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- 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 Kujaku, 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.
- Played straight and zigzagged in Tokyo Ghoul:Re, which takes place after a two year Time Skip:
- Hinami Fueguchi was enticed to join Aogiri Tree, through her desire to become stronger. She returns as a prominent member handling the group's intelligence network.
- Plucky Comic Relief Seidou Takizawa turns out to be Not Quite Dead, and returns as an Ax-Crazy One-Eyed Ghoul serving as Aogiri's first successful Super Soldier. He proceeds to slaughter his way through every Investigator he crosses paths with, taking the time to chat with a former pupil before tearing her head off because she used to talk during lectures.
- Played with, depending on which side has the Sympathetic P.O.V.. Ken Kaneki returns as Amnesiac Hero Haise Sasaki, working for the CCG as a Ghoul Investigator and mentor to an experimental squad of Super Soldiers. While he remains the protagonist, his former friends now have to worry about him hunting them down if they cross paths again.
- Happens to Gennai in Digimon Adventure tri., who was originally The Mentor for the kids. Here, he's one of the bad guys.
- 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, on Infinite Crisis. Though it should be noted that Kal-L was just an Unwitting Pawn, he turned back to Face the second he realized what was really going on, and ultimately gives his life bringing down Prime.
- Supergirl: Post-Crisis Linda Danvers retired from superheroics after Many Happy Returns, but returned in Shadowpact, transformed into a vengeful "Fallen Angel".
- Batgirl (2000): 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.
- In World War Hulk we learn that Miek, who was a friend and ally of Hulk in Planet Hulk, was the one who let the explosion destroy Sakaar just so he would reach the WorldBreaker stage.
- In The Ultimates 2, Black Widow is revealed to be a mole working for the Liberators and her native country, Russia.
- 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.
- Played straight with Hagrid. He's introduced in "Battle With The Witches" as a "secret Christian" inside Hogwarts, and helps the Prayer Warriors. He continues to do so in "Titans Strike Back," but when Draco meets with him while planning on infiltrating the rebuilt Hogwarts, Hagrid springs a track on him and reveals that he was Evil All Along.
- 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 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 and reprogrammed by Clu. He has a Heel–Face Turn and a Heroic Sacrifice near the end of the film, though.
- For that matter, Clu himself.
- 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 (Graves turned down an offer to reprise his role as Phelps because of this).
- Ugg the alien bounty hunter who was one of the heroes in the first three Critters film is the main villain in the fourth film.
- Inverted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The robot played by Arnold Schwarzenegger was the antagonist in the first film. In the sequel Arnold is the one protecting John Connor this time, while the robot played by Robert Patrick is the villain. At the time this was the big twist, but it's now widely known.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals that the eponymous Winter Soldier is Cap's old war buddy Bucky Barnes, now Brainwashed and Crazy. Luckily, he's redeemed at the end.
- It also does this to many SHIELD agents who had appeared throughout the MCU's existence who were revealed to be Hydra moles, including Jasper Sitwell and Senator Stern.
- Although neither side was ever shown to be completely in the right or wrong (being a Captain America movie, we can assume that Team Cap were the "heroes" and Team Iron Man the "villains"), the two sides of Captain America: Civil War rapidly approach lethal measures in the airport fight, culminating in a shot meant for Falcon from Vision's soul gem instead hitting War Machine's Arc Reactor, cutting off the suit's power and paralyzing him from the waist down in the resulting crash. Despite this, Iron Man still relents upon finding Cap and Bucky in Siberia, until Zemo reveals that the Winter Soldier killed Stark's parents, launching Iron Man into a rage-fueled, No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the pair.
- Most of the Hulk's first scene in Thor: Ragnarok is spent beating the ever-loving snot out of Thor. Even when Thor survives the fight, Hulk is more antagonistic towards Thor than previous films might have suggested. It takes Black Widow's message from the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron to snap Hulk out of it and return him to Bruce Banner.
- Koba in Rise of the Planet of the Apes wasn't the nicest ape, but he still had justification for the things he did and supported Caesar. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he becomes the Big Bad as his hatred of the humans becomes so great that he attempts to assassinate Caesar and sets fire to their camp and blames the humans to start a war against them.
- Jurassic World, Henry Wu is a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate who strikes a deal with the Big Bad to explore the possibility of weaponizing dinosaurs. He deliberately engineers the I. Rex to be strong and smart enough that it will inevitably escape, even though this would endanger everyone on the island (implied to be thousands of people when it happens) and destroy any future the park might have had as a business. Harboring no loyalty towards Masrani (his boss) or the dream of the late John Hammond, his sole motivation in the film seems to be For Science!. This is rather jarring when compared to his appearance in the first movie, where he never showed any antagonism towards the other characters or malevolent intent in creating dinosaurs (though admittedly, he was a pretty minor character).
