President Bartlet: I don't need a flu shot.A character is betrayed by the very ones who are supposed to be protecting him or her. In both Real Life and fiction pretty much the most effective method for killing a head of state or other highly protected target, since they're the only ones allowed in their presence with weapons. Hence, this usually ends up with the victim dead, but in rare cases (especially if the attempt is on The Hero) they survive to seek their revenge on the guards, or whoever was manipulating them. Many cases of The Dog Bites Back will involve this, particularly in the case of Dragons who betray their Big Bad masters. Often done via Betrayal by Inaction or Unfriendly Fire. May be a manifestation of Even Evil Has Standards.
Navy Doctor: You do need a flu shot.
Bartlet: How do I know this isn't the start of a military coup? I want the Secret Service in here right away.
Navy Doctor: In the event of a military coup, sir, what makes you think the Secret Service is gonna be on your side?
Bartlet: ...Now that's a thought that's gonna fester.
Navy Doctor: You do need a flu shot.
Bartlet: How do I know this isn't the start of a military coup? I want the Secret Service in here right away.
Navy Doctor: In the event of a military coup, sir, what makes you think the Secret Service is gonna be on your side?
Bartlet: ...Now that's a thought that's gonna fester.
— "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc", The West Wing
As this can possibly become a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- Kiyomi Takada from Death Note is directed by her bodyguard Hal Lidner into being kidnapped by Mello. She kills Mello, but gets stuck with evidence on her, getting her killed by Light.
- Monster has fun with this. After the death of the Baby, Petr Capek is paranoid that his bodyguards are trying to kill him at Johan's request. This leads to him killing a bodyguard while the man is reaching for his lighter, thinking that the bodyguard was trying to grab a gun. This in turn causes his other bodyguards to shoot him, in retaliation for him killing one of their innocent comrades.
- Wei in Darker Than Black does this to Alice Wong after assisting her in killing her father's entire crime family.
- In Dragon Ball, Commander Red's right-hand man Black betrays him in this fashion, after finding out that Red doesn't care about the success or glory of the Red Ribbon Army; he actually just intends to use the Dragon Balls to make himself taller, and doesn't care how many of his subordinates die along the way.
- Requiem for the Phantom has Godoh Daisuke being shot at point-blank range by his best friend and right-hand man, Shiga, at the insigation of Scythe Master. Unlike most other examples of this trope, Shiga truly respected and admired Godoh and, even after taking over the Godoh Group and turning it into an affiliate of Inferno, loathed Scythe for setting into the motion the events that led to the murder.
- In one filler episode of Naruto, Kunihisa, a spoiled rich kid who accompanies Naruto to see what it's like to be a ninja, uses money to get his helpers to do what he wants, calling it his own kind of ninjutsu. When some kidnappers target him, his bodyguards desert him, as he's out of money and they don't like how they've been treated, teaming up with the kidnappers instead.
- A rare heroic version of this trope appears in Pandora Hearts: In Retrace LXXIX, Gilbert betrays his former master Glen in order to protect his current master and best friend, Oz.
- In the second season of the Black Butler anime, Creepy Child Alois Trancy's servant Claude Faustus— who is supposed to be bound to him by an incontrovertible Deal with the Devil contract— responds to an impassioned speech about how badly Alois needs him by crushing his skull between his hands. Alas, Poor Villain.
- Happens to Darcy Parker in Strangers in Paradise, after she was publicly outed as a mafia boss with political ties.
- Marvel's The Kingpin was hired as a bodyguard for Don Rigoletto. He used this position to secretly unite the mobs behind his boss' back. His final step in usurping Rigoletto's power was to snap his neck.
- In the last issue of Transmetropolitan the Secret Service has enough of the Smiler's shit and refuse to kill Spider for him, neither do they lift a finger when he's arrested.
- In The Ravages Of Time, when the Sima clan mutinies against the Prime Minister Cao Cao, the Sima clan troops' leader at the family residence Xu Ding reveals himself as The Mole, then "the loyal one" Guo Ang loses his arm to one of his own men at Xu Ding's behest, after which Xu Ding and company proceed to mostly annihilate the Sima clan present there — kicking off Sima Yi's own planned revenge of worming his way up the ranks of the Cao faction before overthrowing Cao Cao.
- Twice in "The Tainted Grimoire".
- Raven is actually a member of Khamja. While he and Crow are protecting Maria, their true objective is separate and more sinister but the moment Maria got involved, Raven could have killed her without remorse if it wasn't for Adelle.
- Fasullo is actually Ewen in disguise and the whole time he spent working as the leader of Baron Beltorey's guards was just so can take something the Baron had.
