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"As far as I'm concerned, all this crap in the ring represents the fans out here!"
"I'm the kinda guy, right now, if I needed to sneeze I'd use your hand. That's the kinda guy I am. So it doesn't matter to me if I'm gonna be wrestling George Steele, or I wouldn't even mind crossing the fence, because I have no friends in this business."

You're the heel, BOO!

A Heel is a bad guy in professional wrestling. He's a Hate Sink and a Jerk Jock, existing to make the crowd angry and menace their favorites. They are typically the antagonist of a pro wrestling storyline or "angle." The opposite of a heel is a Face.

Note that hate comes from a desire to see the heel punished and set back, distinct from X-Pac Heat, which skips that step and simply wants someone gone entirely, which is itself distinct from a heat vacuum, where the crowd neither pops nor boos, they just sit absolutely silent for their entrances. At this point, he/she should just hang up the boots because they don't even elicit a response.

The Lucha Libre equivalent is known as a rudo. In theory, rudo is more an "attitude" about Lucha Libre as a whole, but in practice rudos are almost always interchangeable with heels.

Just as fans will only root for a strong or resourceful babyface, they won't boo a heel unless he has certain qualities. Common heel types:

1. The Chickenshit. Bog standard heel from the golden age. (You know the type, the ones who kept Fred Blassie in business.) They cheat a ton, exaggerate about everything, change the rules each time they lose, use bystanders as shields, and win on technicalities. Plus, they have that punchable face which is damn-near a blueprint for Cheap Heat.

The Honky Tonk Man made a career out of being a cowardly heel. Seth Rollins following his heel turn has really brought that old-school feel back.

2. The Narcissist. Overinflated, good-looking heel. They know they are better than anyone else on the roster, and that adds to the ego, which gives them great heat. They talk shit constantly, and fans actually pay money with the hopes of seeing them lose. (Which is a win/win for the company.) But instead of running away, using steel chairs, or calling for interference, they back up their words with action. They take on the #1 contender and either demolish them or go down swinging. For examples outside of wrestling, see Tito Ortiz or Conor McGregor in UFC. If they were pro wrestlers, they would be heels in this mold.

Rick Rude was probably the best vain heel of recent history, but you could make a good case for The Miz.

3. Gorgeous George. The spiritual father of all polyamorous wrestlers, George Wagner invented the modern concept of the heel and pro wrestling itself, in addition to having a big influence on sports in general (see "Real Life" entry). The stuff he did was pioneering, from having the ring and the referee "purified" with disinfectant to that time when he stopped a match just so that he could have "Florida Air" imported to him via air canister. In Lucha Libre, there is a similar gimmick known as "Exóticos", but they are more likely to be babyfaces.

Every wrestler who wore feather boas to the ring or played up their sexual ambiguity, from Hard Gay to Joey Ryan, was inspired by Wagner. But you will remember the name of (deep breath)...

4. The Foreigner. Foreign accents signal to the audience that you won't be getting much mic time. So why not make it work for you? Just keep bringing up local differences and claiming that your country's better. "Your local sports team is unsatisfactory!" "The inhabitants of this city have a higher level of body odor than average!" "I almost forgot to mention that all your local women are overweight and unattractive!" The natural predator and rival of the All-American Face, or the local equivalent thereof.

PUTCHOO EEN DE CAMEL CLUTCH MEHK YOU HUMBEL *belch*. It's also how a lot of gaijin get over in Japan; just look at Bullet Club.

5. The Psycho. Often more a danger to themselves than to others, nevertheless capable of going great lengths to prove no one is tougher than them. Several wrestlers created the prototype for a particular type of heel. Incidentally, this was the pre-steroid age; by the '80s, everyone was pretty gassed up working for Vince, but in the territories, heels still looked like ordinary tough guys. Dr. Death, "Dirty" Dick Slater, Ray "The Crippler" Stephens, and Bray Wyatt today—those guys don't look like male models who watch what they eat. They look like hard-drinking men who you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

Jake "the Snake" could teach a class on the art of being a psycho heel. Apparently there's a good reason to call Dean Ambrose "The Lunatic Fringe".

6. The Bitch. Female heels used to fulfill one of two roles: scary hag or big bruiser. (See The Giant, Brawn Hilda, or "Psycho" above.) A good female babyface is a potential role model for young girls, so her clothes are meant to convey tradition and athleticism. Everything about the bitch is alluring: provocative entrance poses, boob zippers, illusion netting simulating nudity, and so on. They lean toward the 'woman of loose morals' stereotype (homoeroticism included), pompous attitude, and an obsession with shiny things.

