Heel Face Index
aka: Face Heel Index
When I play with fire,
I don't want to get myself burned.
To thine own self be true,
Tropes about characters shifting on the morality axis, redemption and corruption. See also Betrayal Tropes
See Sorting Algorithm of Face Heel Turning
for a sheet of factors figuring into the probability of a turn.
Good to Evil
Neutral to Aligned
- Adaptational Villainy
An adaptation of a work makes a character much nastier than they were in the source material.
- Bait the Dog
A character set up to be the more 'charming' type of evil is revealed to be much nastier than their initial impression.
- Became Their Own Antithesis
The character has changed so much that an alignment shift is the logical conclusion of his Character Development.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil
A character who undergoes prolonged torture gives up on their ideals and morality and joins Team Evil.
- Beware the Nice Ones (sometimes)
A gentle, sweet, or polite character shows a nasty side. (Of course, sometimes Good Is Not Nice).
- Break the Cutie (sometimes)
Snapping The Pollyanna's mind just might turn her evil.
- Can't Take Criticism (sometimes)
Lashing out against people who point out their flaws can make the character worse than before.
- Character Derailment
Either, technically, but good to evil is more common due getting more Shocking Swerve out of Good to Evil.
- Chronic Villainy
All attempts at a genuine Heel-Face Turn are unsuccessful.
- Corrupt the Cutie
The sweetest, nicest character begins a slow creep toward the dark side, losing what made her appealing in the process.
- Darker and Edgier
A "gritty" reboot turns a formerly strait-laced hero more grey and Anti Heroish.
- Despair Event Horizon
The character is about to turn evil but is beyond caring.
- Dirty Cop
A man with a badge who has turned against the people he has sworn to protect and serve.
- Drunk with Power
A normally level-headed character gets a taste of power and becomes a Jerkass.
- Et Tu, Brute?
A hero's loved ones, particularly his friends, have all turned their backs on him.
- Face-Heel Turn
The general trope for any morality switch from good to evil.
- Faith Heel Turn
A character crosses the Despair Event Horizon after learning that their religious beliefs are fake or mistaken.
- Fake Defector
Appearing to turn evil (or good) without a real morality change.
- Fallen Hero
A once-respected hero turns evil, which often sets up a Cry for the Devil.
- Forced Into Evil
A character turned evil against his will.
- Go Mad from the Revelation
A character sees or experiences something they were not meant to know and goes insane/evil.
- He Who Fights Monsters
Mentally steeling yourself to fight evil eventually erodes your ethics.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him
A character who breaks the commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill suffers a karmic or moral backlash, or indulging in Revenge breaks the last bit of their sanity.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
A character goes evil VERY quickly after doing some warned-against but otherwise innocuous thing.
- The Killer In Me
A character doesn't consciously realize how evil they are inside until later.
- Knight Templar
You think you're fighting on the side of Good, but most would disagree.
- Lawman Gone Bad
A character who at first works on the side of the law becomes bad.
- Love Makes You Evil
A character in love will do anything (can be related to the Green-Eyed Monster)
- Moral Event Horizon
When a character steps outside the bounds of ordinary, safe villainy into something outrageously EVIL.
- More Than Mind Control
A character reveals that there was some willingness to their Brainwashing, hinting at or exploiting some inner darkness that is now at the surface.
- Not Brainwashed
A character is so evil all along that they don't even need to have their mind broken to be useful to Team Evil.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain
A comedic, laughable villain is revealed to be much more threatening than people thought.
- The Paragon Always Rebels
Where even a savior figure can become evil, because of the drama inherent in that.
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil
When having morally shady friends compels an otherwise nice or ethical person to do something they normally wouldn't in order not to let down their 'friends'.
- Protagonist Journey To Villain
Surprise! That innocent fellow you were following from the start is now a villain.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil
The lament of a mentor figure (usually good) who had a student who used to be good, but no longer.
- Reforged into a Minion
That ally of yours you left for dead? Yeah, the Big Bad got a hold of him and decided it was a good idea to twist him into his Dragon.