- A Brief History of Equestria: During the last Unicorn civil war (following Hearth's Warming but prior to a full Equestrian unification), many of the Unicorn nobles were killed by their own bodyguards, saving Princess Platinum the trouble of a long and drawn out war.
- Twice in My Mirror, Sword and Shield:
- The Knights of Round were honor bound to protect Emperor Lelouch. Resentment stewed over by Lelouch's refusal to sack his Japanese knight, liberal policies, suspicion that he killed his sister with Lelouch's decision to end the overinflated nobility being the straw that broke the camel's back. Only three of the Knight remained loyal while the rest of them attempted a failed coup.
- Beknowst to Emperor Lelouch, his most loyal knight, Suzaku worked his way to the top in order to kill him. But he ended up loosing his nerve and fakes Lelouch's assassination to protect him.
- Inverted, then defied, when Starlight initiates Operation Midnight Longsword, where the Praetorians are all killed and replaced with magi-tech battle droids, who become the new Praetorians.
- Air Force One. One of the Secret Service agents is actually a Mole, and starts the whole plot in motion.
- Done very well in Quantum of Solace. When interrogating Mr. White, one of the leaders of Quantum, he mocks them by saying "The first thing you should know about us is that we have people everywhere.", at which point he turns to the aide following M everywhere and adds "Am I right?" - he pulls a gun and shoots the other MI-6 agents.
M: When someone says "We've got people everywhere", you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!
- Star Wars:
- In Big Game, Morris - chief of Secret Service's presidential security detail - betrays president Moore because he's disgruntled with his leadership and the man himself, kicking the plot into motion and turning into one half of Big Bad Duumvirate.
- The Running Man. Earlier in the movie, Big Bad Killian insulted his bodyguard Sven by asking "Steroids made you deaf?" At the end, Ben Richards confronts Killian.
Killian: Sven, do you wanna talk to Mr. Richards? [pause] Well?Sven: I've got to score some steroids. [turns and leaves Killian to Richards]Richards: [kills Killian in a Hoist by His Own Petard way]
- In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the villains use a mind-controlled Secret Service agent to gain access to the President so that Zartan can replace him.
- In Toy Story 3, Lotso-Huggin' Bear is literally disposed (put in a dumpster) by the Big Baby.
- In The Sentinel, the Secret Service finds out that one of them is involved in a plot to assassinate the President, but they focus all their efforts on the main character because his story doesn't check out. This is due to him sleeping with the First Lady, though. The real traitor is doing this to protect his family. He does get a Redemption Equals Death ending, however.
- Barely averted in The Bodyguard. A casual line at the beginning of the movie mentions that the (to-be-revealed) hitman (a former Secret Service agent like Kevin Costner's character) was interviewed and was "eager" for the job of guarding his future target.
- The Godfather:
- During Michael's stay in Sicily, he notices his bodyguard Fabrizzio hurriedly walking away from his villa. As his wife Apollonia gets into the car, Michael suddenly realizes what's going on, but it's too late to stop her from turning the ignition, triggering the Car Bomb that Fabrizzio rigged and killing her.
- Vito's bodyguard Paulie called in sick the day that an attempt was carried out on Vito's life. Naturally, it's not a coincidence.
- In Zorro, the Gay Blade, the Big Bad's soldiers are loyal to him up until the last minute of the Zorro-led revolution. In the end, the Big Bad (and wife) are surrounded by his soldiers (guns pointing out), who are in turn surrounded by an angry mob. The troop leader sees which side his bread is buttered on, and commands, "ABOUT FACE!"
- In a deleted scene from Conan the Barbarian (1982), Max von Sydow's King Osric ends up on the receiving end of a pretty brutal stabbing by his own royal bodyguards.
- A minor example from The Good Shepherd. Matt Damon's character, essentially the head of the nascent CIA, occasionally meets his Soviet counterpart, codenamed Ulysses. Late in the film, it's revealed that Ulysses' aide is funneling information to the Americans, direct from the source. The aide doesn't kill Ulysses or even cause him any direct harm, but his actions are definitely a betrayal in the general sense.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- The Thrawn Trilogy: How Admiral Thrawn finally goes down. Thrawn betrayed the warrior race he was using for bodyguards, lying to them and poisoning their world to keep them in indentured servitude. When his personal guard found out about this, he stabbed Thrawn.
