Fallen Hero

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Dang, older than time...Or about 1000, 2000, or 3000 years old, depending on who you ask, making it less old, but still one of The Oldest Ones in the Book.
"I once thought that I was impervious to the allure of the Dark Side. I was mistaken."
Ulic Qel-Droma, Star Wars the Clone Wars

Not all Villains are born. Some are made, and none are more tragic than the Fallen Hero. As the name implies, the Fallen Hero used to be a Hero before doing a Face Heel Turn. They may even have been an Ideal Hero or another equally optimistic archetype, up until the moment when they suffered something bad enough for them to lose all faith in good and idealism, be it the loss of a loved one, too many good deeds coming back to bite them hard, betrayal by someone they trusted the most, too much distrust from those who should have been allies, or some other faith-shattering event. It might even be a drawn out process of seduction to The Dark Side or fall from grace.

What they choose to do about it determines what they become:

They'll use their not-inconsiderable powers and abilities to do it, too. Often, they'll twist healing powers to evil ends, or allow pain to fester by simply denying the use of their powers for good. Where once the Barrier Maiden wanted to heal the world, she'll now spread misery to speed its destruction. The Messiah who wanted to save the world now wants its damnation. The Gunslinger, once wanting to bring justice to the frontier, now wants nothing but vengeance and blood. Many of these made the protagonist's journey to villainy.

Usually revealed in a Not So Different moment. Almost always gets a Start of Darkness. Christopher Booker's sixth basic plot, Tragedy, uses this character arc, with the Fallen Hero as main character. Compare Face Heel Turn, The Dark Side Will Make You Forget. See also Fallen Angel, Tragic Monster. Super-Trope to The Paragon Always Rebels, in which the character has such influence over other good guys that they fall with him or her.

If you were looking for the Adventure Time fanfic by this name, see Fallen Hero (fanfic).

Examples of Fallen Hero include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion, as once Yui dies, he retreats into himself and becomes a Dark Messiah
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Judai's Heroic BSOD causes him to transform into the villainous Supreme King once he decides to use evil's methods to fight evil itself, complete with a literal gaggle of Fallen Heroes (evil versions of his normal Elemental Heroes).
  • Nina from Mai-Otome takes this to its literal extreme. At first, she was the top student in her class with a promising life ahead of her, and then she went crazy when she thought that Arika was trying to steal the man she loved. From there, she accidentally killed one of her best friends when she turned out to be The Mole, and purposefully killed tens of thousands more to prove her devotion, ending with her reputation in tatters, him on his deathbed, and the memories of the two of them ever having met lost forever, and a loss in the final battle that ends with her falling from outer space.
  • Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho. Was a Spirit Detective, and a damn effective one, until he saw the Black Black Club torturing demons for their own amusement, got his hands on Chapter Black, and went insane with the desire to get rid of all of humanity.
  • Prétear. Along with the revelation that the Princess of Disaster is the current form of the last Prétear, Takako, the show also plays with the possibility that anyone who becomes the Pretear could become the Princess of Disaster. Which naturally leads Himeno Awayuki, the current Prétear, straight into a Heroic BSOD while she sorts it out.
  • In G Gundam, Gentle Chapman was one of the most admired Fighters ever, but after old age and an illness caught up with him, he could only win via cheating (perpetrated without his knowledge by his wife). He paid for it by dying...and was revived as a zombie by the Devil Gundam.
    • Master Asia also falls under this. He was formally a part of the Shuffle Alliance, a group that was devoted protecting humanity from self destruction, and Domon Kashu's mentor. But during the previous Gundam Fight, he saw how badly the Fight damaged the Earth and blamed humanity for despoiling their homeworld so carelessly. After meeting the Devil Gundam, he joined its plan to wipe out humanity, believing that it was the best path for life on Earth to survive.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Big Bad, Ribbons Almark, seems like this, considering that he was a Gundam Meister who piloted the very first Gundam in the series. It's actually a subversion, as he was never a hero. The intervention when he saved Setsuna had no glorious goal beyond a field test of the 0 Gundam, and he was supposed to kill all witnesses. He only spared young Soran Ibrahim because he saw the devotion in the young soldier. And this incident triggered his god complex, leading him to become the Big Bad.
  • Gale Raregroove, Pumpkin Doryu, and Captain Hardner in Rave Master.
  • LordGenome of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who was basically Simon's predecessor. One of them, anyway.
    • Same goes for Guame, who is basically Boota's predecessor.
  • Griffith of Berserk pretty much embodies this trope.
  • In Magical Project S, the third candidate, Romio, was a former magical girl from Earth, but she was unable to maintain the Good-Evil Balance. Because of this, she became bent on destroying Earth.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Dios, aka Akio, shows what happens when The White Prince turns into one of these.
  • The When They Cry series has Bernkastel. When Rika finally manages to achieve a happy ending in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, that's great for her - the one Rika out of thousands of alternate Rikas to survive. However, all of the alternate Rikas who died didn't just stay dead. Instead, they came together to become Bernkastel, the Witch of Miracles, who appears to be becoming the Big Bad of Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
  • Ga-Rei Zero: Yomi ;_;
  • In Naruto, Nagato, aka Pain was born with a special power that marked him as a literal messiah. Inspired by the words of his childhood friends and mentor, he desired to bring about a lasting peace. However, his pacifistic attempts left his friend Yahiko dead and him crippled, shattering his dream. So, he set out to create a new peace, by sharing the pain that he had suffered.
  • Oskar Von Reuenthal in Legend of Galactic Heroes. Particularly tragic, since he did not rebel against Reinhard Von Lohengramm out of genuine malice or ambition, but because he was framed and was too proud to accept punishment for a crime he did not commit. His death is arguably the most senseless and undeserved in the entire series.
  • Ubel Blatt has a number of these, similar to the Overlord example further down the page. 14 heroes go to fight the Dark Lord. On the way there, 3 die heroically, and upon the entrance of the Evil Lair, 7 of the survivors get cold feet and stay behind. The other 4 go to defeat the villain, winning with great difficulty. Returning home, those heroes get ambushed by their former comrades and are bloodily murdered. They go on to become the "Seven Heroes, who defeated the Dark Lord and the '4 Lances of Betrayal'". The 7 Lances end up going completely batshit insane with power, but can get away with just about anything because of their hero status. Though one of the 4 is back and wants revenge.
  • Claymore has plenty of these since every warrior is doomed to eventually succumb to her Super-Powered Evil Side. However, the one who fits this trope the best is Priscilla — once a gifted young warrior and Wide-Eyed Idealist, she is now the terrifyingly powerful Big Bad.
  • Drifters Big Bad is heavily implied to be this. Well, he's actually implied to be Jesus Christ turned Omnicidal Maniac. Plus, some of Offscouring can qualify - Joan of Arc becoming homicidal pyromaniac after being burned at the stake, for example.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has not only one, but two Fallen Heroines. In fact, the story is arguably about the Start of Darkness for one of them. Yeah, it's that kind of story. And while we don't see their Start of Darkness, it turns out that many of the witches were once magical girls.
  • After having his alignment changed by the effects of Nirvana, it emerged that Hot-Eye of the Oracion-Seis was one of these. He originally just wanted to raise enough money to fund a search for his lost brother, Wally, but seemed to have gotten corrupted by his team mates somewhere along the line. After all is said and done, he calmly accepts incarceration for his deeds while he was a villain, after finding out that the Fairy Tail guild members had met Wally not too long ago, and declares himself happy with the knowledge that he's alive and well.
  • Jinno from Afro Samurai. He was Afro's best friend as they trained together for years, but one night under the Bodhi Tree, he witnessed all of his friends and fellow pupils killed by bandits, and then Afro coldly murdered their master to obtain the No. 2 headband. He blames Afro for everything that happened, and had his ruined body fitted with cybernetics to turn him into a formidable warrior. Before Afro can challenge Justice, he has to fight past his childhood friend.

