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The Hero has had a rough encounter with the Big Bad's mooks. It looks like our hero's done for, but wait! Why is The Dragon suddenly saving the hero? Did he just kick the villain away from pressing the button that'll allow him to Take Over the World? Wasn't he helping the villain out? Wasn't he a bad guy? Well, apparently not. It turns out, this guy was a good guy the whole time. We just didn't know it.

This trope occurs whenever a character seems to be a bad guy but is later revealed to have been secretly good the entire time, but for whatever reason, the audience was unaware of this fact. This is similar to Heel–Face Turn, with the difference being that this character was never truly a bad guy to begin with.

Compare with The Mole (a minion of the villain who is really a member of the hero team infiltrating the group), Jerk with a Heart of Gold (a Jerkass turns out to really be a Nice Guy), Stealth Mentor (a mentor who poses as a villain to force the hero to become stronger), and Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold (a seemingly evil or mean person turns out to be good or nice once you get to know him). Contrast Evil All Along. Otherworldly Communication Failures can overlap quite a bit with this trope, as well.

Assuming this character was some type of a spy or had infiltrated some type of evil or enemy organization, they may be explored in different ways after it's revealed that they were always good. In some cases, they may regret the things they had to do to not blow their cover, including harming or even killing innocent people or people on their own side. This could sometimes manifest in a What Have I Done moment, as the character considers whether their end goal was worth all the bad things they had to do along the way. In other cases, the character will not be that perturbed and will simply write it off as I Did What I Had to Do. This type of character is usually Easily Forgiven, but it's understandable given the circumstances. Expect this character to have many Shoot the Dog moments. Regardless of the details, this trope almost always overlaps to some extent with The Needs of the Many.

This trope should not be confused with Not Always Evil note . Not Always Evil is when mooks or a race thought to be Always Chaotic Evil turn out to have a few good apples or were never truly bad to begin with. The biggest difference between these tropes is that Good All Along applies to characters, while Always Chaotic Evil applies to entire races. Also not to be confused with a Heel–Face Turn, in which the previously evil character decides to become good - here, the character was pretending to be evil but was, as the name implies, good all along. See also Sheep in Sheep's Clothing, for when someone who seems nice actually is, despite suspicions otherwise.

This type of character often serves as a Red Herring, so expect to see unmarked spoilers ahead!

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Ichigo's Superpowered Evil Side turned out to not be evil at all, merely overprotective. It turns out the "Inner Hollow" was Ichigo's true Zanpakuto spirit all along, one that was formed with the remnants of a Hollow as its base. The "Inner Hollow" only ever wanted to make Ichigo stronger and keep him safe.
    • "Good" might be a stretch, but it turns out that Gin Ichimaru was plotting to take down Sousuke Aizen since his own childhood, becoming Aizen's right-hand man just to ensure he'd be in position when the time came to strike.
  • In The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage, it turns out Loki's shady activities were his attempts to prevent Ragnarok, not start it.
  • Laxus Dreyar in Fairy Tail. His attempt to take over the guild is nothing more than a teenage temper tantrum fueled by fear that he wasn't getting the proper credit for his accomplishments, always being compared to his grandfather (who is also the guildmaster). He tries to kill everyone in Magnolia Town with Fairy Law, a spell designed to target those the caster sees as enemies, and it doesn't hit a single person.
  • Early chapters of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood suggest the Elrics' father, Van Hohenheim, will turn out to be an Archnemesis Dad, only for his apparent evil actions to be the result of an Evil Twin.
  • Dr. Franken von Vogler in Giant Robo. Made out to be a mad scientist responsible for a giant catastrophe 10 years ago by ignoring all risks and his fellow scientists in the experiment with the Shizuma Drive, it eventually turns out that he was the only one who opposed the project and the seemingly "good professor" was among the people who wanted to go through with it. All 5 of the inventors survived, but Vogler was believed to be dead, so the remaining 4 decided to cover the whole incident in lies and put all the blame on Vogler. Really no wonder why the Big Bad wants revenge.
  • Ino-Head Gargoyle: He is a gangster, but it turns out Rin's brother forced him to turn Shizuka into a prostitute, and he still loves her (but recognizes that she deserves better).
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Saiga Furinji, previously touted as a major antagonist in the story, is revealed near the end of the manga to have been this, or at least Yami's greatest Token Good Teammate, especially considering the revelation that his wife's/Miu's mother's murder, which he'd previously been thought to be responsible for, was in fact carried out by an Evil Former Friend disguised as him.
  • Kill la Kill gives us Satsuki Kiryuin, who was introduced as a ruthless dictator who rules Honnouji Academy with an iron fist and antagonizes Ryuko Matoi at every turn. Everything she did was actually just to make Ryuko stronger and more prepared for what was to come, as well as to shape all of the Honnouji Academy students into a Badass Army that could help her take down the real villains: her mother Ragyo Kiryuin and the Life Fibers that threaten to destroy mankind.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth's first Big Bad Zagato, who has kidnapped the princess and is destroying the world? Turns out the princess kidnapped herself so she could try to stop loving Zagato, and the destruction that's going on is the result of her inner turmoil. This is more of a case of "not wholly evil" than "good," however. He may have been motivated by love and disgust for the corrupt system his world ran on, but he still did some things that are hard to describe as anything but evil, including trying to kill the Magic Knights (who are the only true innocents in the entire story and likely would have at least been sympathetic if he even tried to explain things), manipulating and lying to Ascot so he would be a loyal minion, allowing Alcyone to die from her battle wounds for her failures in the manga, etc.
  • The Book of Darkness from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's was not only good all along but was actually the biggest victim in the entire season, possibly the entire franchise. All the problems they end up causing were because of bad programming rather than malice.
  • At the start of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Domon thinks his older brother Kyoji went Drunk with Power, stole the Devil Gundam, and killed their mother while escaping to Earth, with their father being put into cryo-prison as punishment for creating the Gundam in the first place. Later on in the series, it's revealed that this is all a lie: the Japanese military tried to steal the Devil Gundam and killed Mrs. Kasshu in the process, Kyoji jumped into the cockpit to keep it out of their hands, but when it crash-landed on Earth its programming went haywire and it turned him into a Living Battery. Kyoji's last action before he completely lost control was to create a copy of himself (using the body of murdered German Gundam pilot Schwarz Bruder as the template) in order to watch over his little brother. Tragically, Domon finds this out all at once, as "Schwarz" and the imprisoned Kyoji beg him to kill them both in order to shut down the Devil Gundam.
    • This also turns out to be the case for the Devil Gundam itself. Dr. Kasshu and Kyoji originally created it as the Ultimate Gundam, with Nanomachines designed to help restore the Earth's environment after damage caused by pollution and the Gundam Fight using the planet as the ring for generations. Unfortunately, when Kyoji crash-landed it on Earth, its damaged programming decided that the best way to save Earth was by Killing All Humans.
  • In Naruto, Sasuke's driving motivation was to hunt down and kill his older brother, Itachi, for murdering their family. After tracking him down and having an intense battle, Sasuke fulfilled his goal. However, while recovering, he learned an Awful Truth: his entire family were a bunch of traitors to the Village of the Hidden Leaf and were planning a coup. Itachi, the only one who opposed the plan, had no choice but to massacre the Uchiha clan, save for Sasuke. Upon learning this, Sasuke became guilt-ridden that his hatred towards his brother was based on false pretenses.
  • One Piece: has
    • Two examples in the Baroque Works saga:
      • Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday are the first two members of Baroque Works, an organization of bounty hunters and killers, that the Straw Hats meet, and in the following arc, end up battling them. Soon after, it's revealed that Miss Wednesday is actually Nefertari Vivi, the princess of Alabasta, and another agent, Mr. 8, is Igaram, Alabasta's Defense Minister; the two of them infiltrated Baroque Works to learn the identity of its leader, who is trying to stage a coup in their country. Vivi subsequently joins the Straw Hats on their journey for the rest of the sage and becomes their Honorary True Companion.
      • Said leader of Baroque Works, Mr. 0, turns out to be Crocodile, a Warlord of the Sea, and his partner and second-in-command, Miss All-Sunday (real name Nico Robin), is a criminal wanted worldwide. By the end of the saga, it becomes clear that Miss All-Sunday was a Dragon with an Agenda who was secretly undermining Crocodile the whole time, even subtly and not-so-subtly helping the Straw Hats, and she betrays him and tries to kill him as soon as she finds what she was looking for. After Robin saves Luffy's life twice and he saves hers in return, she decides to join the Straw Hats.
    • Another Warlord, Bartholomew Kuma, seems to be a loyal dog of the government and gives the Straw Hats a crushing defeat in Sabaody, but it turns out he was saving their lives. By sending them all flying away to different corners of the world, he allowed them to escape being killed by Kizaru and the Pacifistas. In fact, it's later revealed he was a member of the Revolutionary Army, a group headed by Luffy's own father that seeks to overthrow the corrupt government. He even gives up his free will to be allowed to protect the Straw Hats' ship from harm during their two-year absence. Luffy reconsiders his view of Kuma after finding this out and becomes grateful to him.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has an exceptionally sad example with Homura Akemi. It turns out she's a time traveler who knows all about Kyubey's ulterior motives for empowering teenage girls, and her sole reason for living is to try to keep Madoka safe. Unfortunately, circumstances conspire to make this a seemingly impossible task, no matter how many times Homura goes back to try to fix things. Her stoic (and at times, callous) demeanor hides the fact that she's rapidly approaching her Despair Event Horizon after watching her best friend die (or worse) dozens of times. Also, the fact that she doesn't instantly explain all of this to the heroes is explained by her having tried such methods in previous timelines, and they didn't work.
  • The Shitennou in Sailor Moon Crystal. All of them were Brainwashed and Crazy, but they were freed from it by the Sailor Soldiers. Unfortunately, they had a nasty price to pay for it, as they soon learn courtesy of an energy wave.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, antagonists Eto/The One-Eyed Owl and Kishou Arima both turn out to be good, if a bit extreme in their methods. While seemingly legendary rivals, they were actually working together to bring down the Government Conspiracy V and end the conflict between humans and ghouls by grooming Kaneki to become a Hope Bringer. Both end up sacrificing themselves to save Kaneki and set him on the path to bring about their revolution. Though this applies moreso to Arima, as Eto seems to care more about vengeance against V than bringing peace, although it's heavily implied too that she's aware that she's totally messed up enough to be unfit in leading the revolution, which is why she passed the role to Kaneki.
  • Tomodachi Game:
  • Transformers: Cybertron: Throughout the first arc of the show the audience was introduced to a mysterious government employee, Colonel Franklin, who is seen investigating the sightings of the Transformers, butts heads with Autobot ally Lucy Suzuki, and even brings the kids in for questioning at one point. When he eventually meets the Autobots face to face it is revealed that in fact he was rescued by the Autobot Evac as a child, and had been trying to track him down to thank him. Following this Franklin becomes a key ally to the Autobots for the remainder of their time on earth.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: The initial Big Bad Dr. Faker is portrayed in such an Obviously Evil is Hammy way that the audience would think that he's just using Haruto for his own ambitions and that he's manipulating Kaito into thinking that hunting Numbers would help cure Haruto. It turns out that Dr. Faker's true motivation is indeed about saving Haruto all along, but Dr. Faker himself has been manipulated by the true villains all the time who have taken advantage of Dr. Faker's desperation. It's hard to see the twist coming due to the fact of how over-the-top evil he has been acting until The Reveal.

