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Enigmatic Minion

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Jess: You're not seriously going to fight us again, are you?
Hawke: I have no desire to trade blows with you. I'm going to bow out for the time being. There are some things I must investigate before I commit myself to this.
Max: There he goes. What is it with that guy? Even when he loses, he acts like he won.

The Enigmatic Minion is a strange, specific type of villain. Put simply, they are a non-Big Bad antagonist whose agenda, motivations and villain cred itself remain highly ambiguous for much of the story. Whether as a Monster of the Week or as a long-term villain, Enigmatic Minions are defined by their ambiguous nature and the suspicion they evoke, both in the heroes and in the audience. There is certainly something altogether 'not right' about them, but it is difficult to say how or why they act the way they do.

The Enigmatic Minion lacks any obvious motives and desires to be discerned by the heroes or the viewer, and certainly won't reveal them if asked. In fact, good luck getting anything more than Cryptic Conversation out of them. Despite assurances that they're antagonistic, they obviously have a free will of sorts and a modus operandi that does not entirely follow the expected for a villain. An Enigmatic Minion may take actions that turn out to help the heroes in the end, or shower an unusual amount of personal attention on their progress without opposing them. The minion will seem to know a lot more than they're letting on, possibly even more so than the Big Bad they are seemingly aligned with.

If a member of an evil organization, the Enigmatic Minion will usually hold a prominent position, be trusted by the Big Bad, or has a job only they are capable of doing, which would explain why they're being kept around. This importance also keeps the minion safe from You Have Failed Me moments, at least for as long as the Big Bad thinks they are still on the same side. Enigmatic Minions usually don't 'fit' their assigned role, whether they're satisfied with it or not. And in the case of the latter, they certainly won't admit it.

Eventually, the story may offer a Reveal as to the minion's true nature. This can be anything from being The Man in Front of the Man to being Good All Along. Other times it may not and leave the character as mysterious as when they appeared. Expect an All-Loving Hero to attempt to befriend this type of character, which may or may not take.

The Enigmatic Minion falls somewhere between a villain and a Wild Card in a story, and fills a mold similar to the Lovable Traitor. They may be constructed as a Worthy Opponent, although an extremely ambiguous one .

