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What Have I Become?

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"What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end."
Nine Inch Nails, "Hurt"

This is the desperate cry of those who have looked in the mirror and see a broken mask. A case of post-human panic at discovering they have been transformed into, or always were, a creature that is less... and more, than human.

The inhuman bombshell can be of any nature, a hero can be transformed or resurrected against their will via mystical, cybernetic, or genetic means, or discover they've always been a monster... or rather: were never human.

Likely candidates for "What Have I Become" are the Vampire Refugee, a genetically altered Half-Human Hybrid, and Cyborgs, though freakish Frankenstein's Monsters are also popular. This can be especially horrifying if the transformation also affects the character's mind, giving them animal instincts, removing their emotions, or giving them a thirst for blood. For extra pathos, the transformation will usually be into a creature that the character hates, usually because one killed a loved one of theirs, their friends, and/or Love Interest. Now everyone can Wangst together!

If the above seems a bit glib, it's because the revelation will cause a viewer's reaction to oscillate between "That's harsh" and "So what?", since some settings are very helpful in providing avenues for the moral Friendly Neighborhood Vampires to thrive, while others are genuinely cruel to those so changed. That said, change is what you make of it, and most protagonists find life as a non-human... whatever doesn't have to be that bad or morally debased... unless you're already evil.

If they're Genre Savvy, they know they've gone down a notch in the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality thanks to What Measure Is a Non-Human?. Expect them to break mirrors in frustration.

Not related to My God, What Have I Done?, although the two tropes may overlap sometimes for the metaphorical value. Opposite to Transhuman Treachery. Usually precedes the Trial Balloon Question. Often followed by I Am a Monster. Well-adjusted victims may decide that I Am What I Am which, assuming that they're permanently transformed, is probably the best result. Occasionally happens after being a Sheep in Wolf's Clothing. Their friends may disagree with them, telling them to drop the Freakiness Shame. If their new form can still dream, they may have a Guilt-Induced Nightmare.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Blood+ has Saya, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire by virtue of being raised among humans and "fed" blood intravenously. By season three, her rock solid relationship with her family is being consistently torpedoed by both friends and foes because she "isn't human" or "chiroptera and humans can not live together". When, for all intents and purposes, she, Riku and Kai are a happy family unit. Then again, outside pressure has been the end of a good many relationships.
    • By season three, Riku is turned into a Chevalier in extenuating circumstances by Saya. Other than the tragedy that he can't age into adulthood, everyone treats him like a ticking timebomb, and Saya thinks she was unjustified in saving him.
  • Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z combines this with My God, What Have I Done? after he thinks Majin Buu killed Gohan. Though it's mostly because it's Vegeta's fault for allowing Babidi to turn him into Majin Vegeta so he could fight Goku, which lead to Buu being unsealed.
  • Embalming: The Another Tale of Frankenstein, by the guy who did Rurouni Kenshin and Buso Renkin. Four of the major characters in the series at large are Frankensteins Monsters. Two don't remember their human lives, and one of them doesn't even remember his original identity, but neither of them seem to care. Two do remember, but one was already unhinged before gaining freakish strength and revels in his new body. The fourth guy is the only one with What Have I Become, and is determined to kill all Frankensteins — yet other than that, he might be the nicest of the four.
  • Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist has a reaction like this after he uses Bido's relaxed guard as an opening to kill him, as soon as he dies, Greed begins to have mental flashes back to his first life and his comrades and begins trembling uncontrollably. Admittedly, it's a little more like a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
    • Ling, whose body was changed into the homunculus Greed for Greed 2, is still conscious and contributes to this process by shouting at him inside his head about right and wrong. He has a weird mind and does not feel any guilt for anything Greed does with his body, or apparently even a twinge of Body Horror.
  • Makoto from Happiness struggles to resist his vampire urges.
  • Hakuoro from Utawarerumono goes through this upon learning that he is some sort of God-like beast and not a human
  • It's played down in the anime version of Umineko: When They Cry, but Ange-Beatrice did have a version of this after Lambda let her know that she wasn't real. It's complicated. Bern met Ange and made her a deal that if she would come with Bern, she could try to save her brother from Rokkenjima. What Bern did then was, according to Lambda, split Ange in two - a real Ange in the year 1998 and a false one that was exactly like Ange in every way, except that she is Bern's piece, and her existence was tied to the gameboard. And then, thanks to Time Travel confusion, there's also the one in 1986 who is still six at the time. The point is that the Ange who is helping Battler exists only as long as Battler is playing the game - she will never get her brother back even though she is the one taking the most direct actions to save him. So yeah.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry has an unspoken version of this trope, in the form of a 'necessary' Pyrrhic Victory for Rika: yes, her loved ones would have all died for real if she just gave up, but by the time she finds a way to save them that is sub par but acceptable for a little girl, the victory is so bitter that even though she won, she can't help but witness all the suffering that still goes on. To keep trying to find a way to make everything perfect, she has to resort to murder herself. OF HER MOTHER. No matter how happy she is from defying fate, she can no longer experience that happiness as an innocent child. The anime is MUCH more merciful with a perfect ending after all the hard work she did, but the stinger reveals that in one alternate timeline Rika convinced the Big Bad as a child to make a suicidal choice, not realizing what she had just chosen. It's unknown whether the final scene is her being happy that her parents are still alive or her being obliviously a ghost, but convincing a little girl to be suicidal is NOT a sane act. And then Rika smiles regardless.
  • Negi of Negima! Magister Negi Magi has a relatively minor one after his Black Magic-fueled Superpowered Evil Side came within inches of intentionally killing an innocent bystander, and one of his students, at that. His student helps snap him out of it with "But you didn't, right?"
  • Despite people frequently changing into monsters called "Awakened Beings" in Claymore, this moment happens only once with the character Ophelia. While originally having a lust for slaying said demons (Because one killed her family), Ophelia becomes obviously distraught when she discovers that she has become what she hates. She then surprisingly composes herself and pulls a Redemption Equals Death for Clare rather than give into her growing monstrous desires.
    • Dae, a top researcher in demons and Claymores, claims that this trope is the source of all Claymores' powers: Somehow, the psychological contradiction that the women hate demonkind to the point of having a subconscious determination to murder possessed humans, yet are in fact humans possessed with an even more powerful form of demon genetics themselves, causes their fractured psyches and augmented bodies to synchronize in a way that even the original "demons" (Dragons and Dragonborns) cannot comprehend. Unfortunately, Dae is then bisected by the Overlord Priscilla mid-sentence. Even worse, Dae has no sense of preservation for anything but curiosity, so after he helped destroy the research facility, he then helps Priscilla by theorizing to her that she realized what she was and put a mental block on herself out of a subconscious desire to commit suicide before she killed too many people — little girls, who are the greatest threat to her by becoming Claymores hell-bent on killing her, are now psychosocially invisible to her.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: This is the driving force behind Sayaka's fall.
    • And in the movie, Homura discovers what she really is: the most merciful Devil ever. Except to Kyubey, but seriously, the guy was REALLY asking for it.
  • Momonga of Overlord (2012) has a fairly low-key version of this as he adapts to his new existence as a lich. Discovering he is missing emotions, a visceral reaction to human deaths, and a belief in humanity's inferiority all take him by surprise and make him wonder how much his mind has been altered.
  • Zombie Land Saga has the titular zombies. Tae remains unawake, so she's still just a shambling corpse. Lily and Yugiri seem to be taking it in stride, while Sakura and Saki express confusion and annoyance at the whole thing. Ai and Junko, however, take it the worst; they try to bail and head back into human society, only returning after being shot at by a cop convinces them there's no way that would work, and sink into deep depression afterwards.
  • Rebuild World: After Tiol gets transformed by a Mad Scientist into a Tragic Monster human hybrid, he reacts like this when, in order for him to serve as a living Mook Maker to complete a certain task, he must eat both metals and human corpses to get the resources for his Nanomachines to make said monsters, as well as to transform himself to make an Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever.

