Redemption (trope)

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Redemption fics are often focused on the antagonist or villain of a fandom.

These works may examine canon events from a different perspective, justifying the antagonists' actions and providing an opportunity for the character to change their ways. These characters are often portrayed as committing villainous acts with good intentions, or in reaction to abuse, neglect or trauma they have suffered in the past. In some works the character is redeemed through their own death, as they sacrifice themselves for some greater good, or to save another character.


Some redemption fics also arise from shipping the villain with a hero, and may include the Enemies to Lovers trope. Others are gen fics where the villain is part of the hero's family and the fans want to see them reunite, or they simply think the villain is a tragic character who "deserved better".


In recent years, some fans have expressed their dislike of this trope when it is applied to certain characters. There are some who believe that some antagonists are not deserving of redemption arcs in canon or fanon works. However, other fans disagree with the notion of "deserving" a redemption arc or not, as they see it as different from being forgiven and as something a character has to work for, and that anyone can work to redeem themselves.

Redemption fics are often criticized for being OOC or for woobifying dark characters.

Some criticism is based on how many redemption arcs ignore the feelings of those hurt by the villain, right down to those people defending the villain when others rightfully reject them and it being the job of others to forgive them instead of the villain's job to better themselves. This is especially called out in stories where the villain is white and the victims are characters or color or other minorities. [1]

Commonly Redeemed Characters

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  • Spike was often redeemed or shown capable of redemption in fanfic. This was initially a controversial trope, with many fans believing the soulless vampire was incapable of Redemption, and should remain a villain. See Redemtionistas vs. Evil!Spike for more information.

Harry Potter

  • Characters like Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy are often the focus on redemption fics in this fandom, with many works written before the book series had concluded.

Star Wars

  • Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker redemption fics have been around for a long time.
  • Kylo Ren redemption fics are common, but controversial among some fans. These works are often tagged as Bendemption or Rendemption stories.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Loki is often redeemed in fanworks.
  • Erik Killmonger is often portrayed as a sympathetic character in fanworks. Many fix-its are also redemption fics, wherein Erik survives and finds redemption in Wakanda.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

  • Prince Lotor was a big fan favorite who even worked alongside the heroes for a period of time. Many fix-its revolve around Princess Allura, who was his temporary love interest, rescuing him from the Quintessence field and forgiving him.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • Azula redemption fics were popular between the end of the series and the release of the comics. Many of these fics paired her with Ty Lee, but Katara and Sokka were also common choices for her. Others focused on gen fic involving her reconnecting with her family.

Canon Redemption Arcs

Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • Zuko's redemption arc was and still is praised as wonderfully written, due to him being a complex antagonist with a tragic backstory and the seeds being planted as early as Book 1. It also portrays him as having to do better as a person in addition to the heroes learning to trust him.

Fire Emblem Series

Any long-term enemy character who can be recruited by the heroes will have this. Major examples are:

  • Jaffar from The Blazing Blade, who is a more minor character once playable but turns his back on the villains to aid Nino, whom he can fall in love with and marry via supports.
  • Jill Fizzart from the Tellius series overcoming her racist perception of the Laguz via her interactions with hero Ike and supports with cat Laguz Lethe.
  • Dimitri Alexandre Blaidydd from Three Houses is a rare heroic example, who falls from grace and makes some very poor decisions, treating his peers badly and threatening to torture an enemy before the player character helps snap him out of it.
  • Lady Veyle and Mauvier from Engage. The former has a superpowered evil side who committed many atrocities against the heroes, while the latter served the villains for her sake. Both are recruitable, and both have supports and dialogue dealing with their contrition and desire to do better going forward.
    • From the Fell Xenologue DLC, Rafal betrays the player and is the final boss. He is recruitable, and has trouble overcoming his past actions to the point of pushing others away when they try to look out for him and forgive him.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

  • Catra has a season-long redemption arc after crossing several moral event horizons, culminating in her romance with heroine Adora.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V

  • Sora Shu'in joined the cast initially as an admirer of Yuya Sakaki and to teach Yuzu Hiiragi Fusion Summoning, but revealed himself to be a ruthless member of Academia, the main antagonists. He curb-stomped Shun Kurosaki before returning to the Fusion Dimension, but never forgot his connections to Yuya and Yuzu. During the Synchro Arc, he met with both of them and began to realize that all he'd been taught as a child soldier was wrong. This began his redemption arc of aiding the heroes, and even apologizing to Shun for their last encounter.

Pokémon Gold and Silver

  • Rival character Silver starts out as an angry, hateful jerk who pushes the player around and only cares about strong Pokémon. Later, though, after being trounced by Champion Lance, he begins to mend his ways and treat his Pokémon better. The Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes expand on his past and reasons for being the way he is, and giving him more of an arc.

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