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[[quoteright:300:[[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/asoiaf-kingslayer-smaller_8631.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Jaime Lannister's [[BodyguardBetrayal betrayal]] earned him the nickname [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast The Kingslayer]].]]
->''"I'm the bloody Kingslayer, remember? When I say you have honour, that's like a whore vouchsafing your maidenhood."''
-->-- '''Jaime Lannister''', ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''

In fiction, oaths are powerful things. They bind demons. They bind honour. They create pacts that grant great power. They are things to be respected, feared, and fulfilled.

And then there is the Oath Breaker.

This is the character that has broken a oath of some sort be it [[MagicallyBindingContract magical]] or mundane and now is forever branded by his misdeed. Sometimes they see this as almost a trophy. Sometimes this is seen as a mark of shame. It almost always brands the character as a pariah until they manage to restore their lost honour.

This is not just a character that has broken a social taboo. They need to have broken something that they have personally sworn. May be the result of a FrequentlyBrokenUnbreakableVow.

Some characters will feel this even after ReleasingFromThePromise or the oath's becoming impossible to fulfill.

At other times such character is a DangerousDeserter.

It is not unknown for a character to beg another to allow something that would [[ExactWords technically]] fulfill the vow to avoid this.

Often follows from someone saying IGaveMyWord, BloodOath, or HeroicVow.



* In the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/TheLordOfLornAndTheFalseSteward'', the steward swore a great oath to protect the young lord and may he die an ill death if anything befall him. Then he tried to murder him.

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* In ''Comicbook/PlanetHulk'', Hiroim the Shamed is a member of the Hulk's [[TrueCompanions Warbound]], sworn allies for life. Hiroim, however, was ostracized from his people for breaking a previous Warbound pact, and accordingly given the appellation of "the Shamed" to forever mark his treachery.
* In ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' by Neil Gaiman: "As this blood is shed, so spills your blood, Ruthven Sykes, adept of the 33rd, whose secret name is Ararita... Traitor and Oath-Breaker." Cue skull implosion.
* While ComicBook/{{Cyclops}} of the ''ComicBook/XMen'' has numerous other issues, one thing that people throw in his face every now and then is how he married Madelyne Pryor, fathered a child with her, and then ditched them the minute Jean Grey came back from the dead. (During ''Inferno,'' Mr. Sinister claims to have psychically manipulated Cyclops into that betrayal, but even Creator/ChrisClaremont, the guy who wrote that story, considers it a blemish on Cyclops' character.)

[[folder: FanWorks]]
* In ''FanFic/AnAlternateKeitaroUrashima'', Granny Hina tries to guilt-trip Keitaro into taking over the Hinata Inn by talking about how disappointed she is that he's forgotten all about his ChildhoodMarriagePromise. Keitaro retorts that he made that back when he was ''five''. When she keeps pressing the issue, he reveals that [[spoiler:she previously promised the Inn to his aunt Marumi, a more serious vow that she's since broken]].
* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': This is how Karasu refers to Drago, as the latter swore an oath of loyalty to the Matriarch (Jade's future self) after she freed him from [[EvilSorcerer Verde's]] control, [[UngratefulBastard only to eventually betray her]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fic ''[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/241358/machinations-in-the-dark Machinations in the Dark]]'', Princess Celestia regularly consults an imprisoned murderer for his useful advice, but even when she swears an oath to him, she never gives him what he asks for in return, even something as petty as a piece of string (no matter how many times this happens, he still gives her his advice in the hopes she'll keep her word this time, getting angrier each time). When Princess Luna finds out, she is appalled that Celestia would break her word, while Celestia tries to justify it by saying the murderer doesn't deserve anything. Eventually, he escapes, hellbent on revenge and leaves a message assuring she will pay him back everything he is owed.

[[folder: Literature ]]