- It's also the reason Palpatine's cloned-bodies plot couldn't continue indefinitely; one of his supposedly fanatically-loyal Royal Guardsmen tampered with the source DNA being used to create the clone bodies, so eventually every single Palpatine clone would start degenerating/aging way too fast to be of any use.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, known as "The Kingslayer". It says something about how bad things had gotten because, by the time Jaime is made Lord Commander, it's not just an unpopular political appointment: he probably was the best one left for the job. Yes, the despised Kingslayer was the best one they had. He had a good reason, for that betrayal of his, however... not that people fully admit it. That no one else knows the full story (which would exonerate him even more), yet he still was made Lord Commander, just further reinforces both the dominance of his House and the general crapsackiness of the situation given that, bar Barristan Selmy, he was better than any others.
- A member of the Kingsguard tries to murder Tyrion Lannister during the Battle of the Blackwater. He immediately suspects his sister Queen Cersei is behind the attack, though we have no confirmation in her point-of-view chapters.
- Although King Maegor "The Cruel" Targaryen had his entire Kingsguard of seven knights famously abandon him in the only such mass betrayal in what is technically this trope, it's not widely considered a true example by those writing the histories of the Seven Kingdoms. Because this "disgraceful" Kingsguard went on to support his nephew, Jaehaerys "The Wise" and, incidentally, the next king — and, by doing so, stuck to others of their oaths as knights sworn to the Faith of the Seven, not just the Throne. The very Faith that Maegor partially got his sobriquet for messily persecuting in the first place.
- As noted above, the culture of Westeros generally takes a very dim view of this kind of thing, regardless of which side is left writing or singing the histories. There is, however, one other notable exception living solidly in Conflicting Loyalty territory. When the last two members of House Durrandon both decided to defy the Targaryens, their remaining guards (both city and personal) came to the reasonable conclusion that they'd rather not repeat the lesson learned from Harrenhal, thanks. After they learned of the defeat last Storm King (and his whole army) on the field, and upon hearing his daughter swearing Defiant to the End vengeance in response, they promptly gave the walled city and keep of Stormsend up to the Targaryen army... after capturing, stripping and then wrapping their stubbornly defiant "Storm Queen", Argella, in chains. They then unceremoniously dumped her at the feet of her future husband, Orys Baratheon, as part of the surrender. Although they're not lauded for these actions, they're conspicuously not condemned for them, either. Because... what the hell else are you supposed to do against a real, live fully-grown, castle-killing dragon known to be capable of melting stone (Meraxes, ridden by Rhaenys Targaryen), when all you have is, basically, a pike line on top of some suddenly very flimsy-feeling walls, since most of your army buddies have already become mince or charcoal and you've got a city of civilians to defend? Yeah.
- Anita Blake:
- This happens to Anita in one of the earlier books. A werewolf who is supposed to protect Anita from her enemies turns her over for human sacrifice to her vampire master.
- Quite a while later, about the same thing happens again (although it doesn't end up the same way). Interestingly, both planted bodyguards are female.
- Vivenna, in Warbreaker, hires a set of bodyguards to protect her. Shame they'd been using her to advance their own agenda (and that of their real employer) all along. Denth in particular was quite irritated when she got away, because he lost his best weapon.
- In the Jack Ryan novel Executive Orders, an Iranian sleeper agent inserted into the US Secret Service, years ago, is activated to assassinate Jack Ryan. Another Iranian sleeper agent at the start of the book succeeds in killing "The Moustache" (presumably Saddam Hussein, from context elsewhere in the book, but never mentioned by name), years after working his way into the Iraqi security service and working up through the ranks.
- The Discworld novels speak of Lorenzo the Kind, last king of Ankh-Morpork. He "loved" children. He loved children so much that he was hauled into the street by an angry mob and the then-Commander of the City Watch, Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes, chopped off his head.
- Averted in The Religion War by Scott Adams. The antagonist abandons his base when the war starts because he knows his bodyguards will inevitably betray him for money/favors.
- In Wen Spencer's The Wolf Who Rules, the climatic confrontation is ended when Wolf persuades not his opponent but his opponent's bodyguard, who kill him on the grounds he's advocating wrong-doing. This is their job, and it is fully accepted that they have the authority to do so.
- Mindstar Rising by Peter F. Hamilton. The Mole working for the Big Bad turns out to be one of Julia Evans' own bodyguards.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Oathbreakers Tarma pulls this in order to avenge Captain Idra, who was raped and killed by her brother, the king of Rethwellan.
- In a non-fatal example, Kimo of Spy Hunt betrays his 11 year old charges, leading to their kidnapping.
- In Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering, Tanaris was the king's bodyguard, but when he discovered that the king had fathered a child with his new wife Tanaris killed both his wife and the king in a fit of rage. It comes up a lot.
- In the Backstory of Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, how the governor died.
