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Role Swap AU

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"That day, if our positions were switched... Would our fates be different? Would I have your life, and you mine?"
Vergil, Devil May Cry 5, regarding Dante

In a Role Swap Plot, characters experience an Alternate Reality Episode in which they briefly switch roles with someone else, or travel to an Alternate Universe where their roles are different from that of their home universe.

But what if the roles aren't switched during the story? What if they were switched from the start, and this new reality is completely treated as the norm? Then you have this trope.

Also known as "Role Reversal", a Role Swap AU is a common What If? premise (especially in Fanfiction) in which two or more characters switch roles and/or alignments with each other, with the subsequent story exploring how plot events alter, diverge, or stay the same because of this swap.

Superhero stories are especially prone to this, but the trope doesn't need powers or a costumed identity. The key thing is that both the character and their alternate universe role are already known to the story's audience and probably part of the main cast — but, back in the usual universe, this role in the story is held by a different major character.

Compare Film Fic, a similar fan fiction premise where a familiar story is retold using characters from a different fandom. It might overlap with Adaptational Protagonist, when either minor or major characters acquire the main lead role in an adaptation.

Fanwork Examples (sorted by source material):

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    Anime & Manga 


    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin:
  • How Far Do These Roots Go Down? is set in a version of Encanto where the Madrigals' gifts go to different members of the family. Isabela gets Bruno's gift, Bruno gets Antonio's gift, Dolores and Julieta swap gifts, and so on.
  • Embers is a one-shot Frozen (2013) fic where Hans is the one born with powers, while Elsa is the visiting royal who manages to prompt him to reveal his magic. She even paraphrases one of his lines from the film ("don't be the monster they fear you are"), albeit in a much tamer context.
  • The How to Train Your Dragon fanfic Dragon Souls features Astrid as the one who was taken away by dragons at the age of three, while Valka remains on Berk. The events of the story are an alternate telling of the second film, with Astrid being a Feral Child due to being raised by dragons. As an aside, Word of God states Hiccup's sister took Astrid's place for the events of the first movie.
  • You Are Mine is a The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney) fanfic in which Frollo adopts Esmeralda instead of Quasimodo. However, rather than taking Esmeralda's role, Quasimodo himself is Adapted Out.
  • Trolls Band Together: The Crystal John Dory AU follows the idea that, instead of Floyd, Velvet and Veneer captured John Dory instead and, unlike with Floyd, who held out hope, John Dory comes to believe that his brothers aren't going to come for him due to his perfectionist behavior. Some versions additionally swap who the more sympathetic villain is, with Velvet beginning to have doubts in the plan while Veneer becomes more villainous.
  • The Punk of Podunk is a Zootopia fanfic where Nick Wilde is the rookie cop, while Judy Hopps is the troubled delinquent he butts head with on his first major duty. The plot of the fic has almost nothing to do with the actual canon story line, however, as it took place 6 years before the canon timeline, and takes place in a completely different precinct.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The parody trailer Dog Wick is a version of John Wick where Daisy becomes the badass assassin out for revenge and John becomes the victim of the Plot-Triggering Death. Daisy is still a dog, by the way.
  • The "Graham Lives" AU on Abraxas author Hrodvitnon's Tumblr is a version of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and the wider MonsterVerse where Ghidorah killed Mark Russell instead of Vivienne Graham in Antarctica. The basic plots of King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong play out the same, with Vivienne filling Mark's shoes in most events and becoming Madison Russell's legal guardian after both her parents have died, although Vivienne is in some ways even more furious at Emma Russell's betrayal and also much more emotional over her mentor Serizawa's Heroic Sacrifice than Mark was in her shoes, and she's also a much more competent Reasonable Authority Figure with a better relationship with Madison than Mark was as a Monarch director. Other possible ripple effects that were discussed by the author with others include; Vivienne being too slow to save the G-Team and the Isla de Mara evacuees when they were in a damaged Osprey trying to reach the Argo, Monarch instead of Alan Jonah gaining custody of Ghidorah's severed left head, and Vivienne confronting Apex Cybernetics, with Walter Simmons attempting to assassinate her.
  • In the Star Wars fic Padawan's Return, when Ahsoka Tano is sent back in time from the time of the Empire to the events of The Phantom Menace, she is naturally stunned when a chain of events lead to the Jedi Council deciding that she should become the Master of the young Anakin Skywalker, even if she tells nobody that she was his Padawan in her time of origin. On a less positive example, Ahsoka's role in the defeat and capture of Darth Maul results in Maul becoming fixated on her in particular, prompting Ahsoka to privately muse that she's basically become to both Anakin and Maul what Obi-Wan Kenobi was in the original timeline.
  • What If the Fates Were Reversed? is a Descendants fanfic that re-tells the first movie with a twist — the villains have already conquered Auradon, banishing the heroes to the Isle of the Forgotten. As a result, Ben, Audrey, Chad, and Jane take the VKs' place as the kids from the Isle brought to Auradon by the heir to the throne (Mal) in the hopes of getting them to switch alignments.

  • All Assorted Animorphs AUs has several, including "What if Tom ended up leading the Animorphs?" (while Jake is a Controller), "What if Jake was stuck in morph?" (instead of Tobias), "What if Marco was the one split in half in #32?" (instead of Rachel), "What if James, not David, became the seventh Animorph?" (Exactly What It Says on the Tin), "What if Elfangor and Loren raised Tobias?" (in which Mertil and Gafinilan give the Animorphs their powers and then die instead of Elfangor), "What if Tobias and Rachel lived in NYC post-war?" (in which Jake killed Tom and then died instead of Rachel), and "What if Peter and Naomi got married?" (instead of Peter and Nora).
  • The Sacred and the Profane is a Good Omens fic in which Crowley is an Angel and Aziraphale is a demon.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Another Prisoner, Another Professor puts a spin on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Lupin is the escaped convict, and Sirius is the the new DADA teacher for Harry's third year.
