|Tropes and genres|
|Synonym(s)||Roleswap, Role Swap|
|Related tropes/genres||Mirror Universe|
|See also||Role Reversal (Merlin)|
|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
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
- AU: Sara Lance was found by fishermen in the North China Sea... by lydiamaritn - Arrow [Dead link]
- Oliver Smoak and Felicity Queen by olicitybaby4ever - Arrow [Dead link]
- Reverse! Reverse! by various authors - Good Omens
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