme prejudice, and enforce the Brotherhood's control over the Commonwealth through military might.
    • Inverted by MacCready. In 3, he was the infamously mean and foul-mouthed brat who was in charge of Little Lamplight. By 4, MacCready has become a deeply flawed but likeable young man who's cut down on the swearing, deeply regrets being such a Jerkass in the past, and even got married and had a kid, though that ended tragically.
    • Shawn, if his Synth replacement is anything to go off of, was a clever and intelligent boy who liked to work with his hands and invent things. Sixty years later and he's the head of the Institute and will willingly trade in morality For Science! He shows courtesy to you, his father/mother, not out of any lost love for you but because he thinks that it's what a child should do for their parent.
  • Fate/Grand Order has an odd case of this with Jeanne Alter. Her grown-up self is hot-tempered, crude, violent, dimwitted, Laughably Evil, and tried to steal Christmas. Her child self, Lily, is kind, purehearted, reasonably intelligent, heroic, and tried to save Christmas. (She's also none too happy about her older self.) What makes this an odd case is that Jeanne Alter never had a childhood, having been created by magic as an adult. Lily is just her under the effects of a youth potion.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Prince Julius from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, is hinted to have been a nice, perfectly normal Ill Boy in a Childhood Friend Romance with Princess Ishtar, instead of The Anti-Christ Manfroy was hoping for. So, to resolve that, Manfroy gave him the Loptyr tome... In fact, if his sister Julia attacks him during the last battle, Julia lampshades the trope via a heartbreaking speech where she tells Julius that she remembers his former kindness, and angrily screams at Loptyr for changing him.
    • King Zephiel, of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, was a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose dealings with his father had destroyed his faith in humanity. In the prequel, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, he's The Wise Prince who just wants his father's love. This is well-shown in his two Fire Emblem Cipher cards: the first one has a young Zephiel happily playing with his younger sister, the second one has his older and embittered self attacking his enemies.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, flashbacks on the Azure Moon route show Edelgard was once an adorable, kindhearted girl who liked to dance and was good friends with Dimitri. Unfortunately, the Trauma Conga Line that occurred between the end of Dimitri's acquaintance with her and the start of the game, which included inhumane experimentation and the deaths of everyone she ever loved, turned her into a warlord bent on conquering the continent in order to trigger societal upheaval. She is the primary antagonist on the Azure Moon route and the secondary antagonist on the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes, and even on Crimson Flower she's an Anti-Hero who has to have the crap beaten out of her before you turn to her side.
  • A brief conversation in Grand Theft Auto IV has Derrick wondering what happened to his much younger brother Patrick, who was a sweet kid years before when Derrick left Liberty City to go to Ireland, and now is a rude, drug and alcohol addicted thug. It can probably be attributed to deep family dysfunction and Packie having been molested by his and Derrick's father.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has Tonya, a girl that Franklin grew up with in their childhood and had feelings for. When Tonya got older, she started abusing drugs and got a boyfriend that can't even show up for work and is under constant threat of losing his home because of how much crack he abuses. Franklin is completely turned off by her and even outright says that she used to be a sweet girl before she started doing drugs. Tonya implies she's going to quit using drugs, but it never takes and Franklin stops believing her.
  • In Holy Umbrella, the Emperor Dondera is said to have been a "quiet, hard-working man" prior to opening the first seal. At this point he underwent a grotesque transformation, as shown through a retrospective Character Portrait.
  • Both of the titular characters in the Jak and Daxter games hardened as a result of being suddenly thrown 500 years into a Bad Future after a mostly peaceful childhood. Jak got the worst of it, in that being captured moments after entering the future and used as a test subject for a Dark Warrior project that created his Superpowered Evil Side and revoked his Incorruptible Pure Pureness as a Prince of Haven City caused his first priority upon escaping to kill Praxis for ruining his life. His life doesn't get any better, especially when Veger comes into the picture.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep includes glimpses into the lives of several Organization members before they became Nobodies. Ienzo was a cute Child Prodigy who followed his elders around in an oversized labcoat, and Lea and Isa were best friends with them having the dynamic of a Keet and Sugar-and-Ice Personality flavored Red Oni, Blue Oni. Isa is probably the worst, given how Saix is one of the most cruel Organization members.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has Lea and Ienzo regain a little of their childhood sweetness upon the return of their hearts... Isa however? The game reveals that Isa / Saix has been slowly turning into another Xehanort vessel, which makes it unclear how much control he's had of his own actions. Kingdom Hearts III does eventually bring him back though.