Compare with the Hidden Agenda Villain, who is a clear villain— and also clearly a Big Bad— but whose plans are unknown. The Stealth Mentor will frequently take on this guise as part of their teaching process. Also compare the Aloof Ally, who is commonly mistaken for an Enigmatic Minion in their first appearances, but isn't a villain, just a jerk, and the Mysterious Backer, who's this trope with the "Minion" part replaced with "Big Good". Sub-Trope of Mysterious Stranger.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Beelzebub: Natsume at first appears to only be a minor, unimportant member of Kanzaki's crew who looks constantly bored. It is later shown that he is much stronger than he appears, possibly one of the strongest non-supernatural characters of the story, is much smarter than Kanzaki and most other delinquents, and is downright laughing when the school in invaded by demons. Why he is anyone's, let alone Kanzaki's subordinate is a complete mystery, unless he was telling the truth when he said that he liked hanging around Kanzaki because a fight was always bound to happen.
  • Rakshas in Berserk fits this role in the new Band of the Hawk. He seems to be playing both sides, admits to joining Griffith just so he can make sure to be the one to kill him, and is nowhere to be found during the current battle.
  • Bleach:
    • Gin Ichimaru was a Co-Dragon for Aizen, but was distrusted by his putative allies both before and after defecting from Soul Society. Aizen himself acted like he mistrusted Gin, and Gin often engaged in odd behavior that brought his motives into question. Turns out that Gin only sided with Aizen in order to betray him… Aizen was aware of this and kept Gin around just for the amusement of seeing how he intended to go about it.
    • Haschwalth is The Dragon to Yhwach, but his true loyalties are a mystery. He's ambivalent about killing low-ranking Shinigami. He shows concern over how Yhwach handles Ichigo… for Ichigo's sake. His soldiers think he's Yhwach's rightful heir but whether Haschwalth even cares about the succession is unclear. Most enigmatic of all is his acceptance of Uryuu Ishida as Yhwach's Unexpected Successor. It's implied that he may sympathise with Uryuu's Kicked Upstairs status because of his own ambivalence towards Yhwach.
  • Nathan Mahler in Blood+ is a Chevalier, though just whose Chevalier he is and what his intentions are remains shrouded in mystery for much of the series. Further befitting this trope's parameters, he effects a neutral disposition and for the most part refuses to involve himself in fights.
  • Death Parade has Oculus, who is the closest thing this series has to a Big Bad. He claims to be the closest one to God - who may or may not even exist. He is upholding a failing system that has Arbiters, who are unfeeling puppets judging dead humans to decide where to send their souls. He doesn’t tolerate any sort of change and will invade someone’s memories if he suspects they’re working against him. He firmly maintains the status quo, much to the chagrin of some of the other characters. However, it’s never explained why he needs to do this. It’s not known if he’s the only one at the top of the system, or if he even created it in the first place. His Blue-and-Orange Morality makes it hard to tell if he’s doing it out of malice or not, and it’s not clear if he’s even aware of the negative consequences in this system.
  • Mystogan from Fairy Tail. One of his biggest mysteries is if he's really using his true strength against his opponents. But if you really want to find out, we suggest you better be either really powerful, or have a decent escape plan. It should be noted that Mystogan is most definitely not a villain, nor was he ever hinted as such. He's basically an Enigmatic Minion for the Big Good, Makarov, that the main characters know next to nothing about at first.
  • Kuze in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex plays this part for most of the second season. The confusion arises from the fact that he is an Unwitting Pawn to the Big Bad, who happens to lead the task force that is supposed to capture or kill Kuze.
  • Gundam:
  • Hisoka Morow from Hunter × Hunter is an interesting case of a character becoming this. Originally introduced as the Monster Clown equivalent of an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, he was the Big Bad of the Hunter Exam arc but after his defeat vanished for a long spell. He later reappeared in the 13th Hunter Chairman Election arc as this, with newly obscured motives and bumped down a notch from his former Big Bad status.
  • Paul von Oberstein in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Nobody is ever entirely sure what his motivations are and whose side he is truly on, and even his death from a bomb during the last episode leaves people wondering if it was a miscalculation or a planned event.
  • Half of the villains of Lyrical Nanoha are this at one point. This has about a 100% overlap rate with the half of the villains that get befriended.
  • Carrossea Doon in Madlax has elements of this. He's nominally The Dragon to Big Bad Friday Monday, but on his off time secretly searches for clues about his past, as just like protagonists Madlax and Margaret he remembers nothing about his past prior to 12 years ago.
  • Sara of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has aspects of this, being the grown-up version of the Dark Magical Girl. Sometimes, she can be found interrupting her own followers' plans if her conscience gets the best of her, which isn't often. Right afterwards, she goes right back to condemning The Power of Love. Like some other examples, though, she's not exactly a minion.
  • My Hero Academia: Dabi is this to the League Of Villains. He has no clear motivation for joining the League, aside from the fact that Stain's ideals apparently resonated with him. He refused to give his real name upon joining, and freely admits to Shigaraki that he has his own motivations for doing things, and has occasionally left to pursue his own agenda, such as during the League's battle with Gigantomachia; while the rest of the League have developed a sense of camaraderie, even friendship, he treats them with complete ambivalence. All we really know is that he has a fire quirk, no criminal record before joining the League, and is implied in the Pro-Hero Arc to have some kind of grudge against Endeavour. He's eventually revealed to be Toya Todoroki, the eldest son of Endeavor, and Shoto's older brother, who was presumed dead after a training accident seemingly vaporized him when his quirk went out of control. He's since gone thoroughly insane and no longer cares for anything but getting revenge of his father for his abuse, as well as any other "fake" heroes like him - i.e., all of them.
  • Naruto:
    • Due to Kabuto's habit of betraying everyone he's ever met with a smile on his face, his loyalty to Orochimaru was pretty much the only thing anybody could be certain about him. After Orochimaru's death, Kabuto's goals and drives became more transparent when he tried to play both sides of the war against one another.
    • Zetsu also fits this trope pretty well. He seems to be part spy, part...trash disposal for the Akatsuki. The only clue we've been given about his motives is Pain saying his reason for fighting is "land". Ultimately he is revealed to contain the will of Madara, allowing him to direct Tobi after his death. And even that is a lie. Chapter 681 reveals that he's been playing everyone for fools. His true master is not Madara — it's Princess Kaguya.
    • Itachi's a good example. His neglect to finish off enemies (outside of his backstory), unnecessary retreats from battle, and reluctance to share information with his Akatsuki allies often confuse both the protagonists and antagonists alike. It turned out that he was a spy with loyalties to Konoha and his younger brother.
    • Konan was this within the Akatsuki. Little to nothing was known about her, before her initial reveal. Serving as Pain's partner and literal guardian angel it was soon uncovered that she has a far deeper connection to the organization than newcomers such as Deidara.
  • Kaworu in Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the best-known examples of this trope. He had been sent, possibly even created, by SEELE to infiltrate NERV, but because he is the most human of the Angels he also has thoughts and desires beyond the whims of his creators. During his brief storyline, he struggles to make sense of the situation and decide what stance he wants to take towards humanity.
  • Abelia from Now and Then, Here and There. She's an intelligent woman and capable leader. She's also unflinchingly loyal to an obviously insane despot, seeming for all the world like a extraordinary dark take on the Punch-Clock Villain. The series ends without a stitch of explanation, much less backstory, in explanation. She does eventually have a Heel–Face Turn of sorts. Her insane boss is about to be drowned and is crying out for her to save him. She's more than capable of doing it, but chooses not to. It's heavily hinted that Hamdo wasn't always batshit crazy. It's also heavily hinted that she used to have a Bodyguard Crush on him, and spends the whole series hoping that he'll return to the man he used to be.
  • Nico Robin from One Piece was all over this trope before her Heel–Face Turn. She makes her premiere blowing up Igaram's ship in a direct blow to Vivi's scheme to expose Crocodile, but immediately after that hands over an eternal pose to get the Straw Hats to Alabasta. In Alabasta she personally brings Vivi to Crocodile, badly injuring Pell in the process, then saves Luffy after Crocodile leaves him for dead.
  • Shiner from Psyren fits this dangerously well. He's the head of the Star Commanders' PSI Research Division, with an outwardly tranquil and indifferent personality. He doesn't talk much about himself or his intentions, which is eventually revealed to be because he harbors an intense superiority complex, even towards his colleagues.
  • Miyabi Fujisaki from Rosario + Vampire is one to Gyokuro Shuzen; he's very Ambiguously Evil, to the point that even the main characters don't seem to know what to make of him, but he and Gyokuro don't seem to trust each other. He is really The Masked King and the Shinso Vampire Alucard.
  • Laplace's Demon in Rozen Maiden. He doesn't appear until the second season in the anime, but in the manga, he shows up before five of the dolls do — and we still don't know what he's doing. Possessing absolute causal knowledge of the universe, of course. In anime he mucks around dolls and their game in such a way one can suspect he is Rozen's servant with too much quirks. Well, either that or he just amuses himself with the show.
  • The seemingly unstoppable Iwanbo from Rurouni Kenshin was simply too dumb to carry on a fight without being distracted and running off. The following arc that is covered in the manga would later reveal the character to be merely feigning idiocy in order to hide his true nature and purpose.
  • Xelloss from Slayers is cheerfully open about the fact that he is working towards his own villainous ends. The heroes let him hang around with them because he betrays their enemies just as often as he betrays them, with the explanation that he was only siding with them while it advanced his own plan. His own plan is, of course, a secret.
  • Sideways in Transformers: Armada starts off as a drifter who joins the Autobots, but he later defects to the Decepticons. However, Sideways is hinted several times to have his own agenda and he eventually betrays the Decepticons as well. Sideways makes several more appearances throughout the series and is hinted to be working for a third party, eventually revealed to be Unicron.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Beatrice's Battle Butler, Ronove has a servile and snarky tone towards her. It's not clear how deep his obligation toward her is, but he often lampshades clues or leaks important information for Battler.
  • Yuri from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. He works for the Professor and follows his command, turning people into cards, kidnapping people and participating in war crimes. Unlike most people on the Professor's side, who are fighting to merge the restore the original world and bring back the Professor's daughter, Yuri joined the bad guys for fun. The Professor questions if Yuri's actually loyal or not, and worries that Yuri could turn on him at any moment. As it turns out, Yuri is simply siding with the Professor so he can go to war and hurt people. He has no loyalties to anyone but himself, and he plans on carding his allies the second he runs out of proper enemies.