Sherri was as much of a threat on the outside of the ring as inside, and really seemed to delight in watching the wrestlers she managed hurt people. A.J. Lee is an anomaly because, though she was a jealous bitch in-character, she got over without focusing on her looks.

7. The Monster. "From Parts Unknown...", a menace capable of demolishing top stars, modern heroes, and legends of the industry. Usually doesn't talk much. The idea is to sell them as a threat without having to compete to be "the best" in the main event scene. They mainly fight against guys below their height/weight class, whether it be in tag team or singles action. Having a 'small' guy who can defeat the big guy on an even playing field is a great way to build them up. Note that the Monster has considerable overlap with The Giant and the Wild Samoan.

It was just so easy for kids to hate Earthquake. He steamrolled face after face, squished Damien (Jake's pet snake), and didn't really get his comeuppance until Hogan came back from injury. Kane has wrestled under eight or nine "Monster" gimmicks.

8. The Authority Figure. A rich asshole with their own federation. These people hold positions of power (often real, sometimes kayfabe) in the promotion itself. They can pull off the "I have an entire Wall Street investment firm backing me" vibe, along with some very-serious suited men who accompany them because they have to keep tabs on their investment.

The Corporation was the gold standard of authority figures in the 1990s. And ever since, it seems like every wrestling company has to have one. Dario Cueto is atypical in that he's a professional actor who gets paid to promote Lucha Underground, and thus is considered one of the best.

9. The Enforcer. More often then not, a bodyguard/powerhouse in a wrestling faction, usually implied to be tweener or anti-hero. It's similar to when the cops radio for some backup muscle for when things get too out of control. They can lure their opponents into a trap and let their bodyguards do some wreckage.

Arn Anderson dealt punishment and protected the other Horsemen, earning the nickname "The Enforcer". He was efficient and brutal in the ring, but it was all professional. Chyna was Triple H's personal henchwoman who rarely talked but would twist you into a pretzel if Trips told her to.

Special mention can be made for Managers (sometimes known as valets). It's implied that they're handling the business side of their client's career. And let's face it, most people in the world who can cut great promos are not good athletes. (And some of the best in-ring workers are terrible on the mic!) Managers can also have stories and be compelling characters in their own right. When Rusev made his debut, Lana spoke for him, and Rusev looked to her when he was getting beat by a tough opponent. Lana also offered sex appeal, and became involved in two different love triangles (in kayfabe) with Rusev, first with Dolph Ziggler and later with Bobby Lashley.

Virtually all the heel managers, from Mr. Fuji to Father Mitchell, are chickenshit. That's because most of them went to wrestling school but were too small, or didn't have the right look. Same with a lot of referees. Of course, you have photographers like Jim Cornette and Paul Heyman, who hung around it for so long that they got roped in.note 

The Color Commentator is often a former wrestler providing his expert opinions. Heel announcers usually end up taking the side of the bad guy, to better egg the fans on. Jesse Ventura, Jerry Lawler, the Honky Tonk Man, and Randy Savage are all former heels turned color commentators.

Heel champions didn't draw in Madison Square Garden the same way face champions do. The main examples of this are Buddy Rogers and "Superstar" Graham. Even Randy Savage, fairly or not, was running out of steam, and (for that matter) Ric Flair never took off in WWF, either. The only heel they ever pushed long and hard was Triple H, and it seems they've learned their lesson since then. Because while there's money in a babyface fighting off a swarm of heels, there's very little draw in a heel champion gobbling up faces the same way. Considering how many hours of television they have to fill, they need a constant stream of fresh challengers, and the best way to sort through them and draw money is with a babyface on top. It's a proven formula since January 1984.

When a heel goes particularly over with fans, he may undergo a Heel–Face Turn. The Heel/Face Index has some more variations. See also the Tweener: a wrestler who flip-flops between Face and Heel status. (E.g. Triple H would regularly call out other heels for their reprehensible acts note , without becoming a babyface himself).

If there are a team of Heels, they are generally an Opposing Sports Team.