  • Here's a fun one for you. In Kingdom of Loathing, once you Ascend, you can gain access to a Temporal Rift and visit the past version of several Nearby Plains areas. One of them is Fernsworthy's Hut, the past version of Fernsworthy's Tower. Fernsworthy himself is still alive at this point, and is teaching an Ethics of Magic class. You know that cute schoolgirl who winks at you as you're leaving that scene? If only the Naughty Sorceress had paid attention in that class...
  • Metal Gear: Would you believe that the quirky, dorky, naive rookie soldier Naked Snake who you play as in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater eventually becomes Big Boss, the Big Bad of the entire series? It turns out that being forced to kill your hero mentor and seeing firsthand how governments callously use, abuse and then toss aside soldiers will make a bitter shell of a man quite quickly.
  • In NieR Replicant, the eponymous protagonist is initially a kind, optimistic, and selfless 16 year old (though even then he was hiding severe issues, like the fact that he went into prostitution to pay for his sister's medicine and developed a fear of people touching his hair as a result of the sexual encounters with a rough customer). After his sister is kidnapped by the Big Bad, his entire world falls apart. Cue the 5 year timeskip into the second half of the game, and you see he's become an irreparably damaged, murderous and bitter young adult.
  • Persona 5: Subverted with Delinquent Ryuji Sakamoto. He was once the star athlete on the running team and pride of the school. Unfortunately, the school's volleyball coach saw Ryuji and the rest of the track team as a threat and began running them into the ground. He proceeded to goad Ryuji into a fight by talking about his abusive father, which he used to injure Ryuji's knee bad enough to possibly permanently ruin his track chances and then disband the track team. He became labeled a delinquent, an image he ended up embracing when he dyed his hair. However, while he is the most vocal about his disdain toward crooked adults, he is actually a total sweetheart and an outgoing great guy who wants to help people. He quickly bonds with the protagonist and becomes his Best Friend (though unlike the past protagonist's Bromantic Foil, he's the Chariot rather than the Magician.)
  • Cyrus of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, according to an elderly couple in his hometown of Sunyshore City. Even they, however, had to admit that even from the beginning he was a little bit funny...
  • Jack Marston in Red Dead Redemption. As a kid, he is very kind and polite, and even dreams of becoming a writer. How does he end up? The government betrays his father - both his father and his father figure die in the assault, and his dog and mother are shown to be deceased within 3 years. He becomes a depressed gunslinger, kills the (now-retired) corrupt federal agent that ordered the assault, and ends up just wandering around the wild west just when the old west was beginning to die out. There's a possibility that he eventually did become a successful writer, but only if an Easter egg in Grand Theft Auto V counts as canon.
  • In Shadowrun Returns you're investigating your friend Sam's murder. You can find a photo of him and his twin sister Jessica as children. In the present, he was a drunken loser (who, in his own words, probably deserved whatever killed him) and his sister's become a cold, Corrupt Corporate Executive who had Sam and several other innocents murdered because she wanted to bury their mother with the organs they'd had transplanted from her.
  • In Skullgirls, Peacock was a friendly, cartoon-loving child before being captured by slave traders and horribly mutilated by them. While Dr. Avian and the Anti-Skullgirls Labs were able to repair her body, her mind remained scarred, leaving her an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight using her love of cartoons as the basis for her attacks. Her friend, Marie, is also an example of this trope: she was captured by the same group of slave traders, sending her on a quest for revenge by tracking down and using the Skull Heart.
    • Meanwhile, Carol was an innocent, kindly teenager before being captured by Valentine and Lab 0, who transformed her into the horrific Painwheel. She's Brainwashed into tracking down the Skull Heart for Lab 0.
  • The trope is almost said word-for-word by one of the characters in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters's New Game+, right before you stab her.