    Comic Books 
  • Ben Grimm in the Ultimate Fantastic Four actually attempted suicide after his transformation, but his rock hard skin made it impossible. To date, all versions of The Thing have this to some degree... at best, they learn to live with it. The point even has a back and forth, since Reed Richards Is Useless will mean either Reed is deeply ashamed he can't find a cure, or that he hasn't devoted enough effort to do it. He is occasionally depicted as having mental blocks about being restored as well... that Reed does not see fit to reveal to him.
    • He didn't take it much better in the original comics, either. In fact, for the first few years, his transformation hadn't quite "set in", and he would randomly turn back into normal Ben Grimm for a few minutes at a time before changing back. This only added to his despair. Oh, and all his old friends abandoned him after he became the Thing.
  • Notably subverted in the origin story of Cassidy from Preacher: at first, he has no idea what he's become (a vampire), but once he's figured out the basic limitations and powers, he decides it's actually really cool. When a friend later lends him a copy of Dracula, he realizes what he actually is... and figures it's even cooler. Also notable in that no one ever actually says "vampire" — neither in his origin story nor the main storyline — although it's extremely obvious that's what he is.
    • It is played straight at first, though the only regret he seems to have is that he can't see his family again because of his change.
  • In Teen Titans comics, Victor Stone hated his father for saving his life by turning him into Cyborg — for many reasons, particularly because it destroyed his prospective athletic career. He'd really rather have died. He never truly got over that resentment and was suicidal for a long time, even after he joined the Titans, where his temperament made him a loose cannon and a poor team player. In the New 52, all this initial angst at his condition and anger at his father is retconned away to make him a cheerful transhumanist, which can feel deeply jarring to readers who have followed his character for years.
    • Teen Titans (2003) glosses over this by not discussing it at all, but Cyborg's bitterness at his... condition is occasionally hinted at, particularly in an episode where he infiltrates the HIVE Academy by posing as a human student and begins to form friendships and a budding romance.
      Jinx: You could have been one of us.
      Cyborg: I could have been a lot of things.
    • Beast Boy, in both the cartoon and the comics, has very little angst over his own transformation early in his life from blonde-hared, blue eyed Garfield Logan to green all over Garfield Logan. He even still got to be an actor, like he always wanted, even if his situation prevented him from getting any, um, "good" or "respectable" roles. Then again, his transformation happened when he was much younger than most superheroes and in his mind he has "always" been that way. He's best known for the role of the alien crewmember in a TV show which within the comic was a cheap Star Trek rip off.
  • Cliff Steele of the Doom Patrol after his brain was transplanted into a robot body by Niles Caulder, turning him into Robotman. At first, he couldn't feel any sensation at all, which nearly drove him mad. He tried to kill himself, but his body was too strong. He completely freaked out when it turned out Caulder was the one responsible for the accident that necessitated his brain transplant in the first place.
    • Every member of the Doom Patrol, really. Negative Man's body is so radioactive, it would kill anyone he came close to if he weren't covered with specially treated bandages, and his Hour of Power lasts for one minute... if he doesn't return to his body in time, he dies. Elasti-Girl's acting career was ruined when she gained her powers, as she was blacklisted as a freak, etc.
    • And yeah, Caulder's responsible for all of their Blessed with Suck (not really Blessed in any sense really) conditions too. He apparently created others like them who eventually became the Brotherhood of Evil in revenge.
  • Subverted in a 1990s Spider-Man comic after Spidey is knocked out in a fight with the Sinister Six and wakes up in a SHIELD hospital with what seems like a metallic arm in place of his normal one. He's horrified at the thought that he's become a cyborg, until the doctor who's treating his injuries comes in and explains that the metal "arm" is in fact just a highly advanced cybernetic cast that's healing the fractures of his flesh and blood arm while also protecting it from further injury. The cast is eventually destroyed in another battle with the Six, but when it falls to pieces Spider-Man's real arm is as good as new.
  • For a very, very negative version of this: Marvel Zombies. In case you were curious, they've become zombies.
  • In Captain America: Who Won't Wield The Shield (A comic book which, in point of fact, has nothing to do with Captain America), Forbush Man has become a serial killer hell-bent on punishing Marvel's staff and editors (some of whom are blissfully unaware of what's going on at the Marvel offices at all times) for turning all their classic heroes into dark and gritty shells of their former selves. But when he's shown his own original comics, he realizes that they've done the same thing to him, and undergoes a brief Freak Out before being shot to death. And coming back as a zombie. 'Cuz that's how Marvel rolls!
  • In Tales of the Black Freighter, the in-comic comic in Watchmen, a young mariner's vessel is wrecked by the Black Freighter (a literally hell-sent pirate ship) before he can return to his hometown and warn his wife and children. He ends up Marooned (also the name of that double-issue), and makes a raft out of his shipmates' gas-bloated corpses, which he had buried and then dug back up. The main character eventually gets to his hometown, only to find the Black Freighter had never come and terrorized his hometown, and that he had alienated himself from his family and friends in his (disturbing) efforts to save them from his own fabrication.
    • It's worse than that. When he first arrives, he's already convinced himself that the Freighter has already come and killed them all. When he sees a moneylender and the moneylender's wife, he assumes they collaborated with the pirates, so he kills them both. It's not until he's in his own house, trying to kill the "pirates" he finds there that he realizes what has happened. He faces this trope and swims out to join the Black Freighter as part of the damned crew. That's the reason the ship sailed to his hometown in the first place, to wait for him to join them.