- Norman Spinrad's Agent of Chaos starts with an assassination attempt on the Coordinator. The initial phase of the attempt involves ten guys blasting with lasers to draw the attention of the bodyguards — so they won't notice in time to stop one of their own turning and shooting the Coordinator.
- Timothy Zahn's The Backlash Mission has bodyguards subjected to "loyalty conditioning". One guard in particular knows very well how much reason he has to want a certain official dead, but loyalty conditioning means he'd give his life to defend the man. And then he gets dosed with a drug that neutralizes the conditioning...
- In Oleg Divov's Brothers in Reason, a wealthy European businessman is kidnapped by an unknown organization in order to investigate his ties to a powerful Russian psychic agency. His loyal bodyguard lets it happen, as the kidnappers have taken his daughter.
- In the first arc of The Saga of the Noble Dead, The Dragon Chane Andraso turns on Big Bad Welstiel Massing at the climax of Child of a Dead God when Welstiel lies one time too many. Chane goes on to become the Token Evil Teammate in the second arc of the saga.
- Referenced in Anansi Boys: the former leader of the Caribbean island several of the characters end up visiting is noted to have died "of falling out of bed repeatedly", despite his bodyguards being in the room and "assisting" him.
- In Foundation, a man whose planet was ravaged by an Imperial general for a supposed rebellion mentions that his only surviving son now serves in the general's guard, and is going to kill him one day. The next book reveals he succeeded.
- Numerous opportunities for this in Tales of the Branion Realm, since there are three different types of royal guard plus informal security. Does not necessarily have to do with assassination; at one point fifty Palace Guards desert to join their Rebel Prince.
- Pulled off in Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets by Suriyawong to Achilles, with Bean serving the latter with a Moe Greene Special.
- Inverted in the Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) novel Death or Glory: Cain and Jurgen accidentally stumble upon Korbul, the warboss leading the invasion of Perlia, along with his nob bodyguards. However, the nobs don't attack, as to do so would imply the warboss is too weak to do the job himself, and therefore a challenge to his authority (which to orks would count as Bodyguard Betrayal). For the same reason, Jurgen stays out of the fight, as this would give the nobs a reason to attack him. Once Korbul goes down, the nobs start arguing over who's in charge.
- Vatta's War has a case of this when an agent of a security firm tries to kill the main character, due to the agent working for the Space Pirates hunting her. Vattas' security chief is able to kill the traitor before he succeeds.
- Happens to the Lady Door in Neil Gaiman's book Neverwhere. She hires Hunter, the very best fighter in the Underside, to be her bodyguard. Unfortunately, the two villains she's in most danger from hired Hunter first, with instructions to protect Door from all threats except them.
- Averted in Sergey Lukyanenko's Emperors of Illusions. As Emperor Grey is sneaking out of his palace in order to leave this universe for one tailored for him, he asks a young bodyguard who earlier saved his sanity where he's from. The guard tells him, and the Emperor realizes that the guy is from a rebellious world that was sacked on his secret order. In fact, the guy only survived because Kay refused to shoot him. The Emperor outright asks why the guard didn't kill him. After all, why else would he strive to become his bodyguard? The guard replies that that was his original plan, even though he knows that the death wouldn't stick. However, after getting close to Grey and finding out that he isn't happy at all, he lost his hate and decided that maybe leaving the Emperor alive wasn't a mercy after all.
- In The Lost Regiment novels, the Merki Horde has a unique post that doesn't have an equivalent in the Tugar Horde. Shield Bearers are trained from among the White Clan to protect the Qar Qarth (chief of the entire horde) and the Zan Qarth (the heir apparent). However, they are not merely bodyguards. A Shield Bearer is also supposed to be the Qar/Zan Qarth's closest friend and advisor, as they train themselves not to think "what would a warrior do?" but "what is good for the Horde?" As such, one of the Shield Bearer's duties is to kill his charge, if this proves to be beneficial to the Horde as a whole. However, there are specific rules when and how this must be done. The decision to kill the Qar Qarth can only come from the White Clan council, while the death of a Zan Qarth must be ordered by the Qar Qarth. Even then, it is usually preferred for the death to be honorable (i.e. face to face), although extreme cases allow for a dishonorable one (i.e. In the Back). Additionally, the Shield Bearer is expected to die at the burial ceremony of his charge.
- In Altered Carbon, Trepp is a fairly decent Punch-Clock Villain who works for the Big Bad. By the end the novel, she comes to realize what a depraved monster her boss really is; ordered to finish off the wounded protagonist, she turns on her employer instead.
- Oenone Zero in the Mortal Engines series resurrects the Stalker Shrike to serve as a bodyguard for Stalker Fang, but she's secretly plotting against Fang and gives Shrike some Manchurian Agent programming so that she can use him as an assassin when the time is right.
