|“||And what happened then? Well, in Whoville, they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.||„|
|~ The Narrator on the Grinch's redemption.|
Villains' Absolution is the classic trope describing that some villains give up their evil ways to become good.
This event is essentially a form Heel-Face Turn scenario where a villain decided to become a good guy, though in the case of Villains' Absolution, the wrongdoer would reflect the error in their ways and sees that in spite of how far he/she go in the path of evil, he/she realized that he/she still have the chance to return to the good side.
There are several ways a villain can redeem themselves including:
- Snapping out of a possessed or brainwashed state, and deciding to aid the hero who freed them. The villain is a hypnotized, brainwashed or possessed pawn who does not know they are being controlled until they are freed. Grateful to whatever hero freed them, they ally with them. The cyber ninja Cyrax and the lost Edenian queen Sindel from the Mortal Kombat universe are the examples.
- Being exposed to a messiah or pure of heart type of hero who helps them see their errors. Usually done with delusional, honorable, or insecure villains (the wrongdoer can also have all those traits) who believe they are doing right or just want to be loved. The hero reveals to them that their actions are actually causing harm, or tries to comfort them. The individual chooses their desire for righteousness over what they have done, and/or decides the hero had helped them see what they were doing was wrong, and becomes a hero. Prince Zuko is an example.
- Choosing honor before evil. An honorable villain decides that their own honor, or the honor of something or someone else, is more important then what they are doing and decide to abandon their evil actions. Often done with supporting antagonists who value the lives of lower-ranking people in an organization such as Boss Wolf.
- Becoming friends with someone and decide to help them over being evil, such as Axel who had planned on betraying Organization XIII with Saïx, but over time built a friendship with two other members, Roxas and Xion, and decided he was happier being with them rather than plotting with Saix.
- Choosing their family over evil. Done with villains who have families and to care for them. They realize that their actions are actually hurting their spouses, children, siblings, or any other relatives in their family. One example is Darth Vader.
- Being memory-wiped or brainwashed into becoming a hero and deciding that they like their new personality and life better then their old one when they inevitably learn the truth. This is the rarest and most controversial form of a villain redeeming themselves since they did not turn good by their own free will and essentially had to be programmed into being good. Reserved only for villains who would normally be truly evil under their circumstances, the audience or reader meets them as a hero first, not knowing they are brainwashed or have fake memories. The "hero" does not know this either and is just as horrified as the viewer when they learn the truth about the horrible things they have done or regain their real memories, but they have spent so much time as a hero and living with an artificial good personality that they choose their new life over their former one and become true heroes. This also includes individuals that happened to be robotic villains that were meant/programmed to be the Big Bad's trump card against the heroes, but due to a certain incident, it ended up discovered and fixed by the heroes that he/she meant to destroy. The said individual even later befriended the said heroes without either them or said individual aware with his/her true goal. One famous example is Darth Revan. Another is Professor Pericles; although he did turn good, it was only in an alternate reality and didn't do out of the goodness of his own heart.
- Betrayed by their fellow villainous allies/bosses, which made them choose to turn to the good side. After they antagonize the hero and their deed succeeds, their allies/bosses dump them or try to kill them straight away; either way, the said villain escapes. Having seen the error of their ways (and in the worst case, hunted down by the big bad or their former ally which left them no option but to join the heroes to survive), they choose to turn to the good side by joining forces with heroes. Discord is an example.
- Retiring from being a villain and realizing that living as a good guy is more better than his previous life as evil-doers. Megamind and Professor Badlam are good examples.
- Learning the lesson of being evil from other villain (usually a Necessary Evil, a Monger or, in the worst of cases, a Complete Monster) In other words, they experience a case of "getting a taste of your own medicine," which leads them to understand that what they are doing is very bad and they feel horrified, disgusted and terribly bad for the actions of the latter villain and try to redeem himself/herself and fight against him/her (a similar but somewhat different to a case of Evil Vs. Evil). In the end of the battle (usually in the end of the very battle/episode/movie or in sequels), he or she will try to join the heroes and search for the pardon to everyone they had become enemies. Shadow the Hedgehog, Lucy, and Selina are good examples.
- Simply stopping being evil: There are rare cases where, though they have no real reason, a villain can just decide to stop being evil. Perhaps they tire of it or have successfully completed their goals and have no reason to antagonize anyone anymore. Some of these villains may not be remorseful like other redeemed villains, and instead are proud of what they have done but simply have "retired" from villainy. A good example is the Hatbox Ghost.
IMPORTANT: If the villain is currently in the On & Off status, do not add them unless they stayed good right up to the very end of the story. Also, do not include villains who have done a few honorable/heroic actions, then gone back to their villainous ways afterwards. Additionally, Pure Evil villains have no chance of any redemption, no matter the circumstances. Likewise, it is impossible for a redeemed villain to revert back to their evil ways unless they are brainwashed by another villain (or villains). Most importantly, villains who join the heroes out of pragmatic and self-serving needs CANNOT count as redemption, especially if they're still undeniably Pure Evil. These villains will slip back into their evil and heinous ways once their needs are fulfilled.