Enemy to Caretaker

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Enemy to Guardian, Enemy to Janitor, EtC
Related: enemies to lovers
See Also: Caretaking
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Enemy to Caretaker is a trope already known and used, but only in recent years has it gained greater prominence and its own name. It has a few different interpretations, but they all focus on a villain who for some reason becomes the hero's guardian. Some of these works can evolve into romantic relationships or friendships between the villain and the hero, or just a father and son relationship – with or without real adoption.

It’s about expecting pain and receiving comfort

[...] the wounds are dressed and treated and wrapped, an armor sheltering vulnerabilities from the rest of the world.

It’s about being forced to rely on someone you do not trust.

It’s about expecting to fall—

And then getting caught.[1]

Many Harry Potter fanfics used this trope, showing a Lord Voldemort who discovers Dumbledore's plans and starts to protect[2] Harry after realizing the similarity between the two. In the Percy Jackson fandom, we have a character who is a villain and over the course of the story become a janitor.[3]

It’s about the power dynamics, see.

It’s about being vulnerable and helpless at the feet of someone you believe wishes you ill.

It’s about how people react when they have absolute power thrust into their hands.[4]

It has received a large number of appointments in AO3 in recent years, especially in the period of the COVID pandemic, when a significant number of fanworks were created by users who were at home for reasons of quarantine or social distancing.

You’re not helping them, not really. It’s just a…ceasefire! You’re totally taking advantage of their absence, not hovering in the doorway and wringing your hands.[5]

Some prompt lists[6] were found in Tumblr, as well as a reference in Whumptober from 2020, Day 7.[7][8]


  • Enemies to caretaker because everyone else in whumpee’s life is just so terrible/doesn’t realize that whumpee is not ok.[9]
  • A hero seeks refuge with his enemy, as he has no one else to turn to and the villain accepts to give him shelter.
  • The caretaker tries to pretend that they don’t care about the whumpee, but every so often they sneak worried looks towards the whumpee’s direction. The whumpee notices this at one point but convinces themselves that their brain is just playing tricks on them.[10]
  • It’s revealed that they were on the same side all along.[6]
  • The enemy is dependent on the whumpee to survive or escape a bad situation and can’t afford to lose them.[6]
  • The enemy works for a bigger bad and is responsible for maintaining their prisoner.[6]
  • “Only I am allowed to defeat you!” It could even be offensive that anyone else hurt their whumpee.[6]
  • There are wounds on the whumpee that don’t fit the whumper’s designs or aesthetic.[6]
  • There are certain afflictions that even the enemy can’t abide.[6]
  • The whumpee is sick in captivity.[6]
  • The whumpee’s problems remind the enemy of themselves or their loved ones.[6]
  • Enemy has got what they needed from the whumpee, and there are no hard feelings, so they deserve to be patched up.[6]
  • The whumpee will be sent back to their team with a message, and they need to be able to walk.[6]
  • The enemy wants the whumpee to bond with them and cares for them so they will feel closer.[6]
  • The whumpee realises the enemy cares for them better than their so-called allies ever did.[6]

Fan overview

On Tumblr


Reasons Why I Love This Trope So Goddamn Much

The mistrust. The constant second-guessing. The suspicion of every move they make. The concocting of escape plans, one after the other, because how can you tell the difference between being restrained for your own good and being captured? The cuffs sure look the same.[11]

On Reddit

On September 26, 2021 the user sparkypants_ made a post[12] on subreddit r/FanFiction, in order to know what would be enemy to caretaker, answers below:

[deleted user]

Imagine that Mario beats Bowser's ass so badly (or Bowser gets his ass beat so badly by somebody) that Mario actually feels bad for him and feels obligated to help him recover.

I think it's something like that, maybe.[13]


Oh! I've seen this one in an animated adaptation of a C-Novel too! It's basically where a character who's an enemy (not necessarily a nemesis; it could just be someone who's harmlessly cats-and-dogs with the other character) ends up looking after or nursing the character they dislike (and it's not necessarily from an injury that they themself has caused).

Haven't written anything for the trope yet but I do like the idea of enemy to caretaker to lovers! FengQing here I coooome \(≧▽≦)/[14]


Maybe its a literal tag?

If you're in the PJ fandom, there's a character that goes from being an antagonist to being a janitor (Iapetus/Bob).[3]


Think of a villain who confronts the hero for the first time, only to realize he's a 15 year old who the rest of the world has shoved against his will in to the line of duty, all in the name of "destiny" and the villain is like, "Oh, hell no," and adopts the 15 year old instead of fighting him.[2]

Example Fanworks



Archives, Communities & Resources


  1. ^ "I Whump You — Enemy to Caretaker (Take Three)". 2021-03-30. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  2. ^ a b "Korrin comments on What is enemy to caretaker?". 2021-09-27. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  3. ^ a b "duecarion comments on What is enemy to caretaker?". 2021-09-26. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  4. ^ "I Whump You — Trope: Enemy to Caretaker (Take Two)". 2021-01-14. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  5. ^ "I Whump You — Trope: Unconventional Caretakers". 2019-12-15. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "blankets and bandages — Enemy to Caretaker Prompts". 2020-10-06. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  7. ^ a b "What? An art blog? Surely you jest. — Day 7 of Whumptober: Enemy to C…". 2020-10-07. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  8. ^ a b "Lantaniel Art — Whumptober  Day 7 Enemy to caretaker I WILL..." 2020-10-07. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. {{cite web}}: no-break space character in |title= at position 29 (help)
  9. ^ "D — Enemies to caretaker because everyone else in..." 2022-01-21. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  10. ^ "Dead dove:Do not eat — You know what's fun? Enemy turned caretaker. A…". 2020-10-16. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  11. ^ "I Whump You — Trope: Enemy to Caretaker". 2020-07-20. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  12. ^ "What is enemy to caretaker? by sparkypants_ : FanFiction". 2021-09-26. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  13. ^ "[user comment at] What is enemy to caretaker? : FanFiction". 2021-09-26. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.
  14. ^ "LinXueLian comments on What is enemy to caretaker?". 2021-09-26. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10.