Here are 17 people who ended up becoming pretty big villains, despite starting out as heroes!
Note: Some of these submissions contain mentions of rape, abuse, and animal cruelty.
1."Jim Jones. He originally stood up for civil rights when it was really unpopular. [He] 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 [almost] a thousand people."
3."Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, made up a bunch of untested uses for it (treating...drowning victims)...that he publicly talked up. Later, he funded an experiment that involved injecting people with malaria to see if it would treat other conditions."
4."Philippe Pétain. In WWI, he led the French to victory at Verdun, one of the worst battles in human history. In WWII, after France was beaten, Pétain was the head of state of Vichy, France. Guy went from the Lion of Verdun to the biggest Nazi collaborator in France."
5."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."
6."Fritz Haber. He revolutionized the ability to fertilize crops...which has allowed the earth’s population to increase. ... He created other technologies that would then be used in WWI chemical warfare and eventually Zyklon B in WWII that was used to perpetrate the Holocaust."
7.Chris Benoit was a famous, celebrated pro wrestler until he murdered his wife and child. Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring has gone into this case in detail, and spoken to many of Benoit's friends who believed Benoit was largely a family man until steroids, a brain injury from wrestling, and alcohol affected him to the point where he carried out a murder-suicide.
8.O.J. Simpson, similarly, was a celebrated figure in football before being arrested in the 1994 homicide of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. While he was not found guilty, he was later put in jail for armed robbery and kidnapping, though he was released last year.
9."Rudy Giuliani. Dude was 'America’s mayor' just 20 years ago. A...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 should've been a hotel."
10."Richard Nixon. Won the 1972 election by a landslide, with only Massachusetts and DC voting for McGovern, on the back of a strong economy. Two years later, resigns in disgrace over Watergate, in the midst of stagflation, and his reputation has never been rehabilitated."
11.Bill Cosby was once known as extremely wholesome and "America's Dad." He was given the presidential medal of freedom in 2002, and the Emmys gave him a humanitarian award in 2003 "for his long history of charitable work and activism in support of education and racial equality."
12.Similarly, Kevin Spacey used to be an activist to promote AIDS awareness and participate in fundraisers for people with AIDS...before his fall from grace after numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
13.Joe Paterno, Penn State's celebrated head coach, was fired after not doing enough to prevent assistant coach Jerry Sandusky from committing child sex abuse crimes. After his death, Paterno was further accused of helping cover up Sandusky's actions, though it's debated how much he was involved.
14."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. ... He decided to deliberately raise monkeys from birth with as little love and affection. ... They were depressed and pretty much became empty shells of living animals."
15."Dr. Oz is the perfect example. He started out a legitimate talented accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon. Then he started with his snake-oil peddling on TV and has now completely devolved into a pandering narcissistic Trump-loving politician."
16."Phoenix Jones, that superhero from Seattle. Saved some people over the years, then eventually was caught by an undercover cop selling MDMA."
17.And finally, J.K. Rowling went from beloved children's author to a TERF after making a number of anti-trans comments, then repeatedly doubling down on them.