Corrupt the Cutie
#43: The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it.
—Rules of the Internet (Note: this rule is sometimes placed at #15, since only 4 of the Rules are standardized)
A series introduces a character as sweet and lovable, more comic relief than anything, who likes nothing more than to pet little puppies. They make you adore them, root for them and love them.
But then they start hanging out with the wrong type of people and make a slow walk to the dark side...
Then the writers proceed to change the character's personality bit by bit, not actually breaking her, but affecting her personality, so that she becomes either less likable or more sultry and devious than her naturally cute self or being taught that being more aggressive will be better than being picked on. She becomes more bold with her new personality with every act of the corrupter until she is not so innocent anymore. This is a common staple in various chick flicks, as what is more tempting than knowing just how awesome it could be to be popular, be powerful, and most importantly, have that Love Interest you want so bad wrapped around your neck.
Corruption comes in two forms:
A) The moral corruption of the cutie: They make dabbles and touches towards becoming a Badass. Only problem is, they are doing it in a manner that is seen as intolerable or their method is negative for people around them. They will go on how the other person deserves this type of treatment and eventually they buy into their moral corruption.
B) The lifestyle change. It can go either way, either the cutie is a really nice yet party-hard maniac or a lovable Geek/Nerd/unpopular person and wanted to see the other side of the grass. They get persuaded by their friends for the lifestyle switch or notice how cool it is at first and friends and families don't mind, until they start rubbing it on others and the new personality is way worse than the original, essentially they have all the aspects of the new life and nothing of their old life.
In the end of their transformation, there are two outcomes: either they realise the situation before they get enthralled to the lifestyle and throw it down for good or, if the plot is rather cynical or tragic, they permanently change to that personality and that way of life for good.
- Name a Shojo manga/anime and you will watch as one girl that the main girl befriends turns slowly to the Alpha Bitch. Most of them get better though.
- In many other Shojo and Josei manga/anime (specially in Josei), the virginal and sweet female lead will be paired up with a handsome yet much more cynical male (who can go from merely Jerk with a Heart of Gold to Bastard Boyfriend levels). He will tease/mock/insult/etc. her a lot about her innocence, then try drawing her more sensual or adventurous side afloat (sometimes to the extreme).
- Mayu Shinjo's work pretty much thrives on the already mentioned stuff, and then takes it Up to Eleven. It's openly lampshaded in Haou Airen, when Reilan sets up Kurumi to be gangraped, and when she and her mooks are stopped by Hakuron, she openly claims that she wants Kurumi to be "tainted" as a part of her revenge against Hakuron for corrupting her innocent in the past.
- Many Hentai series involve male characters molesting a woman until she finds herself enjoying it:
- The main character of the hentai visual novel and anime series Night Shift Nurses, Dr. Ryuji Hirasaka, does this to nearly every nurse he screws with, with each nurse slowly becoming corrupted until they crave for his disgusting shenanigans.
- Dawn of the Silver Dragon is perhaps the most triumphant example of this. The entire series is built upon a corrupt army turning the entire population of their kingdom into depraved sex slaves using a combination of rape and The Corruption.
- Switch "a woman" with "an Uke, and you have the plot of many Yaoi works.
- Mistreated Bride follows Mitsuko as this happens to her.
- Gilbert in Kaze to Ki no Uta is an especially tragic example of this.
- Wrath in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist starts out as a kind and innocent kid who loves life, but after being corrupted by Envy and getting his memories back he becomes a sadistic psychopath. He gets better eventually.
- In the Yu Yu Hakusho manga, this adds a new dimension of creepy to the genocidal Sensui and his dimension-warping Dragon Itsuki, when Itsuki says he started hanging around Shinobu in the first place because he could see that the boy's perfect blind innocence was just waiting to be shattered, and he wanted to be there to enjoy it.
- "A little girl who believes babies come from storks growing up to be in pornos...I love that kind of thing." Makes you wonder what that TV show he used as his redeeming human characteristic to stop Shinobu from killing him actually was.
- In the anime he just comes across as obsessively in love, though. The fangirls love him.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, One starts to get the feeling Evangeline wants to turn Negi into a monster as bad if not worse than she is (or thinks she is by teaching him Black Magic.