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    Professional Wrestling 
  • Abdullah the Butcher is possibly one of the most interesting cases in pro wrestling history, he's one of the earlier examples of a Composite Character blending the foreign and monster heel tropes. His career spanned over 5 decades with a very limited set of moves, relying only in cheating, the use of foreign objects and a very, very slow work pace.
  • André the Giant would tour the world as "guest heel", to prevent Villain Decay, and then return for another short run. Contrary to popular belief, he was a face for most of his career before this.
  • Dario Cueto was a heel authority figure who put the heroes through hell, but he did it in a way which he knows the fans (or 'believers') will enjoy. Example: "Sorry, Son of Havoc, in order to get that title shot you need to go through another hurdle with even more VIOOOOLLLENCE and Dario hates waiting so it's now!!" Dario was also sympathetic in a way that most heel bosses aren't. The way he interacted with Sexy Star was particularly interesting. Because Sexy Star is a purely heroic character, the old standby of villain-hates-hero would normally be in effect, but here it wasn't. Dario gave her a pep talk before her No Más match about standing up to abusers and overcoming evil people. True, it was from his own pro-violence perspective but he did seem to honestly want to help her succeed. The fact their characters are both abuse survivors is touched on here as Dario's mother used to beat him.
  • By 1986, the Fab Five had taken over manager duties in the WWF, the notable ones being Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart. Blassie bequeathed half of his stable (Sheiky, Volkoff and Hercules) to the debuting Slick, though Hercules later switched to "The Heenan Family".
    • Heenan was like Rita Repulsa or Finster from Power Rangers. They themselves were often the butt of jokes, but the monsters they introduced were legit threatening. Managers don't work like this anymore. At best they have one person or team they represent, and they become synonymous with each other. Like Maria Kanellis with Mike Bennett, Lana with Rusev, or Lio Rush with Bobby Lashley.
  • Curt Hennig played the narcissist with elements of The Ace. His "West Texas Redneck" persona was a blend of country singer and 'black hat' cowboy.
  • Brock Lesnar doesn't have a menacing voice to match his size, but Paul Heyman is so good at it he can hype a match for someone who's not even booked for that night e.g. CM Punk v. Chris Jericho, or any match with Lesnar.
  • The trope image is of "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, who remains the most famous babyface of all time. When Hogan's face act got old and the fans turned on him (and his longest WCW Championship reign of all time despite joining in '94, to give it some sort of perspective), he just turned his back on them and aligned with the New World Order at Bash at the Beach '96, resulting in the crowd throwing trash at him and even one fan leaping up to attack Hogan.
    • He transitioned into a heel boss on TNA Impact, and makes sporadic appearances in his heroic red and gold regalia. He appeared at WrestleMania 31 in his nWo attire, but "Hollywood" Hogan for all intents and purposes turned face by rescuing Sting, his old enemy.
  • The Miz is such a natural heel that it helped sabotage every attempt at a face run he ever had.
  • The Great Kabuki created many of the tropes for the evil Japanese, such as scary masks, a sumo-based origin story, and ninja-style cheating techniques like blowing dust or the green mist/spit. (Technically he was preceded by the Filipino Rey Urbano, but evil Filipino never really took off.)
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield (formerly only Bradshaw of The APA, and nephew to "Blackjack" Lanza) turned heel in 2004 and never looked back. His transformation from trailer-trash Texan to conniving stockbroker was inspired in part by his actual exploits on Wall Street, for which he became eminently known in the world of finance. Throughout that period, he was hardly ever seen without his trademark white Stetson hat and matching limousine, which his opponents had the pleasure of wrecking! (The Undertaker once chokeslammed Bradshaw through the limo.)
    • He portrayed himself as a crooked politician throughout 2004 and 2005 (complete with a "cabinet" of henchmen wrestlers) who handed out American flags to spectators. In late 2005 and early 2006, he transformed into a xenophobic redneck who taunted Rey Mysterio (he did this to Eddie Guerrero, too, in 2004.)
    • Since the latter half of 2006, he's a color commentator with Michael Cole on WWE SmackDown!. He toned down his heelish traits a bit but still invariably roots for the heel wrestlers. He returned to ring action in December 2007 to feud with Chris Jericho, during which time he reverted to his roots (attacking the midget Hornswoggle) before finally retiring for good in 2009.
  • Lex Luger and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff looked like living He-Man action figures, and they were weeeeell aware of the fact.
  • Shawn Michaels was just another long-haired blond in a federation stacked with long-haired blonds, so he had to turn the heat somehow. By the mid-nineties and the incident known as the Montreal Screwjob, he was already hated for what he did to his former tag partner, Marty Jannetty.
  • The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika) were the prototype of the afro and bare feet eastern heels followed by the likes of Meng.
  • Former WWE Diva Maxine played 'The Bitch' so well that in her entire career, she was never a face. Most talent get tested out in different roles but she was always a heel on television, only getting to be a face in a dark tag team match alongside two other long established faces. Since she was the General Manager of FCW, she got to be The Authority, too. She also appeared as a heel in Lucha Underground.
  • Heels can also be managers (as Vince and Paul have shown) as well as commentators, and—in the cases of Nick Patrick and "Dangerous" Danny Davis—even referees!
  • A low-down, foul-mouthed cheat who is also accompanied by bagpipes? Look no further, Roddy Piper's got you covered!
  • If you are managing a Monster Heel and your name happens to be Harley Race... your opponents should think twice before get in the ring!
  • William Regal played the Evil Brit with aplomb. These days he remains a firm, but fair neutral party, whether on NXT or in AEW—unless he's pushed too far by a wrestler. He’s like a British Dario Cueto minus the outright murder boner.
