Welcome Back, Traitor

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

In a sudden and shocking betrayal, The Mole reveals himself, screws over the rest of the team, and runs off to go change sides. Except...he doesn't really run off. Maybe he was under Mind Control, and snaps out of it soon after. Or maybe he was just temporarily misguided, and once the team either talks him down or beats some sense into him, he reverts. Or maybe he has a change of heart shortly after the betrayal, and has a Heel Face Turn for real. No matter the circumstances, the guy who just backstabbed the party five minutes ago is welcomed back with open arms, and the whole incident is quickly put behind them. Yay for party unity!

Not a Fake Defector (that's someone who never really changed sides but pretended to do so as part of a deep undercover operation). We're talking about people who really did turn on the heroes, but then turned back or explained the incident away fairly quickly, and everyone is surprisingly okay with this. Probably preceded by We Used to Be Friends.

A specific instance of Easily Forgiven where the unmasked traitor remains a contributing part of the team. Compare with Redemption Equals Death, where the ex-traitor doesn't get the chance to stay on the team or do anything else.

Not to be confused with Welcome Back, Kotter.

Multiple spoilers below.

Examples of Welcome Back, Traitor include:

Anime and Manga

  • Happens several times with Kai in Beyblade, following his seemingly endless walk through the Heel Face Revolving Door. Most notable occurrence is near the conclusion of the Third Season, when Kai makes his return to the G-Revolutions after running around on different sides for the entirety of the series. Tyson literally forgives him with three simple words and completely forgets about Kai's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, appointing him The Lancer once again.
    • And it's not just Tyson who's so ready to forgive him. The Blitzgrieg Boys are more than happy to welcome Kai back to their rankings - and appoint him Team Captain - at the start of G-Revolution, even after he so blatantly deserted them for the Bladebreakers in the first season.
  • Wolf's Rain: Hige, who wasn't exactly welcomed back after being brainwashed into leading the heroes into a trap, but was tolerated as long as no further stunts were pulled. (It was near the end of the series by then anyway.)
  • In Slayers Xellos is tolerated as a team member in spite of the fact that everybody knows that he follows his own agenda, and will betray the party at the drop of a hat, if it suits his purposes. And they allow him to come back every time that happens, since he's too useful to leave out, and indeed it's impossible to stop him from coming along if he wants to.
    • Justified in Slayers Revolution when Lina warns Pokota not to pick a fight with Xellos, because she's not sure they could take him.
      • Even more justified when, a few episodes later, they do pick up a fight with Xellos, who defeats them without seeming to lift a finger.
    • Lampshaded HARD in the manga, where they directly point out the "We can't stop you" part.
  • Naruto: Not yet but the remainder of Team Kakashi have made it very clear to Sasuke that this door is always open.
    • At least it was until Danzo was made the Sixth Hokage candidate, and his first act was to make Sasuke a missing-nin, which means he's a criminal with a bounty on his head. However, he is dead now and the current decision on Sasuke is unknown.
    • Most of the rest of the Rookie 11 have also more or less slammed this door in Sasuke's face in light of him joining Akatsuki and potentially starting a war with the Cloud village by kidnapping Killer Bee, with Shikamaru resolving that they can't leave this issue hanging out anymore and they will deal with Sasuke themselves.
    • To some degree this also happend with Sai, who is initially revealed as passing classified information on to Orochimaru, supposedly to help Danzo destroy Konoha so he can rebuild it as he sees fit (they don't know he wants to assassinate Sasuke), after he pulls a Heel Face Turn. Yamato doesn't seem to mention that he let an unconscious Sakura almost fall to her death while going to meet with Orochimaru.
  • Rio Kurotori in Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation briefly angsts about everything that she's done after realizing that while she joined Ark to avenge her mother's death, Teeki was responsible for sending the ghost that killed her, but her student Biko delivers a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! punch, and despite acknowledging the crimes committed, says everyone wants her back.
  • Exactly why the True Companions still lets Bakura approach within 100 feet of them, given that his evil side continuously takes over without warning, and all attempts to defeat it have been proven to work only for a short time or not at all, is unclear.
    • Because in the manga, while the group had initially been outraged at Bakura's apparent betrayal, they eventually saw good Bakura struggling to regain control, causing the evil side to fumble at a few points that saved their lives, and even joining them to defeat Zorc, and realized that Bakura's real personality was truly their friend.
  • Why Miaka doesn't tell Yui to go to hell at the end of the main series is a complete mystery. And in subsequent storylines, apparently they went right back to being best friends, in spite of all the deaths and horrible events Yui's actions brought about.
  • In Gundam Seed, Athrun and Dearka defect from ZAFT to Orb; by the time of the sequel, Dearka's back with ZAFT, though he did get demoted for his defection. Athrun, on the other hand, not only gets into the best-of-the-best FAITH Squadron, but the fifth Super Prototype Gundam, entirely because Chairman Durandal was the one trying to get him to rejoin.
  • In the second season of Vandread, Buzam A. Calessa is eventually revealed to have been a spy and a high-ranking officer from Taraak (male planet), who has undergone a complete sex change to infiltrate the female-only crew of Nirvana. However, within an episode of The Reveal, s/he ends up betraying Taraak and rescuing her/his True Companions from imprisonment, so The Captain allows her/him to remain on the ship under a single condition—that s/he reverts back completely to the she from before the betrayal.