  • Soul Series:
    • Siegfried Schtauffen was a kind child and the son of a proud esteemed Knight of the Holy Empire, until his father went away on a mission and started hanging with the wrong crowd and formed a gang of bandits. One night, Siegfried and his gang raided a tired group of knights and murdered them all. To his horror, Siegfried realized that one of the knights he killed was his father and was driven insane. He eventually convinced himself that someone else had killed his father and heard of Soul Edge, the esteemed "Sword Of Salvation" seeking it out hoping to take down his father's killer. Soon after gaining Soul Edge, he becomes the new host for it, becoming the demon knight known as Nightmare.
    • Ivy Valentine appears to fit the trope; the family portrait hanging in the Valentine Mansion on her SCIII stage seems to suggest it, as she looks to be about 11-12 years old, sports a cute (platinum) bob and has a hand placed lovingly on Earl Valentine's shoulder.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vaylin used to be a sweet child until the day when she could not control her powers in a sparring match. She was sent to a facility on a dead world by her father to have her powers controlled and was left in isolation and in the care of a mad scientist who tortured her. When she is finally released from the facility, she emerges as a completely different person.
  • Juri from Street Fighter is a sadistic hedonist who revels in bloodshed, but even if she doesn't make a big deal out of Shadoloo having killed her parents when she was younger, it obviously played some part in the twisted person she became. The OVA mentions that she was once a promising taekwondo fighter, and the UDON comics portray her as a somewhat reserved, innocent girl who is eager to please her parents; five months later, after her father has been executed on live TV, her own feelings of weakness transform into an obsession with becoming a pure embodiment of death.
  • In the Tales Series:
    • Tales of the Abyss:
    • At the beginning of Tales of Berseria, protagonist Velvet Crowe is an ordinary sixteen-year-old who enjoys hunting and spending time with her younger brother. Then her brother-in-law ritually sacrifices said younger brother, turns her into a daemon, beats the tar out of her, and throws her into a literal hole in the ground to subsist on nothing but other daemons for 3 years. When she finally gets out, she's become an embittered Broken Bird fueled by The Power of Hate and obsessed with getting revenge on him.
  • Jin Kazama from Tekken. Jin was a kind, sweet, boy who has a lived a rather happy life with his mother Jun Kazama until he was told by his mother at the age of 15 that his father was Kazuya Mishima (who was dead at the time) and that something bad might happen to her and should anything go wrong, that he should go to his grandfather Heihachi, the head of the Mishima Zaibatsu. One night, an entity known as Ogre attacks their home and in the aftermath, Jun is missing. Respecting his mother's wishes, Jin goes to his grandfather Heihachi and asks him to train him to avenge his mother. At the age of 19, Jin enters the 3rd King of Iron Fist Tournament and makes it all the way to the final contestant, Ogre. After he defeats Ogre, he is then gunned down by Heihachi and his soldiers. Jin reawakens and becomes Devil Jin (thanks to the Devil Gene he inherited from his father) and smashes Heihachi through a wall and flies off into the night. Since then, he has nothing but hatred for his paternal side of the family and will do anything to be rid of them and his curse, even if it means putting the world in danger.
    • Before Jin was his father, Kazuya, who used to be gentle in nature. After having endured his father Heihachi's abuse for years, he finally snaps when the old man tosses him down a ravine as part of a do-or-die trial to see if he was worthy of inheriting the Mishima Zaibatsu. That event both drove him to hatred and awakened the Devil Gene inside him, allowing him to survive to get revenge and try to take over the world.
  • Asriel from Undertale, especially when you discover who he eventually became.
    • The Fallen Child is another example, although their fall from grace is not nearly so pronounced, given that they were described to not be the nicest person to begin with.
  • By the time The Walking Dead Season Three rolls around Clementine has ended up like this, going from being the sweet little girl who just wanted to find her mom and dad to a Little Miss Badass who robs people at gunpoint and coldly agrees to "help" someone in exchange for their car. Considering what Seasons One and Two were for her it's hard to blame her for it (though she does soften up quite a bit as the protagonist gets to know her). She's also one of the few examples who's still a child: her getting her first time of the month, and subsequently freaking out because she's "bleeding for no reason", is actually a plot point.
