->''"Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!"''
-->-- '''Darth Vader''', ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''

The BigBad has an assistant or sidekick to whom they spend a lot of time bragging to about just how clever they are. Near the end, their assistant double crosses them spectacularly while their back is turned. Essentially, this is DeceptiveDisciple, except that the Bastard Understudy is apprenticed to an EvilMentor.

In many cases the Bastard Understudy appears to have been groomed as a successor of sorts. While the BigBad hates the idea of defeat, they know they are not going to live forever, and the Bastard Understudy offers a continuation of their legacy. A sublime game of XanatosSpeedChess keeps the Bastard Understudy just out of reach of the power... until the last play.

TheStarscream is a visible rival who lacks the Bastard Understudy's loyalty and patience. TheDogBitesBack is when the betrayal is not premeditated. May be a form of ThanatosGambit. See MagnificentBastard, ManipulativeBastard, VillainTakesAnInterest, and TheChessmaster for characters who are likely to have one of these around. May overlap with DragonWithAnAgenda. Definitely overlaps with RuleOfTwo.

'''Spoilers Ahead!'''


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': This is the ''modus operandi'' of the BigBad SocialDarwinist Emperor. By raising a family of Bastard Understudies and then encouraging them to plot and scheme against each other - and himself - over the throne, the Emperor hopes to produce a strong leader for Britannia. If [[MagnificentBastard Lelouch]] is anything to go by, his methods are quite effective. [[spoiler:In reality, this is all a feint to distract them from his true motive: activating the Sword of Akasha and destroying God.]]
** [[spoiler:And the trope itself plays out with Schneizel and Charles. Schneizel prepares to assume command of Britannia and leaves Charles on his own. However, Lelouch killing Charles forces Schneizel to go into hiding.]]
* [[spoiler:"[[FanNickname Fucking]] Ribbons" Almark]] in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00''. He appears to be a harmless toady of the apparent BigBad [[spoiler:Alejandro Corner]], only to reveal himself as the key villain [[spoiler:while Celestial Being kills Corner at the end of Season 1]].
--> '''[[spoiler:Alejandro Corner]]''': [[spoiler:[[FamousLastWords RIBBONS!]]]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' [[EnigmaticMinion Kabuto]] and [[RivalTurnedEvil Sasuke]] represent the two different types of this: the latter learns all he can from Orochimaru and then "kills" him, while the former, after witnessing Orochimaru's death, has become obsessed with carrying on and perfecting his legacy. To be fair to Sasuke, in this particular case he acted out of principle- he might have planned on dumping Oro from early on, but he only ''killed'' him because he saw Orochimaru as an evil, [[ForTheEvulz sadistic]] [[TheSociopath psychopath]] who had [[MotiveDecay abandoned whatever higher purposes he once pursued]], every bit as bad as the mass murdering brother he was training to kill. Which is exactly right, despite the irony that Sasuke himself is exactly that type of person.
* [[spoiler: Katsumata]] in ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'', who takes advantage of [[spoiler:Fukubei/Friend's]] ThanatosGambit plan to kill him for real and take his place on the viewing platform.
* MarOmega: Atoms betrays Unwetter by erasing him from the Anti-Bobo, and then declares that there is no god so he has to become one.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Inverted in ''ComicBook/TheMetabarons'', where the heroes have this as a tradition.
* In Franchise/TheDCU, during ''Rogues Revenge'', Zoom freed Inertia to train him into torturing superheroes on the grounds that it would make them better heroes. At the end of the series, Inertia murders the [[InfantImmortality Weather Wizard's child]] and calls himself ''Kid Zoom''. Zoom objects because that would not improve them. Inertia says he just wants to hurt them and reverts Zoom back to the cripple without superspeed. (The Rogues then kill Inertia.)
* {{Inverted}} in ''Necrophim'' - everybody thinks Uriel is trying to usurp the throne of {{Hell}}, but he just wants to loyally serve [[{{Satan}} Lucifer]].
* Doctor Doom was supposedly one of these in the Creator/MarkMillar run on ComicBook/FantasticFour.

