Heroes don't last forever. They eventually fall or show not-so-pleasant characteristics that turn people away from them. They Took a Level in Jerkass or fell much deeper into the realms of a Fallen Hero. But some people, and especially their closest allies, still have faith in them, even as enemies, regardless if they have fallen well behind their prime.
Someone who knew that person, or at least based on one's knowledge, would say how The Hero used to be a much better person. That person would usually go on like this whenever the Fallen Hero has hit rock bottom and is sucking the ground in defeat. Unlike "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which is used to belittle a target, this type of phrase reminds them of how they were respectable in the past and what accomplishments they made as an Ideal Hero. The Hero used to be a Knight in Shining Armor who fought for ideals, held moral values at heart, cared profoundly about humanity, or had some dignity that made great characteristics as a person. It doesn't matter what Start of Darkness they had, especially if they should not have surrendered to evil in the first place.
The speech is usually an attempt to make the target have a Heel Realization and the shock to come all at once. Shortly after recovering from this Heroic BSoD would one expect the Broken Pedestal to come back from despair, pulling a HeelFace Turn, and regaining the respect he or she once had. In some cases, however, they may ignore the epiphany instead and further indulge in misdeeds.
Can overlap with Villainous Ethics Decay, if one villain is saying it to another. Compare You Are Better Than You Think You Are and We Used to Be Friends. When someone decides to say Get A Hold Of Yourself Man, cue the trope. The Paragon Always Rebels, and is likely to be confronted for their fall in this manner afterward. What the Hell, Hero? is when this trope and "The Reason You Suck" Speech have a child together.
Subtrope of Rousing Speech.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Happens to Greed in the manga and second anime. When he attacks Bido, his friend from his first life, he tells his former superior how they used to be family. Greed casts aside the memories and kills the poor creature without hesitation. Then, Ling rages within his body and says the exact same thing. What drives the point across is how he just surrendered his right to be called 'Greed' by turning away his family and friends. My God, What Have I Done? indeed...
- In Astro City, after dealing with his latest horrendously destructive scheme to ruin her life, Winged Victory laments that her arch-nemesis Karnazon has degenerated from lofty ambitions of taking over countries to a single-minded obsession with ruining her just to soothe his wounded ego.
- Batman: When Batman was recovering from his broken back during Knightfall, he went to Lady Shiva to get his fighting skill back to acceptable levels. After a test battle, she expresses disappointment at his decline. Her unspoken sentiment is that had it been almost anyone other than Bruce, she would've killed him without mercy.
- In the infamous Harry Potter fanfic Becoming Female, Crystal (Harry's female name) says this to Ron the Death Eater, who is now going by "Ron Raper":
"Why are you doing this?" I asked Ron dramatically. "We used to be friends! Why did you change?""Change? I never changed," said Ron Raper as he smoked evilly. "I've always been like this. You just never noticed it before because you were a sexist boy too. Not as sexist as me, perhaps, but enough for you not to notice. Remember how we sexistly treated those girls we took to the Yule Ball?""That was different!" I yelled. Ron Raper just laughed like Jafar from Aladdin as he disapparated even though you weren't supposed to do that on Hogwarts grounds.
- In Dear Diary, Opal gives one to N when he reveals that their teams will have to fight in a battle to the death to be sacrifices to Reshiram and Zekrom, saying the old N would never think this was justified.
- Kingdom Hearts: The Antipode: Xemnas gets one from the Lingering Will; the vessel for his heart.
I know you can be better than this. Because we were better. But, if you stay on this path, I'll drown you in the ocean of every regret you've run away from.
- Praise Be To Alchemy, a crossover between the Arland games of the Atelier series and Monster Girl Encylopedia, has Totori giving one of these to Sasha Fullmoon of the Fallen Maidens before finishing a Curb-Stomp Battle against her.
Totori: I know you were once a good person, Sasha. It was the Fallen God who gave you this form. So if you just surrender now, then I won't have to waste any more of my bombs.
Film - Animated
- The Incredibles: Helen Parr a.k.a. Elastigirl used to be an outgoing girl who wanted to prove women great superheroes as men were. Cue the public turning on the supers for their collateral damage and she has accepted her life as a normal mother who wishes to make her children be the same. After learning what her husband has been up to, it takes Edna to finally get her to come to her senses.
"What are you talking about? You are Elastigirl! Pull! Yourself! Together! "What will you do?" Is this a question!? You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who you are. Well, you know where he is. Go, confront the problem! Fight! Win!"