    Comic Books 
  • I Kill Giants has the Titan. Initially believed to be the most powerful and most evil of giants, it turns out that the Titan is a being of near pure benevolence that only wants to help the main character deal with the trauma of her mother's impending death.
  • In the New 52 Donna Troy is a cruel heartless being created by Amazons opposed to Wonder Woman's choice to allow the sons of the Amazons to live on the island and is seen leading Amazons to slaughter the men in question. DC Rebirth has revealed Donna does have a past as Wonder Girl and was not created as a blank shell and that her mind was tampered with like Diana's. Also with the reveal in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) that the New 52 Amazons were fakes, it's implied by association that the Amazon men were similarly not real.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: During the 2020-onwards run, the Ascendant are introduced as an ancient Sith-worshiping cult dabbling in a technology that even the Sith shied away from, with the Obviously Evil design of their technology and sinister rituals supporting this image. However, memories of the Spark Eternal reveal that they were actually a noble group who sought to use their technology to fight the ancient Sith.

    Fan Works 
  • Arrowverse: Leagues: Black Siren turns out to be a deep cover A.R.G.U.S. agent. The reason she never said anything? No one ever asked a single thing, even in interrogations, and she's had to keep up appearances to avoid being killed by the villains who keep recruiting her.
  • Avalon: The Angels ending up not having had the destruction of mankind as their goal, nor would accomplishing their goal have that as a byproduct. Jay, Kay, and Shin are also revealed to be this, as their actions against NERV caused the needless war to come to an end sooner, with less loss of life and property in an attempt to prevent their Bad Future.
  • The Bridge: It turns out, Xenilla was never out to destroy Earth. He was simply organizing all the kaiju who did into a single force that could more easily dealt with (rather than multiple independent threats), and sting his brother Godzilla Junior in order to make him stronger. When this is all eventually exposed following their arrival in Equestria, he drops the act.
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has a rather ambiguous example: the final story has two distinct plots, one involving Slender Man and the other concerning the return of Thunderstorm and Shadow. The climax involves the Slender Man causing the latter two to disappear (it's never stated as to whether they were killed, but the final line of that chapter shows him waving to the heroes as they leave, his mission complete.
  • Clash of the Elements: Gemini discusses this trope with Mallow in Part 2, more specifically referring to Domino when he does so.
    • Some more straight up examples though are Tabuu (Sort of) and Fawful.
  • For the Glory of Irk: Due to Zim and Skoodge's bias, Dib is led to believe that the Syndicate is another evil empire out to conquer Earth. He's therefore shocked and ashamed to find out that they're actually a free alliance which dedicates itself to bringing peace and better standards of living to its member worlds.
  • Maylu's Revenge: Empress Roll.
  • Dean of the X-Trio in Pokéumans revealed himself to be one of Mew's agents, having worked his way into the heart of the Pokextintion organisation. It's a shame he had to do all sorts of terrible things to get there though.
    • In the same universe, one of Mr. X's Co-Dragons turns out to be an undercover Pokeuman agent. Who has had to do horrible, horrible things to innocent people and children to gain his trust, but can eventually tell the heroes crucial things about X's plan as a result.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 fanfic Rise of the Tau, the Orks turn out to be this. Gork and Mork (who are both Old Ones) were forced to turn them into insane savages to ensure their survival after the War in Heaven. They end up becoming valuable allies for the Imperium against the Tau. Also, Magnus the Red, who kept a part of himself untouched by Chaos so when the Emperor ascended, he was able to purify Magnus of the corruption and allow him to reunite the Primarchs for the final battle against the Tau and the C'tan.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, we're led to believe that Jamal is a rival crime boss to the two diamond smugglers Claudia and Klaus, but it turns out that he's actually an inspector for Interpol, and his 'henchmen' are agents working for him.
  • In The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: We are led to believe that the Duplo Aliens are the bad guys ever since their appearance at the end of the first movie. Then they are expanded to the whole lot of the inhabitants of the Systar System. Later it turns out that, no, they weren't evil, they were just trying to approach the inhabitants of Bricksburg/Apocalypsburg in the way they acted so they could live together as friends. The real big bad turned out to be Rex Dangervest (AKA, Bad Future Emmet).
  • In Toy Story, Woody and Buzz believed Sid's mutated toys to be cannibals until they reattach Buzz's arm and put the heads of Sid's pterodactyl figure and his sister's dolly back into their correct bodies.
  • In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, The zombies themselves are this. Morgan Moonscar is initially built up as the Big Bad whilst the other zombies are thought to be murderous monsters, but it turns out they're the victims of Simone, Lena, and Jacque who are trying to save others from suffering their fate. Beau also initially acts antagonistic and irritable to the gang, but it turns out he's an undercover cop.

