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Elizabeth: Whose side is Jack on?

Will: At the moment?
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

When a villain is sufficiently sympathetic with the audience, they have a tendency to do a Heel Face Turn. And such characters have a tendency to do Face Heel Turns when it's realized that they really worked better as a villain. But, even though the character works better as a villain, he's still so sympathetic that the powers that be will often give him further temporary Heel Face Turns because they are uncomfortable with their audience Rooting for the Empire.

This phenomenon works the other way, as well. The Hero loses perspective and becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and then comes back from the edge again. He's done it before, and it worked well (narratively) that first time -- why not do it again?

The long-term result is the same either way -- the character in question will switch sides often enough that, in the long run, he doesn't have a side. This is what makes a Heel Face Revolving Door (or Face Heel Revolving Door, depending on which side the character starts out on).

If it happens to a popular or well-developed character, the fans will stick with them; but this will, by necessity, drag the morality of the series to one of the gray-scales.

This is common in Comic Books, media using the Fleeting Demographic Rule, and collaborative media written by fans Running the Asylum. It's easier with characters who have what is initially a Never Live It Down moment or a Remember When You Blew Up a Sun? in their past.

Enemy Mine can facilitate this. It's often understood that switching sides through Enemy Mine won't create a permanent change of allegiance. But if a sufficiently high percentage of a character's appearances are Enemy Mine, this is one of the possible implications.

Someone who has been through the revolving door too many times may turn into the Wild Card. If mostly on the side of good, despite having decidedly nonheroic intentions, may be a Nominal Hero.

Compare Chronic Backstabbing Disorder (which, in some cases, is the Alternate Character Interpretation of this trope), Wild Card (where the character isn't strongly on anybody's side ever), Unscrupulous Hero (a character who is unambiguously on the heroic side but commits villainous acts on the side), and the Double Reverse Quadruple Agent (he never changes sides, but no one is sure what side he's really on).

Examples of Heel Face Revolving Door include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • A character in the anime version of the Mushiking arcade, called Soma. He is at first suspicious, but becomes good, then becomes a baddie to be with his mother, who's one of them, and then becomes good again when everyone but The Dragon sees how ludicrous the Big Bad's plan is. Really, this guy gets the Revolving Door award.
  • Vegeta from Dragonball Z. First he was a villain, then he joined Goku and the other Z Fighters in the fight against Freeza... then he turned back into a villain in a Not Brainwashed moment during the Majin Boo saga... and then became a good guy once again. Then he was brainwashed and fused with the new Big Bad, Baby. Then he was good again. The series ended before he could rotate any more.
    • He turned heel, at least momentarily, at the end of the Frieza saga when he briefly fought Gohan. In fact, one could argue that the entire saga was a revolving door for Vegeta, as he wasn't firmly good until after Trunks was born. It's safe to say that Vegeta has more Heel Face Turns than most professional wrestlers.
  • Inuyasha: Kikyo can't seem to decide if she wants Naraku dead, or Inuyasha, or both. She also has difficulty deciding why she wants it done and how to do it.
  • Char Aznable: The Rival, then The Mentor to his rival's successor, then the Big Bad over the course of two series and a movie.
    • Also in Gundam Wing, Char's "greatest fan" Milliardo Peacecraft switches in almost the exact same pattern that Char did, only he does it all in one season.
      • EVERY character in Wing likes to take a spin in the revolving door. Miss one episode and you'll have no idea who's on whose side.
  • Naruto: Not actual good-to-evil-to-good-etc flip, but the character Sasuke has done enough 90 degree side turns that he's more or less constantly one turn away from being Naruto's ally again, although he generally chooses to go further down the spiral towards the Moral Event Horizon instead.
  • Viletta Nu from Code Geass. She started as an enemy soldier, then got amnesia and became Ohgi's love interest, then recovered her memory and non-fatally shot Ohgi, then was recruited in the second season to spy on Lelouch while posing as a teacher, then got blackmailed by Lelouch into working for him while pretending to still be secretly spying on him. When Jeremiah showed up hunting for Lelouch, she revealed his location eagerly and begged Jeremiah to free her from Lelouch's control, but as soon as he left, she contacted Lelouch to warn him that Jeremiah was coming for him, giving him time to set up a trap. She later arranged a meeting with Ohgi, intending to kill him, but ended up reconciling with him and eventually betrayed Lelouch alongside him. After Lelouch dies, they both got married. Can she do ballet spins on those High Heels?
    • To a lesser extent, Suzaku. Though exactly what side he starts on is debatable. Starts with Britannia, despite their anti-Eleven policy, though he begs them to spare his old friend, Lelouch. Then joins Euphemia, who while Britannian, has a completely different idea to the rest of Britannia, then when Euphemia dies, he joins Emperor Charles specifically as a Britannian super-elite, while his home country of Japan suffers even worse than before, then tries to join Schneizel and become Knight Of One (the most super elite) in return for killing his former boss, Charles, then joins Lelouch, who actually had killed Charles, in order to kill Lelouch himself. Sure, for most of that, he's on the opposite side to Lelouch, and he's always on the opposite side of Kallen, but exactly who's side he's on changes pretty often.
      • Making it even more bizarre, the guy killed his own father seven years before the events of the series itself, but did it because he thought it was the right thing to do, then joined Brittania!
  • Evangeline A.K. McDowell from Mahou Sensei Negima is more or less trapped in the revolving door, appearing first as the villain, then as the Eleventh-Hour Superpower, then mostly remaining the "evil" good. Being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold does not help defining her either. No matter which side she's on, she'll stridently insist she's as evil as ever.
  • For being an anime about wrestlers, happens VERY rarely in Kinnikuman and Kinnikuman Nisei. The only three examples out there are Neptuneman, Sunshine, and Ashuraman. The latter two started out as Akuma Choujin in the Golden Mask arc and were villains during the Dream Tournament arc, but Sunshine always had a soft spot for displays of friendship and Ashuraman had strong morals for a prince of the underworld. After Sunshine is killed by THAT arc's Big Bad, Ashuraman does everything he can to help out the heroes. Later, in Ultimate Muscle, Sunshine makes a return as the instructor for two new Akuma Choujin, and his motivation was because his time as an Akuma Choujin was the only time he had genuine friends. Much later, during the Demon Seed arc, Ashuraman goes crazy again after his son finds out he's a murderous demon and kills his mother as a result, causing Ashuraman to kill him. Ashuraman then returns to his old ways as well.
  • Gajeel from Fairy Tail seems to be turning into this, but he's been leaning to the Face side recently... He starts out as a mercenary for a rival guild, but gets defeated and then is convinced to join Fairy Tail by Juvia, a guild member from said rival guild who did a permanent Heel Face Turn. After supposedly proving that he was on their side by doing a small show and protecting Levy (whom he had gravely injured in the previously mentioned attack on the guild) from an attack, he shows himself (although not to the guild) to be The Mole for another contractor who also aims to take down Fairy Tail. Once Laxus' attempt to forcibly rebuild the guild to his liking is foiled, he goes to his new employer and finds out his plan. He returns to the guild, where he tells Makarov of his employer's location and his plan, apparently working as a double agent.
    • The key word is Double Agent. He didn't join Raven Tail, and then defect from Raven Tail to Fairy Tail. He "joined" Raven Tail as a Reverse Mole for Fairy Tail. So... (carry the one...) that comes out to one Heel Face Turn.
      • Jellal seems to be shooting for this too.
  • The Team Rocket trio from Pokémon loves this trope. Some episodes just have them doing casual work with no intention to bother anybody, but they go back to more dishonest work later.
    • They tend to do a complete 360 in the films: turning good to help Ash and co., and then returning to crime once the crisis passes.
  • Dammit, Beato. Introduced looking like a Complete Monster, but gets rather Moe at points, has a very weird Tsundere-ish relationship with Battler, and has a lot of Pet the Dog moments, some going so far as to resemble a Heroic Sacrifice when she's faced with a real Complete Monster like Eva-Beatrice. She appears to be aware of this trope, and will joyfully trip back and forth across it just for the lulz.
  • Crona from Soul Eater looks like he might be falling into this trope (at least in the manga). When we first meet Crona, he was the first reoccurring antagonist. After the Kishin revival arc, Crona does a Heel Face Turn and helps Shibusen--or at least intends to. Then Medusa uses this as an opportunity to turn Crona into The Mole, which he is very reluctant to go along with. The anime leaves Crona with the good guys. The manga has Crona captured by Medusa. As of the latest chapters, Crona has been once again driven to madness and is against Shibusen--or really, anyone who's not with Medusa... which is just about everyone (except Free and a reluctant Eruka and Mizune).
    • And to make it worse, as of Chapter 87, Crona has turned on Medusa, killing her because of her (apparent) kindness towards him (saying that his mother would never be so kind to him).
  • Ryo Mashiba from Hajime no Ippo is introduced as a straight up heel. He gets somewhat better after his loss against Ippo, even getting his own fandom. Then, he fights Ryuuhei Sawamura, who's not only even worse than him but also tried to hurt Mashibas sister. In the fight, he completely loses the veneer of humanity he had, gloats over said fact and that he silenced his own fandom with his terrible actions, and goes against the rules so bad that he's disqualified. The next time we see him in a fight, he refuses to cheat despite being angrier than a thousand devils (since his opponent is cheating) and even grudgingly throws his boxing gloves to the crowd.
  • Hintata from Bloody Cross seems to keep changing sides, one minute it seems like he's a good guy who genuinely wants to help Tsukimiya, even getting past her lie detecting powers, the next minute he's betraying her and trying to kill her. Tsukimiya once commented that it was as if there were two Hinatas, and she was never sure with version of him she would encounter. It turns out his behavior is because he's a Fake Defector and had to fight her to maintain his cover.


