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Perspective Flip

So this was the shape the story had taken. You may say, the shape the gods had given it. [...] That much of the truth they had dropped into someone's mind, in a dream, or an oracle, or however they do such things. That much; and wiped clean out the very meaning, the pith, the central knot of the whole tale. [...] And I saw in a moment how the false story would grow and spread and be told all over the earth; and I wondered how many of the other sacred stories are just such twisted falsities as this.
Orual, Till We Have Faces

A subtrope of External Retcon, in which somebody takes a known — often classic — story, and retells it, turning it on its head. What you thought was the villain is now taken as a protagonist, and is portrayed with a greater degree of sympathy. The heroes of the story as best known might not come across so well in this telling.

Usually, the villain is presented as a smart, insightful, dedicated but tragically flawed character who may lack the charisma, empathy or social standing required to get support from other people and society in general, while the heroes are too naive, shortsighted or selfish to see the ultimate consequences of their "heroic" deeds. They may mean well, but as they say about the road to hell...

The complete inversion/reinterpretation (where the villain is the real hero and vice versa) is rarer, but in both cases, the impact of the story derives from the fact that we know who's supposed to be good and who's supposed to be bad, and this story upsets this. This is not the same as original stories on the extreme end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, where everything is morally ambiguous and no characters can be said to be good or bad per se; here the writer is deliberately playing with our expectations.

Can overlap with Grimmification, but it doesn't have to be a fairy-tale, and Grimmification doesn't always feature a hero-villain flip. Doing this to a whole cosmology can lead to Satan Is Good.

Expect a story like this to be Darker and Edgier in proportion to the original's simplicity as well as elements of deconstruction which kinda helps the whole story be told. Do keep in mind the possibility of an Unreliable Narrator, if this is done from the first person POV. Compare (and/or contrast) with "Rashomon"-Style, Villain Episode, Sympathetic P.O.V., Humans Are Cthulhu, Lower Deck Episode, Monster Adventurers, Another Side, Another Story, and P.O.V. Sequel.

May contain spoilers, both for the Perspective Flipped and original versions of a story. Not to be confused with Perspective Reversal.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Will Eisner's Fagin the Jew is a comic book retelling of Oliver Twist which details Fagin's tragic spiral from idealistic young lad to jaded prisoner about to be hanged. Eisner's intent was to counteract the anti-Jew bias in the original tale by presenting Fagin as a person whose idealism is slowly beaten out of him by an increasingly unfair life, hence justifying the crimes and wrongs Fagin does in the original story.
  • Eisner also did one in "The Appeal" (a short story that can be found in The Will Eisner Reader) for The Trial by Franz Kafka. In it, the main character of The Trial puts a judge on trial for getting him killed in a fairly Kafkaesque fashion, right down to the potentially symbolic meanings.
  • The mini-series Lex Luthor: Man of Steel shows the DC Universe from Lex Luthor's perspective as he sees it (or at least would like us to see it); an ordinary (if, of course, you discount little things like the billions of dollars and scientific genius) human standing up against a cold, distant and otherworldly superpowered alien, whose very existence belittles and demeans human accomplishment.
  • Subverted a bit in Scooby-Doo #135, which has a perspective flip on "A Clue For Scooby-Doo"'s fake monsters of the day, Captain Cutler, and his villainous wife, without giving a good reason for their crimes.
  • Tales of the Sinestro Corps offers some backstory and alternate takes on events in the Sinestro Corps War from the point of view of the corps.

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Animated 
  • Hoodwinked is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in which the wolf is an investigative journalist. Stalking Red through the woods? All he's doing is conducting some investigative work. Dressing up as Granny and hiding in her bed? Trying to get information out of Red. But Granny tied up in the closet? Now that was just one huge coincidence. Really, he had no idea she was there. (As it turns out, he's telling the truth.)
  • The Lion King 1 ˝ is The Lion King as told from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective (especially Timon's). If you think of The Lion King as Hamlet with lions, this arguably makes 1 1/2 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Argo became the number one bootleg on the streets of Tehran because it provided Iranian audiences with a perspective flip on the Islamic Revolution and the US Embassy hostage crisis.
  • Enchanted pokes fun at this.
    Giselle: I remember this one time, when the poor wolf was being chased by Little Red Riding Hood around his grandmother's house, and she had an axe... oh, and if Pip hadn't been walking by to help I don't know what would've happened!
    Morgan: I don't really remember that version.
    Giselle: Well, that's because Red tells it a little differently.
  • It's completely unintentional, but Disney's Animated Adaptation of Sleeping Beauty comes across as a Perspective Flip from the point-of-view of the Three Good Fairies who must save the sleeping beauty and her prince from an evil witch.
  • Wholly Moses! starring Dudley Moore. The story of Herschel, Moses' brother-in-law.
  • Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima.
  • The Others is a Perspective Flip on the classic ghost story, in which ghosts who don't realize they're dead perceive the arrival of living people in their home as a haunting by unseen, frightening presences.
  • Parodied by The Onion: "New Titanic Film Told from Iceberg's Point of View"
  • An early part of Ip Man films involves a newcomer challenging established martial arts masters. Thing is? In the first film it's a villain doing so, who Ip puts in place. In the second, it's Ip himself who's the outsider. Pity that it was never commented on.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil tells the story of two well-meaning country bumpkins who save a girl from drowning, and inadvertently convince her friends that they've kidnapped her to do unspeakable things to her (as per the Hillbilly Horrors genre.) Of course, it doesn't help matters that said friends are all Too Dumb to Live, getting themselves killed one by one in ways they can then blame on T&D. Amusingly, the DVD extras include a flip of the flip, entitled Tucker and Dale ARE Evil.
  • Back in '93 is a short-film perspective flip of <<Le chandail du hockey>>, both stories of a lone fan of the "wrong" hockey team.
  • Dracula from 2006., told from Arthur Holmwood's POV. Unusual for this trope, Holmwood also suffers from Adaptational Villainy (he is responsible for bringing Dracula to England), though his motives remain sympathetic (he has syphilis and wants to find a cure)
  • Oz: The Great and Powerful is the story of The Wizard of Oz (the character, not the work), though he's still a jerk and a con man even before becoming the Wizard.

