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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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    Comic Books 
  • Wolverine and Sabretooth. First X-Men actually shows us why the two went their separate ways. After forming a group of mutant rebels to fight the government, Victor wants to take off with his love interest and leave the fighting to someone else. However, Wolverine, by that point, had already convinced everyone that what they were doing was necessary, so she stayed. She is killed in the final conflict, but instead shows Victor a vision of her getting better, and the two having a family and living a happy life, before cutting the illusion and telling Creed that is what he should remember, and that it doesn't have to mean anything less. Creed took this to heart, blaming Logan for taking away his happy ending, and told Logan that he would ensure that he never find anything or anyone worth living for.
  • Superman:
    • How Luthor Met Superboy revealed that Pre-Crisis Superboy and Lex Luthor were friends until the latter convinced himself that Superboy was scheming against him, started hating him, and eventually turned to villainy.
    • Subverted by Supergirl and Thara Ak-Var. In Who is Superwoman?, Kara had come to believe her childhood friend Thara had gone nuts and attempted to kill her several times. However, in The Hunt for Reactron Nightwing helps Kara realize that Thara has been framed by the real villains.
  • Batman:
    • Harvey Dent is shown as a close friend of both Batman and Commissioner Gordon before turning into Two-Face, particularly in The Long Halloween.
    • Black Mask and Hush were both Bruce Wayne's childhood friends, having turned into supervillains in their adult lives.
  • Transformers: Apparently Megatron and Optimus were this in the IDW continuity, the Movie prequel comics, and the Marvel UK annuals as well.
  • On Tatooine, Luke Skywalker only had two friends who shared his desire to go offworld, and both, being older than him, joined the Imperial military before A New Hope. Biggs Darklighter became a pilot, defected to the Rebellion, and died at Yavin. Luke's other friend, Janek "Tank" Sunber, was shown in the comics; he washed out of pilot training and became an infantry officer. Of course, he came into conflict with Luke.
  • In the New 52, Nightwing's newest foe Saiko is former friend and fellow former member of Haly's circus Raymond. Raymond was taken by the Court of Owls and put through Training from Hell to become a Talon, only to be washed out and left for dead with his eyes pecked out by birds. Saiko hates Dick Grayson because the Court only took Raymond because they couldn't get Dick, their original candidate, after Bruce Wayne adopted him in the wake of the Flying Graysons' deaths.
  • At first played straight but then subverted with the New 52 version of Cheetah. Wonder Woman tells the JLA that Barbara Minerva was her first true friend in Man's World, a scholar who helped Diana on various quests for mystical artifacts. Studying a dagger, Barbara was cut by it and transformed into the Cheetah. She and Diana fought numerous times, with Diana trying to help her friend and considering her a victim. However, meeting the cult who created the dagger, Wonder Woman learns that the Cheetah is meant to be a protecting spirit but the inner darkness within Barbara turned it into a beast. Batman then reveals that "Barbara Minerva" was the alias of a long-time thief, con artist and attempted murderer and Diana is rocked to realize that Barbara was never an innocent or her friend.
    Batman: The Cheetah never corrupted Barbara. Barbara corrupted the Cheetah.
    • The retconns imposed by DC Rebirth which did away with the drastically Darker and Edgier tone of the New 52's Wonder Woman ensured that in Wonder Woman (Rebirth) Barbara's friendship was genuine and it therefore plays the trope straight, and uses it to put Barbara and the reader's emotions through the wringer.
  • Fantastic Four: Reed Richards and Doctor Doom were college students who could only find intellectual debate and stimulation from each other, until Reed pointed out a mistake in Victor's schematics which was part of his last step in his Start of Darkness.
  • In The Flash:
    • There's Hunter Zolomon, formerly a close Friend on the Force to Wally West before Gorilla Grodd broke his back and set the stage for him to become Wally's Evil Counterpart Zoom. When Wally refused to go back in time to help Hunter, Hunter says it's because Wally never experienced personal tragedy before. Hunter tries to go back in time himself and accidentally attains faux superspeed, which he uses to torment Wally by trying to give him more tragedy. Wally for his part still regrets how things turned out with Hunter.
    • Eobard Thawne's Rebirth origin makes him one to Barry, albeit in a much more unhealthy friendship than Wally and Hunter. In the 25th century, Eobard was a Flash fan who recreated Barry's accident to become the Flash himsellf. When Barry travels into the future, the two worked alongside each other and bonded. Barry then found out Eobard had been causing many of the crimes he was stopping, and had to defeat him. After Eobard reformed, he travelled back in time to work alongside Barry again, only to find that Barry had taken on Wally West as his protege, Kid Flash. Eobard, incensed by this and feeling betrayed, then decided to expose the Flash "for the liar he is" and destroy his legacy.
  • Blaze of Glory: Reno Jones describes Kid Cassidy as growing more and more bitter over the course of their adventures together, and it came to a head when Cassidy threatened his life and forced Jones to shoot him and leave him for dead. Cassidy still lives and searches for Jones to settle the score for good. Marcel Fournier also counts as one for Two-Gun Kid, as they were once part of the Sunset Riders.