    • The Reveal that the prophesied "saviour" destined to defeat Voldemort could apply to Neville as well as Harry has spawned a number of fics where Neville is the Boy-Who-Lived, and Harry as just a normal wizard caught up in the war.
    • In the language of flowers is a Marauders Era fic where Petunia was the witch and younger sister and Lily the muggle and elder sister.
  • it's about the bones: The fic is a "Harrow Nova AU," where Harrow is not born a necromancer, and Gideon is raised up as the heir instead. These are quite common in the fandom, since it was literally suggested in the text of Harrow the Ninth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 13 Reasons Why: The Tapes Of Clay Jensen. As the title implies, it's a role reversal of Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker's respective roles in 13 Reasons Why. Stations of the Canon included Hannah receiving the tapes, Clay's suicide, and a character who's entrusted to the tapes. Most of the tape subjects are the same, but there is more divergence in Clay's reasons compared to Hannah's canon reasons, even if they share most of the same people. The tape subjects are Justin, Jessica, Alex, Tyler, Tony, Marcus, Zach, and Bryce. And Hannah's not even a reason at all. The changes also lead to Hannah and Clay having an explicitly sexual relationship at times, and this results in Hannah getting pregnant by Clay.
  • The Lucky Ones: The student characters that die by the end of the first season of All of Us Are Dead are the ones to survive while surviving students die in various ways.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Blackbird offers an interesting variation on the Fandom-Specific Plot of Laurel joining the League of Assassins instead of Sara. Typically that happens because Laurel went on the Gambit with Oliver instead of Sara. Here, Sara was still the one who went with Oliver and was eventually rescued by Nyssa and brought to Nanda Parbat, but was found by her mother before she could properly join the League, who subsequently offered Laurel to them in Sara's place.
    • The Hurricane is an AU where Laurel (and Laurel alone) is the one who went on the Queen's Gambit instead of Oliver and Sara. This subsequently transforms the entire story into Laurel's journey to becoming the Black Canary, in place of Oliver's journey to becoming the Green Arrow. While Laurel is ostensibly the main character, both Oliver and Sara get plenty enough focus themselves.
    • Vigilantes' Dawn has Oliver take his girlfriend Laurel onto the Queen's Gambit instead of Laurel's sister Sara. This leads to a number of changes, including Oliver/Laurel being the Official Couple (with no hopes of Olicity ever happening), Laurel being able to reunite with Oliver before he returned to Starling City and Sara becoming a detective during the five years they were gone. While the story itself starts off with Stations of the Canon, eventually the smaller changes begin building up to larger changes, leading to increasingly different outcomes for canon events.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Last of the Time Lords has the Tenth Doctor sacrifice himself in his final story to save the Master (who does not get sent back to Gallifrey) and thus dies for real, making the Master the one who ends up experiencing the events of Series 5. On a smaller note, Amy is erased by the cracks in the universe and ends up as an Auton Roman centurion instead of Rory.
    • In the The Roleswap-Doctor Chronicles series, each incarnation of the Doctor swaps roles and actors with their most famous companion.
  • The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers fic Pink With Evil has the Green Ranger Tommy Oliver as part of the original five rangers while Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart is the newcomer that gets brainwashed by Rita Repulsa before being freed and joining the heroes.
  • How Could You Forget? is a True Blood fanfic where in season 4, the witches erase Bill Compton's memories instead of Eric Northman's. This means that not only do Bill and Eric end up swapping roles for the duration of season 4, but we also see this role swap extend down to their respective progenies, Jessica and Pam, since the progeny is still the one who agrees to help Sookie cover up the amnesiac vampire, but is eventually pressured by threats into revealing the truth to the non-amnesiac one of the two.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Iris Hawthorne: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright was killed by Dalia Hawthorne to obtain the poison-holding pendant, framing her sister Iris for her crime. After being found innocent, Iris chose to study law and became a defense lawyer, taking the place of protagonist for the series. Meanwhile, Mia Fey is the one who is poisoned by Dahlia, while Diego Armando becomes the mentor for rookie attorney Iris and is killed during her second case.
  • Danganronpa: There are several stories that swap around killers, victims, survivors, and even entire casts.
    • and back to despair again switches the cast of Danganronpa 1 and 2, but doesn't go with a direct character-to-character switch. Nekomaru Nidai is the protagonist of the Killing School Life, Mondo Oowada is the protagonist of the Killing School Trip, Aoi Asahina was the Future Foundation spy, Hiyoko takes Mukuro's place as the disguised imposter and Peko Pekoyama is the original Mastermind.
    • Similarly, Danganronpa Class Swap also switches the position between Class 78 and 77. Here, Mahiru is the protagonist of the Killing School Life and Mukuro the protagonist of the Killing School Trip with Chiaki Nanami as the mastermind and the Ultimate Imposter naturally taking Mukuro's place as the disguised imposter.
    • Based on the above is Danganronpa Class Switch which swaps all three casts around, with Rantaro as the protagonist of the Killing School Life, Leon as the protagonist of the Killing School Trip, Kaito as the Mastermind behind the Killing Games and Tsumugi standing in for Mukuro as the missing, disguised student.
    • Another swap AU of the casts of the first two games can be found in GameBawesome's Alternative Class Despair series, with Chiaki serving as protagonist of the Killing School Life. Notably, unlike the previously mentioned examples, Junko is still the mastermind here, she just chose to brainwash her classmates in Class 78 into Despair rather than her upperclassmen in Class 77.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony fanfic I'd Trade My Life For Yours has Shuichi taking the fall for Rantaro's death in place of Kaede, leaving the guilt-ridden pianist as the protagonist for the rest of story.
    • Danganronpa: Parallel Island, part of a larger story called Danganronpa The PARALLEL, follows a similar example to the first three, switching the casts between the two games with a twist. In here, Class 78 is forced to participate in the Killing School Trip. In addition to the initial class switch, four characters from Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School have been included as participants, consisting of Koichi Kizakura, Kyosuke Munakata, Ruruka Ando, and Ryota Mitarai.
