Created By: HiddenFacedMatt on October 11, 2011 Last Edited By: HiddenFacedMatt on July 5, 2012
Troped

Temporarily A Villain

Character who is normally either neutral or a hero is a villain for a while.

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When a strange alien symbiote turns Spider-Man's suit black, his darkest demons come to light - changing Spider-Man inside as well as out.
- Spider-Man 3 DVD back cover

This is when a usually good character; or at least a character on the overall side of good; temporarily switches sides and/or has a temporary drop in morality.

Contrast with Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and/or Moral Event Horizon, which are more permanent.

EDITED IN: This has 5 hats, and its definition is clear. All that's left before launching this is to decide on what the title should be.

Examples:

  • While he doesn't quite become a full-blown villain so to speak, Spider-Man shows a semi-villainous side in Spider-Man 3 when the symbiote he has on his suit results in an increase in vengefulness and aggressiveness. He doesn't switch sides; he's fighting against the same enemies as he was immediately before; but his "influenced" side has him doing things he severely regrets and that the series portrays as very clearly wrong.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses this every now and then, typically with mild examples.
    • Spike the dragon is normally good, but his envy in ep. 24 at the attention Owlowicious is getting drives him to do some very morally objectionable things, such as planting a fake mouse corpse to try to make it look like Owlowicious killed the mouse. When called out on this, he runs away from home, tries to hide in a cave that happens to belong to another dragon, and then ends up getting saved... by Owlowicious... and then Twilight Sparkle reassures Spike he still has an important place in their social circle, prompting Spike to apologize for what he's done. By the time the next episode rolls around, Spike is pretty much one of the good guys again.
      • A more threatening temporary villainy occurs during Secret Of My Excess, when his greedy dragon nature gets out of control. When Rarity, not knowing he is the same Spike, talks about how generous Spike was, he feels ashamed of what he has become and immediately reverts back to his old self.
    • Twilight Sparkle has this in "Lesson Zero", when Twilight is driven insane in her rush to find a friendship problem, to the point where she deviously creates one herself. Her Apple of Discord plan, however, goes horribly right.
    • Read It And Weep has Rainbow Dash not wanting to admit that she likes reading Daring Do more than she pretends to... so instead of asking her friends if she could borrow their Daring Do books, she tries to steal one from a hospital.
  • In the Black Rose duelist arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena, some of the people Utena has to fight are her brainwashed friends.
  • Duncan Macleod on Highlander when he has the Dark Quickening.
  • In the iOS game Highborn, in Chapter 2, Enzo becomes part of the Decay side for a while after marrying Jessica.
  • The EMH on Star Trek: Voyager was reprogrammed to perform unethical-at-best medicine by the Equinox crew.
  • Eerie Cuties: Chloe underwent a period of villainy when she donned the Doom Panties prematurely. This caused her crush on Layla's fiance, Dio, along with her feelings of inadequacy, to draw out her Superpowered Evil Side. Thankfully, she got better and is back to her lovable self.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was always an Anti-Hero Villain Protagonist, since he was a face who did heel stuff, but in the InVasion angle he temporarily joined the invading WCW side, which was by definition the "bad" side of the angle. As soon as the angle was over he was back to his old self again.
  • Spongebob has barnacle boy switching sides over not getting enough food and respect.
  • In Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, this happens to Sh'lainn twice;
    • Once when she suffers from an affliction called "the iron death", which causes a banshee to go insane and merge with all the machinery around her after staying away from nature for too long.
    • In another episode she's nicked by a vampire, who uses her blood to turn them both into vampire/banshee hybrids she resists when she's asked to drain Nick dry, giving The Alliance time to turn up, knock them out and reverse the process.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer briefly toys with the dark side a few times. At the opening of season two (induced by trauma) and in a brief arc in season three (induced by Les Yay).
    • Willow at the end of season 6 when she becomes Dark Willow and eventually tries to destroy the world. She gets better.
  • Charmed has many episodes where one of the Halliwell sisters will go to the Dark Side For A Day before switching back by the end of the episode. A particularly notable one early on has all three sisters turn evil by the end of the episode, only for Leo to save them.
    • Also, the episode where Paige does a spell to conjure up a 'Mr. Right' for 24 hrs which inadvertently also produces a 'Mr. Wrong' who she allows to seduce her with his seductive naughtiness.
Community Feedback Replies: 61
  • October 11, 2011
    multivoxmuse
    I don't know how this isn't already a trope. Another example is superman when he encounters black kryptonite.
  • October 11, 2011
    surgoshan
    I think this may be a thing already, related to The Mole and the like.
  • October 12, 2011
    jcupach
    Hmmm would Pierce on Community season 2 fit this trope?
  • October 12, 2011
    Koveras
    In the Black Rose duelist arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena, some of the people Utena has to fight are her brainwashed friends.
  • February 26, 2012
    chicagomel
    Duncan Macleod on Highlander when he has the Dark Quickening.
  • February 26, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In the iOS game Highborn, in Chapter 2, Enzo becomes part of the Decay side for a while after marrying Jessica.
  • February 27, 2012
    TrustBen
    The EMH on Star Trek Voyager was reprogrammed to perform unethical-at-best medicine by the Equinox crew.
  • February 27, 2012
    NESBoy
    Another My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic example: In "Lesson Zero", Twilight is driven insane in her rush to find a friendship problem, to the point where she deviously creates one herself. Her Apple Of Discord plan, however, goes horribly right.
  • February 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • February 27, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ Face Heel Turn refers exclusively to the transition from good to evil. This refers to the transition from good to evil and then back again.
  • February 27, 2012
    JusticeReaper
  • February 27, 2012
    JobanGrayskull
    ^Heel Face Revolving Door is defined as happening enough times that the character really has no side. Since this refers to only happening once, with the character clearly on one side except for a particular instance, I think it's distinctly separate.