Comic Books Edit

  • Catwoman.
  • Magneto of X-Men. Takes wider swings across the spectrum than pretty much any character in comics (maybe).
  • Mystique is sometimes mentioned as an example (with an actual revolving door reference here), but isn't, really; she's more like the character who works with whichever side supports her current goal.
    • Since her "current goals" have been both heroic and villainous, and she's been a Card-Carrying Villain, federal agent, terrorist, spy and full-fledged X-Man at various times, she pretty much counts. It's not as if the other examples of this trope spend a lot of time working contrary to their "current goals."
  • Deadpool wavers between mercenary, good guy, or doing merc work for the bad guy of the week. This is due in large part to the fact that he's insane.
  • It's a fairly well documented fact that any time a villain becomes popular enough, Marvel will take a stab at making them a hero, or at least an anti-hero.
    • Arguably the most ridiculous example: their repeated (at least three times) attempts to make sociopathic casual killer Sabertooth into an X-Man. At least they recently seem to have realized that rehabilitating him will never pan out, and resorted to coercing him into behaving himself. Although there have been at least two alternate universe versions that exist primarily to allow a heroic Sabertooth without all the baggage.
  • Wolverine of all people could be considered this. Although he'll never outright betray the X-men and is always there for them if they really really need him, he'll also constantly run off for his own personal reasons at the drop of the hat. Despite being warned often that he can't come and go as he pleases if he wants to be a full member of the team, he always does, and the X-men always take him back.
  • Magneto's children Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch started as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants then reformed and joined The Avengers and have been ping-ponging back and forth between heroism and villainy ever since. Quicksilver primarily because he'd really like to be a hero but is too self-centered to not do something he thinks will improve his situation just because it's illegal or wrong or something; Scarlet Witch primarily because she has a mental breakdown whenever a writer can't think of something more interesting to do with her near-omnipotent powers.
  • Batman villain Two-Face literally flips a coin. Harley Quinn has also had more than one failed reformation, mostly due to her lingering, err, affections for the Joker -- himself probably the Batman villain least likely to have a Heel Face Turn.
    • Poison Ivy, while always a villain when on her own, tends to reform (or at least become neutral) whenever Harley is attempting to reform.
    • In his very first appearance, Two-Face had captured Batman and was throwing the coin for whether to kill or free him. Batman asked what if the coin stood on its edge? and got Two-Face to agree to surrender and submit to plastic surgery and therapy. The coin -- substituted by Batman for the real coin -- stood on its edge, and Two-Face returned to a normal life. However, he was later injured again and return to his life as Two-Face.
    • In No Man's Land an act of ungodly luck makes Two-Face a good guy for what looks like weeks if not months. He agrees to help Renee Montoya to try and take care of the weaker people in the city; injured, old, children, etc. Each time he helps he flips a coin, according to Montoya he apparently flips the "good" side over 100 times......in a row. It's possible that the implication there was that Two-Face was cheating. Perhaps he had honestly (temporarily) reformed, but pretended it was all the coin's fault (so he'd have an excuse if he ever turned evil again). And if that's not it, maybe Batman or Montoya just slipped him a weighted coin.
  • Batman villain The Riddler sometimes went through the door as well, though currently he's a Face. It's unknown whether he will become a Heel again.
  • Spider-Man "villain" Venom had a tendency to hop back and forth between villain and anti-hero (usually dependent on whose perspective a given book was shown from). Sometime in the '90s it just became accepted that he was an anti-hero, never really being cast as a proper villain, even when working as an enemy to Spider-Man. This is likely because his villain gig was taken over by his "son", Carnage. Then there was a period where the Venom symbiote was bonded to the Scorpion (definitely a villain) and the original Venom was Anti-Venom. Then it got bonded to Flash Thompson, who did his best to stay on the anti-hero side.
    • The character "Toxin" was created to fit the other end of the Venom scale. Toxin is the symbiote child of Carnage who bonded onto a law-abiding police officer. While the struggle with the Symbiote's natural killing desire is intense, Toxin is a more straight example of a heroic Venom.
    • Same with Morbius who started as an anti-villain, then went to being the anti-hero of his own series, eventually got upgraded to a Nineties Anti-Hero who constantly fought against Spiderman yet would help people in need, unless he felt like eating them.
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner deals with this so often that the trope may as well be named The Namor. He fought the original Human Torch (that's bad) and allied with him against the Axis in World War II (that's good) then swore revenge against humanity when he thought they'd destroyed Atlantis (that's bad) then swore to defend Atlantis once it was discovered again (that's good), and the frogurt is also cursed (that's bad). To put it another way: Marvel currently has two "ruling councils" of good guys and bad guys. Namor is on both of them.
  • This Trope could also be named The Black Adam. He started out as a champion of his people in ancient times named Mighty Adam (that's good) then became a brutal dictator and conqueror when his family was killed by a supervillain (that's bad) then millennia later attempted to reform and even joined the Justice Society of America (that's good) then became a not-so-brutal dictator of his country again (NOT the bad part) and later joined a Society of Villains to ensure their safety (that's bad). After said Society betrayed him, he later fought against them when they tried to take over Metropolis (that's good) then went back to being a harsh dictator with plans to form a new Axis Powers coalition (that's bad). When he gained a new family he tried to go back to his old heroic ways and traveled the world fighting evil alongside them (that's good). When this family was killed by supervillains he went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, murdered an entire country, and fought every superhero on Earth (that's bad, but awesome). Most recently, his wife Came Back Wrong and started turning his people into dirt and he tried to defend them leading to a truly bizarre situation with Black Adam defending innocents from the corrupted Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel (that's good.) Then he got turned into a statue alongside his wife for his troubles and an oh so ominous shadowy figure wants to make them his champions...(that's bad). At least there's a free choice of toppings (that's good)...that contain potassium benzoate (...that's bad). By the Power of Shazam, that is one busy revolving door.
  • Geoffrey St. John from the Sonic The Hedgehog comics is a prime example of one of these. It's even Lampshaded in one issues' off-panel strip.
    • Rouge was even worse. One story taking place in a single day featured her switching sides at least five times.
  • Quinlan Vos, a major character in the Star Wars: Republic comic books, is a good example. Here's how he progresses:
    • First appears as in the Malastare arc as a minor character who operates most efficiently from the shadows, but is nonetheless a respected Jedi Knight (that's good).
    • Next, he shows up as the main focus of the Twilight arc. Having suffered a complete mindwipe, he's no longer inhibited by the Jedi teachings and resorts to using the dark side to find his missing apprentice (that's bad). At the end of the story, he realises his mistake and submits himself to Mace Windu for retraining (that's good).
    • Saves the Republic in the Infinity Gate arc (that's good) and gets his knighthood back as a result. Then there's the Darkness arc, which sees him resorting to the dark side once again to fight mutant space vampires (that's bad), but he's able to get himself together again in time to defeat Volfe Karkko (that's good). The next arc which has him as the main character doesn't really feature much of his struggle with the dark side.
    • Then there's the Clone Wars stories, which sees Vos getting involved in a tangled web of byzantine plans enacted by himself, his Master Tholme and Count Dooku. To become The Mole in Dooku's gang of dark Jedi, Vos fakes a defection to the Separatists (neither good nor bad), killing the information broker who betrayed him in the process (that's bad). While he's there, he proceeds to kill both his Evil Matriarch aunt (who organised the murder of his parents) and a corrupt senator after being convinced by Dooku that he was Darth Sidious, injuring another Jedi Master in the process (that's bad).
    • After killing several more on Dooku's orders - having decided that Dark Is Not Evil and convinced himself that his victims would endanger the Republic otherwise (that's bad) - he meets up with his childhood friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi and rejoins the Jedi Order (that's good). However, it seems that he's actually spying for Dooku (that's bad).
    • Finally appears to resolve his problems once and for all in the climactic Saleucami arc, which shows him defeat the dark Jedi Master Sora Bulq, save the life of Master Tholme and pledge to leave the Jedi to marry his love interest Khaleen after the war was over and raise their child (that's good).
    • But it's not done yet. Quinlan's final story is set during Order 66, which shows him deciding that he has to survive and kill Emperor Palpatine by any means necessary (that's bad). Ultimately, though, he realizes that his duty as a Jedi is to protect a Wookiee village from the clone commander hunting him, and seems to sacrifice his life to stop him (that's good). He survives, returns to his surviving friends and promises never to let his darkness affect his infant son (that's even better).
    • So, there we have Quinlan Vos; possibly the only Star Wars character even more conflicted than Anakin Skywalker.
      • And yet, written in a way that isn't Narmariffic. Arguably, the above list is oversimplifying everything. Most of the time Vos is in the gray area, and occasionally shifts slightly to light or dark.
    • Luke Skywalker in Dark Empire can't compete with Vos, but he does manage to emulate his dad. First he confronts the Emperor Reborn. Then he realizes that he can't win and joins him, planning to subvert the Empire from within. Then he falls to The Dark Side for real, having very Sith thoughts about killing his Master as soon as he's learned enough - when Leia and Han come to try and rescue him, he captures them and chokes Han. Then, Leia talks him into seeing the error of his ways, so he helps them escape with some important codes before trying to kill Palpatine. Palpatine beat him and bent him back into line - Sith apparently don't mind attempted murder that much, it's kind of expected - and Luke served him and regretted letting his sister go. Finally, he met Leia again, who redeemed him into realizing that he didn't want what Palpatine taught, he wanted to be a Jedi.
  • In the G.I. Joe comic published by Marvel, Storm Shadow was initially conceived as a mere mercenary hired by Cobra. When his back-story revealed that he was a former student of the same Ninja master that trained Snake-Eyes, he underwent a story arc which involved a reconciliation between himself and his former sword brother. He eventually left Cobra and sided with the G.I. Joe team, going as far as to lead their "Ninja Force" division. During the end of the Marvel run, Storm Shadow was brainwashed into serving Cobra again. The brainwashing was never meant to be permanent, but the comic was canceled before the story arc could be resolved. When the comic was renewed by Devil's Due Publishing years later, Storm Shadow was still employed by Cobra for quite a few issues until he was finally free of his brainwashing and rejoined the Joes for the remainder of the series until the Continuity Reboot.
  • Raven from Teen Titans, who's turned evil and been redeemed or cleansed of evil about 4 times and counting by now. Most of this has to do with attempts to recapture the success and impact of the first time it happened in the Wolfman/Pereze Titans run. That time it was subtly built up over months. The later ones? Eh, they just sort of happen in a rather transparent attempt to drive up sales. Her Face/Heel turning points almost make her The Millstone of Heel Face Revolving Doors if only for the transparency of her subsequent changes.
    • Fellow Titan Jericho is just as bad. He started out good but was driven insane by evil spirits from Raven's father's home dimension. After his father killed him to stop his rampage Jericho clung to existence as an evil spirit being. Years later he was revived and purified of his evil. Then he went evil again due to spending too much time in Superboy's clone Match. Now, he's well...kind of a mess to be honest. It's not clear at this time whether he's good, evil, or even functional.
  • Spider-Man's sometime enemy the Sandman started as a villain, then became a hero and even joined The Avengers. Now he's a villain again, though usually a fairly sympathetic one.
  • Marvel Comics' version of Ares started as a Card-Carrying Villain who was causing wars and conflicts only because he liked it, but was also fighting alongside other Olympians against a common enemy. Then he realized the other gods would never accept him, went to Earth and lived peacefully among the mortals. Then, when his son got kidnapped, he joined the Olympians in the fight against evil Japanese god Amatsu-Mikaboshi. Later he joined one of the incarnations of The Avengers but often acted like a typical villain towards Hercules. Then he joined the Dark Avengers, a team of villains posing as heroes, and was fighting both good and bad guys as well, while being one of the few members who were treating the heroic part seriously. At the same time he was training a team of killers for Norman Osborn and let his son join Nick Fury, who was opposing Osborn. Finally he betrayed Osborn after finding out he lied to him about Asgard being ruled by Loki and died, fighting alongside Norse Gods he was beating minutes ago.
  • The Sentry, also from Marvel Comics, goes back and forth between being the universe's greatest hero, its greatest threat, or both at the same time. He's a bundle of mental issues even without factoring in The Void (which is either a Split Personality, an Evil Counterpart that was created when he gained his powers, or his true self), so it's no surprise that his Heel-Face status is as unstable as the rest of him. This is not good news for anyone, hero or villain, when coupled to power that can sunder worlds.
  • Speaking of Star Wars comics, and ESWU in general, Baron Soontir Fel. He never was shown as a really bad guy, but he switched sides like few others. Let's see -- the best Imperial pilot barring Vader (and that's debatable), and receiver of a baronial title, he became quickly disillusioned with Empire and joined Rogue Squadron in exchange to help in searching for his wife, then involuntarily left the New Republic (he was abducted) for a stint in the Empire of the Hand, then served the Chiss Ascendancy (again distinguishing himself there up to receiving the Assistant Syndic position), and then returning to the Empire again, now serving Pellaeon's Imperial Remnant... Let's say that when his children founded a new Empire, it didn't surprise anyone.
  • Captain Boomerang Jr. from The DCU. He started out as his father's replacement in The Rogues, then tried his hand at being a hero as a member of Nightwing's Outsiders. When he and Dick got into an argument about what to do with Chemo, the living chemical weapon that destroyed Bludhaven, they got into a fight and Owen absconded with Chemo to join the Suicide Squad. In Blackest Night, Owen's desire to be with his father again overrode his morals. He fed people to his zombie father, wrongly believing that this would revive him. Including women and children, which prompted Captain Cold and the other Rogues to kill him. Cold lampshaded Owen's Revolving Door nature, saying he was like a boomerang going back and forth everywhere.
  • The Enchantress (June Moon) was introcuced in DC Comics' Strange Adventures as a heroine. Then she became a Supergirl villain. Following from that, she became a member of the Forgotten Villains, and then she joined the Suicide Squad, at which point it was established that June was a good person but the Enchantress was her Super-Powered Evil Side. In Day of Judgement, Enchantress is an amoral character who has to be pressurised into saving the world from Hell. During this the Enchantress is "killed", leaving June Moon. Later, in a JLA miniseries, they're merged together to form Soulsinger, and then separated again, but the powers stay with June, giving us the heroic Enchantress seen in Shadowpact.
  • Gary's daughter, Chloe, in The Astounding Wolf-Man. She begins totally supporting her father, then when she finds out he's Wolf-Man, she freaks and doesn't trust him, and after she slowly starts trusting him again, she thinks she witnesses him kill her mother. After this point, she becomes a villain in the series, also thanks to being misled by a former ally Zechariah, who had his own Heel Face Turn. Eventually, Gary convinces his daughter of what really happened, and Chloe returns to his side.
  • Red She-Hulk aka Betty Ross has pulled one of those in Incredible Hulk sagas "Super Spy Banner" and "Heart of the Monster". She's a Face for good in the end of "Heart of the Monster".
  • Dr. Alchemy/Mr. Element (Al Desmond) showed signs of this during the Silver Age of The Flash. He reformed after his first appearances, took up a white-collar job, and became good friends with Barry Allen, even attending his wedding. Meanwhile he was pulled back into evil, or sometimes just framed for it, by everything from Professor Zoom (twice!) to the fluctuations of a distant star to the machinations of a psychic twin (who turned out to be his own split personality given shape post-Crisis).
  • Marvel's Ghost. He started out as an Iron Man villain, but during Dark Reign he worked against Norman Osborn from within the Thunderbolts and was instrumental in taking him down. Of course, this was immediately followed by him trying to kill Tony Stark yet again. Several times. He's currently one of the most heroic members of the new Thunderbolts, despite trying to kill Tony Stark. Again.


