[[quoteright:260:[[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jokfavgif3_8999.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:260: BookEnds of the first and last acts of the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode [[Recap/BatmanTheAnimatedSeriesE22JokersFavor "Joker's Favor"]]]]

A StoryArc in which two characters or groups slowly, and involuntarily, swap their positions in life. These positions are usually social (who's high-status, who's popular), economic (who's rich), and most of all, moral -- who is decent and who is a ruthless bastard. The swapping often leads to escalation -- the new poor person is poorer than the old one was, or the new amoral one is much nastier than the old one was.

The pathos from the HourglassPlot comes from how neither character learns from the situation -- they act just the same to each other as they did before, but with roles reversed. Particularly cruel shows will create an infinite-loop HourglassPlot, where two hostile characters keep swapping positions and treating each other as badly as ever. In rare cases, such plots will involve the characters barely interacting with each other... a pure comparison of one person's rise to another person's fall.

Lucky characters will get a NotSoDifferent moment and actually learn from it.
Compare: PrinceAndPauper, PerspectiveReversal, FreakyFridayFlip for an especially literal case, and PerspectiveFlip for when it's a {{retcon}} instead of a plot development. Compare and contrast: IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim, YouKillItYouBoughtIt, and NotSoDifferent.
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!!Examples:
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[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''{{Naruto}}'': Kakashi starts as a shinobi who only cares about the mission, while Obito thinks that comrades are more important. After the battle of Kannibi Bridge, Kakashi becomes more concerned about comrades. [[spoiler: Obito becomes eventually Tobi, who deems no sacrifice too great for his mission.]][[note]]Naruto and Sasuke are not this, despite Fanon. Naruto does start out as the village pariah and ends up as the hero, but Sasuke was never distinctly respected although he did become a villain.[[/note]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'': Shinji and Asuka start as the " shy failure" and the " confident AcePilot" and over the course of the series, Shinji racks up the most angel kills and Asuka has a breakdown because she doesn't.
* In ''{{Phoenix}}: Karma'', Gao begins as a ruthless bandit with a FreudianExcuse and Akanemaru is a simple artisan who winds up [[KickTheDog stabbed by him for no good reason]]. As the story progresses, Gao finds salvation through art while Akanemaru discovers his own ambition; by the end, both are changed men, and Gao is a sculptor whose talents outshine even Akanemaru's. The petty Akanemaru will not stand to be upstaged by Gao and throws away his own redemption, telling the tale of Gao's origins as the bandit who wounded him; Gao's remaining arm is taken as punishment and he is thrown into exile. However, Akanemaru himself [[KarmicDeath dies in a fire trying to save his work]], and as he dies, the Phoenix tells him that he will never be reborn as a human; Gao, on the other hand, manages to return to his art despite his disability.
* In ''MacrossFrontier'', popular idol singer Sheryl Nome serves as a mentor to up and coming Ranka Lee, but later Sheryl becomes ill and as her popularity wanes, Ranka's soars to the point of becoming a heroine capable of using her song to scare away enemy aliens. Then it happens again when Ranka loses her will to sing and makes a FaceHeelTurn while Sheryl takes her place when it turns out she has the same power.
* In ''TheTatamiGalaxy'', for most of the series, the UnluckyEverydude protagonist is caught in a GroundhogDayLoop, and in every episode, Ozu, a ScrewySquirrel (who is illustrated to look somewhat "demonic"), arranges things so that the protagonist fails to achieve (often romantic) success, and looks bad. Eventually, it is revealed that Ozu's antics are motivated by a combination of his own romantic pursuits and genuine friendship toward the protagonist, and the protagonist has an epiphany wherein he rethinks some of his own behavior and realizes that Ozu is a true friend. At the end of the series, Ozu (now illustrated as normal looking) seeks the protagonist's aid for his romantic troubles, and the protagonist assumes Ozu's former role of good-natured troll.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:FanWorks]]
* In ''Fanfic/ForHisOwnSake'', ''Manga/LoveHina'''s resident ChewToy Keitaro decides after three years of abuse and disrespect to leave the Hinata Inn and start working towards a better future, while also recognizing and [[MustMakeAmends trying to atone for]] his past mistakes. Over time, Shinobu, [[spoiler:Kitsune and Haruka]] [[HeelRealization recognize their own issues]] and set about improving their own lives. At the same time, several of the more stubborn residents, like Naru, Mokoto and Kaolla Suu, find themselves falling from grace as RealityEnsues and they have to face the consequences of their actions.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* A two-parter in ''TradingPlaces''. In the first half, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy swap lifestyles. In the second half, they team up to bankrupt the decadently rich Duke brothers and get rich in the process.
