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Parental Betrayal
Sometimes the villain in a work hits much closer to home than the hero would expect - it's their parent. Yes, the parent who we've seen throughout the movie, book or show, doing their usual parent stuff and being seemingly a good guy, only to turn out to be evil all along. Can be very shocking if pulled off right.

This also refers to when a character's previously unseen parent is revealed to be evil.

Not the same as Luke, I Am Your Father, which is basically the inverse - the villain (who was previously shown) is suddenly revealed to be the parent, rather than the other way around.

Offing the Offspring can either ensue after this, or be the way this trope is revealed. When the betrayal backfires, Self-Made Orphan can be the outcome.

See also Parental Abandonment, Evil Matriarch, and Archnemesis Dad.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime/Manga 
  • While on the extremely low end of this trope, Beyblade has Judy Tate, who sandbags her visiting son Max Mizuhara and his friends into being test subjects for the corporation she works at, mostly so they can obtain data to beat the Bladebreakers. Later in the series, she does aid them, and is not truly a big bad. Also, when her son's victory causes a power surge that wipes out all her research she smiles and simply starts over, and wishes her boy well. But she sees no conflict in using her son this way, openly mocks his philosophy (while half-allowing for the possibility of it) until beaten, and chides his teammates for not seeing the deceptive methods she used as 'a friendly match', and the only ones who call her out are the other people at her corporation, who wonder if her loyalty to Max will affect their research.
  • There would be no Far Side routes if this wasn't the case for Shiki/Akiha in Tsukihime. Foster father, sure, but considered to be his father more than Kiri Nanaya is except by his doctor.
  • Natsuki of Mai-HiME has this happen to her mother. In the anime, it's revealed that her mother was planning to sell her to the Searrs Foundation, although after a period of doubt, Natsuki decides to believe in the mother she remembers. In the manga, Natsuki's mother arrives as part of the Searrs takeover of the school, and Natsuki has to fight against her, although at the end of the fight, after Natsuki's mother comes to her senses and ends up Taking the Bullet for her daughter, the two reconcile.
  • Code Geass has every other bad parenting trope covered, so it should be little surprise that this one does as well. The real surprise is who: Lelouch's lost mother, Marianne vi Britannia, who turns out to be in league with Charles and his plan to kill God.

    Comic Books 
  • This is the premise of Marvel's Runaways. Children learn that their parents are supervillains, and run away from home, fearing they would otherwise grow up to be like them.
  • The Batman R.I.P. comics storyline toys with the possibility that the villain responsible for the defining tragedy in Bruce Wayne's life was Thomas Wayne, who had his wife Martha killed while faking his own death. The conclusion of the story kinda seems to confirm that someone was just messing with him in the end.
    • Jason Todd, as you know, had horrible luck with his mom too. After finding out that his mother who raised him was not his biological mother, Jason sets out across the globe searching for his birth mother. Eventually Jason is reunited with her; however Jason's mother is evil. There is really no other way to describe a woman who would so willingly and suddenly betray her fifteen year old son to the Joker and actually stand there watching him be beaten brutally to near death with a crow bar, all the while looking none too fazed. After all this happens, the Joker betrays her, ties her up and leaves her and Jason in a room with a bomb. Jason, injured though he is, tries to save the mother who just betrayed him. He cuts the ropes binding her and together they make it to the door. Naturally the door is locked. The bomb explodes, Jason and his mother die. He got better.
    • And Bruce's son Damian hasn't been much luckier. He wasn't pleased at all when his mother Talia willingly allowed Slade to control his body by means of implanting a device in his spine. And when he supported Dick and Bruce's ideals rather than his Talia's, he found out that Talia had actually created another clone of Damian because he wasn't "perfect enough". Then she kicked him out from the house of Al Ghul and told him not to come back, while all Damian wanted was some of his mother's love. Jerk Ass Woobie indeed. This culminates in Damian's death at the hands of his own clone. He even pleads with his mother to call off the attack, but she does nothing as the clone impales her own son on a sword.