- A particularly odd case of this would be Yamcha of Dragon Ball fame as revisionist history seems to paint him as some kind of womanizer in recent video games and such. Despite being a rather Badass desert bandit (who rapidly underwent Badass Decay), he was a Shrinking Violet any time he was near a woman. Early on he got together with Bulma, a Clingy Jealous Girl who always accused Yamcha of cheating any time another girl even looked at him (which was admittedly, often), despite him not looking back at them. (Eventually, Bulma ended up with Vegeta, with their son Trunks describing the version of events he was told as Yamcha cheating first before she ended up with his father.)
- Played in Hellsing TV series with both Seras Victoria's and Integra Hellsing's different temptations during the series.
- Implied to happen to Manami in Life. She starts out as being a bubbly, cute girl who befriends the outcasted protagonist, however after her boyfriend dumps her she spirals into a depression and becomes suicidal. She's taken in by a gang of boys who get her into sex, drugs, and alcohol.. And next time we see her she's become the antagonist of the manga, being an extremely manipulative Bitch in Sheep's Clothing with a Girl Posse who enjoys abusing people for her own needs.
- Vincent of Pandora Hearts is hinted to want to do this to Ada.
- Pictured above: One of the storylines of Countdown to Final Crisis revolves around Mary Marvel slowly losing her moral compass after being given Black Adam's powers.
- Happens to Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim, starting off as a cute dork who then went through a personality shift (Scott saw her as a nice girl who changed) for the worse, becoming aggressive and callous, having affairs behind Scott's back, and eventually taking over his band and breaking up with him (although that was a blunder on Scott's part on provoking the harsh breakup).
- Although the final volume eventually reveals that thanks to Gideon Graves fiddling with Scott's brain, Scott is not the most reliable of narrators, and everything we've seen of his memories was literally from his potentially distorted perspective.
- This is the premise of many, many Teen Drama-type movies.
- John Tucker Must Die has the main protagonist helping a group of girls get back at John Tucker and turning into the Alpha Bitch in the process.
- In a slightly rarer male version, Will Stronghold has a Corrupt the Cutie sequence in Sky High. This being a feel-good family-oriented movie, he gets better.
- Jenny from Forrest Gump. It's debatable if she got better as she ends up dying from a disease (probably AIDS) she gets in her former lifestyle, but is redeemed as a person.
- In Star Wars, Anakin starts off as a Wide-Eyed Idealist little boy who's first thought is how he can endanger his own life just to help a group of strangers get off a planet. As he grows older, however, he becomes more and more ambitious in his desires for power and for love, partially egged on by Palpatine. As Palpatine plays him against his own Jedi brethren, who in turn play him against Palpatine, he marries in secret and his wife ends up pregnant. He then starts having visions of her death. The stress of the situation builds and builds until finally...
- Made even more painful by the fact that, from the moment sweet, selfless, loveable little Anakin is introduced in The Phantom Menace, you know what he will become.
- It's a theory of mine that those lessons that Palpatine refers to in Episode III about power are covert (even from Anakin) lessons on Sith Doctrine, and that one reason why Anakin broke so quickly was that Palpatine had been teaching him to be a Sith for about as long as Obi Wan and the Order had taught him to be a Jedi.
- Michael Corleone starts out as the one member of his family who is definitely not going to have anything to do with the family business; he ends up succeeding his father as don. This doubles as a Break the Cutie because he also gradually loses everyone he loves, becomes totally disillusioned with his own actions and dies alone.
- Janet Weiss. 'Nuff said.
- Sandy in Grease
- Done in The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien), when Mary Anne Bell is brought into the area to visit her boyfriend, Mark. She starts off as the epitome of sweetness, but soon starts to sneak out late at night and join the Green Berets on missions. At the end of her corruption, she is caught by Mark one night in a very disturbing scene, surrounded by death and destruction, with a necklace made of human tongues. It's rumored that she does not get better, and eventually just walks of into the mountains, never to be heard of again.
- This is pretty much the entire point of The Picture of Dorian Gray. It doesn't end well.
- Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack concerns a middle-class girl whose family becomes poor and moves into Harlem. As she interacts more with the petty criminals of the region, she begins to act and speak like them. She passes beyond their sense of honor, is rejected by them, and winds up losing everything and everyone she cares about. At the story's close, she's about to join the worst gang in the city and forget she ever lived an honest life.