    I don't know if this is bad-snocloney or doesn't make sense, but what about Face Heel About Face? In military terms, an About Face is just a 180 degree turn.
  • February 27, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ I'll consider it, but I think the current one is more straightforward.
  • February 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Can't call it Heel Face Return either because that one's already taken. Note its reference to Heel Face Revolving Door.

    And it's really bad that we can't call it the "Villain Ball" as in "whomever currently holds it is a villain" (compare Idiot Ball).
  • June 12, 2012
    MiinU

    Webcomics

  • June 12, 2012
    Sligh
    Heel Face Time? Heel Face Experimentation? Heel Face Temp?
  • June 12, 2012
    MiinU
    deleted name suggestion.
  • June 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Stone Cold Steve Austin was always an Anti Hero Villain Protagonist, since he was a face who did heel stuff, but in the InVasion angle he temporarily joined the invading WCW side, which was by definition the "bad" side of the angle. As soon as the angle was over he was back to his old self again.
  • June 13, 2012
    AP
    • During the late nineties, Iron Man went insane and became a villain, only to be replaced briefly by a younger version of himself from a different time. One could also argue he was the main villain of Marvel Comics for about a year after Civil War.
  • June 13, 2012
    StevenT
    Wasn't Hulk Hogan a bad guy for a while?
  • June 13, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Marble, please keep title suggestions limited to the replies, rather than editing them into the description.
  • June 13, 2012
    Marble72
    Sorry - I joined but the reply button below didn't initially appear ;) So my name suggestions to add to the think tank are;

    Took A Walk On The Dark Side, Danced On The Dark Side, Brief Walk On The Dark Side...
  • June 14, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Brief Walk On The Dark Side might be a decent replacement for now, but bear in mind that this includes just barely a villain as well. (Ie. Even a Harmless Villain like Spike was in Owl's Well That Ends Well.) So the phrase dark side is pushing it a bit, but it is a bit wittier than plain old "temporarily a villain."
  • June 14, 2012
    surgoshan
  • June 14, 2012
    MiinU
  • June 14, 2012
    Sligh
    I like Face Heel Slip a lot.
  • June 14, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    I don't get Face Heel Slip...
  • June 14, 2012
    Jbadder
    I think this could be related to The Mask (do note, I said "related", not "is"; the two obviously are different, but do have some common ground).
  • June 14, 2012
    littleloup
    Luke Skywalker is very temporarily an apprentice of a resurrected Palpatine in the Star Wars expanded universe, he quickly becomes the light side's golden boy again but still.

