Character redemption: earned or a retcon of past events

The transition of villian or semi-villianous characters in tv shows throughout a show’s run is a popular move within the recent years due to the rise of the anti-heroes.
Consider examples of when this has worked verus when the change simply felt out of character. How far is too far? Have there been any instances where the characters committed acts which were retconned to ensure their new status would be accepted by audiences?

  • I feel as though nearly every villain in modern shows today is at least somewhat glamourised by the fans, regardless of their moral viewpoint. Even villains such as Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock, a psychopathic killer who has no morality, and in fact has destroyed the lives of the protagonists more than once, is often loved and fantasised about. – SophIsticated 7 years ago
  • Redeemed villains and anti-heroes seem to me separate things entirely, things that cannot really be compared in the same breath. There's never really a time when Walter White comes across as a redeemed villain. He, and Light Yagami from Deathnote, are anti-heroes with varying degrees of morality. Jamie Lannister is probably the pinnacle redeemed villain contemporarily, as a truly despised character in the beginning through to being many people's favourite good guy currently. Just my two cents here. – Entropy 7 years ago
  • This made me think of literature's first anti-heroes -- Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost -- perhaps this topic can center more on an audience's fascination with villains and anti-heroes in general? – Jeffrey Cook 7 years ago

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