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Et Tu, Brute?

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"We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best"
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Some heroes and heroines can take a huge amount of trouble and danger in their stride. Big Bad out to get them? Yesterday's news. Death Traps to the left and right of them? Snore. The End of the World as We Know It? They already know, thanks, and they're working on it. These characters know that a burden rests on their shoulders and don't let it get them down.

There's only one thing that can bring a seemingly invincible character to their knees: Betrayal.

Having the entire Evil Empire out to get them isn't a big deal as long as they have their True Companions watching their backs. But if one of the chosen few should renege, the hero will go to pieces.

It doesn't have to be anything as dramatic as switching sides or selling out to the Big Bad. If one makes a few scathing comments about their leadership skills, or another holds the hero responsible for his Cynicism Catalyst, the results can be as devastating as though they'd painted a target on their pal's head and handed out sniper rifles.

Can be Played for Laughs if their reaction is clearly an overreaction — surviving a cave-in, an ambush, and a death trap without breaking a sweat, only to burst out into tears when his girlfriend forgets his birthday, for example. Generally it's anything but funny; most people can relate to having someone important let them down. Even if it's an overreaction it may reveal exactly how much stress the character is under.

A second version of this trope is where the hero has already given their buddy a second chance, overlooking past (or even current) misdeeds in the interest of preserving the friendship and deciding to accept their pal just the way they are, warts and all... as long as their misdemeanors are confined to people who aren't the hero or their immediate family. Should that unspoken truce be broken, a massive Freak Out is only seconds away, followed by Post-Support Regret.

A third version of this trope comes when the hero or the villain develops a bond with someone, only to discover that the person in question was never his friend, and just pretended to be one. Often followed by the obvious next question, Was It All a Lie?

This is, of course, Truth in Television — the vast majority of us care far more about what our parents, friends, and family think than what Joe Bloggs down the street may say about us.

Particularly brutal if the victim is betrayed by the ones who supposedly rescued him from a Friendless Background, or if they desperately seek friendship above all else. A Sadistic Choice, Break His Heart to Save Him, or Because You Can Cope excuse may be made if the victim's "betrayer" felt as though they had no choice but to abandon them. If the characters in question were friends with each other prior to the betrayal, it probably triggers Face–Heel Turn, Evil Former Friend, and We Used to Be Friends. Often overlaps with Insidious Rumor Mill. Compare and contrast Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, where the friend merely leaves rather than outright betrays him. Betrayal by Offspring is similar except that the betrayal is done by a character's son or daughter. If the character being called out is a hero, then it can also overlap with What the Hell, Hero?.

The Trope Namer is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, where Caesar reacts with shock at seeing Brutus among his murderers. note  "Et tu" means "and you?" or idiomatically "even you?"