  • Every Batman fan knows the story of how Mr. Freeze is keeping his wife Nora cryogenically frozen until he can find a cure for her. When he finally succeeded and thawed Nora out by dipping her in a Lazarus Pit, she came back as a raving fire-spewing psychopath with the ability to raise the dead. Calling herself "Lazara", Nora Fries blamed her husband for what she'd become, and fled for parts unknown, Mr. Freeze in pursuit.
  • In the old The Legend of Zelda comics, Link ends up taking the Triforce of Power and, with it, starts becoming corrupted by it. When Zelda finally confronts him over it, he tries to point out that he's finally gotten rid of Ganon with it. Instead, he's found out he never got rid of Ganon - he became Ganon. Link promptly freaks and tosses the Triforce of Power down a seemingly bottomless pit, the Triforce of Courage restoring him.
  • Morbius says these exact words in a flashback in The Amazing Spider-Man 699.1 that shows how he was turned into a living vampire and killed his best friend immediately after.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Amazingly, MEGATRON of all beings says he felt this back during The Transformers (IDW), during a conversation he was having with Optimus about the war. Specifically, his claims that he was willing to kill every Autobot alive just for the pleasure, and the realisation that he meant it. Given this version of Megatron started off as a freedom fighter, it shows him how far he'd strayed.
  • At one point in the Astro City stoy arc "The Dark Age," Royal Williams catches a glimpse of his reflection during his years-long pursuit of Lord Sovereign, which causes him to eventually realize that he and his brother were turning into the same type of cold-blooded Anti-Heroes who had ignored them during their own tragic past.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Curse's Cure Bellatrix Lestrange was forcibly woken from the madness caused by constant rape and degradation and the death of her unborn child, only to break into tears and collapse in Narcissa Malfoy's arms, sobbing "What have I become 'Cissa? What am I now?"
  • The progressing division of Kali and Kira in Zenith, Darkness, Reverie is classified as this by Kali. At some point, she accepts it and Kira murders four hundred people.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, an ex-Cerberus Phantom discusses this trope with an Alliance soldier who happens upon herself and her friend. Partway through the process of being turned into a Phantom, she had second thoughts, but given that this is Cerberus we're talking about it became an Unwilling Roboticization after that since once you're in, you don't leave. She gained Death Seeker tendencies as a result.
  • In Hope for the Heartless, months after the events of The Black Cauldron, Taran has dreamed about the Horned King's death nearly every night. Because of that, he has come to realize that upon being stopped, the lich had been robbed off of everything he had given any value to in his life. Taran can't help his feelings of guilt and fear of what sort of an end he would meet.
  • The Vow: While Shen's wallowing in a heartbroken state for sending away his newlywed wife, he wonders what would his younger, less hateful self think about the man he'd become in thirty years.
  • In The Web of The Spider-Man, Peter begins to wonder this as he exhibits abilities he's never had before, like bending iron in his grip or flipping down the stairs like an Olympic gymnast.
    Between how sick and hurt you were feeling and all of this... you... you were starting to feel scared. This wasn't right. This wasn't natural. This was... this was something else. Something had happened to you... Something was still happening to you...
  • In I Against I, Me Against You Church spends a few chapters having a complete meltdown and acting like even more of a jerk than usual after finding out he's really an A.I.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water:
    • SpongeBob when he has his breakdown after failing to save the Krabby Patty formula after going back in time and realizing he has descended into savagery like the others.
    • At one point, Past Spongebob says this word-for-word when he sees Future Spongebob and Future Plankton becoming a team and stealing the formula from Past Plankton.
  • Turning Red: Mei is horrified when she first sees her new red panda for, declaring herself as a "gross red monster". It takes until her friends comfort her for her to start losing this viewpoint.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Fantastic Four (2005). Johnny attempts to incite this in Ben before he turns into a giant rock man. Afterwards, Ben does get rather close to suicide over being rejected by his fiancée. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny — as he mulls over his fate while sitting on a bridge, a would-be jumper comes up... and Ben talks him out of it with one sentence: "You think you got problems?"
  • Jerry Maguire: "What had I become? Just another shark in a suit?"
  • What Have I Become is a theme that turns up now and then in Darkman. Not only is Darkman horribly mutilated, but the medical procedure that saved his life has the side effect of amplifying his emotions.
  • In Tim Burton's Batman (1989), the Trope is played with, when Jack first sees himself in the mirror — he moans and groans briefly, and then transforms into maniacal laughter.
  • Implied in the film version of V for Vendetta, where the titular V removes his mask and tosses it into a mirror, shattering the glass. Notable because after Becoming the Mask and turning his life into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against The Government and the people who wronged him, this is an expression of his personal frustration at the separation—physical (underneath it his entire body is Covered with Scars from a massive fire) and symbolic—that very mask now places between him, the man and not the idea that he now embodies, and Evey who he has fallen in love with.
  • In Woody Allen's A Midsummers Night Sex Comedy, pacifist intellectual Leopold has a dream about becoming a Neanderthal, full of sex and violence. When he wakes up, he finds out his fiance has been cheating on him. He grabs a bow and arrow and goes after him. When he shoots someone — the wrong man, no less! — and has no regrets about it, only pondering, "Blood? I've drawn blood? Who am I?" Of course, he naturally goes back to hot nurse Dulcy, telling her "Blood! I've drawn blood, and I relished it!", before ripping off her clothes to have wild sex with her (she later says he was fantastic).
  • Replicas: William was unable to save his earlier patients because their organic minds still believed that they were in their organic bodies, and panicked when they realized their bodies felt different. William is able to fix this by writing an algorithm that tricks the mind into thinking that it is still in an organic body.
  • We Are the Night: Lena gets a lot of these moments. She's distraught at realizing that as a vampire she's going to feed on blood for survival.

