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Big Bad Friend

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"Your enemy knows nothing about you
And he's got no way to get in
But the way your heart is made to bleed
Is by your bosom friend"
Blind Willie Davis, "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You"

It's often the person you least expect.

The Hero is looking for answers, beating up bikers, paying off informants and searching through the Great Big Library of Everything. His best friend and partner pleads with him to stop, it won't bring "her" back, and it just puts him in danger. Yet still the hero persists.

A few acts later, he's getting beat on by the Giant Mook, it looks like it's all going to fade to black when... his partner shows up, gun in hand! Wait, why is he pointing the tranquilizer gun at hi–

When he wakes up, the friend is terribly distraught. Says he tried to get him to stop, that he warned him what would happen. Saving him is out of his hands now, it's all on his head. Wait, what?

The best friend has been in league with (or is) the Big Bad behind the whole plot. However, they genuinely like the hero and would rather he live a long and happy life. He might try a Circling Monologue to bring him onboard, but chances are he already knows the hero's moral code is such that he'd just be wasting both their time by doing it. Still, he just might try, for old time's sake. Compounding matters, he's usually a Straw Traitor to some horrible ideal, is either directly or indirectly responsible for much of the hero's recent suffering, and/or was covering it up.

Compare Evil Former Friend, The Dog Was the Mastermind, Evil Mentor, and Treacherous Advisor. Contrast Friendly Enemy, Living with the Villain. Not to be confused with another type of big bad friend. If the hero is being chummy with the Big Bad, that's Go-Karting with Bowser. Evil All Along is for anyone who turns out to be evil, not just friends. Related to They Were Holding You Back.

As this is a Betrayal Trope and a form of The Reveal, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • All over the place in Attack on Titan. Eren learns that Annie Leonhart, the girl that taught him how to fight, is really the Female Titan responsible for slaughtering his squad mates. Not long after that, he learns that meek Bertolt Hoover and Team Dad Reiner Braun were the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan all along. And therefore, indirectly responsible for a good majority of the death in the series, including that of his mother. To say he's less than thrilled is an understatement. For an extra twisting of the proverbial knife, all are presented as sympathetic and genuine in their attachment to the people they've betrayed.
    • After the Time Skip, Eren himself becomes this, although the "friend" has been averted dramatically since then.
  • Bakugan plays this straight with Masquerade, who turns out to be Alice but subverts it with Wiseman, who has merely copied the appearance of Gunz.
  • Berserk:
    • As he made clear from early on, Griffith's strongest trait was his devotion to his dream. Guts grew to feel a bond with him and think of him as a friend only to realise too late that everything and everyone was a means to that, when Griffith eventually sacrificed his men to a horde of demons in order to turn himself into a demon-god.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch and Suzaku have this both ways. Suzaku is The Empire's Ace Pilot, and Lelouch is the Rebel Leader. Both are shown as sympathetic characters.
  • At one point in Death Note, L, who suspects Light of being Kira by then, says he would be disappointed if Light turned out to be Kira because Light's the best friend he's ever had. It's especially heartbreaking because the audience has known from the beginning that Light is indeed Kira. Word of God says that he was probably lying. However, Matsuda wasn't — in fact, in Matsuda's case it was arguably worse: Light had been deceiving him for five years straight by the time the finale comes up and he tries to have Matsuda murdered. It's next to no wonder that poor Matsuda snaps massively in the end... and shoots Light several times while screaming and crying.
  • In Devilman, Akira's best friend Ryo Asuka, the guy who got him into the whole horrible mess, turns out to be Satan.
  • Fairy Tail has the Black Wizard Zeref as this to Mavis Vermillion. It was already confirmed in Chapter 340 of the manga that they knew each other (as fans had already suspected), but it wasn't until Fairy Tail Zero began that we find out how they knew each other; Mavis recognized his Ankhseram Black Magic and called it by name, and showed Zeref the first bit of genuine kindness he'd experienced in centuries, if not ever, to the point where Zeref agreed to teach Fairy Tail's founding members the magic they needed to defeat Blue Skull, making him indirectly responsible for Fairy Tail's very existence as a magic guild. Zeref later called this his 'most precious memory.' Even in the present, Mavis still clearly feels bad for the guy, but acknowledges him as the grave threat that he is. Even more tragically, they fell in love with one another after they realized they were both immortal, but Zeref's Curse killed her after their first and only kiss, and it's heavily implied Zeref's current desire to obtain Lumen Histoire, Mavis's body trapped in crystal, is motivated partially out of this love.
  • In one story of Franken Fran, Fran's younger sister Veronica realizes that the only girl that had befriended with her in the private school where Fran has sent her is actually working for a criminal organization that is kidnapping students and selling them to pedophiles in foreign countries.
  • HuGtto! Pretty Cure: George Cry, president of the Dark Tomorrow Company and the one responsible for creating a Bad Future through Time Crash-ing to a halt, is actually a friend of Future Hana, who's suffering and death motivates him to stop time at all costs, even if it means subjecting the Hana of the present timeline through extreme psychological torture. However, it should be noted that he never reveals this information to her in the slightest throughout all of their confrontations, so for all Hana knows, he's just a villain in every sense of the word.
  • In Is This A Zombie?, Eucliwood Hellscythe considered the King of Night to be her friend still, despite him unleashing a lot of megalo (demons) into the city to harm people and her new friends. He wanted to die, since he became an immortal zombie to serve her, but she wouldn't do it.
    • In season 2, Nene, implied to be the strongest fighter in the underworld, is seen eating and drinking with Chris, the current Big Bad, and implied to be the strongest magical girl, who had fought each other before in the past.
  • Freesia from the second season of Jubei-chan was a very calculating Dark Magical Girl who had wormed her way into Jiyu's home (and bed). When Freesia finally reveals herself later in the series, she shatters Jiyu's mind, sends her wounded off a cliff, and turns her father against her.
  • In the anime of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, the final boss of Ragnarok that Kenichi faces is Odin/Ryuto Asamiya, Kenichi's Forgotten Childhood Friend. True to being a Rank Scales with Asskicking figure, it takes Kenichi a few episodes to finally take him down.
  • The Lost Village has Koharun, the friendly and helpful guide of the trip. She turned out to know about the strange things that happen to the people who go to the village and was the one to gather people to go there, hoping to bring their personal monsters out and even made Hayato snap to grant his Nanaki extra power.
  • As of chapter 117 of Medaka Box, Zenkichi joins the Flask Plan to teach Medaka the value of failure.
  • In a filler arc, Naruto learns that the old man he often ate with at the ramen shop is actually a ninja from a village that had been destroyed, who seeks revenge against the Leaf Village. Interestingly enough, his friendship with Naruto actually was genuine, and he replaced the deadly explosive tags across the village with harmless ones, intending it as a scavenger hunt similar to the games he played with his son.
    • Near the end of the series, Sasuke becomes this: after thwarting Madara Uchiha's plan to take over the world with a superpowerful genjutsu, Sasuke reveals that he plans to kill the Kages, trap the tailed beasts in satellites, and start a revolution and taking over the world himself.
  • In Psychic Wars, not one, but two lovers of the main characters are demons, one of them being the Big Bad of the story.
  • This is actually most of the premise for Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas. The main character's best friend, Alone, becomes the host of the evil god, Hades. As one of Athena's saints, our hero must fight against his best friend.
    • Alone means "Halo" in Italian (the setting of the story). The meaning in english is possibly intentional.
  • After the Arachnophobia arc in Soul Eater, it turns out that Justin Law had gone through the first phase of this, but afterwards... well, turns out that Law worships Asura, not Shinigami-sama, is an extreme misogynist, likes to be playing Ho Yay with his longtime apparent enemy, and more than likely helped set up Kid to be kidnapped by the arc's Big Bad Chessmaster. So, he subverted this while acting The Mole. He might still like Stein, though, because he did retreat before injuring him.
    • As of chapter 96, Crona steps to the role too, setting their aims on absorbing the Kishin himself.
  • The third-to-last episode of Star Driver reveals that Sugata is the long-absent Emperor of Glittering Crux.
  • In StrikerS Sound Stage X of Lyrical Nanoha, the culprit behind the Mariage killings turns out to be Teana's partner Runessa; Teana seemed to get along well with her, offering her a permanent partnership position at the end of the case, and Runessa, despite being the Detective Mole, was touched by the offer.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito eventually realizes that Heathcliff, head of the most successful guild in the game, is actually Kayaba Akihiko, the man who trapped them there in the first place.
    Kirito: It always bugged me...something that any child knows. There's nothing more boring than watching someone else play an RPG.
  • Nana Hiiragi of Talentless Nana is a sweet, sociable, and friendly girl who very quickly ingratiates herself with her entire class of superpowered "Talented" individuals. She's actually a Child Soldier out to murder them all.
  • Tiger & Bunny: The Big Bad is Maverick, Barnaby's mentor/father figure who killed Barnaby's parents because they knew too much. He started out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, his actions being a way to make NEXTs into heroes who are appreciated in society rather victims of Fantastic Racism.
  • This trope also applies to Wolfwood in the Trigun anime. He turns against the villains shortly afteward, only to die in the process.
  • Youko's friend Yuka Sugimoto in The Twelve Kingdoms becomes her rival to become the Queen of Kei. Though unlike others, she gets better and relinquishes her claim, returning to Hourai/Japan.
  • Chisato Inoue from Vampire Princess Miyu turns out to be this. Subverted in that Chisato wasn't aware of it either until almost the end, when her once-sealed demonic powers starte coming to the surface and her brother Tokiya, a full-blooded Shinma, is killed. From then on, the at first oblivious Chisato embraces her position as the Apocalypse Maiden and faces Miyu head-on, wanting to avenge Tokiya's death...