    Comic Books 
  • Ignition from the Emperor Joker story arc. Reality is now shaped by the Joker's twisted mind, and even he has no idea where this guy came from. Ignition later appeared in the "normal" DC universe working for the third General Zod (the one who was actually a Russian human being possessed by the spirit of Zod) but never appeared again after.
  • The various Scriers that appeared during The Clone Saga, under the service of various Hidden Agenda Villains such as Judas Traveller, and established to have an agenda of their (his?) own. Their enigmatic status would work to their disadvantage, however, since the Clone Saga had a Kudzu Plot of such proportions that no one really cared about uncovering their mistery.
  • While initially an independent villain, the X-Men villain Mister Sinister served this function in a number of arcs after the eventual reveal that he was a 19th century British scientist who had been empowered by perennial X-Men Big Bad Apocalypse. This transferred over to the animated series as well, with Sinister first introduced in the second season as an independent villain and later functioning as one of Apocalypse's lackeys (though the reason for his service to Apocalypse was undermined with an origin story episode in the final season that changed his origins).
  • The "Tarnished Angel" arc of Astro City has Donnelly Ferguson, a fixer in Kiefer Square who may or may not be a former crime lord and helps the Conquistador in his scheme to murder a bunch of supervillains as a staged "redemption story" by pointing as many low-level villains in Conquistador's direction as possible, only to help Steeljack in solving the case by making the same offer to him despite knowing Steeljack is investigating the crime Ferguson is party to. It's astoundingly unclear what his game is in doing so; was he in on the Conquistador's plans but grew a conscience, an Unwitting Pawn who eventually pieced together the truth and took action, or was his it something he was ordered to do it by Conquistador, essentially sending Steeljack into the lion's den to stop the investigation? When we last see him after everything goes down, he's fleeing town and Steeljack confronts him about the whole situation, demanding to know the truth. Ferguson just glares at him silently before turning and leaving without a word. Steeljack can't figure out if Ferguson's reaction indicates that he's upset Steeljack would think so little of him as to assume he'd knowingly help Conquistador, that he's ashamed from being caught red-handed, or that he's furious about the conspiracy going belly up and non-verbally threatening Steeljack to let him go or else. Neither the reader nor Steeljack learn what really happened, as Ferguson takes it to his grave.

    Fan Works 
  • Faybol in the Star Wars Expanded Universe fic series Legacy of the Sith has many elements of this- mysterious, powerful, pops in and out of the story seemingly at will, etc. He turns out, however, to be almost completely evil and is one of the Big Bad's most loyal minions- he's just secretive by nature. Said Big Bad is also the only one who can be said to know all his secrets, though the reader now knows quite a bit about him too.
  • Masque of Pokémon: Storm Clouds, a mysterious Team Rocket agent who specializes in brainwashing Pokémon to serve the Team, yet doesn't seem to actually care about Giovanni's agenda. Giovanni calls him on this and it turns out that Masque is Eviler than Thou by a great deal. He reveals that the army of Pokémon brainwashed to serve Team Rocket are more loyal to Masque himself, and takes up the mantle of Big Bad.
  • Queen of All Oni has Blankman, the dark wizard who Jade hires to serve as the Shadow Hand's foreman. We know next to nothing about him (not even his real name), and whenever he does get any focus, it just raises more questions and makes him seem more mysterious. In later chapters, Hak Foo and even Jade herself are starting to realize just how much of an unknown factor he is in the grand scheme of things. The epilogue reveals that he's been manipulating Jade all along to keep her from fulfilling her duties as the Ben Shui Chosen One (thus ensuring the Grand Design will fail), and ultimately using her to steal most of the Talismans for his own ends. And even then, this is implied to be just part of an even larger plan.
  • Night's Favored Child: The Inquisitor is this in spades. Among other things, Nightmare Moon doesn't even remember when he started working for her — it's like he's been there all along. On top of that, he knows her as Luna, something that shouldn't be possible.
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: Starscream is this for the Shadowbolts. While Gilda is driven by her desire for revenge against the Emerald Flame Dragons, and Lightning Dust is run by greed (and develops a personal grudge with Rainbow Dash), Starscream lacks any apparent motivation to fight the mahoushoujo — in fact, during the fight in Loyalty 9, she doesn't even participate. Combined with her mysterious identity and powers, there is very little we know about her.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse:
    • Tendaji, a zebra smuggler in Hero of Oaton. He's not particularly malicious, unlike the ponies he's working for, but challenges Raindrops to a fight at the worst possible time, then casually leaves after giving Raindrops something that might help. His reappearance in Contest of Champions expands on his character a little more.
    • Midnight, in Nightmares Yet to Come. They're evidently part of an evil not-a-cult who attacks Trixie, and definitely knows more about certain parts of the setting's backstory than most, but is discussed in the third person by the other members, and isn't shown sitting in on meetings with them. There's also some secret about them the group would rather keep hidden, beginning with "ch-". Not helping is that the story suggests the members can be controlled from a distance by the actual Big Bad, and that Midnight herself may be under brainwashing... or just really good at lying.
  • Commander Lexell from Fate of a Lost Comet. Team Galactic's newest Commander and Cyrus's right-hand man, he appeared out of nowhere, barged into Cyrus's office after defeating all of his guards, and demanded a job. Even Cyrus is wary of him. The audience knows that he's Subway Boss Emmet, who lost his brother Ingo to a time rift. Emmet worked out that he needs Dialga to find Ingo, and since Team Galactic is also seeking Dialga, he can help them along. He's entirely aware that Team Galactic is evil, but doesn't care as long as he gets his brother back. Cyrus knows that he plans to betray him before he can destroy the world, but decided his strength was too useful.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Captain of the Guard in Robin Hood (1973) certainly looks evil and serves the Big Bad. Despite this, he never shows any personal motivation in any of the bad things he does. He aids Prince John in capturing the outlaw Robin Hood and attempts to prevent a jail break, during which he does his one stand-out in evil when he tries to strike the old owls with an axe. But otherwise we don't even learn his fate which adds to the enigma that he is. Prince John, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff are imprisoned for abusing their authorities, while Trigger and Nutsy are guarding over them, being Punch-Clock Villains instead (even though each to a different extent). All in all, whether the crocodile is individually evil or a mere Punch-Clock Villain is never made clear.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Baron Samedi in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die is perhaps the most enigmatic villain/henchman the cinematic Bond has ever faced. The character is an ambiguous one, and the audience cannot tell if he really is the Voodoo god Baron Samedi himself, or simply a mortal who has assumed Samedi's identity. Contributing to the mystery is the fact that Samedi seems to operate as an aide to Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big, but is not entirely under his control.
  • Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We know her brother hated their master, but just whose side Magenta's on is never quite clear... We know Riff Raff hated Frank, but apparently Magenta is about as unclear on other people's allegiances as she is on her own.
    Magenta: You killed him! But I thought you liked him! He liked you.
    Riff Raff: He didn't like me! He never liked me!
  • Tom Reagan, The Consigliere to mob boss Leo O'Bannon in Miller's Crossing, is a rare example of a protagonist (albeit a fairly villainous one) fitting this trope. The audience is kept in the dark as to his motives and intentions, and even when by the end of the film his goal becomes clear, his reasons for it do not. The most explanation he offers is the very enigmatic "Do you always know why you do things, Leo?"
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Agent Mercer of the East India Company has some qualities of an Enigmatic Minion, especially in the way he pops in and out of the story. Though unlike a lot of other examples, Mercer is clearly evil and unambiguously sadistic, to the extent that his death by a number of tentacles felt like karma.
    • The Spaniard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is this to the King of Spain; he's the first of the three main factions to set out after the Fountain of Youth, but we see him by far the least and it's never quite clear exactly what he wants with it. Turns out, he's been sent by the King to destroy the Fountain, which the Spanish see as blasphemous.
  • The Man in Black in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, who appears throughout the movie and whose motivations aren't revealed until the next film Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
  • The "Mystery Man" from Lost High Way has no clear goals or motivation, looks somewhat strange, and only shows obvious threatening behavior towards the end of the movie. His role in the movie is, along with everything else in it, open to is a David Lynch film, after all.
  • Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade serves this role. While she's revealed as an ally of Donovan and the Nazis, her ultimate ambition is to get the Grail. She constantly battles her personal views with her professional obligations. At the Grail temple, she deceives her employer by giving him a fake Holy Grail, which makes the audience think she's done a Heel–Face Turn. However, she gets Gold Fever when the real Grail is in her hands and in the process falls to her death while trying to reach it.
  • Gaff from Blade Runner, to the point that it's uncertain if he is a villain, or even a minion to anybody. He clearly knows more than he lets on about everything happening, and he might be playing some role in it all, but we never even come close to learning what's going on in his head. The sequel just makes him even more mysterious; he's retired and gives K no more answers than he did Deckard, but you get this strange feeling that he's the only person who really understands what's going on.
  • The Woman of Dark Visage (played by Anjelica Huston) in Swashbuckler. She appears to be a part of Antagonistic Governor Lord Durant's entourage, and is seen sitting in on all of his planning sessions. However, she never says a word, and Durant often looks to her before proceeding with a course of action, as if seeking her permission. Indeed, he actually seems afraid of her at some points. She is last seen vanishing into the night with Durant's body after the heroes have killed him. Exactly who she is and what her motivations are remain a Riddle for the Ages.