  • Bloody Mary from The Wolf Among Us according to her game file. Her biography states that she was once a shy, timid young girl who wanted to find her true love. Unfortunately, Mary married an abusive husband who she ended up killing, simultaneously triggering her taste for causing death. She would eventually grow up to become the sadistic Professional Killer encountered in the game.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Darion Mograine, as a child, loved his father and hoped to become a paladin. After sacrificing himself to save his father's soul, he became a Death Knight agent of the Lich King's will, and later, a ruthless Anti-Hero willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Lich King.
    • For that matter, the Lich King himself. The child we see early in his novel is something of an idealist, loves animals, and is kind even to commoners to a point he's said to spend more time with them than is appropriate for royalty, including being best friends with one. One dead horse, zombie plague, and a few questionable war decisions later, and Arthas has become first the champion and then ruler of death itself. Special attention is even brought to this with the five-year perpetual dream he had during his long sleep after taking up the crown, in which he finds two figures battling to influence him: Ner'zhul (the previous Lich King) and his own innocent child-self. Eventually, he kills them both.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: Inverted by Ichiban. As an adult, he is a goofy, overly excitable Manchild who thinks of the world in terms of Dragon Quest. As a teenager, Ichiban was a sullen, irritable thug who beat innocent people up for the sheer unbridled hell of it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: 9 years old Miles Edgeworth was idealistic and adorable to the max. Then, his father was murdered. Before his eyes. And thinking he killed his father by accident when trying to stop a security guard fearing oxygen loss by throwing a gun at him. Edgeworth was embedded with a severe phobia of elevators and earthquakes, and a hatred for criminals, defense attorneys, and himself after this. Even after his eventual Heel–Face Turn he still has trouble relearning the social skills he lost due to this trauma and always comes across as blunt, insensitive and cold to others.
  • Archer from Fate/stay night, though in a subversion he's just as broken inside now as he was when he was younger — he's just grown more outwardly cynical and self-aware towards his inner failings. Fate/hollow ataraxia shows this to be the case with Gilgamesh, and Fate/Zero with Kiritsugu as well.
    • Fate/Grand Order shows that likewise, Medea was a cheerful girl with a specialization in healing magecraft. After being Mind Raped into loving Jason (and being treated like garbage by him, culminating in an attempt to abandon her and their children), she became the bitter Witch of Betrayal summoned as the Fifth Holy Grail War's Caster. When Atalante, Medea's caretaker in her childhood, finds out about this after she gets summoned, Atalante laughs so hard, she faints from the agony.
  • Akane Kurashiki, aka June in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. She used to be a sweet girl, but the trauma of the first Nonary Game turned her into a person willing to do anything for the sake of ensuring her survival and later, saving the world - whether that means sacrificing her life (for the latter) or someone else's. In Virtue's Last Reward her childhood friend Junpei Tenmyouji remarks at the end that the Akane he knew is gone.
  • When They Cry:

    Web Animation 
  • A bitter Jerkass today, Bitey of the Brackenwood series used to be a sweet little thing, but years of loneliness, being the Last of His Kind, and being abandoned by an adoptive family of Morrugs has changed that.
  • Red vs. Blue: When we are first introduced to Agent Washington, he is portrayed as being strict, cold, and somewhat ruthless towards those around him while keeping up a professional and stoic demeanor. It is revealed that his behavior was the result of an incident he had with his A.I., Epsilon, who went insane and committed suicide while in his head. The Freelancer Trilogy furthers how much the Epsilon Incident changed Washington by showing how he was practically the youngest, most naive of the freelancers before being implanted with Epsilon.

  • Sometimes used in Chick Tracts. Examples include Bruce in "Fallen" and Harry in "Fairy Tales".
  • Clinic of Horrors: As a child, Bianca Abercrombie was a plucky and cheerful girl full of life. Years of emotional abuse from her mother resulted in her becoming cold toward other people.
  • Setz from Crepuscule is shown to be a bright spirited young boy in the prologue chapters but is later shown to be a fairly apathetic, uncaring guy after the Time Skip.
  • "Player Two is red. He's a quiet sort of lunatic. The type everyone always says "was such a nice kid" after they find like, twenty human faces in his freezer."