    I remember an Episode of Teen Titans where Robin joined Slade, but it was only because if he didn't the other Titans would be killed. Would this count?

    Ohman, there are so many examples of this. What about Spiderman 3, with the Black Spiderman suit?

    And this one may be controversial, but most fans saw Iron Man as the villain of the Civil War comics, even though the intent was for both sides of the conflict to appear good. In pretty much everything else, even with his alchoholism and other demons Iron Man is pretty consistently heroic.
  • June 14, 2012
    littleloup
    oh, someone else already mentioned iron man, with more knowledge than me. Still.

    Yet another MLP:Fi M example: the season 2 episode Putting Your Hoof Down. Fluttershy tries to learn how to stick up for herself, and ends up becoming a bully until she realizes how mean she's being and tones it down. I pick this and not the breakdown in At The Gala because i think that was showing a dark side she always has, whereas this bully fluttershy was only for an episode.
  • June 15, 2012
    Marble72
    Quick Walk On The Wild Side, Quick Dance On The Dark Side... substitute brief/quick, walk/dance dark/wild etc obviously I'm playing on 'Take a walk on the wild side' lyric. Tasted The Dark Side. Lapse Of Judgement, Lapse Of Virtue, Lapse Of Character - at least lapse implies temporary - a little more boring perhaps but more succinct. BTW - thanks for the vote HFM ;)
  • June 17, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer briefly toys with the dark side a few times. At the opening of season two (induced by trauma) and in a brief arc in season three (induced by Les Yay).
  • June 17, 2012
    nathandoe2016
    Green Lantern becomes possessed by Parallax killing his fellow Lanterns.
  • June 19, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Roswell Conspiracies, this happens to Sh'lainn twice;
      • Once when she suffers from an affliction called "the iron death", which causes a banshee to go insane and merge with all the machinery around her after staying away from nature for too long.
      • In another episode she's nicked by a vampire, who uses her blood to turn them both into vampire/banshee hybrids she resists when she's asked to drain Nick dry, giving The Alliance time to turn up, knock them out and reverse the process.
  • June 20, 2012
    Alvin
    Would this include times when a protagonist isn't actually evil, but more like an opponent? I'm thinking of an episode (of ST:TNG) involving war games or legal dramas where sometimes the protagonists are opposing counsel.
  • June 21, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ They temporarily end up on the side that is in the wrong, morally speaking, but not necessarily to an extreme that could be fairly called evil.

    EDITED IN: That said, even a morally-netural or inverted example could still be listed as "played with."
  • June 28, 2012
    captainsandwich
    spongebob's robin ripoff, barnacle boy switches sides, over not getting enough food and respect.
  • June 28, 2012
    captainsandwich
    so are we going to set a maximum time like one episode (in applicable media) or something
  • June 29, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    If there's going to be a solid upper limit, I'd put it at "for less than half the screentime of what the series has given us so far, bounded before and after by the character being good or neutral."

    I think most examples will be well within it, though, as this does seem like a fairly distinctive trope.
  • June 29, 2012
    Kelnius
    As usual, I did some peeking about to make sure this actually IS a new trope . . . and actually, I think it is.

    There's all that Heel Face Turn, Face Heel Turn, Face Heel Revolving Door crap . . . but that's more for 'Chaotic Neutral' sort of characters, and doesn't suit this concept at all. This is more like a Lawful Good [Or Anti-Hero] character just peeking there head into the evil side of things.

    My only suggestion, is that you remove the 'Brief', as it not only doesn't flow off the tongue, but it implies a brief period, unlike something for a slightly longer timeframe (say, a whole episode or two), then allowing the character back into the fold, which has happened a lot, as far as I can remember.