* Used in ''Film/HighSchoolMusical 3''. [[AlphaBitch Sharpay]] gets an assistant who becomes her understudy in the play. Near the end she tries to take advantage of one of Sharpay's failed plans:
-->'''Sharpay Evans''': But... you were so loyal. And sweet.
-->'''Tiara Gold''': That's called acting. You should try it sometime.
* From ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'', Vaako is the Lord Marshal's second-in-command, but thanks in part to his [[LadyMacbeth wife's promptings]], [[spoiler:takes his opportunity to betray him in his final fight with Riddick, for the good of the Necromonger faith.]]
* ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera'' subverts this with the Largo siblings--Rotti would ''like'' them to be ruthless, manipulative, and cunning enough to take over his empire, but they just don't cut it. Later [[spoiler:Amber, against all expectations, convinces her brothers to back her as she takes control of Gene Co, but only because the chosen heir, [[IllGirl Shilo]], turned it down. Shilo would have had to kill her father to inherit the position, but she refused to.]]
* ''Film/TheMechanic1972''. Charles Bronson plays [[ProfessionalKiller the assassin for the mob]], who grooms Jan-Michael Vincent's character (Steve [=McKenna=], son of a dead mob boss) as his backup. Eventually, Steve decides he'd rather take over the main job. It doesn't end well.
* Jigsaw from the ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' movies has passed on the secrets of his lethal Games to at least two such Understudies, [[spoiler: Amanda and Detective Hoffman]]. Subverted in that neither of Jigsaw's apprentices actually share his make-your-choice philosophy: The first can't stand to leave any survivors to cope with their trauma after her Games, while the second just likes torturing people. And then, in the last twist of the series, [[spoiler: Jigsaw is shown to have had a third apprentice, Dr. Gordon, who was loyal to his philosophy and is carrying it out "properly".]]
* In ''Film/HellraiserBloodline'', Jacques and his mentor the Duc de l'Isle are satanists who dabble in the dark arts by summoning demons. They summon one in the form of a Demon Princess, but Jacques quickly murders the Duc to be with her.

