Trickster doesn't even begin to describe this character. If The Chessmaster is the master manipulator of events, the Manipulative Bastard is the master manipulator of emotions and perspectives. This is the guy who gets off on playing head games — clever and dangerous and lacking comedic overtones. He or she always has The Plan, but rather than do any work, the Manipulative Bastard prefers to play on other characters' emotions and then watch the victims destroy themselves as they waste their energy on fighting against fake dangers or their friends.
In many cases the Manipulative Bastard personally is rarely emotional and seldom burdened by notions such as empathy, yet is all too willing to abuse it in others. The Bastard is unmoved by the pain of others, if not actively basking in it. Thus the frequent association of how someone who does manipulative bastardry too often can come across as a sociopath. After all, too many Pet the Dog moments may lead this character to become the mask and care about the people he or she previously saw as playthings.
Like Chessmasters, Manipulative Bastards will have some larger scheme in mind but tend to lose sight of it more easily and simply enjoy the control they have over their peers. A highly-focused/ambitious Manipulative Bastard is scary indeed; not only achieving his or her goal, but then ensuring permanent supremacy by destroying the souls of everyone he or she used to get there. A hell of a lot of Heroic Willpower, and often Shooting The Dog is required to topple this character.
While this character type seems inherently villainous, many of them are at least nominally on the heroes' side. A cunning branch of the Anti-Hero family sports this trope and many a Guile Hero uses many of the same tricks. Indeed, many Tricksters also overlap into Manipulative Bastard territory. The hero will probably survive a relationship with this character, but their trust in people will not.
Manipulative Bastards often fall into the Karma Houdini trope — after all, they never "forced" anybody to do anything...which leads the audience to scream, "Why do you keep falling for this?" at the other characters.
Different methods of Manipulative Bastardry exists, depending on these characters' favorite tricks to manipulate people:
The last subtype is the Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster who is genuinely powerless and only has as much power as his/her opponents see fit to give him/her. To this end, he/she fakes stupidity or insanity so that he/she can avoid being assassinated while still being able to manipulate events as he/she pleases.
Russia as well. Basically, the natural result of an overgrown child with the ability to appear cute and innocent or threatening and intimidating depending on what gets them their way. He won't give choices, stating there's "no such thing as compromise in Russia". And he notes that a good thing about the German people is that they're easy to manipulate.
A rare comedic and positive variant is presented in Bakuman。. Kazuya Hiramaru is a prodigy mangaka and managed to get his very unique and comedic manga Otters 11 published very early on. Sadly, he's near-pathologically lazy, incredibly Book Dumb, and his behavior makes him somewhat of a Comedic Sociopath. note Naturally, he came as one of the top 3 in the popularity polls. His editor, Koji Yoshida, both recognizes his capabilities and figures out how to manipulate his emotions, but he only ever does so in order to ensure that he keeps on writing splendid manga for the people to enjoy. It's his job as an editor, after all.
Griffith from Berserk really likes to emotionally manipulate people for his own ends. From holding Foss's daughter hostage to foil an assassination plot, to pretending to be in love with Princess Charlotte so that he can marry her, to giving Casca the strength she needs to defend herself and thus gaining a powerful fighter, to pretending to be Guts's friend and gaining himself an even stronger fighter, to giving thousands and thousands of people, including the Crystal Dragon Jesus equivalent of the Pope, visions of a saviour defeating darkness so that half the world effectively rallies behind him, Griffith does qualify for this trope to say the least. The Godhand as a whole to a lesser extent, as they offer people demonic powers and make them give up their loved ones at their lowest point. The goal of the Godhand is just making Midland an even shittier place to live in, though.
You must admire his prophetic vision. To be able to spot a skinny, half-starved girl-child about to be raped in a field and know that she would grow up to be an amazing warrior completely devoted to him if he'd only save her is pretty impressive.
He didn't "know" that Casca would grow up to be an amazing warrior. He seems to do this with almost everyone he meets; the ones with potential rise up in the ranks, and the ones without remain grunts.
It's debatable how bad he was initially. Most effective leaders create personal connections with their subordinates to motivate them; it's also pretty obvious he felt somethingor other for Guts and Casca. That said, his seducing Charlotte, kidnapping Foss's daughter and everything post-Eclipse put him squarely in this trope. Among others.
Code Geass: Lelouch Lamperouge isn't as bad as you might think in this department, considering his Geass, which only works once per victim, but he still has his moments. The greatest example of this comes in the second season: Rolo, Lelouch's fake little brother, was actually a teenage assassin charged with the task of keeping an eye on Lelouch in case he regained his old memories. When Lelouch found out, he continued treating Rolo kindly and orchestrated a situation where Lelouch could pretend to risk his life to save Rolo, winning his trust and bringing him over to his side. After Lelouch's real sister died, he admitted to Rolo that he was just using him, actually hated him, and had tried to kill him on several occasions. Nevertheless, without being asked or influenced by Lelouch's Geass, Rolo sacrificed himself to protect Lelouch. and There's also his evil, evil abuse of Suzaku in ep. 18 of Season 1. He'd found out from Mao that Suzaku's father hadn't killed himself, Suzaku had killed him and been carrying the guilt about it around for years. So when he, as Zero, has Suzaku trapped and wants to convince him to switch sides, he makes a Not So Different speech predicated on the fact that the Prime Minister's death was murder, not suicide — but he delivers it as if he expects this to be news to Suzaku. He doesn't reveal that he knew about it until Suzaku has melted into a little puddle of guilt and self-loathing. Lelouch, you are a terrible person.
He only had to yank the kid's chain lightly. Rolo seemed already infatuated with him, wanting to be his only family, only friend. And lo and behold, did that end up blowing on Lelouch's face. (Poor Shirley).
And he did it to Suzaku to try and guilt him to joining his side. The alternative was using his Geass, which he did not want to do.
Schneizel is even more dubious. He builds his entire reputation on manipulating characters and expertly derails Lelouch close to the end.
Later on it turns out that C. C. knew the truth about Marianne's murder and was just stringing Lelouch along so that he could grant her wish to have her code, and along with it, her immortality taken so she could finally die. Later on she regrets this, and asks Lelouch if he hates her for it. He doesn't.
Villetta Nu could be considered one for using a distraught Shirley to expose Zero's identity and causing Shirley to break down even further when she figures out that Zero is her beloved Lelouch and Villetta attempts to goad her into turning him in. And given Alternate Character Interpretation (if not carrying the Idiot Ball), she just might qualify for this for convincing Ohgi to use the circumstantial at best Geass evidence on Lelouch against him, when she more than likely knew more about Geass.
To some extent, L from Death Note. His main strategy seems to be "jerk Light around until he slips up and reveals himself as Kira." He manages to convince Misa to join him in his investigation of Yotsuba by playing on her concern for Light's safety... and then in the same breath convinces Light to join him by playing on his concern for Misa's safety - which was only jeopardized due to her joining the investigation.
Light. The boy managed to manipulate a shinigami into killing L at the cost of her own life for chrissakes. Plus getting Naomi Misora's real name out of her simply by smiling, listening to her theories and then lying through his teeth. Light really is the expert on taking people's emotional investments, patterns of thought and trust in him and twisting it all to his advantage.
Demidevimon/Picodevimon of Digimon Adventure is a good example, having used deception and played on their fears to keep the Digidestined apart after they split up to look for Taichi and Agumon, as well as to prevent their crests from glowing (causing T.K./Takeru to despair, Joe/Jyou to appear unreliable, Matt/Yamato to doubt Joe's friendship, Koushiro/Izzy to trade away his curiosity, Mimi to act selfishly and deceptively, and Sora to believe she had never been loved). The only reason he ended up failing was because Taichicame back.
Cherrymon/Juraimon also manipulated Matt into turning against the other Digidestined, especially Tai.
The greatest Digimon example, however, has to be DarkKnightmon from Xros Wars, who gained multiple long-term allies by toying with their emotions.
Izaya Orihara from Durarara!!. The first time you properly see him in the anime, he spends most of the episode having a girl, that he pretended to sympathize with online, kidnapped and then orchestrating her rescue, only to hold her over the side of a building, toy with her desire (or lack thereof) to actually commit suicide, and then wander off to watch from a distance as the girl decides to jump anyway. (Luckily for her, someone else was a little more worried about her safety and saves her.) Anyone who meets him in the series is wary of him, has a number of tales to tell about how manipulative and dangerous he is to be around, or just skip the talking completely and throw vending machines in his face.
Hiruma of Eyeshield 21. Even with all of his manipulation, he's genuinely cared for his team. It wasn't much manipulation more than giving them reason to fight, pull the miracle, and win.
Marco Reiji of the Hakushuu Dinosaurs as well. He plays with the emotions of his own teammates and those of the other team to the extreme. Unlike Hiruma, who's also a Chessmaster, Marco will settle for screwing with your head.
Shigure from Fruits Basket belongs to the Obfuscating Stupidity category of manipulators, but still manages to get away with lots of mind games while remaining rather sympathetic.
Akito, from the same series, is more Manipulative Bastard than passive-aggressive, although a case could be made for both. He ( or better said, she) has sufficient status to ensure that he is obeyed, but prefers to deploy the tyranny of the weak (due to his illness) and mental/physical torture to make absolutely sure that he controls their souls. After a massive Break the Haughty, however, Akito manages to get better.
Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi is a prime example of this. One main reason: he manipulates the heroine Miaka's best friend Yui into believing she was raped and betrayed, and also plays off of her unrequited feelings for Miaka's lover Tamahome, effectively turning the two girls into archenemies. He also appears to like going out of his way just to screw with the characters' heads, even when it no longer serves a real purpose.
Future GPX Cyber Formula has both Henri Claytor and Kyoshiro Nagumo (who can be considered to be Durandal's Expy), in ZERO and SAGA respectively. Henri in particular, in which episode 5 of ZERO shows him playing mind games with Shinjyo, Gudelhian and Heinel to make them believe that Hayato is crashing other racers to get ahead.
Kirie of Girls Bravo displayed tendencies of this sort in the anime, like in the the second season when she emotionally manipulated Yukinari into cross-dressing for an event and allowed Fukuyama to practically molest Yukinari since it meant Fukuyama would pay her for it; and she didn't get punished for her actions either.
Vetti Sforza of Glass Fleet seems to prefer to use emotional manipulation to accomplish his goals. During his Start of Darkness, he seduced, if not actually raped, his foster mother in order to manipulate her into killing his foster father. Then, since she was no more use to him, he killed her. During the series itself, he exerts considerable effort to persuade Rachel, the daughter of the Pope, to marry him. Although she eventually agrees to marry him for political reasons only, Vetti goes the extra mile to get her to fall in love with him for apparently no other reason than to be able to snub her later.
Tohma, from Gravitation, is a variant. He's certainly adept at messing with people's heads and hearts, being an extra-special bastard to hapless and naive Shuichi. However, he doesn't really care about his victims' emotions... well, maybe he gets a bit of a power trip out of it. Mainly however, he's invested only in Yuki's feelings. He maintains that everything he does is to protect the novelist, but by doing so he also maintains Yuki's dependency on Tohma himself. As a result, his nastiness to Shuichi is due at least in part to jealousy.
Yuki himself is a Manipulative Bastard / The Vamp to his boyfriend in the manga, and makes no secret of the fact. At one point, he taunts Shuichi by saying that he's only nasty because that's the romantic ideal that Shuichi wants. Since the anime is less convoluted than the manga, this aspect of Yuki's personality is played down, making him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead.
Nagi Sanzenin's grandfather, Mikado Sanzenin, has proved himself one of these in chapter 249 of Hayate the Combat Butler. In past chapters he essentially plays with Nagi's status as a target for people after the inheritance, which is reason enough. In the latest, he forces Hayate, her butler, into deciding her lifestyle, forcing him to choose between protecting a stone which has become the symbol of the Sanzenin inheritance, or breaking it to save his former girlfriend's life. And to make it even worse, he admits to manipulating the boy's life ever since he can remember by posing as innocuous figures. The only thing redeeming about him is the fact that he genuinely loved his daughter, favors his granddaughter's maid, and taught said granddaughter how to invest.. so she's not rendered completely poverty-stricken when the inheritance gets taken away from her.
The Major in Hellsing is the ultimate manipulative bastard. He has no super powers, is weak enough to be beaten down by an old man, needs glasses, and can't shoot. How come then he is in command of a battalion of 1000 SS-vampires? He simply manipulated them and won their respect. Many of his soldiers would gladly go on suicide missions or even commit suicide for him. One can understand that many would do anything in return for eternal life, but the Major can make men who has eternal life obey him. Some have suggested that they might be brainwashed but it's stated quite clearly that these men are volunteers and are acting on their own free will.
When one of his "superiors" confronted the Major about his plans and why he had disobeyed their orders the Major provoked him and was hit. All of the present soldiers responded with pointing their guns at him for threatening their beloved leader. None of them ever questioned the Major's actions or plans.
One of the few non-SS members refused to obey the Major when he ordered a final full frontal attack on Alucard's familiars for fun, because he refused to see men's lifes wasted for nothing. The other members of Millennium quickly asked the Major is he was to be disposed of. He was.
Q-Ta from Honey Hunt has a desire to monopolize Yura in a decidedly unhealthy way, bringing to mind the worst of the controlling, abusive tendencies exhibited by Ryoki from Hot Gimmick. The difference here is a level of scale and dysfunction, as the much slicker Q-Ta (who has shades of Azusa) is much smarter about getting what he wants without having to resort to underhanded tactics. For example, the whole "I guess you like Keiichi (her manager) more than me" thing he pulled to get her to go to the hot springs and miss her curfew and Nanase's dinner was subtle emotional blackmail.
Also, Natsue Tachibana. She delights in manipulating the lives of those beneath her, starting malicious rumors and relocating workers based on their family's reputation. Multiple times she tries to separate Hatsumi and Ryoki, seeing Hatsumi as unsuitable and undeserving of her son. Natsue is presumably obsessed with controlling the people of the complex because she has almost no control in her own family (Ryoki never listens to a word she says and rebuffs her concerns with no emotion, and Shuichiro, in his rare appearances, easily undermines her at every turn).
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: In "Saikoroshi-hen", it is revealed that that world's Rika was one of these towards all of the boys her age, which is why she's so alienated from her friends.
Fuyumi Irisu of Hyouka deceives the Classics Club into writing the script of the unfinished movie without letting them realize it. Oreki, however, figures it all out soon after.
Naraku of InuYasha loves to do this, and his creations and minions often favor it as well. Naraku's favorite tactic is to turn people with close relationships against one another - for example, the nearly series-long campaign he wages against Sango by controlling her little brother Kohaku and trying, repeatedly, to provoke her into killing Kohaku.
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, this more than anything is why Dio Brando is so dangerous. His vampiric abilities, the power of his Stand to stop time...they pale in comparison to his ability to charm and bend others to his will. Most of the enemies in Parts 3 and 6 are composed of those who have been charmed to his side, whereas another of his followers plays a major role in the plot of Part 4.
From Kekkaishi, we have Kaguro. He can look at you, and immediately know how to hurt you emotionally. He pushes all those little buttons, up to and including making sure to kill people close to his designated target to further play with them. He even psychologically dissects his own ally, Aihi, right before killing her for no reason whatsoever. Even during his battle with Yoshimori, he talked a lot, goading Yoshi on for the first part of the battle. This ends up his undoing.
Niijima Harou from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is this at first. He manages to create the Shinpaku Alliance through a combination of deceit, blackmail, bribery and outright lies. Has at times exibited traits from most of of this trope's subtypes.
Kyo Kara Maoh's resident trickster, Murata, is a more benign version. He lets Yuri and company walk into trouble just because he likes seeing how they react, even when he knows enough to prevent the trouble in the first place. His Omniscient Morality License lets him get away with it without Wolfram or Gwendal killing him out of frustration.
