The Heel-Face Turn is a TV Trope term describing when a villain turns good. This usually makes for a good plot, for three reasons:
- It lets them reintroduce the villain as a "darker, edgier" hero.
- It reinforces a desired notion of the inherent goodness within people.
- It prevents the worthy opponent from falling victim to what is described as a senseless waste of human life.
There are even more reasons for the turning:
- An encounter with an All-Loving Hero or gaining a Morality Pet.
- Discovering that Being Evil Sucks or possibly that Good Feels Good.
- An Enemy Mine situation leading to Fire Forged Friendship or The Power of Love in the form of Deliver Us from Evil or Love Redeems changing their priorities. Conversely Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal makes them rethink their loyalities.
- Realizing that they are a Noble Demon.
- A Heel Realization, if he had never considered his actions evil or wrong in the first place.
- He becomes friends with a hero after fighting him.
Sadly, it sometimes leads to Redemption Equals Death, and when it doesn't, someone still needs to draw their "Get out of Jail Free" Card. Otherwise they may find the good guys unwilling to believe them; their conversion met with a Heel–Face Door-Slam (or they may "merely" find themselves Reformed, but Rejected). On the other hand, the bad guy may reject their chance at turning over a new leaf altogether, in which case it's Redemption Rejection. The many reasons and the probability for a turn are listed in the Sorting Algorithm of Face Heel Turning.
A very common fate for the lone female character in any evil group. Beware, some authors know the stereotypes of Heel Face Turning and will play with it accordingly.
The term "Heel-Face Turn" comes from Professional Wrestling, in which an evil wrestler (a "heel") sometimes has a change of heart and becomes good, thereby becoming a "babyface".
Magazines and other promotional material from the various wrestling leagues comment on various wrestlers' changes in alignment nearly as frequently as they cover events in the ring themselves.
Compare the Reverse Mole, who is secretly working for the good guys all along. May be the result of a person that was Good All Along. When someone who doesn't care one way or the other is forced to fight they become no longer neutral.
This is the opposite of a Face–Heel Turn and is generally found in stories with Black and White Morality.
It has 2 subtropes: Heel–Face Brainwashing, more or less the opposite of Brainwashed and Crazy, and High-Heel–Face Turn. See also Mook–Face Turn when the bad guy doing it is a Mook, and Heel–Race Turn when an entire faction does it.
If a character keeps switching from one side to the other and back, he is in a Heel–Face Revolving Door. If he turns face, but still acts like a heel, he is reformed, but Not Tamed. If a characters pretends to reform, only to be revealed as evil all along, he is a "Heel–Face Mole".
In real-life the nature of Heel–Face Turn and Face–Heel Turn is subjective (one person's "seeing the light" is another person's "heartless betrayal" depending on what group the individual is going to or leaving).
Anime and Manga
- Iago: spent the entirety of the first film on Jafar's side. The beginning of the second film, The Return of Jafar, sees Iago escape from Jafar's lamp and slowly turn face over the course of the movie, even offing Jafar for good by kicking his lamp into magma.