  • Louis from Interview with the Vampire goes through this after Lestat turns him. Wangst City. He's is composed of this trope and distilled Wangst.
  • Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space's Captain John Brannigan, whose body was ravaged by an alien technological disease, fusing him into his ship, tells his closest friend, Volyova (an insane engineer) that he has become a monster, in Redemption Ark, after suffering a Heroic BSoD
  • Derian from Jane Lindskold's Wolf Hunting. After he survives the plague, he finds out that it changed him drastically. He now looks like a horse furry. When he realizes it, he's so ashamed that he hides himself under the covers. The fact that he can now converse with the wise horses as easily as Firekeeper can with wolves is awesome, though.
  • In the Invasion block novels of Magic: The Gathering, the leader of the Shivan dragons, Darigaaz, becomes slowly corrupted by the other Primeval dragons, until he completely joins them in their destructive rampage. Another character eventually snaps him out of it, leading to this moment.
  • Michael doesn't take it well in the Knight and Rogue Series when he develops magic, something no intelligent human is supposed to have. His initial reaction to the discovery is horror, which is quickly cast aside — he's in a burning building after all — but once the discovery has time to sink in, he spends a few moments contemplating death over living the rest of his life as some horrid freak.
  • Lionblaze from Warrior Cats says this almost word for word in Eclipse after he nearly kills Crowfeather. Who was also his dad.
  • Phosis T'Kar's final moments during the Scouring of Prospero in A Thousand Sons. He slaughters his way through the combined Vlka Fenryka, Custodes and Sisters of Silence force, finally reaching the legendary Constantin Valdor who calls him a monster. T'kar sees his reflection in Valdor's armor and realizes that his lineage's curse, the Flesh Change, has horribly mutated him. Just before Valdor's blade cleaves his chest, he closes his eyes, sheds a tear and replies "I know."
  • In Venus Prime, Linda Nagy was transformed against her will into Sparta, the intended "prophet" of the Free Spirit. Throughout the series, she questions whether or not she's still human.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the aftermath of the flooding of the underground city in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Skye deals with this as her telekinetic earthquake powers begin to manifest. This is not helped by the forced reveal to the others when Lady Sif and a Kree soldier show up. The reactions of the team are mixed, with Coulson, May, and Fitz being the most supportive.
  • While struggling to lose the weight she gained during her pregnancy, Another World's Paulina did a Double Take in front of a mirror, clearly distraught at how she looked.
  • At the beginning of the second season of Babylon 5, Delenn has just finished transforming inside her chrysalis... and after she emerges, she has this reaction because she thinks the transformation has gone wrong. Thankfully, it turns out there's one final step to the process.
  • Four of the Final Five Cylons were revealed at the end of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica (2003). All were ardent resistance members dead set on killing every damn toaster there is. You can imagine how discovering they are what they hate has made them react, knowing that if they reveal themselves to their human friends they'll be lucky to be put in a cell and par for the course to be shoved out an airlock. Even so, they still want to help humanity even though they are no longer under the illusion that they're human. Well, maybe not Tory.
  • Doctor Who: Cybermen. Realising who they are and what they have become causes them to die of shock. Or explode.
    • However, this doesn’t always happen, as evidenced by the fact that some Cybermen survived after the Doctor deactivated the emotion suppressors on the alternate Earth.
  • On Heroes, both Dr. Mohinder Suresh and Peter Petrelli go through this in Season 3. Mohinder has injected himself with an experimental and flawed superpowers formula, which seems to be turning him into The Fly, while Peter has acquired not only Sylar's ability to understand the plot how things work, but also Sylar's uncontrollable compulsion to cut open peoples heads and steal their brains.
    • As of season 3 episode 24, Sylar's new power of shapeshifting in combination with his ability to pick up past information from objects he touches and emotions from people he touched has worsened his identity crisis by starting to drive him insane. He finds himself involuntarily and uncontrollably shapeshifting, first only in his sleep, later even while awake, triggered he touched the blood on the clothes of his dead mother and absorbed her DNA and memories. Now when alone he alternates between his own form and that of his mother, complete with Gollum-like external monologues/dialogues between the two personalities. To say Sylar's not happy about it is to put it mildly.
  • Kamen Rider sees protagonist Takeshi Hongo horrified by his Cyborg body and his capabilities therein, a result of Shocker kidnapping and modifying him. Even when he does save the day, he knows that his body will never be normal again. Later installments in the Kamen Rider franchise see their protagonists suffer this to varying degrees, relative to how much like Hongo's unwilling alteration they are.
  • Melrose Place's Amanda looks at herself in the mirror with a disgusted expression after cheating on her husband. Despite this being a reaction to his own adultery, she clearly realized that two wrongs did not make a right.
  • The amnesia thing was done previously in the The Six Million Dollar Man episode "Stranger in Broken Fork", friendly locals and all. But with the cruel twist that Steve freaks out for (almost) nothing — he thinks he's all robot when in fact he has just three (superpowered) prosthetic limbs and an eye.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • In one episode, the heroes realize halfway through that they are robots.
    • Daniel also has a moment like this after realizing what he's done at the end of "Absolute Power". This being the Daniel in the reality where that never happened and was All Just a Dream. The other one knew exactly what he'd become, he just didn't care.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Thine Own Self", Data (afflicted with amnesia and believing himself to be one of the locals) reacts with shock when an injury reveals circuitry under his skin.
  • Third Watch's Carlos seduces a classmate in order to steal her lab notes, but catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and promptly has a Heel Realization of his behavior.
  • Torchwood: Poor, poor Owen Harper. Suicide doesn't work if you're dead.
  • Without a Trace: After swiping a bottle of painkillers from a victim's bathroom (he's developed an addiction after being shot), FBI Agent Martin Fitzgerald looks at himself in the mirror with an expression that screams this.

