Follow TV Tropes


Heel Face Turn / Comic Books

Go To


  • Batman:
    • Villainess Catwoman has since reformed and become more of a hero than a villain, often teaming up with Batman on his missions.
    • The Catwoman of Earth-Two, an alternate universe in The DCU, also turned over a new leaf when she recovered from amnesia. Horrified, she was willing to go to jail for the crimes she had committed. When Batman sprung her from jail to help him, she revealed that she had lied; she had actually chosen to be a villain and then chosen to reform because she realized that it was her only chance for a normal life (whereupon they fell in love, got married, and had a daughter, Huntress).
    • Advertisement:
    • The Riddler also performed a Heel Face Turn, but this too was prompted by amnesia (in Riddler's case, induced by a blow to the head). Additional trauma (from a bomb blast) later returns Riddler to the rogues' gallery.
    • The Joker of all people tried going straight in the Silver Age story Joker's Millions, not out of a desire to do good but simply because he'd been led to believe he'd inherited enough money to never need to commit crime again. This made more sense for the character back then when he was a villain with a gimmick rather than the elemental force of chaos he has become.
    • Advertisement:
    • Two-Face in multiple incarnations has reformed and returned to his legitimate life as Harvey Dent (usually temporarily) following psychotherapy and reconstructive surgery. As Two-Face, he's almost by his nature a walking Heel–Face Revolving Door.
    • The Penguin, briefly when DC attempted to retire the character as too campy an adversary for modern era Batman post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. The 1987 story Love Bird had him find his soul mate in the form of a lady as plump and bird-like as himself called Dovina, and leave his criminal ways for good, much to Batman's incredulity. However, not long after that The Penguin was reintroduced, more evil than ever, by writer Alan Grant, and both this story and the character of Dovina have been pretty much swept under the rug.
    • The Nightwing (Rebirth) storyline "Blüdhaven" introduces the Run-Offs, a support group for former villains who left Gotham to reinvent themselves. They react poorly to a member of the Bat-family coming to town, but they're sincere.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, Freddy initially blames Captain Marvel for getting crippled and briefly becomes Black Adam Jr., but he realizes that this was a mistake pretty quickly.
  • Convergence:
    • The pre-Flashpoint Emil Hamilton was last seen under arrest for his actions as Mad Scientist Ruin. Here, he is working on S.T.A.R. Labs project to help pierce the dome surrounding Gotham City. Keep in mind Hamilton has gone through the Heel–Face Revolving Door quite a few times.
    • Also, there is Telos, who after learning of his true past of being an actual person rather than a living planet who was enslaved by Brainiac, decided to help the heroes against Deimos and declaring that all the captive cities should not die.
    • Superwoman in Convergence: Crime Syndicate, after reflecting on much of her life while on death row. And later during her fight with Wonder Woman from DC One Million, where she specifically wishes to save her city as a means of atonement for her criminal deeds and the accidental death of philanthropist Bruno Manneheim.
  • The Flash villains the Pied Piper and the Trickster both reformed. The Pied Piper had always been the sort of villain who had stolen money for orphanages. The Trickster had pulled off a Deal with the Devil and escaped, and reformed because he couldn't do anything to top that, and didn't want to go to Hell when he died, after his trick. A recent apparent Face–Heel Turn was actually an attempt to pull off a Fake Defector trick — which turned tragic when they appeared to be in on the death of Bart Allen, the Flash. The Trickster is now dead, but the Pied Piper is facing Reformed, but Rejected.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Harley Quinn helped Lex Luthor perfect his mind-controlling devices. When she realized they were turning people into drones unable to love someone other than Lex, she got horrified and defected.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes storyline The Great Darkness Saga: After spending the whole conflict pontificating about the foolishness of opposing to his Master, the Servant of Darkness who happened to be a clone of Orion is eager to attempt to wringe Darkseid's neck after the original Orion's memories are restored by Izaya.
  • Plastic Man was originally a petty criminal, but became a hero after acquiring his stretching powers.
  • Mojo Jojo attempted a Heel-Face Turn in The Powerpuff Girls story "Monkey Business." He opens a restaurant which is a hit with the patrons. The girls however are still quite suspicious and uncover what they think is criminal activity. They are proven wrong each time, but it's the last act that makes Mojo give up his restaurant business and return to a life of crime.