Film Edit

  • Harry Osborne changes sides three times in Spider-Man 3.
  • Salim from Slumdog Millionaire pretty much spends the entire movie spinning around in the revolving door.
  • Silver from Treasure Planet. It helps that they're a Loveable Rogue though.
  • "Whose side is Jack on?"
    • "... At the moment?"
      • Almost all important characters in the second and third movie do this.
  • Indy's partner in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Fairly early in the movie, he's with Indy. Then, we discover he's working for the bad guys, then about halfway through the movie, he is still concerned about Indy's health, but is still working for the villains. A little more than halfway through the movie, he says he's a double agent, then at the end, he reveals he was lying about being a double agent, but he seems repentant of his actions when he choses to stay in the collapsing temple while Indy's friend and family escape. In all likelihood, he was just continually picking the paths that would lead to his one true goal: knowledge and treasure. His "repentance" was just the realization that the alien ship contained all he ever sought, and he no longer had any need or desire to battle that stubborn old adventurer.
  • In Happily N'Ever After, Rumpelstiltskin starts out evil and later turns good. In the sequel he's back to being evil. Though this may be more a case of Negative Continuity and They Just Didn't Care, since they don't give an explanation for why he's gone back to being evil.
    • Also the same case for The shrek version of Rumpelstiltskin between 3 and 4.
  • Godzilla goes through this pretty much every other movie. He was undoubtedly an unstoppable menace in the first few installments, but as the original series continued to drag on, it slowly turned him from Villain to Anti-Hero to outright Hero. This was reset in Godzilla 1985, where he was a villainous monster once again, and ever since he has been more consistent as either a Villain or Anti Hero.
  • Tiffany from the last two Childs Play films. She does a Death Equals Redemption at the end of Bride of Chucky, only to come back in Seed of Chucky back in love with the equally psychotic, if not more so, Chucky. However, upon learning that they have a child, Glen, Tiffany tries to give up killing to set a better example. Only she has a number of slip-ups and murders twice (and possibly more due to a Time Skip). She justifies these as "Rome wasn't built in a day", and that one of the people she killed had it coming.