Comic Books

  • In the Legion of Super-Heroes Brainiac 5 set up Ultra Boy for a woman's murder, nearly killed Chameleon Boy, was planning to destroy the entire universe, and resolved the universe-destruction in a way that sent a former teammate hopelessly insane for years—but he was crazy, spent five issues in an insane asylum, was cured and welcomed back to the team with open arms. (This included their ignoring the murder he'd framed Ultra Boy for; a few years later a story was written establishing that someone else entirely had been responsible for the actual killing. Because just because you want to destroy the universe doesn't mean that you're so lost to morality as to commit one murder!)
  • In the Fantastic Four it was discovered that the Human Torch's wife was actually a Skrull disguised as Alicia Masters. She agreed to help them get back the real Alicia & was believed killed on the mission. However her Skrull superior decided to give her superpowers so she could help him get revenge on the Fantastic Four, which she did until her Heel Face Turn & was allowed to stay with the FF & apparently had free run of their headquarters despite her untrustworthy history.
  • In the first story arc of Ultimate X-Men, Cyclops joins Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil and helps him blow up civilian buildings (though he tries to give occupants time to escape). By the end of the arc, he's realized what an insane douchebag Magneto is and returns to the X-Men, and never are his actions called into question.
  • Thoroughly averted with Hal Jordan. He becomes Parallax, wrecks the Green Lantern Corps, then dies and comes back good. Most of the Corps still doesn't trust him. The Lost Lanterns, who he had previously attacked and left stranded, tried to kill him when he had just rescued them from A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • In X Men, Colossus, driven by grief over the death of his sister, betrayed the team and joined Magneto's Acolytes. He later left the Acolytes and visited the X-Men's England-based sister team Excalibur, where he beat up Pete Wisdom for no good reason (Pete was dating Colossus' ex-girlfriend at the time). Despite all this, Excalibur welcomed him into their team, and he later rejoined the X-Men after Excalibur broke up.

Fan Works

  • In the Sailor Moon/Iji fanfic Soldiers of Love, after Yukabacera's betrayal, the heroes decide to keep him in the party for pragmatic reasons (but deprive him of weapons). But soon afterwards he is accidentally left behind as they flee from Kiron, and they have to decide whether to go back for him, which would involve risking their lives. Since it's on this page, you can guess what they decide. Incidentally, he later repays them by saving all their lives and helping to defeat The Dragon Iosa for them.


