The Turncoat is the guy who switches sides at some point to help out the other side. Can be a hero who turns bad
, or a bad guy who suddenly decides to help the good guys
, but usually it's just anyone who thinks that the switch will benefit them personally.
If they're discovered to have been bad the whole time, they're The Mole
. If they're a bad guy who's been secretly good
, they're the Reverse Mole
. If they're faking their switch, they're a Fake Defector
or Heel Face Mole
. If they switch back and forth, they're going through the Heel-Face Revolving Door
. The Defector from Decadence
often falls under this.
It's interesting to note the origins of the phrase "turn coat". Back in the day (we're talking horse and musket age) soldiers defecting to the other side would turn their coats around so the liner would face the outside, to indicate they were not a soldier of the enemy. Of course, one only did this when you were far enough away from your own lines...
Not to be confused with Turn Coat
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Anime and Manga
- Beyblade: Kai Hiwatari switches sides six times. First, he's part of the antagonistic Blade Sharks. Then he joins the Bladebreakers (first switch). Then he switches sides and joins the Demolition Boys (a Face-Heel Turn, and switch #2). Then he switches sides again and rejoins the Bladebreakers (three). He stays with them until he goes over to the Blitzkrieg Boys (the Demolition Boys renamed, and switch number four). His next move is to join the bad guys of season three, BEGA (five). Of course, he realizes the error of his ways and switches back again (six).
- Flarejet in Transformers Operation Combination, a Decepticon who used to be an Autobot and a friend of Firefoad
- Justin Law in Soul Eater. Appears to be working for the antagonists (of which there are a few groups), specifically Noah, with a view to uncovering the Kishin. Now, technically, this was what Shinigami asked him to do (drive Asura out of hiding by making his presence known). But his methods might not go down too well. If this is a ploy, he's really getting into it.
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords: Vio (Fake Defector) and Shadow (Heel-Face Turn).
- InuYasha: Kagura desired her freedom from her enslavement to Naraku. As the story develops, she helps Sesshoumaru against Naraku more and more and begins to aid Inuyasha's group against him, too. When she takes active measures to save Kohaku's life, Naraku finally ends hers.
- In All Fall Down, Pronto becomes this in exchange for a new pair of legs.
- Cypher, in The Matrix.
- Little Giants: Spike Hammersmith when he leaves the Little Giants and plays for the Cowboys after initially joining the Giants because Danny fibbed and said he was Kevin. Considering how he was tricked into joining the Little Giants in the first place, can anyone really hold it against Spike?
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith (Face-Heel, then Heel-Face) and Spike (Heel-Face, then Face-Heel, then back Heel-Face). Not to mention Angel (Heel-Face when he got a soul, Face-Heel when he lost it, etc. ad nauseum). Also Andrew (Heel-Face) and Anya (Heel-Face, brief Face-Heel, then back to Heel-Face).
- AD Walter Skinner in The X-Files. He started a bit shady and it looked like he was working with the Cancer Man. He turned out to be one of the few good guys at the FBI and trusted ally for Mulder and Scully. Episode "S.R. 819" paints him as a turncoat who seeks benefits for himself. He has a touching scene in hospital where he tells Scully he wishes to be helpful. Yet at the end of the episode, he refuses to support Mulder and Scully's quest.
Skinner: I always played it safe. I wouldn't take sides. Wouldn't let you and Mulder... pull me in.
Scully: You've been our ally more times than I can say.
Not the kind of ally that I could have been.
(several scenes later)
Skinner: So you still think this is about you? About the X-Files?
Mulder: Yes. Yes, I do. And I have an idea who may be behind all this. But I'd need your authority to continue the investigation.
I have neither the authority nor the will to allow your continued inquiry into this matter. You'll perform your duties as directed by AD Kersh and only AD Kersh.
(Mulder and Scully stare at Skinner in surprise.)
Skinner: This matter's closed, Agents. Am I clear?
- In LOST, Juliet turned good while Michael turned bad and then good again.
- Ben often is in a Heel-Face Revolving Door, depending on who's side he's on at that moment and what his present goal is. He undergoes a final Heel-Face Turn in the final episode, after Hurley offers him a second chance at redepemption, as his Number Two while he settles into the role as new protector of the Island.
- In the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Cardassian ships turn on their Dominion allies and aid the Federation Alliance fleet. Though the fact that one of their major cities on their homeworld had been wiped from the face of the planet might have had something to do with it. Gul Dukat fits this trope alone, when he realises that the military is going to be overthrown he switches to back the civilians ("Way of the Warrior")
- Final Fantasy IV: Kain Highwind switches sides four times throughout the course of the game. He was under More Than Mind Control from about one hour into the game to about one hour until the end of the game. Golbez just liked to screw with the heroes by slackening his control on Kain.
- Final Fantasy VII: Reeve Tuesti, controlling Cait Sith is The Mole for the bad guys at first, but quickly swaps sides wholeheartedly once he's found out, even taking a risk for the party through sacrificing one of his puppets for their cause.
- Tales of Symphonia: Yuan switches from allying with the heroes to trying to kill them so often even the other characters comment on how hard it is to keep track. It makes sense, as he's a double agent within the villains' organization, and leads his own organization opposing the villains that is easily confused with said villains. So he never really switches sides, just motives. Pretty much half of the cast betrays Lloyd at one point or another. Which makes you wonder just how naive he is.
- Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins may join your party after you foil his attempt to assassinate you for Loghain. If he does, depending on his Relationship Values, he might later turn around and rejoin the enemy.
- Tharja, from Fire Emblem Awakening, is a Plegian Dark Mage who finds herself disillusioned with her home nation and can join up with the Shepherds if Chrom talks to her.
- In Shogi, captured pieces change sides.
- Tower of God: Rapdevil switches sides from Prince's team to Kim Lurker's defectors.
- Zebra Girl: Lampshaded after Sam has already berated the gangsters for using cheesy movie plot lines.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula joins forces with the imprisoned Long Feng and takes control of his Dai Li agents to capture the Avatar, overthrow the king, and free Long Feng from prison. Once the Earth Kingdom is under their control, Long Feng wants to dump her and rule by himself. However, during the time of her leadership, the Dai Li have come to greatly appreciate the ability and ruthlessness of Azula, so they just ignore his order to capture her, waiting for them to prove who is more worthy of their loyalty.
- This happens a few times in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- Faro Argyus in Season 1 episode "Cloak of Darkness". He secretly works under Asajj Ventress to free Nute Gunray from Jedi custody.
- Clonetrooper Slick in Season 1 episode "The Hidden Enemy". It's revealed Slick was tired of being a 'slave' to the Jedi and decides to join forces with the Separatists.
- Pong Krell in the Umbara arc of Season 4, who leads the 501st in the Battle of Umbara. Turns out he was turning armies of clones against each other.
- Terra from Teen Titans manages to be both this and the mole. She starts off on the Titans side but is swayed over to Slade at the promise of him helping her control her powers, she then comes back and joins the team as The Mole.
- Xiaolin Showdown: Raimundo once betrayed his friends and joined Wuya. He later returned to them. Omi would later join Chase Young but that was justified by a Wu's effect. Raimundo also joined forces with Hannibal Roy Bean but in that case, he was just a Fake Defector.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Tohru's Heel-Face Turn at the end of Season 1.
- Iago in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, which gets a Lampshade Hanging in House of Mouse where Depending on the Writer, Iago is either Jafar's henchman or Aladdin's sidekick.