  • Jake Roberts was unfortunate in that steroids didn't have the desired muscle-building effect on his body, and he just got fatter. But he still looked the part, and he had Wrestling Psychology down to a science.
  • Buddy Rogers broke onto the scene as a babyface, but it wasn't until he adopted his "Nature Boy" heel persona—a cocky, arrogant, overtly-confident character—that he really began to shine.
  • Sgt. Slaughter was a big-name wrestler in his day. He was doing Coke commercials and became an on-screen character in G.I. Joe. (He helped stop Golobulus from exposing the world to his mutagenic spores.) When the Gulf War was turned into a WWF storyline, he defected to Saddam Hussein and was teamed with a longtime foe (albeit, playing a different character). Slaughter received real-life death threats from viewers over this. Forming the Triangle of Terror with Col. Mustafa and General Adnan might have been ridiculous, but man, did it work in terms of getting Slaughter over as a heel and promoting Hogan as the hero of the United States. Actually, the worst part of the Gulf War storyline was repackaging The Iron Sheik, Iranian legend, into Iraqi sympathizer "Colonel Mustafa". Totally ignoring the acrimonious history between the two Middle East nations.
  • "The Sheik" is a character played by a number of performers throughout history, but The Original One is noteworthy not just as one of the first performers owning a promotion, but for knowing how to be a Cheap Heat cauldron better than nobody. His antics would take him to retain a title more time that he should, fight dirty on every turn and having his way either the audience wanted or not.
    • The Iron Sheik innovated many of the tropes used by the foreign heels: Carrying foreign flags, wearing ethnic clothing and the evil mustache. He's also worth of notice for he went over as a great in-ring technician, and not just for his villainy.
  • Jake Hager even had it when he worked in WWE as Jack Swagger. He represented the dark side byproduct of America's two halves, a proud Anglo-Saxon and jingoistic jerk. In AEW, Hager has been the enforcer for Chris Jericho's Inner Circle, which started out as heels but later turned face, and its retooled form, the indisputably heel Jericho Appreciation Society.
  • The biggest heel in AEW nowadays is MJF. On the women's side, Britt Baker was this for a time; in 2023, it looks like the alliance of Saraya, Toni Storm, and Ruby Soho has this status.
  • Managers are almost always older people who have been in the business for a while. They were used back in the territorial days and early 80s as heat magnets. The more entertaining they were, the better. (And in an era where promos were recorded backstage instead of the ring, wrestlers weren't given much chance to express their heelishness.) The "Triumvirate of Terror" is mostly forgotten today, but they helped WWF make a name for itself back east. The Grand Wizard (so named for his oh-so-stylish turban) died in '83. Both Blassie and Albano ended their WWF stints in '86.
  • Vader would tour as a "heel for hire" for a few months mostly in the States, then very regularly in Japan, Germany and even Mexico.
  • Nikolai Volkoff was a Cold War-era villain, even singing the Soviet anthem. When that got stale, he teamed up with The Iron Sheik and they both sang their national anthems.
  • The Sickeningly Sweethearts pseudo Tag Team is a fairly popular heel archetype with several variations. Where "Exotic" Adrian Street and obvious imitators like Rico Constantino or Paredyse were Gorgeous Georges who only had touchy feely females like Miss Linda, Miss Jackie and CJ Lane around to confuse fans about their sexuality, Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch were both totally straight, and managed to be among the most hated people in SMW precisely because they were always all over each other. Other examples include Tarzan Goto and Despina Montagas, Stevie Richards and Victoria, Jamie Noble and Nidia, Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis, The Savage Gentlemen and Lady Frost, each with their own spin on it.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Mask de Masculine insists on viewing himself as the "hero", and decries all of his opponents as "villains", evoking this trope. When they meet during the Wandenreich's second invasion of Soul Society, Renji introduces himself as "a villain" in a way that is meant to make fun of Mask's wrestler gimmick. Having taken a few levels in badass while training in the Soul King's Palace, Renji ends up curbstomping Mask so hard that the latter becomes enraged and breaks character.
  • Bartolomeo from One Piece adores angering the crowd and pulling dangerous jokes on them.
  • The Tiger's Den from Tiger Mask is basically a criminal organization who specializes in training heel wrestlers. This included Tiger Mask who was a brutal Foreign Wrestling Heel back when he was wrestling in the US. He turned face though to help support the orphanage he grew up in (as Wrestlers from the Tiger's Den had to give half their income to them.)
  • Several characters in Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!, as it's an anime about female pro-wrestling. The heels usually wear masks and usually utilizes underhanded tactics like using a shinai for a submission hold, or having their assistants hamper their opponent.
  • The pro wrestling-themed manga Welcome to the El-Paracio discusses the concept through El-Paracio's Mariko—a prime example of Mean Character, Nice Actor if ever there was one. Inside the ring, "Mary the Kid" is a cold, brutal cowgirl but the rest of the time, Mariko is sweet and caring (as long as you don't call her old). Everyone except the main character Tadasuke takes this in stride, regarding Mariko and Mary as two separate people, while he's upset at the idea of people treating such a kind person as if she were a monster. There's a similar situation for the Death Carpenter, a Heel from another promotion, who's shown to be a relatively normal woman outside the ring.
    • A discussion of Heels is what brings the other promotion into focus in the first place. The female lead Ouka gets pissed off when she ranks #1 (tied with the Carpenter) in a magazine's list of Heels, and challenges the Carpenter to a match in order to try to put herself over as a Babyface. The problem is that Heel-ish behavior is her default personality note , so her attempt utterly fails; when she descends into the ring in a harness with fake angel wings on her back, the audience immediately starts muttering "Fallen Angel?"