In The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor the main character Weed, as a result of a tough childhood being chased by loan sharks and supporting his younger sister and grandmother, has developed an extremely cynical view towards the world, to the point that he almost flunks the elective morality section of his Korean equivalent GED test. He himself is a remarkably intelligent person, and through years of underaged working and dealing with manipulative adults, has developed a silver tongue and unrelenting drive. Now that he plays the VRMMORPG Royal Road to make money selling items, his full potential as a Manipulative Bastard has come out. He discovers and finishes high ranking quests on his own that normally take several hundreds of players. The biggest example of this is his achievement in infiltrating the orc NPC's with an illusion, to gain their trust, and then lead them in battle against a dark elf fortress, and then lead both of these factions against a lich's undead legion, in an unheard of battle involving over 2 million NPC's.
Virtually everyone in Liar Game. Particularly Yokoya, but Akiyama with alarming frequency, such as when he pretending to invent a method to determine who was 'infected' and who wasn't during the Pandemic game in order to learn everyone else's status.
The Loveless cast is full of both true Manipulative Bastards and passive-aggressives — some are both at once. This is most likely because everyone is trying to manipulate someone else, while having serious emotional vulnerabilities of their own.
Case in point: Soubi. He's constantly trying to maneuver Ritsuka into doing what Soubi wants him to do at the start of the manga. Turns out Soubi himself was badly abused and manipulated by a whole herd of people, including Ritsuka's big brother. To further complicate matters, Soubi becomes subservient to his "target," Ritsuka.
Nagi in Mai-HiME. It's his "profession", as one of the perpetrators of the HiME Carnival, to trick the girls into eliminating each other by playing with their fears. His Mai-Otome incarnation was also like this at first, but eventually transformed into a Smug Snake.
A particularly disturbing mention must be given to Yuno in Chapter 49: Yuno cuts herself with a knife after fighting Akise and covers herself in blood, and is trying to reach Yukiteru before he kills the 8th and Hinata/Mao/Kousaka. Yuno calls Yuki and tells him that her diary told her that they (his friends) were going to betray and kill him and that Akise was trying to kill her. Yuki, in the middle of a mental breakdown at the time, believes her and shoots (and assumedly kills) Hinata. Yuno, on the other line, starts laughing her butt off, while a shot of her diary reveals that, no, Yuki's friends weren't trying to betray or kill him. She just didn't want them to have him.
Katejina Loos of Victory Gundam manipulates Uso and Chronicle, just to satisfy her own vain ego of seeing both males fight for her favor. Fonse and Tassilo try to manipulate Queen Maria, to use her as a puppet, while they truly run the Zanscare Empire from behind the scenes.
Johan Liebert from Monster is directly responsible for the deaths of a fairly small number of people, he prefers to have conversations with anyone that interests him and, very politely, talk them into committing acts of mass murder or just killing themselves. In fact it's rare for Johan to leave a room without leaving someone Mind Raped to the point of temporary paralysis. He's just that evil.
He got everyone in a peaceful little town in the countryside into a state where just a little push would turn the place into a veritable warzone. He also once sent a boy looking for his mom into a red light district, telling him in the kindest voice imaginable that if no one claims him, it means no one in the world loves him. The heroes only catch up to the poor kid seconds before he was about to jump off a bridge. It's one of his most despicable acts in the series, which is saying a lot.
All the kids he talked into playing a suicidal 'game'; apparently just for the heck of it.
Michio Yuki from MW. Manipulating and blackmail the corrupt politicians involving with the titular chemical warfare into handing over the money to him; once that is done, he kills them.
Orochimaru is somewhat unusual, in that he normally doesn't target the heroes (although he is adept at Breaking Speech, and seems to teach it to those closest to him as well). Instead, he seems to specialize in finding traumatized young ninja and using his manipulative powers to turn them into his devoted followers.
What little is known about the Kazekage points to him falling under this archetype. He used his own son to gain power, killing his wife in the process, and began his campaign against Gaara's sanity. Social isolation, no contact with his siblings, and multiple assassination attempts, culminating with the one person Gaara trusted (whom the Kazekage forced to lie about hating the kid, and then commiting suicide over it), all results of the Kazekage's decisions, drove Gaara beyond the Despair Event Horizon, finally netting the Kazekage the uncaring weapon he desired. Until Gaara is defused by Naruto, and when the Kazekage is revived by Kabuto, he gets to epically call his dad on all of his shit. His dad is genuinely regretful about it, though. It's clear that he didn't want to do it, but felt that he had no other choice when it came to the well-being of Suna.
Also, Kabuto Yakushi, Orochimaru's right hand man. He has shown himself to be a very skilled manipulator. For years, he was able to convince the entire Leaf Village into believing he was a genuinely kind-hearted man with inept shinobi skill outside of medical skills (to which he made it appear he was only decent at) to make it easier in gathering information. He is also able to use his strong powers of deception to fool his targets into aiding him in several manners and rather enjoys playing mind games with his enemies, often unnerving them by pointing out their weaknesses and turning personal horrors against them.
Madara counts too. He's the one who made Obito the way he is. And [[spoiler: Obito was an Uchiha Naruto. Just think of how effective his manipulating was. It makes you want to know exactly what he did.
Kurt Godel from Negima! Every single thing that the man has done is part of a massive ploy to get Negi to do what he wants...Revenge for the unjust incarceration and near-execution of Queen Arika, who was both Negi's mother and the love of Godel's life ever since he was a teenager. Bloody, fiery revenge.
If we are to believe Shinji's rants in End Of Evangelion, then, looking backwards at the series from there, he also appears to be one. In the movie, he accuses the women to whom he is closest of "hiding behind smiles" and deliberately "keeping things ambiguous" in their relationship with him, when these two quotables are quite apparent in his character when he is in their company in the majority of the episodes preceding. "I'm cowardly, sneaky, and weak." He uses these three descriptions for himself at the end of Episode 26. No one else describes him this way - it's something that only he knows about himself: therefore, he manipulates everyone.
Fukiko from Oniisama e..., especially to Rei, and later to Nanako, whom she manipulates Nanako to keep her crush Takehiko (the titular Oniisama) and stop her from writing letters to him.
Both Sae and Ryo from Peach Girl play with people's minds by relying on their ability to charm people into doing what they want. Ryo's manipulation/mistreatment of Sae is so bad, though, that it's enough for her to change her ways. Sort of.
Count D, in Pet Shop of Horrors, loves to watch humans dig traps for themselves, with a minimum of encouragement from him and his pets.
D finds himself Becoming the Mask, though, with his growing attachment to Leon and Chris. He becomes increasingly sympathetic towards humankind only to be badly affected when a girl he felt some responsibility for dies.
He's still a Manipulative Bastard in the sequel, though.
Doe-Doe from the manhwa Pig Bride is a very subtle seductress: She's a violent, foul-mouthed, girl-gangleader-bully of the whole school disguised as a sweet and innocent girl trying to win the heart (and money and political power) of the main character. So far it's worked, although the main's friend really dislikes her but can't put his finger on why other than the fact that she doesn't know her target's heart at all ("He must love living in such a luxurious house!" "Actually he hates this house and couldn't care less about luxury").
One person on MangaFox declared her to be worse than the Rich Bitch from He's Dedicated to Roses, who had been using the main character as her Beleaguered Assistant for years thanks to her mastery of the Wounded Gazelle Gambit. At least that girl never (personally) tied up her "maid"/romantic rival and threatened to leave her in an empty building for a weekend, but then again she wasn't a desperate golddigger either.
Meowth from Pokémon has done this several times throughout the series, but what took the cake was in Best Wishes, where he lies about being kicked out of Team Rocket, gains the trust of Ash, Iris, and Cilan, and unveils TR's most malevolent plan to date.
In Ranma ˝Fanon, Nabiki Tendo is often made into one of these. In the actual Canon some would argue that she is too hedonistic to qualify, is more of an opportunist than manipulative, since she generally takes advantage of situations for swindling, blackmail, entertainment, and revenge, rather than engineer them from scratch herself. She has been able to successfully lead (susceptible and rather predictable) targets through hoops by manipulating their emotional reactions (better at it in the anime than the manga), can quickly make up several minor backup plans, such as manipulating Ranma into producing sounds akin to attempted rape, is skilled at acting and hazard games, has virtually unflappable self-control when she feels like it, and predicted her rival's plans by tampering with his parachute in advance and then demanding victory to throw one to him as he fell.
Ranma Saotome, a Manipulative Bastard, particularly in the manga. Tricking, deceiving, manipulating and outright blackmailing others into doing what he wants (or for the fun of it) is a common thing for him. His personal style of fighting can even be reasonably said to have a firm grounding in finding ways to use distractions, ambushes, cheap shots, exploit weaknesses, and play headgames with his opponents.
And that's why his style is called "Anything Goes Martial Arts."
Wiseman from Sailor Moon uses Chibi-Usa's feelings of inadequacy and abandonment to turn her evil. He twists Prince Diamond to his purposes by preying on the prince's feelings of rejection and bitterness at the moon kingdom. And he also tries to manipulate Sailor Moon into believing that Mamoru and Chibi-Usa don't care about her and have abandoned her. Death Phantom cares little for his pawns; he manipulates them, and kills Rubeus and Saphir himself. He also humiliates Esmeraude when she comes to him asking to be the queen of Nemesis, and brings about her transformation into a dragon and, ultimately, her death.
Dr. Nii also known as Ukoku Sanzo from Saiyuki, since it turns out he's been behind everything in the manga story so far in one way or another. Gyokumen Koushu also qualifies, especially towards Kougaiji.
Kyoko from Sangatsu No Lion has made several attempts at manipulating Rei toward losses in professional shogi.
Sekai from School Days. Specifically in the manga version.
Xellos, in Slayers, is particularly adept at this, especially in the novels. Seriously, just read novels 7 and 8 to get a good idea of how thoroughly he can screw the protagonists over. You know you're good when your victims know you're up to something and still fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
Albert Maverick from Tiger & Bunny turns out to have been extensively manipulating Barnaby for years. How much so? Over half of what Barnaby remembers of his past is a complete lie. He doesn't even realize that he actually grew up in an orphanage◊ rather than under Maverick's care because of the constant memory alterations.
Seishirou in Tokyo Babylon shows to be an extremely good liar, and wholly shameless about it.
The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk has two of these, though Neeba is probably the closest to Magnificent Bastard status. He even tells his party members that they are going use the blue crystal rod to rebuild their dead friends hometown. Then, he kisses The Lancer, just out of the blue. She promptly melts and gets enough of a morale boost to last right up until The Reveal. How does he repay his friends after the Big Bad is dead? By shooting The Big Guy in the kneecap with an arrow. The only person he was ever honest to was his brother, whom he thinks is 100% worthless with no redeeming value.
Kaaya is also pretty Manipulative of her Five-Man Band, as well. She even lets Her literal and figurative Lancer die , in addition to playing the Protagonist much the same way that Neeba played Fatina, however, this Manipulative Bastard seems to feel genuinely sorry about it. The pair's only slip-up was that they left a perfectly good five man band and two army officers alive - albeit separated - and really, really wanting to kick their ass.
Kaaya actually is not all that great at this trope. While she had intended to use them to accomplish her goal, she was a compasionate person at heart, and quickly came to care for her companions (along with genuine feelings towards the protagonist). She also knew that she was leading them towards certain death, and this weight became heavier the longer she traveled with them. Her betrayal at the end of season one came about because she simply did not want to see her friends killed.
Sideways, from Transformers Armada. If something happens that isn't directly related to finding a Minicon, this guy's behind it.
Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest: Haguro. Manipulates the younger Kuroda into going Columbine on half the student body out of vengeance against Inugami for his brother's death. Using weapons from his family gun cellar. The kicker? His brother died because HAGURO pulled his life-support.
Pegasus, Marik, Dark Bakura, and Dartz from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
Quite a few of the Hentai productions out there that showcase material that live adult movies couldn't get away without breaking countless laws have Manipulative Bastards of both genders as protagonists. In the cases where the protagonists are the victims, then every other character will be a Manipulative Bastard. It reaches the point where the plots focus as much on Mind Rape as they do on actual rape.
Vegeta: He's actually quite cunning when he's not letting his arrogance or rage get out of control. Particularly in the Namek Saga; he bordered on magnificence there. Note that he went into that conflict knowing beforehand that he was hopelessly outclassed on several levels in terms of battle strength (in other words he came in with a humble perspective from the get-go), and his second most cunning moment (at the end of the Buu Saga) came just after he finally admitted to himself that Goku was the better warrior. In short, the cunning gets turned on when the arrogance gets turned off.
In the New 52, The Joker has been ramped up in this regard. In the retelling of the origin of Jason Todd, the second Robin and the one who was killed by the Joker, the story is seen from two perspectives, that of Jason and that of the Joker, with heavy indications that Joker arranged events so that Jason would appear to be the prefect candidate to replace Dick Grayson as Robin to Batman, purely so he could eventually lure Jason into a trap and kill him just to get at Batman. After that, in the Bat Family Crossover, Death Of The Family, Joker returns after a year's absence and proceeds to unfold a meticulous plan that targeted each member of the Bat Family personally, so that they would begin questioning if the Joker knew who they really were and lose faith in Batman, allowing him to take the entire group down one by one.
Henry Bendix, the creator of Apollo and Midnighter, is all over this trope in the nastiest way. His amazing talents of mindfuckery let him plan ten steps ahead on any given day, but he has a special talent for screwing over his own creations: he knows where all their buttons are, and in many cases, he installed them. See The Authority: Revolution for a crowning example of this - all he had to do was prey on Midnighter's worst insecurities, and bam: one indomitable superteam dissolved, one happy family ripped apart, and the world left wide open to a fascist takeover. Sure, it's all (mostly) okay in the end, because Jenny Quantum is too awesome to stand for supervillains or parental abandonment, but Midnighter still spends several pointless and horrible years apart from his husband and daughter, unwittingly helping the bad guy. For someone with no apparent superpowers, Bendix manages to scare the crap out of some very high-level heroes.
Mister Sinister from X-Men has been the ultimate Marvel Manipulative Bastard for the past twenty years, manipulating the lives of the Summers family in particular You can blame him for the Summers' Tangled Family Tree.
Good example is also Selene, who just loves to trick and manipulates hapless teenagers, male or female alike, to do her bidding and dirty their hands in her stead. Not that she actually needs to - she's one of the most powerful mutants alive - but toying with people's feelings is just too entertaining for her not to indulge. She even tried this on The Hulk and Rachel Summers but well, everyone has their limits...
John Constantine, this bastard is ready to sacrifice some lives to save his ass (or save the world). He even tricked God to save his soul from Hell.
His dead ghost evil twin is just the same. Not only has he manipulated John, Satan and God aren't safe from him either.
Ysanne Isard, particularly in the comics. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, she served the Emperor until his death. After the Battle of Endor, Isard advised Grand Vizier Sate Pestage while plotting to make his position shaky enough that he made plans to abandon the Empire and flee to the Rebellion. In the same day, Isard had Pestage and the obstructive Imperial Ruling Council assassinated, leaving her Empress in all but name. A favored element in her plans involved capturing members of the Rebel Alliance, brainwashing them into becoming sleeper agents, and sending them back completely unaware to their superiors, awaiting the right moment to activate them.
* Carl Barks's Scrooge McDuck was a master manipulator and trickster who enjoyed every minute of it... all done in the name of teaching his nephews and grand-nephews important lessons about courage, money, hard work, etc.
Batman: Hush is going to manipulate you. No matter who and he is going to put other plots underneath the current plan just in case you don't serve his purpose.