- The Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom is a textbook example of this in action. Over the course of the novel, fifteen-year-old Eugénie is "educated" in the ways of the libertine by Madame de Saint-Ange, her brother Le Chevalier de Mirval, and their friend Dolmancé, who introduce her to all kinds of sexual practices, and she proves to be a fast learner. In the final act, when Eugénie's mother, Madame de Mistival comes to rescue her from the libertines that have corrupted her, Eugénie and the libertines deal with her in truly sadistic fashion, with Eugénie herself taking an active part in the brutality visited upon her mother, and even declaring that she wants to kill her, before then proceeding to sew her genitals shut after Dolmancé has her raped by a guy with syphillis.
- Sansa looks like she's starting to undergo this, as Littlefinger trains her on how to be a Magnificent Bastard, but it's too early to tell if she'll go with it or bite back.
- The Phantom of the Opera: In the original book of Gaston Leroux, Long time before even meeting Christine, Erik, the titular phantom, did work for the Sha-in-Sha: the little sultana, the favorite of the Shah-in-Shah, was boring herself to death. Erik built a Hall of Mirrors for her. When she bored of that, Erik transformed it into a Robotic Torture Device aptly named “the chamber of horrors”, used to execute people sentenced to death. He also teach her how to strangle people efficiently. The little sultana soon applied that knowledge to simple peasants and her own friends.
"Wretched man!" I cried. "Have you forgotten the rosy hours of Mazenderan?"
Live Action TV
- Kes from Star Trek: Voyager appeared headed this way, which somewhat contradicts the statements by the Powers That Be that they got rid of the character because "she was turning into Nurse Chapel" and they couldn't figure out what to do with her. Therefore her return several seasons later with a complete Face Heel Turn seemed completely bizarre to fans.
- Occurs in Lizzie McGuire to the titular character in one episode.
- The Beauty Of The Game has the main character being corrupted by Treacherous Advisor Fung, she first help alleviate her anxiety working in the industry then she starts introducing her to modern day comforts and turns her to a Hollywood scandal material celebrity. As she corrupts the main character, she also works on cementing her trust with Tong, whose financial problems are hidden by her Rich Bitch facade.
- The Vampire Diaries - Damon tries to do this to most of the other characters in the show. Most notably his brother, Stefan, the Vegetarian Vampire who he wants to become a 'normal vampire' and drink human blood but also with Elena, Caroline and Bonnie. Katherine, another vampire, does this to him and his brother. But frankly, what do you expect if vampires are involved?
- Degrassi the Next Generation has Jay trying to do this towards Emma in season 4 "Secret." He later tries to talk Darcy into doing something she would find morally questionable. Alli accuses Eli of similar intentions toward Clare.
- Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, definitely. Though it can't be definitively said that lesbianism or even magic is corruption exactly, she has a distinct addiction arc with the magic. Besides, she starts the series as the most adorable poster child for cuteness and then... well, she grows up. Because... evil and suffering everywhere, and Status Quo Is Not God.
- French Jerk Henri wants to do this to Woody's girlfriend Kelly on Cheers.
Sam: Listen, Kelly is Woody's girlfriend. I'm sure you could have any woman you want.
- This is the Evil Plan for the first six seasons of Supernatural, and Sam Winchester's entire life consists of a plot to do this to him. Prior to the series, a Deal with the Devil before he's even born ensures he'll be infected with demon blood as a baby, and his mother is killed because the demon Azazel wants him. Friends, teachers, and others are demonically possessed throughout his life, and his girlfriend is murdered, just to keep him on the path to Azazel's plan for him. The first three seasons and the season break before four read like a saga of breaking Sam down—he was always categorized as 'selfish' vis-a-vis his family in that he wanted to go live a normal life for his own sake, but he was also The Heart and highly empathic and concerned with the right thing.
- Then there's the long, long arc of Sam, his psychic powers, and the fear that he will 'go darkside,' because as a family of hunters their default assumption is that anything supernatural is probably evil. This assumption is usually justified. When Sam refuses to lead hell's army, demon Lilith steps into the Evil Power Vacuum to wreak havoc, killing his brother Dean in front of him. Sam thinks demon Ruby is teaching him to use powers fueled by demon blood to make him strong enough to kill Lilith and prevent the Apocalypse, so he follows her lead even though it alienates his resurrected brother and he knows it's corrupting him, since he doesn't doesn't expect to survive.
