Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome
So your story was a smash success, and you've gotten enough interest or capital to do a sequel. However, you fear that you fully explored all of the characters in the first story and of course it would stale your writing ability to retread the same characters and events from the first story
. So you need a way to not only stretch your storytelling chops, but also hand out enough Shocking Swerves
to keep the audience surprised. How do you do this?
Why, by turning one of the main good guys into a bad guy!
When done correctly
, a Face-Heel Turn
can be shocking, compelling and tragic. Few things tug at the heartstrings like when a cutie is broken
or when The Paragon
crosses the Despair Event Horizon
and goes bonkers over the unfairness of it all
. When done poorly
, the turn comes out of absolutely nowhere
or betrays the expectations that had been set by the character's portrayal up til then
. Audiences tend to become attached to their heroes and some become more "icons" than characters, leading to the audience feeling betrayed by not only that character, but the writers themselves.
If this is a prequel, and an enemy from the original is part of the group, then this is Doomed by Canon
A subtrope of Face-Heel Turn
. Separate from (but not mutually exclusive to) Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome
of Rogue Protagonist
, Fallen Hero
, and The Paragon Always Rebels
. See also Ron the Death Eater
for fanfiction, and Adaptational Villainy
WARNING: May contain spoilers.
- Joker, the head of the British Library special forces in Read or Die. Between the OVA, where he's on the side of the good guys, and R.O.D The TV, the death of Gentleman (the Man Behind the Man of hundreds of years of British history who envisioned a sort of Utopia under the British Empire) shifts Joker into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory, working toward what he sees as Gentleman's dream by means ranging from ethically dubious to outright evil.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 4 turned Mai Valentine, the gang's Cool Big Sis, into an angst-ridden member of a villainous biker gang. It turns out she was tricked into Heel-Face Brainwashing by the arc's Big Bad, Dartz.
- In the sequel to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Gasser switches sides and becomes a hair hunter to protect his previously unmentioned sister from harm.
- In the third season of Cardfight!! Vanguard, Kai (the resident Invincible Hero) is on the receiving end of a Hannibal Lecture and ends up Brainwashed and Crazy, becoming the emissary for the main bad guys.
- Season 3 of Shakugan no Shana has the male protagonist, Yuji Sakai, of the first two seasons, suddenly becoming the Big Bad, leaving the female lead and love interest Shana shocked and confused.
- Comics in general loves a Face-Heel Turn, but usually don't qualify for the trope unless the character gets Put on a Bus for a while and returns evil. A few notable examples include:
- Jean Loring in Identity Crisis, who went completely off her rocker to try winning back the affection of her ex-husband, Ray Palmer.
- The survivors of Crisis on Infinite Earths (Superboy-Prime, Superman (Kal-L), and Alexander Luthor) all became contemptuous of the Modern Age DC Universe and launched a scheme that would forcefully return things to the Silver Age status quo, whether the universe was ready or not.
- Linda Danvers retired from superheroics after Many Happy Returns, but returned in Shadowpact, transformed into a vengeful "Fallen Angel".
- Cassandra Cain during DC's One Year Later storyarc. This was not a popular storyline (she was quite Out of Character even aside from the evil) and eventually got Ret Conned into mind control.
- Max Lord had always been depicted as a somewhat egotistical businessman who recreated the Justice League in part to make himself look good but ultimately proved to be a fairly honorable person. Then came Infinite Crisis, in which he turns out he founded the new League in order to undermine all superheroes. And even worse, it reveals that he was always evil, despite readers having seen his inner thoughts at multiple points in that Justice League run to prove otherwise.
- Inverted in The Prayer Warriors, Clarisse, Annabeth and Grover were villains in The Evil Gods Part 1, but they inexplicably get brought back as being on the Prayer Warriors' side (in addition to being brought Back from the Dead, but that's another issue). Then again, this might be a straight example when you consider that the Prayer Warriors murder anyone who disagrees with them.
- In Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, Gordon Freeman, The Hero from canon and the protagonist's heroic brother in this fanfic, comes Back from the Dead in "What Has to Be Done", as a "zombie goast" who wants to kill his brother out of revenge, and again as a Brainwashed and Crazy slave of the Combines in "Free Man", although once he's defeated, he dies as himself.
- In the original RoboCop (1987), the The CEO of Omni Consumer Products is merely an amoral old man who really doesn't do anything outright villainous, but shows little empathy for others. In the sequel, he's a flat-out Corrupt Corporate Executive.
- TRON: Legacy does this to Tron himself aka Rinzler, courtesy of being corrupted by Clu. He has a Heel-Face Turn and a Heroic Sacrifice near the end of the film, though.
- Star Trek VI turns Admiral Cartwight from Star Trek IV into a co-conspirator with the bad guys.
- And the film was going to have Saavik as another conspirator, until Gene Roddenberry personally stepped in and forced them to change her to a new character, Valeris; he recognized that turning a beloved character into a murderous traitor wouldn't sit well with fans. Imagining her as Saavik makes Spock's stunned reaction to her betrayal make a bit more sense.
- The first Mission: Impossible film turns Jim Phelps, the unwavering mastermind of the original series, into a bitter cynic who betrays his team for a multi-million dollar payoff. To say that fans of the original series were angry would be an understatement. Greg Morris, who played Barney Collier in the original, walked out of the movie in disgust, while Peter Graves and Martin Landau also voiced their displeasure. As writer Peter David noted, the only reason for the betrayal was the movie's screenwriters' need to destroy heroes.
- Sikozu in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.
- In Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Superhero Taisen, former Gokai Red Marvelous actually takes command of a Legion of Doom to further his quest for the Greatest Treasure. All a plan between the Super Sentai and the Kamen Riders to manipulate the bad guys, of course.
- All the Gokaigers in the usual teamup with Go-Busters. Naturally, they were also faking it.
- During the original run of Doctor Who, Chancellor Borusa had in the past been depicted as a politically motivated member of the Time Lords High Council, but ultimately someone whom the Doctor could work with and even regard as a friend. In "The Five Doctors", he turned out to be the villain, orhcestrating a mad scheme to resurrect Rassilon and gain immortality.
- Admittedly, every time the show returned to Gallifrey, it seemed that more of the cracks in the Time Lords' "perfect society" would show, to the point where the Doctor would call them out, declaring them, "the oldest civilization, decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core!" By the time of the new series, the entire Time Lords species had crossed a collective Moral Event Horizon, plotting to destroy all of time to preserve themselves. This ended up being retconned, however, as the actions of a small minority of Time Lords, after which they save the Doctor's life by granting him a new regeneration cycle.
- Nicholas Adamsworth (voiced by Dick Beals), a minor character from Adventures in Odyssey, was an ethical, well-meaning child-prodigy in his first two appearances. He came back many episodes later as a hacker who changed people's grades to bribe some students and to get revenge on others. His change in character is lampshaded, but the reasons for it are never actually explored beyond a nonchalant handwave on how some people change for the worse over time.
- In Beast Machines, former Maximal Rhinox turns into Tankor. It was intended to be genuine turn towards Megatron's way of thinking - that series seemed to make a point of making everyone the Same Character, But Different - but ultimately it moved away from that extreme. It was still a shock, because we'd thought Tankor had the IQ of dirt until he revealed he was a Chessmaster and only pretending to still be the Dumb Muscle Megs had tried to reprogram him into.
- In the first episode of Home Movies, Brendon makes a pair of cop movies that both play this trope straight and invert it (the hero from the first movie becomes the villain of the second movie while the Dirty Cop villain of the first movie rejoins the force and becomes the hero of the second movie).