    Comic Books 
  • Blaze of Glory: Marcel Fournier turns out to be a spy for the nightriders.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) comics, the Squire, a companion of both the War and Eleventh Doctors, turns out to be a shapeshifting agent for the Volatix Cabal (a Dalek Renegade Splinter Faction) and the true Big Bad of the Eleventh Doctor Year Two arc.
  • Sinestro still sees Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps as friends, even after he betrayed them and founded the Sinestro Corps. He repeatedly makes clear that their conflict is Nothing Personal; his beef is with the Guardians and he actually really wishes the Green Lanterns would join him, even if he acknowledges that it’s not likely to ever happen.
    • In that same vein, Hal Jordan was this during his time as Parallax. During Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, he wanted to destroy all of space/time just so he can give everyone else their worlds back and give them back the people they lost. When Hal sacrifices himself to save Earth in Final Night, he's given a hero's funeral, though the only one not trusting of him was Batman, something that stayed for a while after his eventual resurrection.
  • Maxwell Lord to the JLI. Despite killing Ted Kord in the build-up to Infinite Crisis, Max still views them as his friends and warns them to stay out of his way, even telling Booster Gold that killing Blue Beetle wasn't easy for him.
  • Locke & Key: In his false identity of Zac Wells, Dodge befriends the Locke children (particularly Tyler and Kinsey, the latter of whom he starts dating) so that he can use them to find the Omega Key.
  • Monstress:
    • Maika's lover Tuya turns out to be the one leading the Dusk Court's efforts to hunt down and kill Maika.
    • Master Ren turns out to be spying on Maika for his cat superiors, who know all about her lineage and the Monstrum inside her, and seem to have their own agenda. When they decide to abduct Kippa, however, he turns on them.
  • Hartigan in Sin City has one of these, his partner Bob, who shoots Hartigan in the back to keep him from killing Senator Roark's pedophile son. There are apparently no hard feelings on either side, and Bob gives Hartigan a lift back to town after he gets out of jail (this only happened in the film; in the comic the guy who gives Hartigan a lift is a different ex-colleague, and he doesn't see Bob again).
  • This happens to Spider-Man with alarming regularly. His friends and co-workers are guaranteed to either die, go mad, or both.
    Comics 101: [T]he Jackal was merely the latest in a long tradition in Amazing Spider-Man in which nearly everyone in Peter Parker's life either becomes a villain or is related to a villain in one way or another. Need examples? First girlfriend Betty Brant? She married Ned Leeds, who eventually became the Hobgoblin. Schoolmate Liz Allen? Her brother was the Molten Man. JJJ? His son becomes the Man-Wolf. Peter Parker's parents? Turns out they were killed by the Red Skull. The list goes on and on (and on). In a world like this, one of Peter's college professors becoming a supervillain makes perfect sense.
  • Adrian Veidt in Watchmen is introduced as a former team member of the other second-generation characters, although no longer especially friendly with them, but is actually the Big Bad of the comic, plotting to commit a massacre in order to fake an alien invasion and unite humanity.
  • In Zero, Robert is Ginsberg Nova.

