Created By: EmbracingShadowsAugust 21, 2011 Last Edited By: EmbracingShadowsSeptember 14, 2011
Troped

Heel Face Return

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

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Trope
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.


Examples:

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.
  • Yu Yu 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.

Film
  • 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
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • August 21, 2011
    Stratadrake
    You can't use the Chekhov label without there's some trivial foreshadowing of the Heel Face Turn. And even then, specifically note the Chekhov entry on Everythings Worse With Snowclones.
  • August 22, 2011
    DaibhidC
    It looks like a good trope, but that's exactly the wrong title. Unexpected Face Turn? Unforeshadowed Face Turn?
  • August 22, 2011
    peccantis
  • August 22, 2011
    Discovery
  • August 22, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    film
  • August 22, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    Doesn't Faith do this in Buffy The Vampire Slayer?

    Speaking of Whedon:
    • 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.
  • August 22, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think I like the name.
  • August 22, 2011
    JoeG
  • August 22, 2011
    VVK
    • 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.
  • August 22, 2011
    Discovery
    Right now the title makes me think that this is what happens when a character pulls a Face Heel Turn, then reverts back to their original allegiance via a Heel Face Turn.
  • August 22, 2011
    Bisected8
    I like the current title (Heel Face Return).
  • August 23, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    Possible alternate title: Heel Face Reappearance.
  • August 24, 2011
    ChocolateChip
    Needs a spoiler warning.
  • August 24, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Heel Face Return is a nice pun, although it could be confused with Heel Face Revolving Door if it gets interpreted as (Heel Face Turn + Turn again).
  • August 25, 2011
    KingZeal
  • August 25, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    ^ Not quite, this doesn't need to be applied to a sequel, it merely refers to a character returning from a prolonged absence--which is not a requirement for SSHS in and of itself.
  • August 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    This happens a lot in Professional Wrestling 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.
  • August 25, 2011
    ElleWednesday
    Regarding the Faith example, it's probably worth noting that, while her switch to the good side appears this way to a viewer only watching Buffy, she has a fully realized Heel Face Turn shown arc on Angel.
  • August 25, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    ^ You should probably rewrite the example. It's kind of an interesting case and as it stands does not do her justice.
  • August 25, 2011
    DannyVElAcme
    Has happened a few times with Harvey Dent in the Batman comics. Specifically, that he gets his face reconstructed off-panel and he goes to full Harvey Dent mode, no Two-Face.
  • August 26, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    ^^I would, if I knew anything about the show.
  • August 26, 2011
    Mith4
    Barbossa does this when he returns unexpectedly as one of the good guys in Pirates of the Carribean 2. Also, to a lesser extent, Pintel and Ragetti at the beginning of the second move.
  • August 29, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    Yu Yu Hakashu - Hiei helps Urameshi after getting caught stealing from Yuske's boss.
  • August 29, 2011
    MacBeth7713
    A couple possible titles: Sudden Heel Face Turn; Unexpected Heel Face Turn; Leave Heel Return Face (my personal favorite).
  • August 30, 2011
    BraveHoratio
    • Lytton in Doctor Who. Also (possibly) the Master in "The Five Doctors"...and eventually gets so sick of nobody believing him that he just gives up and decides to kill everybody anyway.

  • August 31, 2011
    Sol9000
    Star Wars: Anakin turns to The Dark Side in Revenge Of The Sith, [[Spoiler: and leaves The Dark Side in Return Of The Jedi]]...

    How do you Cover spoilers!?!
  • August 31, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    ^ [[spoiler: Here be a spoiler. Use a lowercase s.]]

    It's coming to my attention that this is an extremely spoilerific trope. Should we just cut the spoiler tags and put a warning at the top?
  • August 31, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    ^^ That really doesn't count, there's plenty of foreshadowing for that. It does, however, indicate a Heel Face Revolving Door (or Redemption Equals Death).

    ^ You're probably right, we should just screw the marked spoilers and put a blanket warning at the top.
  • August 31, 2011
    randomsurfer
    That particular spoiler is expired anyway, IMO - people have had 28 years to watch the movie. (Plus you shouldn't Wiki Word inside a spoiler, or it spoils the spoiler.)
  • September 2, 2011
    jadmire
    Keep an eye on {{Spinnerette}}. Alexis Woodrow ("Evil Spinnerette") MIGHT be undergoing one of these, but it's early days yet.

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