Sometimes it's the monarch/Head of State who's the Evil Overlord. And sometimes there's this trope, where instead of the Head of State being the person who has malicious intent, it's his adviser, assistant, second-in-command, or Head of Government (that is if the Head of State and Head of Government are separate positions, such as with having both a President and a Prime Minister, respectively). Most of the time he's actively scheming to discredit or usurp the throne, and may even be an agent sent for this purpose by an outside power. In other cases, he's perfectly content to be The Man Behind the Man and keeps the ruler around primarily as the figurehead for the ignorant masses and as the fall guy if something goes wrong. He can also tend to have more actual power and real influence than the Head of State, especially in cases where the Government is a Parliamentary system or a Constitutional Monarchy.
Sometimes called The Evil (Grand) Vizier instead, in which case he will spend a lot of time tapping his fingertips together and calling everyone "effendi".
In stories set in Presidential democratic societies, an Evil Vice President may play the same role, although it is a lot less common. In the American political system in particular, there is a fairly legitimate reason why the vice president is an illogical position to be filled by someone evil: by default, the vice president (generally) has very little actual power, unless the president is incapacitated or has delegated significant amounts of formal authority to the vice president. (Note: if the President is planned to be assassinated or is an easily controlled fool, this trope would easily apply.)
While Chancellors, Vice Presidents, and the like may not always be examples of this trope merely by having the job, the title "Grand Vizier" might as well just include "Evil" as part of it, in the eyes of English-speaking audiences, especially if the Vizier's name is some version of "Jafar". If you see a non-evil Grand Vizier, the author is probably playing with the trope... or you're talking about Real Life (the historical Ja'far ibn Yahya, while a Vizier, was not particularly Evil). The word "Chancellor" itself has also got a bad taste in English countries, due to one of the most famous real-life codifiers of the Evil Chancellor character.
Malicious Slander is a particular favorite of the Evil Chancellor.
As cliched as this trope may seem, it is often justified in that if anybody's going to usurp the reigning ruler through manipulation and intrigue, it's going to be the guy who actually has the authority to replace him. Part of the basis of this trope may also come from the context in which stories are written; in a monarchy, it can be dangerous to tell stories about an evil king, so pushing all the blame onto an evil adviser is an easy way out. This extends into political commentary as well — it is safer to vilify an adviser for hated policies than the leader themselves.
If only the King thinks the evil chancellor is his most trusted and loyal subject, he's a Horrible Judge of Character. When only the protagonists see through the evil of this character, it's a Devil in Plain Sight. If he doesn't want to steal the throne himself, then his goal is almost certainly to turn the ruler he allegedly serves into a Puppet King.
This trope is the Evil Counterpart of The Good Chancellor. See also: The Evil Prince, who is usually also after the throne and rather less willing to remain in the shadows. In fantasy settings, will often overlap with an Evil Sorcerer; if his "official" job is to be the ruler's personal magic-user, then he's also the Court Mage. Aspiring backstabbers may refer to the Evil Chancellor List. If the ruler the Evil Chancellor "serves" is also evil, expect overlap with The Starscream.
In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Good Chancellor, Lady Macbeth (when it's the Queen/First Lady who's doing the scheming), Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next steps up are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, Princely Young Man, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next step down is The Brigadier. Also see Treacherous Advisor.
The Eunuchs in Code Geass R2, keeping a little girl as a figurehead Empress and oppressing the Chinese Federation.
Also Schneizel, though subverted in that his father the Emperor is not a weak figurehead, and that both turn to be , like Lelouch, Well Intentioned Extremists in their own fashion, rather than well and truly evil. He is after the throne but his father is fully aware of the fact, and is not overly concerned ( When Schneizel finally makes his bid, he discovers that Charles has decided to let him have it, his own plans having at last started to come to fruition.)
He may not be a royal advisor (his leader is a Ninja boss, and later her granddaughter), but otherwise Tenzen Yakushiji from Basilisk fits the trope to a T.
Played straight with Prince Gihren Zabi, de factoBig Bad of Mobile Suit Gundam, who plays this role to his father, Sovereign Degwin Sodo Zabi, acting as his Prime Minister and the CINC of the army, while isolating his dad from the populace and the administration, leaving all the real power in his own hands. Degwin is aware of what is going on, but no longer has the power to act on it, and when he tries to make peace behind Gihren's back, his son has him killed. Degwin himself was this to Zeon Zum Deikun, before the latter's death and his own ascension to Evil Overlord.
In a filler arc of Naruto the circumstances of a daimyo's death and then that of his daughter raised concerns over treachery from within. This was further compounded by the presence of a vengeful apparition. The prime candidate was the daimyo's chief general. It turned out he was innocent; the guilty part was the other adviser who had passed himself off as a peaceful monk.
The Castle of Cagliostro begins the story after the Count has taken power from the dead Duke who ruled. There's no suspicion raised In-Universe for why the Duke might've died in a huge blaze inside his Stone Castle, especially when the Count has a secret army, counterfeiting operations, and is called the "shadow" line of the family. The only member of the "light" line of the family is Princess Clarisse, and the Count rules as regent in her place.
There's another in the Lupin III vs. Detective Conan special. He's the Big Bad, because he murdered his Queen and the Prince Crown of his land, and attempts to murder the Sole Survivor of the royal family, the Broken Bird Princess. In this case he was never regent, merely next in line to the throne, and upset his advice wasn't being followed by the Queen.
The French comic book character Iznogoud (from the creator of Astérix) is a comic exaggeration of this character type. A short, excitable character who's Grand Vizier to his cousin the Caliph of Baghdad, his sole purpose in life is to try and take the Caliph's place (as outlined in his Catch Phrase "I'll be Caliph instead of the Caliph!"). Naturally, he never succeeds. The comics have been adapted into a TV series as well.
Tantri the Mantri in Tinkle digest, whose main goal is to kill Rajah Hooja and become the Rajah.(based on Iznogoud). Naturally, he always fails, and injures himself. The Rajah is ignorant enough to believe that Tantri is a devoted servant for getting himself into such dire situations.
Before he became President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy was regularly portrayed as Iznogoud by political cartoonist Jean Plantu, because of his obvious ambition to replace Jacques Chirac as President. Chirac has reportedly hated him ever since the 1995 presidential election, when Sarkozy (up until then a Chirac follower) abruptly decided to back Edouard Balladur for president.