    Literature 
  • Wicked, both in the book by Gregory Maguire and its Broadway musical adaptation. The wizard is the Big Bad.
    • A good example of a perspective flip not even requiring rewriting the characters. Baum's original Wizard was a petty third-world dictator sending child-soldiers to assassinate his political rivals and attempting to make the endeavor a suicide mission so he wouldn't have to actually pay his debt or reveal his lack of legitimate (magical) power. The 'wicked' witches of the west and east were already the legitimate (read: magically powered) leaders of their respective realms, and their list of sins reads like a tongue-in-cheek list of the goals of contemporary civil rights movements, with the greatest sin being an obfuscated description of implementing democracy. The is still a perspective switch because, while Baum couched these elements of the story in a thick layer of the era's characteristic straight-faced sardonic irony, Maguire presents them straightforwardly, and in fact tones it down a bit— the wicked witches are, from a perspective outside the narrative, _less_ unambiguously good than in Baum's work under the layer of in-universe propaganda, and the good witches substantially less outright evil.
      • This has actually been one of the major sources of criticism of Wicked and Maguire's work in general, because while it heartily debunks the watered-down, bowdlerized recent versions of the story, to those familiar with the original work it can read like three hundred pages of explaining a joke they got the first time.
    • In Wicked (the book), Dorothy had no intention of killing the witch. She went to the castle to apologize, and tried to save Elphaba when she caught on fire.
    • In the original book, Dorothy threw the water on the Witch in a fit of pique, having no idea that it would cause her death. One can wonder however, what would have happened if she knew.
    • And in the movie, she actually threw the water to try and save the Scarecrow, who the Witch had set on fire, and some of it splashed on the Witch in the process. Hence Dorothy was simply trying to save one of her close friends and loved ones, who the Witch was already trying to murder.
      • In the stage musical, it's implied that it was all a set-up, planned by Fiyero (the Scarecrow) and Elphaba to fake Elphaba's death, utilising the rumours that she could be melted by pure water. Elphie would set Fiyero on fire, knowing that the good-hearted Dorothy would save him with the bucket of water that just happened to be nearby, and Elphie would just happen to get caught in the splash. So Elphaba wasn't actually trying to murder anyone.
      • Alternatively, the musical may be the only version where Dorothy deliberately tried to murder the Witch, as it's already been set up that she's popularly believed to be vulnerable to water. Whether Dorothy herself knew this, however, is unclear; Elphaba's faked death may be for the benefit of everyone else in Oz and Dorothy just happened to be a credulous bystander. Since we don't see the actual scene, it's unclear exactly who else was present or what Dorothy was trying to do.
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is another one by Gregory Maguire, this one about "Cinderella".
  • Gregory Maguire also did Mirror, Mirror which was an alternate telling of Snow White.
  • The Vampire Lestat shows Lestat from his own, more sympathetic viewpoint than that in Interview With A Vampire.
  • Neil Gaiman's story "Snow, Glass, Apples" turns the evil queen into a benevolent ruler and tragic hero, Snow White into an insatiable vampire that has killed many people (including the king), and the prince into a necrophiliac who fell in love with Snow White because she's basically a walking corpse.
  • The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is narrated by one "A. Wolf," who explains that the huffing and puffing was actually a bad case of hay fever, and he had no big bad intentions against the pigs. "I was framed," he laments.
  • Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape is a story about how Dracula was essentially a nice guy and no one cared. This works exceptionally well, as a close reading of the original novel strongly suggests that the "heroes" are idiots.
  • Tanith Lee's Red As Blood: Tales of the Sisters Grimmer.
  • John Gardner's Grendel tells the story from Grendel's point of view as a sort of Byronic antihero raging against the heavens while trying to figure out his place in the universe. Beowulf isn't even seen until the final battle between him and Grendel. He comes off as a sadistic psychopath to Grendel and when the two fight we see it entirely through Grendel's eyes, during which Grendel begins hallucinating that Beowulf is some kind of angelic but at the same time demonic being.
  • The two-part The Sundering series by Jacqueline Carey is a lawyer-friendly inversion of The Lord of the Rings. It's told mostly from the perspective of the Forces of Darkness, who really just want to be left alone and aren't responsible for the cataclysm that has been blamed on them.
  • Burning Dragons - in which the dragons are a friendly and intelligent species and Saint George is a homicidal (or dracocidal) maniac suffering from Fantastic Racism.
  • Gordon R. Dickson's much earlier The Dragon and the George and its sequels had used a variant on this riff.
  • Paint Your Dragon by Tom Holt takes the general idea of 'St George vs the Dragon', and makes the point that (despite being part of the official 'Good' side) George is pretty much an evil, despicable man who likes to kill things.
  • The Other Log of Phileas Fogg and A Barnstormer in Oz by Philip Jose Farmer. In the latter, Glinda the Good assassinates U.S. President Warren Harding by stuffing an object down his throat.
  • Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis, plays with this trope in quite a few ways. It retells the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Orual, one of the "wicked" sisters. The events of the story are mostly the same, with the biggest difference being that, in the original story, Psyche's sisters could clearly see the fine palace she shared with Cupid (and thus their later actions were clearly motivated by jealousy), but in Faces Orual can't see Istra's palace, making her motivation much more ambiguous. As Orual tells her story, she claims that her first motivation was always Istra's well-being, and she blames the caprice of the gods for the disasters that come from her own attempts to do the right thing. (Istra is still just as incorruptibly pure as Psyche was in the original.) The perspective flip even happens in-universe: Orual lives long enough to hear Istra's story pass into myth, and she's angry as hell to find out that she's become the villain of the story. Then the perspective gets flipped again. In the process of telling her side of the story to set the record straight, Orual has a Heel Realization and understands how much of her "concern" for Istra was actually selfishness.
  • This has been done a few times to Gone with the Wind; the books The Wind Done Gone and Rhett Butler's People are both perspective-changed takes on the original novel.
  • Michael Aquino's Morlindale is presented as a series of letters between Melkor, Sauron, the Witch-King of Angmar, and the Blue Wizard Pallando. It basically retells the story of The Lord of the Rings, and parts of the Silmarillion, with Melkor and his followers as rebels against the cruel, uncaring Valar. Aquino earlier had written The Dark Side, a Fan Fic sequel to the first Star Wars movie, before the others had come out, featuring Darth Vader as the good guy.) In Real Life Michael Aquino founded the Temple of Set, an order inspired by the example of Set, the bad guy from Egyptian mythology, an example of a Perspective Flip as applied to actual religious belief.
    • Not as far-fetched as it sounds. Set was originally a good god in the actual myth. He became unpopular during a time period when a foreign army took over Egypt and made him their patron god. Set being evil was a Retcon added afterward to justify his unpopularity.
    • The entire principle of the Temple of Set is set around the concept of antinomianism - going against the dominating perspective of religious and philosophical views of one's culture in order to achieve a state where the artificiality of of such viewpoints becomes apparent. An extreme simplification, of course.