- By the end of season four, he beats up his brother, who called him a monster, in order to return to Ruby and gain the power to kill Lilith, even letting Ruby drain a possessed woman for it. Even the angels were manipulating him to this end. Unfortunately, it was all a Thanatos Gambit, so no ambiguity about whether the ends justified the means.
- After Sam starts the prelude to Apocalypse by killing Lilith, thus releasing Lucifer from his prison, Sam learns that the final goal for Azazel's Batman Gambit was actually to get him to say "yes" as Lucifer's chosen vessel so Lucifer could raze the world. At the end of season five, he finally does say "yes" just so he can take Lucifer back into his prison even though being locked in there with a vengeful Satan is a Fate Worse Than Death, so the corruption doesn't stick.
- Many of Azazel's other chosen children, notably Ava, who started kind and very normal and very intentionally resembled Sam, and who went violently insane during the months she was trapped at Cold Oak.
- Castiel gets this season six. You could say Dean started the corruption in season four, but that's a different kind. The Free Will Castiel came to value through helping Dean by choosing humanity over his brothers' goal to have Michael and Lucifer fight doesn't offer the same moral certitude as he was used to as a warrior angel, and in season six, Castiel's soldier-like willingness to do anything for the cause gets completely out of hand so that he winds up offing his dearest lieutenants when they find out that he's working with a demon and trying to save the world by risking opening a door better left unopened that might destroy the world. And then he drives Sam insane as a distraction. He risked the fate of the world for this guy a couple of years ago. Then Castiel went completely overboard and declared himself God. He was wrong.
- Castiel in season seven gets Drunk on the Dark Side, goes on a murderous rampage with the help of The Corruption, has an Ignored Epiphany from Dean, becomes a Knight Templar, and inadverently releases a horde of Eldritch Abominations on the world, pretty much justifying all Dean's efforts to talk him down or kill him if he couldn't.
- Don't forget that "the First Seal shall shatter when a righteous man sheds blood in Hell. As he breaks so shall it break." Dean and Sam both got this between seasons three and four.
- There are no right choices in the setting except Heroic Sacrifice, and under some circumstances Agree With [main character]. And if your Heroic Sacrifice involves selling your soul, you probably shouldn't do that, either. John Winchester managed to make it work out by saving someone substantially more important to the story than himself...but even that led to the breaking of the first seal. Everything you do will sooner or later make things worse in the big picture, even if it's good in the small one. Therefore the process of living tends to Break the Cutie one way or another.
- Ricky actively tries to corrupt his boyfriend Junito in Noah's Arc. While Junito is monogamous and believes in love and affection before all else, Ricky sets him up on sex dates in order to turn him into a promiscuous sex maniac just like himself.
- The Offspring's song "Want You Bad" is pretty much the basis of this.
- Pretty much what Miley Cyrus did to her image starting with the release of her song "Can't Be Tamed" in 2010. Given what she's revealed about herself in the years since, this may be less a case of corrupting the cutie (or the cutie corrupting herself) and more a case of tearing away a literally Disneyfied image she had previously been forced to maintain.
- Michael Hutchence's relationship with Kylie Minogue was pretty much this: he stated that his favorite hobby was corrupting her as she was still seen as very innocent and cute at the time. In a positive twist, this didn't hurt their images at all and they remained very close friends after their breakup and up to his tragic death.
- The pro wrestling valet character Woman (played by the late Nancy Benoit) started this way. She was initially Robin Greene, a geeky fan with a crush on Rick Steiner. She eventually went to Femme Fatale Missy Hyatt for advice on how to win him over, got a sultry new makeover... and shortly aftewards, realizing the power her looks gave her, ditched him for Doom.
- Touhou Project has an example in The Rival Miko Sanae. Although it may have just been the fandom jumping the gun on her characterization before she had really had a chance to do much, many early aspects of Sanae built up a "good girl" image, thanks to basically trying to manage her crazy family/live-in goddesses, and because it helped make a Always Someone Better contrast against the heroine Reimu. When Sanae actually got out and started fighting, she found herself enjoying youkai hunting a lot more than she thought she would. Fandom decided to exaggerate this, and thus created the "Sadist Sanae" meme, resulting in shock and denial from her early iteration's fans (and a whole lot of excited new fans). In all honesty, though, she's no crueler than Reimu or Marisa.
- Played for Laughs with Isabela's ongoing quest to corrupt Bethany and Merrill in Dragon Age 2.