    Comic Books 
  • Discussed in one issue of Archie Comics. Reggie spends half the issue heckling and booing a wrestler who in turn is spitting threats and insults at him. Later on Reggie gets a flat tire and that same wrestler pulls over to help. Reggie's terrified until the wrestler reveals he's a Mean Character, Nice Actor and explains that, as the heel, he's supposed to be hated by the audience and that it's all part of the act. Then he replaces Reggie's tire and asks him to keep up the heckling at the next match.
  • "Xochitl la Terible" in Love and Rockets.

    Fan Works 
  • The Most Evil Trainer: Main Character Max starts off the story genuinely despised by audiences (and some fellow trainers, and the Pokemon League itself) for his Combat Pragmatist style going against the Honor Before Reason style of Kalos; after some successes, however, as well as finding appeal amongst counter-culture groups for the same reason, he starts leaning into this as a kind of stage persona as "Blackguard" a Black Knight set up in direct opposition to his Friendly Rival Roland.

  • Rocky
    • Invoked in Rocky II. Apollo Creed starts a harassment campaign to draw Rocky into a rematch, but his PR guy warns him that by picking on the underdog “People’s Champion”, he’s setting himself up as the bad guy.
    • In Rocky III, Rocky has a “Boxer vs Wrestler” match with Thunderlips (a pre-stardom Hulk Hogan), a literal wrestling Heel playing a Narcissist gimmick.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Wolf (played by Michael Van Wijk) from Gladiators. Which leads to a subversion, as he was easily the most popular Gladiator, although his attitude never changed throughout the show's run (due to his deliberately-poor acting). This even carried into the revival when he returned, though somewhat toned down in his role.
  • Pro wrestler Hana Kimura starred in the Japanese Reality TV series Terrace House, where she was asked to play this role. Sadly, after a scripted incident where she blew up at another housemate over a misunderstanding, she was cyberbullied by fans of the show on Twitter to the point of suicide. This, along with revelations of the show's scripted nature, led to its eventual cancellation. Several of the perpetrators were tracked down and fined... the equivalent of $10-$100.

