"Those poor, unfortunate souls
In pain, in need
This one longing to be thinner
That one wants to get the girl
And do I help them?
Beware of the kindness of strangers.
A Good Samaritan
provides help to anyone in need, even a complete stranger. They will come across the wounded hero and take him in, feed him and tend to his injuries without asking for anything in return. Sometimes these people are punished for their goodness
because they were a Horrible Judge of Character
and chose to help someone who would only repay them with evil
And then there are these guys.
The Bad Samaritan
is someone who takes in the hero and seems (at first) to be helping, all to do the hero harm in the end. He doesn't act out of the kindness of his own heart, but by some villainous motivation.
He will keep his intention hidden from his victim, gaining their trust, until he has the hero helpless. This is the inverse of the Biblical parable about the Good Samaritan
, teaching the audience that relying on the kindness of strangers is not always a good thing.
This is when a villain wears a mask of altruism
and pretends that their goal is to help unfortunate, needy characters. They will befriend and offer them their assistance to win them over, secretly using them as pawns in their scheme
. The good guys usually don't catch on until it is way, way too late to do anything about it and the villain has just put the final touches on the plot, revealing that the "help" was merely part of their evil plan all along.
This sort of ploy usually comes up when the hero wants something and is desperate enough to do anything
to get it. The villain has just what the doctor ordered, and is willing to give it to the hero... for a price
. And the price is always exactly what the villain needs to achieve his goals. The hero might have to give up something important to the villain, or may have to retrieve
a Plot Coupon
. Other times, the villain will maintain a cover of respectability and generosity
in order to attract good guys who later unwittingly act as mooks
for the villain 's cause. And sometimes the villain is simply a cruel bastard and likes corrupting the thought of kindness by turning it into villainy.
Either way, in the end, it turns out that by accepting their assistance, the protagonist has been unwittingly playing right into the villain's hands. The end result of this flavor of the trope is usually You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
, with the villain killing or otherwise betraying their cronies once they've served their purpose. Where this gets confusing is when the Bad Samaritan means no physical or emotional harm, but uses their "kindness" to provoke a Leave Your Quest Test
to get the hero to leave the Big Bad
Related to Beware the Nice Ones
and The Farmer And The Viper
. Compare with Salvage Pirates
, in which the hero expects help from people who turn out to be evil and who don't even pretend to help. See also All Take and No Give
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Anime And Manga
- Gundam 00. Ali Al-Saachez is asked by Kinue Crossroad for a ride so she can interview him (she has no clue who he is) for a story. Cue a Moral Event Horizon event done because she knew too much, followed by a brutal Tearjerker.
- In Naruto, Orochimaru likes to pick orphans up off the street with promises of power. In reality, he plans to use them for experiments, as soldiers or for potential containers.
- Played fast and loosely in Fullmetal Alchemist, where Father, upon meeting the two, heals Ed and Al. He quickly admits he just does this because they're valuable sacrifices. Yeah...
- Father Cornello fits the trope extremely well in both the manga and the 2003 anime version. He uses a partial Philosophers Stone to fake miracles to earn the towns trust. What they don't realize is that he intends to incite an uprising that will get most of them killed.
- Played very straight by most Homunculi in the 2003 anime version: they're sent to towns to find alchemists, drive them to desperation, give them fake stones and fake reassurances, wait until the stones' power dissipates, make things worse, then make them think the only way to save everyone is by making Philosopher Stones, whatever the cost.
- In Monster, this is Johan's reason for living. Almost all who meet him come to think of him as a kind, thoughtful young man. Most of those same people end up dead.
- Light Yagami of Death Note was oh so helpful with Naomi Misora, comparing notes on the Kira case with her and offering to let her use his cellphone because she knew too much and he needed to learn her true name.
- Code Geass
- Schneizel el Britannia who often makes deals with enemies or would-be pawns under the guise of mutual benefit.
- Lelouch can be interpreted as this, though it would be more accurate to call him, well, complicated. He has very noble intentions, but often displays a lack of concern for his subordinates. The aforementioned Schneizel, of all people, gets the Black Knights to betray Lelouch by leading them to believe their leader is one of these, partly owing to the latter.