  • Breaking Benjamin's song "Diary of Jane" has these lyrics:
    Desperate, I will crawl
    Waiting for so long
    No love, there is no love
    Die for anyone
    What have I become
  • Reign of Kindo's song "The Moments in Between" says it.
  • "Hurt," the last song of the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral, also covered by Johnny Cash.
    • Most of Nine Inch Nail's 2013 album, "Hesitation Marks", has lyrics revolving around this - around trying to escape it, accepting it, trying to get someone to tear it out...
  • The Evanescence song Bring Me to Life contains a bit of this.
    Save me from the nothing I've become
  • Averted by Disturbed with the song "Monster". It's actually about "What I Will Not Become"
    • However, if the song "Serpentine" is to be considered a continuation of this theme, that same narrator (lead singer David Draiman) is implied to have failed at this.
    Damn what I’m becoming / One of them now...
  • Africa by Toto.
    I seek to cure what's deep inside,
    Frightened of this thing that I've become
  • Coldplay's "viva La Vida" seems to be about a ruler who has become a tyrant:
    It was the wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn't believe what I'd become
  • Sabaton's song Great War essentially namedrops this in the second verse. The song itself is about Passchendaele and by that point the absolute futility of World War I with over a year left before it even concludes
    I’m standing here, I’m full of fear, with bodies at my feet
    Over there in the other trench, bullets wear my name
    Lead ahead, as the captain said and show them no remorse
    Who am I to understand what have I become?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Seeing as how a central theme of their games is 'Personal Horror', White Wolf has made this moment standard with nearly every The World of Darkness gameline except Hunter and Mage games (where you remain human), and Promethean: The Created (where you don't start out human). Granted, even in those games, it's still quite possible if the Storyteller spins it right.
    • This is required in the Werewolf: The Forsaken gameline. One day, you're bitten by a werewolf and one gruesome (and painful) transformation sequence later you realize you always had werewolf blood in you, yearning to get out (the bite did nothing, it just helped your new mentor get your scent so he and his pack could track you down before the First Change and restrain you before you hurt someone during it). Now all those bouts of extreme rage and murderous intent throughout your life is starting to make sense.
    • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse you can start in human or wolf form, but either way you start having bizarre rages and nightmares until one day a traumatic event (such as an attack by monsters or abusive parents) causes you to burst out in your hybrid form and rip somebody (sometimes someone innocent) to bloody bits. If your werewolf relatives find you, you find out that you weren't born human (or wolf) to begin with. If they don't find you, you'll just be confused and alone until you die. Only the Metis (born of two werewolf parents) know from birth more-or-less what they are.