Literature Edit

  • Lily in Soon I Will Be Invincible does it pretty good, although in that case it's less that the character is intentionally trying to play the sides, and more that the character has enough common sense not to see the world in terms of "hero" and "villain".
  • Lord Gro from E.R. Eddison's pre-Tolkiensian fantasy The Worm Ouroborous. Not only is he an incredibly manipulative Magnificent Bastard, but he has a soft spot for the underdog. Thus every time he pulls off a successful Plan (and this happens frequently), he immediately goes and switches sides to support the people he just screwed over. This makes him by far the most awesome character in the book.
  • Snape from Harry Potter quite often seems to be doing this. Numerous red herrings are thrown at the reader from all directions to make them think Snape is a bad guy one minute, and a good guy the next. Despite the reveal that he actually was on Harry's side all along, his actual integrity and preferred alignment is still up for interpretation.
  • Yamato Masamoto from Young Samurai: Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford. He starts out as a full on Jerkass who despises Jack, pulls a Heel Face Turn after Dokugan Ryu's attack, then pulls a Face Heel Turn later on, then he pulls another Heel Face Turn towards the end of the book and he and Jack become friends...
  • Raistlin from Dragonlance might as well be the Trope Namer, given his actions in the books.
  • In the Sword of Truth, the morally ambiguous Sister of the Dark Nicci gets the experience of serving just about every major faction. By the end of the series, she's gone from a totally innocent girl, to a supporter of the Fellowship of Order, to a respected Sister of the Light in service to the Creator, to a member of the secretive Sisters of the Dark who serve the Keeper of the Underworld, to The Dragon of the Imperial Order under Emperor Jagang, then known as Death's Mistress, to a True Neutral wanderer teetering between the sides as she fulfills her personal quest to discover the meaning of existence, to the hero's Black Magician Girl lieutenant. In the end, it turns out that she is ultimately on the good side, and she remains one of Richard's most trusted allies up to the end of the series and beyond.
  • Lampshaded in the Time of Troubles series by Harry Turtledove. A character is called a connoisseur of defection, changing sides five times. Both sides put up with him because he's such a damn good commander, and they feel that he can help them more while on their side than he can hurt them when he defects.
  • Jeb Batchelder of the Maximum Ride books. Went from Mad Scientist to helpful parental figure back to mad scientist, and he's been attempting to play the father figure again lately.
    • It's arguable that he's been good the whole time and that his daughter Max refuses to let go of her hatred and accept that.
  • Sauron of Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. In The Beginning, he was good, a servant of Aule the Smith. Then Morgoth, Black Enemy of the World seduced him to the side of evil, and he left with Morgoth to rule in Middle Earth. When Morgoth was defeated in an incredibly destructive war, Sauron had a true change of heart, and genuinely wanted to help with the reconstruction and make Middle Earth beautiful again. He was too afraid to surrender himself to the Gods and potentially face retribution, however, so he took advantage of the reconstruction to set himself up as the next Dark Lord.
  • Computer Jack from Gone. He starts out the series as part of Caine's group, mostly out of fear. He seems to be considering a Heel Face Turn for a while, but Diana has to threaten him to get him to go tell Sam, the hero, how to survive his fifteenth birthday, saying that it's "time to do the right thing, even if it is for the wrong reason." He spends the first half of book 2 obviously on Sam's side, until Diana shows up and convinces him to pull a Face Heel Turn and help Caine again. She does this by promising him "the ultimate technological challenge". He spends all of a few chapters on Caine's side, turns off the power permanently, and helps Caine remove uranium from the nuclear power plant. He's already wondering why he came back. He seems to disappear for a few scenes so that Sam and Caine can experience Enemy Mine and team up against Drake, and then he's back on Sam's side. He stays on Sam's side through the entire third book, but he is also sick and not really in on the action at all. And there are still 3 more books to come.
  • In Revenge of the Sith's Novelization, Anakin Skywalker veers between Palpatine and the Jedi in a way that's much less sudden than how it seems in the movie, even leaning several times back towards the Light Side. We all know where he ended up, obviously, but the pull of doing what Obi-Wan - who wants him to defend and protect people - and Padme - who wants to love and be loved - want are as strong as doing what Palpatine wants. It's just that Palpatine knew there was a contest going on and worked to throw it, though there were some tricky moments. Notably, after waking up on the slab and hearing that he's killed his wife, Anakin immediately tries to kill Palpatine with the Force - but he's so much weaker than he used to be that he can't, and then he doesn't want to anymore. Palpatine's the only thing remotely like an ally he has.
  • Simon Heap in the Septimus Heap series. He goes good guy-primary antagonist-Anti-Hero-good guy over the course of the series.
  • This applies to five out of six protagonists in Scorpion Shards, the exception being the Sacrificial Lion. All five go bad and good again at least once, and some do so twice.
  • Alex of the Alex Rider series starts off as the protagonist, then neutral in Eagle Strike, then working for Scorpia in Scorpia, and then back to protagonist before the end of Scorpia.
  • Lord Scourge in Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan. At first, he is a loyal subject of the Sith Empire. Then, he is recruited by Darth Nyriss in the plot to overthrow The Emperor who plans to start another war with the Republic. Scourge, remembering the result of the Great Hyperspace War, in which the Sith were driven to near-extinction by the Jedi, realizes another war could well spell the end of the Empire. However, over the years, he realizes that Nyriss and her allies are too afraid to make a move and would rather play political games than do something to further their cause. Eventually, thanks in part to Revan's influence, Scourge allies with Revan and Meetra Surik (the Exile from Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II) in order to kill the Emperor. However, when they reach the throne room and are ready to strike, he has a vision of the Emperor's death and realizes it won't be then and there. Scourge betrays the Jedi, killing Surik, and gets Revan imprisoned for three centuries. The Emperor misinterprets this as proof of loyalty and makes Scourge his enforcer, who is also granted immortality.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Winged Monkeys weren't bound specifically to the Wicked Witch, but rather to a Golden Cap. They're forced to follow the orders of whoever wears the cap to the best of their abilities. This includes the one who made the cap, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy.
  • The Bible gives us an Older Than Feudalism example in King Nebuchadnezzar, the best-known ruler of the Babylonian empire in the Old Testament. When first chronologically introduced, he was orchestrating the destruction of Jerusalem and taking many of the Jewish people captive. Later, through the efforts of the prophet Daniel in interpreting one of his dreams, Nebuchadnezzar turned to worshiping the true God and became a more noble ruler...only to later have Aesop Amnesia and attempt to burn Sadrach, Meshach and Abednego in his fiery furnace for not bowing to his statue of gold (they got better). Following that, he turned to worshiping the true God again...then sometime afterward allowed pride to get to his head and exalted himself, for which God punished him with seven years' madness. After THAT, Nebuchadnezzar had yet another Heel Face Turn, this time staying Face for the rest of his life.