- Xelloss of Slayers does seemingly help out the heroes quite a lot more than what he expects in return. Some of that help is probably even is helpful. But most likely it all plays a part in his plan. And even when they find out who he really is, he still gets away with it to some extent.
- In the backstory of Full Metal Panic!, Gauron first encountered Sousuke back in his Child Soldier "Kashim" days. Gauron was immediately taken by the sight of the boy and offered him a ride back to Gauron's camp, promising him food, ammo, and AS parts. Sousuke immediately realized Gauron's intentions weren't good and refused. Gauron spent the rest of his life obsessed with Sousuke.
- In The DC Universe, Granny Goodness runs an "orphanage" for poor and downtrodden children on Apocalypse that is really nothing more than a boot camp for Darkseid's demon-dogs.
- "Mournin' Mess" in Tales from the Crypt #38 featured a charitable society supposed devoted to providing dignified burials for the homeless. A reporter assigned to investigate the organization discovered that it was actually a group of ghouls interested in providing low-effort meals for themselves.
- In Green Arrow: Quiver, the resurrected Oliver Queen is taken in by a wealthy old man whom he saves from muggers, and who provides him with funds and equipment to get back on his feet as a hero. He also takes in Mia, a teenage girl who was forced to become a prostitute. Turns out he's not as charitable as he seems; he's actually a satanic killer who intends to Body Surf into Queen and rape Mia.
Film - Animated
- In Kronk's New Groove, Yzma tells Kronk that she wants to help the elderly people of the kingdom by selling them her youth potion. It turns out it's just a scam for her to get rich quick.
- In Disney's The Little Mermaid, wherein the sea-witch Ursula pretends to help the mermaid Princess Ariel by making her human, on condition that Ariel gives up her voice. If Ariel fails to woo the human Prince Eric, Ariel will revert to being a mermaid and her soul will belong to Ursula forever. Naturally, Ursula cheats.
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Something similar happens in the direct-to-video sequel with Ursula's sister Morganna and Ariel's daughter Melody, but in reverse. Morganna turns Melody into a mermaid but doesn't tell her about the time limit or her maternal heritage.
- The Princess and the Frog
- Similarly, Dr. Facilier is one (it's telling that this movie has the same directors as TLM). He promises people to "give them what they want", but doesn't tell them they will "lose what they had". Thus when a prince in financial trouble comes to him, he says the prince needs "the green" and "wants freedom", then makes a deal with him.. turning him into a frog.
- He reads the dreams of Naveen's servant Lawrence, sees Lawrence wants to take Naveen's place and become a prince and then tells Lawrence "in the future, I see.. [you'll become] exactly the man you always wanted to be." He then uses Lawrence as a pawn and physically transforms him into Naveen, enabling his scheme and fulfilling his promise. Lawrence was the man he always wanted to be.
- Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2 is somewhat like this, offering to help Fiona get (Fairy Godmother's definition of) a happy ending, which coincidentally puts Fairy Godmother's son in line for the throne, while ignoring Shrek because Ogres. Don't. Live. Happily. Ever. After!
Film - Live Action
- In Slumdog Millionaire, this combines with Yank the Dog's Chain when both brothers, once orphans and on the run, are taken in by a "kind" man to a rural house that is functionally an Orphanage of Love. This was in the first third of the movie, and it turns out that he manufactures beggar children with a high pity factor by blinding them. They got out of Delhi.
- Early in Conan the Barbarian, a woman offers Conan shelter for the night and a romp in the furs. Turns out she's an inhuman demon (or maybe a shapeshifting witch) who wants to kill him and eat him during the romp in the furs.
- In the original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, Shredder's Foot Clan took in street kids and orphans in order to turn them into soldiers in Shredder's criminal empire.
- In the Very Loosely Based on a True Story horror film Wolf Creek, two British tourists and a local guy are hiking in Australia when their car breaks down. They are picked up by a man who offers to drive them to his home and fix their car. The man turns out to be a serial killer.
- The miko in the 1954 Kenji Mizoguchi classic Sansho The Bailiff.
- In Stardust, Lamia does this to Yvaine, seeking to cut out her heart. She takes care of Yvaine in order to make the girl happy, because that will make her heart more useful.
