Villain story arcs are some of the most complex things you could try to understand. Every villain is different and has their reason for turning to the dark side. These are the ones that do change over time. Some were forced to change overnight. While some were forced to change by someone else who cared deeply for them. This is a list of some redeemable characters who deserved their redemption.

1. Prince ZukoAvatar: The Last Airbender

Throughout the anime, it was clear that Zuko was different from your regular villain. He was sympathetic at times and had constant realizations that he wasn’t really doing anything for himself. His mother was banished for trying to save her son, Zuko getting killed. At a later age, Zuko decided to stand up to his father, which only got him the burn scar on his face and banished. Tracking down the Last Airbender was his only ticket back home and that is what he sought out to do.

Prince Zuko bending fire in front of himself with his fire nation attire, still being seen as a villain.
Redemption: By Bryan Konietzko.

However, there was always something around to thwart his plan. At the end of the first season, he caught Aang. But he couldn’t bring him home because of the bad weather. His uncle, Prince Iroh, had changed his mind multiple times on different occasions. Prince Irok was also the one who opened Zuko’s eyes to the truth. As a villain, Prince Zuko was only doing what his father wanted him to do: catch the Avatar, come back home, and take part in wars, killing innocent people and his own soldiers. But he never took the chance to look inside and act on what he really wanted to do.

Prince Zuko is a complex villain with a background that was harsh and forceful. This is what turned him into a bad guy. Zuko was already battling with himself to figure out who he really was and that made him redeemable. He wasn’t really a villain because his actions were out of feelings of being trapped by his father and pressured by his duties and a prince. He also made up for it when he willing helped Aang and his team against the fire nation.

2. Akito SohmaFruits Basket

When you first meet Akito, she has short hair and is wearing a lot of layers of men’s clothes. Only a few of Sohma’s family members knew of her true gender. Akito’s mother forced this strong mentality upon her, dressing her up in boy clothes and cutting her hair. Her mother believed that would make Akito stronger and more respected in the Sohma family.

Akito Sohma wearing girly clothing for probably the first time.
Redemption: Credit: Natsuki Takaya; Writer & illustrator of Fruit Basket (Manga).

Akito is seen as a villain at the beginning of this manga because of her treatment of the other members that are part of the curse. She put the rat in the zodiac, in a cage whenever he did something Akito didn’t like. She made Hatori blind in one eye when he wanted her permission to marry the woman that he loved. Above all, she uses Toruh as a pawn and then tries to hurt her when things didn’t go the way she had planned.

One by one, the zodiac members broke off from the curse and it tore Akito apart. She felt those connections being lost like everyone was leaving her all alone. Once all of the connections were lost and the curse was completely gone, she had nothing else to hold onto. From that moment on, she started to take on the identity she was meant to have. Akito’s redemption happened upon the breaking of the curse that forcefully took Akito out of her villainous role as ‘God’ in the Zodiac. It put her in the path of the person she was meant to be, a woman who was apart of the Sohma family.

Bad Guys Being Redeemed

In order for villains to be redeemed, their history has to be able to make that possible for them. Most villains start becoming bad guys because of a traumatic event in their childhood years. For Gaara and Prince Zuko, they were already on the bad side of their fathers as soon they were born.

But it wasn’t until a big event happened that their evil side manifested and fed off of the hate they were already given by others. Other redeemable villains would include ones who were brainwashed or controlled. Some could have been raised to be that way or it was passed down from other villainous generations before them.

3. EndeavorMy Hero Academia

Endeavor was the villain of the first part of My Hero Academia. He was regarded as a bad guy by his son, Shoto. Once we got the background history between the father and son, we understood so much more about Endeavor’s abuse towards his family. To become the number one hero, he did multiple things in his personal life that categorized him as a bad guy. Endeavor married a woman with an ice quirk and then forcefully had kids until they had Shoto. During hero jobs, he wouldn’t talk to people and be standoffish.

Redemption: Endeavor firing up with excitement.
Redemption: Credit: Kohei Horikoshi; Creator of My Hero Academia.

After All Might was forcefully retired, Endeavor was really upset but stared on the path to becoming a worthy hero. He started caring more and tried to patch things up with his family. Enveador tries to understand his sons, talks to the people he’s saving and stands up to the plate of number one hero. All Might’s retirement forced everything into perspective for him and set a new goal. To redeem himself from his family and be a righteous hero, stepping into All Might’s place the right way.

Evil & Redemption In Its Purest Form

There are villains who are completely irredeemable. For example, the one who is fully aware of what they are doing and doesn’t care. There are ones that just do it for fun and entertainment and the ones that feel like they are being their true selves. Those are the ones that feel like they don’t have to change at all.

4. Joffrey BaratheonGame Of Thrones

Joffrey is a cruel character who gets the most joy out of tormenting others. He usually gets what he wants all the time and after the first King’s death and Joffrey stepped up to the throne, everything got 100 times worse. He used his newly acquired power to tell everyone what to do and have them killed when they did otherwise or made a simple mistake. No one was safe around Joffrey.

Redemption: Joffrey Baratheon is smiling slightly in full armor.
Redemption: Credit: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; creators of Game Of Thrones.

He showed no remorse for anyone, not even his own mother or his soon-to-be wife, whom he publically humiliated. When Joffrey’s death finally came through, I’m sure everyone was glad and let out a breath of relief, hoping no one would follow in his treacherous footsteps as King.