    Film 
  • In Hot Fuzz, it turns out the mastermind behind all the 'accidents' is Frank Butterman.
  • Nathan in Repo! The Genetic Opera, although the reveal comes immediately after the first scene with him.
  • The Reveal in The General's Daughter. The general covered up his own daughter's gang-rape to protect the reputation of West Point and to secure a promotion for himself. This betrayal hurt her more than the rape ever did. She was so miserable that the investigators told her father that he was the one who truly murdered his daughter — the guy who shot her had merely put her out of her misery.
  • She's not evil, but Sherry's mother in Mouth to Mouth ends up joining the cult instead of trying to get her daughter to leave. Even after Sherry realizes how screwed up everything is (partly due to her mother agreeing with everyone else to punish her for no good reason) and decides to leave, her mom stays.

    Literature 
  • In the Grey Griffins books, Max's father turns out to be evil and wishes to use Max to gain access to a world-destroying artifact. He has no qualms about killing his own son and his son's friends - genuinely shocking to Max, since he doesn't get along with his mom, and had always preferred his dad.
  • In Canadian teen adventure novel, Jack's Knife, a girl's father is involved in some criminal operation. He binds and gags his own daughter, which freaks out the main character (who is thinking "my god! She's your own daughter!"). When the man's partner suggests doing away with the kids, he is nice enough to suggest that doing so would be a bad idea ("we don't want to be wanted for murder as well"), but it's left unclear whether this is for selfish reasons, or to spare his daughter's life.

    Live Action TV 
  • Alias: Irina betrays Sydney several times over the course of her life starting with abandoning her by faking her own death and kidnapping her while Syd is pregnant to try and find one of the many Rambaldi artifacts.
  • 24: Jack's father was a Big Bad, the Man behind the Man (Graem) behind the Man (President Logan) behind the Man (attempted assassination of the Russian President). [More behind the Mans possible, I can't keep track.] Attempted to kill his son. And he did kill his other son Graem for failing him.
  • Played straight and then inverted in Angel's final season episode "Lineage". Roger Wyndam-Pryce, Wesley's father. It turns out he intends to steal Angel's free will. Then it turns out he was a robot (which was shot by Wesley before the revelation).
  • Depending on who you ask, this may be present in Firefly in the form of River and Simon Tam's parents, whose callous disregard for River's plight at the Academy may have been due to foreknowledge of what the Academy was doing to her.
  • Justified: Arlo betrays Raylan several times.
  • On NCIS, Ziva being kidnapped by hostile terrorists and nearly murdered multiple times can be linked back to her own father.
    • An episode has a model die during the shooting of a reality TV show on a base, only for Gibbs and Co. discover that the man responsible was her agent who, while not biologically related, had adopted her as a teenager. The woman had begun a relationship with a sergeant, and was going to give up modelling to be with him.
  • Prison Break has Christina Rose Scofield who ends up trying to kill both her sons.
  • May be small compared to the other examples in this trope, but it's discovered at the end of the Awkward. season 1 finale that the 'carefrontational' letter was written by Jenna's mom, Lacey.
  • House of Anubis done by Mr. Sweet- Eddie's father. A bit of dramatic irony, too, as the viewers and the rest of Sibuna knew that Mr.Sweet was a member of Team Evil but nobody told Eddie, and when he found out he was completely devastated. Gets even worse after Mr.Sweet starts proactively manipulating Sibuna to further the plans of his own team- and knowingly hurting Eddie in the process.
  • Veronica Mars has Aaron Echolls and to a much lesser extent Veronica's Mum who abandons Veronica twice and the second time she does it she takes Veronica's college fund for good measure.
  • In The Red Road, Philip's dad Jack is aloof (when he's not ordering his son to commit crimes for him) and clearly wasn't around while Philip was growing up. It gets worse when Philip finds out that his dad is the reason he was sent to prison before the events of the show.