    Martial Arts 
  • Mixed Martial Arts has its share of heels.
    • The Diaz brothers play ever heel card in the deck: swearing constantly, disrespecting their opponents, giving combative interviews, and getting caught with weed, but the fans seem to love them all the more for being irreverent, genuine personalities.
    • Josh Koscheck is perhaps the most successful at playing the heel. His arrogant personality was put on display in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter'' and he rode it into a long and successful career in the UFC.
    • Brock Lesnar was surprisingly media-shy for his run in MMA, but after his victory at the record-setting UFC 100 event, he suddenly had a heel meltdown, during which he trash talked the already-defeated Frank Mir, swore and spat at the camera, announced he was going to "get on top of" his wife, and insulted the UFC's biggest sponsor.
    • Chael Sonnen was a largely forgettable wrestling specialist who was only known for almost becoming the WEC Welterweight Champion until he suddenly discovered his virtuoso skill on the mike. His newfound ability to trash-talk gave his languishing MMA career a second wind and earned him a regular commentating job.
    • Ronda Rousey brought this trope into women's MMA by bringing over the time-honored tradition of hyping your fights by talking as much shit about your opponents as possible. So when she finally lost, there were understandably a fair amount of people celebrating it.
    • Conor Mc Gregor turned himself into UFC's top draw by being a trash-talking money heel a la Ric Flair. Whether you love him or hate him depends on whether you find his Refuge in Audacity stunts funny or just obnoxious.
    • Jon Jones, apart from his various legal troubles and steroid busts, is infamous for his constant use of eye pokes in fights. Why is this such a heel move? Because he literally posted a video on Instagram where he made fun of the fans for complaining about it.
    • Photographer turned fighter Mike Jackson got a lot of heat for unnecessarily prolonging his fight with CM Punk at UFC 225, choosing to repeatedly strike his largely helpless opponent rather than just submitting him. After the fight he was fired and banned from the promotion for his unsportsmanlike conduct.
    • Colby Covington became one of UFC's top draws in the late 2010s by playing himself up as the promotion's "super villain", regularly trash-talking opponents. In one particularly notorious example, during his post-fight interview after defeating Demian Maia in Maia's homeland of Brazil, he called the country "a dump" and the crowd "filthy animals". On top of that, he greatly plays up his stance as a staunch Republican Trump supporter to draw heel heat. Before his 2019 fight with Robbie Lawler, he made his ring entrance to Kurt Angle's WWE theme music. Yes, the crowd chanted "You suck!" right on cue. And he's still going at it in the 2020s, regularly calling former stablemate Dustin Poirier "Louisiana swamp trash" and also occasionally referring to Poirier's "Jezebel of a wife", and after defeating former friend and stablemate Jorge Masvidal in 2022, called him "Miami street trash" in the post-fight interview.
  • Many of the MMA examples listed above take inspiration from Muhammad Ali, who, after meeting pro wrestling's original hated heel, Gorgeous George, decided to take a page from George's book and become such an obnoxious trash-talker that people would pay to watch him fight in the hopes that Ali would get his ass kicked. Not only did this tactic make Ali into a star, it created the basic template that fighters in all manner of combat sports use to promote their matches to this day.


    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Andy Kaufman was an actor and comedian who loved to prank his audience so much that he went into professional wrestling just for the opportunity to play a heel. He characterized himself as a cowardly Hollywood elite who liked to wrestle women to show how tough he was. This led to a feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler that famously spilled onto the set of the David Letterman Show.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The 'Mech fights in the arenas of Solaris VII are the setting's rough equivalent to professional wrestling, as such certain stables of MechWarriors are set up as Heels and Faces, often relating to their nation of origin. Solaris VII is in the Lyran Commonwealth, so fighters from the Lyran's typical enemies (the Free Worlds League and Draconis Combine) are often treated as Heels. However, since the fights are distributed throughout the Inner Sphere, this isn't precise: a Combine fighter might be regarded as the Heel when his fight is played in the Lyran Commonwealth or Federated Suns, but be seen as the Face when the fight is viewed in the Combine. Helping the Solaris exhibitors with their marketing is that fighters who really want to make a name for themselves will behave in a way conforming to nationalist stereotypes, so a Capellan fighter being sneaky and underhanded is the despicable coward in the Federated Suns, a cunning and pragmatic warrior to the Capellan Confederation. Notably, as part of a plot to embed him as The Mole within the Capellan Confederation's intelligence service, Justin Xiang Allard made a name for himself on Solaris by playing up the image of the sneaky, dishonorable Capellan and scoring lots of wins against noble, heroic jocks from the Federated Suns.

