Reverse Mole

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The reverse of The Mole. A villain, usually a henchman, turns out to have been a goodie all along.

To avoid becoming the Deus Ex Machina; there must be Foreshadowing and he may have had to do something horrible to get the villains' trust; good guy or not, he may never be able to go back.

Related tropes include Fake Defector—wherein a hero pretends to undergo a Face Heel Turn—and The Infiltration, wherein a hero disguises themselves as a completely different person who joins the bad guys.

A subtrope is the Stealth Mentor, who reveals that they have been opposing the hero all along as a way of forcing the hero to become stronger.

Compare Heel Face Turn and Mook Face Turn. If the villain forces the goodie to join him, it may be a Sadistic Choice or I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure.

Examples of Reverse Mole include:

Anime & Manga

  • Zest Grangaitz in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who despite having been modified into one of Jail Scaglietti's minions, still planned to eventually stop Scaglietti. The Omniscient Council of Vagueness notes that he would have been their perfect observer for Jail had he been in perfect health.
  • The random, forgettable Agent with sunglasses in Elfen Lied who was secretly working as a mole for the not-so-good guys of the Japanese government in order to steal information about their Diclonius propagation plot and hopefully a vaccine if possible, as well as cover up their own asses.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Zanpano, who after joining the heroes, calls Envy to apparently tell him their location. Turns out the call was actually a trick to lead Envy into a trap.
  • Bleach has Gin Ichimaru. Notable for being under deep cover (he was the only one who knew his agenda, though it has been hinted that Kira Izuru knows more than he's let on...) for at least a hundred years, during which he actually managed to make really high in the evil hierarchy.
    • This ends up a Double Subversion. The Audience is nudged into thinking that he's the bad guy from the very beginning, especially after Aizen dies. Then, when Aizen is revealed to be alive, there's all of two minutes of thinking that the whole thing was just a convoluted misunderstanding, before we find out Aizen is actually evil, and that Gin was working in cahoots with him the whole time. THEN we find out much later that Ichimaru Gin was actually one of the good guys, albeit a "good guy" who will do very evil things for the greater good.
      • A more accurate term would probably be zigzagged, as even by the loosest terms, Gin was still not really a good guy, as many of his evil actions, such as his Mind Rape of Rukia before her execution seemed to be more for his own amusement, as well as to make himself more evil. Although, this still tends to be under debate.
  • In Sekimatsu Occult Gakuin, Chihiro appears suspicious until it's revealed that she was helping Maya all along.
  • Itachi from Naruto. Too bad it was only revealed once he was dead. But now he's back as a zombie, and still a reverse mole, so it's all good.
  • Tsubasa from Metal Fight Beyblade infiltrates the Dark Nebula organization on behalf of the WBBA under the pretense of being a mere mercenary looking to sell his services to the highest bidder.
  • In the thirteenth Pokémon movie, Zoroark: Master of Illusions, we find out (pretty early on) that Rowena is a reporter just like Carl, and is actually investigating Kodai.
  • In One Piece, Vivi infiltrated Baroque Works along with Igaram to find out who was the boss trying to destabilize her country and managed to stay hidden for two years before she was discovered.
  • Gajeel from Fairy Tail was shown, shortly after his supposed Heel Face Turn, conspiring with Raven Tail. Then it turns out that he's actually on Fairy Tail's side after all, and is only pretending to work with Raven Tail.

Comic Books

  • As soon as Chris Claremont returned to the X-Men, he revealed that Tessa (aka Sage) had been a Reverse Mole for the X-Men... for the first 20 years of her editorial history!
  • In Marvel Comics, The Shroud has been undercover as a supervillain since the '80s, even going so far as to form the Night Shift, a team of supervillains with no idea their boss is working to destroy the underworld from within.
  • Femme Appeal from the Boom Kids Darkwing Duck comic.


So what, you're a triple agent?
No, I just lied about being a double.

  • More like a Bait And Switch Villain, the director of intelligence in Starship Troopers 3 Marauder is initially seen by one of the protagonists (and the audience) as a traitor who's trying to assassinate the Sky Marshal, covering up the failed attempt and preventing his rescue, and seizing power. Well, she actually is doing all that...because the Sky Marshal has gone nutty (well, nuttier) and is going to sell humanity out to the enemy.
  • In Running Scared, the two protagonists seem about ready to be gunned down by gangsters fairly early in. Lo and behold, two of the bad guy's Mooks turn out to be undercover cops and rescue them.
  • Skinner turns out to be this in the film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The weird novelization of the film even has him explain that he's a member of the British Secret Service.
  • In Ip Man 2, "Fatso" appears to be a minion of the brutal British at first, until he turns out to be working for their arrest. Foreshadowed by his offering to silence editor-in-chief Kan, then not doing so after the British policeman leaves.
  • A One Nation Earth officer in the Apocalypse film series movie Tribulation shows up in a Christian hideout ready to kill all the Christians in it, but as it turns out only fires blanks, revealing himself to be on their side.


