15 Surprising DC Villains Who Became Successful Heroes

The DC Universe is filled with some of the worst supervillains in the comic book medium. Heroes like the Justice League and the Teen Titans have fought insidious criminals and kept the DCU safe for decades. But not every villain has stayed a villain. In fact, some have completely switched allegiances and become heroes.


Sure, some evildoers are too devoted to their dark ways to ever change. But some villains have tried walking a different path, one where they helped instead of harmed. Whether it was permanent or temporary, see 15 DC villains who managed to find success by becoming a hero.

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15 Lobo

lobo in dcu

The Main Man is a real force to be reckoned with. Lobo rocketed to infamy as the most terrifying bounty hunter in the galaxy and even went toe-to-toe with Superman. But despite being introduced as a tough-as-nails villain, Lobo has come around to being more of a hero figure. He even joined the Justice League in the DC Rebirth era of the team.

14 Clayface

Clayface and Bat-Family DC

Clayface is one of Batman’s oldest and most unusual foes. Basil Karlo is a former actor who was transformed into a being made of clay that could shape-shift into anything he desired. Though he antagonized the Dark Knight and his allies for years, Clayface actually found himself joining the Bat-Family after striking up a friendship with Batgirl Cassandra Cain.

13 Killer Frost

Killer Frost using her powers and smiling in DC Comics.

Killer Frost is a name that’s belonged to a number of villains, but only one version made the big leagues when it came to being a hero. Caitlyn Snow is the third Killer Frost who debuted in the New 52. She was once a member of the Suicide Squad but was later drafted to the Justice League after saving the team from Maxwell Lord.

12 Captain Cold

Captain Cold DC Comics

A similarly chilly villain, Leonard Snart is the leader of the Rogues, and the number one enemy of the Flash. But Captain Cold was a crucial part of keeping the Crime Syndicate at bay during Forever Evil. His actions got him a brief tenure in the Justice League and while he later went back to leading his team of law-breakers, Snart managed to get respect from the Flash for his heroic stint.​​​​​​​

11 Star Sapphire

Star Sapphire Power Ring DC

Carol Ferris, the original Star Sapphire, was once a villain who fell under the control of a powerful alien relic. However, she was revamped as a member, later leader, of the Star Sapphires, an organization similar to the Green Lanterns that fought with love instead of willpower. Despite having a rocky past with Hal Jordan, the new and improved Star Sapphire has made for a powerful ally.

10 Pied Piper

Pied Piper DC Comics

Much like Captain Cold, Pied Piper was also a member of the Rogues, Central City’s iconic supervillain team. But Hartley Rathaway reformed his criminal ways after Barry Allen’s death and became one of Wally West’s most reliable allies. Piper still holds out hope that his old friends will join him on the right side of the law, but he’s fine working alongside the Flash Family.

9 Ravager

Ravager DC

Rose Wilson has had a complicated trajectory (no surprise, as she’s the daughter of Deathstroke the Terminator). Ravager started off as a hero who joined the Teen Titans before she abandoned them to work with her father. However, Rose decided it was for the best to not follow her father anymore and went back to her old allies. Since then, Rose has largely stayed a DC hero.

8 Riddler

Riddler Batman Best Comic Villain

The King of Conundrums actually went on the straight and narrow for a brief period of time. After spending nearly a year in a coma, Edward Nygma found himself freed of his compulsive desires and evil behaviors. He decided to become a private detective, often challenging Batman to see who could solve a case first. Unfortunately, a near-death incident with a bomb returned Riddler to his old ways, ending his time as a hero.

7 Sinestro

Sinestro and the Sinestro Corps

Sinestro was once one of the most revered Green Lanterns before he fell from grace. He even tried to overthrow his former Corps and replace it with one that operated off of fear. But the heart of Sinestro is a heroic one. In recent years, he’s teamed up with the Green Lanterns more than he’s fought them, showing there may be a path of redemption for Sinestro.

6 Catwoman

Catwoman leaps through the air in art by Darwyn Cooke.

Selina Kyle might have started out as a straightforward villain, but she’s grown into so much more. Over the years, Catwoman has veered away from traditional villainy, preferring the more comfortable niche of an antihero. Sure, she still likes plundering treasures when she gets the opportunity, but Selina has protected Gotham’s defenseless from greater threats and occasionally works with the Bat-Family.​​​​​​​

5 Black Adam

Black Adam Variant Cover DC Comics

Though Black Adam served as a cautionary tale for Shazam, the former Champion has evolved into a much more complicated, yet noble character. Teth-Adam spent eons in the role of a villain. But in the last few years, he’s gotten a chance to show what he can do as a hero. Superman even vouched for Black Adam and sponsored the villain when he temporarily joined the Justice League.

4 Red Hood

Red Hood DC

While Jason Todd started out as a hero in his Robin days, being killed changed Jason dramatically. Upon coming back from the dead, Jason took on the mantle of Red Hood and began antagonizing both Gotham’s criminal elements and the Bat-Family. But after a few years, Jason eventually returned to his flock and even switched to non-lethal weaponry to abide by the team’s rules.

3 Poison Ivy

Classic Poison Ivy on Vine Swing

Poison Ivy might be a classic Batman enemy, but recent years have seen Dr. Pamela Isley have brushes with heroism. Ivy has eschewed bank robberies and world domination for plans that will help save the environment. She’s even teamed up with various heroes to stop other villains and conglomerates from poisoning the Earth. Though she still has a ways to go, Ivy’s connection to the Green is putting her on a path to heroism.

2 Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor In Superman & Lois Season 3

Yes, Superman’s greatest enemy did indeed try his hand at becoming a hero. In the wake of Forever Evil, Lex Luthor joined the Justice League, although many members of the team were wary about his inclusion. But Luthor helped the team fight back against numerous threats. Luthor returned to antagonizing his nemesis, but the villain proved he had it in him to be a decent superhero.

1 Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn in Classic 90s Costume

Harley Quinn has come a long way since the days of being the Joker’s sidekick. After breaking it off with the Joker and venturing out on her own, Harley has tried her hand at being a hero and found she actually likes it. Granted, she’s still learning the ropes. But Harley has worked alongside some of DC’s greatest heroes and continues to improve herself, potentially making her a permanent hero.

The DC Universe is filled with plenty of heroes, and these 15 villains got to see what it was like fighting for the other side.

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