    Video Games 
  • In the Playable Epilogue of Red Dead Redemption, Jack Marston would often say this if he shoots unarmed innocents, horses and/or loots their bodies (or skins the horse). Especially if they're women.
  • Both Kalas and Sagi from the Baten Kaitos games have a moment like this.
  • In the original God of War Kratos says 'By the gods, what have I become?'
    • This line is very notable, because it's probably the only time that he'd ever expressed sorrow for something that didn't relate to his family.
    • He is answered in God of War: Ghost of Sparta by the Grave Digger/Zeus with "Death. The Destroyer of Worlds". After killing Thanatos, God of Death, and losing his brother again, this time forever.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the prince asks himself this very question after discovering the Shadow Prince within himself. He also doesn't want Farah to see his sand monster form. The Dark Prince sardonically asks if he's worried she'll prefer the new him, and he rather bitterly answers, "Charred skin, glowing eyes, a melted face... what's not to like?"
  • in Target Earth/Assault Suits Leynos, Rance Culzus is forced to become a cyborg after a severe defeat to the protagonist (and after explaining that his kind, who started the war against Earth, is actually originated from humans sent on a mission from Earth to discover new worlds to colonize; for some reason, they were forced to call for Earth's help, to no avail, were forced to become cyborg hybrids in order to survive, and now are exacting their revenge against those who had forsaken them. The protagonist then says that he won't allow Earth to become a battlefield, and he replies saying that his kind will never reconcile with the humans), and when they meet again, for the last time, Rance mentions that he has followed the fate of his kind in order to survive.
  • One fan theory for why The Witch in Left 4 Dead is always crying.
  • In the Final Fantasy VII prequel Crisis Core, Genesis becomes a villain, Angeal a Death Seeker and Sephiroth enlightened with insanity because of this. The only thing that changes with their appearance is a single black or white wing on their back (Sephiroth's wing is seen chronologically much later in the series though) which allows them to fly, and before that they were insanely powerful warriors. The genetic tinkering behind this however also causes Genesis and possibly Angeal as well to slowly degenerate. Which still kinda manages to be Cursed with Awesome (seeing how there were possible cures), although there are more subtle explanations for why they are not exactly happy about the revelation; they aren't angsting about having wings, they're angsting about what the wings are a symptom of.
    • Cloud Strife in the original game goes through a similar moment. But it is made more complicated by the fact that his own transformation into a Jenova hybrid came with a set of side effects including false memories and susceptibility to mind control, which led him to misunderstand the nature of his condition at first and think he was never human at all, which leads to his breakdown. It takes a little amount of Tifa's tinkering with his mind to recover the truth of who he was and is, and repair his personality.
    • This seems to be a running theme in the FFVII games, in Dirge of Cerberus Vincent gets a Scream Discretion Shot upon waking up after Dr. Hojo experimented on him and seeing his monstrous new form.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, it's implied that this was the reason why Revan took off his/her mask in the Rakatan ruins on Lehon, briefly reflecting on their Motive Decay since the end of the Mandalorian Wars.
    • In the sequel, Kreia states her belief that on a subconscious level, the Exile always knew what they had become after Malachor V and the reason they ran way was because they were afraid!
  • In Kings Quest VI, the Lord of the Dead is reminded by Alexander of how he came from a human life to an eternally damned existence.And this fazes him just enough to make him shed a single tear. Which is still good, considering he grants Alexander his wish to resurrect Cassima's parents.
  • The ending monologue of [PROTOTYPE]'s Alex Mercer consists of him trying to figure out just what exactly he is. His conclusion is that he ultimately doesn't know.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen never asked for this.
  • Several cases, most notably Argilla, suffer from this in Digital Devil Saga. Though, to be fair, having a cannibalistic demon inside you who will never shut up about its Horror Hunger and will never, ever go away, along with unexplained emotion surges, would ruin anyone's day.
  • After mercilessly torturing his own brother to maintain his cover, even though it was with his consent, Jason Brody in Far Cry 3 takes a moment to look at his hands and ask himself what he's become.
  • During his more lucid moments, Aatrox of League of Legends often bemoans how he fell from glorious Ascended warrior, to the murderous, miserable and omnicidal Darkin he is now.
    Aatrox: "I am but an unholy copy of life... A mockery of its freedom... And born in the cruel betrayal of the noble ideals I would've served."
  • Ellie in The Last of Us Part II feels this after stabbing Mel who is pregnant.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Eithne the Trader absolutely hates that she became undead in a freak accident. She insists on speaking of herself in the past tense and has a Sidequest around helping her destroy herself rather than persist in a skeletal "shadow existence".

