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Bait the Dog

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What a Cheep, senseless death.

"Skull Face shakes your hand like a friend, and then uses the other hand to control you like a puppet."

You're watching a movie or something, and there's some character named Bob who may or may not be rumoured to be kind of evil, but you don't know for sure. All you know is what he's doing right this minute is kind of endearing from an audience perspective. He's fun, he's cool. Quirky, maybe, but in a good way. At this rate, he'll be a runaway favourite with the fans. Yeah, he's okay. We like him. He's...

Wait, what is he doing now? Why has he cornered Tropey in the old mill? What's with the bicycle pump, oven mitts and three pounds of feathers? ...oh. Oh, no. Oh God, not the dog! NOT THE DOG!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Bob, you horrible bastard! How could you do such a thing?! I can't believe I used to think you were cool!

Did the cunning writers set you up to sort of like the villain just so it would be even more jarring when you realized he was, well, evil? That's this trope.

Kind of a cross between Pet the Dog and Kick the Dog, but the Pet the Dog action needn't be nice — any combination of cool, badass and funny works just as well, as long as it's all calculated by the writer to get you on this character's side. Kind of a bait-and-switch technique for viewer sympathy. Distinct from Face–Heel Turn because the character was always this much of a psycho, but the audience just hadn't seen it yet, though they may have heard that they did something bad offscreen. It's generally always done purely to accentuate a Kick the Dog moment — you see a bit of personal quirkiness or interesting Backstory that has you liking this character, that has you 'on their side', and then they do something really really nasty, and as a viewer you feel worse because you're guilty by association. This is anything that makes you squeal, 'But we liked him!'.

This can sometimes lead into Evil Is Cool, if the baiting gave birth to a well done and legitimately threatening villain with all the 'cool' evil toys at their disposal, or if the previous self was considered not good/exciting enough for the audience. The reverse can also be true, however, because when done to a character who used to have Evil Is Cool traits, the 'cool' traits may be revoked and the character becomes downright despicable not meant to be viewed with good awe for villain standards.

Compare/contrast the other Tropey the Wonder Dog tropes, especially Pet the Dog and Kick the Dog. Contrast Adopt the Dog, those who look morally ambiguous/neutral until they do something good to set them as likable. If it's the series itself that seems relatively harmless until it happens, there may be a Dead Star Walking indicating that Anyone Can Die. Can induce Mood Whiplash. Also, compare and contrast with Villainy Discretion Shot; oftentimes the only line separating this trope from that one is that we see the dog kicking moment in gory detail. A Bait the Dog moment can subvert an Establishing Character Moment, or it might show that the character is more complex than first appears. Often a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, ironically, or perhaps fittingly enough. Also, see Evil All Along, Wise Old Folk Façade and Faux Affably Evil. Compare Devil in Plain Sight, where the character is blatantly evil but nonetheless fools most of the other characters. If the character is a villain or anti-hero (or very much other bad guys), then it is sometimes a case of Status Quo Is God, in which the writers would make their good side disappear.

