Do we have any term or phrase for the situation wherein a protagonist becomes an antagonist for rest of the characters in a drama but still remains a hero for the audiences?

For example in The Count of Monte Cristo, Dantès is the protagonist, but after Albert's father had been disgraced by him, he became Albert's villain.

  • Technical questions like this are often better asked on a specific topic stack exchange. This could be on topic on Literature and on Writers stack exchange. To clarify the question, could you give an example of a well known work where this happens. – James K May 31 '18 at 5:52
  • The count of Monte Cristo... who's the protagonist but after Albert's father had been disgraced by him, he became Albert's villain. – Zeeshan Siddiqii May 31 '18 at 6:21
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    In literary terms, what you're describing is a combination of character conflict and role reversal. – Jason Bassford May 31 '18 at 9:13

There is no specific term for this. It is part of "character development"

What you describe is not a protagonist being an antagonist, but merely the development of the character of Albert in his relationship with Dantès.

You are not using the word "antagonist" quite right. An antagonist is a person who opposes the protagonist. You don't say that Dantès is an "antagonist for the rest of the characters", even if he opposes them. You can only be an antagonist if you oppose the protagonist. Albert becomes an antagonist of Dantès, following the humiliation of Albert's father.


This trope is called a Face-Heel Turn. "Face" and "heel" are professional wrestling jargon for "good guy" and "bad guy" respectively.

Note that the audience can still root for the "bad guy;" this doesn't happen so much in wrestling (where the term comes from) but can very much happen in other media depending on how the author portrays the bad guy.

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