  • In the last three books or so of the Harry Potter series, Snape comes to occupy this role, to the extent that pretty much every fan site had lists of equally strong arguments why he was good or evil.
  • Phalse, in the Azure Bonds novel. Until the final showdown he was the least transparent of the villains, representing an unknown force with unknown motivations, and did not do anything but recruit The Mole. He gradually proved himself to be both the smartest and creepiest participant of the conspiracy, despite competition from his partners; a Vain Sorceress, a lich, a band of vengeful killer-thieves, and an ancient evil god.
  • Sol from Warrior Cats. Although he isn't a minion exactly, he has many Enigmatic Minion tendencies, such as randomly coming and going whenever the plot requires.
  • Vergere from the New Jedi Order is a mysterious alien who serves the Yuuzhan Vong but is decidedly reticent about her own history and motivations for doing so. "Everything I tell you is a lie." Though she turns out to be more of a Wild Card than a minion, as she's a former Old Republic Jedi whose goals are motivated by her extremely esoteric approach to the Force - and later she got retconned as being a Sith acolyte too.
  • The Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles from The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams is an extremely ancient and powerful fairy, an expert in numerous fields hired by the Big Bad to capture protagonist Theo, and who hides numerous secrets of his own that turn out to be the key to the entire plot, and an agenda entirely separate from his alleged employer.
  • Childermass from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. He is the manservant of Mr. Norrell and has an odd sort of power over the man that no one else can understand. At one stage Mr. Norrell tells an aristocrat to be quiet because Childermass is talking, and it's never revealed as to where exactly Childermass came from or why he works for Norrell.
  • She's not exactly a minion, but Diana from Gone could qualify. She's very open about the fact that she's working on her own side. She's never really done anything evil, although she has often stood aside and let others do terrible things. She helps both sides when it suits her. She won't commit to anything. And yet she's probably the only person Caine trusts, and the heroes have offered to let her join them, and, when she realizes she's losing control over Caine, she takes them up on it.
  • Sabbath in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures. He tends to end up on the Doctor's side by the end of the book (often enough that they get almost friendly with each other), possesses a distinct air of mystery, and is revealed by the end of his run to be working for an Omniscient Council of Vagueness (and he tends to become the part-time minion of various other villains when it'd help his plans). But it's never really explained why he's working for them. At any rate, he eventually turns against them. Lampshaded quite nicely by Trix, playing him in an amateur film that she and Fitz, in the depths of extreme boredom, made about their adventures:
    Trix: Working as I am for unspecified higher powers, the nature of my misguided plans remains frustratingly obscure, ha ha!
  • Chlorr of the Mask in the second and third Old Kingdom novels- she serves Hedge because she's under magical compulsion to do so, but has a personal history and agenda that is constantly hinted at but never fully explained, on top of being a necromancer powerful enough to go toe to toe with Sabriel fight her pretty evenly. Word of God has confirmed she was an Abhorsen herself at one time, and she'll be getting her own prequel book to explain her history and what exactly her deal is.
  • In Wolf Hall, a number of people are willing to be Thomas Cromwell's associate or patron, but he keeps his past and motives largely to himself, and attempting to categorize him usually ends up concluding only that he is a "person" of some kind. The only person he trusted enough to let down his guard was Cardinal Wolsey, and Wolsey made things even more enigmatic for everyone else by making up outrageous stories about his right hand man.
  • General Wesley in Victoria. Was he responsible for the death of almost the whole Administration in a very weird-looking terrorist attack, or was he really its last major loyal supporter? Is he a mere power-hungry tyrant, or just a stolid patriot who blindly keeps fighting for national unity long after everyone else realizes it is dead and buried for good?
  • The Dresden Files has a few, but most prominently Kumori from Dead Beat: she helps the Big Bad of the story, Cowl, in trying to achieve the Darkhollow, which will kill a large number of people in the city. However, she takes time out of her busy villain schedule to heal people back from the brink of death, and makes it clear that she and Cowl are not in it to become gods, but to get the power to do something else very important. We never find out what it is, as Cowl appears to be killed when the Darkhollow fails, and Kumori hasn't been seen since.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Mandy, who has the designation of being the very first terrorist to appear in the entire series as well as the only recurring villain to survive it all. In the first few episodes of season one she works for Disk-One Final Boss Ira Gaines before disappearing without a trace. Then she returns in the finale of season two working for the Greater-Scope Villain Max, making her allegiances much more confusing as Ira and Max don’t seem to have any connection at all. She was last seen working for the Big Bad of season four, Habib Marwan (who has no connection to either of the previous two villains), but got away as a Karma Houdini by negotiating her way into a pardon for all of her crimes and then never returned. She is clearly a mercenary of some sort, but how she ended up in the employ of three of the series’ major villains is unknown. As for her personal life, she seemed to genuinely be in love with her girlfriend from season one, Bridgit, breaking down when Bridgit dies, but then kills her boyfriend in season four without any hesitation when he outlived his usefulness. Was Bridgit the one person she actually cared about, leading to her sociopathy with everyone else afterwards? Or did she have other true loved ones that we never saw? Did she have any cause she truly believed in? Seeing how easily she sold out Marwan’s plan for immunity in season four, she clearly wasn’t a strong believer in that cause. And where did she go and what did she do after she got that immunity? We never get those answers.
  • Awake: Captain Harper. The second episode reveals that she is in contact with the people who caused Britten's accident, and that she's conducting a cover-up. On the other hand, she seems to have moral objections to the murder.
  • Continuum: This show is in love with this trope. For example, the main group of time-travelling villains, Liber8, has (unsurprisingly) eight members, of whom three are pursuing their own hidden agendas — one is part of an ancient conspiracy to protect history, one has been sent back by their arch-enemy to change his past, and one is just a ruthless opportunist who, over the course of the show, betrays every other character at least once.
  • Fringe: Nina Sharp often appeared as this, although it turned out that she and William Bell were not as villainous as they initially appeared.
  • Game of Thrones: Qyburn serves as this to Cersei. He has a mysterious past, mysterious abilities that seem far beyond the realm of medical science, and his true agenda is vague.
  • Genseishin Justiriser: Demon Knight works for the Hades Army, yet has powers similar to those of the Justirisers and a humanlike form, hinting he may be more than he appears. Bits and pieces of his past are dropped throughout the story before we learn the full truth: he's the brainwashed younger brother of the Big Good.
  • Heroes: The purportedly mute Haitian: working for the hidden higher power, Angela Petrelli, and looking damn enigmatic while doing it.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Double: It takes a while for us to learn what Shinkuro Isaka's true goal is: to steal Ryubee Sonozaki's Terror Memory for himself.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: From the moment he appears, Gremlin is a mysterious figure. Not only is he working in pursuit of his own plan apart from the other Phantoms, he has enough leverage to get Wiseman to promote him to his new Dragon.
    • Kamen Rider Drive: Roidmude 004 is the least seen and most mysterious of the first nine Roidmudes, having gone off the grid shortly after the Global Freeze. He eventually resurfaces, and shortly thereafter we learn his true allegiance: He's actually working for the Greater-Scope Villain: Mad Scientist Tenjuro Banno.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Blood Stalk starts off as Night Rogue's right-hand man, then switches to working for Yoshiko Tajimi, then switches again to working for Juzaburo Namba, all while occasionally giving aid to the heroes. Eventually we learn his true allegiance is to himself, and that his goals are much grander and more destructive than those of every other villain.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Woz is this to the main protagonist, having been sent by The Hero's evil future self to make sure he still becomes an Evil Overlord in the future. The various pieces of information we get about his past (such as him being a turncoat resistance captain) only make him more mysterious. We eventually learn in the summer movie that he's actually an agent of the Quartzer charged with ensuring Ohma Zi-O's rise.
  • Lost: Richard Alpert seems to have become one of these, despite being on the side of the resident villains. He's mysterious, kind and friendly, polite even when taking weapons off the heroes, and is the only Other to openly defy Ben. While some things about him are divulged as the show goes along, his true motives are very mysterious like every other thing on the show.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Villain Lokar. He's technically a recurring Monster of the Week, but he only appears during multi-part episodes, always teleports away before defeat, and seems to be more of a peer than a servant to the Big Bad. The Sentai villain he's based on was that series' version of Satan and Bandora / Rita's direct superior.
  • Oliver's Travels: The mysterious Baxter, who shows up from time to time to make vaguely menacing conversation and warn Oliver and Diane off their investigation. After they trace the conspiracy back to Baron Kite, they learn that Baxter is Kite's chief of security. And then it turns out he has a personal agenda of his own.
  • Revolution: Tom Neville. As the first season goes on, you start wondering why he's working for Sebastian Monroe, and what sort of agenda he has. The first season finale reveals that he is simply out to benefit himself by taking over the Monroe Republic, make sure the power never gets turned back on, and to take over the entire continent for himself.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak, whose trademark is his enigmatic nature. Although he seems to be on the good side, episodes like "The Die is Cast" prove that he can certainly play the role of the villain when it suits him. Like other Enigmatic Minions, he never reveals his motives, he's involved with a mysterious organization (The Obsidian Order), he is an Ensemble Dark Horse (he was originally just supposed to be a guest character), and he always knows more than he's letting on. And good luck getting any useful information out of him. In the end he turns out to have very straightforward loyalties; he is a loyal patriot of the Cardassian people, and a sworn enemy of the Cardassian government. He will strike against that government or it's later Dominion masters, but not if Cardassia itself is harmed.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger has Long. He seems to have had a past acquaintance with Maku, who is wary of him in the present day, and while he serves under Rio he's suspiciously knowledgeable and powerful for a minion. As it turns out, he's the real Big Bad of the series, who inspired Maku to create Rinjuken Akugata in the past and The Man Behind the Man to Rio, manipulating Rio without Rio even knowing it into becoming an ideal candidate for his plans.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger: Buredoran serves three villain factions over the course of the show, changing his identity under each and leaving little clue as to his identity. We eventually learn he's actually Brajira, a fallen Gosei Angel who was really using all three factions to carry out his agenda of destroying the Gosei Angels and forcibly purifying the Earth.
  • As in the books, Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall insinuates himself into Henry's service and nobody can quite figure out who he is or how he did it, nor why. The absence of the narration's internal monologue serves to make Cromwell just as enigmatic to the audience as he commits to ever more ruthless deeds while still having a more humane disposition than many of the people around him.