  • Another Tolkienist example is Natalya Vasilieva's The Black Book of Arda, which is the Perspective Flipped Silmarillion. It has the same premise as the previous book, but with added Wangst and gothy-ness. It had a very significant subcultural impact in Russia, basically creating a new subculture halfway between tolkienists/LARPers and goths.
  • K. Eskov's The Last Ringbearer also retells Lord of the Rings from other perspective. The main point is that Mordor and Isengard were actually heralds of technological progress, which the Valar thwarted because it would cause the people to worship them less.
  • Piers Anthony's For Love of Evil is a perspective flip on the other books of the Incarnations of Immortality series. Satan is the series' antagonist, and this book presents that Satan Is Good, his previous conflicts with the other incarnation all stem from his desire to have God replaced by someone who's less complacent, so that good people don't accidentally wind up in hell when they die. The current god is too self-absorbed by his own magnificence to bother renegotiating the covenant with the devil. The book goes on to show certain good deeds the devil has done during his tenure - saving the Jews from the Holocaust by tricking the Incarnation of time into retconning that part of history (which cost him his friendship with all future Incarnations of Time, who were the only ones to like him to begin with), saving a country from the Black Plague (though he did trick Gaia into engineering it in the first place). In the end, Satan ends up giving up his job (and in doing so being sent to hell) for the love of a new Gaia. He got better, and came back in time to succeed in having God replaced by his stepdaughter, who would be competent at the job. Only then did the other Incarnations realize Satan was on their side.
  • Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, does this for Jane Eyre: Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester's crazy first wife, is the main character, and Rochester is the villain.
  • Terry Pratchett's Night Watch is a typical Discworld take on Les Misérables, which flips the perspectives of the two main characters, while keeping them easily recognizable. This is made possible because Vimes (Javert) is a much more developed character and his sense of justice is not quite as unforgiving as Javert's, while Carcer (Valjean) is a homicidal psychopath who only thinks or appears to think that he is the wronged, noble hero of Les Miz.
  • Presented literally in the Disney book series My Side Of The Story. Each book is actually two books in one—the first half recaps the events of the film in question from the perspective of the title character, and the reader then physically flips the book over to get the villain's version of the same events.
    • Another Disney example is the novel Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen, a serious retelling of the Disney Animated Canon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with the Queen as the protagonist. She turns out to have been a victim of physical and emotional abuse by her father that continues beyond the grave via the Magic Mirror. Combined with grief over the death of her husband, her view of the innocent, sweet Snow White is warped.
  • Jon Clinch's Finn is written from the prospective of Pap Finn, the father of the character of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad retells The Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus's wife - from beyond the grave, no less. Perspective Flips also play an important meta-role: while Penelope is waiting for Odysseus to return, stories of his doings trickle back with different spins on the same event, such as whether the Cyclops was really a one-eyed giant or just a half-blind innkeeper pissed off that the sailors wouldn't pay their tabs.
  • The protagonist of The House of Asterion by Jorge Luis Borges is the Minotaur of Greek myth.
  • The 18th century writer Voltaire had an early example with his story The White Bull, most of whose protagonists are villains from The Bible. The heroine is a Babylonian princess in love with Nebuchadnezzar II currently turned into a bull by God. She is aided in her quest to change him back by a Eunuch and Good Chancellor who was one of Pharaoh's magicians who challenged Moses, his friend, an old woman who was the Witch of Endor, and the Author Avatar, a friendly talking snake.
    • Of course, the talking snake also tricked the princess into saying her lover's name, dooming her to execution, so maybe it doesn't count for him. She doesn't get killed, of course, but the intent was there.
  • French novelist Anatole France wrote a story titled The Seven Wives of Bluebeard which is told from that character's perspective, portraying him as a nice guy whose wives died not by his hands, but by circumstances of their bad choices (one's an adulteress, another a drunkard, etc.). Like The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs mentioned above, the number of "accidental" deaths occurring in proximity to the supposedly innocent protagonist definitely suggests an alternate interpretation that they are an Unreliable Narrator.
  • D'Artagnan - The Cardinal's Guard by Alexander Bushkov is a very poorly done total reversal of Dumas' novel.
    • Yes, That Same Milady by Yuliya Galanina is another retelling - from the point of view of... well, Milady de Winter. Yes, she turns out to be very much alive. And, yes, she's an extremely Unreliable Narrator, and doesn't even try to deny it.
    • Tiffany Thayer's Three Musketeers and a Lady does a brilliant Perspective Inversion of the story from the same perspective, depicting Milady de Winter as a Tragic Villain who found true love too late.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley reimagined the King Arthur mythos from the viewpoint of the women in The Mists of Avalon and its sequels.
  • The Kindly Ones (Les bienveillantes) by Jonathan Littell: the Holocaust from the point of view of a SS officer who enjoyed a Karma Houdini, spending 900 pages trying to justify his life and the massacres he helped carry out. Depending on how you read the book, this is either a gorn book with Unfortunate Implications or a masterful depiction of post-war Nazi hypocrisy.
    • The narrator states that he isn't seeking vindication, however, and is soon shown as not the sanest of Nietzsche Wannabes.
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a reversal of King Lear, set on an Iowan farm and showing the story from Ginny's (Goneril's) perspective.
  • Not exactly a villain / hero perspective swap, but there's more than a few latterly-written versions of Pride and Prejudice around which are told from Mr. Darcy's perspective on events as opposed to Elizabeth Bennet's. Most of these are about as good as you would expect (and tend to ignore that Darcy, for all that he's a romantic hero, is still supposed to be a bit of a tool initially); an example of one of the better ones is Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series, which flesh out Darcy's character and background whilst still remaining faithful to both the original novel and the period.
  • Nancy Springer's I Am Mordred and I Am Morgan le Fay (which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
  • There is a book about Judas Iscariot and how he accidentally betrayed Jesus. He is spending his remaining days repenting for his sins in an Essene monastery. He was heartbroken when his fellow apostles killed him off in the Gospels.
    • Similarly, Jesus Christ Superstar portrays Judas as a "true believer" who has become concerned about the cult of personality surrounding Jesus. He believes the messenger is becoming bigger than the message.
  • The novel within The Master and Margarita has Pontius Pilate as its main character. Matthew the Evangelist is depicted as a somewhat crazy hanger-on of Jesus, and doesn't record his words very accurately. And while cruel, Pilate is far from unsympathetic.