- Actually, it was averted with Merrill. While lamenting how boring her life was compared to Isabella, Isabella told her that "You deserve better than what I have" (or something along those lines).
- Played for Drama and a brutal Player Punch with Anders. When he was introduced in Awakening, he was a snarky but kindhearted Lovable Rogue of a runaway mage. As of Part I of Dragon Age II, he's a devoted healer of refugees and defender of mages and Kirkwall's poor, fighting his Super-Powered Evil Side. He gradually becomes more and more fanatical, paranoid, and foul-tempered as the demon of Vengeance corrupts him, until finally he manipulates the Player Character into helping him blow up the Chantry and start a war in the name of mage freedom.
- Attempted on Tsubaki by both "Maou" and Kyousuke in G Senjou no Maou. They don't exactly succeed, but Tsubaki is hardly innocent by the time the game ends. Kyousuke succeeds in the bad ending to her route.
- Diablo III has this. Okay, we have this cute girl named Leah, who is arguably our main heroine whom the heroes helped all the way in the 3rd Act and thus finally sealing the last of the Seven Evils in that level. All is fine right? WROOOOOOONG! After sealing that evil being Azmodam, Tyrael wishes the destroy it but then Adria the Witch says that a proper ritual must be done. All of them (including Tyrael and our heroes) returned back to the town which turns out to be the most heartwrenching scenes of them all. Adria betrays them all. She bound Tyrael down so that he could not move and then slams the Black Soulstone into Leah's chest and thus The Lord of Terror returns. He is not alone, the other six came along with him and thus Thatamet got revived.
- The whole point of Demon Candy Parallel. In a twist, it's the females doing the corrupting.
- Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls does this... TWICE. Once when she wanted to prove that she was HARDCORE! The other was when a Identity Amnesia made her think she was Mojo Jojo (and a more effective one at that).
- And again to a lesser extent when she infiltrates the Rowdyruff Boys by impersonating Boomer (although it seems he's probably more gross and suggestible than evil).
- Jimmy from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy. In one episode, Eddy teaches Jimmy just about everything he knows—and while Jimmy does revert back to normal at the end, he retains the knowledge he gained of trickery and whatnot and uses it against the Eds on several occasions.
- Katara of Avatar: The Last Airbender heads down this path when she has issues with the team's new ally and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to find her mother's killer with him to let out her bitter feelings. Thankfully, she gets better. But not before snapping at her friends and brother and nearly murdering her target.
- Don't forget the Bloodbending she pulled on another, wrong target. This is a show rated TV-Y7, by the way...
- One episode of Hey Arnold! has Arnold's grandpa Phil, complete the last three years of grade school that he missed out on due to the Great Depression putting him out of school. As he enters the 6th grade, he goes from a ditzy yet amiable and lovable grandpa to a
juvenilledelinquent who, along with fellow 6th graders, tags dumpsters, sneaks into PG-13 movies despite being 81, and becomes a Jerkass.
- Season 2 of Xiaolin Showdown had Chase Young did this to Omi. First through type A and then by kidnapping Master Fung, leaving Omi the only option to go into Ying Yang World to retrieve him and come back wrong.
- An episode of KaBlam!'s Life with Loopy featured Larry working out to beat up a bully...and then the once warm-hearted kid we once new became a huge Jerkass.
- Terra from Teen Titans. She's introduced as a character so likeable, it doesn't take the Titans more than an episode to invite her into joining the team. However, she's persuaded by Slade into joining him, so she can gain full control over her powers. She becomes so captivated in trying to do so, while also holding a grudge against the Titans (hammered in by Slade no less), she goes as far as repeatedly attempting to kill her friends. Because of this, she's possibly the most polarizing character in the series.
- And the stupid thing is her corruption was just built on assumption. She never gave Beast Boy time to explain he didn't tell Robin about her powers before running off, it was just obvious from seeing her in action. And like Raven said She more or less had a choice to stay with them. They always treated her as one of the team and even begged her to turn back. But no she choose evil, so meh.
- In the two-part Season 2 premiere of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, all six are literally corrupted by Discord into inverse versions of the Element of Harmony they embody.
- More to the point, five of them are directly corrupted by Discord. Twilight mostly just breaks (rather than being corrupted), because her best (and only) friends are now treating her like dirt.
- And on the fandom side, Rule 43 seems to be the motivation behind gurofics starring Pinkie Pie (like the infamous Cupcakes).