Ted Phillips: "Well, you know the old saying, right? The enemy of my enemy is my friend?"
"Are you on drugs or something? The enemy of your enemy is your enemy's enemy, and that's all!"
-Jared Hubner, It's All Inevitable
The hero is working to stop the plans of the Big Bad Evil Overlord
, and has, at long last, found an ally. No, wait... perhaps ally is too strong a word. This person is fighting the Big Bad
, just like the hero, but is doing so on their own terms with their own agenda. This agenda doesn't run contrary to the hero's, but at the same time the other person's agenda doesn't fall seamlessly in line with the hero's goals, either.
This so-called "ally" isn't overly concerned with the hero's welfare, or whether or not the hero succeeds in his mission. He or she isn't actively out to hurt the hero, it's just that they would happily betray the hero to the bad guy if it means that one of their
schemes succeeded. But as long as the hero is of use to them, they'll help out when they can. They aren't necessarily malicious... they just have a mission of their own they are attending to.
Occasionally, the "ally" will actually be another villain, who, for some reason, has decided that helping the hero is beneficial to his own long-term goals. Often, this is part of a Xanatos Gambit
; if they can use the hero to do some dangerous dirty work then why not? They either accomplish a goal or lose a potential enemy. It's win-win.
Expect the phrase "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" to be used, a sentiment that is quite often proven false in such situations.
Compare Divided We Fall
where genuine allies fight, and contrast Enemy Mine
where the above sentiment proves true. Not The Mole
, but may as well be. Often involves a Reliable Traitor
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Anime & Manga
- Sailors Uranus and Neptune in the "S" season (season 3) of Sailor Moon.
- Xelloss of Slayers is the king of this trope. What's more, the Slayers know that he's only using them as part of a scheme to advance Mazoku interests, but between the facts that he's incredibly useful for the period of time where their goals coincide, and that they don't have any practical way of forcing him to leave, they have no choice but to put up with him.
- In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom once agreed to assist the X-Men by successfully healing Shadowcat when she was about to die from the effects of a fight with the Marauders, after Reed Richards had tried and failed to do the same. Doom didn't actually give a damn whether Shadowcat lived or died... he just enjoyed the opportunity to show up Reed Richards.
- In Sin City, Wallace gains the help of Corrupt Cop Liebowitcz who had previously been helping the Colonel, the head of an assassin guild. Despite Wallace beating up Liebowitcz's men several times and being a general annoyance, he agrees to help bring down the Colonel only because one of his assassins hurt his son.
- The Northern and Southern Water Tribes in The Stalking Zuko Series. They attempt to present a united front to get better say in the peace conference. Otherwise, they despise each other. The Southern Water Tribe remembers that Northern Water Tribe didn't lift a finger to help them when they were being slowly killed off while the North thinks the South as poor, uneducated yokels.
- Hector Barbossa helped out Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Jack Sparrow in the later Pirates of the Caribbean films, but not because he liked them. More like Hector needed them to advance his own agenda.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Ents help the people of the West by beating down Saruman not because they want to stop Sauron and destroy the ring (they specifically say that it's not their war), but because Saruman destroyed so many trees, and "A wizard should know better!"
- In the first Alien vs. Predator film, Alexa Woods ends up teaming with the lone surviving Predator because she thinks it's the only way for her to get out of the situation alive (and she's right). The Predator's motive? He's still hunting the aliens, and hey, she proved herself useful in a fight and isn't an infected host so he may as well let her tag along if she wants to help him bag some more bugs.
- In the second Blade film, the vampire hit squad teams up with Blade to stop the Reapers. They still don't like each other, and each side takes great pains to antagonize the other. And the moment they get the chance, the vampires betray Blade.
- During screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one of the quips audience members have been known to shout out is the malapropism "With friends like Riff Raff, you don't need enemas!"
- In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, the various combatants fighting each other in World War II abruptly stop fighting each other and all turn their attention to fighting the alien invaders. The fact that they are all cooperating (to various levels) to beat back an outside threat does not make them friends (or even, in some cases, allies).
- When Griphook the goblin agrees to help Harry Potter break into Gringotts, he does so because he wants both to strike back at the human wizards who tortured him and to reclaim a lost goblin treasure and not because of any loyalty to Harry. Indeed, at his first opportunity, Griphook grabs what he wants and leaves Harry to escape on his own.
- Of course, Harry had planned to betray Griphook by using the Exact Words of their bargain to withhold the treasure in question.
- Basically every good faction in the Wheel of Time. Each of them has her agenda, and while all of them oppose the dark ones, some of these consider the other ones to be allies of the Big Bad, and everyone of these "know" better than the other how to stop the Big Bad. It's not always evident to know what if the most harmful between the Big Bad and the resulting struggles.
Live Action TV
- Marya, the Russian spy from Hogan's Heroes.
- In the Season Two finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike helps Buffy stop Angel because 1) he wants Drusilla to himself, and believes that with Angel out of the picture, he'll have her all to himself again and 2) he rather likes the world (all his favorite activities and foods are there) and doesn't see much fun in the whole thing, himself included, being sucked into hell. He really couldn't care less if Angel ended up killing Buffy.
- Later, after he'd been implanted with an inhibitor chip that prevented him from harming human beings, Spike helped the Scoobies fight demons simply because he liked to fight, and demons were the only things he could hurt anymore. Eventually, the other demons pick up on this and he's no longer welcome among them so it does become more like a traditional Enemy Mine scenario.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Legacy", the Enterprise crew enlists the help of Ishara Yar in order to rescue a lifepod full of space-freighter crewmen from a hostile faction on the Death World Turkana V, only to find out in the end that Ishara Yar was using them as a covering force for her own mission: to blow up the fusion power plant belonging to that faction, so her own faction can gain supremacy.
- In Deep Space Nine, the Romulans, Gorn, Tholians and Ferengi (all at least antagonistic toward the Federation and in some cases downright hostile) banded together with the Federation and Klingons (already long allied) in opposing the Dominion.
- The Cardassians (and later the Breen) invert the trope, uniting with the Dominion to oppose the Federation and the Klingons.
- From the Cardassians' perspective the Dominion fits, they obviously don't really trust or like each other (the Cardassians tried to wipe out the Dominion's homeworld only a year and a half before they allied), but with Federation and the Klingons getting back together, they have teamed up to fight the Federation and their allies in order to gain control of the Alpha Quadrant.
- Garak is this on a more personal level. A true patriot (like all good Cardassians), he was banished from his home but still loves Cardassia with all of his heart, and sees Dominion rule as disastrous. As such, he will do anything to destroy the Dominion, and for most of the series that means working with The Federation. His main differing point with The Federation is one of method, Garak has no qualms against any method that might achieve his ends. He has been willing to start wars, commit genocide, and manipulate, assassinate and be accessory to the creation of chemical weapons in order to destroy the Dominion. Worst of all, he makes a good case for it.
- Section 31 may also count. While acting in the interest of The Federation, they are willing to violate each and every single one it's principles. The main characters of Deep Space Nine oppose them on the grounds that their methods ( which include an almost perfectly succesful extinction of the Founders) are everything they are fighting against.
- This was intended as part of the cast dynamic of Star Trek: Voyager, with the Starfleet and Maquis crew united only in getting home. Of course, the crews merge almost flawlessly and immediately, preventing this except for a rare few episodes.
- Jerome in House of Anubis. He's sneaky, manipulative, and uncaring, (at least at first). He does always end up helping Sibuna...but usually for his own benefit, or at least one that's different from the rest of the group's. Three seasons and he's still just an ally...an ally that none of them tend to even trust on a daily basis.
- During the "Xorn Invasion" storyline, one of the Global Guardians' greatest allies against the alien invaders was Abyss, who normally is one of the team's greatest enemies. He helped them because the aliens were interfering with his own plans for world domination.
- In Jade Empire, Princess Lian starts out as this, but ends up joining your team and doing your bidding.
- Morrigan of Dragon Age: Origins wants to stop the Blight just as the Warden does. . .but she also wants to have a Grey Warden's baby that will serve as the vessel for the soul of an Old God, and will desert you before the final battle if you refuse to help her accomplish this.
- Lord Yuan and the Renegades in Tales of Symphonia, who fall into villainous territory because they feel Lloyd must be killed to guarantee their success, but whose aid is critical at several points in the story.
- Volke from Fire Emblem Tellius is an assasin, thief and mercenary in every sense of the word. His motives are never explained and he only gives information for a fee. When asked why he always needs money, he asks for 100,000 in pay to answer.
- In Mass Effect 3, it would be a stretch to say that you can ally yourself to the Batarians in the fight against the Reapers. Its more like you get them to agree that, since you're fighting the Reapers, and they're fighting the Reapers, you might as well all fight them at once, on the same battlefield, at the same time.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the eponymous Reaper-killer of Leviathan. It, or rather they, are the MEverse's original Abusive Precursors who used Mind Control to rule over the 'lesser races' as gods until one of their creations turned on them, created the Reapers and started the cycles. They fight the Reapers because they are angry at losing their position as the 'apex of life' and care nothing for anyone else beyond the fact Shepard has proven they can no longer hide. Shepard may have found more help for the war, but what will happen when there's no longer a common enemy to fight is a pretty worrying question.
- Pretty much anytime Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance is "helpful," it's a case of this. Quite often a key part of the Main Characters' plans is to get Bun-Bun more pissed off at the bad guy than he is at them.
- Indirectly referenced by one of the Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, from Schlock Mercenary: "The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. Nothing more, nothing less."
- The Soviets, the Americans and the British might have been allies against Germany in World War II, but that doesn't mean the Soviets were actually friends with the British and the Americans. There was of course a reason for that. What's more, it ultimately came to a head after WWII.
- A similar thing happened with Finland. They fought on the side of the Axis and managed to avoid being turned into a Soviet puppet.