"Suspicion that a character, once thought trustworthy, may not be trustworthy!"
This describes a person, who may be a Manipulative Bastard
, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
, Alpha Bitch
, etc. who gets close to you and pretends to be your ally, friend, lover, etc. Basically, they earn your trust, and when you least expect it, they betray you and reveal they've merely been playing you this whole time. Another variation on this is that the manipulative character may find himself Becoming the Mask
, developing real feelings for the person he betrayed. Sometimes, the betrayer may turn out to be someone you've known pretty much your whole life.
If a character with a Friendless Background finally
finds a person who appears to believe in him or her, and then that person turns out to be a False Friend, it's almost certain that the character will then have crossed the Despair Event Horizon
is perhaps the best-known practitioner of this brand of betrayal.
Closely related to Was It All a Lie?
and I Just Want to Have Friends
. Can lead to an Et Tu, Brute?
situation. If the False Friend turns out to be the guy behind everything
, he's a Big Bad Friend
. Contrast True Companions
. The polar opposite of both Vitriolic Best Buds
and With Friends Like These...
if true friends are always mean to each other but still remain friends. If it's about a character revealing their hatred for another during a fall out, then it's Hidden Disdain Reveal
Not to be confused with the term in linguistics
for words in two languages which look similar but do not mean the same thing
? But… I trusted you!")
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Anime and Manga
- In the final part of the Justice League arc Trinity War, the Atom (Rhonda Pineda) who was first thought to be a sleeper agent for the JLA working on the Justice League, but was revealed to have put a small piece of Kryptonite in Superman's brain, poisoning him. She revealed that she was a sleeper agent from Earth 3. before this, she was one actually quite friendly to everyone.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In Black Swan, Nina sees Lily as one of these, but the truth is anyone's guess.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Elsa Schneider is ordered to seduce both Jones to steal the Grail but ends up falling in love with Indiana.
- The Mask. Intrepid Reporter Peggy Brandt, who pretends to be Stanley Ipkiss' friend so she can get the $50,000 bounty for betraying him to Dorian Tyrell. When Tyrell prepares to kill Ipkiss she says "You Said You Wouldn't Hurt Him" to Tyrell, who replies "I Lied".
- The Truman Show. Truman's "best friend" since childhood (who is really an actor) at one point appears to truly be listening to Truman's plight and confusion, almost seeming to really want to help his buddy understand the crap that's going on with his life. However, he allows himself to be instrumental in the biggest Mind Screw the studio pulls on Truman in bringing his "father" back from the grave. He later leads the hunt to capture Truman once he starts escaping.
- Though there is a good scene when he clearly struggles with the lines that the producer is feeding him through his ear piece. He visibly chokes a little when he's instructed to reaffirm his best friend status and that he would never lie to him.
- Though that could be just good acting.
- There are deleted scenes that indicate that Marlon/Louis does in fact feel guilty about what he's doing to Truman, and the (actual, real-life) actor said that the character has a drug addiction from the stress.
- 10 Things I Hate About You. Chastity, who is supposedly the best friend of the second leading lady, Bianca, not only goes out with her original date, Joey, but even rubs her face in it afterwards by revealing that Joey only took her out on a bet with his buddies in the first place.
- 1984: O'Brien tricks Winston and Julia into thinking he's their friend and gets him to trust them, especially as far as identifying himself as a member of the Inner Party but is really a member of La Résistance. He then organizes the raid to capture the protagonists, brings them to the Ministry of Love and oversees their torture and brainwashing.
- In one of The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels, it's revealed that Bill was ordered by his queen to seduce Sookie, as part of a plan to use her telepathy for whatever it is a vampire queen needs a telepath for.
- Herald Myste had this pulled on her as a child three times by guys using her to get close to her best friend (the most attractive girl in the neighborhood). Prince Karathanelan tricks Selenay into wedding him, but doesn't survive the "betrayal" part.
- Harry Potter:
- Wormtail does this when he betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort, even though they were his best friends - though he was more of a Fair Weather Friend who sold out his buddies in order to save his own life. When his remaining friend Sirius, chased him down after James and Lily's deaths, Wormtail shouted that Sirius had been the one to sell out the Potters, caused an explosion that killed a dozen innocent people, and faked his death before escaping, pinning the murders of himself, the Potters, and all the other people on Sirius.
- Tom Riddle is a more straight example, doing this to Ginny and, to a lesser extent, Professor Slughorn.
- The 39 Clues: Ian Kabra pretended to like Amy so he and his sister could steal the clue from right under Amy and Dan's noses.... Only... it isn't quite that simple.
- In The Traitor Game, Michael comes to believe that Francis has spent their friendship laughing about their games with his friends. The consequences are nothing short of disastrous.
- The fox and the cat in The Adventures of Pinocchio, upon discovering Pinocchio has several gold pieces, proceed to mooch off of him, try to rob and hang him, and later swindle him, all while pretending to be his friends. Unlike the Disney version, however, they do get their comeuppance in the end, and when they beg for Pinocchio to help them, he shows no forgiveness.
- Kij Porter in A Brother's Price, the worst kind.
- ForceFlow, actually a pseudonym for the Big Bad to Tash in Galaxy of Fear. She wasn't the first one, either. It was all in hopes of finding Force-Sensitive people and stealing their Life Energy. Later, Grimpen does something similar, acting friendly and kind so she would wrongly consider him trustworthy.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Ser Dontos acts like a friend and confidant to Sansa and promises to help her escape the Lannisters to repay her for saving his life. In actuality he's working for Littlefinger and is willing to sell her out to whoever will pay him for it.
- Shae to Tyrion, she acts like she cares about him but she's really just a Gold Digger who's more than happy to accuse him of crimes he didn't commit for the promise of riches and status.
- One of the themes of Daenerys' storyline is the constant presence of these and her doubts to tell her real allies from those who seek to use her or will at some point betray her. The appendix section dedicated to her in A Dance with Dragons event lists "Her uncertain allies, false friends, and known enemies."
- The first Night Huntress book has a classmate cozying up to Cat, only to try to kidnap her for a white slavery ring. Turned out she did this to a lot of girls.
- In Oz Schillinger arranges for Chris Keller to meet Tobias Beecher, Schillinger's former sex slave, with the intent of gaining his trust and seducing him. A mutual attraction instantly forms between them, and the two eventually exchange confessions of love. Unfortunately for Beecher he finds out that the man he fell in love with was working with his arch enemy all along (and informs him that he never loved him right before breaking Beecher's arms and legs). Keller clearly enjoys the beating, but is briefly seen experiencing a moment of regret when he returns to his empty cell and eventually realizes that he has fallen in love with Beecher.
- Morgana, with Uther and Arthur, since the beginning of Merlin season 3.
- Columbo admits to doing this (once) at the end of one of the ABC TV movies.
- Nina Myers on 24 is the show's biggest example of this, being Jack Bauer's primary confidant at CTU in season 1 until she killed his wife while trying to escape after being outed as a mole working for the bad guys. She would then go on to become a recurring villain in seasons 2 and 3.
- In Robin Hood, Marian cultivates a "friendship" of sorts with Guy of Gisborne so that she can pass on information to Robin. She even goes so far as to pull off a perfectly executed Decoy Damsel ploy, which Guy falls for hook, line and sinker. Guy was something of a False Friend himself considering he seems more than ready to have Marian punished if she disobeys him, and when he learns that she's in love with Robin Hood, he stabs her to death.
- HG from Warehouse 13 does this using the other agents to get an artifact so she could destroy the world though she does somewhat become the mask, getting talked down from doing this when her friend tells her to shoot her instead of being a coward and killing her with the rest of the world.
Myka: If I am wrong, then kill me. Do it! Kill me now! I mean, we're all gonna die anyway right, so what's the difference? So shoot me! Shoot me now. Kill me. But not like this. Not like a coward. I want you to look me in the eyes and. Take. My. Life.
