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Heel/Face Index

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You can't believe all the things I've done wrong in my life.
Without even trying, I've lived on the edge of a knife.
When I play with fire,
I don't want to get myself burned.
To thine own self be true,
So I think that it's time for a turn....
Twisted Sister, "Burn In Hell"

Tropes about characters shifting on the morality axis, redemption and corruption.

See Sorting Algorithm of Face-Heel Turning for a sheet of factors figuring into the probability of a turn.

This is a sub-index of Betrayal Tropes. Spoilers abound.


    open/close all folders 

    Good to Evil 

    Neutral to Aligned 
  • Adopt the Dog
    A character with no real stake in the fight takes an interest in Team Good.
  • Neutral No Longer
    The general trope for any morality switch from neutral to good or neutral to evil.
    • Awakening the Sleeping Giant
      The heroes or villains do something to arouse the enmity of a powerful but neutral faction.
    • Heroic Neutral
      A hero who would just as soon be left alone becomes involved in the plot.
    • Default to Good
      If the plot comes down to whether an unaligned loner will choose Team Good or Team Evil, they will almost always choose Team Good.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend
    A solitary character becomes a member of a group of friends/allies.

    Evil to Good 


The alignment change of an individual character may be caused by (or have repercussions on) their relationship with others.
  • Bring Them Around
    A hero or villain switching sides needs to convince his underlings to join them.
  • Defector from Decadence
    A former member of a villainous (or heroic) group switches sides because they no longer enjoy being a member.
  • Epiphany Therapy
    Allies help a character overcome a personal/psychological issue which is affecting his moral development.
  • Evil Is Easy
    Will you take the easy and fast way to the top, or the long, hard, and more rewarding way? Evil people will choose the former.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn
    A hero turns evil at the same time as a villain turns good.
  • Fake Defector
    Appearing to go evil (or good) without a real morality change.
  • Freak Out
    Suffering a permanent alignment change due to unbearable mental/physical/psychological stress.
  • Freudian Excuse
    Where the turn is caused by a traumatic childhood incident. Letting it go unchecked tends to leads to a Face–Heel Turn, treating it tends to lead to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Going Native
    A character adopts the customs and morality of a group which they were originally sent to infiltrate.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn
    Switching sides in a situation where neither side is particularly good or evil.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door
    Unable to decide whether you're good or evil.
  • Heritage Face Turn
    Switching sides in a situation where one realizes they are related to the opposing side through birth or heritage.
  • Identity Breakdown
    Depending on the identity the character settles on, can lead to any sort of character realignment.
  • Karma Meter
    "By kicking that dog, you earned 20 Villain Points!"
  • Literal Change of Heart
    Effecting morality change by removing a bad heart and replacing it with a good one (or vice versa).
  • Mirror Morality Machine
    Applied Phlebotinum changes a character to the opposite of what they were before.
  • Morality Adjustment
    Becoming more or less of a hero/villain without making an alignment change.
  • Motive Decay
    A villain gradually discards the reasons why they became evil in the first place, either losing their sympathy if they keep at it or give up their villainy after no longer caring about their Freudian Excuse
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much
    If Bob the Spikey comes from a race of Chaotic Evil beast-men, expect Bob to be a pacifist who rescues kittens from trees.
  • Resign in Protest
    Someone leaves their side, whichever one it was, because of an order, development, or decision by their superiors which went too far against their morals.
  • Rivals Team Up
    Two opponents (neither of which may be truly evil) join forces against a more villainous threat.
  • Sudden Humility
    A character suddenly finds themselves in a difficult position another is routinely in and realizes the hardships it involves.
  • Sudden Principled Stand
    A character watches his associates and superiors slip further into evil and darkness until finally, decides he's had enough.
  • "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture
    Villains attempt to drive a wedge between a reformed villain and his heroic allies.
  • Tomato in the Mirror
    "The villain was me all along!"
  • Took a Level in Cynic
    The Hero becoming pessimistic can result in becoming an Anti-Hero, or having a full-on Face–Heel Turn. Vice-versa with the villains.
  • Trauma Conga Line
    When a hero or villain has so many things go wrong at once that they lose faith in their old ways and explore 'the other side'.
  • Wild Card
    "What side am I on, you ask? The side I'm always on: mine."
  • Your Tradition Is Not Mine
    The character actively resists the tradition into which they are born and raised in favor of their own path.

    Specific Aversions/Subversions 
... where an alignment shift should occur but does not.

Alternative Title(s): Face Heel Index