- The Lion King (1994): Nala says this when Simba refuses to return to Pride Rock, overthrow Scar and take his rightful place as king.
Nala: What's happened to you? You're not the Simba I remember.Simba: You're right, I'm not. Now, are you satisfied?Nala: No, just disappointed.Simba: You know, you're starting to sound like my father.Nala: Good! At least one of us does!
- Toy Story 2: Buzz gives one of these to Woody when he prefers to go to Japan with the other collectibles of a hit show than return with Andy.
"Somewhere in that pad of stuffing is a toy who taught me that life's only worth living if you're being loved by a kid. And I traveled all this way to rescue that toy because I believed him."
Film - Live Action
- A Downplayed version plays out in the 1994 version of Angels in the Outfield with past-his-prime and addicted-to-pain-pills-and-nicotine Angels pitcher Mel Clark, who's basically spent the past few seasons of his "career" on injured reserve. Clark's signing autographs after a midseason game when J.P. goes up to him and asks, "You used to be Mel Clark?"; Clark gives a long pause before replying "I used to," before declining any more autographs and ducking for the clubhouse. J.P. is only eight or nine years old and the question has nothing more than a child's imperfect grammar behind it, but it definitely strikes a nerve with Clark. With Roger's prayer to God for help and some divine intervention, Clark gets back on the mound and pitches like his old self the rest of the season, even starting the winner-take-all final game for the pennant. Which the Angels win, Clark tossing a complete game for the victory and sealing it with a diving catch for the final out...which would be his last, as Al the head angel reveals to Roger that Clark's smoking will cost him his life in six months.
- Awake: Once the vicious plot to kill Clay for his money is revealed and Lillith commits suicide to give him her heart, Dr. Neyer sarcastically says to the operating staff that they can leave before the police arrives. While they all do in a hurry, he says one final shameful comment to his old colleague Dr. Harper, the head doctor and supposed friend of Clay, just before the latter departs:
Dr. Neyer: What the hell happened to you?
- Ordell to Louis in Jackie Brown:
What the fuck happened to you, man? Your ass used to be beautiful!
- Predator: Dutch and his hostage rescue team are hired to retrieve a cabinet minister and his aide from enemy hands. When they find the men, Dutch discovers that they're actually CIA spies, and the real purpose of hiring the team was to use it to destroy a rebel military encampment. Dutch challenges his old friend CIA operative Dillon, who tricked him into accepting the job.
Dutch: What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be somebody I could trust.
- Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi delivers one to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith (while the latter is burning alive in a river of lava).
Obi-Wan: You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!Darth Vader: I hate you!Obi-Wan: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.
- Daredevil (2015): Matt and Foggy are placed on a legal case opposite of Foggy's ex, Marci Stahl, who believes her clients (a massive corporation being sued by a woman whose home they ruined) have a strong case and brags about it. Foggy delivers a fantastic rebuttal to her argument and ends it by lambasting Marci for working for such shady clients, and insulting the victim. He tells her "you used to have a soul" and walks away with a moral victory. Even Marci is impressed (and, evident by her reaction, rather turned on) and the two later reconcile, Marci helps expose her bosses' corruption, and they begin a serious relationship.
- In the Miami Vice episode "Buddies," Crockett finds out that his old friend Robbie Cann is the son of a mobster, that he borrowed money from his father to start his business, and that he's willing to let a woman get murdered to protect himself. Crockett gives him a speech about their time serving in Vietnam: "The man I knew always did what it took and it hurt sometimes, but he did it... We refused to throw those POWs out of the choppers. No matter what the rest of the world was saying, we did the right thing." It works, and Robbie ends up sacrificing himself to protect the woman.
- In Batman: The Telltale Series, if Bruce goes against Two-Face at the beginning of the Season 1 finale instead of the Penguin, this can be a dialogue option for Bruce to try to get through to Harvey.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, after Xaldin takes the rose from the Beast and causes him to approach the Despair Event Horizon, Sora tells Beast on how he once bent time and space itself to save Belle from Maleficent and helped Sora motivate his own desire to save Kairi. He then reminds Beast on how much the rose means to everyone in the castle, and how Belle's presence renewed their hope on breaking their curse. This causes Beast to snap out of his despair
- Mega Man Zero 4: The Dragon of Dr. Weil for this game, Craft, used to be a heroic sort of guy who cares for the people, but he's convinced by Weil that the situation has become so bleak and desperate that Craft chose to side with him. He used to be close to a reporter named Neige, but they haven't talked to each other ever since he becomes Weil's enforcer and she arranges to help people escape Weil's reign. Later in the game, Craft assaults the refugee site where Neige is in and then kidnaps her; when you're asked to rescue her from her prison, there'll be a scene where she's talking with Craft, pointing out that he used to be a hero to the masses with good ideals, and how he had "gone low" to serve a tyrant like Weil. Before you and she escape the place, she managed to convince Craft that to Face Death with Dignity is better than "living a living death" - which later becomes the catalyst for his HeelFace Turn.