Comic Books

  • In The DCU series Justice League Task Force, the hero, Triumph, was lost for decades in a time warp, and returned to join the Task Force as its leader. His difficulties in adapting to the new times, added to the desertion of Martian Manhunter and Aquaman from the TF's ranks (which caused the government to close it down due to the real Justice League returning), ended with him broke and being harassed by common thugs. With the help of a Heroic BSOD and a pen that contains a powerful genie, he wreaked havoc and mentally dominated his former allies into fighting the JLA. When he failed, he was frozen screaming.
    • It's worth pointing out that it's HEAVILY implied that Triumph is being influenced by the genie, and therefore arguably not this trope. Also, he sees the error of his ways and repents shortly before being frozen. And, in the interest of completeness, there's also the point espoused by his old writer that the inadvertant loss of his soul (long story) left him Not Himself.
  • Interestingly, an alternate future shows Triumph's best friend, the Ray, becoming one of these, with Triumph himself and the Flash (Bart Allen) as the only two heroes left, trying to keep him under control...while still being best friends and hanging out to watch sports and such.
  • About a million alternate future stories depict either Batman or Superman as this, frequently with the other one trying to pull them out of it.
  • The Long Halloween, the series that inspired Nolan when he was writing the script for The Dark Knight, has a Harvey Dent that worked alongside Batman and Commissioner Gordon. We later find out that Harvey may not have even been responsible for some of the deaths, it may have been his wife trying to end all the terror that was happening and trying to get Harvey to come back. A closer inspection reveals plot holes with this revelation, and it's vague whether she did it or was just crazy. This is only one version of Two-Face's origin, but all the ones worth mentioning show him as working with Batman before turning into Two-Face.
  • Both Sinestro and, later, his Arch Enemy, Hal Jordan, are Green Lantern Corps members who turned evil. Sinestro wanted to enforce order, so he became a Knight Templar dictator of his home planet, Korugar. Years later, after seeing his home city nuked, among other things, Hal Freaked Out and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps and even tried to remake the universe. Hal was later retconned into being possessed by the Anthropomorphic Personification of fear itself, and Sinestro was influenced by a demon telling him a prophecy that Korugar would destroy itself if order wasn't enforced.
  • At the beginning of Kevin Smith's Daredevil run, Karen Page was stuffed into a fridge. Then, Brian Bendis took over and his identity was exposed to the public, and eventually, he was incarcerated for obstruction of justice. After beating the rap, his new wife, Milla, suffered a psychotic breakdown and the marriage dissolved (Matt cheating on her with Dakota North happened in between). By the time Lady Bullseye started to kill his closest allies to resurrect them as zombie ninja slaves, Matt finally said "screw this" and abandoned his life as Matt Murdock to become leader of the Hand. Though still a Technical Pacifist, the crossover Shadowland might soon change this as Marvel is now promoting Daredevil as the new "greatest super-villain of the Marvel Universe".
  • Astro City has El Hombre, an Expy of Batman from Los Angeles. Though he became prominent in the super-hero circle, he became upset at his lack of respect from the populace and his love interest's marriage to someone else. He then hired a super-villain to build a robot to attack the city so he could stop it in a high-profile fight. He was betrayed by the villain, and when it was later revealed that El Hombre commissioned the attack, he became a wanted fugitive and disappeared into his civilian identity.
    • Decades later, he tries a similar ruse, killing low-level supervillains to unite their ilk against him, eventually gathering them all in one place, and wiping them out in his new heroic identity as El Guerrero. His former sidekick, Bravo, while being ashamed of El Hombre's actions, still holds a great deal of respect for the great man and the hero he once was.
  • Shakara - the Big Bad responsible for most of the destruction has recently been revealed to be Cinnibar Brenneka.
  • Richard Dragon, most famous for being the best martial artist in the DCU, was one of these for a while until Bronze Tiger dragged him out of it.
  • Hank Pym becomes one of these (usually of the retired variety, but occasionally the Anti-Villain version) every couple of years when something bad happens to Jan and/or Ultron does something horrible that he blames himself for.
  • Magneto jumps around between this, Anti-Villain, Anti-Hero, and Well-Intentioned Extremist, with a vacation home in Complete Monster territory.
  • Black Panther was one of these (of the retired/bitter variety) at the end of Christopher Priest's run, but this development, and the fatal brain aneurysm that caused it, were both ignored by subsequent writers.
  • Superboy Prime. He begins his career battling the Anti Monitor, the DC Universe's greatest threat, and is immediately forced into Limbo with his home universe destroyed. After years in Limbo, he returns, convinced that Earth's heroes are screwing it all up and ultimately decides that this universe needs to be replaced by a better one.
  • Supergirl, specifically the Linda Danvers incarnation, may or may not qualify, as she ends up in Hell off-panel and there are veiled references made to her having done something bad but we never find out what. Ironic in that Linda had a large hand in redeeming another Fallen Hero, Twilight, who had been using her healing powers for evil for centuries before Linda brought her back to the side of the angels.
  • Irredeemable centers around The Plutonian, a Superman-like superhero who snaps violently after a long and thankless career and proceeds to become the irredeemable Big Bad set to obliterate the world that he once protected. Inversely, there's the spin-off Incorruptible, which focuses on former Supervillain Max Damage who, in the wake of The Plutonian's rampage of destruction, decides to become a hero.
    • Irredeemable is written by Mark Waid, who co-created Triumph (mentioned above), and has confirmed that a lot of the original ideas behind Triumph (who Waid wrote very little of) ended up in Irredeemable.
  • Sin City has Jack Rafferty, who was once a hero cop but eventually degraded to the level of an alcoholic Bastard Boyfriend. Word of God states that his story will eventually be told.
  • In All Fall Down, Pronto gradually becomes this for the climax.
  • From Marvel's Golden Age, there was Thomas Halloway, the original Angel. In those times, he was a hero who fought the Nazis alongside the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. But in modern times as an elderly man, he started to take morally questionable means of fighting criminals, financing and running the murderous vigilante group Scourges of the Underworld, which has assassinated a large number of lesser supervillains. (The true tragedy is, while he ran the group, the the Scourges ultimately reported to the Red Skull, someone all the heroes of the Angel's time opposed.) The USAgent confronts him eventually in his mini-series; the former hero is wounded and arrested, as are many Scourges, but Halloway himself was released for lack of any concrete evidence, and was assumed to have resumed a quiet life. Still, the heroic Angel lives on in the form of his grandson Jason, who was given his costume during The Marvels Project limited series.


