This trope is just like it sounds. A particularly insidious type of Romantic False Lead
, this character is built up to be the love interest of the (or a) protagonist, but eventually The Reveal
comes that she (and it's usually she) is with the bad guys.
This character, as mentioned, is almost always female, and while she may pull a Heel-Face Turn
(often by revealing that she became the mask
and genuinely fell in love with the protagonist), they rarely if ever get back together. She is occasionally a Honey Trap
, but not always; sometimes the fact that she's a love interest and the fact that she's a traitor have nothing to do with each other. Done badly, this can be a Shocking Swerve
See also Big Bad Friend
. Compare In Love with the Mark
As a Betrayal Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked.
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Anime & Manga
Films — Animated
- This happened to varying degrees in all three of the animated Scooby-Doo movies that are generally considered "the good ones;" in fact, it may be part of the reason they're regarded so highly that they give the gang other characters to play off of:
- Zombie Island, the first, played it straight, with Fred developing feelings for a Moe Cajun chef named Lena, with hints dropped that she may like him, too. Nope, turns out she's a centuries-old soul-devouring cat monster...
- Witch's Ghost had Velma's (again, implied to be mutual) crush on horror novelist Ben Ravencroft, who turns out to be using the gang in an attempt to free his Eldritch Abomination ancestor (the title character).
- Finally, in Alien Invaders, Shaggy's girlfriend Crystal isn't a traitor, exactly, but she is connected to the film's haunting; she's an alien. A real one. She and Shaggy part on amicable enough terms, but she ultimately has to go back to her home planet (insert Simpsons reference here).
- Megara in Disney's Hercules. She is already working for Hades because of having made a deal with him, so when Hades discovers that Hercules is still around, he uses her as a pawn to get at him. Also a rare example in which the two end up together.
- A rare example of this being done with a male character is the Video Brinquedo "spectacular" What's Up? Balloon to the Rescue, in which the lead girl is infatuated with suave Frenchman (read: Devil in Plain Sight Ethnic Scrappy) Jean-Pierre.
Films — Live-Action
- About half of The World Is Not Enough is spent building up Broken Bird Elektra King as James Bond's new one and only, replacing dear departed Tracy. The film is full of Call Backs to Tracy, comparisons between the two, and includes the most explicit Tracy reference of the Brosnan era, all the while implying that Elektra may not be completely right in the head (she enjoys fiddling with ice cubes mid-coitus, for one thing). Then, at around the midpoint of the movie, it comes out that Elektra is in fact a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who is not only in on Renard the Anarchist's plot to nuke Istanbul, she's co-author of it! Ultimately, Bond is forced to Shoot the Dog in a vain attempt to stop her from telling Renard to move the stolen nuclear submarine into Istanbul's waters.
- Something similar to this trope happened in the film version of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, resulting from the adaptation combining the characters Cho Chang and Marietta Edgecombe. In the movie it's implied poor Cho was under a truth potion, but that doesn't stop Harry from dumping her (in the novel, she dumps him over something completely unrelated).
- Sky High features a generally Adorkable Nice Guy named Will going out with an older girl named Gwen, whose role is basically showing him the ropes of superhero school in between being sweet on him. Turns out she just wanted the weaponized Fountain of Youth in his basement...
- The infamous The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has the equally-infamous Tangerine (infamous because she looks about ten years older than her early-teens leading guy; the actors are a year apart in real life). Her loyalty turns out to be to a street gang, and the poor girl gets pooped and vomited on at the end of the movie by the title characters for it.
- Warriors of Virtue (also known as "that one with the ninja kangaroos") did this, too, with the girl joining up with the hamalicious Big Bad to avenge her brother, who had been accidentally killed by a kangaroo ninja. She's ultimately killed by her boss when she has a change of heart and helps the hero escape.
- The So Bad, It's Good-O-Rama that is Spy Kids 3D: Game Over had Juni's girlfriend in the virtual world, Demetra, turn out to be a program inserted into it to trick players into freeing the Big Bad (who's also trapped there). In all fairness, she didn't want to do it, and ends up rebelling against her programming and holding open the virtual reality's physical exit(!?) so the human characters can escape. She's never mentioned again after this. One can only hope the agency didn't delete the virtual reality with her still in there...
- Elsa from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. To be fair, she genuinely loved Indy (and...uh...Indy's dad too, apparently), but she's single-mindedly obsessed with getting her hands on the Holy Grail to the point of working with Nazis.
- Double James Bond example: Casino Royale has Vesper, playing along with Bond until she steals the money to get her boyfriend (who she's still in love with) back. However, it's suggested that she did fall for Bond as well, cutting a deal to save his life in exchange for going through with the theft. Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the next film culminates with the reveal that the original boyfriend is himself a traitor, seducing women with access to state secrets and using them to obtain and sell said secrets. Fortunately(?), Vesper's killed before she finds out about that facet of his personality. She dies thinking that she has at least saved the lives of the two men she loved.
- In the 1966 Batman: The Movie, Bruce falls in love with Kitka only to find out she's Catwoman (and definitely a villain in this incarnation).
- In the John Gardner James Bond novel For Special Services Bond thinks Nena is the sympathetic Bond Girl, but it turns out she's the Big Bad.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Starting with Final Justice, Little Fish is set up to be a love interest for Countess Anne "Annie" Ryland de Silva and Stu Franklin is set up as a love interest for Isabelle Flanders. However, by Cross Roads, both relationships are falling apart. The final blow comes when Little Fish and Stu Franklin are revealed to be Co-Dragons for Big Bad Henry "Hank" Jellicoe - as well as cold-blooded murderers. Ouch!
- An episode of Firefly has Mal being (unintentionally) married to a young woman for a reward. But she turns out to be a con artist, intent on killing the crew (by leaving them to die) and selling their ship. Her appearance in a later episode reveals this to be her standard operating procedure: seduce, steal, leave 'em for dead, repeat...
- Alias had Michael Vaughn's wife Lauren.
- In The Mentalist we have a male example: Grace's fiance in Season 3.
- In Supernatural, Sam's love interest Ruby turns out to have been manipulating Sam into freeing Lucifer.
- Teen Wolf has this happen to Derek Hale, twice!
- While he's not a full Love Interest due to his plot being mostly Dummied Out, Bishop of Neverwinter Nights 2 for a female protagonist. He will always betray her to the King of Shadows at the end of the game, and there is nothing she can do to stop it; at best she can persuade him to walk away from the battlefield, but he won't rejoin her side. And then a bunch of rocks fall on them both.
- Anders in Dragon Age II if he is your love interest. No matter what you do, he will blow up the Chantry near the end of the game in order to start a war between the two major factions, even if you are trying to be neutral.
- Penelope of the Sly Cooper games. She betrays Bentley due to his devotation to his friends over her, and becomes a major antagonist in the fourth game.
- Teen Titans: In addition to being a Sixth Ranger Traitor, Terra was this to Beast Boy. It was implied that she had feelings for him as well, trying to save him from the rest of the Titans' fate, but not enough to choose him over Slade.
- This trope was revisited in the next season when Raven falls for a handsome magician trapped in a book—who turns out to actually be an evil dragon that Raven must defeat. Notably, Beast Boy is the one who consoles her afterwards.
- In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Superman's Pal", Jimmy discovers that his new girlfriend, Tina, is working with Metallo and only wants him as bait for Superman. The last we see of her is him locking her in a closet before going off to help the superhero.