20 Heroic Public Figures Who Later Transformed Into Villains

Published 2 years ago

No matter how good a person is, no matter how strongly they stand on their principles, and no matter how many people love them, there comes a time when all of it fades away in a moment. Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, but some folks lose their good reputation in the most terrible ways.

When someone asked on Reddit, ‘Who is your example of “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”?’, many people listed the name of celebrities whose dark sides were revealed later in their life. Scroll below to read some of their answers.

More info: Reddit

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Ellen Degeneres

It’s a shame it took so long. There were stories out there for years about what a horrible person she is. Just now coming main stream.

Image source: Not_a_local_wanderer, Ellen Degeneres


Bill Cosby was once nominated for a Nobel peace prize.

EDIT: Also the EMMYs gave him a humanitarian award. Also the President medal of freedom.

Image source: shaka_sulu, NBC Television


Dr. Oz is the perfect example. He started out a legitimate talented accomplished cardiac surgeon. Then he started with his snake-oil peddling on TV and has now completely devolved into a pandering narcissistic Trump-loving politician.

Image source: rockychunk, Dr. Oz


Philippe Petain. In WW1 he led the French to victory at Verdun, one of the worst battles in human history. In WW2, after France was beaten, Petain was the head of state of Vichy France. Guy went from the Lion of Verdun to the biggest Nazi collaborator in France.

Image source: arthuranymoredonuts, Public Domain


Rudy Giuliani. Dude was “America’s mayor” just 20 years ago. A brilliant, ballsy prosecutor who took down the mob then shepherded NY through 9/11. Now he’s just thought of as the increasingly unhinged trump lackey that sweat hair dye in front of a landscaping company that shoulda been a hotel.

Image source: justbrowsing987654, Gage Skidmore


O.J. Simpson

Image source: ChickenTendy27, Peter K. Levy


Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church started out as an attorney defending civil rights.

Image source: Pkrudeboy


Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver, made up a bunch of untested uses for it (treating people having asthma attacks, and drowning victims were the two I remember) that he publicly talked up. Later, he funded an experiment that involved injecting people with Malaria to see if it would treat other conditions. The experiment was found to be unethical by American review boards, so he conducted them in Ethiopia.

Image source: parlimentery, Unknown author


Conor McGregor. He had the whole country behind him here in Ireland at one point bar people who thought combat sport is grotesque. He was witty, original, backing himself up and having a Hollywood like rise to stardom. Now he’s some coke head who the whole country is ashamed of, goes punching old men, clearly sleeps around on his wife while she’s at home with the kids, numerous allegations against him for sexual assault, just a walking caricature of himself. He didn’t listen to his own advice. Get in. Get rich. Get out.

Image source: StephenPigot2020, Conor McGregor


Probably Elon Musk. I used to think “Well, the government is doing f**k-all to advance manned space exploration, so if private investors have to do it, I guess that’s how it has to be.” He seemed like he was genuinely invested in that, too. There was a lot of good will toward him in the public eye.

Then he found Twitter, and everything went to s**t pretty quickly. Now he’s just that weirdo who pushes crypto scams and pays his employees to shut up about the kids he had with them.

Image source: SergeantChic


Harry Harlow. He began his career as a young and unconventional scientist who wanted to prove that humans cannot survive without love and affection. To do so, he needed an animal that was sufficiently humanlike and easy to manage. He settled on rhesus monkeys.

Harlow’s research went in a really dark direction as scholar after scholar refused to acknowledge its validity. While his first wife died a slow, painful demise from cancer, he became depressed and an alcoholic. He decided to deliberately raise monkeys from birth with as little love and affection as possible to see if they could ever recover.

They could not. Clinging to towels with wooden faces (which served as surrogate mothers), the monkeys couldn’t learn about their culture or social skills. Some came out of their shells when introduced to new monkeys to befriend. To “fix” that, he invented the “pit of despair,” an inverted pyramid the monkeys could not climb out of. They were depressed and pretty much became empty shells of living animals.

There’s a lot of stuff I don’t cover here. Some of it I just don’t want to mention, but for a fairly clearheaded summary of Harlow’s work, [here is a link.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEEEu1HEtU0)

Image source: ugagradlady


Erdogan is the perfect example. Believe it or not, when he was the mayor of Istanbul in the late 90s to early 2000s we was actually pretty progressive and had the general support of the people. Then his election to prime minister happened, he became power hungry, his policies became much more right wing and less secular and everyone hates him now.

Image source: TheBk_1er, President.gov.ua


Joe Paterno

JoePa was the shining beacon of what it meant to be a college coach when I was getting inducted into college football. And then…wow.

For those that don’t know.. he knowingly allowed and covered up for Jerry Sandusky. He saw with his owns eyes Sandusky molesting a 10 year old boy in the Penn State shower facilities and did nothing

Image source: 3lon_Mu5k, wikipedia


Facebook. Last 5 years it turned onto a boomer bigot wasteland

Image source: TrashSea1485


Jim Jones. He originally stood up for civil rights when it was really unpopular. Was hospitalized and accidentally placed in the black ward. When the doctors found out, they tried to move him, but he refused. Then he became a cult leader and used his power and influence to end the lives of a thousand people.

Image source: Crvsby, Nancy Wong


The current mexican president. He ran for the presidency 3 straight times on a no-corruption, atheist, liberal, feminist, leftist platform, once he finally won the election and 4 years into his presidency it’s clear he’s not just an evangelical conservative but he may be the most corrupt mexican president ever (and that’s quite an accomplishment in Mexico!) openly working for the Sinaloa Cartel and turning his back on the minorities that got him elected and openly mocking the victims of Mexico’s rampant gender violence.

Image source: HyperAktiFF


Benedict Arnold. Almost died during the revolutionary war, if I recall correctly, and if he had he would have been remembered a huge hero, and a martyr. Instead he lived and changed sides, and is remembered only for his being a traitor.

Image source: uniqueperson22, Thomas Hart


Chris Benoit

This was terrible to see. I was a huge pro wrestling fan back in the day. To my knowledge, Benoit was actually a great person until he suddenly wasn’t. That ‘suddenly wasn’t,’ though, carried a hell of a consequence. It’s actually kind of amazing how people with severe CTE act very similarly. When your job is basically to pound your brain in every night, who knows what will happen? Just look at all the NFL guys who have similar issues, i.e. Steve McNair. I feel bad for everyone involved, which includes Benoit himself. I don’t think he even had the ability to reason anymore. Steroids didn’t help, but I think they only expedited things.

Image source: DegreeOffWhite


My dad used to annoy me by calling my Pokemon cards “Pokey-Mans”. Now my kids have them and I do the same thing and it annoys the s**t out of them.

Image source: rumpel4skinOU, Minh Hoang


Phoenix Jones, that superhero from Seattle. Saved some people over the years then eventually was caught by an undercover cop selling MDMA.

Image source: moist_kiwi53, Torrin Maynard

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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celebrities, celebrities getting cancelled, heroes turning into villains, popular personalities, real-life heroes
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