* The man gracing the page image is Jaime Lannister from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''; the broken oath and consequences thereof define large chunks of his character, as well as earning him the nickname "The [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Kingslayer]]" after killing Aerys II Targaryen, who he swore to protect. Even though Aerys had a nickname of his own ("The [[TheCaligula Mad]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast King]]"), [[NotWhatItLooksLike the circumstances he and Aerys' body were found in]] made it seem he only did so to benefit [[ThePatriarch his father]] [[FamilyValuesVillain Tywin]], [[TheStarscream if not himself]]. Jaime's refusal to explain himself doesn't help matters much.
** Those that leave the Night's Watch are condemned to death for breaking their vows and deserting The Wall. Ned Stark tells his son that there's nothing more dangerous than an oath breaker whose life is now forfeit. They will do anything to survive.
** Lord Frey is generally viewed with suspicion because he is infamous for not picking sides until the odds are heavily stacked, and his late arrival to a battle to defend his liege lord earned him the InSeriesNickname "The Late Lord Frey." [[spoiler:However, House Frey as a whole stepped it up several notches when they violated the law of SacredHospitality at the Red Wedding.]]
** Jorah Mormont is treated as this by Daenerys once his spying for Lord Varys is revealed. [[spoiler:In the fifth book, he attempts to capture and bring her Tyrion to win her favor again.]]
** The worst example is/was The Night's King, who broke every vow of the Night's Watch good and ''hard''. So much so, that what he did has tainted the reputation of the Nightfort. In fact, he's practically blamed for metaphorically cursing the place to constantly have horrendous things happen in and to it.
* Marietta from ''Literature/HarryPotter'', told the location of their secret hideout to [[Characters/HarryPotter Professor Umbridge]] after signing a magical contract claiming she wouldn't do that. As a result she had the word "SNEAK" appear on her face made out of pimples and was shunned by her classmates.
** Not to mention [[spoiler: Peter Pettigrew.]]
* MerryGentry's cousin Cel has broken his oath. It's a huge scandal because among the fey this carries a death sentence, but everyone is [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen so afraid of his mother]] that they don't do anything about it.
** Merry also becomes head of TheWildHunt for a night in order to punish an oathbreaker.
* In typical fashion, the ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'' has an example of this, but it's not that simple. Ekaterin's husband [[spoiler:was killed in a accident]] immediately after she told him she was leaving him. Because she never went through with the divorce her honor remains intact in everyone else's eyes; but ''she'' knows she's an oathbreaker, and suffers the shame of it.
** Miles himself qualifies, for the events in the first part of ''Memory''. He also provides a more balanced perspective: sooner or later, "death before dishonor" means everybody is either dead or forsworn.
* The Dead from ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''. Isildur cursed them when they swore to help him fight and then refused; three thousand years later, they break the curse by helping Aragorn -- the Heir of Isildur -- instead.
* The novel ''Oathbreakers'', from the ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series, is about the heroic duo, Tarma and Kethry, avenging the murder of the leader of their mercenary company at the hands of her brother, the king of Rethwellan. When they find out what he did, they invoke the Oathbreaker's Curse on him and enact some spectacularly karmic revenge.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles,''
** Harry has a ''literal'' FairyGodmother. But... [[OhCrap this is The Dresden Files]]. It's not what you think. [[spoiler: He made a deal with her a long time ago that says that she can now do with him as she pleases - and it turns out that that is to transform him into one of her hunting dogs.]] He's had to dodge her attempts to collect on his debt. However, it turns out that [[spoiler: she really ''does'' want to him safe since she made a deal with his mother, and part of her reason for wanting to transform him is to keep him safe at her side.]]
** Breaking a vow by using Powers of God is something no mortal can do and is the bane of the Power. Twice Harry is in a position where he is wielding a Holy Sword with a nail from the Crucifixion in it and is tempted to use the blade to violate his oath.
*** The first time [[spoiler:against said godmother, the blade had its protection weakened so a mildly evil being like the Godmother could touch the blade and carry it against its intended purpose]].
*** The second time [[spoiler:was against some villains trying to make him wield a different blade in anger and violate a truce where the blade was being offered in exchange for a girl's life. Had Harry not seen through the ruse, realizing the parallel from when he tried the same thing with his Godmother, he could have seriously damaged or muted the power of the blade]].
** In ''Skin Game'' [[spoiler:Karrin Murphy, weilding one of the Holy Blades, breaks the implicit promise for anywho take up the sword: You are not the judge nor executioner, do not strike down the defenseless in wrath. When Harry's life was threatened and her enemy had "surrendered", she is goaded into striking the then defenseless and weaponless man and it broke the power in the blade]].
* Nick Seafort from the ''Literature/SeafortSaga'' broke an oath to save his ship from a WellIntentionedExtremist. Although other people see nothing wrong in his actions, he considers himself damned to hell for it.