  • The Empire Strikes Back: Lando. Justified, to a point, as it was explicit from the beginning that he was acting under duress.
    • The ending of Return of the Jedi indicates that force ghost Anakin gets a similar pass for his atrocities as Darth Vader.
  • Labyrinth: Hoggle.
  • Mirror Mask: Valentine, although he completely redeems himself.
  • Over the Hedge: RJ.
  • Super Troopers: Farva.
  • The Expendables: Gunnar Jensen.
  • The Bollywood epic Lagaan: Lakha.
  • In Maleficent, the fairies raising Aurora are the only Moors folk who venture outside the Moors after Maleficent shuts the border; they are attempting to broker some kind of peace agreement with the human kingdom entirely on their own. When Maleficent sees them at Aurora's christening, they seem oddly loyal to King Stefan, which only adds to her rage -- and afterwards they abandon their homeland to raise the princess. However, at the end of the movie they return to the Moors with no consequences.


  • This happens numerous times in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    • The most blatant example is Luke's apprentice Kyp Durron, a former slave who turns to the dark side, destroys a star system a handful star systems including a major populated one, comes back, and eventually becomes a Jedi Master. Subverted in the paraquel I, Jedi, where the protagonist repeatedly and with great alarm calls Karma Houdini.
    • Luke also joins the Empire in Dark Empire. That was initially a plan to kill Palpatine, but Luke ended up falling to the Dark Side for real until his sister's love saved him and he went back to the New Republic. Who never brought up his defection and time as a Sith Apprentice again.
    • In the X Wing Series comics, Ace Pilot Soontir Fel, the best Imperial pilot since Vader's death, defects to the Rebel Alliance, where his brother-in-law Wedge Antilles welcomes him. Not long after the comic ended Fel vanished; in Iron Fist and Solo Command he seemed to be working with an Imperial offshoot, but this was an actor. What happened to him has been written but is in Development Hell. In the Hand of Thrawn duology it's seen that the Empire of the Hand, a pragmatic but good Imperial offshoot, kidnapped and persuaded him to join. The same duology has that fairer, more cautious offshoot of the Empire try to recruit Mara Jade, who had been forced away from the Empire by treachery. Unfortunately the way they did this involved violence when she refused, even if they weren't shooting to kill, and so of course it didn't work.
    • And in Allegiance - note how many of these were written by Timothy Zahn - five stormtroopers realize that they can't support what the Empire has become, leave, and wander about in a stolen ship, trying to do good. They don't join the Rebellion, since they see the Rebels as basically neo-Seperatists and terrorists. But they do leave, which is unheard of, and they get in the way of a lot of local Imperial plans. In the sequel, it's said that Thrawn catches them and brings them into the Empire of the Hand.
  • Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Granted he is their brother, and none of them are that cold yet. Also, it's pretty much shown outright that he was enchanted by the Witch at the first meeting with her. It's a fairly strong argument against taking candy from strangers, even if they are androgynously sexy.
  • The Emperor has this happen with Brutus after he betrays Caesar during the civil war. Which is pretty much how it went down in real life, so...
  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Ossë betrayed the other Ainur and joined Morgoth for a while, but they dragged him back and convinced him to Heel Face Turn and rejoin the good guys. He stayed loyal after that. The rebellious Noldor who gave up the rebellion and returned under Prince Finarfin got a rather colder welcome home.
  • During Warrior Cats, Ivypool is lured into joining the Dark Forest. However, once she realizes that they're actually plotting to destroy the clans and repents, she is welcomed back to the side of the heroes.

Live Action TV

  • Farscape has Rygel, who betrayed the crew at the end of the first season before coming back when he realised he couldn't benefit from it. It wasn't the last time he betrayed them in some way. At least the characters don't seem to completely forget it:

John: Shut up, you miserable excuse for a life! I'm sick of having you sell us out every chance you get!
Rygel: I don't do it every chance!