  • Anakin Skywalker of Star Wars, who got three whole movies of Start of Darkness.
    • Anakin may have been the most infamous Jedi to turn evil, but he was hardly the only one. Count Dooku (the Dragon-in-Chief in Episode II, portrayed by professional villain-actor Christopher Lee) is another good example, being Padwan to Yoda himself and regarded as his finest student. For over 70 years he was one of the most famed and respected of the Jedi, until his his idealism leads him to become disillusioned towards both them Republic as a whole; the death of his own Padwan - Qui-Gon Jinn - was the breaking point that caused him to succumb to the Dark Side. Also, Expanded Universe books often feature "Dark Jedi" as villains, many of whom were formerly real Jedi who survived Order 66 at the cost of their sanity; these are too numerous to list.
    • Hell, Star Wars tends to use this one so frequently, it should get an award of some kind. Exar Kun, Ullic Qel-Droma, Revan and Malak, Vader, and even Luke fell down this rabbit hole more than once, and while he crawled out, his nephew sure didn't. And THOSE are just the ones making "Sith Lord" status!
  • Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight definitely counts, after he becomes Two-Face. Formerly idealistic, he grows steadily more cynical in the face of the Joker's crimes and, after the Joker's Hannibal Lecture, turns into a Nietzsche Wannabe who believes that Chance is the only fair law.
  • Kirsty Cotton in Hellraiser Hellseeker.
  • Robert Downey, Jr.'s character in Zodiac
  • Madmartigan, the master swordsman in Willow, qualifies for the "lost himself in dissipation" version of the trope.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Sentinel Prime, by virtue of Face Heel Turn. He made a deal with the Decepticons that would restore their home planet of Cybertron.
    • Additional material establishes Megatron as this. Before the Great War, he was the Lord High Protector of Cybertron, ruling equally with Optimus.


Live Action TV

  • Linderman on Heroes is a prime example. His low-key, evil approach is made all the more monstrous when viewers realize that, having the ability to heal most injuries, he chooses to have people killed, kidnapped, and crippled instead.
    • A better example is Season 2's Big Bad, Adam Monroe. He is introduced as Takezo Kensei, the literal hero of legend. Despite trouncing all the fantastic tales attributed to him in one fell swoop, Kensei proves himself a true hero many times over during his time with Hiro - only to do a Face Heel Turn when Hiro steals away the woman he loves right out from under his nose. Four hundred years later, his heartbreak has driven him to seek a 'second chance' by wiping out 93% the world's population.
  • Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer became the Card-Carrying Villain version of this trope after witnessing the death of her girlfriend. Luckily, the transition was temporary.
  • Lex Luthor from Smallville is a great example. He started off as nothing more than a good Samaritan friend to Clark Kent. As time went on, he became nastier and more cynical at the world, and possibly became Clark's worst enemy. However, how long would the show actually last if Luthor was kept a good guy throughout the entire show?
  • In the French fantasy dramedy Kameloth, the Knight Lancelot start out as the noble and charismatic hero we expect him to be, but he has always been ideologically opposed to the libertarian policy of Arthur (who he considers a proof of weakness) and considers himself more worthy of the holy mission given to his king. After the spoofed-legend-opposed-got-away-with-Guinevere-part, he openly rebels against Kameloth's order and became the tool of a dark sorcerer named Melangeant, who presents himself as The Chessmastering answer of the gods to Arthur's failure in his mission
  • Some of the best episodes of Scrubs deal with this happening to Dr. Cox. While the fall is temporary, the sight of the normally caustic and extremely confident physician in tears is very heartrending, to say the least.
  • Eli David in NCIS seems to be this. In a way, he reminds me of Denethor.
  • Jon Mitchell from Being Human (UK). He tries hard to fight his vampire urges and tries to be an example of reform, but he falls off the wagon in season 2 and slaughters a train of 20 people. He never really gets back to normal after that and commits suicide.