    Video Games 
  • In "Mister Torgue's Campaign of Carnage," the DLC for Borderlands 2, the whole storyline is written like a pro wrestling arc, with the player character as the Face and Piston as the cheating, cowardly Heel.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, the model of Navi typically employed by — or found operating autonomously as — criminals is called a HeelNavi. They have a more intimidating appearance than regular Navis, and usually a mean, thuggish personality to match. In the poorly-translated fourth game they were referred to as "HealNavis" instead.
  • Pokémon
  • Super Macho Man in nearly all versions of Punch-Out!!. He's a rich, sun-tanned bastard who knocks the referee over and showboats like there's no tomorrow, and in the Wii version, the audience boos him when he makes his appearance in the ring. If he wins, though, the audience loves him again.
    • Aran Ryan. Whenever he uses one of his (many) illegal moves, such as a headbutt, the audience boos. As with most opponents, if he's Star Punched out of one of these moves, it's an instant KO. In his rematch, he's even the victim of Produce Pelting between rounds.
    • Many of the recurring boxers, such as Bald Bull, Great Tiger, or Vodka Drunkenski/Soda Popinski fit the "Monster"/"Foreign" trope nicely. Bear Hugger represents literally every single stereotype of his country at once, although he's more of a Nature Hero than your typical heel. (The best part is that the studio who made the Wii game is Canadian.)
    • Narcis Prince, a one-shot opponent from Super Punch-Out!! He's a pretty-boy, English pugilist who goes nuclear if you damage his face.
  • Idra of the StarCraft Meta Game is one, in large part thanks to his bad sportsmanship and many a Rage Quit on his part.
  • The Strong Bads from Tag Team Wrestling (1983), one of whom who was later recycled as one of the stars of Homestar Runner.
  • Zigzagged with the Glitz Pit champion Rawk Hawk from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. On one hand he's a clear case of The Narcissist who fights dirty, trash-talks, and cheats. On the other hand he is immensely popular with the fans and when put in the ring can deliver a pretty decent fair-and-square beating. After defeating Macho Grubba it turns out he's not such a bad guy beneath it all: while he doesn't drop the trash talk he swears off cheating in favor of winning the belt fair and square, and during the final boss battle he's one of the characters seen cheering on Mario.
  • The Big Bad of Guacamelee! 2, Salvador, is this, serving as the Evil Counterpart to Juan.
  • Kai Lan the Serpent from Jade Empire, though he's also a genuine villain and crime boss. While competing in the Arena, he deliberately built up a reputation as a douchebag so the crowd would love to hate him, and he continues to play this up now that he's the boss. This backfires on him in the most direct way possible: when the PC climbs into the Gold Division, he can't stop them from challenging for the championship because the crowd will be rooting for a Face to defeat his invincible champion.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has Fire Nation Man, an Earth Kingdom professional bender who dresses like a Fire Nation soldier, waves their flag, preaches their greatness, and bends sand to resemble fire. Naturally, he's also corpulent, unattractive, and stupid. Unsurprisingly, and intentionally so, he's the resident Hate Sink among the fans who gets easily taken down by popular benders like The Boulder while the fans cheer on his defeat.
  • The Rumble for Ragnarok in the DuckTales (2017) episode of the same name works like a pro wrestling match, and Earth being the away team makes the Ducks Foreign Wrestling Heels by default, so Scrooge encourages them to play heel:
    • Scrooge as the "Millionaire Miser", a Rich Bastard who demands the audience pay back taxes and is (as far the audience knows) willing to backstab his own family for the belt.
    • Dewey's attempts to become the Face "ChamPopular" backfires, as him constantly telling the crowd how much they love him makes him come of as a Narcissist heel by accident.
    • Mrs Beakley as the "Shield Maiden" acts as an Enforcer, getting heat for fighting alongside Scrooge against the champ, but not really bothering to work the crowd up (she's more focused on the actual fight).
  • Bender becomes this in Futurama when he joins the Ultimate Robot Fighting League. At first his Bender The Offender personality is extremely well-liked, but as his popularity begins to wane they put him in a pink tutu, call him The Gender Bender, and declare that he's going to lose the next match.
    You loved him as Bender the Offender! Now get ready to hate him as he threatens your sexuality in his new persona... The Gender Bender!
  • You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the White Falls Wolfbats are a pro-bending team who have a flashy, pyrotechnics-heavy entrance; blatantly cheat; and use banned moves like headshots and mixing rock into water.
  • In Looney Tunes' Pro Wrestling Episode "Bunny Hugged", Bugs Bunny faces off against a scary, intimidating heel called The Crusher. Bugs, of course, defeats The Crusher by going into his bag of tricks. Interestingly, the babyface for that match before Bugs stepped in was clearly based on Gorgeous George (who, as noted above, was himself a heel).
  • The Simpsons had a Pro Wrestling Episode where it's revealed that Abe Simpson was once a Gorgeous George-type wrestler calling himself "Glamorous Godfrey" but retired after the hatred from the wrestling community started to be too much for him. Mr. Burns who was a fan of his back in the day convinces him to come out of retirement (with a great Villain Song), but Abe retires once more after seeing that he's become a bad influence on Bart.
  • In one episode of Steven Universe, Amethyst secretly joins a wrestling club under the guise of an overly aggressive cat-themed wrestler known as the Purple Puma. When Steven finds out, he keeps her secret in exchange for joining her as her tag team partner, the obnoxious Tiger Millionaire. He quickly gains the admiration of the crowd, but loses it after he gets carried away and acts mean to Lars when he tries to get an autograph. Later on, when Garnet and Pearl try to stop both from wrestling, but relent when they see how much it means to Amethyst, they start acting like they are from a "federation that wants to ban wrestling" so that the show can go on. "Defeating" them makes Purple Puma and Tiger Millionaire popular again.