      • Unusually for this kind of role swap fic, aside from Usami/Monomi, Chiaki is the only character besides Izuru occasionally popping in via monologues from the second cast to stay, serving as the protagonist alongside Mukuro.
  • The Devil Survivor fanfic series Following the shepherd features an AU that swaps most of the major characters' roles - but most significantly, Abel is the one granted eternal life and memory instead of his brother, while Cain is the one to inherit the potential to become King of Bel.
  • The Final Fantasy VII fanfic Seventh Endmost Vision takes place in a world where Tifa Lockhart became a SOLDIER 1st Class and Rufus Shinra leads AVALANCHE, among other things.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • An Eagle Among Lions largely takes place in a timeline where Edelgard has only one Crest and all of her siblings are alive, and the tragedies that befell her in her world were instead inflicted upon Dimitri in addition to the Tragedy of Duscur. Dimitri takes on Edelgard's role as the Flame Emperor equivalent, calling himself "The Hurricane King", and Mercedes, of all people, is his loyal Death Knight, on account of her half-brother Emile dying as a victim of the aforementioned Tragedy. In addition, Thales has taken on the form of Felix's father Rodrigue instead of Edelgard's uncle Volkhard von Arundel, and Kronya uses Felix's brother Glenn as her disguise instead of that of Monica von Ochs (who shows up much later in a minor role as one of Emperor Burkhart's consorts).
    • Verdant Flower, Crimson Wind has Edelgard take Dimitri's role as the Sole Survivor of the Adrestian Imperial Family being massacred while in a foreign land (now the Tragedy of Brigid instead of Duscur, which means Petra takes Dedue's role as Edelgard's closest confidant). Meanwhile, Claude takes Edelgard's canon role as the ruler being backed by Those Who Slither In The Dark, now going by the alias "The Storm Caller" rather than Edelgard's "Flame Emperor" title with Hilda taking Hubert's role as The Dragon.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: It's common in fanworks for Glamrock Freddy to swap roles with one of the enemy animatronics, usually Roxanne Wolf or Montgomery Gator. Security Breach: Roxy's Racing Champ is one such example.
  • DisneymlpZeldalover's Kingdom Hearts (Roleswap AU) series of fics has Kairi as the Keyblade wielder, Riku as the Prince of Heart, and Sora as the one who ends up falling into darkness. Meanwhile, Minnie ends up leaving Disney Castle to deal with the Heartless problem instead of Mickey; Daisy, Clarabelle Cow, and Tinker Bell replace Donald, Goofy, and Jimminy as Kairi's companions; Hades and Maleficent switch ranks among the Disney villains; Yuffie becomes the member of the Final Fantasy VII party who is separated from the others and fights Kairi in Olympus Colosseum instead of Cloud; Roxas becomes the one to manipulate Kairi's memories inside Castle Oblivion instead of Namine; Horace Horsecollar becomes the member of Disney Town who betrays them instead of Pete; Larxene replaces Axel as the one who betrays Organization XIII in search of Namine; Xion and Riku Replica have switched their roles; and it's revealed that Master Xehanort possessed Ventus' body instead of Terra's.
  • Lore of The Stars is a Kirby story, where canon villains Magolor, Marx, Taranza, and Galacta Knight are the heroes of Dreamland, while Kirby, King Dedede and Meta Knight become the villains who are later redeemed. In addition, it's implied that Susie and Ribbon have swapped as well.
  • Len'en: Oranja Glad's Len'en Swap AU series is a collection of different stories focusing on an Alternate Universe where the characters swap roles in a similar vein to Underswap (listed below); an example being Suzumi swapping with Kurohebi, although Kurohebi is still an Artificial Human, to which while the characters are swapped, many important things about their canon backstories stay the same for this AU. However, it has a new spin on things, as it goes into Darker and Edgier territory when it comes to certain characters' aforementioned backstories (notably, Yabusame goes from a Cloudcuckoolander to a Shrinking Violet and Broken Bird because Kurohebi kills her mother, and many other disturbing things happen such as Tsurubami attempting suicide before this AU's version of Evanescence Existence takes place, which eventually leads Tenkai to spirit away the outside world humans to Mugenri like Tsurubami does in canon, although it's only Yabusame, Tsubakura, and Suzumi who get spirited away, as it's implied the Shitodos got to Mugenri earlier).
  • All That Is Left Behind is a Life Is Strange fic with David as the biological father of Chloe who dies in a car crash, and William as the replacement father figure/Love Interest for Joyce.
  • Persona:
    • Overall Series:
      • Beyond The Mirror is a fanfic that uses this for a part of the story's basis. The overall concept for this story is that the swap occurs between the Personas and their Users with the three protagonists being the humanized selves of Orpheus, Izanagi, and Arsène as a result of this swap.
      • The series Velvet Siblings swaps the roles of the Velvet Room guests and their attendants: the first story Your Smile, based on Persona 3, focuses on Elizabeth and Theodore Shelley with Minato and Kotone as their attendants, while setting up their sisters Margaret and Lavenza to fill the protagonist roles in future stories. The story also swaps Aigis and Ryoji, making the former the messenger of Nyx and the latter a robot working for SEES. However, Nyx is still sealed inside Minato, who is still forced to sacrifice himself while Elizabeth survives. Our Truth swaps Margaret with Yu in the events of Persona 4 and the Arena games.
      • Shuffled Deck: Phantom Team is a fanfic where the Wild Cards had swapped their journey's with Akira taking Minato's place as the leader of S.E.E.S. and the one to become the Great Seal, Minato taking Yu's place as the leader of the Investigation team looking into the Inaba murders, while Yu himself took Akira's place as the leader of the Phantom Thieves.
    • Persona 4: Wanted It To Be A Game is a story where the canonical killer Tohru Adachi is the leader of the Investigation Team while the canonical protagonist (here given the name Seito Souzen) is the serial killer terrorizing the town.
