Created By: EmbracingShadows on August 21, 2011 Last Edited By: EmbracingShadows on September 14, 2011

Heel Face Return

A villain comes back as a good guy with little buildup or foreshadowing.

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A typical Heel–Face Turn comes with a fair amount of buildup. Maybe The Hero had to beat it into them. Maybe they sat through a "World of Cardboard" Speech, or maybe they discovered that they're Not So Different.

A Heel–Face Return is a complete aversion of this. The guy leaves the scene showing no sign of redemption, though he's probably not a Complete Monster. At any rate, the next time you see him, he's gone through some offscreen redemption, and is suddenly siding with the heroes. His reason for this will likely be explained later on, but it generally takes awhile to earn the heroes' trust, though it may be a mere necessary alliance.

This trope does not refer to switching back to the good side after a Face–Heel Turn.

Warning, due to the spoiler-heavy nature of this trope, all spoilers will be unmarked.


Anime and Manga
  • Ryoko Asakura pulls one of these in the tenth installment of Suzumiya Haruhi, serving as a Boxed Crook. This is the same girl who tried to kill Kyon simply to get a reaction out of Haruhi! Definitely a Type V Anti-Hero.
  • In Fairy Tail, when Natsu and his friends return from a mission, they suddenly discover that Gajeel has joined their guild. Their reaction is understandable.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Hiei gets caught by Yusuke for stealing from his boss, but he returns a couple arcs later as an Anti-Hero Aloof Ally, and stays that way for the rest of the series.

  • In Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the main villain. In Terminator 2, his seemingly otherwise identical character's goal is to protect John Conner against the main villain. This is because the second T-800 was captured and reprogrammed by the human resistance.
  • Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean does this when he returns unexpectedly as one of the good guys at the end of the second movie. Also, to a lesser extent, Pintel and Ragetti at the beginning of the same movie, for no real reason other than to serve as comic relief.

Live-Action TV
  • Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • In Doctor Who, the fact that Torchwood was suddenly on the Doctor's side looked like this to anyone who hadn't been watching the spinoff series of the same name.
    • In the classic series, Lytton does this, as (possibly) does the Master in "The Five Doctors". The latter eventually gets so sick of nobody believing him that he just gives up and decides to kill everybody anyway.
  • Dollhouse: In Epitaph 2, Alpha is one of the good guys, having experienced some redemption during the ten years between episode 2.12 and the first Epitaph, despite having been a psychopathic serial killer throughout the duration of the show.

Professional Wrestling
  • This happens a lot when a Heel (Triple H or Kurt Angle come to mind) leaves due to injury; when they come back they get a giant pop and like as not are treated like Faces, at least until they do something Heelish - and maybe not even then.

Video Games
  • Rufus Shinra is a major antagonist in Final Fantasy VII, who is last seen apparently being killed. In Advent Children, he shows up again and explains he's seen the error in his ways and is working to undo the damage he did. His repentance kind of makes sense in that the consequences of Shinra Company's activities were extremely dramatic by the end of the game, and nearly were even worse.

Western Animation
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