- Pacific Rim: Uprising has Newt become the Big Bad after his repeated drifting with a Kaiju Brain allows the Precursors to get inside his head.
- In the first story of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown series, detective Aristide Valentin of the Paris police force is a likable Inspector Lestrade to the title character, totally fooled by Father Brown's Obfuscating Stupidity but competent enough to follow the trail of clues the little priest leaves for him. In the next story, however, he becomes a Straw Atheist who murders a man to prevent him from leaving money to the church in his will. (And, for extra irony points, the villain from the first story is subsequently given a Heel–Faith Turn to become The Watson.)
- In Inheritance Cycle, Murtagh turns evil in the second book, because Galbatorix knows his true name.
- In Dora Wilk Series, after being Dora's staunch ally for first five books, Katarzyna turns against her in the sixth one, suddenly having issues with Dora's mixed blood - a fact known even before the series started. She mostly has problems with the fact that by the series finale, Dora doesn't even try to hide her mixed heritage, which Katarzyna finds disgusting.
- Atticus Finch, an iconic hero in To Kill a Mockingbird, becomes a senile old racist in its sequel, Go Set a Watchman (written first but published and set afterwards). This is shocking both in and out of universe, with Atticus's daughter expressing her distaste, and many critics have also voiced displeasure at the dismantling of one of the most inspiring heroes in American history.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has Harry returning to the Weasley family only to find out that Percy has fallen out with everyone and sided with the Ministry of Magic ahead of the upcoming war.
- 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, orchestrating 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.
- In an episode of Burn Notice, The Woobie hires Michael to rescue his kidnapped daughter. In the next episode, the same man is the villain, as his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the men responsible claims innocent lives and Michael takes it upon himself to stop him.
- Cole Turner began as a straight up Anti-Villain before undergoing a Heel–Face Turn. He was possessed by an evil entity in Season 4 and forced to be killed. When he returns in Season 5 he's presented as a straight-up villain.
- The Crone was a True Neutral in her first Season 5 appearance - calling a truce between good and evil to prevent bloodshed over Wyatt Halliwell. Her second appearance has her as a villain who tries to kidnap the child herself.
- RoboCop: Prime Directives sees Alex Murphy's son, Jimmy, as an executive of OCP—a typical OCP executive as a result of the death of his father (and unknown to him until later, becoming RoboCop and later his mother. That said, he does pull a Heel–Face Turn at the end of part 3.
- This often happens to some wrestlers who are lower down on the card, especially in developmental. While creative works out the kinks in their character, they may just randomly appear in a different role on a new episode. For example they might be a face in their first few appearances and then inexplicably switch to heel.
- 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.
- The Masamune sword in Chrono Cross. In the Chrono Trigger, the Masamune is a coveted magical weapon which is said to be the only the only weapon capable of hurting the wicked sorceror, Magus. It's outright said many times that only the Legendary Hero can wield the sword and at one point, said Hero even goes through a Secret Test of Character which allows the sword to recognize him as its true owner and unlock its full potential. Then, in the sequel, the Masamune is explicitly stated to be an "evil" sword and anyone who wields it will immediately go insane. However, this is Hand Waved in that the Masamune is sentient and inhabited by two mischievous young spirits. When their big sister shows up and smacks some sense into them, the Masamune becomes good again.
- Gray Fox, Schneider and Dr. Pettrovich were originally on Solid Snake's side in the first Metal Gear. In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, all three defected to Zanzibarland for personal reasons.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty cheerfully subverts this - the villain claims to be Solid Snake, but he clearly isn't.
- Sigint, Para-Medic and Zero in Metal Gear Solid 4. It can be argued that their creation in the first place was to explain the Start of Darkness which lead to the creation of "The Patriots", but few can argue that it's a shock to learn that the amoral "Dr. Clark" we heard about in the first game was the sweet and flighty Para-Medic (it doesn't help matters that the first game retroactively misgendered Dr. Clark as a male).
- In the 2009 Bionic Commando game the Big Bad is revealed to be Super Joe, the war hero you rescued in the original Bionic Commando.
- Final Fantasy X-2 inverts it. Tromell Guado was The Dragon to Seymour, actively sending people out to kill the protagonists after discovering they murdered Seymour, along with destroying the evidence that Seymour killed his own father. In the two year Time Skip the entire Guado race suffered a collective My God, What Have I Done? - and were exiled to the Macalania Woods. One sidequest is preventing the Ronso from slaughtering the tribe. If the player does things correctly Tromell will become the new leader of the Guado and direct them towards a brighter future.
- Diablo II: The protagonist of the original is now the Big Bad.