    Mythology 
  • Gaia of Greek Mythology did this to three generations' worth of her divine progeny after they pissed her off by empowering the next generation. Her first son Uranus who was also her first consort was jealous and fearful of their children the Titans and trapped them inside Gaia. A pissed off Gaia forged a huge sickle and gave it to her youngest son Cronus and had him castrate Uranus with it. Cronus eventually turned out to be Not So Different from Uranus and trapped his non-Titanic siblings, the Hechatonchaires and the Cyclopses, inside Gaia since he feared their power. Being Genre Savvy, Cronus knew that Gaia would try to turn his own children against him in revenge, so he ate his own children after they were born. A pissed off Gaia conspired with Cronus' wife Rhea to save the last child Zeus, and raised him to be a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb against his father. After Zeus and his fellow Olympians eventually prevailed, they stuck the Titans who refused to surrender to them in the deepest pits of Tartarus, which upset Gaia since she didn't want her children to suffer such a horrible punishment. A pissed off Gaia then sent various giant monsters such as her youngest and strongest offspring Typhon to overthrow the Olympians. This chain of betrayal ended when Zeus and the Olympians defeated the threats sent by Gaia, proving that they had surpassed her.

    New Media 
  • Sarah's dad and Bree's mom in lonelygirl15 are both examples.

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect, Wrex eventually explains that he was a leader of his people back on his homeworld following the Krogan Rebellions. He was advocating peace so that the Krogan could rebuild, but his father, Jarrod, was a rival warlord pushing for war. Wrex and Jarrod agreed to meet at neutral ground to discuss their differences. Being krogan, though, it could only end one way. Jarrod's troops managed to wipe out Wrex's followers, forcing him to leave the planet both for his own survival and because he was disgusted with his own species' self-destructive nature, but not before Wrex managed to kill his father for the betrayal.
  • The Silent Hill series does this several times:
    • In the original Silent Hill, Dahlia Gillespie set her own daughter on fire, but magically kept her alive, to force the girl to use her magic powers for Dahlia's own sinister purposes. This is referenced in Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill Origins.
    • In Silent Hill: Homecoming, the descendants of the town founders all killed their kids as a sacrifice, except for Alex's parents. They had intended to kill Alex, but complications arose, and Alex's dad went back on his "duty."
  • In Diablo III Leah's mother Adria, in one of the cruelest betrayals of the entire series, reveals herself to be Diablo's high priestess before shoving the Black Soulstone, with all seven Great Evils inside, into Leah, who she had for the sole purpose of using her as the vessel for Diablo's rebirth as the Prime Evil.
  • BlazBlue. Carl Clover, a young boy who's innocent and cheery, was deeply traumatized when it turns out his father Relius nonchalantly turned his sister Ada into a Nox Nyctores, a mechanical doll known as Nirvana... and it was incomplete, and he just left the incomplete Nirvana for Carl to finish. This event caused Carl to become extremely bitter to both the world and adults in general. Making matters worse, the next time he met Relius, he found out that Relius did the same to Carl's mom, Relius' wife, Ignis, and still with the same nonchalant attitude of For Science!.
  • Strongly hinted to be the case in Umineko no Naku Koro ni with Battler's parents, Rudolf and Kyrie who takes the chance when the gold is found and kills everyone except Battler and Eva.
  • The Legend of Dragoon has Dart's father turn out the be the Big Bad. It turns out he was possessed by Melbu Frahma, but still.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra it turns out that Hiroshi Sato is an Equalist. The traditional "We Can Rule Together" spiel is given, but the child violently refuses. Culminates in an attempt at Offing the Offspring in the finale when Asami claims that Hiroshi doesn't love her late mother anymore since he's too full of hatred. Hiroshi declares that she's beyond "saving" and seriously tries to murder her. Bolin rightly calls Hiroshi a horrible father, and Asami agrees.

Missing MomParental IssuesParental Favoritism
Parental AbandonmentThe Parent TropeParental Hypocrisy
Obvious JudasBetrayal TropesPlease Shoot the Messenger

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