"Now, I don't want to give anything away here, but one of these guys is going to be the villain. Can you guess who?"
A Face-Heel Turn
that was obviously coming.
This character is one of the good guys, but he has a certain air about him. You just know that he'll eventually betray the group in some way or another, even though the writer has shown no evidence that he plans to actually do
evil (rather than just look
evil). So why suspect him? He expresses traits that seem Obviously Evil
; perhaps he speaks in a Creepy Monotone
and wears an Ominous Opera Cape
, or his name is "Morded McTraitor
", or he just looks like Dastardly Whiplash
. When he finally turns evil, you say, "I Knew It
This trope is an Audience Reaction
, because the other protagonists suspect nothing. This trope can also happen in universe if a Genre Savvy
character predicts a betrayal, but doesn't warn the good guys. This trope can become The Untwist
, if the audience thinks (by mistake) that the character can't turn evil, because it would be too obvious. It can overlap with Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize
, if one protagonist's actor usually plays evil characters.
Do not add an example until the work reveals that the character turns evil.
The audience might see an Obvious Judas where the author did not intend one. It would be stupid to list someone as an Obvious Judas, only to reach the end of the story and find that the character never became a Judas. Examples for characters, who aren't evil yet, belong in Wild Mass Guessing
Also beware of hindsight: anyone can predict a Face-Heel Turn
after it already happened. This trope only counts if the character seemed evil back when he or she was outwardly good. Judas Iscariot
doesn't fit this trope in The Bible
(though he did betray Jesus), but Judas might fit this trope in newer works that retell biblical events, and other characters might fit this trope if the audience sees an allusion to Judas.
Subtrope of Captain Obvious Reveal
THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Anime and Manga
- Bleach: Many readers were suspicious of Aizen long before he was revealed as the Big Bad due to the fact he was playing the stereotypical role of the too-nice character that's deeply concerned about a potential conspiracy, who confronts the apparent villain and gets killed off shortly afterwards. Aizen's reveal was therefore fully expected rather than surprising.
- Vegeta in the Majin Buu arc of Dragon Ball Z. Double Subversion. Due to everyone knowing he's a giant Jerkass, and still pretty evil, and making more than his normal "evil" behavior during this specific time, he was expected to do this. The subversion is that it appears he was FORCED into his Face-Heel Turn, then the other comes from that he used a rather elaborate Batman Gambit to get Babadi to target him, thus making him a Judas in the sense of the trope.
- Defied: Hiei from YuYu Hakusho. Everyone except Yusuke believed that he would betray the group during the Saint Beasts arc, however this proved not to be the case once the demon tells the Saint Beasts to go to hell.
- Yusuke's trust had a weird effect on Hiei. Later, in the Chapter Black arc everyone is startled when Hiei goes 'stop the tunnel to Demon World? Screw that, I want to go home,' and ditches the rest of the team. He comes back and saves Yusuke's life less than a week later, though. And then he and Hiei beat the snot out of each other for a while, and then they're friends again. Even after the team splits up.
- Kai from Beyblade. He barely tolerated his teammates, and gave off the impression that they were beneath him and his talent. The only thing that makes his teammates' shock at his betrayal remotely believable is that such a low, petty thing as stabbing them in the back in exchange for being given power seems strange coming from someone as openly confrontational, arrogant and self-reliant as Kai.
- Ren Gyokuen from Magi – Labyrinth of Magic. Back in Alma Torran, how could King Solomon have ever possibly foreseen his betrayal at her hands? That's because the shady figure and the Magi with the creepy Empty Eyes we see in early flashbacks is not the traitor Gyokuen, but Solomon's wife Sheba. Gyokuen is actually Arba, the Magi with the winged staff, who always showed herself as Solomon's faithful follower and mother figure and didn't show her true colors until Solomon decided to become the new god of Alma Torran. Gyokuen has the same staff as Sheba because Arba stole it after killing Sheba.
- Trixie, in Rainbooms and Royalty. She's a huge jerk to just about everyone except Dash, so it's little surprise when she starts actively trying to mess with the Ponyville ponies.
- The version of Judas Iscariot in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Passion Of The Smurfs" is a little too obvious if he happens to be related somehow to the Smurfs' main enemy Gargamel.
- Harry Osborne from the Spider-Man Trilogy. He was pretty much set up solely for the purpose of being Peter's Judas (starting with hitting on Mary Jane and starting to date her, the implication being that he wanted Peter to be jealous of him like he was jealous of his dad's affection for Peter).
- Magneto in X-Men: First Class. Conflicting views with Charles and his traumatic experiences at the hands of the Nazis makes it obvious even to those who don't know the entire X-Men story that he has a major chip on his shoulder towards humanity and will eventually betray Xavier. Although a good reason for this is more that the movie is a prequel, making the split between himself and Charles a Foregone Conclusion.
Live Action Television
- In The Last Hero the character of "Evil" Harry Dread proudly wears this as his hat, and even reminds the party that he is evil and therefore contractually obliged to betray them at some point. The heroes accept this as part of the Heroic Code and even congratulate him on a job well done when he does betray them.
- The Harry Potter novels subvert this trope. Severus Snape is Harry's least favorite teacher. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire reveals that Snape is a former Death Eater. Other Death Eaters are returning to the evil Voldemort. The Face-Heel Turn happens in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Snape murders Dumbledore. At this point, Snape is an Obvious Judas. The final reveal in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shows that Snape was only a Reverse Mole spying on Voldemort, and had given a Mercy Kill to Dumbledore.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Roose Bolton. He's on the "good" side of the Starks, but comes from a long-time rival of House Stark that still brags about how they would flay their enemies alive. He's also constantly described as creepy and has a number of weird habits.