- Revenge Through Corruption
Where a villain gets revenge on the hero by making their loved ones evil, insane, under their control.
- Rival Turned Evil
A once-respectable, if persistent, opponent gradually becomes more evil, turning their existing antagonism/competition into something more serious.
- Rogue Protagonist
A heroic protagonist in a previous story is now the antagonist for some reason or other.
- Ron the Death Eater
Demonization renders a heroic character bad in order to suit the author's purposes.
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome
A heroic character becomes an outright villain in a sequel to a work.
- Start of Darkness
The tale of a character's slow but inevitable plunge into black villainy.
A normally morally-upright character is shown to be indulging in some evil behavior as an advertising technique.
- Then Let Me Be Evil
A character who is treated like a villain chooses to become a villain.
- Took a Level in Jerkass
A once nice and kind-hearted character turns into a rude and callous Jerkass.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts
A character is forced into serving the one who holds his debt, often a criminal organization.
- Villain Corner
A character, not quite a Heel yet, is rapidly being pushed in that direction.
- We Used to Be Friends
Two friends become enemies after one of them turns into a Heel.
- What the Hell, Hero?
The story calls the hero out for doing something morally shady; unless The Hero takes immediately steps to correct their behavior, this is often the first step towards a full Face-Heel Turn.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
Someone's mind is broken by the great power they suddenly possess.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
Your goals are noble, but you the actions you take to accomplish them are clearly not.
- Who's Laughing Now?
A Butt Monkey or The Woobie turns evil in order to get the respect they want.
Evil to Good
- Adopt the Dog
A character with no real stake in the fight takes an interest in Team Good.
- Neutral No Longer
The general trope for any morality switch from neutral to good or evil.
- Awakening the Sleeping Giant
The heroes or villains do something to arouse the enmity of a powerful but neutral faction.
- Heroic Neutral
A hero who would just as soon be left alone becomes involved in the plot
- Default To Good
If the plot comes down to whether an unaligned loner will choose Team Good or Team Evil, s/he will almost always choose Team Good.
A solitary character becomes a member of a group of friends/allies.
- Adaptational Heroism
A nasty character is changed to a good guy in an adaptation.
- The Atoner
A character turns good in an attempt to make up for the pain s/he caused while evil
- Author's Saving Throw
The author steps in to correct a bit of character development (This can go either way, but evil to good is more common)
- Break the Haughty
A proud character gets a much-deserved comeuppance and reforms into a kinder person.
- Character Check
The writer reminds us that a villain (or hero) slowly drifting towards the opposite alignment has not officially switched sides.
- Comes Great Responsibility
A character who gains vast power develops a correspondingly large sense of obligation to use it well
- Conspiracy Redemption
When a Knight Templarish organization as a whole goes from evil to good, or at least to A Lighter Shade Of Gray.
- Contagious Heroism
When working with a heroic character rubs off on a less scrupulous one.
- Curiosity Causes Conversion
"What's the good guy got that makes him so special? I must find out."
- Defeat Means Friendship
The defeat of a villain will cause him to turn to the side of good.
- Defeat Means Respect
The defeat of a villain will cause him to develop a healthy respect for the hero.
- Defector from Decadence
When a bad guy defects because he's sick of Team Evil.
- Diminishing Villain Threat
An ordinary villain has his threat and vileness neutralized by repeated failure and humiliation, becoming less evil.
- Draco in Leather Pants
The fanbase or an in-universe crowd sees the character as a hero, but it's all in their perception
- Easily Forgiven
Other characters don't hold the villain's misdeeds against her.
- Even Mooks Have Loved Ones
Mook or Dragon defects to protect people s/he cares about.
- Even Evil Has Standards
There are lines even the villain won't cross.
- Face Realization
A supposed villain realizes they are actually a good person.
- Fighting for Survival
Neutral Selfish or Stupid Evil characters discover their morals in order to cooperate with others and save their lives.
- Forgiven But Not Forgotten
The villain is forgiven this time, but he's reminded he won't be if it happens again.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card
A reformed villain evades the punishment s/he rightfully deserves for former misdeeds.
