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Dragon with an Agenda

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Talzo: It's complicated. I'd prefer to leave your Squad out of my issues, but my actions aren't all related to my issues.
Caiya: What does that even mean?
Talzo: It means that if I got my way, I'd have gotten my revenge on Hali for what she did to me and none of you guys would have been involved whatsoever.

A Dragon with an Agenda is a character serving as The Dragon to the Big Bad, but having different goals from him. For example, if this character encounters the heroes immediately after the death or defeat of his boss, he/she won't try to complete the Big Bad's Evil Plan, but will instead go on to pursue their own plans. Conversely, if the Big Bad actually has some admirable or honorable traits, then the Dragon in this case will be the more sadistic one, more likely to pursue actually killing the heroes rather than simply stopping them.

Most commonly, he and the Big Bad have a mutually profitable alliance, and the Big Bad just happens to be the more powerful of the two. If he's also influencing the Big Bad's plans, then he's also The Man in Front of the Man. Dragon-in-Chief is when The Dragon is actually the more dangerous of the pair by a significant margin. It is not unknown for him to have taken on service for his own purposes and fooled the Big Bad into thinking he's subordinate — in this case, if his own objectives ever clash with his master's, things will get interesting.

If the Dragon's goal involves overthrowing his boss and taking his job, he's The Starscream. The tropes can overlap somewhat, as many Dragons with Agendas intend to do away with the competition at some point down the road (or are at least aware that they might have to); a true Starscream intends to do so at the first available opportunity, and often their only difference in plans centers around who will benefit rather than what they entail.