This is ultimately a Betrayal Trope (of audience expectations if not other characters in-universe), so there will be spoilers. Sensitive details are spoiler-tagged, but many names are not.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2007), Robin Wolfe is polite and friendly toward Phoenix when Phoenix comes to defend him when he is about to be accused of killing his employee Eddie Johnson, but increasingly suspicious hints pop up about him. His wife is cold and distant toward him, his daughter pokes holes in his claims about Eddie, and Eddie's brother confronts him about his role in Eddie's death. While Robin denies his brother Bobby's existence, the "Den of Spiders" built and maintained at considerable expense, seems to be a Pet the Dog moment as does his having him run an errand near the time of Eddie's death, but then Phoenix sees that the Den of Spiders has a chair with restraints that is used on Bobby to keep him out of sight of guests. By the end of the night, Phoenix and Maya are essentially convinced Robin drove Eddie to his suicide... and around this, time Robin gets killed.
    • In the Investigations manga, Chase Clink seems like friendly and reasonable police chief, until Emi St. Cloud is murdered and he suspects Shawn Southern. When Edgeworth protests his haste in declaring Shawn the suspect, Chase derides him for spending so much time around Gumshoe. Chase is also the actual murderer, who killed Emi St. Cloud and had Shawn framed in order to cover up a secret that he thought would sully the police department's name.
  • Akame ga Kill! is filled with Gray-and-Grey Morality characters, but one of the characters on the side against the Night Raid is Seryu. She is first shown as a nice girl with a tragic backstory of losing her parents and a strong belief in justice. She is even shown getting along with one of the Night Raid members (unknowingly) and helping out citizens of the Empire. She is also shown being a lab rat for the Empire's research. All this makes her seem Too Good for This Sinful Earth. Then comes the reveal that Seryu is a bloodthirsty psychopath who enjoys hurting and murdering anyone who stands against the Empire. Her upbringing and the deaths of those she loves led her to believe that the Empire is the side of justice and anyone who stands against it deserves to die, no matter how small their part. And if the audience was holding out for a Heel–Face Turn moment, those hopes end after she is shown brutally murdering Sheele and enjoying every minute of it.
  • Bakuman。: Inverted with Eiji Nizuma. He's first mentioned in an article in which he declares that he'd gotten good at manga by working hard while everyone else played video games, and later asks for the right to end one series if he gets to be the top manga artist in Jump. This would suggest that he's rather arrogant, but later chapters reveal that there's a bit more to each Establishing Character Moment than meets the eye. In the former, he tells Mashiro that he grew up poor, and since his parents couldn't afford to buy him video games, he ended up spending his childhood drawing. The latter turns out to be a case of Exact Words, as his real goal is to end his own series at the height of its popularity.
  • Berserk:
    • Griffith in the Golden Age Arc is a charismatic mercenary captain who comes across as the most cool, likable, and admirable person you've ever met, especially as seen through the eyes of the protagonist Guts, so that it really hits you for a curveball when you're occasionally reminded how ruthless and scary he can be. He's a brilliant battlefield commander and swordfighter, he makes Guts feel right at home with the Hawks in no time, he risks his life to save Guts twice, all of his followers practically worship him, and he's a hit with the ladies including Princess Charlotte whom he woos in a courtly manner. Then he asks Guts to assassinate Count Julius, the King's brother who had just made a failed attempt on Griffith's life, in which Guts also accidentally kills Julius' young son Adonis. When Griffith hears the news from Charlotte's maid Anna, he briefly flashes a wicked grin, indicating that he isn't bothered by a child's innocent blood on his hands, that he assassinated Charlotte's uncle or the fact that he used Guts for such a dirty mission — in fact, it is speculated by Judeau that he may have actually wanted the boy dead along with Julius because he was being groomed to marry Charlotte, who Griffith wanted for himself. The way he deals with the Queen's conspiracy against him is similarly chilling, as he uses Minister Foss' daughter as a hostage to make him betray the conspirators, kills the Queen and her plotters by trapping them in a burning building, and then has Guts kill the men he hired to kidnap Foss' daughter so the evidence won't lead back to him.
    • Bishop Mozgus is a fanatical Knight Templar inquisitor who is infamous for having no reason or mercy in his hunt for heretics, and the scary thing is he's really convinced that he's torturing and executing people in order to save their souls. One time when his subordinate Farnese catches a bunch of starving refugees attacking a supply cart, he takes pity on a woman with a starving baby and promises to get more aid for the refugees. His reassuring fatherly concern makes it seem for a moment like maybe he has a compassionate side to him after all, but then he shows just how sick his sense of justice is when he escorts her into the torture chamber (by far the most nightmarish place in the entire Tower of Conviction) and tells her she still needs to pay for her blasphemy, even if she spoke it for the sake of her child. Afterward, Farnese finds the woman back among the refugees having lost her mind from the torture and carrying her dead baby in her arms.
  • Speaking of monsters, Blade of the Immortal has Shira pulling a literal dog bait as his Establishing Character Moment: Rin is feeling uncertain about whether she's strong enough to go through with her revenge quest, so Shira treats her to some wild boar and tells her that he became a strong swordsman by killing humans, that their deaths became the strength that allowed him to survive, and that the wild boar they're eating is no different: Its death is now allowing him and Rin to grow strong and survive. And then, just as Rin eases into the fact that she'll have to get over the fact that she's out on a quest to kill someone and has to become more like Shira, he reveals that the meat she just ate wasn't wild boar after all but her pet dog... Why did he do it? Because he likes messing with people's heads; he does it routinely whenever he interacts with confused or uncertain characters and, considering the fact that it's far from the worst thing Shira likes doing, it's kind of amazing how often he can fool even readers into thinking that he might have a decent bone in his body... The quite possibly only reason this works so well is because Blade of the Immortal runs on Grey-and-Grey Morality, with even the worst villains having redeeming qualities, making Shira's pure evil very unexpected and out-of-place.
  • In Bleach, Aizen's a pretty nice guy right up until he stabs Hinamori.
  • In the manga for A Certain Scientific Railgun we're introduced to the scientists in charge of the Sisters/Level 6 development project. They're friendly, affable, serve one of the Misaka clones an expensive tea and chat with her... and then without missing a beat they ask her to clean up the corpses of half a dozen of her brutally killed sisters. Those who have read or watched Index before Railgun will probably see it coming, but for first-time readers, it's quite the shock.
  • In the first episode of Code Geass, Prince Clovis is introduced giving a powerful speech condemning an act of terrorism by the Japanese resistance which seems pretty conciliatory, as he underscores how loyal Japanese are equal citizens of Britannia. Then a moment later, he is shown going back to socialize at a party, demonstrating that all of that pathos was a put-on. By the end of the episode, he shows what's Beneath the Mask, a neurotic nutjob, by despairing due to C.C's escape to the point of ordering a murderous pogrom on the Japanese ghetto to cover it up. Unlike many of these examples though, Karma catches up with him quickly so he doesn't make it very long in the series.
    • Clovis's older brother, Prince Schneizel, was kind of the same. He was introduced as a seemingly nice guy who many fans speculated was a heroic Anti-Villain in contrast to Lelouch, a ruthless Anti-Hero. Then, he starts manipulating the mentally unbalanced TV Genius Nina into building a nuclear weapon, uses a critical momentary absence of Lelouch to turn the Black Knights against said leader, and eventually reveals his plan to nuke millions of people and declare himself God. And using his half-sister Nunnally, also very unstable at the moment, to such an end. Of course, there was at least one sign prior to this: his smile as the Avalon prepared to nuke both Suzaku and a pinned-down Zero in the first season.
  • Embryo from Cross Ange appears to be more reasonable than the the council of world leaders, and appears to be genuinely shocked when Julio orders a massacre over Arzenal, to the point he gives Ange the coordinates to his location, letting her bring her brother's rampage to an end. He also revives a few of the casualties, including Chris and the kindergarten children Ersha was mourning. He also rescues Salia after she has been left sinking into the sea in defeat after trying to stop Ange and abandoned by Alektra. All three girls are turned over to his side by his seemingly selfless acts. His true insidious nature as hinted by Alektra and Tusk, however, comes into full view, as we learn that he's been responsible for pitting the Norma and DRAGONs against one another to fuel the World of Mana, is just using the girls he recruited to his side, and has abandoned multiple Earths to their destruction after declaring its humanity a lost cause (this includes the Earth inhabited by what are now DRAGONs), treating any survivors with extreme prejudice and is preparing to give the World of Mana the same treatment by severing their magic and merging both the new and old world together to create a new one.
  • Darker than Black does this in the new season with the team of Japanese agents. While immediately established as antagonist's to Hei, this isn't really a strike against them for sympathy points, given the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the series. Mina is a badass fighter and provides lesbianism and Genma is highly affable and funny and seems to be a Lovable Sex Maniac. Then, in the third episode, you have them ambushing a squad of Russian soldiers. Genma hijacks a train and as he uses it to kill, you see the mangled body of the conductor next to him. Then, after Mina shows up and slaughters several more soldiers, Gemna creates a gas explosion to kill the remainder and during this whole time, finds this carnage absolutely hilarious. This is shockingly violent, even for Contractors and conveys total lack of empathy for human life. Finally, while Genma initially seems to be a Lovable Sex Maniac, he's really more like a pedophile.
    • There's also the token human, Yoko. "Look at me, I'm all shy and glasses-y and Moe! A girl kissed me and I liked it!" Then boom. She DePowers Hei PAINFULLY and seems absolutely thrilled by it, like he's a guinea pig as opposed to a person. Not to mention Episode 6, when she starts pulling Scary Shiny Glasses and generally looking like Gendo Ikari was reincarnated as an early twenty-something-year-old girl.
  • Shiro of Deadman Wonderland. She is introduced as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but is actually a sociopath killer, known as the Wretched Egg/Red Man.
  • Izaya Orihara in Durarara!! is introduced acting like a nice guy and seems to be comforting a troubled girl named Rio Kamichika. Then, it turns out that he had persuaded Rio into a Suicide Pact, and he tells her that all the nice things he said were just him screwing with her, which pushes poor Rio to really attempt suicide (she survives unharmed, but no thanks to him) after he announces that he really doesn't care what she does with herself. After this scene, he is generally more comically evil, but the show has moments once in a while to remind you what a creepy, sociopathic person Izaya is.
  • Occurs at least twice in the Elfen Lied manga.
    • The first one involves a man who is first introduced as a Chivalrous Pervert with an odd sense of humor, then turns out to be a rapist assassin with a gun that fires spiked balls dosed in extremely painful toxins.
    • A chapter ending introduces a few techs at the Diclonius research facility, along with their boss, a quirky, joking Pretty Boy with a fondness for candy sticks. All is well and good... until a Reveal Shot reveals that they're working, joking and laughing in an office with a window showing an endless train of mutilated and uncensored Diclonii torsos for that radar system rattling past.
  • Sabertooth as a whole gets this in Fairy Tail. Initially, they are just the strongest guild that Fairy Tail must compete with, full of members who have all sorts of cool powers. Then we see exactly how they deal with failure. Special mention goes to Sting, who was introduced as a new dragon slayer who was once a fan of the main character and is far more interactive than his companion Rogue. After Sabertooth's collective bait the dog moment, Sting is seen laughing at the misfortune of the girl they booted out (this despite his having failed worse than her and gotten off with a warning) and claiming she deserved it for being weak, while Rogue insists that as a guild they ought to look out for their members.
  • In Fate/Zero, this is a key part of the intro for Caster (though, given who he truly is, it's not too surprising). Ryuunosuke, a serial killer, summons Caster, who arrives in all his frightening glory. Ryuunosuke offers Caster the last survivor of his latest kills, a Bound and Gagged child, for Caster. Caster draws a book of spells... but then unties the boy and kindly instructs him to leave. However, the second the boy gets to the door, Caster summons... SOMETHING that tears him limb from limb, explaining that offering hope, then tearing it away creates the most despair, to Ryuunosuke's glee.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, while we see fairly early on that the Amestrian military is a fairly ruthless and potentially dodgy organization, its leader, Führer President King Bradley, presents himself (despite his title and kickass fighting skills) as a more-or-less benign individual who does what he thinks is best for his country and his beloved family. He even offers to help our heroes fight the conspiracy inside the military. Then it's revealed that he's a homunculus and part of the aforementioned conspiracy, not to mention the one who ordered the Ishval civil war and subsequent genocide campaign. Despite this, he's among the most human (not necessarily sympathetic) of the homunculi and it seems that his love for his wife, in the manga at any rate, is genuine.
    • To add to that, Bradley is shown to be shaking during Hughes' funeral, one of the major Tear Jerkers of the series. When Mustang brings this event up, it is revealed that he was, in fact, shaking with anger at the noise that Hughes' daughter Elicia was causing, as she cried over her father being buried.
    • Amazingly, the series manages to one-up this. Selim Bradley is a cute little kid who looks up to his father, studies hard so he can help the country when he grows up and fanboys other characters with big sparkly eyes. Which makes it all the more horrifying when the reader learns that not only is he a homunculus but the oldest of the second-generation homunculi and arguably the most powerful and evil. His actual body is a living shadow that tore a group of Briggs soldiers to pieces and left the survivors so traumatized that they were almost insane! That cute little boy form is more like a shell that he moves within, animating with his shadows. Worst of all, his poor mother has no idea that her family is evil homunculi (although they both seem to care about her in their own ways).
    • Shou Tucker initially appears to be a kindly state alchemist with a loving daughter Nina and her equally adorable dog Alexander, who the Elric Brothers eventually end up meeting. Even when it turns out that his wife left him, it could be argued that he had learned from his mistakes since then and that he was still a good father even if he wasn't a good husband. Then it turns out that his wife hadn't actually left him. Shou Tucker had condemned the rest of her life to one of pain and suffering after he transformed her into a Half-Human Hybrid. And as if that wasn't enough, he later does the same thing to Nina and Alexander. Notably, he is the only character in the franchise the "In Memoriam" omakes don't depict going to Heaven... instead, he's burning in Hell.
    • Inverted in one scene involving Kimblee. When he gets out of prison, he expresses his "gratitude" for "taking care" of him by using alchemy to create a bomb attached to the wrist of one of the guards. The "bomb" turns out to be a toy, however, and Kimblee suggests that the guard give it to his kid as a present.
  • Future Diary:
    • Yuno Gasai manages to pull this on her beloved Yukiteru and the audience not just once or twice, but continuously throughout the story. On one hand, it doesn't take long for Yuki to find out that Yuno is Ax-Crazy and totally Yandere for him. However, since every other diary holder is trying to kill him and Yuno's skill at fighting is the only thing keeping him alive, Yuno maintains the status of Nominal Hero and he comes to rely on her more and more. What's more, she is deceptively charming towards people who don't know her dark side, for example completely fooling Yukiteru's mom into thinking she'd make a nice girlfriend for Yuki. Even Yuki thinks from time to time that it's been a while since she did something evil and she's really protecting and taking care of him, so maybe she's not so bad after all, right? Then just when Yuki and the audience have forgiven her for the last Kick the Dog and start to trust her, she does something horrible to remind everyone that yes, she may have her good points but she is still totally nuts. The gradual reveal of her Freudian Excuse goes a long way toward explaining why she's like that and helps to preserve a certain amount of sympathy for her.
    • Yukiteru's dad. At first, he looked like a genuinely nice person who was just trying to help his son. Then it is revealed that he is trying to find and destroy Yukiteru's cellphone to erase his debt. In his defense, he was not aware that destroying his son's phone would kill him.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood has a particularly unsettling scene where Dio Brando, now a vampire, has been leaving a trail of destruction and killing many people in his way... then encounters a woman with a baby, who pleads with him to spare her child and take her life instead. In a surprising moment of honor, Dio swears that he won't lay a hand on the child... and then turns the mother into a zombie, who then devours her own baby alive.
    • The Big Bad Kars of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency could also count. Being a Pillar Man, an ancient race of godlike beings, he views humans as inferior and primitive, but shows surprising care for nature and animals, saving a puppy from an oncoming car and later hitting himself against the wall of a cliff to avoid crushing a bunch of flowers. So when he finally attains the ability to create life, he sees a squirrel nibbling on a branch, he creates another squirrel from his hand and sends it to the real one, which it affectionately cuddles with. And then Kars has his squirrel kill and rip apart the other one, before sending it to attack Stroheim and his soldiers, showing how, once he had attained true power, now sees even nature beneath him and seeks to destroy the world.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen:
    • Despite Sukuna ripping Yuji's heart out, he still showed enough honor to agree to a deal so that he won't use his body to kill anyone during the switch time. Later on, Sukuna laughs at Yuji after Mahito transfigures Junpei so that he can give the boy false hope that he could cure him but won't, and personally massacres a residential complex in Shibuya fully aware of the ramifications of the incident on Yuji, completely going against the Vow just because he can, even giving him his body back so that he would blame himself and for the kicks.
    • Mahito initially comes across as a helpful friend to Junpei before screwing his life by causing the latter's mother's death, mocking his indecisiveness and later killing him by turning him into an abomination intent to kill Yuji while laughing at his demise (along with Sukuna above), establising him as completely heartless and sadistic towards humans.
  • Medaka Box:
    • Naze Youka, once outted as Kurokami Kujira, appears to have a heartwarming moment when her older brother finds her in the headquarters of the Flask Plan and makes a heartfelt speech about how important she is to him. She tears up and runs into his arms... and at the same time uses a syringe to administer a Normalizing liquid and reveals that she had erased her own memories of her family years ago.
  • Nena Trinity from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. She was introduced as cute, quirky (she kissed the protagonist upon first meeting him) and seemed like a Genki Girl caught in a bad situation ( which is confirmed in the side-stories that explains the Trinities' Dark and Troubled Past) but trying to smile to her two older brothers and herself (and further supported that she has the voice of Rie Kugimiya, a popular voice actress known for heroic Tsundere young girl roles, which also makes people think she's going to be great). Then, in the very next episode when flying over a civilian wedding, says, "How dare you have fun while I'm working! You should just die." and then promptly shoots it. Twice. All the attendants but a young girl are killed, and even that poor kid loses one of her hands and her mind. And then, when asked by her teammates (and brothers) why she did it, laughs and says, "Oops! I guess I pushed the wrong button!". She's a Cute and Psycho Tyke Bomb if the watchers don't get what this scene totally says.
  • Johan Liebert of Monster indulges in this trope on more than one occasion. He's hardly ever shown as anything other than an awful psychopath who enjoys murdering people for little more than shits and giggles. However, during the university arc, we see him lovingly playing with children, and helping an old man and his illegitimate son reunite for the first time. However, this is quickly subverted when we see that he manipulated said children into playing a game by which they would attempt to balance themselves on the sides of rooftops, whereby many children fell to their deaths, and that he merely brought the father and son together so that it would be easier to kill them both (he fails on the second part, but still). He also gives money to a sickly homeless woman... because he can tell she's a heroin addict, and would almost certainly spend the money to buy more.
  • While the other goats mistake him to be a wolf and hide from him, Natsuki's dad in My Little Goat initially appears to be a relatively concerned father to his son. Then when his son tries to push him away, he begins growling akin to a wolf, bites into Natsuki's shirt and swings him around like a ragdoll. It gets even worse from there.
  • In My-Otome, Tomoe initially seems fairly humble about being the second-ranked student in Garderobe and welcoming toward Arika, in contrast to the top-ranked Nina, who says she only sees her classmates as rivals. When Arika's uniform goes missing and she's suspected of selling it, Tomoe seems unwilling to believe that it's the case. Then comes the scene when Tomoe berates the girl she bullied into stealing the uniform for deviating from the plan and slaps her, and Tomoe goes downhill from there.
  • Naruto:
    • Mizuki's first line is suggesting that Iruka let Naruto pass despite not being able to make clones, a suggestion Iruka shoots down. Soon afterward, he has a talk with the depressed Naruto, trying to get him to understand why Iruka is as strict as he is. He then offers an alternative way for Naruto to graduate — all part of his plan to steal the scroll of forbidden jutsus.
    • At first, Tobi seems to be a silly, likable, eager-to-please Butt-Monkey with a 'lollipop mask' who clearly doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the Akatsuki. It doesn't last.
    • Every time it seems like Sasuke is becoming a better and less self-centered person. Even Sakura and Naruto have caught on to this and don't seem too surprised by his betrayal in Chapter 692.
  • One Piece:
    • Marshall D. Teach aka Blackbeard, one of our story's Big Bad Ensemble, first started out as a rather jolly Boisterous Bruiser and at least Affably Evil type, always encouraging Luffy to get stronger, caring for his crewmates, etc. Then fast-forward to the Marineford Arc, where he mocks Whitebeard, feigns sympathy with him, then gleefully steals his Devil Fruit, revealing himself to have always been just a power-hungry megalomaniac. And it's likely this won't be the first thing he does something like this, before and after, either.
    • Eustass Kid is initially presented as being disgusted with the World Government Slave Auctions and setting himself up as a worthy opponent to Luffy and Trafalgar Law. Roughly a hundred chapters later, he's seen crucifying pirates attempting to flee the ludicrously dangerous sea of the New World. Word of God is that the only reason Kid's bounty was higher than Luffy's is that Kid leaves a trail of corpses wherever he goes. When he said that he kills anybody who laughs at his dreams, he's not joking.
    • While his most horrifically violent acts have been off-screen, it was soon obvious that Trafalgar Law himself isn't the mellow pretty boy he appears to be. He sent the hearts of 100 pirates to the World Government to become a Warlord of the Sea. It was later revealed that by his power, these hearts are possibly still beating and the people who lost them are still alive but now at the mercy of the one who holds their heart, who can crush it to kill them. No word on how many of the hundred victims are still alive. It's also worth noting that in his first appearance, the other Supernovas were as wary of him as they were of Kid. The trope seems to have been ultimately subverted, as while he can be terrifying to deal with, he turned out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was simply doing all he could to take down Doflamingo, who killed Law's savior and father-figure Corazon and instead became an Honorary True Companion of the Straw Hats. Unlike Kid, his Hidden Depths showed a softer side, and he's been shown on multiple occasions to take his oath as a doctor very seriously.
    • Inverted with Jimbei. When we first heard of Jimbei, being Arlong's former captain and the one who let Arlong run wild in East Blue, it seems like Oda was setting Jimbei up to be a major villain. Who would have thought that he would actually be an honorable and a decent person, become one of the Straw Hats' biggest allies but also be invited by Luffy to join the crew?
    • Vice-Admiral Vergo did this to G-5. Pretended to be a kind, virtuous Marine who was A Father to His Men, it turns out that he was none of those things, and was instead a mole for Doflamingo. He mercilessly slaughtered most of his subordinates and had no qualms of sending children to be experimented on. Let's just say Smoker didn't take this betrayal very well and leave it at that.
  • In the Pokémon the Series: Black & White episode "Evolution by Fire," a heroic example happens. Shamus offers Pignite a spot on his team. In response, Pignite smiles with excitement, making it look like it was willing to join Shamus again. Pignite then stares at Shamus moments before using flamethrower on him.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Kyubey. He looked innocent and overall the typical mascot pet, though with something sinister about him, until Episode 6 reveals really nasty things about him.
  • Sigma of Tweeny Witches does save Eva from the warlock army, but that is only to win Sheila's trust. He later saves Arusu and her friends from a white creature that the warlock army ride on, but it turns out that he nearly tricked them into giving him the True Book of Spells for his own ends.
  • At the start of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Akira Tendo, a college graduate, starts work at a company that seems reasonably good. His coworkers take him out for drinks on his first day and appear relatively friendly, so all seems well at first. Unfortunately, when Akira tries to leave, he learns that he'll be working an all-nighter. The company turns out to be a "black company" with long hours, low pay, abusive bosses and unfulfilling work, an experience so horrible that the Zombie Apocalypse happens to be a good thing for Akira.