During the Sinestro Corps War storyline in Green Lantern, Sinestro managed to manipulate the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, every superhero on Earth, and everyone fighting on his own side. He assembled his own intergalactic army, created a power source run on pure fear, brought together the most powerful collection of supervillains the cosmos had ever seen, declared war on the entire universe...and lost. The Lanterns sentence Sinestro to death, thus breaking their own law against never taking a life. It turns out this was what Sinestro wanted all along — his plan was not to destroy the Green Lanterns or conquer the universe, but to create a threat so great and terrifying that they would abandon all their principles to stop it. He tells Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner that he still believes very much in what the Green Lanterns stand for (so much so that he's proud to have a daughter in the Corps). He wanted the Guardians to rewrite the Book of Oa to allow Green Lanterns to wield lethal force. "The universe will fear the Green Lanterns, and the universe will be better for it." He essentially assembled a bunch of heavy hitters (Hank Henshaw, Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor) that the GLC (and possibly the JLA and the JSA) would have to kill in order to stop. Even Superman considers killing (which he has only done once) when Hank Henshaw tells Big Blue that he could never kill him, "To be honest Henshaw, I've never tried."
Loki. What he did after Ragnarok: he came back in a female body (which was presumably meant for Sif), started plotting with Dr. Doom behind the Asgardians' backs, tried to convince the same Asgardians that Beta Ray Bill was an infiltrated Skrull, gathered the Mighty Avengers with an astral disguise of the Scarlet Witch just to break Norman Osborn little by little (while at the same time plotting together with him), brought Bor to the future and allowed Thor to kill him so his brother could be banished, gave Osborn the idea to invade Asgard, allowed him to convince the authorities to do so by sicking the U-Foes on a rather reckless Volstagg...Then he topped himself, trying to worm back into good graces of his family, when the actions above made everyone hate him more than ever. He "sacrificed" himself against rampaging Sentry and reincarnated as a relatively innocent kid, which had intelligence and general attitude of Old Loki, but not his memories. But all of that was a scheme to give Old Loki a new lease on life with (somewhat) restored reputation, and from the beginning he arranged things to eventually overwrite Kid Loki's personality and take over.
Holden Carver: TAO is the scariest bastard I've ever met. Don't get me wrong, it's not like he's some rampaging psycho who'll rip your guts out. He's worse. TAO will get you torip your own guts out.
Holden Carver: John Lynch has been in a coma for a year, since his best friend Cole Cash shot him. Cash doesn't even remember shooting him, because TAO thought it would be funnier that way.
Surprisingly, Archie Comics has its very own with Trula Twyst, an obsessive psychologist teen with a focus on Jughead Jones. She uses her powers of persuasion (bordering on mind control) to, on separate occasions, convince him he loves her, give up hamburgers, give up his master revenge plan on her, etc. Her first appearance features her convincing Jug he likes her, just so she can get the attention of all the other boys in town for "seducing the un-seduceable".
Both Hobgoblin and Green Goblin are masters of this. Hobby was able to perform shady and illegal business practices and frame a reporter to take the fall for him, and got away with it for several years. Norman Osborn masterminded The Clone Saga and ruined Spidey's life as well as getting to be Director of SHIELD. Unlike Hobby, Norman had been under suspicion for years, if not as the goblin by Ben Urich, then as a crooked businessman by nearly everyone else.
Deathstroke from the DCU. He's not quite as good at this as others on this list — most of his targets tend to be damaged teenagers a generation or two younger than him, hardly the most challenging targets. When his powers of persuasion aren't enough to get them to work for him, he's not above using blackmail, death threats, mind controlling drugs, and Psycho Serum to force them to join him.
Ava Lord from Sin City is a Manipuative Bitch who is good enough to manipulate fellow manipulator, Dwight McCarthy.
Moonstone was an extremely unethical psychiatrist who got her powers by manipulating the original Moonstone into giving his up then stealing them. Afterwards, even though she was super-strong and could fly, emit energy bolts, and phase though walls, her ability to manipulate people was considered at least as dangerous as her powers.
In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, we have Doctor Finitevus, who is most famous for the time he manipulated Dimitri, the Guardians (including Knuckles), and two factions of the Dark Legion in order to create a new incarnation of Enerjak, and then teleporting away from the resulting carnage with a smirk. Fortunately, Knuckles seems to have learned his lesson since then - when they next met and Finitevus tried to use him again, Knuckles kicked his ass and threw him off of Angel Island.
Finitevus's former minion Scourge seems to have learned a thing or two from him — half of his Sonic Universe arc is learning and playing off of the Destructix's secrets and emotional weaknesses, in order to convince them to work for him.
Moretti of Give Me Liberty, who manages to blackmail the Action Girl heroine into servitude, frames the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for destroying the Apache Nation with an orbital laser, stages a Presidential coup that destroys the White House, and appoints himself interim leader of the United States.
All Fall Down: Using Phylum's voice box, AIQ Squared manipulates Pronto into selling his soul for the chance to get his powers back.
Cheshire of both Teen Titans and Secret Six counts. What's the best way to gain a good hold on a superhero (Roy Harper) with ties to two of the most influential super teams ever known (the Teen Titans and the Justice League), and a supervillain who is ostensibly considered the deadliest tracker on Earth (Thomas Blake)? Have their children. How do you plan to gain sympathy even after you've destroyed a country with an atomic bomb? Destroy a country considered to be the terrorist capital of the planet, Qurac.
Speaking of Daken... Daken cares for nothing but his own desires, and is willing to use anyone to get what he wants. He's helped by the pheromones he can emit, which allow him to toy with the emotions of people around him, and pulls off Xanatos Gambit after Xanatos Gambit. In one case, he completely takes over Madripoor by secretly supporting everyone in their bids for power after a shutdown of major utilities that he himself arranged, before putting up Tyger Tiger as a puppet, and even that was just part of his master plan to get Malcolm Colcord to give him the full Weapon X treatment. And oh yeah, he had a backup plan for that (in the form of his little sister, X-23, whom he put in place by capturing her and turning her over for experimentation, then allowed her to escape through a combination of unlocked restraints and a vial of Trigger Scent) in case Colcord tried to stiff him. He did. The boy has so many plans within plans, you never know if he's genuinely being nice to you or is just setting you up.
The Kingpin is disturbingly good at this. He built himself up from a low-level street thug, to assassin, to the Big Bad behind most of the organized crime on the East Coast. He was a significant threat for Spider-Man, but he truly began to show how terrifyingly good at manipulating people he was once he became the main villain in the Daredevil comics. In the "Born Again" storyline by neo-noir comics master Frank Miller, the Kingpin finds out that Matt Murdock is Daredevil and begins a months-long plot to systematically destroy his life before finally trying to kill him, putting Daredevil through the trial of his life. He has his hands in every cookie jar, has a general in his pocket, and has spieseverywhere. Even after he's jailed, he proves very savvy at manipulating people from behind bars.
The Writer is the ultimate example of this. He manipulates everything in the entire universe.
Lupin III/Assassin in Just An Unorthodox Thief. Here, Lupin has become much more manipulative in dealing with his enemies, pushing Kirei to a path with seemingly innocent questions, playing mind-games against Saber, and pretty much manipulating everyone for his own benefit.
Loki in Child Of The Storm. He has performed a Heel-Face Turn, true, and he does regret his actions. But that just makes him Reformed Not Tamed, and within less than two years, he's built up a worldwide spy network in such a way that any attempt to uproot it by SHIELD would look like a wanton global case of Kick the Dog, rehabilitated himself as a sincerely regretful philanthropist, philosopher, superhero and a champion of the underdog, and now, a kindly uncle. Everyone thinks that he's nice and friendly. He is. But what they don't know is that's not all he is...
The Other Girl in the Hooker!verse. She's successfully ruining her other personality's (Penny) life, she gleefully mindfucks the Critic and Chick, and Linkara falls into her trap when she pretends to be Penny and be a crying mess.
Torment in the Spyro Madness Saga. As Cynder's Super-Powered Evil Side, she knows everything about Cynder and pretends to be her friend, but what she's really trying to do is possess her. As the manifestation of Cynder's darkness, she's fueled by the dark counterpart of what Cynder desires. Since Cynder has repressed feelings for Spyro, Torment tries to turn that love into lust. She temporarily succeeds and slaughters everyone at a party, causing Cynder to suffer a collosal Heroic BSOD.
Red Cyclone's masterful manipulation of the entire Griffin Army in Ace Combat The Equestrian War. Even his companion, Black Star, apparently fell for his tricks.
Bowser, Eugene, and Lucy have all had their moments in Calvin At Camp.
Harmony Theory: Max Cash, with a little help from a couple of Elements of Harmony.
Dumbledore is even more manipulative in Knowledge is Power than he is in canon, but less effective. Lord Potter is effective at manipulation, but often prefers just to shout and swear at everyone until they back down.
An Alternate Keitaro Urashima features Granny Hina as its primary antagonist. In her case, many of her manipulations have been derailed due to Keitaro refusing to play along — and making sure his family and friends are aware of her true nature. However, she manages to keep stringing along her tenants, as well as having Ryuichi completely convinced that she's just a sweet old lady. Many of her former friends/victims express shock and disappointment when they learn the truth.
In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Neji takes advantage of Kiba's despondency over Hinata's rejection of his (Kiba's) love confession and the revelation that Hinata had already had an Accidental Kiss with Naruto, to manipulate Kiba into fighting Naruto, as part of a plan to either get Naruto arrested (since Kiba's the son of Konoha Town's police chief) or expelled from school (Konoha High frowns on students with criminal records).
Scar from The Lion King. After killing Mufasa, he tricked Simba into thinking himself responsible for his father's death — before telling the hyenas to kill him. Upon Simba's return several years later, Scar played off Simba's misplaced guilt to turn the whole pride against him. He would have won right there if he hadn't stopped to gloat before killing Simba.
Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Though for the most part a highly unintelligent person (he's Book Dumb in an extreme sense), he's surprisingly good at using his popularity amongst the townfolk to get them to do what he wants, not matter how obviously evil it is. That's because no one's slick like Gaston.
Mother Gothel from Tangled. She managed to keep Rapunzel voluntarily isolated in their tower for nearly two decades by playing to her fears and insecurities. She manages to be a Vain Sorceress without any magic powers, because she's so good at manipulating people she doesn't need to have spells to make the plot work.
Probably the most terrifying example of this has to be from Frozen: Big Bad Prince Hans has successfully pretended to keep up a Nice Guy facade from wooing Anna to even capturing Elsa in a seemingly reasonable manner. It is only when Anna desperately needs his help does he then reveal his true colours, breaking the former so hard when she is in dire need of the assistance she thinks he can provide.
Hamegg from the Tezuka Star System (most notably Astro Boy) might be called this in general, but it's hit pretty hard in the CG movie. He's made a career of manipulating lost, lonely children for a living - and after realizing Astro is a robot, he keeps toying with his emotions to get him ripe and trusting for the opportunity to toss him into the Robot Games.
Also has managed to get enough people under his sway that no one has a problem with him publicly torturing Astro after the gladiator bots fail to kill him. Yikes.
The Fairy Godmother from the second film even more so.
Films — Live-Action
Thelma from Little Sweetheart. She not only manipulates plenty of people using the fact that she's only nine, but even when characters know how evil and vicious she is, they still fall for her tricks.
Hannibal Lecter, in The Silence of the Lambs, IS this trope. He gives the eponymous Hannibal Lecture to Clarice, it's implied he convinces the guy in the next cell to kill himself, and in the books it's revealed that he did this to his own patients.
Though the Joker has already been referenced, the version of him in The Dark Knight gets special mention. His manipulative skills are at least as frightening as his penchant for random acts of violence.
Rotti Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera, sometimes to the point where it's hard to figure out who he's not manipulating.
The Warden from Death Race. She's also The Chessmaster the way she makes the convicts participate in her Game Show that she uses to finance the operations of the prison, she's an Anti-Hero by the way the movie makes us not like her, and she's a Manipulative Bastard by the way she uses people to get what she wants.
It's kinda hard to like her, considering the very strong implication that she had Jensen's family killed and framed him for it in order to get him to race.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon. As Sam Spade says at the end of the film, he wants more than anything else to believe her version of events, and that's why he doesn't.
Eve Harrington, Addison DeWitt, and Margo Channing in All About Eve can all play people like instruments.
Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean despite not being a villain... kinda. In Dead Man's Chest alone, he managed to renegotiate a non-negotiable deal with Davy Jones, change the thing that Elizabeth wanted most in this world, and, after Will and Norrington tag-team fight him, having him disarmed and at both of their mercies, ends up turning Norrington on Will, and manages to walk off with the key while they fight each other to the death. All with nothing but the gift of gab.
The titular character of Teaching Mrs. Tingle plays two of the other three main characters like a fiddle before showing weakness on-screen (but away from other characters), and would have gotten the third already were it not for a convenient interruption.
Keyser Söze, the villain in The Usual Suspects. To explain any more about the character would probably spoil the entire movie.
Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough, who manipulates Bond into having sex with her and loving her before betraying him and torturing him with a garrote, and revealing her plan to monopolize the oil industry. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line she forgets that Bond is a misogynist. Renard screws with Bond earlier by teasing him about his own love for Elektra.
Renard: She's beautiful isn't she? You should have had her before, when she was innocent. How does it feel to know that I broke her in for you?
Elektra: James! You can't kill me! Not in cold blood!
Elektra: You wouldn't kill me. You'd miss me.
Evie in 13 (although she's not as evil as some of the other examples)
Emperor Palpatine, A.K.A. Darth Sideous, is the main antagonist from Star Wars. He is the puppet master behind the curtain, pulling the strings of all the characters in the movie. His manipulativeness is evident throughout the saga. From co-ordinating, and eventually betraying the Trade Federation, as they attack Naboo as an excuse to replace the incompetent Chancellor Valorum as Chancellor. Setting up the various commerce guilds in the Galaxy to take on the Republic as an excuse to access emergency powers. Getting Anakin Skwalker/Darth Vader to kill Count Dooku to replace him as his apprentice, and then promising to save his wife from certain death with his knowledge of the dark side so he would turn his backon the Jedi. And this is just to name a few of the manipulative things he's done; he should be the fricken Patron Saint of this trope! This trope should be called "The Emperor Palpatine" instead.
If he were just the Chessmaster or even "just" the Magnificent Bastard he is, the Emperor would not have gotten Anakin on his side and might have failed outright. His ability to turn the emotionally vulnerable Skywalker into a desperate pawn saved his life at least once.
Up against Luke Skywalker, Palpatine was defeated because of the simple fact that the things Palpatine was expert in manipulating didn't apply. Luke wasn't interested in political power. He had already entrusted victory in the war to Leia and Han and the others. Money didn't mean anything to him. He wasn't out for revenge. Pride wasn't an issue. He was just this farmboy from the sticks who hoped to convince his father to change his path. That's all he really wanted and Palpatine just couldn't work with that.
His bastardry is especially appreciable in the novelization of Revenge, in which he prepares for the arrival of the four Jedi Masters by activating a recording device and playing the part of a helpless, terrified politician, making them sound all the worse.
In that case, his work was made easier by the sheer political incompetence and naivete of the Jedi.
The titular Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. For years he conned everyone in Oz into believing he was the greatest sorcerer in the world and set himself up as a sort of quasi-god king, despite having no magical power whatsoever. When Dorothy and her friends finally see through his disguise, they're at first outraged, but he quickly has them fawning at his feet just by handing out a few Magic Feathers. To give you an idea of how smooth an operator he is, when he admits to being a fake, the Scarecrow angrily shouts "You humbug!" Less then two minutes later:
Loki in Thor and The Avengers fully lives up to his title as the God of Lies and Mischief. He leads Thor down the path to his banishment and then leads him to believe that Odin is dead, double-crosses both his Asgardian family and the Frost Giants, and continually uses those around him to set up some Engineered Heroics in an attempt to get some respect. In The Avengers he gets even more devious: he manages to sow dissent among the members of the Avengers, eventually causing them to battle each other rather than him. It's even been speculated that his whole attack on Earth was just phase 1 of his new Evil Plan, with his eventual defeat and return to Asgard an integral part of the plan.
