[[quoteright:288:[[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder 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."]]

->''I'm the kinda guy, right now, if I needed to sneeze I'd use ''your'' hand. That's the kinda guy I am. So it doesn't matter to me if I'm gonna be wrestling Wrestling/GeorgeSteele, or I wouldn't even mind crossing the fence, but I have '''no friends''' in this business. This is a ''business'' to me, I take it as a business. And it's serious business.''
-->--'''[[Wrestling/JakeRoberts Jake "The Snake" Roberts]]''' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Pz9RGuJ3k addresses]] Wrestling/RandySavage

'''[[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'' (in theory, rudo is more so an attitude about Lucha Libre as a whole, in practices rudos are almost always interchangeable with heels). Generally speaking, heels come in six flavors:

# The '''[[DirtyCoward Chickenshit]]'''. A bog standard heel from wrestling's golden age; you know the type, the ones who kept Wrestling/CaptainLouAlbano in business. A cowardly opportunist who, in addition to running away from anything resembling a fair fight, [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty breaks the rules]] (punching their opponents out ahead of time, or smuggling in foreign objects) and ropes in other wrestlers to [[JustYouAndMeAndMyGUARDS interfere]] for him. The Chickenshit thrives on [=DQs=] (disqualifications) and will [[WeWinBecauseYouDidnt deliberately throw a fight]] rather than lose, [[MovingTheGoalposts forcing a rescheduling]] of said match and denying his opponent a legit "win".\\\
''[-The Wrestling/HonkyTonkMan made a career out of being a cowardly heel. Wrestling/{{Edge}} and Wrestling/SethRollins are the go-to heels for this in the 21st century.-]''

# The '''[[WrestlingMonster Monster]]'''. Horror-themed wrestlers who cannot be bargained or reasoned with, and who are [[ImplacableMan without pity, remorse, or fear.]] Often billed as someone who is enchanted with [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane some mystical power]], a [[FishOutOfTemporalWater temporally-displaced]] warrior, or at the very least [[AxCrazy a threat to public safety]]. These heels rely on [[TheDreaded intimidation]] and [[{{Gorn}} ultra-violence]] to get over with crowds. [[TheGiant Giant]] wrestlers can [[EvilIsBigger fill the same role]] if they go heel.\\\
''[-{{Wrestling/Kane}} is as good an example as any. Wrestling/LunaVachon is the female version. Perhaps the best representative for the 2010s is Wrestling/BrayWyatt.-]''

# The '''[[TheFightingNarcissist Narcissist]]'''. A legacy of the flashy 80s, these athletes are the best at what they do, but [[SmugSnake a bit too aware]] of that fact. They're so (over)accustomed to winning that they would rather derail the show with [[ShrineToSelf self-indulgent promos]], impromptu [[DistractedByMyOwnSexy posedowns]], or by screaming epithets at the crowd; anything to put across the message, "Somebody please come and [[TalkToTheFist kick me in the taint.]]"\\\
''[-[[Wrestling/RicFlair WOOOOO! Naitcha boi Ric Flair! Jet flyin'! Limousine ridin'! Thirteen-time World Heavyweight Champ'yon WOOOOO!]] For the 21st century this heel is best embodied by one Wrestling/ChrisJericho.-]''

# The '''[[EvilForeigner Foreigner]]'''. Self-explanatory; this heel won't stop going on about their preferred country, about how Americans are soulless capitalist pigs, and how the U.S. is going to collapse any day now. Typically [[DirtyCommunists Eastern-European]] or [[{{Qurac}} Mideastern]] in origin, with broad accents and lots of facial hair. [[EvilBrit British]] and [[YellowPeril Southeast Asian]] heels are also known to crop up. The natural predator of the AllAmericanFace. Note that American wrestlers can (and do) play the Foreign Heel when booked abroad, playing up their "Ugly American" characteristics for {{cheap heat}}.\\\
''[-[[Wrestling/TheIronSheik PUTCHOO EEN DE CAMEL CLUTCH MEHK YOU HUMBEL *belch*]]. Nowadays, you'll find a [[Wrestling/RusevAndLana Bulgarian...err, Russian powerhouse and his stunning associate]] running rampage through WWE.-]''

# The '''[[BadBoss Boss]]'''. Popularized by Wrestling/VinceMcMahon and his family in the nineties, these men/women hold positions of power (often real, sometimes kayfabe) in the promotion itself. They flagrantly abuse their office to punish wrestlers they don't like, such as booking them into [[DeadlyGame suicidal matches]] with handicaps attached, or [[FedToTheBeast Cage Matches against monster heels]]. Frequently derided by smarks, who complain that Boss Heels tend to [[VillainSue maximize their screen time]] at the expense of actual wrestlers.\\\
''[-Aside from the [=McMahons=], Wrestling/EricBischoff is said to be the crowning example of this heel. Wrestling/VickieGuerrero is another such heel.-]''

# The '''{{Bitch|Alert}}'''. Females are often (but not always) [[UnfortunateImplications pigeonholed]] into this role or the "Psycho" role if they turn heel. Traditionally, female heels in wrestling lean toward the stereotype of a woman with loose morals (few clothes, even [[EvilIsSexy fewer scruples]]), a Diva-like attitude, and an [[EverythingsSparklyWithJewelry obsession with shiny things]], such as big, gold belts. Oh and sprinkle on some {{Depraved Bisexual}}ity for good measure.\\\
''[-See Wrestling/SherriMartel and {{Wrestling/Francine}}. Wrestling/AJLee did this perfectly from 2012 to 2014 without focusing on her looks.-]''
Just as fans will only root for a strong or resourceful babyface, they won't boo a heel unless he meets a certain qualifier: he must be cowardly, cruel, cocky, arrogant, whiny, or any combination thereof. They usually don't heckle for [[ValuesDissonance discriminatory reasons]] though...[[Wrestling/GorgeousGeorge usually]].

