Betrayal By Inaction YKTTW Discussion

Betrayal By Inaction
A kind of betrayal when the betrayer doesn't do anything. Just turning around and leaving their allies to their fate.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-03-29 16:14:29 sponsor: Yora edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2015-02-03 02:05:38)

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

Betrayal comes in all kinds of forms, even turning their backs on former allies and walking away, without having to lift a finger.

Sometimes is part of an Uriah Gambit, when the traitor specifically created the situation in which their former ally would need their help. Other times it is the result of a Fair Weather Friend. Bodyguard Betrayal often happens this way.

The phrase associated with this trope is "left in the lurch".

Compare Murder by Inaction and Cavalry Betrayal. Contrast with Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, when the deserters are merely trying to save their own hides but gain nothing from their allies' defeat (i.e betrayal is not their intention as in this trope). Contrast also Failure-to-Save Murder when they did try to save, but failed.

WARNING: Examples may contain spoilers.


Comic Books
  • At the end of Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt, Thor Girl, having transformed into an energy being, returns to her home galaxy after growing disgusted with humanity's inability to work together and deciding that Earth doesn't deserve her protection.

  • In Braveheart, at the Battle of Falkirk, Lochlan and Mornay show up with their soldiers on the Scottish side, but once the battle has started and it's their time to charge, they simply turn around and leave the battlefield, hoping the Scottish army will be destroyed by the English.
  • Justified in the famous ending of Gone with the Wind. Scarlett had always been a manipulative bitch, but at some point Rhett has enough and simply walks away from her, her problems no longer being his concern.
  • The Wild Geese. The president of an African country is overthrown by a military coup. A businessman hires a group of mercenaries to rescue him in order to use him as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from the new regime. After the president is rescued the regime agrees to the concessions and the businessman orders the plane sent to pick up the mercenaries to leave them behind so they can be slaughtered by the regime's forces. The mercenaries spend the rest of the movie trying to escape.
  • The Running Man. Earlier in the movie Killian insulted his bodyguard by asking him "Steroids make you deaf?" At the end when Richards confronts Killian, Killian expects his bodyguard to protect him. The bodyguard says "I got to score some steroids" and walks away, leaving Killian to his justly deserved fate.
  • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Thranduil does not come to the dwarves' defense against Smaug or help the refugees of Erebor. Years later, this is still a sore spot for Thorin.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: While helping Kuzco back to the palace, Pacha falls through a bridge and lays dangling and calling for help. Rather than helping him up, Kuzco decides to leave him there and continue on; he was going to betray Pacha anyway and lock him in a dungeon, and this seemed easier. Unfortunately for Kuzco, he fall through moments later, leaving him in the same predicament, and the two are forced to work together to save themselves.
  • In Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo is assigned the job of sneaking into a Vietnamese camp and confirming whether or not Prisoners of War are present. When he finds an entire POW camp where several soldiers (including his old friend and mentor) are being held captive, he takes it upon himself to lead a revolt. However, when he and the escapees reach the chopper meant to extract them, the bureaucrat in charge of the mission orders the chopper to leave without them. The look on Rambo's face as the chopper flies away speaks volumes of the level of betrayal he felt.
  • In Frozen, Hans leaves Anna to die when she had been expecting that he could perform an Act of True Love to save her.
  • Secondhand Lions: When Mae brings Stan to the McCann farm in an effort to try and turn Walter against Garth and Hub and find their money, Stan takes him off for a "man-to-man talk". Mae just turns away while Stan takes her son behind the barn and tries to beat information out of him. A later conversation indicates she was aware of his abusive tendencies already.
  • During the last days of Krypton in the Superman II movie, General Zod and his cronies are on trial for high treason. Zod calls for Jor-El to speak on his behalf, but Jor-El says nothing and ambles away. Zod is at first aghast then furious as he's banished to the Phantom Zone. Later, once he and his cronies escape the Zone and come to Earth, Zod has one huge ax to grind with Jor-El's sole living heir, Kal-El, who's known on Earth as Superman.

  • The Oathbreakers in The Lord of the Rings were cursed by Isildur when they ignored his call to join his army to fight against Sauron, even though they had pledged allegiance to him.
  • In The Way of Kings, Sadeas betrays Dalinar by having his army retreat halfway though a battle and take their bridges with them, stranding Dalinar's army on a plateau with a swarm of Parshendi reinforcements on the way.
  • Serpine is deserted by the White Cleaver this way at the end of the first Skulduggery Pleasant book.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's novel Friday. "Uncle" Jim Prufit shows up to take Friday to Boss' farm. When they arrive she's attacked by an enemy ambush and Prufit doesn't warn her, he simply watches while they take her. She learns later that Prufit is The Mole.
  • In the second Warrior Cats novel, Fireheart's suspicions about Tigerclaw being a traitor are confirmed when, during a battle, Fireheart is pinned down by Leopardfur, who is trying to kill him. He calls to Tigerclaw for help, but Tigerclaw ignores him and just stands there watching it happen.
  • The Stormlight Archive
    • In The Way of Kings, Highprince Sadeas betrays Dalinar by having his army retreat halfway though a battle and take their bridges with them, stranding Dalinar's army on a plateau with a swarm of Parshendi reinforcements on the way.
    • In the ancient backstory, humanity's greatest defenders, the Knights Radiant, en masse abandoned their Shardplate and Shardblades and walked away in an event called the Recreance. This sparked a still-ongoing war over the abandoned and now much less powerful Shards, and effectively killed the spren who powered their gear and abilities and who were bonded to the Radiants by the strength of the Knights' oaths.
  • In Shadow Puppets (a book in the Enderís Game series), former ally Suriyawong becomes The Dragon for Achilles, who seeks to conquer the world. Suriyawong knows that Achilles has killed those who gave him help, so he always frames his aid as just giving his boss the tools to solve his own problems, such as a knife to escape his captors. When Achilles is finally confronted by his rival Bean, who's pulled a gun on him, Achilles calls for Suri to save him. Suriyawong just gives him a knife then leaves, having fulfilled his plan to betray Achilles at the very moment he needed help.
  • In The State Councillor, Erast Fandorin seems to make a deal with the Big Bad, where they both agree to not interfere with each other. However, Fandorin knows something that could save the villain's life and, by not revealing it to him, betrays their deal and has him killed indirectly.