* In ''Literature/{{Dune}}'', Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen serves as the Bastard Understudy to Baron Harkonnen. Feyd-Rautha actually launches at least one assassination-attempt against his uncle, but fails primarily due to bad luck. H never really gets around to usurping the throne - the Baron dies by the Gom Jabbar before he gets the chance.
** And Feyd dies in a duel against Paul soon after anyway.
** Feyd is punished by the Baron as a result of the attempt on his life. Not for trying to kill him, but for FAILING.
* In ''Literature/{{Stardust}}'', the seven princes of Stormhold are ''always'' killing each other to strengthen their claim on the crown. Septimus is clearly the champion at this, and the reigning MagnificentBastard of the book/film. So it should come as no surprise that Tertius, his much older brother, makes an attempt on his life. And fails, miserably. While Primus, the oldest and wisest, spends most of his time avoiding Septimus.
** This apparently the expected method of gaining the throne - the old king is quite disappointed he still has more than one surviving son on his death.
* ''Literature/LAConfidential'': Bud White becomes an enforcer for [[spoiler: MagnificentBastard Dudley Smith]], learns a few tricks on the way then turns on his mentor.
* ''Literature/{{Lensman}}''. Among Boskone (and their controllers, e.g. the Eddorians) it is regarded as quite acceptable, even praiseworthy, for an underling to scheme to supplant their superior -- the idea being that if he's successful the superior is no longer fit (e.g. not cunning and ruthless enough) to hold their position anyway.
* In C. S. Goto's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Literature/BloodRavens trilogy ''Dawn of War'', Ahriman reflects on Magnus outdid the "False Emperor" and how he outdid Magnus -- and how he keeps his own Prodigal Sons down, so no one would supplant him. (For instance, there is no [[SpellBook Book of Ahriman]], as there as a Book of Magnus, because he stole it.)
* In ''Literature/TheVoyageOfTheJerleShannara'' [[WickedWitch The Ilse Witch]] is BastardUnderstudy to her former EvilMentor, and current [[BigBadDuumvirate partner in crime]] [[EvilSorcerer The Morgawr]]. They're both ''very'' aware of it, and it defines their interactions with one another, the Witch always seeking to gain more authority in their relationship, while The Morgawr asserts every last ounce of control that he can over her due to his senior position. Interestingly, she never manages to replace him instead [[spoiler:pulling a HeelFaceTurn]]. Then again, [[JerkassWoobie she]] was never even remotely as evil as him.
* Duke Vessegno to Astfgl, the {{Satan}}-figure in ''Discworld/{{Eric}}''. When Rincewind sees them together his first thought, referencing Astfgl's similarity to a {{Panto}} Demon King, is "Look out, he's behind you."
* This is the whole point of the Sith [[RuleOfTwo Rule of Two]] in the ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse''. To maintain the Sith organization, a Sith Lord intentionally takes on a BastardUnderstudy apprentice in order to supplant and overthrow him when he becomes too old and/or weak. This is to prevent the Sith from destroying themselves, as a group of many Sith Lords would always succumb to infighting with each member vying to rule all.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' gives us an example of how this kind of relationship can develop. Sansa Stark starts out a lost FishOutOfWater in a DeadlyDecadentCourt, and pays for it in spades. However, she does end up being taken under the wing of somebody willing to train her up, even though she is still very much being used and nothing about the relationship is particularly healthy. There are a number of ways it could end up, but her killing her mentor by direct or indirect means is possibly one of them, as she has enough motive to go that route.
** A rather literal one happens when Little Walder Frey becomes TheSquire to [[BastardBastard Ramsey Bolton]]. He took to the lessons so well, he didn't manage to get to the "kill the mentor" stage; [[spoiler: as it turns out, aiming for monsterdom as a career when you have little native cunning means [[RealityEnsues somebody else with a bit more insight as to where this is going will have enough motive and ability to murder you, first]]. Most likely out of pre-emptive self-defence.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Believe it or not, BigBad Astronema from ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'' fits this. The PsychoRangers were designed more to drain energy from Dark Specter than to destroy the rangers themselves, thus letting Astronema take over as Queen of Evil. Several scenes from this mini-arc consist of Dark Specter imploring loyal Astronema to find the traitor draining his power, never realizing that she's looking him right in the eyes and lying to his face.... And all of this was '''after''' he went to the trouble of luring her back to his headquarters and using cybernetic implants to brainwash away her HeelFaceTurn!
** Apparently taking away her ability to feel positive emotions didn't make her more reliable. Go figure.
* At first, almost completely averted, then played straight with a twist in ''AmericanGothic'': Sergeant Ben Healy is certainly not being groomed to be Sheriff Buck's replacement--instead he lives constantly on the edge as his conscience (in the form of Merlyn) is at war with his cowardice and his loyalty to Buck, whose only {{plan}} consists of constantly balancing the two sides of Ben [[{{Blackmail}} so that the cop won't reveal what he knows about Merlyn's death]]. Meanwhile, Buck actually ''is'' grooming a successor...his son, Caleb, who does indeed turn on him in the end.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story, ''The Caves of Androzani'', the CorruptCorporateExecutive's secretary deposes her boss, taking over his businesses.
** And exactly the same thing happens in "Dalek".
* Richard Smith-Jones to [[PunnyName Holly Day]] in ''Series/SlingsAndArrows''. Although he didn't so much usurp her as [[spoiler:tell her to piss off, after his HeelFaceTurn. It didn't stick]].
* Actor Masato Uchiyama has played two such characters in the ''Franchise/KamenRider'' franchise: Yoshio Kobayashi[=/=]the Rabbit Orphnoch in ''[[Series/KamenRiderFaiz Faiz]]'' and Shun Kageyama[=/=]Kamen Rider Punch Hopper in ''[[Series/KamenRiderKabuto Kabuto]]''.
* Jamie from Series/TheThickOfIt acts as this to Malcolm Tucker. He’s Malcolm’s unofficial second-in-command and his ViolentGlaswegian tendencies come in useful whenever Malcolm needs help bullying government ministers, but in the Christmas specials Jamie makes his [[TheStarscream own play for power]] when he goes behind Malcolm’s back to get his own candidate in the leadership challenge put into power.
-->"Right, I'm off to deal with the fate of the planet. Be gentle with them."\\
"Oh, you know me, Malc, Kid gloves -- but [[MadeFromRealGirlScouts made from real kids]]."
** However, this just reveals that Malcolm has chosen his Bastard Understudy carefully; while Jamie is useful to Malcolm and certainly is not unintelligent or incompetent, compared to Malcolm Jamie is a bit of a shouty, violent bully whose HairTriggerTemper and resulting lack of charm means he lacks the ability to truly be a threat. Accordingly, Malcolm is largely unconcerned by Jamie’s manoeuvre because he knows it will ultimately fail, as it does.
* In season 2 of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Spike is stuck pretending to be a loyal mercenary to [[TheChosenOne the prophesised leader of vampiredom]] until, after all of ''one episode'' he gets bored and burns the kid into ash.
** Then has to spend the second half of the season playing the role again to Angelus (this time while waiting to heal and then pretending to still be crippled until he found his moment to strike).
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'': In Season 10's "Luthor" Clark visits an AlternateUniverse in which [[TheDragon he]], [[BastardBastard Tess]], and [[TheUnfavourite Lex]] all played this role to [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Lionel Luthor]]. [[SocialDarwinist Lionel]] plays the three of them against each other, hoping that the constant competition, and his belittlement of them will eventually drive one of them to kill him, ensuring that he and [=LuthorCorp=] (which is very close to being TheEmpire in this world) will have a worthy heir. None of them can quite pull it off though. Following his escape into Earth-1, the search for a new Understudy becomes a defining part of Earth-2 Lionel's character, and he makes repeated attempts to draft Lex's clone, Alexander, into fulfilling this role. That having [[spoiler: failed, he may be cutting a deal with {{ComicBook/Darkseid}} in order to get the original Lex back]].
** In the real world [[ManipulativeBastard Lex]] and [[MagnificentBastard Lionel's]] relationship had aspects of this, though that part of their relationship was more or less abandoned after Season 3 and Lionel's fall from the position of BigBad.
* ''Series/TheShadowLine'' is full of them. [[spoiler:Ratallack to Bob Harris, Jay Wratten to his uncle Harvey (and later Joseph Bede) and Patterson to Commander Khokar -- all of whom eventually supplant their superiors and join Gatehouse in his new Counterpoint. Gatehouse himself is implied to have been working to undermine the Counterpoint leaders even before they tried to kill him.]]
* In C-drama ''The Holy Pearl'', a loose adaptation of ''Manga/InuYasha'', [[TheDragon Hu]] [[LadyOfBlackMagic Ji]] (Kagura-Expy) is this to Naraku/Ghost King. She resents being subordinate to him and spends a considerable part of the series trying to arrange his demise. [[TheDogBitesBack And eventually almost succeeds.]]
* This is D'Angelo's role in the Barksdale Organization in Season 1 of ''Series/TheWire''. He's being groomed and taught to someday be the man of the family and inherit the business from his drug kingpin uncle, Avon. Secretly, however, D'Angelo has grown extremely jaded about both the drug trade and his family planning out his whole life for him, and is practically dying to go all DefectorFromDecadence.
* On ''Series/{{Justified}}'' Bo Crowder was grooming his eldest son Bowman to be his right hand man and heir but while Bo was in prison, Bowman's wife had enough of [[SpousalAbuse the beatings he gave her]] and shot him dead. Bo then tries to recruit his second son Boyd to be TheDragon of his criminal empire but Boyd is going through a HeelFaithTurn and rejects Bo. Bo finally turns to his nephew Johny who accepts the position but is secretly quite resentful of the 'third choice' part. Soon enough Johny is conspiring with Boyd to take Bo down but Bo is onto him and Johny ends up crippled for life. When Bo dies and Boyd takes over Bo's operations, Johnny becomes Boyd's second in command and this time hides his resentment better. However, when Johnny does make another grab for power, he is outmaneuvered by Boyd and has to go into hiding.
* A flashback reveals that ''OnceUponATimeInWonderland'''s BigBad Jafar 's MagicStaff is actually his old mentor who he forcibly transformed to retain access to her power.