- It's mentioned that basically all the great lords have bannermen like this (the Tullys have the Freys, for example), and it's best to keep an eye on them, because you're not allowed to execute people who've sworn loyalty to you on the basis of "oh come on, he's totally evil!". The exception seems to be the Lannisters, as Tywin massacred two troublesome houses within the last generation and no one dares test him.
- Littlefinger plays with this by being so obviously up to no good that people write him off as either a Sarcastic Devotee or a Smug Snake with a blatantly obvious (and thus easily foreseeable) case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, rather than a full-fledged Magnificent Bastard who excels at inducing wrong genre savviness in those around him until precisely the right moment.
- A strange sort of subversion in Merlin. That Mordred will one day kill Arthur is a Foregone Conclusion, one that Merlin learns about as early as the first series. By the time an adult Mordred reappears in the fifth series, Merlin is nearly beside himself with paranoia, certain that the young knight is playing some sort of long con to get in good with King Arthur before betraying him. As it turns out Mordred is completely genuine in his loyalty and affection for Arthur and all his creepy behaviour and ominous looks are just incidental. His betrayal comes when Arthur has his Childhood Sweetheart executed for treason, thus leading Mordred on an arguably justified (to some degree) Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Jesus Christ Superstar: Judas, duh. The 2000 has him as the only follower that wears dark clothes or leather, and one of his first interactions with Jesus has him insult Magdalene for her...profession.
- Kain from Final Fantasy IV. Mentioning killing Rydia due to an order from the king, clearly shows jealousy of Cecil at some points, and he's a Dragoon (one of the Darker and Edgier classes within Final Fantasy). When he actually does betray you, however, Golbez has applied More Than Mind Control.
- Cait Sith from Final Fantasy VII. He's a talking cat with a superiority complex and an Irish accent. What part of that doesn't say "trouble"?
- Bishop and Qara from Neverwinter Nights 2. One's a Social Darwinist who practically screams "don't trust me!", and the other's a sociopath who hates being one-upped, which The Hero frequently will. Do the math yourself. Surprisingly, though, this can be somewhat subverted; while Bishop will always sell you out, he can be persuaded not to fight you if you're female, and while Qara will almost always betray you, there's a slim chance she won't.
- You can easily plan for maintaining Qara's loyalty if given the simple piece of info that whoever is more loyal of Sand and Qara will stay with you and the other will betray you. If that's your thing.
- Orson in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is introduced to us after a scene where Tirado, right-hand man of Smug Snake Valter, mentions having a traitor in Prince Ephraim's force. He also spends large amounts of time away from the party and has a goatee. The numbers add up quickly against him.
- Dragon Age: Origins subverts this by how quickly the villains turn; so soon that their reveals doesn't get a chance to become a spoiler. If playing the Human Noble background first, Arl Howe might surprise you in the introduction, otherwise he's already obviously evil the first time he's seen. Logain commits his betrayal and heads for coup at the end of the first Act, and the first time we see him his pale, cadaverous look screams Obviously Evil (although the "evil" part turns out to be a case of Well-Intentioned Extremist who's overestimated his own capabilities).
- If you fail to gain enough loyalty Zevran will turn on you as soon as he's given a chance to return to his previous life with the slate wiped clean of his initial failure. This is after he's spent the game playing up how shallow, self-interested and jovially merciless he is.
- Jeanne D Arc has Gilles, a very pale, dark-eyed, and overall somewhat sinister-looking nobleman who joins Jeanne's cause. He's so polite and supportive of Jeanne that it feels like he must be up to something. And for anyone who knows their history, he's obviously Gilles de Rais, a compatriot of the real Joan of Arc who, some time after her death, was tried and convicted as a molester and serial killer of young children who had also attempted to summon a demon. By the way, the game involves a secret war against demons behind the real war between France and England... Defied in the game as Gilles turns out to be perfectly heroic and loyal throughout. However, he does in the end become the can in which the evil is sealed in hopes of smothering it to death under his heroic spirit, which could mean the demon got the better of him in the end.
- this Chuckle-A-Duck features Judas Iscariot himself as a Dastardly Whiplash.
- Eridan Ampora from Homestuck who was near-immediately established as a genocidal orphaner with a love of gunplay. Almost all of his darker traits were quickly overshadowed by his pathetic love life, though anyone who remembered his original introduction probably expected his turn to evil the instant his various romances were sunk.
- When the term "pre-made psycho" or similar is used among Survival of the Fittest handlers, it's generally a reference to this. It's used when a character is clearly going to play the game the second they get on the island just from a read-through of their profile. It often includes any mixture of sociopathy, Dark and Troubled Past, prior firearm or martial arts knowledge, mental instability, or excellent manipulation skills. While more common in earlier versions, the staff nowadays tries to avert this by requesting profiles that have clear pre-made traits to be rewritten if not outright denied.
- Cartman from South Park is the Token Evil Teammate. Even in a reference to the last supper, Kyle believes someone will betray him. Cartman (who has already betrayed him) makes an outbursts that anyone that would betray Kyle is a loser. Through the rest of Kyle's speech, he is giving Cartman a Death Glare.
- Also parodied in the Wal-Mart episode, where the boys are reluctant to bring Cartman with them on their trip to Wal-Mart because they know he's going to betray them. Cartman is even offended when they say they saw his betrayal coming, and claims that they're just lying.
- Sinedd from Galactik Football, he was arrogant and very distant from the Snow Kids.
- Coverton from Monsters vs. Aliens, being snobbish, scheming and working for Coverlord. Hell, his own name shows that he is a villain!