    Web Animation 
  • When Alfred Alfer looks in the mirror in part 3 of Alfred's Playhouse and realizes that he and Pickles are the same person.
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Nonverbal, but Lewis' reaction to waking up in a coffin after his death and discovering that he's now a pretty terrifying ghost is pretty clearly shown as a mixture of horror and sadness.
  • Red vs. Blue: In season 12, Grif is horrified to realize that the pressures of leadership are causing him to act like Sarge.
  • In Sam & Mickey's "The Attic", Barbie criticizes Ken's flamboyant and kitschy outfits, and threatens to dump him again over his poor fashion sense. However, she has a Heel Realization after her "little sisters" find a Betamax tape of a five-year-old, tackily-dressed Barbie attempting to audition for a cereal commercial, but receiving verbal abuse from her mother, Margaret.
    Barbie: Oh, my God. I've turned into my mother, haven't I?


  • Neopets played this for laughs in the Petpet Park plot. You come upon an adorable Cybunny with the options of: A) Become inexplicably hostile, B) Request an autograph, C) Ask, "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?", or D) Bribe it with Neocash. Upon executing any of the options, the Cybunny would turn around to reveal itself to be half-robot. If you chose A, it gets a mirror out of nowhere and says, "ERROR: WHAT HAVE I BECOME?"

    Web Original 
  • This happens to Taylor of Worm, when she sees a recording of herself assaulting a government facility and observes that she's been using moves that she never taught herself. The fact that she's a one-girl Mook Horror Show doesn't hurt.