* In the film version of ''Film/TheCountOfMonteCristo'', after [[EtTuBrute betraying his best friend]], Fernand is set up with a beautiful wife and an inherited fortune and noble title, while Dantes is locked away in a prison for 16 years. After his escape and subsequent execution of his [[ThePlan plans for revenge]], Dantes is now the one with titular noble title, beautiful woman, and nigh-limitless fortune, with Fernand's fortune completely lost, his woman gone, and under threat of imminent arrest for murder and conspiracy.
* This was part of the CharacterDevelopment between Neo and Smith in ''Film/TheMatrix'' and its sequels. Smith picks up human emotions and independent goals (which he doesn't like) while Neo finds himself as a "cog in the machine" with a pre-destined goal (which also proves to be a bit of a drag).
* ''{{Juno}}'' and Mark. She keeps going over to his and Vanessa's house to get to know them better and see what kind of family her baby will have ("I just like being a piece of furniture in your weird life"), while his exposure to her and her teenage flippancy gives him second thoughts about his adulthood and eventually causes him to bail on his wife and the coming baby, to Juno's shock and dismay. His regression triggers her [[ComingOfAgeStory coming of age]].
* In ''Film/WhatAboutBob'', Bob Wiley starts off all-but-paralyzed by his various neuroses, while Dr. Leo Marvin is a psychiatrist who's just published a best-selling self-help book. Bob's interactions with the Marvin family helps him overcome his fears and learn to interact with normal society--eventually marrying Leo's sister, becoming a psychiatrist himself, and authoring his own book. Leo, meanwhile, becomes increasingly irritated and unhinged in response to Bob (in part because he feared that Bob was replacing him in his family's affections) and ends up catatonic. Though seeing Bob's and his sister's wedding apparently cures him.
* In ''Film/{{Primer}}'', Aaron starts off as a family man and rather risk-averse (note the scenes where he worries about needing eye protection and warns his wife against using the first batch of ice from the new fridge). Abe starts off unmarried and rather more devil-may-care. Over the course of the film, access to a TimeTravel-powered ResetButton makes Aaron become more aggressive and willing to take risks, and he eventually leaves his family. Abe, on the other hand, becomes increasingly worried about the side-effects of time travel and oddly protective of Aaron's family.
%%%* The entire plot of ''Film/SheDevil''.
%%%* The two divorcees in Woody Allen's ''Film/{{Celebrity}}''.
* In the beginning of ''Film/{{Dogma}}'', Loki is portrayed as the more ruthless and reckless, wanting to go on one more divinely righteous killing spree before re-entering heaven, while Bartleby is the one who feels compassion for the humans and is more reserved. However, halfway through Bartleby snaps and becomes an OmnicidalManiac bent on killing everyone, and it is Loki who is attempting to hold him back.
* In the 2011 film ''OneDay'', based on the novel by David Nicholls, the two protagonists Emma and Dexter come from completely different backgrounds and life goals, with Emma starting out as a poor waitress after graduating from university and Dexter beginning as a successful television host. Over time, Emma gains success first as a teacher and then as a writer. Dexter goes on a downward spiral and ends up a poor divorcee.
* In ''{{Thor}}'', the titular hero starts out as a vicious BloodKnight while his brother, Loki, is much more cautious and diplomatic. By the movie's end, Thor is much more peaceful and tries to reason with his enemies rather than plunging into battle, while Loki tries to demolish an entire world to achieve his goals.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Thomas Hardy's 1886 novel ''The Mayor of Casterbridge''.
* ''TheScarletLetter'' features an HourglassPlot between Hester and Dimmesdale on several levels, especially at the end of the novel.
* In William Faulkner's ''LightInAugust'', this happens to Lena Grove and Byron Bunch. Not that any Faulkner book is comprehensible the first ten times you read it, but it's there.