Some are not outright evil and tend towards Anti-Villain and/or Enigmatic Minion. Contrast with Battle Butler and Psycho Supporter, who are often The Dragon but have the same goal as their master and are content with their position. If The Dragon and the Big Bad are equal or nearly so, you have a Big Bad Duumvirate. If they outlive the original Big Bad, this type of Dragon may go on to pursue their own motivations and become a Dragon Ascendant. Compare/contrast with the similar trope Piggybacking on Hitler. The equivalent among the hero's allies is Who Needs Enemies?. Compare Evil Chancellor.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Archduke Gorgon from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger. Theoretically, he allied himself with Big Bad Dr. Hell to help him to destroy Mazinger-Z. But his real goal was watching over Hell and betraying him at the right time to get him killed (in the Gosaku Ota manga he backstabbed him) and Mazinger-Z destroyed. He succeeded on all fronts.
  • Gin from Bleach fills in this example. The reason it took so long for Gin to become a captain is because Aizen fought to hold on to Gin as his lieutenant for as long as he could. When Aizen betrays Soul Society, he states that even after Gin became a captain, he still viewed Gin as his "lieutenant". However, Aizen's villainy centres around a vendetta against the Soul King, the reason for which isn't explained. Even Gin's oldest friend, Rangiku, cannot fathom why Gin serves Aizen so faithfully. Aizen stole a piece of Rangiku's soul when she was a child and Gin swore to avenge her; by becoming one of Aizen's right hands, he eventually learned Aizen's weakness. Unfortunately for Gin, Aizen knew Gin's motives all along and factored them into his plans.
  • Dark Magical Girl Lutecia from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS who cooperates with Mad Scientist Scaglietti not for his goals of world domination but to reanimate her mother, Megane, who is in a coma.
  • Dabi from My Hero Academia is one of the League of Villains' most dangerous members, but he's ambivalent at best to Shigaraki's goals and is only allied with the League to advance his own agenda, that being Stain's will and his personal vengeance against his father, Endeavor.
  • Pain in Naruto is the most direct example.
    • Kabuto, because after Orochimaru was defeated by Sasuke, he ingrained some of his master's remains into his own body, and decided to help Tobi in the 4th Ninja War.
    • Pain may be this to Tobi, but Tobi himself is this to Madara. Both Tobi and Madara are rather annoyed with how those agendas have messed with their plans.
    • It turns out that Black Zetsu is this to both Tobi and Madara; he's actually working for Princess Kaguya.
  • Carrossea Doon from Madlax is only with Enfant to find and protect female lead Margaret Burton, who's been targeted by the group, rather than for Monday's insane plans.
  • Wei to Amber in Darker than Black. Wei serves Amber so that he can have a chance to fight Hei again.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Meta Knight is this to King Dedede. He claims to work for Dedede, but his mission is to defeat the demonic Nightmare, from whom Dedede orders his monsters from.
  • Nico Robin in One Piece starts out as a Dragon to Crocodile in the Alabasta arc, but is later on revealed to have her own plans. After Crocodile's defeat, she joins Luffy's crew.
  • Saten in the anime of NEEDLESS, who is introduced as one of Simeon's Elite Four, yet in a few scenes he "accidentally" helped out the good guys as they infiltrated Simeon's HQ. It turns out that Saten was another survivor of the Adam Project who wanted Arclight dead so he could take over, but neither he nor his bosses counted on a revived Arclight coming back and absorbing him.
  • Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! did this to his own Kaiba Corporation when he was what, twelve?
  • Invoked in Neon Genesis Evangelion by Gendo Ikari, playing The Dragon to Keel Lorenz by ensuring the destruction of the Angels to open the path to Insturmentality. Once the path is open, he will immediately take things off the rails for his own reunification scenario. Interestingly, the leaders of both NERV and SEELE both know from the very beginning that before the end, one will betray the other once they don't need the other groups help anymore. And in End of Evangelion, SEELE orders a full assault, killing almost everyone at NERV.
  • Dark Zero from Kurohime. Rather than follow the Big Bad Yashahime's plan and rule the universe, he just wants to exterminate humanity.
  • From Pokémon Adventures, Sird to Giovanni. Turns out she was The Dragon from another villainous team; she was actually working undercover as The Mole to learn more about various Pokémon from space.
  • Demon of Digimon V-Tamer 01 basically wants to wreck the world as he knows it. His dragon, Etemonkey, just wants to get to the human world and plans to come in peace. His other dragon, Neo Saiba, has his own plan of taking Digital World from Demon and recreating it in his own image. However, Demon knows this from the start and deliberately lets Neo to usurp him, by being assimilated by Neo's Arkadimon, so that he can assimilate it back when it gains enough power and Neo loses control of it.
  • Mercurymon in Digimon Frontier. He plans to betray his master, Cherubimon, and rule the digital world himself. However, he is killed before the fight with Cherubimon.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Char Aznable splits his time between earnestly supporting Zeon's cause and trying to kill Zeon's ruling Zabi family. He's not The Starscream since he isn't interested in ruling, he just wants revenge for his father.
    Char: Blame this on the misfortune of your birth.
  • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Bask Om and his boss, Jamitov Hymem have very different agendas. Jamitov wants to rule the world. Bask, conversely, just wants to kill every colonial he can get his hands on. Since Bask's aims are rather less grandiose than Jamitov's, this doesn't really cause them too many problems.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ's Glemmy Toto starts out as a Villain of the Week, eventually graduating to a position as Haman Khan's right-hand man. While the two of them share the goal of recreating the glory of Zeon, Haman intends to do it herself. Glemmy, on the other hand, seeks to reinstate the Zabi dictatorship, as represented by himself. This eventually results in Glemmy forming a Renegade Splinter Faction and challenging Haman for the Big Bad spot.
  • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. It's clear from fairly early on that Patrick Zala's right-hand man, Rau Le Creuset, has his own agenda, though just what it is isn't made clear. Than The Reveal comes along: he's an Omnicidal Maniac who seeks the annihilation of the entire human race, and oh, by the by, is the real Big Bad of the series, with Patrick as his Unwitting Pawn.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: Vidar's only reason for working under Rustal Elion is to get revenge on McGillis. Rustal wants to stop McGillis as well, but only because McGillis is a threat to his own plans of maximizing his power over Gjallarhorn.
  • Ichiki from Nabari no Ou plays The Dragon to Hattori before she betrays him for Fuuma. It appears that she'd been planning to dispose of Hattori all along, and was just waiting for him to outlive his usefulness.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: Despite his position as Sick's right hand man, Zenjirou Kaisai never quite hid the fact he wasn't loyal to his boss at all, having chosen to join the True Bloodline merely as a means to fulfill his evil desires through the alliance and possessing little to no interested in the organization's goal of eliminating mankind. Indeed, he states one of his wishes is to outlive Sicks. The Distant Finale shows he accomplished this.
  • In Saint Beast, Lucifer is initially this, clearly having his own motives other than just serving Zeus, but eventually he rebels and tries to take everyone he can with him, leading to a The Good, the Bad, and the Evil situation.
  • Thorfinn in Vinland Saga is this to Askeladd. He wants to kill Askeladd for murdering his father.
  • Fairy Tail: Ultear, to Lyon and Jellal as she's taking orders from her actual boss, Master Hades, to manipulate them for Grimoire Heart's goals. Of course, then she turns out to be fully willing to betray Hades too once their mutual goal, Zeref, is in sight.
  • In Brave10, Tokugawa Ieyasu has two dragons: Hattori Hanzo and Date Masamune. Hanzo has his own plans for capturing Isanami, and couldn't care less about the upcoming Tokugawa vs Toyotomi clash, after all his team would be the one ruling from the shadows...or so he claims. Masamune also completely lacks respect for Ieyasu and his intentions. He's just in it for WAR!
  • Overlord: Albedo's loyalty to Ainz is, like all the rest of the Nazarick NPCs, absolute. However, that doesn't stop her from doing things that she knows he wouldn't like behind his back, if she thinks it's for his greater good. Most importantly, secretly assembling a strike team to hunt down and kill any other Supreme Beings in the New World, despite Ainz wanting to reunite with his old friends. She does this because she doesn't want to serve anyone other than Ainz, and out of revenge for all the other Supreme Beings abandoning Nazarick and Ainz.
  • Smile in Battle Spirits Shonen Toppa Bashin. He doesn't support Number Nine's plan. Rather, he finds it repulsive. He just wants to face J in the King Uchuuchouten Cup to prove he makes a better partner for J than Bashin does.
  • Vincent Leung in The Case Files of Jeweler Richard is employed by Octavia for various tasks and supports her, but it's made clear toward the end of the arc that he doesn't agree with her ultimate goals and also spends a healthy amount of time trying to advance his own goals with Seigi.
  • Queen Beryl in Sailor Moon Crystal is second in command to Queen Metalia, but secretly plans to keep the Silver Crystal for herself and take over the earth.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War story arc, every major baddie had a different agenda.
    • The Anti-Monitor's goal is simple — to wipe out every single thing in the matter multiverse. Nice when a villain has such a clear focus on what they want, isn't it?
    • Sinestro was aiming to bring order to the multiverse by taking it over and ruling as the head of the Sinestro Corps in much the same way as he did his home planet of Korugar... or so he lets everyone think. In reality, his goal was not to win the war but to do so much damage that the Guardians of the Universe would allow the Green Lantern Corps to kill. In doing so, he believes he set in motion the events that would lead to the Green Lanterns being feared.
    • Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman, is much cleaner, as all he has ever wanted was to die and be reunited with his dead wife. If the Anti-Monitor is Sinestro's Dragon, then Henshaw is the Anti-Monitor's as the Anti-Monitor promised him death. It almost worked. He was destroyed during the story but, in The Stinger, was located by the Manhunters and resurrected.
    • Superboy-Prime, meanwhile, only ever wanted to kill the Anti-Monitor as retribution for Earth-Prime being destroyed. He actually succeeded.
  • In Infinite Crisis, the main members of the Secret Society of Super-Villains:
    • Lex Luthor was apparently there to brainwash the heroes, but he had a secret plan to restart The Multiverse. And he would have gotten away with it too, if not for those meddling kids.
    • Talia al Ghul was there so that when the villains took over the world, she could betray her allies, kill the surviving villains, and create an ecologically sustainable utopia.
    • Black Adam signed up to get villain help protecting his country. Even Bad Men Love Their Fatherlands.
    • Calculator and Deathstroke were in it for the money, fellows.
    • Doctor Psycho was... Uh... Ummm...
  • Legion of Super-Heroes storyline "Those Emerald Eyes Are Shining": Ontiir helps Emerald Empress take over the Weber's World (an artificial planet which works as the United Planets' administrative center), claiming to have transferred his loyalties from the Dark Circle to her; but in reality he handed over the Weber's World to the Empress to further another of Dark Circle's schemes. As soon as she is defeated, Ontiir attempts to escape to inform his real masters.
  • X-Men: Mystique's betraying the boss in charge is almost expected at this point, such as when she killed Mr. Sinister in a Batman Gambit to save Rogue's life.
  • During Dark Reign, Norman Osborn put together a cabal of the best villains to help him hold onto power. Unfortunately, he ran into this trope: Doctor Doom was only in it to get back control of Latveria after his last... foray against the Avengers, Loki was in it for as long as it amused him (and later, as part of a plan to force Asgard to leave Midgard space), Emma Frost was only there because she was desperate to save the mutants, and Namor was only there because he needed the political clout to rebuild Atlantis (and support Emma, who he wanted to get back together with). Later he adds Taskmaster to the group, who's only really there for the money, and unknown to Osborn, had previously helped Deadpool mess with Norman's plans. Osborn did realize that this was happening, and was starting a plan to build a new Cabal who wouldn't randomly try to kill him.
  • Captain America: A couple of Cap's villains fall under this trope.
    • Red Skull, his archnemesis, has long become a self-directed supervillain in his own right. However, in the original comics, he was in fact the Dragon for Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer essentially plucked him off the streets of Germany in an attempt to turn him into the perfect Nazi, eventually putting him in charge of the Reich's terrorist operations. However, he realized too late that the Red Skull had become too powerful for him to control and was using his own status to build up his own power base loyal to him rather than to Hitler. This would presumably have led to the Red Skull trying to overthrow him sooner or later, but the war ended and Hitler was killed before things had a chance to come to a head.
    • Batroc The Leaper, a French Foreign Legion deserter turned underworld mercenary that Cap frequently butts heads with. An extremely mild case as Batroc generally does what his employers tell him: however, he holds no malice towards Cap and is usually portrayed as having a Worthy Adversary relationship with him, which he occasionally prioritizes over his bosses' preferences. (In at least one instance, Batroc even saved Cap's life because he judged that his upcoming death - being eaten by a pack of sharks - would have been an unworthy death for such a great soldier).
  • In Death of the Family, Ogilvy, Penguin's second-in-command, has decided to take over Penguin's empire, as well as name himself Emperor Penguin.
  • Following Justice League: No Justice, Luthor carefully explained to the members of the Legion of Doom why his new obsession would also be in their interests, giving them each control of an energy type they could use for their own ends. Unfortunately, in Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth, Black Manta went off-message when he realised just how powerful his artefact was, and that he could achieve his own ends (domination of the oceans and revenge on Aquaman) in a way that screwed the rest of the Legion over. This was almost immediately followed by the Joker revealing that he only joined because he thought it would be funny to muck the whole thing up just as Luthor was about to achieve it, until Luthor getting The Batman Who Laughs involved made him speed up the timetable on that.
  • The Ultimates: Despite their superior alien power, it was the Chitauri who worked for Hitler, not the other way. The Holocaust was entirely a nazi idea, the Chitauri simply accepted their "eccentricism" for the sake of their own long-term agenda.
  • Asterix: It would probably take less time to list the high-ranking Roman officials appearing in the series who aren't hoping (and in many cases actively plotting) to take the throne of Julius Caesar for themselves. The most frequent example, of course, is Brutus. It's usually just a Running Gag, with Brutus shown sharpening a knife or grumbling "one of these days, I'm going to..." after a putdown by Caesar. However, he turns into an actual villain in Asterix and Son, where he turns out to be plotting to kidnap Caesar's son (still a baby at this point) in order to eliminate a potential rival.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Colonel Olrik, the heroes' archenemy, fits this trope in most stories. A renegade intelligence officer, he now spends most of his time as an underworld mercenary that various villains hire to do intelligence work for him. He's developed a very bad case of It's Personal against Blake and Mortimer after all the times they've thwarted him, however, so whatever agenda his employers have hired him for is always in danger of being sidelined by his personal agenda of gaining revenge. There are a couple other cases, however:
    • In the original story, The Secret of the Swordfish, Olrik was working as head of State Sec for the Asian despot Basam Damdu. At one point, he offers the imprisoned Mortimer a chance to join him in plotting to overthrow his boss and free the world from his dictatorship. The plot never goes anywhere, as Mortimer is freed from his prison first, so we never find out if this was just a ploy to encourage Mortimer to work for him, or if he really was planning to turn Starscream on him.
    • In The Yellow Mark, for once, Olrik is no longer a hired contractor but an enslaved one, whom the Mad Scientist Jonathan Septimus turns into his personal Dragon with advanced brain control techniques. Not surprisingly, once Septimus' brain control device is destroyed, Olrik's agenda of not being a slave kicks into gear and Septimus is quickly murdered.