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • One purpose of The Last Supper is to depict the Apostles' collective surprise upon learning one of their own has betrayed them. Besides Jesus, none of them knows who the traitor is, but the shadows don't lie, and neither does Judas's expression.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • It has a running gag about the historical event, but the trope is only named after it, it is not about historical references to the actual death of Caesar.
    • In Asterix and Caesar's Gift, the idea of using the Magic Potion to throw Orthopedix out when he challenges Vitalstatistix for chiefdom is vetoed by Getafix, who refuses to let his magic be misused, and leaves. When Asterix follows Getafix, Vitalstatistix dramatically laments, "Et tu, Asterix? Then fall, Vitalstatistix, fall!"
    • At the end of Asterix and Son, Caesar learns that Brutus was behind the plot to kidnap his and Cleopatra's son Caesaron, and berates him with the infamous, "Et tu, Brute?"
  • Basic premise of Avengers Disassembled. The Avengers were facing many threats, villains, and betrayals. But one of their core members, somebody they deeply trusted, suddenly snapping and trying to kill them, with clarification she's Not Brainwashed, was enough to disband the team.
  • In one Batman comic, Two-Face was genuinely reformed and about to leave Arkham. Then the Joker came along and started messing with him that his best friend Bruce Wayne and his girlfriend were together. As a final push, the Joker slipped an already suspicious Two-Face a fake newspaper that Bruce and his girlfriend were marrying. He broke out of Arkham to kill Bruce.
  • In Lilith, Commodus has a rather peculiar one when the time-traveling title character allows him to catch his would-be assassins Eclectus (his chamberlain), Narcissus (his personal trainer and sparring partner), and Marcia (his Christian concubine) in the act, remarking not on their friendship but on their utter stupidity in betraying the one man who put them in positions of power, keeps them there against the opposition of the Roman Senate, and, especially, adopted policies favorable to the Christians just to favor Marcia (who, after being caught betraying Commodus, became the first victim of a new persecution).
  • In the comic series Preacher, Jesse quickly forms a best buddies relationship with Irish vampire Cassidy, travelling across half the world to save him at one point. But it's not long before Cassidy is trying it on with his girlfriend and later, after Jesse's apparent death, Cassidy manages to seduce her, getting her hooked on drugs in the process. When Jesse comes back (after learning of a long line of similar screw-ups in Cassidy's past), he's not exactly pleased.
    • There's a scene when Jesse comes back, sees his girlfriend kissing Cassidy, and faints.
  • In PS238, Zodon's 'childhood escapades' took a decisive turn for the worse once he overheard his parents discussing whether it'd be better if he wasn't a metahuman.
  • Robin (1993): This is Tim Drake's basic reaction to realizing that the Bad Future (caused by the fall of his hero friends) he'd been obsessively trying to find ways to avoid was Batman's idea of a test.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Princess Sally is forced to use Bunnie's old roboticizer in order to combat Mecha Sonic (Sonic put through Unwilling Roboticization) and plans on using it on someone. Rotor brings it out and points out that doing so might put them at Robotnik's level. Sally replies "Et tu, Rotor?", then points out that they've kinda hit the Godzilla Threshold at this point.
  • In Supergirl storyline Red Daughter of Krypton, judge Sheko sentences her planet's prince to death. Of course, she expected to be assassinated; but she did not expect her own court's guard to turn around and point his gun at her. Sheko sarcastically calls him a puppet and tells him to earn his payment.
    Sheko: "Oh. They bought you too, didn't they? Very well, puppet. Be the king's messenger. Show this world that justice is dead."
  • Ultimate X-Men: Magneto reacted to all the attacks with disdain until his helmet (that prevents mind attacks on him) was removed by Quicksilver. His son, the one he always treated like dirt.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cars 2, Lightning McQueen gets this after his best friend Mater unintentionally causes him to lose a race in the World Grand Prix. Mater was doing so because Finn and Holley were trying to steer him away from the dangerous Lemon syndicate.
  • Coco: Even after 96 years, Héctor never once suspected that his best friend would have killed him for his songs, though he knew that Ernesto never gave him the credit he deserved. He's completely shocked by the revelation that his best friend betrayed and killed him.
  • Happens in Frozen when Anna is taken back to Hans, her fiance, so that they can share true love's kiss to melt her frozen heart. Just as they were about to kiss, Hans reveals his true intentions; he never loved Anna. It was all an act to get closer to the throne of Arendelle. Anna is in a state of complete disbelief at such a revelation.
  • In Hercules, Meg is working for Hades, although not evil. When Phil tried to show this to the titular character instead of listening in on her conversation with the villain to see if she will go through with his plan or not, Hercules doesn't believe him until Hades ended up revealing it to him, putting him into a Heroic BSoD from it.
    • Zeus had this look when he realized that Hades was behind the release of the Titans, their assault on Olympus, and was plotting to overthrow the king of the gods for quite some time.
  • Played with in Incredibles 2. Helen is shocked and betrayed that Evelyn is the Screenslaver and that her plan is to smear the image of Supers in the eyes of the public permanently. Evelyn quickly retorts that they barely knew each other, they were hardly best friends or anything.
  • A case where the betrayal actually does cause a Face–Heel Turn: Kung Fu Panda, during Tai Lung's Start of Darkness. Master Shifu betrays his prize pupil and adopted son — not by denying him the Dragon Scroll, but by raising him to believe he was destined to one day earn it as a matter of course, filling him with pride and dreams...and then, when Oogway advised otherwise, refusing to defend, stand up for, or even support his son. No wonder the snow leopard went insane and goes on his Rage Against the Mentor.
  • Happens in The Lion King when Scar throws his brother, Mufasa, to his death.
  • The Lorax (2012) has an implied example of this. After his Heel–Face Turn and Blatant Lies, the Once-Ler offers Pipsqueak a marshmallow, thinking that he had one friend among the animals whose home he ruthlessly destroyed for the approval and love of his family. The little Barbaloot gives him one short look and exits with the rest of the animals.
  • Henry J. Waternoose III to James P. Sullivan in Monsters, Inc. However, he begrudgingly did so on Randall's orders, as he intended to save Monsters Inc. and getting rid of Sullivan, his best employee, doesn't seem a sound solution.
  • Shrek the Third: Princess Fiona and the other Princesses' betrayal by Rapunzel, who was in love with Prince Charming.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's friends are shocked when she betrays them by keeping silent when Ming accuses them of influencing Mei to lie and sneak out especially since those things were Mei's ideas to begin with.
    • Mei's family are upset at Mei when she decides to keep her red panda spirit.