    Fan Works 
  • In Book 5: Legends, two characters newly introduced (who quickly become friends with Team Avatar) are revealed to be working against the heroes as a Big Bad Duumvirate, adopted siblings Temuji and Fumiko.
  • In Conversations with a Cryptid, two people Izuku knew turned out to be dangerous villains. His childhood doctor was a member of All for One's inner circle, and his absent father is All for One himself.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust were friends growing up; when Lightning returns to town, Rainbow is thrilled at the prospect of renewing their friendship. Unfortunately for her, Lightning is a member of the Shadowbolts (the main antagonists of the Loyalty Arc), and has no problem using their friendship to gain information that can be used against the mahoushoujo. When Lightning eventually outs herself as a Shadowbolt, Rainbow is pissed, and then depressed.
  • Huffily Puffily: Lucy has a habit of unknowingly befriending the main villain of each year. She's especially upset by discovering that Tom Riddle has been manipulating her and is a murderous sociopath, because he actually did become attached to her. Which, for him, means torturing and petrifying and even killing people who upset her, and then wanting to kidnap her away to stay with him once his cover is blown, leaving her rather traumatised the following year. Just as well a nice friendly black dog has turned up to comfort her...
  • Drew in the Hannah Montana fic I Didn't Sign Up for This. She is quick to befriend Miley and dates Lilly but in the last chapter, she is revealed to be a murderous sociopath that cares about no one but herself.
  • The entire plot of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Inner Demons revolves around a prophecy that Twilight Sparkle will be consumed by her inner darkness and become Equestria's Evil Overlord. This happens within a matter of chapters, and the rest of the story is dedicated to her trying to kill the rest of the Mane 6, and them trying to fight and/or redeem her (until the climax, there's a bit of debate among them).
    • As another Twilight Sparkle-related example, Pages Of Harmony, Twilight is driven by a desire to extract the Elements from her friends by capturing and murdering them in various ways specific to their Elements. Though much like Light in Death Note, she appears to believe she's doing it for the greater good, and her friends try to get through to her and get her to come to her senses. She doesn't listen.
    • Another Twilight Sparkle-related example (these are popular, aren't they?). Death Note Equestria has her taking on the role of Light as Kira. She's so determined to defeat L and enforce her vision of justice on the world that she even goes so far as to engineer Rarity and Pinkie's death as part of her cover; she does have a few Villainous BSoD moments along the way, but that hasn't stopped her so far.
  • In Mad World (Invader Zim), Nny is this to Dib, who is totally unaware that his new friend is the Serial Killer he's investigating.
  • In the side stories to MGLN Crisis, it turns out that Racquel Benna/Zettin, the fruit vendor Fate knows was actually a scientist who worked alongside Precia and Scaglietti, creating a clone of Clyde Harlaown who served to impregnate Precia with Alicia. Racquel said she moved near Fate hoping to tell Fate the truth one day.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Hokuto serves as such in Act III, pretending to be a friend to Tsukune and the gang and hatching a plan to have them defeat Kuyou when he attacks Yokai Academy, thus proving to the students that they're not Fake Ultimate Heroes and they really did beat Fairy Tale. As it turns out, Hokuto himself set the whole thing up; he lured Kuyou back to the academy and manipulated Tsukune and co. into fighting him so he could use the chaos as a diversion to steal an Artifact of Doom he needed in order to resurrect Alucard and bring about The End of the World as We Know It, all out of sheer nihilism. While he's not the legitimate Big Bad of Act III, that role taken by Kiria, he does take over the role in Act IV.
  • Phoenix Wright himself to Mia Fey in the fangame Turnabout of Courage.
  • Grunnel in With Strings Attached. He genuinely likes the four and is fascinated by what they have to say about Earth. But when Brox comes up with a use for Paul that Grunnel knows Paul won't agree to, Grunnel quite readily backstabs the four to ensure Paul's participation in Brox's scheme. As he says to Ringo: "Brox is my friend. You are not my enemies. Do you understand the difference?" Yet he prevents Brox from killing George and Ringo because he likes them.
  • In the Medaka Box fanfic World as Myth, Hanhaba Shiranui fills this role towards the Broadcast Club in general, and Zenkichi Hitoyoshi in particular.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the second BIONICLE movie, Turaga Dume starts out as a trusted friend and city leader to both Toa Lhikan and Toa Vakama, even if he DOES act a little strangely. Turns out he's the one who ordered the rest of Lhikan's team to be killed off years ago and for ex-Toa Nidhiki and Krekka to capture him as well, even managing to capture and imprison half of Vakama's team in the Coliseum and generally causing mass chaos and destruction all around. And then it turns out that Dume is not Dume at all, but rather Makuta disguised as Dume, who has been in stasis for years. Even better, before this, Makuta was a trusted guardian of their home island, meaning there are two examples of this trope in one movie.
    Nidhiki: This time, your farewell will be forever, brother.
    Lhikan: You lost the right to call me brother long ago!
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Moses and Rameses were adopted brothers who grew to be very close. Rameses is even willing to do everything in his power to make Moses' accidental murder of an Egyptian forgotten, but Moses flees all the same. Fast forward several years, and Moses returns to Egypt to free the slaves, and Rameses is now Pharaoh. Over the course of the Ten Plagues, their friendship evaporates as Moses tries to get Rameses to let the Hebrew people go, but Rameses, caught up in his "Well Done, Son" Guy raising about not being the weak link, refuses, leading to worse and worse plagues.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Another 48 Hrs, sequel to 48 Hrs., Jack's fellow detective, Ben Kehoe, is revealed as a big time drug dealer. The character had been used for some exposition in the first film and it was somewhat given away by having him slick back his hair and wearing a suit in the second.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Harry Osborn turns out to be this in the end, angered at Peter for refusing to give him his blood so that his disease could be cured. Electro can also count.
  • The Babysitter: Killer Queen: In the original Babysitter film, Melanie was Cole's cute 12-year-old neighbor and his only friend at school. She even helped him by letting him take refuge at her dad's house when Bee's cult was trying to kill him. The sequel is set two years later and does a complete 180º by suddenly making Melanie the cult's new leader, who now seeks to kill Cole herself.
  • The Believers: Cal's closest friends turn out to be part of an evil cult that sacrifices children and want him to join them by offering up his own son.
  • Blood Work: Terry McCaleb's associate, Buddy, happens to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist and the serial killer he was searching for all the time.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Despite the title, the Big Bad Friend is actually Pierce towards Nick Fury, not Bucky Barnes towards Steve Rogers.
  • Textbook example in the Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris film, Cleaner. Ed Harris is Sam's best friend that helps him but later betrays him.
  • When Michael MacCauley in The Commuter gets surrounded inside of a derailed train cart with a group of hostages, his best friend and former police colleague Det. Lt. Alex Murphy comes in to negotiate. After a slip of the tongue Alex reveals he is working with the criminals and is responsible for directly evolving Michael but did it to help with his money problems as he thought Michael wouldn't ask any questions.
  • In Dark Blue, Jack Van Meter sets up Perry's murder, which fails when Bobby is killed instead.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: In order to stop the multiversal demon chasing after America Chavez from stealing her powers of multiverse travel, Strange goes to Wanda for assistance, asking her to come to Kamar-Taj to help them since she's one of the strongest Avengers and a powerful magic user who helped them defeat Thanos. Wanda counters by offering to host America at her farm instead, but in making the offer she ends up accidentally outing herself as the one trying to steal America's powers, because she refers to America by name despite Strange never having mentioned it in their conversation.
  • The hero's partner, played by Kevin Pollock, in End of Days turns out to be in league with the villains.
  • The Faculty: The Hive Queen that controls the alien parasites turns out to be the New Transfer Student Marybeth Louise Hutchinson, part of the student resistance group itself. Even they're shocked by this realization, for all how their Genre Savvy nature about how horror and alien movies work has helped them survive.
  • In Horns Ig is trying to work out who killed his girlfriend, and if it was truly him. Turns out his secretly jealous best friend was the killer.
  • Hot Fuzz. Danny Butterman, the cop Nicolas befriends is actually in on what is going on, but tries to keep him out of trouble, even going so far as faking his death. Considering that when Nick tries to explain, Danny immediately enters an extreme state of denial and then sends him back to London, it's possible that he was aware on some level, but subconsciously never connected the dots for the sake of his own psyche. When Nicholas returns to stop the NWA, though, he chooses to join him.
  • Happened at least twice to Indiana Jones - Elsa Schneider, who was obsessed with the Holy Grail enough to help the Nazis in The Last Crusade; and Mac working with Communists in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
    Mac: I'm a capitalist. And they pay.
  • More than once to James Bond, though he ought to have expected it. The biggest example is Alec Trevelyan aka Janus from GoldenEye, who once was James's partner and best friend as well as Agent 006, but after faking his death becomes the Big Bad of the movie.
  • The film of Max Payne had this happen with the father's old partner and Max's mentor, who turns out to be the villain.
  • Minority Report: Lamar Burgess is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who tries to set up a Utopia that unfortunately involves a murder. He was also John Anderton's good friend until he was exposed.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
  • In Motives, the lead protagonist is set up for a fall by his best friend. Why? To steal the protagonist wife.
  • Senator Paine from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington admires Mr. Smith's idealism and doesn't want to see him ruined by the political machine that he ends up fighting, though not enough to come clean. Until the end, that is, when his conscience finally gets the better of him.
  • Though the Pirates of the Caribbean world is full of gray at the best of times, it's nevertheless a big shock to Jack Sparrow in On Stranger Tides that his old friend and one-time flame Angelica is not only the first mate of Blackbeard but got that position by claiming to be his daughter. He gets a double-dose of surprise when he assumes it's a scam to use the man to find the Fountain Of Youth, and she explains she actually is loyal to him and that she actually is his biological daughter.
  • In R.I.P.D. Hayes turns out to be a dead-o, and organizing the dead's plan to reconstruct the Staff of Jericho.
  • Happened to Hartigan at the beginning of his segment in Sin City, when his partner shoots him in the back to keep him from killing the bad guy. But, you know, he really ought to have seen it coming, what with the partner being played by Michael Madsen.
  • In Skyscraper when Will Sawyer tells his best friend and former FBI colleague Ben whom he considers a 'brother' that he removed the tablet from his stolen bag and still has it, Ben laments, drawing his weapon on Will revealing he helped orchestrate the terrorist plot on the building but did not mean for his family to get trapped inside.
  • In Snake Eyes, the best friend of the detective protagonist sets his friend up to cover up the assassination of the Secretary of Defense at the stadium. He's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who cooperated with a group of military contractors because of a dispute about a military software system that might be dangerous, which the Secretary wanted to cancel.
  • The villain in Sneakers. "I cannot kill my friend." (hands gun to mook) "Kill my friend."
  • Strange Days. The killer turns out to be the protagonist's best friend.
  • Street Kings. Detective Tom Ludlow's entire police unit is in on Washington's murder and have gone way too far in their corruption, keeping Ludlow in the dark because of his better morals. Capt. Wander (the prime mover in the whole operation) even admits at the end that despite ordering him killed, he loves Tom more than any of the other guys in their unit and unlike them he is irreplaceable for him. They say goodbye as family before Ludlow shoot his friend.
  • Sword of the Assassin: Nguyen Vu's childhood friend, whom Vu believed to be a freedom fighter, was actually a power obsessed Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who planned on having the entire royal family murdered to cement his rise to power. In the end, Vu deemed him even worse than the current empress, a woman who ordered the execution of Vu's entire family.
  • Subverted in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Ricky Bobby is betrayed by his best friend Cal, who steals his glory, his house and his wife. Despite this, Cal continues to call Ricky on the phone to chat and ask advice (for instance, asking where things are stored in Ricky's house). Ricky, out of force of habit, chats with him until he remembers that he is mad at Cal.
  • The Third Man. The protagonist is investigating the murder of his friend Harry Lime. It turns out that Harry Lime is alive and engaged in horrible crimes. He's the villain of the story.
  • The Truman Show. Truman's "best friend" since childhood (who is really an actor) at one point appears to truly be listening to Truman's plight and confusion, almost seeming to really want to help his buddy understand the crap that's going on with his life. However, he allows himself to be instrumental in the biggest Mind Screw the studio pulls on Truman in bringing his "father" back from the grave. He later leads the hunt to capture Truman once he starts escaping. Earlier drafts and deleted scenes emphasized the actor being torn over doing such a thing to a man he had genuinely come to view as his best friend, and in these drafts, he initially redeemed himself by intentionally looking the other way when locating Truman and allowing him to escape.
  • Elijah Price is the Big Bad of Unbreakable, which he reveals only when he and David are starting to become friends near the end. He sees life as the prototype of a story after becoming intrigued by the comics his mother gave him, so he killed hundreds of people in mass disasters over the years to find his antithesis, a real hero. He manipulates David over the course of the film to fill this archetype, not to save people, but to find meaning in his own life.
  • Underground: Blacky's best friend Marko betrays him and becomes the Anti-Villain of the film.
  • Valentine: The film's final shot reveals that Kate's boyfriend Adam Carr is a cover identity for Jeremy Melton, the vengeful Serial Killer picking off her friends over an offense they committed against him years ago. Also counts as Love-Interest Traitor.