    Fan Works 
  • Past Sins has an interesting twist on the concept; the Big Bad is an extremely Reluctant Monster forced into the role, where The Dragon expects an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • The Doctor Who/Jem crossover fancomic Outrage reveals that Eric Raymond's toady Techrat was actually one of these.
  • In With Strings Attached, the Raleka have a completely different agenda than Brox and Co., but they have to work together to take the Vasyn pieces from the four.
  • In The Immortal Game, Nihilus serves King Titan with the intention of betraying him the moment she secures the Elements of Harmony. Princess Celestia anticipated this from the start, and actually helped to encourage it.
  • Night's Favored Child: The Inquisitor is implied to be this to Nightmare Moon, though like pretty much everything else about him, nothing about this agenda is clear.
  • Burning Black: Crocker's only working for Remy to keep his mother safe and after realizing that fairies are returning to Dimmsdale and there's a new Timmy in town, decides to use part of Remy's resources to create a device that will resurrect Timmy Turner and make things the way they should be.
  • Blood, Silk, and Steel: Sokka is this to both Azula and Ozai.
  • Necrophobia: Samerina Volcuzas is one as she secretly seeks to take control over the titular dark guild from its leader, Dieter Mengele. Dieter however, knows that his number two is fully capable of this trope which is why he has implanted a bomb within her skull to prevent her from doing any kind of mischief from behind his back.
  • A Possible Encounter for a Phantom: While forming The Faction, Dr Drakken becomes Vlad's closest partner in their plan to bring the prehistoric Terakon beasts back to life as an army for world domination. Drakken plots to betray him and seize control of the army. However, the first Terakon, a literal dragon, has its own plans for the army.
  • Shade in season three of The Flash Sentry Chronicles was only working for Doom Raizer, because it would bring him closer to accomplishing his own goals, which was to eliminate the last of the Jackhowls, Springer.
  • The Ascended Fanfic Ready Player One fanfic Lacero reveals that Nolan Sorrento had no intention of giving control of the OASIS to IOI. He intended to destroy it to take revenge on GSS because his sister was a Gunter who died because she took meth to stay up to be in the OASIS.
  • In Persona: The Sougawa Files, Yuudai Honda turns out to have completely different goals than his boss Nobuyuki, which come to light after Nobuyuki's death.
  • Chasing Dragons: As is eventually revealed around the time of the Greyjoy Rebellion, Euron is only playing loyal servant to Stannis in order to position himself as a replacement as Hand when Jon Arryn eventually retires, and from there set himself to become regent for Stannis' children upon eliminating him, then marrying one of his daughters when they come of age and taking the Iron Throne for himself.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, Umbrea and later Rabia are this to Grogar, since he's the creator of the Shadow Pony Sect. When Umbrea began her scheme to escape the Shadow Prison, she had no intention of freeing Grogar, just wanting power for herself. Likewise, Rabia had plans of his own when he escaped, and he continues those plans when he's freed from Limbo.
  • Mako is a benevolent example of this to Ryuko Kiryuin in Natural Selection. Ryuko is the successor to a millennium-old plan to consume humanity and destroy the Earth for the sake of her alien benefactors. Mako just wants her girlfriend to be happy, less angry and for Honnouji to go back to being a (relatively) normal school.
  • Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante has Yudai Sonoda, who works with Re:Shocker out of a desire to avenge his sister Yuna... who was turned into a monster by their machinations. By the time he actually does have his chance for revenge and guns for their leader, they're in the real world and his leader, having been aware of the genre conventions of Kamen Rider, deconstructs how his arc will go end.
  • Adam Taurus is this to Sienna Khan in War of Remnant: A RWBY Anthology. While he doesn't murder her like in canon, it's only because she's much more bloodthirsty than her original incarnation. He is also prone to doing things behind her back, most notably killing Ilia, who Sienna cared a great deal about, and framing it on racist humans to enrage her.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Con Air, Cameron Poe asks black supremacist Diamond Dog why he's content to be second in command to white Big Bad Cyrus Grissom. Dog replies that while his long term agenda is vastly different from that of Cyrus, he needs to escape before he can get back to it — going along with Cyrus is "a means to an end".
  • Die Hard:
    • In Die Hard, Hans' top henchman Karl's brother — another of Hans' henchmen — is killed by McClane. Karl wants revenge against McClane, losing interest in the main mission for the rest of the movie.
    • Die Hard with a Vengeance: Simon Peter Gruber may or may not be this. He claims to be working for Middle Eastern clients who have hired him to steal and blow up the gold contents of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Instead, he's planning to keep the gold for himself, only pretending to blow it up to cover his tracks. However, since we never see the "gentlemen in the Middle East," it's unclear if Simon is cheating them, or if he completely made them up in order to con the Americans into thinking his high-stakes heist really was a terrorist attack.
  • Dragonheart:
    • Bowen is a benevolent example. He's a Knight of the Old (i.e. Arthurian) Code who's now the greatest warrior of a Wasteland Warlord that he holds in deep contempt, along with the rest of his knights, as nothing more than glorified marauders and pillagers. However, he hopes that as weapons instructor for his boss' son, he'll be able to instill a sense of honor in him that'll make him a better king than his father. Unfortunately, the plan goes to waste, as Prince Einon steadfastly ignores every moral lesson and goes on to be an even worse king, forcing Bowen to cut ties with him.
    • Draco, meanwhile, is a literal dragon, and his agenda drives much of the movie. However, it's completely unrelated to this trope.
  • The Twilight: Eclipse movie seems to do this to Jane, implying that she will allow the Cullens' deaths without Aro's knowledge. This makes more sense than in the book, where Aro wants Edward and Alice to join his side but nevertheless is willing to let Victoria's army kill them.
  • Bennett from Commando only aims to kill Matrix; little else.
  • Darth Vader's infamous speech from The Empire Strikes Back ends with him revealing his willingness to betray the Emperor for family:
    "Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!"
    • In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren kills Snoke and usurps the First Order for about twenty minutes.
    • The Sith Order's Rule of Two officially makes the apprentice a Dragon With An Agenda, that agenda being "kill your master." The apprentice is meant to learn as much as he can about the dark side of the Force until he's grown powerful enough to overthrow and replace his master (who, in turn, will be working to prevent this outcome). This is due to the Sith Order's extreme Darwinian ideology: if the apprentice kills his master, he's worthy to replace him. If he can't do it and is killed instead, he isn't worthy, and the master will have to find a more deserving apprentice.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
  • Richter from Total Recall (1990) nearly screws up his boss Cohaagen's plans several times, because Cohaagen wants Quaid alive for whatever his plans are, and Richter is constantly trying to kill him to avenge his wife Lori, whom Quaid killed (and the fact that Lori was Quaid's 'wife' for a while and was constantly in bed with him can't have helped either). He is naturally quite pleased when Cohaagen finally gives up and gives the order to take him out.
  • Colonel Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. He happens to be Piggybacking on Hitler, but he's also The Dragon. After proudly hunting down Jews throughout the war, he sells out the entire Nazi high command and defects to the Allies. However, Aldo Raine is not going to let him off that easy, agreeing to the deal but also carving a swastika into Landa's forehead.
  • The Film of the Book of Patriot Games has Sean Miller fulfilling this role to his boss Kevin O'Donnell. After Ryan kills his brother and prevents a terrorist attack on the Royal Family, he cares less about O'Donnell and his plans and focuses more on getting revenge on Ryan and his family. He also goes as far as to shoot and kill O'Donnell and Annette in the final battle when they force him to turn the boat around.
  • Saw: Some of Jigsaw's numerous apprentices and accomplices (who are more or less treated equally asides from how much they're involved in Jigsaw's schemes), including the most notorious ones, have goals and ideals differing from his own.
  • The Matrix: (Former) Agent Smith is under almost constant control by his Machine masters and tasked with maintaining order in the Matrix. However, even in the original film he reveals that he has ulterior motives. When he briefly removes his earpiece, he admits to Morpheus that he completely despises the "zoo" he considers himself trapped in, and is revolted by the stench of humanity. In the sequels, he goes on a full-scale rebellion to destroy everything.
  • The Asset from Jason Bourne wants to kill Bourne personally because of his leak of Blackbriar.
  • She: She's second in command, Billali, hopes to be granted immortality as a reward for his service, and rebels when she decides to give it to the hero instead.
  • G Money in New Jack City becomes this after Nino Brown shows constant disrespect and indifference towards him after he helped Nino become the drug kingpin of New York, and even though Nino is supposed to be his best friend. This causes him to pull a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal. It doesn't work out for him.
  • Zero in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. He becomes the main physical muscle for the High Table in their war with John Wick, but he doesn't seem to care all that much about them, abiding by their rules somewhat begrudgingly. What he really cares about is fighting and killing a legend like John Wick.
  • Ross in The Tragedy of Macbeth has his role expanded to become Macbeth's right-hand man after becoming king, serving as his personal assassin and enforcer. In the end, it's revealed that he was also selling Macbeth out to Malcolm, and took Fleance under his personal protection instead of killing him as per Macbeth's orders, all for an unknown purpose.
  • Indiana Jones: Adolf Hitler seems particularly prone to picking these.
    • The main villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rene Belloq, is a French archaeologist who trades in black market antiquities. While officially charged with recovering the Ark for the Nazis, he considers them "necessary evils" rather than genuine partners and isn't planning to turn the Ark over to them until he's discovered its secrets himself. It's not clear whether his interest is purely intellectual or something more, but since he considers the Ark a direct link to God, the sky's the limit in terms of what he could be planning.
    • The main villain in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan, is an American industrialist who helps the Nazis in their search for the Holy Grail. He has different goals for it than them: while they're interested in the symbolic value of "writing themselves into the Grail legend," his interest is purely materialistic, wanting the eternal life that the cup can grant him.
  • A few of the main villains in James Bond can be seen as this.
    • Max Zorin, the main villain of A View to a Kill, is a KGB agent who was inserted into the West long ago until he rose to be the CEO of a wealthy Anglo-French defense contractor and microchip producer. This was supposed to be an industrial espionage conduit for the KGB, but Zorin is more interested in being a CEO in his own right, culminating in a plan to wipe out his business competitors in Silicon Valley and leave his own company with a monopoly on the microchip market. When the KGB realizes something's amiss, they try to rein him in, but he refuses to obey and proclaims that he's cutting ties to them.
    • Spectre: Franz Oberhauser aka Ernst Stavro Blofeld plans to turn himself into this. He's the hidden hand sponsoring "Nine Eyes," a sophisticated global surveillance network that nine of the world's most powerful nations will rely on for intelligence gathering (to the point that at least one of them is literally considering using this to replace their human intelligence capacities altogether). What those nations aren't aware of is that their Nine Eyes contractor is also a worldwide crime syndicate that will use this intelligence to manipulate them and to support its own criminal activities.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West: The main villain, Frank, is a lifelong gunslinger who's now the Dragon for Morton, a railroad baron. Morton originally hired him as an enforcer charged with "removing small obstacles" from the path of his railroad (including any inconvenient citizens). Over the course of the movie, Frank becomes more and more ambitious, wanting to become Morton's full-fledged partner. It's made clear that he doesn't have the business sense for the job, however, and even he realizes by the end of the movie (and with Morton dead) that he's no businessman. ("Just a man").
  • Sneakers: Cosmo, the main villain, has this relationship with the local Mafia dons. As far they know, he's just their IT department. He's actually a political radical, who never lost the extreme-left ideology of his university days, and is looking for the film's MacGuffin in the hopes of crashing the entire world economy (and the social order it supports).

