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Villainous Overview
The Villains' Absolution

Villains' Absolution

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 trope/phenomenon 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 an 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).

Quotes

Yes, let us mix, Max. I've never admitted it before, but my cousin is the bluebird of happiness.
~ The Chief Blue Meanie's absolution.
[crying] I-I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't know there was another way.
~ Sunset Shimmer apologizing to everyone for what she done.
Oh. Oh. Well played, Fluttershy. Well played.
~ Discord after realizing he'll lose the only friend he ever made if he doesn't turn everything back to normal.
Darth Vader: Luke... help me take this mask off. (Luke: But you'll die.) Darth Vader: Nothing... can stop that now. Just for once... let me... look on you with my *own* eyes. [Luke takes off Darth Vader's mask one piece at a time. Underneath, Luke sees the face of a pale, scarred, bald-headed, old man - his father, Anakin. Anakin sadly looks at Luke but then gives a tired smile] Anakin: Now... go, my son. Leave me. (Luke: No. You're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I've got to save you.) Anakin: You already... have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right. [Anakin smiles and his eyes begin to droop slumps down in death while giving one last dying breath] (Luke: Father... I won't leave you.)
~ Darth Vader's last words.
No, Spirit! Oh no, no! Spirit! Hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope? Good Spirit, Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life. I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!
~ Ebenezer Scrooge repenting to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, telling he can change and honor Christmas in his heart.
That there, that's me? Then I... after all this. I'm not the Raven's daughter. I had a mother. I had a father. I'm a normal human being?
~ Kraehe discovering the truth that she is not the Raven's daughter and changes into Rue for good.
You don't have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone. The prophecy is made up, but it's also true. It's about all of us. Right now, it's about you. And you... still... can change everything.
~ Emmet reasoning with Lord Business.
Hey Jafar, SHUT UP! (Aladdin: Iago?) (Jafar: TRAITOR!) (Iago grabs the lamp, but Jafar zaps him, sending the injured parrot onto a rock.) (Jasmine: No!) (Weak Iago looks at Jafar then at the black lamp) (Jafar: [cackles] Good help is so hard to find these days, isn't it, Aladdin? [Iago wriggles his foot towards the lamp. Jafar's evil laughter is promptly replaced by a gasp of horror as realizes exactly what Iago is about to do! With his last ounce of strength, Iago kicks the lamp, sending it into the molten lava.] MY LAMP! NOO!!!) (The lamp lands in the magma, and Jafar screams in pain as his lamp begins to melt. The rock Iago's on begins to crumble!) (Aladdin: Iago!) (Al catches Iago before he can land in the lava. Meanwhile, the black lamp completely melts in the magma. Jafar continues to scream in agony as he is electrocuted, then violently explodes into dust. As everybody escapes to safety, Al looks at the injured parrot in his hands) (Aladdin: Iago?) (Jasmine: No. ) (Aladdin: But I thought a Genie couldn't kill anyone.) (Iago awakens and coughs): ...You'd be surprised what you can live through...(Aladdin: Alright!) (Jasmine: Oh, Iago!) (Genie: AHAHA! HE'S ALIVE!)
~ Iago to Jafar while rescuing Aladdin by destroying Jafar's Lamp.
(Dave, Ian, Zoe, the Chipmunks and Chipettes barely escape the island just as the volcano explodes. Now the raft drifts in open water.) (Chipmunks & Chipettes: ♪Vacation all I ever wanted! Vacation had to get away! Vacation meant to be spent alone!♪) (Brittany: Now we'll never get to perform at the International Music Awards.) (Eleanor: I guess now we're the losers.) (Paddling, Zoe notices Jeanette beside her. She sets her oar aside and faces her.) Jeanette, I-I don't know what to say. I guess I was just so obsessed with finding that treasure that I kinda...I lost it. And I'm...I'm really sorry. (She holds up a happy-faced tennis ball.) We both are.) (Jeanette: Well, apology accepted.) (Zoe squeezes the tennis ball making its grin bigger. Jeanette takes off her gold tiara] Here, I want you to have this.) (Zoe is genuinely surprised, despite everything.) Oh. Really? [Zoe beams] Oh-ho-ho. Look, Dunlop, this is a new beginning. For both of us.) (Zoe places the tiara on the tennis ball's head. Jeanette forces a grin. Simon comes up to her.) (Jeanette: I hope you don't mind. Simone gave it to me.) (Simon: Oh, I don't mind. Y-Y-Y'know, Jeanette, even the most perfect gem cannot compare to your beauty.) (Jeanette smiles and beams at Simon. He grins bashfully and shrugs.)
~ Zoe apologizing to Jeanette for kidnapping her to retrieve treasure. Jeanette forgives her and even lets her and even lets her keep the gold tiara Simon gave her.

See Also

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