    • Persona 5:
      • Blackened Masks is an anthology series of one-shots following a different Phantom Thief in the role of the Black Mask.
      • Persona 5 Adult Confidant AU is a Persona 5 webcomic and character concepts involving swapping around the ages of the core cast and adult confidants, having the largely passive supporting cast into the protagonists of the story.
      • Both Queen's Checkmate and Queen of Hearts revolve around the similar concept of Makoto Niijima becoming the Wild Card and leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts rather than Akira/Ren.
      • This Is Our Justice focuses on the protagonists' civilian confidants becoming the Phantom Thieves instead of the canon team, starting with Niijima Sae as the Wild Card.
      • If You Regret, Reset the Game is a Persona 5 story introducing the concept of swapping Arcana's for the canonical cast with Haru becoming the Wild Card of this story (And Joker now taking Haru's position as the holder of the Empress Arcana and his role in the story being similar to Haru in canon), among the many changes done with the casts having their arcana's swapped along with their roles.
  • Paper Mario: Refolded Roles is a Paper Mario: The Origami King story where King Olly is Mario's cheerful sidekick and helper while Olivia is the Big Bad who wants to turn everyone into origami.
  • Sugary Spire is a Pizza Tower fangame where Peppino (now named Pizzano) and The Noise (now named Pizzelle) are swapped; and the game is themed around sweets instead of pizza.
  • Psychonauts:
    • The aptly named Family Swap AU swaps the roles of the Aquatos and Zanottos, turning Lili into the hero of the story who seeks to join the Psychonauts due to a desire to be with people more like her while Raz is the son of the head of the organization who is kidnapped during the second half of the first game's arc.
    • Later, Traitor sees Raz's sister, Frazie, be given the Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp pamphlet instead of him, setting her up to take his role as the hero of the story.
  • lines i can't erase. is a Resident Evil fanfic reversing Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy's roles from the remake of 2 onward, having Ada as the Action Survivor protagonist and Leon as the manipulative spy.
  • Spyro the Dragon: The Legend of Cynder Series is a series of The Legend of Spyro fanfics where Cynder was raised by dragonflies, while Spyro was raised as Malefor's pawn.
  • Undertale has spawned a lot of these AUs, with some notable ones being Underswap, Storyshift and Inverted Fate. As for the first one, amid the swapping:
    • Chara is the main character, and Frisk is the one who fell down before them.
    • Temmie is now the main antagonist, while Flowey has a village made for him.
    • Asgore is the caretaker of the Ruins, while Toriel is now the ruler of the underground.
    • Mettaton is now the ghost in the Ruins, while Napstablook is the robot entertainer.
    • Sans is now the one who tries working hard, and Papyrus is the slacker.
    • The restaurant in Snowdin is now owned by Muffet, with Grillby running a bake sale in Hotland.
    • Alphys is now the Captain of the Royal Guard, while Undyne is now the Royal Scientist.
    • Asriel is now the one who admires the Royal Guard, while Temmie's true form is now Monster Kid.
    • Gaster is the only exception to the swapping, as his role remains largely the same.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
  • The Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors fic When Three Became Five swaps Junpei and Aoi: It's Junpei who gets kidnapped alongside Akane for the first Nonary Game (after being mistaken for Aoi) and gets mistakenly placed with her instead of the other group, and it's Aoi who grows up not knowing what happened to his sister until he gets kidnapped for the second game, so that he can send information to Akane in the past and save her life. By extension, it's Junpei who helps Akane set up the second game.

    Web Animation 
  • Can One Change Fix All of RWBY?: Salem is responsible for building the kingdoms and huntsman academies, while Ozpin is working against her from the shadows.
  • The Helluva Boss fanfiction Owl's Hell That Ends Well sees Octavia being adopted and raised by Blitzo from a young age, while her original father Stolas takes Blitzo's place of adopting and raising Loona. This is the result of a seven-year-old Octavia being kidnapped from Stolas and Stella's home by an insane imp with links to a magically-powerful conspiracy before she escaped and was found by Blitzo, having been gaslit before her escape and by other factors into believing Stolas and Stella had cleaned their hands of her; while Loona was taken in by a bereaved Stolas when the latter was scouting the hellhound orphanage for future bodyguards, and he came to accept her as a daughter as her presence helped to ease his grief over losing Octavia.
  • The RWBY fics Blackened Bluebird and Holding the World On Their Shoulders both explore a world where May Marigold became Salem's agent, Winter Schnee became a Happy Huntress, and Cinder Rhodes became Ironwood's best soldier. In Blackened Bluebird, May Marigold was put on a team of bullies who eventually caused her to attempt suicide, which she survived and was picked up by Salem and trained to be her spy and potential Maiden. In Holding the World, May, Cinder and Winter were all on the same team (along with Marrow Amin), with Salem targetting May as a potential asset and Ironwood grooming Cinder for the position as his Number Two.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • A common AU is "bloodswap", where the blood colors of the trolls are swapped so they have different societal roles as per the Fantastic Caste System. There's even a blog dedicated to giving advice on accurately making bloodswap AUs.
    • A similar concept is "kidswap", where the upbringings for the kids are swapped, either putting them under different guardians or swapping the roles of the guardians as well. In these fics, the kids will swap surnames to indicate their new upbringing, such as Dave Strider and John Egbert swapping to become Dave Egbert and John Strider.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia:
    • Sasha and the Frogs is an Amphibia fanfic in which Sasha ends up with the Plantars (who curb her Manipulative Bitch tendencies and make her more humble), while Anne ends up at Toad Tower (where she's shaped into an vindictive warrior by Grime).
    • A Theory of Butterflies and Other Insects also sticks Sasha in Wartwood with the Plantars. However, it's Marcy who gets taken to Toad Tower, while Anne finds herself in Newtopia instead.
    • Trade Us for the World has Marcy open the music box alone two weeks after they first picked it up... and one week after her family moved to Connecticut. She lands in Wartwood, Anne near Toad Tower, and Sasha in Newtopia.