    Comic Books 
  • Adventure Comics: The 2009 edition has an arc titled "Superboy: The Boy of Steel", which ends with Lex Luthor holding his niece Lori hostage and saying he will only cure his sister's paralysis once Superboy follows his instructions. Luthor follows through in curing his sister, but he immediately thereafter undoes the cure just to be an asshole. Superboy is so disgusted by Luthor's duplicity and willingness to be so cruel to his own family that he beats the crap out of Luthor and spells out that, while he is himself partially made of Luthor's DNA, he would never be as bad a person as Luthor is.
  • The Boys has Teenage Kix member Whack Job use his electrical powers to do tricks for terminally ill children, then revealed later to have done this as a distraction while he steals painkillers from them.
  • In a 2006 Captain America What If? story, Steve Rogers is a soldier during the Civil War era, part of a group ordered to attack some American Indians. When he expresses doubt about this, his superior officer Colonel "Bucky" Barnes appears to understand. Later, it's shown that the Colonel not only allows the attack to happen, but in fact has his men surrender the loot to him as well.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips, Count Jodafra is introduced as Destrii's kindly uncle, a Lovable Rogue, and the only one of her horrible family who she likes. He gradually is revealed as more and more evil, until in his last appearance in his main run he tries to feed some innocent children to an Eldritch Abomination in exchange for magic powers, and savagely beats Destrii and leaves her for dead when she objects.
  • Hunter Rose from Grendel initially seems like a cool, likable Gentleman Thief and loving father. Every subsequent appearance gradually and completely destroys that image in every imaginable way. By the time of his death, your perception of him is that he's a slimy, arrogant, pathetic, selfish murderer and all-around disgusting person with his delusions of grandeur. Even his one genuinely sympathetic quality (loving his adoptive daughter and refusing to hurt kids) ends up being undermined; despite meaning well, he's an absolutely horrible parent who ends up ruining said daughter's life and robbing her of her childhood. Hate Sink doesn't even begin to describe him by the end.
  • Judge Dredd: In Boyhood of a Superfiend, Judge Death had an impressively cruel one of these during his day as a trainee Judge in court, where he executed every single one of the 27 defendants who were brought before him. The last case was a couple who filed for divorce but tried to save themselves by getting back together and canceling the motion. Death smiles and wishes them a long and happy life together... then blows out their brains anyway because they wasted his time.
  • One of the longest-term and most emotionally powerful examples was Cassidy in Preacher: he was a Lovable Rogue for practically the whole first half of the story, but the second half was devoted to a very unpleasant Face–Heel Turn coupled with increasingly grotesque and horrific revelations about his actions in the backstory.
  • Superman story arc The Death of Superman: In the very first full scene Doomsday appears, after luring a poor, unsuspecting bird to his hand, he crushes it to death instantly.
  • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise Zig-zags this with Starscream. First and foremost, he's Starscream, Jerkass, backstabber, and only in it for himself. However, in this series the war is at its tentative end, and he goes into politics, juggling his ambition with what's best for the people, being a cocky arrogant prick, but also trying to befriend fellow candidate Metalhawk and raise the people of Cybertron out of the crappy shambles of a city they've made. In Issue 16, allies with the Autobots against the Decepticons who are attempting an uprising, and he saves Metalhawk before coldly murdering him and blaming it on the Decepticon/Autobot war, and rallying the people against his former comrades and enemies and sealing power for himself. In spite of that, when we next see him, he admits that he feels guilty for what he's done, and his new position puts him under massive amounts of scrutiny from former soldiers who've stayed in the city, the press and the encroaching Dark Cybertron Prophecy.

    Fan Works 
  • All For Luz: Shigaraki's one semi-redeeming quality in the story seems to be his relationship with Luz, his Quirk's successor. When his soul is put in her head after he died, he acts as a Spirit Advisor in a Evil Mentor sort a way, giving his centuries worth of advice on how to use her powers, hyping her up as The Chosen One, reassuring her that she shouldn't feel guilty about killing her enemies when they tried to kill her first and letting her know she doesn't have to turn out like him if she doesn't want to. By doing this he's able to convince her he's not completely vile, or at the very least assisting the girl in his own Supervillain way. In reality, he in the end sees her as his ride back to his own world and hopes Luz continues her Trauma Conga Line until she believes he's the only she count on so he can pull a Villain Override on her.
  • BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant: At first, it seems as though Makoto's "The Reason You Suck" Speech actually got through to Adam, only for it to be made clear a second later that it was all an act to get Makoto to let her guard down, allowing Adam to slash her across her stomach.
  • Downplayed in The CATverse — while he is clearly a villain from the start, most of the Scarecrow's worst actions take place offstage or are implied, the stories are mostly Black Comedy, and he has sympathetic moments with his henchgirls. His actions in Small World — strangling his mother to death and torturing her child, all with no remorse whatsoever and with no happy ending to mitigate them — are downright brutal, are played dead seriously, and are a reminder to the reader that Jonathan Crane is still a very bad man.
  • Daemon Bridges in It's not the Raptor DNA is introduced as a Corrupt Corporate Executive who, while bordering on Ax-Crazy, has some sympathetic and humanizing characteristics — namely, his genuine concern for Sobek, an aging Spinosaurus, and his desire to see him well cared for. Then he and a henchman murder Blake, an ACU officer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he feels no remorse for the crime.
  • Ruby and Nora: Cinder seems to genuinely love Emerald, showing none of the abusive, Control Freak tendencies of her canon counterpart. Then she kills her for not being ruthless enough.
  • Forum of Thrones: While Clayton is introduced as a villain from the beginning, the reason for Kersea's hatred of him is not immediately apparent. Slowly however, it is shown that he is violently obsessed with her and gets so irrational in this that he is far from the Reasonable Authority Figure and Noble Demon he appeared to be at first.
  • Fans who don't give Sonata Dusk the Draco in Leather Pants treatment do this for her a lot. For example, in Not So Sweet we see hernote  sink a ship just because it might have treasure in it and becomes happy when her sisters congratulate her.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: The SDC lumberyards are said to be brutally exploitative. Jaune and Trifa investigate one of them, and see that they do trap their employees in cycles of debt. The manager, Elizabeth Tanner, actually seems like a reasonable, if strict, person. Then she feels Jaune up, and Trifa reveals that she did this several times, and the lumberyard were complicit.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: Despite its creepy appearance, disturbing speech and dubious methods, you would be forgiven to think Enigma is a good guy -albeit of the well-intentioned extremist kind- since it is actively hindering Seele -the setting's canon Big Bads-...until Enigma reveals it is opposing Seele because it wants to usurp the Third Impact in order to destroy the future.
  • Mother Talzin in running with lightning feet decides to use Dark sorcery in order to bring Feral Opress (strongly implied to be her son) to life, hinting she might love him in spite of his weakness. Then she sends him on a mission that's almost guaranteed to get him killed, and nonchalantly tells her other sons that Feral's utter failure to become a Sith warrior means she would let him get raped again and again by her fellow Nightsisters until he produces a child. She's saying that to Savage, whom she forced to break Feral's neck to begin with, and who's completely horrified.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: The Dazzlings treat Timmy nicely to win him over, and after starting to develop some real affection for him even offer to let him join them. However, when he realizes their true colors and refuses, they resort to brutally torturing him to try and force him to do what they want.
  • The main protagonists of C Listers are all C-list villains who are all initially portrayed as a band of goofy, fun-loving Lovable Rogues who occasionally boast about being super-villains. However, the Taped Interviews chapters show an outside perspective on them and reveals that, with the Sympathetic P.O.V. stripped away, they are all violent and amoral criminals who know they're in the wrong and simply don't care. It's especially horrifying in the case of Ratcatcher and Killer Moth, who were previously portrayed as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains; Ratcatcher is revealed to be a serial killer who primarily targets homeless children, and Killer Moth is shown to be a narcissistic scumbag who's manipulated his supposed Only Friend Firefly into serving as his attack dog by exploiting his mental illness and actively cutting him off from any kind of support.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022) has Professor Marmalade, a guinea pig and beloved philanthropist who believes he can reform the gang, and takes them to his compound to train them. When leader Mr. Wolf has a breakthrough, Marmalade praises him but warns his friends might be holding him back from living "the good life". When the gang is later framed for stealing a valuable meteorite and arrested, he meets with them in the prison transport... and reveals everything was part of his plot to steal the meteorite for his own heist and frame the gang. To rub salt in the wound, he also reveals Mr. Wolf's secret to the others, leading to a nasty falling out between Mr. Wolf and his friends when they arrive at prison.
  • Coco: When Ernesto first appears, it seems he's just as amazing as he was in life: he willingly bonds with his supposed great-great-grandson Miguel, and encourages him to follow his dream. Then it's revealed that he's a fraud who murdered his best friend and stole his songs to become famous. After this, he tries to murder Miguel, even though at the time he still thought he was his great-great-grandson.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, this is mildly applied. Eddy's Brother is initially portrayed upon his introduction as a cool older brother willing to help out Eddy and his friends. It almost seems heartwarming the way Eddy hugs his brother for promising to help them out. One minute later he's beating the hell out of his little brother, his brother's best friend, and has the rest of the cast watching in horror.
  • Frozen (2013) has Prince Hans, who was introduced as a Prince Charming whom Anna falls in love with and wants to marry. When her sister Elsa vetoes their marriage and accidentally sets off an eternal winter in Arendelle, Hans takes care of the frightened citizens while Anna goes to find her sister. Soon after Anna returns, near death since her sister accidentally froze her heart, and begs Hans for a True Love's Kiss since only "an act of true love" can save her. Hans smiles, leans in... and reveals he never really loved her, he just wanted to take over her kingdom since he wouldn't be able to inherit the Southern Isles' throne with 12 older brothers in the way. He planned to kill Elsa after they were married, but now he can kill her while looking like a hero. He locks Anna in and leaves her to die. Anna wasn't the only one fooled — the audience was fooled as well.
  • Dr. Olivia of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is introduced as a perky Granola Girl in a lab coat. Harmless, right? Turns out she's Dr. Olivia Octavius, a.k.a. Earth-1610's version of Doctor Octopus.
  • Thumbelina has Mona, a rat who gives Thumbelina shelter from the winter, but her real intention is to sell her as a wife to Mr. Mole, regardless of her mission to save her people from a flood. Mona manipulates her with false amiability until Thumbelina realizes this and escapes with a swallow.
  • Toy Story 3. After saving Lotso from being torn apart by shredders, he immediately shows them gratitude and later asks them to push him up a ladder so that he can save them all from an incinerator... only to leave them to die by not pressing the emergency stop button and mockingly salute Woody as he makes his way out of the garbage dump.
  • Unicorn Wars: Bluey and Tubby have a very anarchist relationship at the beginning of the film, with Bluey bullying his younger brother despite the care Tubby shows to him. It looks like their relationship would improve when going to bed. Bluey asked his brother if he was cute, and Tubby assured him that he was. Then Tubby woke up Bluey and revealed that he had wet the bed. Bluey told his brother that he could sneak away and get a new bedsheet; it looked like there would be a tender moment between brothers, only for Bluey to wake up the unit and reveal that his brother wet the bed, humiliating Tubby.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used chillingly in 12 Years a Slave. When Eliza is separated from her children at the slave auction and is weeping at the plantation, Ford's wife pities her and says, "Have some food and rest. Your children will soon be forgotten." It doesn't seem to occur to her that blacks might love their children every bit as much as white people. Moreover, Ford's wife later demands to her husband that Eliza be sold as she "makes too much noise" (as in she cries too much for her tastes), casting some doubt over how genuine her pity was to begin with.
  • The robber in The Amazing Spider-Man is introduced to us this way. He's behind Peter in line at a convenience store, who is trying to buy chocolate milk and is two cents short. The jerkass clerk won't even let him make up the difference from the "take a penny/leave a penny" jar because he hasn't paid enough. As Peter leaves, the robber tosses his money on the floor, making the clerk bend down to get it, empties the register while he is distracted, and tosses Peter the milk. Since the robbery was non-violent, the robber was nice to Peter, and the clerk was a jerk, you are tempted to like the guy and understand why Peter doesn't stop him. Moments later he has murdered Uncle Ben for getting in his way.
