Created By: IsaacG on December 12, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on December 14, 2012
Troped

Assassins Are Always Betrayed

In a series where the main character plays an assassin, he/she will inevitably be betrayed, usually by mission control.

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Trope
A Plot Twist where the main character plays an assassin and is betrayed by the organization they work for, or at least their mentor. A common component is it turns out that the main character has been assassinating members of their own organization, as a ploy for Mission Control to gain power.

In order to keep the main character sympathetic, this is almost inevitable when the main character doesn't betray them first.

Often an example of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Oftentimes, this betrayal takes the form of a Contract on the Hitman.

Related to Murder, Inc., Professional Killer.

Warning: Due to this trope's nature as a Plot Twist, spoilers may be unmarked!


Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • In Darker Than Black season one it turns out all the various organizations hiring contractors do so with the express purpose of killing said contractors.
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[[folder:Film]]
  • In Wanted, Wesley is only recruited by the Fraternity so he could kill his own father for them, and he is betrayed immediately after doing so.
  • The Bourne Series starts with the titular character being hunted down by his organization after he botched an assassination. Interesting in that both sides think the other betrayed them.
  • In Crank it turns out near the end that Chev Chelios' assassination was planned by Verona.
  • Kill Bill:
    • The Bride seeks revenge after her organization tried to kill her.
    • Budd is killed by Elle using a black mamba in the Suitcase Full Of Money.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a double example of this, since both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are betrayed by their respective agencies.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the two low-rank crewmen who actually carried out the assassination against Gorkon and many of his aides are in turn shot with a phaser on stun right against the temples by the orchestrator on board the Enterprise, Lieutenant Valeris, killing them without setting off the weapon discharge alarms. Valeris almost suffers this fate as well as a second assassin tries to clean up loose ends after our heroes thwart the attempt on the Federation President's life at the Khitomer accord.
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[[folder:Literature]]
  • Double-subverted in Death of Achilles: Achimas thinks his contractor betrayed him (as he expected from the start) but it turns out that it was just his liaison who tried pocketing Achimas' payment. His contractor lets Achimas kill the liaison and thanks him for a well-done job.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • Nikita left Division after they had her civilian fiance killed, ostensibly to protect the secret.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Dishonored you are betrayed by Admiral Havelock, who attempts to poison Corvo and kills most of his Loyalist allies so that he can seize control of the city. And depending on your Chaos level, Samuel the boatman may betray you as well.
  • Hitman:
    • In the original Hitman: Codename 47, Ort-Meyer, the client who ordered the assassinations, is really trying to capture 47, whom he created as a "perfect human". The last assassination he ordered is in fact a trap, and the others were a test of his skills as well as eliminating dead ends.
    • Inverted in Hitman Absolution. Agent 47 actually betrays the Agency, leading to them hunting him down. However, he does this for the sake of the game's Morality Pet, Victoria, who is a genetically-altered child just like him, and he doesn't want anyone else to turn out like he did.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • In MSG1 first Master Miller reveals Naomi to have ulterior motives for helping Snake, and implicates that she only assisted in the mission as revenge for Snake killing her adoptive brother. Then Master Miller turns out to be Liquid Snake, the Big Bad.
    • In MSG2 Raiden is betrayed by Mission Control, and thus learning that the entire mission was an experiment.
    • Inverted in MSG3, where initially The Boss betrays Snake, and America with him, until near the end where it turns out she was acting on orders to infiltrate Volgin's group.
  • In Mark of the Ninja most of the second half is determining whether you have been betrayed, or have instead gone insane.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood storyline eventually has Lucien Lachance arrive to tell you that your last several marks were in fact members of the Brotherhood's upper echelon, due to a mole tampering with the dead drops where you got your orders.
    • Skyrim does it again with the Brotherhood. When trying to assassinate the Emperor, you are sold out by Astrid, who is trying to spare the Dark Brotherhood by making a deal with the target.
  • In Assassin's Creed it turns out Al Mualim has sent Altair to assassinate the other leaders of the Templars in order to get the piece of Eden himself.
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Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • December 12, 2012
    Lascoot
    • Mr And Mrs Smith is a double example of this, since both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are betrayed by their respective agencies.
  • December 12, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    Oftentimes, this betrayal takes the form of a Contract On The Hitman.
  • December 13, 2012
    Nithael
    Film
    • In Wanted, Wesley is only recruited by the Fraternity so he could kill his own father for them, and he is betrayed immediately after doing so.
  • December 13, 2012
    Arivne
    I Namespaced and italicized the work names. Note that Hitman Absolution and Metal Gear Solid are Zero Context Examples and need to be explained further.
  • December 13, 2012
    Koveras
    • Double-subverted in Death of Achilles: Achimas thinks his contractor betrayed him (as he expected from the start) but it turns out that it was just his liaison who tried pocketing Achimas' payment. His contractor lets Achimas kill the liaison and thanks him for a well-done job.
  • December 13, 2012
    KingZeal
    • It's actually inverted in Hitman Absolution. Agent 47 actually betrays the Agency, leading to them hunting him down. However, he does this for the sake of the game's Morality Pet, Victoria, who is a genetically-altered child just like him, and he doesn't want anyone else to turn out like he did.
  • December 13, 2012
    KTera
    In Dishonored, you're betrayed a second time by Admiral Havelock, who attempts to poison Corvo and kills most of his Loyalist allies so that he can seize control of the city. And depending on your Chaos level, Samuel the boatman may betray you as well.
  • December 13, 2012
    Bisected8
    The first example in Dishonored doesn't seem like an example (since Corvo isn't an assassin at the time; he's a bodyguard/diplomat).
  • December 13, 2012
    MadCat221
    • In Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country, the two low-rank crewmen who actually carried out the assassination against Gorkon and many of his aides are in turn shot with a phaser on stun right against the temples by the orchestrator on board the Enterprise, Lieutenant Valeris, killing them without setting off the weapon discharge alarms. Valeris almost suffers this fate as well as a second assassin tries to clean up loose ends after our heroes thwart the attempt on the Federation President's life at the Khitomer accord.
  • December 13, 2012
    Earnest
    Not to be a downer, but what's the difference between this and Contract On The Hitman?
  • December 13, 2012
    IsaacG
    Hm, that's a good question Earnest. First I have to admit I didn't know there was a trope Contract On The Hitman when I started this. As such, the similarities are surprising.

