"Redemption" Arcs.

So. Redemption Arcs. I love me a good redemption Arc. Its one of the best tools in the writing game when changing the alliengce of evil character as they turn baby face. I love it. Cause well it forces the character to look at themselves and realize that they have been doing some horrible stuff and want to change that. Its a great look into a character pysche.

But I absolutely hate a bad redemption arc.

For example: take a character that has been a horrible person for the entire plot of the book. They baanter with the good guys, thorn at their sides, they do alot of stuff that makes the protags just wanna beat them up. But at the climax generally it taakes one thing that makes them go automatically baby face and join with the bad guys. There’s usually a fifty percent chance where they will go ahead a sacrifice themselves for the good guys to succeed so that it looks like that the bad guy wasnt really a bad guy after all.

See, this not a good way to a redemption arc. Its a way but its kinda shallow. Cause its aburpt. There’s no buildup. There’s no reflection from the character that what they did was pretty crappy. And I think that’s something that’s usually something that’s kinda missed out on. Acknowledgement. And slowly having the good guys earn their trust and forgiveness over time. Kinda like Zuko from avatar the last airbender for an example.
But that’s just my thoughts. What about you guys?

I just really hate redemption arcs that end in death or don’t show the character’s mental progression.

Since fiction is a good mirror for reality, I’ve always felt that redemption arcs are incredibly important. In a way they showcase the way that a person can improve and find acceptance through effort, which can be incredibly inspiring for people that aren’t happy where they are. To me, killing redeemed characters is such a lazy way out and it gives the opposite end message:

There’s no point in trying to improve yourself, because you’ll end up suffering anyway.

And that’s such a sad, shitty message. It’s honestly one of the tropes I absolutely can’t stand.

Plus it’s really annoying being able to pick out which character is going to die just by looking at their character archetype.


I have to say that I agree with your view on things. As such, I have a series that I put “A tale of revenge and redemption” right in the tagline for the whole thing. In my case, it isn’t the antagonist that needs redemption though, it is the protagonist who through the whole first arc is set on revenge and by the end of it realizes how empty that is. So, he continues the story trying to come to terms with who he is, who he wants to be, and a world of things that come crashing down because of what he has done.


I rarely like redemption arcs because it is hard for me to believe in them. I like Jaime Lannister’s so far.


I don’t mind when characters die to redeem themselves. I just hate it’s the only way to redeem yourself in fiction. :roll_eyes: Redemption actually requires work. You have to want to be better.

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My western starts in the middle of my MC’s redemption arc. She’s been working hard for years to change, and the story becomes a tipping point in her life, offering both an accelerated path forward and easy way back to who she once was.

I didnt want the arc to only happen over the course of a few weeks (the duration of the story), because the personal changes are significant.

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I love a good redemption arc :heart:
Zuko in ATLA is an excellent example of a great redemption arc

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