* In Creator/{{Capcom}}'s unreleased ''Pinball/{{Kingpin}},'' mafia underling "The Kid" -- and, by extension, the player -- becomes this over the course of the game.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* In Jersey All Pro Wrestling, Mace Mendoza and Buff E started going after one of their trainers, Laithon, in 2001 after they brought Chris Cabana into the Christopher Street Connection. It was less turned on and more "[[CampGay turned on to]]" in this case.
* Tasha Simone complained that this was a common problem in professional wrestling. [[ComicallyMissingThePoint She then offered to take Mschif under her wing, to bring out her full potential]]. Wrestling/MsChif [[DidntThinkThisThrough came to PGWA to avenge her own student by kicking Simone's ass]]. Not hard to see how Tasha ended up with so many bastard understudies.
* Wrestling/ChrisJericho spent all but his first few sentences of the first Wrestling/{{WWE NXT}} contest talking about how great his 'rookie' Wrestling/WadeBarrett was. When Wrestling/TheNexus was started by Barrett, who won by virtue of Jericho [[BiasSteamroller refusing to support anyone but Barrett]], Jericho decided to cash in on his loyalty and join them, only to get beaten down and thrown aside.
* Wrestling/{{KENTA|Kobayashi}} was this to Mohammad Yone. He showed his loyalty to Yone by taking out his own TagTeam partner, Go Shiozaki, after which Yone granted KENTA entry into his PowerStable, Disobey. KENTA would then gather Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Genba Hirayanagi to oust Yone from the group, which he then renamed No Mercy. History repeated when Maybach Taniguchi showed his loyalty to KENTA by taking out his own tag team partner, the very same Go Shiozaki. Taniguchi would go so far as to help KENTA win the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team titles off of Wrestling/{{TNA}} wrestlers Magnus and Wrestling/SamoaJoe, but even while this was going on he introduced a new partner for himself in Maybach Taniguchi Jr. When the belts were lost, the Taniguchis turned on KENTA and revealed they were moles within Wrestling/ProWrestlingNOAH, who had infiltrated its most powerful stable on the behalf of CHAOS. Maybach then stole KENTA's GHC Heavyweight (singles) title belt.
* From PGWA again came the story of Sin-D and Nemesis, the latter even stating Sin-D's biggest mistake was giving her students so many secrets so freely after using them to takeout her teacher.
* The Wrestling/BulletClub, Wrestling/{{NJPW}}'s ForeignWrestlingHeel stable, spent its first over 2½ years as a solid unit of TrueCompanions, whether led by [[Wrestling/FergalDevitt Prince Devitt]] or by Wrestling/KarlAnderson and Wrestling/AJStyles. During this time, they had brought in Wrestling/KennyOmega as a PsychoForHire Film/{{Cobra}} [[Franchise/ResidentEvil Wesker]] to take care of business in the junior heavyweight division as Devitt used to before going to WWE. Then on New Year's Dash 2016, the night after Wrestle Kingdom 10, Kenny followed the example of the original Wesker before him, betraying AJ Styles and convincing the group to follow his leadership to send Styles on his way to join Devitt. Rather than fight for the leadership nod, Anderson left for the same pastures along with [[Wrestling/DrewHankinson Luke "Doc" Gallows]] less than two months later, solidifying Omega's place along with Wrestling/TheYoungBucks as The Elite.[[/folder]]

