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Top 10 Animated Villains Turned Heroes

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These villains were never meant stay evil! For this list, we’ll be looking at the villains from animated films and TV shows who reformed to become heroes. We’ll be excluding the ones who are just misunderstood, like Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove,” or the eponymous “Wreck-It Ralph.” Also, since some of these turns to good are heavily wrapped up in plot developments, there will be spoilers ahead.

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Top 10 Animated Villains Turned Heroes

These bad guys gone good are anything but 2-dimensional. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Animated Villains Turned Heroes.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the villains from animated films and TV shows who reformed to become heroes. We’ll be excluding the ones who are just misunderstood, like Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove,” or the eponymous “Wreck-It Ralph.” Also, since some of these turns to good are heavily wrapped up in plot developments, there will be spoilers ahead.

#10: Vandal Savage
“Justice League” (2001-04)

An immortal supervillain, Vandal Savage has had plenty of time to learn his lesson, but has seemingly never reformed… until one episode. After Superman is thrown 30 thousand years into Earth’s future, he finds that Savage is the only remaining person on the planet. After taking over the world, Savage’s actions led to the death of everyone, except himself. During his eons of loneliness, Savage realizes his lust for power is ultimately pointless, leading him to assist Superman in returning home to stop his past self and save the world.

#9: Dinobot
“Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99)

A former member of the evil Predacons, Dinobot joins the heroic Maximal faction of Transformers early on in “Beast Wars.” While he adheres to a strict code, he’s still far more bloodthirsty than his Maximal allies and he also rejoins the Predacons on one occasion. However, despite his loyalties being questioned by both sides, Dinobot enacts an incredible final stand against every one of the Predacons to protect early humans; proving himself to be a true hero. Even Dinobot’s evil clone (the second one, anyway) retains the original’s sense of honor and repeats his predecessor’s sacrifice.

#8: Diego
“Ice Age” franchise (2002-16)

Saber-toothed tigers weren’t exactly known for being the nicest of animals while they were alive, but this fictional one shows some nobility. After his pack is attacked by humans, Diego and his pack leader, Soto, plot to eat the child of the humans’ leader as revenge. However, Manny the mammoth and Sid the sloth find the baby first and plan to return it to its people. While Diego initially attempts to deceive the pair to steal the infant, he ultimately comes to care about both it, and Manny and Sid, causing him to betray his pack and side with the protagonists; remaining their friend in subsequent installments of the franchise.

#7: Ashi
“Samurai Jack” (2001-04; 2017)

One of many daughters of Aku - evil incarnate and the titular samurai’s nemesis - Ashi and her sisters are raised as assassins to defeat Jack once and for all. While they do prove formidable opponents for Jack, they’re all defeated except for Ashi. Despite initially being hostile towards Jack, Ashi comes to see that it’s not him that’s evil, but rather her father. Eventually she becomes an ally, and even romantic interest, for Jack. Her ultimate fate may be tragic, but she’s a wonderfully characterized villainess turned heroine.

#6: Terra
“Teen Titans” (2003-06)

A girl with the power to control rocks and earth, Terra originally gets along with the Teen Titans Unfortunately, she’s not great at controlling her powers, which pushes her to seek the aid of the villain Slade. In exchange for spying on the Titans, Slade offers to teach her to master her abilities. However, Terra’s betrayal is eventually discovered and she continues to aid Slade in his plans. When it becomes clear that he’s only using her, Terra apparently kills him, though she endangers the city as a result and sacrifices herself to save it. Whether or not she was a true villain, Terra is a hero in the end.

#5: Asajj Ventress
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-)

Introduced as the Sith apprentice of Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress often acts as an assassin or infiltrator, though she is also highly skilled in combat; going toe to toe with many powerful Jedi. Upon being betrayed by her master though, Ventress begins seeking revenge on him; giving her a common enemy with the heroes she once fought against, although she is more ruthless in her methods. Ventress’ arc is one of the stronger ones in “The Clone Wars” and while she never turns to the Light side of the Force, she still makes for a compelling anti-heroine.

#4: Prince Zuko
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)

The disgraced prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko spends much of this series trying to capture the titular Avatar, Aang, to return to his tyrannical father’s good graces. Zuko succeeds in impressing his father and gets everything he wanted, though at the cost of betraying his uncle, who, unlike his father, actually loves him. After some soul searching, Zuko decides to help Aang instead, becoming his friend and ally against the Fire Lord. Zuko’s journey from villain to hero feels very natural and is well-executed, as well as emotionally affecting.

#3: Megamind
“Megamind” (2010)

Given that he’s an alien raised by criminals, Megamind may have been predisposed to evil since his youth. However, when he seemingly kills his longtime nemesis, the big-headed blue villain finds himself at a loss with what to do with his life, attempting to woo the reporter he often kidnapped and even trying to create a new hero to fight against. But the super-powered man-child he creates becomes an even worse villain than him, leading to Megamind stepping up to become a hero in his own right.

#2: Felonius Gru
“Despicable Me” franchise (2010-)

A cantankerous and eccentric supervillain, Felonius Gru is prone to outlandish evil schemes that he perpetrates with the dubious help of his ubiquitous yellow minions. However, he begins a path towards heroism upon adopting three young girls to complete one of his plans, eventually deciding to retire from villainy. The sequels see him take it a step further and battle against his former peers. Although he has a lot in common with our previous entry, Gru gets a chance to grow as a character and as a hero over several films, which puts him higher up on our list.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99)

Sergeant Hatred
“The Venture Bros.” (2003-)

Lord Business

“The Lego Movie” (2014)

#1: The Grinch
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966)

Green with envy and spite, the Grinch is a furry creature of malice who despises the Whos of Whoville, and his lack of Christmas spirit would make Ebenezer Scrooge blanch. Hatching an evil scheme, the Grinch decides to steal the Christmas presents and decorations of the Whos while masquerading as Santa Claus. However, while the Grinch is successful, he ultimately finds that the Whos’ spirit of the season is undiminished and their bond of fellowship touches the grouchy green grump, leading him to return what he stole and celebrate with the Whos. The Grinch’s simple, timeless story of redemption is what makes him the best animated villain-turned-hero.


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