    Player Two character bio, Ctrl+Alt+Del
  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska Serket may play jump-rope with the Moral Event Horizon, but as a kid she was positively adorable.
    • Rose Lalonde started off as a mature yet sweet 13-year old who just wanted to play a game with her friends so she could see her dead cat again. Once the game got started, she started communing with the Horrorterrors and wielding dark magic. She eventually turned into this. She gets better, though.
    • Aradia can count as an example, being a cheerful Adventure Archaeologist before dying. She becomes the kind of person who enjoys breaking things for amusement and claiming there is no free will. She gets better during the course of the story.
    • Averted with Lord English. His younger self Caliborn is almost as bad as he is now, just smaller and constrained.
    • Kurloz Makara seems to have been a pretty nice normal teenager until he had some kind of Eldritch Abomination nightmare, mutilated his own mouth, and started working for the abovementioned Big Bad. His dancestor Gamzee similarly was fine until he ran out of sopor slime; it's likely he would still have turned to working for Lord English, but would have done so more subtly and without murdering Equius and Nepeta, had he never been on the drugs.
    • Most of Kurloz's group fit this trope thanks to being stuck as "kids" for several millennia. Cronus Ampora was a wannabe magician that hoped to defeat an evil wizard, Damara Megido was a lovestruck schoolgirl that spoke little English, and Kankri Vantas planned to reform his discriminatory society.
      • Damara's case is a little more complicated, as she turned significantly darker even before the whole "stuck as immortal teenage ghosts on a plane of shifting dreams" thing came into play. She was originally a positively sweet and highly insecure girl from a far-off corner of their home planet ("Alterniasia", Beforus' Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan) with a poor command of standard Beforan language. She has however found love in the form of Occidental Otaku Rufioh... that is, until he got bored of her and started cheating on her with Horuss, another member of the group, breaking her heart and sense of trust. (It's implied that the only reason he hooked up with her was because of his Foreign Culture Fetish.) Then their leader Meenah started relentlessly bullying her about it, up until the point where Damara snapped, went on a killing spree murdering Meenah and almost killing Rufioh too, and selling out her entire session to Lord English as a revenge. By the time the heroes meet her, she's long past her sweet personality, and has regressed into an embittered, vulgar, cynical Jerkass Woobie.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Fructose Riboflavin used to be a nice little larva on planet Butane. But his dad was a highway bandit. And then his dad got killed...
  • Richard from Looking for Group may qualify.
  • Shields McKloskey from October20th was an outgoing, high-spirited boy before he was sucked into the world of horrors and the unknown.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Averted in the case of Xykon — the whole point of the Start of Darkness prequel book was to show that he had no redeeming features whatsoever, and never did. In the creator's words, not only is he thoroughly evil, he's also sort of a dick. While he may not have been evil when he first discovered his gift for Necromancy at the age of 4, by the age of 12 he's killing a Captain Ersatz of Professor Xavier (granted, one who was being an incredible dick about how wizards are inherently better than sorcerers), zombifying him and siccing him and his zombified grandma on his parents.
    • Played straight with Redcloak and his close-knit family, though. For goblins, they were quite nice people.
  • Brian and Angelo are revealed to have shades of this in Our Little Adventure. Brian and his empire originally assisted followers of The Angel of Justice making a large part of the main Manjulias continent safer from savage creatures. Angelo was originally a member of The Angel of Justice's clergy, but eventually turned away from his goddess due to his bad experiences with many of the people he helped.
  • Pixie and Brutus: A picture of Brutus as a rookie has Pixie excitedly remark how small and cute he was, and Brutus reluctantly agrees after trying to brush it off as him being a puppy back then. When Pixie asks about the other person in the picture, Brutus says that it was his former handler Sgt. Sergio Castillo. Pixie tells him he looks like a nice guy, Brutus says that he was.
  • Rebirth: Neo used to be a cheerful. energetic kid with a close relationship with his father... until Noah found out Neo was Ian’s child, told him not to call him his father and that he wasn’t his son, and ignored him for most of his life.
  • In Sinfest, an appeal on the grounds she wasn't always a devil girl. Neither was Lil' Evil always evil.