- In Misery, the author Paul Sheldon is rescued from a car accident by a fanatical admirer, who turns out to be a Bad Samaritan.
- Stephen King's novel Misery (as well as the film version) is about a writer who is rescued from a car crash during a blizzard by a woman who claims to be his number one fan. It becomes increasingly clear that she is psychotic and won't let him leave.
- A milder version appears in Oliver Twist. Fagin takes in homeless street urchins, giving them shelter and food and a sense of family. He also turns them into a band of criminals, and if they don't earn enough money, they are beaten and tossed out.
- The man who rents out a room to Winston and Julia in 1984 ends up turning them in because he's a Thought Police plant specifically waiting for potential dissidents interested in purchasing pre-IngSoc artifacts.
- Happens every time a random stranger is kind to the heroes in the Percy Jackson series: Auntie Em/Medusa, The Lotus Hotel, Procrustes (as mentioned below), Circe, Geryon... The fact that the heroes keep falling for it is lampshaded at one point; they know it's stupid, but they're so exhausted and battered from their previous encounters that they can hardly think straight.
- This eventually leads Percy to be distrustful of Hestia, who was genuinely a Good Samaritan
- In Blood Memories, the main character is a vampire who has a subtle, uncontrollable psychic ability that makes other people think she needs to be taken care of. As a result, she often preys on Bad Samaritans.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr. secretly coaches and assists Harry through all of the Triwizard Tournament tasks — just to make sure he gets to the end alive, so he can be delivered into the hands of Voldemort.
- In The Scarlet Letter Roger Chillingsworth volunteers to live with Dimmsdale so that he can be close to him and help treat his mysterious illness. The two appear to be very close friends, Chillingsworth is always at Dimmsdale's side, tending to him and listening to his woes...too bad he's actually there to psychologically torture Dimmsdale and is actually making him sicker.
Live Action TV
- The plot of the show Bad Samaritans involves a couple of convicts on community service
- In True Blood Bill's back story has him as a wandering soldier trying to make his way home from the battlefield. He is taken in by a woman who comes upon him while he is asleep and turns him into a vampire.
- Maryann is a maenad, one of the nymphs who worship Bacchus. She pretends to be a "social worker" who helps convicts by giving them a chance to turn their lives around. Her real reason for collecting these kinds of people is less noble.
- Poor Daphne fell victim to this trope. Even though she was a loyal servant, Maryann cheerfully had her killed when she was through with her.
- In the Buffy episode "Anne" there's a street preacher who is "helping" the homeless and runaway kids by sending them to a Hell dimension where time runs much faster than it does on Earth. There, they are worked as slaves until they die of old age.
- Also, serial killer-preacher Caleb first starts out as this. He "rescues" Shannon, one of the Potential Slayers, from the Bringers, only to then brand her, stab her, and toss her from a moving truck, all as a message to Buffy.
- In Dollhouse, Boyd is both a Good Samaritan and a Bad Samaritan. He actually cares for the other good guys, and risks his life to protect Echo. But at the same time, he just wants them to fail, and repeatedly thwarts their plans from the inside.
- In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy there's Captian Mutiny. When Terra Venture becomes trapped in the Lost Galaxy, he claims to be sympathetic to their plight, and offers them a crate that he claims contains device that will help them leave. As you might expect, he's not the philanthropist he claims: his actual goal is to loot the colony and enslave the citizens, and the crate actually contains a monster that attacks the place. (Commander Stanton later admits he was an idiot to trust the guy, but they really didn't have many options at the time.)
- A mild version of this was the basis of the short lived British comedy series Mr Charity. The Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, Graham Templeton, was the leader of a charity organization, yet utterly unconcerned with helping others, his only goal being to become the next Bob Geldof in terms of fame and possibly a knighthood. It was a rather cynical show.
- In the Highlander: The Series episode "Reasonable Doubt", it is revealed that the immortal Tarsis finds children who are destined to become immortal, raises them as his own children, then kills them when they are in their early 20s to activate their immortality. He then uses them as accomplices to his crimes and, when he finally grows tired of them, he takes their heads.