- Justified in that at the end of the first game the protagonist was forced to take Diablo's soul into his own body in order to contain him. The simple explanation was that it didn't work.
- The other heroes, the Mage and the Rogue, also become bosses. It is a Crapsack World after all.
- Lloyd Irving in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Well, sort of. It was an impostor and the real Lloyd was only hindering your goals because he was trying to set things right as well.
- In the Wing Commander video game series, the game Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger had Col. Ralgha nar "Hobbes" Hhallas who was throughout game 2 a Proud Warrior Race Guy who was disgusted with his race's lack of honor suddenly do a Face–Heel Turn in which he turns out to have been a sleeper agent hiding behind a fabricated personality.
- Likewise, the Big Bad of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom turns out to be Admiral Tolwyn, who lost his direction in life and ultimately went rather nuts once he no longer had a war to fight. Although he was something of a jerk towards your maverick ace character throughout the series, he was also mostly the main Big Good.
- This happens to heroine turned Action Mom, Sophitia Alexandra, in SoulCalibur IV; where she's made to defend Soul Edge in order to save her daughter's life.
- It also happens to the eponymous Soul Calibur itself in the fourth game; when the sword reaches full power and gains sentience, it's revealed that the Calibur, long thought to be the "good" sword throughout the series, is technically just as "evil" as the Soul Edge. The difference is that the Soul Edge likes to spread chaos and misery while the Soul Calibur wants tranquility, order and peace... by freezing the entire world solid.
- Vladimir Lem in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. It wasn't that he was a particularly nice guy to begin with, being a high-ranking member of the local Russian mob as well as more fond of explosives than is strictly healthy, but he was a Worthy Opponent in an Enemy Mine situation. As Max himself puts it:
"Vladimir was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint."
- Contra: Shattered Soldier reveals that the Blood Falcon Commander is none other than Lance Bean, Bill Rizer's partner from earlier games. He went insane trying to reveal the Government Conspiracy he and Bill were duped into helping cover up. Likewise, in Neo Contra, Lucia, player 2 in Shattered Soldier is revealed to be part of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad and dies attempting to kill Bill and exterminate humanity for reasons which are not even vaguely explained.
- Alex Mercer becomes the Big Bad in [PROTOTYPE 2] after crossing the Despair Event Horizon. The fandom has been split over this.
- World of Warcraft has gone hard on various characters from the previous games or the expanded universe in order to turn them into bosses which may be killed for loot. "Going mad," is apparently an occupational hazard for lore characters, as it's the most common excuse used to turn them into raid bosses. This list includes Illidan Stormrage, Kael'Thas Sunstrider, Malygos, Norzdormu, Fandral Staghelm, and Archbishop Benedictus.
- Illidan is a notorious example, to the point where Blizzard has vowed to one day bring him back and redeem him to make up for it. They even admitted that they only made him a villain so the expansion would have a popular character to confront and get loot from. In Warcraft III Illidan was a complex Anti-Hero who used any means necessary to save his people, but despite fears from those around him never succumbed to the corruption of the dark powers he was toying with. Come the Burning Crusade expansion, he's been "driven mad" and turned to evil with no adequately satisfying explanation.
- Blizzard also expressed regret over Kael'thas's characterization, but after almost immediately bringing him back from the dead as an even more desperate Legion pawn, figured they missed their chance to properly repair his character.
- Malygos the Spell-weaver was introduced in the books as the Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight and protector of all magic in Azeroth, a friendly and wise dragon, who was only brought down when Deathwing wiped out most of the blues 10,000 years ago. Malygos then participated in the defeat of Deathwing in modern times, and the blues are shown as slowly coming back from the brink. Then he inexplicably decides to wipe out all mortal magic-users and becomes a bad guy, forcing Alextrasza the Life-binder to help put him down.
- The Zandalari trolls were introduced as allies of Horde an Alliance alike, seeking to stop the return of Hakkar and record the history of the collapsing Drakkari troll empire. In Cataclysm they began inciting the Amani and Gurubashi to reclaim their empires due to growing fears about trolls being wiped out. Mists of Pandaria escalated this when the Zandalari willingly joined forces with the Thunder King. Here their reason is finally explained: The Cataclysm is causing their homeland to sink into the ocean; without a new homeland they'll be wiped out.
- The Ax-Crazy Big Bad of Army of Two 3: The Devil's Cartel is revealed to be Salem, one of the two main characters from the first two games.
- In Fire Emblem Akaneia, Hardin is on the hero's side in Shadow Dragon. In Mystery of the Emblem's second book, it is revealed that he has turned evil. This is due to the Big Bad of the first game corrupted Hardin with an Artifact of Doom, which exploited Hardin's insecurities due to not having the love of Nyna, who was only politically married to him.