  • The Japanese horror classic Audition perfectly fits this trope. Asami seems to be a rather soft-spoken, yet harmless woman... and then it turns out that she keeps her previous mutilated boyfriend in a bag. It only gets worse from there.
  • Barton Fink. Charlie seems like a lovable oaf and becomes Barton's only real friend. Then it turns out he's a homicidal maniac who probably killed his girlfriend and gave her head to him in box.
  • Blade Runner 2049: While rather creepy and unsettling from the very beginning, Niander Wallace at first appears to be an Anti-Villain Benevolent Boss like his predecessor Eldon Tyrell, cradling a newborn Replicant in his arms and tenderly wiping the birthing-fluid from her body while softly whispering "Happy birthday" to her. A few minutes later, he talks about the fact that his Replicants being unable to reproduce makes them useless to him, whereupon he slices her abdomen open with a knife and lets her bleed to death.
  • The Brotherhood of Satan: Dr. Duncan initially seems like a kindly doctor who is simply strung-out from the supernatural phenomena plaguing his town. It's soon revealed he's actually the head of the Satanic cult behind it all.
  • Circle: The Black Man actually seems kinda sympathetic when it turns out that his desperate claim that he was being targeted because of his race wasn't entirely unfounded... before he demonstrates what a scumbag he actually is when he conspires to kill the Young Girl and the Pregnant Woman.
  • In Cube, Quentin naturally becomes The Leader as he seems protective, competent and sympathetic. After a narrow escape, he loses his temper and launches a hateful, sexist tirade against Halloway. She responds with a "Reason You Suck" Speech and calls him a Rabid Cop pretending to be a good guy. He slaps her. However, Quentin gets a chance to redeem himself when Halloway is clinging to a rope and Quentin reaches down. She Takes His Hand and looks up at him with relief and gratitude. He looks back, and his expression changes to a cold, murderous stare. He lets her drop. From this point onward, Quentin is a dangerous villain.
  • In Dragonheart we first see Einon as though he is like any other fantasy hero, who was given Draco's heart and the audience assumes it would be about A Boy and His X. But in a few minutes, we see that he is a spoiled prince who is even more oppressive and cruel than his father. When he forces the rebels to help build his new castle, he has their leader blinded for good measure.
  • The Hateful Eight is filled with this trope, both played straight and inverted. The Prisoner is shown as a Damsel in Distress. She is really The Dragon or arguably the Big Bad of the movie. The Hangman is shown as a Jerkass, but he proves to be the Big Good of the movie. The Sheriff is shown as a Politically Incorrect Villain but was Good All Along. The Mexican is shown as charming and misunderstood, but was Evil All Along, same with The Cow Puncher. And The Little Man is shown as a head of authority but is really a Mook. The Bounty Hunter seems like a nobleman but is really an Anti-Hero, or a Sociopathic Hero. And the Confederate is shown as a nice old man until The Bounty Hunter shows up, then he reveals himself to be a Racist Grandpa. The first half of the film focuses on each of the characters so that the viewer can grow attached to them, making the reveals later powerful.
  • In Hellraiser: Bloodline, Pinhead appears to be petting a little white dove in one scene. He promptly feeds it to his hellhound the Chatterbeast.
  • The Hurricane Heist: The mercenaries go out of their way to disable the treasury guards with non-lethal tactics during the robbery, but (with the exceptions of Sasha and Frears) proceed to needlessly abuse their prisoners and ruthlessly try to kill Will, Breeze, and Casey for the rest of the movie.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus brings us Tony. He's introduced as a likable chap who has a gift for bringing people in to be enlightened in the titular imaginarium. It's shown that he was involved in some sort of scandal about a children's charity, but he still comes off as a Lovable Rogue. Then it's revealed that he was selling the children's organs on the black market. The man triggers an Even Evil Has Standards reaction in the Devil himself.
  • And again in Jackie Brown, we assume we're on Samuel L. Jackson's side, because he seems like his character in Pulp Fiction, with some funny lines about AK-47's and a stoner girlfriend, etc. He goes on to shoot or threaten to shoot most of the characters in the movie. Robert De Niro's character is the same, except we don't find out until much later on when he shoots his/Ardell's girlfriend dead because she wouldn't stop talking.
  • In Knives Out, some of the Thrombeys, particularly the women and Walt, appear to treat Marta nicely and even promise that they will take care of her because she is like one of the family. But the moment it's revealed that Marta is the sole inheritor of Harlan's fortune, they all turn on her in some way or another and attempt to blackmail her.
  • In The Man with the Iron Fists, Brass Body is introduced playing with some orphans and cheering them up. He is later shown to be a ruthless murderer and rapist.
  • Mars Attacks!: The president gives an impassioned speech to the Martian leader and two other Martians, offering them peace. The leader sheds a tear and appears to extend his hand. It's than revealed to be a robotic hand that kills the president.
  • Annie Wilkes in Misery. She saves the author Paul Sheldon from a deadly car crash in the middle of a blizzard. She makes it clear to be a huge fan of his books. She seems dedicated and delighted to nurse his wounds until he makes a full recovery. Though she almost violently disagrees with Sheldon's new book, it's just the actions of a passionate fan. Nothing wrong with that, right? Too bad she's revealed to be a psychopath that has no intention of letting Sheldon go or let anyone know he's still alive. Then it's revealed that she had a dark past where she killed her father and a nursing school roommate and was a nurse who killed many of her patients.
  • In Mowgli, John Lockwood is patient and merciful with Mowgli, and takes him under his wing. Then Mowgli gets a look inside his hut.
  • The 1945 American Propaganda film My Japan, whose message is "Holy shit, Japan is badass" bookends scenes of Japanese brutality with tranquil koi ponds.
  • Never Look Away: Seeband initially has an unreadable facial expression when he's inducted into the sterilization and euthanasia program. After Kurt's aunt breaks down begging in front of him he seems uncomfortable, and backs out of performing the sterilization procedure himself. Then he calmly condemns Kurt's aunt to death with a stroke of his pencil.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: Captain Vidal is introduced as a stern militant, with a dash of My Country, Right or Wrong to go along with his fascism. He's polite to Carmen and stern to Ofelia. When he finds a couple of hunters who his men have captured, he searches their bags, finding some tobacco and a beer bottle. He shushes them whenever they talk, and when the younger hunter insists that the other, his father is telling the truth, Vidal calmly walks up to him and beats his face in with the beer bottle. Then he shoots the man's father (not even bothering to warn the soldier who was standing right behind the man, who could have been killed by the exit wound if he hadn't moved away), and calmly shoots the first hunter. He later finds that they were only hunters, and tells his men to do a better job of searching before they bring people to him.
  • Pitch Black: So it seems like Riddick, after all this talk about how bad he is, might be an alright guy after all when he prevents Jack from getting killed and used as bait by Johns. Then Riddick leaving the others to die as soon as it becomes a viable option really drives home the point of what a scumbag he can be.
  • Quentin Tarantino admits to doing this with Mr Blond in Reservoir Dogs, whose Moral Event Horizon moment involved cutting off a cop's ear and slicing his face while he was gagged and duct-taped to a chair, then dousing him with gasoline and preparing to set him on fire before he was stopped. All of this is done after we get introduced via a little How We Got Here flashback and get to see him do the twist to some funky 70's music on the radio.
  • RoboCop 2: When RoboCain runs into his former lover Angie in the warehouse shoot-out, he lowers his gun and tries to caress her face with his robotic hands, almost seeming like he'll let her live... before snapping her neck. Presumably out of frustration, since he can no longer enjoy a woman in his roboticized state.
  • Any horror film where they don't show who the killer is before the big reveal. Especially in the Scream film series where Ghostface turns out to be someone you wouldn't expect to be a homicidal mass murderer.
  • Done deliberately with the film version of Secret Window — according to the director, by the time our protagonist finally snaps completely and kills his ex-wife and her boyfriend, we were meant to be too involved with him to stop cheering him on.
  • In The Shawshank Redemption Warden Norton is a hypocritical jerkass, but you can somewhat understand where he's coming from, and his dictatorial rule can be somewhat excused as the necessary actions of a man trying to maintain order over an institution of violent criminals. You get the feeling he's maybe not all bad when he talks to Tommy in private asking him if he'd be willing to testify to Andy's innocence. When Tommy agrees, Norton has him shot by Hadley to keep Andy from going free on the off-chance he'd rat Norton out for fraud and money laundering — and we know once and for all that no, Norton does not have any good intentions in mind, and he really is rotten to the core.
  • The film Side Effects proves to be this with the main female protagonist Emily. The film seems like it's a cautionary tale about the dangers of prescription medicine with Emily being the tragic victim. Only to reveal that she used prescription drugs as cover to kill her husband, set up her psychiatrist to take the blame, and get rich off the stock market.
  • Maman in Slumdog Millionaire. A viewer might be slightly suspicious when this man is offering homeless children soda and giving them a home in an orphanage. You may think he's a little shady, but not too terrible when he has the children panhandle in exchange for food and board. Then when he really likes you, you get to sing for him. However, he has a way to make every singing orphan worth double.
  • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the audience is introduced to Mysterio, a long-running famous Spidey villain in the comics, as the heroic Quentin Beck of another universe, who helps Peter and SHIELD take down the Elementals wrecking havoc across Europe, while counseling Peter about the responsibilities of being a hero. It's not until halfway through the film when Peter hands Beck the EDITH software Tony bequeathed him as a torch-passing when the ruse is revealed: Beck, a bitter Stark Industries ex-employee, made up his heroic persona and backstory to gain back the EDITH software that he developed in order to one-up Stark's legacy, building trust with Peter to get him to hand it over. From there, he has no qualms about wanting to kill Peter and his classmates to keep them from exposing him as a fraud amongst other villainy.
  • Several cases in Star Wars:
    • The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren, revealed as Ben Solo, confronts his father on Starkiller Base. Han tries to talk him down, and Kylo seems to be listening, admitting to feeling conflicted and asking for Han's help. Then he murders Han, ensuring his fall to the Dark Side so he doesn't have to feel conflicted anymore.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • Kylo Ren has another moment when it's shown that even after murdering Han Solo, he still feels torn between the Dark Side and the Light. He passes up a chance to kill Leia, and when he murders his own master to save Rey's life and fights off the Praetorian Guard by her side, it seems like he's redeemed himself. Although he has sincere feelings for Rey, his next act is to deliver a completely sincere but sociopathic We Can Rule Together speech to her. When she declines, he takes over the First Order and demands they destroy the last survivors of the Resistance, including her.
    • DJ is something of a slovenly jerk, but he fits right in with the grand Star Wars tradition of the grumpy bear Lovable Rogue. While he demands Rose's medallion, a Tragic Keepsake of her dead sister, as a deposit for his hacking services, he gives it back after using it as a conductor to open a door. Then he sells the Resistance out to the First Order at a moment's notice to save his own skin, apathetically telling Finn and Rose "they blow you up today, you blow them up tomorrow."
    • Solo: Beckett is first seen in the Battle of Mimban, dual-wielding pistols in spectacular fashion while nearly everyone else on the battlefield is either screaming and running or getting killed and noting how much he likes Han when Solo comes up to him after the battle. The moment that Han figures out Beckett is a deserter wearing a stolen uniform, Beckett calls the other officers over, tells them Han is the deserter, and walks off while they throw Han into a pit to be Fed to the Beast.
  • Max Dembo from Straight Time is initially portrayed as a down-on-his-luck, shy and amiable man who just so happens to be an ex-convict and genuinely wants to reform. For the first half of the film, it's easy to wonder why this seemingly gentle man was in prison at all. However, after being driven to his Rage Breaking Point and reverting back to crime, it becomes clear that Max has a nasty temper, that he's very prone to outbursts of violence, and that he has a manipulative streak. When he murders his best friend over something that was his fault in the first place, it's hard not to totally lose sympathy for him.
  • In X2: X-Men United, Magneto and the Brotherhood team up with the X-Men in an Enemy Mine battle against a racist, genocidal military colonel. Magneto's more or less leading a rescue mission to save Professor Xavier, and the two teams fight together so well (the movie's even subtitled "X-Men United") that you can't help but cheer him on and start to wonder if, all things considered, he's really such a bad guy. And then he proceeds to remind the audience that yes, he really is a villain, when instead of rescuing him, he tries to use the captive, brainwashed Xavier to kill every non-mutant on Earth.

