"There's nobility in standing up to a stronger opponent, but you may be able to save some lives by pretending to be his friend, too."
The reverse of The Mole
. A villain, usually a henchman, turns out to have been a goodie all along
To avoid becoming the Deus ex Machina
, there must be Foreshadowing
and he may have had to do something horrible
to get the villains' trust; good guy or not, he may never be able to go back.
Related tropes include Fake Defector
— wherein a hero pretends to undergo a Face-Heel Turn
— and The Infiltration
, wherein a hero disguises themselves as a completely different person who joins the bad guys.
A subtrope is the Stealth Mentor
, who reveals that they have been opposing the hero all along as a way of forcing the hero to become stronger.
Compare Heel-Face Turn
and Mook-Face Turn
. If the villain forces
the goodie to join him, it may be a Sadistic Choice
or I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure
. Contrast Heel Face Mole
, where a villain with a known history of being evil fakes being good to infiltrate the hero's side. An Undercover Cop Reveal
is frequently this.
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Anime & Manga
- Zest Grangaitz in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who despite having been modified into one of Jail Scaglietti's minions, still planned to eventually stop Scaglietti. The Omniscient Council of Vagueness notes that he would have been their perfect observer for Jail had he been in perfect health.
- The random, forgettable Agent with sunglasses in Elfen Lied who was secretly working as a mole for the not-so-good guys of the Japanese government in order to steal information about their Diclonius propagation plot and hopefully a vaccine if possible, as well as cover up their own asses.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Zanpano, who after joining the heroes, calls Envy to apparently tell him their location. Turns out the call was actually a trick to lead Envy into a trap.
- In Sekimatsu Occult Gakuin, Chihiro appears suspicious until it's revealed that she was helping Maya all along.
- In the Mazinger Z spin-off Shin Mazinger Zero, Big Bad Dr. Hell built Minerva-X to act like The Mole. She was designed to become Mazinger-Z's Battle Couple but he thought he controlled her. She infiltrated into Kouji's institute... and she protected him from The Dragon Baron Ashura's goons, and she aided him against several Mechanical Beasts. In reality she had kept her original programming and she was always on the heroes' side.
- Itachi from Naruto. Too bad it was only revealed once he was dead. Even coming back as a zombie doesn't stop him from being loyal to Konoha.
- His best friend Shisui was one as well, tasked by the clan to keep an eye on Itachi but instead sided with his best friend because he himself held the same devotion to Konoha as Itachi did. Ultimately he performed a Heroic Sacrifice, doing his suicide in such a way that Itachi would gain the Mangekyo Sharingan to aid him in the massacre.
- Tsubasa from Metal Fight Beyblade infiltrates the Dark Nebula organization on behalf of the WBBA under the pretense of being a mere mercenary looking to sell his services to the highest bidder.
- In the 13th Pokémon movie, Zoroark: Master of Illusions, we find out (pretty early on) that Rowena is a reporter just like Carl, and is actually investigating Kodai.
- In One Piece, Vivi infiltrated Baroque Works along with Igaram to find out who was the boss trying to destabilize her country and managed to stay hidden for two years before she was discovered.
- Gajeel from Fairy Tail was shown, shortly after his supposed Heel-Face Turn, conspiring with Raven Tail. Then it turns out that he's actually on Fairy Tail's side after all, and is only pretending to work with Raven Tail.
- Storm Eagle from the Mega Man X manga was still working for the Maverick Hunters. Sadly, he couldn't drop cover until too late, and is fatally wounded in a fight with X before Zero stops him.
- In Kill la Kill, turns out Satsuki had been planning to betray her mom since she was five.
- As soon as Chris Claremont returned to the X-Men, he revealed that Tessa (aka Sage) had been a Reverse Mole for the X-Men... for the first 20 years of her editorial history! Previously, she seemed to just be the telepathic secretary of the Hellfire Club's Sebastian Shaw. Given that it's Claremont, it's entirely possible he had this planned all along.
- In Marvel Comics, The Shroud has been undercover as a supervillain since the '80s, even going so far as to form the Night Shift, a team of supervillains with no idea their boss is working to destroy the underworld from within.
- Femme Appeal from the Boom! Kids Darkwing Duck comic.
- In Secret Wars, Klaw sabotages Doctor Doom's current A God Am I powers subconsciously, because the Beyonder has taken him over.
- Umber in Superboy Volume Six, who is a spy for Lois Lane.
