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10+ Characters Who Had The Best Redemption Arcs

Sarah Kester

Character development is a major component of any great story.

It's what keeps us invested as we watch our favorite characters learn from their mistakes and grow.

Here are 10+ characters who had the best redemption arcs in movies and on TV.

1. Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones

IMDb

"He transformed from a selfish teen to a meek son, to a ruthless backstabber, to a prisoner, to Reek, and then his redemption to a hero. Truly, his character arc was so well-written and well-executed by Alfie Allen. I don’t know why it doesn’t get more praise." - christinew49665b332

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2. Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones

Giphy | Game of Thrones: #PrepareForWinter

Though she was no villain by any means, both fans and characters were often annoyed with her.

By the end of the series, everyone was rooting for her to come out on top. And she did.

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3. Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl

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"In the beginning, he was shown as a horrible person who forced himself onto girls. After he fell for Blair, he became a much better person and apologized for what he did." - lindamay

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4. Anakin in Star Wars

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While he is known for becoming one of the greatest villains of all time, his death definitely redeemed him in the end.

It's why people love the character so much.

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5. Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender

IMDb

"He started off as, let’s face it, a whiny brat who was hell-bent on finding the Avatar at any cost to restore his honor and return to the Fire Nation. As the show went on, he realized that no matter what, he would never restore his honor in the eyes of his father, which made him realize he had to grow for himself." - checkyalater_slater

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6. Kylo Ren in Star Wars

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Although people have mixed feelings about this villain-turned-almost hero, he did help save the galaxy, and helped Rey.

So, in the end, he did the right thing.

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7. Mickey in Shameless

IMDb

"He went from going to prison just so he wouldn’t have to admit that he’s gay, and pushing Ian away because he was afraid of his dad, to being out and proud and standing up to his dad so he could marry Ian." - Kyliesalifbury

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8. Loki in Avengers: Infinity War

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The tortured villain-turned-self-sacrificing hero is all people needed to know that all along, he was a good person.

Sure, it was deep down, but it was there.

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9. Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones

IMDb

"He’s essentially a villain in the first season of Game of Thrones. The events that transpire between him and Brienne which lead to him losing his hand, humble him. Then hearing how he got the name 'king slayer' shows he is a complex character who often chooses to help others, at great cost to himself and his honor." - Redditor Willbo_bagg1ns

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10. Curtis Everett in Snowpiercer

Giphy | Tech Noir

Though he was not a villain at all, he did bad things that he regrets.

By taking out the head honchos and saving his friends and his people, he redeemed himself in the best way.

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11. Wikus in District 9

YouTube | Looper

"Wikus goes from cluelessly evil, to consciously evil, to self sacrificing hero by the end of the film. It's actually very revealing too, while blasting soldiers with pigs he yells 'I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU' indicating that maybe all his evil attitude and actions earlier in the film were the result of him being a weak man scared of the world. But now that he has real power he's willing to die for what he thinks is right." - Redditor BallisticGeorge

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12. Boromir in Lord of The Rings

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From blindingly following orders to attacking Frodo, at the end of it all, Boromir was more than willing to fight for what he believed in, and who he believed in.

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13. Bojack in Bojack Horseman

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"It takes four series of him doing horrible things but that only makes the close of season 4 so rewarding, he's still not a good or healthy person, but there's a real sense he believes he can improve and that he wants to." - Redditor Vesurel

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14. Mark Sloan in Grey's Anatomy

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Sure he was hot, so a lot of people loved him right away, but he wasn't exactly a role model.

He completely changes by the end of his time on the show, turning into one of the most beloved characters ever.

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15. Will Munny in Unforgiven

IMDb

"Will Munny (Eastwood) is a bad guy turned good guy, turned bad guy again, and at the end with that climactic scene I suppose it's up to the individual viewer how they feel about the character." - Redditor popty_ping

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16. Gru in Despicable Me

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A villain turned loving hero, this is the kind of movie that people needed to see.

That not everyone who starts off kind of bad stays that way. People can change.

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17. Red in The Shawshank Redemption

IMDb

"Red in Shawshank Redemption goes through quite an arc, from being at least aloof and disconnected from the hero, and someone who did originally commit a murder, to incredibly close friend and someone who sees his previous, murderous self as almost a separate person from who he is at the end of the film. I love that speech he gives the board at the end addressing it." - Redditor Twigryph

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18. Klaus Mikaelson in The Originals

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While he was always on the murdering side, his love for his family made him realize that he had to do the right thing for them at the end.

And he remained a legend because of it.

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19. Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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"He went from being a major big bad in Season 2 to learning to love Buffy and ultimately sacrificing himself for her and the world in the finale! Without a doubt the best character development ever." - campbells4dbe23c87

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20. Megamind from Megamind

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Just like Gru, this movie was a lesson people needed to see for themselves, and a great one to teach children.

It's possible for people to change.

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21. Tony Stark in Avengers: Endgame

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He was always a hero, and he was always doing the right thing, from when we met him in the cave in Iron Man.

But Tony was always trying to make up for his past sins, and by saving the world, he did just that.

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22. Michael in The Good Place

IMDb

"He went from a demon whose purpose was torturing humans to literally becoming a human! Seeing him grow into an empathetic, emotional being who was hell-bent on making the afterlife better for all of humanity was a joy. Ted Danson played Michael perfectly." - emilyd4223a239b

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23. Thor in Thor

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Thor, though charismatic, isn't exactly likeable in the first movie. In fact, his mission almost gets his entire team killed.

By the end, he has proven just how much of a hero he actually is.

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24. Alex Karev in Grey's Anatomy

Giphy | VIJF

"Excluding his lame return to Izzy, everything up to that was fantastic. He went from a crass, careless frat guy who wanted to go into plastic surgery to a badass pediatric surgeon who cared about his friends." - maddies4fce0966d

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25. Dwight Schrute in The Office

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As an audience, he's hilarious to us, but to the characters? He can be quite cruel.

But by the end of the show, he has proven to love his coworkers dearly and changes his ways.

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26. Steve Harrington in Stranger Things

Netflix

"He started out as the typical [expletive] high school dude who spread terrible rumors about Nancy and tried to ruin her life. Now, he is the doting mother of an unruly gang of teenagers and together they all keep saving the world. An excellent redemption arc." - fredzesty

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27. David Rose in Schitt's Creek

Giphy | Schitt's Creek

From a man who thought he needed riches to live a life full of joy, he realized that what he actually needed was love.

Though he still enjoys luxuries, he realizes it's not all he needs.

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28. Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

IMDb

"My gosh that moment when you realize that Snape was actually one of the bravest characters in entire story. I think this was an awesome redemption. He changed from the most hated character to the most heroic in a few minutes. Awesome stuff." - Redditor killjoy134

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29. Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries

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One of the biggest television bad boys, Damon Salvatore went from going on murderous rampages to falling desperately in love and changing his ways because of it.

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30. Alexis Rose in Schitt's Creek

CBC

"She went from being a whiny, spoiled brat in Season 1 to becoming an amazing, strong woman with a thriving career in Season 6. And she was able to understand and make incredibly difficult decisions that showed how much she had matured." - human_being1757

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31. Petra Solano in Jane The Virgin

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She started out as a heartless villain, but by the end of the show, she was one of the most sympathetic characters on the show.

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