  • In the Dale Brown book Air Battle Force, General Gryzlov first appears as A Father to His Men, chatting with the aircrew of the bomber he's on. Then it turns out that he's there to oversee firebombing the shit out of Chechens.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In Halloween Rain, the Liar is a devout and outspoken member of a Religion of Evil, but when he runs into Buffy at the Bronze, he tells her that he just wants to enjoy the holiday like everyone else and show his Game Face without inspiring terror. He vows to fight her the first time they meet after the holdiay, but insists that he views Halloween as a holy day where vampires shouldn't drain anyone's blood. He is lying, and Buffy catches him and some friends trying to drain and kill several human partygoers a few minutes later.
    • In How I Survived My Summer Vacation, Hot-Blooded Mook Corvelle is friends with the kind-hearted (for a vampire) Jay and wants to escape from the Order of Aurelius's thrall, but he is still a callous murderer with no loyalty to his friends.
  • Cerberus High's Big Bad Neo D. Fowler presents himself as a caring friend to his myrmidon Rey in his introduction. Rouge’s unprecedented return had Rey shaken and hysterical as he had believed for years that his sister was dead. However, shortly after putting the imp to bed, Neo reveals his true self as he devises a scheme to kidnap Rouge.
  • City Primeval: When Guy's girlfriend panics after Clement murders him, Clement seems like he's about to comfort her… only to punch her in the face instead.
  • In The Dagger and the Coin, Geder initially appears to be a highly sympathetic character and obvious Audience Surrogate — it's a fantasy novel, and he's a young soldier who is overweight and nerdy and would rather read than fight, and is the target of cruel bullying by his fellow officers, all aristocratic jocks. Soon afterward, Geder shows a clever schemer side that gives him Badass Bookworm cred and is at the lead in taking an enemy city. Then, some people in the City protest against the occupation and burn Geder in effigy. His response — order his troops to cover the streets with flammable material and close off all escape routes before burning the city to the ground. He listens calmly over the next couple of days as upwards of ten thousand people burn alive. After this, he just keeps going, and his moments of being friendly and mild-mannered make his monstrous sociopathy all the more frightening. Essentially, it takes what looks to be the origin story of an underdog hero, then turns it on its head by revealing it to be the origin story of the Dark Lord instead.
  • In The Oaken Throne, Wendel Maculatum is introduced as a lovable, ditzy stoat jester who provides comfort to Ysabelle as she sets off on her dangerous journey to become the Starwife. He even saves her life when the bat army attacks her homeland. But ultimately he is revealed to be the bloodthirsty high priest of Hobb who murdered Ysabelle's mentor Godfrey, her friend Tysle Symkyn, and several others she knew. When she finds out the truth, she asks him outright why he bothered saving her before. It wasn't Ysabelle he was protecting, but the magical silver acorn necklace she was wearing.
  • A Dowry of Blood: Count Dracula seems as first to be a friendly and attentive husband to Constanta, but over the course of the novel she discovers more and more that he's truly an insidious monster that puts on airs. His seemingly kind acts simply mask a monster who's incapable of true love.
  • In R.L. Stine's Fear Games trilogy (Part of The Nightmare Room), the sorceress who is the trilogy's Big Bad lures a seagull to her hand, pets it while she tells it her evil plot, then snaps the seagull's neck and throws it to the ground.
  • When introduced in the first Gormenghast novel, Titus Groan, Steerpike is not only the most dynamic character in the entire cast, with a clear and sympathetic goal (escape), but is the viewpoint character for most of the book, not to mention showing extreme skill at what he does. By the time he reveals himself to be a deceitful serial killer, the reader has been well and truly disposed to view him as the hero.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Madeye Moody seems like a pretty cool dude. Kind of scary, sure, but, as Ron states, he knows his stuff, not to mention all of the times he helps Harry during the tournament. I mean, he turned Malfoy into a ferret and bounced him up and down like a furry white tennis ball! How bad could he be? Real bad. Like, orchestrate the revival of the most dangerous man the wizarding world had ever seen and also be directly responsible for several deaths bad. And the worst of it is, anything that was likable about his character before is forever marred. The real Moody turns out to be cool, though.
  • In The Hate U Give, King at first seems like he's an Affably Evil Noble Demon. Yeah, he's a drug lord, but he seems amiable enough, is on good terms with the protagonist's father, and he has some sense of justice. Then he tries to murder a teenage boy, essentially puts a target on the back of the 16-year-old protagonist, and beats his wife so badly she ends up in the hospital.
  • Mr. Teatime in Hogfather is introduced with a badass sequence in which he sneaks into the head assassin's office, then turns out to be a total psycho.
    • Of course, we only get a couple of paragraphs of "what a badass" before "Oh my Om, what a psycho" sets in, because we first see him playing with some dogs; the character speaking to him expresses surprise because on his last job he nailed one to the ceiling.
    "He lost both parents at an early age. I think, on reflection, that we should have wondered a bit more about that."
  • In George P. Pelecanos' novel King Suckerman, ex-con Wilton Cooper appears to be a cool badass but is gradually revealed to be a rather frightening sociopath.
  • The Radix: The Knight offers a street bum meal, shower, new clothing... Just to cut him up and use as a model for his painting of a Christian martyr. Later The Dog Bites Back as one of the bum's pals recognizes him and reports to authorities.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Littlefinger. He's a schemer and whoremonger, but he's also a childhood friend of Catelyn, so he helps her out and gives Ned some brutally honest advice. He might be a weasel, but he's their weasel. But he was all part of his scheme to completely betray the Starks and improve his own position.
  • Zakalwe from Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks. Initially, he comes off being a cool, badass secret agent with a rather dark sense of humour, and though his handlers seem to think he's a dangerous psycho, they seem totally off base. It's not until the very end of the story that we find out that he's an ex Evil Overlord, with a penchant for flaying who was involved in a civil war with his brother. He ended that civil war by murdering their sister and his ex-girlfriend, making a chair out of her corpse, and then having it sent to his brother, who kills himself. He then steals his brother's identity, and uses it to escape his past.
  • In the Warhammer novel Inheritance, the character of Vlad von Carstein is introduced like a non-annoying version of an Anne Rice vampire, who practically sweats pure liquid awesome. He's philosophically inclined, a good fighter, looks cool, enters like a true badass, and ohmigod did he just slaughter hundreds of people in extremely sadistic manners and resurrect them as zombies?
  • Darkstalker from Wings of Fire is feared by the NightWings and IceWings in their legends for what he did 2000 years ago, but when Moonwatcher actually gets to telepathically talk to him he turns out to be a funny, cool, thoughtful dragon who is quick to point out that his crimes are largely exaggerated by history books written by his enemies. He quickly became a fan favorite. So neither Moon nor the audience took it well when he turned out to have enchanted his father to disembowel himself.
  • Witch King: When the demon protagonist Kai possesses the corpse of a man who had been kidnapped and beaten to death, he sees the man's final memories, including that one of the kidnappers befriended him just to make the betrayal hurt more. Kai makes a point of tearing that kidnapper's soul out and eating his life.
  • In Wolf Hall, Henry VIII comes off as a king who isn't so bad. He's willing to elevate a lowborn man like Thomas Cromwell, putting his abilities over his birth. While his temper is dangerous and he is sometimes easily influenced by whoever spoke to him last, he is genuinely affectionate to those in his inner circle (even going so far as to visit when Cromwell is recovering from a bad fever). But his darker side begins to dominate after Elizabeth's birth and Anne begins to miscarry. He flies into a screaming public rage at Cromwell, orders him to disregard legality in the case of Thomas More, and when he turns on Anne he hires the executioner from Calais even before her "trial." Cromwell reflects that his odds of leaving court through honorable retirement are not so good.
  • Wilkie Collins did this in his novel The Woman in White with Enigmatic Minion Count Fosco. Fosco is so friendly and charming that the heroines turn to him for help against the seemingly main villain, Sir Percival Glyde, who is a Dastardly Whiplash type. Turns out that Fosco is actually a master villain who is aiding Glyde. It's also shown that Fosco has cowed and abused his wife into becoming a Stepford Smiler and it has been argued by British critic John Sutherland that the discrepancies in time between what Fosco says it took for Anne Catherick's death and what another character reports is meant to suggest that Fosco killed her after a prolonged period of torture and rape.
  • In Worm, protagonist Taylor is initially so persuaded by Coil's cool Pragmatic Villainy and his commitment to running the city better than it has been run before, even if he admits he's just doing it because of his pride, that she makes the final decision to work for him as one of the Undersiders rather than betraying them. Then she, and the audience, find out that Coil has kidnapped a child and is drugging her in order to use her future prediction powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Since revealed to be alive, Tony Almeida's been acting a little shady, but also has been doing everything in his power to aid Jack and the FBI stop the Starkwood conspiracy and destroy their bioweapon which has already infected Jack, personally taking out the main facility. Then someone escapes with a sample of the weapon and Tony teams up with FBI head agent Larry Moss to take him down. But when they corner the guy and Larry is shot, Tony then proceeds to suffocate him to death and reveal he's working with the man who has the sample.
  • Angel: Daniel Holtz was an 18th Century vampire hunter with an especially strong hatred of Angelus and Darla for murdering his family; and gets brought into the present day to kill Angel. In "Lullaby" he corners Angel, who is clutching his newly born son; and after a moment, lets Angel leave with the baby. He then immediately reveals this wasn't an act of mercy, but an opportunity for a far more terrible revenge.
    "I swore I would show no mercy. And I won't."
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Grant Ward is set up to be an honorable, loyal agent. Then, he is revealed to be a HYDRA mole in Episode 17. Ward gets an even more extreme one in "Ragtag". Garrett orders him to kill Fitz and Simmons, who end up locking themselves on the other side of a transparent door. Fitz insists that they are friends and Ward still must care about them. After a Pet the Dog flashback, Ward acknowledges that yes, he does care about them... it's a weakness. He then flips the switch to dump them out of the plane and into the ocean.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Happens a few times on the new show.
    • First there's Cavil/#1, who's introduced as a Deadpan Snarker type and even seems to be one of the more sympathetic Cylons. As the story develops, we get to know Cavil for what he really is.
    • Then there's Tory, who learns she's a Cylon, but manages to keep it together at first. When Cally has a breakdown upon realizing her husband Tyrol is a Cylon, she takes her infant son and prepares to toss herself and him out of an airlock. Tory shows up, talks Cally down-and then takes Cally's son before ejecting her into space anyway.
  • In the first episode of The Boys (2019) TV adaptation, Homelander largely behaves as a genuinely heroic person, stopping a robbery without racking up collateral damage and being completely affable and supportive when Starlight joins the Seven (the show even removes an instance from the comics where he sexually coerced her). The Inciting Incident that spurs Hughie to turn against the Supes isn't even his fault, and even Billy Butcher seems to think that Homelander is a genuine straight-edge, as there are no unsavory rumors surrounding him. Then he ruthlessly assassinates an entire family to protect Vought's interests, and only gets darker from there.
  • Blackadder: General Melchett in the fourth series initially seems like a comically eccentric Pointy-Haired Boss, but his behavior in the second episode, in which Blackadder is court marshaled suggests that he is seriously mentally unstable. Although Melchett is at first a comic parody of the We Have Reserves habit of World War I generals, it's ultimately pretty clear that Melchett's not just incompetent—he's The Sociopath who couldn't give a damn about his troops.
  • Black Mirror: Early on in “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”, Ashley’s Aunt Catherine seems supportive, even comforting Ashley O when she seems depressed. Later, she makes it perfectly clear she considers herself entitled to control her niece’s career, going so far as to put her in a chemically induced coma when she won’t cooperate.
  • Breaking Bad: When we first see Todd, he's a criminal but he is still unfailingly polite and genuinely nice to everyone he interacts with. Then he casually executes a child as if it were no big deal.
    • In the ante-penultimate episode after being Forced to Watch Hank die at the hands of Jack, Walt seems to relent when the Neo-Nazis decide to take Jesse away... only to inform him that he was there when Jane died, and didn't save her.
  • Escape at Dannemora: After five episodes of following Sweat and Matt, two prisoners serving life in prison, in their attempt to escape the confines of prison and avoid "growing old and dying" in captivity, the penultimate episode flashes back to unflinchingly show the brutal murders they committed to get into prison in the first place.
  • Fargo: This is essentially Lester's character arc. He's a put upon Henpecked Husband who's constantly abused by those around him and he maintains the Sympathetic P.O.V. as he kills his wife and desperately tries to fix his life as it crumbles around him. As the episodes go on, he just gets darker and darker culminating in him framing his brother and sending him to jail. Then the Time Skip occurs and he's successful happy and has put his life back together again until a chance encounter with Lorne makes him a target again. Lester tricks his current wife into a fatal situation which ends with Lorne shooting her in the head.
  • Firefly: Had a good example with Bounty Hunter Jubal Early. It's clear that Whedon assumed that viewers would react to him with similar goodwill as was shown towards Boba Fett in Star Wars, and when he first appears, he is an erudite and funny badass. Then he starts threatening to rape Kaylee and admitting to his love of torturing animals as a child, making the audience remember that, yes, someone like him probably would be a vicious psychopath.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Joffrey Baratheon proves to be this. In "The Kingsroad", he seems to act decently enough in front of Sansa. Then he gets to bullying the butcher's son... it later happens again as he proves to be a bratty, spoiled, prince that gets humbled and learned his lesson. He seems to get better and make an effort to be the kind of prince that would make a good king. Only to reveal his true colors after he becomes king. He has Ned Stark beheaded for treason, despite seemingly promising Sansa Stark, his fiancee and Ned's daughter, as well as his own mother, that he would spare him. He then goes on to mentally and physically torment Sansa and others at court. And once he gets his crossbow...