* In the ''Discworld'' novel ''Discworld/{{Jingo}}'', "71-hour" Ahmed got his nickname from violating SacredHospitality and killing his host (Klatchian SacredHospitality lasts for three days, or 72 hours). He wears the nickname proudly as a way of inspiring fear and distrust, [[spoiler:which is a good thing for him since he's a CowboyCop for an entire desert land, and being feared by criminals is a definitive bonus. As for the man he killed, he was an admitted mass-murderer.]]
* The man who's name is not Jack Bannister apparently got quite rich by being one of these, according to Fisk in the ''KnightAndRogueSeries''.
* In the ''ChroniclesOfPrydain'', breaking oaths is one of [[BigBad Arawn's]] most infamous habits. If this guy makes a deal, he WILL break it. [[ChaoticEvil No matter how little it might cost him to keep it]]. [[StupidEvil Or how much more dangerous NOT keeping it could be]]. And SOMEHOW, there are always more idiots willing to make [[DealWithTheDevil deals]] with him.
* In Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novel ''Only In Death'', Ezrah thinks the only way he can atone for [[spoiler:surviving Gaunt's death]] is to go on a rampage against his enemies until killed.
* In Creator/JaneAusten's novels:
** In ''Literature/NorthangerAbbey'', when Isabella breaks her engagement with Catherine's brother to take up with Captain Tilney, it is taken as a matter of great gravity. Henry and Eleanor only manages to persuade Catherine to stay as their guest by assuring her that their brother would not dare bring her to their father's house.
** In ''Literature/SenseAndSensibility'', Lucy's breaking her engagement with Edward Ferrars for his brother is treated as shocking -- even though Edward no longer wants to marry her and maintains it out of pure duty.
* In Dante's ''Literature/DivineComedy'', the lowest sphere of {{Heaven}}, the Moon, holds the oathbreakers. Dante meets two women there who had taken vows in a convent and then been taken out to be married. He objects to Beatrice that they had been forced; Beatrice says that if you gave ThePromise and are forced not to fulfill it, it doesn't count as oathbreaking, but you are not forced if having been forced for a time, you don't even try to fulfill it as soon as the force is removed, you break the oath at that point.
* In Creator/SeananMcGuire's ''Literature/OctoberDaye'' novel ''Rosemary and Rue'', Toby thinks how Sylvester would do ReleasingFromThePromise if she asked. So she never will, given changelings' reputations as The Oathbreaker.
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's "The Live Coward", at one point the narrator observes that a member of the Patrol must be willing to make promises that he will break without hesitation.
* TheBookOfTheNewSun:
--> And they swore me never to reveal it save—as they did—to one about to enter upon the mysteries of the guild. I have since broken that oath, as I have many others.
* In AndreNorton's ''Literature/IceCrown'', Princess Ludorica talks to Roane about the crown, taking her for a Guardian. When she realizes that she is not, she is distressed at revealing what she had promised not to.
* Rana Sanga in ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'' is less an oathbreaker then an oathdodger. He manages to avoid an oath which has bound him to fight for an evil empire simply by using the ExactWords.
* In AndreNorton's ''Literature/{{Catseye}}'', Troy reacts with fury when he was promised safety and was attacked. [[spoiler: Later he realizes that the men who attacked were not those of the man who had promised and apologizes.]]
* In AndreNorton's ''[[Literature/{{Warlock}} Forerunner Foray]]'', the sensitive who reanimated Turan's body has enough of his memories to throw at Zuha, his widow, her oft-repeated promise to revive the custom of joining her husband in his grave.
* In Creator/ConnieWillis's ''Literature/ToSayNothingOfTheDog'', Verity tells Ned that Terence can't break the engagement, only Tossie can. When Terence meets Maud, he is keenly aware that this would be reprehensible.
* In L. Jagi Lamplighter's ''The Unexpected Enlightenment of Literature/RachelGriffin'', those who walk the Dark Path were greatly strengthened when a Vestal Virgin broke her vows in the BackStory.
* In ''LightNovel/TheFamiliarOfZero'', 6000 years ago, the great mage Brimir summoned the elf Sasha and made her his {{Familiar}}. A familiar is bound to protect and serve their master. Eventually, Sasha broke her oath and murdered Brimir. [[AuthorExistenceFailure The author died before the series was finished and a full explanation was given]], but it is implied that she did it because Brimir was planning genocide against her race.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'':
** The Knights Radiant are so reviled because, thousands of years ago, they turned on humanity. We see it at one point, and it was much less violent than people think. They just left, abandoning their Shardblades and Shardplate on the field. In the second book, ''Literature/WordsOfRadiance'', context makes that more horrifying: [[spoiler:The Blades were their spren, their bonded companions, and by breaking their oaths they were murdering them and abandoning their corpses like trash]].
** Also in ''Words of Radiance'', Kaladin struggles with his spren, Syl. While she wants him to do what is right, she also wants him to fulfill his promises, and he made the mistake of promising two diametrically opposed things: He promised Dalinar that he would [[spoiler:protect the king]], while he promised Moash that he would [[spoiler:let him be killed]]. He wonders if this is the sort of thing that broke the old Knights Radiant.