- An episode of Criminal Minds featured a woman who insinuates herself into the lives of weaker-willed women by claiming to help them build up their self-esteem. All is fine until the women actually begin showing independence which she sees as rejection, and then their new friend takes them to her house, breaks their legs with a hammer and drowns them.
- While the people he helps out are all morally corrupt in their own ways, the BBC Sherlock version of James Moriarty is a "consulting criminal," who is described as a "Bad Samaritan" by Sherlock himself.
- MythQuest involves two teenage Intrepid Fictioneers who jump into myths in search of their father. Gorgos, a trickster god who wants to change the outcome of the myth, occasionally takes advantage of the teens' ignorance of the myth and disguises himself as a character within the myth. Naturally, he uses this to derail the myths.
- On Cold Case, a Mexican woman was stranded with a flat tire and unable to change it and was thus relieved when a car full of young people pulled up... only for them to be a bunch of white supremacists who were out cruising for a victim. What happened next was pure Nightmare Fuel.
- Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He becomes a friend and informal psychiatrist to protagonist Will Graham, promising to help him cope with the horrors he's regularly exposed to in his work for the FBI, while at the same time taking a kind of paternal responsibility for Abigail Hobbs, the daughter of the "Minnesota Shrike" whom Hannibal and Graham helped to expose and kill. Eventually, Hannibal starts Gaslighting Graham and hiding a neurological disorder from him, manipulates Abigail into having to kill someone in self-defence before killing her when she learns his secret, and eventually frames Graham as a serial killer and gets him locked up in a hospital for the criminally insane. This is all in addition to being, you know, Hannibal Lecter.
- Older Than Feudalism: In Greek myths, Procrustes, son of Poseidon, invited travelers into his home, took care of them, let them stay in his bed... and then tortured them with his hammer until they fit his bed.
- Isn't the world of Greek Mythology grand?
- In later versions there were two beds. When someone who might fit one bed came along, Procrustes hid it and pulled out the other bed so he could amputate or stretch them as necessary.
- When Procrustes tried this on Theseus, the hero overpowered him and made him Hoist by His Own Petard; while some versions don't say whether Theseus stretched him or cut him down, since Procrustes was in some versions a giant you'd have to be a complete dumbass not to figure it out. (In some versions, Procrustes did this because he was a bandit who robbed his victims, the same motive of some of other sadistic villains that Theseus encountered in that story.)
- In one version Theseus first cut off his limbs with the short bed then put him on the long bed and stretched him as well.
- Part of the preshow to Cirque du Soleil's Mystere is a gentler Screwy Squirrel version of this trope, Played for Laughs. Brian Le Petit offers to lead just-arrived audience members to their seats. If he gets you there, it's at the expense of other audience members. But don't despair, usually he won't get you there.
- In Der Ring des Nibelungen, Mime raises Sieglinde's orphaned son from birth until he is old enough to take on Fafner. Mime insists to Siegfried that he has only raised him out of kindheartedness, but after Siegfried has slain the dragon the Dirty Coward finds that he Cannot Tell a Lie about what he intends to do to him next.
- The murder victim in Ayn Rand's drama Think Twice has devoted his life to Good Works. As the detectives look for a motive, it turns out that every single one of the dead man's Good Works was deliberately calculated to ruin the lives of its recipient. For instance, he's the patron of a struggling actress whose career really took off when he managed to get her a starring role... in an utterly worthless play that destroys her professional reputation. Then he buys his crippled adoptive son a lovely birthday gift... a pony. He claims it will inspire the boy to regain the use of his legs.
- In Starship, the character Pincer (who wears the Little Mermaid influence on his sleeve) gives Bug the chance to become a human and join the Starship Rangers, as long as Bug brings the humans to meet Pincer. Who just wants to meet them, and isn't interested in eating their brains and letting his mosquito friends drain their blood.
- The mime who appears prior to Clyde and Seymour Take Pirate Island show at the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium in Sea World, Orlando, has been known to "help" find people seats by leading them right out of the theater, leading them directly to the splash zone, and leading them to seats already occupied. He's also famous for following people closely, making fun of them behind their backs the entire time. Here's a life tip, folks: If you walk into a theater or stadium and see a mime in the aisle with you... walk away, as quietly and drawing as little attention to yourself as you can.