- Go and Sin No More
A villain realizes the error of his ways and prepares for punishment from the hero. Instead, the hero lets him go and tells him to atone for what he's done.
- Good Feels Good
A villain learns that being good leads to greater happiness.
- Heel Face Brainwashing
The heroes use mind control or similar devices to turn an evil character good.
- Heel Face Mole
A villain fakes his or her conversion; essentially the inverted Fake Defector
- Heel Face Return
A character who left the story as a villain returns as a hero.
- Heel-Face Turn
The general trope for any morality switch from evil to good.
- Heel-Faith Turn
Religion or a religious experience turns a character from evil to good.
- Heel Race Turn
An entire race of people goes from evil to good.
- Heel Realization
An evil character admits that his/her actions are evil.
- Ignorant Minion
A minion who is clueless about his employer's true villainous nature, and who may jump ship at once when the truth is out.
- In Love with the Mark
"I was sent to destroy you, but I just couldn't do it."
- Karma Houdini (sometimes)
A villain who escapes the consequences of her villainy might step back and reevaluate her life.
- Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand
The hero offers the villain a chance to kill him, knowing the other person isn't so far gone as to commit murder.
- Little Brother Is Watching
A villain converts because she does not want someone who looks up to her to also become a villain.
- Love Redeems
The hero's unconditional love for another makes them change their evil ways.
- Defecting for Love
A female character who is on the "evil" side falls in love with the hero and joins his side.
- Minion with an F in Evil
A Mook who simply doesn't know how to be evil, even if he's trying.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal
The villain's loyal followers defect to the hero after the villain makes it clear he doesn't care about them.
- Mook-Face Turn
The villain's loyal followers become the hero's loyal allies, for whatever reason.
- Monster Adventurers
Creatures who are generally disposable Mooks decide they want the Plot Armor that comes with being a hero.
- Must Make Amends
A character who has done an evil act seeks to make it right.
- My God, What Have I Done?
A character's Heel Realization delivers a weight of remorse, which may drive him/her toward the path of good.
- The Pardon
If the character takes advantage of it.
- Power of Trust
After seeing that the hero trusts her, the villain decides she wants to live up to that faith.
- Redemption Demotion
An overwhelmingly powerful villain becomes merely on par with the other heroes after joining them.
- Redemption Earns Life
Convert and live.
- Redemption Equals Affliction
Convert and suffer crippling injury or a huge loss.
- Redemption Equals Death
Convert and die, but at least you won't die evil.
- Redemption Equals Sex
Convert and you'll get some.
- Redemption in the Rain
Convert and let the rain metaphorically wash you clean.
- Redemption Promotion
A comedic, ineffectual villain becomes Badass once they start fighting on the side of good.
- Redemption Quest
A former villain accepts an Impossible Task or other difficult quest to earn forgiveness.
- Reformed But Not Tamed
A character joins the side of good while retaining his villainous qualities.
- Reformed but Rejected
A villain seeking redemption finds that no one trusts him.
- Reformed Criminal
A former expert in law-breaking now spends his time catching criminals.
- Rivals Team Up
Two opponents (neither of which may be truly evil) join forces against a more dangerous threat.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here
A villain's less-evil forces decide the master's evil cause isn't worth dying for.
- Sex Face Turn
Sex with the hero converts the villain to the side of good.
- Symbiotic Possession
A demon (or any other sentient force) takes control of a person's body, but the host manages to befriend him, turning him into an ally.
- Tears of Remorse
An evil character's potential for redemption shows when s/he sheds tears over an evil action.
- Took a Level in Kindness
A once cruel and unfriendly character becomes a Nice Guy.
- Villainous BSOD
A villain overcome with the weight of his/her evil deeds may become a hero to atone for them
- Welcome Back, Traitor
A character who betrayed the team is Easily Forgiven.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?
A villain feels love for the first time and is shaken out of his/her evil ways.
- White Sheep
A good character has difficulty fitting in with his evil family, and often turns against them.
- Worthy Opponent
When the hero and the villain begin to operate more-or-less from the same side, while remaining rivals.
The alignment change of an individual character may be caused by (or have repercussions on) his/her relationship with others.
- Bring Them Around
A hero or villain switching sides needs to convince his underlings to join him.
- Defector from Decadence
A former member of a villainous (or heroic) group switches sides because she no longer enjoys being a member.
- Epiphany Therapy
Allies help a character overcome a personal/psychological issue which is affecting his moral development.
- Evil Is Easy
Will you take the easy and fast way to the top, or the long, hard, and more rewarding way? Evil people will choose the former.
- Face Heel Double Turn
A hero turns evil at the same time as a villain turns good.
- Freak Out
Suffering a permanent alignment change due to unbearable mental/physical/psychological stress.
- Freudian Excuse
Where the turn is caused by a traumatic childhood incident. Letting it go unchecked tends to leads to a Face-Heel Turn, treating it tends to lead to a Heel-Face Turn.
- Going Native
A character adopts the customs and morality of a group which s/he was originally sent to infiltrate.
- Good Girl Gone Bad
A female character who changed from good to bad after going through hard experiences.
- Hazy Feel Turn
Switching sides in a situation where neither side is particularly good or evil.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door
"I'm bad. Now I'm good. But now I'm bad again. Wait, now I'm good again. No, wait...."
- Karma Meter
"By kicking that dog, you earned 20 Villain Points!"
- Literal Change of Heart
Effecting morality change by removing a bad heart and replacing it with a good one.
- Mirror Morality Machine
Applied Phlebotinum changes a character to the opposite of what s/he was before.
- Morality Adjustment
Becoming more or less of a hero/villain without making an alignment change.
- Motive Decay
A villain gradually discards the reasons why they became evil in the first place, either losing their sympathy if they keep at it or give up their villainy after no longer caring about their Freudian Excuse
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much
If Bob the Spikey comes from a race of Chaotic Evil beast-men, expect Bob to be a pacifist who rescues kittens from trees.
- Sudden Humility
A character suddenly finds him/herself in a difficult position another is routinely in and realizes the hardships it involves.
- "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture
Villains attempt to drive a wedge between a reformed villain and his heroic allies.
- Tomato in the Mirror
"The villain was me all along!"
- Trauma Conga Line
When a hero or villain has so many things go wrong at once that they lose faith in their old ways and explore 'the other side'.
- Wild Card
"What side am I on, you ask? The side I'm always on: mine."
where an alignment shift should
occur but does not
- Enemy Mine
Even though the villain came and saved the day, it was only a temporary thing not caused by a change of heart.
- Easy Road to Hell
In universes with this in effect, it's impossible not to be defined as "evil".
- The Farmer And The Viper
A character is set up to be redeemed through kindness or The Power Of Trust, but it's shown that it didn't work at all.
- Go-Karting with Bowser
("Hey, Skeletor - this is He-Man. Wanna go to the mall this afternoon?")
- Heel Face Door Slam
The villain wanted to reform, but it was too late.
- Heroic Heelization Speech
The hero admits that he doesn't care if his actions are evil.
- Ignored Epiphany
"My God, What Have I Done?... Actually, come to think of it, I've done nothing."
- Kick the Son of a Bitch
A character does something nasty to show how evil they are, but it falls flat because the victim seriously deserved it.
- Neutrality Backlash
A character suffers the ramifications of choosing neither sides.
- Obligatory War Crime Scene
The heroes Kick the Dog (or worse) in an inexcusable way without experiencing a Heel-Face Turn, because War Is Hell and even The Hero can't maintain their goodness throughout it.
- Post Mortem Conversion
A character who died a villain is remembered as a hero.
- Redemption Failure
A formerly-evil character almost reaches redemption... and then stuff happens that forces them back into villainy against their will.
- Rejected Apology
A character's heart-felt apology is rejected by another.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil
Gradually becoming evil without a marked alignment change.
- Villainy Discretion Shot
A character is saved from Bait the Dog or worse because their evil acts are glossed over by Rule of Empathy.