* In ''The Lion in Winter'', Henry II deliberately encourages conflict amongst his sons to toughen them up for their role as leaders. He specifically grooms his inept youngest son, John, to take over as his successor (and has a HeroicBSOD when he discovers the boy scheming to usurp him with one of his other sons and the King of France.)

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse'' casts Mr. Sinister in this role to that game's BigBad, Apocalypse. With [[TheStarscream predictable results.]]
* Samir Duran is Kerrigan's understudy in ''Videogame/{{StarCraft I}}''. Not quite as magnificent as Kerrigan, but close. [[spoiler:Or so it seems...]]
** In ''Videogame/StarcraftIIHeartOfTheSwarm'', Kerrigan cultivates the Broodmother Zagara as a potential replacement for leader of the Swarm. Zagara for her part is honest about her intentions to take over if the situation rises, but she also acknowledges that Kerrigan is the better leader and is content to learn as much as she can from her.
* ''VideoGame/AdvanceWars 2: Black Hole Rising'' [[spoiler:Hawke ends up killing Sturm at the end of Campaign.]]
* Oh dear. [[spoiler: Vanitas]] to [[spoiler: Master Xehanort]] in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep''.
** Ansem's betrayal by [[spoiler: Xehanort and the original persons of Xigbar, Xaldin, Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion]]
*** Doubly so in the case of [[spoiler:Braig[=/=]Xigbar]]. Out of all [[spoiler:the Apprentices, he and Xehanort]] were the only ones who were bad people ''before'' they succumbed to darkness.
** Also, [[spoiler: Riku]] to [[spoiler: Maleficent]] to a certain degree.
* Fawful shows shades of this in his final scenes in ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga]]''. Sure enough, by the time of ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Bowser's Inside Story]]'', he's a full-blown DragonAscendant.
* The ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' series is fond of this trope. [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI Kefka]] and [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX Kuja]] both betrayed the evil masters who originally gave them their powers to become the game's true BigBad.
* In ''Videogame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'', the Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor can both be played like this, biding their time and preparing themselves for when their masters inevitably decide to screw them over.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Happens a few times in ''Webcomic/SurvivorFanCharacters'': in Season 3, [[BigBad Baxter]] took [[TheChick Hope]] under his wing and taught her the joy of [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder backstabbing her closest friends]]; in Season 5, Jessica taught Marius the ropes of Survivor, and after the merge, he [[TheStarscream organised her blindside]], and eventually won the game; also happened in Season 6 with [[TheChessmaster Vinnie]] and Sin, but this didn't go as far as the previous examples.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Tarvek temporarily acts as a Bastard Understudy to Lucrezia after she [[spoiler:[[GrandTheftMe takes over Agatha's body]]]]. He helps her with her projects, mixes her stimulants so she can get more work done in the time they have available, and puts up with (and occasionally reciprocates) her incessant flirting. He even agrees to sabotage Agatha's project [[spoiler:that she worked on when she managed to temporarily regain control of her body]] and implants another of Lucrezia's personalities into the [[ItMakesSenseInContext mechanical body of his dead sister]]. [[MagnificentBastard The entire thing is a trick]] to keep himself and Agatha alive after his plan to help her escape failed, and in helping Lucrezia with her work he discovered enough to be able to reverse the effects of her [[MindControlDevice slaver wasps]], create a potion to make people ImmuneToMindControl, and work out how to [[spoiler:get Lucrezia out of Agatha's head]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', [[WellIntentionedExtremist Jemuel]] is groomed by [[MadScientist Dante Albrigant]] to become a powerful sorcerer and help him usurp power in the clergy, but he ends up backstabbing Dante in the darkest hour.
* The PFY from the ''BastardOperatorFromHell'' saga - though the titular Bastard has ''[[KlingonPromotion raised him to do this]]'', and ''always'' gets his revenge for each and every betrayal. Ah, kids these days...