  • Richard Howard's poem "Nikolaus Mardruz to his Master Ferdinand, Count of Tyrol, 1565" is a sequel to the 19th century poet Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess". "My Last Duchess", narrated by the Duke to an unspeaking listener (Mardruz), sees the egotistical Duke show off his palace and a portrait of his last wife, who he is strongly implied to have killed, all the while working with the listener to arrange a new marriage. Howard's poem is Mardruz's take on the entire conversation, as well as detailing his subsequent actions. The poem is a brilliant evisceration of the Duke's pretensions.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a perspective flip of Hamlet, although rather than telling it from the villains' point of view, it is retold from the point of view of two characters so insignificant Laurence Olivier didn't include them in his adaptation.
    • P.N. Elrod's "King of Shreds and Patches" does a different perspective flip, presenting the story from the point of view of King Claudius who is innocent of his brother's murder and at his wit's end to deal with his insane nephew.
  • Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is more of a reimagining than a retelling, but it changes the perspective of Jesus's life from the big J to one of his closest friends who never really made it to apostlehood.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson's The Real Story features a perspective flip, not as a binary reversal of hero/villain, but a more complicated flip in which the victim, the villain and the rescuer ALL swap places. The villain becomes the victim, the victim becomes the rescuer, and the rescuer becomes the villain.
  • A character from an alternate universe in Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls comes from a universe where Albert Einstein is considered to be evil on the scale of Hitler, despite doing the exact same things he did in our universe: She (and apparently most other people from that universe) blame him for the existence of nuclear weapons.
  • Day of the Minotaur by Thomas Burnett Swann tells the story of a teenage boy and girl who meet the last of the legendary race of monsters... only to find that he's not so monstrous as the stories suggest. The girl ends up as his lover.
  • Never Never, a short story by Bruce Glasco, is the story of Peter Pan from Captain Hook's perspective, where he and his crew are trapped in Neverland unable to win, and Tinkerbell brings them back to life (described in graphic detail) every time they die. Oh, and one of them always Comes Back Wrong.
  • Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski is well-known for using this trope in his short stories about The Witcher. In Lesser Evil (Mniejsze Zło in the ) we have another example of using it on the classic "Snow White" story - good queen saw terrible things that would be done by her step-daughter in future, and gave orders to kill her. Girl killed queen's servant when he tried to rape her, and ran and joined a bunch of gnomes, with whom she was robbing people. Queen sent a wizard that killed all the gnomes and imprisoned girl in a crystal. But then some stupid prince freed and married her, and she murdered him to rule herself. Then she attacked her family lands, and killed the queen, formed a group of murderers and came to kill the wizard, only to die from the hand of the Witcher. And that's only one example.
  • The Way of Cross and Dragon by George R. R. Martin. It's about an heretical cult that venerates Judas Iscariot as a tragic hero.
  • There are a lot of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels that fit this trope, including the "Tales of The" books, each containing several short stories about just about every character who appears in the Mos Eisely cantina and Jabba's palace.
    • One of the best is I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole, which fills in and comments on some of the more egregious plot holes from the earlier Jedi Academy Trilogy.
    • Death Star is popular too. It's about various people on the first Death Star, from Darth Vader on down to a political prisoner whose experience in architecture let her work on the superweapon's less essential elements. Only one Rebel character gets named at all, and that's Princess Leia, who leaves a major impression on the surgeon who tended her after she was tortured. The novel serves to make things a little less black-and-white than in the film; although the Empire is still incredibly evil, it's easier to see why anyone worked for it.
    • Quite a few characters take rebellious actions, without joining the Rebel Alliance.
  • Jack Vance's books are usually narrated by a stoic, quiet, hypercompetent hero. The Grey Prince, however, is told mainly from the point of view of the love interest and the Dogged Nice Guy—who see the standard hero as an aloof Jerkass.
  • Peter Carey's Jack Maggs is a retelling of Great Expectations from Magwitch's point of view.
  • There is a book told from Lolita's view, but it was largely criticized in that it only re-told the story, and it didn't take into account that H.H. was a Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Who Killed Kennedy examines the myriad alien invasions and whatnot of the Third Doctor era (1970-1974) of Doctor Who on television from the perspective of a New Zealander journalist named James Stevens who is trying to expose a secret organisation called UNIT and its "Doctor" agents. Stevens is the protagonist while the Doctor himself is barely featured at all, though he is mentioned throughout.
  • Harry Turtledove's "The Horse of Bronze" is the Centauromachy from the perspective of the centaurs.
  • Mercedes Lackey's The Black Swan is Swan Lake from Odile's point of view.
  • 'Flipped' by Wendelin Van Draanen is a book about, basically, preteen romance, starting from when the characters were 5. The book is told in two perspectives - that of Bruce's, and that of Julianna's. The two perpectives are distinct in speaking style (and it kinda helps that the fonts are different too).
  • Matthew Stover's Jericho Moon is an account of a Hebrew attack on the city that would become Jerusalem, as told by the defenders of its Canaanite inhabitants.
  • Millicent Min Girl Genius has two. Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time and So Totally Emily Evers, following the perspective of her tutoree and friend respectively.
  • His Dark Materials, while at first appearing to be a fairly classic fantasy romp, turns into a perspective flip on The Bible. God's really a cruel dictator (or perhaps innocent wimp being controlled by more powerful angels) who are trying to stop freedom and knowledge. The serpent was never really a serpent, but 'dust', matter which had gained consciousness and is helping other beings learn more about the universe.
  • While most series about school show the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse as the villains, The Clique does the opposite, and makes them the main characters. This could be interesting done well, but it's not. It paints these horrible, spoiled brats in a positive light. (it's also very, very blatant Wish Fulfillment for the author.) Needless to say, bullying victims aren't fans, especially in recent times.
  • At one point, Stephanie Meyer was to have written a book called Midnight Sun in which the events of Twilight would have been seen through the eyes of Edward Cullen. However, when the unfinished portion of the book got leaked, Meyer rage-quit.
  • How To Train Your Viking, a Spin-Off within the How to Train Your Dragon series telling of a certain collection of events from Toothless' point of view.
  • In the Professor Moriarty series by Michael Kurland, Moriarty is portrayed as a long-suffering antihero/hero who patiently endures Holmes' delusions about the extent of his "criminal empire".
  • The Witch World anthology Tales of the Witch World begins with Andre Norton's "The Shaping of Ulm's Heir"; it is immediately followed by Robert Bloch's "Heir Apparent", in which the same story is retold by one of the antagonists, who naturally gives it a different slant.
  • Peter Watts' story "The Things" is the film The Thing (1982) from the creature's point of view.
  • The climactic baseball game at the end of Left-Handed Shortstop by Patricia Reilly Giff is retold from the title character's perspective at the beginning of Rat Teeth.
  • Mary Stolz's book The Bully of Barkham Street is a retelling of her earlier A Dog on Barkham Street, but from the antagonist's point of view.
  • Paradise Lost retells the Bible with Satan as a fairly sympathetic character.