- In the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game, Mephiles makes Silver and Blaze think Sonic is responsible for bringing about the end of the world and ruining the future by releasing Iblis, and pretends that he aims to help them save the world. In reality, this is an Evil Plan to get them to kill Sonic so he can merge with Iblis into an immortal sun god or... something... and it should have been obvious that he was up to no good with his demonic appearance and everything.
- In the Metal Gear series, Big Boss is in the process of this in Outer Heaven (where there is loads of war orphans around to take in and shape to his whim). He also already did this with Gray Fox.
- Metal Gear Solid implies that he is actually sincere when it comes to caring about his recruits.
- The infamous Westin Phipps from City Of Villains. He is the owner/operator of Haven House, which lies under the shadow of the Rogue Isle's capital city of Grandville. Haven House offers the downtrodden a refuge from the tyranny of Lord Recluse and Arachnos. Except that he is really a spy for Arachnos, and uses his position to gather information on potential threats, which he then sends the player character to take care of. And by "take care of", he means kidnapping schoolteachers, burning books, poisoning food, kicking puppies, and so on. He's possibly the most despised villain in the game, which is an impressive feat when you consider the competition.
- Dragon Quest V: Shortly before entering a treacherous mountain pass, the hero and his bride can uncover a small staircase leading to an old woman's hole-in-the-ground domicile. Delighted to have guests, she invites them to stay. If they accept, they wake up paralyzed and hear a strange scraping sound... which turns out to be the nice old woman sharpening the hero's weapon for him, giving him a small Strength bonus and Subverting the trope.
- Flemeth of the Dragon Age series. Early in the first game, she saves the PC and Alistair from death on the condition they take her daughter with them on their adventures. Morrigan later reveals that Flemeth sent her with them to perform a very shady magic ritual that requires a Grey Warden. The sequel shows that, not long after, Flemeth also helped the Hawke family and Aveline cross a darkspawn-filled wasteland in exchange for a favor - bringing her Soul Jar to the Dalish clan near Kirkwall, just in case Morrigan turned on her. We still have no idea what Flemeth's long-term goals are, but she's not doing it out of the kindness of her heart.
- Yet another proof of the immorality of Hazama/Terumi Yuuki of BlazBlue's fame is due to him being this to Litchi. When he learns that she's nearly dying due to the corruption she subjected herself to save the abandoned Arakune, Hazama offers her the cure for both her and Arakune if she joins NOL. While she refused at first, and then Kokonoe rejects her, Hazama just says he knew Kokonoe, thus eventually later on making her finalize the deal, even if he looks extremely shady and suspicious. Unfortunately for her, that was only Half Truth: Hazama missed out the fact that Kokonoe utterly hates him and considers him her worst nemesis... and compounded with the fact that the reason why Hazama wants her in NOL was not for her to live longer, but rather for her Boundary knowledge in order to further his Evil Plan to plunge the world into despair, and seemingly ready to dump her if she ever outlives her purpose.
- Another Bioware example: Henry Lawson of Mass Effect 3, the perfectionist father of Miranda Lawson. During the Reaper's assault to the galaxy, he turns Horizon into a sanctuary/shelter for human refugees so they can hide from the Reapers. However, when Shepard arrives there due to a distress call, you know there's just something bad about it. Turns out Horizon under Henry is nothing more than a secret Cerberus headquarters that he used to turn the refugees... into Husks. And throughout the messages around him, he has stated that he really has no regrets over the experiments. And unlike the rest of Cerberus, has no care for the overall advancement of humanity, but his own legacy and being idolized by future generations. At that point, indoctrinated or not, lots of players are more than glad to get him offed by either Shepard or Miranda.
- Not to say that the Sanctuary was free. Oh no, Mr Lawson would fleece them for all their money first, too. Good opportunity to set things up too, because at that point, everyone was freaking out of the Reapers.
- Played with in Dishonored. The Outsider never helps people out of the kindness of his heart. He seems to give people magical powers simply because it's interesting to see what they do with them.