When a heel goes particularly over with fans, he may undergo a HeelFaceTurn.

Note that heel heat is distinct from XPacHeat; fans [[LoveToHate want to see an effective heel 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 the case that heels [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0I0BCdG1xY#t=20s constantly fawned]] over each other and [[VillainTeamUp teamed up regularly]], without any clashes of ideology. Lately, though, BlackAndGreyMorality has set in, with [[EvenEvilHasStandards heels calling out other heels]] for reprehensible behavior. For example, Wrestling/TripleH would criticize Wrestling/JohnBradshawLayfield for his racism without becoming a babyface 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.

* 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 Wrestling/ReyMysterioJr. (he did this to Wrestling/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 {{Wrestling/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 "Wrestling/AttitudeEra," 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 ''[[JokerJury referees]]''!
** A good rule of thumb for spotting heels is the presence of a manager. Babyfaces speak for themselves; they speak from the heart. ''They do not need managers''.
*** There are exceptions, such as in 2015 when Wrestling/BrockLesnar turned face without changing his personality one bit, and he even kept manager Wrestling/PaulHeyman.
* 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.
* The 2000s/2010s have seen the growth of the "popular heel". A popular heel is not a Tweener. They don't feud with other heels, or even have face qualities. They are an out and out heel character, but they get cheered by the fans anyway. This is usually because the heel is an extremely talented or charismatic wrestler, the audience love the character or gimmick so much that they go nuts cheering for their heel antics, the fans don't like the face they're up against in the feud and go off script by supporting the heel in the feud, or quite simply just because some fans enjoy cheering bad guys because bad guys are cool. Notable examples of wrestlers who have been popular heels at various points include Wrestling/KurtAngle, Wrestling/MickieJames, Wrestling/CMPunk, Beer Money, Wrestling/RandySavage, and Wrestling/RicFlair. Unsurprisingly, virtually all popular heels end up capitalising on their popularity by turning face at some point.
* Xochitl la Terible in ''ComicBook/LoveAndRockets''.
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'''s Strong Bad.
* ''VideoGame/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}}.
* The trope image is of "Hollywood" Wrestling/HulkHogan, who remains the most famous babyface of all time. After Hogan's face act got old and the fans turned on Hogan (he had the longest WCW Championship reign of all time in 1995 and 1996 was when he joined the NWO, to [[SpotlightStealingSquad give it some sort of perspective]]), he turned his back on them and aligned with the Wrestling/NewWorldOrder at Bash at the Beach, resulting in the crowd throwing trash at him and even one fan leaping up to attack Hogan.
** Notably, he ''only'' appears as a heel in wrestling promotions other than WWE, in part because WWE is seen as the monolithic competitor whom everyone must rebel against. He went heel in WCW because fans there weren't interested in piggybacking on WWE's success and craved an alternative brand. Hogan agreed to reinvent himself--and ingratiate himself--with the audience until such a time when they would accept him as a babyface again. That time finally came in 1999, but was swiftly undone by Wrestling/EricBischoff and others who had [[ArcFatigue grown too reliant]] on the [=nWo=] for their merchandising and creative direction. Hogan was sent packing for good in 2000, one year before the company fell apart due to entropy. He also played a heel boss character on {{Wrestling/TNA}} Impact, regularly shooting on TNA for cheap heat (and his old WWE bosses for cheap pops). He remains a hit at WWE, however, and makes sporadic appearances at major events in his heroic red and gold regalia. (He appeared at ''Wrestling/{{WrestleMania}} 31'' in his [=nWo=] attire, but "Hollywood" Hogan for all intents and purposes turned face by rescuing {{Wrestling/Sting}}, his old enemy.)
* Discussed in one issue of the ''Franchise/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.
* The pro wrestling-themed manga ''Welcome to the El-Paracio'' discusses the concept through El-Paracio's Mariko, a prime example of MeanCharacterNiceActor if ever there was one. Inside the ring, "Mary the Kid" is a cold, brutal cowgirl but the rest of the time, Mariko is a sweet, caring CoolBigSis ([[BerserkButton as long as you don't call her old]]). Everyone except the main character Tadasuke takes this in stride, regarding Mariko and Mary as two separate people, while he's upset at the idea of people treating such a kind person as if she were a monster. There's a similar situation for the Death Carpenter, a Heel from another promotion, who's shown to be a relatively normal woman outside the ring.
** A discussion of Heels is what brings the other promotion into focus in the first place. The female lead Ouka gets pissed off when she ranks #1 (tied with the Carpenter) in a magazine's list of Heels, and challenges the Carpenter to a match in order to try to put herself over as a Babyface. The problem is that Heel-ish behavior is her default personality [[note]]Tadasuke's response to her outrage was "You mean you're ''not'' a Heel?"[[/note]], so her attempt utterly fails; when she descends into the ring in a harness with fake angel wings on her back, the audience immediately starts muttering "FallenAngel?"
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', the White Falls Wolfbats are a pro-bending team who have a flashy, pyrotechnics-heavy entrance; blatantly cheat; and use [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique banned moves]] like headshots and mixing rock into water.
* In WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes' ProWrestlingEpisode "WesternAnimation/BunnyHugged", WesternAnimation/BugsBunny faces off against a scary, intimidating heel called The Crusher. Bugs, of course, defeats The Crusher by going into his bag of tricks. Interestingly, the babyface for that match before Bugs stepped in was clearly based on Gorgeous George (who, as noted above, was himself a heel).
See you in the ring, sucker! Bring a towel to throw in!