  • American Gods: One of Shadow's old friends, Low-Key Lyesmith from his stint in prison, is actually Mr. World/Loki. This becomes especially trying it involves Mr. Wednesday, he turned out to be working with Loki the entire time, working to manipulate both sides into a devastating war.
  • In Aristoi, Zhenling was part of the Big Bad's plan to crack Gabriel's encryptions all along.
  • At the climax of Volume 7 of The Beginning After the End, Elijah Knight, who has been missing ever since he was abducted by the Vritra during the attack on Xyrus years ago, returns as one of the Scythes during the climactic battle and goes after both Arthur and Tessia. Naturally, both assume that Elijah has become Brainwashed and Crazy and was Reforged into a Minion during his time in Alacrya. However, Elijah reveals to Arthur during their confrontation that he is in fact Nico Sever, the former childhood friend of Arthur's past life King Grey. Like Grey, Nico was also reincarnated into this world by Agrona, and has been working for him out of a desire to both reunite with his fiancée Cecilia - him and Grey's shared Childhood Friend Love Interest - and to exact revenge on Grey for killing her.
    Nico: I was your best...friend, and the one whose fiancée you killed in front of me.
    Arthur: Nico...You look like garbage, old friend.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): When Tungstant realizes that the Torpor Police have to have modified the fortress to have space for all the ants they're taking and giving a good night's sleep, she rushes to her partner, Cobalt, to warn her of the dire news. Cobalt tries to reassure her that the fortress plans aren't secret, surely the torpor enforcers would be making sure that their changes aren't going to bring things crashing down, but Tungstant won't calm down, and can't understand why Cobalt isn't getting upset along with her. Until Cobalt murmurs, "You really should have gone to sleep," and Tungstant is knocked out for her mandatory eight hours' rest.
  • Fidelias to Amara in the Codex Alera series. Not much of a spoiler, though, since his real allegiance is revealed within the first couple of chapters of the first book.
  • In Dragonlance, Kitiara in her final moments is mind raped when she discovers that her servant, Lord Soth intends to kill her and make her serve him as his banshee for all eternity.
  • Robert Harris' Fatherland, where Xavier's old friend Max Jaeger turns out to be the source of the SS's inside information.
  • The Thing in Tamora Pierce's Mastiff.
  • Nightfall (Series): Myra ends up developing a twisted, love-hate friendship with Prince Vladimir, to the point that he is even giving her tips on how to defeat him.
  • Metro 2035:
    • Dietmar, a high-ranking official of the Reich and the leader of the Iron Legion, starts off with a cordial face in his first encounter with Artyom with Homer and Lyokha to the Reich's home station after the former lost his passport and they were subsequently conscripted into the Iron Legion. But he quickly drops that facade when he sends Artyom on a mission to bomb the tunnels to Theatre station, before threatening Homer if Artyom does not follow his demands, making him the Big Bad of the first two-thirds of 2035.
    • Lyokha starts as The Lancer to Artyom for the majority of the story. Then comes the trek to Arbat station, where he is revealed to betray his friend Artyom by working as the second-in-command to the Watcher's leader Aleksei Bessolov. It ultimately starts his fall to grace.
  • In Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence, the former nanny is this to Philip Durrant, warning him to stop prying into the murder of his mother-in-law, which she committed on behalf of the victim's delinquent son. She murders Philip to cover her tracks.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Rough Draft, the main character has just killed a powerful Functional who was trying to kill him. He then meets his friend but quickly realizes that he's one of them. The friend initially tries to help him but then nearly kills him. It gets weirder in the sequel, Final Draft, where the friend returns, explaining he was just scared. At the end, though, he challenges the main character to a duel.
  • In books 5 and 6 of The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren's discovery and exposure of Kurda's treason plays out like this, although he really is more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • Played straighter in book 9 with Steve Leonard, who... isn't.
  • The first Stuart Gibbs Spy School novel has the hero realizing that his Plucky Comic Relief Cynical Mentor is The Mole, something that becomes a Late-Arrival Spoiler for the rest of the series.
  • Treasure Island: Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins's mentor figure and the local Magnificent Bastard, is probably the most famous example of this trope. So much that he manages to get away with it in the end.
  • In Tunnels, the Big Bad turns out to be the protagonist's little sister.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, to all appearances, Henry's affection for his cousin and his offer to rule with her are sincere.
  • Natalie to Lissa in Vampire Academy. She acts as a caring friend to her, while secretly killing animals, which Lissa cares for, messing with her mind and trying to get her captured by her dad.
  • In Void City, one of the major antagonists is Roger, Eric's oldest friend and long-time business partner, who has secretly despised him and wanted to kill him for decades.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 plays this straight with Nina Meyers and plays with it for Tony Almeida. While Nina was The Mole working for the first season's Big Bad, Tony through his own warped sense of justice is aiding the seventh season's Big Bad to get him to trust him so he can kill him in revenge for being the mastermind behind the plot that led to the death of his family.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Near the end of the first season, it's revealed that The Clairvoyant is actually Coulson's best friend, Agent Garrett. And things get even worse when it turns out that Ward is working for him as well.
  • Gaheris Rhade from Andromeda. However, "The Unconquerable Man" put a twist on it. Gaheris actually won the fight originally, but got frozen in time like Hunt did in the pilot. He eventually gets rescued by Beka and company, just like in the pilot. In fact, he lives through much of the series plot, though it plays out far differently. He tries to rebuild the Commonwealth to make up for the fact that his people slaughtered everything that moved after the Andromeda was lost, and were ultimately nowhere near the Warrior Poets he had thought. Tyr is killed by Rhade for betrayal, Perseid gets annihilated, and the universe is about to be ripped to shreds when Trance tells him there's another chance to fix it all. Rhade eventually agrees, uses said universe shredding phenomena to travel back in time and kill his previous self moments before he begins his mutiny, takes his uniform, and throws the fight with Dylan Hunt at the beginning of the pilot episode. Chronologically, the main series then follows. Does anyone have anything for a headache?
  • On season 4 of Angel, the Big Bad orchestrating the disappearance of the sun and master of the giant rock demon turns out to be Cordelia, although she's actually being controlled by a god.
  • Season 5 of Arrow gives Team Arrow a new ally in the form of District Attorney Adrian Chase, who in the comics is the true identity of Vigilante, a recurring antagonist in this season. In a Meta Twist, Chase is a villain, but he's not Vigilante; he's actually the Big Bad, Prometheus.
  • In Babylon Berlin, resident Noble Bigot with a Badge Bruno Wolters is revealed to be in on the preparations of the Black Reichswehr's Military Coup.
  • An inversion occurs in Battlestar Galactica. After Saul Tigh is outed as a Cylon, Adama accuses him of being one of these. Tigh himself however was more of a Psycho Supporter.
  • Behind Her Eyes: Rob was Adele's best friend in the psychiatric hospital, but he killed her and took over her body so he could have Daniel to himself.
  • In Breaking Bad, Hank Schreider has been going after the elusive meth cook, Heisenberg, who's behind the manufacture of high-quality meth, arson, murder, and other atrocities. He does not take it well upon making the connection that the infamous Heisenberg is none other than his own brother-in-law.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In Season 9, Whistler is revealed to be working with Pearl and Nash.
    • The Big Bad of Season 2, to whom the Anointed One and Spike & Drusilla both play Disc-One Final Boss, ends up being Angel, having returned to his former self after losing his soul.
    • In Season 3, Faith turns out to be The Dragon to Mayor Wilkins.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • While Hawk is mainly The Heavy for the Cobra Kai students in Season 2 (the honor of the Big Bad goes to John Kreese), he's still is one to Demetri given that Hawk has given in to his aggression way too far to the point where he sees Demetri and his nerdy interests as a burden to his "cool, tough" persona.
    • Robby Keene becomes this to the Miyagi-Dos as The Heavy for the Cobra Kai students in Season 4 (Kreese and Silver is the season's Big Bad Duumvirate), become the dojo's top student and teaching Miyagi-Do moves to their advantage. He serves as the Final Boss for Miyagi-Do's Eli/Hawk en route to the All-Valley championship.
    • Terry Silver becomes this to John Kreese in Season 5, after the Season 4 finale has the former betraying the latter to the police and seize Cobra Kai for himself. While both are antagonists no question, Silver is obviously the bigger threat, to the point where the Miyagi-Fangs (particularly Daniel and Johnny) ally with Kreese to stop Silver from spreading his "Way of the Fist" influence to global levels.