- In the first book of The Gentleman Bastard series, the Berengias twins, who work as bodyguards for Capa Barsavi and his family, turn out to be the sisters of the Big Bad and proceed to help him kill the Capa and his sons. They also reveal to have killed her wife by slowly poisoning her, and making it seem like a disease had done it.
- In the Spiral Arm series, Paul Feeley, the Radiant Name, refuses to allow his Protectors to retreat when his residence comes under fire because he is defended by his sparkle armor, disregarding the fact that the Protectors are not similarly equipped. Disgusted by the Radiant Name's disregard for the lives of those who serve him, his captain-Protector orders the retreat and then kills his master himself.
- In Winner Takes All, hitmen John Rain and Dox decide to kill their target during an arms deal and make it look like one of his bodyguards decided to steal the money. They're bemused to have this very scenario happen before they start shooting (though the bodyguard is a terrorist who wants to steal the weapons, not the money).
Live Action TV
- Angel: Lindsey betrayed by Lorne(!) in the series finale.
- In the Mirror Universe episode of Star Trek: Enterprise ("In a Mirror, Darkly"), Jonathan Archer plans to become Emperor by forcing the current one to step down with his advanced USS Defiant from the normal Trek verse. In his moment of triumph, his lover Hoshi Sato and his bodyguard (and her lover) Travis Mayweather poison him, and Hoshi declares herself Empress.
- On General Hospital, Sonny's wife Lily was killed by a car bomb meant for him and planted by her father, after Sonny's right-hand man Harry informed him that Sonny was cheating on her. Unbeknownst to either man, Sonny and Lily had reconciled and she was driving the car because he had drunk too much at their celebratory dinner.
- 24 had Tarin, who was Star-Crossed Lovers with Kamistani president's daughter Kayla.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Dalek", Henry van Statten's assistant orders his goons to haul him off for mind-wiping (Ironic Echo-ing his earlier treatment of another goon who had failed him). They obey her without missing a beat, Statten having lost their respect by insisting they attack and capture the Dalek regardless of their losses.
- Game of Thrones:
- Jaime "The Kingslayer" Lannister killed the Mad King seventeen years before the series started. He's been regarded with suspicion ever since for breaking his oath to protect the king, even though everyone was delighted the crazy old git was dead. This has no small part in his resentment towards Ned Stark. Somewhat justified by the high premium that is (at least publicly) placed on honor. In the books, Ned Stark was the first to find Jaime sitting on the Iron Throne and Aerys II at the feet thereof, so he believed that Jaime had at least considered usurping the throne.
- When the Gold Cloaks turn on Ned at the end of "You Win Or You Die."
- Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard tries to kill Tyrion during the Battle of the Blackwater. The spymaster Varys tells Tyrion his sister Queen Cersei is behind the attempt, but Cersei later implies that King Joffrey is the culprit.
- Through a bit of duplication magic, this is how Pyat Pree kills the Thirteen.
- The parting between Tyrion and Bronn can be seen as a very understated version since it concerns a bodyguard refusing aid in a time of need because he's received a better offer.
- Ralf Kenning is rewarded with an axe to the head when he refuses to surrender to Ramsay.
- Caligula is done in by his Praetorian Guard in I, Claudius and The Caesars. Truth in Television.
- In Babylon 5, Londo's girlfriend is killed by the Shadows, who plant evidence to suggest that Lord Refa is the culprit, as revenge for Londo keeping Refa on a half-poison leash. Londo spends a long time planning his revenge. It culminates in Refa traveling to Narn (occupied by the Centauri) with his personal guards. They go into a bunker, which turns out to be full of angry Narns. Londo appears as a hologram to let Refa know that it was Londo's plan and the bodyguards came from Londo's House. The bodyguards then do an about-face and calmly march away, as Refa is swarmed by the Narns.
- A bodyguard in Walker, Texas Ranger kidnaps the wealthy girl he was protecting because he wanted to have her father pay a ransom.
- In Scandal, after Olivia is kidnapped by mercenaries working for the Vice President, the President (who is in love with her) is informed that she will be fine as long as he does what the VP wants and sends troops to West Angola. As the President is about to get in touch with people to try to find Olivia, several Secret Service agents walk in and inform him that most of the White House staff, including them, is working for the VP. That means that everything the President does is being monitored, so he better stick to the plan and send in the troops. A few episodes later, the President signs an executive order, disbanding his security detail and bringing in the Marines to protect him. It's never specified how the VP managed to get the Secret Service to betray their commander-in-chief.