  • Trace Legacy from TwoKinds was an OK guy, until he tried using Necromancy to ressurect his recently-slain wife.
  • Villainous Cyborg Gear from Kiwi Blitz was a cute little girl named Margaret before she received double dose of Dark and Troubled Past followed by a heaping helping of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
  • Guilded Age: Payet seemed like a pretty nice kid before a whole town convinced him he was the The Chosen One and showered him with gifts and easy women.

    Web Original 
  • Adam from Arby 'n' the Chief is an 8-year old boy who's a member of Chaos Theosis, a group of cyberterrorists who wreck havoc across Xbox's Network. However, he is demonstrated to be the most cruel and volatile of of all its members. He always screams and shouts online, verbally abuses his mother and friends, gleefully enjoys killing people for fun, and stealing their account information to do what he feels like doing with it. During his final appearance though, when his mom finally breaks down asking what can be done to make him behave, she reminds him (and his friends) that was once a very happy young boy who would play nicely until playing Halo corrupted him into the monstrous child that he's become. Adam however coldly dismisses her yet again and continues acting the way he does. Needless to say, this comes back to bite Adam at his demise, HARD.
  • The Nostalgia Chick used to be an adorable girl who wanted a fairytale wedding when she was six, had quite a few friends and fell in love with a dragon because he was honorable. Then bullying, abuse, becoming a Bratty Teenage Daughter and turning to alcoholism happened, so now she's a lonely, psychopathic Broken Bird. Again, ouch.
  • Done in The Nostalgia Critic's "Commercials Special". When he's on the edge of a Despair Event Horizon, he picks up a photo of himself as a kid and angsts about how he had so much promise and dreams back then. So that sweet, "perfect" child went through a Break the Cutie (parental abuse, date rape, bullying and stalkers) and became a cynical, depressed man who has nothing left in his life but reviewing. He recovers, though.
  • In Worm, after Taylor has her secret identity exposed, news crews go around to talk to the few people who knew her, who are all astonished that the quiet, unassuming, bullied teenager they knew is now the single most powerful and brutal supervillain in the city.
  • Twelve Hundred Ghosts shows Ebenezer Scrooge used to be nice when he was younger, particularly as a baby when he was delighted to get a rattle as a Christmas present.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: The title character was a fairly normal kid, but his mother wasn't around at all until he was 5, and messed him up even worse after she returned.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • Baby Looney Tunes:
  • The titular Bojack Horseman is a major Jerkass in present-day, but his upbringing was less than stellar.
    Beatrice: You know, I was beautiful before I got pregnant with you.
    Young Bojack: (quietly) I know.
    Beatrice: You ruined me, Bojack.
    Young Bojack: (sadder) I know.
    Beatrice: You better grow up to be something great to make up for all the damage you've done.
    Young Bojack: I will.
    • This was also the case with Beatrice. She was a happy little girl in The '40s who watched her family fall apart following her brother's wartime death, culminating in her mother's breakdown, drunken endangerment of Beatrice in a car crash, and eventual lobotomy where Beatrice was told never to love anybody that much again. What little chance she had of recovering was crushed when her father callously burned her things in a fire, and threatened to lobotomize her just like her mother if she ever cried or showed too much emotion again.
    • As a child, Sarah Lynn was as sweet and friendly as the character she played on Horsin' Around. She lost her innocence early, and a life of Hollywood/music industry excess had turned her from a charity-running Teen Idol into a spoiled Drama Queen.
  • Inverted in Courage the Cowardly Dog. The old, but sweet and kind Muriel was shown in the episode "Little Muriel" to have been an obnoxious brat as a child.
    • Played straight with her husband Eustace, who is implied to have been a good child up until the treatment he received from his mother and brother, thus turning him into the Grumpy Old Man he is in the show.
  • Dan from Dan Vs.: In "Summer Camp", Dan is bullied and responds by telling the camp director. Contrast that with how now-a-days with his first response to anything frustrating, no matter what or how small the problem is, his first response is almost always to get revenge.
  • The DuckTales (2017) incarnation of Doofus Drake was this, apparently. His beloved grandmother left him her vast fortune when he was too young to handle it. In the present day, he's an out-of-control Bratty Half-Pint who can go full-blown Yandere at the drop of a hat. The butler and maid who serve him? Those are his parents.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Denzel Crocker was a near perfect child who was loved by everybody. However, losing his fairies was his Start of Darkness.