    • Kenny Payne becomes this to Robby Keene as The Heavy for the Cobra Kai students in Season 5 (the honor of the Big Bad goes to Terry Silver) after he becomes Cobra Kai's top male student in the wake of Robby's defection, something that Kenny himself feels betrayed by.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Played with, with The Master. In some of their incarnations, they see the Doctor as a close friend, and much of their machinations are to either prove to the Doctor that the Doctor's obsession with the comparatively primitive humans is silly, or to convince the Doctor to join them. In others, they are genuinely trying kill the Doctor. Exemplified by this little exchange:
      Clara: He's not your friend. You keep trying to kill him.
      The Mistress: He keeps trying to kill me. It's sort of our texting. We've been at it for ages.
      Clara: Mm, it must be love.
      The Mistress: Oh, don't be disgusting. We're Time Lords, not animals. Try, nano-brain, to rise above the reproductive frenzy of your noisy little food chain, and contemplate friendship. A friendship older than your civilisation. And infinitely more complex.
    • In "Spyfall", the Doctor's old MI6 contact O turns out to be the latest incarnation of the Master, who killed the real O and stole his identity.
  • In Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, lovable, loyal Boyd, the hero's friend, turns out to be the Big Bad.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: As revealed in the finale, Sharon Carter has, since her last appearance, turned to a life of crime, becoming the Madripoor crime lord known as the Power Broker. All her help to Sam and Bucky is for the sake of advancing her own goals.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • It is revealed at the end of the first episode (to the audience, not the characters) that Team Dad Genius Cripple Harrison Wells is not only not paralysed, but that he has a secret room in his lab with an AI that shows him the future, and that he's been keeping an eye on Barry for a very long time. He only gets more Ambiguously Evil from there, culminating in The Reveal that he is the Reverse-Flash, Flash's archenemy who killed his mother.
    • In Season 2, it's revealed in the back half of the season that the new Big Bad, Zoom, is actually the team's new ally Jay Garrick. Or rather, Hunter Zolomon, who's been posing as Jay.
  • Forbrydelsen did this in all three seasons. In the first season, the murderer turns out to be Vagn, the best friend of the main victim's father. In the second season, Lund's new partner Strange proves to be the killer. And in the final season, the main villain is Reinhardt, the business partner and close friend of the kidnapped girl's father (although the kidnapping was by the vengeful father of the girl who Reinhardt raped and killed).
  • Game of Thrones: Locke pretends to be a friend to Jon Snow starting from "Oathkeeper". He leads Jon to believe that he's just another recruit for the Night's Watch who bravely offered to accompany his party to track down and deal with the mutineers who killed Lord Commander Mormant and are tormenting the women at Craster's Keep. In reality, Locke is there to find and kill Bran and Rickon Stark, Jon's half-brothers, who immediately threaten the Boltons' claim on the North. He betrays Jon by preventing Jon from saving Bran and Rickon and may have planned to harm Jon himself — but Bran manages to kill Locke before he can — and Jon remains unaware of Locke's true intentions since Locke was killed before anything was revealed to him.
  • In Gotham, Bruce finds out, to his horror, that Jeremiah Valeska was hit with Jerome's insanity gas the day they met, and was driven insane without him ever being the wiser, due to Jeremiah's ability to convincingly act like everything was fine. This means that Bruce only finds out there is anything wrong with him when Jeremiah wants him to, and by that time, it's too late, because Jeremiah has already turned the clean energy generators he and Bruce worked on together into bombs. He still thinks of Bruce as his friend even after revealing his true nature, though, and doesn't really understand it when Bruce no longer feels the same way.
  • Dr. Hannibal Lecter to Will Graham (and to a lesser extent, Jack Crawford) in Hannibal. In a departure from the source material, where Graham never met Hannibal before exposing him as the "Chesapeake Ripper" and arresting him, Hannibal is here referred to Graham as his FBI-mandated psychiatrist. He becomes friends with Graham and Crawford and lends his medical and psychological expertise to the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit, the group out to catch the Chesapeake Ripper, while Gaslighting Graham for his own amusement and other ends.
    • By the end of season one, Graham realises that Hannibal is this trope, but by then he's been manipulated into near-insanity and framed for a string of Hannibal's murders, destroying his credibility. In season two, Hannibal exploits Jack's emotional vulnerability over his wife's cancer and seduces Alana; he grievously injures them and Will in the finale, making him this for the entire main cast.
      Hannibal: I was hoping you and I wouldn't have to say goodbye: nothing seen, nor said.
      Alana Bloom: Stop! I was so blind.
      Hannibal: In your defense, I worked very hard to blind you.
  • In Jekyll Peter Syme turns out to be working against Jackman. And makes the argument that after so long pretending to be a friend they really are friends, even after betraying him.
  • Mitsuzane Kureshima/Kamen Rider Ryugen from Kamen Rider Gaim is a particularly tragic example. He made increasingly desperate and messed up attempts to protect his friends without ever taking a single moment to think whether they want or need that, digging himself deeper with each move. Long story short, by the series' end he maimed, murdered or attempted to murder nearly half of the cast all because he thought he knows what's best.
  • Since we rarely get much of an insight into the personal lives of the detectives and prosecutors who appear on the numerous Law & Order series, it's almost a certain bet that whenever an old friend of one of the characters shows up, it will turn out that they've become one of these.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Sauron stood in front of Galadriel the whole time as she confided in him about Finrod, and why she was hunting for him. In his defense, he asks Galadriel several times to stop and just let him be, and warned her that he is not the hero she sees in him. Galadriel even goes into denial and lists all the supposed good things she witnessed he did after learning that the man she thought was her friend or even more than a friend, is Sauron himself.
  • In Luther, the antagonist of the first series' final two episodes is DCI Ian Reed, Luther's friend and confidant, who is actually a Dirty Cop.
  • A less bloody example of this trope can occur in The Mole if the hidden Mole befriends a contestant who never once suspects them to be the Mole and is eliminated as a result. This is especially prevalent in the Dutch series where at least three seasons (13, 17, and 18) have had one of the final four contestants be absolutely gobsmacked when they learn in the finale that their best friend who they trusted 100% was the Mole who had been playing them all along.
  • Penny Dreadful:
    • In the first season finale, it's revealed that Mina Murray is in fact a willful servant of the vampires, and has been acting as bait to lure Vanessa into their clutches.
    • In Season 2, the team turns to Professor Lyle to help them translate the Verbis Diablo, unaware that he's actually working for the witch coven they're fighting. To his credit, however, Lyle is being blackmailed into the situation, is clearly uncomfortable with it, and tries to subtly defy the witches and warn the heroes on several occasions. When Sir Malcolm is taken prisoner by the witches at the end of the season, Lyle finally confesses his treachery to the team and helps them storm the witches' castle to rescue him, even managing to personally kill one of the witches.
  • Subverted in the episode The Great Game from Sherlock. When John appears to meet Sherlock at the pool, we (and Sherlock) assume that he's Moriarty. However, it's soon revealed that he is strapped to a bomb and the real Moriarty was just making him say lines that imply he is.
  • This describes Lex Luthor for the first four seasons or so of Smallville, and intermittently afterward. Notable in that this isn't presented as a twist, but as a continuing theme throughout the series — he legitimately likes the protagonists, he just sees their demands that he stop digging up their secrets as a requirement to tell them he's stopped in the interest of courtesy (rather than a moral need to actually stop).
  • Squid Game: Il-nam, the first player who bonds with Gi-hun in the game, turns out to be the game's creator, playing along for the thrill of it.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Big Bad of Season 6, to whom Crowley, Eve, and Raphael played Disc-One Final Boss, is revealed to be Castiel, who has decided that to defeat Raphael and put Heaven on the right track, anything is acceptable - in this case, taking on a million souls. However, throughout nearly the entire season, he staunchly remains their friend, putting their safety ahead of his plans on multiple occasions and vehemently protecting them from Crowley, who would prefer to kill them. The Winchester boys do their best to stop Castiel throughout the final episodes of the season, while he continues to plead for them to accept him and his reasons for evil.
    • In the final episode of Season 4, Ruby reveals to Sam that she had been collaborating with Lilith the whole time just as Lucifer rises.