     Live Action TV 
  • Some of the events depicted from Spike's perspective in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fool For Love" are depicted from Darla's in the Angel episode "Darla". It is not quite an example of The Rashomon (as everything displayed is internally consistent), but knowledge from one can change the interpretation of the other.
  • In Dollhouse we originally believed from Bennett's memories that Caroline coldly left her trapped with a block of concrete on her arm after an explosion they caused in a lab. We later learn in a flashback that Caroline only left her because the police were coming and she didn't want Bennett connected with her and getting arrested.
  • The 1998 Merlin miniseries, starring Sam Neill in the title role, retells Arthurian Legend from the perspective of the wizard Merlin.
  • One episode of How I Met Your Mother has Ted and Barney at a club taking Refuge in Audacity, pushing karma to the limit to see if doing bad gets good results (for the most part, it does). In the morning, just as Ted is set to start bragging to Marshall, Marshall reveals that Ted butt-dialed him seventeen times, and the significant events of the night before are shown from a different perspective. Rather than being audacious and charismatic, Ted was a Jerk Ass thief who nearly knowingly had sex with a married woman. Ted felt shame and Marshall scorned him.
    • In another episode, Barney reveals that he always roots for the villain of a movie and that he cries when said villain dies at the end.
      (Talking about the first Terminator movie): Who of us didn't shed a tear when his little red eye went dark and he didn't get to kill these people?
    • The episode "The Wedding Bride" features the movie, written by the husband of one of Ted's ex-girlfriends and based on their relationship, with the Ted character depicted as a bumbling jerkass.
      • That entire story arc was a Perspective Flip on the 'Man disrupts wedding of ex-girlfriend and wins her and his daughter back'...from the perspective of the man left at the altar. It's even pointed out how Ted appears to be the Disposable Fiancé in someone else's love story.
  • The new Doctor Who introduced a type of episode known as the Doctor-lite, with Love & Monsters, Blink, and Turn Left each focusing on a different character. The characters are regular people who chance upon the Doctor in Love & Monsters and Blink, while Turn Left focuses on then companion Donna Noble.
    • Skipped over for Season 5, but seems to make a comeback in Season 6 with The Girl Who Waited which largely focuses on Amy and Rory. (The Doctor is still around but is bound to the TARDIS.)
    • The first episode of the revival is from the perspective of Rose Tyler.
    • "The Doctor's Wife" does this with the Doctor's well-worn origin story of stealing an antique time machine and using it to run away from Gallifrey and explore the universe. As it turns out, the TARDIS was bored and wanted to travel, so she purposely left her doors unlocked for the Doctor so that he could steal her.
    The TARDIS: I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.
    • The possessives of her and the Doctor's relationship are also flipped:
    The Doctor (upon realizing who she is): My TARDIS??
    The TARDIS (reprovingly): My Doctor!
    The TARDIS: The first time you touched my console, you said —
    The Doctor: I said you were the most beautiful thing I had ever known.
    The TARDIS: Then you stole me. And I stole you.
    The Doctor: I borrowed you...
    The TARDIS: "Borrowing" implies the eventual intention to return the thing that was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?
  • Not exactly a villain-hero flip, but the NFL Network did it with their America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions series that tells the stories of teams that won the Super Bowl. The spin-off Missing Rings tells the story of the teams that lost them.