  • Galadan Wolflord in The Fionavar Tapestry. Rakoth, the Big Bad, is a pretty standard dark god/Evil Overlord who is out for world domination, but Galadan wants to destroy the world because he was driven mad by the death of his love, and he views Rakoth as a convenient weapon to help accomplish this. Obviously these goals are mutually exclusive, but it's implied that Rakoth knows all about Galadan's plans and does nothing simply because he knows the Wolflord isn't powerful enough to be a threat to him.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
  • The Thrawn Trilogy, part of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, has this as the relationship between Grand Admiral Thrawn himself and Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth. C'baoth took Thrawn's orders with more and more reluctance as time went on, and he wanted very different things. Towards the end, they weren't really on the same side anymore. Thrawn was fully aware of this, and at the time of his death was planning to solve the problem by eliminating C'baoth and making a replacement C'baoth. His own death, nearly simultaneous to C'baoth's, derailed his plan.
  • In Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat: Metatron is technically just the chief enforcer of the Olympias Corporation but it's clear he wants to actually rule it even to the Board. They'd love to reign him in but he's very good at contriving reasons why that's a bad idea. Nephilim becomes his Dragon with an Agenda when he promotes her to Archangel status until he brainwashes her rebellious tendencies out of her.
  • In Codex Alera, Lady Invidia Aquitaine serves as her husband Lord Aquitaine's Dragon so that she can get her hans on the Realm's reins of power (and married him primarily for this purpose), while he wants to topple a First Lord he sees as corrupt, but has no real desire to hold power himself. After breaking with him, Lady Aquitaine winds up in a similar relationship with the Vord Queen, serving her only because she is able to keep Invidia alive despite her crippling injuries.
  • In Tad Williams' Otherland, John Dread is this to Corrupt Corporate Executive Felix Jongleur. Jongleur's Evil Plan is focused on living forever, and he's trained the Ax-Crazy Serial Killer Dread as a Psycho for Hire to go after his physical opponents. Dread is far, far more ambitions than Jongleur realizes, however, and is simply biding his time, waiting for a moment of weakness to take over. And he does indeed, deposing Jongleur as master of Otherland and embarking on a godlike orgy of virtual destruction.
  • On the good guy side, in Discworld we get Vimes playing this role to Vetinari, maybe. Most of the time Vimes appears to be just a good little dragon, but he does sometimes have a different agenda, or at least a different motivation. Depending on how you look at it; technically, they both want what's best for Ankh-Morpork, but they do often differ on what exactly that means.
    • Vetinari frequently "solves" problems he's not allowed to solve himself by pointing Vimes at them and giving him a Clue. Carrot would make a straighter example of a Dragon, though usually he's serving by proxy as he technically answers to Commander Vimes, not the Patrician.
    • Lord Hong from Interesting Times is this to the emperor, and only just fails being The Starscream by way of not really being bothered about having his old boss's land.
  • In David Eddings' The Malloreon, the Demon Lords Mordja and Nahaz work for Zandramas and Urvon solely so that they can seize the Sardion from them in their moment of triumph and then drag them into hell. Urvon's other Dragon, Harakan / Mengha, is also a Dragon with an Agenda; he conspires with Nahaz to drive Urvon mad and take his place, so that the two of them can rule the world. Since Nahaz is out to betray both of them, and both of them believe that their magic is enough to keep him under control, he succeeds in being Dragon with an Agenda and Dragon-in-Chief to two separate characters.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Ascalante. He was summoned to help the conspirators, and in his first appearance, comments on how his tools think he is their tool.
  • Drake from Gone. A psychopath, he serves as Big Bad Caine's top enforcer, but it's apparent from his interior monologues that he's just helping Caine in hopes that Caine and Sam will kill each other. Although he probably would've turned on Caine as soon as they no longer had mutual goals, Caine tried to kill him after Drake gave Diana near-fatal injuries, which caused Drake to switch over to The Gaiaphage.
  • Interestingly, in The Good, the Bad and the Mediochre, Sapphire's Dragon Mr Antler doesn't have any ulterior motives that Sapphire doesn't know about. However, The Brute Maelstrom secretly intends to murder the dragon (of the winged, scaly sort) which the Sapphire Smuggling Syndicate are keeping alive as a back-up plan, while The Evil Genius "the tempomancer" is a Hidden Agenda Villain and member of a Nebulous Evil Organisation who are using Sapphire's plans to further their own.
  • In The Reckoners Trilogy, Obliteration is this to Regalia. Strangely, she knows very well that he is an Omnicidal Maniac planning to kill her and everyone else eventually, but is using him in the meantime anyway.
  • In The Balanced Sword, the demon king Kerlamion takes a shot at world domination using a strategy devised by one of his underlings. Said underling has his own objective, and once he's got what he wants from Kerlamion he cheerfully goes his own way and lets Kerlamion's world domination attempt crash and burn.
  • Smoke: Barney Bueler is hired to capture Freddy for the tobacco company who accidentally turned him invisible (and want to find him to study the process and/or use him as a corporate spy) but is far more interested in forcing Freddy to be an invisible Assassin for himself (killing Buelers enemies and being rented out to organized crime) and gathers blackmail material against his employers.
  • In Marvel's Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, Fisk hired Blood Spider to sully Spider-Man's reputation. Bingham wants to take it a step further and usurp Spider-Man and his legacy all together. The would eventually lead to Fisk taking over by holding the last remaining flash-drive of his illicit activities with Oscorp hostage.
  • In the third Nevermoor book, it's revealed that Ezra Squall, the series' primary villain, works for President Wintersea, who might be even worse than he is and is certainly more of a threat to the population at large—he's an extremely powerful Wundersmith, but she has control of an entire nation, and political and personal power so great that even Squall falls in line. He works for her not because he likes her (he doesn't) or because he feels loyal to her cause (he has no loyalty to anything except himself), but because he's pragmatic enough to realize that, after being banished from the Free State, cozying up to her is the best way he can remain safe in the Republic. His primary goal is always to find a way to return to and conquer Nevermoor; anything he does for her is just so he can maintain his position and stay on her good side. The first time her goals directly interfere with his own, he immediately goes behind her back to find a way to undermine her.
  • The Upgrade by Wesley Cross: The Red Dragon gang and Victor Ye is the official "head" of the cabal but Guardian Manufacturing has a lot more wealth as well as legitimate power. As such, its CEO, Alexander Engel, is always planning to take control of the group from him.
  • Occasionally in the Jack Ryan universe.
    • Felix Cortez in Clear and Present Danger, Badaryn in Executive Orders, and Dmitri Popov in Rainbow Six are all freelance professionals who are hired by the Big Bads (the Medellin Cartel, the United Islamic Republic, and John Brightling's pharmaceutical Mega-Corp, respectively) as intelligence and special operations specialists. Originally, the "agenda" part of their behavior is extremely mild, consisting mainly of bilking their employers by skimming off the top of the money allocated for intelligence operations. However, Cortez graduates to full-blown Starscream when an American operation against the Cartel offers him a chance to overthrow its leaders and take their place. Popov on the other hand makes a Heel–Face Turn when he realizes that his CEO boss is running an environmentalist conspiracy whose purpose is to wipe out almost all human life on Earth, making this an odd case of "dragon whose boss never bothered to tell him what the agenda was and ensure they were on the same page."
    • This is the backstory of Kevin O'Donnell, leader of the Ulster Liberation Army, in Patriot Games. He was once the chief of security for the Provisional Wing of the IRA, and used this position to eliminate members of the organization whose politics didn't agree with his, ultimately in the hopes of remaking it into something more in line with his own ideology (Maoist revolutionary rather than the Provos' less radical brand of nationalism). The PIRA eventually catch on, forcing O'Donnell to flee and set up his own organization.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: In the seventh season, Alan Wilson is at the head of the season's terrorism plot. Tony Almeida, however, has their own motives and is undoubtedly the primary antagonist.
  • Angel: The incorporeal demon Sahjhan tried to use Holtz as his dragon by offering him vengeance against Darla and Angel. However, Sahjhan's true goal was actually to either prevent the birth of Connor, Angel and Darla's unborn son, or kill him as a child. Sahjhan quickly grew frustrated with Holtz's focus on punishing the vampires instead of simply killing them as quickly as possible i.e. before Darla gave birth. And then Holtz decided that stealing Angel's son and raising him as his own would be a more fitting punishment, at which point Sahjhan lost control of his ally.
  • Arrow: We learn in the episode "Deathstroke" that Isabel Rochev is this to Slade. She insists that she's working with him instead of for him as she is trying to exact her own revenge on the Queen family, and it's just that their goals are mutually beneficial.