  • In Zootopia: At the press conference, Judy repeats the theory from the unnamed doctor at Cliffside Asylum that predators may be "going savage" due to their biology and were "reverting to their primitive state" for some unknown reason. Nick, hearing this from the person he has opened up to about his traumatic childhood experience with racism against predators, feels personally betrayed and is deeply upset, leading to their Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bloody Mama, Herman hits Kate, knocking her to the floor, and declares that he's taking over as the new head of the family. Kate lies on the floor, sobbing, "Not you. Not you."
  • Braveheart: When William Wallace learns that King Edward's personal bodyguard is none other than Robert the Bruce, he is so devastated that he sinks to his knees and can't move at all — and nearly gets captured because of this.
  • In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar has this reaction when he is betrayed and shot by Koba. Even better when you consider this was done to a protagonist whose name is Caesar.
  • In Ex Machina, Caleb finds himself betrayed by Ava, who leaves him locked in a room where he will die of starvation if not rescued.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Marcia is the only person Lonesome Rhodes really trusts, so she's the last one he would suspect of being responsible for his Engineered Public Confession. At Mel's urging, Marcia goes up to Lonesome and confesses that she was the engineer who betrayed him so that she'll never have to deal with him ever again.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, when Sgt. Gunnery Heartman decides that Pvt. "Gomer Pyle" needs extra help to become a proper Marine, he assigns Pvt. "Joker" to help him. Pyle appreciates Joker's help, and though he never says it, he considers Joker a friend. When Heartman decides that whenever Pyle screws up, the rest of the platoon will suffer the consequences, the other privates get fed up with his failure and hold a "blanket party." After the other privates beat him with soap bars wrapped in washcloths, Cowboy pressures Joker to hit Pyle, and what hurts Pyle the most is that the only friendly person there joined in the beating.
  • Gladiator: After becoming a gladiator, Maximus cuts up his SPQR tattoo, in angry sorrow about being betrayed by the government he'd served.
  • Fredo Corleone, angry of being reduced to playing second fiddle, betrays his brother Michael in The Godfather Part II. Michael later confronts Fredo in the middle of the New Year's party and gives him a Kiss of Death before delivering a devastating line with almost reptilian but true, anguished emotion.
    Michael Corleone: I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!
  • The Hitman: Early on, Chuck Norris' cop character is suddenly betrayed by his old partner when they're raiding a warehouse where illegal goods are being shipped. Turns out his partner was actually supervising the shipment until he arrived. It's so out of left field that initially, Norris just looks a bit stunned at the bullet hole in his chest.
  • James Bond:
    • A relatively mild case where the betrayal actually does lead to the Fallen Hero's Face–Heel Turn in Skyfall. At the beginning of the film, M asks for James Bond to leave Tiago Rodriguez/Raoul Silva where he was, not only because he had been engaging in unauthorized hacking against the Chinese, but to hand him over to them in exchange for the prisoners held by the Chinese government. No wonder the guy becomes a cyber-terrorist bent on revenge against M.
    • When the Big Bad of GoldenEye turned out to be Alec Trevelyan/006, who faked his death in the Arkhangelsk facility, Bond's reaction to this was one of pure shock and anger.
  • In John Woo's The Killer (1989), the protagonist Ah Jong gets this after learning from Fung Sei that Wong Hoi betrayed him and sent his hitmen after him.
  • Mean Girls may be playing with this. Gretchen Weiners compares herself to Brutus and Regina George to Caesar when they are learning Julius Caesar in class.
    Gretchen: Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What's so great about Caesar? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. OK, Brutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar. And when did it become OK for one person to be the boss of everybody? Because that's not what Rome is about! We should totally just stab Caesar!"
    • Then it is Gretchen's "You can't sit with us!" that finally drives Regina away from their table.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Kong: Skull Island: It's very brief, but if you look closely when Slivko turns his gun on Packard, Packard has a surprised look on his face whilst trying to draw his own gun on Slivko.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Multiple heroes feel betrayed by Emma Russell when they learn of her plan to awaken the Titans and they realize she was in cahoots with Alan Jonah all along.
    • See the Live-Action TV page for another example.
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of MW has Father Garai attempting to betray Michio Yuki over to the police, something he wouldn't do in the manga.
  • Perfect Addiction: Sienna is particularly betrayed that her boyfriend had slept with her sister. It takes a long time for her to forgive them.
  • In the film of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time , when the King of Persia was apparently assassinated by his own son Dastan, his last word was "Why?".
  • In the film Red Dawn (1984), the Wolverines seem to have no problem performing guerilla warfare against the occupying Soviet forces, gunning down countless Soviet soldiers. However, it's only when one of their members betrays them to the Soviets (he was captured, and they forced him to betray his buddies, otherwise they'd kill his father), and they are forced to kill him, that they realize how deep in the war they are in. After that, things progressively go downhill for the Wolverines.
  • Shall We Play?: The worst part of Stacy's humiliation is how Jess, her friend, starts believing that she took the photos voluntarily, shaming her and calling her crazy after this when Stacy rightly (truthfully) says it wasn't her. It turns out this is because Jess wants Matt, who took the photos, herself.
  • Star Wars:
    Anakin Skywalker: The Jedi turned against me, don't you turn against me!
    • This happens to all of the Jedi when Anakin enters the Jedi Temple to enact Order 66. In a particularly heartbreaking scene, a bunch of younglings emerge from hiding when they see Anakin, thinking he is there to rescue them. But in reality he has come to kill them.
      Sors Bandeam: Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?
      (Anakin glares at the younglings, and ignites his lightsaber.)
    • To say nothing about how poor Obi-Wan Kenobi must have felt when he discovered that Anakin had turned to The Dark Side and led the massacre of the Jedi Temple, not even sparing the children.
      Obi-Wan Kenobi: (watching Anakin kneel before Darth Sidious on hologram) It can't be... it can't be...
    • The Force Awakens has a villainous example. A stormtrooper known as "Nines" is very angry when he learns that his old squadmate Finn defected to the Resistance. His one scene in the movie opens with him calling Finn, "TRAITOR!"
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the Autobots' betrayal by Sentinel Prime, who kills Ironhide.
  • TRON: Legacy: Flynn Sr. is pretty much broken already, but then he gets a good, solid look at the distinctive Tron Lines on Rinzler and realizes...
  • Willow: Bavmorda looks genuinely shocked and stricken after Sorsha, her daughter, switches sides to join the good guys, earlier dismissing the idea she would ever do this, seeing her loyalty as beyond question.

