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The Atoner / Didn't Think This Through

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  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Prince Zuko in the third season by joining Team Avatar as a firebending instructor.
    • Jeong Jeong deserted the Fire Nation navy ten years before the story began.
    • Having a career as a Fire Nation general, Iroh counts as well.
    • Jet during the second season before his ultimate fate.
    • By the end of the first season of The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok, a former Smug Snake with a massive Dark and Troubled Past... and the brother of Big Bad Amon/Noatak.
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    • Another one we have from The Legend of Korra is Wan. Through Wan's story we learn the reason the Avatar exists. Wan, originally an ordinary human, interfered with a battle between the spirits of light (Raava) and dark (Vaatu). The result is Vaatu being released into the world and unleashing darkness and chaos. Wan eventually seals Vaatu after mastering the power of the elements and fusing his spirit with Raava, creating the Avatar Spirit and saving the world. However, there is still darkness in the world. After spending his entire life trying to fix his mistake, Wan expresses guilt in being unable to rid the world of darkness in his lifetime. Raava allows Wan to reincarnate, granting him more time. This begins the Avatar's cycle of reincarnation.
    • And it seems that Hiroshi Sato in Season 4 has become one.
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  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: Following the Skrull Invasion, Captain America, who was one of the first to be replaced and his image was used to try and convince humanity to surrender, became something of this as he tried to regain the trust he lost. Kind of an unusual example, being that he had nothing to do with the event he's atoning for and he's just as much a victim as any other Skrull victims. The world hasn't forgiven him for... having a total stranger pose as him while he was trapped on a spaceship.
  • In Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis is a mild atoner. He was something of a juvenile delinquent before meeting the now-retired Bruce Wayne, and sees being the new Batman as a way to make up for that.
    • Zeta, star of the spinoff The Zeta Project, has elements of this- a former assassin robot who gained free will and doesn't want to kill anymore. When he finds other robots of his type, he tries to stop them.
    • Mr. Freeze/Victor Fries in "Meltdown." Upon getting a brand new body, Fries genuinely seemed to want to make things better this time around. After being targeted in an assassination attempt by a man that he once wronged, he refuses to press charges against the man and instead decides to start a charity named in his late wife's honor to repay the victims that he had harmed in the past. Unfortunately, his new body soon begins breaking down and reverting back to its old state...
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  • Tetrax of Ben 10, as revealed in Secret of the Omnitrix. Also Kevin in Ben 10: Alien Force.
  • Count Dracula himself is this in Drak Pack, acting as mentor and boss to the teenage heroes against the forces of O.G.R.E. in order to help make amends for his evil past.
  • DuckTales (1987) has Fenton Crackshell / Gizmoduck. Whenever he screws up, he will frantically do whatever it takes to set things right, although he often makes it worse until he ultimately succeeds.
  • Both Ingrid and the titular protagonist of Fillmore! were delinquents. Now they're respected members of their school's Safety Patrol. The series treats them similarly to ex-criminals who became police officers.
  • In Gargoyles, the Magus trapped Goliath's clan in stone form after he mistakenly believed their attack got Katherine killed. The guilt he felt would dominate the rest of his life. He devoted himself to protecting the clan's next generation and never made his feelings for Katherine known as she fell in love with Tom. Goliath himself bears no grudge against him and is simply grateful that the Magus protected his clan's children.
  • A woulda-been third Jungle Book film would have actually turned Shere Khan from a Knight of Cerebus in the second to this.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Princess Luna is definitely one, trying to live down her 1000-year legacy as Big Bad Nightmare Moon. Mind you, her public relations need a lot of coaching from Twilight Sparkle, but she makes a real breakthrough. "Do Princesses Dream Of Magic Sheep" reveals she went so far as to create a monster called The Tantabus, which is essentially a small ghostly G-Rated Freddy Krueger, to punish her with horrific nightmares every single time she slept.
    • Trixie starts out as an insufferable blowhard and rival for Twilight Sparkle who later turning to the dark side after acquiring the corruptive Alicorn Amulet. Once Twilight frees her from the amulet's spell, Trixie becomes apologetic (albeit still a pompous Jerkass) and leaves her with a fireworks display to start her atonement.
    • Discord—the manipulative trickster, of all characters—manages to pull a Heel–Face Turn after becoming friends with Fluttershy, and swears to use his powers for good... most of the time. He makes good on his word by settling into a sort of Trickster Mentor role for the Mane Six, giving underhanded assistance while remaining as mischievous and obnoxious as ever.
    • Starlight Glimmer, the twisted Cutie Mark hating-dictator and Big Bad of Season 5, pulls a Heel–Face Turn when Princess Twilight Sparkle offers her hoof in friendship and makes Starlight her own student. Starlight's first act of atonement was returning to Our Town from the Season 5 premiere to make things up with the townsponies.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Simpsons. Mr. Burns, after losing his fortune and learning about ecology from Lisa, is determined to turn his life around and rebuild his fortune doing good works. Unfortunately, Mr. Burn's idea of "doing good" involves raping and pillaging the environment in an even worse way than he had as the CEO of a pollution-causing nuclear power plant. (Lisa then is forced to admit that Mr. Burns is just naturally evil—and when he tries to be good, his twisted sense of morality makes him even more evil.)
    Mr. Burns: I don't understand. Pigs need food. Engines need coolant. Dynamiters need dynamite. I provide it to them at a tidy profit: and best of all, not a single sea creature was wasted. You inspired it all, Li'l Lisa.
  • South Park reveals that Freddy Krueger is this, since apparently he murdered all those teenagers in the 1980s because the U.S. Government told him it would help with the Cold War and is now ashamed of having been a government lapdog. He even has a wife and kids now, but reluctantly decides to help save Stan and Mr. Mackey when they get trapped in a dream.
  • Steven Universe: The Crystal Gems themselves are atoners for their entire species. In "The Return", Greg says that their leader, Rose Quartz, led a rebellion against her own kind to drive them off Earth for doing something horrible to it, and that the surviving rebel Gems have dedicated themselves to atone for what their people have done, but they just can't seem to forgive themselves.
  • Dinobot, in Transformers: Beast Wars. Only a little, but more and more as it gets further into the second season, culminating in his Redemption Equals Death.
  • Wander over Yonder: Major Threat was once a feared galactic overlord, but thanks to a Heel–Face Turn by "Tumbleweed", he now dedicates his life to setting right all of the wrongs he had done, and bringing out the good in other villains.
  • Raimundo of Xiaolin Showdown spends some time as this after temporarily defecting to the Heylin side, resurrecting Wuya, and even winning... then sealing her all over again. While he definitely goes out of his way to make up for this, it takes Call Backs all the way to Season 3 before he finally becomes Shoku Leader in the finale.

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