    Western Animation 
  • Satirized in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. In the episode "Rule of Dumb", Patrick becomes king of Bikini Bottom after finding out he is supposedly descended from royalty and later begins to abuse his power. In one scene, he looks in the mirror and sees that he's becoming a monster, leading him to say the quote word for word.
    Mirror: Knock-knock.
    Patrick: Huh? [with glee] A knock-knock joke! Who's there?
    Mirror: You!
    Patrick and Mirror:: [confused] I don't get it.
    Mirror: I'm you and you are me. (Patrick finally understands)
    Patrick and Mirror: [screams] What have I become?!
  • Silverbolt in Beast Machines utters this phrase upon being reformatted from a Vehicon. Technorganicness is hard to handle.
    • Generation 1 gets in on it when Spike has to be temporarily transferred from his human body to a robotic spare that was made up for this purpose. Did NOT help that Frankenstein was on the TV that day. Oh, and the robot body having issues with sanity.
  • In one Gargoyles episode, Genius Cripple Halcyon Renard can't bear his condition any longer and financially supports a ruthless criminal so that he can steal the Golem of Prague for him. After Renard uses a ritual to transfer his soul into the Golem he quickly goes mad with power and the ability to walk and feel again. Goliath then asks Renard if he was really willing to trade away everything good about him — his honor and integrity — for a lump of clay. Renard then utters the trope verbatim, returns to his human body, and gives the Golem back to its owner. He thanks Goliath at the end, telling him that he had saved his soul if not his life.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Putting Your Hoof Down", Fluttershy has this realization after some assertiveness training goes wrong and causes her to turn into a complete jerk. She realizes how she's been acting and sees herself as a menace, prompting her to lock herself in her own home. This leads to a moment when Fluttershy looks in the mirror and sees herself with devil horns (which are actually the horns from a torn-up poster of the minotaur who gave her said assertiveness training).
  • Tarrlok by the end of Season 1 of The Legend of Korra when he realizes that he's become the very tool of vengeance that his father Yakone wanted him to be and that he tried to avoid becoming. Amon may have also had this at the end before Tarrlok kills them both but it's left more ambiguous.
  • Gravity Falls: Mabel says this verbatim when she realizes she has begun behaving like Stan in "Boss Mabel." Played with because she actually realizes that she needs to act like him to some extent in order to get things done.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Subverted. When Raphael and one of the Kraang switch bodies, the Krang escapes outside then sees its reflection in a mirror and says the line. It even starts raining.
  • Played for Laughs in Milo Murphy's Law—at the thought of competing against Lumbermax in the Battle of the Bands, Zack has a bit of a breakdown and begins treating his friends badly, culminating in him preparing to play all of their instruments himself. Just then, a band called "Reflective Randy and the What Have I Becomes" pass by, with mirrors covering their clothes, prompting him to realize what he's been doing.
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Day The Earth Stood Cool", Chief Wiggum recognizes he is abusing his power while threatening a donut-maker to make more donuts, and wonders this aloud, following up with the observation, "It's not a good feeling when you're saying 'what have I become?' more than once a day."
  • South Park: Heidi Turner has this reaction in season 21's finale after hearing Kyle's Armor-Piercing Response. She becomes disgusted with herself for becoming Cartman's Distaff Counterpart, and was going kill him for "turning her into this." However, she soon realized that it wasn't Cartman himself but rather her "I'm a victim" attitude that resulted in her deteriorated state, and proceeds to break up with Cartman, because she no longer wants to be the victim.
  • Heartbreakingly in BoJack Horseman, the creators decided they wanted to show an incredibly human side of a character who, yes, we already know had Hidden Depths, but wasn't amazingly three-dimensional up until only minutes before their death. That character is Sarah Lynn, known best for being a Former Child Star who looked up to BoJack as a pseudo-dad due to her unexplained Disappeared Dad and implied sexually abusive step-dad. She experiences this trope during a six-week bender with BoJack after learning she'd won an Oscar for Best Original Song. She realized in that moment that fame didn't make her happy, that nothing she had or did made her happy – she may have been rich, she may have been a recognizable face, but she hadn't been happy since she was a child. The viewers receive a Hope Spot during this moment, as she'd been dropping hints throughout the episode that she may pursue her childhood dream of being an architect, only to be crushed. BoJack takes her to the planetarium, the place she'd been suggesting they go to since the beginning of their bender, and she revealed the real reason she liked the planetarium was because she admired domed buildings. Her final words also acted as a Hope Spot, reiterating that she wants to be an architect, just to turn into a Heel–Face Door-Slam as she died on BoJack's shoulder due to a heroin overdose. Cruel.
  • In the first episode of season four of Castlevania (2017) when Alucard, after months of isolation and trauma living in his father's castle washes his faces after pissing on one of the impaled corpses of his enemies. He looks at his downtrodden expression and states with horror... that he's become as pessimistic and rugged as Trevor Belmont.

I'm spending my time on TV Tropes! What have I become?


Video Example(s):


Jack Atlas

Jack regrets what he did to Yusei and decides to leave his old life behind, forge a new path, and make amends to the friends he betrayed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheAtoner

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