|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||Roleswap, Role Swap|
|See Also:||Role Reversal (Merlin)|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Role Reversal is an Alternate Universe trope in which one or more characters switch character roles. There are a number of common subtropes involving different roles.
In a role swap AU story, two characters switch character roles - this can include swapping jobs, superhero alter-egos or supernatural/superhuman abilities. For example, if Clark Kent changes roles with Lois Lane, Clark would be a human reporter and Lois would be Superwoman.
In some cases, roleswap AUs address what if scenarios. What if one event happened differently? How would that then effect the characters and their stories? For example, a Winter Soldier AU story may begin with Steve Rogers falling into the hands of Hydra, and Bucky surviving to take the mantle of Captain America.
Characters swapping roles, can in some cases result in characters also change their alignment. For example, an AU where a criminal swaps roles with the detective trying to capture them.
In some role reversal stories, a character's alignment with good, evil, or a certain side of a conflict is changed. A subgenre of this is the Villain AU, where a heroic character is recast as a villain. These stories may sometimes be called Evil AU or Dark AU. A story can swap the alignments of multiple characters, or only one character. One example of this could be an AU where Harry Potter is working with Voldemort, and it's up to Hermione and Ron to save Hogwarts. Villain AU stories can allow characters to have antagonistic interactions with their canon allies, but also allows for more positive interactions between characters that may be enemies in canon.
Mirror Universe is a well known example of this trope. In canon, the Star Trek crew visits an alternate universe in which the peaceful Federation never existed, replaced by the brutal, conquering Terran Empire, with evil doppelgangers. In fandom, the term Mirror Universe is a term used to describe an alternate universe in which familiar characters are given reversed alignments or characteristics. In this subtrope, "evil" characters from the mirrorverse may interact with their canonverse doppelgangers.
Age & Experience
- Main Article: Reverse Age AU
Popular Fandom Examples
- For the Merlin (BBC) fandom, see Role Reversal (Merlin), a trope where Merlin and Arthur switch roles, either because they are undercover, because of magic changing their circumstances, or a Canon AU.
- Arrow fandom often has Oliver Queen and another character - usually Felicity Smoak or Sara Lance switch roles. For example: Oliver would be an IT tech while Felicity would be the billionaire/vigilante. Other types of AU are usually merged with this one, such as No Island AU.
- Once Upon A Time fandom - quite popular in Captain Hook works where Emma Swan is the pirate while Killian Jones is the Prince.
- Supernatural fandom - quite popular in Destiel works, where Dean Winchester is an angel and Castiel is a Hunter.
- Batman fandom - often uses an Age Reversal on the Robins, switching their order usually.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe often uses a Winter Soldier AU or Captain America AU: in which Bucky Barnes is Cap, Steve Rogers is Winter Soldier or it's often played with Natasha Romanoff or Peggy Carter as Winter Soldier/Captain America roles reversed.
- The 100 fandom - Grounder AU, where Skaikru characters are Grounders, or vice versa
- Good Omens role reversals often focus on Angel Crowley and Demon Aziraphale
- Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction sometimes includes Kwami Swaps, which is a fandom specific variation on role swaps.
- Star Wars fandom has Jedi AU and Sith AU stories, where sometimes include characters swapping allegiances/alignment
- The Sacred and the Profane (Good Omens, Aziraphale/Crowley) by afrai – In which Crowley is an Angel and Aziraphale is a demon.
- no man is an island (oh this i know) by confidentialityspice (Arrow) – "My name is Felicity Smoak. For five years, I was stranded on a desert island with only one goal: survive. Now I will fulfill Robert Queen's dying wish to use the list of names he left me and bring down those who are poisoning my city. To do this, I must become someone else. I must become something else."'
- the werewolf and the banshee by wolfwithpanthereyes (Teen Wolf, Scott/Lydia) – Lydia is a werewolf and Scott is a banshee.
- Constellations (Things You Left Unsaid) by DasWarSchonKaputt (Yuri on Ice, Victuuri) – AKA a role reversal au, wherein Yuuri is a figure skating legend in the making - mostly made, or so they say - who decides to take a season off at the peak of his career, and Victor is the runaway-cum-international student from Russia who joins his university and cons Yuuri into becoming his coach. Featuring Phichit Chulanont as the worst (best) friend ever, and Yuri Plisetsky as Yuuri's self-proclaimed Arch Rival.
- Capriccio by Archaeopteryx (Mob Psycho 100) – Kageyama "Mob" Shigeo vanished at the age of ten, never to be seen again. Ten years later, Kageyama Ritsu meets another ten-year-old, this one with an irresistible urge to mess with supernatural forces he really, really shouldn't. As annoying as he might find Reigen Arataka, he can't let history repeat itself.
- Paint It Black by Sheepnamedpig (One Punch Man) – "Saitama's just a guy who's a villain for a hobby. What the hell kind of lame-ass backstory is that?"
- AU: Sara Lance was found by fishermen in the North China Sea, after being presumed dead for five years. Once home, Sara becomes the Black Canary, taking up the role of Starling City’s only and most lethal vigilante, in order to fulfill Robert Queen’s dying wish; “save our city”., a gif-picspam of Sara Lance becoming the city's vigilante instead of Oliver.
- Oliver Smoak and Felicity Queen, an Oliver/Felicity manip
- Reverse RWBY AU Masterpost by bastart13: "Reverse RWBY is a roleswap AU." "tl;dr: Salem and Ozpin’s forces have been switched from good to evil and vice versa along with their ages. Teenage Team WTCH are now the protagonists attending Beacon, run by its headteacher, Salem, and they fight the grimm and Ozpin’s forces."
Example Art Gallery
Stuckony, Role Reversal AU by nixie-deangel, with Steve as Iron Man, Tony as Winter Solider, and Bucky as Captain America, MCU