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So, you are a powerful villain in need of a Quirky Miniboss Squad. You need to replace The Dragon who has failed you one time too many. Or perhaps your Monster of the Week never works and you are thinking of trying The Psycho Rangers. But where can you find a servant both competent enough and willing to serve you? Not everyone can create minions from the ground up. But perhaps you don't need to create anything.
See that guy, Only Mostly Dead after a Heroic Sacrifice? He will do. A quick brainwashing, a new name and clothes and while you are putting his damaged body back together you can always make some improvements. If no half-dead hero is available, you can always use the remains of the previous season Big Bad, or even some of your past victims. What is important is that they are not just Brainwashed and Crazy . The new minion must be customized for your needs. So turning dead heroes undead does not count by itself, but creating a death knight will.
As mentioned, this trope requires the victim to be custom-modified. Also it must be someone either important (a powerful wizard, a king) or plot -relevant (the hero's childhood friend) prior to the transformation and important for the villain's plans after.
Compare The Corrupter.
- In One Piece: "The Tyrant Kuma is dead."
- In Afro Samurai, this is Kuma's backstory. After nearly being killed when Afro first got the Number 2 Headband back, he's brought back from the brink of death by Dharman and the Empty 7 after being turned into a cyborg-samurai.
- The Four Generals in the Sailor Moon manga were Endymion's Generals before everyone was sent into the future to be reborn and fight Queen Beryl in the future. Present day however, they've been brainwashed and now serve her as the Quirky Miniboss Squad.
- Happened in Slayers: NEXT, though this was reversed.
- Almost everyone in Blassreiter, especially when XAT almost entirely was infected with Pale Rider. Some managed to remember themselves and turn on their would-be "masters" anyway, but most were taken over completely.
- Several of the heroes in the Kamen Rider franchise come out of failed attempts to do this, starting with the original one. Of course, there are also villains who are the result of successful attempts.
- Horsemen of Apocalypse in X-Men, particularly Archangel/Death.
- Psylocke was long thought to be this after she returned from Japan transformed into a psychic ninja assassin. The truth turned out to be a bit more complicated.
- All of the heralds of Galactus are this.
- The Incredible Hulk: Back in The Nineties the Leader used the dead body and mostly dead brain of Thunderbolt Ross to power the Redeemer armor.
- This is the M.O. of supervillain Deathmonger in Empowered.
- This is the SOP of all the Succubae in The Return, both the protagonists and the antagonists. The worst offender in it is Alexia though. Even the other demons thinks she's excessively evil about it. Sailor Dark Mercury has a similar stance towards recruitment.
- Koopa turns Toad into a Goomba in the Super Mario Bros movie.
- Tron: Legacy: There's a reason Rinzler never takes off the mask, speaks in a distorted stutter, and... stops fighting Sam once he realizes that Sam is a User.
- In The Lord of the Rings, this was the purpose of all the lesser rings (with the One made to control the resulting minions) but only the human recipients of the Nine were fully corrupted and became the Nazgul. The Nazgul themselves also have this ability; being stabbed by one of their Morgul Blades turns the victim into a wraith. It nearly happened to Frodo, if it hadn't been for Glorfindel's (Arwen's in the movie) timely rescue.
- Zaknafein in the second book of The Dark Elf Trilogy.
- The Taken in The Black Company are powerful wizards, defeated in battle and remade into powerful servants. the transformation seems to involve death and the victim remains human in shape only at best.
- In the second season of Dark Angel the formerly dead Zack returns as a cyborg. Sort of like Robocop, only less well-intentioned.
- Death knights in World of Warcraft are a borderline example - they are Elite Mooks but the people to be transformed are hand-picked to ensure quality.
- Mother 3: Porky uses the body of Claus, your brother who goes missing at the end of Chapter 1, for creating his cyborg henchman.
- Sarah Kerrigan is corrupted to serve the Zerg Overmind in the original Starcraft (and that she eventually emerges on top).
