"Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not."
— Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
The Wild Card is so used to swinging between teams that they have no default 'good' or 'evil' Character Alignment
or even a 'home team'. This trope, on the other hand, truly isn't interested in consistently remaining with either side, and will very often simply want both to leave him alone. He can be the sort of person who will stay out of things entirely, until someone else (usually the hero or other sympathetic character) asks him for help.
The Wild Card doesn't care whose toes they stamp on, even if they're supposed to be their team. In fact, the Hero probably only got them on the team (if they even manage to do that) because the Wild Card owes him big time
. The Wild Card can really shake up a team - the more suspicious characters will quite rightly not trust him.
Wild Cards often share a few of these traits:
- Bystander Syndrome - "As long as that rampaging evil beast doesn't get in my way, it's not my problem. But if it does... well, the good guys just got a new ally."
- Heel-Face Revolving Door - "It's all about being on the team currently closest to my personal goal."
- The Unfettered - "There's a job to be done, and it doesn't matter whose feet I step on, or who gets in my way, I'm going to do it."
- Personal Goals - "I'm after something else, and I can achieve it without needing to be a good guy. Or a bad guy."
- Self-Preservation: Dirty Coward/Lovable Coward - "I'm not in it for my reputation. Or yours. If push comes to shove, I'm going to save my own hide."
- Manipulative Bastard - "Sure, I'm on a team right now. That's because that team has the Applied Phlebotinum, Plot Coupon, MacGuffin, or other doohickey I need. As soon as they let me get my hands on it, I'll be selling it to the highest bidder. Even if it's the team I just stole it from."
- The Chessmaster - "Why shouldn't I manipulate both teams at once if it'll help me get what I want?!"
- A Distraction - "I'm not really evil enough to be the real Big Bad. I may have distracted the good guys from what's important and endangered the world, but that wasn't my intention. On another day I might divert the Big Bad's attention away from the heroes."
- Becoming the Mask - "Although it doesn't necessarily last forever, my unsteady moral compass often gets in the way of what I'm trying to do, especially when I'm trying to stick it to the good guys."
- Redemption Equals Death - "My redemption is never to turn 'good' (what does that mean to someone like me, anyway?) But as soon as I become steady, reliable, and predictable, I'm usually gone."
- It Amused Me - "I don't care whose side I'm on, as long as I get to have fun!"
- Punch Clock Villain / Punch Clock Hero - "I only get paid if I do the job, and I like getting paid."
Sometimes Wild Cards fall in love. Love is the bane of the Wild Card, because no longer does the world revolve around one amazing and easy to understand person - there's somebody else. Oh my god, What Is This Feeling?
?! Knowing how erratic the Wild Card can be, it could be somebody from either team - or both. With somebody to care about
, the Wild Card may well become more reliable
for a team. Or if there's multiple people to care about, they may become less
reliable. There are also some Wild Cards who became so because
they fell in love with someone.
Wild Cards are very rarely Big Bads
, though; they aren't really dedicated
enough to evil - or to anything
- to be that
evil. However much they may enjoy doing what they do, most Wild Cards have either some form of morality, or high survival instincts, and are likely to turn on their evil employer because they were betrayed, don't want to be blown up with the planet, or even just because they just don't like being that
evil. Wild Cards are more likely to be a Big Bad
's poor choice of Bastard Understudy
, or even the Good Team's Token Evil Teammate
While the average Wild Card sees their 'friends' as a handy Bulletproof Human Shield
, they have just enough conscience to feel bad about abandoning them when the fight turns ugly. No Wild Card switches teams because they care
about their friends - they switch teams because it means a better life for them.
On rare occasions, a Wild Card may unexpectedly pull a sudden act of Heroic Sacrifice
, though it'll likely be because they guessed that if they didn't sacrifice themselves, they'd probably die anyway - along with everybody else.
Wild Cards are just that
Not to be confused with the Wild Cards book series
See also: True Neutral
, Enigmatic Minion
, Lovable Traitor
, Double Reverse Quadruple Agent
, The Starscream
, Opportunistic Bastard
, Heel-Face Revolving Door
and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
. Compare/contrast Nominal Hero
Particularly wild Wild Cards tend to fall under For the Lulz
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Ryuk from Death Note makes it clear early on that he's not on anyone's side; he only goes along with Light for as long as it makes things interesting for him. This is proven when in the manga, after Light runs out of plans and ideas and turns to Ryuk to save him, Ryuk kills him.
- Mello could also count; all he does is only done so that he can prove himself to be the best.
- Impmon from Digimon Tamers ranges from an arrogant and selfish loner, to helpful and fun-loving (if a bit begrudgingly), to a depressed wreck, to The Atoner.
- Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z, rather infamously, pulls this in each major arc. During the Namek Saga, he is only out for himself, eventually teaming up with the Protagonists to deal with the bigger threat in Freeza. During the Cell Saga, he intentionally allows Cell to absorb Android 18, and even turns on the protagonists to make sure Cell transforms so that he could have more of a fight. Finally, during the Buu Saga, Vegeta willing joins the antagonists for a powerboost so that he would be able to fight Goku.
- Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! cared for very little, aside from his brother Mokuba, as long as he ended up victorious.
- Wang Liu Mei from Gundam 00, who would aid/manipulate anybody and everybody to achieve her vision for the future of the world (which was in a nutshell a change in its nature, and exactly that specific). The Ptolemaios faction of Celestial Being, to a certain extent; their Necessarily Evil nature make the intentions and targets of their interventions hard to second-guess, along with their tendencies to be flit between ruthlessness and diplomacy (depending on the circumstances).