  • In The Protomen's works, Dr. Wily serves as one to Dr. Light. The second act of their Rock Opera trilogy, The Father of Death, details how Wily betrays Light during his rise to power.
  • "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You" by Blind Willie Davis is about how your enemies don't know enough about you to hurt you as deeply as a traitorous friend.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • During the summer of 1991 The Ultimate Warrior turned to his friend Jake "The Snake" Roberts for help in learning how to defeat The Undertaker. Roberts explained that after passing three tests, Warrior would have the "knowledge of the dark side" to defeat Undertaker. These tests included Warrior being locked inside a coffin and being buried alive in dirt. The final test was Warrior walking through a room full of live snakes to reach a chest containing "the answer". Warrior opened the chest, only to be immediately bitten by a King Cobra. As Warrior weakened from the effects of the snakebite, Roberts was joined by The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, revealing the three were working together all along. Jake Robert's last statement to The Ultimate Warrior was "Never trust a snake".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the Big Bad for the Antiquities expansion is Urza's brother Mishra. But the true Big Bad, Yawgmoth, has been manipulating both brothers this whole time. Urza does not take this well.

    Video Games 
  • Fasti, who is actually Mobius, is the Big Bad of Agarest Senki 2. Until The Reveal, they were the resident The Smart Guy.
  • Livia in Alpha Prime. At the end, it's revealed that they're not just The Mole, but were the Company's agent that orchestrated the plot in the first place. This also leads into the bad guys winning.
  • Anachronox: In the end, Grumpos, the second character in your party, looks like he's going to destroy the key to open the portal, but instead reveals he's with the bad guys the whole time and opens the portal for them.
  • At the end of Beyond Divinity, it's revealed that your only ally throughout the game, the unnamed Death Knight, is actually, Damian, the Big Bad of the Divinity series. But it's all a ruse, though.
  • This is the case with Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory: Your friend Yu is actually K, the hacker that stole your identity, then spends the game "helping" you recover your account by sending you on a wild goose chase. Yu was hoping that you would become more dependent on K's advice, eventually isolating you from everyone and ensuring that you two would be friends and partners forever.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Flipped around in Dragon Age: Origins: The villain Loghain thinks that his king and son-in-law is a Big Bad Friend who is selling out the kingdom to the same empire that his father and Loghain expelled from the country just one generation ago. Thinking the king has already made his Face–Heel Turn and become The Quisling, he betrays him and takes control of the kingdom himself.
    • Return to Ostagar reveals that the king was indeed planning to divorce Loghain's daughter Anora and marry the Empress of Orlais had he survived the battle, which if Loghain is a party member at the time has him both vindicated and furious that he was right all along.
    • Subverted again in Dragon Age II, where Cassandra is convinced that Varric's friend Hawke was the Big Bad responsible for everything and went to Kirkwall specifically to start the Mage-Templar War that is currently sweeping Thedas, when in reality, they were simply the Right Man in the Wrong Place and were swept up in events far outside of their control. Played straight with Anders, however, who blows up the Kirkwall Chantry, killing scores of innocents, to incite a mage rebellion, ultimately leading to said war.
    • And then Dragon Age: Inquisition gives us Solas, a.k.a. the elven god of rebellion Fen'Harel. Not only was he indirectly responsible for the Breach, he has been manipulating the Inquisition the entire time, and is actually planning to destroy the Veil, merging Thedas and the Fade, which would most likely kill every living being on the planet. If he likes the Inquisitor, he'll be deeply reluctant about it and challenge the Inquisitor to prove him wrong, but if he doesn't, then he'll have no regrets.
  • In Dungeon Siege 2, the Azurite Scholar that has been helping you throughout the game turns out to be the Overmage of the Cinbri, who has been manipulating both you and the Big Bad in order to reshape Aranna in his image.
  • In EarthBound (1994), Pokey claims that Ness is his best friend, and you can tell a cop that you're both friends, too... until he does a Face–Heel Turn. Though, that would make him The Dragon Friend... Until Mother 3. In that game, it shows that he really did consider Ness a friend; he cherishes the latter's weapon, the "Friend's Yo-Yo" and keeps a shrine to him in his headquarters.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Vossler from Final Fantasy XII fights alongside you for a chunk of the game, but sells you out to the Archadian Empire afterwards on the belief that it would be better to surrender to stop the bloodshed instead of continuing a seemingly fruitless rebellion. He's immediately given the Straw Traitor treatment, fights you as a boss later on, and then dies dramatically on an exploding warship.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Thancred, one of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, and the player's first ally if they started off in Ul'dah, was secretly possessed by the game's big bad, Lahabrea, an immortal aetherial being who possesses mortal hosts to bring about the resurrection of his dark god. It's implied that Thancred was under Lahabrea's control since long before the player met him.
      • During Shadowbringers the Ascian Emet-Selch is this to the player character, but unlike his colleague Lahabrea, he spends most of the expansion attempting to cooperate with the Scions, crossing into Lightwarden territory, saving one of their companions, can be spoken to at length to get his unique perspective, and drops some of the biggest twists in the story. Eventually he warms up to the player, confiding that he wishes for nothing more than the restoration of his lost civilization but would be perfectly willing to let go if the people who came about after the loss of that civilization can prove themselves worthy enough in his eyes. Shortly after, he ends his truce with them after they fail his test of whether the Scions would be judged as potential allies. After he is defeated, he accepts his defeat and asks the player character to remember his people. Comes full circle in 5.3, when the soul of Emet-Selch appears to save the player and their party during the final battle against Elidibus.
      • The later patches of Shadowbringers and the following expansion Endwalker expand on this. In the unsundered past, Emet-Selch was friends with fellow Convocation of Fourteen member Azem, whose sundered soul would reincarnate into the player character's Warrior of Light and Ardbert. Since Azem was considered a defector unworthy of having a memory crystal made, Emet-Selch made one in secret and imbued it with his friend's signature incantation to summon allies and set up a plan to make sure it made its way to the player prior to the final confrontation with Elidibus. Endwalker has the player travel to unsundered Etheirys, where they would befriend a past version of Emet-Selch, his other friend Hythlodaeus, and the previous Azem Venat in their quest to learn of the true cause of the Final Days and eventually tell them of the events to come. Upon learning that Hermes' creation Meteion caused it, Emet-Selch and Hythlodaeus covers the player and Venat's escape, but not before telling the player to not squander the legacy he leaves them (which mirrors his last words to them in Shadowbringers) before the former two's memories are erased. All of these events would lead to Emet-Selch and the Ascians' quest to restore Etheirys, as well as Venat becoming Hydaelyn.
    • Each of the Sworn Six of Paladia from Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is directly linked to the party in some way, but none more so than Veritas of the Dark, who is heavily hinted to be Sir Raegan, Rain's father and Lasswell's adoptive father.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Edelgard is this within the Silver Snow route, as they spend just under a year working alongside Byleth in part 1 of the game before they reveal themselves as the Flame Emperor in chapter 11 of the game. Of course, if you are absolutely fed up with the Church of Seiros and their Knight Templar tendencies, you can choose to side with her instead, leading to the Crimson Flower route.
  • Happens several times in the Grand Theft Auto series:
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Lance Vance sells out Tommy Vercetti to Liberty City mafioso Sonny Forelli in the final mission out of opportunism because he felt he was being sidelined by Tommy in the Vercetti criminal empire.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Big Smoke and Ryder betray the Johnsons to corrupt police officers Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski to get rich off the drug trade.
    • Billy Grey in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. He ultimately decides to sell out the entire Lost MC for his freedom; however, Johnny Klebitz infiltrates the prison and personally executes Billy before he can testify.
  • Halo 5: Guardians: Cortana is back and evil but still very devoted to Master Chief. The difference in her warm encouragement to John 117 and bitter hostility to the new Deuteragonist Locke is very noticeable.
  • Kirby: Marx and Magolor start their games off by being friends with Kirby, but they secretly trick Kirby into doing their bidding, and as a result, they become the Final Boss of their respective games.
  • The Final Boss of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is one of your party members and also the person who's been mentoring and advising the player character throughout the game. Whether they actually qualify as Evil All Along, though, is left up to the player to decide.
  • K.O.L.M.: In the second game Father, who'd seemed to be an ally, turns out to have been working with Mother the whole time and tosses Robbie aside when he succeeds in bringing Sister to him.
  • The Last Story: Dagran, the main character's best friend and the looked up to and respected leader of their mercenary group turns out to have been The Man Behing The Man, manipulating both Lazulis Island and the Gurak into re-starting their war, both as a way for him to get power and knighthood for himself and his group and to fulfill his goal to murder General Ashtar. While he claims that he always only saw them as pawns for his long plan to get revenge on the man who killed his family, it's implied that he truly did care for their friends.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has Crow. Throughout the game, Class VII has been antagonistic against a group of terrorists called the "Imperial Liberation Front" whose leader is a man called "C". Turns out that said leader is Crow, whose room is just across from Rean's room. He doesn't give out his reasons until the second game as to why he did his terrorism acts.
  • Loser Reborn: One of the Big Bads, the Cultist, is the reincarnation of the protagonist's friend from their previous lives. He wants to destroy the RPG world in order to wake the protagonist from their coma. The protagonist can choose to either side with the Cultist or fight him in the endgame.
  • In the Lufia series, a common plot element is a certain character being Erim, the Sinistral of Death. In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom it was Lufia herself, in Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals it was Iris, and in Lufia: the Legend Returns it was Seena. Often, this character is not even aware of their true identity.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, before defecting, was Naked Snake's mentor and one of his closest friends. She celebrates her Face–Heel Turn by beating him up and stealing his rescued hostage. It was a ruse to make Volgin trust her and Snake wasn't in on it. She only ends up needing to be taken out when Volgin messes things up by actually using one of the nukes she'd brought for him, necessitating her to defect "for real" as Snake is sent in again to kill her.
    • The same goes for Naked Snake as Big Boss with the chronologically later Metal Gear as the commander of the young Solid Snake.
    • The plot point is repeated again for Metal Gear Solid, wherein radio contact Master Miller turns out to have been Dead All Along, with the Master Miller you talked to being Liquid Snake in disguise.
  • Pavel in Metro: Last Light is Artyom's travel companion for a major part of the game and the two end up saving each other's life several times before they finally make it back to a civilized station where they are safe to relax and stock up on supplies before they each make their way to their respective homes. Over a farewell meal, he tells Artyom that he's not just forced to be a soldier for the Communists, but actually believes in their principles. At that moment two communist officers appear behind him and it turns out that he's not just a simple scout, but a Major who was tasked to capture Artyom and just happened to end up in the same Nazi prison after his team was killed. And he just had been spiking your drinks.
  • It turns out that the Parkour Killer in Mirror's Edge is Faith's best friend Celeste, who believes the Runners' days are numbered and is fine with helping the police capture all her old Runner buddies to save her own sorry ass.