    • When Theon Greyjoy is captured by men who tortured, he is helped by a boy who saves him from the dungeons. The boy is later revealed to be Ramsay Snow the bastard of Roose Bolton, and he inflicts even more torture on Theon and is an even bigger sadist than Joffrey.
    • Viserys' more sympathetic and tragic side is shown briefly during the bath scene with Doreah, in which he waxes nostalgic about the family and heritage that were stolen from him. Unfortunately, Doreah inadvertently asks the wrong question and Viserys reverts to his usual snide cruelty.
    • Lord Tywin Lannister
      • After saving Arya from the Mountain's prison pen, spending a few weeks with her employed her as his cupbearer, mentioning how she reminds him of his own daughter at that age and generally making the audience smile at their semi-friendly interactions, Tywin leaves her with the Mountain again, with strict orders to stop him from ever getting drunk no less, regardless of his less-than-stellar record with children and females.
      • Initially, it seems that Tywin has changed his mind, he wonders if he was wrong about Tyrion being a stunted fool. He then appoints Tyrion Acting Hand and this drives Tyrion to do a magnificent job, personally saving King's Landing and thus allowing the Lannisters to keep fighting the war, despite having all the odds against him and almost everyone else trying to sabotage him out of idiocy or spite (or both). When Tyrion asks for his reward (which is actually his birthright), Tywin proves that he hasn't changed one bit, bringing up his whoremongering, dismissing his successes and stating that Tyrion is a worthless freak who killed his mother and will never be more than the family embarrassment.
    • Two humanizing scenes have Jaime bonding with Jory and having a friendly chat with his young cousin Alton Lannister. Jory gets a callous answer in the end and subsequently, both of them are rather casually murdered by Jaime.
    • In the fourth and early fifth season, Stannis is more chummy than usual with Jon Snow, has a Pet the Dog moment with Samwell Tarly, invokes Ned Stark's memory as a Big Good and is more overtly fatherly to Shireen. Then Stannis sacrifices Shireen to R'hllor, which, despite it being a Sadistic Choice forced by desperation and madness, ultimately means that Stannis has chosen power over everything else.
  • In Gentleman Jack, Ann Walker's brother-in-law is initially depicted as genuinely well-intentioned towards her, despite his period-typical sexism. Then it's revealed that he deliberately blocked the letters between her and Anne, plotted to marry her off to a relative of his for purely financial reasons, and is implied to be abusive to his wife.
  • Hannibal: The title character is a ruthless, cannibalistic serial killer, but in every other capacity he's thoroughly helpful, polite and entertaining, not to mention an excellent chef and a great host who seems genuinely fond of the people around him in his own way. Then he manipulates and blackmails a traumatised teenager so she can act as his surrogate child, and upon discovering that Will has severe encephalitis, starts slowly Gaslighting him so he has a front-row seat to a mental collapse, and eventually frames Will as a serial killer. The only thing more dramatic than how quickly Will lost his mind is how quickly the fandom's opinion of Hannibal went from Draco in Leather Pants to aghast at his utter evil — even though the show had made no secret of it.
  • In the iZombie pilot, Blaine is portrayed as a sinister drug dealer who then turns Liv into a zombie after she rejects him (he himself becomes a zombie a few seconds before that thanks to his own product). At the end of the episode, Liv gets a vision of Blaine viciously attacking a guy in "full-on zombie mode". And yet, when he shows up in the second episode, he appears as this friendly and disarming guy who is just as confused about his new condition as Liv and is glad to have another zombie to talk to and compare notes with. He seems genuinely surprised that he is the one who turned her and seems to feel remorse. He also looks hurt that Liv doesn't trust him enough to leave him alone with her friend Ravi. It's not long that it's shown that, yes, Blaine really is a bad guy who uses his new strength and invulnerability to hunt his competition. He also sleeps with a woman, turning her into a zombie through fluid contact intentionally to turn her, extorting her to pay exorbitant amounts of money for brains so she can remain sane and present as human. Brains that he gets from murdering people in a butcher shop. It's been heavily implied that many of the people he's been butchering are at-risk teens that he has a fellow zombie/drug dealer kidnap.
  • A mild example in Just Shoot Me!, when it's revealed that Finch has been writing for the "Miss Pretty" advice column. He gets uncharacteristically sincere and admits that he's afraid to reveal his sensitivity in real life, and so has to do it under a pseudonym. When she gives him a hug, he takes the opportunity to grope her. He responds to her shocked reaction by smirking and saying "It's me!"
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: For most of season one, Halbrand is a roguish, yet honorable young man, if a bit morally questionable, who easily befriends everyone with his charisma and becomes Galadriel's confidant on her journey. Until he revealed himself as Sauron, that is, which calls into question all of his moments of showing good will to others.
  • Lost has Locke's long-lost father, Anthony Cooper. At first, he seems happy to finally meet Locke and starts giving him the family life he never had. Then it turns out all that was a con to steal Locke's kidney, after which he wants nothing more to do with his son. Later, he tries to kill Locke by pushing him out a window, which led to Locke ending up paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
  • Merlin (2008): Morgause at first simply seems to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants Uther off the throne for the good of the people. Her first two attempts involve telling Arthur the truth about his parentage and putting all the residents of Camelot to sleep without hurting them and she removes the spell to save her sister's life. But in Season 3 we see how much of a villain she really is as she tries to drive Uther mad and get armies to invade Camelot. We also see her sadistic side through her treatment of Gwen and Cenred. And to boot, she corrupts Morgana and turns her into the series' Big Bad.
  • Nikita has Heidecker, a self-described sales representative for a group selling bleeding-edge technology to various unscrupoulous clients, including, once upon a time, Division. While Nikita is initially wary of him, his affability, competence under fire, and willingness to give Nikita what she wants are enough to win her over...until it's revealed that he and his employer accept kidnapped children as payment for their services.
  • Once Upon a Time: Greg Mendell, who appeared to be an innocent, likeable Muggle. Then it was revealed he actually had a tragic history with Storybrooke which led to him losing his father, and he became very sympathetic to fans. But then he was revealed as a Knight Templar who seems more interested in eradicating magic than finding/avenging his father and is willing to resort to Cold-Blooded Torture and even mass murder to accomplish this.
  • Oz treats each of the prisoners sympathetically, but often has them do something horrible once in a while to remind the audience that they're prisoners for a reason. Even Hill, Beecher, and Saïd, the prison's collective Token Good Teammates, aren't immune.
  • Person of Interest: Elias helps Reese save an infant, only to lock Reese and the child in a refrigerated truck to force Reese's assistance.
  • Revolution: Throughout the first season, Tom Neville has been that sort of villain who just follows orders and doesn't seem to have anything personal with the protagonists. Then he defects from the Monroe Republic to the Georgia Federation. Then he's working with the protagonists to stop his former boss, Sebastian Monroe. Then he exploits the fact that Monroe is terrible at being a leader to get himself put in charge of the Monroe Republic. Now, you might think that the situation will improve. However, first, he tells Monroe loyalist Captain Mark Franklin that he'll be let go... and then murders him in cold blood and makes it look like self-defense. Then he promises his son Jason that he'll keep Charlie and Rachel alive... but then decides to have the protagonists all killed off anyway. A lot of sympathy for the character is gone by the first season finale.
  • On Salem, Increase Mather declares that Gloriana is not a witch and so she will not be tried; but since she is a prostitute she's hereby banished.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger: Christmas Org, the Monster of the Week of episode 41, is initially set up as a benevolent nice Org who's tired of the fighting and wants to make peace with humans, not unlike episode 34's Charcoal Grill Org, he even pretends to be nice to a dog and that he's a victim of Yabaiba's and Tsuetsue's assaults due to his change of hearts and asks to borrow Kakeru's G-Phone as a sign of trust... Before promptly revealing he's in cahoots with Highness Duke Org Rasetsu and mock Kakeru for trusting him before capturing and trying to torture him.
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: There's Fuwa Juzou, who is a half-Gedoushuu and sets himself up as Takeru's Worthy Opponent, constantly seeking to fight him. With him not really getting along with the head honcho of Gedoushuu, Chimatsuri Doukokuu, plus building up some 'friendship' with Usukawa Dayuu and the fact that he's half-human makes people think that since this is Super Sentai, he'd at least be shown as either a Noble Demon, or pull a Heel–Face Turn later. Then, he foils Akumaro's plan... by revealing that he revels on his Gedoushuu lineage, preferring to be a full-blooded Gedoushuu (which he did), and his sword Uramasa turned out to be his parents begging him to stop killing, but he doesn't care one bit, liking his profession as a Blood Knight to the max and wants nothing more than kill and more killing. At that point, any hopes of him as mentioned above are dashed forever and he places himself as one of Super Sentai's monsters.
  • Sechs Auf Einen Streich: In the episode based on Brother and Sister, the stepsister of the main characters is playing with them happily in the beginning, while the stepmother is nice, sweet and loving... because she is secretly plotting to murder their father and inherit his money, which eventually happens.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
    • Batiatus initially looks like an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain or a Jerkass Woobie. Then he crosses the Moral Event Horizon. With a smile. By murdering the entire household of a guy who he owed money to, including a little boy, and then having Spartacus's wife Sura murdered to ensure that he only has glory to live for.
      • And then, wouldn't you know it, they pull it off again with the exact same character in the second, prequel, season. The first episode depicts Batiatus as a scrappy underdog who isn't that bad at that point... and then in the second episode, he has poor Indus murdered in a particularly cruel You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, and you realise that yes, he already is that bad. Special extra points for that murder being the Start of Darkness for Ashur, who actually was a scrappy underdog who wasn't that bad at that point.
    • Despite having started out as simply a spoiled Bratty Half-Pint, Tiberius Crassus in the third season, "War Of The Damned", gained a measure of sympathy when he was forced to kill his best friend in "Decimation", on the orders of his own father. He proceeded to toss that away by raping the slave who was his father's lover and had shown him kindness as a way at getting back at his father.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Actually an Invoked Trope when the writers thought that the recurring villain Dukat was getting too popular with the audience as a perceived Noble Demon. Despite his charming demeanor and the fact that he truly cared for his illegitimate daughter, he was a hypocritical, crazed, sexually voracious dictator who had thousands of people butchered directly and sent millions more to die in labor camps and didn't hesitate to sell his own people to the Dominion which directly led to his home planet winding up thoroughly demolished (perhaps even worse than they had done to Bajor, certainly faster) by the end of the show. The episode "Waltz" exists for the sake of showing the audience that, charm or no charm, this man is a monster, whose biggest regret in life is that he didn't wipe out the entire population of Bajor when he might have had the chance.
    • The episode ends with Captain Sisko lampshading that, given the Grey-and-Gray Morality themes of the series as a whole, even he had started to forget that Dukat was one of the examples of real EVIL in the world, but he wouldn't make that mistake again.
  • In Season 5 of Supernatural, Bobby makes a deal with the demon Crowley for his soul so they can find the location of Death, the last of Lucifer's Horsemen. Then Crowley goes out of his way to give Bobby back the use of his legs even though Bobby never bothered to include it in their contract and even promises to give back his soul when everything's done. Except in the next season, Crowley fully intends to hang on to it and send Bobby to Hell in 10 years and Bobby has to spend the entire episode getting it back.
  • Tiger King: In the runaway hit reality series, Joe Exotic is presented as an affable, larger-than-life character, an entertaining man of contradicting personality traits that include "redneck", "flaming gay", "gun-loving" and, most importantly, "exotic animal wrangler". Sure, his methods may be unorthodox, but footage would indicate that he really does care about the animals he raises. Wrongo. As the series progresses, you see how little interest Joe ultimately has in his animals' welfare, and just how power-hungry and manipulative he really is. In fact, one of the common criticisms of the series is that the director painted Joe as TOO sympathetic, given the laundry list of other cruelties committed by him not mentioned in its runtime.
  • Torchwood: Captain John, who is So. Cool... and kills people for no particular reason. This is done on his first appearance in the show.
  • Utopia: Milner, the only trustworthy authority figure, who turns out to be Mr. Rabbit, the series' Big Bad. Also a Double Subversion in that The Assistant has been set up and revealed to play that exact role minutes before.
  • Wolf Hall:
    • Thomas Cromwell is a loyal and highly intelligent man who is Nice to the Waiter and uses his considerable talents for the betterment of the realm (as he sees it) and is even portrayed sympathetically when arranging to have Thomas More executed, pointing out that he's treating More better than More treated heretics. But in the final episode, Cromwell uses his cleverness to arrange the death of Anne Boleyn, and takes the opportunity to get revenge on five men whom he grudges mainly for having disrespected Cardinal Wolsey's memory... and there's no way to justify it as anything other than carrying out the whim of a tyrant.
    • At odds with his usual portrayal as a debauched tyrant, Henry VIII initially seems like a decent guy — sometimes a bit dim, and dangerously temperamental, but with a sincere desire to be a good king and genuinely affectionate towards the people in his circle. His darker side begins to dominate in Episode 5, when his reaction to Catherine of Aragon's death is only to mandate she be buried inexpensively and he later flies into a screaming rage against Chapuys and Cromwell. Then, in episode 6, he all but orders Cromwell to get rid of Anne by any means possible and reacts to her execution with a great big smile and hug for his right-hand man.