- Hisoka from Hunter × Hunter, who's sole desire to fight strong opponents causes this. He wants to fight and kill Gon and Killua, but not until they get stronger, which means he'll occasionally even lend them a hand. He's also a member of the Phantom Troupe or at least he's pretending to be one, but only because he wants to get the leader alone and fight him, which means he actually feeds information about the group to Kirapika during the Yorknew arc to help this along but when Kurapika seals Chrollo's nen abilities and brings him back down to normal, he starts working towards getting him back up to full power again..
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Evangeline doesn't care about Negi's welfare and will occasionally help the villains if she feels it will be entertaining. Eva also seemed to treat the entire Battle of Mahora arc as a massive training exercise for Negi. If she had wanted to influence the outcome, she could have probably won the battle for either side singlehandedly.
- Evangeline's partner Chachamaru, being a robot, will fight whoever she's ordered to by her mistresses, including the people she otherwise acts friendly around.
- Tatsumiya Mana and Asakura Kasumi side with Chao Lingshen because they believe in her goal while having helped Negi several times previously (well, Kasumi switches sides when she learns of the consequences for Negi).
- Kurt Godel, who is said (with reason!) to be extremely dangerous and fits the trope to a T. He appears to be on a different side of the conflict every time he appears in a new chapter. The guy is Infuriating Awesome.
- There is also Tsukuyomi, who will betray her side and remain hostile to the other side at the drop of a hat if it looks like fun. Unlike most others of her sort, you can't even point her at your enemies and let her loose- but she will make you think you can, right up to the point where she slices your limbs off.
- Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! was apparently originally this, before becoming attached to his friends at Mithril and Kaname. It's implied that the reason he joined Mithril as a Wild Card was because Kalinin was part of Mithril, and he decided to join him there. Sousuke especially fits this trope in the section of Wild Cards that fall in love. He originally had no conflicting emotions, since his world and goals only revolved around getting the job done. However, it's made clear that falling in love with Kaname is his bane, making him much weaker. Gauron is less than pleased with this change...
- Ironically, Gauron turns out to be a more evil version of this. He never has any sort of attachment to any of the organisations he's part of, not even of a financial nature. He kills and betrays (or not) only according to his whims, and can not be threatened, bribed or convinced out of it by nothing and no one. Not even when offered the very real possibility of getting the past/future of his choice, and he knows it's possible. And in the end, he betrays Amalgam to Sousuke, because apparently he really did feel... erm, something disturbingly close to actual affection for the kid.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!:
- Hibari and Mukuro. Apparently, after 10 years, however, they both seem to be more loyal to Tsuna (even possibly admiring and respecting his strength). Of course, neither would ever admit it. Their present time selves definitely fit this trope very well, though.
- Also Xanxus. Or the whole of the Varia. They will fight under the name of Vongola.
- Ladd Russo in Baccano!. He mostly just wants whatever to satisfy his sadism, regardless of who he's teaming with.
- Xellos from Slayers does follow Zelas' will, but however he chooses to do that, and what that will actually is, is a mystery to everyone else, which means no one can predict which side he works for at any given time. It doesn't help that he frequently misleads the people he's helping, and often isn't on the side he seems to be.
- Greed/Ling from Fullmetal Alchemist (mostly in the beginning).
- Raphael from Angel Sanctuary, much to everyone else's frustration.
- Nijima, self-proclaimed 'friend' of Kenichi in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple - though calling him a Wild Card implies that he has a good side. He doesn't; all he's really interested in is gathering information, spreading rumours and ranking everyone in school. Oh, and running away. Even Kenichi gets tired of his shit.
- Nico Robin from One Piece used to be one, jumping from crew to crew to find the Poneglyphs until she got in with the Straw Hats.
- Also Trafalgar Law. He's extremely powerful but backstabs people quite frequently. It's still unclear whether or not he'll betray Luffy at some point as well, now that they are in an alliance...
- CP9. Now that the World Government has dismissed their Psychos for Hire and turned them into outlaws, the only thing known for sure about their goals is that they don't plan on being apprehended...though it's pretty obvious that Spandam, at least, hasn't seen the last of them.
- On the subject of those no longer employed by the World Government, we have Kuzan (former alias: Admiral Aokiji), though it may be a subversion; now that Moral Sociopath Sakazuki (former alias: Admiral Akainu) is Fleet Admiral, and it's clear just how corrupted the world is, government and pirates, it seems that Kuzan is only looking out for his friends. His first appearance since the Time Skip proves this, when he shows up just in time to keep Doflamingo from killing Smoker.
- The Straw Hats are seen as a whole crew of Wild Cards by the world at large. There are certain unspoken rules that pirates are expected to follow. The Straw Hats do not follow them. When Zoro almost attacks a World Noble (the penalty for which is being hunted down by a Marine Admiral), a bystander notes, "I heard the Straw Hats were crazy, but..."
- The Straw Hats are one of the best examples out there. Most pirate crews are motivated by money or power. The Straw Hats do whatever amuses Luffy and legitimately don't care what the consequences are. This has led to them taking down two of the Seven Warlords of the Sea (going on three as of the Dressrosa arc), declaring war on the World Government, and picking a fight with one of the Four Emperors.
- Sora from .hack//SIGN is probably one of the best examples in Anime, checking the entire list from above. Since the setting of the story is an MMORPG, Sora's goal is strictly to have fun, at anyone's expense. He doesn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation as the plot progresses probably because he's a child in the real world, and continues to flip back and forth between sides. Even though it's a game, Sora strives to survive at all costs; he only helps either side if there's an immediate tangible benefit to him, and isn't above playing both sides at once, although this ultimately costs him badly when he pulls one Back Stab too many, fulfilling the Redemption Equals Death aspect. The effects this have on him as a person are eventually examined through Haseo, a later character played by Sora's player after he's grown up somewhat, in .Hack//GU.
- Izaya Orihara from Durarara!!. There's nothing he loves more than stirring up conflict between people and watching the human drama unfold. He's probably helped out and back stabbed every significant character in the series just For the Lulz... except for Shizuo. With Shizuo, there is no question that Izaya's every action regarding him is driven by pure hatred.
- Yumekui Merry: Treesea in the anime.
- In Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke is well known for staying on one side only as long as it benefits him, then moving on. The sides bounce from good (Konoha) to evil (Orochimaru and Tobi) to basically neutral (Hebi), then back to evil (Orochimaru again) for a short while, then back to good ( the zombie Hokages). Considering that Sasuke has been getting progressively less moral, it's easy to characterize him as a bad guy, but when it comes down to it, he's killed more major bad guys than all the good guys put together.
- While she's not quite a typical Wild Card, the direction the Berserk storyline is going is pretty much dependant on what Casca's going to do after she regains her sanity in the coming chapters. There's a strong possibility she's going to Come Back Wrong, but no-one is quite sure how yet.
- Blue Exorcist gives us Mephisto Pheles. Just Mephisto Pheles. No one knows what his goal is in all of this...aside from amusement. He's still dangerous though.
- Ymir from Attack on Titan, due to playing her cards very close to her chest. While most can agree she's devoted to Krista, her true motivations and alliagences are a mystery to everyone. As an unfilitated Titan Shifter, it seems she's got loyalty to all of two people: Krista and herself. Her Heel-Face Revolving Door and unwillingness to share what she knows leaves everyone but Krista justifiably suspicious of her.
- Wolverine in many of his comic portrayals proves to be something of a Anti-Hero Wild Card - while usually on the side of the good guys, he's violent, dangerous, unreliable and extremely intelligent. While he may not swing fully from Villain to Hero and back again, like many Wild Cards enjoy doing, his comic incarnation especially has a high number of team affiliations, and he has frequently worked on his own.
- This was far more explicit in the Ultimate Universe. Wolverine started off as a cold-blooded assassin working for Magneto. Then he did a Heel-Face Turn in order to sleep with Jean Grey. Then when she dumped him, he responded by trying to murder her new boyfriend, Cyclops (by dropping him off a cliff. He broke a bunch of bones and spent a month lying in a pit eating bugs). Then he was given one last chance to rejoin the team (after having the crap blasted out of him by Cyclops), and has stayed good since. Except that then his time-traveling future self turned up and apparently murdered Xavier.
- Mystique is similar; there's some contention of whether she belongs here or in Heel-Face Revolving Door, i.e., whether she's actually changing sides as the plot demands or just allying herself with whoever's convenient. Not that most of them are under any illusions.
- Emma Frost she is any ally of the X men but occasionally sides with the villains depending on what she can get out of it.
- Nyna Calixte/Morrigan Corde from Star Wars: Legacy has helped and hindered just about every major faction in the comic at least once. She clearly has an agenda she's pushing towards, but whatever it is remains completely unknown (and is the subject of much discussion on Star Wars fan forums), and as such it's difficult for fans and nigh impossible for characters to predict her next move.
- Deadpool. He usually has no rational reason to do anything. And being both liked and loathed by people in both sides of the hero/villain community (sometimes even liked and hated by the same person) certainly qualifies him.
- Catman, at least, liked to believe the Secret Six were this, choosing neither to join the Justice League or the Society of Supervillains, but plow their own furrow down the middle. Really, they were villains with standards. Well, some of them had standards.
- In Secret Wars, the Beyonder transports a group of superheroes and a group of supervillains to "Battleworld" and expects the two groups to battle each other to aid his study of what it is to be human. It doesn't precisely work out: Magneto is grouped with heroes, despite still being a villain at the time, due to his Anti-Villain nature. The other heroes obviously aren't thrilled and he goes off to do his own thing before finally signing on with them. The Lizard is too savage to understand the concept of "sides" and ends up most loyal to the Wasp for having treated him when he was injured, and Galactus just ignores all the other combatants and spends the entire series working out a way to take on the Beyonder himself.
- Lobo the Main Man has fought against and along side with several DC heroes and villains. Most of the time he does it because he's a bounty hunter, and he gets paid for what he does, or he felt like doing it.
- Jason Todd (aka The Red Hood) from is a definite example. While Commissioner Gordon normally relies on Batman to do the dirty things he won't, Jason will do the dirty things Batman won't. He will kill criminals, initiate crime wars, recruit gangsters (only to betray them at the right moment), resort to torture to get information (or just because he feels like it), and so on and so forth. It is all part of his vendetta against crime and vision of a better world. Or something like that. While he does truly think he's doing some good for Gotham, his actions sometimes cause innocents to be casualties. He (tries) to kill whoever gets in his way, even his former mentor and foster parent (Batman) along with his "siblings" (the other Robins). Sometimes it isn't even just about them being in his way but him just feeling competitive. It is hard to classify him as hero or villain, but it's clear he is not someone to be messed with.
- Kingdom Come. Batman invokes the trope directly regarding Captain Marvel, stating the chief reason he infiltrated the MLF was to remove that threat.
- While she is more likely to swing over the good side of the fence, Catwoman is usually this, although she is inherently a good person, which is why Batman doesn't go nearly as hard on her as he does other criminals.
- Harvey Dent/Two-Face, although not so much a wild "card" but a wild "coin", as his morality is entirely dependent on what side his coin lands. There are very few times in the Batman mythos that he goes against the ruling of his coin, and one time even had fans questioning the possible dubiousness of the action when it was meant to be a genuinely sincere moment. Although one central part of his character is that he is both Harvey Dent and Two-Face, so anyone savvy enough (Gordon or Batman) is able to exploit that by forcing a confrontation between Two-Face and Dent. At the very least, it'll make Two-Face act fairly, because Dent still believes in justice, no matter how much of a monster he is now.
- The Joker is through and through an evil character. The problem is, even most villains, with only a few exceptions, want almost nothing to do with him, and rightly so. Because when you're a bad guy, but you have a choice of working with other bad guys, you don't want the one who may just try to kill you for no other reason than because he thought it would be funny. However, it's a completely different situation if the Joker comes to you. Because it's not like he's the type to take no for an answer.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Fujiwara. He's almost as bad as the aforementioned Godel.
- In Young Justice fanfic New Kid On The Block, Wally is one of these. As long as he doesn't get caught, he'll do things that help and hurt both sides.
- Ben Tennyson is seen as this in Fate Stay Night: Ultimate Master by everyone else in the Holy Grail War; his only interest is in preventing casualties or lost of innocent lives, including the other Masters. As such, he will team up with anybody just to protect other Masters, but will just as easily turn against them if they cross that line. Rin even refers to Ben as such.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- 24 has recently been bringing this trope out with Tony Almeida, who seems to have turned double agent in an attempt to get revenge on the man who killed his wife. This means he has no qualms about acting against his country's best interests in order to gain the Big Bad's trust.
- Jack also played with it, "going rogue" as a result of the fact that the country wasn't exactly happy with him in the first place, but he still always had the country's best interests in mind and was merely playing the bad guys. Then again, when half the bad guys in the show are corrupt politicians, often going against the authorities is being the good guy.
- Jack Bristow from Alias has not one but two goals, which he values almost equally. The first is, as an intelligence agent of the United States, to secure and defend America's military, diplomatic, and industrial interests abroad. The second, and more important, is as a father: to keep his daughter—also an intelligence agent—safe. Because of the dangerous nature of his daughter's missions, these two goals come into conflict more often than might be thought.
- Gaius Baltar from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. His final line in the Pilot Episode is, in fact, "I'm on nobody's side." So there you go. He certainly does his best to muck up Admiral Adama's command while recruiting groupies wherever he goes; first he tries to seize power politically, but when that plan goes bust, he embraces the mantle of the 'martyr', founding a sect of monotheists (a novelty in the Twelve Colonies, which are devoutly polytheistic) and running afoul of some Romans, i.e. President Roslin. However, he never quite embraces the Cylons despite prodding from various incarnations of Six. The finale reveals that a higher power was manipulating Baltar's greed for their own purposes.
- Despite being nominally a villain or hero at various times, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer functions as a Wild Card for most of season 4 and early season 5 as he makes his gradual Heel-Face Turn. During that changeover period he provides backup or information to the main cast when he's paid for it but also betrays them to Adam at the drop of a hat when it appears to suit his purpose.
- Cole Turner in Charmed switched sides so often, it could give you a headache trying to keep up. Over the course of the three seasons that he was part of the regular cast, he went from being the Big Bad's Dragon to the sisters' Token Evil Teammate to a human under the sisters' protection to becoming the new Big Bad (replacing the one he had originally worked for) to not caring about anything but trying to win Phoebe back by any means necessary.
- Doctor Who: the Master in all his incarnations drifts inscrutably between sides, when he isn't a side unto himself.
- He's always a side unto himself, and never works for anyone, just tricks people into doing his bidding.
- Though he does get a doozy of a Heroic Sacrifice / Heel-Face Revolving Door in "The End of Time".
- Similarly, Sabbath from the Eighth Doctor Adventures tends to do a lot of becoming mortal enemies with everyone he allies himself with and shifting his goals because of it. He started off engaged in mildly Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with the Doctor, and, well. That didn't last. He carries on getting into Enemy Mine situations with the Doctor, bookended by attempts on the Doctor's life, until he decides he's actually "more than a little fond of" the Doctor.
- Firefly's Jayne Cobb appears to be this type of character, but when his one attempted betrayal is weighed against all the instances where he unhesitatingly stands by the crew against overwhelming odds he suddenly looks far less neutral. This may be because the one time he tried to betray the crew, Mal damn near threw him out the airlock.
- Saffron (a.k.a YoSaffBridge), in her two appearances. There's a girl who truly can't be trusted.
- Fringe has quite a few of these:
- The first is September, and the rest of the mysterious Observers. All they do is watch and observe... So there's one (or twelve) wild card(s).
- William Bell's true allegiances are never really clear. On one occassion, he's fighting against Walternate and helping Olivia, on the other, he's the very man who created the shapeshifters. He's also behind some of the show's more...morally questionable acts.
- Next, we have Sam Weiss. On one hand, he's very friendly, helps rehabilitate Olivia and makes a new friend in the process. On the other hand, Walternate is somehow aware of his existance and doesn't trust him, he appears to be the author behind the century-old book The First People, and knows exactly who Peter Bishop is and what his connection to the Wake Sink Device is. Eventually, we learn that he was just an ordinary guy all along who happened to have generations of knowledge bestowed upon him.
- The show's biggest wild card is arguably The Man In The X T-Shirt. Olivia has absolutely no memories of the man despite the fact that he was in her mind. Even more creepy is that he wasn't a normal "mental projection". Because Olivia regressed and hid because of her fears deep in her subconciousness, all of her memories of everyone she knew turned malevolent, seeking to harm her as well as anything that "doesn't belong" (i.e, Peter, Water and Bell). This man, on the other hand, wasn't a malevolent entity - he simply sought to escape the zeppelin he was trapped in. And finally, after Olivia returned better than ever, this man's image simply appeared in her mind, and she nonchalantly stated that "he's the man who's gonna kill her." Word of God says that he's somehow connected to September, and David Robert Jones.
- Heroes: Sylar's intentions change to suit whatever his situation at the moment calls for; he'll assist either the good guys or the bad guys if he thinks he has something to gain from it. However, he also dislikes being lied to, and every attempt to control him through lying and manipulation has ended horribly with a bloodbath and Sylar defecting to the other side by default.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: When Mac is fitting all of the bar into a Five-Man Band structure, he designates Charlie as "the wild card" and for good reason. In that episode alone, he tries to proposition their loan officer, switches the bar to run on a gasoline engine, tries to sell some more gasoline to a random woman using a Texas accent (and sounding like a gigolo), and pushes four large garbage cans of gas out of the car and jumps out. When asked about any of it, he just says "Wild Card!"
Mac: Why aren't the brakes working?
BECAUSE I CUT THE BRAKES! WILD CARD, BITCHES!
YEEEHAW! * jumps out of car*
- Frank also serves as a Wild Card, with less insanity and more selfishness. He doesn't have any loyalty, he just does whatever he thinks will net him the most money/enjoyment.
- Benjamin Linus of LOST, even though his early appearances set him up as the Big Bad. Even up to the finale, the audience isn't quite sure what he's going to do or who he's going to side with.
- Krenshaw from Monk is probably the closest to being a Wild Card that could be given in the series. A notable example is in the episode where he attempted to vote for the destruction of a parking garage solely to spite Monk, who attempted to defend it from its destruction.
- Eli David of NCIS seems to be this as well. He seems to put country above everything including family, to the degree of being an Abusive Parent because of this. At the same time, he is not a completely unsympathetic character. Still no one knows what he will do.
- From the same show, Trent Kort, because nobody knows his reasons, which side he's on, or even his actual name. You don't get much wilder than that.
- Piggy of Power Rangers S.P.D. was able to align himself with all three fractions in the series (The Heroes, the Villains, and The Villain Traitors) all for want of money. This isn't a guy who sided with whoever paid the most, this is a guy who just wanted pay.
- Todd the Wraith from Stargate Atlantis:
Sheppard: Here's my problem. Every time we get involved with you, I feel like I'm walking around with a live grenade in my pocket, just waiting for it all to go wrong - for that one thing you forgot to mention.
- Garak of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He actually skirts the edges of having no allegiance, because he is steadfastly loyal to Cardassia. However, he is not necessarily loyal to its current government, and he is on the side of the protagonists in later seasons because he believes the current government does not have the best interests of Cardassia in mind. Only rarely, however, is he actually opposed to the protagonists. It is not uncommon for him to be confrontational though (Particularly, his methods do not always sit well with Starfleet ethics).
- Although we didn't find out his true loyalties until later seasons. Even then he displayed his Magnificent Bastard abilities by keeping people guessing if he was really on their side.
- Lana Lang on Smallville, more or less because the writers weren't sure to do with her. Lana's first Heel Turn came about as the resulting of being possessed by her ancestor, a malevolent witch. Later seasons had her marrying Lex Luthor (who was demoted to "cuckolded husband" almost immediately), embezzling all of his money, and setting up her own Cape Busters syndicate. She eventually became a super-powered secret agent and left the show to pursue adventures of her own
- In season three of Supernatural, Bela pulls a lot of scams that endanger the Winchester's lives but will occasionally help them (usually out of self preservation).
- In any given episode, Crowley , Meg and Ruby might be working alongside or against the boys, and are ready to betray them at a moment's notice. Demons are tricksy like that.
- The angels aren't much better. Gabriel, Balthazar, Anna and even good old Cas frequently switch between helping or hindering the Winchesters.
- Survivor has had many, but the practice started with Rob Cesternino in The Amazon and resulted in the Pearl Islands season that followed being an all-wild card situation after Rupert's elimination. Special mention to Sandra, who won employing a self-proclaimed strategy of "as long as it ain't me."
- Veronica Mars: the title character's on-again, off-again Homme Fatal boyfriend Logan Echolls helps the investigations as often as he messes with them - all for his own shady reasons, of course. His own girlfriend believes him capable of murder, so there's that, too.
- Alex Krycek from The X-Files.
- Even Mulder's informants can be seen as this, as they simultaneously offer Mulder information, withold it, and feed him incorrect information.
- Max from Wizards of Waverly Place, the youngest sibling of the trio. He constantly switches sides, from Justin's side to Alex's side and back.
- Grant Ward from during the second season of Agents Of Shield. After his escape from prison his motives are completely unclear and his actions both benefit and hinder Coulson's team.
- This is Crais's role in the second season of Farscape. After giving up his attachment to the fascist Peacekeepers, and recognising that his quest for vengeance on Crichton was insane and unjustified, he makes it quite clear that his only motivation is to ensure his survival and freedom and that of Talyn. While he still has moral lines that he won't cross in terms of gratuitous murder, he's extremely unpredictable and untrustworthy. This is toned down a bit in the third season after he teams up with half of the regular cast.
- Vezon from BIONICLE would work for whoever had the best chance of killing him at the given moment, however he was mostly out to follow his own twisted yet never quite defined plans. After he gained the power to travel between dimensions, this mostly stopped being a problem for him, although even so, he was once seen doing errands for another, highly powerful character.
- The business calls these folks "Tweeners" (as in, between Heel and Face). Essentially, it's when the bad guys get heroes' welcomes. (Keep in mind, the inversions of this - babyfaces who get booed out of the building, or supposed big things who get no reaction at all - do not qualify as Tweeners; that's called X-Pac Heat.)
- Daniel Bryan. There was a time when Daniel Bryan was a Heel who thought he was a Face. He would come out and chant "YES! YES! YES!" The fans would cheer him and chant along. In order to get heat, he became a more blatant Heel. When the fans shouted YES!, he would shout NO! This had the unintended side effect of being extremely fun, and only made people like Bryan even more. His character eventually evolved to have both Heel and Face elements. Like a Heel, he would argue with the fans, get jealous of his tag team partner Kane, and even cost Kane singles matches. Like a Face, he never ran from a fight, and refused to win by cheating. Most Tweeners in wrestling are actually Faces that simply act cocky, or Heels that the fans like. However, this may be the only time a wrestler was truly unclassifiable, as he preformed the tropes associated with both sides.
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Never trust a rattlesnake.
- Chris Jericho makes a career out of doing this.
- WWE wrestler Triple H seems to settle into this role whenever he attempts a Heel-Face Turn. Mostly because, even as a face, he's kind of a prick—but a smart, (YMMV) funny prick.
- During his TNA days, Christian Cage settled into this role after the dissolution of Christian's Coalition, and his major storyline was about him trying to rebuild his burned bridges with the faces on the roster, in order to combat his allies who had now joined the Angle Alliance. The fact that he was still pretty much a cocky asshole heel in characterization really hurt his efforts.
- Ric Flair, whose exceptional skill at both grappling and cutting promos, and his ability to carry even the most pathetic "wrestlers" to four-star affairs while remaining the Dirtiest Player In The Game throughout, made him almost impossible to boo even as he started to push sixty.
- Even at his most face-ish, the late Eddie Guerrero would lie, cheat, and steal to get his way. It was on his shirt. As he once said while teaming with his nephew Chavo, "Hey, we may lie, cheat, and steal — but at least we're honest about it."
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts was an evil version of the Wild Card. He could be a good guy for as long as he needed to.
- Shawn Michaels. Montreal Screwjob aside, whether he's a heel or a face, even if he's just playing a commissioner, he's cheered out of the building.
- The Rock kinda fits this example too. Whether he's a Face or a Heel, he will attack anybody just because he simply doesn't like him (examples: Vince McMahon and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin). Also, even when he's supposed to be a heel post-1999, fans will still cheer him on such as his fight with Goldberg. His charisma and obvious desire to entertain the fans even as a heel makes it really REALLY hard for fans to legitimately hate his character.
- Randy Orton. Even after turning Face again, he still feuds and fights with John Cena and Triple H.
- His assaults on both John Cena's father and the McMahon family should have made him the biggest heel in the company. Instead, fans tended to cheer him more.
- The Undertaker and Kane also fit this example, as they will attack anybody they feel is a threat to them, not caring whether they are a Face or a Heel.
- John Cena, despite turning Face in late 2003, still used Heel tactics to win some of his matches such as the one at Wrestlemania XX when he used the steel chain to defeat Big Show.
- Kurt Angle will often be cheered regardless of his status as a face or heel due to his incredible in-ring ability. In fact, he once cut a promo proving exactly this: After saying that he is not a fan of "the black people" and wanting to make Jesus Christ tap out, he said people still wouldn't boo him because they knew he was the best in the world. The crowd promptly cheered.
- Mickie James has never actually been booed in WWE. Fans loved her crazed psycho lesbian stalker gimmick so much she was cheered over the also very popular Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 22 and continued to be cheered through her heel run so she turned face and has remained so throughout her entire career.
- Beth Phoenix slipped into this role when she was moved to Smackdown (she had been a heel on Raw) where she was immediately shown to be out for herself and a bit of a three way feud started between her, Mickie and Michelle McCool with Beth's allegiance constantly in question. Eventually she made a Heel-Face Turn. Curiously when she turned back Heel she was still getting a large amount of cheers from the crowd, due to her character having a sympathetic point of view - wanting to make the division about talent instead of looks.
- Kharma debuted as a Monster Heel but she only attacked heel divas at first, before then going for Face divas too. Her farewell promo blurred the lines even further.
- During the summer of 2011, the WWE pulled off the rarely-successful main event tweener feud with John Cena vs. CM Punk. John Cena is nominally the face, does face things, and is certainly beloved by younger demographics, but has long had a poor reputation with the older fans who, while no longer giving him X-Pac Heat, think of his Boring Invincible Hero Hogan-like dominance as a clear symptom of WWE's static nature and an on-screen product that was getting old. CM Punk's current persona is the straight-edge The Guy Who Says What Older Fans Are Thinking. Officially, that makes him a heel, but understandably, it doesn't lead to him getting booed, and his Anti-Hero antics are hilariously entertaining to boot. Throw in some excellent matches between the two of them, and the result was arenas split 50-50 with support.
- CM Punk in general: since he settled into his "Straight Edge Messiah" gimmick across multiple organizations, typically the only difference between whether he's a face or a heel is how condescendingly he talks to the audience when trying to "help" them, or whether he: picks a fight then runs away; or picks a fight, kicks the guy in the face, then runs away. He's also pulled more than one Face-Heel Turn by being the most beloved guy in the company for weeks or months, executing a grandiose betrayal, and calling everyone out for trusting him again, once outright stating "I'm still a snake, you idiots!"
- Rob Van Dam and his chilled and calm persona makes him hard to get over as a heel, because the crowd just cheer for him anyway when he does his "R. V. D" point at himself gimmick.
- AJ Lee won the title while supposedly a heel in a feud against Kaitlyn, but was cheered more for their entrances and on winning the title. A Worked Shoot that was meant to be heel aligned resulted in AJ speaking her mind about the plastic non-wrestling women who currently made up the roster, the crowd responded positively, which gained her even more popularity and cemented her as the Distaff Counterpart to CM Punk.
- AJ Styles' 2013 Face-Heel Turn has him saying he's sick and tired of doing the right thing and instead he'll do his own thing. During the TNA roster's war with Aces & Eights, Styles refuses to join either side and instead viciously attacks both sides.
- Being a Wild Card was explicitly a major part of Mexican legend Dos Caras's gimmick; hence the name Dos Caras, which translates to "Two Faces".
- The Mizdow Tag Team are a tweener tag team. One half, The Miz is a heel that gets booed, while his "stunt double" Damien Sandow, who copies everything Miz does is over as a face.
- Archer in Fate/stay night. He pulls off a Heroic Sacrifice in Fate, goes through Chronic Backstabbing Disorder in UBW and then does his job as a Counter Guardian in Heavens Feel. In all cases he's immensely powerful and knowledgeable and to a large extent drives the plot, mostly in the latter two routes. He has his own goals, but he's not quite willing to destroy the world to fulfill them.
- Rider as well in HF. Her goal is to keep Sakura safe and obey her. So throughout HF she's busy switching sides to ensure Sakura's survival and after she becomes unsure of what is the best option, she disappears despite presumably being on the good guy side at the moment. Sakura/Rider combo ends up causing more bad ends than pretty much every other character, beating out Caster and Ilya by a narrow margin. But she saves Shirou's at the end and even gets to live in the True End.
- Lambdadelta in Umineko no Naku Koro ni for differing reasons throughout the story. First is because she doesn't want an outright winner between Beatrice and Battler, later she acts in a fair manner because it's more interesting and, when pressed, is even capable of saying in red that she is completely neutral. While she's helping everyone out in order to amuse herself, you just need to remember the part about 'in order to amuse herself.'
- Most of the main characters in Darken to a greater or lesser extent, but especially Jill.
- Bun-bun from Sluggy Freelance is one of these through and through. He tends to fall on the good guys' side more often than not lately, though that's largely because the other characters have gotten better at making sure it's in Bun-bun's best interest to keep them alive.
Bun-bun: Deal, but I reserve the right to mug the target and/or switch sides at any time.
Riff: I know, I know, "your usual disclaimer."
- Wanda Firebaugh, the dread Croakamancer of Erfworld, who's seemingly working for Stanley the Tool, but is involved with Jillian Zamussels who is on the other side, and is really working for herself. In large part, this is because she appears to see herself as a servant of fate, and will do whatever's needed to see that fate realised.
- Galatea in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. Poor mixed-up kid.
- Played around with in Vriska from Homestuck. On the one hand, she was responsible for setting a Cycle of Revenge into place and keeping it going. On the other hand, she also agreed to end it, and showed some signs of genuine remorse. On the other hand, when she entered the veil she set in motion the events that lead to Jack Noir being prototyped by Bec, which doomed the kids' session. On the other hand, she claimed she was only doing it to make John stronger, and that she intended to try to face Bec Noir herself. On the other hand, she then proceeded to kill Tavros for pretty much no reason. On the other hand, she seems genuinely regretful of that, and has been talking more and more to John lately, who seems to be steering her down the right path. All in all Vriska's Wild Card days seem mostly over, though it's not out of the question she'll revert back to her old ways...
- Later in the story, it's stated that the Bard class is considered a Wild Card class as its role is to have a major influence in how the game progresses in either a positive or potentially devastating way. In the case of Gamzee, he was at least partially responsible for the Trolls' victory against the Black King by delivering the single most powerful blow of the entire battle, and later in the story he winds up working for the Big Bad of the story Lord English/Caliborn.
- Zombie Ranch gives us Rosa Amarilla, whose loyalties so far are proving to be... fluid. She's even portrayed as the Joker card in what appears to be a poker hand on the cover of issue five.
- In the world of Drowtales where practically everyone is part of a massive Gambit Pileup against everyone else, a few characters stand out by being this position, mostly notably Kiel'ndia Vel'Vlozress, whose unique type of magic actually allow the readers themselves to communicate with her and give her the potential to seriously disrupt some of the larger plans. More minor cases are the Balvhakara and Jie'yen clans, who act in this capacity in the Nuqrah'sharian Civil War and derail the plans of the would-be usurper when they refuse to support her coup. Two members of these clans also wind up part of the main plot and have so far served in a similar capacity for Snadhya'rune.
- The Living Words aka Story in Roommates also fits with his/her treacherous deals, technically not lies, weird morality and inscrutable goals. Generally speaking (s)he is not on anybody's side but generally works in the direction of moar drama because, well, it amuses him/her and also the readers.
- Maxie Dasai from Survival of the Fittest version three who, whilst not stabbing anybody in the back or outright betraying them, was prone to walking out on groups or partners that she felt wouldn't benefit her. She wasn't exactly cowardly or villainous per se, but Maxie was definitely not somebody to be relied on.
- She-Beast, daughter of the supervillain Dr. Diabolik in the Whateley Universe, looks to be in it for whatever she can get out of the deal. Usually hangs with the other Bad Seeds (children of supervillains), but seems to have a thing for Phase.
- In DC Nation's Olympics plot, Terra was one of these. Both Hades and Troia tried to recruit her because she was too damn dangerous NOT to. True to form, however, she took the divinity potion Hades offered her, and betrayed him as soon as he pissed her off. She is now a minor deity of Strife and Chaos (and a pain in the ass for the Titans' shapeshifters), a position that suits her perfectly.
- New York Magician: Raymond. Cthulhu. Michel's grandmother. Michel himself (as seen by everyone else). Baba Yaga- is it possible to have a whole cast of wild cards?
- YWC aka (Youtube Wrestling Community)as everyone switches sides as soon as the person they sided with previously upsets them, the wrestling vloggers also switch sides just as much.
- Ylana Skyfire, a mercenary in Neopets.
- Femme Fatale Blackarachnia from Transformers: Beast Wars starts out as an example of an evil Wild Card. First of all, she was Starscream's Bastard Understudy in the episode Possession. After learning the ways of treachery from him though, she displayed genuine Wild Card traits by using her new skills on him before the episode ended. Later on she fell in love with Silverbolt, an action which changed her to a more moral person, although it didn't keep her from shooting him in the leg. Later versions of Blackarachnia (Beast Machines, for example) were less unreliable and more faithful to the Maximals.
Silverbolt: "You shot me!"
Blackarachnia: "He was going to blow your head off!"
- The second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series has two of these. The second, Torbin Zixx, is a mercenary who will betray everyone twice in order to complete a job. The first and more important one, however, is Foot Clan member Karai, whose sense of honor clashes with her devotion to her father in a way that makes her impossible to predict.
- Red X in Teen Titans.
In his first episode:
Not everyone likes to play the big villain, kid. I'm a thief. I'm not threatening your precious city. Just looking out for number one.
Gizmo: Whose side are you on, Barf Brain?!
- Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes. She both works for Lucius, yet often goes against him to help Jimmy.
- Bigmouth in The Smurfs can play either friend or villain of the Smurfs, depending on what will get him more food.
- ReBoot has Mouse the agent for hire/turned goody when her employer disregards her own safety during a job.
- The Legend of Korra has Varrick, a businessman who initially allies with Team Avatar against Unalaq because his blockade on the Southern Water Tribes is hurting his shipping business and even backs a war with the Northern Water Tribe. Later on, he seeks to prolong the war for the sake of profit and is willing to use his friends to his ends by bankrupting Asami's corporation so that he can buy her out and framing Mako for a crime when he learns of the former.
- Boxter Hamdon from SheZow would on occasion support the Episode's villian because he dosen't like when SheZow steals his thunder.
- Adventure Time:
- The Ice King is originally presented as a villain with a stereotypical penchant for kidnapping princesses. It slowly becomes clear that he's less evil and more mentally ill, and he never intentionally harms anyone, so he's more like an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and he'll even pitch in to help against existential threats to Ooo or the Candy Kingdom. Problem is, even when he's more or less "good," he's still crazy, so his "help" is often unhelpful, or he might get confused about what the "good" side is. His alter-ego Simon Petrikov is unambiguously good, but he's very seldom in control.
- Similarly, Marceline the Vampire Queen, while she cares about her friends, is whimsical and at times amoral. Despite being one of the more powerful beings in the Candy Kingdom, she very seldom pitches in against even the most powerful threats unless she's got some personal stake. Notably, when her Dad, Hunson Abadeer, seems intent on sucking out the souls of every living creature in Ooo, she tracks him down only to retrieve her treasured axe.
- Even Jake the Dog can be like this; he's generally good at heart, but very irresponsible and lazy. He'll sit out entire episodes if he doesn't feel like helping, usually when his powers could resolve the conflict too quickly.
- The page quote comes from Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, a French diplomat who embodied this trope a couple of hundred years ago. He started out under the Gallic Church and King Louis XVI, switched sides to the anti-Church, anti-Royalist Republic, ditched them to help Napoleon seize power, converted back just as Napoleon had allied with Russia, convened the Senate that legally dismissed Napoleon, and finally threw his support to the Citizen King Louis-Philippe. All this time he remained powerful and influential, and even managed to stay out of prison. The Other Wiki says he was known as "The Prince of Diplomats" but Napoleon himself came up with the perhaps equally fitting (if less flattering) label "shit in a silk stocking".
- When he acclaimed brie as the "king of cheeses", it was said that it was the only king he had not betrayed.
- Alcibiades. He switched sides five times during the Peloponnesian War, always for who was willing to give him the power and glory to match his military ability.
- This is the constitutional position of the monarchy in Britain, last used to pick a new Prime Minister in 1963.
- In countries which suffer from a hung parliament after an election, independents and third parties usually become this.
- Dennis Rodman in Phil Jackson's Chicago Bulls.
- In the eyes of many a child or teenager, authority figures (parents, school faculty, etc) can be this.
- Dr. Pepper to both Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Dr. Pepper is a distinct brand owned by its own company, the Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group. Yet, said company does not have a complete bottling network so they use both Coke and Pepsi for bottling and sales.