    Rawhide Kid: Leave him be, Colt. Man just killed what he thought was a friend. Turned out to be no friend at all.
  • In Conan the Barbarian Thoth Amon is revealed to have been Kalanthes's best friend at one point before he turned to Set worship and destroyed everything Kalanthes holds dear. Even before that was revealed there were hints that their hatred went deeper than religious differences.
  • My Friend Dahmer is all about the narrator being classmates and friends with Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer, though he states he always felt like something was off. He had no idea just how right he was, but it was enough to keep him at arm's length, hanging out with Dahmer at school but not wanting to get any closer than that.
  • Sinestro to Hal Jordan in Green Lantern. He was once Jordan's mentor and a close friend before he went Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. Hal is still bitter and remorseful about it, while Sinestro still sees Hal as a friend and deeply respects him, even if they're now on opposing sides.
  • Lady Shiva was once a good friend of Richard Dragon and Bronze Tiger before her Blood Knight tendencies, ambition and her sister's death turned her already morally questionable search for a Worthy Opponent into her entire raison d'etre. When she runs into the two of them these days she still talks like a friend, while trying to force them into a one on one fight to the death. This includes kidnapping Dragon and being entirely unconcerned when Tiger is nearly killed in one of her plots.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Toy Story 3: Lotso was this to Chuckles the Clown. Witnessing Lotso become a monster resulted in Chuckles becoming bitter and cynical.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Alec Trevelyan to James Bond himself in GoldenEye.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

  • In A Brother's Price, there is Kij Porter, although she may never have had actual friendly feelings for Ren. After the evilness is exposed, Ren decides they aren't friends anymore, too.
  • Several times in Harry Potter:
    • Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald were best friends (and a bit more, at least on Albus's end).
    • Tom Riddle, the future Lord Voldemort, was a Hogwarts student, and studied under Dumbledore and Horace Slughorn. While Dumbledore knew that something was off with Riddle since the beginning, Slughorn adored him, and even let him in on a secret that most wizards weren't supposed to know because he was his best student.
    • One of the Sorting Hat's songs implies that Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin were once good friends as well.
    • Subverted with Sirius Black, who looks like the evil part of this in comparison to Harry's dad, but is revealed to have been framed. Played straight with Peter Pettigrew, another former friend who was guilty and did the framing.
    • As well as Lily Evans and Severus Snape, until the latter's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Gandalf and Saruman from The Lord of the Rings have elements of this, though their relationship doesn't shatter until early in the present storyline (though the books at least show that it had been fraying for a while before that because of Saruman's jealousy).
    • They had never been exactly good buddies; according to the Appendix Saruman had been jealous of Gandalf almost as soon as they stepped off the ship in the Gray Havens, but they had had mutual respect and a common purpose.
  • Akhlaur and King Zalathorm from Counselors and Kings were once best friends, until Akhlaur proved that With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Warbreaker has Vasher and Denth as an interesting variation because the friendship ended violently over something Vasher, the good guy of the two did. They were originally part of the same group of famous magic-users, and Vasher killed Denth's sister, another member, fearing that her knowledge of how to create Artifacts of Doom would spread. Denth went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge her, gradually descending into evil in the process.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, Samah and Zifnab were at least cordial colleagues and possibly friends, at least until Samah went all Knight Templar and Zifnab dedicated himself to opposing him.
  • Though calling them "friends" would be a stretch (he was never a particularly nice guy), Zedar from The Belgariad was once a Disciple of Aldur along with the Eccentric Mentor Belgarath, and the two worked closely together and respected each other. Then Torak Mind Raped Zedar into becoming The Dragon, and it went rapidly downhill from there.
  • Darren and Steve from The Saga of Darren Shan are best friends until the two are pitted against each other thanks to the manipulations of Mr. Tiny. The odd thing about this particular example is that Steve is deceived into thinking Darren ruined his dream to become a vampire on purpose, never believing that he did it to save his life.
  • From The Elenium, comparatively rare example of the main hero having a prominent villain as one of these- Martel and Sparhawk were good friends who went through Magic Knight training together, until Martel got caught practicing Black Magic and was expelled from the order. Though now enemies, they're still very polite to each other and respect each other's abilities, and conduct their final duel in a most gentlemanly manner.
    • From The Tamuli, Sephrenia and Zalasta had been friends from childhood, and Styric lifespans are very long. It didn't end well. Unfortunately for everyone, Zalasta was driven by a very extreme case of Love Makes You Evil.
  • Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen ends with a fight between Cadellin and Grimnir, the evil wizard. When Cadellin kills Grimnir, he reveals that they were once friends and brothers.
  • In Memoirs of a Geisha, Sayuri and Pumpkin, who started out as friends, but once Mother adopted Sayuri instead of Pumpkin and she became a more popular geisha than Pumpkin, they became rivals (at least in Pumpkin's mind).