  • This was probably the intention of the famous Israeli song The Snake’s Sough: the narrator is described initially as a young man who just can’t get the hang of staying in the rat race, wishing he could re-invent himself away from his current life... then near the end, he turns out to be a fugitive, avoiding arrest after having severely injured his then-girlfriend, who was ‘a little wild, a little unclear’, with his car. However, some see this song as seriously downplaying the effect of the man’s actions and trying to pass him off as a sympathetic character.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel Tojo Yamamoto, during a show in Boaz, Alabama, gave a promo where he genuinely apologized for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The crowd gave him a standing ovation... only for Yamamoto to then proclaim that he wishes that Japan instead bombed Boaz.
  • Kurt Angle once did this in a match with Maria Kanellis that she was forced into by Eric Bischoff. He states that he didn't want to hurt her and it was a stupid match for Bischoff to make. Angle and Maria hug... only for his personal referee Daivari to order the bell rung so he could lay her out with an Angle Slam.
  • The famous Mark Henry "fake retirement" promo, where Henry gave a believable promo about him retiring for good. He brings out John Cena to give him a hug... and instead decks him with a World's Strongest Slam, thus announcing that he was to challenge Cena at Money in the Bank.


    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue:
    • Carl Clover is a cheerful, polite and idealistic child as long as one nods politely when he mentions his sister. Running is advised if she starts to make suggestions to him. However, he aspires to become like Litchi (whom he views as a mother/big sister figure) in his Continuum Shift Story Mode ending.
    • Carl's idolization of Litchi itself is kind of subverted as the series progresses. Litchi, when first introduced, is shown to be a kindhearted woman who cares about everyone and would even sacrifice herself to save someone unknown like Carl. We are also told that she is trying to save her lover. Come Continuum Shift, however, her emotions and goal of saving Arakune become the catalyst for her Face–Heel Turn, as Litchi joins Carl's father, Relius, for a chance to save her lover, maybe to establish that she is not meant to be the sensible Messianic Archetype, but a desperate lover to the level of near-obsession. Somehow, she still retained her kind self after this turn of events, but it was probably a type of baiting provided by Arc System Works.
    • In the first game, there's that mild-mannered informant Hazama who merrily helped Noel... until suddenly in the True End, he reveals his true nature: Troll extraordinare Yuuki Terumi, who's responsible for nearly every single depravity done to the world.
  • BloodStorm: Freon is described as a "noble ruler", and compared to others such as Hellhound and Talon he seems to be reasonably well-adjusted. Then in his ending he brutally enslaves the human race.
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: The girl the brothers rescue from the cult helps them get to the Water of Life, only to reveal herself as a giant spider creature and mortally wound the older brother.
  • Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas initially seem like a subversion. Their atrocities and reputation as powerful but mindless savages trying to topple civilisation seem to be their one defining attribute — until you meet Caesar himself and find out that he's a well-spoken philosopher who wants to create a civilisation that won't implode on itself. But just annoy him a little and it turns out the Legion are every bit as self-interested and nightmarish as their reputation suggested, endorsing everything from cannibalism, human sacrifice to rape. And just to kill any doubt that Caesar only sees this as a harsh necessity, he orders the peaceful town of New Canaan to be wiped out purely to torment his former Legate.
    • Between his intelligence, respectful disposition and warrior's honour, many players would be fooled into thinking that Legate Lanius would be a great leader of the Legion, even greater than Caesar himself. Should for some reason Caesar die and the Legion win, it turns out that Lanius' rule of Vegas is even more brutal than Caesar's.
  • Aside from his flashback appearance, Kefka from Final Fantasy VI is introduced in the story as a quirky and colorful Villainous Harlequin-like character, humorously demanding that his shoes be emptied of sand in the middle of a desert and generally acting like a goofy manchild. He later reveals himself as a sociopath whose idea of fun generally revolves around mass genocide.
  • Lady Yunalesca of Final Fantasy X is known as the first summoner to defeat Sin and save the world (albeit temporarily). She waits in Zanarkand as a ghost to greet summoners at the end of their pilgrimage. Until we discover she turns one of the summoner's guardians into a living statue forever and that she knows it's impossible to truly defeat Sin this way. When the protagonists refuse to go along with her, she does NOT take it well. And shockingly, she actually remains an Anti-Villain the whole time.
  • Odin of God of War Ragnarök goes all over the place with this. Odin is first described in God of War (PS4) in hushed tones as The Dreaded All-Father of the Norse pantheon, one who stands in opposition to Kratos and Atreus through his emissaries, but when he first appears in Ragnarök, he composes himself as pretty cordial and polite, making what appears to be a fairly reasonable (if somewhat strong-arming) peace offering to forgive Kratos' blood debts. Later appearances show him teetering between being a little more than arrogant and rude while also being a Reasonable Authority Figure who works what he feels is best for the Nine Realms. In the end, this trope is played straight — Odin turns out to be a massive Control Freak, with all his actions, including his ostensibly affable and cooperative ones, being made to serve him and him alone.
  • Dimitri Rascalov in Grand Theft Auto IV. At first, he seems like a decent guy, especially when compared to his boss, Mikhail Faustin. When he orders Niko to kill Mikhail, most players would think he's doing it for the right reasons. However, he then betrays Niko to Ray Bulgarin, a human trafficker he owes money to, and becomes one half of the game's Big Bad Duumvirate. And he later tries to make Niko's life hell with a series of progressively escalating Kick the Dog moments.
  • Subverted with Slayer in Guilty Gear XX. One of his intro sequences features him with an attractive woman clinging to him... who he then drains of blood until she's nothing but an empty husk. This seems like a straight application of the trope... until you get into the series story. The woman in question is his wife Sharon, who has the special ability that she simply can't die, period. She kills parasites and disease-causing organisms just by being near them — to the point Eddie (a body-stealing bioweapon) tries to possess her in one of his endings and melts — and being drained like this is, at worst, a minor inconvenience for her. Slayer is a villain by some readings (he's not just an assassin, he's the founder and former head of the guild), but his relationship with his wife is one of his better aspects.
  • The Illusive Man and his group, Cerberus, from Mass Effect, zig-zag this trope. The first game in the trilogy has the group as a recurring villain for several side quests, where they appear to be mostly Mad Scientists with a pro-human agenda. The Illusive Man puts in his first appearance in the second game where he brings Shepard back from the dead, and is the only power player shown trying to help Shepard protect human colonies from the Collectors and Reapers. His interactions have him come off as an affable Magnificent Bastard and Well-Intentioned Extremist, and he paints the evil actions of the cells Shepard stopped in the first game as rogue elements. Then the third game comes along and he reveals himself for the cold-blooded, human supremacist terrorist he really is. He repeatedly attempts to sabotage Shepard's efforts to unite the galaxy, indoctrinates soldiers to work for him, plans on controlling the Reapers instead of destroying them to ensure human domination over the galaxy, and commits some of his most heinous crimes to date, chief among them creating Sanctuary. Advertised as a refugee center to keep people safe from the Reapers, it's really a facility built to study Indoctrination, using the thousands of men, women, and children seeking refuge as test subjects.
  • Inverted and played straight for different characters in Muramasa: The Demon Blade. In Momohime's storyline, we're soon introduced to a seemingly utterly vile Villain Protagonist by the name of Jinkuro, and a seemingly noble monk who helped save Momohime and seems committed to making Jinkuro pay for his crimes... but it quickly turns out that things aren't quite so black and white. Rankai, the monk, is actually just motivated by vengeance and will do anything to see Jinkuro die, including selling Momohime's soul to a demon, while Jinkuro, although still very much a villain, isn't quite as callous and devoid of redeeming features as he first appears.
  • In Penumbra: Black Plague, Clarence initially seems to be a harmless and funny if somewhat crazy character (a bit like Overture's Red). However, when he finds out he can make Philip hallucinate and uses that power to play "hilarious japes", which begin with causing Philip to see enemies from overture and culminate in tricking him into killing the Amabel Swanson, the one person who has been really nice to him in the whole game, he suddenly becomes a lot more sinister.
  • GLaDOS in Portal. At first, you don't think much of the A.I. telling you how to use that handy little portal gun, outside of her advice and sense of humor. Then, she sends you into a test chamber full of murderous turrets and you notice the Room Full of Crazy. Then she makes you murder your (non-sentient) friend. Then you reach the end of Test Chamber 19...
  • The intro of Resident Evil (Remake) has Wesker stop while being chased by zombie dogs to shoot one that was about to kill Chris, and in both the original and the remake, he helps Chris out at one point by leaving him supplies in a safe room. Of course, we find out much later the only reason he did these things was to get Chris to the mansion and keep him alive long enough to serve as a guinea pig to test the Tyrant B.O.W's combat effectiveness.
  • StarCraft: Kerrigan at the beginning of Brood War claims to be free of the Overmind's control, ready to cooperate with the main characters against the new threat and actively helping them during their difficult quest. Artanis, after initial skepticism, even says that she changed and is not anymore the murderous Queen of Blades. It soon turns out that she was just using everybody to fullfill her goals and take control of the Zerg swarm, and then she betrays her former allies to get vendetta and become the unchallenged power in the sector.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: In contrast to the blunt hostility of Merrin and aggression of every other character on Dathomir, Malicos is friendly and appears as some sort of sage. Once you interfere with his plans though, he reveals himself to as a former Jedi who became a warlord, and becomes even more hostile than Merrin when Cal refuses to join him.
  • Tekken:
  • Eva Beatrice in Umineko: When They Cry is introduced with a happy, innocent sounding tune and just seems so thrilled about her recent 'promotion' that even Battler applauds her. However, she turns out to be far worse than even Beatrice and disgusts an actual demon with her antics.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale):
    • In Season 1, the survivors meet up St. John family, who are a nice group who offered to invite the survivors to dinner. But they are really a Cannibal Clan and plan to slaughter the group like livestock.
    • A literal example in Season 2, Clementine finds a stray dog in the woods after being washed downstream. She quickly makes friends with him and it seems like he's going to become an Animal Companion of sorts. Then she finds some food and the very hungry dog quickly turns feral the moment she tries to take the food off him; she's forced to fend him off and severely injure him to escape, with the option to even kill him to put him out of his misery.
  • Warcraft:
    • Arthas Menethil. While he's first seen, he may seem to be a genuinely good person put through horrible circumstances to the point his desire to save his country makes him do a Face–Heel Turn and eventually gets promoted into the Big Bad. It wasn't later that supplemental materials reveal that he's not as goody-goody as his debut game pre-insanity showed him to be, and it's heavily hinted that Arthas!Lich King's over-inflated sense of pride and ego comes from Arthas' own.
    • In the opening cinematic of The Burning Crusade expansion for World of Warcraft, you see a rather beautiful Blood Elf woman playing with a creature made primarily of mana in a graceful, Disney Princess kind of way... and after about 8 seconds of this, she forcibly drains the things essence out, killing it. This establishes the blood elves' sinister, mana-addicted nature hiding underneath their extravagant High People aesthetic.
    • In Wrath of the Lich King, Drakuru starts off as a morally dubious but generally affable troll who aids the player in taking down the forces of the Drakkari Trolls, who are large and dangerous enough to put up a fight even against the Scourge. After helping cleanse their forces, you find out Drakuru is actually in league with Arthas to eliminate the Drakkari threat and turn them over to the Scourge. You get the chance to repay him for his betrayal during a quest line in Zul'Drak.
    • Sylvanas Windrunner herself eventually becomes this trope as the franchise goes on. While she was always evil as an undead (as a living High Elf, she was no different than every other elves, mostly being neutral), she only ended up that way because Arthas forcibly turned her into her undead servant, but she managed to rebel and strike out on its own and after being taken in by Thrall into the Horde, she adapted a "very very morally dubious, but only does things for the survival of her people and won't strike indiscriminately" stance. She was even the lighter shade of black during the final battle against Arthas, finally claiming her vengeance. And... that's where it goes downhill. Afterwards, Sylvanas digs further and further into "unquestionably evil", starts misusing her own people to save her own hide disregards anything that has a life form, because she saw what it's like if she were to die again (since she just finished her vengeance and it felt empty) and she does not like it one bit. From that point on, she loses whatever moral grayness she had and became just as bad as Arthas was.
  • Warhammer 40,000's orks have always been the Plucky Comic Relief characters and purveyors of most of the Black Comedy with their excessive love of fighting, chopping, and ridiculously awesome if explosion-prone guns. The skull-probes found in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine contain audio records that remind you just how horrible it is to be a civilian who can't fight back against them.