Live Action TV Edit

  • In the Seventh Season of 24, Tony Almeida made this trope into a true artform: He joined a mercenary group while working with Bill and Chloe to expose a massive web of corruption while actually working for an Omniscient Council of Vagueness in order to get to Alan Wilson the Ultimate Man Behind The Man in order to execute a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the death of Michelle.
  • Lampshaded in Angel, where the character of Lindsay switched sides often enough that Angel decided to take pre-emptive action. Near the end of the series finale, Lorne, on Angel's orders, shoots him before he goes through the Face Heel Turn phase again.
    • And, of course, Angel himself, the no-good Irish lad turned into a bloodsucking demon turned into a mourning atoner still in the demon's body. At one point, during a complex sting operation, he pretended to have turned evil again and then had to pretend pretending to be charming Buffy's mother. That's five stacked layers simultaneously!
    • Also Darla (though that one tended to have more logical reasons - whether she was a vampire or not, had a soul or not...)
    • Connor probably had more switches than anyone else in the series. He showed up in Season 3 as a Well-Intentioned Extremist taught by Holtz (also an example of the Well-Intentioned Extremist trope) to hate his father, Angel. He went from Heel to Face and back to Heel in Season 3, then switched sides (always thinking he was on the side of good) too many times to count in Season 4. In Season 5, given a normal life, he settled on Face.
      • Harmony. One of the best examples of Heel Face Revolving Door, because she remained clearly the same person throughout and her switching sides fit into her conformist character. At the end, Angel tells her that he knew all along that she'd go back to Heel, because she has no soul.
    • Faith went from thinking being a Slayer was awesome, to discovering she really enjoyed killing and hurting people, to being freaked over Buffy wanting to kill her and wanting revenge for killing her father figure, to a Heel Realization, to a Fake Heel Turn, undergoes a full Heel Face Turn in the last part of Buffy Season 7, to The Resenter Un Favourite in the comics, to a kinda sorta reformed Slayer, after attempting to kill Buffy again. At last count she's playing watchdog for Angel.
    • Throughout the series, Spike would switch between attacking the Scoobies and reluctantly joining forces with them for his own needs, even after becoming a somewhat ally in season 4. Heck, even when he got his soul back the final season had him murdering people again, though it turns out the First Evil was controlling him against his will.
  • Callisto from Xena: Warrior Princess worked with Xena almost as often as she worked against her. Xena and Gabrielle, however, were never under the impression that Callisto wouldn't betray them.
    • Xena was actually so sure of it, she once based her entire plan to save Gabrielle's life on Callisto's imminent betrayal.
    • Ares too. However, his were far more erratic, and done over a much longer span of time.
  • Although Castiel of Supernatural is unarguably trying to be the good guy, he appears to have been trapped in this revolving door since his first appearance. He starts out as the angel that rescued Dean from Hell, but then it's revealed the angels have plans from Dean and expect him to do exactly as they say even when their plans are morally ambiguous to say the least. Castiel starts to have doubts and sympathise with Dean, eventually twisting the rules to help Dean. But then he gets dragged off to Heaven and forced back into line, betraying Anna and setting Sam free to go start the Apocalypse, before he betrays Heaven for good and sides with Dean a couple of episodes later. He spends most of the fifth season on the Face side of things, but appears to have jumped back into the revolving door as of season 6. He makes a deal with Crowley, but he does so in order to fight Raphael and prevent the apocalypse from re-starting. In order to carry out his plan though, he is forced to lie to and manipulate the Winchesters while carrying out some pretty morally ambiguous schemes. He undoes some of the worst ones though rather than risk the Winchesters, but ultimately finishes the season on a Heel note, having absorbed millions of souls from Purgatory and declared himself the new God.
  • Due to the aggressively gray morality of the show, somebody either does a full 180, or is set up to look like they have, in almost every episode of Lost. The worst offender is probably Ben.
    • It's not that the main characters are following any sets of morality, it's that they all have their own agendas and most of the time claim to be Above Good and Evil.
  • Cole Turner/Belthazor/The Source/The Avatar/The Ghost on Charmed. There's a reason he has so many personas.
    • Phoebe jumped into the revolving door with him for a while before she finally got off on the Face side again.
  • Selena Coombs of American Gothic certainly seems to be riding one of these, or perhaps a seesaw. Aside from the moments when we see the weakening of her evil resolve and the good heart shining through (particularly the episode "Potato Boy"), the last several episodes of the series involve her repeatedly switching sides. It's hard to tell exactly who she's lying to at any given moment--Buck, Dr. Peele, or Caleb.
  • Max on Wizards of Waverly Place did this is one episode, taking Justin's side, then Alex's side, then back, depending on who looked most likely to win the weekly conflict at that exact moment. He also announced to both siblings when we was doing this.
  • Damon from The Vampire Diaries pretty much lives inside the revolving door. Of late he has been ostensibly a good guy, at least in terms of larger motivations, but he still always seems to find time to relapse and kill people to keep things interesting.
  • John Abruzzi from Prison Break Also Mahone whose loyalties remain murky up until the end of the series.
  • Heroes: Volume 3 Sylar, of all people.
    • Just to show how crazy it's gotten: First, he was standard "killer" Sylar. Then he joined Angela Petrelli and tried to reform. Then he joined Arthur Petrelli against Angela Petrelli and tried to reform in a different way. Then he betrayed Arthur Petrelli and skipped town with another character. Then they go BACK to Arthur Petrelli. And then he becomes a serial killer again and goes AFTER Arthur Petrelli. After that, he gets split into a friendly "empty slate" body (which occasionally thinks it's Nathan) and unwanted dark passenger in Matt's head. When he finally manages to get body and mind back together, he is suddenly "impotent (sic)" at killing people and gets really nice and cosy towards Claire. Because, as we are learning, he wants to become socially accepted again. After being rejected by Claire, he is then trapped in his worst nightmare by Matt only to be saved and brought out by Peter Petrelli (he had a dream that Sylar would save Emma), after they were both trapped in his head for what seemed like years (but was actually only hours). Because of his near-endless torture experience from his nightmare, he turns good AGAIN and teams up with Peter.
    • HRG fits this trope as well. He is constantly shifting, so we are never entirely sure which side he is on save his own. We know his agenda is to protect his family, particularly Claire, which would put him on the good guys' side, but the methods he uses have alienated his family.
    • Nathan Petrelli also fits this trope, even better than HRG. In Volume 4 He went from Big Bad to good guy slightly less of a bastard guy.
  • Teal'c from Stargate SG-1 was originally the most trusted right hand man of the series' Big Bad, then he defected to the side of Earth, and then he was captured and his mind altered to make him think that his defection was part of a (very stupid) long term Gambit Roulette to gain the trust of the heroes (bear in mind the heroes kill the Big Bad many times over during this period, and less reversibly they destroy the vast majority of his military power). The heroes, under the guidance of The Mentor, then gave him a quick Near-Death Experience to fix him up again.
    • The next episode has a Sinister Suit conduct an thorough investigation into the team, noting that "Teal'c changes sides more often than I change the oil in my car.".
  • Kiba Yuuji from Kamen Rider 555 switches back and forth between helping and hating humankind several times during the story.
  • Boomer from Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. First she's Cylon sleeper agent, then she doesn't want to be one, then she fails to overcome her programming and shoots Admiral Adama. Then she tries to make peace between Cylons and humans and, failing that, she tries to kill her counterpart's daughter and betrays her model number, causing a civil war. Then she has a change of heart and escapes with the Final Cylon when the others want surgically to remove her brain. Then, faced with execution for causing the Cylon civil war, she knocks out another Cylon to take her place in the brig while abducting Athena's baby to use as a hostage in her escape plan which ultimately cripples the battlestar. Then she starts having second thoughts after bonding with Hera. Make up your damn mind, woman! If you weren't so flaky maybe more people would like you. At least Athena killed her after she returned Hera before she had the chance to change her mind again. To be fair, though, her constant mind-changing isn't entirely unjustified. if you flew all the way to some middle of ass nowhere planet to bond with the humans, only to have them start suicide bombing you, and then, on top of that, the man you love has married and is having a baby with the girl who shot you, then, well, you'd probably be a little peeved too. It's also worth noting that at least one set of those Heel Face Turns was faked (Rescuing Ellen was entirely a front so that she could kidnap Hera.)
    • It's mentioned several times by other Cylon models that this is a characteristic of the Eights, in that they're easily swayed. Even Athena calls them on it. In fact Athena's fanatical devotion to the Colonial cause may be an attempt to compensate for this perceived weakness in herself. That and the fact that the slightest indication of treachery would get her thrown out an airlock.
    • Gaius Baltar was even worse. The plot kept jerking him around from The Atoner to Les Collaborateurs. Not entirely his fault, since he had a phantom cylon in his head for most of the series, but still, would it have killed him to show some backbone once in a while? Signaled by his recurrent Beard of Evil: clean-shaven, he was The Atoner, sometimes even The Woobie. With stubble, he was a Dirty Coward, and usually a Smug Snake as well. On rare occassions when he actually groomed his beard, watch out.
    • And the tradition is carried on by Joseph Adama in Caprica. One week he's Daniel Greystone's best friend, the next he's sending his brother to kill Daniel's wife. One week he's recovering from Tamara's death, the next he's diving into a VR game to desperately try and find her. One week he's a stable, loving father, the next he's shooting up virtual drugs.
  • Puck and Santana from Glee do this in varying degrees.
    • Since the end of the first season, Sue seems to be doing it quite a bit too.
    • And as of the end of the second season, Jesse has it going for him as well.
  • Garak from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine tends to do these at least twice per episode. He's a bastard, he has some really compelling characteristics, he's really amazingly... no wait, he's a bastard again. End credits.
  • Chuck: Jill is discovered to be a Fulcrum agent but says she was forced to, Chuck then sees that she was going to kill Sarah and arrests her in another episode, but then Chuck finds out that Jill was telling the truth and lets her go.
    • An even better example now is Chuck's mother in season 4. We had 5 episodes ambiguously building her up to be possibly good and working undercover, or possibly working for the bad guys. The sixth episode of the season has her appear and swear her innocence, seeking help to stop a dangerous weapon from getting out, only for her to betray everyone. Except, it turns out all of this, including shooting Chuck because she assumed he was wearing a bulletproof vest, was part of her Plan in order to fool the bad guys. Casey then tracks down evidence that her entire cover story is a lie and she really did join the villain years ago. In the seventh episode, she once again claims she can prove her innocence and sends Chuck on an episode-long mission to find the proof. Except, this was all part of an even more brilliant gambit, as she was in fact tricking Chuck all along in order to bring herself and her boss to Orion's base and blow it up with Chuck and Sarah inside. ...AND THEN SHE SECRETLY HELPS THEM TO ESCAPE. That's at least six trips through the revolving door in two episodes, and nobody's entirely sure whose side she's on.
    • As it turns out the good guy's she's taking volkoff off from the inside
  • Ugly Betty: Wilhelmina Slater
  • In-universe example in Star Trek: Voyager. In the episode with the holonovel about the Maquis mutinity, Tom Paris switches sides whenever it's convenient. Holo-Chakotay wises up fast and sends him off to a position where he doesn't matter to the story.
  • The Master in Doctor Who does this quite frequently, partly because the fans love him and partly to demonstrate that he's just like the Doctor, only evil. Simm acts like this in The End of Time, but Ainley does it most dizzyingly in "The Five Doctors", going from "help the Doctor" to "help the bad guys" a handful of times in one story. Also the Ainley Master seems rather hurt that the various versions of the Doctor all suspect his motives.
    • "Hey, Rassilon! Thanks for sticking those drums in my head so you could escape the Time War. By the way, in a few seconds you're all going to be me - ah. Well, that didn't work out, but you still owe me your lives, so I guess - wait, breaking the Time Lock means letting out a bunch of cosmic horrors? My kind of worl - oh, even we can't survive all of them? And your escape plan means destroying the universe and becoming pure thought? Fantastic, take me with - what do you mean, "diseased?" Oh, and now you're trying to kill the Doctor. That was a mistake."
  • Lionel Luthor in Smallville, who starts off moderately evil, becomes/is retconned to be completely evil, goes to prison, temporarily switches bodies with Clark and thereby absorbs some of his strong moral fibre (making him into a good guy), is convinced to readopt his villainous ways by an Evil Twin of Lex Luthor, and then spends several seasons stumbling drunkenly along the line between good and evil out of lust for Martha, before temporary possession by Jor-El converts him to the side of good until Lex throws him off of a building and he dies.
  • Krycek of X-Files fame, probably why he was known as "Ratboy" among the Fandom.
  • Londo Mollari in Babylon 5.
  • Omen on Dark Oracle suffered badly from this, due to a bad case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder comboed with a desire for Revenge and an unfortunate tendency towards partnering with those who were stronger and more evil than him. He's a villain at first, manipulating Cally as part of a plot for revenge on Doyle. He then tries to help Cally get rid of the comic book (partly out of a crush on her and partly out of a desire to hurt her Evil Twin, Violet) and gets trapped in comic world for his trouble. He returns, and helps Big Bad Wannabe Vern trap Lance in the comic world, pretends to help Cally get him out while secretly working for Lance's Evil Twin Blaze whom he actually frees, and then finally pulls a Heel Face Turn and dies helping Cally free Lance and get rid of Blaze and Violet. Jeez man.
  • Chris Keller on Oz.

