[[quoteright:288:[[Wrestling/HulkHogan http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HollywoodHogan002_15.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:288:"As far as I'm concerned, all this crap in the ring represents the fans out here."]]

->''[[MemeticMutation You're the heel, BOO]]!''

A Heel is a ProfessionalWrestling bad guy. He's a HateSink the fans constantly boo, who lives to make the fans angry and menace their favorites. Heels are typically the antagonists of a pro wrestling storyline or "angle." The Lucha Libre equivalent is known as a ''rudo''.

Fans may boo a heel for any number of reasons; he may be cowardly, cruel, cocky, arrogant, whiny, or any combination thereof. [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain Usually]] not for [[EqualOpportunityEvil discriminatory reasons though]]...[[GorgeousGeorge usually]]. See ForeignWrestlingHeel, a recurring exception.

Sometimes a heel gets particularly popular with fans, and winds up undergoing a HeelFaceTurn.

Note that heel heat is distinct from XPacHeat; fans LoveToHate an effective heel and want to see him get his comeuppance, while they simply hate an X-Pac and want him off their screens entirely.

The color commentator often takes the heels' side, the better to egg the fans on. Also, expect a certain section of the Smarks to [[RootingForTheEmpire delight in the heels' victories]].

It used to be all heels seemed to work together with no problems but lately [[EvenEvilHasStandards some may draw the line]], finding the actions of other heels unacceptable while not turing themselves. For example, Wrestling/TripleH could call out the heel Wrestling/JohnBradshawLayfield for his racism while staying a heel himself.

The opposite of a heel is a {{Face}}, the ([[DesignatedHero usually]]) good guy that the fans cheer for. See also [[WildCard [=Tweener=]]] (a guy who falls in be''tween'' Face and Heel status, fighting either side as the situation calls for) and XPacHeat (when the fans hate the ''actual person''). The HeelFaceIndex has some more variations.
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!!'''Examples:'''