  • Firefly: Jayne. Though somewhat justified, as Mal holds that fact over his head to keep him in line, and Simon dismisses a grudge between them because they're all supposed to be on the same side, and holding a grudge would be counter productive to things like survival. Also, as a surgeon he is Jayne's only real hope in case of serious injury, something Simon leaves as a vague but unsubtle threat. Meanwhile River is capable of killing him with her brain. Lastly, the rest of the crew don't actually know the extent of Jayne's treachery.
  • Stargate SG-1: Teal'c was once brainwashed by Apophis into loyalty, but was reverted by a near-death ritual, and could return to duty immediately.
    • This is despite him successfully tricking almost everyone prior the ritual.
  • In Babylon 5, after Garibaldi betrays Sheridan to Clark's forces. The betrayer had been MindControled, and soon afterwards, decided to rescue the betrayee. When he goes to the Mars resistance for help, there's a lot of tension until telepath Lyta Alexander confirms that he was mind-controlled and isn't anymore, and during the actual rescue attempt, the betrayee turns out to be sufficiently out of it that he can't remember why he's mad at the betrayer.
    • Subverted with Lennier, who regrets the betrayal moments after making it, only to be caught when trying to make good. He leaves rather than face the shame and accusation that isn't coming, as Delenn remembered his bravery before the betrayal, and realizes that Lennier's moment of weakness lasted only a moment before he tried to do right.
  • A little attempted murder mass murder genocide won't stop the Petrellis from having family brunch together.
  • In a season finale of Numb3rs, Colby Granger is revealed to be a spy for the Chinese in the FBI. While next season's premiere reveals it wasn't quite true, he IS and always has been a plant by the Department of Justice.
  • Star Trek: DS9: Garak tortures Odo almost to death to try and get back in his old mentor's good books. In the episode's final scene, Odo suggests he and Garak have breakfast together. This friendly gesture hinged on a Not So Different revelation during the interrogation (both of them wanted more than anything else to return "home" and be among their own people).
    • Quark gets this treatment frequently over the course of the early seasons (before his "heart of latinum" status was clearly established)
  • Alan A Dale in the BBC's Robin Hood betrays the merry men throughout series 2. Makes a Heel Face Turn in the penultimate episode and turns against Gisbourne and the Sheriff. Just in time to die at the end of series 3 due to the gang not trusting him.
    • Roy in the first season lead the Merry Man on a wild goose chase to find the mother of a baby they found even though he himself actually knew who the mother was. Then he tried to kill Robin and almost succeeded. Then Robin quickly decided to forgive Roy. Though to be fair, he only betrayed them because he was presented a Sadistic Choice by the Sheriff and it is obvious that he betrayed them reluctantly.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has a justified example: the computer Mr. Smith was an enemy spy but could continue to act like he did before he was unmasked because, after all, he's a computer and can be reprogrammed.


Professional Wrestling

  • Far too many to list. The Face Heel Turn and vice versa are very common. The past is forgiven, if not forgotten.