- In Once More with Feeling Shinji (A.K.A Agent "Balcony") is both The Mole and a Reverse Mole. On one hand he is feeding information to the enemy about what the organization he works for is up to. On the other hand, given WHAT that organization is up to, and what he is trying to avert (including the deaths of those ones he cares for), you would be hard-pressed to call him a bad guy (and if they knew about his motives, it is highly doubtful nobody bar Gendo and SEELE would call him a traitor). He is essentially a good guy pretends to be a bad guy pretending to be a good guy.
- Cama Leonte of the Archbishop Guard is actually a Heretic spy in The Tainted Grimoire.
- Barricade in Things We Don't Tell Humans is actually an Autobot mole. And Megatron knows.
- Crowns of the Kingdom has the Queen of Hearts.
- Alfred Hitchcock's Mistaken Identity film North by Northwest features a mole inside the crime syndicate. Naturally, it's the Femme Fatale.
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Slugworth.
- Austin Powers Goldmember: #3 is a mole for British Intelligence, and has a huge mole on his face. Hilarity Ensues.
- Indy's partner Mac in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull goes from The Mole to a Reverse Mole to The Mole AGAIN over the course of the movie. What he's really working for is the money.
So what, you're a triple agent?
No, I just lied about being a double.
- The director of intelligence in Star Ship Troopers 3 Marauder is initially seen by one of the protagonists (and the audience) as a traitor who's trying to assassinate the Sky Marshal, covering up the failed attempt and preventing his rescue, and seizing power. Well, she actually is doing all that...because the Sky Marshal has gone nutty (well, nuttier) and is going to sell humanity out to the enemy.
- In Running Scared, the two protagonists seem about ready to be gunned down by gangsters fairly early in. Lo and behold, two of the bad guy's Mooks turn out to be undercover cops and rescue them.
- Skinner turns out to be this in the film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The weird novelization of the film even has him explain that he's a member of the British Secret Service.
- In Ip Man 2, "Fatso" appears to be a minion of the brutal British at first, until he turns out to be working for their arrest. Foreshadowed by his offering to silence editor-in-chief Kan, then not doing so after the British policeman leaves.
- A One Nation Earth officer in the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation shows up in a Christian hideout ready to kill all the Christians in it, but as it turns out only fires blanks, revealing himself to be on their side.
- A very interesting and "this movie has an insane number of twists" version in House of Flying Daggers. Jin pretends to go to the good side before going for an actual Heel-Face Turn, but everybody thinks that he's still working for the government. Then we find that Leo, who set up Jin's finding out where the Flying Daggars were, is actually one of the Flying Daggars and was a mole.
- In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Kayla Silverfox was The Mole for her sister's sake, but changed once Victor makes things worse.
- Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games book.
- Harry Potter: Snape is revealed to be a Reverse Mole TWICE. When Voldemort made it clear that he would kill Lily Potter, Snape went to Dumbledore and became a Mole for the Order of the Phoenix in the Death Eaters. When he killed Dumbledore, while he made it so that it looked like he was doing it for Voldemort, in fact he was performing a Mercy Kill on Dumbledore's orders.
- Ulic Quel-droma started out this way in the Star Wars EU. The Dark Side being the Dark Side, however, he can't keep up the charade.
- All loose ends are tied up at the end of James Thurber's masterpiece of whimsy The 13 Clocks when the Wicked Duke's spy Hark reveals himself to be a faithful servant of Good King Gwain of Yarrow, sent to watch over Princess Saralinda: turns out the Duke wasn't really her uncle - he kidnapped her from her real parents, the King and Queen of Yarrow. The Duke grumbles that such a tidy ending makes him sick.
- G. K. Chesterton subverts the hell out of this trope in The Man Who Was Thursday: the protagonist himself infiltrates the Central Council of Anarchists, then gradually discovers that the other five members of the Central Council of Anarchists are undercover police agents who aren't aware of each other's existence; he learns this as he confronts one member after another. Eventually the six join forces against the President of the Council, only to learn that he is the policeman who sent them all to infiltrate the council in the first place. Not to mention God.
- Someone surprising does this to the Zhentarim in Crown of Fire (a Forgotten Realms novel).
- Sullivan, Jenner's henchman in The Secret of NIMH is probably only working for evil under threat of coercion, so it's not surprising that he pulls a Heel-Face Turn at the last moment. Unfortunately, Redemption Equals Death.
- That one guy in one of the New Tom Swift books (Tom Swift and his Jetmarine, I think)...I don't remember his name, though.
- Hey, I remember that guy! It was the "Jetmarine" book, and they thought he was a Kranjovian agent or something.