* Wolf (played by Michael Van Wijk) from ''Series/{{Gladiators}}''. Which leads to a subversion as he was easily the most popular Gladiator, although his attitude never changed throughout the shows run due to his deliberately poor acting. This even carried into the revival when he returned although toned down somewhat due to his role.
* ZackRyder. Hated for bad jokes, arrogance, entrance music, hair style, goggles, see through jacket, pants with different length legs and his signature taunt "Woo Woo Woo!" Oddly enough though, many Smart Marks are fans of ZackRyder. Though this may have something to do with his theme song...
* Super Macho Man from the Wii version of ''PunchOut''. He's a complete showoff, who knocks the referee over and showboats like there's no tomorrow, thus the audience boos him when he makes his appearance in the ring. If he wins, though, the audience loves him again
* Aran Ryan. Whenever he uses one of his ([[CombatPragmatist many]]) illegal moves, such as a headbutt, the audience boos.
* Muhammad Ali based his entire public persona on pro-wrestling heels, reasoning that the trick of "get the audience so pissed off they'll pay to see someone beat you up" would work just as well in a real sport as a fake one. He was right.
* Jack Johnson was incredibly arrogant and would often gloat over his fallen opponents. Justified because he was a black fighter in the early 20th century and would have been considered a heel regardless of how he acted. He chose to act in a way that showed that he wasn't a pushover.
* Creator/AndyKaufman was an actor and comedian who loved to prank his audience so much that he went into professional wrestling just for the opportunity to play a heel. He characterized himself as a cowardly Hollywood elite who liked to wrestle women to show how tough he was. This led to a feud with [[Westling/JerryLawler Jerry "The King" Lawler]] that famously spilled onto the set of the ''David Letterman Show''
* A few wrestlers have carved out a name for themselves as specialized heels, often maintaining their heel persona off-screen as well.
** Andre Roussimoff, aka Wrestling/AndreTheGiant, would tour the world as "guest heel," to prevent VillainDecay, and then return for another short run. Contrary to popular belief he was a face for most of his career despite this.
** [[Wrestling/{{Vader}} Big Van Vader (Leon White)]] would often be a "heel for hire," mostly for a few months in the US, and then very regularly in Japan.
** Wrestling/JohnBradshawLayfield (formerly Bradshaw of the APA, and the nephew of "Blackjack" Lanza) turned heel in 2004 and more or less never looked back. His transformation from [[TheDeepSouth trailer-trash Texan]] to [[CorruptCorporateExecutive conniving stock-market investor]] was inspired in part by his [[RealLifeWritesThePlot actual exploits on Wall Street]], for which he became eminently respected in the world of finance. He portrayed himself as a [[AcceptableProfessionalTargets corrupt politician]] throughout 2004 and 2005 (complete with a "cabinet" of henchmen wrestlers) and handed out [[{{Eagleland}} American flags]] to spectators, then in late 2005 and early 2006 played the role of a [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain xenophobic redneck]] who taunted ReyMysterioJr. (he did this to EddieGuerrero too, in 2004) During the latter half of 2006 and most of 2007 he was a color commentator with Wrestling/MichaelCole on ''[[Wrestling/{{WWESmackDown}} WWE SmackDown!]]'', where he toned down his heelish traits a bit but still invariably rooted for the heel wrestlers. He returned to ring action in December 2007 to feud with Wrestling/ChrisJericho, during which time he reverted to many of his {{Jerkass}} roots ([[KickTheDog attacking the midget Hornswoggle]], for instance) before finally retiring for good early in 2009. Throughout the entire post-2004 period, he was hardly ever seen without his trademark [[NiceHat white cowboy hat]] and [[CoolCar white limousine]], which his outraged opponents were sometimes granted the pleasure of wrecking! (Wrestling/TheUndertaker once chokeslammed Bradshaw through the limo)
** GorgeousGeorge (Wrestling/GeorgeWagner), who gained mainstream popularity through his heel antics and over-the-top personality. The man invented the modern concept of the heel and inspired every guy who ever dyed his hair blonde and played up his amazing physique and outstanding in-ring abilities from [[Wrestling/BuddyRogers "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers]] to Wrestling/DolphZiggler. Oh, and he was also a big part of where Muhammad Ali stole his "gimmick" in the boxing ring.
* An interesting subversion occurred during the WWF "Attitude" era, where, in a cutthroat competition with Turner's WCW, allowed wrestlers to develop their own personas instead of fake, gimmicky characters that were by and large unsuccessful. The most successful examples were often {{Face Heel Turn}}s. For most of the "Attitude Era," heels outnumbered the faces, with usually Wrestling/ShawnMichaels and Wrestling/BretHart being the main opponents.
** Wrestling/DwayneJohnson used this opportunity to transform from high-flying face Rocky Maivia into The Rock.
** The Ring Master became Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin, who quickly became a face despite his intentions.
** Wrestling/TheUndertaker switched his "American Badass" persona from face to heel, turning face half-a-year later and reverting back to the Deadman persona a year after that.
** "[[Wrestling/BobHolly STP]]" became Thurman "Sparky" Plugg became Bob "Spark Plug" Holly became "Hardcore" Holly.
** In a subversion of the subversion, Wrestling/MickFoley became Dude Love, a fake face.
* Managers can also be heels, as [[Wrestling/VinceMcMahon Vince [=McMahon=]]] and Wrestling/PaulHeyman have proven, as well as commentators, and even ''referees''!
* Several wrestlers created the prototype for a particular type of heel, that is maintained to this day.
** Wrestling/TheIronSheik created many of the tropes used by the ForeignWrestlingHeel, such as carrying flags into the ring, wearing ethnic clothing, and the evil mustache.
** The Great Kabuki created many of the tropes for the evil Japanese, such as scary masks, a sumo-based origin story, and ninja-style cheating techniques like blowing dust or the green mist/spit.
** GorgeousGeorge is the spiritual father of all LGBT wrestlers, ever.
** The {{Wild Samoan}}s were the prototype of the Polynesian heel, such as the Polynesian afro and bare feet.
* MixedMartialArts has its share of heels.
** Josh Koscheck is perhaps the most successful at playing the heel. His arrogant personality was put on display in the first season of Series/TheUltimateFighter'' and he rode it into a long and successful career in the UFC.
** Wrestling/BrockLesnar was surprisingly media-shy for his run in MMA, but after his victory at the record-setting UFC 100 event, he suddenly had a heel meltdown, during which he trash-talked his already defeated opponent Frank Mir, swore and spat at the camera, announced he was going to "get on top of" his wife and insulted the UFC's biggest sponsor.
** The Diaz brothers play ever heel card in the deck: swearing constantly, disrespecting their opponents, giving combative interviews, and getting caught with weed, but the fans seem to love them all the more for being irreverent, genuine personalities.
** Chael Sonnen was a largely forgettable wrestling specialist who was only known for ''almost'' becoming the WEC Welterweight Champion until he suddenly discovered his virtuoso skill on the mike. His newfound ability to trash-talk gave his languishing MMA career a second wind and earned him a regular commentating job.
* Xochitl la Terible in ''ComicBook/LoveAndRockets''.
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'''s Strong Bad.
* MegamanBattleNetwork has the Heel Navis, who are called Heal Navis in the English translation.
* Idra of the ''{{Starcraft}}'' MetaGame is one, in large part thanks to his bad sportsmanship and many a RageQuit on his part.
* In-universe example with ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'''s Fire Nation Man.
* OlderThanTheyThink: The Retiarii, the FragileSpeedster class of Roman [[GladiatorGames gladiators]], were generally booed and despised. The fact that their equipment often necessitated BullfightBoss tactics didn't win them any love.
* In "Mister Torgue's Campaign of Carnage," the DLC for Borderlands 2, the whole storyline is written like a pro wrestling arc, with the player character as the Face, and Piston as the cheating, cowardly, arrogant Heel.
* Bartolomeo from ''Manga/OnePiece'' adores angering the crowd and pulling dangerous jokes on them.
* Several characters in ''Manga/SekaiDeIchibanTsuyokuNaritai'', as it's an anime about female pro-wrestling, are also Heels that they usually wear masks and usually utilizes underhanded tactics like using a shinai for a submission hold, or having their assistants hamper their opponent.
* Hawlucha, a Franchise/{{Pokemon}} introduced in ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY'', is interesting in that its shiny form makes it look the Heel to its default form's {{Face}}.
* Discussed in one issue of the ''ComicBook/ArchieComics''. Reggie spends half the issue heckling and booing a wrestler who in turn is spitting threats and insults at him. Later on Reggie gets a flat tire and ''[[OhCrap that same wrestler]]'' pulls over to help. Reggie's terrified until the wrestler points out that, as the heel, he's ''supposed'' to be hated by the audience and that it's all part of the act. Then he replaces Reggie's tire and asks him to keep up the heckling at the next match.
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See you in the ring, sucker! Bring a towel to throw in!