  • Evillious Chronicles: Though the Master of the Graveyard is unambiguously evil, her plans are never revealed, though "Capriccio Farce" and the end of "Master of the Graveyard" imply that they are definitely there, and probably irreconcilable with Ma's... whatever Ma's are.
    While she outwardly obeys Ma, she is a dark and deceiving woman.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Exalted universe, the mysterious Green Lady is a powerful and ancient Sidereal Exalted who apparently betrayed Heaven and now serves no less than three different Deathlords, convincing each of them that she is their loyal minion and spying on the other two. If your character meets her in game she will certainly embody this trope to perfection. Which is normal since she is actually still working for Heaven but using an insanely dangerous Memory Gambit in order to study the Deathlords and learn how to destroy them.

  • The villain Count Fosco from The Woman in White might count as an example of the mole variety, as because of his charming and whimsical façade, the heroine initially seeks his help against the more obvious villain, Sir Percival Glyde.

    Video Games 
  • Harle in Chrono Cross, for confusing and spoilery reasons. Word of God even says that there's actually something of a connection between her and Kid, which players noted when comparing the similar build, reactions to Serge and almost identical facial features. Her eventual fate is pretty vague, actually.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, the Jester starts out as a lackey to Lady Luck, spinning the prize wheel at the end of a run and occasionally (and not willingly) fighting the dice.
  • Klaasje from Disco Elysium. The deeper into the mystery you get, the more enigmatic, inexplicable, and terrifying she becomes as you steadily realize she's part of some secret conflict or conspiracy way above your pay-grade and is manipulating you and Kim to achieve something (ostensibly helping you solve the murder case without exposing herself to her enemies because the victim was her lover, but even that is questionable with just how many lies she spins). You never truly figure out what's going on with her, just that she's a lying manipulator and possible Corporate Samurai putting on fake personas to achieve her goals, somehow involved with the Moralintern, and with a lot of enemies she'd rather avoid. Seemingly the only glimpse you get of her real self is a moment in her interrogation where you point out that she seems to have "conveniently" ended up comfortably out of the spotlight… and her response is to briefly let slip a furious Death Glare before seemingly realizing what she's doing and quickly reasserting her usual "smooth mysterious lady" act.
  • Dungeon Keeper 2: Flavor Text for the Dark Angels describes them as "terrifying entities, who join you only for their own amusement and interest." In play, they're late-game units who are attracted to your lair and kept employed through the same mechanics as your other evil minions, albeit extremely powerful and demanding ones.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Auron and Kimahri from Final Fantasy X are heroic versions. Auron's conversations were always cryptic, and Kimahri didn't speak at all at first. However as progress is made, Auron's words become more justifiable and Kimahri begins to open up to Tidus.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy:
      • Garland becomes this, while somehow simultaneously being a Large Ham. He's surprisingly sympathetic, knows more about the nature of the universe than the gods themselves, and serves an even higher power. In fact, he has to personally explain the plot to the Big Bad. The one difference is that he never passes up a chance to fight the heroes. His job is to fight, and he enjoys doing it. It's implied that he knows that Shinryu perpetuates the cycle of fighting, and wants to keep it going because he loves to fight more than anything. Unfortunately, the extra mode in which the heroes fail the 13th cycle indicates that he dies along with everyone else when Chaos becomes Feral Chaos.
      • Golbez also qualifies, often appearing to leave hints and clues on the villains' plans without outright stating his true intentions.
  • Theodore Slowslop from Gadget: Past as Future is the right-hand man to the dictator of the main setting, the Empire, who tasks the player character with investigating a group of scientists who claim the world is going to end from an incoming comet. At first, it appears that he wants the scientists to be arrested, but as you talk with the scientists more, they claim that he in fact actually believes them, unlike the Empire's dictator, and some characters say that he was planning to eventually overthrow the dictator until the news of the comet stopped those ambitions. By the end, Slowslop is working full-time with the scientists and appears at the end personally to help their plan to escape Earth. Though, with this game's Mind Screw nature, it can be difficult to tell how much of the narrative is real and how much of it is brainwashing-induced hallucinations.
  • Alex from Golden Sun fulfills this trope expertly; he nominally works for or with the villains but seems kind and decent, and shows sympathy to the heroes on numerous occasions. His motives are unfathomable, but it becomes clear that he's using both sides, and is ultimately the most dangerous of the lot. At one point in the second game, there is a battle that can be optionally won or lost; if the heroes win, Alex will save the villains, but if the villains win, Alex will save the heroes. He'll also heal the player's party just before the fight, and if you mind read him, shows concern over Mia, who is in a trap at the time. It's interesting to watch him as you play through for the second time. You can start to see how everything he does fits into his plan.
    • He comes back to the role in (Golden Sun: Dark Dawn) manipulating the Tuaparang agents to some unknown goal, but also helping the player by distracting them so the player can end the eclipse. Since Alex engineered the eclipse in the first place though, he assumedly accomplished some goal of his own between starting and ending it. It also features his first battle against an ally, in which he downs Tyrell with a single attack.
  • Heavenly Sword:
    • General Flying Fox meets the criteria of being high-up in the Big Bad's army despite not being trusted, and prone to turning up several times under rather unclear circumstances. However, while his exact motives are never explained, his general Ax Craziness in combat and his tendencies for murdering and sadistically toying with his victims and his surprisingly unconcerned grace when he is eventually defeated suggest that he is just a Blood Knight who lives for the thrill of life-or-death combat and enjoys making people suffer.
    • Bohan's raven also appears to be this; it seems to be sentient, but never speaks, and appears rather mysteriously at various points. By the end of the game, the Raven remains pretty mysterious, but it turns out it was never a minion.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Axel. In his first appearance, Chain of Memories, he betrays (and is at least partially responsible for the deaths of) pretty much everyone in Castle Oblivion. Within his Organization his role appears to be a mix of assassin and secret police, and he's on no-one's side but his own. Even his team-mates remark that they don't have a clue about what goes on in his head. Eventually some light is shed on his motives—namely, helping his old friend Saix rise to power and keeping Roxas and Xion by his side even if it might hurt them. No small amount of angst is generated when he realizes these goals are becoming mutually exclusive.
    • Xigbar. As early as his first appearance in Kingdom Hearts II he's making vague comments that imply he knows more than he lets on, and then in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep we learn he's been by the Big Bad Xehanort's side since the start of his evil plan and has made some sort of deal with him. Come Kingdom Hearts coded Xigbar talks about being busy with his own plans. This all comes to a head in Kingdom Hearts III where we learn he never actually cared about Xehanort's goals. His deal was to be given Xehanort's Keyblade when everything was said and done - because it was originally his Keyblade, and Xigbar is actually an ancient Keyblade Master who serves the first Keyblade Master.
