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Evil Former Friend

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"Don't be a fool. The only one I ever loved was God. And that was a LONG time ago!"

Friendships fail for many reasons, such as distance, disagreements, circumstances, or Face Heel Turns. This trope is about that last one.

Evil Former Friend occurs whenever a good-aligned character (sometimes The Hero, but more commonly a Mentor Archetype, the Supporting Leader, or the Big Good) is revealed to have had a history as friend, ally, mentor, or even student with a major villain (commonly the Big Bad, but sometimes The Dragon or another high-ranking Evil Minion). Usually the friendship fell through simply because the future villain went power-mad and the other character didn't want any more to do with it, but more complex and unusual variations exist. Sometimes it will be known all along, but sometimes it will be the subject of a dramatic reveal that can lead The Hero and the audience to reevaluate what they know about both characters.

As the top of the page indicates, tends to happen a disproportionate amount of the time with the resident Wise Old Wizard and the Evil Sorcerer. Compare and contrast Big Bad Friend, where the revelation occurs during the story and the "Bad" character was Evil All Along (or at least had been for a while) and would rather remain friends despite this. Usually, either the evil character will be a Fallen Hero or the good one will be The Atoner (or both, if both started out more morally grey). The evil character will most likely be an Evil Counterpart and/or Shadow Archetype for the good one, and may also be their Arch-Enemy. If traces of the past friendship still exist, they might be Friendly Enemies or even have Foe Romance Subtext. Compare and contrast Rival Turned Evil, for where the friendship broke up over personal rivalry before one of the characters turned evil (though certain examples will overlap, not all will). A less extreme version of the falling-out is We Used to Be Friends.

Note that this is about friends who turned evil in the Backstory and are either introduced or established in their first appearance as villains. If the friend turns evil over the course of the work, see Face–Heel Turn. See We Used to Be Friends when characters are friends but then something breaks them apart. See False Friend when a character intentionally initiates a "friendship" for their own benefit from the start. See A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil for cases where the friends were once mentor and student.


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    Films — Animation 
  • In the very loosely based on a true story film Anastasia, Rasputin was Czar Nicholas II's most trusted advisor. They had a falling out sometime before the start of the movie, and in revenge for being outcast Rasputin uses his sorcery to foment the Russian Revolution and the murder of the Romanovs.
  • The Barbie Diaries: Barbie and Raquel used to be friends until the latter turned into the Alpha Bitch.
  • Barbie as Rapunzel: It is revealed that Gothel used to be friends with Rapunzel's father King Wilhelm. Gothel developed romantic feelings for him that he seemed to be oblivious to, so when he married and had a child with another woman, Gothel kidnapped the child to spite him.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: When Kuzco fires Yzma, his closest advisor, she plots to murder him as revenge.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Kung Fu Panda: Shifu found Tai Lung as a cub and raised him like a son. Shifu trained him and promised him that he was destined for greatness, which lead to Tai Lung desiring the Dragon Scroll. Unfortunately, Oogway, sensing the darkenss within Tai's heart, told them that he didn't deserve the scroll, leading to an embittered Tai Lung attacked the village in rage. This ended up forcing Shifu to stop him and send him to prison.
    • Kung Fu Panda 3: Kai was this Oogway's. They were brothers-in-arms and the best of friends up until Oogway decided to share the power of chi and gain enlightenment, while Kai wanted to use that power for himself.
  • Pixar
    • Toy Story 3: Lotso was this to Chuckles the Clown. Witnessing Lotso become a monster resulted in Chuckles becoming bitter and cynical.
    • Monsters University: Randall to Mike, who were room-mates together, only for Randall to abandon Mike once Randall started hanging out with the "cool kids".
    • Coco: Hector and Ernesto de la Cruz used to be best friends and stage partners that would go on tour until Hector decided to quit show business and go back to his wife and daughter, which led to de la Cruz serving Hector a poisoned farewell drink, stealing Hector's song book and using it to become famous. It definitely doesn't help that Hector died in relatively unknown circumstances and so had left a rather negative legacy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier although how 'evil' the latter can be considered is up for debate.
    • Also Nick Fury and Big Bad Alexander Pierce. Fury even bitterly remarks that there was a time he would have took a bullet for Pierce, once the man's allegiance to HYDRA has been revealed.
  • Doctor Doom is presented as former friend of the Fantastic Four in most live-action film incarnations like Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four (2015).
  • Alec Trevelyan to James Bond himself in GoldenEye.
  • The backstory of Janis in Mean Girls. Janis used to be best friends with Regina George. When Regina got a boyfriend, she thought Janis was being too much of a Clingy Jealous Girl and started a rumor that Janis is a pervy lesbian, destroying Janis' social reputation. Of course, the moral goodness of Janis is certainly up for debate.
  • Staci Blake from Sleepover is a less intense version of this. Julie talks about how she and Staci used to be friends before joining the popular clique. Despite her former friendship with Julie, Staci continuously insults Julie and her friends and even sabotages their chances of winning.
  • Sneakers: The main villain turns out to be the main character's old college buddy, who took all the blame for the pair's hacking pranks. He's never forgiven the protagonist.
  • The Dragon Maxim Horvath is this to Balthazar Blake in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Also a case of Love Makes You Evil, as he became evil after Veronica Gorloisen rejected him in favor of Balthazar.
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader and Obi-Wan are a double-hitter, as Vader (as Anakin Skywalker) was both Obi-Wan's student and his closest friend.
    • Count Dooku was also once a respected Jedi Master who got on well with his former teacher Yoda and peer Mace Windu. In this case the revelation, especially to the characters, was the fact that he'd turned evil rather than that he had been someone's friend.
  • It's a plot-point in Unbreakable, and the last spoken lines in the film are the evil former friend specifically talking about it as a trope in fiction.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Naturally while Magneto remains on Friendly Enemy terms with Charles Xavier, the X-Men and Brotherhood are at great conflict in the majority of films regardless.
    • Pyro to Bobby.
  • Hector Barbossa is Jack Sparrow's Evil Former First Mate in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. In the third movie the fact they used to be friends is played up much more, and by the fourth they're Vitriolic Best Buds again.