- The titular assassin of The Day of the Jackal is hired because the organisation plotting de Gaulle's death is so full of Action Service infiltrators that its head is confident of the loyalty of only two others.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Chessman of Mars, a character suddenly comes to Turan and Tara's aid, and reveals that he was one of the Gathol slaves held captive there.
- The plot of one of the first spy novels, Fenimore Cooper's The Spy ends with this revelation, via a cameo appearance by George Washington.
- The Wheel of Time's Verin. For those who haven't read The Gathering Storm, she joined the Black Ajah (Aes Sedai in service to the Dark One) to study them and gathered every scrap of information about them. She then found a loophole in the oath she made to the Dark One (serve until the hour of my death) and poisoned herself so she could give all the information to Egwene before dying. Her warder, Tomas, was also a Darkfriend.
- The protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night. Sucks for him that the good guys he helped won't admit what he did after the war ends.
- Not that it would have eased his conscience much if they did. After they finally do admit that he was working for them, averting his impending death sentence, he hangs himself out of guilt over what he did anyway.
- In the second half of the Sherlock Holmes novella The Valley Of Fear, the protagonist turns out to be an undercover Pinkerton detective.
- In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, Malya, forced to serve as Voldorius's equerry, sends information to his foes.
- In Elvenborn, due to his impressive knowledge of tactics and ingenious training methods the reclusive young Kyrtian V'dyll Lord Prastaran is placed in charge of the Elvenlords' side of a civil war instigated by the hated half-human Wizards. Not only would House Prastaran probably be destroyed root and branch if the High Council even had a hint of their attitudes toward human-elven relationships, but by the last fourth of the book he is in active collaboration with the 'Halfbloods'.
- In Warrior Cats, Ivypool becomes one of these after she learns that the Dark Forest, a place where she is training, is plotting to destroy the clans. She stays with the Dark Forest so that she can give their information to Jayfeather, Lionblaze and Dovewing.
- Not only Ivypool, but Tigerheart was also a spy against the Dark Forest all along.
- A "defector-in-place variant appears in No Deals, Mr. Bond. A private moment in an interrogation between a GRU official and captured James Bond has him learning that the former has actually been waiting for a chance for defection, but he currently has to put on a facade to trick the KGB men who have infiltrated his department. They then make way for a daring escape.
Live Action TV
- In the episode "Into the Fire", a Reverse Mole is the only reason Colonel O'Neill of Stargate SG-1 doesn't have a snake in his head.
- Indeed, most Gou'ald System Lords have a few Reverse Moles in their fleet, either one of the Tok'ra or Jaffa who believe the truth about their "gods"- namely, that they are, in fact, Always Chaotic Evil snake-like parasites inside human bodies.
- Doctor Who has Dalek Caan in "Journey's End".
- In Attack of the Cybermen, one of the gang is actually a police officer. And it turns out that Lytton was using the Cybermen to get to his real employers and help them against the Cybermen.
- Tony Almeida in the latest season of 24.
- Until it was revealed that he really was bad all along, making him a heel face mole.
- Except the finale reveals was just trying to work his way higher in the conspiracy to get revenge for Michelle's death, so... Double/Triple Reverse Mole?
- He was a guy looking for revenge who was pretending to be a bad guy who was pretending to be a good guy who was pretending to be a bad guy...
- Gael Ortega in the third season.
- Tuvok at the start of Star Trek: Voyager infiltrated the Maquis...though how is left to the Expanded Universe.
- Get Smart used a twist similar to The Man Who Was Thursday in one episode.
- Gaeta on New Caprica in Battlestar Galactica.
- Flash Forward executes a perfect Reverse Mole when Janis is first revealed to be a mole, then revealed to be working for the CIA. Technically, she is still a Mole as she is supposed to be working for the FBI. This is also an example of Lampshade Hanging, as the character's name recalls the guardian Roman god with two faces, Janis (also known as Janus).
- In V (2009), Joshua and several other crew members on Anna's ship are members of The Fifth Column.
- The first V had a fair amount of The Fifth Column as well, some of them high-ranking. Seems a lot of the Visitors weren't very happy with their orders.
- Colby of NUMB3RS was revealed to be a double agent for the Chinese in Janus List. But then it turns out that he was really working for the FBI in the following episode.
- In the pilot episode of Nikita, Naďve Newcomer Alex is revealed to be a mole for the eponymous hero so that she can keep tabs on her old employers at Division.