[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': The Doctor considered his past self, the War Doctor, to be his own oath-breaker:
-->'''The Doctor''': My name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it's like, it's like a promise you make. He's the one who broke the promise. Clara? Clara! He is my secret.
-->'''The War Doctor''': What I did, I did without choice.
-->'''The Doctor''': I know.
-->'''The War Doctor''': In the name of peace and sanity.
-->'''The Doctor''': But not in the name of the Doctor.

[[folder: Table Top Games ]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}: Hell on Earth'', Oathbreaker is specific disadvantage sykers can take. It means that they have broken 'the Oath of Unity', a promise to never attack a brother syker (generally interpreted as a syker from the same unit or one of its allied units).
* ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheDreaming'' featured Oaths quite heavily. Characters who made oaths gained sizable bonuses, but those who broke their oaths lost far more. An oathbreaker was also heavily ostracized, and an entire noble house of TheFairFolk were treated as pariahs because they had broken a forgotten oath in ages past.
** ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' also puts heavy weight on oaths, but for different reasons. Breaking an oath earns you a measure of disrespect in changeling society, likely has tertiary consequences if you swore it on something important (e.g., your faith or your fortune), is a sin against [[SanityMeter Clarity]]... oh, yeah, and [[TheFairFolk your Keeper]] is perfectly aware that you did it, and may likely be hobbled by the conditions of the broken pledge.


[[folder: Mythology and Religion]]

* As TheOtherWiki says, the most commonly accepted etymology derives the word "warlock" from the Old English ''waerloga'' meaning "oathbreaker" (from ''waer'' "promise, agreement" and ''loga'' "deceiver").
* Ironically, Oathbreaker is one of the names of Odin, head of the [[NorseMythology Norse]] gods. Given that intangible things like vows are supposed to be impossible for gods and the like to break (the god wolf Fenrir was bound by a ribbon made from such ingredients as the root of a mountain and the beard of a woman), the fact that Odin can do that is rather frightening, especially when he can extract vows from everything else in the world and expect them to be kept (like when he made all the things in the world, save one, give an oath to never hurt his son Balder).
* [[Literature/BookOfJudges Samson]]. As a Nazarite, he is not supposed to drink alcohol, touch a dead thing or cut his hair. By the end, none of these were kept.

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Cassiopeia of ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' was once a beautiful human woman who served as a spy for Noxus by seducing foreign diplomats. However, upon breaking an oath of secrecy to a certain Freljord noble, she was cursed and transformed into her current snake-like form.
* The premise of ''VideoGame/GodOfWarAscension'', which takes place before the first game, is that Kratos betrayed his blood oath to Ares when he left Ares' service after the god of war tricked him into killing his wife and child. The Furies who punish oathbreakers [[spoiler:and are complicit with Ares' plan to conquer Olympus with Kratos' aid]] hunt Kratos and torment him with illusions trying to force him to return to Ares' service.
* Illidan Stormrage of ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' has not only turned his back on the kaldorei- his native people- but has also spurned the aid of Sargeras and Kil'jaeden, the highest commanders of the Burning Legion. He has thus been branded as "The Betrayer" and is loathed by both mortals and demons.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Captain Vole is the only person who underwent the transformation into a [[SuperSoldier Jagermonster]] who has broken his oath of UndyingLoyalty to the Heterodynes. As a result, he is no longer considered a Jager by the others. Nor by himself, as he calls the other Jagers weak and takes pride in no longer being one of them.
* Eugene Greenhilt from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' went through his life leaving everything he ever started only half finished. The BloodOath of Vengeance he took as an (ex-)apprentice is the first commitment of his to catch up to him. Leaving the oath unfulfilled by the time of his ([[DeathIsCheap permanent]]) death resulted in him being stuck on the wrong side of the heavenly gates in his afterlife. He spends most of his time in the series harassing his eldest child Roy to complete the oath for him by proxy. [[spoiler:When Roy dies, he gets let into the Seven Heavens because ''he'' actually tried to fulfill that oath... which pisses off Eugene to no end.]]
* In ''QuentynQuinnSpaceRanger'', [[http://www.rhjunior.com/QQSR/00089.html a Confidantine skirts the edge of her vow in which she reveals to Quentyn, and they pounce on this clue]]. The crime they are trying to identify must have been ''terrible'' or she would never have gone so far. A Confidatine who breaks their oath is disconnected [[HiveMind from their collective]] regressing them to infancy which is considered a FateWorseThanDeath.