- Ratchet & Clank
Ace: I'm Ace Hardlight!Ratchet: You were a hero once, Ace.
- Qwark already had his problems since the start of the series, from siding with the first Big Bad to becoming the second while orchestrating Engineered Heroics. Then comes Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, when his Arch-Enemy, Dr. Nefarious begins to take over the galaxy again. In the middle of the war, he ends up fleeing to his hideout after faking his death. When the main duo confronts him, Clank reminds him how he was once a respectable hero before his decadence, causing him to come back in the finale and defeat Dr. Nefarious once again.
- Ratchet: Deadlocked had Ace Hardlight, a former hero now a ruthless Exterminator. After Ratchet defeats him in the arena, he reminds Ace how he was once a hero, resulting in him giving a Jacob Marley Warning and pulling a HeelFace Turn in the spinoffs.
- Resident Evil 4: Leon has such thoughts when examining Krauser's corpse after his Boss Fight. Granted, Leon did not know the whole story, their partnership in the Darkside Chronicles gave him a decent impression of the guy.
What happened to you, Krauser? You used to be a nice guy...
- The Nostalgia Critic: For his 100th episode, Critic initially starts the episode intending to do a "Crummy Ass Clip Show" so that he can smoke a joint while the audience basks in his awesomeness. However, the two characters of the first clip (Ma-Ti from Captain Planet and his past self) notice that the present-day Critic is being lazy and call him out for it by saying he used to be better than this.
Past Critic: "The Nostalgia Critic of the past wouldn't do something like that!"Ma-Ti: "What happened to you, man? You used to have strong, plentiful balls."
- Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: G.R.O.W.-U.P.", Numbuh One gets turned into an adult, leading him to leave the Kids Next Door and get an adult job as "Mr. Uno". Nevertheless, his friends still want him be their friend and leader, and Numbuh Five gives him a rebuttal when he angrily rejects them and tells them to get lost.
Numbuh Five: You know, you used to be cool, because the team meant more to you than anything, including yourself. But now, you're just a selfish, old crank. It's not your age that's changed, Mr. Uno. It's you.
- DuckTales (2017) the Season 1 finale has Magica eventually give one of these to Scrooge. She couldn't even believe he was that down in the dumps at first and thought he was faking it.
- The Milo Murphy's Law crossover with Phineas and Ferb, "The Phineas and Ferb Effect", has a very unusual inversion, as the target, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, has actually not become the hero that Cavendish admired yet. Fifteen years in the future, Doofenshmirtz will invent time travel and become Professor Time, which is why Milo, Dakota, and Cavendish sought him out to invent time travel early and prevent the Pistachions from taking over. Instead of taking the cause seriously, Doofenshmirtz is more concerned about orange soda and cup holders. When Doofenshmirtz, Dakota, and Cavendish finally strand on an island, Cavendish snaps and rants about his disappointment to Doof.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Daring Don't", Rainbow Dash is distraught after her attempts to help Daring Do end up getting her captured by Ahuizotl. Her friends decide it's their job to rescue her, but the guilty Rainbow refuses, as Daring Do made it painfully clear to her that she doesn't want help.
Applejack: This don't sound like you.Pinkie Pie: Where's the Rainbow Dash who would help anypony at the drop of a hat?Rarity: Or pith helmet, as the case may be.Rainbow Dash: She's here where she's got no business being. She should be at home!Twilight: It's fine to look up to Daring Do, but you've put her so high up on a pedestal, you can't even see your own worth anymore! She's in the fortress, and we're here, and we wouldn't be who we are if we didn't go in after her! And neither would you! So, are you with us, or not?
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Bart to the Future" where Bart recurrently uses this phrase to try and guilt trip people to doing as he wishes. It has no real success until he tries manipulating the UN:
China Rep: You pay now. Now!Bart: What happened to you, China? You used to be cool.China Rep: Hey, China still cool. You pay later. Later!