  • Prometheus and Pandora in Mega Man ZX start out as the Co-Dragons to Serpent, but several of their lines and actions (particularly in Aile's story) make it look like they have their own agendas separate from their boss. At the end of the penultimate level, Prometheus outright admits Serpent was just a pawn to Model W and that everything that went down in the story was all according to or predicted by "his" designs. Pandora outright calls her and her brother "the voice of Model W." When they return in Advent, the mastermind is revealed to Master Albert and he's their true master they take orders from, but once again several of their actions and lines indicate they have their own agenda separate from him too. Two of the later levels reveal separately that they're planning to kill Albert and that they've been forced to be his pawns in his centuries-long schemes since the day they were created, chained to his will by deliberately shortened lifespans requiring regular maintenance to survive. In the penultimate level, they finally act on this motive and seemingly kill Albert, declaring that they're going to wreck the world in the time they have left for all they've suffered. Unfortunately, they didn't realize that Albert planned for this from the beginning using a dummy body and had the Model Ws devour their pent-up negative emotions to awaken.
  • Naomi in the Metal Gear series shows almost no signs of being anything but another member of Snake's large support team, but begins to act somewhat strangely over the course of the first game. Even after several turns of the Heel–Face Revolving Door you still have not the slightest idea whom the character is actually working for or is always coming back to your side, but does not seem to be trying to harm you.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • Hawke in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. After losing the battle for Green Earth, he leaves Sturm, only to come back at the end of the final mission and finish off Sturm with his Super CO Power.
    • As quoted, Hawke in his appearance in Advance Wars: Dual Strike. He pulls a Heel–Face Turn when his boss tries to have him killed.
  • Ada Wong from Resident Evil 4 is fairly enigmatic, being nominally Leon's enemy while having an agenda of her own and playing the other power players against each other.
  • Enigma, the ominous hooded sorcerer from Puzzle and Dragons Z, is at least nominally loyal to Paradox, but aside from standing around and chuckling menacingly to himself, he actually does more to help the player than antagonize them. In the finale, at the very end of the Nightmare Castle dungeon, he betrays his boss Dogma to absorb the power of the Skydragons. In the postgame, it's revealed that "Enigma" was the original name of Avalon, the Dragon King, making him the overarching villain of the entire story.
  • RuneScape has Sliske. He is a Mahjarrat aligned with Zaros, but he is far more sinister and chaotic than the other Zaros aligned Mahjarrat, who warn the player not to trust Sliske even though they trust in his loyalty to Zaros. He is also very interested in the player for mysterious reasons. During the events of The World Wakes, he assassinates Guthix to allow the gods to return even though the other Zarosians wanted to reason with Guthix instead. He then becomes the Big Bad of the following storyline, deliberately trying to start a new war between the gods, and it becomes increasingly obvious that he no longer is loyal to Zaros. Then the player finds out that he actually is working with a mysterious new master, who turns out to be the elder god Jas. In the climax of his storyline, he reveals that he really just wants to see the world burn for his own amusement due to his boredom, but the player is still left with a lot of unanswered questions about him and his plans. And it is strongly implied that he is now sharing a body with the player after his defeat so his plans may not be over.
  • Saints Row IV has the Professor Genki, an insane Deadly Game Show Host, willingly signing up to serve the Zin Empire to create versions of his game shows that utilize superpowers. But winning his games causes chaos that disrupts the Zin's systems, and he's as often found giving the player shiny new toys to wreak havoc as he is hindering them. Whether he's a genuine Quisling who isn't very good at his job, a Trickster Mentor, or just plain nuts is left up in the air.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Dante in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. While at first just doing his job to hunt you, he eventually realizes there's something fishy going on...
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Mastema is no longer the Smug Snake asshole he was in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. In fact, he has the Four Archangels' plan to eradicate Tokyo smashed, and imprisons three of them in Kagome Tower, only allowing Gabriel to escape. Thus, he saves Tokyo... and then collaborates with Tayama's scheme to produce Red Pills, ditching him in due time... To further mudden the waters, he's implied to be the only angel left who can actually hear God's voice, and despite being the fricking Angel of Hostility, he's surprisingly cool with you taking the Chaos Path, saying that straying from the Lord is one way to learn about Him as well.
  • Vincent from Silent Hill 3 at first seems to be in league with Big Bad Claudia, sharing her background and occult beliefs and meeting with her a few times throughout the game, while also making it clear to the heroine Heather that he has his own hidden agenda. Later it turns out that he's working against Claudia and trying to save the world, though he's doing it for entirely selfish and amoral reasons.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio is the only one of Count Bleck's minions who volunteered on his own to work under Bleck. As if this weren't shady enough, he's the only villain who doesn't seem interested in actually stopping the heroes, but when he does finally decide to get the job done he's shockingly ruthless and effective at it. Or at least, he would be, if doing that wasn't exactly what the heroes needed in order for them to get the last Pure Heart. In fact, he never seems to do anything that really helps the Count... It turns out that his plan all along was to have the heroes defeat Count Bleck, exhausting their own MacGuffins in the process and leaving Dimentio in sole control of the Doomsday Device.
  • Kratos from Tales of Symphonia. His interest in your progression during the storyline becomes so prevalent and noticeable that Lloyd eventually begins wondering out loud why the heck someone who betrayed and all but killed him once and who constantly refers to himself as an enemy keeps appearing to drop enigmatic hints and encouragements about what he should be doing next.
  • Raven from the game Tekken 5 who gets introduced as an mysterious observer in the opening sequence, and is in the tournament on a mission for his unknown employments.
  • Bleden Mark, the Archon of Shadows, in Tyranny. His job is killing potential threats to Kyros, but as long as the player doesn't merit that title, he's an affable-if-enigmatic sort-of-friend to the Fatebinder's ascent. In the anarchist path, he's the Fatebinder's main "questgiver", pointing them towards useful artifacts and possibly becoming one of the Fatebinder's Co-Dragons along with Tunon.
  • Kariya from The World Ends with You is a Brilliant, but Lazy example of this. He frequently turns down promotions within the Reapers, prefers to spend time in the fields instead of lounging around in the Dead God’s Pad unlike the head Reapers, and will even go out of his way to provide helpful information and items to Players. Suffice to say, this frustrates the hell out of his partner, Uzuki.

