Created By: ryuku1641 on September 3, 2012 Last Edited By: Tallens on March 5, 2014

Late Betrayal Warning

A warning about someone\'s betrayal comes a second after or just as it happens.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Betrayal Tropes, Villains
This occurs when someone realizes a supposedly friendly character is actually an enemy, and tries to warn others only for them to already have been captured, killed or otherwise be at the mercy of the traitor, whether a deep cover sleeper agent, an outsider who's wearing a disguise to pass unnoticed or one of their own who has gone rogue. In any case, he soon-to-be victims either don't receive the warning at all because it came a second too late, or they only have enough time to realize the danger they're in.

Subtrope of You Are Too Late. Similar to Alone with the Psycho. See also Five-Second Foreshadowing.

Examples

Film
  • In the beginning of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is meeting with an informant. He sees her walking towards him, and he moves to hand her a briefcase. As he's doing so, he gets a text on his phone from the IMF. He looks down and sees that it's a warning from the IMF, saying that she's an assassin. As he looks up in alarm, she shoots him and takes the briefcase.
  • In Thor: The Dark World, Heimdall is helping Thor and his allies get to the Dark World and is meant to distract Odin. He alerts Odin to the Bifrost Bridge and tells him he wishes to report a betrayal in Asgard. When Odin asks whose betrayal, it is, he responds, "mine".
  • Pearl Harbor: Despite signs of hopeful peace talks between Japan and the United States, the Empire attacks the US Navy. As Admiral Kimmel surveys the devastation, he receives a telegram warning of imminent Japanese hostilities. He sardonically remarks it's only two hours late, and tosses it into the water.
  • In Intolerance, the suspicious Mountain Girl follows the high priest of Babylon when he sneaks out of town. She tracks him to the headquarters of the besieging Persian army, where she finds out that he's a traitor plotting to hand the city over to the Persians. The Mountain Girl races back to the city in a chariot to tell Prince Belshazzar of the plot, but just as she reaches him, the traitorous priests open the gates and the Persian army pours in. Babylon is destroyed.

Live-Action TV
  • On Babylon 5 G'Kar was given a death threat by an old rival. While contacting his government he is informed that the courier that was supposed to deliver the message was killed. He barely had time to turn around as the fake courier shoots him.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Innocence" Angel loses his soul and reverts back to his former personality, known as Angelus, a remorseless killer. Jenny Calendar rushes to tell the rest of the team what's going on, but by the time she gets there he already has Willow in a choke hold.

Tabletop Games
  • Inverted in the backstory of Warhammer 40K: Magnus the Red manages to uses his sorcery to warn the God Emperor of his son Horus' treachery ahead of time. Unfortunately, not only is sorcery forbidden by the Emperor, but the spell caused grievous damage to the Imperial Palace. And to top it all off, the Emperor didn't even believe the message (think of it as God being told Jesus is coming to kill him), instead sending the Space Wolves to arrest Magnus.

Video Games
  • Modern Warfare 2: Ghost and Roach receive a warning not to trust General Shepherd, but it comes after he has already shot them both and is having them burned to death.
  • A variation in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back: Coco tried several times to contact Crash via holographic transmission that something seems fishy about the cooperative Cortex (who was the Big Bad of the previous game), but she's cut off before she can finish, every time. The last time she did it, she finally managed to get the message across... but by then, it's too late. Right after that, Final Boss battle ensues.

Western Animation
  • While defending a runaway train from Ophiochus Sam, Ace Bunny of the Loonatics Unleashed gets an assist from a young man named Deuce. Later, Danger Duck and Slam Tasmanian discover that Deuce and Sam are in cohoots, but cannot get off the train for some time. Meanwhile, Ophiochus Sam has Deuce under fire, and Deuce cries for Ace's help. Ace throws his Strike Sword to Deuce, and discovers the whole scene was a feint for precisely that purpose. Once the villains depart, Danger Duck appears, breathless, to warn Ace that Deuce is allied with Sam. Ace can only glare at Duck as if to say "NOW you tell me."
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • September 4, 2012
    Arivne
    We try to avoid starting trope descriptions with an Example As Thesis. It's better to start with a general description of the trope.
  • September 4, 2012
    Tallens
    You might consider something along this:

    Edited a couple of times.