    Music 
  • The musical Elisabeth does this to a degree: the title character isn't entirely villianified but she (as well as some other traditional nice guys) are far more flawed than the usual "warm-hearted innocent young beauty" image which looks like she stepped straight out of a Disney movie. (Best example: the incredibly sugary Sissi movies.)
  • A rare non-narrative example: Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville was intended as a song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St..
  • Blind Guardian seems fond of this trope, for example "Mordred's Song".
  • Demons & Wizards has "Winter of Souls", which is from Mordred's POV; "Crimson King," which is from the Crimson King's POV; "Terror Train" from Blaine the Mono's POV; and "The Whistler" from the Pied Piper's POV.
    • Though, despite the title, "Crimson King" focuses more on Flagg.
  • There was a famous Venezuelan song, "Viajando en el bus" ("Traveling by bus"), where the singer tells the tale of a long bus travel he did, during which he engaged in a conversation with the hot girl in the next seat; the conversation soon turns seductive, with the girl practically trowing at him, until four of his kids and their mom (his ex-wife) board the same bus and bust all the things he said to her. Some years later another singer released a reply song to the same melody, "La chica del bus" (The girl from the bus), from the perspective of the girl; she accuses the man of being ever more misleading than what he admitted, mishearing whatever she said to him, and showing herself as the true victim of his seductive actions.
  • Frankee's "F.U.R.B." is an "Answer Song" to Eamon's "F—- it (I Don't Want You Back)".
  • The album Strange Little Girls by Tori Amos features this trope. She does covers of songs and flips the view to that of the girl. An example would be Eminem's "97' Bonnie and Clyde" song, which she redid from the mother's POV—by only slightly changing the lyrics and adding creepy background music.
  • In 1984, rap group U.T.F.O. released a song about a girl who ignored their advances called "Roxanne, Roxanne." This song was soon followed by "Roxanne's Revenge," an answer song by seminal female rapper Roxanne Shanté told from the female's point of view. This song spawned a well-known answer song by The Real Roxanne, not to mention a slew of other lesser known tracks from artists posing as Roxanne's brothers, sister and even parents, each one telling their "side" of the story.
    • U.T.F.O. and Roxanne Shanté later went on tour together, rap battling each other based on these songs.
  • Taylor Swift wrote Enchanted about meeting a guy at a party. Owl City did a cover of that song, revealing that he was the one she wrote the song for. Except, of course, the cover was Flipped. He did a really nice job, too.
  • The song "Little Red Riding Hood" by ska band Voodoo Glow Skulls not only shows the tale from the perspective of the wolf, but also reveals that he only wants to love and protect her.
    Little Red Riding Hood,
    I'd like to hold you if I could.
    But you might think I'm a big bad wolf, so I won't.
    What a big heart I have,
    Little Red Riding Hood,
  • The They Might Be Giants song "The Lady and the Tiger" is a take on Frank R. Stockton's classic short story "The Lady or the Tiger" from the perspective of the two characters, who are worried less about the possible consequences for the story's protagonists and more about how no one will ever open either door and let them out. Also, the lady has Eye Beams.
  • The song "Sadie's Song" by Adrienne Young is a retelling of the traditional murder ballad "Little Sadie" from the perspective of the victim instead of the killer.
  • A Vocaloid song, The Drawing Book and Mary, takes the game Ib and shows it from the point of view of Mary, focusing on her loneliness.
  • In 1978, Shel Silverstein wrote "Father of a Boy Named Sue", which claims the confrontation didn't go exactly the way Sue suggested in Silverstein's earlier song.