    Real Life 
  • Muhammad Ali based his entire public persona on pro wrestling heels, especially George Wagner, reasoning that the trick of "get the audience so pissed off they'll pay to see someone beat you up" would work just as well in a real sport as a staged one. He was right.
  • Jack Johnson was incredibly arrogant and would often gloat over his fallen opponents. Justified because he was a black fighter in the early 20th century, and would have been considered a heel regardless of how he acted. He chose to act in a way which showed he wasn't a pushover.
  • Older Than They Think: The Retiarii, the Fragile Speedster class of Roman gladiators, were generally booed and despised. The fact that their equipment often necessitated Bullfight Boss tactics didn't win them any love.
  • In the NFL, no one fits the description better than Cam Newton. He backs up his scores with showy celebrations and gloats at opponents to try to stop him.
    • However, he toned this down quite a bit after Super Bowl 50, when the Denver Broncos defense force-fed him a large slice of humble pie.note 
  • NASCAR has been described as pro wrestling with cars (though that's usually not said in a complimentary manner), and there is some truth to that. There's definitely babyface drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bill Elliottnote , and his son Chase Elliottnote ... and then there's the heels:
    • Kyle Busch seems to embrace being NASCAR's most hated driver, and in all honesty it's pretty easy to hate the guy. He's been known to cut pro wrestling heel promos on the fans (especially after he wins a race and gets booed), has a very hostile relationship with the media, and has been involved in more than his share of ugly on-track incidents (this one being the most egregious.) Despite all this he still has quite a few fans.
    • Apparently it runs in the family because most of everything above can also be said about his older brother, Kurt.
    • Brad Keselowski. Basically Kyle Busch with even more wrecks, but much nicer to reporters.
    • Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the Ric Flair of NASCAR, in that he started off as a heel and was turned babyface by the fans, and went on to become one of the most beloved figures in the sport.
    • Jeff Gordon, the rich kid interloper from California who was viewed as only being in NASCAR because it paid better than CART or the IRL (in fairness that was 100% true.) Eventually he decided to run with it, though not nearly to the degree as the Busch brothers. Eventually the fans came around, helped by the fact that unlike his teammate Jimmie Johnson he at least had some sort of personality to speak of.
    • If Kyle Busch isn't NASCAR's most hated driver then that honor has to go to Joey Logano, another kid from a wealthy family and a liberal state (in this case Connecticut), who was given a Cup Series ride at only 18 and fans believed he got that ride solely because all the female fans think he's adorable. Logano hasn't really played into it too much, making this a bit of a case of X-Pac Heat.
  • Chris Morgan is infamous for a video of him ranting at customers and female workers in a Bagel Shop about how women on dating sites rejected him because of his height of 5'. The video ended with a customer tackling him and pulling his shirt over his head after Chris challenged another customer to a fight. The video caused him to receive much backlash and mockery across the internet. Chris used his publicity to sign a deal offered to him to fight other internet celebrities and even train with UFC fighters to prepare. You could say this uniquely made Chris transition from a heel in the original bagel shop video and for all the internet into an actual heel within the world of professional fighting.
  • LeBron James played up a heel image during his first few years with the Miami Heat, coinciding with a time his public image was at its lowest as he was seen as a villain for abandoning his hometown team in pursuit of a championship. He even made an infamous Nike commercial talking about it.
  • Pro footballers with a reputation for robust or even dirty play were not above playing the Heel card, in a spirit of warped showmanship. Vinnie Jones shamelessly played up his reputation as the hardest man on and off the field, even once, quite deliberately, bullying and beasting a newspaper sports reporter in a bar, knowing this would enhance his reputation.note  It worked: when his playing days were over, he made a second career playing hard men and gangsters in movies.
    • Back in The '70s, the rivalry between Leeds United and Chelsea, two teams that seemed to go out of their way to sign up football-playing Heels, had something of the aura of an all-in wrestling/bare-knuckle bout on the football pitch. This aura of violence was something that caused the football authorities to regularly discipline both sides for "bringing the game into disrepute", and matches between Leeds and Chelsea were renowned for the on-field violence rather than the football. Sure enough, the management of both sides took care to hype up the rivalries and the feuds beforehand, which temded to maximise match attendance. Players such as Billy Bremner, Jackie Charlton, Norman Hunter and Ron Harris were big-name football playing Heels in their time. Other sides such as Manchester City were not far behind: Francis Lee had a reputation as City's resident hardest man in a hard-man side.

See you in the ring, sucker! Bring a towel to throw in!

Alternative Title(s): Rudo



Christian bullies Beaker.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / Heel

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