- In Kamen Rider Fourze, Ryusei/Kamen Rider Meteor at firstnote .
- JK establishes himself as a "friend" who takes advantage of others, and isn't ashamed to admit this. Gentarou accepts him anyway, and makes An Aesop about how you have to accept a person's worse sides too if you want to befriend them. JK ends up getting better.
- In Game of Thrones, Ramsay Snow, aka "The Boy", pretends to be Theon Greyjoy's only friend and ally. He helps the latter escape his torture, kills several of their pursuers who are trying to gangrape him...only to lead him back to the torture chamber. Why did he do all of this? Because it was fun.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Given the shallow Parisian society at The Cavalier Years, this play is full of them:
Second Marquis: Faugh!. . .Another Gascon!
First Marquis: Ay, but the cold, supple Gascon—that is the stuff success is made of!
Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.
- The poets who frequent Raguenaus company claim to love Raguenau’s poetry, but they only want to leech him off.
- Cyrano defies this trope with all his will, as lampshaded in Act II Scene VII:
People (crowding round Cyrano):
My friend!. . .my friend. . .
Cyrano: Meseems that yesterday
I had not all these friends!
Le Bret (delighted): Success!
A young Marquis (hurrying up with his hands held out): My friend,
Didst thou but know. . .
Cyrano: Thou!. . .Marry!. . .thou!. . .Pray when
Did we herd swine together, you and I!
- Iago of Shakespeare's Othello.
- There's an odd version of this in the Ace Attorney series. Dahlia Hawthorne tricks Phoenix into thinking she's in love with him, just so she can get a piece of evidence back that incriminates her for a previous murder. She tries to kill him when it doesn't work. It's subverted when Dahlia has her sister impersonate her for a while, and her sister actually does fall in love with Phoenix.
- Kristoph Gavin became Phoenix's "friend" only to closely monitor his activities after Kristoph got him disbarred, and ends up framing him for a murder. Phoenix was aware of this, however.
- After dominating a player in Team Fortress 2, one of the Spy's Bond One Liners is "I never really was on your side."
- A variation occurs in Specter's ending in Twisted Metal Black; the man of her dreams has been forced to marry her by way of some brain surgery, but he's still able to tell her "I... will... never ...love ...you."
- The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, before defecting, was Snake's mentor and one of his closest friends. She celebrates her Face-Heel Turn by beating him up and stealing his rescued hostage.
- Subverted and played straight, however, as The Boss was really a Fake Defector sent in by the U.S. government to play the False Friend to Big Bad Colonel Volgin.
- In Uncharted 2, Harry Flynn did this to Nathan Drake at the end of the Museum mission, causing poor Drake to rot in prison for 3 months.
- Magical Diary: Damien. That bastard.
- If you get his good ending, it turns into Becoming the Mask... maybe. If you believe anything he says by that point!
- If you've ground White magic enough to have gotten the spell Empathy, you can use it on him when you next talk to him. He's telling the truth about how he feels now.
- In Dragon Age II, it's possible for Hawke to do this to Fenris when he finally confronts his former master Danarius by handing Fenris back to him. This will devastate him so much that he'll simply submit without a fight. However, this act is considered a Moral Event Horizon by the other companions save for Anders, who hates Fenris.
- Touhou: Mystic Square features the fire and ice magicians Yuki and Mai as a Dual Boss. If you defeat Mai first, Yuki will be furious and crank up the heat. But if you defeat Yuki first, Mai will smugly declare that her comrade was nothing more than "dead weight" dragging her down (though ironically Mai's regarded as the easier of the two). Mai's leitmotif is appropriately named "Treacherous Maiden ~ Judas Kiss."
- Hatoful Boyfriend sequel Holiday Star makes it clear this was the case for Hitori Uzune and the original Nanaki Kazuaki, a quail whose clinical depression was exploited by Hitori to double-cross him in a suicide pact and steal his identity. The betrayal caused Nanaki's spirit to become an Eldritch Abomination hell-bent on eternal companionship.
- Upon his introduction in Mega Man 7 Bass presented himself as a possible friend and ally to Mega Man. When he was hurt fighting Shade Man, Mega Man allowed him to go to Doctor Light to get repaired. Once all the Robot Masters are defeated he discovered that Bass betrayed him, wrecked the lab, stole his upgrades, and hurt Doctor Light. Wily then brags about how Bass was his creation to get closed to Mega Man and how he was going to use his own upgrades on Bass to destroy him. Needless to say, Mega Man was pissed and probably one of the reasons why he was willing to kill Wily at the end of the game.
- Ellen to Viola in The Witch's House. Ellen tricked Viola into sympathizing with her by telling her about her illness and the way her parents neglected her. Ellen just wanted to be "friends" with Viola so that she could steal her body using evil demonic magic.
- MegaTokyo. Miho did this to Piro some time before the start of the series.
- The Dreamland Chronicles: here
- In The Order of the Stick, Nale drives Elan to the Despair Event Horizon by telling him that Haley is this trope, taking advantage of incriminating evidence and Haley's inability to defend herself to gloat about Haley's supposed betrayal of Elan's friends and Elan's stupidity in not seeing that she was Evil All Along. Elan is briefly convinced and goes into a murderous fury, telling Haley that he hates her, before Haley finally manages to spit it out.
- Nale also uses a suggestion spell to make Elan angrier, hence the uncharacteristic murderous fury.
- In Girl Genius, Tarvek and Gil's childhood friendship was real. Sadly, circumstances separated them and they both became convinced that the other was a False Friend due to some more unfortunate circumstances. They are currently Fire-Forged Friends / Vitriolic Best Buds.
- Happens quite a bit in the Thirty Gambit Pileup that is Erfworld. Since Erfworld also features quite a few PunnyNames from earth, the two untrustworthy allies of one side are actually called Frenemy and Quisling.
- Tower of God has several people like this: Ho, Nia, and most notably Rachel. Later, Apple, Koon's hacker in the second season, turns out to be a FUG agent.
- In Hercules the Big Bad Hades is unable to defeat his enemy Hercules because he is unaware of his weakness. So he instructs Megara to get close to Hercules and they both end up falling in love. However, before she can tell Hercules the truth Hades ends up telling Hercules about how Meg was working for him all along in the most cruel manner possible.
- Plankton in Sponge Bob Squarepants's "F.U.N." episode.
- Terra in Teen Titans, though sympathetically so.
- She's much, much nastier in the comics, as Terra was not a lost girl brainwashed by Slade. She was a pure psychopath that Slade was almost scared of (You read that right). Worse is that she was also Slade's underage girlfriend. What makes it especially hilarious is that at no point in the lead-up of the comic arc does she ever really pretend that she doesn't dislike nearly everyone on the team nor isn't lying constantly to them, so the Titans, in retrospect, were Too Dumb to Live.
- Malchior is this to Raven in the "Spellbound" episode.
- And Blackfire, Starfire's sister, who pretended to care for her sister while framing her for the crimes she committed so Starfire would get taken to jail instead. Starfire eventually finds out the truth and engages her in battle which leads to Blackfire rightfully getting captured by the police.
- Done to Bart Simpson by Jessica Lovejoy. She pretends to like and befriend him, only so she can act as bad as she wants, knowing that if she gets caught, she can always blame Bart and let him take the fall. If not for Lisa, it would have worked.
- A Heel-Face Turn example occurs in Avatar: The Last Airbender. In "The Boiling Rock", Azula gets this after Mai and Ty Lee turn their backs on her. It is possible that they were never friends with her in the first place, since they were scared of her. It's also possible that she just went too far this time and they weren't willing to put up with her any longer.
- Brought up once in the original ThunderCats. "Better an honest enemy than a false friend."
- In ThunderCats (2011), Pumyra.
- Tirek plays this role to Discord in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilight's Kingdom Part 2.