  • The Neverwinter Nights mod series The Bastard of Kosigan has a couple. That group of mostly-nice witches you were helping out in the first module? Oops, they were manipulating you into helping them summon an ancient demon with which to wipe the world clean of civilization and start over with magic-users in control. Your lover in the second module? Whoops, she was the mastermind behind every assassination attempt on you or your family for the entire story so far. Both cases give you the chance to join them when their plots are revealed, which due to the story's Grey-and-Grey Morality, isn't that far off the 'good guys' plots.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth has Khaos, who Reviel considers a friend despite the former scheming against him and trying to destroy/recreate the world, which is why he tries to get his friend to pull a Heel–Face Turn. Unfortunately, the Big Bad ends up committing suicide upon defeat because he was that desperate to enact his plan. The Dragon, Shylphiel, states that Khaos was likewise fond of Reviel, Luna, and Ristill despite his antagonism.
  • Onmyōji: Yaobikuni, my God, Yaobikuni. She's been seriously nice and seriously helpful to the rest of the main quartet before the revelation that everything she does is only part of her plan to serve the Yamata-no-orochi hits them hard.
  • Persona:
    • This role is played with in Persona 3, with Ryoji Mochizuki. He certainly acts as a friend to the protagonist, which is played up in the Big Damn Movie, but he isn't even a social link in the original game, and while he's the closest thing to a Big Bad in the game, he's really more of an Anti-Villain, having no choice as to whether he destroys the world or not. This is made even more apparent in the female route, where he acts as a social link, and is a romance option.
    • Persona 5: Goro Akechi, one of the characters the Protagonist befriends over the course of the game, turns out to be The Heavy for the bad guys, and the one ultimately responsible for the formation of The Conspiracy.
  • In RosenkreuzStilette, Iris is considered like a kid sister to the rest of RKS, including Tia. What they don't know is that she's really the Big Bad who's making RKS fight against the Holy Empire For the Evulz. She eventually reveals to Tia who she really was and the real reasons for the war, and that she really did all that for both said reason and to become god of the world. That's where none of RKS trusts her anymore.
  • Scorn: The Parasite, which latches itself onto Scorn Guy and gives him the ability to heal himself, as well as turning into a Living Weapon Scorn Guy uses to fend off other monsters. One would think the Parasite is actually helping Scorn Guy through his journey...until you realize the Parasite is gradually draining Scorn Guy's health throughout the game and transforming his body into a meaty monstrocity. It isn't long before Scorn Guy realizes what's happening and uses a machine to rip the Parasite off his body before it kills him or fully renders him immobile.
  • Special Agent Kato the third and final Big Bad in Shadow Hearts: Covenant, doesn't let a little thing like wanting to destroy the world ruin the good friendship he has with Yuri. He even encourages the heroes to stop him if they truly believe they've got the right moral standpoint compared to his.
  • Skullgirls: The titular Skullgirl, Marie, was childhood friends with Peacock before the Medici mafia captured Peacock (then named Patricia) and sold her as a slave, which resulted in Marie becoming the Skullgirl to take revenge. They both still consider the other to be a friend, and the only reason Peacock is hunting Marie down is to give her a Mercy Kill.
  • Space Pirates and Zombies has Don who turns out was a zombie leader/commander all along, and was leading you to the core to unleash the zombies.
  • In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the Tinkerer is Miles' Childhood Friend Phin who's desperately trying to get revenge on the Evil, Inc. Roxxon for killing her brother by any means necessary.
  • Faize in Star Ocean: The Last Hope after a Heroic BSoD sets down the path of darkness.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Mithos is quick to befriend the party once they meet him, and he becomes especially close with Genis. Once Genis finds out that his "friend" isn't just an enemy, but the leader of Cruxis and Big Bad of the game, he reveals that he had his suspicions, but didn't want it to be true, and spends much of the rest of the game struggling with his feelings of betrayal, but thinking of Mithos as a friend on some level..
    • Kratos is set up as another such case. Initially, the character doesn't seem all that close to anyone in the group, having supposedly joined only for the money (which is actually a lie), but gradually becomes something of a mentor to Lloyd, if fairly cynical. The group takes it hard when they realize Kratos has betrayed them, but late in the game, it turns out that he was Good All Along, and Lloyd forgives Kratos after defeating him in a final duel.
  • The Testament of Sherlock Holmes implies that Sherlock Holmes is this to Watson, as it drops hints that the famous detective might be the mastermind of the murders committed throughout the game. Watson's deteriorating friendship with Holmes is an ongoing plotline. Holmes is innocent, of course, but he's doing it deliberately. Moriarty is framing Holmes for the crimes, and Homes is intentionally acting suspicious to keep Moriarty's attention off of Watson.
  • For the first half or so of Tony Hawk's Underground, it's simply a story of two guys (or a guy and a gal) from New Jersey trying to make it big as pro skaters. However after the pair arrive in Hawaii, the Player Character decides to pull off a big stunt by tricking over a hovering helicopter and the character's friend, Eric Sparrow, is on filming duty. The main character successfully pulls off their amazing feat but Eric seizes the tape and passes it off as his own work, taking all the fame that would have gone to the player character. The rest of the game is spent trying to catch up to Eric and pay him back for screwing your character over.
  • Warriors Orochi 4 introduces Perseus, Zeus' half-mortal son, who aids the coalition in confronting Ares and Athena. He's also a mentor to Yukimura, Naotora, Guan Yinping and Zhao Yun when they obtained their bracelets that activate their deified forms. He suddenly goes missing which prompt the coalition to find him no matter what. It turns out that Perseus is actually Loki, the Norse god of trickery, who wants to bring his master, Odin, to the world by instigating a war between the humans and gods which forces them to activate the bracelets.
  • Joshua in The World Ends with You. You actually have him as a member of your party for 1/3 of the game, as well as a cutscene that starts out short but is slowly revealed (an attempt to confuse the player as to whether Neku's killer was him or the Reaper, Minamimoto). The game switches itself up on you: It intentionally makes you suspect that Joshua did it, then reveals it to be Minamimoto with some rather convincing evidence, even so far as to make you think that Minamimoto could be the final boss, especially after he revives himself. Then, the end of the game does a 180 and reveals that Joshua was not only the killer, but the Composer of the game as well: He killed Neku (who could use any pin) so that Neku could take his place in the Game that would determine Shibuya's fate.
  • Ys SEVEN: Adol befriends Tia, a resident of Old Town whose friend Maya is suffering from Iskan Fever. Unfortunately, the fever is caused by the imbalance of Dragon Energy in Altago, so Tia takes up her role as the Maiden of Demise and seeks to destroy and restart all life on Altago in the hopes that Maya will be reincarnated under better circumstances. Despite this, her friendship with Adol is genuine and Scias states that she would be sad to kill him.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • We don't actually see the moment of revelation for Phoenix Wright, but Kristoph Gavin is the one who set him up to be disbarred and dishonored in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Gavin then spends seven years pretending to be Phoenix’s dearest friend, and the only person who objected to their punishment until Phoenix finally takes them down.
    • In Investigations, Shi-Long Lang is shocked to discover that Byrne Faraday's killer and a key member of the smuggling ring is his assistant Shih-na.
    • Calisto Yew serves as one to Byrne Faraday and Tyrell Badd, her accomplices in the Yatagarasu, when she betrays and kills Byrne, due to being The Mole for the smuggling ring the Yatagarasu is fighting.
    • Also those last two? They're the same person. "Shih-na" breaks down into one of Yew's trademark laughing fits (down to the poses) and admits as much when caught. She states that "Calisto Yew" never existed, implying that the identity was created whole cloth to aid the ring and it's left ambigious as to how much of Shih-na was real and how much was an act. Her real name is also never revealed.
    • The Investigations sequel has Simon Keyes, who poses as an innocuous friend to the party, even fooling Edgeworth before he figures out that Simon is the mastermind behind the game’s events.
    • Implied by Apollo in the last case of Dual Destinies, when he states that Prosecutor Blackquill seems torn after The Reveal of Bobby Fulbright's true identity, as the two of them were partners. The previous cases also give the feeling that there was a strong, if unusual, friendship between them.
    • Through cases 4 and 5 of Dual Destinies, Apollo wonders if his friend and co-worker Athena Cykes has killed his childhood friend Clay Terran. His lead is that he senses with his Hyper-Awareness that Athena is hiding something from him, which is rare for her. Subverted: the killer was an enemy to Athena as well and she was just another victim of the whole ordeal as she's framed for Clay's murder (and Athena's mother's murder too).
    • Downplayed by The Great Ace Attorney, where it's not the Big Bad himself, but the final prosecutor who is Ryunosuke's friend Kazuma, and remains cordial and friendly to Ryunosuke even as he loses himself to Revenge Before Reason and tries to get an innocent man convicted of the Big Bad's crimes. Thankfully, Ryunosuke is able to smack sense into him before the verdict can be handed down.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Since every case is composed by a murder committed by one of the people who you had to live for a little while, while most case end up showing the murderer as sympathetic in their motives, sometimes they do come off as cold blooded killers, such as Celestia, who killed Hifumi and Ishimaru to get out of the school with the money offered by Monokuma, Mikan, who killed Ibuki and Hiyoko after regaining her memories as a member of Ultimate Despair and Nagito, who not only essentially caused the first murder but sets up his own death to be unsolvable in an attempt to get everyone besides Chiaki killed. After Celestia's execution, Makoto notes that since the culprit killed his friends, he can't pity her, but acknowledges once thinking of her as a friend, which gets him into pitying her anyway and blaming Monokuma for her Face–Heel Turn and resulting death.
    • Zig-zagged with Junko Enoshima, the true Big Bad. You do meet her as a friend (albeit that she dies early on), but that's actually Junko's twin sister Mukuro and you only meet the real Junko in chapter 6... but she then proceeds to reveal that all the students, Junko and Mukuro included, were friends at Hope's Peak before their memories were wiped. Word of God is also that Junko genuinely considered the other students to be her friends, but she's such a messed-up despair nut that she stuck them in the Killing Game specifically because she cared so much about them.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
      • The last case reveals that Hinata and everybody else but Chiaki are the Remnants of Despair, a group of Ultimate Despair that served directly under Junko and are trying to destroy the world, though none of them have memories of that.
      • Chiaki is a subversion, as even though she was the traitor, she was working for the Future Foundation, who was trying to help them. During the aforementioned incident in which she is set up as Nagito's killer, she does everything she can to ensure that she's convicted (and executed) for it, even though she's unable to actually come out and reveal herself as the "traitor".
  • In Doki Doki Literature Club!, well, there aren't really characters that aren't the Player Character's friends, although at first it doesn't look like there will be any villain either. Then things start going horribly wrong, and it's hinted right from the start that Monika has some part in it. This continues to become more clear, although for a long time you can do nothing but watch in incomprehension, because that really doesn't explain what's going on. It turns out she has gone quite mad, for extraordinary reasons, and is only maintaining her (former?) pleasant persona as a role to hide it... but she's still your friend, if not anybody else's, because all she cares about is getting to be with you, no matter what she has to do to others.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Zero has kidnapped nine people and is forcing them to play a Deadly Game. What's Zero's identity? Akane Kurashiki, the protagonist's childhood friend/love interest who has been playing along with him through the game pretending to be an innocent victim of the ordeal. Though she is trying to save her past self and get revenge against the real Big Bad, Ace, and his cohorts.
  • Old school Japanese PC/NES adventure game The Portopia Serial Murder Case has this as The Reveal, as the titular killer turns out to be Yasuhiro "Yasu" Mano, who is not only the main character's partner but also the single most unlikely suspect as he is with you throughout the entire game, executing the commands of the unseen protagonist. The shock factor was so high that nowadays the phrase "Yasu is the culprit" is something of a meme amongst old fans. This twist is so well-known that it's been given Shout Outs in Haruhi-chan, Episode 7 of Umineko: When They Cry, and Chapter 3 of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