    New Media 

    Newspaper Comics 

     Poetry 
  • The Dover Bitch by Anthony Evan Hecht is a response to Dover Beach by Matthew Anthony, describing the feelings of the girl the poem is addressed to.
  • The Fat Lady Answers by G. K. Chesterton is a response to Francis Conford's To A Fat Lady Seen From A Train, in which the lady specifically takes offence at "fat white woman whom nobody loves".

     Radio 
  • The Stanley Baxter's Playhouse episode Meg's Tale is Tam O'Shanter from the perspective of the young witch, who's trying to tell Robert Burns what really happened, only to find he's not interested.

    Religion Tropes 
  • Gnosticism contains many perspective flips of the Old Testament and Western Christianity. Yahweh is a tinpot cosmic dictator, the Serpent of Eden was a dispenser of wisdom, angels are violent Lovecraftian monsters, and the world is a transparent prison God uses to keep his human betters enslaved and confused.
    • The Shin Megami Tensei games seem to love this perspective.
    • By the way, the whole "angels are Lovecraftian monsters" thing isn't the perspective flip; just the fact that they're untamed forces of nature rather than the good guys. Seriously, read some Old Testament/Torah/Kabbalistic descriptions of Seraphim, Cherubs, etc...
  • Romans co-opted a lot of Greek Mythology, but changed it according to their own unique values and biases:
    • The two gods of war. Greeks preferred Athena for representing tactics and cunning, while Ares was associated with carnage and slaughter. When the militaristic Romans aligned myths about Ares to their god Mars, they dropped all the stigma and made him second in importance only to Jupiter.
    • Greeks considered Odysseus as one of their distinctive heroes for his shrewdness. On the other hand, Romans preferred a more straightforward philosphy to soldiering, and considered Ulysses (Odysseus) an amoral Dirty Coward. This characterization is aided by the fact that Romans believed themselves to be founded by Aeneas of Troy, making Ulysses an ancient nemesis.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Scion: Ragnarok includes a perspective flip of the chaining of the Fenris Wolf.
    When the Gods tricked and bound me, Tyr looked me in the eye and smiled as he placed his hand in my mouth. He was the only God I trusted, and he lied to me. He betrayed me. So... why is he now God of Justice?
    • Note that in context, the players are given a chance to answer this question, and Fenris will accept good answers.
  • Continuum has the supplement Narcissist: Crash Free. In Continuum, Narcissists are the villains of the setting, fools and madmen who imperil the Continuum's future society with their attempts to alter history to reflect their selfish desires. In Narcissist, "crashers" (as they prefer to be called) are La Résistance, bravely standing against the Swarm (their term for the Continuum), a soulless and regimented Dystopia that refuses to use its technology to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Mage: The Ascension has Guide to the Technocracy, a sourcebook for running Technocrats as fully-detailed PCs and expanding on both the pro-active and reactive sides of their agenda. It's followed up by the Revised Convention Books, each spotlighting one of the groups that comprise the Technocracy. (The original Convention books weren't this, being written from the perspective of the Technocracy being villains.)