- An Invoked Trope in the mini-series Shaka Zulu. The king has been assassinated via witchcraft, so Shaka has the king's bodyguards tortured until they confess to doing the deed, to avoid a panic in his army.
- Sense8: It turns out Capheus's bodyguard has been hired to kill him, and he barely escapes with his life.
- The 1989 TV movie Red King, White Knight has Renegade Russian KGB hiring a foreign terrorist to kill Premier Gorbachev. Turns out they're not relying on the assassin to do the job. As Gorbachev is bundled into his limousine to escape the attack, one of his bodyguards goes to shoot the Premier, only to be shot by the protagonist Just in Time.
- Bruno from Whodunnit?, who is actually Victoria's ex-husband, Tex; after surviving an attempt on his life, he gets plastic surgery, then works as a bodyguard at Tony's Palace while awaiting an opportunity for revenge on Tony and Victoria.
- Expect anyone with a bodyguard in the WWE and other federations to have said bodyguard turn on them eventually. The one that comes to mind immediately is Shawn Michaels being betrayed by Sycho Sid.
- This trope is also often inverted. When the bodyguard becomes too successful, expect them to be betrayed by their protegee, like when HBK attacked Diesel because he was overshadowing him.
Tabletop RP Gs
- Warhammer 40,000: The fate of Mad Lord Vandire in the fluff, assassinated by his own Amazon Brigade bodyguard once they finally saw Vandire had snapped.
- Probably the leading cause of death for Dark Eldar Archons.
- For precisely this reason, Archons generally employ Incubi for their protection, as they are outside the chain of command and loyal only to the one who pays them.
- Orks also function on Klingon Promotion. However, seeing as orks naturally get bigger the more orks they command, an ork nob had better make damn sure he's certain to win the fight against the boss. Amusingly, it also causes them to be bad at actually at Bodyguarding a Badass- if the boss decides to take on an enemy and the nob shoots/hits it first, it's essentially the nob saying "You suck at killing things", one of the worst insults in orkdom, and followed by swift disciplinary action.
- Probably the leading cause of death for Dark Eldar Archons.
- In Warhammer this is suspected of one the kings of the high elves, Tethlis the Slayer. After enacting a campaign of genocide on the dark elves that led many to worry that they were becoming no better, Tethlis made a pilgrimage to the Sword of Kaine, an Artifact of Doom wielded by the first Phoenix King. The official story is that a dark elf assassin was waiting for him on the isle, but it's strongly suspected that the truth is he tried to draw the sword and his bodyguards cut him down in fear that he might succeed.
- Attempted on Coordinator Theodore Kurita in the course of the BattleTech history. The Black Dragon Society, an Ancient Conspiracy of extremely traditionalist, xenophobic ultranationalists, managed to subvert the Otomo, the Coordinator's bodyguard company. They very nearly killed him while marching by in their Battlemechs during a military parade, but a Big Damn Heroes movement by an irregular army regiment comprised of military dregs and the Yakuza, reinforcements from loyalist members of the Secret Police, along with a Ragtag Bunch of Mercenary Msifits, managed to save the Coordinator. Based of the Real Life assassination of Anwar Sadat.
- Paranoia: "[Violets] are [the Ultraviolet's] spymasters, gophers, assassins and eventually his patsies, but never his bodyguards. No High Programmer is that crazy."
- In Mafia, Don Salieri is sold out to Morello by his personal bodyguard but luckily, Tommy is with him at the moment of their attack. Also, it is Tommy who gets to kill the traitor.
- In Mirror's Edge, Robert Pope is murdered after being sold out by his bodyguard Ropeburn.
- In the expansion to Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, Firestorm, the Inner Circle are murdered by their cybernetic bodyguards via minigun to the face when their super advanced tactical bio-computer, CABAL, betrays them and takes command of the Brotherhood of Nod's Cyborgs. The player character's commanding officer, Anton Slavik, is able to escape because he doesn't have Cyborg bodyguards. Justified by information provided in C&C3: Slavik's chapter of the Brotherhood, the Black Hand, is generally distrustful of advanced machines. CABAL was an exception, and only due to the fact that it possessed knowledge of Kane's plans in the long run... or so it seemed.
- Dead or Alive: Christie, Helena's bodyguard, reveals that not only is she an assassin hired to kill her, but that she was also responsible for killing Helena's mother years ago.
- Which was an accident. She meant to kill Helena, but the mother jumped to shield her daughter at the last second.
- In Suikoden V, Georg Prime is accused of killing the queen and kidnapping you. He really did kill the Queen, but it was a Shoot the Dog moment that she and her husband had him agree to so she doesn't blow everything up with the Sun Rune. You also run away with him by choice. Straighter examples of this would be Zahhak and Alenia, filthy Godwin devils.
