Created By: vynsane on December 8, 2011 Last Edited By: StarSword on February 28, 2015

Sudden, but Inevitable Betrayal

Participant in an Enemy Mine breaks the truce or otherwise tries to get one up on their ally.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Tags: Needs More Examples

This is the exact moment when Enemy Mine takes advantage of the uneasy truce situation. Maybe they just can't help but be bad. Maybe they think they're still working towards the mutual goal. Maybe it was the plan all along. Whatever the case, Genre Savvy viewers KNOW Enemy Mine will seize the Villain Ball with both hands - suddenly - and betray the heroes the minute they get the chance, sometimes regardless of the advantage it might bring. If they're Genre Savvy, the "good guys" aren't surprised ("We should've seen that coming"). If they're particularly Genre Savvy, the "good guys" already have a plan to deal with such a turn.

This trope accompanies Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and Reliable Traitor in the same way that My Significance Sense Is Tingling accompanies Spider-Sense. Compare to The Farmer and the Viper, wherein the farmer acts unilaterally, asking for no guarantee from the viper. May be prevented with Betrayal Insurance. Compare Inevitable Mutual Betrayal.

This trope is inherently Spoilered Rotten, so spoilers will be unmarked.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four. With Reed Richards busy fighting something and the the cosmic radiation that gave the four their powers causing complications to the birth of his second child with Sue Richards, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, turned to Doctor Doom for assistance. In repayment, Doom asked only that he be allowed to name the child, a request that was granted. He named her Valeria, after a woman he had loved in the past. Unbeknownst to the FF he also placed a spell on Valeria, making her his "familiar spirit" as part of a greater scheme to increase his mystical powers.
  • X-Men. After the two Secret Wars miniseries, Magneto, who had curiously been placed by The Beyonder with the heroes in the original conflict, begins a Heel–Face Turn that ultimately sees him take over for Charles Xavier as the headmaster of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. His tenure was marked with suffering and loss, pushing him to revert back to his more extremist views in a resultant Face–Heel Turn.
  • Played with in Runaways - considering that Xavin was a Skrull and a massive asshole, their teammates fully expected them to betray the team at some point, so when they inexplicably attacked the rest of the team during Secret Invasion, Nico and Victor were prepared to kill them, but it turned out that the apparent betrayal was an act - Xavin believed that the only hope of getting the team out of New York safely was for Xavin to abandon them, but also believed that trying to explain this to their teammates would just lead to arguments, and thus it seemed easier to just knock them all out.
  • In Justice League Elite, Menagerie had a pretty good reason to hate Vera Lynn Black - Vera's brother Manchester had permanently disabled Menagerie's sister - but Vera still recruited her for the JLE. Naturally, when the first mission turns into a complete disaster and results in an international incident, it's eventually revealed that Menagerie was responsible, and that she did it specifically to get revenge for her sister.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has the U.S. government forcing the titular group to team up with Doctor Doom in order to subdue the Surfer. Doom's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder inevitably kicks in: he takes the Surfer's board and blasts his way out.
  • X-Men:
    • X2: X-Men United presents William Stryker, who poses a common threat to the X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood. The two mutant factions put aside their differences and cooperatively storm Stryker's compound, where, once divided from his collaborators, Magneto takes advantage of the situation and attempts to use Professor X and Cerebro to kill every non-mutant on the planet.
    • X-Men: First Class, as a prequel, poses a Because Destiny Says So situation concerning the relationship between Erik and Xavier. ZERO CONTEXT EXAMPLE