- Nomura from Higurashi: When They Cry reached out to a despairing Takano and offered acceptance, acknowledgement and revenge. This kickstarts the entire plot, although you don't even know she exists until the final arc. Her true motive is just to destroy Hinamizawa and use the disaster as a way to discredit her political opponents.
- In a side-story for Umineko: When They Cry, "The Witches' Tanabata", Bernkastel answers the wish of a young, orphaned Ange... by telling her to never accept her aunt Eva's kindness and motherly love, and to never smile ever again, or else her dead parents will never be revived. This, by the way, coupled with mocking the player afterwards, is her Moral Event Horizon
- In EP2 Beatrice is this, pretending to help the two cousin-servant couples (George/Shannon and Kanon/Jessica) get together only to have their relationships inevitably fall into ruin. But with the later revelation that Beatrice, Shannon and Kanon are most likely all the same person, it turns out that this is just a metaphor for how Yasu can never be with any of his/her love interests.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Manfred von Karma adopts Miles Edgeworth after the latter's father dies at von Karma's hands and raises him to be an excellent prosecutor, just so he can complete his revenge against his father and him fifteen years later by framing Edgeworth for murder.
- In the very first episode of Gargoyles, Awakening, David Xanatos undoes the curse put on the Gargoyles, reawakening them after a thousand years, and offers to help them adapt to the modern world. He is revealed to be using the gargoyles, and becomes one of their main enemies.
- In South Park, if Eric Cartman ever suggests doing a good deed, it will often be this. Probably most prominent in "Crack Baby Athletic Association" where he tries to get rich under the pretenses of helping abandoned crack babies. He even manages to enlist Kyle to help out.
- Many scams and frauds operate off of the con artist providing a financial opportunity, either to appeal to greed or in the saddest cases, to someone in bad financial straits as a way to get out of their debts/financial emergency/unemployment etcetera. This is, in fact, the modus operandi of both payday loans and the Loan Shark, and of employment-offer scams from the old envelope stuffing gimmick to advance-fee frauds looking for mules to unpaid internships with no hope of paid employment, among many others.
- In the Japanese entertainment industry, this is how people generally get into very deep trouble: take Starving Artist musicians and offer them "pay" and band membership, for which they will be very grateful to you... but with only a 10% cut of their band's profits no matter what they contribute to it, Contractual Purity, possibly even pimping out themselves or others for mitsukano Compensated Dating or acquiring drugs or running shady tax dodges or the like.
- More than a few serial killers and other criminals have used this as a way to lure in victims—Ted Bundy admitted that at least one of his murders started out with him picking up a young woman who was hitchhiking and he even inverted this by pretending to be disabled and in need of help, thus preying on the naturally altruistic instincts of his victims.
- Pedophiles have been known to abduct children by offering them gifts, food, saying they have pets that the children can play with, etc. Or if they're someone already known to the child, they pretend to offer them a place of refuge from an already abusive environment.
- Apparently a common way of recruiting young men into gangs. Offer them protection, make them feel accepted, dazzle them with expensive gifts and wads of money. Later they realize they have to work off that money by running drugs.
- This is similarly done with luring young girls into prostitution.
- This is also favored by cults. Pick someone who's emotionally vulnerable, shower him/her with love and they're likely to stick around for the lectures and rituals.
- One famous example of this happening to someone would be Toshimitsu Deyama, vocalist of X Japan, who was led into a cult with precisely this modus operandi: approached by someone who claimed to love him (and married him) during a very low period in his life when he was facing severe emotional stress and pain, getting him to among other things leave his family, hate his best friend and love of his life, leave his band, sue his own brother, recruit other members, lash out at critics of the cult, and live off of nothing while contributing his wages to her and the cult leader with whom she lived for 10 years.
- This technique is used by groups not normally considered cults. More mainstream Evangelical groups also do this, which often goes by the Meaningful Name of Love Bombing. However, only the very cynical would say these groups intend harm to prospective members. Cults may intend to harm or exploit the member, making them Bad Samaritans.
- A real-life example of this was widely broadcast during the London riots. Two men initially seemed to be helping an injured student (Ashraf Rossli) but were actually using the opportunity to go through his backpack. The incident was caught on CCTV and the two men were later jailed.