- While not done in the direct sense, the same principle is used on Hustle frequently with a random character turning out to be part of the con.
- Supernatural: "Folsom Prison Blues" has Dean and Sam get themselves arrested so they could investigate a haunting at a prison. One of the prison guards asked for their help and helped them escape once they finished the job.
- In "Brig Break", Petty Officer Quinn, who turns ou to be an agent from Naval Intelligence working undercover.
- Happens in "Scimitar". One complication though is that Harm and Austin do not know who the Reverse Mole with codename scimitar is, and they must find out without revealing themselves. Scimitar's identity is finally revealed when she arrives at Harm's room and [[spoiler: turns on the shower so they can talk in private.
- Ancient and the Mana-Ko beasts in BIONICLE were really secret agents working for the Order of Mata Nui. The former was also a founding member of the evil bounty hunter organization the Dark Hunters, while the Mana-Ko were Giant Enemy Crabs guarding one of the Big Bad's lairs. Sadly, neither reveal had any foreshadowing, nor have they impacted the plot in any way.
- Warhammer 40,000: In a Zig-Zagged version, just before the Horus Heresy, an alien coalition group convinced the Alpha Legion to become this. In order to effectively pull it off, however, they would need to pull do a sincere (or at least a ostensible) full-on Heel-Face Turn. Considering their reputation and MO relies on absolute secrecy and different units' ability to act independently, down to individual soldiers, their motives into the present are largely a mystery. The question of whether the entire Legion, or individual cells and warbands have fallen to Chaos or have remained closet loyalists is a large part of their mystique.
- In Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame, Leila is one. Ephidel knows and has Jaffar kill her for it.
- Lucy Stillman in Assassin's Creed I is an employee of Abstergo Industries, an organization run by the Templars It's revealed at the end of the first game that she's actually an Assassin who was protecting Desmond the whole time, and helps him escape Abstergo at the beginning of the second game. The third game in the series, Brotherhood, drops some hints that she may actually be a double agent working for the Templars after all.
- The DLC pack for Revelations, "The Lost Archives", gives more background confirming that Lucy had done a Face-Heel Turn from undercover agent pretending to work for the Templars while secretly working for the Assassins, to Double Agent helping Desmond escape and feeding info back to the Templars, as a result of feeling like she had been abandoned by the Assassins She was the mole feeding the info that resulted in many of the Assassin teams being compromised mentioned in e-mails in Brotherhood. This is why Juno forced Desmond to stab her at the end of Brotherhood.
- Ghaleon from Lunar: Eternal Blue really seems to enjoy egging on the heroes...but that's because he secretly thinks they're the only hope against his boss, the Big Bad.
- In Wild ARMs 2, Antenora, Vinsfield's lover, turns out to have joined him to get revenge because he killed her parents. She goes about getting this revenge by making him love her, and then having the heroes kill her so that he'd be griefstricken by her death.
- Lapis Roman from Xenosaga appears to the player at first as a no-nonsense and brutally efficient Galaxy Federation officer who arrests all the playable characters. Later, during her "interrogation" of the prisoners, she reveals that she's working for the good guys, and helps them devise an escape plan and a way to clear their names.
- Done in Secret of the Stars, where it turns out that the Big Bad's Dragon has been working with the heroes all along to stop the Big Bad, and not so he can take over himself.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, The Boss's defection turns out to have been a ruse intended to allow Snake the opportunity to steal the Philosophers' Legacy to the United States.
- And in the non-canonical Snake's Revenge, Jennifer helps you while working with Big Boss from the inside.
- Half-Life - Doctor Judith Mossman betrays Black Mesa East to the Combine. Turns out, she was working primarily for herself and begins to help the Resistance more.
- In Blue Dragon, Nene reveals that Zola was working for him all along...until it turns out that she at some point made a heel-face turn and only pretended to be on his side so she could get close and kill him.
- Cpt. Miller in Mirror's Edge seems to be in league with the Icarus conspiracy (or, at least, in their pocket) but actually has his own agenda and assists Faith in the final level.
- Heartless in MegaMan Star Force 3. She was pretending to be King's right hand woman but was really a former colleague of Kelvin Stelar and was using Dealer's resources to try to contact him. "Heartless," unsurprisingly, is not even her real name.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, why you could act like a typical Sith student in the academy on Korriban, for light-siders, it's often much more satisfying to quietly sabotage the Sith's every action from the inside out (for example, knocking out the Mandalorian prisoner at his request instead of torturing him, letting the rebellious students escape, calming a self-destructive droid instead of scrapping it, etc.), and still get the prestige that you would've gotten if you had actually been evil.