    Literature 
  • Subverted during one battle in the Belisarius Series, where the Genre Savvy Belisarius considered the betrayal by an allied general so inevitable that he actually formulated his plan around it.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel The Dagger Affair. Archenemies UNCLE and THRUSH team up to fight the DAGGER organization. Each side exchanges hostages to make sure the truce between them is kept. After DAGGER is defeated, THRUSH tricks UNCLE into releasing the THRUSH hostages early and then tries to assassinate several UNCLE agents before they learn of the betrayal.
  • In Ciaphas Cain: For the Emperor, the Imperial Guard and the Tau Fire Caste join in an Enemy Mine against a genestealer infestation of the planet Gravalax, with Tau Hammerhead Hover Tanks helping Guard infantry break through enemy positions. Despite the truce, Cain conveniently neglects to explain to the tau that the missing pathfinders they rescued from the labyrinths under the city are likely genestealer hosts now, just like the Guardsmen Cain just summarily shot. (The book ends shortly after and we're never told if anything came of it.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly:
    • The Trope Namer example in the pilot episode is actually a parody. A Stegosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus, i.e. a predator and its prey species (different time periods notwithstanding), have apparently allied to find a new land to inhabit, which the Stegosaurus eloquently dubs "This Land". The Tyrannosaurus immediately decides that "we should call it your grave!" The joke is that this is all being played out by Wash's toys.
      Stegosaurus: Curse your sudden, but inevitable, betrayal!
    • In "Trash" known swindler Saffron has a big heist planned and needs the Serenity crew's help. As soon as she and Mal make their getaway, she lures him into sitting down next to her and sneaks his gun out of its holster. However, Inara, proving highly Genre Savvy, hatches a plan of her own to snare Saffron after her double-cross, allowing her to believe that this was part of Mal's plan all along (it wasn't).
  • Angel's last episode "Not Fade Away".
    Angel: This may come out a little pretentious, but... one of you will betray me.
    [Spike raises his hand]
    Angel: Wes.
    Spike: [disappointed] Oh. Can I deny you three times?
Turns out it's Harmony who betrays Angel, which Angel anticipated. He fired her but left her a letter of recommendation.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Discussed, then played out, in "Scorpion", which takes its name from the parable of the scorpion and the frog. When Janeway considers allying with the Borg against Species 8472 after one of the latter injures Harry, Chakotay warns her against it, citing the parable with the Borg as the scorpion. Sure enough, not only do the Borg turn on Voyager the instant they're out of immediate danger, but it turns out, surprise surprise, that they were the aggressors and 8472 was just defending itself. Fortunately the Genre Savvy Chakotay had a countermeasure prepared and the Borg aboard are killed except for Seven of Nine.
    • In "Dragon's Teeth" Voyager rescues a cache of Human Popsicles, the Vaadwaur, from a radioactive wasteland of a world and agrees to ferry them to a new homeworld in exchange for access to subspace corridors that might shave precious years off the journey home. Turns out there's a good reason the Vaadwaur homeworld was a wasteland: 900 years ago the species that chased Voyager there in the first place was part of an Alliance that defeated the Vaadwaur, then a race of conquistadors. Their leader, Gaul, goes back on the deal and tries to take over Voyager to get its tech and take revenge.

    Video Games 
  • Dawn of War: In the Winter Assault expansion, all four factions are fighting for control of a half-buried Imperial Titan, with the Order and Disorder forces (Humans, Eldar, and Chaos and Orks respectively) having an uneasy truce that falls apart as soon as they reach the gate protecting the Titan, leaving their ally behind to be killed by the enemy (this happens in all campaigns, with the player deciding which ally to lead to victory).

Indexes: Betrayal Tropes, Spoilered Rotten

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • December 8, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
  • December 8, 2011
    vynsane
    Hrm... Not exactly, though. Reliable Traitor is someone already on one side (in the description, a minion of the Big Bad) that could/will turn on. It's also nearly expected by the rest of the collaborators in most cases, though, sometimes not: Think "Cypher" from The Matrix. He is a Reliable Traitor, but his betrayal is not inevitable. This is also more about the act itself, not the character responsible for the act. Reliable Traitor would definitely be a "compare" case to what I propose above.
  • December 8, 2011
    nielas
    The Scorpion and the Frog is a classic fable where the frog helps a scorpion cross the river on the assumption that the scorpion will not sting the frog since that would doom them both. When the scorpion does sting the frog and they start drowning, he justifies this betrayal by saying that it is its nature.
  • December 8, 2011
    vynsane
    ^ That's an excellent example - also makes this Older Than Print, possibly Older Than Feudalism

    There is also The Gingerbread Man, which basically ends with the titular character meeting the same fate at the jaws of a fox.
  • December 8, 2011
    wanderlustwarrior
  • December 8, 2011
    vynsane
    ^ I only have a problem with conceding similarity to CBD based on the word 'chronic' - this doesn't need to be played out over and over again by the same character - in the examples posed, we don't necessarily have to have lengthy backstories of betrayal to anticipate it. We don't see the scorpion sting one frog after another after another to reach the conclusion that it's inevitable, we can infer it based on the nature of the scorpion without that blatant a setup. Likewise, in Blade 2, we are introduced to an entire team we've never seen before and we are told they have been training to take out Blade. Instead, they are working with Blade to take out a larger threat, but we KNOW they're going to take advantage of the situation somehow - it's inevitable - we just don't know when, so it's sudden.
  • December 8, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • December 8, 2011
    vynsane
    ^ That's probably the closest existing trope to what I'm getting at here, but there's still room for doubt in the mind of the observer as to the outcome. I'm looking for absolute inevitability of betrayal, so, perhaps the Scorpion and the Frog example doesn't fit here if it fits there or maybe they are parallel tropes.

    Either way, the trope as I picture it is more about the buildup of anticipation to the betrayal and the act itself than it is about the moral of the story.
  • December 8, 2011
    nielas
    Until it actually happens, there is always some doubt if the bad guy will go through with the betrayal. The audience will hope for a Heel Face Turn despite the odds.

    In the Farmer And The Viper, the farmer acts unilaterally and does not ask the viper for a guarantee. In the Scorpion and the Frog, the scorpion and frog team up for a common good but the scorpion betrays the frog even though it is against self interest.

  • December 8, 2011
    nielas
    On second thought The Scorpion and the Frog might not fit this trope because there is no common threat or goal. The frog is simply doing the scorpion a favour.

    If this trope sticks to cases where the two sides have a good reason to team up beside charity on the good guys' part then it should be different enough from The Farmer And The Viper. Blade does not team up with the Blood Pack because he wants to be nice to them but because he needs their help if fighting the new type of vampire.
  • December 9, 2011
    vynsane
    "Until it actually happens, there is always some doubt if the bad guy will go through with the betrayal. The audience will hope for a Heel Face Turn despite the odds."

    This is true, but there are cases where the plot IS the betrayal - take Revenge Of The Sith, for example. Anakin's sudden but inevitable betrayal is the basis for not only that movie, but the entire original trilogy. I guess most prequels could fit this trope. X-Men: First Class could be an example, as well.

    "If this trope sticks to cases where the two sides have a good reason to team up beside charity on the good guys' part then it should be different enough from The Farmer And The Viper. Blade does not team up with the Blood Pack because he wants to be nice to them but because he needs their help if fighting the new type of vampire."

    This is probably the most important distinction to make - thank you for putting it so succinctly.
  • December 9, 2011
    jatay3
    In one battle in the Belisarius Series, Belisarius actually based his plan on the assumption that an allied general would betray them.
  • December 9, 2011
    vynsane
    ^ That's a great example of a Genre Savvy subversion.