Also given he's El-Aurian, a race of psychics and readers, means he was likely pulling this on Picard in Ten-Forward to let him go back to the Array.
Soran: They say time is the fire in which we burn.
Picard has just received the news his brother and young nephew perished in a fire, leaving him the last Picard, something Soran couldn't possibly have known otherwise.
In fact, Soran piles it on by adding, "My time is running out." playing on Picard's new re-acquaintance with mortality.
The Big Bad in Daybreakers is also a cunning manipulator who plays the hero's brother ad libitum.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Admiral Marcus decided to steer Kirk's rage into a course that would ignite a war with the Klingon Empire, first by sending him in a Federation ship to Qo'noS, then by giving him orders to bombard the Klingon homeworld, and finally by sabotaging the Enterprise so that it would be caught by the Klingons.
Step-siblings Sebastian and Kathryn from Cruel Intentions. They play people like pieces in a board game as a hobby, mostly because it amuses them, they think they're better than everyone else, and they're neglected by their parents and bored. But in the end, it turns out that Kathryn was the worse of the two: "You're just a toy, Sebastian. A little toy I like to play with."
When Ferriman in Ghost Ship is exposed as his true self his mastery of personal manipulation becomes evident. His routine is to pretend to be a harmless guy leading greedy people to a lot of gold, then manipulating them into killing themselves one by one so their souls become corrupted and he can take them to Hell. After he's done he lures another crew there, rinse, repeat.
Smaug from the film adaptation of The Hobbit, even moreso than in the book. He's perfectly happy to talk to Bilbo for a while and turn all his fears and doubts against him. He refrains from killing Bilbo because he wants him to watch Laketown burn. He even briefly considers letting Bilbo take the Arkenstone to Thorin, just for the pleasure of watching it drive Thorin mad with greed.
Bert Gordon from The Hustler is a dangerously subtle version. Everything he says and does is used to manipulate and control others — there are no innocuous comments anywhere. Worse, even after the other characters know not to trust him, he's still able to goad them to his ends and ultimately drive Sarah to commit suicide.
Goethe gives an opinion of what makes someone a manipulative bastard in the following passage from Elective Affinities. Eduard, who's married to the Baroness's friend Charlotte, has just told the Baroness that he's in love with Ottilie. And the Baroness decides to break up the love affair: "[A]s she made up her mind, she appeared to become even more sympathetic to Eduard's desires, for no one had more self-control than the Baroness. Self-control at crucial moments accustoms us to maintain outward composure on all occasions. When we have so much control over ourselves, we are inclined to extend it to others as an external compensation for all our inner privations... This state of mind is usually connected with a secret enjoyment of the blindness of others who walk unsuspectingly into the trap. We enjoy not only our present success but, at the same time, the other person's future embarrassment. The Baroness, therefore, was malicious enough to invite Eduard to come with Charlotte to her estate at the vintage season; and when he asked whether they might bring Ottilie, she gave an answer which he could take to be affirmative, if he chose."
Dolokhov from War and Peace often manipulates others during games of chance to earn far greater winnings, or to spur them into doing things they will regret later. He also seems to take some sort of perverted delight in seeing people, his social betters, strung around so easily.
Sauron in The Silmarillion. In particular, in "Of Beren and Lúthien", he tricks a loyal follower of Barahir into betraying the location of his hideout, makes the king of Nůmenor attack Valinor, which causes the destruction of Nůmenor, and shows the Elves how to create the Rings of Power, which Sauron later uses to enslave or corrupt some of the leaders of the races of Middle-Earth. All this only to fall foul of the fact that the existence of God makes being a Manipulative Bastard and/or a Chessmaster ultimately futile.
Dragons in Middle-Earth seem to share this trait. Smaug in The Hobbit manages to sow distrust of his Dwarf companions in Bilbo, despite Bilbo only talking in the most cryptic of riddles, the only thing giving him away being that he had the smell of Dwarf on him.
Shift from The Last Battle demonstrates his Manipulative Bastardry multiple times just in his first few scenes. He gets his "friend", Puzzle, to do whatever he wants through a combination of guilt-tripping and playing on Puzzle's insecurity/low self-esteem (which are a result of the way Shift treats him in the first place).
Long John Silver from Treasure Island. While lacking the style needed to be a Magnificent Bastard, he fits this trope perfectly; acting so damn charming and likable that one can easily forget that he's in fact a ruthless, murderous pirate. His fondness for Jim Hawkins is particularly of notice, as even in the end it's never made clear just how much of their relationship was genuine and how much was manipulation on Silver's part.
Ellsworth Toohey from Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead. Here's a man who holds to the Strawman Political philosophy that no one should ever achieve anything great, and he does everything he can to make people feel so insecure to be anything but a mass of mediocre and dependent "second-handers." He has a well-developed Backstory to show that he's been growing into this role all his life, and he gives a Breaking Speech to Peter Keating that explains all his motivations and goals.
What makes him even more Manipulative and Bastardly is that he doesn't genuinely believe this himself: rather, he realizes that people who lack a sense of the greatness in life are easier to control. (As witness the way he sabotages his niece's chances for a fulfilling career and a happy marriage.) Toohey is driven only by the desire for power over others, like the Party in 1984. (In fact, both Orwell and Rand stated that inspiration for the antagonists came from observing the very worst tendencies in contemporary socialists and taking them to their logical conclusions.)
Stephen Norton in Agatha Christie's Curtain: The Last Case of Poirot is largely based on Iago. The manipulations quickly reach downright ridiculous extremes bordering on full-blown Gambit Roulettes. It often takes little more than a casual remark on Stephen Norton's part (or on the part of any of the dozens of people he uses as unwitting proxies to voice his 'suggestions' to the people involved, both victim and murderer alike) in any given conversation to set a complex chain of events into motion that will lead to someone getting killed shortly afterwards. Norton is actually so good at this, that even Poirot knows that it'd be impossible to ever him get convicted of any crime whatsoever. So Poirot decides to just kill Norton instead.
Abelard Lindsay and the other Shaper diplomats in Schismatrix, but also Lindsay's untrained rival Constantine.
Raistlin Majere in Dragonlance is very good at The Chessmaster event-manipulating (he earns his title as 'Master of Past and Present' in more than the time travel sense) but arguably even better at using people, effortlessly twisting his brother's love to his own purposes, maneuvering apprentice-Bastard-in-training Dalamar into both hating and worshiping him, manipulating guileless kender Tasselhoff into achieving several of his goals (though he screws up others) and playing (and almost always winning) mind-games with the heads of the Orders of High Sorcery, Fistandantilus, and the Dark Queen Herself. His crowning achievement, however, is his protracted seduction minus any sex (losing her virginity would cause her to lose her powers) and subsequent cruel abandonment of a holy cleric of Paladine simply so he could use her to enter the Abyss and kill the Queen. To take her place, naturally. In a supreme bit of irony, the only reason he is foiled is because he's not a heartless bastard.
Raistlin's half-sister, Kitiara Uth Matar, also qualifies. Tanis Half-Elven was putty in her hands. She successfully seduced Sturm Brightblade, effectively getting a paragon of Honor Before Reason to betray his best friend. She easily manipulated her rival in love and war, Laurana, into getting herself captured. She tricked her lover Dalamar into letting her get close enough to stab him. Though she muffed the attack and failed to kill him. And she even got the best of Raistlin a couple of times.
In the Forgotten Realms series War of the Spider Queen, Danifae Yauntyrr starts as a lowly slave after her clan was wipped out in one of the common political feuds and she was captured alive as a trophy, to serve as a personal slave to a spoiled princess. Even though any other member of her group could kill her at any time without requiring a reason, she defies and antagonizes about everyone else, makes her former mistress her personal bitch, has her Love Interest shred to bloody pieces by Jaggred, makes a high priestess to end up paralyzed with self-doubt, and gets the half-demon Jeggred to defy his aunt and follow her orders instead (as she continually proves to be much more ruthless and manipulative, and thus being worthy of his loyalty). And when it comes for the reincarnated godess to chose her new champion, she spits everyone in the face by being chosen over priestesses who had served her all their lives and sacrificed everything to gain her favor.
Leland Gaunt from Stephen King's Needful Things. He's similar to Iago, but on a large scale; he takes the conflicts among people and turns them into murderous feuds. With "pranks".
He even makes sure his customers only play pranks on people they don't know well enough to realize that the prank will play on a flaw or insecurity, but know enough about to be able to rationalize the prank to themselves by denigrating the person. And then he makes his final bit of money by selling guns...
Honor Harrington is positively awash with this types, given the series somewhat political bent, especially in the latest novels.
One good example of the cold and ambitious Manipulative Bastard would be Solarian Vice-Admiral Luis Rozsak, who is also The Chessmaster, and has absolutely no qualms about bending almost everybody to do his bidding. Surprisingly he isn't a villain, at least technically: he's a rather personable guy, and his goals are mostly noble, so he's actually more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
The same series also subverts this trope with Havenite secret agent Victor Cachat, who fits the same analytical type to a T, but it is only ONE part of his otherwise genuinely kind and meek personality, and manifests itself only when he firmly believes in its necessity.
Actually, Sansa had inklings of this from the beginning. She's said to be good at putting up a false front and lying to others right to their faces, so while she's caught more than a few times ( Sandor and Cersei tell her "learn to lie better, kiddo"), Littlefinger just has to pass his best manipulation techniques onto her...
Cassie from Animorphs. Many, many times throughout the series, she uses her innate understanding of people for the good of the team, if not necessarily for the good of herself, or the person. Her main victim of her manipulations was Visser Three (mainly because the Visser was an evil ego-driven son of a bitch). She also (reluctantly) used her understanding of people to trap a traitor of the group in the body of a rat. Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.
She and Marco tend to share this role, with Cassie being the "play on what you love" type, and Marco being the borderline Smug Snake, "irritate, annoy, threaten, and offer you the world" type. A villainous example would be Yeerk Torture Technician and utter psycho, Taylor.
David, the aforementioned 'Ani-Traitor', also falls into Manipulative Bastard territory, coming closer to wiping out the Animorphs than the entirety of the Yeerk Empire in his trilogy. He goads Jake into fighting a battle he cannot win, manipulates Ax's ignorance of alarm clocks and Rachel's opinion of him as a robber to lure Rachel into another trap, and turned the entire Berenson family into puppets by pretending to be recently-hospitalized cousin Saddler. His return in #48 goes even further, working the "The Reason You Suck" Speech overtime in his attempt to break Rachel's will to fight.
But most of all, Jake, who becomes more and more manipulative as the series progresses.
Gentleman in Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. He has exceptional insight and sometimes understands a person's mind better than they themselves do, but only uses the knowledge to exploit them, for profit and for fun.
Also Mrs Sucksby. She raises Sue as a daughter, keeping her close and innocent (and making Sue love her like a mother), but the whole time planning to her being able to put Sue away and reclaim Maud, her biological daughter.
'Sticky Eye' Kawakami in Cloud of Sparrows. He raises Heiko from a village of eta, outcasts who perform disgusting but necessary work such as butchers and tanners, as the most beautiful geisha in Edo, and assigns her as a spy and assassin attached to Genji. Genji quickly cops to the fact that she's an assassin, but it turns out Kawakami had counted on this so he could reveal her background to Genji at the right moment. This sends Genji into a well-concealed Heroic BSOD, which culminates in him sending Heiko to America and massacring her entire village to prevent anyone else finding out.
Sol in Warrior Cats. His voice even seems to have the power to influence other cats' minds.
In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, Iagon reveals his True Colors when he manipulates Tsu'gan into not reporting his ploys. Followed up by his reflection that he has to do something about the Apothecary who knows, and later by his murdering a helpless servant.
If they have a pulse and have set foot on the planet Arrakis (Or, as it's also known, Dune), then they're probably magnificent bastards. Paul manipulates the Fremen to make them both into an army to win back the planet AND avert a jihad he sees in the future. Jessica does to (again to the Fremen) in order to survive. Baron Harkonnen does it to eventually put a Harkonnen on the Imperial throne (although in his case he never seriously considers doing it for himself. He's in it for the legacy). The Emperor himself kills off someone described repeatedly as looking like the Emperor himself (Duke Leto Atreides) because he feels threatened by him. The only people in the book who aren't magnificent bastards (or just bastards) is Gurney Hallack or dead (like Duncan Idaho. Don't worry, he gets both better and a magnificent bastard).
Leto II. There's a reason he's becomes the God Emperor. He manages to manipulate every single human being that crosses his path, up to and including his grandmother, his aunt and his own father, all of which should have known better. Then he ends up ruling the entire known universe for 3500 years with an iron fist. To be fair, he really didn't manipulate his father Paul. It was more like winning an argument and Paul realizing Leto was right, much to his dismay.
Nigel Bishop, from the Dream Park novel The California Voodoo Game, wrote the book on Manipulative Bastardry (The Art of Gaming). An outstanding example of this trope, not least because Bishop unabashedly convinces the Gaming world he's a Magnificent Bastard, and is universally admired for it; only the reader knows the extent of his crimes, or the tone of his internal monologue, that show he's too much of a Bastard to rightly qualify as Magnificent.
Also from Jim Butcher, Martin, in The Dresden Files. Nicknamed "Mr. Bland" when Harry meets him, the guy is a half-vampire working for an anti-vampire organization called the Fellowship of St. Giles who seems to have absolutely no emotions. He says it's necessary for his work, where emotions create attachment and he has to do very bad things in order to defeat the Red Court vampires. He ain't kidding. In the end, turns out not only is he a mole for the Red Court, but he is actually against THEM as well. He's been feeding them entirely accurate information, including that which has led to hundreds of deaths of humans, to put them into a position of enough power where they would initiate an incredibly dangerous magical ritual just for the sake of vengeance. Then he manipulated Harry into being forced to kill Susan— his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child (as well as Martin's partner for about a decade)— in a way that would turn the ritual against the Reds, wiping out all the Red Court vampires in the world.Yikes.
Nicodemus also likes to do this sort of thing. Highlights include tossing an Artifact of Doom at a toddler in order to force Harry to pick it up (implanting a copy of a Fallen Angel's personality in his head in the process) and displaying a horribly-tortured little girl to try to provoke Harry into using the Sword of Faith to break a promise. (The latter of which fails; Harry immediately realizes what Nick's trying to do, and he's made that mistake before and does not wish to repeat it)
Harry's developed this as well. Witness using Lara Raith as a catspaw to destroy Lord Raith while making her think that he is her catspaw.
Any descendant of Kushiel in Kushiel's Legacy can become a Manipulative Bastard. They can actually "see" what it will take to get people to act in a specific manner. Melisande embraces being a Manipulative Bastard and manipulates people just because she can. Her son Imriel tries to avoid being a Manipulative Bastard but still has that ability for when he needs to use it.
Many Sherlock Holmes villains qualify and so does Sherlock Holmes himself. In more than a couple occasions he has gone as far as to emotionally manipulate, not just the villains but innocent bystanders and Watson as well, to achieve his goals. Watson notes that this amuses him greatly.
Anna from Ann M. Martin's Slam Book. She admittedly accidentally drives an unpopular girl to suicide. She feels bad briefly — but her parents assure her that oh, it's mostly because that girl was unadjusted in the first place! Right...
Rimmer Dal, Big Bad of Terry Brooks's The Heritage of Shannara series. He so thoroughly destroys Par's sense of self and right and wrong, that by the end the poor kid is borderline insane, and barely able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Worst of all, this is exactly the result he was after, as a Par whose will is utterly shattered won't be able to prevent Dal's Grand Theft Me from going into effect. He turns this kid into The Woobie purely for his own benefit, and the kicker? It takes the Sword of Shannara (an artifact designed to expose the truth) to pierce through all the lies he's told. That almost isn't enough, because he manages to talk Par into believing he can't use it. Manipulative Bastard and Consummate Liar indeed.
In China Miéville's novel The Scar, Uther Doul is either this or Magnificent Bastard, depending on your interpretation. He knows that the Lovers' plan will get them all killed (if you believe that; arguably, that part could have been a lie too), but he doesn't want to be shown doing anything himself to oppose the Lovers, so he manipulates Bellis by giving just enough information to start a rebellion of Armada's citizens, even indulging her growing infatuation with him. Many readers fell for it hook, line, and sinker, thinking he'd become an Anti-Villain in time and end up with Bellis, and oh how wrong they were. The revelation that he never felt anything for Bellis, and was only using her, felt pretty harsh.
Mayor Prentiss from Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series. Throughout The Ask and the Answer, he plays head games with Todd, Viola, and his own son who he ends up shooting. He could also be considered a Magnificent Bastard as he is extremely confident and independent. Starts a Big Badass Battle Sequence at the beginning of Monsters of Men. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, drags Aaron along as a Church Militant while trying to chase Todd down.
Voldemort from Harry Potter. Especially when he was younger, and charmed everyone around him into to thinking he was the hero. Everything he says is a form of emotional manipulation (guilt-tripping, flattery, fear-mongering, put-downs to lower self-esteem), it's just that he doesn't use his charm to its full extent as an adult, preferring to manipulate using negative reinforcement instead. As is repeatedly stated in the series: "Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great."
Dumbledore. He plays people from beyond the grave, using his reputation as a kind, slightly Cloud CuckoolanderBig Good to get everyone to do exactly what he wants, playing on Voldemort's vanity and shortsightedness, Snape's love for Lily and Harry's chronic heroism. Also, what he did with Draco. He knew the kid was trying to kill him, and he knew he wouldn't be doing it if Voldemort hadn't put him up to it. Yet he still refused to confront him until The Plan he'd dragged Snape into came to fruition. When he offered to hide Draco and his family, it was already too late for him to accept.
Xanatos from Jedi Apprentice and his bastard son Granta Omega from Jedi Quest are both very effective Manipulative Bastards, specialising in screwing with their opponents' minds during combat. Xanatos is especially brutal, giving Obi-Wan a Not So Different/"The Reason You Suck" Speech after the former is forced to kill fellow student Bruck, that nearly shatters the boy's self-confidence.
In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, most Getans consider the whole Kaiel clan to be this—and, indeed, they seem to be actively trying to breed for the trait, in several ways. Within the Kaiel, Prime Predictor Aesoe is a prime example, ordering the three protagonist brothers to marry Oelita, the Gentle Heretic (against the wishes of all parties) so the Kaiel will gain influence with her followers.
Legacy of the Dragokin: All the drama in Drewghaven was a distraction planned by Man in Shadow to get Daniar out of her castle. He led the rioters to the Kthonian knights' can and sent the distress signal letter to Brittania castle so Daniar would rush to her sister's aid. Once she was gone he could dig up Erowin's corpse without interference or observation.
Later subverted when it is made clear that Deshamai really did believe that what he did was the best thing for Caederan, and still more so when he gives a really awesome speech to the court and talks them into letting Alaric and Laeshana marry.
From the Divergent series, Jeanine Matthews. Also, Evelyn Johnson-Eaton. She gets better though.
Live Action TV
If you want to be bad guy on 24 you must have a Masters degree in Manipulative Bastardness. They seem to specialize in the Smug Snake and Con Man subtypes, but that show has showcased at least three kinds of every type in its eight seasons.
It should also be noted that this doesn't just extend to the antagonists, as some times the heroes manage to become this as well.
As the page quote suggests, Benjamin Linus of LOST beats out the majority of the other characters on this page.
Ben Linus is a combination of this, The Chessmaster, the Magnificent Bastard, and an emotionless monster. He has only shown a genuine facial expression in one episode of the series, where his daughter is shot by a Psycho for Hire. He's manipulated almost the entire cast at some point or another, and they only continue to even pay attention to him because he convinces them to. He actually spends most of the first part of season four tied up and constantly being hit by angry people, but he manages to talk his way out of it.
The incident above is the only time a genuine emotion is wrenched from him, but he's also smirked a couple of times when no one is watching him.
Ben Linus's lancer Juliet isn't anywhere near Ben's level, but she plays Jack Shepard like a fiddle for a good part of Season 3 until she undergoes a Heel-Face Turn.
Megan of Drake & Josh raised the bar to Olympic-worthy standards before hitting her teens.
Almost every demon on Supernatural. Even Crowley in season five- who he is helping the Winchesters without being overly manipulative- is still pulling deals with random mooks on the side. The crossroad demon, Azazel and Ruby all pull off impressive displays of manipulative bastardry. Even Meghas her moments - encouraging the boys to split up, for example- although she seems to lack the patience or psychological insight to be as good at this as the others. Maybe she just got found out too soon.
And, playing (sorta) for the other team, the Trickster/Gabriel. I know! Let's kill a guy who's doomed anyway just to teach his brother a lesson! And now let's do it a hundred more times!
And Zachariah, who will shunt you into a post-apocalyptic future to convince you to allow yourself to be possessed. Fun times.
Mike from The Young Ones can pull this off when dealing with the other members of his househould, but nobody else.
And Justin. The Frankengirl episode, for instance, he twists Alex's arm into becoming a cheerleader (knowing she'll hate it) to keep her out of his room. The kicker? He gets his mom to call him the 'perfect son' because he got his sister into an extracurricular activity, as if this were his plan all along.
The raison d'etre — his love of torturing people, both physically and emotionally, leads to his downfall more than once — of the sadistic vampire Angelus from Buffy and Angel:
Angel: I couldn't take my eyes off [the victims]. I was only in it for the evil. It was everything to me. It was art. The destruction of a human being.
Though he rarely makes use of it, Angel is still dangerously capable in this regard.
Also, Holtz, Holland Manners, possessed Cordelia, Lindsey in fifth season, well let's just say that Angel liked this sort of character.
Spike had whole episode in season 4 where he exploited the Scooby Gang's emotional shortcomings to drive them apart. He made a deal with Adam to get the chip out of his head.
Whistler in Season 9 of Buffy.
Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey, although admittedly his schemes backfire most of the time.
In Charmed, there is Cole Turner, who unbeknownst to the sisters throughout Season 3 (but immediately to the audience), is the evil demon bounty hunter, Belthazor. Prue has her suspicions but nothing is confirmed until the mid-season finale. Then again in Season 4 when Cole is possessed by the source in the mid-season finale. Paige catches on, but Cole/The Source uses various tricks to make her question her own sanity. In both cases, Prue and Paige are the Only Sane Women
Christy Jenkins is revealed to be working for The Triad in Season 8 and manipulates her sister, Billie, in to turning against the Charmed ones.
Virgil "Web" Webster from the short lived crime drama The Inside ruthlessly preys on the psychological flaws of other people with a chilling indifference, often drawing comparisons to the very criminals he pursues.
Dr. Gregory House. He tricks his patients into highly risky medication or procedures, as well as manipulating colleagues/superiors for various purposes (chief among which is getting a Vicodin prescription).
Rodney Foreman: My son says you're a manipulative bastard.
Dr. House: It's just a pet name. I call him Doctor Bling.
Dr. Cuddy: Don't you think this is a little manipulative?
Dr. House: No. I think it's hugely manipulative.
In Poison House brutally manipulates a sick high school student's mother for half the episode, then, after the boy is treated and is leaving the hospital his mother stops to mention to House and Foreman that the CDC called her again. Oops indeed. When she catches back up to her son being wheeled out by Cameron we get this gem.
Matt: Who were those guys?
Matt's Mother: Oh, they're the arrogant jerks that saved your life
Dr. James Wilson knows how to manipulate people too, sometimes seeming to be the only one who can manipulate House.
Guy from Noah's Arc, who bit by bit manipulate Alex, Trey, and Alex's friends in an attempt to get Alex out of the picture and be with Trey. His plan is effective enough that at one point even Noah, Ricky and Chance (Alex's closest friends) are questioning Alex's credibility.
The magician Derren Brown is well known for this trait. In one show he recruits volunteers and offers to teach them psychological techniques. Instead, he manipulates them into robbing a security van. He once fooled a man into thinking that he was a ventriloquist'sdummy, for heaven's sake.
Alternate interpretation: Derren Brown also manipulates viewers through use of paid actors.
Robbin a van is nothing compared to getting a guy to pull out a gun in public and shoot a well-known actor. Go ahead, talk about how hypnosis can't get normal people to kill after this. All you have to do is convince them they're not shooting at people but at targets on a gun range.
Jim Profit and Bobbi Stakowski of Profit. LIKE WHOA. There's a reason Profit is where he's at in life despite being raised in a box: he finds your deepest weakness and exploits it. This can range from nudging the boss's wife into an affair with him to his psychological torture of Joanne in "Healing". As for Bobbi? Well, where do you think Jim got it from?
Any reality show is going to have at least one of these in the cast. Richard Hatch from season 1 of Survivor is an example.
Saffron/Bridget/Yolanda is a tremendous straight example in her first appearance, but almost counts as a deconstruction of just how messed up this character type would have to be during her appearance in "Trash".
River is a bit more playful in how she does this to other crewmembers, but she turns it into a rather deadly game of manipulation when she chats up the aforementioned Jubal Early.
Blackadder, in his later incarnations, can be very skilled at this. He tends to take this route when dealing with each series's wealthiest or most powerful Upper-Class Twit (Prince George, especially, but also Queenie and General Melchett). Mostly, though, he prefers to lie, cheat, scheme and use his skills as a Magnificent Bastard instead.
Another example is Philip of Burgundy from the first season finale. He assists Edmund in collecting together the band of villains that will seize the crown, then manipulates them into turning against Edmund so as to seize the crown himself.
Katrina Ghent tries hard for Manipulative Bitch status, and almost gets it when she blackmails Rose into almost ruining the reputation of either Jack or Michelle and then turns around and proposes to Jack, poised to become the next queen. Shame about that trip to Osteria.
Editor Lynda Day from Press Gang. To quote her best friend Sarah after one of Lynda's finest moments of manipulation: "Can you explain to me how I just argued myself into doing what you wanted me to do in the first place? You are a devious, unfeeling, calculating, manipulative bitch!" Lynda's reply? "Well, you were asking what made me a better choice for editor."
Tony in Skins (seasons 1 & 2). Overlaps with True Art Is Angsty, which is lampshaded in his speech to Sid, where he tells him that he is a Manipulative Bastard to liven things up.
JAG: Loren Singer will gladly do anything short of actual criminal behavior to advance her Naval career. Even if it risks getting people disbarred (Mac), divorced (Bud), or humiliated (Bud, Harriet, Harm).
Hightower, the new boss on The Mentalist, shows signs of this in her very first episode. She politely and cheefully informs Patrick Jane that as far as she's concerned, he's an asset to the CBI and if he screws up with one of his stunts, no problem. She'll can Lisbon, who she immediately realizes he cares for deeply, instead. And despite what she says, she subtly gets Lisbon out of an interrogation, leaving the suspect alone, because she knows odds are Jane will try something, and she wants to give him the opportunity to see if he can succeed before the man's lawyer gets him out of custody. Jane, himself a card-carrying manipulative bastard, is suitably impressed.
Oz has Chris Keller who is obsessed with controlling and manipulating others and is recruited by Vern Schillinger to seduce Beecher for the express purpose of breaking his heart (and arms and legs). Also, Ryan O'Reilly who pits the various gangs and cliques within Oz against each other for the purposes of surviving.
Community: Jeff, though his skills started failing him right around when he came to Greendale.
The study group seemed to start figuring out his tricks.
Jeff: How can I convince Senor Chang to do anything if I can't even convince you to not make me?
Group: Ah yeah that makes sense....
Troy: Wait a minute, he's convincing us!
Jim Keats, who is also a Corrupter and a Chessmaster starts out as a hugely successful one, turning the CID team against Gene Hunt. Evolves into a Magnificent Bastard when it's revealed he's actually Satan incarnate - or at the very least, a high-level minion - and it's been his plan to shatter the Purgatory that Gene's created and used to help troubled coppers. Unfortunately, his manipulation of Alex doesn't quite counteract her loyalty and affection for Gene, and everyone crosses over, preserving the order of things.
Joanna of Hells Kitchen Season 3 attempted this and failed badly. She tried to convince Melissa to not nominate her in the first episode and tried to convince Ramsey that taking Spaghetti from the top of the rubbish and reboiling it is somehow worse than actively trying to get away with serving rissoto with rancid crab in it. It didn't work either.
Everybody Loves Raymond has Ray's mom, Marie, who manipulates the family by being passive-aggressive and guilt-tripping them into doing her bidding. She always manages to make Ray and Robert feel guilty and do her bidding as a result, and also apparently knows enough embarrassing information about each family member to keep them in line. Her daughter-in-law Debra, with whom she has an antagonistic relationship, is also a manipulative bitch within her household in the sense that she's constantly bullying Ray, and often goads him into fighting her battles for her whenever she's in conflict with another person, even when Ray himself thinks everyone should just try to get along; also in one episode she manipulates Robert as part of a larger scheme to make Ray quit his volunteering post at a hospital just because she wants him to do more chores around the house.
Sophie from Leverage has this as her job description. Nate is good at this as well.
Sterling is Nate's Evil Counterpart, although the fact that Nate is a criminal and Sterling is an Interpol agent, he may actually be a Good Counterpart.
Walter White, from Breaking Bad, slowly becomes more manipulative to everyone around him, but mostly to Jesse, through a variety of ways. He manipulates criminals he runs into by promising them he can make more money for them, he mostly lies and plays the victim for his family, and he uses Jesse's "Well Done, Son" Guy problems to get him to do whatever Walt wants.
Gus Fling was able to convince the entire south coast that he was an upstanding citizen that ran a chain of fast food chicken joints and a dry cleaners. He often gave money to community causes, especially those that dealt with law enforcement, while at the same time, he was in control of a vast criminal empire. Walter White even picked up a thing or two by studying him, even though Walter saw him as a dangerous enemy.
Mr. Morden from Babylon 5 is this, and by extension, the Shadows as a whole. The Vorlons could also be considered this. Come to think of it, quite a few characters in the series could be considered this.
Regina also has some skill in this direction, when she doesn't simply take the sledgehammer approach.
Regina's mother, Cora, makes it plain where she gets it from.
Agravaine in Merlin. Not many people can talk their way out of holding a knife to someone's throat.
Morgana. She manipulated Uther for quite a while until openly betraying him.
She also brought Lancelot back from the dead to break up Arthur and Guinevere's wedding.
Sunny Capaduca on 15/Love. A Child Prodigy and Jerk Jock, Sunny was inevitably able to use her seeming innocence and tremendous financial backing to get her own way. Resident High School Hustler, Gary "Squib" Furlong was also an effective liar and Con Man; he was opposed for most of the show's run by President Harold Bates who was less of a Dean Bitterman than he was a Stern Teacher/Manipulative Bastard cross.
Jim Moriarty in Sherlock. Moriarty is an infamous character, but his Manipulative Bastard status get bumped Up to Eleven in this incarnation. He's no longer the nonchalant professor, but now is a "consulting criminal" who has just as much power and influence over people, if not more, than Mycroft. What really makes him a Manipulative Bastard? Our Sherlock Holmes is no longer quite as stoic as previous incarnations and has a co-dependent relationship with his only friend John, whom Moriarty, in "The Great Game", kidnaps and straps a bomb to before forcing him to confront Sherlock, pretending to be Moriarty himself. . In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty manages to make everyone in the show, sans Mrs. Hudson, Molly, and John believe that Sherlock is a fraud who created Moriarty by hiring an actor named Rich Brook to play the villain. What really takes the cake, the thing that really sends Sherlock into his Heroic BSOD, is threatening to assassinate John (and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson) unless Sherlock flings himself to his death off a building. Moriarty then shoots himself, leaving Sherlock with no choice but to fake suicide. While John is watching. Like Shakespeare's Iago, Moriarty does it all because he's bored. Everything he does, from kidnapping children and poisoning them with mercury to threatening to skin people and turn them into shoes is an exercise in terror.
And, according to Word of God, it's possible that Moriarty somehow survived eating his gun, although he won't be a major character in the third season.
Irene is this, although she's not nearly as much of a bastard as Moriarty. Her biggest bastard moments include making John extremely jealous and faking her own death.
In the first episode, Sherlock seems Oblivious to Love when Molly asks him out for coffee. In the next episode, he deliberately manipulates her feelings for him to get what he wants.
Sherlock himself definitely shows traces of this on his return in the third series, in particular getting John to believe that he can't stop the bomb, he hasn't called the police, and they will surely die below London He begs for forgiveness, complete with quavering voice and tears. And having received John's forgiveness as he reconciles himself to their deaths Sherlock laughs and turns it into a Did You Actually Believe? moment. .
Both Patty and Ellen in Damages. It's especially fun when they're trying to do it to each other.
The Seventh Doctor in Doctor Who has this as his hat among the Doctors. His speciality is manipulating villains into melting down and self-destructing.
The Daleks in Victory of the Daleks are a bit of this, as they trick the Doctor into helping them rebuild their race.
All the Number Twos in The Prisoner. And the heroic Number Six can do it right back to them.
Ansen Fullerton of Burn Notice certainly takes the cake among the other manipulators Michael has dealt with. He plays Michael like a fiddle for half of a season, using a mixture of passive-aggressive emotional bullying, blackmail, and hints of the answers Michale has been seeking.
Also, Tom Card, who has Ansen shot, with Michael's brother being collateral damage and nearly sucessfully manipulates Michael into walking straight into a trap. When Michael figures out the truth and tries to turn the tables on Card, the latter calmly shoots his Dragon (whom Michael subverted) and talk to Michael while planting evidence that it's all self-defense. He almost succeeds in getting Michael to join him... then Michael shoots him in the head.
The final villain of Tensou Sentai Goseiger turns out to be this. It's how Buredoran was on all three villain groups. He got all possible knowledge from each group and added them to his already incredible power. After he gains all necessary knowledge from a group, They Have Outlived Their Usefulness. He reveals after the defeat of the third group that he was once the ultimate Gosei Angel named Brajira but was condemned by other Gosei Angels, prompting him to time travel into the future and wipe out the corrupt humans and angels, manipulating all of the groups and, in some cases, the Goseigers themselves to become the only villain left.
Press Secretary CJ Cregg from The West Wing is on a national (often even global) scale: her job is to play the White House press corps, the American news media, the heads of state of every other nation, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the DNC, the RNC, the DOD, the DOJ, all of K Street, every political organization and interest group in Washington, and the American public in general like a banjo. However, she is never this towards her friends or colleagues, and is in fact one of the bluntest and most straightforward advice-givers in the White House.
Brenda Johnson on The Closer, to a certain extent. She's an expert at getting the guilty party to confess to their crimes, but getting that confession often takes manipulation and outright lying on Brenda's part.
Scandal: Everyone in the show qualifies as this. Justified Trope, because the show takes place in Washington, D.C., where the rich and powerful perform politics daily.
Barney from How I Met Your Mother is a self-described "master of manipulation" who mainly uses his manipulative powers to seduce women; on more than one occasion, he's actually convinced women that the fate of the world depends on them having sex with him. He's also played plenty of mind games on his friends, going so far as to spend five years using Pavolovian conditioning on Marshall, all so he could win a bet he hadn't even made yet.
Margaery Tyrell of Game of Thrones. In a setting filled with Smug Snakes and Obviously Evil conspirators, she manages to not only entice Joffrey into falling for her but also win over the greater public (who had previously been almost murderous in their hate for the king) through little more than being observant and playing her role as a kind, selfless, beautiful woman very, very well.
Elementary's Moriarty, also known as Irene Adler. Manages to construct an alternate identity apparently for the sole sake of getting Sherlock to fall in love with her, and is completely successful at it - and would probably have continued to be completely successful at it if Sherlock hadn't noticed a missing mole on her back. Sherlock and Watson are no slouches at being Manipulative Bastards themselves, and when Watson notices Moriarty is actually genuinely in love with Sherlock, this proves her undoing, at least for now. For an added bonus, she is portrayed by the same actress as the above Margaery Tyrell.
Stephen Fisher, Tim McInnerny's Home Office official in New Tricks, who amuses himself by maneuvering the team into doing what he wants, in at least one case by making them believe he wanted the exact opposite.
"Arrow", despite being somewhat of a newborn series, has already dished out at least three of these:
In Season Two, Sebastian Blood plays this trope to a T. He manages to get the support of most of Starling City and run for mayor, and fools cast into believing he's a honest, good-willed activist, while at the same time being in charge of a cult of devoted servants. The only one who doesn't trust him is Laurel, and he uses her drug problems to make everyone, Laurel herself included, believe she's just crazy paranoid.
This could be the defining trope for Gaea from Noob. Cumulative info from media has her use Puppy Dog eyes and general charisma in the webseries and comic, the novels indicate that she tends to make speed psychological profiling of people she speaks with, is frequently scamming people and of course has to do a little of the lying thing to cover it all up. A few lines spoken by other characters in Season 5 however hint that after four years of her playing Horizon, "everyone knows that she's an opportunist".
Former ECW president and Smug Snake extraordinaire Paul Heyman fits this troop to a tee. He stole most of his ideas from other promoters like The Sheik, Joel Goodhart, and Atsushi Onita, and was not only able to convince his fans that they were his ideas, but that anyone else who used them was stealing from him. He was also able to convince them that they were watching only high quality wrestling, and that the WWF and WCW wrestlers were crap, while he made stars out of people like the Public Enemy and [911. Then there is the way he treated his wrestlers, which made them loyal to him despite the fact he had not paid them for the last six months. Even though most people that worked for him realize what a bastard he was in retrospect, he still has a strong Creator Worship following today despite his all his failures in the industry.
It was said of him in the DVD (Rise and Fall of ECW) that Paul always lied to the wrestlers, but he'd never lie to the fans.
WWE's commentators don't refer to Triple H as "The Cerebral Assassin" for nothing.
Raven, especially during his first ECW run and his WCW run, is another prime example just for his ability to gain loyal follower after loyal follower. The man got The Sandman's own wife and son to turn against him, for god's sake.
There's a good reason Edge is known as the "Master Manipulator".
Chaos in general in Warhammer 40,000 is very good at this, and the god Tzeentch in particular. The C'tan, who tricked the entire Necrontyr race into letting them eat their Life Force, deserve a mention too.
On the subject of Tzeentch, it is said that it has so many plans working in unison manipulating so many people and events that they effectively cancel each other out. Foiling one plan will cause a dozen more plans to initiate, which will in turn foil several dozen more plans... and so on and so forth.
Essentially, no matter what you do, you're furthering one or more plans of Tzeentch. I'm straining to remember the title, but one short story had a fairly prominent sorcerer engaged in a pitched battle: the forces of Chaos had far greater numbers and armaments, but the defenders were well dug in and supplied. The battle took months, and in the end a last-ditch effort on the part of the Imperials routed the remnants of his army and caused him to flee. The sorcerer feared for his life and soul, but on the first night had a vision from Tzeentch congratulating him on accomplishing just what he was supposed to do. When your greatest, most honored champions have no clue what your endgame is (or even if you have one) then you, sir, are beyond manipulative.
Part of the reason why Tzeentch is seldom the first guy who comes to mind in the 40k setting is that none of the writers either in fiction or rules really knows how to show Tzeentch succeeding. Almost all the fiction is from an Imperial viewpoint, which means they have to win, and so when Tzeentch crops up they tend to bust up one of his plans for reals, or at least genuinely setting him back because otherwise they may as well not have bothered. Tzeentch has never really gotten a chance to win or even be progressing and is always foiled by suitably clever and heroic imperials, which is somewhat contrary to his web of intrigue that has everything plotted out for every eventuality.
The real question is exactly what Tzeentch's designs might be. Out of all the Chaos gods he is the least Always Chaotic Evil and could be attempting to achieve... well ... anything in the long term. If anything, since conspiring in general is praise to Tzeentch, he could be slurping power out of all the bickering and politicking in the Imperium with eventual plan to re-introduce magic into their ranks, participating in wars and invasions to provoke further in-fighting in the Imperium. We just don't know, no-one has ever really tried to tell us, and that's why Tzeentch SHOULD be a manipulative bastard but tends to more feel like a very clever scooby-doo villain with no specific motivations that the bad guys can stop.
Tzeentch has plans, but he inherently has no agenda. Tzeentch, along with the other Chaos gods, is a psychic manifestation. He is the manifestation of plotting and change. He becomes more powerful simply by the existence of plots and change, not by them achieving any sort of actual objective. If Tzeentch ever definitively "won," he would cease to exist because there would be no one to plot against.
More recent editions have basically tried to justify Tzeentch's inscrutability by explaining that Tzeentch has no specific end goal, and rather his scheming is done purely for its own sake; in the cosmic scheme of things, Tzeentch is basically the ultimate pot-stirrer, with no specific ambitions beyond trying to cause whatever disruption in the Status Quo that he feels like. Individual minions may have their own end-goals, but Tzeentch himself simply does everything For the Lulz, and thus any confrontation against Tzeentch is inherently rigged in his favor; no matter what you do, whether you succeed or not, you've made something change, and through that you have served the God of Change.
Iago, from William Shakespeare's Othello, is the absolute definition of a Manipulative Bastard and the inspiration for many other entries on this list.
Shakespeare was using a traditional Christian theatre character called a Vice, who was always scheming and bragging to the audience. (Obviously it was a coveted role.)
If we're including Shakespearean Manipulative Bastards, then we also need to include Richard III.
In Shakespeare's King Lear, the appropriately-named villain Edmund The Bastard gets his brother disowned and banished by framing him for an attempt to kill their father Gloucester, then arranges for Gloucester to be disowned and banished after having his eyes gouged out; he does this all for political gains. After Edmund becomes Earl, he seduces two different women with promises of being queen, even though they are both sisters, and already married. He also secretly arranges for their father to be killed, and another sister as well, to solidify his claim to the throne.
The Black Knight in Middleton's A Game at Chess — a caricature of the Spanish ambassador Count Gondomar (who then had the play closed.) When told "Your plot's discovered", he exults "Which of the twenty thousand and nine hundred/Fourscore and five, can'st tell?"
Archie, who you would think would be 13's Morality Pet, is a more sympathetic version of this. He uses his Muscular Dystrophy to guilt people (mainly adults, as he is not one of the cool kids) to get what he wants. This is actually used as a Chekhov's Gun when he uses his disease to guilt Mrs. Goldman into buying tickets to an R-rated movie.
Teridax is the Ace of this, as he was able send Mata-Nui in another world, and take over his body, making a god.
The Practical Incarnation from Planescape: Torment. He gets a woman who knows he's a Manipulative Bastard but is still in love with him to accompany him to her certain death so he can have a spy in the place where she'll die. He creates a holy text quite possibly wholecloth in order to get a member of a race that freed itself from slavery and despises the notion to swear fealty to him. He gets a blind archer to effectively sell himself to him. Manipulative? Oh yes. Bastard? Very much so.
And, depending on how you play the game, the player character can be as well. If you're smart enough, you can actually out-manipulate the above Bastard.
Half of the cast from Metal Gear. Liquid Snake and Solidus Snake are famous for tricking the heroes. However, the award of biggest manipulative bastard needs to go the Patriots and Revolver Ocelot.
Resident Evil: Albert Wesker. In RE1, he blackmails Barry into betraying Chris and Jill by holding Barry's family hostage so that three would kill each other. In RE5, he captures Jill, turns her into his slave against her will, and forces Chris to fight against her, for the same reason as before.
EVE Online. One of the main ways to succeed at EVE Online is to become a manipulative bastard. It's not the only way, but most players are bound to go this path.
The most infamous example being Cally - aka Dentara Rast - who, after forming a corporation called the EVE Intergalactic Bank (EIB), transformed his above-board loan dispensing enterprise assisting new corporations with start-up capital and the sale of desirable tools and other in-game items (complete with loans and associated repayment schemes) into what is arguably regarded as one of, if not the, largest scams ever legally conducted in a video game. From the initial start-up capital for his own corporation (100 million ISK - EVE's in-game currency), Cally utilised various means such as verbal misdirection, inventing a friend (Peter) to whom he had "entrusted" the reins of the corporation and, at one point, even faking his own death (in the eyes of his fellow EVE players) to rake in a cool 790 billion ISK; increasing his own money almost eight thousand fold. The best part of the whole scheme? The sixteen-minute video where he admits to and brags about the entire thing.
Cally: I didn't break any rules. I didn't hack into your accounts and take the money. You gave it to me. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Ratchet & Clank: Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek deserves a mention here. He's quite good at what he does, has an impressive voice (done by Kevin Michael Richardson) and has eyes that are large, shiny and blueish with no pupils.
However, he's been killed by Hakumen, and it turns out that all along he was playing into Izanami's hands.
Hazama's partner in crime Relius Clover is a fine manipulator too; he's spent years trying to play piano with his son Carl's emotions, often for nothing more than amusement. He tricked into helping him create Ignis. In her legendary Bad Ending, he mind rapes the above Makoto into borderline catatonia when even Hazama, himself a pro, failed to do much. Recently he's been trying, with considerably less success, to play Litchi.
The Warcraft series seems to love this kind of villains. Kil'jaeden The Deceiver is probably the biggest of these, doing countless Gambit Roulettes behind the scenes and rarely, if ever lose his cool.
Every single member of the Black Dragonflight you meet are manipulative bastards in their own right, seemingly a requirement to be a black dragon, even the ones who aren't downright evil such as Sabellian aka Baron Sablemane and the supposedly purified Wrathion manipulated the player character for a great deal and only showing them their true form and purpose when they have trusted the player character enough.
Lich King Ner'zhul himself, he manipulated Kel'Thuzad, Arthas and Dar'khan Drathir, aiming at their desires (thirst for knowledge, revenge and power).
Gul'dan was the first Manipulative Bastard in the entire Warcraft franchise, even before the character of Kil'jaeden was fleshed out.
Axel from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, playing both sides in an Organization XIII internal conflict so that he could feel amused (hey, when you're a Nobody, you'll take any feeling you can get.)
Marluxia and Zexion from the same game, though the latter tends to fall into Smug Snake territory.
Maleficent definitely count too. In the first game, she had gained the loyality of Disney's most ruthlessly evil villains by promises of high power of galactic scale, something most people whouldn't ignore. She also played Riku into her hands by using some good old fashion "play on his jealousy of his best friend, 'cause he has the girl and greater powers" while playing the mother figure to him.
Master Xehanort manipulated the three protagonist of the first game so he could get a new body, get Kingdom Hearts and restart the Keyblade War. Even after the prequel's end he still succeeded with one of his goals. Not only that but even after his two halves are defeated he's going to make a return as the original. It's as though this is just another alternate plan he created in case his other halves failed. The events of all of the games but 1 is due to him, and you could say he was responsible for that game being necessary at all.
In the Fallout series you can get out from/make almost any/every situation if your Speech-skill is high enought...this depending are you good or evil. In Fallout 3 alone - when playing Good - you can negotiate/seduce a man to give up his plan to blow up a city or - as Evil character - manipulate him to double the reward if you want to blow up the bomb for him.
In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Kreia digs into Atton's subconscious and holds his past over his head like an axe for the whole game, ensuring he remains loyal to the Exile. When she meets Mandalore later, she casually namedrops Revan, and then promising an answer to "the question that burns within his shell" - which likely boils down to "Why did he abandon me?" - to ensure his loyalty to the Exile.
Emphasized by an optional scene in the game - If Atton and the Exile develop enough trust between them, Atton tells the exile of his murder of several Jedi during the war, some former comrades of the Exile. The Exile accepts this and forgives Atton. Atton, having done this, confronts Kreia, and states that she has no power over him any longer. Kreia's Response - "If you thought I had any power over you in the first place then you were more of a fool than I thought. However, never forget, traitor, the feeling of guilt you had, and know that I can make you recall that feeling at - any - moment. Now, leave me, murderer". A Magnificent Bastard, indeed.
Unfortunately for Kreia, she can't manipulate droids. (She will vent her anger at T3, however.)
Up to Eleven in the Restored Content. For example, she will poke and prod at Brianna, stoking her jealousy of Visas.
A less magnificent example is Atris. She has the lowest-ranked Handmaiden join the Exile (the Handmaidens are supposed to kill Jedi who fall to the dark side). Then Atris tells the others that Handmaiden left of her own accord so that they'll kill her if she discovers her Secret Legacy and trains in the Force—which, in Atris' very narrow worldview, would constitute falling to the dark side. Atris is also the person who called the conclave on Katarr and deliberately stayed away so she could observe what was killing the Jedi.
There's no way SHODAN couldn't be one of these. Particularly in the second installment. When she first contacts you, she pretends to be the dearly departed Dr. Janice Polito, until you finally make it into her office on Deck 4. There, she will explain how her creations, The Many, are her enemies as well, and then, well, she becomes more of a slave driver than a manipulator, except that she continuous to give you cyber modules so you could be tempted to embrace her cybernetic phylosiphy. So, sure SHODAN threatens you to accomplish the tasks she gives you, and she coldly insults you every step of the way, but there's no denying that SHODAN's influence is one of the scariest things about her.
Metal Sonic from Sonic Heroes fits this trope well. Despite being seen right in the beginning, he worked behind and in the scenes, and manipulated everyone to the point where he almost won, had it not been for the teams collecting the emeralds.
Dr. Eggman has been shown to be this at times in the Sonic series. He has tricked Knuckles on several occasions, tricked Tails into revealing he had a fake Chaos Emerald, and has, at one point, tricked Sonic to get to the center of a machine that would unseal Dark Gaia and break Sonic out of his Super Mode.
Master Li of Jade Empire is the epitome of Manipulative Bastardry. He pulls off a 20 yearplan(only saved from being a Gambit Roulette because he is always in control of it) perfectly, even anticipating crash sites of flyers and manipulating family Genre Savvy enough to assume he survived a blizzard after being chucked around by a deity and to still be looking for him. He knew about and relied on Sun Hai doing that. All hail the Glorious Strategist!
Final Fantasy Tactics: Apart from all his standard Batman Gambit (in relation to Ramza,) and his own plan amid everyone else's Gambit Roulette, Delita may be seen as a Manipulative Bastard towards Ovelia if you think that he never truly loved her. Duke Barrington was one too towards Rapha and Marach, even if the former realized it very early on. Zalbaag and Dycedarg could also count on Ramza's passion for their own ends.
Adachi of Persona 4 makes another unsuspecting man do his dirty work for him and manages to successfully avoid capture until the very end of the game. Somewhat subverted in that the part with the other man was a stroke of luck.
Aradia, in her case, strings along an emotionally-vulnerable woman across a Death World filled with demons with the promise of giving her a Reason - the necessary philosophy/impetus to create a new world through the power of Kagutsuchi. It turns out she keeps withholding the promised Reason because she literally cannot and never could imagine it. Aradia's been lying through her teeth the entire time - only humans can conceive Reasons; what she needed was the woman's faith and hope her protege, the Demi-Fiend, was receptive to her. When it became apparent that was not the case and that she was not going to win, Aradia invoked Screw This, I'm Outta Here!. To her credit, she did try and get her follower with her (possibly to keep Aradia alive), but her emotional manipulation had drained the poor woman to the point she no longer cared even about her own life.
Gravemind from Halo deserves a nomination for convincing a super advanced A.I. who's sole function and goal was his destruction to join him.
The Prophet of Truth, the other major antagonist of the series, is also an example. Much emphasis on the 'manipulative' and much emphasis on the 'bastard.' Truth is the one who kicked off the war against humanity in the first place, after finding out that humans are the Reclaimers and may, in fact, be descendants of the Forerunners (which is later shown to be untrue). Realizing that this knowledge would prove to be the Covenant's undoing, he manipulates Prophet politics into getting himself elected a Hierarch along with his co-conspirators by claiming that humans are hoarding Forerunner relics and must pay for this insult.
Sakaki of .hack//G.U. is an interesting case. Some people can see the manipulative bastardry from the beginning, others don't realize it until his victim does. Full details: Sakaki is practically mindraping Atoli from the beginning, and always turning her away from everyone and towards himself. This is very similar to the Orochimaru gambit of taking an already heavily abused victim, and then twisting them around your little finger. He even then admits to the whole thing fully aware that Atoli is in ear shot, but unable to do anything about it.
Dimentio of Super Paper Mario. At first he appears nothing more than an amusing little henchman, but, particularly in the endgame, it becomes clear that he's manipulating both sides of the conflict to further his own ends, playing off each side's desires as well as the prophecy itself. In fact, some Epileptic Trees concerning him even go so far as to suggest that he wrote the Dark Prognosticus in the first place, setting up the whole prophecy from the beginning.
Touhou has Yukari, especially in Silent Sinner in Blue, or the numerous fanfics, plays this role all the time.
Sakuya: Whatever. Stop lying and give up your schemes, now. Yukari: (Which lies and schemes is she talking about? It's hard to keep track of them all...)
Seiga Kaku from Ten Desires has become this in numerous fan works. It's much thanks to her having kickstarted the plot of Ten Desires about 1400 years prior by putting the idea of conquering Japan with an elaborate immortality/religious war scheme into Toyosatomimi no Miko's head.
Seija Kijin from Double Dealing Character has also gained a reputation for small scale manipulation by having started a "societal upheaval" by tricking Shinmyoumaru Sukuna... "Small scale" because if you are a species of youkai infamous for being dishonest you need a Horrible Judge of Character, like Sukuna, for your trickery to ever be successful.
Sarah Kerrigan from Starcraft can get everyone, especially Zeratul, to do what she wants even after everyone knows she's a bad zerg. In Zeratul's case, she mainly does this by getting the Matriarch to tell him to go along with it. She takes advantage of Arcturus's sentimentality about Korhal too.
Technically, though, the biggest manipulator would have to be the ZergOvermind.
In Mass Effect 2, the Illusive Man knows just the right words to say and just the right favors to grant to ensure that you'll give him everything he wants. At least until the endgame, where Shepard can refuse to give him the Collector Base.
TIM is so manipulative that even if you don't believe his bull for a minute, you'll end up working for him anyway because almost every other source of assistance (the Council, Alliance, etc.) has turned against you just for being associated with Cerberus. Exactly as planned.
Also, there's Morinth, an asari sex demon who manipulates people into melding with her, killing them and making herself more powerful.
BioWare just loves this trope. In Dragon Age: Origins you have Bhelen, who outplays the character in the beginning, if you chose the Dwarven Noble origins. He tricks you in to believing that your eldest brother Trian is out to kill you for being a contender for the throne, frames you for killing him during a darkspawn campaign, and votes for exiling you and stripping you of everything and to be sent to the Deep Roads to DIE.
It's actually even better than that, if you go choose to go along with him and believe that Trian is out to get you - he manipulates Trian into attempting to kill you. If you express your disbelief, he resorts to the above, killing Trian himself and framing you for it. No matter what you do, Bhelen wins. Fortunately you can get your own sweet revenge at a later time if you so choose.
You can even forgive Bhelen for that exact reason, word for word. Bhelen and his assistant will be shocked but pleased that you admit that he played by the rules of Orzammar unfair and square.
Fontaine from BioShock. Three words: Would you kindly?
Michael Thorton of Alpha Protocol is stated in the intro to be hired into the titular organization due to being this. If the player is good enough at manipulation and alliances, Michael can even ascend to Magnificent Bastard levels.
Bob Page from Deus Ex creates a plague to infect most of the United States. Having also created the vaccine, he brags about how much power and manipulation he has over even the most powerful people.
By extension, Walton Simons is head of FEMA. During an emergency, (such as the one created by his boss's plague), Walton Simons gets to take control over most of the government, overstepping even the president of the United States. He's apparently such a manipulative bastard that there are casual NPC conversations about what a swell guy he is.
In Human Revolution there exists CASIE augmentations that give its owner an enhanced ability to read a person's reactions and exhale resistance lowering pheromones. Activating this aug turns Adam Jensen into a player controlled Manipulative Bastard.
Zhao Yun Ru actually manages get the better of Adam Jensen with a reasonably convincing Damsel in Distress impression. There is also speculation that Megan Reed is this, along with Femme Fatale, especially given the post-credit ending.
Bob Page, from the first game, is shown to be this back in 2027, from what little we see of him. the post-credit ending has him happily welcoming Megan in joining him in his efforts, and insisting that he be called by his first name. In The Missing Link, an email sent from him sent to a concerned researcher about the ethics of the projects being undertaken shows his skill in writing a heartfelt letter, and the post-script has him playfully telling the researcher to call him Bob, along with a smiley face.
Albert Silverberg of Suikoden III is also a Magnificent Bastard, given that he manipulates everyone into the events of the game just to show the world that yes, he is indeed a Silverberg and improve his reputation of being a genius Chessmaster. Then he casually derails the whole thing and waltzes away, leaving players to hope that a future game will let them get their revenge.
Suikoden IV has Graham Cray, who turns the entire country of Kooluk into his Unwitting Pawn in order to flush out and reclaim the Rune of Punishment.
Another example from IV is the elder of Na-Nal. After you fight some Kooluk soldiers trying to liberate the island, he captures you and reveals that he's allied with Kooluk, then forces you to go and steal a remedy from the Hidden Elf Village so he can score even more points with The Empire by healing the soldiers you wounded. Unfortunately for him, it turns out the Elven Elder is an even bigger bastard who predicted Na-Nal's elder would do this and lets you steal a poisonous 'remedy'. Na-Nal's apparent betrayal does NOT go over well with the rest of Kooluk's occupying forces...
In Suikoden Tierkreis, it turns out that Danash VIII deliberately engineered the tension between the Magedom ruler's multiple wives. The three consorts are constantly competing for their husband's attention and affection, and thus go out of their way to prove themselves the one willing to do the most to support and strengthen the Magedom... leading them to do things like turn their children into tools.
In both Final Fantasy II and Dissidia: Final Fantasy, The Emperor is a Manipulative Bastard who frequently approaches magnificence, in his original game wheeling and dealing with God and the Devil and winning, and in Dissidia, playing every side against the other in a ploy to rule all of existence. It's very late in the game when the other villains figure out his plans in their entirety and still can't stop him, the heroes never figure them out properly. But the most interesting twist is that this is integrated into playing as him in Dissidia — his playstyle is called "Trap Master", and is unique in that it revolves around forcing his opponent into traps or into situations where they cannot stop his virtually undodgeable Charged Attack from executing. In other words, in order to use the Emperor effectively, the player themself has to be a Manipulative Bastard!
Kyrie: Nyaha~n. Why is it that I feel like I'm not being praised one bit?
During a Super Robot Wars Compact 3 scenario, The Mariemeia troops then says that they trusted those people too much but that's fine since there's enough firepower here anyway to get Mariemeia back. To their everlasting regret, they find out that they're absolutely wrong. Heero note that it's over and Quatre says that even now, there are still people that cannot let go of Dekim's ambitions. Folka says that's probably not it, Mizal probably manipulated and incited them into taking action. Zechs Merquise asks if this Mizal is someone who was the mastermind behind this and Shou Zama says that if they don't take him out, then incidents like the Mariemeia uprising could occur again in the future.
The Ace Attorney games have Matt Engarde from Justice For All and Dahlia Hawthorne from Trials and Tribulations.
Damon Gant. Not quite as manipulative as the above, but still a master at playing everyone around him.
Kristoph Gavin is another good one, having befriended Vera Misham solely to cover his tracks after using her talents to forge evidence.
None of them hold a candle to Morgan Fey, whose machinations span two games. The second time, she even manipulates her eight-year-old daughter into becoming an Unwitting Pawn.
From Investigations 2, Souta Sarushiro, whose plans pretty much revolved around people manipulation, including Edgeworth. It should be noted that his plan went off without a hitch up until the final moment.
Kirei Kotomine. He isn't even revealed as a bad guy despite his rather openly villainous attitude until late in each path, just as a jerk who likes messing with Shirou.
Even worse, Zouken Matou. He doesn't pretend to be a good/neutral guy or even bother masking the fact that he's a vicious and creepy old man.
Shizune of Katawa Shoujo. She's not the master manipulator Hisao thinks she is (probably...), but she is very cunning, her favorite game is Risk, and she has a lackey in Misha (well, a ditzy lackey with no volume control, but still.) Misha says late in Shizune's route that while she often manipulates people, some of those instances are unintentional.
Tower of God: Koon Agero Agnis. He is the guy that makes century-old veterans on the Tower despise him so much they help his enemies. Just that these enemies are friends.
Jordan from Skins is a rare female example. She knows what makes her team mates tick and even uses her werewolf companion's need to protect his substitute pack to manipulate him into joining her on a dangerous mission.
Mag Isa — Love is an easy emotion to manipulate... how sad.
Tohya Miho from MegaTokyo does this with varying levels of success.
Miho is an interesting (and arguably realistic) example, because while the impact of her schemes has been truly dramatic she is forced to admit that she actually ended up achieving the opposite of her true objectives. Her Manipulative Bastard actions in the Endgames prequel similarly end in failure, when Piro plays her own game back at her.
While some view Maytag of Flipside as a Purity Sue both inside and outside the comic, others view her as a frighteningly powerful Manipulative Bastard.
Mike from College Roomies from Hell!!! is a good example. Physically, he's about evenly matched with roommates Dave and Roger — but mentally, he's always two steps ahead of them. Mike can accomplish almost anything by manipulating others' actions, and he seldom betrays any affection for people other than his sister Blue and girlfriend Marsha. He can even see through the devil's mind games while being tortured in Hell.
More recently, April — once the nicest character in the strip — has let her doomed love for Mike drive her into becoming a Manipulative Bitch. In a way, she's his opposite: while Mike only falters on the rare occasions when he loses his cool, April is at her scheming best when she's most bitter and desperate. After one series of lies so brazen that it killed her conscience, there was no turning back.
Priti of Snowflakes has all the makings of a brilliant political strategist, or so she would have you believe. She's very good at manipulating any given situation to her advantage, but she only sticks around for as long as she's getting results, meaning that she never stays friends with anybody for very long. And recently, the other children have started to employ the same methods right back....
There's also Diamonds Droog from as early as the Intermission, who used some spectacular Mind Screwyweird time shit to take out Trace along with Doze. Unfortunately for him he didn't consider the full effects of whacking Clover with a newspaper . . .
Doc Scratch takes the cake, though. Despite making it very plain that he intends to summon an immortal demon to destroy the universe, he is still able to manipulate nearly every single character in the comic into furthering his plans. He is even able to do this without lying (except by omission, which he claims doesn't count) and being very upfront about the fact that he's manipulating everyone. This is why it's unwise to challenge The Omniscient to mindgames.
Xykon from The Order of the Stick definitely displays shades of a Manipulative Bastard at the end of Start of Darkness. He uses Redcloak's guilt and unwillingness to admit his mistakes against him to effectively turn the goblin cleric from a semi-loyal follower to a willing slave. Xykon notes with no small amount of satisfaction that Redcloak will continue to operate in his interests even when the lich can't supervise him personally because doing otherwise will force Redcloak to admit he killed his baby brother for nothing.
However, this was recently turned on its head with the reveal that Redcloak's been lying to Xykon all along about the true purpose of the Ritual, playing the spineless servant and suffering every indignation, all in order to manipulate Xykon into helping carry out a plan that doesn't help him out at all.
Tarquin has made a career out of this trope, playing off entire empires against each other for personal gain. He manipulates almost every character he comes into contact with - especially Nale, who obviously considers himself a Manipulative Bastard in his own right.
The Head Alien from the Walkyverse. He has the advantage of knowing the protagonists inside and out, being responsible for their powers and knowing them since birth because of it, and therefore has the advantage of having a reasonable idea what it takes to shock them or make them angry. (Granted, he does play favorites, making secondary characters difficult for him to deal with.)
Bestseid from Sluggy Freelance qualifies: he's a master of making you believe and feel what he wants. After all he's a uber-PR.
Ashley: It's like, you could have a sandwich? And he'll want to eat the sandwich, but he won't ask you for it. Instead he'll say or do something sneaky that makes you want to give him the sandwich, all while thinking it was your idea. And then? He eats your sandwich.
Brian from Multiplex is a perfect example of this. He pretends to be an idiot so he can steal money from the theater.
Felicia from Life worries briefly that she may be one — which, to be fair, is because she was being manipulative.
Sul from "Cheese In The Trap" initially believes that Jung is one. It's still not clear whether she was right or not.
While Lear Dunham, the Big Bad of Broken Saints is the consummate Chessmaster, it is his Dragon / son, Gabriel, who is fits this trope better; he is easily able to earn Shandala's trust, play on Tui's jealousy like a drum, and keep the suspicious heroes calm long enough for the effects of his paralysis-inducing wine to kick in.
While not as extreme as some other examples, The Nostalgia Chick is pretty good at this. The best example is Kickassia, where she pretended to be sweet and nice to get her way, and then there's "Linking Up With Linkara" (along with MarzGurl) where they made Linkara think they had an epic, once-in-a-lifetime threesome.
In the novel Theatrica, Arthur proves to be an effective example of this trope.
Ladies and gentlemen, Survival of the Fittest's Aaron Hughes. This is a guy who, instead of killing an attacker, lets his ally get killed by said attacker, and goes back to his other allies portraying the poor victim as dying in a Heroic Sacrifice in an attempt to encourage them to get revenge on the murderer. Yikes.
Stephen Reyes from Shadow Unit. With knobs on. Just ask Chaz.
In Stupid Mario Brothers Season Four, Professor Oak willingly tricks Gary and Brock into doing several mundane tasks for him just so they could find out from him which one of them sucks more. Oak eventually claims they equally suck for not turning down the tasks. As a result the two fight over which one of them hates each other the most which Oak uses to his advantage once more.
Whateley Universe: in "Ayla and the Networks" it's pretty clear that everyone is trying to manipulate at least one other group, but the only one who really wins is Phase. Because he made his moves in previous stories, setting up everything.
Toki and she can get ANYONE to do her dirty work, oddly, as sort of a subversion, as they don't seem to mind and are aware of what she's doing. As per this description:
She's not fighting directly rather she's manipulating others to do it for her, in addition to playing dirty. It should be noted and can be properly assumed that she uses manipulation and deception to get what she wants and when she wants it. However, due to the obedience that her friends and the children of the house have that is to her and Doki especially, it is obvious on how she uses them to do her dirty work, nonetheless, don't seem to mind
Actually, Toki has standards and wouldn't go too far.
Giselle. During the first story of Giselle's Revenge, one would have to wonder how she would go, even if it meant harming a child.
Gaea from Noob makes good use of her Puppy-Dog Eyes to avoid contributing to her guild's fund, can do nasty blackmailing when she has the material for it and seems qui proeficient in the Con Man domain. Her plan involves accumulating all the in-game currency she can, apparenly by pure Greed, but Ivy assumes an undisclosed purpose in Season 5.
Eric Theodore Cartman of South Park has manipulative abilities to a near-frightening quality. Although many of his victims are indeed gullible simpletons, still his ability to persuade people en masse is shocking. Even those familiar with his methods get dragged in by his way with words.
He manages to form a Neo-Nazi organization out of fans of The Passion of the Christ and lead them on a march chanting anti-Semitic slogans and they never got the slightest idea of what they were nearly dragged into!
Cartman also convinced everybody that ginger kids are soulless monsters. In order to teach him a lesson, Kyle and Stan make him up as a ginger. Unfortunately Cartman's xenophobic nature doesn't change one bit; all that changes is who he's prejudiced against. He rallies all the ginger kids into a sect and begins an extermination of non-gingers in a drive to make sure that he is not a minority. Mere moments before the extermination commences, Kyle and Stan reveal the truth to him. He has seconds to devise an inspirational speech that usually Stan or Kyle would make. His audience notice his change in tune and press him for some time before he manages to convince them.
Fridge Brilliance is that Cartman admires Adolf Hitler not because he killed six million Jews, but because of his ability to manipulate the entire world into entering World War 2. Cartman doesn't admire Hitler because he hated Jews; he hates Jews because he admires Hitler. This can be reasoned by Cartman's irregularity with Jew insults and his antagonistic but nonetheless existent relationship with Kyle - it's like he only insults Jews when he remembers to.
There's also his utterly unsympathetic deconstruction of one of the nannies in "Tsst". He skillfully convinces her that her psychological techniques are working on him, then turns the situation on its head and tears into her brutally by not simply mocking her lack of children, but mocking her ability to judge people. She walks out on her first day in near-hysterics. Then Supernanny is brought in... briefly. We don't see what he does to Nanny Jo, but three days later she's shown utterly broken in an asylum, eating her own excrement and sobbing the phrase, "From hell. It's from helllll!"
One of Cartman's proudest moments (for him) is in "Cartoon Wars Part II". He sets off to have Family Guy taken off the air with his Game Face on, ready to spout a sob-story to the writers, the likes of which he's done many times before. Just another job, right? Then he finds out that it gets a little more complicated when you have to pitch a sob-story to Manatees. And yet he still manages to manipulate a TV executive into not wanting the Manatees to push him around - when the guy had previously been making a fortune out of allowing them to do so. Anybody can push around humans. He manipulated sea-mammals. No wonder this was his next line:
Cartman: I did it! I... AM... GOD!!!!
And in "Mysterion Trilogy" Cartman befriends/tames Cthulhu. Yes. THATCthulhu.
Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender , no question. As she puts it: "I'm a people person." When she successfully turns the Secret Police in control of the capital of the kingdom her nation has been at war with for a century against its leader, Long Feng, he says that she beat him at his own game. Her response?
Azula's old man Ozai fits the bill as well. During the Day of Black Sun, he even deploys a manipulative tactic against Zuko at the exact same time that Azula is employing a similar one against Sokka. However, that's nothing compared to the event he describes, which involved manipulating his wife into killing his father for him, and then banishing her. That's how he became Fire Lord in the first place.
Ozai really proves he's where Azula gets it from in "The Promise" graphic novel trilogy that take place after the show's conclusion, in which he constantly is able to manipulate Zuko from behind bars.
Being a chessmaster and the successor to Azula in the Magnificent Bastard department, Amon from The Legend of Korra continuously played everyone like fiddles. Even Lin Beifong and Korra admit that they played right into his hand after his terrorist attack on the Pro-Bending arena.
Tarrlok is a Manipulative Bastard par excellence. Apart from Tenzin, he's got the whole United Republic Council on a string - their sole purpose seems to be supporting whatever Tarrlok is proposing. He cleverly takes advantage of anything and everything that might help him gain more power. Through his smooth talking and media play he manoeuvred even Korra into joining him (albeit temporarily). After Lin Beifong's resignation, he virtually took control of the metalbending police and began imposing his iron-fist régime on the city.
Slade from Teen Titans definitely goes here. Manipulating others and making them suffer for it is what he does best. Unfortunately he cannot see outside of his big plans, so his manipulations usually come with a price.
Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown. His main goal during his Season 2 debut is to manipulate Omi into joining the Heylin side. When that didn't work, he took matters into his own hands and concocted a complex plan that led to Omi's eventual Face-Heel Turn, but against his will. Chase is even classified as a Magnificent Bastard because of this.
Generator Rex's Van Kleiss is another one. Rex has no knowledge of his past due to the Nanite Event, so Van Kleiss takes advantage of this and taunts him with bits and pieces of information (at one point using a brief comment to get Rex to hesitate for one second so he could get away), telling him that he won't give him all the info unless he joins his side. He also manipulates and uses his own minions (and they are aware of it, and he's aware that they know and doesn't seem to be bothered by it). He's also now trying to drive a wedge of mistrust between Rex and his brother Caesar, and it seems to be working a little. His plans are also primarily Batman Gambits.
To be fair, it's looking like he was right about Caesar.
Rex himself can also be one at times, when he needs to be. The Big Bad even complimented him on it in one episode.
The version of Megatron in Transformers Animated was able to convince Isaac Sumdac he was an Autobot and to never mention his name to the Autobots, as well as get the Constructicons on his side with a story of "Autobot oppression" and a couple drinks.
Getting Bulkhead to build him a space bridge by being the only person who seemed to believe he wasn't a complete idiot, and talking Omega Supreme right back to Cybertron rather than killing him.
He even managed to convince Starscream to join him in conquering Cybertron together after Starscream took over Omega Supreme and had Megatron at his mercy.
Megatron in Beast Wars is just as manipulative. The guy managed to convince Silverbolt (the noblest individual Optimus Primal has ever met) to become a Predacon when he first met him. In Beast Machines he later played on Rattrap's insecurity about his now useless robot mode and got him to help him out for a night. After infecting all the Maximals except Optimus with a virus that causes discord he got Optimus to consider (admittedly, for like five minutes) that maybe his vision of forced harmony was the way to go.
Tarantulas in Beast Wars was about as talented. More than once he duped Quickstrike into betraying Megatron, and once even got him to go along with a plan that would negate both him and every other Transformer (but Tarantulas) from existence.
Dave from Code Monkeys tends to fall into this territory sometimes most notably In the Drunken Office Party episode where he gets Jerry to believe he is responsible for all the horrible things he (Dave) actually did at the Office Party. The whole episode Jerry is racked with guilt and is insulted, physically attacked, thrown up on trying to make up for what he did. He even considers quitting. Because Jerry believes he broke Dave's arm he gives him his ticket to Hawaii and thanks him for being such a good friend. It is only at the end of the episode he realizes Dave was behind it all and the things happening to him were happening because Dave was with him and he happened to be caught in the crossfire. Several of the people he offended were made up and Dave gets go spend two weeks in Hawaii while it all blows over.
Digeri Dingo from Taz-Mania is a milder, more lovable example of this
Despite the series being known for its incompetent or even stupid characters, The Simpsons actually has a surprising amount of manipulative bastards. Though very few come across as being completely unlikable or evil...a rare thing to have accomplished, the fact is that most of the cast dabbles in deception on more than one occasion. In fact more than 90% of the cast could be considered in this category.
Mr. Burns is an obvious choice. However, many seem acutely aware of Burns's evil ways so sentiments may vary here.
The Mayor of Springfield, "Diamond" Joe Quimby makes his living being a manipulative bastard. He's a satirical politician after all. Though one must admit, even in the somewhat morally confused world of the Simpsons, many of Quimby's actions are particularly bad. Even the incompetent Chief Clancy Wiggum, whom Quimby seems to have under his thumb, holds a thinly veiled desire to see Quimby answer to karma. Not without moments of sympathy, but a manipulative bastard no less.
Being a comedic center of a lot of villainous staples, Sideshow Bob has dabbled in the art of the manipulative bastardry on more than one occasion.
Krusty the Clown, Springfield's resident celebrity, will do almost anything to keep his fame and fortune in check. Much like Quimby in a sense, Krusty in way makes his living off of being a manipulative bastard.
Let's not kid ourselves...Homer Simpson may be the de-facto main character and the big doofus (Jerkass most of the time...) we all love...but at the end of the day he's one manipulative bastard. Just consider how many situations Homer slimed his way out of by playing on people's emotions...whether it'd be Marge, the townsfolk, or even YOU! This doesn't mean he's a bad man, anyone who's watched the show knows that he's got a good heart somewhere in there...but he really is a manipulative man in many ways. Thinking otherwise means you're under his spell most likely.
Bart. Though not as shameless perhaps as his dad, and with a little more of an apparent heart of gold most of the time, entire episodes have been spun around the fact Bart gets by so much because of the fact he knows how to play on people's sympathies. Although not truly evil by any extent like with most of the characters, still a true little bastard to the very end.
The Archmage takes the cake in the three-part episode "Avalon". He convinces the weird sisters (who don't like mortals telling them to do anything) to do his bidding, while showing his past self the steps needed to obtain unlimited power. When he finally gets his power, he attacks the humans and Gargoyles on Avalon, but spares them so that they can go and get Goliath to help them. With Goliath in the battle, the Archmage can now exact his revenge for supposedly killing him.
Thailog's a definite example as well — he's at least as good as Xanatos, and possibly better. Demona's got a manipulative streak as well, but as usual she's her own worst enemy, and her bad temper and bouts of genocidal insanity often wind up shooting her in the foot at key stages.
Him from The Powerpuff Girls is easily one of the biggest ones. He acts like a manipulative bastard to everyone, but mostly to Bubbles, as 2 episodes of the series involve Him torturing and manipulating Bubbles by using her sweetness, naiveness and her extreme emotions to destroy her and her sisters and in 1 case break them up. But what else would you expect from their world's equivalent of Satan?!
Futurama: Zoidberg apparently acts pathetic to make sure people don't bully him.note This may extend to taking a little bullying now to save a lot later. This means that, conceivably, every time Zoidberg has ever seemed pathetic, he was pulling this. And this is Zoidberg. That's 98% of his screen time.
Total Drama World Tour's Alejandro is a spectacular case. So far he's masterminded more eliminations than any prior villain on the show, and the kicker? Not one person knows that he's evil on the remaing cast except for Heather, who has strangely not been punished, and those that do find out don't last long or don't find out until it's to late to do squat.
Heather was quite manipulative herself in the original Total Drama Island, but her spark fizzled out afterward.
Hey Arnold!'s Helga Pataki is this in the episode "School Play". When Helga learns that Arnold will be playing Romeo, she wants to be Juliet but gets stuck as 4th understudy. So, only in the unlikely event that all four girls, Rhonda, Sheena, Phoebe and Lila, were to all drop out, would Helga be able to play Juliet. It just so happens Helga can be such a manipulative bastard.
In another episode, Helga's older sister Olga was going to give up her amazing life to marry her boyfriend, who's equally amazing. Problem is, he's a total liar who wins over everyone he meets with false tales of bravado, even if some of them really don't make sense. Helga isn't fooled for one minute and exposes him privately.
The Creeper from Animalia is a master at this trope. One of his favorite methods includes fake crying to trick the heroes.
Prince Phobos from W.I.T.C.H. is very good at this (though his ego and laziness keep him from being as good at it as he could be), and his Dragon Cedric has his moments. Season 2's Big Bad Nerissa is even better, easily qualifying for full Magnificent Bastard (something neither of the other two were able to pull off).
Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, BIG TIME. He's depicted in stained glass window images controlling ponies via puppeteer strings (something we actually see him sort of do) and in the episode itself generally plays everyone for fools. By the end of the first episode, he's successfully manipulated and broken the mane cast through his mind games and manipulations.
Pepe Le Pew: The glass case scene in "For Scentimental Reasons" ended with Pepe putting a gun to his head and supposedly killing himself after Penelope says that she's not coming out because he stinks. Penelope is so distraught that she unlocks the case and runs out — into his still-alive arms. Turns out the whole thing was a trick to get her out and he missed.