  • An oldie but a goodie: Q. What did Caesar say when Brutus stabbed him? A. "Ouch!"

  • Bazil Broketail: Jak is devastated by Relkin's supposed betrayal in book four.
  • In The Bible, Judas betrays Jesus. The Jews who once supported Jesus now fervently denounce and mock him, calling for his crucifixion. It's subverted in that Jesus knew about Judas's betrayal ahead of time and, according to the Gospel of Judas, may have even asked Judas to betray him.
  • The Butcher Boy: Francie's reaction after finding out that Joe befriended Philip.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Tasia is horrified and outraged when her former lover/handmaid Mylla is a star prosecution witness at her trial claiming she disclosed desiring her father to die, along with revealing the relationship they had, which [[Heteronormative Crusader discredits her further in most people's eyes. Mylla claims later that she only did this because her father ordered her to, but Tasia retorts there is nothing that would have made her do the same.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Vibrant is fast and strong enough to dodge or ram her way through all the torpor enforcers — until her childhood friend Crinis trips her up and holds her still while they knock her out. (It's basically Played for Laughs, though, since the consequences are just that she gets a good night's sleep, spa treatment, carapace waxing, etc.
    Vibrant: Crin-Crin? ... why ... would ... you?
  • In The Oaken Throne, the Starwife is betrayed and murdered by her trusted handmaiden, Morwenna.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Turn Coat, Morgan survives just fine being on the run for his life after being framed for murder. But let him learn the one person he cares for most thought the worst of him...
    "Ana," he said, almost choking on the words. "You. . . you think that I. . . How could you think that I would. . . .?"
    He turned his face away. It couldn't have been a tear. Not from Morgan. He wouldn't shed tears if he had to execute his own mother.
    But for a fraction of a second, something shone on one of his cheeks.
    • Though the person he perceives to have betrayed him gently points out Brainwashed and Crazy is a very real danger in this universe and so the mistrust is not entirely unwarranted.
    • This is one of the worst ways you can hurt Harry. It's happened to him twice in his life, with Justin and Elaine before the series starts and Ebenezar in Blood Rites. Possibly the only way to hurt him more is to manipulate him into doing this to his friends.
  • In the Gone series, Sam and Quinn in the first book.
  • This was the tragedy of the Marauders in Harry Potter, as explained in Prisoner of Azkaban. Peter Pettigrew, one of the four iconic best friends (who formed the Marauders, consisting of James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew), betrays James Potter to Voldemort. James' best friend Sirius entrusted Peter with the secret of the Potters' hiding place and Peter sells out the Potters to Voldemort by revealing their hiding place to him, sending James and his family to their deaths (save for the Potters' infant son, Harry, who famously survives Voldemort's attack). Sirius went to pieces upon discovering Peter's betrayal. Rather than owning up to his betrayal when Sirius chases him down in a grief-stricken fury, Peter frames Sirius for the Potters' murder and his own killing spree. Sirius was so heartbroken that he broke down into hysterical laughter and was dragged off to Azkaban without struggling.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry, already stressed at being forced to compete in the Triwizard Tournament, wonders whether anyone other than Ron and Hermione will believe his protestations that he didn't enter his name into the Goblet of Fire. When even Ron subsequently refuses to believe him and becomes very resentful of him to boot, Harry is both incredulous and enraged, leading to a significant falling-out between them that lasts until Harry almost gets killed during the first task.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry calls out Cho for averting this when her best friend Marietta sells out the DA to Umbridge after attending lessons for six months. As Harry rightly pointed out, Marietta was willing to let everyone involved, including Cho, get expelled. Although Cho is also right that Hermione didn't tell anyone that she'd put a curse on the parchment, so arguably, Harry has also averted this, and not necessarily rightfully.
    • This trope is also heavily toyed with in Half-Blood Prince when Severus Snape kills Albus Dumbledore; Deathly Hallows subsequently reveals that Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him both so Draco Malfoy wouldn't have to and because Dumbledore was dying from a Horcrux-inflicted curse already.
  • In the Hurog duology, Ward is heartbroken whenever someone close to him reveals that they believe him capable of using Klingon Promotion. At one point, his own brother tells him to please get it over with quickly, and Ward doesn't even understand what he means, as the concept of killing his family to get a title is so alien to him. When he does understand it, he's utterly horrified by the implication.
  • Bertie Wooster's reaction whenever he feels he's been betrayed or let down by Jeeves. It even merits a Julius Caesar Shout-Out in "Jeeves and the Old-School Chum". (For the record, Jeeves had taken their lunch out of the car before they went golfing.)
    I quivered like an aspen. I stared at the man. Aghast. Shocked to the core.
    "You, Jeeves?" I said, and I should rather think Caesar spoke in the same sort of voice on finding Brutus puncturing him with the sharp instrument.
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Nate. What's with the constant brother/sister betrayals in Cassandra Clare books?
    • And later, Jessamine Lovelace betrays the Institute for Nate.
  • Left Behind:
    • In Assassins, Enigma Babylon leader Peter Mathews was killed in this manner by the ten subpotentates when he was invited to attend a Nasty Party where he was killed with Feather Flechettes from an ice sculpture made in his image. As it turns out, Peter's death was foretold by Scripture in the Book of Revelation, speaking of the "ten horns of the beast" that would hate the whore, that would "eat her flesh and burn her with fire", as Peter's body was then cremated under the cover story that he contracted a contagious disease.
    • Jonathan Stonagal, The Chess Master behind the creation of Nicolae Carpathia, also gets this from his own creation when he and Joshua Todd-Cothran were simultaneously murdered by Carpathia during the appointment of the ten regional subpotentates.
  • In The Saga Of Billy, Vetherr, the Enemy of Man, is said by the people of Erenner to have betrayed his lovers, the goddesses of the moon; he devoured the fertility of the first, so that he could create life, and the reason of the second, so that he could give his creations a mind of their own. However, the dwarves of Stia think that he was actually their newborn child.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Josarian is completely devastated when he finds out that he was sold out by his cousin, whom he was close as a brother to.
  • Song at Dawn Al-Hisba betrays Dragonetz by burning down the paper mill they created together. However, he only did it because the Archbishop twisted his arm and had attempted Dragonetz's murder three times thus far.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Night Watch’s Lord Commander Jon Snow gets knifed in a mutiny by several of his fellow Black Brothers, who believe that many of the changes he is making will doom the Watch.
  • In a villanous example, this is how Grand Admiral Thrawn is finally killed in the last part of the original trilogy. Had he not be killed by his bodyguard, he would most likely have survived until the arrival of the Yuzang-Vong war.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Alia (the prophesied "Warbringer") is quite upset to realize her protective older brother Jason has only been protecting her to use her burgeoning destructive nature for his own gain and has been a False Friend to her and her allies her whole life.