Video Games

  • Breath of Fire III: Garr, although the entire second half of the game is devoted to Garr making amends for trying to kill you on orders and trying to get to the bottom of why he was given those orders, even leading to him challenging his owngoddess.
  • Breath of Fire IV: Scias.
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Jessica.
    • To be fair, it wasn't really her fault, she was possesed by the real Big Bad.
  • Final Fantasy IV: Yang, Kain turned and came back twice - although the second time, Edge refused to trust him and Kain outright asked to be killed if he was brainwashed again.
    • Yang had amnesia and was being manipulated by Baron while he lost his memory. The only party member who holds this against him is Bratty Half-Pint Palom.
      • In Palom's defense, when someone repeatedly kicks you in the head when you first meet them, it's probably not conducive to offering your total trust and respect right away.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Yuffie, Cait Sith. In the latter's case, the moment of turning is just a short chase segment and brief cutscene in which you don't have access to the party command, and thus, it's entirely possible that the time before Cait's Welcome Back, Traitor moment is so brief that he literally never even left.
    • Though at least Cait Sith's is justified in that he threatens to kill a hostage if the heroes don't let him keep tagging along. His full forgiveness doesn't come until later.
    • A Mind Control example of this happens when Cloud gives the Black Materia to Sephiroth.
  • Half-Life 2: Dr. Mossman. Two seconds after the Heel Face Turn, she and Alyx (who had been frosty towards each other the whole game, even before the initial betrayal,) are hugging and on first name terms.
    • It's not quite clear, but one interpretation is that Dr. Mossman was a double agent from the start, so this was not as outrageous as some examples of the trope.
    • There's also that Mossman's Heel Face Turn is the only reason Alyx and her father didn't end up tossed headfirst through a Combine portal to be brainsucked by Advisors. At this point Alyx probably felt that Mossman's sincerity had been sufficiently proven.
  • Nash in Lunar Silver Star Story Complete and all subsequent versions. Different in the original Lunar: The Silver Star, where he was a Fake Defector instead.
  • Super Robot Wars: Axel Almer (only in Advance), Lamia Loveless (both versions).
  • Tales (series): Raven in Tales of Vesperia, arguably Kratos in Tales of Symphonia. Also Anise in Tales of the Abyss. In Tales of Destiny remake, they try to do it on Leon. but...
    • Potentially Zelos in Tales of Symphonia, who admits that while he was a Fake Defector when he turned over Colette to Pronyma, he was really leaking information to the villains.
    • Specifically, in Tales of Vesperia Judith and Raven both turn against the party, the former by crippling their only mode of transportation and abandoning them, the latter by kidnapping Estelle and handing her over to the Big Bad then later actively trying to kill them (albeit under orders). Both are welcomed back into the party with no fuss whatsoever.
      • Well, really, Judith more or less had a noble cause for crippling their ship. Her crime is trying to act on her noble goal alone, rather than with her friends. As for Raven, he was actually not really trying to kill them as much as he planned on dying there, wether it was by the party's hand or the location crumbling down on him. This was made evident when while clashing blades with Yuri, Raven suddenly halted his attacks, allowing a rather surprised Yuri to slash him through the chest. He never really planned on killing them as much as he was more than ready for his own life to end; he even allows them all to escape immediately after the fight.
      • Also, in the latter's case, the party takes turns slugging them in the face. Yuri also makes it clear that said character's life (weather they live or die) belongs to "Brave Vesperia" from that point on.
  • In Star Wars The Force Unleashed one of the later level bosses is Proxy, who snuck out of the ship so he could assassinate you and fulfill his program as a Cato-like training droid. After you beat him, at the end of the level you pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky using the force. The shockwave fries Proxy's processor. He's essentially the same but his "primary programming" has been erased. He's welcomed back, no problems
    • The Apprentice knew he was trying to kill him though, as is shown in the opening scenes. He was a training aid
      • It's pretty much outright stated Starkiller knew this (and hinted this has happen more than once) plus he's more annoyed by this being a bad time then anything else.
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean: Kalas.
  • Averted in Battletech: The Crescent Hawks' Inception. When you find the traitor in the party, he's summarily executed. There's a war on, after all.
  • Inverted in Overlord: Gnarl, shortly after betraying you, says he'll welcome you back, if you can defeat the old Overlord.
    • He brings it in a funny but also justified way, considering his 'advisory' role up to then.

Gnarl: If you beat him I'll glady have you bac.. I mean, serve you again.