  • Harry Potter: when Voldemort made it clear that he would kill Lily Potter, Snape went to Dumbledore and became a Mole for the Order of the Phoenix in the Death Eaters. When he killed Dumbledore, while he made it so that it looked like he was doing it for Voldemort, in fact he was performing a Mercy Kill on Dumbledore's orders.
  • Ulic Quel-droma started out this way in the Star Wars EU. The Dark Side being the Dark Side, however, he can't keep up the charade.
  • All loose ends are tied up at the end of James Thurber's masterpiece of whimsy The 13 Clocks when the Wicked Duke's spy Hark reveals himself to be a faithful servant of Good King Gwain of Yarrow, sent to watch over Princess Saralinda: turns out the Duke wasn't really her uncle - he kidnapped her from her real parents, the King and Queen of Yarrow. The Duke grumbles that such a tidy ending makes him sick.
  • G. K. Chesterton subverts the hell out of this trope in The Man Who Was Thursday: the protagonist himself infiltrates the Central Council of Anarchists, then gradually discovers that the other five members of the Central Council of Anarchists are undercover police agents who aren't aware of each other's existence; he learns this as he confronts one member after another. Eventually the six join forces against the President of the Council, only to learn that he is the policeman who sent them all to infiltrate the council in the first place. Not to mention God.
  • Someone surprising does this to the Zhentarim in Crown of Fire (a Forgotten Realms novel).
  • Sullivan, Jenner's henchman in The Secret of NIMH is probably only working for evil under threat of coercion, so it's not surprising that he pulls a Heel Face Turn at the last moment. Unfortunately, Redemption Equals Death.
  • That one guy in one of the New Tom Swift books (Tom Swift and his Jetmarine, I think)...I don't remember his name, though.
    • Hey, I remember that guy! It was the "Jetmarine" book, and they thought he was a Kranjovian agent or something.
  • The titular assassin of The Day of the Jackal is hired because the organisation plotting de Gaulle's death is so full of Action Service infiltrators that its head is confident of the loyalty of only two others.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Chessman of Mars, a character suddenly comes to Turan and Tara's aid, and reveals that he was one of the Gathol slaves held captive there.
  • The plot of one of the first spy novels, Fenimore Cooper's The Spy ends with this revelation, via a cameo appearance by George Washington.
  • Wheel of Time's Verin.
    • For those who haven't read The Gathering Storm, she joined the Black Ajah (Aes Sedai in service to the Dark One) to study them and gathered every scrap of information about them. She then found a loophole in the oath she made to the Dark One (serve until the hour of my death) and poisoned herself so she could give all the information to Egwene before dying. Her warder, Tomas, was also a Darkfriend.
  • The protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night. Sucks for him that the good guys he helped won't admit what he did after the war ends.
    • Not that it would have eased his conscience much if they did. After they finally do admit that he was working for them, averting his impending death sentence, he hangs himself out of guilt over what he did anyway.
  • In the second half of the Sherlock Holmes novella The Valley Of Fear, the protagonist turns out to be an undercover Pinkerton detective.
  • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, Malya, forced to serve as Voldorius's equerry, sends information to his foes.
  • In Elvenborn, due to his impressive knowledge of tactics and ingenious training methods the reclusive young Kyrtian V'dyll Lord Prastaran is placed in charge of the Elvenlords' side of a civil war instigated by the hated half-human Wizards. Not only would House Prastaran probably be destroyed root and branch if the High Council even had a hint of their attitudes toward human-elven relationships, but by the last fourth of the book he is in active collaboration with the 'Halfbloods'.
  • In Warrior Cats, Ivypool becomes one of these after she learns that the Dark Forest, a place where she is training, is plotting to destroy the clans. She stays with the Dark Forest so that she can give their information to Jayfeather, Lionblaze and Dovewing.