Mythology, Folklore, and Religion

  • The Bible:
    • Revelations shows Satan as a fallen angel. This is Older Than Feudalism, as the popular depiction has roots in the 2000+ year old source material.
    • King Saul; initially portrayed as a humble, God-fearing man, he makes some bad choices, undergoes (demonic-induced) madness, and ends his reign as the arch-enemy of the man God chose to succeed him.

Professional Wrestling

  • Hulk Hogan's infamous Face Heel Turn and transformation into Hollywood Hogan in WCW's Bash at the Beach was born of the realization that he was "old new", and that the fans he had lived his whole life to please weren't really interested in him anymore, which he just couldn't stand. After all, he's Hulk Freaking Hogan, the biggest icon in wrestling! Maybe the fans didn't deserve to cheer for him! Maybe they deserved to have him and his buddies from up north destroy everything about WCW that they enjoyed instead!
  • Similarly, Chris Jericho's recent WWE Face Heel Turn was fueled by the fans' continued cheering for Shawn Michaels—who was not only a lying, cheating hypocrite, but was unrepentant for having retired the great Ric Flair. In Jericho's mind, it's not him that turned heel; it's the fans.
  • Speaking of HBK, he's been this several times (all versions at different points), including presently.
    • Specifically, he was the outright villainous version during his initial turn after turning on Jannetty, the anti-hero version for parts of the initial DX run, the anti-villain in his crusade against Hulk Hogan, and the retired/disinterested version during his various retirements and sabbaticals.
  • Subverted with Bret Hart in 1997, who only turned against the American wrestling fans, but was still considered a hero in the other territories.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin's character was pretty much defined by his drive to become the WWF Champion "at all costs". Usually, this just meant that Austin would theoretically work harder than everyone else to get it. His Face Heel Turn came out of taking that to the logical extreme, where he allied with his perpetual nemesis, Vince McMahon (and his rival, Triple H, the next night...who tried to kill him in the past), at the now-famous Wrestlemania X-7, to guarantee he would leave the event as WWF Champion.
  • When The Rock fought heel Hollywood Hogan at Wrestlemania X8, he unexpectedly got a lot of boos and "Rocky sucks!" chants (he was also booed at the last Wrestlemania, but that was against Stone Cold in Texas, so it's understandable). Given how popular The Rock is supposed to be, it came as a shock that people would boo him over the heel, Hogan. The Rock later used this as partial reasoning for turning heel the next year where he defeated both Hogan AND Austin in back-to-back PPV's.
  • Mick Foley was probably the most famous "hardcore" wrestler during his stint as Cactus Jack, due to his runs on WCW and his Death Matches in Japan with Terry Funk. However, when he made his Face Heel Turn in ECW, he cited the fans' expectations of the wrestlers (and their desire to see wrestlers put themsleves in increasingly dangerous situations) as the reason he turned on Tommy Dreamer, the heart and soul of ECW. He then began his "anti-hardcore" gimmick where he became a WCW-shilling, non-hardcore butt boy for Eric Bischoff, everything ECW fans hated in wrestling.
  • Chris Benoit was at one time considered arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time but his claim as one of the greats has all but been erased due to the events of the last day of his life

Tabletop Games

  • The Blackguard class from Dungeons & Dragons is specifically designed for fallen heroes, allowing the player to "trade in" Paladin levels for Blackguard levels after completing a Face Heel Turn. However, while the character may not have been planning on the transition, the player almost always is; the Blackguard class has pre-requisites that don't make sense for most Paladin builds.
    • Could also be Fridge Brilliance. A Paladin attempting to interact with an evil outsider peacefully would likely develop into a much sneakier character than a normal Paladin, something so unusual, considering their training, that it would be difficult for them to learn.
    • The idea is more that a character won't go straight from Paladin to Blackguard, but will instead "fall" as a Paladin (losing all their Paladin-specific abilities but retaining their raw stats) and then choose to pursue the path of the Blackguard instead of redemption, summoning an evil outsider to teach them how to do so. The most awkward pre-requisite for a fallen Paladin is still the five ranks in Hide, however.
  • In Dragonlance a death knight is a disgraced Knight of Solamnia who was cursed with undeath for some terrible crime, like treason or murder. For example, Lord Soth was the most famous Death Knight, cursed for the murder of his wife and child after failing to prevent the Cataclysm.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! gives us the Gigobyte/Gagagigo/Giga Gagagigo/Gogiga Gagagigo cards, which describe a young troublemaker who has a Heel Face Turn upon having his life saved, and in trying to gain enough power to help repay his debt, he acquires cybernetic upgrades which eventually eat his soul and drive him mad. It's a surprisingly detailed story told not only in the flavor text of his own cards, but in illustrations for other cards that otherwise have nothing to do with him. It's only natural that his story gets played out in one of the video games. Said video game had him realising the error of his ways. This almost certainly qualifies him for Face Heel Revolving Door.
  • While there are many in Magic: The Gathering, the one that stands out the most is Crovax. When the love of his life (an angel) died, he ended up going over to Yawgmoth's side to get her back. Gerrard Capashen followed for a similar motive, but realised that it was a con and ended up giving his life to take down Yawgmoth.
    • Glissa Sunseeker fought against Memnarch to save Mirrodin. Awesome, yeah? Too bad that it directly resulted in her becoming a Phyrexian.
    • Avacyn in Shadows Over Innistrad. Also Nahiri, if the flavor text of Structural distortion is anything to go by.
  • Warhammer 40,000. Exactly half of the Primarchs turned against their father the Emperor of Mankind in the great betrayal of the 31st millennium. Each of the ten traitors had a personal reason for turning their back on their father. None are more tragic than The Paragon Horus the Warmaster (i.e. the Emperor's second-in-command, since he was the Emperor's favourite son).
    • The Chaos Gods showed Horus a vision of a terrible future where the Primarchs are gone, the ideals of the Great Crusade are forgotten, and the Emperor is worshiped as a god in a brutal fascist dictatorship. Horus dealt with the Chaos Gods and turned on the Emperor (the man who saved humanity and rebuilt civilisation after a horrific dark age that lasted thousands of years) to save humanity from this dark fate. The Horus Heresy results in the Imperium becoming increasingly authoritarian due to its paranoia over Chaotic rebellions like Horus's, and the final battle leaves Horus dead and the Emperor in a coma, unable to steer the Imperium onto a more enlightened path. Fast forward ten thousand years, and Horus's actions have caused the Imperium to become a brutal fascist dictatorship where the Emperor is worshipped as a god and the Imperial Truth (the atheistic rationalism which the Emperor personally believed) is thought of as heresy, since it offends the immortal God-Emperor. Justdamn.
    • What about Fulgrim, possessed by his Evil Weapon while trying to commit suicide after murdering his brother for the Chaos Gods, or Alpharius, who joined Chaos to kill Chaos and may in fact have been following a false vision of the future in the first place?
    • Magnus the Red was a Primarch who strongly supported the use of Psychic Powers and the importance of written knowledge. When he used sorcery to tell the Emperor of Horus's betrayal, despite the Emperor having forbidden sorcery, the Emperor refused to believe that Horus could be a traitor and thought that it had to be Magnus instead. Therefore he sent the Space Wolves (who had always distrusted Magnus) to Magnus's homeworld Prospero thus forcing Magnus to appeal to a Chaos God so that his people would survive.
  • In Exalted, this is how new Abyssals are made: a Solar is captured, strapped into a Monstrance of Celestial Portion, and tortured until they die, become catatonic, or become an Abyssal. Of course, there's nothing that prevents them from breaking loose, trying to rise again and setting off on a quest for redemption back into a Solar...