    Film — Live Action 
  • While they're definitely creepy, the ghosts in Crimson Peak are ultimately benevolent. Their purpose is to warn Edith of the Sharpe siblings' murderous intentions toward her. Foreshadowed by Edith's line early on describing her own writing:
    Edith: It's not a ghost story. It's a story with a ghost in it.
  • For a good portion of Deadpool 2 the Big Bad appears to be Cable, but right before the third act Cable reveals he's only trying to prevent a Bad Future where his family was murdered by the child he has been targeting.
  • Escape From East Berlin: Walter Bruner is introduced trying to rent a room in a house from a family of secret dissidents who are trying to tunnel under the Berlin Wall from their ideally located house. After they refuse to give him the room, he keeps snooping around the area while alternately sporting ingratiating smiles and grim stares. It turns out that Bruner wants the room because he plans to dig under the Berlin Wall himself, and he joins forces with the family once he figures out what they’re up to.
  • In The Hateful Eight, former southern marauder Chris Mannix tries to convince his fellow lodgers he's the new sheriff in a local town but is unable to prove it. As it turns out, he's one of the few characters on the side of the law, and one of the few completely honest about their past.
  • In Hocus Pocus, Winifred raises her former lover Billy (who she had murdered long ago) from the dead as a zombie, and orders him to chase the protagonists. Billy spends most of the film doing so, unable to talk because his mouth is sewn shut. When he finally cuts the stitches holding his mouth shut and manages to speak, he curses Winifred and starts helping the heroes, which was apparently what he intended to do from the start.
  • In the Mouth of Madness: The Axe Maniac is introduced attacking Trent with an ax and an insane expression on his face, but according to Cane, he was motivated by having read that Trent would be the one to bring Cane's book back to civilization and herald the end of the world.
  • Late Phases: Father Roger. In spite of some conversations with Ambrose, where the pastor talks about how he put his evil side in a cage, and other apparent clues, he was a very well-meaning person, trying to help everyone. Including both Ambrose and the real werewolf.
  • In D3: The Mighty Ducks, new coach Ted Orion rejects the Ducks' view of having fun, changes them from the Ducks to the freshman Warriors, strips Charlie Conway of his rank as team captain, and even goes as far as saying "The Ducks are dead!" The truth is he was trying to teach them "two-way hockey," master the art of defense, and mature their hockey playing. Only then would he give back their Duck jerseys. Charlie, combined with adolescence pains and resentment for Bombay "abandoning" them, misunderstood greatly and alienated himself from his friends. Then, Bombay revealed that Orion was on their side all along and that he told Orion how great Charlie really was. Orion proved all this when he accepted Charlie's return and refused to let the Eden Hall Academy board withdraw their scholarships for poor performance, threatening to resign if they are expelled. Good thing Bombay was there to help. And not only did Orion return the team the Duck jerseys, but he also reinstated Charlie as team captain in the J.V.-Varsity Showdown.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Kong: Skull Island: Kong at first almost appears to be a misanthropic, rampaging monster when he attacks and slaughters the expedition's airborne forces without mercy, but then it's revealed that he was only attacking them because they were carpet-bombing his home and its inhabitants, and he's actually very mellow towards humans who don't pose a threat.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Godzilla suddenly attacks and destroys a factory in Pensacola for seemingly no reason, and he's Easily Condemned as a monster. Team Godzilla discover that the real reason Godzilla is attacking cities is that he can sense that King Ghidorah's undead remains are re-awakening due to Apex Cybernetics' meddling with them, and Apex are all too happy to frame Godzilla as a villain.
  • At the end of Muppet Treasure Island, during the climatic battle in which the handful of good guys are battling the entire rest of the crew, Sweetums, wielding a giant club, comes bounding towards where Captain Smollett and Mr Arrow are facing three pirates, and takes out the pirates. A bewildered Smollett asks if Sweetums isn't supposed to be fighting against them, and gets the reply "Are you kiddin'? I love you guys!"
  • Mystery Road: Hugo Weaving's character Johnno is a slightly grungy-looking member of the police force with is constantly seen having secretive discussions, driving around odd parts of town, and taking conversation with Jay in a way that could be construed as threatening; asking he's ever killed a man by accident before, and complimenting him on his daughter around the time someone broke into her house. The discovery that there is a Dirty Cop somewhere also adds to his aura of menace. When Jay finds the stolen drugs that the villains have been hunting for he tells Johnno about this in a way that indicates he suspects him of being one of the drug dealers. But when Johnno does show up in response to this call, as Jay is in the middle of a losing gunfight with the local drug ring, Johnno opens fire on them instead of Jay, while another one of the cops (who'd also had a couple of suspicious scenes) is shown to be with the drug dealers and is the first man Johnno shoots.
  • In Paul, Agent Zoil seems like a ruthless Man in Black, but turns out to be on the side of the titular Alien.
  • Relative Fear: Adam is set up to be an Enfant Terrible, but The Reveal is that his Serial Killer biological father is killing anyone who upsets him. Adam is an innocent kid with Hollywood Autism who genuinely loves his adoptive mother and is trying to protect her, even saving her from his father. Possibly subverted in the final scene, where he mimes shooting his new adoptive brother with a gun, but it's debatable if he's being genuinely malicious and serious there.
  • The twist of The Rock is that Hummel never intended to actually launch the gas into San Francisco and it was all a big bluff to force the Pentagon to pay money for the families of dead Marines. Sadly, Hummel realizes too late that many of his underlings were in this for the money and it causes a mutiny.
  • RRR: Ram is initially portrayed as a fiercely loyal soldier of the British Raj who will not hesitate to brutalize his fellow Indians if necessary. By around the middle, it's revealed that he was actually on the side of the Indians the entire time and only joined the British to be able to steal their weapons and send them to rebels.
  • Scary Movie 3: The aliens are in fact the good guys. They accidentally saw the tape from The Ring, and want to stop it from causing the deaths.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the most famous examples of this trope in all film, to It Was His Sled territory. Ahnold's futuristic killing machine is trailing child delinquent and would-be Rebel Leader John Connor seemingly to kill him, along with a shapeshifting killing machine made of liquid metal. When John is caught in a corridor between the two, the T-800 levels its shotgun at John and exclaims "Get down!" before headshotting the other Terminator, then shielding John with its body when it retaliates.
  • Toward the end of The Wailing, Il-gwang calls Jong-goo to tell him that he made a terrible mistake when identifying the source of the evil in Goksung: the Japanese stranger is not an evil spirit, but a shaman like Il-gwang who desperately tried to stop the woman in white, Moo-Myeong, who was the evil one. Il-gwang is lying; the Japanese man really is bad and so is he.
  • At the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wonka tells Charlie that Slugworth does not exist and he is really Mr. Wilkinson, an employee who works with Wonka.
  • The Woods: Samantha spends the first two-thirds of the movie as a particularly cruel Alpha Bitch before confronting Heather alone in the woods and revealing that she is aware of the evil in the school and trying to fight it. Based on her comments, her bullying is somehow meant to keep the witches from discovering how powerful Heather and Marcy are and using them to assimilate every girl in the school.
    Samantha: You think you're the only one who hears the voices?