* [[spoiler: Severus Snape and James Potter]] in ''Literature/HarryPotter''. In the beginning, [[spoiler: Snape]] is the neglected but overall sweet boy who befriends muggle-born Lily Evans. When they go to school, he becomes incredibly bullied by the cruel and arrogant [[spoiler: James Potter]]. Lily's friend spends more and more time retreating into the dark arts to escape his abuse, but becomes indoctrinated by the cause- one day in a fit of embarrassment, he calls Lily a slur because of her parents. Because of it, [[spoiler: Snape]] loses her friendship forever, despite secretly loving her. While [[spoiler: James Potter]] matures and becomes kinder and more heroic, eventually gaining Lily's hand in marriage, [[spoiler: Snape]] grows more and more mean-spirited over the years, and spends his adulthood bullying schoolchildren the same way that was done to him.
** Another example would be Neville Longbottom and Draco Malfoy. In the first book, Neville is a clumsy {{Buttmonkey}} who constantly bungles spells and is bullied by the Slytherins. Malfoy, on the other hand, is the arrogant [[AlphaBitch top dog]] of the Slytherins who makes Neville's life hell. By the seventh book, Neville develops into a brave and confident leader among the Gryffindors and all the other students who revolted in the Final Battle, [[spoiler: even distinguishing himself by [[AwesomeMoments decapitating Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor]]!]] Malfoy meanwhile becomes a cringing coward whose former followers turn on him and just barely manages to scrape a HeelFaceTurn to avoid becoming another Death Eater casualty in the Final Battle.
* Used light-heartedly in the A.A. Milne poem "Twice Times". There are two little bears, a bad one and a good one..."And then quite suddenly (just like Us)/One got Better and the Other got [[PainfulRhyme Wuss."]] Milne then reveals that he's using this as an allegory, since he just realized that his son has finally learned all his times tables, while he's getting so old that he can no longer remember where he put anything.
* OlderThanSteam: In the first part of the novel, Literature/DonQuixote is a DaydreamBeliever MadDreamer and Sancho Panza has SimplemindedWisdom and represents realism. Both are {{StaticCharacter}}s. At the second part, Sancho is influenced by Literature/DonQuixote and becomes more and more of a DaydreamBeliever, while at the end, Don Quixote will become BoredWithInsanity by Sancho’s influence. They may have been the very first characters in literature to become {{DynamicCharacter}}s.
* In ''{{Warbreaker}}'', the sisters Vivenna and Siri are initially introduced with Vivenna as a well-mannered and seemingly perfect PrincessClassic, and Siri as a disobedient RebelliousPrincess. Circumstances make it so that Vivenna has to play a RebelliousPrincess type role and Siri has to become a PrincessClassic, and over the course of the story, Vivenna's flaws and Siri's virtues become apparent. Ultimately, Vivenna becomes an ActionGirl and leaves her old life behind to [[WalkingTheEarth walk around and atone]], and Siri settles into the role of TheHighQueen.
* In ''Literature/LesMiserables'', Cosette starts out as a child slave to the Thenardiers, who abuse her while spoiling their own daughters with expensive clothes and toys. She is then taken into the care of Valjean and seven years later is an educated, well-dressed young lady who enjoys wealth and high social status [[spoiler:and eventually becomes a Baroness on marrying Marius]], while the Thenardiers lose their inn and become destitute, forcing their daughters to beg and steal on the streets. This is lampshaded by Eponine at one point in the musical.
* In ''Literature/BestServedCold'', Monza is introduced as a cruel and amoral borderline VillainProtagonist and in pursuing revenge on the men who betrayed her and killed her brother, enlists the help of BarbarianHero Shivers who had left his home in the North as part of a quest to leave his old life behind and become a better man. Initially, Monza belittles Shivers' scruples and acts as TheCorrupter, but as the story progresses, Monza starts to feel guilt and flashbacks reveal that she isn't/wasn't such a bad person in the first place, while at the same time, Shivers increasingly loses interest in reform and his status as TokenGoodTeammate is increasingly called into question. This comes to a head after the two are captured and torturers [[EyeScream burn out Shivers' eye]]. Ultimately, Shivers ends up as a cruel BloodKnight who revels in violence, and betrays Monza, whereas Monza ends up as a hard but fair ruler who spares Shivers because of deep regret of her earlier contempt toward his scruples, which she now embraces.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The TV Movie ''Summertime Switch'' revolves around a young street punk and a spoiled rich kid both named Freddie Egan. Their identical names cause the former to be sent to a luxurious summer camp for the rich and the latter to a juvenile correctional facility, though obviously the opposite was supposed to happen. Both end up learning something from the whole experience (especially the rich kid).