Video Games

  • In the Suikoden series, you'll usually recruit a couple of these per game. The most prominent is probably Geddoe from the third installment, who, in an interesting twist, in addition to being a Fallen Hero (retired/disinterested variety), is also one of the three main protagonists.
  • In the Halo Universe, Mendicant Bias betrays the Forerunners, who made him with free will (which is what caused this) and then had him communicate with the leader of the Flood, The Gravemind, to the Flood. Then the Forerunners build Offensive Bias, who lacked free will, to defeat him. He did, but it was too late. The Forerunners had to activate the Halo Installations, killing all life in the galaxy. Offensive locked MB on the Ark. All the beings were cloned and seeded on their worlds (well, mostly, a few mistakes were made where some beings got placed on the wrong planet, as humanity found a few planets inhabited by humans that nobody knew). Cut to 100,000 years later, and Mendicant Bias causes Master Chief and Cortana to go somewhere unknown to, as he said, show his masters that he had atoned for his sins. There is a short history at the end of the Forerunner/Flood War, with an explanation of where John is going (sort of).
  • A major plot-point in Squaresoft's Live a Live. A classic Knight in Shining Armor is rapidly deconstructed by being tricked into slaying the king, finding out that his best friend has betrayed him, and finally realizing that the princess he's been trying to save is actually in love with said friend. He becomes the "Demon King", Odio, who has been a recurring Big Bad for the heroes of our world to fight, from the Stone Age to the far future. The aesop, which somehow manages to avoid being Anvilicious, is that anyone can be a Big Bad as long as they hold enough hatred...
    • Also, Hash in the medieval chapter, who is a mild case of this. He was a hero who defeated the Demon Lord, but lost faith in humanity and chose to live as a hermit on a mountain. He subverts it by helping Oerstred defeat the Demon Lord again.
  • In Overlord, your enemies are seven Fallen Heroes who represent the Seven Deadly Sins: Melvin Underbelly the halfing (gluttony), Oberon the elf (sloth), Goldo the dwarf (greed), Sir William the paladin (lust), Jewel the thief (envy), Kahn the warrior (wrath), and the Wizard (pride).
    • A more literal example would be the titular character, who was originally a hero who fought alongside the other heroes, but fell from a great distance and was left for dead by his companions. The Evil Plan of the old Overlord sees the main character eventually revived by his minions and given the position of the Overlord as well as command over the minions.
    • In the sequel, Queen Fay becomes a Fallen Hero after her Heroic Sacrifice. Florian may also be one, although it's unclear if he was ever truly a hero.

Rose: Power, it always corrupts.
Gnarl: Hah, that's half the fun!