    This occurs when someone realizes a supposedly friendly character is actually an enemy, and tries to warn others only for them to already have been killed, captured or otherwise at the mercy of the traitor. The soon-to-be victims either don't receive the warning at all because it came a second too late, or they only have enough time to realize the danger they're in.

    There are a number of scenarios that could lead to this. They could be a long-term sleeper agent, spending years building trust with others and working into the structure of the target organization. They could be a secret agent or assassin, who killed a Red Shirt and took his clothes to blend in. Or they could be one of their own, who for whatever reason has gone rogue. In any case, they go unnoticed until they strike.
  • September 5, 2012
    Shnakepup
    For an actual example:

    • In the beginning of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is meeting with an informant. He sees her walking towards him, and he moves to hand her a briefcase. As he's doing so, he gets a text on his phone from the IMF. He looks down and sees that it's a warning from the IMF, saying that she's an assassin. As he looks up in alarm, she shoots him and takes the briefcase.
  • September 5, 2012
    Tallens
    • In Babylon Five G'Kar was given a death threat by an old rival. While contacting his government he is informed that the courier that was supposed to deliver the message was killed. He barely had time to turn around as the fake courier shoots him.
  • September 5, 2012
    SKJAM
    In a more humorous vein the warning arrives as the mole has already revealed themself.

    "Hey, Bob, sorry to barge in like this, but I just found out Dave works for Emperor Evulz and came to warn you. Oh, hi Dave, didn't see you standing there pointing a gun at Bob."
  • September 5, 2012
    Tallens
    ^^That could be Parodied Trope in the Playing With section.
  • September 5, 2012
    KTera
    • Modern Warfare 2: Ghost and Roach receive a warning not to trust General Shepherd, but it comes after he has already shot them both and is having them burned to death.
  • September 5, 2012
    KageNara
    For Title how about Barton Has Been Turned for a title? It could also count as an example.

    It comes from The Avengers in the opening, after Loki has brainwashed Hawkeye, and Hawkeye has shot Fury, Hill sees Hawkeye, Selvig, and Loki all getting into a SUV, not knowing what just happened Hill just dismisses Loki and starts walking off when Fury warns her "Barton has been turned". Here is where it can be hard to see if this is an example or not as it is not easy to tell if Hawkeye planned to attack Hill before Fury's warning or the warning is what inspired the attack. I guess it all depends on your definition on "late".
  • December 17, 2012
    Tallens
    Bump
  • December 17, 2012
    chihuahua0
    ^^ That title suggestion doesn't make sense to those who haven't watched The Avengers.
  • December 17, 2012
    Chabal2
    Inverted in the backstory of Warhammer 40 K: Magnus the Red manages to uses his sorcery to warn the God Emperor of his son Horus' treachery ahead of time. Unfortunately, not only is sorcery forbidden by the Emperor, but the spell caused grievous damage to the Imperial Palace. And to top it all off, the Emperor didn't even believe the message (think of it as God being told Jesus is coming to kill him), instead sending the Space Wolves to arrest Magnus.
  • January 10, 2014
    Tallens
    This one has been sitting here for over a year. I think it has potential as I can't think of anything that covers it off the top of my head, so I'll take it over.
  • January 10, 2014
    omeganian
  • January 10, 2014
    DAN004
    • A variation in Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back: Coco tried several times to contact Crash via holographic transmission that something seems fishy about the cooperative Cortex (who was the Big Bad of the previous game), but she's cut off before she can finish, every time. The last time she did it, she finally managed to get the message across... but by then, it's too late. Right after that, Final Boss battle ensues.