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* [[TheStarscream Starscream]] in ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' wishes he could get away with this and tries many times to no avail, as he is not the BastardUnderstudy but the TropeNamer for TheStarscream. He ''almost'' gets away with becoming this trope in WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime when Megatron seemingly died.. unfortunately for Starscream, he turned out to merely be in a coma.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' episode "Possession", Blackarachnia betrays Megatron for Starscream (yeah, that [[TheStarscream Starscream]]), convinces him to take her under his wing, and then double-crosses him for Megatron at the end of the episode. Starscream can't catch a break.
** She was also a BastardUnderstudy to Tarantulas.
*** The Galaxy Force AKA Cybertron version of Starscream IS this however. And he succeeded in double-crossing Megatron until the writers brought him back.
* Snively in ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM''. Inverted somewhat since while Robotnik is perfectly convinced he is under his thumb, he does not view Snively with much high regard outside a [[SycophanticServant toady]] and a punching bag. Snively merely picked an opportune time Robotnik had (supposedly) desposed of himself (with WordOfGod stating his rule would not have lasted long before the new BigBad entered the fray). This is played with in the [[ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog Archie comics]] where Snively has made numerous short lived attempts to overthrow Robotnik, to the point the latter just considers it a fun little game of "roulette".
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'': [[EvilTwin Thailog]] ''was'' this to [[MagnificentBastard Xanatos]], but by the time he makes his first onscreen appearance, he's already decided that he's learned all he can and is ready to strike out on his own as a villain in his own right. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome He does nearly kill Xanatos, Goliath, Elisa, and Sevarius as a parting gift]].
* [[MagnificentBastard Princess Azula]] from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' seems to have been this to [[BigBad her father]], but ultimately with a couple of twists- first, that she's already smarter than he is ([[TheChessmaster or at least more willing to use smarts instead of force]]) by her first appearance, and second in that the finale proves her to be [[DaddysLittleVillain genuinely loyal to him]]. Thus many [[FanWank Fan Theories]] of her being TheStarscream[=/=] DragonAscendant were {{Jossed}}.
* Slade of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' actually ''wants'' one of these (yes, including the betrayal part, as his dialogue with Robin makes clear when he complements him on threatening him- it'd keep him sharp if nothing else). So far, however, he's had phenomenally bad luck in ''keeping'' one, and lampshades this at one point.
** Brother Blood, who ran a school for apprentice supervillains, [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] his own failure with this trope, when both his newest student and his star-pupil turn out to be undercover good guys rather than neophyte Bastard Understudies:
--> '''Blood''': Was anyone at my school ''actually there to learn?''
* On ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'', every member of the Heinous family is this, being groomed to overthrow and [[HumanPopsicle freeze]] [[SelfMadeOrphan their fathers]]. In one episode, ''Beezy'' temporarly becomes this thanks to ScrewLearningIHavePhlebotinum.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', the [[TheStarscream newest Starscream]] blurs the line between this and being, well, [[TropeNamer himself]].
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/EvilConCarne'' has General Skarr with a robot version of himself, who helps him usurp command from Hector. But by the end of the episode, the robot Skarr takes his advice of "Stabbing in the back and twist! Twist! TWIIIIST!" to heart, and manages to take command from ''him'' with a robot army. Skarr is very proud and happy of this... and then he's blasted by all the robots.