Professional Wrestling Edit

  • This can be literal if a wrestler or tag team is employed by more than one company at a time, leaving one building as heel and coming into another face a day later. Common in the indies.
  • Since "Heel" and "Face" are wrestling terms, there are of course many examples in Professional Wrestling: The Undertaker, his "brother" Kane, Ric Flair, and probably the big example right now is Triple H.
  • Kurt Angle is also notorious for turning about once a year. The problem with him is that he is most effective playing a heel, but his immense wrestling talent, the gold medal, and all around Badass qualities sometimes result in Face reactions even when playing a heel, thus resulting in the bookers turning him face. Then he does his bland face routine until his crowd reactions wane, and then he turns heel again. This effect was Lampshaded during an interview where he denounced all black people and Jesus, and still got cheered.
  • Back in the old days, before the bookers developed extreme Attention Deficit Disorder, Lex Luger was the absolute king of this, occasionally doing multiple rounds in the revolving door during the same title reign.
  • And then there was the aforementioned ADD era, exemplified by WCW in 1999 and 2000. Anyone was fair game for a turn one way or the other, even the most popular of fan favorites such as Goldberg and Sting, with little or no warning, and, in the case of lesser stars, sometimes little or no explanation. And that's not even getting into the countless fakeouts.
  • In fact it's pretty rare, especially in the last few decades, for any notable wrestler to not go through at least a couple of Heel Face Turns and Face Heel Turns over the course of his career. The main exceptions in modern professional wrestling are people whose careers simply didn't last long enough to turn from heel to face or vice versa.
    • Averted by Ricky Steamboat, who never once turned heel during his career, due to being such a natural face. To give an idea of how good of a face he was (or how horrible of a heel he would have been), Steamboat's real name is Richard Blood, and yet he had to use a different name because that was a heel's name.
      • Supposedly during his run in the WWF in the very early '90s he wanted to do a heel turn. He was told that even if he went out to the ring and cut Hulk Hogan's arms off with a chainsaw the fans wouldn't buy it.
    • Also averted by Rey Mysterio, Jr.. Has never been a heel. He may have been sort of considered a heel, sort of, in the WCW faction "The Filthy Animals" but even then the stable was more of a tweener thing, and he was not at that long before becoming a full fledged face again.
  • Kane is probably unique in that the booking team tries to make him a major-league monster heel every couple of years but as soon as they stop paying attention to him (i.e. as soon as he's not running around setting announcers on fire or suchlike), the fans start cheering for him again. May have something to do with his Woobie backstory.
    • It's gotten to the point that Kane will go through the revolving door two or three times a year, if not more. When asked Kane's alignment, the best answer is simply "Kane."
  • Happens often with wrestlers who are too likeable or dislikeable for any turn to take. No matter how heroic he acts, a lot of fans can't bring themselves to cheer Randy Orton. Eddie Guerrero had to virtually murder Rey Mysterio for the fans to buy him as a heel and even then, as soon as he wasn't acting like a complete maniac, they started cheering for him again. Ditto Steve Austin's attempted heel turns after he became "Stone Cold".
    • Ended up getting a variation in Orton's case; he's recently become cheered as a face-by-default, thanks to feuding with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., despite still showing heeling tendencies. Turns out he didn't need heroics to be a face, he just needed opponents nobody liked.
  • If you're a TNA wrestler prepare to flip-flop more than a goldfish surrounded by water and a broken fishbowl.
    • See: Mr. Anderson.
  • Scott Steiner. Starting at the second half of his WCW run, the only way to know whether he was a face or heel was the opponent he was going to face next. He's not a traditional Tweener though, because he was supposed to go through Face Heel Turns and Heel Face Turns, it's just that nothing changed between them, so nobody really noticed.
  • The Big Show is notable for turning about once a year. Being the largest guy on the roster means that he can play the role of The Brute against guys like Kane and The Undertaker, and just demolish the plucky babyfaces like Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Kofi Kingston. However, the guy has great comedic timing and plays the role of the Gentle Giant so well that bookers will eventually turn him. He will then proceed to be great friends with the Rey Mysterio's of the world.
  • One infamous occasion happened in early 2003. Vince McMahon appeared on Raw to override the heel GM Eric Bischoff but then a few weeks later was involved in an angle with Hulk Hogan as a heel leading into Wrestlemania XIX. So he was effectively a face on Raw and a heel on Smackdown.
    • Another odd case with Vince occurred in 1999, where he was a heel going up against Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Ministry of Darkness, led by an also-heel Undertaker, heading into Wrestlemania XV. He soon turned face when Undertaker started threatening his family, but again turned heel when he was revealed to be the Higher Power behind the Ministry, and remained there until he was forced to "leave" after Fully Loaded. Again, Vince turned face when he returned a few weeks later to oppose main event heel Triple H and stayed face until Wrestlemania 2000, when he aligned himself with The Game.
  • In late 2010 Nikki Bella turned heel in an angle on NXT but was a face whenever she appeared on Raw and Smackdown. When that season of NXT was over she went back to being a face for a couple of months before she and her sister turned heel properly.
  • This is a staple of the booking style of Vince Russo.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • The 1st Edition of Dungeons and Dragons had druids doing the same thing as Lord Gro, though in the name of "balance". They dropped this when they realized that it gives all druids Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
    • In 2nd Edition this was instead used for the petitioners of the Outlands. It seems to have been subsequently dropped.


Music Edit

  • In DBSK's music video for Before U Go had a friend of Yunho and Changmin do this. First, he joined the police force with Yunho and Changmin. Then for an unknown reason, he was The Mole for the mafia. After he accidentally shot Yunho and was caught by Changmin, he decided to quit. A year later, he forced to kill Changmin when the mafia held his sick sister hostage. By the time things were over and after Yunho and Changmin found out the truth, they could never fully trust him again.


Video Games Edit

  • City of Heroes Going Rogue allows you to live this Trope. You can go from being a Hero into a Villain back into a Hero, Wash Rinse Repeat. Ditto villains.
    • The Rogue's Gallery enemy group consists of Heel Face Revolving Door consists of former members of the Paragon Heroes and Rogue Isles Villains enemies from Bank Missions with fleshed out personalities, as well as several prominent NPCs like Frostfire and Malestrom. Many of these NPCs undergo alignment changes just like you do. Frostfire becomes a Hero, Polar Shift becomes a villain... But as the missions are random, it appears as if they're hopping all over the place, Just like you.
  • Oh Naomi! Do you even have a side?
    • Actually yes. But you only find it out after her death in MGS4.
  • Theoretically you can take a spin in the Heel Face Revolving Door in just about any RPG with a morality system. Just alternate good choices and evil choices and voila.
  • Kain of Final Fantasy IV is pretty often used as an example, though all his turns were due to mind control by the real villain. (It's still discussed, if his first Heel Face Turn is an act or real and he gets controlled again later) And it happened only twice. So, mainly it's a case of Never Live It Down.
    • Lampshaded in the DS remake - if you use the "read the party leader's thoughts" feature (set Kain as the visible character on the map, then bring up the menu) as you're leaving the Sealed Cave, you'll see him fighting Golbez reasserting control (unsuccessfully). If you repeat this as you travel through the Lunar Subterraine, Kain will be fighting the attempts of Zemus to control him (this time more successfully).
    • Subverted in the sequel, where Kain joins forces with the villain the Mysterious Maiden, he steals several crystals and fights Fabul before being defeated by the Mysterious Swordsman who is Kain: the evil Kain is actually his Dark Side, who escaped Mt. Ordeals. The real Kain had to track him down before being able to pass his test.
    • Captain SNES of course uses the trope again, as not only he is touched by the sovereign of sorrow, he is also in love with Rosa (pretty canonically) which the Drab Lord amplified sufficiently as to make him his minion. Kain is referred to here in Dungeons and Dragons terms as "the reason you don't make Charisma your dump stat", and its implied that he will fall for any charm person spell. Any.
  • Aribeth jumps around quite a lot in BioWare's first Neverwinter Nights. To date it is possible to have her switch sides five times.
    • Betraying Neverwinter to Morag, being redeemed in the endgame, going mad in hell, being brought back by the player, and falling to Mephistopheles' Reason You Suck Speech. Then again, all of the others technically stem from the first one, so if you don't take either player-prompted switches she changes sides once and stays there.
  • Something that is occasionally forgotten though is that Kain did not invent this Trope for Final Fantasy. That honor goes to Leon (the real one) of Final Fantasy II who goes from Aloof Big Brother to MIA to The Dragon to Big Bad (for all of five seconds) to Heel Face Turn to repentant loner over the course of the game.
  • Several characters in Super Robot Wars are prone to this, whether due to being frequent victims of Mind Control (Lamia, Excellen), having a hidden agenda (Sanger), or just generally being a Magnificent Bastard (Shu Shirakawa).
  • Lee from Tekken, who is introduced as a boss character working for Mishima. He's probably neutral to evil at this point; he is not as evil as Kazuya or Heihachi, but he's not shown to be good. Later on he becomes estranged from his family due to what Heihachi does to Kazuya at the end of Tekken 2. He decides he cannot work for someone who would do such things and so he travels the world, becomes a ladies man and eventually becomes a main character in his own right in Tekken 4, before becoming one of the best characters in Tekken 5 and onwards.
  • Zero, if you get the bad endings of Mega Man X 2 and Mega Man X 5, as well as a Heel Face Turn in his backstory.
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow can go from wiping out a platoon of GUN soldiers in one stage, blasting through the Black Arms in the next, then destroying Eggman's robots afterwards. Speaking of Eggman, the good doctor can be of either the "Hero" or "Dark" alignments in any given stage in which he participates. Which way he leans depends on who he's fighting against in that particular stage: he'll be of the "Dark" alignment if he's facing off against GUN, and the "Hero" alignment if he's fighting the Black Arms.
  • Illidan Stormrage of the Warcraft franchise. This is partly because he's mentally unbalanced, and partly because even when he does try to do good, he's not very effective at it.
    • Depending on your point of view, this can happen to a lot of characters in World of Warcraft, especially if they're a member of the opposing faction. For example, King Varian Wrynn is almost universally loathed by the Horde, but the extraordinary amount of Enemy Mine in the game means that much of what he does is good for the Horde as well (like killing Onyxia), and he has his Pet the Dog moment in Icecrown Citadel. Similar arguments could be made about Horde leaders from the Alliance perspective.
    • The Orc race is collectively like this. They started as warlike-yet-honorable savages living in relative balance with the other races of Draenor. Then they drank demon blood and became complete monsters, with countless stories of slaughtered children and mass rape. After they were defeated by the Alliance the blood rage wore off, and after some time in concentration camps Thrall took them to Kalimdor and attempted to build a new nation that cooperated with its neighbors. The last chieftain who had drunk demon blood died killing said demon, bringing it all full circle. Now tensions have been rising with the Alliance, world war has basically been declared, and a large faction has gained power in the Horde in favor of re-militarizing led by a young idiot who has argued in favor of child-killing to a veteran who actually did it and was explaining that he was still haunted by their screams.
    • If you think about the Forsaken Death Knights, they own this trope. Initially they started out as humans in the Alliance, got killed and raised to serve the Scourge, broke free of the Scourge and joined the Horde, then died again and rejoined the Scourge only to break free once more and rejoin the Horde. It's incredible they can keep their sides straight.
  • Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. franchise, especially in the RPG's. He's been an Enemy Mine so often--to say nothing of when he Goes Karting With Mario--that it's hard to say just WHOSE side he's on anymore.
    • Although he usually only stays with Mario until the Big Bad is gone.
  • Persona 3: Chidori starts off as a member of Strega, the crazy-end-of-the-world guys. She then quite inadvertently befriends Junpei, a member for the heroic SEES, who talks too much about what he does. She captures him and holds him for ransom essentially, but is then captured by SEES. Junpei works up a friendship with her to the point that she won't talk to anyone else, resulting in a Heel Face Turn. Then SEES supposedly kills the other members for Strega, and she rejects Junpei. About a month later, she attacks SEES for a Face Heel Turn. Five minutes later, she sacrifices herself to save Junpei, for a Heel Face Turn, because of course Redemption Equals Death.
  • Captain Qwark of Ratchet and Clank fame. Initially he was a hero. Then he became villainous has-been. Then he got his shot at being the Big Bad. Then he returned to a hero status, and has been tagging along with Ratchet ever since.
  • The Kirby games love this trope, although it's much lighter than most other interpretations. Characters like Chef Kawasaki and Knuckle Joe can appear as mini-bosses in one game, and be allies in a different one.
    • While King Dedede is the perhaps the most obvious culprit of this, Meta Knight does this a staggering number of times in the very first game he was featured in. Most of the time, he's sending his mooks after you to impede your progress, and eventually directly confronts you. However, he also gives you invincible candy periodically throughout the game, even after you defeat him.
  • Fire Emblem: If you do things a certain way, Jill can change sides five times across the two games she's in (Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn). That's one more than Kain up there!
    • That goes double for Naesala, who seems to have this as a basic character trait. Just in the first game he works for Daein, sells a childhood friend to a Begnion noble, if you manage to talk to him in one chapter (almost a must, as he's near impossible to kill) he decides to go neutral, then he somewhat grudgingly starts helping Crimea toward the end. The second game sees him helping the Laguz Alliance, selling them out to Begnion, and then acting as a bodyguard for the Apostle when she goes to support the Laguz Alliance! No one is quite sure what side, if any, he's really on by the time he's a playable character and more than one doesn't really care as long as they get to kill him.
      • Lampshaded in Radiant Dawn by Tibarn, of all people.