  • In Sluggy Freelance Torg believes Riff is one of these following the "Hereti-Corp freelancer" revelation, though it's more a case of "unwitting stooge." Played straight with Sam during the "Vampires" Story Arc.
  • Subverted in Brawl in the Family's "Cocoon Academy" arc. Not only is it not Dedede's Start of Darkness, but it turns out to be Meta Knight's origin story instead of Kirby's.

    Web Original 
  • Arby 'n' the Chief: Eugene, the Big Bad of Season 7, spends most of the season as a genuine friend to Arbiter and Chief, and is even able to advantage of the depression and isolation they're feeling to coerce them into becoming Villain Protagonists for a time.
  • Defied in Perfect Kirby with Bill, the Big Bad of the first installment. Kirby considers Bill an annoyance, and while he is surprised by Bill being the Xbox smuggler, he rejects Bill's claim that they're friends.
    Kirby: Bill, we've only known each other since you moved in, two weeks ago!
    Bill: When did this happen, three weeks ago?
  • Kevin in Tribe Twelve is secretly The Observer. No one is happy to hear it.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Sozin was best friends with Avatar Roku growing up and the two considered each other brothers. The two became distant due to Roku's duties as the Avatar and Sozin's plans for conquest, and Sozin betrayed him as soon as he had the chance. Notably, however, on his deathbed Sozin took the time to reflect on his actions and realized that he did regret what he had done, only to bitterly note it was far too late for apologies to make things right.
    • Sequel series The Legend of Korra has Varrick for Bolin. He did betray him and his friends, intended to use Unalaq's plan for his own selfish benefit, but Bolin still respected him and was still willing to accept his help against their real enemies. This seemed to become a more legitimate, trustworthy friendship as the series progressed, however.
  • Todd Ianuzzi from Beavis And Butthead is a variation of this trope. Most of the time is associated or pretends to be a friend of Beavis and Butt-Head, but he is really an Ungrateful Bastard and a bully who enjoys committing crimes. However, Beavis and Butt-Head think he is "cool".
  • Cleopatra in Space reveals that the evil intergalactic conqueror Octavian is actually Cleo's childhood best friend Gozi, who under unfortunate circumstances, survived 30,000 years and become a villain. He actually doesn't want to fight Cleo and offers her to join him in conquest, but she rejects the offer.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny's Arch-Enemy Vlad Masters is this to Danny's father Jack, who was his best friend in college. Not that Vlad makes much of an effort to hide how much he hates Jack in the present (which Jack remains oblivious to), except when he wants something from him, but he does a good job of convincing everyone other than Danny and co. that he's not evil. At least until the Grand Finale. When Jack found out he'd been played he was...not happy.
  • Infinity Train:
    • In Cult of the Conductor, Simon starts out as Grace's closest friend, but as book 3 progresses, his refusal to change the Apex's violent ways drives a wedge until he eventually tries to usurp and kill her.
    • In Duet, Kez is unintentionally this to Ryan and Min-Gi. She is The Load throughout their journey on the train, causing trouble against the other denizens. And her ultimate intentions are to bring the duo to her friend to placate her by replacing a former passenger they were close to.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures: This happens a few times throughout the show:
    • Most notably, Gene to Tony. Gene was the Mandarin the entire time and caused the plane crash that resulted in Tony wearing the arc reactor and Howard Stark being presumed dead. It is revealed that Gene kidnapped him to get the Makulan ring he found and force him to help Gene find more. Gene did have some feelings of friendship left for Pepper, but did not let that stop him from achieving his goals.
    • Subverted with the Living Laser, who was split into two- a good one and an evil one. Tony thought his friend had betrayed him before discovering the truth.
    • Whitney, aka Madam Masque, whose mind was poisoned by the chemicals used in the mask and turned her into a bad guy.
    • Although this may be a reach, it's safe to assume that Andy was Pepper's friend who turned out to be an android created by Rhona. Although he expressed that he always liked Pepper, he didn't let that stop him from following Rhona's orders.
  • Dr. Benton Quest in Jonny Quest seems have a serious problem with friendships; often whenever he pays a visit to friends or even acquaintances, they are often turn out to be psychopathic Mad Scientist types or minions of Dr. Zin who are eager to kill him and his family.
  • South Park:
    • In "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce", we find out that it was Stan Marsh who put the dookie in the urinal. Though it was terrorists who caused 9/11. The "9/11 Truth" movement is a Government Conspiracy in order to keep the "retarded one fourth of America" in line through fear.
    • In several other episodes, Eric Cartman. Though something of a parody, because his friends know he's not to be trusted—-it's just that somehow, he usually winds up convincing one or more of them to believe him anyway, just to stab them in the back. Further parodied/lampshaded in the Wal-Mart episode, where Kyle Broflovski keeps pointing this out, though Cartman still seems to think they all believe him.
  • The titular character of Wander over Yonder repeatedly considers Lord Hater a friend, despite his detests. Only his partner Sylvia averts this, and constantly tries to get him to see the truth.


Video Example(s):


Humpty's "Surprise"

Puss hears Humpty being hassled by Jack and Jill, even trying to bribe them with eggs from the Golden Goose. When Puss catches up with them, however, Humpty was merely getting a champagne bottle ready before revealing it's a surprise party and that Jack and Jill, as well as the cager and his white cat from the beginning of the movie as well as the 3 bar patrons all work for him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / BaitAndSwitch

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