It happens all the time in gaming–you get a villain who, over the course of the game or series, sees the error of their ways and turns back to fight alongside the heroes. There are many iterations of this and it’s really hard to pick just five to be the best, but I’m sure as heck going to attempt it. So here we go: the five best game villains who became heroes. Spoilers will follow, you have been warned.
5. Knuckles – Sonic the Hedgehog
Knuckles has been a hero for so long that not many people remember his origins. In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Knuckles was introduced as a rival to Sonic. His intentions were pure, he was trying to protect the Master Emerald, which rules over the world’s powerful Chaos Emeralds, but he was tricked by Dr. Robotnik into thinking that Sonic was trying to steal it. In the end, Robotnik steals the emerald, and Knuckles sees that he was wrong to try to fight Sonic. In future games, he progresses from being Sonic’s begrudging rival to one of the Blue Hedgehog’s closest friends, and he has helped save the world many times over.
4. Axel/Lea – Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is a series in which characters jump over the hero/villan line more often than Bowser kidnaps Peach, so picking just one of the characters who went from bad to good is really hard. Axel was introduced in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as a member of Organization XIII and one of Sora’s foes. He is a Nobody, a creature made from the body of a strong-willed person who lost their heart to a heartless.
Axel’s first double agenda is shown here when he thwarts the main villain’s plan, because it is in contrast with the goals of the leader of the organization. In Kingdom Hearts 2, he continues as Sora’s foe, because he believes that by defeating him he can release Sora’s Nobody, Roxas, who was Axel’s best friend–despite Roxas only existing for a year. At the end of the game, Axel realises he won’t get Roxas back, and instead comes to Sora’s aid, sacrificing himself to allow Sora to go and finish off the Organization. Though he appeared to be dead, the Axel nobody somehow merged with its old heart and reformed as Lea between Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. He operates in the shadows, aiding the heroes Sora and Mickey when they are in desperate need of help. At the end of Dream Drop Distance, he obtains his own Keyblade, and looks to be set as one of the heroes of light in Kingdom Hearts 3.
3.GLaDOS – Portal
GLaDOS is the evil robot from the hilarious Portal series that attempts to kill you… for science. She seems to have the philosophy that no science can be performed without serious risk to human life, and basically thinks that killing humans is science itself.
She is extremely passive aggressive and insists she is still alive after you drop all of her AI cores into a fire at the end of the original Portal. In Portal 2, she makes a return, and though she tries to kill you for much of the early game, she ends up having her AI placed in a potato battery by the game’s idiot villain Wheatley. Potato GLaDOS is furious and agrees to help you defeat Wheatley so that she can return to her main AI core and continue performing science. At the end, you help her get back, and she lets you go, because you keep impeding her “scientific progress.”
2. N – Pokemon
N spends most of the original Pokémon Black and White as your adversary, not because he hates you, but because he holds a vastly different idea than you do. N believes that people and Pokémon need to coexist without Pokeballs, and that Pokeballs and Pokémon battles are cruel to Pokémon. He is in charge of Team Plasma, a team that steals people’s Pokémon in order to release them from their Pokeballs.
However, while N’s motives are pure, his guiding hand is that of his foster-father, Ghetsis, whose motives are far less pure. Ghetsis wants to make everyone else in the world free their Pokémon, so that he and an elite few would rule the world using the great powers possessed by the Pokémon they control. When N learns that the goals of his Team are more sinister than he realizes, he takes your side to help you defeat his father, and then leaves to contemplate whether he was right in trying to make people give up their Pokémon. Ghetsis makes a return with a new plan to control Unova in Pokémon Black and White 2. N also returns, in an attempt to stop Ghetsis. His attempt fails, and it is left for the player to solve the problem, but N still tries. Once you win, he offers you his legendary Pokemon as congratulations.
1. ProtoMan – MegaMan
Protoman was the first Humanoid Robot created by Doctor Light in an attempt to create robots to make human’s lives easier. Protoman was a faulty prototype, however, and needed to be modified or else his power core would run out and he would die.
Fearing modification, he ran away and Dr. Light gave up on him, instead building Rock and Roll, perfected versions of the Protoman model. Light’s nemesis, Dr. Wily, found Protoman dying, and upgraded his power core to repair him, as well as giving him several items to help outfit him for combat.
Protoman was then indebted to serve Wily for saving his life, and thus was forced to fight his younger brother, Megaman, several times. At the end of Megaman 3, he saves Megana, who is left almost destroyed after defeating Dr. Wily. In Megaman 4, Protoman turns against Dr. Wily and aids Megaman with information. He appears again several times throughout the series offering aid to Megaman, though he doesn’t actually fight directly against Wily until Megaman 10, where he is a playable character.
Those are my five favorite villans turned heroes. Who are your favorites? Sound off in the comments, and stay tuned to Gameskinny for more gaming news and culture.
Related: 10 Most Powerful DC Villans Turned Heroes, by The Mary Sue