  • Breaking Bad: Between seasons 3 and 4, Walter White / Heisenberg is Gustavo Fring's chief meth cook. While Gus has his conflicts with The Juarez Cartel, Walter clearly doesn't mind, and later plans to dismantle his business when the conflict between him and Gus begins to solidify.
  • Chousei Kantai Sazer X: Jackall works for Neo Descal, but only so he can get revenge on Commander Shark. This makes it quite hard for Garade and Grouza to keep him on a leash, as he won't listen to any orders than don't have anything to do with Shark, and he eventually deserts Neo Descal entirely to keep pursuing Shark on his own.
  • Doctor Who: The Security Chief, who is Dragon to the War Chief's Big Bad in the serial "The War Games".
    • The War Chief is also this to the War Lord. The Security Chief is ultimately loyal to his people's leader. The War Chief is an outsider running his own game.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Takeshi Asakura occasionally does temp work for Shiro Kanzaki, but only because he loves killing. In fact, he'd probably kill Kanzaki too if he ever got the chance.
    • Kamen Rider 555 has Kitazaki. Similar to Asakura up there, he's a psychopath who works as an assassin for Murakami because he loves killing, though Murakami usually doesn't have too much of an issue keeping him on a leash.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: Gremlin serves under Wiseman because Wiseman promised him the Philosopher's Stone, which Gremlin needs to become human again. As soon as he figures out Wiseman doesn't plan to give it to him, Gremlin turns treacherous.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: Each member under Takatora's employ each have their own agenda to fulfill. Ryoma wants to obtain the Forbidden Fruit of Helheim and to use his research to bring about a god For Science! (and possibly become a god himself), Sid also wants to become a god for self-serving reasons, Yoko wishes to be the kingmaker and support anyone she thinks is worthy to be said god, Mitsuzane wants to protect his friends from Helheim and eventually tries to kill Kouta because he believes his idealism is hurting the people he loves, Kaito is merely using Yggdrasil to gain more power and eventually topple them, and Oren? He cares more about his restaurant than any schemes he's involved in.
    • Kamen Rider Drive: The Heart Roidmude leads the Roidmudes with the goal of creating a paradise for them all. Medic, one of his Co-Dragons, believing trying to save every Roidmude is futile and plans to cull them down to a select few that includes Heart and herself.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Hiiro Kagami eventually flips to working for Cronus, but he only does so because Cronus has the power to revive his dead girlfriend, and is using that as leverage to get him to go along with his plans.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Yoshiko Tajimi is the Prime Minister of Hokuto who seeks to conquer Touto and claim Pandora's Box for herself. Kazumi Sawatari, her top soldier, is a Punch-Clock Villain who lost his farm to the Skywall Disaster and who just wants to support his workers.
  • Kikaider features a case where this unintentionally inflicted by the Big Bad. Hakaider was designed to be DARK's trump card, but because Professor Gill gave his directive as simply "destroy Kikaider", Hakaider took this as his only order and refuses to obey any other orders from Gill, effectively becoming a Wild Card.
  • Nikita: Alex becomes this for Oversight during season 2.
  • Once Upon a Time: Captain Hook's desire to kill Rumpelstiltskin for killing his love ends up getting in the way of Cora's desire for his power, so she cuts her ties with him. Big mistake considering how he strikes out on his own and poisons Rumpelstiltskin so hard that healing him requires the sacrifice of another. Unfortunately for Cora, a couple of Manipulative Bastards make sure that she's that said another.
  • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder: Zeltrax's desire to get rid of Tommy often causes him to go against Mesogog's wishes.
  • Person of Interest: The standard MO of Decima Technologies. When we first encounter them, they're a defense and IT contractor working for China's MSS (intelligence/security service). Unknown to the Chinese, however, they have their own agenda, namely creating an artificial intelligence that they ultimately intend to put in control of the entire world. Later in the series, they arrange a similar deal with the U.S. government, which uses them to carry out surveillance for them while maintaining Plausible Deniability, a position they eagerly use to subvert it and place more and more of its political and military institutions under their AI's control.
  • Revolution: Major Tom Neville is the closest thing to The Dragon that Big Bad Monroe has. But Neville is becoming this as of episode 8, because Monroe is suffering Sanity Slippage, while Neville is trying to keep his family safe.
  • The Sopranos: In season 1, Tony allowed his Uncle Junior to become the official Boss of the family since he would become the FBI's main target instead of Tony, who could still exercise power through the other capos, who recognized him as de facto leader. Eventually, it resulted in a minor Mob War when Junior realized that his nephew had fleeced him, one which Tony won.
  • Stargate SG-1: Master Bra'tac is a benevolent example when acting as the leader of Apophis' armies. He knows his boss isn't a god, just a bloodthirsty warlord, but Apophis and his Goa'uld brethren have ruled the galaxy for ten thousand years and Bra'tac has no prospects of overthrowing them. So he does the best thing he can: worm his way into a position of trust where he can act as a sometimes-heeded voice of restraint and limit the damage Apophis does as much as he can. He passes this ethos onto his successor, Teal'c. However, once Teal'c defects to Earth and joins a full-blown war against the Goa'uld, Bra'tac soon abandons this role and joins him in open revolution.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Hikari Sentai Maskman: Prince Igam is one of the two surviving members of Tube's original royal family, who serves under Emperor Zeba in the hopes of one day succeeding him and restoring her family to the throne.
    • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: Yaiba of Darkness is the second-in-command of Dark Shadow ninja clan, but while the group is mostly concerned with stealing rare artifacts and selling them on the black market, Yaiba is a darkness fanatic who views the group as a tool to advance his ambitions leading him to eventually betray them when he views them as an impediment to his goals.
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: Akumaro Sujigarano is second to Dokoku in the Gedoshu hierarchy, but has different and much more destructive goals than his boss; he's a Hell Seeker who wants to bring about Hell on Earth and who eventually betrays Dokoku to enact his plans. Akumaro also ends up gaining his own Dragon with an Agenda in Juzo Fuwa, a "stray" Gedoshu who's obsessed with fighting and who ironically betrays Akumaro in turn when their goals diverge.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Basco ta Jolokia works as a privateer for the Zangyack Empire, but his main goal is to obtain the Greatest Treasure in the Universe before the Gokaigers do.
  • V (2009): In the S1 finale, we find out that Marcus definitely seems to have an agenda different from Anna's.
  • The Wire: It becomes apparent that Stringer Bell has very different goals from Avon, wanting to use the money from their drug operation to escape the ghetto and become a legitimate businessman. Avon, meanwhile wants to protect his reputation and power as a gangster, and will even sacrifice smart business decisions to make war on the streets. This causes tremendous strain between them that builds until they both betray each other — Avon betraying Stinger to Brother Mouzone, and Stringer informing on Avon to the police. This leads to the downfall of the Barksdale organization.
  • Salem: The inner dynamics of the coven are quite a complex matter. Mary seems to be their quasi-leader, but everyone from the elders to Tituba and Hale are beginning to doubt her effectiveness after John Alden returns to Salem. And Mary herself, their Dragon, has her own ideas about how things should be run.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ivelisse Vélez in SHINE Wrestling's Valkyrie. Rain, Allysin Kay, Taylor Made and April Hunter all had vendettas against the promotion in general, Vélez wanted to prove she was the best in the world. You'd be surprised how well that ended up not working out.
  • Out of WWE's Authority:
  • Ron Mathis, one of CZW's Forgotten Ones. Drew Blood and Rory Mondo both had personal vendettas against a member of the Nation of Intoxication, Matt Tremont was out for revenge against all three of them. Ron Mathis just wanted to get booked on shows.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ebon Dragon of Exalted serves as this to Malfeas. While he may advise Malfeas or defer to his authority, he constantly seeks to manipulate the Demon King to his own purposes, and endemically betrays him. One of the biggest examples would have been back when they were the Dragon's Shadow and the Holy Tyrant respectively, and he manipulated him into creating the Unconquered Sun (a deity who could serve as something for the Shadow to oppose, even while he would also subvert the authority of the Tyrant).
  • In Warhammer, if you are a Dark Elf or a Skaven, chances are you're this or have one or more of these under your command. Warriors of Chaos and Orcs also might fit under this.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • All Dark Eldar assume this of their subordinates, as backstabbing is the only way to gain a promotion. This is part of the reason why Incubi are valued as bodyguards over the Archon's own cabalites; Incubi loyalty is tied to their coffers, not your competency.
    • Sorcerers of Chaos (especially the Tzeentchian ones) tend to be this to Chaos Lords (it is generally assumed that if your advisor openly worships the god of backstabbers but you don't take precautions against his inevitable betrayal, you deserve what you get). The best-known example would be Sindri Myr of Dawn of War, who uses Lord Bale as a loud distraction (throwing him to the Blood Ravens when convenient) to get to his true prize: finding the Maledictum and ascending to daemonhood.