    Web Animation 
  • Downplayed by Alastor in Hazbin Hotel. He's introduced as an ominous and frightening figure, but when he offers to help Charlie with the hotel, the viewer might start thinking he's not so bad. He quickly reveals, however, that he doesn't actually think demons can redeem themselves to make it to Heaven and is only helping out to watch them fail For the Evulz. What makes this downplayed, however, is that he is true to his word and his contributions (cleaning and repair, extra staff, etc.) are legitimate help that the hotel badly needs, all without any exact words or Deals With The Devil (admittedly not for a lack of trying on that last part).
  • Red vs. Blue: In the 11th season we meet Felix who at first starts out as a well-meaning rogue who works for the New Republic, and is a mercenary counterpart of Locus. But in the next season, he finally shows his true colors when he reveals he was really in league with Locus, and is an even worse psycho than him. He has no problems with killing people and would have nuked the entire planet for the lulz.

  • Drowtales has the case of Syphile, the elder step-sister of Ariel, the protagonist. In the original version, she was a completely unsympathetic and irredeemable psycho who murdered Ariel's pet cat, Fuzzy, right in front of her, just for laughs, and it was satisfying watchin Ariel retaliate by throwing her down some stairs, right in front of Quaintana, Ariel's and Syphile's nominal mother, who disowns her on the spot. In the remake, Syphile is a bit more complex and it looks like she might actually be redeemable by letting Ariel keep the pet cat without complaint, until the next chapter shows that she locked Ariel and the cat in a room, unattended, for a week without even a means for the poor animal to void bowel or bladder properly. Then, after the week is over, storms into the room, lifts the cat by the tail, and when the poor animal tries to defend itself, bashes it into a wall, crushing its skull, for the "crime" of a simple scratch and a bite. Naturally, Ariel decides at that point that Syphile needs to die.
  • Girl Genius: The Jagermonsters often come across as goofy eccentrics who like drinking and fighting a bit more than normal guys... so sometimes it's easy to forget that they're hyperefficient killing machines who are only as moral as their master. They're a borderline example, as they're still likable — extremely dangerous, but honorable Blood Knight bunch. Loud, love fighting, but not malicious at all — they readily admire foes who bested them and tend to ignore non-combatants altogether. Above all else, they are loyal.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has a somewhat literal example with Coyote. At first, he comes across as a friendly and hilarious Trickster God, especially when compared to his lieutenant, Ysengrin, who seems Ax-Crazy. However, as time goes on, more and more hints are dropped that Coyote is really a wild, unpredictable entity that only does things for his own enjoyment, regardless of who might get hurt in the process. His dog kicking has included treating the loyal Ysengrin like garbage, threatening to blow Annie’s hand off if she tells anyone about the sword he gave her, and knowingly allowing Reynardine to walk into a trap set by the Court because he thought it’d be amusing. He finally seems to have crossed the Moral Event Horizon after The Reveal that he’s been forcibly removing Ysengrin’s memories and eating them. This is complete with a visibly-horrified Ysengrin begging Coyote to stop as the god reaches into his head while sporting a Slasher Smile. This has been lampshaded by Word of God.
    Tom: Reminder: Coyote ain’t your bro.
  • Homestuck pulls one with Jack Noir, who we are first introduced to as a Comedic Sociopath Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Hah, it looks like we're going to have a lot of laughs watching him freak out about his paperwork, right? ...wait, did he just kill the Black Queen? Looks like he's going to be the Big Bad, but at least he's pretty cool... what did he just do to Prospit!?!?
    • Hussie pulls an interesting case with Vriska. She's introduced as an evil bitch right off the bat — the first thing she does (crippling Tavros) is her Moral Event Horizon and it turns out she murders other troll kids. But post-Time Skip, she seems to be nicer, even helpful in some cases, in her own strange Vriska-ish way and gains some sympathy in that her murders were committed in order to feed her spider-lusus, who would otherwise have eaten her instead. Not to mention falling in love with Nicholas Cage. All of this makes her seem like The Atoner and that she was really a Jerk with a Heart of Gold all along, right? Wrong. She finally offs Tavros for good. However, she later says that she feels guilty about that in a conversation where she pours her heart out to John. Conclusion? With Vriska, it's always hard to tell where you stand.
    • And again with Eridan. The entire comic builds him up as a worthless Butt-Monkey whose attempts at world domination are overly ambitious and doomed to failure, leading everyone to believe that he's an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain (even having a quote from his introductory exposition on that trope page). Then he announces he plans to betray his friends and join Jack Noir, we learn that he committed genocide on the inhabitants of his planet after he murdered a few for no reason, and he proceeds to beat up Sollux for being in his way and murder both his love interest and the one person whom he referred to as a friend.
    • Doc Scratch is presented as a fairly polite villain who wants to help the protagonists (to further his own ambitions) and is even kind to Spades Slick, who spent his time at Scratch's pad trying to light it on fire and attack the host. Towards the end of his narrative, we discover an Awful Truth: he's kidnapped and abused Aradia's ancestor to the point where she becomes a Brainwashed Death Seeker. This is best exemplified when he temporarily takes away her ability to breathe. Damn.
    • Not to mention Caliborn. Not long after his introduction, he aggressively solicits Dirk to draw him some "pornography" — mundane depictions of human courtship, with no nudity or anything. His odd personality and over-the-top crudeness lead you to believe he's going to be a Cloudcuckoolander Jerkass... then he reveals that he killed his sister by proxy. Laughing maniacally all the while. After that, it's not much of a surprise when it turns out he's Lord English as a child.
  • Apollo in Lore Olympus apologizes to Persephone for coming on a bit strong and he heals a gash in her hand. Persephone warms up to him slightly, and the audience gets the impression that, for all his douchiness, he isn’t that bad. That night, he goes into her room and coerces her into having sex with him.
  • In Nebula, Black Hole, despite her Evil Laugh and general creepiness, at first does nothing harmful onscreen. Given that Pluto was already shown to shunned and feared as a when he's just a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, it's easy for the reader to think that she's like him — strange but not evil and that the fear the planets have for her isn't based on truth. And then she lies to Pluto, nearly kills all the planets, and actually does get Ceres killed in a way that cements her as a Humanoid Abomination Manipulative Bastard.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • At the start, Xykon seems like a crazy but slightly loveable and harmless Evil Overlord whose plans are invariably doomed... but if you thought that, you were oh so wrong. The Battle of Azure City, wherein Xykon goes full Hero Killer in some incredibly horrible ways, proves exactly how wrong that belief was.
    • Redcloak at first appears to merely be Xykon's Deadpan Snarker Beleaguered Assistant. It turns out that he and his god are actually behind everything, and even using Xykon to their ends.
    • In a meta sense, The Order of the Stick author Rich Burlew essentially baited his audience. Burlew has occasionally written little essays on how D&D is played and storylines are formed on his website. In a number of these pieces, he talks about giving depth to the villains, and how evil people can have friends, Even Evil Has Loved Ones, and two villains working together aren't always just looking to turn on each other at the first opportunity. Combine that with scenes of Xykon and Redcloak joking together, snarking each other, and commiserating when their cause seemed to be lost, and it seemed like might be such friends. Then the prequel story "Start of Darkness" came out and kicked that theory right in the nuts. Well played, Mr. Burlew, well played.
    • When General Tarquin was introduced he got a lot of fans for affability, savvy, and style — and of course, he's Elan's father. It's since become apparent that he uses his position as de facto ruler of the Empire of Blood to force any woman he fancies to marry him, often through outright torture, which makes him rather less likable. Not to mention burning 30 slaves (possibly alive) to spell Elan's name out in lights — even Elan finally realizes it at that point.
    • The same goes for his partner Minister Malack. He's polite, efficient, eschews Tarquin's theatrics, and one of the first things we learn about him is that he hates Nale for murdering his children. Then we learn that those weren't his biological children. He's a vampire, one who's planning to outlive the rest of Team Tarquin, inherit a unified continent and offer his god a thousand sacrifices a day. "I'm thinking of developing some sort of special chamber by then to make the process more efficient..."
  • Skippy the Demon from Sluggy Freelance was originally introduced as just a kind of dopey guy for the real Big Bad, K'Z'K, to explain his plan to. But when he shows up again later, he's scarily devoted to reviving K'Z'K, bringing about the end of the world, and seeing that Zoe burns.
  • In Snow By Night, Jassart comes across as an easygoing and friendly lovable rogue. As the story unfolds, he starts to exploit Snow-by-Night's powers with zero intention of upholding his promise to her. Then he tries to cannibalize her aether energy for money, despite the fact that his best friend is clearly in love with her. Then he pins a catastrophic explosion on the aforementioned friend. Then he makes a pact with an omnicidal fire spirit.
  • Inverted in this Homestuck fancomic. When Vriska is too badly wounded to go out and hunt for trolls to feed Spidermom, her lusus picks her up and starts wrapping her in silk. Vriska screams in terror and begs her lusus to not eat her, but then she realizes Spidermom is using the silk to bandage her injuries.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Big City Greens: At the end of the infamous "Reckoning Ball", Chip Whistler seems to give a legitimate apology to the Greens for what he has done in the past, and they believe him and sign his forgiveness contract, which is enough to prove his dad he's sorry and makes him the new CEO. But then he reveals in the CEO office his true naturehe only manipulated the Greens into thinking he's sorry so he can seize full control of the Wholesome Foods corporation so he can ruin their reputation, now that his dad is retired and completely out of his face. Not only were the Greens fooled by this "apology", but the audience as well — at least Gramma still showed some suspicions when it was time to sign. But considering he has been a jerk since the beginning, this is not surprising.
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Live It Up Tonight", when Bitsy and Helen are still trapped in a liquor store room, Bitsy opens up that she never got to accomplish what she wanted in her life, like buying Central Park and getting married and have children. When Helen asks if she really wanted those things, Bitsy admits she just wants to buy the park and only included the marriage and children part because she didn't want to sound selfish.
  • Danny Phantom: Played With Paulina, in the episode "Memory Blank" invites Danny, Sam, and Tucker to her 15th birthday party because she always sees the ghost boy around them. Paulina is upfront with the fact that she's only inviting Danny and his friends because she wants the ghost boy to be there, and she still sees them as losers and doesn't even bother to try and hide the fact from them. While her motives are selfish, she says it in a way that is at least honest and doesn't seem like she'd mind their presence. Danny seems more than happy to attend her party and fulfill her request. However, later, when Danny (as Phantom) saves Paulina from one of the ghosts that are after her, she tries to use this chance to invite him to her party and specifically states that this means she can also un-invite human Danny and his friends, much to the ghost boy's shock. While not outright stated, it's implied that this is the point where Danny starts to lose interest in her because of that and for acting so selfish and callous by playing with his feelings in his human form. In the end, Danny chooses not to go to her birthday party after all.
  • Futurama: Bender manages to pull this off within the space of ten seconds in "The Beast with a Billion Backs". The Robot Devil asks Bender for the life of his first-born child. Bender fulfills his end of the bargain by reuniting with his long-lost robot son who was waiting years for him to come back... Smash Cut to Bender punting the child into a vat of molten lava.
    Robot Devil: Wow, that was pretty brutal, even by my standards.
    Bender: No backsies!
  • In Gargoyles, Xanatos seems honestly remorseful for what happened to Derek, and is trying to make a cure. Then comes the ending, and it's revealed that he has no cure, he just wants to keep Derek close by for further testing and doesn't care at all what he did to him. If there was ever a moment you truly hated Xanatos on the cartoon, chances are this was it.
  • The Gravity Falls episode "The Last Mabelcorn" shows how The Author and Bill Cipher met and eventually became enemies. Ford summoned Bill out of desperation once his research reached a dead end, the dream demon praising Ford's genius and saying how he would change the world. Ford was so happy that someone appreciated his intelligence for once that he and Bill began collaborating on the Portal Device, but an accident involving Ford's partner McGucket revealed that Bill had just been using Ford to bring about the Apocalypse and thought it would be funny to watch Ford try and stop him.
  • Directly inverted by Razer in the third episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. When Aya frees him from the prison and tells him Hal and Kilowog came to rescue him and need his help, he runs off to their abandoned ship, supposedly leaving them to die. He was going back for his ring, and saves them.
  • Infinity Train: The third Book serves to flesh out and humanize the Apex more. Simon, in particular, has a number of sympathetic moments showing how he cares for Grace and the audience learns that he's been trapped on the train since he was 10. In "The Color Clock Car", he finally starts to warm up to Tuba, sharing a laugh with her and helping her through the car. The episode ends with Simon killing her by throwing her under the wheels of the train, gloating about it to Grace and Hazel, and it's all downhill for the remainder of the season.
  • In Invincible (2021), Omni-Man comes off as a well-meaning father to Mark as well as husband to Debbie, before he ends the first episode bringing together the Guardians of the Globe and violently murdering them.
  • The Owl House
    • Emperor Belos one semi-redeeming element seems to be his relationship with Hunter, which, while strained at times, isn't nearly so ruthless or cruel as the way he treats his subjects or the Coven. In "Hunting Palismen", after the boy fails to retrieve more palismen to alleviate his sickness, Belos lashes out at him for speaking out of turn... but, instead of chastising him for his failure or threatening him with punishment, he encourages Hunter to do better and acknowledges his nephew's potential. In "Hollow Mind", his memories reveal that any affection he displays is calculated manipulation to keep him in line, and Hunter is the latest in a line of grimwalkers that Belos has all killed for "betraying" him with independent thought; worse still, it's implied that he takes a small satisfaction in killing them because they're fashioned in the likeness of Philip's late brother.
      Belos: I say, "The Titan has big plans for you." And he does what he's told. Unlike the previous attempts.
    • In "Edge of the World", Tarak treats King with nothing but kindness, accepts him as a member of the Titan Trapper community, and is willing fight King and Luz's enemies no questions asked. He even seems genuinely touched when King asks if the two of them can play catch. Seconds later, after Tarak finds out King is the last Titan his cult's been hunting, there's enough ambiguity in Tarak's reaction to make it seem like he may not want to hurt King. Ultimately, though, he buries whatever reluctance he may be feeling and goes through with offering King up to be sacrificed and coldly writes King off as "never being one of us" when the truth is revealed.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: At first it appears that Rippen's parents Axalon and Hedwin and younger sister Vlurgen were calling to celebrate Rippen's birthday in the episode "Mr. Rippen". But it becomes clear they were using calling on his birthday as an excuse so they can mock him for his failures as a villain while rubbing his sister's success in his face.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man introduces Norman Osborn as a cold-blooded Corrupt Corporate Executive who emotionally abuses his son, Harry, and conducts potentially lethal experiments on human test subjects to create super villains as part of a deal with the local crime lord. However, the way Norman effortlessly turns every underhanded dealing to his advantage and his smooth exterior makes him a character very easy to Love to Hate. When his son, Harry, is exposed as the Green Goblin, Norman finally begins showing a more human side, blaming himself for Harry's transformation and even offering to take the blame for the Goblin's crimes to protect him. Afterwards, he starts acting like a real father to his son. Except it's all a lie. Norman Osborn was the Green Goblin from the beginning and he took advantage of his son's drug addiction and blackouts to frame him for his own crimes. Norman's offer to take the fall and supposed guilt was just a way to manipulate Spider-Man to stop investigating the Goblin, and Norman — whether in the Green Goblin persona or not — proves himself a total sociopath when it's revealed he twisted his son's leg just to enforce his cover story.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "No Small Parts", Peanut Hamper goes AWOL and gets stranded in the middle of space. In "A Mathematically Perfect Redemption", she travels to a primitive planet and is found by some locals. As time passes, she becomes less selfish and eventually marries the chief's son. When some scavengers visit the planet and try to destroy the village to get to some buried ships, she sends out a distress signal and risks her life to save everyone. When the crew of the Cerritos beams down to the planet, they learn about all the good she's done and invite her back. But then it's revealed that she lured the scavengers so she could act heroic and rejoin Starfleet. Then she abandons everyone again. Then she threatens to send out a signal to the Borg out of spite.
  • Steven Universe: While the three Homeworld Gems avoid this, minor villain Eyeball played this straight. When the Ruby Squad shows up they're all treated as incompetent borderline harmless henchmen who are easily lead in circles by the heroes. Eyeball and Army are confrontational but consistently played for laughs. Then came "Bubbled" wherein Eyeball and Steven are trapped together. At first it seems like Eyeball is coming around when Steven heals her, but actually, she draws a knife and goes after him. Unlike the other Rubies, Eyeball is played as a legit threat to the defenseless Steven, being a fanatical and unhinged Sociopathic Soldier who intends to kill him to achieve fame on her home planet.
  • Transformers: Animated: The episode Autoboot Camp is a Whole Episode Flashback showing how Bumblebee and Bulkhead first met. At the titular camp, Bumblebee is constantly insulted and beat up by his instructor Sentinel Minor and the other Elite Guard candidates (so basically all the other attendees except Bulkhead, who wants to be a space bridge technician instead). And then there's Longarm, who encourages Bumblebee in his attempts to expose Wasp as a Decepticon spy, helping Bumblebee out when Wasp and Ironhide stuff him into a locker after cutting his legs off and informing Bumblebee of his last opportunity to expose Wasp before Sentinel takes the credit. Bumblebee and Longarm are shown to be good friends in the present day, and it makes sense considering how Longarm comes off as a Nice Guy... except then the end of the episode shows that Longarm is in fact, the real Decepticon spy Bumblebee was looking for, Shockwave, and that his encouragement was to get an innocent bot (an innocent Jerkass, but still...) arrested to draw suspicion away from himself. To rub the point home further, Shockwave later decides to rub it in Bumblebee's face that he was the real spy, cementing that he never really considered him a friend.
  • TRON: Uprising: Tessler, Dyson, and Clu establish themselves as evil as early as possible, but then there's Pavel. Pavel's initially a Dirty Coward, Large Ham, and most ineffectual of the Occupation officers. He's a borderline Butt-Monkey who's efficiency sees a temporary boost before he's knocked back down to Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. As the show goes on he gets gradually worse, from his reveal as the Torture Technician to his actions in Rendezvous, which start with him walking into a prison cell and murdering the occupants just to test a weapon and go downhill from there.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), the Green Goblin finally tells his son the words that his son always wanted to hear: he's proud of him. Then he drops his son to his possible death right after.


Video Example(s):


Pirate Captain Mel

Pirate Captain Mel, in his Villain Song, promises that despite being a Card-Carrying Villain, he will not throw his men overboard. He said nothing about refraining from STARTLING them off the ship.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (18 votes)

Example of:

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