 Tibarn: Naesala betrayed us?! AGAIN?!

  • Archer in Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky, Dusknoir is a perfect example of this. After being sent back to the future with Grovyle, he finds out that Primal Dialga is now trying to get rid of him, and has a new henchman at its side. Due to this, he has to team up with Grovyle as they make their way to Primal Dialga. Towards the end of the episode when Grovyle attempts to rescue Celebi, he is captured in a trap set by Dusknoir that is designed to destroy Grovyle's soul so that Dusknoir can take over his body and go back to the past to foil the hero's plan to save the future. However, after remembering what Grovyle had told him about himself earlier, Dusknoir has a brief personality crisis before swiftly becoming a good guy and saving Grovyle at the last second.
  • Pretty Bomber from the Bomberman games. While originally a member of the Five Bad Bombers, she just can't make up her mind.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man has Silver Sable going from attacking Peter now that she knows he's the titular hero to helping him save the innocents to attacking him again to finally letting him go after Trask.
  • Vincent from Silent Hill 3 goes from sided with Claudia and Heather all over again until it's revealed he is neither sided with them as he, being an arrogant jerk, plans on having Heather and Claudia kill each other to save his skin.
  • Goro in Mortal Kombat, oh so much; starts off as the Outworld tournament champion, signs a peace treaty with the Shokan's mortal enemies the Centaurs (and making peace with Kung Lao) in Mortal Kombat 4 and sided with Edenia against Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, before getting mortally wounded and saved by Kahn, siding with him afterward. If that wasn't bad enough, most of his endings have him gaining enough power to overthrow Shao Kahn, kill off the Centaurs, and ensure the Shokan become their own neutral group.
    • Kabal starts off as a member of the evil Black Dragons, becomes good, then reverts to evil.
  • Ada Wong in Resident Evil series is between helping Leon and Wesker.
    • While her actions and motivations in game play this straight, it's revealed at the end of her side story in the Playstation 2 and Wii versions of Resident Evil 4 that she's working for a completely different organization that's above both the U.S. Government and Wesker.
    • By the time Resident Evil 6 happens, she is her own side. She helps out Leon and Helena/Jake and Sherry, but her overall goal is to kill her evil clone and erase all traces of said clone.
  • Cole McGrath in In Famous due to the fact he has to decide on acting good or evil in outcomes.
  • Porky uses this one every time you meet him; he'll claim he's willing to repent of his misdeeds until he gets an opening to make a getaway, and then he's right back to plotting against Ness. In the original Japanese it's implied that (at least the first time) he really was willing to make amends, but he took Ness' silence to mean he wasn't willing to forgive.


Webcomics Edit

  • It's hard to keep track of anybody's moral alignment in Narbonic, probably because nearly everyone is either insane (and varies the degree of evil and their motives beyond the speed of logic) or just there for the paycheck.
  • Tarvek Sturmvoraus in Girl Genius alternates between helpful, heroic, not-entirely-trusted sidekick and toadying, evil, certainly-not-trusted minion when heroine Agatha Heterodyne and villain The Other start grappling for control of Agatha's body. He makes the switch every few pages, eventually caught red-handed by the Other. Even this doesn't stop him from serving his own purposes, eventually betraying everybody. Absolutely Everybody. Including his own father and his treacherous sister. And it seems that his goal is to use Agatha (or a lookalike), his claim to a royal ancestor, and a story out of mythology and opera to not only rule Europe, but do it to cheering crowds.
    • Now it appears it MAY be a more sincere Face Heel Turn and he genuinely wants to help Agatha. For now.
    • Gil's manservant Wooster may have changed allegiences from his British spymasters to Gil and then possibly from Gil to Agatha--or he never abandoned his first loyalties. Given the way Sparks influence non-Sparks, it's not entirely clear.
  • Oasis from Sluggy Freelance. At first she was an (admittedly sympathetic) Yandere villain who was obsessed with Torg and would kill anyone or anything to be with him. After Torg promised to marry her, though, she shifted into a (admittedly anti-heroic) good guy, helping to take down Hereti Corp and protect the town of Podunkton. However, after her Mentor is killed in front of her and Zoe rekindles her jealous streak, she's off on another Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Prior to Dr. Schlock's takeover of Hertit-Corp, he tended to change sides quite often, although it was almost always based entirely on who was pointing a gun at his head at the time.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Galatea is an emotional basket case who will switch sides with very little provocation. It's probably safe to describe her as Chaotic Neutral.
  • Nicolae of Gaia Online tends to do whatever gives him the most benefit at the moment, be it con artistry, theft, assisting players in zOMG! or accepting a hit job on Gino Gambino, which he then takes every opportunity to sabotage.
  • Homestuck's Vriska Serket manages to do this without ever technically changing sides, switching back and forth from Villain Protagonist to Sociopathic Hero. She kicks the proverbial dog (usually her personal Butt Monkey, Tavros) on a regular basis, but also has some nicer moments, especially when it comes to John. She's a Smug Snake most of the time, but occasionally her mask will start to slip, revealing crippling self-hatred that she tries to cover up by being a Jerkass. She has a massive body count, but an excuse for it, and while she's the Token Evil Teammate for most of the trolls' session, she very well might be less evil than the other two contenders for that title later, who are respectively Ax Crazy and planning to betray the group to the Big Bad. The author says he intended for her to be a Base Breaker.
  • In Irregular Webcomic, there's Dr. Ginny. She pretty much works with whoever she feels like.