    Visual Novels 
  • Archer from Fate/stay night, especially in the Unlimited Blade Works route. The most you can say without getting into spoiler territory is that he is on Rin's side, but being on "her side" doesn't mean he's unwilling to do things that put her in imminent danger to help his own goals as well.
  • Judge Hakari Mikagami (Justine Courtney in the fan translation) from Ace Attorney: Investigations 2 spends 4 out of 5 cases trying to take away Edgeworth's prosecutor badge. However, in the fourth case, she behaves strangely, often leaving hints for Edgeworth to pick up. She finally reveals herself as Good All Along: she's trying to take down her corrupt boss, Bansai (Blaise), by spurring Edgeworth in the right direction.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: When first introduced, Neopolitan appears to serve Roman and is completely loyal to him. She's an extremely skilled fighter, superior to Roman, and usually ends up protecting him when his skill isn't enough. She never speaks and appears to get on with the villains that control Roman much better than Roman does, even though she's clearly serving him and not them. Why she is willing to work better with the other villains than Roman despite her loyalty to Roman is unknown. The reason why she is so loyal to Roman, and whether or not she's capable of speech remained unknown. Volume 6 eventually revealed that she is mute, and the creators released the supplementary novel RWBY: Roman Holiday that finally gave her backstory: she grew up isolated and abused, was inducted into Spider and trained as a top-notch assassin, but chose to follow Roman instead because he was her Only Friend when everyone else tried to use or control her.

  • Adventurers!! has a particularly good example of this trope in Argent. He's working for Khrima, one of the story's main villains, but he doesn't care about the heroes; his real motivation is gradually revealed through the story - he has a personal vendetta against the other main villain, Eternion, and is just using Khrima for resources; when Eternion is defeated, he bows out of the story.
  • Nioi in El Goonish Shive. She searches for a way to backstab General Shade Tail (Subordinate Excuse vs. court intrigue) when not on her proper job (artifacts research) or fixing minor problems like Kaoli's abnormal status.
  • Veithel in Juathuur. Until the end, it's unclear if she cares for Ratheel and Dej or if she is willing to betray them for her father's benefit. Both, actually. And she will sacrifice to save Dejoru AND follow her father's wishes for her.
  • Torg, protagonist of Sluggy Freelance, was doing this professionally for a while in an attempt to get back at another evil organization. He gave up after his "boss" turned out to have unintentionally betrayed him.
  • Gamzee Makara of Homestuck definitely fits the wild card aspect of this. He's clearly an antagonist, but his relationships with some of the protagonists add ambiguity. In addition, it's now uncertain how much of what he did was Mind Control and how much was his own initiative.
  • Collar 6 has Gunther, an associate of the strip's main antagonist, Mistress Butterfly. He walks into the strip with no real introduction, backtalks Butterfly, effortlessly puts down a pile of Red Shirts, has enough Super-Strength to take out a vault door with a single blow, and does it all with unflappable, mildly amused calm. Ultimately, he turns out to be a Super-Soldier rescued from death's door, utterly devoted to Butterfly and her husband, just perplexed and concerned at the dark turn Butterfly's powers have recently taken.

    Web Original 
  • The Masked Men from Marble Hornets. About all we can say for sure is that they have some connection to The Operator. Season 2 drops hints that they may not be entirely malevolent, culminating in the season finale, in which one of the masked men saves Jay and Jessica from Alex, who was holding them at gunpoint. Totheark, a YouTube account full of cryptic messages which might be run by one or more of the Masked Men, is similarly inscrutable.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Shadow and Simon are this. The Shadow works for the Grey Cult but has his own mind and a different agenda than his masters, which becomes especially true when he is finally returned to his true form Taliesin after which he still acts ambiguously. Simon is a seemingly obedient follower of his master's teachings and acts as a spokesman for all the Totenkopfs, but he tends to act rather ambiguously and his loyalties and goals aren't really clear-cut even to his superiors.
  • Bluejay of the Alphas, at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. The Alphas are definitely evil, but Bluejay openly mocks the Big Bad and performs a bunch of less-than-evil acts that he passes off with excuses. But he's still helping the bad guys and we don't know what he's really up to.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice Lord Batman from Justice League. Although the one responsible for allowing the Justice Lords to interact with the Justice League, he seems reluctant at best to follow the lead of the other Justice Lords and his true motivation for doing so in the first place is never revealed.
  • Transformers:
    • Sideways plays one of these in Transformers: Armada. He does so many sneaky evil laughs and sinister remarks while still being casually friendly with everyone that it's obvious he's The Mole, for Unicron, surprisingly enough.
    • He does the same thing in Transformers: Cybertron, even claiming to be an Autobot at one point for absolutely no clear reason. He is enigmatically joined by Soundwave about two thirds of the way through the series, who doesn't appear to be on anyone's side at all.
    • Tarantulas also plays the enigmatic cackler in Beast Wars. Even at the end of the series it's not completely clear whose side he's on, though there's good money he's only on Team Tarantulas. His Multiple-Choice Past muddies things even further.
  • Calypso in The Spectacular Spider-Man is more of a "Villain's Engimatic Girlfriend", but otherwise fits. She's introduced in the same episode as Kraven, pops in and out of the narrative, has what might be mystical powers and knowledge like her comic counterpart, or might just be spooky intuition, and is never really explained (though it's not unlikely that she was intended to have a role in later seasons, before the show was cancelled).
  • Solomon from Sym-Bionic Titan — he's mysterious, badass, tends to pop in and out of things, and is overall the least malevolent of the three main villains (himself, General Steel, and General Modula). He ends up becoming an ally of the heroes after they save his life against an Eldritch Abomination during an Enemy Mine and is solidified as a minion rather than a mastermind in his own right when the episode "Fortress of Deception" revealed he had a boss, who's plenty enigmatic himself.
  • Vater Orlaag from Metalocalypse. It's not clear exactly what his deal is, aside from seeming very loyal to Mr. Salacia.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Iroh is introduced as Zuko's Affably Evil uncle and mentor who halfheartedly tags along on his nephew's quest to capture the Avatar. Over time, we find out details about his past, like the death of his son Lu Ten, and his experience as a war hero and a mystic. It's only later that we find out that he's a leader in the Order of the White Lotus and an active opponent of the Fire Nation's campaign of conquest.
    • Mai is a decent example as well, in contrast to Azula's volatile nature. Mai keeps to herself and rarely does anything, however get between her and Zuko and you'll see who's more uncaring then.
    • Combustion Man might count too, in that he's Zuko's hired minion with an extremely enigmatic backstory, but his agenda is pretty clear from the start: kill the Avatar, get money.
  • Steven Universe: Pearls are normally low-ranking, homogenized, anthropomorphized fashion accessories. White Pearl possesses seemingly vast power, a voice distinct from every other Pearl seen thus far, and countermands the authority of both Yellow and Blue Diamond without so much as a word of protest from either.
    • Subverted later when we learn that White Pearl's personality is merely an extension of White Diamond's will and not her true self. She used to be a regular, pink-colored Pearl belonging to Pink Diamond before White Diamond took control of her.


Video Example(s):


The Black Ninja

Though he works with the Lotus Clan, the black ninja is obviously not subordinate to its leader by how he speaks with him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / EnigmaticMinion

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