    Myths & Religion 
  • Played with in The Four Gospels regarding Judas' betrayal of Jesus and Peter's denial of Jesus. Both acts are treated as shocking, but Jesus foretells both occurrences. Jesus later forgives Peter after His resurrection, and Peter once again becomes the lead disciple. Judas, however, never lives it down.
  • Book of Psalms: Psalms 41 and especially 55 both describe this type of betrayal. The Gospel writers point to these psalms as prophesying Judas' betrayal.
    My companion stretched out his hand against his friends
    He violated his covenant
    His speech was smooth as butter
    Yet war was in heart
    His words were softer than oil
    Yet they were drawn swords

    Psalm 55:20-21

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Bob Backlund had this feeling after his manager, Arnold Skaaland, caused him to lose the WWF championship to The Iron Sheik by throwing in the towel.
  • The Undertaker had this reaction when Paul Bearer turned on him for Mankind in a boiler room brawl.
  • Raven was really hurt when Perry Saturn left his Flock in WCW. More, Raven did not even know he could be hurt in that way anymore until it happened.
  • CM Punk felt this way when Paul Heyman cost him a Money In The Bank Ladder match.
  • Astro Rey Jr after his La Ola Blanca partners Hijo del Dr. Wagner and Médico Asesino Jr. attacked him and left Astro Rey for the Clown Corp during the World Wrestling League's 2014 Dream Matches Tour.
  • On the Raw after the 2022 Hell in a Cell, it looked like Finn Bálor was going to join Edge, Damian Priest, and Rhea Ripley as the Judgment Day's fourth member...but instead, the three decided to turn on their leader with Priest mentioning the Rated-R Superstar as the one holding them back. Edge was puzzled by this revelation.
  • Rey Mysterio's reaction to his son Dominik low blowing the luchador and Edge after winning against the Judgment Day at Clash at the Castle 2022 is this...yet Rey would still believe that there is still some good in Dominik's tainted heart even after joining the Judgment Day's stead.
  • During the main event of SummerSlam 2023, just as Jey Uso was about to pin Roman Reigns, a mysterious figure pulled Jey out of the ring. The mysterious figure is then revealed to be Jey's brother, Jimmy, who betrayed the younger Uso to allow Roman to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Not only was Jey shocked by this betrayal, even the commentators were also shocked at this revelation.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition mentions in the Codex Of Betrayal articles, which chronicle the origin of devils and their war against the god known only as He Who Was. It's said that when Asmodeus, leader of the rebellion, convinced Greyon, HWW's favorite angel, to side against him, the god cried such tears as to drown mountains, and after such a betrayal, his heart was no longer in the war.

  • The titular character of Donizetti's opera Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) has one of these moments upon discovering that her best friend and handmaid, Giovanna/Jane Seymour is the woman driving Enrico/Henry VIII's plan to get her executed. But Anna forgives Giovanna upon finding out that she is sorry and is as trapped by the situation as she herself is.
  • For the eponymous Hun king in Attila, it’s not much of a surprise that some people want to kill him. However, when he sees his beloved new bride among the plotters, he is so shocked he doesn’t even defend himself when she stabs him.
  • In Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto, Giovanni, Cesare, and Angelo are betrayed by Draghignazzo, Giovanni's close and constant companion, and Roberto, Angelo's close friend. They burn down the workshop that the Medici had created in Pisa on Cesare's suggestion, which Angelo was made leader of, because they've sided with the religious opposition to Renaissance humanism — Savonarola's party, though he isn't mentioned by name in the play. It takes place when Giovanni and Cesare are 16, only a few years before Savonarola takes over Florence.
  • Older Than Steam: The trope name comes from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. As the assassins attack, Caesar defends himself... but when he sees Brutus, his best friend, among the assassins, he gives up and lets himself be murdered — he didn't care about a bunch of strangers armed with pointy things, but having his buddy stab him is another story entirely. The full quote is: "Et tu, Brute? note  Then fall, Caesar." Marc Antony during Caesar's funeral would say of Brutus's betrayal that his was "the most unkindest cut of all."
    • One alternate interpretation of the line is less of a question and more of a statement, as in "You're next." In real life, Brutus only lived another two years after the death of Caesar.
  • Max Bialystok calls Leo this in The Producers when he receives a postcard from Brazil and learns what happened to Ula and Leo along with other infamous traitors in history. Both come back and Max reconciles with Leo.

    Web Animation 
  • Tends to be common in GoAnimate grounded videos, where the troublemaker's "friends" will rat them out if the chips are down. If the character is in court, expect the friend to testify against them.
  • The original quote gets mentioned in Last Minute Book Reports - Fast Julius Caesar, where the narrator (presenting the titular Last-Minute Project) assumes that "Et tu, Brute?" means something along the lines of "I guess we're not best buds anymore".
  • Deconstructed in Mystery Skulls Animated. Lewis was killed by his possessed and horrified friend, Arthur, and now seeks Arthur's death in revenge.
  • Daniel Sun's Power Star has a subversion in that although Luigi speaks with utter shock seconds before his brother Mario kills him as though he has betrayed him, he's perfectly aware that Mario is suffering from Demonic Possession and therefore has not willingly committed an out-and-out act of treason.
    Luigi: [While being stabbed through the upper-lip area] Muh... Mario?