In Astérix and the Magic Carpet, Hoodunnit is the Grand Vizier of India, and plans to gain power once the only heir (Princess Orinjade) is sacrificed to the rain gods. (In a Shout-Out, he mentions his cousin, Iznogoud, and uses the phrase "I want to be Rajah instead of the Rajah".)
Every adviser Lilandra had as Empress of the Shi'ar.
Oddly enough, Doctor Robotnik (and after his disintegration, Doctor Eggman) in the Archie Comics version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Before becoming the Mad Scientist (or, perhaps, concurrent with being such) and the Evil Overlord, Robotnik served the King of Acorn as his chief advisor and war minister... only to turn on him after the Great War was over.
Doctor Doom was one of these, then he orchestrated a couple of robot doubles and waited for a death or two, and had a robot double prince give all the power to him.
In Star Wars: Legacy, Darth Wyyrlok is an Evil Chancellor paired with an Evil Overlord - and he's an Evil Sorcerer to boot! He winds up betraying his Master, but it's something of a subversion of this trope- he does it not (primarily) out of ambition, but from a devotion to Lord Krayt's dream of a unified Galactic Empire which he himself has abandoned to pursue personal goals.
Deputy Chief Judge Martin Sinfield in Judge Dredd is this trope to the current Chief Judge, Dan Francisco. While Francisco is somewhat idealistic and does want to improve conditions for humans and mutants alike, but at the same time easily manipulated, Sinfield is a cynical bastard who is only interested in his own power, and has used his influence to carry out some deeds of questionable legitimacy.
In Sabaku on DA's remarkably mature Ben 10 fanfic set in the future, the evil adult form of Kenny, called Kenneth has a scheming Evil Chancellor named Kiyomori Taira, based off the rather villainous Kiyomori from history. He also has skills as an Evil Sorcerer and is blatantly more powerful than Kenneth, as seen in ArcadiusD's Time of the Serpent continuation fic
In Equestria: A History Revealed, the griffon Chancellor Papillon fits this trope to a T. It's even hinted at he may have been responsible for a mass famine to take even more power for himself, eventually crowning himself emperor.
Jafar, from Disney's Aladdin. Though the sultan eventually catches on, he manages to take over anyway.
There's also Yzma from the Disney film The Emperor's New Groove. The thing is, she actually succeeds in overthrowing Kuzco shortly after he fires her, but Kuzco at the beginning of the film is such a jerk that his subjects don't seem to notice the difference (or even care). It's also implied that Yzma's the reason why Kuzco's such a jerk in the first place:
Yzma: Does he have any idea who he's dealing with?! I can't believe this! Why, I'm the one who practically raised him!
Kronk: Yeah, you'd think he would've turned out better.
The Royal Wizard from The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland is evil. He kidnapped the Princess of Wonderland, because if the princess can't inherit the throne, then the wizard legally becomes King. The vizier from Care Bears Nutcracker Suite is a clone of the wizard. He wants to take over Toy Land and ruin Christmas. He forced the prince to flee. The prince teams up with the Care Bears to save Christmas.
Sir Hiss from Disney's Robin Hood is actually this to PrinceJohn. Subverted however, by the fact that Prince John is already evil from the start.
Tzekel-Kan in The Road to El Dorado. His actual title is High Priest, but he's a major advisor to the ruler of El Dorado and is scheming to take it over.
Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age is entirely loyal to his queen, but plays the Evil Chancellor role to the extent that he is willing to do the necessary dirty work for which her conscience is too tender.
The scheming Empress Dowagers in The Last Emperor qualify. Actually, so do the Kuomintang, the Japanese and the Communists, seeing that this film details the life of a very marginalized and lonely man.
The Vizier to the King of Sodom in the movie Year One definitely counts.
He never seems to actually do anything evil, apart from opportunistically grab the crown and then put it down and run for his life. He's a parody of stock evil vizier traits, but without the actual villainy. The princess even keeps him around.
Sir John Conroy, advisor to the Duchess of Kent and therefore nominally the guardian of the underaged Princess Victoria, in The Young Victoria. This was another case of Truth in Television.
In Millers Crossing Johnny Casper's chief muscle Eddie Dane combines this trope with that of The Dragon, since he relies more on strength and bullets than brains, which he resents. Tom Regan would be Leo's The Good Chancellor (as much as a gangster who makes recommendations on hits, and sleeps with his bosses wife can be good).
Dane may be a vicious bastard, but he was a loyal dragon; it was just dumb romantic indiscretion that made it easy for Tom to convince Casper he was the Treacherous Advisor. If anything, the Tom was the Evil Chancellor; he may be the protagonist, but he certainly wouldn't believe himself "good" for any of the things he'd done.
In Anonymous there's William Cecil and his son and successor Robert Cecil, who in Real Life were the chancellors in all but name to Elizabeth I and James I, respectively, are portrayed as wicked, self-interested schemers who torpedo Elizabeth's chosen successor in order to safeguard their own power.
The Magic Voyage has one. Oddly, he only appears in one scene and never becomes important.
Dave features a more logical position for this role in the American government: the President's Chief of Staff. Inverted at the beginning of the movie, as the real President was as crooked as his CoS, but once the title character is ordered to stand in long-term for the secretly comatose POTUS, he's expected to dance on the Chief's strings.
In the Arabian Nights tale "The Story of the Slave-Girl Anis al-Jalis and Nur al-Din Ali ibn-Khaqan", Jafar (see Exceptions below) helps Harun al-Rashid take down an evil vizier who's preying on the king and people of Basra and persecuting the titular Nur al-Din Ali (whose father was a good vizier).
In Dante's The Divine Comedy, the 8th Bolgia (ditch) of the Eighth circle of Hell is reserved for "Evil Counselors," that is, the officers and advisors of rulers who mislead or betray their masters. He includes examples of his era in the poem. When Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote the novel Inferno, doing their own take on Dante, the most poignant example was Benito Mussolini, who, as chancellor of Italy, turned that country to Fascism.
Doubly subverted in War and Peace with Speransky, who most characters assume to be an Evil Chancellor until Prince Andrei meets with him and finds him to be a pleasant man only concerned for the betterment of Russia. He is later Put on a Bus when he's discharged from the sovereign's court on charges of corruption and treason.
Played straight and averted in the case of Mocha, the evil-as-sin Court Magistrate in the episodic-segment story "What Is This Black Magic You Call Science?". She kills and sacrifices anyone with faint hints of liberalism, even killing a little girl with red flowers in her hair who Chryseis was trying to save. In front of her parents and siblings. Her constant, rivalry-antagonism with Chryseis is also fueled by sibling rivalry, since their father thought Chryseis was a better child. I wonder why. Oh, and she's also the goddess of female power, and a very violent blood mage.
Averted in that she does not wish to usurp the throne [ rather, she put him on there since she knew he'd not interfere with her wanton killing], and her motives for keeping people so afraid are supposedly that if they left Nifl, they'd see the rotted giantess head at Epoch at find out that gods really can die, and will give them some sort of sovereign power. However, she is slowly losing power since the death of the Red Flower Girl led to public outcry.
Parodied in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books, in which the Grand Vizier is automatically assumed to be like this, regardless of the culture involved or the circumstances of meeting them. A prime example would be Lord Hong from Interesting Times, who was Grand Vizier of the Agatean Empire and probably one of the most powerful and dangerous figures to appear in the Discworld series.
Pyramids has the hidebound High Priest Dios. He doesn't like the way the new ruler, Pteppic, is trying to run things, but doesn't try to overthrow him; he just "interprets" the commands of the Pharaoh so that things will be run the way they've always been run anyway. Also, he's not really evil, so much as very much steeped in the country's traditions to the point that they are second nature to him.
Well, he is really seven thousand years old.
Near infinitely old depending if you interpret the ending as a closed-loop time paradox.
GURPSDiscworld subverts it with the Grand Vizier of Al-Ybi, a sensible and unambitious accountant, who has reluctantly grown a Beard of Evil and practiced his sinister smile, because that's what's expected. He views the whole thing as an unnecessary distraction from balancing the budget.
Also subverted at the end of Interesting Times when Emperor Cohen promotes Twoflower to Grand Vizier, on the basis of him knowing nothing about the role..
And then further played around with in The Last Hero, where Twoflower betrays Cohen and reveals information liable to get Cohen killed. The twist is that he does so because Cohen has embarked on a project which would kill Discworld (including Cohen).
In Guards! Guards!, the Supreme Grand Master, the leader of the plot to overthrow Vetinari by summoning a dragon, is eventually revealed to be Lupine Wonse, Vetinari's secretary. Of course, the word "secretary" is quite ambiguous and it's unclear if he actually had any power or was just someone who took notes.
In Mort, there's a scene where the Royal Vizier for the Agatean Empire decides to try and assassinate the country's child emperor, who has gotten old enough to question some of the vizier's evil rules. Unfortunately for the vizier, the emperor is very clever indeed, and uses his understanding of social niceties to force the vizier to kill himself.
Inverted in A Song of Ice and Fire: Tywin Lannister is highly competent and (though Tywin's a bit of a bastard) he is trying to do what is best for his House. Unfortunately, both of the kings Tywin serves are products of incest and dangerously insane—one of them tried to burn the city down instead of letting his enemies have it, and the other is a young sociopath who is heavily into revenge and managed to cause a city-wide riot against the aristocracy.
Qyburn is an aversion. He's quite shifty, he cuts open people for fun and has an unhealthy interest in reanimating the dead, but by the end of the fourth book he's the only one of Cersei's advisers who is still somewhat loyal to her.
And then there's Varys, who arguably fits in the school of the "scheming eunuchs" mentioned below. No one knows who the fuck Varys is playing for, but everyone bets on "himself." Varys himself claims he's doing it "for the realm".
Littlefinger qualifies, whoever he's serving at the time.
Tywin's son Tyrion is a subversion: he is perceived as this by the common people of King's Landing, and is blamed for the crimes and mistakes of King Joffrey and Queen Cersei, when in fact he is doing everything in his power to rule justly and well. This has been all too common in Real Life (see below).
Gríma Wormtongue of The Lord of the Rings succeeds in effectively ruling Rohan by manipulating the ailing King Théoden... for a while.
Sauron becomes this to the King of Númenor in The Silmarillion. Using the Númenóreans fear of death and envy of the Elves' immortality, he convinces them to worship the fallen Vala Morgoth and to attack the Valar's sanctuary of Valinor, resulting in Eru (God) sinking Númenor.
Cabbarus in Lloyd Alexander's Westmark manipulates the king's grief over his dead daughter... but it all gets blown sky high when the daughter turns out to be Not Quite Dead. In the sequel, the king of the next country over has an Evil Uncle doubling as an Evil Chancellor, too.
Alexander also uses the trope in The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, which is sort of Alice in Wonderland meets the Arabian Nights: a boy falls asleep and wakes up to discover that he has been mistaken for the ruler of a delightfully Arabesque kingdom complete with not-so-delightful Vizier. The titular character later deliberately averts the trope by appointing the only person he trusts, a somewhat seedy character, to be his vizier. Unsurprisingly, he does a better job than the original Evil Vizier.
He uses it again in The Castle of Llyr, the third book of the Prydain Chronicles, in which Magg is chancellor to the kindly King of Mona. Unfortunately for King Rhuddlum, Magg's real loyalty lies with the wicked Queen Achren, who has promised him a kingdom if he helps her kidnap Princess Eilonwy.
In the Stephen King novel The Eyes of The Dragon, the king's trusted advisor and magician Flagg plots to assassinate the king and frame the elder (and wiser) prince for the murder. The same character, under the alias "Marten Broadcloak", played the same role in the court of Gilead in the backstory of The Dark Tower series, while at the same time also playing evil vizier to Gilead's rival, John Farson, under the name "Walter O'Dim". All three of these roles, in addition to several others, are assumed by Flagg in his capacity as right-hand man to the Crimson King, to whom he also plays The Starscream.
The Word Bearers' Chaplain Erebus fills this role in the Horus Heresy series of Warhammer 40,000 novels. Somewhat different in that rather than scheming to kill Warmaster Horus, Erebus schemes to corrupt him.
In the David EddingsElenium trilogy, the churchman Annias serves as this trope to King Aldreas, the weak-minded ruler of Elenia. Annias needs to control the crown while he works on becoming Archprelate (the story's equivalent of the Pope), and to that end he convinces the king that it's okay to sleep with his own sister, Arissa, who is the mother of Annias's son Lycheas. It keeps Aldreas distracted.
In one book of Christopher Stasheff's A Wizard in Rhyme series, the title character visits a country which has an evil queen who is descended from an Evil Chancellor who usurped the throne. The Chancellor's name was Reiziv.
In One Good Knight, part of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey, there's an Evil Chancellor. He's lampshaded with a line somewhat like "if the king's advisor was a magician, then according to the Tradition he must be scheming after the throne." Additionally, he and the queen are a couple. He's planning to betray her.
General Zhi Zhong in Lords of the Bow is, for the most part, loyal to Emperor Wei, but outside the royal court openly considers him a foolish weakling. When his army is crushed by Genghis Khan at the Battle of the Badger's Mouth, he returns to Yenking, kills the emperor, and installs Wei's seven-year-old son, Xuan, as the new emperor, with himself as regent. His subsequent refusal to surrender to Genghis Khan quickly leads Yenking to starvation and eventually cannibalism.
The Sword of Shannara has the evil advisor Stenmin, who drugs and manipulates the usurper Palance Buckhannah while his brother Balinor is away on the quest.
In The Wheel of Time, several Forsaken become the embodiment of this trope once they're free. Semirhage as Lady Anath, the Seanchan Imperial heir's most trusted advisor and Rahvin as Lord Gaebril, the Queen of Andor's lover and avisor are the most obvious example, but Bel'al and Sammael could possibly qualify as wellnote Be'lal was impersonating a nobleman from Tear, a nation ruled by an oligarchy rather than a monarchy, so he was manipulating a group rather than a person; Sammael managed to grab a position in Illian analogous to prime minister and managed it ruthlessly enough that he effectively had more power than the king, while comporting himself more as a flat-out dictator than an evil advisor.
There are Messana and Aran'gar who control minions (Alviarin and Sheriam, respectively) as the rival Amyrlins' Keepers of the Chronicles.
In the backstory, this was Mordeth's role in the city-state of Aridhol, leading to its transformation into Shadar Logoth. His new incarnation as Padan Fain pulls this trick several times, to the Seanchan High Lord Turak, Lord-Captain-Commander Pedron Niall of the Children of the Light, Elaida's White Tower, and Lord Riatin. All associations are brief, as Fain's MO is to manipulate, use, and abandon authority figures in the process of getting what he wants.
Referenced in Neverwhere (book only): Richard calls the Marquis de Carabas the "psychotic grand vizier" to Door. While certainly a scheming Magnificent Bastard who's only on the heroes' side for his own good, he doesn't actually live up to the trope and betray Door.
Chancellor Urtica from Mark Charan Newton's Legends of the Red Sun series is a textbook example of this trope. In the first book alone he was able to depose the empress he serves by framing her for attempted genocide of refugees (planned by him no less!) who seek to enter her city. Oh, and he is also the head of an outlawed cult that will follow his every order.
Brodrig of Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire. "The low-born, faithful Brodrig. Faithful because he had to be faithful, since unless he owned the fastest speed-ship in the Galaxy and took to it the day of the Emperor's death, it would be the radiation chamber the day after." Eventually the Emperor comes to distrust Brodrig and execute him.
Actually, there is no indication that Brodrig's policy was different from that of Cleon - it's quite likely the Emperor used him to play Good Cop/Bad Cop.
James:While I live, Andrew is my right hand. If I die, my uncle's boy inherits and Andrew goes back to being one more southern lord with better birth than land. He has no reason to seek my life, and much to guard it.
Chinese senior minister Zhang Han San in the Jack Ryan novels is this. Appearing at first to be a high ranking spy or diplomat (U.S. intelligence wasn't even aware he existed), he is eventually revealed in The Bear and the Dragon to be the power behind the throne in Beijing, controlling government policy through his relations with the military, state security, and the puppet Premier.
Kasreyn of the Gyre in the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, who is also an Evil Sorcerer. He won a place at the court of the gaddhi of Brathairealm by imprisoning the Brathair's ancestral enemies, the Sandgorgons, in a magical whirlwind and served as kemper (essentially prime minister) to generations of ''gaddhis'' until the Brathair government was entirely wrapped around his finger and the current gaddhi is pretty much a walking rubberstamp for whatever Kasreyn wants done.
Kimrek in ''The Klingon Art of War'', the chief advisor to the rulers of the Tenka Plains who arranged the death of those rulers before serving as regent for their young son, convincing the boy to hand him ever more power while poisoning him against his own capability to rule.
24 has had several evil Vice Presidents, the best example being Charles Logan, who was merely incompetent as a vice president but became evil upon his ascension.
24 also subverted the trope in season 5; when Vice President Hal Gardner first appears on the show, he's set up to appear to viewers to be The Man Behind the Man. Eventually, it turns out that Gardner is completely unaware of the plot unfolding around him, and it's the president who's calling the shots.
Babylon 5 had Vice President Clark of the Earth Alliance, who was a front man for the Shadows and arranged the assassination of the President so he could step in and run Earth to their specifications.
Subverted in the Doctor Who story The Five Doctors. The "treacherous" counselor was actually innocent and had been set up to take the fall by the President himself.
Done straight in the earlier story The Deadly Assassin.
Also done straight in The Curse of Peladon, then subverted in its sequel, Monster of Peladon.
The Event features an Evil Vice President in Raymond Jarvis, who makes the go-ahead call to assassinate the president. However, he thinks he's doing the right thing.
Plus, he himself is just the puppet of the real villain, Dempsey.
But, maybe Dempsey isn't such a clear-cut villain after all, and, anyway, Jarvis clearly doesn't learn his lesson from the first assassination attempt and conspires with Sophia to take another crack at it.
I, Claudius has a subversion in its presentation of Narcissus and other freedmen advisors of Claudius. These individuals were chancellors of the original kind, highly educated former slaves or the children of slaves who were hated by Rome's aristocrats for their influence over Claudius and probably prompted some of his more unpleasant actions. However, they were completely loyal to Claudius and thus more akin to the Poisonous Friend trope.
Jim Profit is an Evil Vice President of Acquisitions. Profit's lack of scruples and continued success eventually allows him to become CEO Charles Grayson's right hand man, who's almost as corrupt as he is.
Francis Urquhart in the TV series House of Cards. Throughout the first part of the story he appears to be the faithful ally and Chief Whip to Prime Minister Henry Collingridge, all the while plotting the PM's downfall. Ironically, when Collingridge is forced to resign he throws his support behind Urquhart's own campaign to become PM, still completely unaware of who his betrayer actually was.
Inverted in the Farscape arc "Look at the Princess" - Rygel becomes the secretly good advisor to the evil queen.
On Stargate SG-1, Senator Kinsey eventually becomes the Vice President version of this trope near the end of Season Seven, thanks to backing from the Trust. Hints are dropped that he eventually plans on having the President assassinated and replacing him, but thankfully before that happens, the President fires him in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
Kinsey's plans to assassinate the President make even more sense when it is revealed in Season Eight he has at some point become a host to a Goa'uld.
Actually, that has nothing to do with it — that Season Eight episode is when Kinsey becomes a Goa'uld host; he was entirely human during his tenure as Vice-President.
Agravaine, Arthur's uncle in Merlin season 4, who is actually The Dragon to Morgana.
Subverted in the Flash Gordon series. Rankol is an evil, hero-torturing cybernetic mad scientist whose experiments have endangered two worlds. And he is still aghast at most of the stuff his boss does on a weekly basis. He does work for Ming the Merciless.
Bai Yue is this in Chinese Paladin. The politics of the situation are played with slightly, though; Bai Yue's popularity is the reason he is given the position, but he is by no means the King's sole advisor, and both the The Good Chancellor and the General actively work to prevent him becoming the power behind the throne.
In the original Buck Rogers comic, Oggo was the corrupt prime minister of the Mongol Empire under the Celestial Mogul. The Mogul was actually a Reasonable Authority Figure, but he had allowed Oggo the freedom to run the empire as he wished, while the Mogul puttered about with scientific research, foolishly confident that Oggo was running things justly and fairly.
Religion, Myth And Legend
Haman from the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible was a Persian wazir who tried to convince his king to exterminate the Jewish population that was scattered in the Persian empire. Since the queen was secretly Jewish (and her uncle had saved the king's life), this did not go well for him. He is probably one of the oldest in the book, as well as one of the most evil.
Sibich, chancellor for king Ermanerich in the legend of Dietrich of Bern. Among other things, he manages to get the king's sons and nephews killed.
Phillip Ridley's play 'Feathers In The Snow' has two evil advisors. One of which tortures the main character's father and the other convinces the king to banish the main character to a distant island along with her followers. Both can be said to be Affably Evil
In Der Ring des Nibelungen, Gunther's half-brother Hagen plays this role. He causes Siegfried to be given a love potion so he falls in love with Gutrune, Gunther's sister, meaning Siegfried captures his love Brünnhilde for Gunther, all as part of his plot to get the Ring of Power. He finally kills Siegfried, then when Gunther disputes his claim on the ring kills him.
Dungeons & Dragons Al-Qadim setting, A Dozen and One Adventures boxed set. In the city of Al-Anwahr, the treacherous vizier Zeenab tricked Amakim Ibn Issad into overthrowing his brother King Azaltin so Zeenab could steal the book "Eleven Baneful Gates".
Classic Traveller, Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #12 Amber Zone article "Royal Hunt". Hamir is the trusted royal adviser of the Potentate of the planet Krajraha. He is plotting with the corporation Nusku Trade LIC to assassinate the Potentate (and the PCs guarding him) so that the company can mine the valuable minerals topoline and athast found on Krajraha.
Played with for the Usurpation. During the First Age, the Sidereal Exalted were known as "the viziers", they advised the Solar Exalted ruling elite, and they did set up an elaborate scheme to betray them and take over the world. The twist is that they did not do it For the Evil or even for personal power, but because the Solar themselves were becoming mad and evil and the Sidereal saw their removal as the only sure way to save the world. Also, the Lunar Exalted, who were known as the "viceroys" or "stewards" and were the true second in command after the Solars (whereas the Sidereals were advisors), did not betray them; most of them fought to death for their overlords, and the rest fled and fell back on guerilla tactics.
Played straight for the Primordial War. The gods were created by the Primordial to look after the world and manage it while they were busy playing the Games of Divinity and doing whatever things the Primordials deemed more interesting than ruling Creation. They got fed up being underlings and technicians. They rebelled. They won.
Al Qadim: The Genie's Curse: caliph's evil Vizier who framed the main character's family.
Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear makes this trope his identity.
The medieval chancellor of the royal family of Guardia in Chrono Trigger is kidnapped and impersonated by a vicious monster, Yakra. Meanwhile, his modern-day counterpart is a paranoiac who sentences Crono to death for "kidnapping" the princess and disorderly conduct, and later puts the King himself to trial. He is, in fact, a descendant of Yakra who impersonates the modern-day chancellor in order to get revenge on Crono for defeating his ancestor.
Noah in the first Galaxy Angel game sucked up to Eonia, claiming him for her admirable older brother in a siscon sort of manner while convincing him to do all the evil he did before and during the coup.
In the Glitzville segment of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Grubba the arena owner is portrayed as an eccentric and somewhat dishonest nice guy, while the manager and his assistant, Jolene, is cold and behaves suspiciously. It turns out that Grubba is a villainous monster who has been draining people's energy to stay young forever, and although Jolene — true to the trope — was working to eliminate him, it was because she was the heroine of this arc who had discovered just what Grubba was.
Played straight by Sima Yi and averted by Zhuge Liang (and most other strategists) in Dynasty Warriors.
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Yi is played as one, although he is loyal until almost the end, and Zhuge gets a nice rant about how he's a hero and not about to betray anyone.
The Tenba/Misha path has the corporate version of this, with a twist. Bourd is very obviously evil... but initially seems to be a loyal servant of his boss, Ayano, who appears to be a villainess, right down to a Stripperiffic villain costume and eyepatch. However, at The Reveal, it turns out that she's a genuinely good person who had no idea Bourd was a villain performing inhumane experiments and perverting her company away from its goal of helping people, not just making a profit, as she was poor at the actual day-to-day management of the business, and left that to Bourd.
In Jade Empire, Death's Hand appears to fit this trope perfectly: After his rise to power, the normally popular Emperor stopped making public appearances, he's the head of an evil Secret Police that was a peaceful congregation of monks, he slaughters and tortures innocents in secret, and he's building a massive golem army that could easily destroy the Emperor's human one and place him in power. However, shortly before the game's fake ending, it is revealed that Death's Hand really is loyal to the Emperor, and was actually given his position so that anyone who discovered his actions would fall for the red herring and not blame the Emperor. Later, it's revealed that Death's Hand doesn't have any free will at all: He's just a spirit bound to obey the Emperor. To make matters worse ,the poor bastard is the enslaved spirit of the Emperor's little brother.
Lady Prestor, advisor to the young King of Stormwind, is actually giving him terrible advice because she's a dragon, the daughter of Neltharion.
The Lich King expansion added Varimathras, a member of a race that has been Always Chaotic Evil from the start of time to this list, to the surprise of absolutely no one. The spoiler tag probably isn't even necessary
Played with by Magatha Grimtotem. She has all the trappings of one (suspicious motives, has shown disdain for Cairne and the Horde's new directions, leader of the Taurn's Evil Counterparts) but hasn't actually done anything to go against them. Not yet, at least.
Finally validated in Cataclysm. In an effort to get cozy with the new War Chief, she had Garrosh's weapons coated with a poison during a duel with Cairne and used the chaos following the death of their leader to try and usurp Tauren leadership in the Horde. Garrosh was not amused.
Taken to ridiculous extremes in the Xbox game Metal Wolf Chaos, where Richard Hawk, the vice president of the United States, abandons subtle evil-advisor strategies to terrorize the country in a giant robot. Necessitating the President to don his own giant robot and take it back.
In the Fire Emblem titles Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, the Apostle Sanaki and the Senate rule over the Bengion jointly. While claiming to share her interests, they obstruct her ability to discover their corrupt actions. In fact, they killed the previous Apostle, Sanaki's grandmother, and had her installed as ruler at an young age. Because Sanaki was a child at the time of her installment, they made a seemingly minor member of the Senate named Sephiran Prime Minister as he was the only one to calm her tantrums. They thought they could control the two, but Sanaki ended up being politically formidable, and Sephiran became the only man she could trust. However, as events seemed to come into motion that could reveal their plot, the senators launched a coup'de'tat, imprisoning Sephiran as a traitor to the empire and sending Sanaki into "seclusion", essentially securing their personal rule over Begnion, in order to continue their campaign of extermination against the "sub-human" laguz.
Unknown to both Sanaki and the Senate, Sephiran actually had his own agenda. Actually an agent of the goddess Ashera, Sephiran was tasked to watch over the two races of Tellius, the normal-human Beorc and the shapeshifting animal-like Laguz, in hopes both races will live in peace.They failed to do so, and in fact, the assassination of Sanaki's grandmother and the framing (and near extinction) of the Herons was the last straw. So, with the aid of his servant Zelgius, aka the Black Knight, he sparked the war as depicted in Path of Radiance in hopes of having the war engulf the entire continent forcing the goddess to awaken and wipe out all living things. Despite his intentions of having everyone in Tellius killed, he is genuinely concerned for Sanaki.
Long story short, the Vice Minister plans to thwart his two superiors and claim power to himself, while the Prime Minister/Chancellor plans to obliterate all life because he lost faith in it.
Melvin in Odin Sphere. Exactly how much he planned beforehand and how much just happened on its own after Elfaria's death is debatable. The Three Wise Men are a better, albeit far less prominent, example.
Gnarl, an aged minion in the game Overlord serves as the evil advisor of the Villain Protagonist, serving as his guide and giving him hints and tips in-game while also encouraging the player to do as much evil as he can. At the end of the game when the original Overlord returns Gnarl quickly betrays you, but it's depicted more as a duty to the owner of the Dark Tower and tells you that he'll take you back in if you kill the old Overlord.
A non-evil chancellor wouldn't be much use to the Overlord, would he?
Overlord II's ending suggests that he's biding his time...
Why would he be? He handpicked and cultivated from childhood exactly the Overlord he wanted, and as his mentor/custodian can exercise more authority over the Overlord than Overlord can over him. That's as comfortable a situation as a Man Behind the Man can get.
Chancellor Cole in Spirit Tracks. Unlike Zant, he flat out kills the Princess, instead of just transforming her.
The Pope of Tales of Symphonia, who is for all intents and purposes the Chancellor of Meltokio, plots the death of the King so he can take over and rule, among other heinous acts (see the Jerkass entry for examples, a trope he fits very well).
All of Ansem's students in Kingdom Hearts betrayed him and took his place, when he forbid them to do researches on the darkness, including Xehanort, who even went as far as to steal the name of his teacher, who was trusting him so much. Afterwards, Xehanort banished Ansem into the realm of nothingness, a fate worse than death.
Vizier Abdul Alhazred from King's Quest VI attempts to establish dominion in the Land of the Green Isles by becoming a trustworthy advisor to the king. After becoming Vizier, he has Mordack kidnap Princess Cassima, then he goes forward to kill the king and queen and become the de facto ruler while playing Divide and Conquer with the other Islands, keeping them loyal to him and suspicious of each other. We see the full extent of Alhazred's Evil Plan when Cassima returns and Alhazred has her locked in a room while using this opportunity to devise a staged marriage to have himself declared king.
He's named for the alleged author of the Necronomicon and the king trusted him? Wow.
In Dungeon Siege 2, the leader of the dark wizards was Valdis's Evil Mentor, procedes to become his Evil Chancellor and Dragon, and turns out to secretly be the Man Behind the Man for both Vadis and the player.
In Valkyria Chronicles, prime minister Borg is definitely one of those. He actively plots to use the princess as a bargaining chip to the approaching imperials in an attempt to allow him to be named King in her stead.
The kings Chancellor Kronus Maelor in The Horde is a example of the silly blatantly evil type. He will randomly take your money as a bonus for himself, plot to kill Chancey during cutscreens and is The Horde king
In Jak and Daxter The Lost Frontier it is inverted. Though you don't deal with them for very long, Duke Skyheed seems like a noble leader while his chancelor seems like a very rude, disagreeable, and scheming sort, turns out Skyheed is the Big Bad and the Chancelor has been helping you all along.
Guild Wars had this in its original Prophescies campaign with Vizier Khilbron. In a bit of a twist, he was the only survivor from destroyed kingdom Orr and thus no longer second in command. He also sends uses the players as unwitting pawns to his ultimate scheme. Late in the Nightfall campaign, we learn that this trope is subverted somewhat, in that Big Bad Abaddon might have been behind his corruption.
Corley Motors Vice President Adrian 'Rip' Ripburger in Full Throttle.
In the Interactive Fiction game Varicella, the titular character (Primo) is the scheming, effeminate councilor of an Alternate Universe modern-day Piedmont, out to seize power after the sudden death of the King. He's also the player character.Several other games set in the same universe reveal that he was eventually executed for treason.
Rilix, an ancient powerful being of a long lost race of people is this to the King in Shining the Holy Ark. She turns the King into a puppet an attempts to use him to bring back her race, who are sealed in a can.
Archbishop Lazarus from the Diablo series was this to King Leoric of Khanduras. He was corrupted by Diablo long ago, and not only influenced him for the worse when the archdemon in question tried to take him over, but was responsible for many of the knights of Khanduras being killed in a war with Westmarch, the luring of many adventurers into the Tristram Cathedral to be murdered by the demonic Butcher, and the kidnapping of Prince Albrecht, Leoric's youngest son, to be a vessel for Diablo.
Chancellor Eamon from Diablo III, in contrast, was very much The Good Chancellor, who tried his best to save lives when the Darkening was going down, but was accused of being this by the people, resulting in his death when King Leoric fell.
Parodied to ridiculous levels with the 8-Bit Theater character Chancellor Usurper aka Dark Elf King Astos. When he was about to take over he planned to have the man who would be the next chancellor killed since he knows you can never trust whoever is in that position. Apparently, this is par for course in Elf Land.
White Mage: Your viziers are treacherous?
Thief: It's an Elven court. It's all viziers and they're all assholes.
Adventurers! has a comic where upon being introduced to the Chancellor, Karn immediately tosses him out a window for this very reason. Parodied in that that was the GOOD chancellor, his evil duplicate was late to work and hadn't had a chance to kidnap/replace him yet.
Subversion/Lampshade Hanging: In Darths & Droids, Qui-Gon is immediately suspicious of Queen Amidala's advisor Sio Bibble (whose name Qui Gon thinks is "Bubble") due to his goatee and the fact that he's a "trusted advisor". However, never ever at all does Bibble do anything that would indicate this to be at all accurate. In fact, the commentary includes a link to this page.
Chancellor Zod Valorum is portrayed as (ludicrously over the top) Evil, and he is a Chancellor, but oddly enough, he is not an Evil Chancellor as defined by this trope, because in the Galactic Senate "Chancellor" refers to the equivalent of President or King, rather than an advisor role, so he's more President Evil.
Lampshade Hangingand subversion in Casey and Andy, where the protagonists visit a fantasy-based parallel dimension. There, the "Evil Grand Vizier" is supposed to be constantly scheming to topple the monarch, and sure enough, the Vizier is easily recognizable as the local version of Casey & Andy's archnemesis... however, in the end it turns out that he's actually a good guy, and that he'd only pretended to be a scheming, unreliable madman in order to get close to the Queen, with whom he was in love. The true Evil Chancellor turns out to be the court wizard Kasor, who plays this fairly straight.
Subversion in The Wotch, the character of Kohain Ravime is cunning, brilliant, and the right hand man of Big Bad Melleck Xaos... to whom he is utterly loyal, despite the occasional instance of taking action on his own, even when he knows Xaos wouldn't approve. He is, in fact, incensed when the Uricarn Demon implies that he'd help Ravime overthrow Xaos and seize power, and explains that he instead hopes to make sure the prophesies about Xaos are fulfilled and to enjoy a long and healthy career as Xaos's second-in-command. To some extent, this makes him more of a Man Behind the Man, who knows the second-in-command position is more comfortable than the Big Bad's. He's notable mainly because he seems to fit the trope very well at first. He looks like a duck, he walks like a duck... but at a closer look, he's a goose.
In The Order of the Stick, Tarquin and his five adventuring buddies pair up and act as this to three different empires (though they are not necessarily, in this case, opposing in alignment to their bosses) in a careful juggling act designed to give them all wealth and power without the hassles and dangers of being openly in charge.
Flaky Pastry features one of these when the heroes follow Nitrine back to her homeland. Cranked up to... well... cartoonish levels, he's also an arch-typical Smug Snake.
In Glorianna, both Lord Vasgor (brother of King Arven) and Zorko (advisor to Duke Thanaktos) play this role.
Sluggy Freelance: Magon Coifer, advisor to Lord Torgamous the Warlord of Mercia, in "The Stormbreaker Saga". He has Torg (main character of the comic and time traveller from the future) pretend to be the warlord ostensibly to ease the tensions created by his continues nonappearance due to being sick, but really so that he can give him bad advice that will give support to a rebellion he is funding and secure his ascension to the throne. He's pretty stereotypical about it.
Torg: Hey Ming! Let me guess: skull-cap, Fu-Man-Chu mustache, just stabbed a buddy in the back for knowing too much.... bad guy, right?
Magon: I prefer the term "morally challenged."
Associated Space features Ursula Urquart, leader of the loyal opposition, who is apparently out to either take over, or secede her worlds from the Terran Associated States.
Somewhat subverted in Cwen's Quest as the three scheming advisors to the Witch Queen, while unscrupulous, are actually a lot nicer than the queen. They briefly actually manage to take over the kingdom by putting a child on the throne after the original Witch Queen's death but when next we see them they've apparently lost control as the new grown up queen is viciously ordering them around.
Over-the-top parodied (as most things are) in Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy: The United Nations has a Trusted Grand Vizier, who takes over when the Secretary-General goes missing (in accordance with the U.N. Ancient Texts).
"Now, I know how much you hate personal power, Grand Vizier Slitherstab, but —" "I'll cope."
The Nostalgia Chick does the vice-president variety in Kickassia when she spends most of the special trying to kill The Nostalgia Critic to take the presidency for her own. Sure, by about halfway through everyone's trying to kill Critic, but she was doing it independent of the rebellion.
Spoofed in a Web Cartoon Series called Larry. The Evil Counselor is so obviously evil with his dark clothes, he even talks to other Evil Chancellors characters such Palpantine, Ymza, and Jafar.
Subverted in an episode of The Venture Bros.: Dr. Henry Killinger, Dr. Rusty Venture's new life coach, is trying to get him to join the Guild of Calamitous Intent and become an archvillain to his more capable twin brother, but in rare form Killinger is actually looking out for Rusty's best interests and making him into a more successful, stronger-willed person. It seems to work: we spend the climax of the episode assuming Rusty is signing a form of membership in the Guild, only to find out he's actually signing Killinger's severance agreement.
Dorkus in Planet Sheen. His goal isn't to usurp the throne, however, but to get rid of Sheen for destroying his home, taking his place as imperial advisor, and making fun of his name.
Futurama has Dick Cheney as this for Richard Nixon (both of whom are Real Life examples).
Cheney: As your vice-president, I ORDER YOU to steal that tree."
In the Fan FicThe Basalt City Chronicles, Priest-Emperor Zaykar and The Guardian of the Crown Lord Kosgan do not get along well, at least on the surface. However, Lord Kosgan is actually utterly loyal to the Empire; his friction with the somewhat younger Priest-Emperor was originally to make sure that the Empire got a strong ruler
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad features a completely good Grand Vizier-albeit one who is currently serving as regent, the Sultan having recently died. The villain is instead an evil prince who is also a wizard—played by Tom Baker, no less
Both Joseph and Daniel in The Bible, as well as Mordaci who replaces the before mentioned Haman after his downfall.
Grimble in Myth Adventures, while engaging in power struggles with General Badaxe, has no desire to rule.
No matter how many Evil Viziers get named after him, Jafar in the original Arabian Nights stories was usually seen as wise, generous, and probably more mentally stable than Harun al-Rashid himself.
After Ozma takes the throne of Oz, the Scarecrow cheerfully steps down and becomes Regent of Oz. It's a fine use of his fine brain, and he is very loyal to Ozma and to Ozma's chosen successor, Dorothy.
In the "present day" Oz of Tin Man, Ambrose/ Glitch is loyal and devoted to the lavender-eyed queen to the bitter end, destroying plans for an invention that could theoretically used as a doomsday device. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stop the Witch from taking the plans out of his head. Years later, he meets up with DG, the Queen's daughter, and becomes equally devoted and protective of her.
In Mika Waltari's The Wanderer, Suleiman the Magnificent's vizier Ibrahim seems like this, but is shown to be the sultan's only friend and politically capable. He is somewhat ruthless, but apart from the main character, everyone in the book is.
Cristo/Kiryl in Dragon Quest IV / Dragon Warrior IV is completely loyal (and has a crush on his kingdom's princess, which doesn't hurt the loyalty thing one bit.)
High Chancellor Ocato from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gave no question as to Martin being the son of the emperor and simply knelt down and officially gave him the position.
Which makes him an exception in the Elder Scrolls verse. Just look at the other two Imperial Battle Mages in the games: Jagar Tharn from Arena who imprisoned the Emperor in Oblivion and disguised himself to rule in his stead, and Zurin Arctus aka the Underking from Daggerfall who defied Emperor Tiber Septim's policies well into undeath. The Prima guide even lampshades this trope in its description of the Main Campaign near its conclusion.
Alternative sources to the Imperially accepted mainstream raised questions whether Zurin Arctus was actually the evil one of the pair, or just who betrayed who first (whatever the truth, the game that introduced him also suggested that the undeath wasn't Arctus fault).
Princess Peach's chancellor, Toadsworth, from the Super Mario series is not only loyal to her, but also kind of a father figure.
In Final Fantasy VI, Figaro's chancellor is also loyal to his king and kingdom. Even when Edgar's gone for over a year, the chancellor continues to go about his business as though the king had just stepped out for a few minutes.
There's a man in Final Fantasy IV who is apparently Edge's grandfather (referred to as "Gramps"), who looks after the people of Eblan while his grandson fights to save the world . In Final Fantasy IX, Beatrix also seems to take on this role in overseeing the rebuilding of Alexandria while Dagger and Steiner are off saving the world.
The real chancellors in Chrono Trigger aren't seen doing much, but they're good guys.
In Rice Boy, the Grand Vizier of Satuar is far more intelligent, level-headed, and kinder to Rice Boy than the Prince is.
In The Gamers Alliance, Iblis, the demonic Grand Vizier of Vanna, ended up being a treacherous chancellor. On the one hand he was behind the equally villainous Sultana Adela's rise to power and did his best to aid her over the years, a job in which he succeeded admirably. However, in the end he betrayed Adela during the battle against the Grand Alliance and revealed that he had ultimately been working for the demonic Southern Horde with the sole intention of weakening Vanna from within for his true masters' upcoming invasion. He had thus been playing both Adela and the Alliance against each other while furthering his own goals.
In War Planets (AKA Shadow Raiders), the Grand Vizier of Planet Fire is a narrow-minded, obstructionist xenophobe. However, he is utterly devoted to his prince and the people of Fire. He even goes so far as to make a Heroic Sacrifice. He does make a reappearance afterwards where he tries to get them eaten by the Beast Planet, but like Chrono Trigger, it's an evil replica, not the real Vizier.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle story centered on the Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam features a Grand Vizier who looks the part and schemes as much as any other, but he is in fact entirely loyal to the ruler of Jaipur and actually shows genuine concern for him. He's also not noticeably more bloodthirsty than the ruler himself, and only to the same people. (He also requires exposition about the titular Ruby Yacht early on, so maybe he's just new.)
In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearth's Warming Eve", Twilight Sparkle and co. take part in a play about the founding of Equestria. Twilight's character is Clover the Clever, an adviser to Princess Platinum (played by Rarity) who is in fact much nicer than her boss.