    • Similarly, A Witch in Wartwood sees Marcy end up in Wartwood, Anne at Toad Tower, and Sasha at Newtopia, with Marcy being adopted by the Plantars, Sasha becoming General Yunan's second-in-command, and Anne just barely escaping Grime's clutches to become a student under Valeriana.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Legend of Katara is a fanfic where Aang is freed over a decade earlier from the iceberg and soon dying from the aftereffects of being frozen for years. Katara ends up becoming the next Avatar in the cycle, with Aang serving as her spirit guide and airbending teacher.
    • Fanfic/Reconstructed Destinies wherein Aang is the burned and banished prince and Zuko is the avatar and last airbender.
  • Dark Mirror is a Ben 10 fanfic that involves most of the characters outside of Ben, Gwen, and Max having their moral alignments switched. The most notable examples being The Plumbers, who are depicted as oppressive Knight Templars, and Vilgax, who is the Big Good and shares the role of Ben's mentor with Max.
  • Parallel Paths is a Danny Phantom fanfic in which Sam ends up getting caught in the Ghost Portal accident instead of Danny and thus becoming the half-ghost superhero as a result.
  • An Alternate Life is a Gargoyles AU that depicts a world where the Manhattan Clan and Demona are all human and Elisa is the last gargoyle survivor of Wyvern.
  • There are several Gravity Falls Fan Verses in which characters switch roles with each other. The most prominent examples are the Reverse Falls AU, where Pacifica and Gideon are now the protagonists while Dipper and Mabel take up a Composite Character of Gideon and Pacifica's canon characterizations; the Relativity Falls AU, in which the parents and children of Gravity Falls swap ages with Ford and Stan now taking Dipper and Mabel's roles; and the Gravity Rises AU where Stan gets trapped in the portal instead of Ford, Dipper and Mabel swap personalities, and Pacifica and Gideon end up swapping roles.
  • Hazbin Hotel: The premise of Precious Like Starlight is that Vaggie manages to fend of Lute during the incident that led to her losing her eye, resulting in Lute losing an arm and being left behind in Hell by Adam, who doesn't need a disabled exorcist. She is subsequently found by Charlie and becomes her partner, while Vaggie becomes Adam's Number Two. Unlike with Vaggie, Charlie is aware that Lute is an angel from the start.
  • Jade Dragon: The main premise of this Jackie Chan Adventures fic is a universe where Jade (or rather Fei Cui Huo, the Jade Dragon) is the Demon Sorcerer Big Bad while Shendu (Shen in this setting) is Jackie's adventurous nephew. It's a bit different than normal for this trope, though, in that the Jade from the canon universe has been magically displaced to this universe and is now Sharing a Body with Fei, though the latter is usually the one in the driver's seat.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • The Adventures Of Panthera Noire: Instead of Adrien getting the Black Cat Miraculous, Master Fu gives it to Juleka instead, leading to her becoming the titular Panthera Noire.
    • as luck would have it has Nathalie Sancouer as Ladybug and Gabriel Agreste as Chat Noir.
    • Brotherhood of Secrets swaps the characters involved in "Gang of Secrets", so that instead of Marinette's female friends getting akumatized after she shuts them out, Adrien's male friends get akumatized after he shuts them out.
    • Cheshire: Marinette finds the Black Cat Miraculous in a mud ball, and later Adrien receives the Ladybug Miraculous from Master Fu.
    • Crimson and Noire: Marinette was given the Cat Miraculous to become Lady Noire, while Adrien uses the Ladybug Miraculous to become Crimson Beetle.
      • Later on, the future versions of Kim and Alix are revealed to have also swapped their Miraculous. Kim becomes the Rabbit Hero Cottontail and Alix becomes the Monkey Hero Apex.
      • After some Foreshadowing, it's revealed that Natalie is the wielder of the Butterfly Miraculous in place of Gabriel. It's also revealed that Gabriel's wife Emilie had used the Butterfly Miraculous before.
      • Rather than being the first to find out who Lila is in canon, Marinette remains unaware and merely sees her as a friendly, if a bit Clingy, classmate. Alya and Kagami are the first ones to find hints of Lila's true nature in this story after the events of Reverser.
    • Crimson Beetle and Chartreux Noire sees Master Fu encounter Kim and Alix instead of Marinette and Adrien, leading to them becoming the heroes Crimson Beetle and Chartreux Noire.
    • The Dad Villain AU has Gabriel get his Wish, creating a new reality where Sabine Dupain-Cheng passed away from what was originally Emilie's "mysterious illness". Nooroo escapes the Agrestes and heads to the bakery, meeting Tom and triggering his supervillain arc as he becomes Viceroy, searching for the one responsible for Sabine's death.
      • Notably, while Marinette and Adrien still eventually become Ladybug and Chat Noir, their positions in the storyline are still reversed: Adrien recalls the original reality and must face the Awful Truth of his father's sins, both past and present, while Marinette initially sees Ladybug as a way to temporarily escape the tragedy of her life and feel as though she's got agency for a change... while blissfully unaware that she's facing her own father.
    • Dodged a Beetle has Lila swap places with Alya, becoming the New Transfer Student that arrives right at the start of the new year rather than joining the class later on. As a result, Lila subsequently becomes the new Ladybug heroine Bella Stella when Marinette decides she's not qualified for the role and secretly passes the Earrings over to her new friend.
    • Fortune Favors the Brave has Master Fu encounter Nino and Alya instead of Marinette and Adrien, selecting them to be the new heroes Red Beatle and Chartroux instead.
    • Lady Blanche has Marinette as the Cat Wielder Lady Noire and Adrien as the Ladybug Wielder Lordbug. The story also swaps the roles in their love square, with Lady Noire falling in love with Lordbug and Adrien falling in love with Marinette. However, Marinette being viewed as a sidekick by most of Paris and feeling inadequate as a partner for her crush ends up increasing her own insecurities and doubt, leading her to be Akumatized into Lady Blanche.
    • Lady Luck has Chloé chosen for the Ladybug Miraculous by Tikki and Master Fu. Later in the series, Marinette is picked to the use the Fox Miraculous, Sabrina receives the Bee Miraculous, and Mylene is given the Turtle Miraculous.
    • The Lament Series has this as a natural component of anyone making a Miraculous-fueled, reality-warping Wish: somebody has to become the villain, and heroes must rise to oppose them. It's compared to a play, where making a Wish shuffles the casting around.
      • Gabriel's Lament: While Emilie never falls into her coma, she's retconned into a Peafowl-wielding superheroine, and ends up fighting against the new Hawk Moth... and her son, who's been perma-akumatized into Chat Blanc.
      • Chloé's Lament: Chloé deliberately aims for this by wishing to switch places with Marinette, assuming that this will ensure SHE gets to be the Ladybug heroine while Marinette is just as despised as she was. As she learns the hard way, roleswaps don't mean personality or consequences swap; Marinette is the rich mayor's daughter and Chloé the daughter of a baker, but Marinette isn't hated because she's not a bully, and Chloé misses her chance to become the Ladybug hero because she fails Fu's Secret Test of Character almost immediately. Instead, Sabrina helps Fu and becomes Red Queen.
    • Le Papillon Rising: Adrien finds the Butterfly Miraculous and uses it to become the supervillain Papillon. His father Gabriel was a former wielder of the Cat Miraculous, but return to service to aid Ladybug against Papillon.
    • Miraculous: Tales Of Red Beetle And Kit Noire is both a Kwami-swap and a family swap between Marinette and Adrien. In the story, Marinette Agreste is the sole daughter of fashion designer Gabriel Agreste who becomes the Black Cat Kit Noire, while Adrien Dupain is the son of bakers Tom and Emilie Dupain and becomes the Ladybug Red Beetle.
    • Miraculous: Tales of Scarlet Beetle & Ikati Black: Instead of Gabriel getting the Butterfly and becoming the villainous Hawk Moth, Nathaniel gets it and becomes the Anti-Villain Monarch. Additionally, Kim and Max get the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculouses instead of Marinette and Adrien, and (as indicated by the tags) Marc will eventually get the Peacock Miraculous instead of Nathalie.
    • Scarlet Lady involves Alpha Bitch Chloé getting her hands on the Ladybug Miraculous, leading to her becoming a bratty Nominal Heroine while Marinette is left unaware of the box's existence. Furthermore, Marinette later becomes the superheroine Marigold using the Bee Miraculous, which Chloé used in canon.
      • Later in the series, Nino is given the Fox Miraculous to become Fox Trot and rescue his younger brother Chris from Sapotis, while Alya is given the Turtle Miraculous and becomes Koki Marina to stop her sister Nora when she is Akumatized.
    • Stone Streak: The Alternate Universe fic has Juleka/Violet Tigress as Ladybug's initial partner and wife, with the story starting years after they first became heroes. Adrien would later join as their adopted son Chat Noir.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Alternate Realities is about how the other members of the Mane 6 would rule Equestria if they were the Princess of Friendship instead of Twilight.
    • In Ask Not the Sparrow, all of the Mane 6's roles are swapped with the other member of their race. Rainbow Dash prefers to stay on the ground while Fluttershy performs aerial stunts; Pinkie Pie lives on a farm in Ponyville while Applejack is a baker at Sugarcube Corner; and Rarity was Luna's student instead of Twilight being Celestia's student. The sequel, Love Bites, also shows that Queen Chrysalis was Twilight's babysitter instead of Princess Cadance.
    • Rainbooms and Royalty follows the premise that Princess Celestia chose to follow Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom rather than Twilight Sparkle's magic surge during the event that resulted in all the Mane 6 getting their Cutie Marks, resulting in Rainbow becoming Celestia's student rather than Twilight.
    • The premise of RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse is that Princess Celestia turned evil 1,000 years ago instead of Princess Luna, and the Elements of Harmony are wielded by a different group of ponies.
    • In Runic Notation, Octavia wields the Element of Magic, while Twilight Sparkle is a cellist; and Vinyl Scratch is a fashion designer with the Element of Generosity while Rarity is a DJ.
  • The Owl House:
    • Ravenstead is an The Owl House fanfic where Amity is the human that arrives in the Boiling Isle after running away from home, while Luz is the cheerful witch native to the world. Meanwhile, Lilith is the wanted criminal that takes in Amity in place of her sister Eda.
    • Tag Team AU plays with this trope. Luz, having ended up in the Demon Realm 7 years before she did in canon, is adopted by Belos, effectively swapping her role with Hunter's, even to the point of her becoming the Golden Guard. At the same time, Hunter is still the Golden Guard, and Luz is considered his sister and partner. He eventually goes to learn about humanity and wild magic from Eda (at Luz' request), effectively taking Luz' role in the original story.
    • In Witches Among Humans, the entire setting of the webcomic is established as a complete inversion of its parent series. While The Owl House is about a human that stumbles in a demon-infested Magical Land, Witches Among Humans is about a witch that gets lost in the human world, though the protagonist is still Luz.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Cat-Ra follows Catra, who finds the Sword of Protection and joins the Rebellion as The Unchosen One, while Adora stays with the Horde.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Opal, Sapphire, Ruby, and STEVEN! is a fanfic where Opal (Pearl and Amethyst) is the Crystal Gem's permanent fusion and leader in place of Garnet, while Ruby and Sapphire remain separate Gems. Later in the story, Peridot is the one to fuse with Lapis and gets imprisoned, while Jasper ends up befriending Steven and becomes an Aloof Ally to the Crystal Gems.
    • Switcheroo AU sees Spinel become a member of the Crystal Gems while Pearl was the one who was left behind and becomes a villain seeking revenge.
  • Total Drama:
    • Cast Swap has the casts of Pahkitew Island and Revenge of the Island swapping seasons, which causes both seasons, as well as All Stars to have vastly different elimination orders, winners and Character Development.
