The Dog Bites Back

"I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge."
Evil Overlord List, Rule #48

It's all gone to hell. The base is collapsing about your ears, your Evil Plan is in ruins, the heroes are lining up for the Humiliation Conga — what more could go wrong?

Well, remember that Mook? Or that victim you had cowed, or enchanted? Doesn't matter who it was specifically, but what does matter is that he's the one you've been abusing since you, and he, showed up.

He's got a knife. And he's ready to plant it right in your back.

Unlike the Bastard Understudy and The Starscream, this character attacks as a crime of opportunity. There is no danger that he will take over the villain's place in the grand scheme of things. The backstabber often ends up dead — but this is not often a case of Redemption Equals Death, because the motive is often not heroic; even victims are generally motivated by revenge. The villain's only control was fear (or mind control), and when he's no longer afraid (or brainwashed)...

May shade into Give Me a Sword when the character fails to act rather than actively attacks him; a wounded and powerless Big Bad may be helpless unless his Mook throws him something, so he demands it, and the Mook — just doesn't. This can sometimes tie into an Ironic Echo if the Mook uses the Big Bad's own Villainous Demotivator lines as a reason he can't help.

Especially likely for the villain who holds It's All About Me. Can result from a backfired attempt at Being Tortured Makes You Evil.

The Reverse Mole and the Fake Defector may launch similar attacks, for similar motives, but in their case, the attack was planned, or else the plan was to look for such openings. Losing control of a Tykebomb or a Psycho for Hire may result in this as well.

One use of this trope is to spare the hero from the burden of personally dispatching the villain, in the same way as a Disney Villain Death or Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work.

Often occurs in the form of Bodyguard Betrayal. Very similar to Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal. Subtrope of Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death. See also Nice to the Waiter. Not to be confused with The Dog Shot First. If the dog biting back does some puppy-kicking of its own, it's He Who Fights Monsters. If it's a pack biting back it's La Résistance, and The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized if they fall into evil themselves. If the hero deliberately sets this situation up, it's Do with Him as You Will. If it's the villain biting back against the world, it's Then Let Me Be Evil.

As a Death Trope, more than one Spoiler will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Example subpages

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     Fan Works 

  • So this little guy goes into a bar. There's one seat left at the end, and he takes it. Enter this big, body-building guy who looks like he could bench-press a truck. He walks up to the little guy, and says, "Hey! You're in my seat!" "Sorry, sir," says the little guy, "but I was here first. So unless you have a very good reason—" The big guy goes into a martial arts stance. "Tae Kwon Do from Korea!" the big guy interrupts. And WHAM! He knocks the little guy to the floor, and takes the seat. The next day, the little guy comes into a bar, with his head bandaged. There's one seat left at the end of the bar; he takes it. Enter the big guy, who goes up to the little guy. "Didn't I tell you that's my seat? Kung fu from China!" WHAM! The little guy gets knocked to the floor again. The next day, the little guy doesn't show up. The big guy comes in. There's one seat left at the end of the bar. He takes it; he's happy. Enter the little guy, with his head bandaged and one arm in a sling. He walks up to the big guy, and with his good arm... "Crowbar from Sears!" WHAM!

  • "I Remember Larry," by "Weird Al" Yankovic, is about a prankster whom the narrator eventually murders. (More specifically, whom he kidnaps, drags into the middle of a forest, and is stuffed inside a plastic bag, where he is either already dead or left to die)
    • It was a pretty good gag!
  • On "The Opheliac Companion", Emilie Autumn says that the song "Liar" could also be called "What The Fucking Dog Did." See the quotes page for her explanation of this trope.
  • "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks is about a woman who gets together with her best friend to kill her abusive husband.
  • "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith is about a girl who kills her father after years of abuse.
  • "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts" by Bob Dylan.
  • Bruce Springsteen's anti-corporate song "Death to my Hometown" describes the plight of a town left economically ruined by Corrupt Corporate Executives and Morally Bankrupt Bankers. At one point Springsteen exhorts the townspeople to "Blow the robber barons straight to Hell," and at the very end of the song we hear what sounds like guns cocking, then firing, implying they may have taken his advice.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Decade's goal in Ring of Honor went from making sure people who walked out on the company but came back were not "rewarded" for it but this gradually degenerated into breaking "rookies" (anyone with less time in pro wrestling than BJ Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs or Roderick Strong basically, especially if their ROH trainees or recent graduates) and in the process they lost the respect of Cedric Alexander, who has been their most persistently encountered resistance.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer40000 thousands of planets revolted against a crazed Cardinal named Bucharis who was ruthless tyrant who conquered entire systems from the Imperium. When his empire started to fall apart billions of people began to revolt against him, eventually he was cornered and the rebels tore him to pieces with their bare hands.
  • Chronopia: The One King united humanity as the Firstborn, to ensure that they would never be enslaved by the other races again(this includes the elves, the dwarves, and the Blackbloods).

    Visual Novels 
  • Sakura Matou in Fate/stay night. Her target is awesome, she's the love interest here and a good guy. But she seems to enjoy beheading Shinji Matou with pure magic or ripping Zouken Matou out of her heart, gloating and then crushing him a little too much for it to be 'heroic'. Plus the whole 'stealing the show and becoming an apocalypse in the form of a teenage girl' thing.
    • By that point, she's clearly not heroic (the 'killing Shinji' bit is where she ceases to be, even if he deserved it). She's also clearly not herself, and the rest of the route consists of Shirou and (eventually) Rin trying to save her from the darkness that is consuming her.
  • The first victim in Shion's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening chapters of Higurashi: When They Cry is Onryu, her grandmother. Given the cruel treatment she suffered for much of her life, quite deserved.