    Web Animation 

    Video Games 
  • Two Star Wars games have given the players exclusively Imperial campaigns: TIE Fighter and Battlefront II. Battlefront in particular, while it might not make the Empire as a whole look much better, certainly paints the Stormtroopers as a sympathetic Nakama instead of the faceless evil minions they've become known as.
  • Half-Life: Opposing Force had the player taking the role of Corporal Adrian Shephard, one of the soldiers who in the original title are supposed to silence the witnesses (including Player Character). However, playing as Shephard makes you realise that the enemy soldiers are just as confused and frightened by the horrific events as Gordon was. In another expansion the Player Character is a Red Shirt security guy trying to get out in one piece.
    • Fan mods from DAVLevels continue the idea: Azure Sheep about another security guy trying to save his girlfriend's and his own butts and Point of View about a variant alien slave. The latter ends up picked up by the former two in the final cutscenes, thus linking the stories and correctly guessing (or suggesting?) Vortigaunts' allegiance flip in the sequel.
  • The game of the first Spider-Man movie had a cheat which allowed you to play as the Green Goblin, the main antagonist. The level design remained the same, but dialogue and monologuing changed to explain the sudden perspective shift.
    • It wasn't a true Perspective Flip, however: the playable Goblin is Harry Osborn, trying to figure out what happened to his father, and he's menaced by a second Goblin (who has a strange voice).
  • Halo 2 does this with the Arbiter, the guy who led the charge to destroy Reach (which, incidentally, you see in action in Halo: Reach), killing most of the Spartans and millions of humans. He was also the leader of the forces you fought against in the original Halo. Now, however, he becomes a Player Character and his story takes up half the game, taking him through the paces of Heel Realization until he realizes that his leaders have been deceiving him and his kind all along. Turns out he was a good guy fighting for the wrong side all along.
    • For extra Mind Screw, he was the leader of the forces who killed the Player Character in Halo: Reachyou play as the guy who is directly responsible for killing another guy you played as in another game.
  • In Fate/stay night once Rider's identity has been revealed, the story gives her character a rather different interpretation of the general one. Specifically, instead of just a random monster, she was basically just some women with eyes of petrification and two sisters that people kept trying to kill. Every time they did so, she would kill them instead. Eventually, the strain of Breaker Gorgon set in and she turned genuinely monstrous and Perseus came to kill her. Her rather crappy original life led her to feeling a great deal of kinship with Sakura and is the source of her undying loyalty to her.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics does this in-universe. The game explains what really happened and how the villainous heretic Ramza is actually the hero.
  • Front Mission exhibits a perspective flip in the purest sense of the trope: The protagonist unit, Carrion Crow, is on five missions of "war against terror" only to learn the truth afterward and defect to the rebels (some sooner than others).
    • The technically called "terrorists" were wrongly suspected of being dangerous terrorist savages by the peacemakers. Truth is, the good guys were actually the "terrorists"; the villains were the production company that the ignorant peacemakers were defending.
  • In the Interactive Fiction piece Alabaster, you are the Huntsman from "Snow White", leading her into the woods to do the whole heart-swapping business. Also, the King, who voluntarily erased his memory.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep contains the scenarios of Terra, Ven, and Aqua. To complete the entire game, you must complete each of their scenarios. Playing only one can lead the player to be biased to the current character, since many things are going on at once; for example, Ven and Aqua will perceive Terra as willingly subjecting himself to the darkness. The game also does a nice job in that, even though the scenarios of the three will overlap sometimes, the cutscenes will be in the general camera perspective of the character you are currently playing as.
  • Blizzard's strategy games starting from StarCraft are notably different from most RTS's in that instead of mutually exclusive campaigns they incorporate the advances of all sides of conflict into a single story line often allowing a different look at the same events.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Actually used in Whateley Universe, both with classical tales (As the Wiki states), and with actual Whateley stories. The Jadis focus story and the Jobe focus story overlap, one Chou story and Ayla story have the same incident from two different perspectives. Also overlaps with The Rashomon. In a twist, however, the villain stories USUALLY subvert the idea, keeping the villains 'bad guys'.
  • In this Ask MetaFilter thread, participants discuss and debate the many crimes possibly committed by Ferris Bueller et al. on their day off.
  • This guest strip for Dinosaur Comics, by the author of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
  • Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Somewhat of a deconstruction of heroic/villainous stereotypes.

    Western Animation 


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