- In the first Suikoden, Pahn betrays the young master after Ted comes back from his fateful meeting and reveals the secret of his Rune to them. In this case, Pahn is trying to keep them from betraying The Empire, which would be bad, given that the hero's father is one of their best officers and all... Pahn also eventually regrets his actions and switches back to your side; however, this can lead to a delayed case of Redemption Equals Death if you don't pump enough time and money into leveling him up before he pulls a You Shall Not Pass.
- Raven in One Must Fall 2097. (If his ending is canon, anyway)
- Even in the backstory Raven was grooming freelance assassins for the job, only waiting until his future career and retirement were assured before finally choosing to let one of them get by him. (And his employer knew it.) The peculiar circumstances of the tournament just provided Raven with a perfect opportunity to legally and openly kill his employer and set himself up for life just by doing so.
- In Final Fantasy XII Vossler sells out the main party — which includes Ashe, the princess — to Judge Ghis to obtain some degree of autonomy for Dalmasca.
- In Final Fantasy XV, almost all of the Kingsglaive betray their country and join forces with the Niflheim Empire, and King Regis is slain by one of the Glaive.
- Dishonored — The begining of the game sees Corvo, the Royal Protector, thrown into prison for the murder of the Empress. It's false of course; she was actually offed by corrupt officials who had launched a coup, and they used Corvo as their scapegoat. Unfortunately for them, Corvo breaks out of prison, and spends the rest of the game setting the record straight in the most brutal and painful way possible.
- While not actually used in-game, the background for certain Imperial Guard honor guard units implies this to be the case should the general's zeal or competence fail.
- The final level of Max Payne 2 has Max having to fight Senator Woden's bodyguards, who were bought out by Vladimir Lem.
- In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you can take advantage of this trope once your character gains the ability to brainwash Orcs. If they happen to be working under a Warchief they can be sent to backstab him in hopes of becoming the new Warchief.
- Implied in Kingdom Hearts. A key part of the original game's backstory involves the revelation that Ansem the Wise was betrayed and overthrown by his rogue apprentice Xehanort, who stole Ansem's identity and became the leader of the sinister Organization XIII after losing his heart and becoming a Nobody. In the prequel Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, a few future members of Organization XIII, like Braig (Xigbar), Dilan (Xaldin), and Aeleus (Lexaeus) are shown as guardsmen in Ansem's castle at Radiant Garden, implying that Xehanort convinced them to turn against Ansem during his coup.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: Turns out Rika thought all the way up until the second to last world that the group that kept killing her was there for her protection, mostly due to memory loss.
- In Umineko: When They Cry it turns out the mission of Ange's bodyguard Amakusa isn't quite what he told her. Well, it is; he just failed to mention the second part of the mission: get rid of Kasumi's faction, and dispose of Ange if she becomes a burden. He effectively kills her in two arcs. In the Trick Ending, she manages to see through the plot though.
- In Fate/stay night Servants are meant to protect and fight for their Master, but on four occasions the Servant willingly betrays their Master. In the backstory Caster gets fed up with her original Master (a mage Too Dumb to Live by virtue of summoning the Witch of Betrayal and failing to earn her respect), tricks him into wasting all his Command Seals (the orders she would have to obey), and then murders him. In one bad ending Saber kills Shirou in order to obtain her wish. In Unlimited Blade Works Archer betrays Rin and joins forces with Caster so he can kill Shirou. Later in the same route Gilgamesh, who had agreed to act as Shinji's Servant, forcibly converts Shinji's body into a vessel for the Grail.
- This happens near the end of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. Queen Ga'ran's royal guard has Phoenix, Apollo and Nahyuta at gunpoint, but once she is exposed as a fraud who is ineligible for the crown because she can't channel spirits, they all immediately turn their guns on her instead. Ultimately, though, nobody gets hurt, as Ga'ran passes out from the strain she put herself through and the royal guard leaves it at that.
- In Drowtales, Yaeminira was the protector-twin of Vy'chriel. When she feels her "twin" has dishonored the clan, she murders Vy'chriel and assumes her name and rank. (She gets what she deserves in the end.)
- In the Overworld Arc, Rikshakar is hired to be Ariel's bodyguard when she travels to the surface. He turns on the group, kidnaps Ariel, and tries to rape her. She beats the crap out of him when she merges with Squishy the Purple Dragon, and leaves him to be finished off by a certain orange-haired demon-girl.
- In Marilith, the bodyguard Stark betrays his old boss, the drug cartel leader Krystiyan, to the Big Bad, Valentino. Bonus points for the "Nothing Personal, it's just business" line.