  • Trina Riffin of Grojband was once a sweet girl, but she locked her old self (known as "Katrina") away in her mind and turned evil (and at least one of the reasons why was to impress her crush).
  • Hey Arnold!: "Helga on the Couch" shows us in a flashback that Helga Pataki was a normal girl who was so neglected and ignored by her parents that she had to walk to preschool by herself, getting splashed with mud and having her lunch stolen by a dog. She then meets Arnold, probably the first person to ever show her genuine affection, and immediately falls for him. After Harold steals her graham crackers and the other kids start laughing at her, she starts bullying them in order to get respect.
  • Zig-zag: In the 1993 cartoon Itsy Bitsy Spider (based on the animated short subject that played with Bebe's Kids in theaters), Leslie—the little girl who befriends Itsy—was a sweet, introverted kid in the short and first season. Many episodes in season two have her a head-slapping bitch.
  • Amazingly, Lucius VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes. He's Satan (albeit a mostly incompetent one), but what flashbacks we get of his childhood paint him as actually cute and rather sympathetic, being abused by his father or the people of Miseryville. Then again, given the place he lives in, it's probably no surprise he grew up the way he did.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Noatak who eventually adopted the name Amon was described as being a kind boy who always strove to help and be fair to everyone. It didn't last... Or rather, it did, but in the Darkest Way Possible.
    • Noatak's younger brother, Tarrlok, was a very sweet and timid boy. his adult version...Not So Much.
    • Season 4 gives us an older example in Kuvira. In Season 3, she was a kind and caring person who rescued Korra's father from certain death and was devoted to Suyin. Suyin even claimed she was like a daughter to her. But the fateful fallout with her over how to save the Earth Kingdom and the subsequent 3 years would turn her into a cold, power-hungry tyrant.
  • Mr. Grouse from The Loud House is revealed to have been one in 11 Louds A Leaping.
  • Although he had shades of being a Spoiled Brat especially after his mother's death and his father's initial refusal to hit him, Clay Puppington in Moral Orel was revealed to be this in "Passing." He was actually somewhat Orel-like.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • Recess: Both Principal Prickly and Miss Finster are implied to have been as carefree as TJ and Spinelli (and by extension the rest of TJ's friends) when they were children. Just see for yourselves.
  • Ricky Owens from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated went from the Shaggy of the original Mystery Inc. to the devious bastard he's known as in the present: Mr. E.
  • Monty Burns on The Simpsons was depicted as one in "Rosebud." A flashback showed him happily playing with his teddy bear Bobo, and being referred to by his parents as "Happy." He immediately abandons them, however, to live with a "twisted, loveless billionaire."
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Asajj Ventress, through a series of flashbacks, is shown to have first been a cute little girl who later turned to the dark side after her Jedi Master, Ky Narec, was killed.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil's 3rd Season opener, Queen Moon Butterfly, Star's uptight, stodgy mother, reveals why she's the way she is; Her own mother had been killed when Moon was the age Star is, forcing a once-carefree girl into the role of queen.
    Moon: I was never a cool warrior queen, Star. I was a happy-go-lucky girl like you. And then... (Voice breaks) Toffee and his monsters killed my mother.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Insane in the Membrane", it appears like this trope will be subverted when Baxter flashes back to his childhood and is seen about to pour some sort of chemicals on a bug in a jar. He changes his mind and lets the bug go. Through more flashbacks, it was clear that he was a good kid who was devastated by his mother's death, and the memories of her were enough for him to let the Turtles and April go.
  • In Thor: Tales of Asgard it was revealed that Loki was like this as a teenager. It's not until the betrayal of a family friend and the use of the Sword of Surtur that his former outlook starts souring and he begins to think different.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Used To Be A Sweet Child


Lotso's past

Lotso was originally owned by a girl named Daisy, and when she lost him and replaced him, he turned cruel and unforgiving.

How well does it match the trope?

3.56 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / UsedToBeASweetKid

Media sources:

Main / UsedToBeASweetKid