  • Warcraft is very fond of this trope.
    • Sargeras in Warcraft originally fought demons for millennia, but eventually fell into thinking that it was no use and chaos was actually the only real solution to everything. Just to signify what this meant, his bronze skin split apart, revealing a new body of fire and brimstone.
    • Archimomnde and Kil'Jaeden, the leaders of the Eredar who sold their souls to Sargeras and became the leaders of the Burning Legion.
    • Similarly, the human prince and Paladin Arthas eventually resorted to the cursed blade Frostmourne to slay the demon that was (apparently) behind the plague that turned people into the undead. As a result, it took his soul and turned him into a Deathknight loyal to the Lich King (who, of course, had all that planned from the start).
    • Then there's the Death Knights that followed him, which basically constitute entire Orders of Fallen Heroes. A force of them in Wrath of the Lich King are sent to wreak havoc in Norther Lordaeron...All of which seems to be little more than a ploy to lure out Tirion Fordring, one the few living beings that could even be consider anything close to a threat to the Lich King. They were just a diversion and, eventually, as a result of a climactic battle in which Tirion reveals the truth of their betrayal and ultimate expendability, pull a Heel Face Turn. The player plays through this entire sequence, including all the irredeemable evil goodness inherent therein.
    • And the night elf Illidan, trying to fight fire with fire (or demons with demon magic), eventually became a semi-demon himself.
    • The Frozen Throne shows how the arrogant-but-decent high elves turned into the evil, demon-following blood elves they are in World of Warcraft.
      • In a desperate attempt to save his people, Kael'thas turned to demons, and let himself be consumed by their fel magic.
    • Neltharion the Earth-Warder, one of the Five Dragon Aspects, charged by the Titans to protect the lands of Azeroth, Dug Too Deep. After a little Mind Rape by the resident Eldritch Abominations, he's calling himself Deathwing.
      • Neltharion literally took every one of the black breed of dragons with him. They are hunted and mindless killed, sometimes just for sport. The truth is that they have all been driven completely insane and/or have lost every last one of their morals. The breed has almost been wiped out or forced under ground. It didn't help that Deathwing died, which probably just made things worse for the breed.
    • The Scarlet Crusade, which started out fighting to protect humans from the Scourge in Lordaeron, and gradually became increasingly paranoid to the point that anyone not a Crusader was deemed tainted. Then their leader was outright corrupted by the undead.
    • it might be easier to just say that every Warcraft villian fits into this trope.
  • And, of course, Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft. Though she didn't "fall" so much as "was thrown, had her sense of morality surpressed", once she got her free will back, she decided that she liked being evil.
    • It was more like her sense of morality and compassion were surpressed, allowing the darkness within to become dominant. Blizzard confirmed that Heart of the Swarm's arc will be about whether she will fall to darkness forever or transcend it and achieve redemption for her sins. So far, the trailer shapes her to be an anti hero.
    • The Overmind itself, which was long ago taken over by the Dark Voice.
  • The first Diablo has King Leoric, who was strong enough to resist being completely possessed by Diablo but was left an insane and murderous wreck by the ordeal. The second game has all three of the original game's heroes; the Warrior was manipulated into becoming Diablo's new host, the Rogue became Blood Raven, and the mage became The Summoner. And in the third game, apparently, every Diablo 2 character except the Barbarian will be Ax Crazy. Blizzard is in love with this trope.
  • Fain, of the Red Masque from Lusternia. A brilliant and popular leader amongst the Elder Gods, he resorted to increasingly extreme measures to combat the Soulless Ones. Ultimately, he and his co-conspirators began devouring other Elders to imbibe their essence and power, and were banished to the Void. Driven insane by thousands of years of isolation, he is profoundly unhappy by the time he returns to the real world.
  • Ace Hardlight from Ratchet: Deadlocked. Ace was once a great hero before being kidnapped and forced to participate in Gleeman Vox's deadly gameshow, Dreadzone. Ace eventually became seduced by the thrills and infamy of the tournament, and became the deadliest contestant on the show—and The Dragon to Big Bad Vox.

Clank: I do not understand. What sort of hero would kill other heroes for money?
Hardlight: Not money, tin man. Fun.