    Subtrope of You Are Too Late.
  • January 10, 2014
    AP
    • In Thor The Dark World, Heimdall is helping Thor and his allies get to the Dark World and is meant to distract Odin. He alerts Odin to the Bifrost Bridge and tells him he wishes to report a betrayal in Asgard. When Odin asks whose betrayal, it is, he responds, "mine".
  • January 11, 2014
    jamespolk
    deleted post, never mind
  • January 18, 2014
    Tallens
    Any others?
  • February 1, 2014
    frosty
  • February 17, 2014
    TwoGunAngel
    Isn't this much like Imminent Danger Clue?
  • February 17, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ wasn't this about betrayal?
  • February 17, 2014
    frosty
    As it stands now, it's about betrayal with the warning coming too late. Reading through those other two tropes (FSF and IDC) makes me think they're too similar to each other, and this is just a subtrope.
  • February 17, 2014
    Tallens
    ^This is too similar to them, or they're too similar to each other?
  • February 17, 2014
    frosty
    ^Like I said, they're too similar to each other. But, there is a minor difference: FSF is when the audience gets short notice, and IDC is when the characters get short notice. This would be a subtrope of IDC, then.
  • February 17, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • While defending a runaway train from Ophiochus Sam, Ace Bunny of the Loonatics Unleashed gets an assist from a young man named Deuce. Later, Danger Duck and Slam Tasmanian discover that Deuce and Sam are in cohoots, but cannot get off the train for some time. Meanwhile, Ophiochus Sam has Deuce under fire, and Deuce cries for Ace's help. Ace throws his Strike Sword to Deuce, and discovers the whole scene was a feint for precisely that purpose. Once the villains depart, Danger Duck appears, breathless, to warn Ace that Deuce is allied with Sam. Ace can only glare at Duck as if to say "NOW you tell me."
  • February 17, 2014
    Tallens
    ^Ok, but you think this is still valid then?
  • February 17, 2014
    frosty
    As a subtrope, I think so.
  • February 17, 2014
    DAN004
    Kick out the "Needs A Better Title" part of the title and I'll give you my hat.
  • February 18, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Does a friendly person (who has discovered the betrayer by being taken hostage) yelling about the betrayal just before the betrayer attacks count?
  • February 18, 2014
    Tallens
    ^I think the gist of it is that the warning comes when it's too late to do anything about it. So, that may or may not count.
  • February 19, 2014
    gallium
    Film
    • In Intolerance, the suspicious Mountain Girl follows the high priest of Babylon when he sneaks out of town. She tracks him to the headquarters of the besieging Persian army, where she finds out that he's a traitor plotting to hand the city over to the Persians. The Mountain Girl races back to the city in a chariot to tell Prince Belshazzar of the plot, but just as she reaches him, the traitorous priests open the gates and the Persian army pours in. Babylon is destroyed.
  • February 19, 2014
    ElectricNova
    Live Action TV:

    In Buffy The Vampire Slayer "Innocence" Angel loses his soul and reverts back to his former personality, known as Angelus, a remorseless killer. Jenny Calendar rushes to tell the rest of the team what's going on, but by the time she gets there he already has Willow in a choke hold.
  • February 19, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Monty Pythons Flying Circus: In "The Bishop" the eponymous Bishop is a tv action hero (a a parody of The Saint) who constantly arrives just too late to save someone.
    Vicar: I take as my text for today...
    Cut to Bishop and vicars at doorway.
    Bishop: The text, vic! Don't say the text!
    Cut back to vicar.
    Vicar Leviticus 3-14. . .
    The pulpit explodes. Vicar disappears in smoke, flying up into the air. Cut to close-up of the bishop. Behind him there is smoke and people rushing about. Sound of people scrambling over pews in panic etc.
    Bishop: We was too late. The Reverend Grundy bit the ceiling.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=t9nlgfhboxwwsv6amh87rbjh