- In Ebin and May, Ebin was the only member of his family that survived this betrayal.
- A dramatic, awesome, and oddly enough heroic variant in The Order of the Stick. During the Godsmoot, Roy finally realizes how the undead Durkon—really the High Priest of Hel—has tricked him, and how enormous the stakes are. However, by the rules of the Godsmoot, none of the other bodyguards may intervene; a bodyguard that dares raise his weapon against another cleric is put to death. However, there are no rules for a cleric being attacked by their own bodyguard...
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Caliban, Hannibal Losstarot's new bodyguard after the death of the previous bodyguard Tybalt, ends up being in league with the Totenkopfs and kidnaps Hannibal after leading him to a location where the Totenkopfs can more easily extract Hannibal before the rest of the Coalition is alerted to their shenanigans.
- In Receiver of Many Demeter asks Athena and Artemis to protect Persephone from Hades. However, Zeus orders his daughters to back off and let Hades take Persephone.
- In The Venture Bros., The Venture Family bodyguards are assigned to not only protect the Venture Professors but to kill them if they ever want to activate the mysterious Orb. Rusty's father, Professor Venture, may have been killed by his bodyguard—Kano has steadfastly refused to talk about it, even after his vow of silence was lifted. What we do know is that the bodyguard of Rusty's grandfather opted to break the Orb rather than kill his boss.
- Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Dragons of Ashida". After being punished once too often, Ashida's servant Sumi turns on him and throws him to his own dragons to be eaten.
- Happened to more than a few Roman emperors, including Caligula.
- For a very long time, you did not become emperor without the support of the Praetorian Guard, and you certainly didn't stay one when they no longer liked you. In fact until the late empire the Praetorian Guard was traditionally supposed to murder the emperor when he became too incompetent, corrupted, depraved or stupid enough to seduce/rape their wives (reportedly what made the Guard snap and kill Caligula was that he raped their wives on top of constant insults).
- Emperor Carinus had his head given to Diocletian, chosen by his troops to succeed Carinus' brother and predecessor Numerian, when the commander of the Guard decided it was the right moment to make him pay for his affair with his wife.
- The importance of the Guard's support was best shown in the Year of Four Emperors. First the Guard opened the succession crisis by killing emperor Nero when he had screwed up enough. Then they disposed of his Senate-elected successor Galba when he refused to pay them the accession donative promised on his behalf by his associates. The Guard fought ferociously for Galba's successor Otho (one of Galba's associates who made the promise, and got the job for keeping it), but Otho killed himself when part of his army deserted to the usurper Vitellius' side, and were fired. Finally the fired Guards were instrumental in Vitellius' downfall when they joined the troops of Vespasian, filling his ranks (depleted by leaving part of the army to quell a Jewish rebellion) with the best troops in the empire.
- This happened so often that the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Emperors were smart and defied this trope by creating the Varangian Guard to replace the Praetorian Guard, the logic being that mercenary guards would be very loyal to the paycheck and nothing else.
- Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards after ordering the invasion of the Golden Temple (the holiest Sikh Shrine) in Operation Blue Star.
- Likewise, the Governor of Pakistan's Punjab region, Salmaan Taseer, was shot and killed by one of his own bodyguards over statements calling for religious moderation which were interpreted as secularist.
- The Hashshashin assassins supposedly often had sleeper agents installed in various courts of the Middle East, aiming to get as close as possible to their ruling members, ideally into their bodyguard, so that if it became necessary to kill them, it could be easily arranged.
- During the eighteenth-century, Russian Palace Guards often did it to the emperors (Ivan VI was put into Petropavlovskaya fortress, Peter III was murdered) so often the period is referred to as the Age of Palace Revolutions.
- 2011 saw the president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai's brother, Ahmad Karzai, shot dead by his own head of security. The Taliban claimed responsibility, with others expressing skepticism over their actual involvement.
- A frequent occurrence within The Mafia. Victims include Carmine Galante, Joe Columbo (who survived but was left in a vegetative state), Sam Giancana, and Albert Anastasia.
- Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Prime Minister of Rwanda when the genocide started, was killed by the presidential guard, along with her husband and the UN forces assigned to protect her.
- Philip II of Macedon's dream of conquering Persia died when he was killed by one of his bodyguards. The reason for the assassination is unknown. The task of conquering Persia would eventually be carried out by Philip's son, Alexander.
- The Egyptian military deposed President Mohamed Morsi by having his own guards kidnap him and bring him to a naval base for holding.
- In 1981, Egyptian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Anwar Sadat was assassinated by his guards during a military parade, due to making peace with Israel after the Yom-Kippur War.