Created By: Aielyn on July 30, 2011

Achilles Heel Face Turn

A villain is forced to side with the good guys because of an inherent weakness

Name Space:
Page Type:
For most villains, a life of villainy is important to them. They seek out power, or attempt to further their own interests, and this aligns quite neatly with evil activities. Some become villains by crossing a Moral Event Horizon, while others are villains from the start.

Sometimes, though, a villain will choose to turn good. Known as a Heel–Face Turn, this change can occur for many reasons. But what if the change isn't by choice? What if a villain has no choice but to turn good, to side with The Hero? This is the essence of an Achilles Heel Face Turn.

It could be that the villain has an inherent personal weakness. If this weakness is sexual attraction, this may be a High-Heel–Face Turn. When the weakness is sex itself, it is a Sex–Face Turn. Alternatively, the villain may have a literal weakness, causing them to side with the good guys when confronted with a more powerful foe, not in the form of an Enemy Mine, but because the more powerful foe rejected our villain as being too weak. Occasionally, the weakness is imposed on the villain by another villain.

It will often result in a Face–Heel Turn when the danger or weakness is removed. Compare with Enemy Mine, when a Heel–Face Turn is purely temporary to defeat a common enemy, with understanding that a Face–Heel Turn will follow once the common enemy is defeated.

Be warned that most examples of this will be heavy with spoilers.


  • In The Wheel of Time, you have one of the Forsaken, Asmodean. When forced by Lanfear (another Forsaken) to help Rand, Asmodean finds himself grabbing hold of the only liferaft he has - siding with the good guys. This leads to his death, but by the end, he has aligned himself entirely with the good guys.
  • Harry Potter has this in Narcissa Malfoy - her Achilles Heel is her son, Draco. When Draco is suspected to be in trouble, she helps Harry by lying to Voldemort, claiming Harry is dead. This act not only saves the good guys, and thus the world, it also redeems her entire family and prevents their imprisonment in Azkaban.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • July 30, 2011
    It's worth noting that I got the title for this from the Title Bin.
  • July 30, 2011
    Redemption equals death?
  • July 30, 2011
    That can occur, as it does in the case of The Wheel Of Time, but it is in no way necessary for this trope - see the Harry Potter example.
  • July 30, 2011
    I swear I know an example or two of this but I cannot remember it atm... Just for clarification: what about the cases where the heroes consciously exploit the villains' weakness/vulnerability to make them temporarily help the cause of good? Do they count as this?
  • July 30, 2011
    I would say it does - if the villain turns to the side of good, either permanently or temporarily, because of a weakness (not a common enemy), then it's this trope, whether it's through the intentional action of The Hero, another villain, or pure chance.
  • July 30, 2011
    This is probably related to Help Face Turn in some way.
  • July 30, 2011

    We cannot reflect spoilers of that longitute.
  • July 30, 2011
    Bisected8 - there's probably a small amount of overlap occasionally, but not really enough to justify a mention, and it's not really a "compare/contrast" situation, either.

    What, Aminatep?
  • July 30, 2011
    Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer teaming up with the main cast when he had that chip put in his head probably count. Sorta. It didn't necessarily make him weak, but it made him unable to attack good guys. And since he likes attacking things...
  • August 1, 2011
    I'm not sure I'd consider a case where a character has a chip put in his head to force him to work with the good guys would really be a case of using an Achilles Heel type of thing... at least, not unless the character was a cyborg, or something, and it was an actual weakness to begin with (the ability for people to modify them using a chip inserted into a slot in their head, or something).
  • August 1, 2011
    I would suggest not spoiling the examples as this will make the page hard to read. Instead, mention that this is an ending trope, so here be spoilers!
  • August 2, 2011
    Bad name, since Achilles didn't switch sides. I found it confusing.

    Maybe something like Forced To Join The Heroes or something like that.
  • August 2, 2011
    Sackett, if you honestly though that was what the trope name was meant to be, then something is seriously wrong. Most people should immediately see the phrase "Achilles Heel". Indeed, any normal person will see that before they see "Heel Face Turn".

    This is about a character turning to "Face" due to something hitting their "Achilles Heel". Complaining about it not being about Achilles is like complaining that Enemy Mine has nothing to do with mines, or that Moral Event Horizon has nothing to do with an event occurring on the horizon.

    lamoxlamae - it's not an ending trope. Indeed, quite often, an Achilles Heel Face Turn happens quite early in the story, relatively speaking. Take the The Wheel Of Time example - it happens in book 4 of a 14 book series. It is quite often used as a Twist, which is why spoilers tend to turn up, and in both of the examples I've given, that's precisely what has happened - they're both cases of a Twist.

    Most examples will be heavy with spoilers, as I noted... but they're not going to be covered by spoiler tags as a result, as in most cases, you can just spoiler tag the character's identity and the specific Achilles Heel.
  • March 26, 2012
    I actually love this trope name but had to get past the initial confusion of reading it as "Achilles' Heel Face Turn." I see that some others had the same problem.

    I'm not sure this one could stand alone, as every possible example will almost certainly be an "Enemy Mine." It could be worked into a Sub-Trope of Enemy Mine though, where the villain is only working with the hero to overcome a weakness or something like that.