- Alternatively, the ultimate in "destroy from within" consists of befriending Assistant Headmistress Yuthura and letting her walk back to the Light Side. After taking out Uthar, the rest of the academy destroys itself in-fighting upon discovering there's no one in charge.
- During the Underdark episode in Baldur's Gate 2, if you choose to spare Solaufein when Phaere wants him dead, he'll reveal that he's a follower of Elistrae, one of the few good-aligned deities of the drow pantheon, and is struggling to find redemption for his people.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Golbez turns out to be working for Cosmos, and serves as a Stealth Mentor to a few of the heroes. Kuja was also one of these with a similar role in the prequel, but Kefka found out and loaded him up with malicious Fake Memories to get him to knock it off for the events of the original.
- In Danger By Design, Nancy finds evidence that a Frenchwoman thought to have been a WWII collaborator was actually covertly working to preserve and conceal some of France's artistic treasures.
- Crimson Viper of Street Fighter IV appears to be one of S.I.N.'s Punch Clock Villains, but in actuality, it's hinted several times that she's actually an undercover CIA agent.
- In BlazBlue, Makoto Nanaya starts out as an Intelligence operative for the Novis Orbis Librarium, but upon discovering the Awful Truth about her best friend Noel, works as Reverse Mole for Sector Seven.
- Valentine of Skullgirls only works for Marie because her life is at stake if she resists Marie's orders. In the ending to her story mode, she ends up betraying Marie, and wishes to become the next Skullgirl only because she wants Painwheel to kill her to make up for what she's done.
- In Shin Super Robot Wars, Nanai is more than a little uneasy about Neo Zeon's alliance with the Ze Balmary Empire, and Char admits that one mistake and all of mankind could become the Balmarians' playthings. He's willing to take that risk given that it will take time to assimilate the Balmarians' tech: he needs mankind to sit still until then. Nanai is willing to go along with this so long as Char loves her and helps keep construction of the Angel Halo on schedule.
- Bob and George here and here.
- Sluggy Freelance: Torg's purpose for joining the Minion Master in the first place, not to mention the various supervillain organizations he infiltrates.
- Possibly Dr Schlock's motive for taking over Heretti-Corp; in spite of Becoming the Mask he does keep the villainy minimized, and feels regret for the damage he's responsible for.
- The New Batman Adventures episode "You Scratch My Back" has Nightwing acting as this to fool Catwoman into Batman's plot of bringing her and the villain of this episode in.
- Teen Titans played with this trope in the first season finale. Slade reveals his season-long Evil Plan to Robin: Slade had lured Robin away from the rest of the Titans, leaving them to deactivate his "Chronoton Detonator" which was actually a device that injected them with deadly nanites, allowing Slade to kill them with the push of a button. After this reveal, Slade made Robin his new apprentice, thus making Robin somewhat of a Fake Defector, albeit with the villain commandeering the operation specifically designed to make the unwilling defector comply and prevent him from informing his comrades because then, they would most assuredly die, thereby making the goodies, not the bad guys, the ones to be deceived by the hero's false defection. Following the establishment of his apprenticeship under Slade via a little crime spree and a show-down with his ex-teammates Robin's friends fully believe that he has been lost to The Dark Side, for good. This makes the discovery that Robin was really on their side the entire time all the more surprising, from their P.O.V.
- In The Simpsons, Lisa enters a singing contest hosted by Krusty, with Homer as her manager. After she fires Homer for being a Jerk Ass, he begins managing her competitor... who then loses all his fans and popularity in the final. Homer shows himself to be a Reverse Mole to Lisa at the end.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Black Widow.
- An episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law had a trial for Morroco Mole, accused of being a terrorist, but Birdgirl reveals he was this trope instead. The charges were dropped and Morocco was ordered to stay away from Judge Mentok's yard.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has one in the form of Chad Dickson (a.k.a. Numbuh 274.) Starting in the Season 2 finale when Chad has his FaceHeelTurn moment by trying to hurl the KND Moon Base into the sun and thus becoming a villain for the rest of the series until the second-to-last episode which reveals that he was a double agent the whole time and that all off his attempts were actually him preventing other villains from doing the same to the KND and being successful.
- In Young Justice, Kaldur'ahm is the Reverse Mole, along with his Lieutenant Tigress, who is actually Artemis. Also, pro-tip: while secrecy is important in these situations, you should still make sure your team-mates are aware of their allies, so they don't accidentally foil your plans...