Live Action TV

  • In the episode Into the Fire, a Reverse Mole is the only reason Colonel O'Neill of Stargate SG-1 doesn't have a snake in his head.
    • Indeed, most Gou'ald System Lords have a few Reverse Moles in their fleet, either one of the Tok'ra or Jaffa who believe the truth about their "gods"- namely, that they are, in fact, Exclusively Evil snake-like parasites inside human bodies.
  • Doctor Who has Dalek Caan in "Journey's End".
    • In Attack of the Cybermen, one of the gang is actually a police officer. And it turns out that Lytton was using the Cybermen to get to his real employers and help them against the Cybermen.
  • Tony Almeida in the latest season of 24.
    • Until it was revealed that he really was bad all along, making him a heel face mole.
      • Except the finale reveals was just trying to work his way higher in the conspiracy to get revenge for Michelle's death, so... Double/Triple Reverse Mole?
        • He was a guy looking for revenge who was pretending to be a bad guy who was pretending to be a good guy who was pretending to be a bad guy...
  • Tuvok at the start of Star Trek: Voyager infiltrated the Maquis...though how is left to the Expanded Universe.
  • Get Smart used a twist similar to The Man Who Was Thursday in one episode.
  • Gaeta on New Caprica in Battlestar Galactica.
  • Flash Forward executes a perfect Reverse Mole when Janis is first revealed to be a mole, then revealed to be working for the CIA. Technically, she is still a Mole as she is supposed to be working for the FBI. This is also an example of Lampshade Hanging, as the character's name recalls the guardian Roman god with two faces, Janis (also known as Janus).
  • In V-2009, Joshua and several other crew members on Anna's ship are members of The Fifth Column.
    • The First V had a fair amount of The Fifth Column as well, some of them high-ranking. Seems a lot of the Visitors weren't very happy with their orders.
  • Colby of Numb3rs was revealed to be a double agent for the Chinese in Janus List. But then it turns out that he was really working for the FBI in the following episode.
  • In the pilot episode of Nikita, Naive Newcomer Alex is revealed to be a mole for the eponymous hero so that she can keep tabs on her old employers at Division.
  • While not done in the direct sense, the same principle is used on Hustle frequently with a random character turning out to be part of the con.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000: The Alpha Legion, at least originally-possibly still true, at least partially.
  • The Green Lady in Exalted.

Video Games

  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, King Dedede ended up saving the day when he puts badges on Ness and Luigi (who were turned into trophies earlier). They get revived by said badges when Tabuu trophyizes everyone else, and Dedede ended up getting revived as well. Dedede also ends up as a Reverse Mole in Kirby's Adventure.
  • In Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, Leila is one. Ephidel knows and has Jaffar kill her for it.
  • Lucy Stillman in Assassin's Creed is an employee of Abstergo Industries, an organization run by the Templars It's revealed at the end of the first game that she's actually an Assassin who was protecting Desmond the whole time, and helps him escape Abstergo at the beginning of the second game. The third game in the series, Brotherhood, drops some hints that she may actually be a double agent working for the Templars after all.
  • Ghaleon from Lunar: Eternal Blue really seems to enjoy egging on the heroes...but that's because he secretly thinks they're the only hope against his boss, the Big Bad.
  • In Wild ARMs 2, Antenora, Vinsfield's lover, turns out to have joined him to get revenge because he killed her parents. She goes about getting this revenge by making him love her, and then having the heroes kill her so that he'd be griefstricken by her death.
  • Lapis Roman from Xenosaga appears to the player at first as a no-nonsense and brutally efficient Galaxy Federation officer who arrests all the playable characters. Later, during her "interrogation" of the prisoners, she reveals that she's working for the good guys, and helps them devise an escape plan and a way to clear their names.
  • Done in Secret of the Stars, where it turns out that the Big Bad's Dragon has been working with the heroes all along to stop the Big Bad, and not so he can take over himself.
  • The real hero of Metal Gear Solid One, Two, and Four? Ocelot.
    • Also, in Metal Gear Solid 3, the Boss's defection turns out to have been a ruse intended to allow Ocelot the opportunity to steal the Philosophers' Legacy. Oh, and things such as stopping Volgin from using Shagohod.
  • Half-Life - Doctor Judith Mossman betrays Black Mesa East to the Combine. Turns out, she was working primarily for herself and begins to help the Resistance more.
  • In Blue Dragon, Nene reveals that Zola was working for him all along...until it turns out that she at some point made a heel-face turn and only pretended to be on his side so she could get close and kill him.
  • Cpt. Miller in Mirror's Edge seems to be in league with the Icarus conspiracy (or, at least, in their pocket) but actually has his own agenda and assists Faith in the final level.
  • Heartless in MegaMan Star Force 3. She was pretending to be King's right hand woman but was really a former colleague of Kelvin Stelar and was using Dealer's resources to try to contact him. "Heartless," unsurprisingly, is not even her real name.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: sure, you could act like a typical Sith student in the academy on Korriban, but for light-siders, it's often much more satisfying to quietly sabotage the Sith's every action from the inside out (for example, knocking out the Mandalorian prisoner at his request instead of torturing him, letting the rebellious students escape, calming a self-destructive droid instead of scrapping it, etc.), and still get the prestige that you would've gotten if you had actually been evil.
    • Let's not forget committing the ultimate in "destroy from within" Befriending Assistant Headmistress Yuthura, letting her walk back to the Light Side. After taking out Uthar, the rest of the academy destroys itself in-fighting upon discovering there's no one in charge.
  • During the Underdark episode in Baldur's Gate 2, if you choose to spare Solaufein when Phaere wants him dead, he'll reveal that he's a follower of Elistrae, one of the few good-aligned deities of the drow pantheon, and is struggling to find redemption for his people.
  • In Final Fantasy Dissidia, Golbez turns out to be working for Cosmos, and serves as a Stealth Mentor to a few of the heroes. Kuja was also one of these with a similar role in the prequel, but Kefka found out and loaded him up with malicious Fake Memories to get him to knock it off for the events of the original.
  • In Danger By Design, Nancy finds evidence that a Frenchwoman thought to have been a WWII collaborator was actually covertly working to preserve and conceal some of France's artistic treasures.
  • Crimson Viper of Street Fighter IV appears to be one of S.I.N.'s Punch Clock Villains, but in actuality, it's hinted several times that she's actually an undercover CIA agent.
  • In BlazBlue, Makoto Nanaya starts out as an Intelligence operative for the Novis Orbis Librarium, but upon discovering the Awful Truth about her best friend Noel, works as Reverse Mole for Sector Seven.