- Penelope Mouse from Sly Cooper turns bum at some point between the third and fourth game, and it came right the hell out of nowhere.
- Donkey Kong Jr., the only professional game in existence to treat Mario as the main antagonist.
- Leon Silverburg in the Suikoden series went from a recruitable ally to a Well-Intentioned Extremist in the sequel. This is a justified example, though - the stories are always set in different countries (and different points in time, though II is only several years after I), and so the characters who do reappear will take different approaches based on who they're working for. Leon isn't even a villain anyway, he's just taking a different approach (Suikoden thrives on Grey and Gray Morality), so he's not really that different from the original game in terms of personality.
- Dead Rising 3 brings back Isabella Keyes as the Bigger Bad and Well-Intentioned Extremist behind all of the events of that game. In a lesser example, Chuck Greene becomes a crime boss to provide his daughter Katey with more Zombrex. This drove away his Love Interest Stacey from the previous game and Katey, who took on a different name "Annie" and ran away from home.
- Also, in the Alternate Continuity of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Chuck Greene goes crazy and becomes a psycopath after Katey dies.
- In Season Two of The Walking Dead, it is shown that the group that the protagonists of the 400 Days DLC can possibly join is none other than Bill Carver's group. However, Bonnie ends up helping Clementine and her group escape Carver and ends up going with them by the end.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2 Big Bad Junko Enoshima attempts to convince the survivors that Makoto Naegi, The Hero of the first game has fallen victim to this. He hasn't.
- Though calling Ada Wong a "good" guy is being rather generous, she was never as outright heinously evil as she is in Resident Evil 6 where she mercilessly infects the same soldiers who protected and escorted her to safety just for kicks and is soon discovered to be the leader of a NEO Umbrella that plans to destroy the world. It's revealed that Ada is actually a woman named Carla Radames and the real Ada is still the same snarking Leon-loving Anti-Villain she always was and is actively working to stop Carla.
- Knights of the Old Republic:
- In the first Knights of the Old Republic, Master Vrook is a character who many players saw as a grumpy, grouchy old man. In truth, he only acts this way if the player takes dark side options. If they play light side and talk to Vrook, he'll compliment them on their actions. By the time of the sequel however, Flanderization sets in and he just hates you regardless of how well you act.
- By the time of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Revan, the protagonist of the first game, has clearly gone insane from his 300 years of captivity. At first, he takes over an old battle station and cooks up a plan to wipe out 98% of the Imperial population (and likely, a good chunk of the Republic's population in the process). Then he returns, waging war on both the Republic and the Empire as the leader of a fanatical cult.
- A minor example in Far Cry 4. CIA agent Willis Huntley, a major character around the mid-point of the previous game, shows up again to give new protagonist Ajay a couple missions. These missions turn out to be eliminating other CIA assets in the area to remove evidence of the CIA's presence in Kyrat, after which he throws Ajay out of his plane, leaving him to be captured by the guards of the person whose lieutenants (the aforementioned other CIA assets) he just killed.
- In Time Crisis, Robert Baxter was one of the player characters in the second game. Then in the fifth, he becomes the Big Bad.
- Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising introduces the Chaos faction, as well as a Karma Meter that determines which of your characters is slowly falling to Chaos. If you keep everyone pure, the traitor will be the Mission Control guy, but canonically Avitus turns traitor.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Hermaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of Knowledge, in Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC. In previous appearances, including vanilla Skyrim, Mora is always a neutral entity, though he could be a bit ruthless in achieving his goals. In Dragonborn, he orchestrates everything that happens, putting millions of innocent lives at risk, just to obtain the "secrets" of the Skaal.
- In a case of sudden prequel heel syndrome, Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness, is much more malevolent and sinister than he ever was before in The Elder Scrolls Online's Mages Guild arc.
- Mass Effect:
- While Donnel Udina is never a likable character, he is at least consistently presented as an advocate for humanity, and receives several Pet the Dog moments in Mass Effect 3 after the invasion of Earth, which makes it all the more surprising when he turns out to be The Mole for Cerberus and helps with the attempted coup on the Citadel, although it's implied he did so out of desperation following the invasion.
- The Illusive Man is the founder of the N.G.O. Superpower Cerberus that performs all manner of mad science experiments to ensure humanity's survival. While Cerberus was presented as villains in the first game through their unethical experiments, in the second they bring Shepard Back from the Dead and prove themselves to be well-intentioned extremists by explaining their previous actions and doing everything they can to help him/her stop the Reapers. However by the third game, they turn into full-blown villains due to the Illusive Man's indoctrination by the Reapers and perform actions such as killing civilians, attempting to provoke a war between the Turians and Krogan, attacking the Citadel, hunting down former members, and turning people into Husks.