    Video Games 
  • Blazblue: All of Izanami's direct subordinates have the same goal as their boss but have their own reasons for working for her, none of which seem to coincide with her own goals of "creating a world of death". Terumi wants To Create a Playground for Evil because he finds misery interesting. Hazama, now separated from Terumi, are different and still unknown. Relius wants to be the god of a perfect world to satiate his scientific curiosity. And Phantom/ Nine wants revenge against the first two for using her for their plans in the first place.
  • Cabadath, the Tall Man from the Chzo Mythos. The central conflict of the series, in fact, is him resisting replacement by Chzo. He fails in the last game, and the Player Character Theo becomes The Dragon.
  • Colonel Autumn from Fallout 3 counts, as both he and the President have different aims for Project Purity. He wants to use it as leverage to control all the free humans in the Capitol Wastelands, and President Eden wants to use it to exterminate everything in the Capitol Wastelands. It's also why he takes the opportunity to split as soon as the Lone Wanderer hits the Enclave base.
  • Kefka from Final Fantasy VI kills the emperor at the end of the Disc-One Final Dungeon and spends the next year killing whatever he pleases. He fits for this trope, assuming he had an agenda in the first place.
    • He did outright state his intentions of reviving the Warring Triad when spied upon in the Magitek Factory, but it's questionable whether his method was planned or at a whim.
  • All of Chaos' Warriors in Dissidia Final Fantasy have priorities other than serving him. Some of them, like Exdeath and the Cloud of Darkness, are just Omnicidal Maniacs. Others, like Sephiroth and Kuja, are more interested in going back to their own worlds, regaining their memories, and screwing with the Warriors of Cosmos. And then there's Golbez, whose role in the story can hardly be called antagonistic.
  • In Hordes of the Underdark, Mephistopheles spends the first two chapters manipulating events so that he can be freed of the Valsharess' control; culminating in the final battle of the second chapter in which he removes all obstacles between you and the Drow queen so that you can take his revenge for him.
  • Once Organization XIII is introduced in Kingdom Hearts, it pretty quickly becomes clear that nearly every Dragon in it has their own agenda:
    • Marluxia and Larxene spend all of Chain of Memories ostensibly working for Xemnas, but plotting to turn Sora into their puppet so they can overthrow him using Sora's power. They employ Axel as their own Dragon, which proves a mistake.
    • Vexen is there For Science! in the first incarnation of the Organization, and claims to be there for it again in the second. He's soon revealed to have actually joined so he could get his hands on his old research and use it for something good.
    • Lexaeus and Zexion are generally loyal, but spend most of their screentime in Chain of Memories pursuing their own agenda by trying to gain control of Riku as a counter to Marluxia's plans with Sora. They also employ Axel as their Dragon, which proves just as much of a mistake for them as for Marluxia's team.
    • Saix and Axel are also planning on overthrowing Xemnas together, and Axel had actually been backstabbing everyone in Chain of Memories so that Saix would go up in rank. Neither of them actually get around to betraying their leader, however - Axel's friendship with Roxas and Xion led him away from the plan, and Saix's jealousy at Axel's new friendships led to him dropping the idea and Becoming the Mask. In the second incarnation of the Organization, Saix appears to retain his loyalty, but works behind the scenes with Vexen to atone for their prior sins.
    • Xigbar is there to manipulate Xemnas along with all of Xehanort's other incarnations into carrying out the plan to enact a second Keyblade War, as he's actually working for the next saga's villain. He's also there so he can get his Keyblade back, which was Xigbar's long before it was Xehanort's.
    • Xehanort's previous Dragon, Vanitas, is generally interested in going along with Xehanort's plans, but in both Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts III he's not that interested if it gets in the way of his own immediate gratification. In both cases he nearly kills a key member of his master's Evil Plan before they've done their job.
  • Various games in the Langrisser series have reoccurring villain Bozer side with the current Empire seeking to rule the land, as he's solely motivated by causing war and using the power of the dark sword Alhazard. In games where the player can side with the Empire, Bozer can either become a major obstacle to a more peaceful resolution to the conquest, or a major ally in your own usurpation and conquest.
  • Revolver Ocelot. In Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Ocelot has been seemingly working for the Big Bad, but working behind their backs, and usually the backs of the people he's supposedly really working for. The portrayal of him in The Last Days of Foxhound even named the trope Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. The only MGS game he ISN'T this trope is the one where he's not actually the Big Bad himself, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where his agenda comes to fruition. Even in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, he still has his own agenda while working loyally for the player character, in that he betrays the player.
  • Just nearly every dragon in Mortal Kombat has their own hidden agenda or suffer from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Hawke in the Nintendo Wars series, which is especially noticeable in Dual Strike as he actively chafes against Von Bolt taking control of Black Hole and eventually ends up leaving him for the heroes.
  • From the Paper Mario series, we have you guessed it: Dimentio. In this case, The Dragon is even more evil; an outright Omnicidal Maniac instead of a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • The player was clued into the fact that Dimentio's trying to work behind Count Bleck's back pretty early on. However, it isn't until the end of the game that we learn that he's really higher up on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, instead of just being The Mole.
    • Before that, we had the Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where the power-hungry Sir Grodus tried to unearth an ancient power. Too bad said ancient power was a demoness whom Beldam served, and wanted to spring free. Grodus ends up living as a talking head afterwards.
  • The Ancient Minister and Ganondorf, as well as possibly Bowser, all take this role in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary.
  • Astaroth in the Soul Series, according to the backstory.
  • Samir Duran could be considered a Dragon With An Agenda compared to the Big Bad Infested Kerrigan in StarCraft when we discover some of his agenda in Dark Origin. He could also be viewed as an Enigmatic Minion and The Mole (against two different factions!)
  • Cyril in Star Ocean: The Second Story, who was supposed to be the leader of their organization, and seeks to reclaim the position over actually following the group's goals.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, it is revealed that Darth Vader has been Palpatine's Dragon with an Agenda much earlier than the "I am Your Father" Scene in Episode V mentioned under Film. Vader tries pulling off a similar speech to the young Starkiller, but proves unable to sway him.
    • In the "Dark Side" DLC available for some versions of the game, Starkiller actually becomes a Dragon with an Agenda appealing to Luke Skywalker.
  • In Suikoden III, you eventually learn Albert Silverberg orchestrated everything just to prove his skill as a strategist. He then casually derails it and walks away, likely leaving many players aching for a chance to settle the score. Or at least wipe that not-quite-smile off his face.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation (as well as some non-OG games, to an extent), Shu Shirakawa acts as this to Bian Zoldark. Bian is well aware that Shu is both more powerful and more interested in pursuing his own goals, and he actually requests for Shu to merely observe during his final battle.
  • Mastema in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. He outright states he hates the Three Wise Men and is just doing the job for the chance to ascend to a superior form.
    • Interestingly, he returns in Shin Megami Tensei IV, playing the role for Tayama... allowing the Samurai entrance into Reverse Hills and sealing three of the four Archangels in Kagome Tower, with the caveat that his final objective is saving as many people as he can and preserving humanity's free will.
  • Recurring villain Wild Dog in the Time Crisis series. In the first two games he seems to be very loyal and close to the retrospective Big Bad's, but after they both die and he loses his arm in his first fight with a VSSE agent back in the first game {Then getting it replaced with a robotic arm}, he shows up in the later games not caring about the plans of the Big Bad's of the 3rd and 4th games: He just wants to cause as much trouble for the VSSE for as he can, regardless of what his current boss wants to do.
  • It is revealed midway through Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood that Cesare, Rodrigo Borgia's Dragon (and son) has a very different idea of how the Templars should conquer all of Italy, and eventually Europe. Cesare plans to conquer it openly with military might, while Rodrigo would rather work behind the scenes as, while he wants Templar world domination, he doesn't want to be seen doing it.
  • In Might and Magic VII, Kastore initially serves as an advisor to King Archibald of Deyja (along with the three other Terrans that followed his lead, but Kastore is the dominant one). Once you've made your choice between Light and Dark, however, it becomes increasingly clear that Kastore is building a power-base of his own (apparently going for a more traditional military-focused necromantic regime, but it turns out it is a bit more complex than that), culminating in Archibald evacuating his closest followers to a laboratory off the coast of AvLee and Kastore assuming the throne of Deyja.
  • The Black Knight in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn aided The Chessmaster in unleashing Ashera and her judgement and fought on their side in the game's climax, but didn't seem to have much interest in which side won in the end. His only personal goal was to surpass his teacher, Greil, as a swordsman. After Greil was killed, he figured his son Ike would make a suitable substitute, and siding with Ashera gave him the chance to face Ike in combat. This goal also existed when he was serving Ashnard in Path of Radiance, but the player didn't know about it then.
  • Konishi from The World Ends with You. It's hinted at, but eventually she outright betrays the Conductor by making a deal with Minamimoto, wanting to be the new Conductor when he becomes Composer.
  • Alex from Golden Sun fits this trope very well.
  • Yuga in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds appears to be the Big Bad of the game, until it's revealed that he was actually the Dragon to Hilda. However, he turns out to be this when he makes it clear that he doesn't care about Lorule or Hyrule, and only wishes to attain the Triforce to remake Lorule in his own image.
  • Craft in Mega Man Zero 4 is one of these and makes this apparent when his boss Dr. Weil is about to destroy Area Zero and the Resistance with it. Craft fires the Kill Sat that Dr. Weil was planning to use on Area Zero at Neo Arcadia, destroying the city. Unfortunately, Weil survives this. Interestingly, Craft betrays Weil to protect Neige.
  • Dawn of War: Sindri Myr to Lord Bale. The Chaos army is under the nominal control of Lord Bale, but Sindri is pulling the strings, arranging as much carnage and betrayal as he can to find the Maledictum and use it to attain daemonhood. Ever since, it has become traditional in 40K to bellow the name of your Dragon With An Agenda when he betrays you.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Eggman seems to have a talent for attracting these:
    • Eggman outright designed Metal Sonic to be a Dragon with an Agenda, programming him to have the sole purpose of destroying Sonic. This came back to bite Eggman in Sonic Heroes, where Metal Sonic's drive to beat Sonic overrode his loyalty to Eggman, and apparently Eggman has reprogrammed him to be less disobedient in Metal Sonic's later appearances.
    • In Sonic Adventure, the water god Chaos initially submitted to Eggman's control, but only because Eggman was feeding him the energy needed to pursue his vengeance against the whole world. When Chaos absorbs all of the Chaos Emeralds, he immediately kicks Eggman aside.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow initially swears loyalty to Eggman, but it's later revealed that Shadow has his own plans for destroying the world out of revenge for the death of his surrogate sister Maria and creator Gerald Robotnik. Unlike most examples, Shadow never tries to get rid of Eggman directly when his plans come to fruition, but he does refuse to obey him afterwards.
  • Trails Series
    • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Fourth lieutenant Lorence (aka Loewe) seems to be the most capable man in Colonel Richard's intelligence division, but it's later revealed he's from another organization, with different objectives, and already knew that Richard's coup d'etat, which he aided, would fail. His real agenda revolved around breaking a seal in the ruins underneath the Royal Castle. He's also this to his actual boss, Weissmann, who seeks to use the Aureole to brainwash humanity while Loewe believes exposing the Aureole will shock humanity out of their complacency and self-deceit.
    • The secret organization, Ouroboros, encourages this mindset. Every Enforcer can choose whether or not to aid the organization's leaders, the Anguis, in their plans, and usually do so for their own personal reasons.
    • Rufus Albarea appears to serve Duke Cayenne for most of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II as his Chief of Staff. He turns out to be The Mole for Cayenne's political rival, Chancellor Osbourne.
  • In Bayonetta 2, Loptr pulled Father Balder (the Big Bad from the first game) through time to serve him. Loptr wants to claim the 'Eyes of the World' for his own and Loki, the good half of his soul, stands in his way. Balder, meanwhile, only wants to kill Loki because he thinks Loki killed his wife, Rosa (it was actually Loptr from 500 years ago), and has no interest in any of Loptr's goals otherwise.
  • Bleden Mark from Tyranny is The Dragon to Tunon, Archon of Justice and the oldest and most trusted of Kyros' archons, but spends most of his time in Tunon's court acting as an Enigmatic Minion. His true agenda, as seen through the different playthroughs, is unknown but he seems to take marching orders directly from Kyros without Tunon's knowledge — he attempts to assassinate you on Kyros' orders in three of the paths (after directly interceding to interrogate you in one of them). In the final one joins up with you instead because your actions up to this point have amused him, but requires that you kill Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat first.
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, Mannimarco is an Evil All Along agent of Big Bad Molag Bal. However, Mannimarco plans to usurp Bal's godhood if all goes to plan...
  • Forever Home has General Kail, the second-in-command to the Big Bad General Barclyss in Tren's Judgment military faction. Barclyss wishes to use his military power to wipe out all life on the planet (including himself) and while Kail outwardly supports his ideology, he secretly plans on being the Sole Survivor so he can have the planet all to himself. It's unknown if Barclyss is aware of his subordinate's agenda or if he cares.
  • In Persona 5, Akechi genuinely is trying to help the Big Bad become Prime Minister of Japan, but this is actually only the first step in their revenge plot against them, with the ultimate goal of destroying them entirely. Sadly, if he had been honest with the Phantom Thieves about wanting this from the beginning, they likely would have been happy to help, but because he was too distrustful and too unwilling to cut his losses, he only managed a Death Equals Redemption ending.
  • Aaron Keener in The Division, had sided with Colonel Bliss and the LMB, when the situation had spiraled out of control in New York. However, at the end of the game, when it became clear that the LMB was finished, Keener cut his losses, and made off with Vitaly and Gorden Amherst’s research and equipment to make new viruses to seize power.
  • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
    • Dr. Schroeder was working with Erusea to collect data from Mihaly to improve the drone army when they started taking heavy casualties. However, he had no interest in restoring Erusea to its former glory, and was only looking to avenge his homeland of Belka.
    • It is revealed three quarters of the way through the game, that Princess Rosa Cossette d’Elise was manipulated by young Erusean officers called the Radicals. While Cossette just wanted to protect her people from she saw as encroaching Osean imperialism, with the construction of the Lighthouse, the Radicals had hoped to use their drone army to restore Erusea to its former glory. When Farbanti had fallen to Osean control, the Radicals tried to have Cossette killed as they no longer had any use for her.
  • Constable Neyla in Sly 2: Band Of Thieves is this to Arpeggio, intending to betray him at the 11th hour and take over his plans for her own ambitions. She succeeds, kills Arpeggio before you get to even fight him, and fuses with Clockwerk to become "Clock-La".
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the only goal Penelope shares in common with Cyril Le Paradox is to erase the Cooper family from the timeline, and even then, her motivation is mainly out of spite towards the member of her generation. And while Le Paradox has the goal of altering time to make him appear to be of French royalty because of his huge ego, Penelope intends to build weapons of mass destruction, sell them to terrorists to make billions of dollars, and turn the War on Terror into World War III so she could Take Over the World in the resulting chaos. Penelope escapes, and is likely to be the new Big Bad of the series.
    • The other members Le Paradox recurred also joined of their own selfish ambition: El Jefe joined to profit from cigar smuggling in 17th century Japan, Toothpick wanted to live the life of a western sheriff, The Grizz tried to forge Ice Age artworks so that he can "discover" them in the 21st century, and Miss Decibel is a Dreadful Musician who has a crush on Le Paradox, and desires to prove her usefulness to him and fails.
  • Dragon Quest IV: Aamon pretends to be Psaro the Manslayer's loyal right-hand man, but in reality Aamon was plotting against Psaro all along: he manipulates several human crooks into murdering Psaro's lover, and her death drives Psaro into transforming into a mindless, genocidal monster, whereupon Aamon claims Psaro's position as "Master of Monsters".
  • In Library of Ruina, this happens on the players' side due to being Villain Protagonists. Specifically, All that time spent working with Angela was all so Roland could try to make Angela suffer by killing her as soon as she got what she wanted- as revenge for causing Distortions, including the Pianist which killed his wife and unborn child. He succeeds in one of the bad endings.
  • An interesting case occurs with Arthur towards Dutch in Red Dead Redemption II. Arthur continues to remain loyal to Dutch, even if he is aware of Dutch's Sanity Slippage and doesn't always agree with his plans - his honor level determines whether he is keeping up appearances or if it is genuine. Regardless, Arthur starts doing things behind Dutch's back, such as throwing Straus out of the gang, permits Swanson and Trelawny to leave, attempts to de-escalate the Wapiti-US Army feud and actively plots to help John and his family escape with money to leave the outlaw life. Majority of Arthur's actions against Dutch is to protect the gang from both the law and from Dutch himself.
  • Sunrider: Alice is this to her "sister", the Alpha Prototype. The two of them are the secret puppet masters of PACT and have instigated a devastating galactic war. But whereas Alpha is a Well-Intentioned Extremist using the war to prepare humanity to face a worse threat down the line, Alice is a genocidal misanthrope who wants all humans to die for killing the man she loved. Alice's true intentions only come to light at the end of Sunrider: Liberation Day, where she derails Alpha's plans by turning the peace conference that was supposed to mark the war's end into a bloodbath.