    Web Comics 
  • In the backstory of Girl Genius, Gil and Tarvek were best friends as children on Castle Wulfenbach — Tarvek was the son of a prince, and Gil was an orphan who didn't know his family in a school where everyone was related to royalty. Gil helps Tarvek sneak around the Castle to spy on behalf of his father, and in return, Tarvek breaks into a top-security vault to try and find out who Gil's family are. After Gil is found and taken to the Baron, he is told that he's actually the Baron's son and that he's been manipulated by the son of an enemy into spying on his only family, although Word Of God says that he's also Zeetha's twin. To him, telling the Baron where Tarvek hides his encrypted notes is an act of loyalty. To Tarvek, he's just been stabbed in the back after trying to help his friend and ends up getting sent back to his Big, Screwed-Up Family who all want to kill each other. More than a decade later, and they still resent each other.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Raptor genuinely did care for Baek Morae, making it all the worse for her when he betrayed that trust. Even in the present, when asked to write down about her experiences with him in the interest of information, she can only reflect on the happy memories she had with him, before tearing up the paper.
  • In this Looking for Group strip.
    • It's interesting to note that it seems to have been played for laughs as well as (some) drama, instead of one or the other, but that's to be expected of LFG in general and Richard in particular.
    • The real Et Tu Brute moment is when Cale learns that Pella killed their own soldiers to force Cale to retreat and therefore survive. He knows that his allies aren't the most moral of people, but he thought that she was more idealistic like him.
  • In MegaTokyo, Largo himself points out, in an unusually serious tone, how painful a betrayal can be. In fact, much of his dislike for Miho, previously Played for Laughs, stems from her once being their friend online in an MMORPG gameverse (and seducing Piro's character) before viciously betraying them. This is hinted as part of the reason he is so mistrustful of relationships, something Erika brands as fairly laughable at first before realising how seriously he took it.
  • Ménage à 3: The trope is invoked by name, for comedy, by Emo Drama Queen Angel when various people who Angel should know are unreliable or hostile prove unreliable or hostile in quick succession. The joke is that Angel has just claimed to be "like a genderfluid Julius Caesar"...
  • Slightly Damned features a subversion: Buwaro and Rhea are forced to pretend they are members of Hell's army and take Kieri hostage to prevent her from going down fighting against three demons; at least one of them didn't care about capturing her alive and straight-up wanted to kill her. With this plan, though, they at least have a chance of rescuing her and her brother (who was also captured) while posing as bad guys. However, Buwaro and Rhea's inner thoughts show that they are immensely regretful about this, despite their good intentions. Kieri, naturally, is deeply hurt by this, and it takes several days for her to forgive Buwaro, or even speak to him at all. Her Loyal Animal Companion, Crunky, however, has grown to despise Buwaro for this act, either staring daggers at him or outright attacking him whenever she sees him.
  • In A Tale of Two Rulers, Ghirahim's betrayal of Ganondorf's trust is clearly seen as this.
  • Tower of God — Rachel's betrayal of The Hero Bam is the pinnacle of Season 1. Her betrayal completely breaks him and she gets a free ride from his companions who think they are doing a favor in his legacy. This is also a reason why Rachel is a Walking Spoiler since much about her is kept secret until that point.
  • In Weak Hero, though Gerard never got along with his old bandmate Hyeonjin, he was thoroughly enamoured with Hyeonjin's music and connected to it in a way that no one else did. This made it hurt all the more when Hyeonjin quit the band, revealed that he never cared about it in the first place, and that the music he made meant nothing to him. This is part of what contributes to Gerard crossing the Despair Event Horizon.

    Web Original 
  • Chakona Space: In Chapter 7 of Tales of the Folly, Neal has been injured in some spaceport drama. Not only are his mates, companions, and children trying to tie him down in a sickbay bed, so is his ship. He then proceeds to quote Julius Caesar.
  • In Worm, Rachel Lindt, a supervillain, takes it badly when it's revealed that Taylor, quite possibly the only friend that she's ever had, is an aspiring superhero who joined Rachel's gang with the intent to betray them to the authorities. Their friendship afterwards is strained to the point of breaking.

    Web Videos 
  • Dream: In the ending of his Speedrunner VS 2 Hunters video, George kills Sapnap when he believes that Dream, who is falling into the void, has lost. This reckless move costs him the entire game, as Dream manages to get one of Sapnap's Ender Pearls before he can fall far enough to die, allowing him to get back onto safe ground and kill George — had George just done nothing, he would have won without question.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has done this in both Channel Awesome anniversary specials: in the brawl to 2D Lee because he sided with the gamers over the critics and in Kickassia to Film Brain when he turned against Critic because he accidentally killed Santa Christ.
  • In Episode 355 of Stampy's Lovely World, "Friends and Foes", Veeva Dash, a trusted Helper who was secretly Evil All Along, lures Stampy into a trap, poisons him, and helps HitTheTarget summon a Wither to kill him and destroy his World.
  • The Weather: Downplayed; after the mountain meets a friendly cloud, played by a caller, another group of clouds show up to bully him. When the caller-cloud joins in, the mountain gets sad, saying he thought the two of them were "building rapport".