  • In 616, Satan himself turns out to have repented of all the mess he caused and is trying to fix it.
  • In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Casca Highbottom is portrayed as a cruel Capitol big wig who was the sadistic mastermind behind the Hunger Games and is unnecessarily hostile and antagonistic towards Coriolanus. At the very end of the book, it's revealed that he had only proposed the Hunger Games as a morbid idea for a school assignment, but had never actually wanted it implemented. Coriolanus' father was the one who went and suggested the idea to the government, explaining why Highbottom hated Snow so much and why he wasn't actually bad.
  • Michael Gilbert's Death in Captivity is a murder mystery set in a prisoner-of-war camp in World War II Italy. An unpopular prisoner, suspected of being a spy for the Fascist authorities, is found dead in mysterious circumstances. At various points in the book, the Italians hear that he was suspected of spying for them and react with feigned or real puzzlement. Finally, in the end, we learn that The victim wasn't spying for the Fascists, but spying on the Fascists, in the hope of eventually prosecuting them for war crimes. The Fascists really did have a mole in the camp, but it wasn't the murdered man.]
  • Mab is one of the most terrifying entities in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink world of The Dresden Files, never failing to freak Harry out whenever she appears. Sometime around the seventh book, the heroes start to suspect she may have gone off the deep end. They are, understandably, very nervous about this, as she's a Nigh-Invulnerable Physical God who the author confirms could Curb Stomp the entire White Council. Come Cold Days, however, and it's revealed that she protects our entire reality from being destroyed by Outsiders. She's still an extremely scary being, however. Also, it turns out that she's not Brainwashed and Crazy; Maeve is.
  • In the Eternal Champion series, Ekrose (an incarnation of Elric) goes to war against the Eldren. He finds this trope applies to them, is torn by his loyalties but in the end kills the entire human race when they won't retreat.
  • Harry Potter series:
    • Sirius Black for the majority of the third book is thought to be Voldemort's most loyal servant, the one who betrayed Harry's parents and ready to avenge his master. It turns out that in fact, he's completely innocent; the one who betrayed James and Lily is their other friend Peter Pettigrew a.k.a. Scabbers.
    • Severus Snape is revealed to be good all along (albeit an Anti-Hero and still a major-league douchebag) twice. Turns out everything he did in the books, he did while working for Dumbledore and following his orders, which includes killing Dumbledore, and all in the name of his unrequited love for Harry's mother, Lily, and the guilt he feels over his role in her death and potentially his actions as a Death Eater.
  • When she is introduced in the ninth Haruhi Suzumiya novel, Sasaki is set up to appear as the title character's Evil Counterpart. However, it turns out that she really had no idea what was actually going on, and had no idea that her new friends were the real villains, and when The Masquerade gets broken for her, Sasaki secretly allies with Kyon to oppose those who wish to cause Haruhi harm.
  • I'm In Love With the Villainess has a very sympathetic view towards the oppressed and poverty-stricken lower class of its Medieval European Fantasy setting, and has spent no shortage of lines showing Dor François's contempt, lack of care, and outright disgust with them. By the end, it's revealed that he's been secretly helping the commoner revolution for all this time, and also wants an end to the oppressive aristocracy he's a part of.
  • Aleister Crowley in Robert Anton Wilson's The Masks of Illuminati. He is made out to be the Big Bad of the novel, but all his crimes happen off-screen, and it turns out they didn't happen at all; either him in disguise, or his lackeys simply lied to the protagonist about them. His aim is to illuminate the protagonist by blowing his mind, as well as a benevolent equivalent of For the Evulz-thinking.
  • Nightfall (1990): For all of the sinister Apocalypse Cult buildup they get and conflicts they have with the POV characters, the Apostles of the Flame are trying to save humanity in general and actually understand that their own dogma is somewhat inaccurate, but feel that believing it will provide more comfort and stability to the survivors. Their Torches and Pitchforks mob also secretly intended to rescue the university scientists rather than kill them. The final act builds them up as an army of conquest preparing to murder the surviving scientists when instead they offer to work alongside them.
    Folimun: I am a fanatic. And a cultist, I suppose. But not a madman. Not a crackpot. I only wish I were.
  • The Elves of The Village in An Outcast in Another World slowly come to realize that Rob is not an evil Human hellbent on spilling Elven blood. Once they do, their preconceived notions flip very quickly.
  • Temple: The German BKA team take the main characters hostage and are believed to be allied with the German murderer from the opening scene. However, they're actually trying to stop the Neo-Nazis and are willing to form an Enemy Mine alliance with the heroes that soon becomes genuinely friendly.
  • Played with in the case of Thrawn and his Empire from the The Thrawn Trilogy. They were the antagonists that the heroes had to deal with in the first EU novels. The book Outbound Flight reveals that Thrawn was uniting the galaxy through an Imperial conquest to build up a strong enough galaxy in order to repel the extragalactic invading aliens known as the Yuuzhan Vong. That being said, Thrawn is still an Anti-Hero at best (more like an Anti-Villain) and doesn't particularly mind kidnap, murder, and lying to innocents if it gets the job done.
  • Jeremiah Paulson from the Dale Brown book A Time for Patriots seemed to be the leader of a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group. Eventually, it turns out that he wasn't responsible.
  • Abe Mazur from Vampire Academy has the reputation of a gangster and is good at intimidating people. But his role in the series is not that of a mean mob boss. Just a concerned father to Rose. He is looking out for her best interests.
  • The Water and the Wild: The Barghest that's been trailing Lottie, Adelaide, Oliver, and Fife for most of the book is actually on their side. He's been tasked by Rebel Gem with protecting the Heir of Fiske, aka, Lottie.
  • In Worm, it is discovered that the Protectorate, and the Triumvirate, are being backed by Cauldron and its mysterious leaders. However, it turns out that Cauldron, and its nefarious deeds, like creating the mutated Case 53s and wiping their memories is actually the ones working to stop Scion from causing The End of the World as We Know It, and are just Well Intentioned Extremists who want to avoid a public panic, and possible the collapse of civilization.
  • The Young Bond novel Strike Lightning has the character of Hepworth Maximilian Blade, a wealthy industrialist whose company produces weapons, and true to the literary Bond fashion, is a misshapen individual due to suffering from Stone Man syndrome. He is producing combat exo-suits for Nazis and is involved in a coverup of the death of a schoolmate of Bond's. But when the action in the book moves to Germany, he reveals himself to be a double agent for England, who is trying to pinpoint Nazi Germany's secret weapon labs through the secret weapons he is dealing to them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "A Hen in the Wolfhouse", Simmons's cover at HYDRA is under threat from their security team, led by Bobbi Morse. When her cover is completely blown, Morse takes out the rest of the security team and tells Simmons that Coulson has arranged their extraction.
    • After getting close — very close — to Rosalind Price, the head of the newly formed Advanced Threat Containment Unit, which has been capturing Inhumans and keeping them in storage until a "cure" can be found, Coulson reveals to her that he already knows that her organization is overseen by HYDRA. He is correct — but Rosalind herself was completely unaware and, once she convinces Coulson of her innocence, is willing to work with him to bring it down.
  • The Bureau of Magical Things: Darra and Kyra start the second season by stealing a magical key out from a shady warehouse in Thailand, much to the frustration of the people running the warehouse. One of them, Apinya, ends up becoming a teacher at their school to get close to them, acting suspicious all the while. When the protagonists lose the keys they stole to her, they go straight to the DMI for help, only to find the warehouse workers already there and complaining to the DMI about the teenagers breaking into their workplace and stealing dangerous magical artifacts.
  • In Charlie Jade, the dangerous and probably sociopathic 01 Boxer is revealed to be this. Despite being a perfect example of Good is Not Nice, in the end, it turns out that every truly evil act he was blamed for was either committed by someone else or an attempt to oppose the true villains without revealing his hand. Despite this, in his home universe, he is at best an Anti-Hero, and in another universe where he changes to be a better person he reveals to his wife that he is tortured by what a bad person he is in his home universe.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", Dalek Caan was a villain in his last appearance, but took an unprotected jaunt through the Time Vortex and both came to a Heel Realization and lost his mind, deciding to destroy the Daleks. He claims, however, that the good guys would still have won without his help.
  • The Flash (2014): Killer Frost is a villain in the comics, but is one of the Flash's main sidekicks in the show. That said, she started out as a depowered Caitlin Snow, with no indication that she is a metahuman, only to get her comics' powers in season 3... which is when she begins showing signs of becoming a villain. However, Caitlin ultimately learns to live with Frost as her Split Personality, and though Frost is pretty aloof she eventually settles in with Team Flash.
  • iZombie: Season 2 introduces Liv's new Love Interest Drake, a shady man who is working under a kingpin of the drug dealing in Seattle. It turns out that he was actually an undercover cop infiltrating the operation to acquire intel for a case against said kingpin, Liv however only finds it out by the time he has already been kidnapped by Major and sees on his mother's photo album that he was a cop.
  • Takatora Kureshima/Kamen Rider Zangetsu in Kamen Rider Gaim initially seems to be the Big Bad, particularly how he tries to play Hope Crusher for Kouta. However, it's gradually revealed that Takatora has been lied to by his inner circle and thinks that only 1/7th of the world's population, at best, can be saved from the Forest of Helheim's invasion, which he views as unfortunate but better than the alternative. When Kouta reveals that there's an intelligent species with control over Helheim's flora (yet another thing his inner circle hid from him), Takatora gladly joins forces with him in the hopes that they can convince these Overlords to call off the invasion; sadly, at this point, the inner circle (plus Takatora's own brother) decides he's outlived his usefulness.
  • Marchlands spends four episodes playing on classic expectations of a poltergeist, but the final episode reveals that the ghost never actually tries to harm anyone—she’s only trying to expose the mysterious circumstances of her death, and on one occasion she even saves an epileptic boy from drowning in a bathtub. This is made even clearer at the end, when even the resident Agent Scully, Amy's mother, admits, "I think Alice was really a good girl all along."
  • Mouse (2021): All the evidence suggests Yo-han is a serial killer. After his death, though, it's revealed he was innocent and on the trail of the real killer, Ba-reum.
  • Happens often with guest characters in Murder, She Wrote with a few notable examples.
    • In "Simon says 'Color Me Dead'", the unkempt drifter loitering around the home of a local woman, making excuses to talk to her and such turns out to just be the biological father of her adopted son, who wants to know the boy.
    • In "Wheel of Death" the circus knife thrower is shown snooping around offices, refusing to tell his girlfriend why and having mysterious phone conversations. It turns out he's trying to find evidence his boss is a tax cheat in exchange for a whistleblowers reward.
    • In "Film Flam" the seemingly materialistic girlfriend of a Red Herring minor racketeer seems to be ok with his operations and getting involved with helping to steal more before she gets an Undercover Cop Reveal.
  • In Oliver's Travels, when Oliver finally learns the fate of the friend whose disappearance started him on the trail of the conspiracy, he also learns that the villain's Enigmatic Minion, Baxter, is his friend's son and has been working to bring the conspiracy down from the inside.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Something About Harry", a teenager suspects that his mom's new tenant is an alien infiltrator when people start disappearing around town, whom the tenant is melting into green goo with a futuristic gun. The tenant was actually a U.S. government agent, and everyone he killed was one of the real aliens. The teenager's mother is the one who had really been replaced by the alien parasites.
  • Played for laughs in the first episode of Sherlock. John is summoned (read: kidnapped) by an ominous, well-connected man who offers him money for updates on Sherlock's movements. "I worry about him constantly...we have what you might call a "difficult relationship." Later, Sherlock refers to him as his "arch-enemy." John assumes he's a criminal mastermind, and the viewer could be forgiven for thinking he's Moriarty. It turns out he's just Sherlock's equally-strange older brother.
  • Star Trek: Picard: The second season begins with a mysterious new Borg Queen arriving in the Alpha Quadrant and commandeering an entire fleet of Federation starships. By the end of the season, it's revealed that the Queen is actually a 400-year-old assimilated version of Agnes Jurati, who has formed a separate, benevolent collective and arrived via Stable Timeloop to save the Alpha Quadrant from a Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Supergirl:
    • A character that is traditionally a villain in the comics is revealed to be this on the television show. This is because the character, Hank Henshaw, is actually a disguised J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, who is a hero in the comics.
    • Zigzagged with Lena Luthor. She is initially introduced as a possible new villain, and the first half of Season 2 is spent asking "is she or isn't she?". By the second half of Season 2, it's firmly established that she was indeed not only good all along, but is well on the way to becoming Kara's best friend. This is subverted in Season 4 after Lena finds out Kara is Supergirl. She grows to hate Kara for not being honest with her despite claiming to be her best friend and makes it clear that she is a Luther after all because she can't bring herself to forgive Kara no matter how hard Kara tries to atone for the broken trust. By Season 5, she becomes one of the Big Bad's by trying to create a mind control technology she can use to rule the world, using human faults as an excuse. And due to Reality Warping, she partners with her brother Lex Luthor. This is temporary, though, as she eventually has a Heel Realization, and is back siding with the Superfriends by the end of the season.
  • Supernatural: In "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19), the warden of the prison turns out to be John Winchester's friend and helps Sam and Dean escape.
  • In Switched, it's revealed near the end of the first season that Koshiro has been pretending to support Umine the whole time. He felt incredibly guilty and responsible for the body-switching since Umine explained that she did it to be his girlfriend, so he played along until he could enact his plan. The structure of the story, and whose perspective the audience is shown, hides this until the last minute.
  • Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp: The Falcon, President Reagan's personal assassin, was apparently this. As soon as it's revealed, however, Beth points out that it makes no sense at all, since The Falcon had repeatedly tried to kill her and had successfully killed two of her friends along with several others. The Falcon says that he'd like to explain but there's somewhere he really has to be.

