Heel–Race Turn

Heel–Face Turn on an ethnic scale. A faction allied with the enemy joins the heroes' team. A neutral people becomes convinced it has to side with the villains to survive. Truth in Television, as an ethnic group's character is most engineered by its leaders. Argentinians don't wonder where family members went unless General Videla says they disappeared. Russians aren't losing sleep over fear that neighbors will report them without Russia's secret police (however, they start losing sleep over fear that The Mafiya will come to their door, Chechen terrorists will blow up their home, their money will become funny, their children will become drug addicts and they will not be able to buy a loaf of bread. At least you can keep the secret police at bay by being good little citizens. It's that kind of country).

This trope is more often used in realistic settings where there's gray morality, wars are good vs. good, and alignments aren't ethnically based. Settings where this trope won't be seen are where a culture is Always Chaotic Evil or otherwise demonic. Some sultry succubus or burly half-human warrior might have a Heel–Face Turn but these characters are rare exceptions.


  • All Space Battleship Yamato /Star Blazers stories set after the end of the second season portray the Gamilas (Gamilons in the U.S.) as allies of Earth, thanks to Leader Desslok's Heel–Face Turn.
    • Except for the Bolar Wars Extended, a semi-canon webcomic. The Gamilons are on the side of Earth - the Galmans (basically the Ur-Gamilons) aren't.
  • The Zentran/Meltran in Super Dimension Fortress Macross are pretty much split down the middle when they encounter humanity. Some stay with Bodolza, while a large chunk side with the humans. Later Macross series indicate that contact with "uncultured" Zentraedi fleets is still a semi-regular occurrence as humanity and their "cultured" Zentraedi allies explore the galaxy; sometimes they are successful in convincing these fleets to join their society, and sometimes they are not, resulting in wars.

Comic Books
  • Artesia: Each faction in the setting has had previous alliances and works with whoever its current ruler thinks best serves the faction's interest.

Fan Fiction
  • This is one of the main themes of The Urthblood Saga, based on the Redwall series where the line between "goodbeasts" and "vermin" was strongly established and rarely crossed. In it, the titular badger has received a prophecy of a coming dark crisis, and decides to bridge the divide between the two groups by taking vermin under arms and training them to be decent creatures and soldiers, in the hopes of countering it.
  • The Dark World arc of the Pony POV Series has few bright spots, but this is one of them: Cadence takes control of the changelings from Chrysalis, and under her leadership they go from parasites to true symbiotic lifeforms living in peace with the other races.
    • This ultimately occurs in the main timeline as well.


  • At the end of Starship Troopers , it has been revealed that the "Skinnies", the race shown as one of the enemies in the very first combat scene of the book, have allied with Humans against the Bugs. The raid, in fact, was a scare tactic/warning by humans to convince the Skinnies to ditch the bugs.
  • After the first book of the Sword of Truth series, the D'Haran empire become allies, primarily because the protagonist, Richard, turns out to be the heir to the empire.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has the Noghri, who were saved by Darth Vader from Palpatine and collectively owed him a debt and became his personal assassins. Then he gave them to Thrawn. Then Thrawn sent them after Leia; he didn't know she was Vader's daughter, but the Noghri (who can tell your bloodline by your scent) figured it out. Yeah, that went over well. (Though that alone wouldn't have been enough to get them to switch sides; the real turning point was Leia proving that the Empire's claim to be restoring the Noghri's poisoned soil in exchange for their service was a lie. Oh, and one other thing: they also worshipped Darth Vader as a god, and figured that because Leia was his daughter, that meant she must have been a divine being too.)
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, the Urgals go from fighting in the evil king's armies to joining the side of The Varden, thanks to the king betraying them.
  • In the original Shannara trilogy, the Rock Trolls serve in the evil Warlock King's army in the first book. In the second, having realised they were duped, they aid the elves in their fight against a demon invasion.

Live-Action Television
  • The Slave Race Jaffa of Stargate SG-1 desert their evil alien masters en masse in the later seasons.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, the Xindi's hat is that their "race" consists of several sentient species that evolved on the same planet. At the beginning of the Xindi arc, the crew of the Enterprise considers all Xindi to be their enemies. But by and by, Archer and co. manage to convince three of the five living Xindi species to do a Heel Race Turn. They help the humans in defeating the other two species and preventing the planned Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • And in Deep Space Nine, we have the Cardassians, longtime enemies of the Federation and allied to the Dominion, suddenly switching sides - in the middle of a major space battle - due to the Dominion having just informed the Cardassians they had destroyed a city and killed its two million inhabitants as reprisal for an act of the Cardassian Resistance.
    • While they slide back or waver a couple of times, the Klingons go from one of the Federation's main enemies in the original series to long-standing allies in The Next Generation. This was initially an off-screen change until Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country showed the beginning of the shift. DS9, however, turns it into a Heel Race Revolving Door when the Klingons invade a newly democratic Cardassia (on the false impression that the overthrow of the Cardassian military dictatorship = Dominion infiltration, an impression planted by the Dominion itself as it turns out) and then declare war on the Federation after the latter tells them to knock it off and provides asylum to the new Cardassian government. They then come running back to the Federation with their tails between their legs after the Dominion finally invades in season 5.

Video Games
  • The Elites in Halo switch sides around the end of the second game, after the Prophet of Truth orders their extermination.
  • The Orcs in Warcraft III. The first two games had them as servitors of the coming demonic invasion, but Thrall's rise to warchief and push for the Orcs to return to their pre-demon shamanic traditions eventually led to them allying with the Elves and Humans to defeat Archimonde.
  • All that's known about the Vortigants in Half-Life is that they're invading aliens. In Half-Life 2 it's revealed that they were confused and enthralled, and are now grateful for the destruction of their puppet leader. By Half-Life 2: Episode 1, they gather en mass to support Gordon specifically.
  • The Arcadian Empire in Final Fantasy XII. At least in the ending.
  • The Lurkers are brutish Mooks in the first Jak and Daxter; in the second game, they're... not necessarily good so much as oppressed. Brutter and the Lurkers he asks you to save seem pretty grateful, at any rate.
  • In between the first and second Sword of the Stars, a group of Zuul came to a Heel Realization and split from the majority of their race to join the Liir.
    • For a better explanation, The Zuul as a species learn primarily by Mind Rape of other sentient species. The more you fight them the smarter they get. Eventually a Zuul called The Deacon (who took the name after his band attacked a Catholic convent) got into a psychic battle with a Liir, who uploaded all its empathy and positive emotions into The Deacon. Combined with his knowledge of Catholic Dogma, this led to The Deacon becoming The Atoner and leading a faction of the Zuul, caling themselves the Prester Zuul, into allying themselves with the Liir. Most of them view themselves as 'priests' to the Liir and use their psychic powers to remove excessive negative emotions from their flock.
  • The Zerg in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, thanks to their queen Kerrigan regaining part of her humanity. To say they actually become good guys is a bit of a stretch (they still express interest in assimilating other species, and Kerrigan pretty much is keeping them on a leash), but at least they do join force with the good guys, and are on their way to help save the Universe against Amon by the end of the game. After Amon's defeat and Kerrigan's departure as a Xel'Naga, their new Queen, Zagara, seems satisfied with controlling the systems around their hive planet Char and leaving both Protoss and Terrans alone, though how long this will last is not clarified.
  • In the X-Universe, the resident theocratic and xenophobic empire, the Paranid, join forces with the Earth State after they witness the Argon Federation blowing up Earth's Torus Aeternal, killing millions of Terran civilians in the process, before declaring war. A Paranid captain is instrumental in saving Earth from Argon artificially intelligent warships shortly before the jumpgate network abruptly shuts down.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this presumably happened to the Fire Nation, when Ozai and Azula were defeated in the series finale, and Zuko became a new, benevolent Firelord. This didn't come out of the blue, though, as throughout Season 3 it had been shown that Fire Nation citizens weren't inherently evil. Most of them merely believed in the war propaganda promulgated by the governments of Ozai and his predecessors.
  • The Highbreed in the Ben 10: Alien Force finale, after Ben ended the conflict with them peacefully by saving their species from extinction.