- Seiken Densetsu 3 eventually reveals that this happened in the Darkshine Knight's backstory (assuming you picked Duran as your main character, anyways) - namely, the Dragon Emperor used his magic to revive the knight Loki (no, not that one) after the two of them dropped into a bottomless pit during a struggle, and neither was ever found.
- While it's technically more of an Unwitting Pawn, in Overlord the Player Character is really one of the heroes who defeated the previous Overlord after being recovered after a No One Could Have Survived That.
- Mu-12's origin in Blaz Blue. More specifically, she's Noel Vermillion . Terumi/Hazama mind raped her into nihilism, finished the process of turning her into a cyborg killing machine and sicked her on Ragna. All just as a brief distraction so he could kill a god. This far from the only time Relius and Hazama invoke this trope, either;
- The ending of the second game also implies that Hazama and Relious Clover did this to Ragna and Jin's apparently Dead Little Sister Saya to use as some sort of pupper ruler/vessel for a higher power.
- The Extended edition also all but says that Hazama's minion "Phantom" is Konoe A. Mercury AKA Nine, one of the six heroes.
- In "Phase 1" the protagonist Kazuma Kval merges with Terumi (essentially just being a physical body for him) to create Hazama.
- Bulletstorm: Ishi's fate, if you stayed after the credits. Although the screen remains black, the dialogue is implies that the Big Bad not only survived, but managed to patch up Ishi after his heroic sacrifice, and cranked his soulless AI to 11.
- Subverted in Quake 4. Halfway through the game, protagonist Matthew Kane is captured by the Stroggs and turned into one of them. However, Kane's fellow EDF soldiers come and rescue him before the Stroggs can indoctrinate him.
- Jade Empire: Not only is Death's Hand not the Big Bad, or even close to it, it turns out that he's the spirit of the Emperor and Sun Li's youngest brother, mortally wounded at Dirge and magically bound to Sun Li's armor.
- The Dark Side ending to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has the mortally wounded Starkiller turned into something even worse than Vader and sent out as an assassin, with Palpatine making it clear that as soon as he has outlived his usefulness, then he will die...but not before.
- In Xenoblade Chronicles, all of the Faces are examples of this trope, most notably Mumkhar, Fiora, and Gadolt. They're cybernetically altered Homs who pilot giant robots, rather than autonomous Mechon. This renders them immune to the Monado, but susceptible to any and all Brainwashed and Crazy-related tropes.
- This will happen to some of the characters in Mass Effect 3, namely Jack, Legion and Morinth
- Subverted in Order of the Stick, where it seems Tsukiko is going to turn to Miko into a Death Knight, but certain mitigating factors make her change her mind.
- In Dominic Deegan, when Karnak takes over in hell, he transforms the damned knight Siegfrid to serve him as The Dragon. This bites him in the ass when his new servant regains his free will through a freak magical accident and goes on to overthrow him.
- F.O.W.L. attempted to do to Taurus Bulba on Darkwing Duck.
- In the Aladdin cartoon series, Mozenrath turned the evil wizard who trained him into one of his Mamluk minions.
- Galvatron in The Transformers is pretty much a literal example.
- In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Joker Junior.
- In the sequel series to Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Megatron has turned tons of garden-variety transformers into mindless mooks, and two out of the three members of his Quirky Miniboss Squad are ex-heroes who have been reforged into new bodies/personalities.
- Graft in Phantom 2040.
- In the movie Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, in the other dimension Perry the Platypus is captured and turned into Perry the Platyborg, general of Doofenshmirtz's army.
- The Psychocrypt in Galaxy Rangers. The victim has his Life Energy removed, placed in a Soul Jar, and the "jar" used to power a high-level Mook through which Her Travesty has a Psychic Link. Anything the poor bastard might have known is free for her to rummage through and use as a weapon, while they're conscious and unable to do anything about it.