A character that is thought to be one of the bad guys turns out to have always been on the side of good.
has had a rough encounter with the Big Bad
's mooks. It looks like our hero's done for, but wait! Why is The Dragon suddenly saving the hero
? Did he just kick the villain away from pressing the button that'll allow him to Take Over the World
? Wasn't he helping the villain out? Wasn't he a bad guy? Well, apparently not. It turns out, this guy was a good guy the whole time. We just didn't know it.
This trope occurs whenever a character seems to be a bad guy, but is later revealed to have been secretly good the entire time, but for whatever reason, the audience was unaware of this fact. This is similar to Heel-Face Turn
, with the difference being that this character was never truly a bad guy to begin with.
Compare Reverse Mole
. Contrast Evil All Along
. This trope should not be confused with Not Always Evil
, which used to be called Good All Along
. Not Always Evil
is when mooks or a race thought to be Always Chaotic Evil
turn out to have a few good apples or were never truly bad to begin with. The biggest difference between these tropes is that Good All Along
applies to characters, while Always Chaotic Evil
applies to entire races.
Expect to see spoilers ahead.
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Anime & Manga
- Naruto has an interesting example of this. Itachi is by no means fooled into thinking he's working for the greater good or threatened into fighting for the big bads. He just wants to keep his baby brother safe and the best place to do that would be by infiltrating the Akatsuki and watching Konoha. He also prevented another ninja war by putting down the Uchiha rebellion, but by the time of the series he's almost certainly realized how much of that was Danzo manipulating him. It's very likely, though not explicit, that he was informed that if he preserved secrecy by following the script, he'd be allowed to leave Sasuke alive, but if he forced them to assign it to some other Anbu, they'd kill him, too.
- Magic Knight Rayearth's first Big Bad Zagato, who has kidnapped the princess and is destroying the world? Turns out the princess kidnapped herself so she could try to stop loving Zagato, and the destruction that's going on is the result of her inner turmoil.
- Debatable. He may have been motivated by love and disgust for the corrupt system his world ran on, but he still did some things that are hard to describe as anything but evil, including trying to kill the Magic Knights (who are the only true innocents in the entire story and likely would have at least been sympathetic if he even tried to explain things), manipulating and lying to Ascot so he would be a loyal minion, allowing Alcyone to die from her battle wounds for her failures in the manga, etc.
- Dr. Franken von Vogler in Giant Robo. Made out to be a mad scientist responsible for a giant catastrophe 10 years ago by ignoring all risks and his fellow scientists in the experiment with the Shizuma Drive, it eventually turns out that he was the only one who opposed the project and the seemingly "good professor" was among the people who wanted to go through with it. All 5 of the inventors survived, but Vogler was believed to be dead, so the remaining 4 decided to cover the whole incident in lies and put all the blame on Vogler. Really no wonder why the Big Bad wants revenge.
- Laxus Dreyar in Fairy Tail. His attempt to take over the guild is nothing more than a teenage temper tantrum fueled by fear that he wasn't getting the proper credit for his accomplishments, always being compared to his grandfather (who is also the guildmaster). He tries to kill everyone in Magnolia Town with Fairy Law, a spell designed to target those the caster sees as enemies, and it doesn't hit a single person.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a exceptionally sad example with Homura Akemi.
- I Kill Giants has the Titan. Initially believed to be the most powerful and most evil of giants, it turns out that the Titan is a being of near pure benevolence that only wants to help the main character deal with the trauma of her mother's impending death.
- Clash of the Elements: Gemini discusses this trope with Mallow in Part 2, more specifically referring to Domino when he does so.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has a rather ambiguous example: the final story has two distinct plots, one involving Slender Man and the other concerning the return of Thunderstorm and Shadow. The climax involves the Slender Man causing the latter two to disappear (it's never stated as to whether they were killed, but the final line of that chapter shows him waving to the heroes as they leave, his mission complete.
- In Hocus Pocus, Winifred raises her former lover Billy (who she had murdered long ago) from the dead as a zombie, and orders him to chase the protagonists. Billy spends most of the film doing so, unable to talk because his mouth is sewn shut. When he finally cuts the stitches holding his mouth shut and manages to speak, he curses Winifred and starts helping the heroes, which was apparently what he intended to do from the start.
- In D3: The Mighty Ducks new coach Ted Orion rejects the Ducks' view of having fun, changes them from the Ducks to the freshman Warriors, strips Charlie Conway of his rank as team captain, and even goes as far as saying "The Ducks are dead!" The truth is he was trying to teach them "two-way hockey," master the art of defense, and mature their hockey playing. Then, he would give back their Duck jerseys. Charlie, combined with adolescence pains and resentment for Bombay "abandoning" them, misunderstood greatly and alienated himself from his friends. Then, Bombay revealed that Orion was on their side all along and that he told Orion how great Charlie really was. Orion proved all this when he accepted Charlie's return, and refused to let the Eden Hall Academy board withdraw their scholarships for poor performance, threatening to resign if they are expelled. Good thing Bombay was there to help. And not only did Orion return the team the Duck jerseys, but he also reinstated Charlie as team captain in the J.V.-Varsity Showdown.
- In the Eternal Champion series, Ekrose (an incarnation of Elric) goes to war against the Eldren. He finds this trope applies to them, is torn by his loyalties but in the end kills the entire human race when they won't retreat.
- Aleister Crowley in R.A. Wilson's The Masks of Illuminati. He is made out to be the Big Bad of the novel, but all his crimes happen off-screen, and it turns out they didn't happen at all; either him in disguise, or his lackeys simply lied to the protagonist about them. His aim is to illuminate the protagonist by blowing his mind, as well as a benevolent equivalent of For the Evulz-thinking.
- Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. Turns out everything he did in the books, he did while working for Dumbledore and following his orders, which includes killing Dumbledore, and all in the name of his unrequited love for Harry's mother, Lily, and the guilt he feels over his role in her death.
- When she is introduced in the ninth Haruhi Suzumiya novel, Sasaki is set up to appear as the title character's Evil Counterpart. However, it turns out that she really had no idea what was actually going on, and had no idea that her new friends were the real villains, and when the Masquerade gets broken for her, Sasaki secretly allies with Kyon to oppose those who wish to cause Haruhi harm.
- Jeremiah Paulson from the Dale Brown book A Time for Patriots seemed to be the leader of a Right Wing Militia Fanatic group. Eventually, it turns out that he wasn't responsible.
- In the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural, the warden of the prison turns out to be John Winchester's friend and helps Sam and Dean escape.
- Played for laughs in the first episode of Sherlock. John is summoned (read: almost kidnapped) by an ominous, well-connected man who offers him money for updates on Sherlock's movements. "I worry about him constantly...we have what you might call a "difficult relationship." John assumes he's a criminal mastermind, and the viewer could be forgiven for thinking he's Moriarty. It turns out he's just Sherlock's equally-strange older brother.
- Played with in Dino Attack RPG. It comes as no surprise that Frank Einstein is a good guy. However, the surprise was when the villainous Wallace Bishop turned out to be Frank Einstein in disguise.
- One might argue that Vivian fit the bill in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. At the very least, she was never more than a Punch Clock Villain.
- in Super Smash Brothers Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode, King Dedede spends most of the story trying to take fighters that have been turned into trophies. Then after everybody except the three that he did manage to get face down Tabuu and get trophified, the badges he placed on those three turn them back to normal.
- Of course, the fact that a major cutscene revealing why he did this (in which he's present while Meta Knight's ship gets stolen) got removed in the final cut does complicate this. With that said, Dedede acting like a dick for no reason would still be quite in character for him.
- Angela Cross, the true identity of the Masked Thief in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. Angela has been working against Megacorp to prevent the release of the Protopet, as it is a violent carnivorous creature that also repeatedly reproduces offspring at the drop of a hat, and if it got out could very well threaten everything in the galaxy.
- Depending on what ending the player gets, Anne of Silent Hill Downpour was in the right all along. In all but the best ending, Murphy killed her father as part of a prison deal, and in the worst ending, he also killed his own son, making his reasons for revenge entirely moot.
- Cynder, the Big Bad of the first game in The Legend of Spyro trilogy turned out to be Brainwashed and Crazy. After Spyro defeated her, she returned to her normal self and eventually fell in love with Spyro.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace's brothers are of the "coerced/threatened" variety, since they are ruled by the iron fist of their powerful and abusive guardian, Damien. When Hedge kidnaps Elliot, he reveals that he's only doing it because he can't find Grace, and because Damien said he would kill him if he didn't bring someone back. He also gets hit by Damien for lying to him and disobeying orders. When Elliot's friends arrive to save him, Hedge tries to make them to leave before Damien finds out they're there. The worst thing Guineas does is guard Elliot, and his way of participating in the fight with Elliot's friends is by having a thumb war with one of them. Vlad initially appears to be at least somewhat sympathetic to Damien's mindset: He is confrontational towards Hedge, he willingly goes after Grace when he sees her arrive, and when Damien subdues her, he says, "I never like to see her hurt, but she brought it upon herself." He also is the one who alert's Damien to the presence of Elliot's friends, and ends up being the most vicious fighter against them. However, this all turns out to be a combination of lip-service to Damien and resentment for being unable to transform into a human.
- Hack & Slash of ReBoot only followed Megabyte's orders because they knew Bob would always stop them. When Bob is gone Slash can't bring himself to kill a Bi-Nome on Megabyte's orders, and says that he misses Bob. Then the two switch sides.
- One episode of Garfield and Friends showed that Jon had a pirate ancestor who seemed to be evil, but was in reality a spy for George Washington.