* On ''Series/DegrassiJuniorHigh'' and ''Series/DegrassiHigh'', neurotic, insecure Melanie is best friends with the insensitive Kathleen. Melanie gains confidence while Kathleen loses hers, and Melanie becomes just as insensitive as Kathleen was when they started. Their problems escalate as they get older, so Kathleen is insensitive to Melanie worrying about her body, while Melanie is insensitive to Kathleen becoming an anorexic abuse victim.
** The fifth season of ''Series/DegrassiTheNextGeneration'' has Emma swapping moral positions with her entire circle of friends and family. They screw up their lives one by one, Emma redeems them all -- and then she snaps under the pressure, becoming worse than any of them ever were. The climax is them trying to reason with her, as Emma threatens them and says they have no moral right to criticize her. ("You take advantage of drunk girls. You ''are'' the drunk girl...")
** Joey and Wheels as well. At the beginning of Series/DegrassiJuniorHigh, Joey was an irresponsible jokester as well as a bit of a bully while Wheels was his nicer and more sensible best friend. Near the end of Series/DegrassiHigh, Wheels was a {{Jerkass}} whose various misdeeds involved stealing money and lying to his grandma/guardian. Meanwhile, a matured Joey disapproved of his actions and tried to help him.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', "Equinox": The Voyager crew comes across their EvilCounterpart: the lost ship Equinox, whose crew are murdering and enslaving their way across the Delta Quadrant. The villainous Equinox captain slowly becomes paralyzed with guilt, just as Janeway becomes just as ruthless as he used to be in her quest to get him.
* The Narn and the Centauri in ''Series/BabylonFive'' are caught in an apparently endless cycle of invasion, occupation, liberation and revenge. G'Kar starts out as the arrogant jerk seeking power and advancement while Londo is humbled and accepting of his position in life and the lack of any real power. A couple seasons later G'Kar is humbled and powerless while Londo has become one of the most powerful men in the Centauri Empire with the arrogance to match it. By the end of the series they start flipping again though they lose their arrogance for good.
* ''OutNumbered'': [[{{SiblingYinYang}} Jake and Ben]] have shades of this. At the beginning of the series, Jake is the serious, geeky older brother who is much closer to his parents, while Ben is the rebellious, outgoing son. As the series continues, Jake becomes a lot 'cooler' and distances himself from his family, while Ben embraces his geekier side and is a lot more affectionate.
* ''{{Smallville}}'':
** Lex and Lionel Luthor. At the beginning of the series, Lex was Clark's friend and ally and Lionel was the MagnificentBastard. Overtime, Lex begins a descent as Lionel redeems himself.
** In the early days, Chloe is OneOfTheBoys who ended up tangled with the Luthors, [[spoiler:at one point allying with Lionel]], prying in Clark's personal life, threatening his secret, and Lana is [[SatelliteLoveInterest the pretty girl Clark is crazy over]]. In the middle seasons however, Chloe learns Clark's secret and becomes a supportive sidekick, gets as far away as the Luthors as possible, Clark subtly demonstrates possible romantic feelings towards her, and her femininity becomes more pronounced (just look at her hairstyle change); Lana [[spoiler:marries Lex]] and becomes something of a DarkActionGirl, and starts poking into Clark's secret, not to mention starting Isis.
* Attempted in the first two seasons of ''{{Friends}}''. First Ross pines after Rachel as she dates [[RomanticFalseLead Paolo]]. Then Rachel pines after Ross as he dates Julie. How well this works is debatable, given that Julie was a wonderful person and Paolo was a jerk.
** On a broader level Rachel and Monica can fall into this. Before the series, Rachel was a AlphaBitch/RichBitch, engaged to be married, while Monica was a FormerlyFat poorly-paid assistant chef whose was constantly being told she'll die alone. During the series Rachel breaks off her engagement, works as a waitress and has a lot of disastrous boyfriends, while Monica works her way up the chef ranks (admittedly with a rough, unemployed patch in the middle) and builds a stable, fulfilling relationship. By Series 9, Rachel is a single-mother, has a good but not exceptional fashion job and a series of failed relationships (and a marriage) under her belt. Monica is a Head Chef at a very prestigious restaurant and HappilyMarried to her best friend, an equally great, successful guy. Things do improve for Rachel by the end of the series, but the contrast is still there.