Web Original Edit

  • Lonelygirl15: How many times did Gemma either change sides or turn out not to have changed sides after all? In a relatively small amount of appearances, at that? Granted, this doesn't seem to have been a result of lazy or inconsistent writing - the woman just couldn't commit.
    • There's also Sarah. In her first appearance, she appeared to be a villain when she held the heroes at gunpoint; but then she sided with the heroes; but then she got brainwashed by the villains; but then the heroes rescued her from the brainwashing; but then it turned out she'd actually been working for the villains all along; but no, wait, she was actually being blackmailed that time, she's really on the heroes' side; and now, the sequel series lg15: the Resistance has her once more turning out to really, actually, honest to God, this time we mean it, have been on the villains' side all along.
      • Making it worse is that a video was actually put up solely to explain how various actions we'd seen Sarah taking over the past weeks were signs of her villainy. It couldn't be more obvious that all the footage in it is from the spinoff, for the simple reason that there's no freaking way to incorporate the majority of her scenes in the original show into the new story.
  • Happens with Julie Mikan in Survival of the Fittest. She undergoes a Face Heel Turn at the very start whilst deciding to play, killing Owen Fontaine gives her a Heel Face Turn and a Heroic BSOD, before a few days later, she once again decides to play, becoming a 'heel' for the second time.
  • Cale from Darwin's Soldiers switches sides no less than four times, playing for almost every faction (experiments, terrorists, scientists, Dragnostorm) at some point. This is lampshaded by Dr. Shelton.
    • In Pavlov's Checkmate, Cale finally gets over this, refusing to switch sides when the antagonist gives him the offer.
  • Everyone in the YWC (Youtube Wrestling Community) seems to switch sides so much that they seem to live inside this door.
  • Vadiir started on the side of the Communes, then he went to the Rebellion, and now he's back with the Commune, though he says he's a free agent.
  • Definitely occurs, to pretty much everybody, in the Prolecto Series. Starts with the standard virus induced Face Heel Turn, then most of the Succubi switch to Faces, then a few switch to Well-Intentioned Extremist, then they switch back, then one of the Faces goes Heel...Then some people who stayed Heel go face. A couple actually qualify as Hazy Feel Turns, actually.
  • A few examples in The Questport Chronicles, but most noticeably the Lord of Angels and Demons, who switches sides at the drop of a hat. He's never truly evil, but he oscillates between being mildly useful and incredibly annoying.


Western Animation Edit

  • In the "Muscular Beaver" episodes of Angry Beavers, Norbert's alter ego switched between good and evil every time he was featured. Originally known as "Baron Bad Beaver," he incorporated his side switches into his name, so in his third appearance he was "Baron Once Bad Then Good Now Bad Again Beaver." It eventually culminated with "Once Bad Then Good Then Bad Again and now something thats Neither."
  • Transformers has had a few such characters. In particular, it's hard to remember whether Armada Starscream was working for or against Megatron when he died. Armada's Sideways was worse; Not only was he constantly switching sides, he actually had different Autobot and Decepticon robot modes. And, get this, his Japanese name? Doubleface.
    • And then it turned out Sideways was really working for Unicron, playing both sides against each other to make sure the war continued. Which makes the flip-flopping make more sense.
    • Starscream was a Decepticon by then, but he was trying to talk Megatron into allying with the Autobots. So it's a bit of both.
    • Dinobot in Beast Wars betrayed the Predacons in the Pilot Episode when he realizes that Megatron did not bring them to Earth. However, in season 2, when he realizes that Megatron DID bring them to Earth. Realizing that Megatron is smart after all and could win the Beast Wars, he flips back to the Predacons, only to come back to the Maximals at the end of the same episode when Megatron tries to force him to kill Rattrap.
    • The beast Era had a couple based on this: Blackarachnia and Silverbolt. Both were originally maximal protoforms who were found by Predacons. Silverbolt betrayed the predacons and joined the maximals after finding out who were the good guys. Then he convinced Blackarachnia to join them. In Beast Machines they go to Cybertron after the beast wars are over, Silverbolt is captured by Megatron and turned into the vehicon general Jetstorm and Blackarachnia has to free him and brings him back. Then in the comics they are captured by Unicron and Blackarachnia gets infected by a virus which makes her evil again. Then after the universe war Silverbolt brings her back to their home dimension to turn her back again.
    • Wreck-Gar of Transformers Animated switches from neutral to criminal to Autobot to good for only one thing - GARBAGE! to Decepticon. This is as a result of his decisively screwed-up mind, which meant that he basically did whatever somebody else suggested him to do. At the end of the episode, Ratchet advises him to simply be who he wants to be, at which he promptly announces "I am Wreck-Gar! I am a hero!", and sticks with it.
      • The Constructicons don't really seem to understand the fact that the Autobots and Decepticons are opposing sides of a WAR THAT WILL DECIDE THE FATE OF AN ENTIRE PLANET, so they have a tendancy to flip between the two sides without a second thought. After jumping from Autobot to Decepticon for the first time, they still address the Autobots as friends and casually explain their reasoning, expecting the Autobots to understand (they did it because Megatron's oil tasted better than their). They flip sides about 7 times over the course of the series.
  • David Xanatos of Gargoyles went back and forth between being the Big Bad and being an Anti-Villain, even working together with the heroes in some cases. Good Is Not Dumb, in this case, as Xanatos retained his Magnificent Bastard status no matter whose side he was on.
    • In the comics, which continue the series' plot, Xanatos is housing the gargoyles at his home again, all the while doing jobs for the Illuminati, who are becoming the new main antagonists. In other words, he's uninstalled the revolving door and started outright living in the threshold.
  • Pyrrah from Dragon Booster is actually one of these.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko. Good God, Zuko. He found himself constantly switching sides due to his confused feelings and lack of resolve. Halfway through the third season, he finally made up his mind, but even before that he was trying to save Aang half the time, mostly for his own selfish purposes. Lampshaded in one episode when no one takes his Heel Face Turn seriously, and he accidentally burns Toph.

  Zuko: Why am I so bad at being good?!

    • Granted, it's not like he was really good at being bad.
    • And now, with the sequel comic The Promise, he seems to be courting an alignment switch AGAIN. The titular promise was made to Zuko by Aang, swearing to take him down if he ever started acting like his father. Throughout the comic, he becomes more and more obsessed with protecting his people and the many assasination attempts he's undergone, and the last panel of the first volume has him seeking advice from his father in prison. And we know that he makes yet another Heel Face Turn by the end, since Korra info has already confirmed he and Aang found United Republic together. The energy generated by this kid's constant vacillating could equal that of a thousand white-hot suns.
  • Wes Weasley from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. "Don't tell me you're switching sides again!"
  • Terra, from the animated version of Teen Titans. She started off good, then had a Face Heel Turn, then a semi Heel Face Turn that got slammed in her face, an even bigger Face Heel Turn, and finally a permanent Heel Face Turn accomponied by a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Man Ray from SpongeBob SquarePants is a villain the first time we meet him. However, he's been fitted with a tickle belt that tickles him whenever he does something bad. He finally tricks Spongebob and Patrick into taking it off him before going on a rampage. However, whenever he's about to do something evil he feels the tickle of the belt, eventually prompting him to become a good citizen. It seems though that the belt's influence wears off after a while because in his next appearance, he's become a villain again.
  • Jack Spicer teamed up with the Monks more than once, sometimes as a matter of mutual benefits in taking down a common enemy, but once even as a genuine attempt to join the side of good. However, in the end he betrayed them once again and returned to evil, because he was afraid he'd be even worse at being a good guy than he was at being a villain.
    • The Yin-Yang World switches the alignment of anyone who leaves it without both the Yin Yo-Yo and the Yang Yo-Yo. Due to this mechanic, anyone can be a Heel Face Revolving Door.
  • A common character type in kids cartoon shows, especially in the 80s, was the one obnoxious member of the regular cast who could be counted upon to do something stupid, selfish, and/or rude and act contrary to the interests of the group whenever the plot focused on their everyday lives, but was considered just one of the gang when the plot focused on the world outside the main characters. They'll be trying to get the other characters expelled from school just to win an essay contest one week, then heading to the amusement park with the gang like nothing happened the next. Examples include Junior on The Snorks, Brainy on The Smurfs, Bianca on Beverly Hills Teens, Eric on Dungeons And Dragons, and Reggie on The Archie Show. Modern versions on non-kids shows would include Cartman on South Park and Stewie on Family Guy.
  • Kevin Levin. Evil in Ben 10, good in Ben 10 Alien Force and evil again for a few episodes in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. He's back on our side now.
  • Nebula from Winx Club. She's a Heel, Face, Heel, and a Face permanently.
  • El Tigre suffers from this. Due to the influence of having a heroic father and a villainous grandfather,Manny's moral compass is always spinning. This is most evident when put in the herometer, a device that tells whether or not its subject is a hero. The readout flip-flopped between good and evil so much that it quickly exploded.
  • Shere Khan from Tale Spin is a Deconstruction of Ambition Is Evil, and as such shows that while a desire for only money and power (his self-proclaimed motive) is not necessarily a good thing, neither does it just make you a bad guy all the time. This means that in some episodes he's ruthlessly conspiring with sky pirates to create a fuel shortage and a monopoly, while in others he saves the day at the end by shutting down his corrupt underlings in their scheming plans, not because they were corrupt, but because they were holding the Idiot Ball a little too much and that's bad for business. He's very nearly a prototypical David Xanatos, with more of an emphasis on money rather than power.
  • Bender from Futurama embodies this far too often to list every instance, so here's two examples: In an episode where he lost use of his body, he became a musician and inspired thousands of broken robots, only to turn it into a scam when he recovered (and didn't tell anyone). In another episode, he and Fry join the military just so they can get military discounts, but when an actual war happens, Bender ends up throwing himself on top of an explosive to protect his fellows without a second thought, knowing full well that the blast will probably kill him. Generally speaking he's a Magnificent Bastard, but he's occasionally shown that there are some things he actually cares about more than his own selfish ends.

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