  • In Exit Fate, the hero is declared a traitor by his home country at the beginning of the game and joins the other side to try to bring the war to a close with as little loss of life as possible. However, the fact that an enemy Colonel is immediately accepted into the highest ranks of the military does not sit well with the corrupt politicians in charge, and they eventually fabricate an excuse to charge him with treason in a Kangaroo Court. As a result, Daniel has to switch sides again; he's welcomed back with a lack of distrust that would be more surprising if it wasn't for the fact that the Kirgard leadership was in deep, deep trouble, and nothing he could do could possibly make their situation any worse.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, partway through it is revealed that the player character is an amnesiac Darth Revan. Only one member of the party seems to have a problem with this; several characters are actually pleased - though admittedly that's in character.
  • Jays Journey has this with Frost. Jay Lampshades it a bit by saying that everyone always comes back to the team in games like these, except for that one flower girl.
  • Suikoden has Pahn and Sanchez. After you meet Pahn again later in the game, he joins after helping you out in a hostage situation. Sanchez is a spy for the Scarlet Moon Empire and because of him both Odessa and Mathiu Silverberg had to die. After the war, Lepant pardoned Sanchez for his crimes due to the fact that punishing him in any way would be a shock too great for the new republic to handle. Sanchez was forced to swear that he would not associate with any of the officials of the Toran Republic in the future. He then entered Qlon Temple.
  • Jowy in the best ending of Suikoden II.
  • Dragon Age: Your party members will leave if their approval is low enough. A few will attack you before they leave, and beating them will instantly earn back their loyalty.
    • In a more straightforward example, the player has a chance to recruit Loghain, a Well-Intentioned Extremist who left the King to die, tried to have you and your party assassinated, and almost caused the entire nation to erupt in civil war. Not everyone is happy about it, and Alistair point-blank refuses to work with him, leaving your party and the Grey Wardens in disgust.
  • If you are kind enough to Isabela in Dragon Age II, she will come back after making off with the Tome of Koslun. This is a more realistic example, however, as it takes three years of separation for Hawke & Co. to forgive her.
    • In the finale, there are different ways you can handle Anders, depending on whose side you take in the mage-templar war. If you side with the templars, you can either convince him to join you (which requires full rivalry) or kill him - telling him to leave just means you kill him later when he tries to stop you. If you side with the mages, you can kill him, have him join you, or tell him to leave. He'll find you at the Gallows and offer to help, giving you another leave / join choice.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Justice League Unlimited: Hawkgirl, although it's a season and a few more times saving the world before forgiveness comes, and a lot of the populace of Earth still doesn't trust the traitor.
    • That, and the fact that Hawkgirl turns on the people that the Justice League was betrayed to when the full extent of their plan is revealed.
    • Although it was later revealed that the League would have forgiven her immediately (they took a vote and majority was to overlook it) had said traitor not ran off anyway.
    • Superman himself had to go through this, as a result of his brainwashing at the hands of Darkseid.
  • Theresa was forgiven pretty quickly at the end of Class of the Titans.
  • Raimundo betrayed the team in the first season of Xiaolin Showdown, but saw the error of his ways and went back to join the heroes, who welcomed him back with a minimum of fuss. The incident was not totally forgotten, though, and later episodes occasionally alluded to it.
    • In a later season, it is not only alluded to, but becomes the basis of a plan made by Master Monk Guan and himself to trick Hannibal Roy Bean into losing a powerful artifact he had stolen earlier in the series.

Real Life

  • Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, who, having betrayed King Louis XVI., the Revolution, Napoleon, etc., etc., was asked by the restored King Louis XVIII how many governments he had belonged to, replied imperturbably, «Hé! sire, c'est le treizième» ("Well, sire, this is the thirteenth!")
  • During the Peloponnesian War Alcibiades, who was facing charges of defacing religious statues at the time, defected to Sparta and advised them how to defeat the Athenian expedition to Sicily. Thanks to his efforts, the expedition was a disaster, with over 10,000 Athenian soldiers killed or enslaved. He was later recalled to Athens... and appointed to the rank of general.
    • Well, in his case, the states did their share of betraying first... so who was welcoming whom back?
  • Benedict Arnold, from the perspective of the British.