    In thinking about it, this trope accompanies Chronic Backstabbing Disorder in the same way that My Significance Sense Is Tingling accompanies Spider Sense.
  • December 9, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • Angel, "Not Fade Away" (the last episode).
      Angel: This may come out a little pretentious, but... one of you will betray me.
      Angel: Wes.
      Spike: [disappointed] Oh. Can I deny you three times?
    Turns out it's Harmony who betrays Angel, which Angel anticipated. He fired her but left her a letter of recommendation.
  • December 10, 2011
    Arivne
    Literature
    • The Man From Uncle novel The Dagger Affair. Archenemies UNCLE and THRUSH team up to fight the DAGGER organization. Each side gives hostages to make sure the truce between them is kept. After DAGGER is defeated, THRUSH tricks UNCLE into releasing the THRUSH hostages early and then tries to assassinate several UNCLE agents before they learn of the betrayal.
  • December 10, 2011
    nitrokitty
    ^^^ That's a really good way of putting it. I think the key here is an Enemy Mine situation where Genre Savvy viewers know that the bad guy side of the temporary team is going to seize the Villain Ball with both hands and betray the heroes the minute they get the chance, regardless of whatever advantage it might bring.
  • December 10, 2011
    vynsane
    Original post updated per comments.
  • December 13, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The description needs to be cleaned up big time. Cut out the first person and the Example As Thesis writing,
  • December 13, 2011
    vynsane
    Updated page quote - the trope namer quote from Wash in Firefly has been done to death. Trying to find an image of Magneto's second Crowning Moment Of Awesome rearranging the panels inside Cerebro to accompany the quote.
  • December 13, 2011
    vynsane
    Updated description per Auxdarastrix's comment.
  • February 20, 2015
    morenohijazo
  • February 20, 2015
    DAN004
    May be prevented with Betrayal Insurance.
  • February 20, 2015
    StarSword
    TV:
    • Star Trek Voyager:
      • Discussed, then played out, in "Scorpion", which takes its name from the parable of the scorpion and the frog. When Janeway considers allying with the Borg against Species 8472 after one of the latter injures Harry, Chakotay warns her against it, citing the parable with the Borg as the scorpion. Sure enough, not only do the Borg turn on Voyager the instant they're out of immediate danger, but it turns out, surprise surprise, that they were the aggressors and 8472 was just defending itself. Fortunately the Genre Savvy Chakotay had a countermeasure prepared and the Borg aboard are killed except for Seven of Nine.
      • In "Dragon's Teeth" Voyager rescues a cache of Human Popsicles, the Vaadwaur, from a radioactive wasteland of a world and agrees to ferry them to a new homeworld in exchange for access to subspace corridors that might shave precious years off the journey home. Turns out there's a good reason the Vaadwaur homeworld was a wasteland: 900 years ago the species that chased Voyager to it in the first place was part of an Alliance that defeated the Vaadwaur, then a race of conquistadors. Their leader, Gaul, goes back on the deal and tries to take over Voyager to get its tech and take revenge.
  • February 21, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added the word "Examples".
      • Changed unnecessary double curly braces to Camel Case.
      • Namespaced, italicised and Blue Linked work names.
      • Corrected spelling and de-capitalized (US Government).
      • Deleted the Revenge Of The Sith reference from the X Men First Class example as per How To Write An Example - Remember That This Is A Wiki. You can't assume that the page (or any part of it) will always remain the same.
  • February 21, 2015
    Chabal2
    Dawn Of War: In Winter Assault, all four factions are fighting for control of a half-buried Imperial Titan, with the Order and Disorder forces (Humans, Eldar, and Chaos and Orks respectively) having an uneasy truce that falls apart as soon as they reach the gate protecting the Titan, leaving their ally behind to be killed by the enemy (this happens in all both campaigns, with the player deciding which ally to lead to victory).
  • February 21, 2015
    StarSword
    Oh, just realized this has been Up For Grabs for four years. I'll take it over.
  • February 21, 2015
    StarSword
    Cleaned it up, added the new examples, and zapped a couple existing ones that didn't meet the criteria.
  • February 23, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Book
    • Played with in Runaways - considering that Xavin was a Skrull and a massive asshole, their teammates fully expected them to betray the team at some point, so when they inexplicably attacked the rest of the team during Secret Invasion, Nico and Victor were prepared to kill them, but it turned out that the apparent betrayal was an act - Xavin believed that the only hope of getting the team out of New York safely was for Xavin to abandon them, but also believed that trying to explain this to their teammates would just lead to arguments, and thus it seemed easier to just knock them all out.
    • In Justice League Elite, Menagerie had a pretty good reason to hate Vera Lynn Black - Vera's brother Manchester had permanently disabled Menagerie's sister - but Vera still recruited her for the JLE. Naturally, when the first mission turns into a complete disaster and results in an international incident, it's eventually revealed that Menagerie was responsible, and that she did it specifically to get revenge for her sister.
  • February 28, 2015
    aurora369
    In A Song Of Ice And Fire, this is the situation between House Lannister and House Greyjoy. The Greyjoys become separatists and declare their own kingdom, but the Lannisters are willing to ignore that transgression because they both fight against a common enemy: House Stark. However, after the Starks are defeated (and the Greyjoys elect a new king), the Greyjoys inevitably attack the unprepared Lannisters and their allies the Tyrells.
  • February 28, 2015
    aurora369
    Real Life: the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Did you really expect that an alliance between Nazis and Communists will last?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hkutix25d114x0ta26l1ataf