  • In Supergirl storyline Bizarrogirl, Kara's Bizarro counterpart, who was previously an adversary, develops a better understanding of good, evil, life, and death, and tries to become a hero (or as much of one as a Bizarro can be).
  • In Superman: Villains, Winslow Schott, the Toyman, turns himself in when Superman reveals his identity to the world. Apparently, suddenly seeing Superman as a person made him realise that all the times Supes had told him he could be better, he'd actually meant it.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Paula von Gunther started out as Diana's first recurring villain that wasn't Mars, but after it was revealed she was only working for the Nazis because her daughter was being held hostage by them and her desperation, hopelessness and grief and turned her cruel and Di saved her daughter she switched sides and was henceforth one of Diana's most stalwart allies throughout the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages of comics.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Sofia Constantinas started out as a criminal, before her interactions with Wonder Woman led her to turning over a new leaf and taking up the oath of an Amazon.


  • This is so common for The Avengers that it's been lampshaded. We have (among others) Hawkeye, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, The Vision, Namor, and Red Hulk, each of whom started off as villains before reforming and joining the team.
    • Around the time of Siege, Hank Pym tried to recruit Loki by citing the large number of former villains who ended up as members of the Avengers. This prompted a What the Hell, Hero? from the rest of the team, since Loki is the fricking Norse god of evil.
      • Amusingly enough given the above, the original Loki was killed during Siege and his later incarnations have attempted a Heel–Face Turn. One did in fact join the Young Avengers.
      • And since that time, though it's been a bumpy road where he's had some setbacks, he has continued to try and turn over a new leaf. Escaping the role of villain has become his primary motivation the past several years, though he felt as if he is being prevented by fate from accomplishing that. But recently, it appears he may have finally succeeded, and though he was actually shooting for a more gray area Anti-Hero thing, he seems to have over-shot. He made a deal with Iron Man to join the Avengers.... if he was able to lift Mjolnir. Tony of course was not expecting Loki to be able to do so, except Loki was actually able to lift it, so Avengers time it is, deal's a deal. He just needs to get the hammer back from Thor to actually show them. It also looks like he may be Thor's replacement as hero of the realms, now that Thor's become King of Asgard. Pym was actually on to something, it turns out. (though Pym himself then went on to do a massive Face–Heel Turn.)
    • Overdrive from Superior Foes of Spider-Man is smart enough that this trope is his entire reason for being a costumed villain. He grew up as a young boy who idolized superheroes, and reasoned that the quickest way to become an Avenger would be to start off as a villain and then eventually reform and fight alongside his childhood heroes.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Venom is a classic case of a Heel Face Turn to create an "edgier" hero. Also because Venom — created and illustrated by Todd McFarlane — was, for a time, considerably more popular than Spider-Man himself, being a giant, hulking, over-designed monster with zero qualms about killing. Quintessential '90s anti-hero, essentially. Flash Thompson and Eddie Brock in his second tenure as Venom have been flat-out heroes, but still lack qualms about being more brutal than conventional superheroes.
    • The Rhino eventually went legit, turning himself in, serving his time, and getting released on good behavior before settling down with a doting Russian woman. It lasted all of one more appearance. The new evil Rhino killed his wife, sending him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. He put the costume back on, killed the new Rhino, and is back as a villain.
    • Back in the 80's, the Sandman got sick of crime and went straight. He actually joined the Avengers for a while. That lasted a good twenty years, real world time. Then his old teammate the Wizard stuck him in a machine and brainwashed him to be evil again. Sigh.
  • Wolverine: Originally an antagonist sent to kill the Hulk (who himself is a big spinning heel-turn himself... not that both characters don't have their reasons...).
  • X-Men:
    • Emma Frost's Heel Face Turn is proving permanent. However just like Jean, Emma suffers from the Never Live It Down trope. The story that cemented her position as a central X-Man was also the story in which the readership was first led to believe she betrayed the X-Men, just to discover later that she was being psychically manipulated by Cassandra Nova. Before having her own mind trapped inside an indestructible box, Nova had left a psychic impression of herself in Emma's mind, which was subtly manipulating her. That impression slowly twisted Emma's perception of herself, exploiting her survivor's guilt and making her believe she could never redeem herself. In the end, it was shown that Emma was willing to sacrifice herself so that Nova's plan wouldn't succeed. Besides that story, the only other time Frost fitted this role was during Dark Reign, when she joined Norman Osborn's Cabal, as part of her and Cyclops' plan to later make a fool of Osborn and guarantee the safety of mutantkind. Also, while part of the fanbase and some writers believe Emma is still not trusted by her teammates, there are many evidences pointing the opposite. For one, she's been banking the X-Men for quite some time now, and they're not uncomfortable with that. More importantly, she's been the main Cerebro user ever since Professor Xavier left, and the X-Men are ok with that (Cerebro is a machine able to boost one's telepathic power to impressive levels. By letting Emma use it, the X-Men are leaving their minds - and those of thousands of innocents - completely vulnerable to her powers, which says a lot).
    • How Gambit came to join in the X-Men.
    • And Rogue. Interestingly, her Heel Face Turn was triggered by kissing ROM Spaceknight and being overwhelmed by his goodness. Licensing tarpits mean you won't see that mentioned again, ever.
      • For everyone but the three people who might remember that issue of ROM, it was the fact that her powers were driving her slowly insane and she was realizing that Mystique was both unable and unwilling to help, with a little nudge from Mastermind (who wanted to put the screws into Mystique by inducing her beloved foster daughter to run away) that did the trick.
    • There's also Sunfire, Banshee, Magneto himself, Marrow...
  • This is fairly common for Alternate Universes in general, but Age of Apocalypse is a great Marvel Comics example; many of the mainstream continuity's villains are either slightly less vile villains (Mister Sinister, for example, who is opposed to Apocalypse's genocidal desires), or outright heroes.
    • Magneto is the founder and leader of this continuity's version of the X-Men.
    • Sabretooth goes from a villain with standards to a genuine believer in Magneto's creed, a would-be atoner, and a surrogate father figure to Blink and Wildchild.
    • Sauron and Toad, both minor villains, are on the heroic side and loose allies of the X-men here.
    • Mystique ferrets out information for Magneto and runs a secret escape line for smuggling humans out of Apocalypse's genocide-zones... although she also remorselessly skims wealth from her "customers" as well.
  • During Dawn of X, a large number of formerly villainous mutants joined Xavier's side when he established Krakoa as a nation for mutantkind. See that page for the full roster.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • Ultimate X-Men
      • Wolverine has a Heel Face Turn moment when he joins/infiltrates the X-Men to terminate Xavier... and then ends up believing in Xavier's cause and becoming a rather strong supporter.
      • Toad eventually turned his back on the Brotherhood and became a teacher at the Xavier Institute after Cyclops disbanded the X-Men.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: After getting arrested twice, Bombshell was given a third chance to have a normal life. She is unwilling to continue her life of crime and begs Peter to keep her powers a secret from the other students.


  • In the original English language manga Amazing Agent Luna, Timothy Hyatt, upon learning Elizabeth Westbrook is to be killed, switches sides and helps her escape. He later returns to deal with his former partner, Martin Williams.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, long-term villain Dimitri eventually reveals that his alliance with Eggman is so that he can "weaken the greatest evil this world's ever known from within." More recently, after Lien-Da left him for dead, he went over to the heroes' side completely, in the hope that he can one day atone for his actions as a villain.
    • As well, Shadow and Rouge did their own Heel-Face Turns, though Rouge was always on that border. For Shadow, it was finally getting tired of not knowing who he was that provoked the turn.
  • Clem Hetherington: In the first book, "Clem Hetherington And The Ironwood Race", Brecht Ironwood had an epiphany after spending ten years as a tomb robber. From that point on, he dedicated his life to tracking down the artifacts he stole and sold on the black market to return them to the tombs they came from.
  • Thugboy and Ninjette from Empowered started as Punch Clock Villains, but also thanks to the influence of the protagonist, they developed into Anti Heroes.
  • Garganta from Femforce debuted as a villain. Popular with readers, she was brought back as a recurring character, with her original rampage being revealed as a side-effect of the experiment that gave her her powers. She eventually became an auxiliary member of Femforce.
  • The "Chinese Gods", or what remained of them, in The Great Ten. After Celestial Archer introduced them to his patron goddess, who told them that they were simply altered humans, Gong Gong, Lei Zi, Kuan Ti, Lei Kung, and Chu Jung decided that they would fight alongside the Great Ten.
  • Hellboy is one of the most glaring examples. From birth, he was destined to usher in the apocalypse under the name Anung Un Rama as The Antichrist. Instead, he wants nothing to do with it and becomes an Anti Anti Christ, going as far as to keep his demon horns filed down.
  • Powerplex in Invincible always considered himself a hero in his single-minded obsession with killing Invincible — but after Invincible left the planet for an extended period, he received counseling and a second chance as a member of the superhero team the Actioneers. However, when Invincible returned, he couldn't control himself and attacked him again. After finally accepting the fact that Invincible wasn't at fault for his sister's death and that the death of his wife and son were on his shoulders and his alone, Powerplex surrendered. In a later conversation with Cecil, Invincible learns that Powerplex was a real hero while he was away, and will be again after more counseling.
  • In the Irredeemable spinoff Incorruptible, former supervillain Max Damage realizes that The Plutonian's Face–Heel Turn will now leave the general public without a true Big Good to defend them. In response, he decides that he needs to step up for the people and becomes Max Daring.
  • In the Madballs comic book published by Star Comics (a subsidiary of Marvel Comics that is now defunct), the second series Madballs and the Super Madballs were initially created by Dr. Viktor Frankenbeans to be Evil Counterparts to the original Madballs, but they ended up turning against the doctor and siding with the original Madballs.
  • King Sombra does so the end of "The Siege of the Crystal Empire" arc in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) comics, after realizing he's become the monster he saw in the Crystal Heart from a thousand years prior.
  • When first introduced in the Archie Comics Ninja Turtles book, Ninjara was a villainess, but she quickly switches sides when she realizes her employer was even worse than she thought he was.
  • The Transformers has a number of Decepticons leave the cause, in part due to the Adaptational Heroism the faction has had, and also due to the truly wretched participants in the group.
    • Thundercracker leaves the Decepticons in The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, after the slaughter of thousands of humans as well as the conversion of almost three thousand of their own men into monsters due to the Decepticon experiments.
    • After the events of AHM, Dirge leaves the Decepticons after they abandon him, and he and Swindle aid the neutrals and Autobots during the post-war upraising in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise. Similarly, Tankor and Squawkbox depart from the Cons as well as they felt the peace achieved with Megatron's defeat was preferable to the fighting (Tankor himself went on to be a supporting cast member in the The Transformers: Windblade series).
    • The Transformers: Dark Cybertron ends with Megatron leaving the Decepticons, disillusioned with how far he'd fallen from his original goal of fighting for equality. In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, he ends up taking so many levels in kindness that he proves willing to lay down his life for organics he'd never met, despite his previous prejudice against organic life.
    • Ambulon became an Autobot after the Decepticons forcibly entered him into their (failed) combiner program, leaving him with the useless alt-mode of a leg in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. In season 2 Ravage joins the Lost Light crew to stay by Megatron's side both out of loyalty and seeing the massacre inflicted by the more zealous members of their side.
    • The Scavengers start out as a pack of corpse-looting petty thieves with some pretty nasty anti-organic bigotry. They grow out of it, eventually deciding to find traumatised post-war ex-Decepticons and help them recover.
    Crankcase: What you're describing sounds suspiciously like helping people.
    Krok: I know, because guess what? I think we'd be pretty good at it.
  • In Violine, the doctor after being declared the world champion of the Pygmies. Van Beursen, Muller and Marushka later have amnesia-induced ones.
  • The demons of Clean Room are universally evil, but one was turned from its nature by an unusually successful exorcism.
    • Also, the demons recruited a human banker to secure financial records in exchange for a cut of their profits. After fulfilling his end, the banker learned the truth of their aims and rebelled. It didn't work out for him.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: