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Two-Headed Coin

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The two-sided mint is the rule, not exception,
And would you not feel quite the fool of deception
To find the same face on both sides of the coin?

A character flips a coin to make decisions, letting their fate be decided by chance... except that they've secretly provided a two-headed coin just to ensure that "fate" comes out in their favor.

A two-tailed coin is equally valid, but much less common, for whatever reason. Additionally, if a coin is being judged on the side that lands and not the symbol, a two-headed coin is actually more fair, as the weight of different designs actually biases normal coins.

Often a characteristic quirk, usually for villains, anti heroes, or badasses. May indicate a character is Two-Faced or appear as a #1 Dime. Can invoke Dramatic Irony when the audience knows the coin is rigged, but the other characters don't. When the coin isn't two-headed, it may still always land heads up due to the Random Number God or a character being Born Lucky. Subtrope of Fixing the Game. See also False Roulette for another type of game of chance that isn't actually up to luck and Heads, Tails, Edge for another coin-flipping trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, when Hikari is trapped in Full Metal City and Daisuke and Takeru are preparing to reenter to rescue her, Daisuke (who has a crush on Hikari) attempts to pull this on Takeru to decide who will go. He uses a false American quarter with heads on both sides, declaring that heads means Takeru goes home. Takeru swipes the coin while Daisuke is gloating about his "victory" and calls him on it, noting that such false coins are widely sold at a local store and even admitting to having used one himself on his older brother, which apparently worked for long enough to Takeru to have won several items from Yamato.
  • In Queen's Blade, Risty owns a two-headed gold coin that she claims is a good luck charm. She gives it to Leina, saying she'll take it back once Leina gains control over her life and becomes truly strong. At one point, seeing the coin helps Leina snap out of mind control.
  • On Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yami Yugi uses a variation, using one coin with only one symbol on it and another coin that secretly has two, to prove that the Paradox Brothers have rigged the solution to their labyrinth puzzle.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: An unusual use by a good guy occurred when Archie Andrews and Moose Mason both qualified for the last spot on a school trivia team. Archie knew that Big Moose had been studying hard to compensate for his dyslexia and deserved the spot, so rather than retake the qualifying test, he proposed a coin toss to decide who would make the team - and quietly used a two-headed quarter to make sure Moose beat him.
  • Batman: A subversion is part of Two-Face's signature style in the comics: Harvey Dent uses one of these, but then one side gets scratched up, making it back into a fair coin. Its emotional/symbolic significance to Two-Face makes it a #1 Dime as well. (Originally it was Boss Maroni's "lucky coin", and hence was tied to his origin. In later stories, it was the coin his abusive father tossed with the assurance that if it came down tails he wouldn't be beaten. Harvey only learnt it was double-headed shortly before being scarred.)
  • Foolkiller: The MAX version uses this to toy with "fools" he needs information from. When he's done interrogating them, he gives them false hope — heads you die, tails you live.
  • Iznogoud: Subverted, where one story mentions all the coins are two-headed. Iznogoud forgets it, ridiculing himself.
  • Jonah Hex: In one comic, a Frenchman uses a two-headed coin to win a coin toss against Jonah: choosing to stay behind and make the Heroic Sacrifice holding off the Indians while Jonah gets the woman they were escorting to safety.
  • Lucky Luke: William Dalton suggests flipping a coin during his confrontation with Lucky Luke in the Cousins of the Daltons album (their first appearance) to determine who gets the first shot in a Russian Roulette game that will close their duel with his final bullet. Luke sees that it was a two-headed-coin that William flipped one second too late, but survives the first round and its his turn to see William tremble, who apparently didn't consider what would happen if he wasn't lucky enough to get him immediately.
  • Preacher: In his introduction to the first remastered trade, Garth Ennis fondly pays tribute to his artist Steve Dillon, and how his totally-not-two-headed-coin meant Steve wound up being the sacrifice to an "octo-cocked" demon lord.
  • Spider-Man In one story, the supervillain Chance had been hired to steal a liver for a dying criminal that was desperately needed by a dying young boy. After Spider-Man catches up with him and explains things, Chance puts it down to a coin toss, infuriating Spider-Man. After Chance loses, he notes that Spider-Man should have more faith and tosses him the coin so Spider-Man could see the coin was a double-headed coin, ensuring Spider-Man would win the life-saving organ.
  • War Picture Library: In one story, two US sergeants in the Philippines have a long-term rivalry. One always wins a toss with his 'lucky' coin, and when there's a chance for one of them to be evacuated after the Japanese invade, his rival insists on calling heads this time, thinking he'll get some of the other's luck. Sure enough, he's evacuated, and it's only afterwards he discovers the other sergeant always used a double-headed coin and so allowed him to win.
  • Y: The Last Man: When they were kids, Yorick and Hero were both cast as the leads in a school production of Romeo and Juliet. To avoid having to kiss their sibling, they agreed on a coin flip to decide who would drop out of the play. Yorick was caught using a two-faced coin, and Hero just dropped out in disgust at his cheating.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Forever Two-Face has his double-headed coin with one side scarred, like usual. It's a Double Subversion, though, as instead of always doing what the coin says, he keeps flipping the coin until he gets the outcome he wants. He actually seems to toss it every time he has a clear shot at Bruce, keeping it perfectly in-character for Two-Face.
  • Used by Jai in Sholay when he and his brother need to make a difficult decision. Needless to say, he always gets his way.
  • The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent flips a coin to make important decisions and for Perp Sweating; in the latter case, whenever he doesn't get a straight answer, he flips to decide whether or not to blow the guy's head off. Urged by Rachel not to leave these things up to chance, he gives her the coin and she sees that both sides are heads, musing, "You make your own luck." Becomes a subversion later in the movie, as the fiery explosion that ruins one side of his face also mars one side of the coin, making it the classic clean/marred Two-Face coin.

  • Diary of a Mad Mummy has a scene where a dishonest museum guard tried convincing his colleague to steal a mummy. When the colleague hesitates, the first guard pulls out a coin and decides the outcome via a toss... both sides which are heads.
  • In one of the Doc Savage novels, Monk gets a two-tailed coin to swindle Ham because he habitually calls heads during a coin toss.
  • In one Doctor Who New Adventures novel, the Doctor pulls a fifty pence piece out of his pocket and tosses it to make a decision. As he puts it back in his pocket he notices the other side also has a picture of the Queen, only she's grinning.
  • In the Redwall book The Long Patrol the Rapscallions are an army/fleet of vermin whose leader, the Firstblade, wields a sword with one wavy and one straight edge. At the beginning of every campaign season, the Firstblade flips the sword in air, and whichever edge comes down first determines how they'll go raiding. Straight edge for marching overland, wavy for taking sail in search of plunder. This trope because the Firstblades also pass down a brass clip that fits to the hilt and crossguard unseen and weighs one end, so the Firstblade always chooses while pretending to leave things to fate.
  • The company that takes over from God in Tom Holt's The Management Style Of The Supreme Beings mints two-headed coins in order to honor both of the brothers who run it. They end up wagering their dominion over the Earth on a coin flip to avoid all-out conflict; the dumber brother supplies such a coin, but does nothing to stop Santa Claus from simply calling heads himself.
  • Discussed but ultimately averted in The Berenstain Bears and the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery; when investigating a classmate that seems to always win at Tic-Tac-Toe, the detectives ponder if he's maybe using a trick coin to always win the coin toss that determines who moves first, but ultimately determine that the coin is a normal one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Pirate Planet", the Doctor settles an argument with a coin toss, revealing afterward that it's a coin from Aldebaran III, where they have two kings so both sides of the coin are heads.
    • In "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", Captain Cook uses a two-headed coin to win a coin toss against Nord and force the barbarian to enter the ring first. He later reveals that he has a two-tailed coin as well, so Nord was screwed no matter what he called.
  • Night Court: During the last act of the pilot episode, Judge Stone "pulls a coin" from behind the clerk's head, and announces it as the "Coin of Justice," which will determine punishments for various defendants already found guilty. Each time it comes up Heads. Finally, he comes to the defendant wife who shot a gun in the air out of anger, and is now being charged with attempted murder - the Judge says he'll send the wife up the river on Heads or let her go with Tails. This pressures her husband, who brought the charges, to dismiss them, because he doesn't want to lose his wife. When the husband pleads not to toss the coin, saying it only comes up Heads, Judge Stone says, "Well, of course it does, it's a double-headed coin!" Revealing this has the added benefit of convincing the other court staff that the Judge had not, in fact, lost his mind.
  • Appears in one episode of Only Fools and Horses; Grandad gave Del Boy a two-headed coin, which he tries to use to win bets with Boycie. Unfortunately, because he tosses, Boycie gets to call and keeps calling heads. In the end, after Del's beaten Boycie at poker, he offers Boycie double or nothing on the coin, but because Boycie thinks the law of averages means he's bound to lose this time, Del suggests that instead Rodney could call it, as Del's representative. So he spins the coin ... and Rodney calls tails.
  • In Disney's Zorro, Uncle Esteban makes frequent use of a two-headed coin; the locals are gullible enough that he's never caught at it, though Diego recognizes the coin for what it is and realizes Esteban's up to something when he intentionally loses a coin flip to him.
  • Hustle :
    • Invoked in the episode "The Delivery" when Albert's old friend Yusef, having lost big time to the crew at poker, is offered a 5:1 coin toss to win it back and calls heads. Cut to:
      Yusef: For seventy years, I call tails!
      Ash: So why the change?
      Yusef: Well, I'm surrounded by con-men, I think maybe one of you has a double-headed coin...
      Mickey: That is very hurtful.
    • In another episode, it is revealed that Ash has a collection of double-tailed coins for precisely this reason.
  • In The Adventures of Pete & Pete, it's revealed that Little Pete always kept a two-headed penny on him for good luck. When its luck ran out, he attempted to take it out to a railroad track to flatten and recharge it.
  • Gilligan's Island: Gilligan at one point finds himself caught in a Duel to the Death with an island native for a marriage challenge. Skipper tries to win Gilligan the first spear toss with this, but Gilligan is unaware of the ruse (and stubbornly ignores the Skipper's blatant hints), so he picks the wrong side.
  • In ''Gotham'", Harvey Dent flips a coin to determine if he sends juvenile defenders to jail or lets them go. This turns out to be a two-headed coin, and he claims that fate is giving them another chance which they should use. This version of Dent suffers Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and never becomes Two-Face or gains the scarred coin.
  • In A.D.: Kingdom and Empire, Pilate uses a false coin to put Caiaphas in his place after he's pushed him one too many times. He threatens to replace Caiaphas with a donkey as high priest of the Jews, and makes a show of rising a coin to decide whether to do this or to let Caiaphas off this once. "Luckily" the coin comes up heads and a suitably cowed Caiaphas is allowed to remain in his position. After he's scurried off, Pilate reveals that the coin has two heads.

  • In The Musical Drood, there's a Patter Song called "Both Sides of the Coin", which is used to lampshade the fact that everyone's playing two roles and to reinforce that everything has a hidden opposing side. If a two-headed coin is considered a cheat, the song notes, then why should anyone be surprised if a person has another side to them as well?
  • In Barnum, P. T. Barnum's wife uses a two-headed coin on many occasions.

    Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry 2: Dante repeatedly flips one as he teases Lucia and Matier over whether he should help them or not. He hints that the quirk may come from his father. The coin later becomes a Chekhov's Gun in retrospect as Dante uses it to fake the Medaglia sought by Arius.
  • Referenced in Fallout: New Vegas, the vigor tester has a luck score of 10 as "Two-headed Coin Flip".
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Used by Edgar to determine who would rule Figaro in Final Fantasy VI, not so much because he wanted his late father's throne, but because he secretly knew his free-spirited brother Sabin didn't. It is later reprised when Celes borrows the coin (if Edgar is in the party) for a similar flip against the gambler Setzer ("heads, you take us to the Empire's capital city; tails, I agree to marry you.") Setzer is surprised to discover that he fell for a trick coin... but escorts them to the capital anyways, saying he likes Celes' style.
      Setzer: How low can you stoop? ...I love it!
    • If the player brings both Edgar and Sabin to the Opera House where the above takes place, Sabin looks at Edgar with a look of purest shock.
    • The credits reveal that, though the coin is two-headed, the heads are not the same; one side has Edgar's face, the other has Sabin's. A fanfic that is half-novelization, half-RosaVam-crossover has Setzer point this out... and decides to go with Celes' victory condition on the grounds that it came up with Edgar's face.
      "If a coin is not standard, the prettier side is always heads."
    • As a Mythology Gag to the above Final Fantasy VI example, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has Nichol pull one out when "gambling" on his fate with Veritas of the Light near the end of the first season's story. Lightlord similarly picks up the coin and notes that it's two-headed, but her reason for accepting the result anyway (she's Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life at that point) is different than Setzer's.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Chocobo Sam uses a two-headed coin when gambling. If the player picks heads when playing against him, he'll straight up lie that he got tails.
  • One of the books you can discover in World of Warcraft's Mists of Pandaria expansion, "The General and the Grummle" (based on the Real Life tale below), uses this trope. In a situation where soldier morale is low, a general flips a coin: heads, they will win the upcoming battle; tails, they will lose. It lands heads, and they win. A grummle accompanying the general wonders about the wisdom of trusting to luck; the general then reveals that the coin was two-headed. "It is my experience that we make our own luck."
  • As per tradition, Two-Face has his scarred coin in the Batman: Arkham Series.
  • Ren in Shenmue II has both a two-heads coin and a two-tails coin.
  • Eizen in Tales of Berseria carries a unique gold coin, which always lands on tails when he flips it because of his Reaper's Curse. In one skit Rokurou, fed up with seeing Eizen only ever get tails, has some two-headed coins made for him to flip. On the first attempt a crow snatches the coin before it can hit the ground, the second coin eaten by a hawk-turned-therion they're keeping hidden, and the final coin explodes in midair... Somehow.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck: Terezi has a two-headed TROLL CAEGAR which, like that of Harvey Dent, has a scratch on one side. In a way, this is still played straight, as both she and those she gambles with know that, thanks to her uncanny grasp of psychology (and being blind), it doesn't really matter which side lands up.
  • In Freefall, Florence needs help deciding whether to go out on a date or do some minor repair work, so she flips a coin. She notes that if she wanted an even chance, she wouldn't be using one of Sam's coins.
  • In the backstory of Magick Chicks, Anastasia and Dakota decide that one of them should disguise herself as a man to raise Melissa; Anastasia uses a two-headed coin to make sure it's Dakota.

    Western Animation 
  • Similar to the film and comics examples above, in Batman: The Animated Series Harvey Dent uses one of these that gets marked on one side when he becomes Two-Face.
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode, "The Missing Links of Moonshire", Glomgold uses one of these to determine who goes first at golf, but ends up calling tails and has a hissy fit over losing the coin toss. Out of pity, Scrooge gives the coin toss win to Glomgold anyway.
  • One episode of TaleSpin featured a two-headed coin with a twist: Baloo realizes Louie duped him when he notices that not only are both sides of the coin heads, but one of them is making a face at him. Baloo actually didn't have much room to complain, as he himself had used a two-tailed coin on Louie earlier in the same episode.
  • In an Aesop and Son segment of Rocky and Bullwinkle, the son uses a two-headed nickel to win a wagon full of toys, which is not the meaning of the adage "two heads are better than one". Aesop tells him the fable "The Centipede and the Snail" to illustrate the true meaning of this moral.
  • A two-tailed coin variant is used in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Thirteensomething", when Buster and Babs cannot agree on what to watch on television after school, as Buster would rather watch football, while Babs would rather watch the teen soap opera, Thirteensomething. Plucky helps them settle their dispute with a coin toss, with heads being football, and tails being Thirteensomething. Since the coin is a two-tailed coin, Babs gets to watch Thirteensomething, much to Buster's disdain. Plucky tells Buster his coin was double-sided, but he forgot which side was doubled.
  • The Biskit Twins attempt to use a double-headed coin to go first in the debate in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "Inside Job." Blythe, their opponent, anticipates they'd try this trick and calls heads before the twins can, thus guaranteeing she goes first.
  • In The Flintstones, Fred employed one whenever making a coin toss with Barney. When Barney claimed he'd take heads one time, Fred had to stop the coin before the toss was complete.
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "Ghastly Ghost Town" had Shaggy flipping a coin to decide whether or not to investigate a deserted saloon—heads they don't go in, tails they do. "The fact that it's a two-headed coin is beside the point!"
  • Big City Greens: Tilly uses a two-headed penny she made herself in the episode "Blue Tater" in order to make a point to Cricket that one makes their own luck.
  • In the first episode of Captain N: The Game Master, Simon Belmont utilises a two-headed coin in order to ensure that the group takes his proposed path towards Mother Brain's headquarters. The "heads" on this coin are actually images of Simon's face.

    Real Life 
  • There is an apocryphal story of a general in feudal Japan who wanted to launch an attack on the enemy, but his troops were reluctant to do so as they were outnumbered. The general told them, "I place our success in the hands of the gods! If this coin comes down heads, we shall win, and if it comes down tails, we shall lose!". The coin came up heads, and his army managed to win. Afterwards, his second-in-command asked how he knew the coin was going to come up heads, at which point the general showed him the coin, which had heads on both sides.


Video Example(s):


Eizen and the Coin

Not even a double headed coin is immune to the omnipotent claws of the Reaper's Curse.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / TwoHeadedCoin

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