  • The music of The Megas, being based on the "Mega Man (Classic)" series, retains this dynamic between Doctor Light and Doctor Wily, and it's made the war they've found themselves waging against each other deeply personal in a way that takes a heavy toll not only on the two of them, but on Mega Man and Proto Man as well.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Norse Mythology, Odin and Loki were once sworn brothers.
  • Many tellings of the Satan story will have pre-Fall Lucifer as God's favorite angel. In some, he was Archangel Micheal's closest friend.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In Progress Wrestling Jimmy Havoc is this to Zack Sabre Jr and Paul Robinson is this to Will Ospreay.

  • Delia Ketchum used to date Giovanni in the Pokémon Live! musical. In an original draft of the show, Giovanni was Ash's father.
  • Wicked has an interesting take on this (and this is true for the novel as well): although neither Elphaba nor Glinda is truly a villain in the novel at hand, its entire premise is that it functions as backstory to the original The Wizard of Oz. If one were to take Wicked as behind-the-scenes canon for Wizard, Elphaba's and Glinda's relationship — as friends in the former and on opposite sides of the conflict in the latter — would certainly qualify.

  • BIONICLE: Vakama's mentor, Toa Lhikan, had not one but two of his teammates who went bad, both of whom later returned to menace later heroes:
    • Toa Nidhiki, not that you'd know it by his current insectoid appearance. He tried to sell out the Toa to the Dark Hunters in return for being put in charge of the conquered city, but Lhikan overheard him making the plans and set a trap of his own, and forced Nidhiki to leave with the defeated Hunters. When he tried to betray them, The Shadowed One hired Roodaka to use her powers to transform him into his current state (the irony being that he's terrified of insects).
      Nidhiki: "This time, your farewell will be forever, brother."
      Lhikan: "You lost the right to call me brother long ago!"
    • Toa Tuyet, who was willing to murder several Matoran and pin it on the Dark Hunters just to cover up the fact that she was hiding a powerful artifact, and tried to use said artifact to take over the city after she got caught. She was taken away by the Order of Mata Nui in secret, but later escaped.
  • In LEGO's Legends of Chima line, the main protagonist Laval of the lion tribe used to be friends with Cragger of the crocodile tribe before the latter got a taste of Chi and inadvertantly started the war that the story revolves around. Similarly, he was friends with Worriz of the wolf tribe before they allied themselves with the crocs under Cragger's leadership.

  • Hardcore Leveling Warrior: Constant and Hardcore Leveling Warrior used to be friends, and work in the same guild, before Constant betrayed them for Giga.

    Web Original 
  • Anyone who has played Mortal Kombat will know of the rivalry between Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion) and Bi-Han (Sub-Zero), stemming from Evil Sorcerer Quan Chi disguising himself as Bi-Han and murdering Hanzo's entire clan and family. However, in the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, we find out that they were childhood friends, despite their parents forbidding them from playing together due to the rivalry between their ninja clans. In fact, after they become the leaders of their respective clans, they declare peace, and Bi-Han is even willing to keep the peace after Hanzo is forced to kill Bi-Han's brother while protecting his family. Shortly after that, Hanzo and the the entire Shirai Ryu clan are slaughtered, apparently by Bi-Han and his Lin Kuei ninja. When Bi-Han finds out, he is ready to execute his lieutenants on the spot for this until he finds out that they weren't responsible. After Hanzo becomes the undead Scorpion and joins the Mortal Kombat tournament on the side of the Netherrealm, he faces Bi-Han in combat. Bi-Han's attempts to reach his childhood friend fall on deaf ears, and Hanzo ends up killing him in a gruesome way.
  • RWBY: Blake's former partner/mentor Adam Taurus, who she claims was a good man before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. When they meet again, he is not happy with her for deserting the White Fang. Word of God confirmed that the relationship was abusive even before that however.
  • In one story in the Whateley Universe, Phase muses on how a lot of the time, villains started off as the hero's best friend, and wonders if one day he'll end up enemies with his friends Mal and Jadis, who are the children of supervillains (Mal wants to be a villain and Jadis hasn't said whether she wants to be a hero or not, though the answer is probably yes).


Vlad Plasmius

Jack Fenton unknowingly tells the story of how Vlad Plasmius came to be.

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