  • Diamond Jack is about a thief who, while disguised as a waiter working at a fancy lounge, steals a diamond and flees from the authorities on rollerskates. Near the end of the short, it's revealed that the diamond is fake, and is in fact hiding a bomb. The reason the thief stole it was so she could safely dispose of it. She still gets arrested though.

  • Played with in Dino Attack RPG. It comes as no surprise that Frank Einstein is a good guy. However, the surprise was when XERRD's second-in-command Wallace Bishop turned out to be Frank Einstein in disguise.
  • The Krork in Embers in the Dusk. Some canon and a lot of fanon hint at how screwed the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy will be if they come back, considering what Orks are like. Then, we hear that it happened. Well, it turns out the Orks we know are actually the Krork analogue of Feral Children, and it might have been bad - possibly - had they reached Krork level. However, what actually happened is that an army of Krork was rescued from Trazyn's collection, and these guys are actually what 40k considers a "good" faction.

  • BIONICLE has the Bohrok, a destructive swarm of insectoid creatures that appeared early on as a major arc threat, attempting to cleanse all of the island of Mata Nui before they were stopped by the heroes. Much later in the series, a series of twists revealed what exactly they were: for starters, it turns out the entire world of BIONICLE seen up to that point was taking place inside the "Great Spirit" Mata Nui, a long-dormant, planet-sized Humongous Mecha. The island was actually the sleeping Mata Nui's face, and the Bohrok were supposed to cleanse the landscape in preparation for his reawakening, but Teridax chose to weaponize them, waking them up early knowing people still lived on the island. Once the heroes successfully awaken Mata Nui and evacuate the island, they also reawaken the Bohrok so they can do their job unimpeded.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney Investigations: In the sequel, you have Justine Courtney, a cold woman and Sebastian's Hypercompetent Sidekick who is far more troublesome and her testimonies are far more difficult than his. Case 4 shows that she was intending to see if Edgeworth was a fitting prosecutor to fight against the corruption of the law system with her, and when he is put under the spotlight, she helps him out by pointing out that the real culprit would be the Chief prosecutor, and spends the rest of the game helping him out in the investigations.
  • Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea reveals that Daisy Fitzroy was all along an agent of the Lucete Twins, and her Moral Event Horizon crossing and subsequent death at Elizabeth's hands were all part of the plan to harden Elizabeth and turn her into the woman who would in the future bring down Comstock and the Founders.
  • Corruption of Laetitia: Downplayed because the Arch-Demons sometimes suggest morally gray actions to Celeste. They were once Arch-Angels who took the vessels of sin into themselves in order to save humanity. While these sins tend to influence their psyche negatively, the Arch-Demons are still responsible for containing the souls of the damned in the Abyss so that they don't overrun the mortal world. At the start of the game, Celeste doesn't know that and instead sees them as threats.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: The Future Foundation. Monokuma talks it up as an evil organization he initially refers to as 'World Ender' that trapped the students on Jabberwock Island, wants to change the world order for their own benefit, and also states that there's a traitor for the group amongst the students. Usami, the game's mascot before Monokuma showed up, is also highly suspected as either an agent of Monokuma or the Future Foundation. Turns out that what Monokuma says about the Future Foundation is true... from Monokuma's perspective that is, as not only did the Future Foundation not create the killing game, they prevented another one- they're the surviving students from the first game. Makoto, being Makoto, put the class on the island (actually a virtual reality) in order to reform them, and the killing game started because of the class themselves; they had been manipulated into joining Junko's Ultimate Despair and were scheming to resurrect her by uploading an AI with her personality into their bodies via the virtual reality program, but the simulation wiped their memories so they don't realize they did it. The "traitor" was merely an NPC meant to observe and encourage them, and ultimately outed herself as Chiaki (the Deuteragonist) and made a Heroic Sacrifice to foil a plot that would've killed everyone but her and caused Junko's consciousness to take over their bodies. Usami was completely honest about the trip's original purpose.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
    • Kokichi Ouma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader and The Rival character of the game. He is a Consummate Liar who claims to find excitement in the killing game, constantly criticizes the other students (especially during class trials), and manipulates Gonta into murdering Miu during Chapter 4 because she was trying to kill him, causing the remaining students to distrust him. However, Chapter 5 reveals that he seriously dislikes the killing game, that he feels responsible for Gonta and Miu's deaths, and that he assumed the role of fake mastermind to force the killing game to a halt and allows himself to be murdered by Kaito in an attempt to create an "unsolvable case" that would throw a wrench in Monokuma's machinations and hoped that would end the killing game and release the survivors. When you find his motive video in Chapter 6, you learn that his supposed Nebulous Evil Organization was actually a small group of petty criminals and pranksters who committed "laughable crimes" and had a rule not to kill anybody, which ties into Kokichi's hatred for the killing game and Maki and his regret for sending Gonta and Miu to their deaths.
    • There is also Rantaro Amami, who was acting very suspiciously and cryptic for the brief amount of time he was alive, reminiscent of Komaeda from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. However, it turns out that he was actually a survivor of a previous killing game trying to end the new one, but was killed by the mastermind as he was investigating a trapped area.
  • Played with in Daughter for Dessert. For a long time, it looks like Saul is working with Cecilia to ruin the protagonist. However, for his own mysterious reasons, he conspires to sabotage the criminal case against him, all while representing him for free.
  • In DoDonPachi, the "mechanized alien" fleet you're ordered to destroy turns out to be your allies, more specifically the supposed lost fleet you learned about in the military academy. They were trying to prevent Colonel Longhena's omnicidal schemes, and you just destroyed his last major barrier to that.
  • In Dragon Age, Flemeth is depicted as an Ambiguously Evil witch, but in the end, it turns out she's the spirit of the Elven goddess Mythal, who was murdered by her peers for protecting the lower class and slaves. She even spares her grandson from an uncertain fate when begged by Morrigan to spare him.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance: Waldiola is a former valkyrie turned demon who is hunted by Walhalla and interferes with Nemuri's mission. Turns out the politics of demons are complex, and while it'd be helpful if Nemuri convinces Malice to interfere against the Dark Force invasion and align the demon world towards aiding the Earth, the repercussions within the demon world would be too great. Waldiola therefore only seeks to prevent a violent conflict from exploding into something worse.
  • Far Cry 2 has the player character being tasked with killing a notorious Arms Dealer called the Jackal, who has been exacerbating a bloody central African civil war. "Good" is a bit of a stretch, but after you learn his real motivation, to help both factions wipe themselves out while assisting in the evacuation of as many civilians as possible, he seems a lot more moral than either of the local warlords or even your mercenary buddies.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Happens as an early-game plot twist in Final Fantasy XII. The Action Prologue ends with Decoy Protagonist Reks discovering the king dead and getting murdered by his commanding officer Basch. Then you get to the Nalbina Dungeons, and discover Basch rotting away in a cage; turns out he was beaten up and Forced to Watch as his Evil Twin Gabranth murdered Reks.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, this eventually turns out to be the last revelation about Alexander. Primals are given shape and goals by the wills of those who make them, Alexander was created to be a god that would create a paradise and had every bit of power to do it. However, after determination, it realized that it didn't matter if it wiped out the Garleans, stopped the other Primals, or even went and killed Bahamut and stopped the Calamity, the amount of aether he drained from the world with every movement would eventually lead to an even worse apocalypse. To that end and to keep his goal, he undermined Quickthinx Allthoughts to establish a Stable Time Loop that would end in him being freed from the Goblin's controller and proceeds to kill him and lock himself in a bubble that exists outside of time so that he could never be used again, entrusting creating "Paradise" to the player character.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2: As it turns out, the animatronics fall into this trope. During the mini-games, you can see that Freddy attempts to rescue some kids from the real murderer, but fails. As for the other animatronics, they just seem like they want to entertain the children.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 reveals that the classic animatronics—Freddy, Chica, Bonnie, and Foxy—as well as the Puppet were Good. They were trying to find and stop the homicidal Purple Man. Because their spirits were that of children, they couldn't identify him properly or tell him apart from other adults. They were using the only context clue they had: a security guard's uniform. Turns out that the Puppet is the Big Good! He's the one who revived the five murdered children as the suits so they could find their killer, even though he is heavily implied to be a dead child himself.
    • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator confirms that the Puppet was possessed by the daughter of the animatronic's non-murderous creator.
  • The villains of Golden Sun, Saturos and Menardi, turn out to not only be fighting to save the world but have only resorted to brute force because not only did the elders of Vale refuse to listen to their warnings about the imminent apocalypse, but their hometown is the first place on the apocalypse's chopping block. They're still grade-A Jerkass who get their fair share of Kick the Dog moments, but at least their hearts are in the right place. Alex, not so much by a long shot.
  • Guilty Gear: Xrd: -Revelator- reveals that That Man doesn't actually want world domination; he just wants people to be free from the Universal Will. And that he did have well-intentioned reasons for turning Sol into a Gear: Aria would have rather died of her terminal illness while being with Frederick than going into cryogenic slumber while a cure was found over an untold number of years, so he made them both Gears so they could enjoy immortality together. He fully admits that he caused Aria/Justice's death and he deserves Sol's hatred, and even though the two have finally made peace, he still accepts Sol's request for a final showdown.
  • Hearts Like Clockwork: The game leads the player to believe the bat-wielding delinquent girl is going to be a dangerous boss, due to her defeating several members of the kendo club. After the second fight with Hideki, that same girl, Gumi, saves Rin and reveals that she only challenged the kendo members to improve herself and has no malice behind her actions. If she's chosen to accompany Rin to school and encounters the Doombas, she'll state she was always training for the day she needed to protect someone.