  • Tons of these in Final Fantasy games.
    • Wiegraf (and possibly Delita) in Final Fantasy Tactics.
    • Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. Especially evident during Crisis Core and its glimpses of Sephiroth's pre-fall personality—although cool and aloof, he was actually a pretty nice guy and hero-grade material before the Nibelheim Incident. His Dissidia opponents will not stop talking about this in their pre-fight quotes, especially in Duodecim. The crazy thing is that Sephiroth will alternate between calling himself one or declaring himself a general destroyer of life. "Taste the blade of a hero.", indeed.
      • It's funny: the heroes will either question how he could have turned or how he was ever a hero, and the villain quotes (particularly the Emperor) make it sound more like a Never Live It Down moment.
      • Square Enix plays with this heavily in Dissidia. Many of his quotes are contradictory to his villainous nature, such as saying "Fear not." or "Do not despair."
    • Seymour in Final Fantasy X. Subverted in that it turns out that he was never a "hero" in the first place.
    • Garland in Final Fantasy I. He was the greatest of the king's knights, until Sara rejected him.
  • Big Boss of Metal Gear Solid was originally a quirky, cheerful, affectionate, paternal sort of man, who ends up going through a major Break the Cutie routine in Snake Eater, Portable Ops, and Peace Walker. He then ends up creating The Patriots with other "fallen heroes", Major Zero, Sigint (a.k.a. DARPA Chief, Donald Anderson), and Para-Medic (aka Dr Clark, the head of the Les Enfants Terribles project and the one who turned Grey Fox into the Cyborg Ninja), along with Ocelot and EVA and creating Outer Heaven and Zanzibarland to plunge the world into eternal war before meeting his end at the hands of his "son", Solid Snake, which was prophesized by The Sorrow and Elisa.
    • Anti-Villain: The kind of 'peace' that his enemies sought was one ruled by a global totalitarian shadow state, and the eternal war that he sought was basically the opposite of their attempts to control and regulate the dangers of individual human will. Big Boss may have become a threat to world peace and security, but both were inextricably tied to imposed obedience, which is ultimately slavery.
  • The 7 Heroes of Romancing SaGa 2. Warriors who saved the world, but were betrayed by the people they saved and cast into Hell through dimensional magic.
  • Mass Effect seems fond of this trope.
    • Matriarch Benezia, having unwittingly lost herself to the very madness that she sought to stop, the ultimate tragedy being that she can't be saved.
    • As of the second game, Liara seems to be the anti-hero variant of this trope in the making. She gets better.
    • Hell, depending on your choice of background and alignment, especially if you change alignments between games, Shepard can be played as a fallen hero.
      • A few characters see Shepard as a fallen hero in Mass Effect 2, no matter how you play, given that s/he's forced to work with a terrorist group.
      • And s/he is definitely seen as this at the beginning, and possibly all throughout, Mass Effect 3 given that s/he was forced to kill over 300,000 people to slow down the Reaper invasion.
    • The second game also gives us Rael'Zorah. Tali specifically fears her father being seen as this by the quarian people after he chooses to run weapons test on active geth prisoners in order to advance the cause of retaking the homeworld.
  • Thorndyke in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, a Knight in Shining Armor goes this route in the Demon Path, initially submitting to The Main Character in order to save his son. As time goes on, he is forced to do worse and worse things until he is tricked into believing that he killed his own son, turning him into an Ax Crazy Berserker. When he later sees that his son is alive, Kanan convinces him that he never went mad and killed because he truly enjoyed it, finally breaking him.
    • Of course, if we're talking Demon Path, Revya is possibly the biggest Fallen Hero of them all.
  • Mithos (second type), Kratos, and Yuan (both first type, one in service of Mithos and the other one opposing him), from Tales of Symphonia.
  • Ghaleon from the Lunar series qualifies quite well for this trope. He has a glowing reputation at the start of Lunar: The Silver Star (and the remakes) for heroism alongside the famed Dragonmaster, Dyne. His Face Heel Turn sends the world into a panic. In the remakes, he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who sees the Goddess Althena's decision to leave humans to their own devices as abandonment. So, Ghaleon starts plotting a way to restore divine leadership to the world. And who is the new divine leader? Ghaleon, of course! Heck, his entire purpose in Lunar 2 turns out to be redemption for this, though the player doesn't learn this until right at the end of the game.
  • Jon Irenicus from Baldur's Gate II counts. Prior to his exile from Sulldanesselar, he was an upstanding citizen and powerful mage. Pride was his downfall; he was exiled and stripped of his soul for using his power to try and achieve godhood.
  • Aribeth de Tylmarande from Neverwinter Nights and Bastila Shan, Revan, Malak, and the entire Revanchist movement from Knights of the Old Republic. How you play both games determines whether the spoilered characters stay evil or not.
    • Also, Yuthura Ban on Korriban, who was a fallen Jedi padawan with similar motivations to Anakin when he started out (i.e. go back home and free all the slaves), who then suffered from Motive Decay and became just another power-hungry Sith.
  • Akachi the Betrayer and a third of his Crusade from Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer are all Fallen Heroes, the dragon and the army of undead having been evil to begin with. Arraman might also qualify, depending on your character interpretation.
    • And the King of Shadows from the original campaign, whose mission to defend the Illefarn Empire suffered severe Motive Decay when he escaped from his extradimensional prison and found that the Empire crumbled to dust millennia past.
  • Skies of Arcadia features Ramirez, The Dragon to Lord Galcian. He's described as having once been pretty similar to Vyse - artistic, kind-hearted, and loyal. Unfortunately, he was raised in near-isolation by the most arrogant culture in the game and coming into contact with the meaner parts of Arcadia proved a little much for him.
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has an example of its own in Super Hero Aurum. He was originally a hero who fought some of the greatest villains his world has ever known, but the more he fought, the further he fell towards obscurity, which he feared more than anything else. He needed to relish in being known as a hero, so he began doing worse things over the years, up to and including killing a nice guy Overlord and raising his son to be a general asshole Overlord just so he could be a hero again. As Sapphire put it, he eventually "ignored being the hero".
  • Beldr from Devil Survivor is Baldr, god of light and beauty from Norse Mythology. After he became trapped in the underworld as a giantess refused to weep for him, he became determined to spread lament on the Earth until everything cries.
    • For extra bonus points? It's implied that said giantess was actually Loki.
    • From the same company, various hints have been dropped by Atlus saying something happened to YHVH to make him what he is today.
  • Malin Keshar from Battle for Wesnoth attempted to use necromancy to defend his home village of Parthyn. However, after being rejected by his own people due to the bad reputation that necromancy has, he becomes the apprentice of Darken Volk, and begins to despise everyone more and more until he's a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
  • Tempest Hawker from Super Robot Wars Original Generation was once a member of The Federation Aggressor unit. After losing his wife and daughter in the Hope incident, he will do anything to get revenge on the Earth Federation.
  • Boy, does Viewtiful Joe have these...
    • In the first game, Captain Blue is the one masterminding to escape from Movieland to take over the real world, having lost his stride twice. In the real world, he was hailed as revolutionary director, having created several good movies, but then he lost all of that. He just wanted to create more heroes. He was then somehow sucked into one of his films, and he lived all of the great adventures he wanted, but then he figured something out: the world was Too Good to Last, he started to want revenge against the people of the human world. Thankfully, he got some sense knocked into him.
    • May not count, but the second game gives us Jet Black, who wanted to become a film maker to show his son what a true hero was. He then found the Black Film, which started to eat at his desires, eventually twisting his desire to make a film about heroes to actually wanting to be the hero, and was going to take over the world. Again, he got some sense knocked into him.
  • The World Corp storyline in The Nameless Mod allows you to be this.
  • Mathias Cronqvist, friend to Leon Belmont, brilliant strategist, noble Crusader, and genius alchemist. The death of his wife Elizabetha shattered his faith in God and he became obsessed with obtaining immortality so that he could curse God forever. And thus was Dracula born.
  • Wander from Shadow of the Colossus becomes one of these. Assuming that you think that he was heroic to begin with/villainous in the end...
  • Michael Jordan, of all people, in Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. The fact that Space Jam is canon to the game's storyline only amplifies this.
  • Teryn Loghain from Dragon Age. The novels act as his Start of Darkness and show the roots of his paranoia concerning Orlais that dictated nearly everything he does in the game.
    • And in the sequel, Anders, one of your party members who was once a heroic and kind-hearted Grey Warden, loses his battle with the demon of Vengeance inhabiting him and blows up the Chantry.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Dutch Van Der Linde was, according to John Marston, an idealistic romantic who was essentially the western Robin Hood. However, at some point, he went insane, likely due to the realization that all of his efforts won't bring any true change in the end. Now, he's gone absolutely Ax Crazy.
  • Jack Krauser from the Resident Evil series qualifies as such, especially when Darkside Chronicles paints him with an initially heroic light, but after his arm was heavily injured (which resulted in him being fired from SOCOM due to it never recovering), as well as becoming increasing envious towards Leon, he eventually fell to the depiction of him in Resident Evil 4.
  • Sepulchre from Dragon Fable.
    • Vilmor, in the Dragon's Grasp arc, had been imprisoned for destroying the town of Bask and hurting the trust of great ice dragon Cryozen (which Vilmor had bonded with). Subverted big time. It turns out that SHE wasn't responsible for the destruction of Bask, Dragon Master Frostscythe was, and she was just looking for Cryozen before it died. Furthermore, Frostscythe was her childhood friend who felt that he was shortchanged by the Dragon Lord order because of his ice elf lineage; the whole Bask incident was an elaborate ploy to sever the bond of trust between dragon and Dragon Lord. Before you ask, yes.
  • Malefor, the Big Bad of the The Legend Of Spyro trilogy was implied to be one. Statues of him dot the Dragon Realms, including the training area of the Dragon Temple. Prowlus also claims that Spyro is just like Malefor at his age...
  • Subverted in Touhou with Byakuren's back story. She was a revered nun in ages past, but realizing her own mortality after the death of her brother Mokuren, she dabbled with witchcraft and turned into something not human. The people eventually sealed her in the Pandemonium...but more due to her becoming more understanding to the Youkai, and not because she's turning evil. If anything, her "fallen" status made her a better person.
  • In Mega Man X 4, Sigma is revealed to be a victim to this trope to the then-Complete Monster Zero before X1.
  • In the MMORPG Maple Story, Empress Cygnus in the future. Because they were weaker than the regular adventurers of the Maple World (shown by the fact that they can only go up to level 120 instead of the regular 200), Cygnus wanted to increase the power of her knights so they could match up with the rest of the world. To do so, she looked for the Tree of Life, which she found. However, it was a trap laid by the Black Mage, and combined with their crippling insecurity, the Empress and her knights were corrupted by the Black Mage, and began to destroy the Maple World.
  • Dirk from Valkyria Chronicles II. Ready for a whopper of a spoiler? He is actually Leon Hardins, older brother and idol of the protagonist. An exceptional militiaman, he was selected for a "special mission" - being subjected to human experimentation that stripped him of his humanity. And so he ends up fighting for a genocidal band of insurrectionists.
  • According to the instructions manual for Super Mario Bros, Goombas were said to be former residents of the Mushroom Kingdom who betrayed Princess Peach and the Toads and sided with Bowser. Not so much in later games, where some Goombas are instead portrayed as allies.
  • The cast of Last Scenario is littered with heroes and wannabe-heroes who are used, deceived and broken in various ways, so naturally one of these ( Castor, the game's Big Bad) would come out of it, while the game details his descent down the slippery slope, until even his most loyal allies join the other side in an attempt to bring him back..
  • Whether Abysswalker Artorias is this or a Defector From Decadence is the subject of much debate in Dark Souls. Artorias was one of Lord Gwyn's four great knights, making him one of his top lieutenants. An unknown number of years ago, the Darkwraiths (Humanity devouring dark knights of the darkness) appeared. They were so dangerous that it eventually resulted in outright sacrificing an entire city. Artorias was charged with hunting the Darkwraiths, but instead joined them for reasons that are not known.
  • The Five Dastardly Bombers' characterization in Super Bomberman R: originally created to protect mankind, loved and admired by humans just like the Bomberman Bros, they got scrapped for unknown reasons and Buggler revived them, wiped their memories and manipulated them into believing humans grew tired of them and threw them away like worthless junk. Plasma Bomber in particular openly expresses his utter disdain of organic lifeforms and his desire to eradicate them.

Visual Novels

  • Archer in Fate/stay night. He gets to have all of the above ways of breaking him. Technically, he still believes that his ideal is correct, he just realizes that it's way bloodier than he thought it would be and would rather not exist than be forced to continue with it. He pulls off a pretty impressive Batman Gambit to do so.

Web Comics

  • Smilling Man from The Crossoverlord. Once the greatest hero of his universe, after the death of his beloved wife, he turned into a Complete Monster and Multiversal Conqueror.
  • Both Miko and Redcloak in Order of the Stick. While neither of them were ever truly heroes, both were, at the bare minimum, decent people, before their Moral Event Horizon. The former actually fell, losing her paladin powers.
  • Kore in Goblins is heavily implied to be one: he is a paladin, meaning he was originally Lawful Good, but something along the way turned him into an incredibly cruel and heartless Knight Templar who sees evil around every corner. What we get from his backstory involves being the last victorious survivor of a battle against a godlike demon and suffering a terrible curse as a result.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Kagetsu I was originally a revered hero until his dream of a better world drove him to attempt to destroy the world and create it anew as an utopia. Cain and Refan end up falling as well, the former because he was near death and ended up in the care of a corrupter, and the latter because he wanted to join the demons (who actually ended up being Genre Savvy enough and used his own lingering darkness and doubts to corrupt him instead) to gather intel behind their backs and to avenge his adoptive little sister's death.
  • Sungod V has a good example of this trope. Subvert on the Hero part though.
  • Mister America, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, fought the Nazis, helped defeat them, and came back to a hero's welcome. He took off the costume, revealed his real name, and went to Hollywood to become an actor. And then he threw it all away by testifying before the McCarthy hearings as a friendly witness. He's since tried to make multiple comebacks, but every time he does, someone reminds him of the day he left his friends swinging in the wind before a hostile Congress.
  • In Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the Demon Lord's army has a whole unit made up purely from this trope. These people were heroes who failed their mission to slay the Demon Lord. Men are charmed and women become succubi. The old comrades then reform their party under command of the Demon Lord. It's played for laughs, although they're probaly the most powerful fighting force in the Demon Lord's army, but the former heroes are mostly too busy screwing their heroines and are only seen in actual combat when there's a serious threat. And the Demon Lord's husband is none other than the hero who slayed the previous Demon Lord. But considering his motive, to create a world where humans and monsters can live in harmony, it's arguable if he's really fallen.

Western Animation