Web Comics

  • Bob and George here and [1]
  • Sluggy Freelance: Torg's purpose for joining the Minion Master in the first place, not to mention the various supervillain organizations he infiltrates.
    • Possibly Dr Schlock's motive for taking over Heretti-Corp; in spite of Becoming the Mask he does keep the villainy minimized, and feels regret for the damage he's responsible for.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The New Batman Adventures episode "You Scratch My Back" has Nightwing acting as this to fool Catwoman into Batman's plot of bringing her and the villain of this episode in.
  • Teen Titans played with this trope in the first season finale. Slade reveals his season-long Evil Plan to Robin: Slade had lured Robin away from the rest of the Titans, leaving them to deactivate his "Chronoton Detonator" which was actually a device that injected them with deadly nanites, allowing Slade to kill them with the push of a button. After this reveal, Slade made Robin his new apprentice, thus making Robin somewhat of a Fake Defector, albeit with the villain commandeering the operation specifically designed to make the unwilling defector comply and prevent him from informing his comrades because then, they would most assuredly die, thereby making the goodies, not the bad guys, the ones to be deceived by the hero's false defection. Following the establishment of his apprenticeship under Slade via a little crime spree and a show-down with his ex-teammates Robin's friends fully believe that he has been lost to The Dark Side, for good. This makes the discovery that Robin was really on their side the entire time all the more surprising, from their P.O.V.
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa enters a singing contest hosted by Krusty, with Homer as her manager. After she fires Homer for being a Jerkass, he begins managing her competitor... who then loses all his fans and popularity in the final. Homer shows himself to be a Reverse Mole to Lisa at the end.
  • Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes: Black Widow.
  • South Park. In the episode It Hits The Fan, the Knight of Standards and Practices are sent to prevent the word "shit" from being used over and over again, as doing so in en masse not only restarts the bubonic plague, it can eventually summon a demonic dragon. Around the same time, the kids and Chef realize that the excessive swearing was possibly connected to the bubonic plague, and they decide to warn everyone of the potential danger.

Real Life

  • Several of these examples popped up following World War II, where many Quislings in countries occupied by Nazi Germany turned out to have been helping their countries' La Résistance all along.
    • Or so they claim.
  • More significantly, Abwehr, the chief intelligence agency of Nazi Germany, was filled to the brim with Double Agents and Reverse Moles, including Da Chief himself, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Their various subversive acts included smuggling Jews out of Germany, feeding false information to the Wermacht, feeding true information to the Allies, and plotting the assassination of Adolf Hitler. It's no wonder then that German intelligence during World War II was extremely shoddy.
    • So was his follow-up. The Germans' overseas situation was not helped either by the fact that Abwehr's 'finishing school' tutor was in fact an MI 6 plant, which meant that virtually every agent was rounded up on day 1, and most, due to their misgivings of NAZI ideology were easily turned.
  • Really, any real life The Mole is someone's Reverse Mole.
  • ATF agent Jay Dobyns is one of the more successful undercover cops in history, being the only one to have risen to full-patch member of the Arizona Hells Angels. Made doubly impressive because he was a extremely successful college football star in the same state.