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Luke was this to Annabeth and Thalia.
  • De Quincey to Camille in The Infernal Devices. Apparently he still doesn't get the message that she doesn't see him as a friend - or anything else, for that matter - anymore, not after he killed her werewolf lover.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham were childhood friends until they grew up and the latter revealed his selfish, hedonistic, amoral character.
  • In Updraft, from Nat's perspective, the protagonist herself is this, due to seemingly aligning with the Singers despite knowing what they did to Nat's father. However, the two eventually accept that they were actually seeking the same basic thing by different routes, and reconcile.
  • In The Witchlands, Serrit Linday used to be Vivia's best friend before he decided to align himself with the Big Bad for his own profit.
  • Prior to the beginning of Worm, Emma Barnes was best friends with protagonist Taylor Hebert. By the beginning of the first book, Emma had been leading a brutal bullying campaign against Taylor for a full year and a half as part of the Terrible Trio, culminating in the locker incident.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Oliver and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke on Arrow.
  • Giles and Ethan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Ethan: Oh, so cross Ripper. We used to be friends. When did all that fall apart?
    Giles: About the same time you started to worship chaos.
    Ethan: Oh. Religious intolerance. Sad, that. I mean, just look at the Irish Troubles.
  • Burn Notice has Michael Westen's former partner-in-spying Larry Sizemore, who becomes a Psycho for Hire after he faked his death in Serbia. He shows up in Miami running a sort of freelance assassination business; he shows up in a few episodes, during which he forces Michael into Enemy Mine situations.
  • The Doctor and the Master, from Doctor Who, when it doesn't intensify even further into Psycho Ex Foe Romance Subtext. They're still sort of Friendly Enemies, but when they were schoolkids together, they weren't enemies at all, and the Doctor has some serious angst about this.
    "Do you remember my father’s land back home? Pastures of red grass, stretching far across the slopes of Mount Perdition. We used to run across those fields all day, calling up at the sky... Look at us now."
    • The Twelfth Doctor gives this beautiful summary in "Death In Heaven":
    I had a friend once. We ran together when I was little and I thought we were the same. When we grew up, we weren’t. And now she’s trying to tear the world apart and I can’t run fast enough to hold it together.
  • Game of Thrones: Theon Greyjoy to Robb Stark. After Eddard Stark's execution in King's Landing, Theon pledges his loyalty to Eddard's eldest son, Robb, in the subsequent War of the Five Kings, but ultimately betrays Robb and sides with his father in invading the North.
  • Inverted in the second season of The Good Place, when Contagious Heroism slowly makes the demon Michael care about Team Cockroach more than anything in the universe.
  • House of Anubis. For Sarah Frobisher-Smythe, both Victor Rodenmaar and Rufus Zeno fit this trope. Victor and Rufus, being the two major villains of season 1 and both major again in season 2, as well as both antagonizing Sarah for a secret she doesn't have, were both once Sarah's childhood friends and eventually business partners, until they both became corrupted with power and greed and turned on her, and each other as well.
  • On Justified US Marshal Raylan Givens and local criminal Boyd Crowder grew up in the same community and then 'dug coal together' in the local coal mine. The show starts when Raylan is forced to return to Kentucky and has to confront Boyd who in the meantime became the leader of a Neo-Nazi gang of bank robbers.
  • Dwayne Carter is this to Colby on NUMB3RS, though this is subverted later when it's revealed that Colby knew Dwayne was crooked, but played the trope because he was actually trying to figure out who Carter was working for and he needed to maintain his cover with Carter in order to avoid blowing the operation.
    • Colby also appears to become this to the other members of the team when he confesses to treason as part of the undercover operation.
  • Regina to Snow White on Once Upon a Time. It's played for a fair amount of tragedy too. There are a number of scenes devoted to showing how Regina changed from a kind, caring young girl to a vicious Evil Sorceress.
  • Played with a bit sideways in Stargate Atlantis. Lt. Ford starts out as a member of the team and friend to Col. Shepard, but in the 1st season finale he gets overdosed with a wrath drug and goes off the deep end. He doesn't see himself as evil, but his actions in the episodes where he makes his returns are... less than friendly. Including kidnapping Shepard's team and pumping them full of the same drug against their will.
  • The New Avengers: In "Dead Men Are Dangerous", Steed's life is threatened by a revenge campaign from Mark Crayford, a childhood friend (at least to Steed), who viewed Steed as a lifelong rival, and who Steed was forced to shoot when he revealed himself to be a double agent.
  • The Punisher (2017): Billy Russo to Frank Castle, being part of the conspiracy that killed Frank's family as part of covering up its illegal activities in Afghanistan.

  • 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 Lhiikan, 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 Lhiikan 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 farewell will be forever, brother."
      Liikan: "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 aritfact, 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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).
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Snowball and the Brain

The Brain recounts how Snowball went from his best friend to sworn enemy of humankind.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilFormerFriend

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