  • Edgar from the King's Quest series. A fairy prince with a distressing tendency to get kidnapped and transmogrified, we first see him as the ugly, green, hunchbacked "son" of wicked fairy Lolotte. Granted, he had a massive crush on Rosella, but Rosella certainly couldn't return it under the circumstances, as she thought he was loyal to Lolotte. But when he gives her the key to escape instead of forcing her to marry him, Rosella gets her chance to defeat Lolotte, save Genesta's life, and free Edgar. Genesta transforms Edgar back to his true form as a handsome fairy prince, and the two go their separate ways...until the seventh game, when Edgar's nasty aunt decides to kidnap, brainwash, and transmogrify him again. He kidnaps Rosella, ostensibly to pull an And Now You Must Marry Me, but the more he sees of her, the more confused he becomes, trying to stall and question his aunt's plan, buying time until Rosella and Valanice put a stop to it.
  • Kirby:
    • King Dedede's almost always portrayed as the Big Bad at the beginning of a given game, but usually turns out to be either this or just an innocent jerk. The most blatant case is probably Kirby's Adventure/Nightmare in Dream Land, where he breaks up the Star Rod and prevents everyone in Dream Land from dreaming. It turns out he was just trying to stop Nightmare infesting the Fountain of Dreams from wreaking havoc.
    • Dyna Blade from Kirby Super Star. While clearly set up as the Arc Villain of the mode of the same name, she was really attacking Dream Land's crops to feed her chicks. And to reflec this, she reappears in "Revenge of Meta Knight" to give Kirby a lift back onto the Halberd.
    • Landia in Kirby's Return to Dream Land. Though Magolor claims that he's threatening Halcandra, in reality, he's the planet's guardian and lives to prevent his treasures from falling into the wrong hands; the Lor Starcutter and Master Crown being two of them. After Kirby and friends beat him up as a result of the misinformation, he immediately aids them in stopping Magolor once his true intentions come to light.
    • Shadow Kirby from Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. Despite being dark grey in color and trying to fend off Kirby, he is actually the protector of the Mirror World, much like Kirby to Dream Land. Shadow Kirby even brings out Meta Knight's Master sword periodically during the final fight against Dark Mind.
    • Claycia, who was set up to be the Big Bad of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, is revealed to be possessed by the true villin of the game, Dark Crafter.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning: Cynder, the Big Bad, turns out to be Brainwashed and Crazy. After Spyro defeats her, she returns to her normal self and eventually falls in love with Spyro.
  • David Madsen, the chief of security at Blackwell Academy in Life Is Strange. At first, he appears to be a major Jerkass towards both his family and the students he is supposed to protect, with his surveillance and harassment of one being a factor in them being Driven to Suicide. In later episodes, however, he is revealed to be a Hero with an F in Good. He is shown to be genuinely supportive of his family despite his strictness and is also aware of his flaws as a stepfather to Chloe. And he turned out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist when it came to investigating the disappearance of Rachel Amber, and the conclusion he was coming to was mostly correct. In the final episode, he gets a Big Damn Heroes moment when he saves Max from the Dark Room, a far cry from the animosity between the two in the first episode.
  • Lunar: Eternal Blue: Despite apparently working for the Big Bad Ghaleon eventually reveals himself to be this. This is especially surprising because Ghaleon was the Big Bad of the first game; everything that he does in the second game is a secret effort to atone for his previous actions.
  • Applies to an entire species: the Geth, as of Mass Effect 2. Turns out the ones you've been fighting are a sort of rebel faction who worship the Reapers. Normal Geth refer to these as "Heretic" Geth, you learn this after meeting one. More a case of True Neutral All Along: Most of their species have no beef with anyone else in the galaxy and just want to be left alone.
  • The primary antagonist of Mega Man 4 is Dr. Cossack, a Russian scientist who sent eight of his robots to attack Mega Man to prove his genius. Except that he was being blackmailed by Dr. Wily, who kidnapped his daughter, into doing his work for him, and never had evil ambitions of his own. In the following game, where Dr. Light is kidnapped, Cossack serves as an ally in his place.
  • Metal Gear:
  • The supposed Big Bad of One Way Heroics is played up to be a generic world-destroying Demon Lord who needs to be killed to stop the encroaching wall of darkness. If you use a Buddy Tablet on her, she'll reveal that she didn't cause the darkness and that her death is part of a ritual to temporarily stop the apocalypse.
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink: The warlock Strangeblood, who is believed by everyone to be an Evil Wizard, is actually a good guy. Not only does he secretly help Pink by reattaching shark fins and draining the Dead Sea so an ostrich can reunite with his flock, but he also removes Echidna from Violet's body and takes Nathan in as an apprentice.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
    • Grovyle in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers is initially presented as a villain who's trying to throw off the world's balance by swiping the Time Gears. However, it turns out that he's actually trying to save the world, as any ill effects caused by the removal of the gears are temporary, and they're needed to stop what's really going to doom the world. If only he had bothered trying to explain this before you get captured by the real villain along with him. Although...if you think back to it, who would you have trusted more? A supposed criminal or a world-known explorer?
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity has Hydreigon, who looks pure evil, is seen attacking Munna in the opening, and is later stated to be the cause of the world's impending destruction. However, everything but his appearance turns out to be a lie, and he's actually the one who called the player into the Pokemon world to act as its savior. He proves to be one of the kindest and most heroic characters in the series and a shining example of Dark Is Not Evil.
  • Angela Cross, the true identity of the Masked Thief in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. Angela has been working against Megacorp to prevent the release of the Protopet, as it is a violent carnivorous creature that also repeatedly reproduces offspring at the drop of a hat, and if it got out could very well threaten everything in the galaxy.
  • RealityMinds: Silvana is initially pegged as a dangerous mage who destroyed her home village of Arkeld. In reality, Kvena mind controlled her and forced her to attack the village.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Swamp: Lila gives the impression of manipulating Scooby and Shaggy, but in the end, it turns out that she just needed help making food for her pet crocodile Suji.
  • Depending on what ending the player gets, Anne of Silent Hill: Downpour was in the right all along. In all but the best ending, Murphy killed her father as part of a prison deal, and in the worst ending, he also killed his own son, making his reasons for revenge entirely moot.
  • String Tyrant's villain is Pygmalie, who appears to have lured the player character to a mysterious mansion filled with traps in order to turn her into a doll. Except that partway through you learn that she was actually brought to the house by a mysterious supernatural force within it which devours the bodies, and a chunk of the minds, of anyone visiting. Pygmalie was a previous victim who's now trying to help its potential victims by intercepting them and turning them into dolls before their bodies are devoured, so they can continue to live in some form. She knows it's not pleasant for them, but she's only doing it because she destroyed a good chunk of her own mind to prevent herself from being eaten, and couldn't think of anything better.
  • In Super Robot Wars UX Arnie and Saya get to have a conversation with Jin and Ayul where Arnie fully realizes that Jin truly has no ill intent. Jin just really, really wants to stop the apocalypse from coming about and will do anything to defeat you to make that happen.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • In Subspace Emissary mode, King Dedede spends most of the story trying to take fighters that have been turned into trophies. Then after everybody except the three that he did manage to get face down Tabuu and get trophified, the badges he placed on two of the three turn them back to normal...the third one ironically was swallowed by his archenemy after falling off the princess you chose to save. Turns out that he was trying to find backup fighters in case Tabuu turned everyone else into trophies.
    • The Ancient Minister also turns out to have been blackmailed by Ganondorf. Once Ganondorf controls the other R.O.B.s into doing his bidding, he fights back with the heroes.
  • Kratos Aurion of Tales of Symphonia appears to betray the group. It turns out he has been helping them all along.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has the Recurring Boss Izebel. Played up as traitor and Deceptive Disciple she has in fact the entire time been subtly helping La Résistance behind the scenes. Her fight with Hamil were to both train him and test his abilities to make sure he's good enough to take on The Empire. And the entire thing, including her "betrayal" was ordered by the superior whom she supposedly betrayed before he took his own life.
  • Throughout the Trails Series, Chancellor Giliath Osborne is seen by the western part of the Zemurian continent as a power-hungry individual who will conquer lands left and right. It's why Colonel Alan Richard, one of the early main villains of the Liberl Arc, attempted a coup to centralize the army after the greatest general of the army retired from the force. During the Crossbell Arc, he has asked the SSS whether Crossbell is strong enough to deter the might of the empire. He finally does step up to the plate as the main Big Bad from the end of Cold Steel II all the way towards most of Cold Steel IV where he's planning on waging a war against the Calvard Republic, even harnessing the power of the curse of the empire in Cold Steel III. It turns out that he's actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants the curse of Erebonia to be gone forever because it is affecting the lives of everyone in the Zemurian continent. It also doesn't help that the curse has been stalking him for more than two and a half centuries because as it turns out, Osborne is the Reincarnation of the legendary emperor who ended the Civil War in the empire.
  • In Until Dawn, the Flamethrower Guy is initially assumed to be the Serial Killer hunting the teens, but is eventually revealed to be a separate entity that only wanted to protect the kids from the wendigos. In addition, the "Serial Killer" downplays this: he is just one of the kids trying to teach the others a lesson and was completely unaware anyone was in any danger, to the point the Dr. Hill we meet is said kid's conscience, but he is also mentally unstable and perfectly willing to traumatize the others to exact his revenge on them.
  • In Wario Land 3, every enemy and boss except Mad Scienstein and the final boss, Rudy the Clown. They are actually the citizens of the Music Box world who sealed Rudy away using the Music Boxes sometime before your arrival but got cursed into monstrous forms just before he was sealed. The reason they attack you is that they fear his revival and didn't think you were strong enough to defeat him, but once he is defeated for good and they are returned to normal, they have no problem letting you keep all the treasure you collected and sending you back to your own world.
  • Yes, Your Grace: Thirteen years before the beginning of the game, King Eryk and Queen Aurelea promised their first daughter in marriage to a Radovian thief named Beyran. Eryk and Aurelea hence have a good reason to be wary when Beyran sends a letter announcing his arrival right when Radovians start raiding their Kingdom's villages, especially since they have no intention of keeping their promise both due to their Fantastic Racism towards Radovians and Heir-In-Law being a thing in the setting. It turns out that Beyran cleaned up his act, that he's now leading a group of refugees (that was mistaken for an army), and that the Radovian bandits have nothing to do with him besides coming from the same war-torn country. Also, while he was indeed hoping Eryk would keep his promise, he also knew it was a long shot and was willing to discuss alternatives with him. And it just so happens that he's completely on board with his own daughter being in a relationship with Eryk and Aurelea's second-oldest daughter.

  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Che-Hyun has been stalking Dongtae, is friendly with X, proposes an alliance with no benefits, and joins the Attack's team during War Quest despite promising to join Dongtae's. It's ambiguous how sincere he is regarding joining the other team accidentally, but he chooses to help Dongtae despite being on the Attack's side. Being an attacker allows him to supply Dongtae with Dice for vandalism, which Dongtae can't get as a Defense member.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace's brothers are of the "coerced/threatened" variety, since they are ruled by the iron fist of their powerful and abusive guardian, Damien. When Hedge kidnaps Elliot, he reveals that he's only doing it because he can't find Grace and because Damien said he would kill him if he didn't bring someone back. He also gets hit by Damien for lying to him and disobeying orders. When Elliot's friends arrive to save him, Hedge tries to make them leave before Damien finds out they're there. The worst thing Guineas does is guard Elliot, and his way of participating in the fight with Elliot's friends is by having a thumb war with one of them. Vlad initially appears to be at least somewhat sympathetic to Damien's mindset: He is confrontational towards Hedge, he willingly goes after Grace when he sees her arrive, and when Damien subdues her, he says, "I never like to see her hurt, but she brought it upon herself." He also is the one who alerts Damien to the presence of Elliot's friends and ends up being the most vicious fighter against them. However, this all turns out to be a combination of lip service to Damien and resentment for being unable to transform into a human.
  • Zigzagged Trope in The Sanity Circus: on the one hand, Posey is a demon-esque nightmare creature and is trying to make Attley return to her demonic nature too - but she is also genuinely trying to protect Attley as well from the other Scarecrows, who would kill Attley permanently for being of no use to them anymore.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: The Daevite Empire, of all entities, is posited as being good by SCP-6140. Turns out, the original source for the Daevite Empire, SCP-140, was a piece of racist historical revisionism that rewrote reality so the Daevites were the horrible monsters previous SCP tales had portrayed. When all copies of SCP-140 are destroyed, the real Daevite state reappears; the Republic of Daevastan, an average Asian nation with a knack for agriculture. Daevastan even hosts two new Foundation sites, just as loyal as their counterparts in the rest of the world.
  • In Tribe Twelve we got Firebrand who at first was just a member of the slendy elite team AKA the Collective, but we soon learn that not only does he care about Noah but he is none other than Sir Swears Alot himself. According to his own words, he's always been there for Noah.

    Western Animation 
  • Carmen Sandiego: In the Season 1 finale, it's revealed that Shadow-san, one of the five leaders of V.I.L.E., is actually their Token Good Teammate who long ago had a Heel Realization about the organization's actions and has been secretly protecting and helping Carmen ever since. At the start of Season 2, he openly defects and joins Carmen's team.
  • The Dragon Prince: Ziard. The first time we see him, he's absorbing magical birds for no obvious reason. It's later revealed he did this to distract Sol Regem and save Elarion.
  • DuckTales (1987): In "Merit Time Adventure," Dogface Pete is introduced unloading cargo from Scrooge's sunken ship (gloating about how it is legal salvage), has a suspicious conversation with Captain Mallard about a plan they have going on, and is modeled after a recurring Disney villain. However, Pete really is an honest businessman working with Mallard to hunt down the serpent that's been sinking ships. He's also horrified by Scrooge's apparent death and shows happiness when he turns up alive.
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy assumes Chip Skylark will be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, but he turns out to be a Nice Guy that Timmy likes.
  • Garfield and Friends: One episode shows that Jon had a pirate ancestor who seemed to be evil, but was in reality a spy for George Washington.
  • Green Eggs and Ham: The BADGUYS, whose name is actually an acronym for “Bureau of Animal Defense, Glurfsberg, Upper Yipville Section, and were chasing after Sam and Guy to stop Sam from selling Jenkins to Snerz. The narrator even uses this trope word-for-word to describe them. In fact, they decide to let Sam go after learning his true quest!
  • The Intruder III: Unlike the blob monster that terrorized TOM and SARA in the first two Intruders, the Sand Worm creatures were really trying to help TOM and SARA get off the planet they landed on and have operated out of since the second Intruder, as the planet was dying.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Daring Doubt" reveals that Ahuizotl, one of Daring Do's recurring enemies, is the guardian of his jungle and is in charge of keeping the artifacts within it safe, rather than trying to use them for some Evil Plan as was originally thought. Because artifacts keep getting stolen by Daring Do and Caballeron on his watch, he's in trouble with the other guardians and could lose his job if any more go missing, hence his hostility towards them. However, since he never explained this before and instead keeps putting Daring's life in danger, he didn't really do himself any favors by making himself look like a villain.
  • The Owl House: Darius and Eberwolf are first introduced as enforcers sent to capture Eda and her former partner Raine, who is the leader of an underground resistance against Belos. In Darius's next appearance, he's shown bullying Hunter and appears to be ready to forcibly conscript kids into the Emperor's Coven, but he's then shown to be far more reasonable as he praises Hunter for standing up to him and reveals that he was just going to take the kids home rather than draft them. In future episodes it's heavily implied and then outright shown that Darius and Eberwolf are working with Raine to bring down Belos and stop the Day of Unity. When they "captured" Raine it was just to bring them and their followers into their own plans against Belos, and helped them avoid the brainwashing Belos and Terra Snapdragon were planning to subject them too.
  • ReBoot: Hack & Slash only followed Megabyte's orders because they knew Bob would always stop them. When Bob is gone Slash can't bring himself to kill a Bi-Nome on Megabyte's orders and says that he misses Bob. Then the two switch sides.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In one episode, the episode’s monster, the Headless Specter, turned out to not be engaging in any criminal activity like the previous villains and was actually defending his manor from the episode’s real villain, his neighbor. He even went as far as to help Scooby and friends capture the neighbor.
  • The undead pirates and Civil War soldiers of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island are, at worst, scary but helpful, as the real evil monsters are the werecats and voodoo cultists. One Confederate zombie offers a vine to help Shaggy and Scooby escape quicksand, and the ghosts were only trying to scare the gang off the island to prevent them from meeting the same fate they did.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Chocolate with Nuts" Tom, the first fish Spongebob and Patrick try to sell to, has a screaming fit when offered chocolate and chases Spongebob and Patrick down the street. He comes back a few more times until finally cornering them at the end of the episode. Cue:
    Tom: HAHAHAHAHA! FINALLY! AND NOW THAT I'VE GOT YOU RIGHT WHERE I WANT YOU... I'd like to buy all your chocolate.
  • Throughout Star vs. the Forces of Evil, it was implied that Queen Eclipsa was an Evil Sorceress, due in part to her leaving her human husband for a monster and deal with forbidden spells (one of which marred Queen Butterfly's hands when she used it to cut off Toffee's finger). Even after she gets free of her crystal imprisonment, it feels as if she could be Affably Evil. Eventually, it turns out that she's genuinely a nice person, as is her monster lover, Globgor, who was mentioned to have a complicated past. The reason the pair were sealed in crystal was due to Fantastic Racism over their relationship, making them Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • Zig-Zagged in Steven Universe. The Diamonds, God Emperors of Gemkind, are cold, callous beings of immense power who preside over a Planet Looter empire. Pink Diamond, who presided over the colonization of Earth, was so great a threat to organic life on the planet that rebel leader Rose Quartz was forced to break her Thou Shalt Not Kill rule and shatter her. At least, that's what everyone thinks. In truth, Pink Diamond had Gone Native and invented the persona of "Rose Quartz" to sabotage her own colony. When that failed, she faked her death at Rose's hands, then assumed the role of the pro-organic rebel leader for good. The "zig-zag" comes in that Pink Diamond was originally a borderline Psychopathic Woman Child, commonly throwing immensely destructive tantrums when she didn't get her way, with her actions causing permanent psychological harm to both Spinel and Pink Pearl (her original turning point towards being less of a Womanchild is when she - accidentally or not - hurt her at the time Only Friend Pink Pearl badly enough that even her healing tears couldn't repair the damage). Even as Rose, she still struggled with empathizing with others and her short-sightedness ultimately led to all her problems falling to Steven, who was forced to live in her shadow and inherited an intergalactic war. It's no wonder Steven has such mixed feelings about his mother by his late teens.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one episode, Plucky Duck, who often acts like a Jerkass, is revealed to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. When Acme Looneversity was playing football against Perfecto Prep, Plucky seemed to be giving the opposing team's captain Roderick Rat the Looniversity playbook in exchange for transferring to Perfecto. When his number one fan Little Sneezer the mouse catches him talking to Roderick he tells Plucky "Say it ain't so, Plucky!". At the end during the last quarter of the game when Sneezer again tells Plucky "Say it ain't so, Plucky!", Plucky smiles and says "It ain't so, Sneezer." Plucky and his team captain Buster Bunny immediately use a play together that was never in the Looniveristy team's playbook and when Roderick states so in angry confusion Buster tells him to check the back...Where Roderick finds the last page reading "You've Been Had". Turns out Buster planned to have Plucky pretend to help Roderick so they could beat his team in the end.
  • In Trollz, the dragon Simon rides initially seems to be on his side and follows his orders, but is later revealed to be one of the Five Ancients, having undergone a Forced Transformation. Once he connects with Onyx, he's all too eager to stop Simon.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?: The episode in Greece features a local man chasing the gang around and threatening them with the curse of the Greek gods. Until about two-thirds into the episode, when their new friend, who actually speaks Greek, provides an accurate translation of what he was saying. He's been trying to return the purse Daphne left at the airport at the beginning of the episode. Fred just isn't very good at reading his phrasebook.
  • X-Men: Evolution: Colossus was a member of Magneto's Acolytes. In his second appearance, it was revealed during a confrontation between him and Wolverine that he was a reluctant member of the group and Magneto had blackmailed him into joining. In subsequent appearances, Colossus was consistently portrayed as the most sympathetic member of the Acolytes and was the first to abandon the group after Magneto was seemingly killed by Apocalypse. He later helped the X-Men in their final battle against Apocalypse and was shown in the Distant Finale to become a full-fledged member of the X-Men following Apocalypse's defeat.


Video Example(s):


The Truth about Rick

Cricket and Gramma discover Rick is a caring and kind man and their assumptions about them were wrong, and apologize for being jerks to him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodAllAlong

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