* ''GilmoreGirls'' played this with Rory and Jess. Early on, she's a hardworking student, bound for a Journalistic career and beloved by her family; He's a high school dropout who doesn't trust anyone. Come Season 6, Rory has abandoned college and her dreams, estranged from her mother, while Jess has become a successful author and renewed relationships with his Uncle and Mother. Luckily, for Rory though, Jess's transformation is exactly what she needs...
* In ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'' Brother Justin is a preacher who slowly turns to the darkside upon the realization that he is TheAntiChrist, and also suffers from an unfortunate case of BadPowersBadPeople. Ben, an escaped criminal on the lam from the law, makes a parallel journey as he comes into his own powers as the Messiah.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' brothers Sam and Dean swap positions on moral limits in season 4 - [[spoiler: Sam's demon blood leads him to kill humans for power, whereas he previously was always insisting they avoid "means to an end" sacrifices. Dean, previously a hedonist who expedited the hunt with an apathetic battleax approach, starts setting limits to the point that he'd rather let he and Sam both die rather than be possessed and possibly injure others in a blunt force strategy of the angels.]]
* ''{{Angel}}'': Faith's return is a double example. She switches her role in the Good versus Evil battle with the now soulless Angel(us), as well as her outlook on life with the now cold and jaded Wesley.
* Over the course of ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', Guinevere and Morgana swap places. Gwen is [[ShrinkingViolet shy serving girl]] whilst Morgana is the [[ThePresidentsDaughter confident ward of the king]]. Gwen dislikes Prince Arthur, whilst [[SlapSlapKiss Morgana flirts with him]]. Fastforward four seasons and Guinevere is TheHighQueen of Camelot, married to KingArthur, whilst Morgana is living in a hovel, stewing in bitterness and hate for her former family.
* This was revealed to be the back story of Regina and Jefferson in ''Series/OnceUponATime''. In "Hat Trick", Jefferson was an innocent friend of Regina who trapped him in Wonderland and separated him from his daughter Grace. In "The Doctor", Regina is an innocent girl that Jefferson hurts for personal gain, many years before his daughter was born, to make her believe that [[spoiler: she couldn't save her True Love Daniel when they could have.]] Jefferson's tragic back story was a result of LaserGuidedKarma.
* On ''{{Lost}}'' Jack starts as a [[AgentScully Man of Science]], focused on getting the survivors off the Island, while Locke is a [[AgentMulder Man of Faith]], believing that people aren't supposed to leave the Island BecauseDestinySaysSo. It goes on like this for four Seasons, until the first reversal happens in Season 5: Jack gets off the Island but becomes increasingly depresing and is looking for a way to come back, while Locke is now desperately searching for a way off the Island, believing it to be a necessary step to save everyone. After Jack gets back and Locke is killed, his face assumed by the BigBad, things get even better: Jack is now a strong believer in Faith determined to stay on the Island, while Fake-Locke is a cynical pragmatist desperately trying to leave it. By the final episodes, the Survivors led by Jack are now trying to stop the BigBad from doing the very same thing they tried to do for most of the series.
* An episode of ''Series/TheTwilightZone'', "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville," has the janitor for a large corporation talking with the CEO of the corporation about how he's just gotten a watch for his 40th year with the company, along with a few words about what it's like at the top versus the bottom. One botched trip to the past and several deals with the devil later, not only is the janitor now the CEO and the CEO the janitor, but each now has the personality of the other as well, and the watch gets a mention too.
* On ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', George decides one day that, since his instincts have always been wrong, then going against them should be good for him. By doing so, he suddenly has a girlfriend and lands his dream job for the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Elaine, for whom things had been going great, suddenly finds herself unemployed and in a romantic slump, realizing to her dismay that "I've become George!"
* On ''Series/NewsRadio'', Matthew is usually the office ButtMonkey, suffering through the cruel pranks of office big shot Bill. Dave tells Matthew to assert himself to Bill, which he does by punching him in the face. Suddenly, Matthew is the office jerk, while Bill becomes meek and passive. The SnapBackButton is pressed when Bill, defending Matthew, accidentally slaps him, snapping Matthew out of his ego trip.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* The play ''PacificOvertures'' has two friends, one a samurai and the other a peasant with knowledge of the West, who wind up exchanging places. The samurai is made an ambassador of sorts with the foreign powers as Japan is forcibly opened to trade, and he becomes increasingly westernized in his dress and actions. Meanwhile the peasant, angry at the way Western powers are exploiting Japan, becomes a hardcore anti-West reactionary after being promoted to the samurai class. Tragedy ensues.
%%%* Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''HenryIV Part I''.
* ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' Initially, Macbeth shows more scruples/hesitancy to kill Duncan than does his wife, and she pushes him into doing it. Afterward, however, while Lady Macbeth goes increasingly mad from guilt, Macbeth's reaction to guilt is to seemingly lose all emotion and scrupple and he far surpass his wife in villainy.
* In Shakespeare's ''Theatre/TwelfthNight'', Antonio saved Sebastian's life after a horrific storm, when they were both mired in a strange country. Antonio grew very close to Sebastian, and even got into a duel in Sebastian's defense. When Antonio was placed under arrest by Orsino, his old rival, he expected that Sebastian would help him out -- only for Sebastian to act like he's never met Antonio before. Antonio is heartbroken -- but [[spoiler: fortunately he had really met Sebastian's HalfIdenticalTwin, and the ''real'' Sebastian is perfectly happy to help Antonio once he finds him again.]]
* This is a big part of the plot of Shaw's ''TheDevilsDisciple''. Richard Dudgeon is introduced as a n'er-do-well who has his opposite in the Rev. Anthony Andersen, a philanthropic clergyman. The plot is set in motion when British soldiers come to arrest Andersen for treason and Dudgeon takes his place. Ultimately, Dudgeon's nobility and Andersen's weakness are revealed, and at the end of the story, Dudgeon is established as heroic (and much less seedy than he initially appeared), and Andersen has renounced religion and become a BloodKnight revolutionary. The trope is exaggerated, as Andersen asserts that since he has taken Dudgeon's place, Dudgeon must become a clergyman and take-up with Anderson's wife.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' features one of these; a rich man and a very poor man both have their daughters kidnapped, and the circumstances surrounding their return swaps them over, including general nastiness.
** That should be general ''level'' of nastiness: the one who starts poor stays nasty and unsympathetic after gaining wealth, and the one who starts rich stays likeable after losing his wealth.
* ''VideoGame/SuikodenIV'' has this with [[HeroicMime Lazlo]] and [[WellDoneSonGuy Snowe Vingerhut]]. The worse off one gets, the higher the other rises. While Lazlo [[TheStoic copes with whatever hand he's dealt]], Snowe never learns from his mistakes. [[spoiler: Eventually, though, he ''finally'' makes his HeelFaceTurn and starts learning from his experiences in retrospect.]]
* Delita and Ramza in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', who serve as foils to each other throughout most of the game. By the end of the story, [[spoiler: Ramza has abandoned his ties to the nobility entirely, while Delita has assumed the highest position of power within the aristocracy.]]
* Between ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' and ''Donkey Kong Jr.'', Mario and Donkey Kong switch roles, the antagonist capturing somebody the protagonist cares about and holding them hostage. They must have worked things out though, as by the time ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' was released, each were the hero in their own respective series.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', Jaina Proudmoore started out as the OnlySaneMan desiring peace between the Alliance and the Horde while Varian started out as a warmonger who wanted the Horde destroyed. Cue ''Mists of Pandaria'' and [[spoiler:the destruction of Theramore at Garrosh's hands]]. Now Jaina is the one who bitterly wants revenge on the Horde while Varian is trying a slightly more diplomatic approach. [[spoiler:Jaina even screws up Varian's attempt to bring the Blood Elves back into the Alliance by exiling them from Dalaran.]] At the end of the expansion [[spoiler:Jaina is the one itching to wipe out the Horde even after Garrosh is overthrown while Varian is willing to leave the Horde in peace with nothing more than a stern warning.]]
* In ''Videogame/KingsQuestIII'', Manannan is an evil all powerful Wizard. Gwydion/[[spoiler: Prince Alexander]] is his tragic slaveboy who is constantly tormented by the Wizard every day of his life. Though by breaking into his secret lab, Gwydion teaches himself Manannan's spells and becomes a novice wizard ultimately turning Manannan into a cat. So at that point, Gwydion is the one with all the magic, and Manannan is powerless and at the whim of his once slave.
* In Portal 2, Wheatley begins as Chell (the player)'s friend, guiding her along, and helping her to defeat GLaDoS, the computer in charge of the facility, who is trying to kill Chell. Halfway through the game, though, Chell replaces GLaDoS with Wheatley and Wheatley subsequently decides to try to kill Chell, and GlaDoS, running off a potato, accompanies Chell and helps her defeat Wheatley.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The plot of ''PrincessGwenevereAndTheJewelRiders'' episode "Dreamfields." Kale and Gwen are hit with some magic that causes them to hallucinate they've swapped places. It's enough to ''almost'' get Kale to HeelFaceTurn...but not quite.
* This happens in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' episode aptly named "Crossroads of Destiny" between Aang and Zuko. Aang is TheChosenOne who up to that point had successfully fought off TheEmpire, while Zuko was a banished, disgraced prince abandoned by his father, the EvilOverlord of said empire, [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain after repeatedly failing to capture Aang]]. [[spoiler: The episode finally sees Aang defeated with Zuko's help, and the following episode brings out that Zuko is now accepted as a prince again in his home country with the approval of his father and famed for killing TheHero, while Aang is thought to be dead after having failed to defend the capital of the one country that could fight against TheEmpire]].
-->'''Aang:''' [[spoiler: I need my honor back.]]
** This happens to Zuko and Azula as well. Azula had always been in her father's favor; a remorseless, sadistic killing machine, expert chessmaster, and flawless fire-bender while Zuko was TheUnfavorite NobleDemon whose conscience made him too much of an outcast in the family. Zuko is eventually exiled from the Fire Nation and left longing for his father's acceptance, turning into a IneffectualSympatheticVillain after his many failures to catch Aang. [[spoiler: Zuko's character development helps him get over his torment over being neglected by his father, and an expert in fire-bending, and with Aang's help he winds up taking the throne to end the war and become a celebrated leader. Azula, meanwhile, is brushed off by her father and tossed aside when he begins his ploy for global conquest, and after being confronted by her deeply repressed conscience, manifesting as a hallucination of her mother, Azula regresses into a pitiful, insane child. She's eventually confined to a madhouse, tormented by her deeply delusional belief that her mother never loved her as much as Zuko. Even when her mother later apologizes for abandoning her children, Azula still refuses to acknowledge her mother's love for her.]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}},'' the three-part "Hunter's Moon" arc has three siblings acting as the current [[TheHunter Hunters]]. Jason, the oldest and leader, hates gargoyles the most; the youngest, Jon, was willing to believe gargoyles other than [[KillAllHumans Demona]] might be innocent. When it seems like the gargoyles are responsible for Jason's death, however, Jon snaps and turns fully against them; Jason, meanwhile, actually survives and [[HeelRealization realizes the gargoyles are good]]. When Jason tried to defend them against Jon, the latter accidentally shoots and paralyzes the former, which he quickly blames on the gargoyles (in a NotSoDifferent moment with Demona).
-->'''Jon:''' What have I--[[IronicEcho what have]] ''[[NeverMyFault they]]'' [[NeverMyFault done to you?!]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'': The episode [[Recap/BatmanTheAnimatedSeriesE22JokersFavor "Joker's Favor"]] provides the current trope illustration. It begins with the Joker threatening to kill [[{{Everyman}} Charlie Collins]] after Charlie yelled at him for cutting him off in traffic, and ends with Charlie threatening the Joker with an ignominious death "blown to bits in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody". [[spoiler:Charlie is perfectly content to prank The Joker, leaving him terrified and gibbering in Batman's custody, while the satisfied Everyman himself goes home to a possible meatloaf dinner.]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short "WesternAnimation/TreeForTwo" begins with BullyBulldog Spike being fawned over by smaller dog Chester. The two encounter Sylvester and chase him, cornering him in an alley. Unfortunately, an escaped panther is hiding there, and whenever Spike tries to get Sylvester, the panther attacks him. Neither Spike nor Chester are aware of the panther, so Spike thinks it was Sylvester who beat him, while Chester, who is able to beat Sylvester easily, doesn't understand why his hero can be defeated by a puny cat. By the end of the cartoon their roles have been reversed, with Chester as the tough guy and Spike as the adulating {{fanboy}}.
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