Live-Action TV
  • In Babylon 5, Lennier finds Sheridan trapped behind a containment door in a corridor filling with toxic smoke, but as he reaches for the switch to open it, he instead turns around and leaves, as with Sheridan dead, he would be once again the closest person to Deelen.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Becoming, Pt 2.", though they were only temporary allies when they fought Angelus together, once Spike gets Dru back, he shrugs and leaves Buffy to potentially get killed by Angelus.
  • Team Weston from Burn Notice has pulled this, or made it appear that they pulled this, a number of times on the various Villains of the Week. In one of the more notable cases, Sam and Jesse befriended a mafia lieutenant, convinced the guy that he had to kill his boss before the boss killed him, and that they'd help him with their "private army". They hired about a dozen intimidating looking guys, and accompanied the lieutenant to confront his boss. As soon as the lieutenant announced his intentions complete with some Evil Gloating, they all just walked away, leaving the guy by himself with his pissed off boss and the boss' armed bodyguards. You can probably guess how that turned out.
    Michael Weston: [narrating] Military leaders since the city-states of early Greece have known that a tried and tested method for getting rid of a dangerous adversary is to provoke him into attacking another powerful enemy. Provide an ambitious adversary with the backing of a seemingly invincible army, and he's bound to go after even his toughest rivals. Making sure your adversary is eliminated then becomes about pulling that backing once he's declared war on his rival. When it's too late for him to take it all back.

Video Games
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Battle of Ostagar is planned to have King Cailan and the bulk of the army, including a vanguard of Grey Wardens, lure the darkspawn horde into a narrow chasm, at which point his general, Teyrn Loghain, would attack with a second army from the back, trapping the darkspawn between them. But when the signal comes, Loghain simply orders a retreat and returns with his men to the capital, leaving the king, his army, and every Grey Warden with them to die at the hands of the darkspawn. He was against the whole plan from the beginning, but since he considered the king unfit to rule the country, he didn't object to it too much.
  • In StarCraft:
    • Part of Mengsk's Uriah Gambit, when he sends Kerrigan to keep a Protoss force from destroying a hive of Zerg, which he wishes to use for his own purpose. Once the Protoss are destroyed, he immediately orders all ships to retreat, leaving Kerrigan on the ground with the Zerg and not responding to her requests for evac. It didn't turn out too well for him in the long run.
    • The intro cinematic for Brood War has a huge battlecruiser sitting there without participating in the battle against the Zerg, finally leaving under the Death Glare of the Marine who's about to be overrun.
    • One level ends where Stukov and Duran are guarding your flanks as you try to capture Raynor and Mengsk. At the end of the level, the capture is interrupted by a massive Zerg swarm. Stukov tells Duran to move his troops in there immediately, but Duran claims he's not seeing anything, even suggesting Stukov's sensors are off, ending the call with the usual static and "you're breaking up" as Raynor and Mensk escape. Stukov isn't fooled for a second, realizing Duran was a Zerg traitor all along.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, a group of mercenary mages approaches the heroes, telling them that really don't like working for Baron Ployer, and that for a modest price they will not show up for his protection when they are going to confront him.
  • Dawn of War:
    • Sindri's last sacrifice to the Chaos gods is his master Lord Bale which he leaves when Bale is surrounded by the Blood Ravens.
    • In Winter Assault, this happens whichever faction you're fighting as in the penultimate level. Both sides consist of two factions nominally allied with each other, and whichever faction you're playing as at the end goes through the gate towards the Titan, leaving the other one fighting off orks and Chaos/humans and Eldar (though if Chaos wins, the orks turn on each other as well).
    • In II: Eliphas, the Obviously Evil Treacherous Advisor to Araghast, allows him to die at the hands of the Blood Ravens when he refuses to open a portal.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In season 2, Magnificent Bastards Long Feng and Azula form an alliance to capture Aang and gain control of the Earth Kingdom, with neither of them having any intention to share the prize. But when Long Feng orders the Dai Li to take Azula into custody, they don't move a muscle, waiting to see which one of them is more worthy to have their loyalty.
    • We learn in the third season that Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku were lifelong friends until they grew apart when Sozin revealed that he wanted to conquer the rest of the world in order to forcibly "share" the Fire Nation's prosperity and technological advances. After being forbidden from doing this by Roku, the two didn't talk for many years until the volcano on Roku's home island had a sudden, titanic eruption, and Sozin, who was in a nearby boat, came to help the evacuation. When Roku was poisoned and weakened by the volcanic gas, Sozin realized that if Roku died he could move ahead with his conquest plans after all, and promptly left his friend to die.
  • Subverted in one Batman: The Animated Series episode, where the daughter of a crime lord is shouting to her father for help as she dangles from a ledge. He goes away, her head drops... and then the lifesaver on a rope he'd gone to grab drops down.

Real Life
  • Alexander Selkirk, the man who inspired the story of Robinson Crusoe, had a heated argument with the captain of the ship he was traveling on and said he would rather stay on an island and wait for another ship to pick him up then to continue the journey with the captain. But none of the other sailors wanted to come with him and when he was brought to the beach of an island, he got second thoughts and shouted to the boat to come back and pick him up again. Which they didn't.

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