Ooh… probably? It really does depend on the character doesn’t it? Well…
I mean, no one thinks of themselves as the villains even though–depending on what they’re doing–the reader will immediately understand that the character is in fact an unreliable narrator and that their actions cannot be in anyway misconstrued as good. So for this concept to work, for the twist to actually be a twist, the readers would have to honestly think that the character is the hero for the majority of the story.
I actually have a reblog post saved in my drafts (only a one line concept written)–this post–for an idea kind of like this. The OP concept is that kids take from “our world” and summoned/pulled into another one full of magic and adventure are then sent back against their will after their purpose is done. And, like, they are back in their original state physically–no scars no missing limbs, but also no muscles no magic–but mentally they’re still traumatized.
And OP continues how, fed up with pretending in “our world,” the hero tries to find their way back to that world of magic and adventure and finally–after hundreds of worlds later–they make it home.
And the one line concept I have to say to this is: what if this is how villains are created?
Because sure the hero makes it back home, can feel their magic restored, is relieved to be back where they’re meant to be.
But this world has changed while the hero was gone. The adventures they went on were decades, maybe centuries ago–legend but intangible–and so while it might be home it’s not the same.
And I wonder if the hero might take it upon themselves to “fix” that.
But they’re playing with an out of date rulebook, the things that were considered evil back then are now better understood or considered okay now. Or maybe when they were the hero, the evil they fought was a monarch and to see that the same royal family still rules is an injustice that needs to be rectified–not knowing that this current ruler is good and kind, etc, thinking the rumors are just propaganda.
It’s very much in line with the “die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Oh no. I just had an idea. I am worried and horrifically pleased by it: Given the premise of The Many Gardens of Shikabane-hime, and my own outside POV series based on it, I might sort of now want to do a “Shikako appears and wrecks Danzo’s shit and is thus the villain”
(Uh… maybe later? I’ll put it on my to do list)
But I digress.
I think the only thing holding me back from a full yes is that, similar to the problem of the For Better For Worse / Desperate Endeavors mash up, there has to be enough of a prologue for the hero’s actions to seem… heroic and not just self-righteousness and habit.
I mean, this is why it would work in fanfiction. Just take a character who is unquestionably on the good side and then throw them into a situation where they might not be. Digressing again–speaking of fanfiction, I did write this Hail To The Queen which isn’t quite “Shikako turns out to be the villain” but could very well be the beginning of such a story.
… Actually probably the main issue is that in order to have this sort of reveal, I’d have to commit to a story long enough to get near enough to the end for that twist to make sense. Curse my attention and commitment issues! 😡
Sorry I couldn’t do more for this ask, eruditeempress.