    Web Animation 
  • Neomutant in TOME is a rare example where the Dragon with an Agenda is actually worse than the Big Bad without having any aspirations of power themselves. Neomutant helped Rubirules develop the Antivirus in order to control Kajet, but made sure to program it to induce brain death in the person it was attached to when activated - namely, Flamegirl. He wanted revenge on her for rejecting him, and is the only human in this series to deliberately attempt murder. Thankfully, Flamegirl survives the experience thanks to intervention by Alpha, and is shown to be healthy afterwards.

  • In Antihero for Hire, Angelson has at least one plan going on under his boss's nose, we just don't know what.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Xykon and Redcloak have a mutually beneficial alliance. Redcloak only serves Xykon in order to open the Gates and get a fairer deal for the goblin race. There's actually a fair bit more to it than that, as seen in Start of Darkness. Whether or not he'll turn Starscream eventually, or be forced to confront Xykon if their plans diverge, remains to be seen. As it turns out, Redcloak's plan doesn't help Xykon's own goals at all, and Xykon is ultimately just Redcloak's Unwitting Pawn. Though some of Xykon's dialogue (e.g "Don't confuse not caring with not knowing") hints that even if he does know that Redcloak doesn't really serve him he won't bother to let on until Redcloak actually acts against him.
    • Also, Sabine is Nale's Dragon. However, she's also covertly working for The Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission. Luckily for Nale, her agenda involved helping him advance his agenda. Also, it's implied in the Western Continent arc that her loyalty to Nale is actually greater than her loyalty to the IFCC, though she still works for them. And getting lots of hot hot sex from him. Though, considering what she is, that last part goes without saying.
    • Malack was helping Tarquin's conspiracy to conquer the Western Continent for peace, but was aware that as a vampire he will long outlive Tarquin and the other conspirators, allowing him to take over and dedicate the whole continent to worship of Nergal and turn it into a Human Sacrifice farm, including very Nazi-esque slaughter methodsnote . Notably, Tarquin was apparently very aware of this, and doesn't mind, since he's happy that his legacy will live on (and Malack promised him a bigger statue).
    • Tarquin himself is a professional Dragon With An Agenda. His agenda is to stand behind the Puppet Empress of the Empire of Blood, while his other party members take the same role for the Empires of Sweat and Tears, thereby ensuring that his crowd are the real rulers of the supposedly-divided continent. If one of the puppets ever starts to realize what's going on or tries taking their own initiative, or if they hit a 0% Approval Rating and public anger boils over, Tarquin's crew manufactures a convenient assassination or Full-Circle Revolution and immediately starts pulling the replacement's strings instead.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Ysengrin wants to Kill All Humans, and his boss Coyote apparently doesn't. It's possible that Ysengrin is trying to pull strings behind Coyote's back, and that Y killed Red and Blue because they saw too much.
  • Wanda from Erfworld seemingly serves Stanley the Tool willingly, but it turns out she convinced him to attack her kingdom of Faq because she expected him to get slaughtered, and when he emerged victorious, she only joined him in his quest for the legendary Arkentools because she was hoping she'd get to wield one herself. She does.
  • Torg from Sluggy Freelance did this professionally for a while. First with the Minion Master, and then with Crushestro ever since he thought that the Minion Master's sister betrayed him to Hereti-Corp.
  • Ian and Anita in Errant Story fit this trope pretty well, with the added little twist that it isn't clear which one is the Big Bad and which one is The Dragon.
  • Homestuck's Condesce works for Lord English, but also seems to be looking to backstab him...somehow.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Ronove becomes the closest lieutenant of Duke Malphas after the siege of Vanna but has his own, secret agenda for working with the demonic duke.
  • In the That Guy with the Glasses world, The Other Guy is the real puppet-master behind the site. The one who everyone thinks is the ineffectual Bad Boss, The Nostalgia Critic, is just like that because he's desperate for attention and praise.
  • Linksano and Mecha-Kara are ultimately this during the Lord Vyce arc of Atop the Fourth Wall. In fact, Linksano defects to the side of the good guys to take Vyce down, while Mecha-Kara was a former Big Bad who only went along to take out Linkara.
    • Mechakara is also this in To Boldly Flee acting as The Mole for Turrell and Zodd. He cares nothing about their plans and is only helping because Turrell promised that he would reveal to him the secrets of Malachite's Hand. When he finds out that Turrell knows as much about it as he does, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on a terrified Turrell and Zodd.
  • In Noob, Ash is the go-to character for Real Money Trade and Tenshirock is a hacker who want to get people off MMORPG. Tenshirock lets Ash exist due to his customers sometimes getting banned by Game Masters and never coming back, but refuses to help him get better merchandise to keep the game from becoming even more fun for those that do not get caught. Their dialog sometimes gives the impression that they would be opponents if they weren't old friends.

    Western Animation 
  • Destro in some iterations of G.I. Joe. He's in it for the money and The Baroness.
  • In Teen Titans, Slade (formerly a Big Bad himself) only serves as Trigon's Dragon so he can get his mortal body back. Interestingly, he starts out this plotline very subservient to Trigon, and gradually starts acting less as a servant and more like a partner when he gets closer to getting what he wants. When it becomes apparent that Trigon has no intention of honoring their agreement, Slade teams up with the Titans to take him down.
  • Raythar from W.I.T.C.H. serves this role during the first part of the second season — Big Bad Nerissa has her own agenda, but Raythar just wants to avenge the previous Big Bad, Phobos. When a chance arises to put Phobos back on the throne, he ditches Nerissa and transfers his loyalty back to his original boss. Nerissa, meanwhile, replaces him with Shagon, who is her creation and therefore completely loyal.
  • The Fright Knight in Danny Phantom subtly expresses his absolute distaste working for Pariah Dark and it hints he wants to go a different route. It ultimately proves true when he works against Pariah during the final battle. It's hinted he went to serve Vlad, but the original writer left the show before possible stories of this could have been told in Season Three.
  • On Gargoyles, the Weird Sisters serve this role for the Archmage — he wants revenge on Goliath, while they want revenge on the Magus and the rest of the Avalon Clan. They couldn't really get on the island themselves, however, since Oberon had forbidden it; the reason they willingly put themselves under the Archmage's service was because they knew he would order them to go there, exploiting a loophole in Avalon's laws.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • On Sonic Underground, Sleet and Dingo once plotted to steal tax money meant for Robotnik and frame Manic for it.
  • In the original My Little Pony 'n Friends, Porcina's Raptorian minions encourage her to go to the extreme of turning Ponyland and all the Little Ponies into glass because they want to take the place for themselves.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Grogar is set up to be the ultimate antagonist of Season 9, recruiting Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow, and when he sends them to retrieve his bell, they find it but withhold it from him, planning to betray him and take over Equestria themselves. Subverted in that Grogar turned out to be Discord trying to improve Twilight's confidence by orchestrating a fight between her and her greatest enemies, and the trio are the up front Big Bads for the entire two-part finale.
  • The X-Men: Evolution version of Mystique. In the first season, she's working for Magneto, but they have a slight falling out and she works independently for the rest of the series. This causes some tension when both tried to take command of the Brotherhood, with varied results depending on the episode and the Brother.
  • In a dark future episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Grim is ultimately this to dark overlord Mandy. She was aware of this and set things up to capture the rebels and make Grim pay.
  • Bill Cipher of Gravity Falls was summoned by Lil' Gideon to attack Stan, but this exchange suggests that he's less a Monster of the Week and more his own agent;
    Gideon: Listen to me, demon! I have a job for you. I need you to enter the mind of Stanford Pines and steal the code to his safe!
    Bill: Haha- Wait. Stan...Pines... (Images of Stan and Stan's tattoo flash by on his face) You know what, kid? You've convinced me. I'm sold! I'll help you with this and in return you can help me with something I've been working on. We'll work out the details later.
    • As of Season 2 he's officially the Big Bad of the series.
  • Toffee from Star vs. the Forces of Evil. Originally hired by Ludo to help manage his incompetent monsters, it's clear Toffee has some ulterior motives. Sure enough, he soon manipulates Ludo into firing Buff Frog and then convinces the monsters to throw Ludo out of his own castle, effectively taking control of his army.
  • In Legend Quest, Baba Yaga is the Dragon to Quetzacoatl, but only because he's enslaved her. While he intends to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, she has a plan to instead remake the world so witches are in power. Too bad that's all part of his Batman Gambit.


Video Example(s):


As From the Very Beginning

Shortly after Galen Marek gathered rebel leaders for the signing of the Corellian Treaty, Darth Vader ambushes the meeting, blowing Marek's cover by revealing him as his apprentice. When questioned why he didn't follow their plans as discussed, Vader reveals just how much his word means to Starkiller.

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