    • Total Drama Island Recast has the second and third-generation casts swapping with the originals, with the Revenge of the Island cast as the Screaming Gophers and the Pahkitew Island cast as the Killer Bass.

Canon Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Super Vegeta Den is one for Dragon Ball, taking the classic What-If of "What If Vegeta came to Earth instead of Goku" to its most logical conclusion. While being raised by Grandpa Gohan did nothing for his mammoth ego, and his prodigious Saiyan powers made him an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, this Vegeta does deep-down care about his friends (getting married to Bulma earlier than in canon) and will spare fighters if they significantly impress him. When the Saiyans of the Freeza Empire appear - including the Blood Knight Anti-Villain Kakarot - he stops at nothing to defend his home and loved ones, and is implied to soon become the first Super Saiyan of his timeline.
  • One volume of Fullmetal Alchemist has a yonkoma where Alphonse imagines what it'd be like if he lost and arm and a leg and Ed was in the armour. Ed still retains his usual brash temperament, but the armour makes it so he can easily push people around and Al is physically unable to keep his brother in check.
  • The animated OVA of Gyo has Kaori as the protagonist instead of Tadashi like the original manga. Tadashi also takes manga Kaori's fate of being infected and is attached to a custom-made walking machine by his uncle Koyanagi.
  • MegaMan NT Warrior very loosely adapts the IceMan scenario from Mega Man Battle Network 1, but swaps the person who is kidnapped and the person who is blackmailed: in the game, Dr. Froid's son is kidnapped by the WWW to blackmail the doctor into messing with the Waterworks; in NT Warrior, Dr. Froid himself is kidnapped, and his son Tory Froid is blackmailed into freezing the Waterworks.
  • The anime adaptation of NieR: Automata, Ver 1.1a does this to some of the minor characters, establishing the anime as a separate route compared to the game.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs has a What If? side story Omake called the Marie Route Side Story, where the roles of one of the two main Love Interests of the series Olivia, and The Rival Marie, are swapped, written by the series author. It's presented at first as a Set Right What Once Went Wrong sort of plot, but things go Darker and Edgier instead. The spinoff is released alongside each Light Novel from the third onward, and has more than 150,000 words, being considered a More Popular Spin-Off among the fandom. The irony about this, is the character of Marie was created based on the author's hatred of certain tropes.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics has a What If? collection that feature several stories in which the characters' roles are switched around, although they end with things sort of getting back to the way they "should be" in the original universe.
    • One story has Betty and Veronica being romantically interested with Jughead, while Archie is his best friend whose presence they could barely tolerate. However, after the two had a Cooking Duel to win Jug's affections, he ends up choosing Gaston's niece, and Betty and Veronica immediately drop him in favour of Archie after seeing the latter enjoy their cooking.
    • Another story has Betty as the rich heiress (with Smithers being her servant) and Veronica as the normal girl-next-door. Later, Veronica's mother wins the lottery, allowing the Lodges to be as rich as this universe's Betty. Veronica immediately starts behaving like her usual Spoiled Brat self.
  • Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham is an Elseworld which swaps the roles of Catwoman and Batman. In this reality, Selina Kyle is the millionaire who was orphaned by a random crime when she was a child, and channeled that loss into becoming a masked vigilante, while Bruce Wayne is the child of the street who turned to crime to support himself and eventually took on a costumed persona in emulation of Selina's actions.
  • The Flashpoint reality introduces an alternate Batman who turns out to be Thomas Wayne. While Thomas became the crimefighting Caped Crusader, his son Bruce took the Death by Origin Story role Thomas and his wife Martha usually serve in the Batman mythos. This character prooved popular enough to be brought back frequently.
  • The Spider-Gwen series stars a version of Gwen Stacy from an alternate Earth (Earth-65), where she was the one bitten by the radioactive spider. This leads her to becoming Spider-Woman, which later results in the death of her childhood friend Peter Parker, mirroring the events of The Night Gwen Stacy Died. Though originally operating in her own dimension (disregarding her tendency to dimension hop), from Ghost-Spider (2019) onwards she begins crimefighting just as much in the main Marvel universe.
  • In Superman: Red Son, an Alternate Universe where Superman is raised in the Soviet Union, Oliver Queen ends up with Clark Kent's job at the Daily Planet.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • A minor case in And Then There Were None (2015): in the book, it's Vera who goes into hysterics after the fourth murder and Dr. Armstrong who slaps her so that she recovers. Here, it's the other way round.
  • ITV's adaptation of Poirot and Marple occasionally switches the roles and identities of the murderer with another (originally) innocent suspect.
    • In Cards on the Table, Anne Meredith is innocent of the supposed murder they committed in the books, with Rhoda Dawes being revealed as the culprit instead. This also switches their positions at the story's climax, where Rhoda attempts to drown Anne instead of the other way around. The innocent one is rescued by Major Despard, and the two eventually marry, while the guilty party drowns during their failed to attempt to kill the other.
    • In The Body in the Library, Adelaide Jefferson is the one having an affair with Josie and colluded with the latter to commit murder in hopes of securing Mr. Jefferson's inheritance, replacing Mark Gaskell's role in both aspects from the books.
    • In The Sittaford Mystery, the character swap between the killer from the books and the originally innocent character is accompanied by an exchange of their surnames. The journalist Charles Enderby becomes Charles Burnaby, the victim's vengeful Antagonistic Offspring who murders him, while the original murderer Major Burnaby becomes Major Enderby, the victim's trusted (and now genuine) friend.
  • Season 2 of Tell Me A Story features an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast where the beast is a young woman with severe burns on her body and the beauty is her male bodyguard.

  • This has occurred in numerous productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream:
    • The 2004 Greenwich Theatre production swapped the characters of Helena and Lysander, resulting in the four lovers forming two same-sex couples. This could be seen more as a Gender Flip than an actual character swap, however: numerous other productions have done the same thing but used the names Helenus and/or Lysandra rather than swapping their names.