    I would hat this if I could
  • June 29, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ What would you suggest in place of "brief" then?
  • June 30, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • July 1, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ That sounds good, though it still might give the impression that it's strictly a brief period. I'll switch to it for now, though, as the current one has the same problem while at least that one is more brief.
  • July 1, 2012
    Bisected8
    So is Roswell Conspiracies not an example of this (I might have misunderstood the trope if that's the case)?
  • July 1, 2012
    Mechayoshi
    I like the name. The Face heel things are kind of confusing. Needs more examples though.
  • July 2, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^ I missed the entry earlier.

    Anyway, I take it the entry still refers to considerably less than half of the show's screentime? If so it's still an example.
  • July 2, 2012
    Bisected8
    Yeah, each of the two examples were the premise for their respective episode and resolved by the end.
  • July 2, 2012
    NightNymph
    To go under the Buffy example above for Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
      • Willow at the end of season 6 when she becomes Dark Willow and eventually tries to destroy the world. She gets better.
  • July 3, 2012
    planswalker
    • Charmed has many episodes where one of the Halliwell sisters will go to the Dark Side For A Day before switching back by the end of the episode. A particularly notable one early on has all three sisters turn evil by the end of the episode, only for Leo to save them.
  • July 3, 2012
    kamai
    Didn't watch a lot of Charmed, but how about that episode where Paige does a spell to conjure up a 'Mr. Right' for 24 hrs which inadvertently also produces a 'Mr. Wrong' who she allows to seduce her with his hot seductive naughtiness....or something
  • July 3, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^^^ I'll add it, then.

    Same for the entries proposed since.
  • July 3, 2012
    Bisected8
  • July 3, 2012
    planswalker
    I like Temporary Traitor, seems to fit the purpose and description well.
  • July 4, 2012
    Chariset
    It would be nice if the title could riff on "a walk on the wild side"

    A Walk On The Wrong Side?
  • July 4, 2012
    pinkypie
    Do you think Riku from Kingdom Hearts would qualify for this? He was good, then turned evil, then turned good again.
  • July 4, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^^^^ Briefly Bad might work but again I'm trying to emphasize "temporary" without the misleading "brief" part, Temporary Traitor implies treachery which can imply a bad guy temporarily betraying partners in evil, (conversely, a good guy who turns evil is at most betraying morality, but not necessarily having partners to betray) and "perniciousness" seems too vague (and obscure) to be fitting.

    ^^ That could work, but it specifically implies being on the wrong side of a conflict, which doesn't fit examples for which a character remains on the right side with questionable behaviour (Spider-Man 3) or where there's hardly a conflict at all except a brief one, that they instigate, by turning temporarily villainous. (Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash.) I'll go with A Walk On The Dark Side for now.

    ^ Explain more specifically and I'll see if he qualifies. Please make reference to (a rough guess of) what of his screentime his "evil" phase is.
  • July 4, 2012
    DrRadon
    Might I suggest Ephemeral Evil?

    In Star Wars Return of the Jedi, when provoked by Darth Vader, Luke briefly channels the dark side and defeats Vader with anger and aggression. However, he quickly realizes his mistake and throws away his light saber, refusing to kill his father.

    No need to go to the extended universe for examples.
  • July 4, 2012
    planswalker
    are we going to organize the tropes by media?

    • In Neverwinter Nights, Lady Aribeth either is or is not this trope, depending on what you do. She starts off good, and falls to evil. After that, you have the potential to redeem her in the end. Or not. Hordes of the Underdark expansion presents you the same option when you join up with her in chapter three.
  • July 5, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    ^ I'll do that myself once when I'm launching the trope. Anyway, how early in the game does she fall to evil?

    ^^ That would be an especially brief example, so it's a bit of a grey area. As for "ephermal," again that carries the "briefly" connotation which I'm not sure is fitting. "Temporarily" is what this is actually about.

    On second thought I'm going to go back to the title I first had in mind when I came up with this. I'll leave this running for another little while to wait for more suggestions, but so far I'm inclined to launch it with the title I first had as it's the only one I can think of that actually describes this.
  • July 5, 2012
    planswalker
    yeah, that title is accurate, doesn't mislead, isn't a snowclone/in-joke/character reference, and is concise. I like it.
  • July 5, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Well, I guess the first option was better after all!

    Come to think of it, I may as well launch this. The title can always be changed later on if enough people don't like it.
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