    My original intent was to focus on the inevitability of betrayal when the assassin is the main character. I noticed this trope when I recently learned of Dishonored and Mark Of The Ninja, and since they were both stealth-based, I correctly assumed the player would be betrayed about halfway through.

    I suppose this "inevitable betrayal" could extend to virtually any morally ambiguous occupation. The phrase "I started this company" in reference to a hostile takeover comes to mind, as well as the fact that practically every movie whose main character is a lawyer ends with said lawyer starting his own firm. It tends to go a long way for the main character's Heel Face Turn, or any other character getting an excuse to suddenly become a lot more evil.

    As it is, I'm starting to get concerned this YKTTW is at best a subtrope of Contract On The Hitman, and at worst The Same But More Specific. Reading through the examples of each, there's a great deal of common ground, and the lack of shared examples is more due to a lack of time and effort than anything inherent in the tropes. In the event this gets shot down, I'm probably just going to transfer the examples that fit.
  • December 13, 2012
    m8e
    I think this basically covers every other betrayal that isn't covered by Contract On The Hitman. Like killing the assassin "on the spot" when he comes to collect his money, paying him with counterfeit money (or with a bomb in the Briefcase Full Of Money), Sending him into a trap with another contract, giving him a car with "External Combustion" as an bonus or just tricking them into doing stuff.
  • December 14, 2012
    IsaacG
    For personal reasons, I will be unable to continue work on this for an unspecified amount of time. In short, my internet is cutting out, so I'm putting this up for grabs until I come back (assuming my presence is not rendered unnecessary by that time).
  • December 14, 2012
    StarSword
    Added a spoiler warning, folders, and examples from Nikita and Oblivion. And personally, I think it's actually a supertrope of Contract On The Hitman.
  • December 14, 2012
    aurora369
    In Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood questline, you are manipulated by Matthieu Bellamont, a member of the Black Hand gone renegade, to kill the rest of the Hand.
  • December 14, 2012
    Earnest
    ^^^^ Sounds good.
  • December 14, 2012
    TheHandle
  • December 14, 2012
    CobraPrime
    The original Hitman: Codename 47, Ort-Meyer, the client who ordered the assassinations is really trying to capture 47, whom he created as a "perfect human". The last assassination he ordered is in fact a trap, and the others were a test of his skills as well as eliminating dead ends.
  • December 14, 2012
    Rulyon
    Should this trope be found legitimate, I propose the title "Just Desserts".
  • December 14, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Too vague; that sounds more like characters in general getting what's coming to them.

    @Aurora369: I put that one up there already.
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