    Western Animation 
  • Marceline from Adventure Time had this several times, leading her to drive others away so it won't happen again.
  • Amphibia: What triggered King Andrias' Start of Darkness was believing his childhood friend Leif betrayed him by stealing the Calamity Box and doomed Amphibia’s legacy when her actual intent was to protect it.
  • Arcane:
    • Silco considers Vander, a man he once called brother, a traitor for abandoning their once-shared dream of a united Zaun and for attempting to drown him.
    • Powder feels deeply betrayed when her older sister Vi seemingly abandons her after Powder inadvertently killed their family. Powder's hurt denunciations against Vi touches Silco with their shared pain, who goes from planning to kill her to adopting her as his daughter.
    • Viktor has one as well, during The Boy Savior. "You didn't say they were from the Undercity!/ "I'm from the Undercity."
  • As Told by Ginger: When Ginger Foutley finds out from Courtney Gripling that Dodie Bishop and Macie Lightfoot teamed up with Miranda Killgallenin in an attempt to break up her and Darren Patterson.
    • Lampshaded when Ginger sees her friends defecting to the other side in "Battle Of The Bands".
      "Et tu Dodie?"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the episode "The Crossroads Of Destiny", Uncle Iroh's betrayal by Zuko, his nephew who sold him out to the Dai Li. For the record, Iroh is not specifically hurt by the act of betrayal − he has been going through it since he withdrew from the siege of Ba Sing Se, anyway − and is instead saddened that Zuko's conflict of conscience has to go this deep. He never wavers in his trust for Zuko, which, fortunately, does pay off.
    • In the episode, "The Avatar and the Fire Lord", though the relationship between Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin became deeply strained when Roku made it clear that he would kill Sozin if he launched his planned war, their relationship wasn't entirely beyond saving, as shown when Sozin showed up to aid Roku when his island suffered a massive volcanic eruption, much to Roku's surprise. The two men stood their ground and controlled the volcanoes until the villagers had escaped, at which point Roku takes a faceful of toxic volcanic gas and collapses, begging for Sozin to help him. Sozin however realizes this is the perfect chance to finally achieve his ambitions of conquest for a better world and and leaves him to die on the island.
    • In "The Boiling Rock", Azula's spiral down into complete insanity starts when Mai and Ty Lee betray her. Then "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" has Ozai, the last person she trusts, essentially abandoning her so he can achieve world domination alone. Her breakdown complete, she no longer cares about anyone or anything and simply does as she wishes.
  • A rather depressing example comes from Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode "Birds of a Feather", the Penguin is released from prison and declares that he's reformed and will become a model member of high society. A group of snobbish aristocrats decide to bring him into their social circle so that they can laugh at his social ineptitude and appearance. He generally doesn't care how life had gotten him down through the rest of the episode, but when he overhears the woman whom he had fallen in love with talking about this plot, he loses it. The real slap in the face is that he had genuinely reformed until this happened.
  • The Beetlejuice cartoon has an instance. In the episode "Mr. Beetlejuice Goes to Town", after Beetlejuice gets elected Mayor of the Neitherworld, he lets the success go to him. Lydia goes incognito as a special interest rep and bribes Beetlejuice into some questionable legislation that gets exposed. After being impeached, B.J. has an Et Tu when he learns that Lydia was behind his impeachment.
  • In the backstory of Bojack Horseman, Bojack stabbed his best friend and mentor Herb in the back. When Herb was outed as being gay and caught in a sex scandal, Bojack was persuaded by an executive not to protest Herb getting unceremoniously fired from their show (a show that Herb wrote and created for Bojack to star in, when Bojack was still a nobody and they were just two friends trying to hit it big). When Bojack finally tries to make amends 20 years later as Herb is dying of cancer, Herb makes sure to tell Bojack about how deeply it cut to be betrayed and abandoned like that, and how he will never forgive Bojack as a result.
    Bojack: You have to believe me, I did everything I could.
    Herb: Yeah? Then why didn't you call me? 20 years, you didn't call me. You know what it was like for me? I had nobody! Everyone left! And I knew all those showbiz phonies would turn on me, sure. But you?
    Bojack: It's not my fault you got fired.
    Herb: I don't care about the job! I did fine, I had a good life. But what I needed then was a friend, and you abandoned me. And I will never forgive you for that.
  • Demona's Start of Darkness in Gargoyles, resulting in the destruction of most of the Wyvern Clan.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future", Mabel, who believes that Dipper's company is the only thing she'll be able to rely on once the summer is over, overhears Dipper accepting Ford's offer to stay in Gravity Falls as his apprentice, a decision that she views as a huge offense against her.
  • Said word-for-word by Julius Caesar in the English dub of the seventh episode of Il était une fois... L'homme. However, the original French has Caesar saying "Toi aussi, mon fils" ("You too, my son"), which is the French translation of the historical quote ("Tu quoque, fili mi"), rather than the Shakespeare one.
  • Justice League:
    • Wonder Woman has no problem working together with Hawkgirl. That is, until the episode, "Starcrossed", when she finds out the latter had been spying on Earth for the Thanagarians. Later on in the series, when Hawkgirl is back in the titular team, Wonder Woman is still raw about the betrayal and has issues trusting her. Luckily, in "The Balance", they're able to work together and make up in the end.
    • In the episode, "Injustice For All", Lex Luthor was hit in his armor by Humanite with a "killswitch" device when the latter sneaks up behind him. His last words before blacking out were "Et tu, Humanite?"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • A comedic example happens in the episode, "Party Of One". Pinkie Pie assumes that her friends are turning their backs on her after forcing Spike to admit that they don't like her parties anymore. As it turns out, her friends are setting up a birthday party for her without telling her about it.
    • A brainwashed example occurs in the two-parter episode, "The Return Of Harmony". In that episode, Discord, knowing about The Power of Friendship, brainwashes the True Companions into turning against each other. After a Circle of Shame by the Discord's balloons, which tells her that her friends are laughing about her behind her back, corrupted Pinkie Pie's reply to Twilight Sparkle is to be expected when she and the corrupted Applejack found her:
      Twilight Sparkle: Pinkie Pie! Are we glad to see you!
      Pinkie Pie: Oh you are, huh? Why? Need a good laugh?
      • To say nothing about how poor Twilight felt when one by one, her friends are acting different from themselves, and when Rainbow Dash went flying out of the maze after what Applejack told her.
      Applejack: (watching as Rainbow Dash went flying out of the maze) Well, looky there. Rainbow Dash is flying away. She's abandonin' us.
      Twilight Sparkle: Now I know that's a lie. How can it be?
    • A relatively mild example occurs in the episode "Ponyville Confidential". When the Gabby Gums column begins to print false-but-still-damaging stories of the mane six, it's initially suggested to Rarity that since Sweetie Belle works for the school paper, she might know who GG is. Rarity is immediately offended by the implication that her sister would associate with a pony with such blatant disregard for everypony's feelings. Her tune changes immediately once she discovers Sweetie Belle stole Rarity's diary and published it. To drive this home, Rarity confronts Sweetie with "Et tu, Gabby Gums?"
    • In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Fluttershy is the only of the Mane Six who seems wholly shocked by Discord's betrayal.
    • Before her, Shining Armor is likewise stunned that Discord would turn his back on them.
    • Discord gets hit with this moments later by Tirek, who he seemed to have thought was actually his friend. It causes Discord to, for the first time in the series, be broken.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "Rabbit Marks The Spot", when Rabbit tries to teach the others a lesson in digging in his garden for treasure by filling up a chest with rocks, he has a nightmare in which his friends, as stone statues, call him out for pulling such a stunt on them. Upon waking from his nightmare, he fears that he will be hated forever if they find out what's in the chest. Of course, this is long before it's revealed they actually appreciate what kind of worth the "treasure" has to offer.
  • Over the Garden Wall: Bout halfway through the series, Wirt and Greg have a moment like this when they learn Beatrice the bird was taking them to the magic woman, Adelaide, not to help them get home, but to sell them to the witch in exchange for breaking a curse on her and her family (ironically, after Beatrice had had a change of heart and was trying to call off the deal), and ditch her at the witch's house when they escape. They eventually reconcile.
  • Eda from The Owl House is furious when she discovers that the one responsible for the curse that ruined her life was none other than her older sister Lilith.
  • Inverted and played as a joke: Popeye returns to school to catch up with his missed education and starts with eighth grade, which turns out ominously:
    Teacher: (to Popeye) What did Caesar say when Brutus stabbed him?
    Popeye: He said "Ouch!"
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Marcie Fleach's final conversation with her former employer Mr. E before she's executed, plays out this way, as all his efforts to stop the evil have come to ruin, and he's going along with the attempt to free it.
    Marcie: "E I guess I expected more from you."
    Mr. E: "So did I little girl, so did I."
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Ahsoka Tano gets git pretty hard by this. She gets framed for bombing the Jedi temple and the whole council turns against her and are willing to get her expelled from the Jedi order. Including her father figure and mentor Plo Koon. She is left to trust only her master/big brother figure Anakin, and her closest friend Barriss Offee. This gets only far worse for her, when it is revealed that Barriss whom she trusted most, is the very person that framed her for the bombing. It's no wonder Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order afterwards. The only person left whom she could trust was Anakin, and that also played a big part in Anakin's descent into the dark side.
    • Star Wars Rebels: In "Through Imperial Eyes", this is Lieutenant Lyste's reaction to being framed for treason by Agent Kallus, who he'd had a Villainous Friendship with. What really makes it sting is that the only person who seems to care about Lyste is the same man who framed him, as the look on Kallus' face as Lyste is dragged away suggests it was a choice he wasn't particularly thrilled about making.
  • In the Grand Finale of Superman: The Animated Series, Superman is on the run due to attacking Earth while being Brainwashed and Crazy, and Supergirl is badly wounded and needs medical treatment. When he seeks the help of his scientist friend Emil Hamilton who has previously always stood by his side, Emil instead refuses to help because he doesn't want to consort with someone who's a known fugitive. Supes gets so enraged his "friend" is pretty much throwing him to the dogs he winds up threatening to kill Emil unless he helps Supergirl. The Man of Steel quickly winds up being horrified at his actions and softens up, but Emil in turn wins up getting his own Et Tu, Brute moment from this, leading him to switch sides and work with Lex Luthor in Justice League Unlimited.
  • Tangled: The Series: "et tu, Blondie" in episode 7
    • A dramatic example happens in "The Alchemist Returns". Varian, a young alchemist who could find the answers to the black spikes that are ravaging Corona, offers to help Rapunzel by finding the Sundrop Flower that saved her mom. To do so, they have to get it from the Royal Vault. Just as they get there, Varian betrays Rapunzel by taking the Sundrop Flower and reveals his true intentions: he doesn't care about the welfare of Corona and plans to let the rocks destroy the kingdom as revenge for them earlier turning their backs on him when his father got encased in crystal.
  • When Terra betrays the team in Teen Titans, she is easily able to hunt down and defeat them one by one, because they're unable to fight a former friend using their full strength (save Raven, whom she actually provokes into doing so, which nearly backfires on her). When they do finally let loose, Terra goes down in minutes.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has it parodied in "Space Invaders Part 3". When Michelangelo once again gloats he is a Battle Nexus Champion, Raphael, who reminded him not to talk about it again, attempts to smack him, but Leonardo stops him... so that he can smack the turtle himself.
    Michelangelo: Et tu, Leo?
  • In The Venture Bros., Monarch says this to King Gorilla when the latter (initially) refuses to help the Monarch escape prison.