    • In 2019, London's Bridge Theatre debuted a production which swapped the roles of Titania (played here by Gwendoline Christie) and Oberon, with her speaking his lines and vice versa, so that it is Titania who conspires with Puck to precure the love-in-idleness and enchants Oberon into falling in love with Bottom.
  • An Italian 2018 production of Bizet's opera Carmen changed the ending so that it is Carmen who kills Don Jose, not the other way round; this change was made as a response to the prominent global issue of violence against women.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: The Telltale Series presents a universe where Harley Quinn was the pre-established villain before she met John Doe (aka The Joker) and John was the weak willed mentally ill sap she manipulated into the criminal life style.
  • The premise of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is essentially Dead Rising 2, but with Frank West from the first Dead Rising as the protagonist. Aside from Frank taking Chuck Greene's place as the player character, there's also Chuck taking Leon Bell's place as the motorcycle Psychopath and Stacey, Rebecca, and Sullivan shuffling roles, with Stacey taking Sullivan's place as The Mole, Rebecca taking Stacey's place as the damsel that Tyrone King kidnaps in Overtime mode, and Sullivan taking Rebecca's place as the sacrificial ally.
  • Heroes of the Storm: One of the skin sets is an alternate version of the Warcraft universe that swaps the roles of Illidan and Malfurion as well as Tyrande and Maiev. In this universe, Illidan and Malfurion competed for High Priestess Maiev's affection, and Illidan studied druidism and was eventually named Archdruid while Malfurion became a demon hunter known as The Betrayer. After Malfurion was captured, Tyrande gave up her position as a priestess to become his warden. The main difference is that while the original Illidan is a misunderstood Anti-Hero, this version of Malfurion is actually evil.
  • KSB's RPG Parodies has the Too Weak RPG game where the protagonist Harold is horribly weak that he's essentially a One-Hit-Point Wonder to pretty much anything in this game. At first, it's a funny series of him being a Boisterous Weakling till the game hits the Cerebus Syndrome where it turns out that he's only really compensating as he knows that he truly is a weakling. After finishing the game, the option Too Strong RPG shows up where Harold is suddenly the most powerful being in the universe but also too callous about anything as he just kills everything in sight. The final boss for that portion of the game is also the weakest character called Weakerling, but also makes Sans proud as while he still has 10 HP, he's got so much buffs on him that prevents him from getting one shotted. After this game mode is done, a new blank option in the menu shows up where the Golden Ending takes place and this time, Harold and Weakerling team up to fight off the god of the world.
  • Mortal Kombat 1: In nearly all games in the Mortal Kombat franchise prior, Raiden was the protector god of Earthrealm while Liu Kang was his chosen champion to defend the realm against Outworld's aggression. In MK1, Liu Kang is the protector god of Earthrealm after having created the New Era at the end of Mortal Kombat 11, and Raiden assumes Liu Kang's former role as Earthrealm's mortal champion in a tournament against Outworld.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the big reveals of Baldr Sky is that the whole plot up until the final route have in fact been an alternate reality where Kou was the survivor of Gray Christmas rather than Sora. The "real" Kou was the one who died in this true timelines Gray Christmas whereas this Kou is an AI reconstruction based on the originals brain patterns and data collected from these alternate timelines where he survived. It takes quite a while for all the characters to get the facts ordered out due to how similar their respective recollection of events are with just this one disparigin detail. But once they do get things sorted out, then needless to say, Kou doesn't take this particular revelation all that well.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake: In "The Winter King", the alternate universe the protagonists find themselves in is a world where Simon overcame the madness of the crown and became the charismatic leader of a functioning kingdom, while the Princess Bubblegum equivalent is an insane Stalker with a Crush who constantly kidnaps the Winter King to try and make him love her, the exact opposite of the normal universe. However, it turns out the situation was much closer to the original universe, except that the Ice King transferred the madness of the crown to an unwilling Princess Bubblegum, turning her mad in his stead.
  • With the popularity of this trope in Miraculous Ladybug fandom, canon eventually touches it too. Miraculous World: Paris - Tales of Shadybug and Claw Noir movie presents an alternate reality where behind the scenes villain known as The Supreme has laid claim to most of the Miraculous, giving out Ladybug and Cat to his versions of Marinette and Adrien to use for evil. They are opposed by Gabriel, using his Butterfly Miraculous as a hero. He attempts to get into contact with the canon universe, but ends up with all three of them transported there, and after clearing up the confusion he teams up with the heroes to fight their counterparts. At the movie's conclusion, Shadybug and Claw Noir redeem themselves and turn to heroism, leaving Gabriel as the only Role Swap in their AU as they intend to keep fighting The Supreme.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Not It", a Treehouse of Horror special parodying Stephen King's It, Marge falls in love with and marries Comic Book Guy; Homer and Comic Book Guy are not swapped, and Marge ultimately gets together with Homer by the end. However, Marge has children with Comic Book Guy, who are Bart and Lisa with their personalites and roles in the family swapped, Bert being the nerdy younger sibling and Lizzie being the rebellious older sibling.
  • The Trolls: The Beat Goes On! episode "Wormhole" involves the Snack Pack ensemble of Poppy, Branch, Cooper, DJ and Smidge jumping across different dimensions via wormholes, several of which are alternate universe versions of the dimension live in. One of such alternate universes swap the places of the Trolls and Bergens in terms of homes, sizes and roles within the original movie.
  • Two episodes of the first season of Marvel Cinematic Universe's What If…? (2021) series center around familiar characters changing roles.
    • Season 1, Episode 1 has Peggy Carter take the Super-Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. She's known as Captain Carter instead of Captain America, and has the British Union Jack instead of the US flag on her shield, but fulfils the same role. Steve still becomes a hero, this time as the pilot of the "Hydra Stomper" Iron Man.
    • In Season 1, Episode 2, the Ravagers mistakenly kidnap T'Challa instead of Quill, so the Prince of Wakanda became Star-Lord instead of the Black Panther.

Alternative Title(s): Role Reversal AU