    Real Life 
  • Civil wars are often bloodier than "regular" wars because of this trope.
  • There isn't any reliable source that Julius Caesar actually said this in real life, but most accounts agree that Caesar at first attempted to fight off his assassins, but gave up struggling when he spotted Brutus amongst them. According to Roman historian Suetonius, some people claim Caesar said something similar, but it was actually in Greek: kai su, teknon? means "You too, my son?" Another Roman historian, Plutarch, writes that Caesar said nothing at all, but he pulled his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators.
  • Warren G. Harding epitomized this trope when he once remarked to William Allen White: "I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends, my god-damned friends, White, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor nights!"
  • Cao Cao had a childhood friend named Zhang Miao. Zhang Miao had a falling out with another of their old friends named Yuan Shao, who at the time was acting as Cao Cao's nominal superior. Yuan Shao asked Cao Cao to execute Zhang Miao for him, but Cao declined to do so. However, when Cao was invading the province of Xu in 194, Zhang Miao (fearing Cao would eventually do as Yuan asked) led a group of conspirators to invite the wandering warlord Lu Bu into Cao's territory and take over.
    • The kicker is that Cao Cao was invading Xu in order to avenge his father and brother, who'd just been murdered. While Zhang Miao himself escaped Cao Cao's wrath (by being murdered by his own men), Cao exterminated his family; the usual punishment for treason.
  • Oda Nobunaga has had his life full of brutal conquests, other clans conspiring against him, and people gunning for his head. He crushed all of them no problem. But when his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide whom he trusted for being competent suddenly turned against him at Honnoji, combined with his minimum troops there, Nobunaga instead chose to commit seppuku rather than fighting to the end.
  • A lot of people in real life had a situation when a supposedly close friend violated their trust and understandably, friendship ended afterwards.


Video Example(s):


Marcy's True Colors

With King Andrias revealing Marcy's secret, both Anne and Sasha are forced to confront the awful truth that their own best friend was responsible for trapping them in Amphibia in the first place.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / EtTuBrute

Media sources: