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False Friend

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"Suspicion that a character once thought trustworthy may not be trustworthy!"
Wealthy Successful Protagonist (Who Is Handsome), A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever

This describes a person, be it a Manipulative Bastard, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Sociopath, Alpha Bitch, or whatever, who gets close to you and pretends to be your ally, friend, lover, etc. Basically, they earn your trust, and when you least expect it, they betray you and reveal they've merely been playing you this whole time. Another variation on this is that the manipulative character may find himself Becoming the Mask, developing real feelings for the person he betrayed. Sometimes, the betrayer may turn out to be someone you've known pretty much your whole life.


If a character with a Friendless Background finally finds a person who appears to believe in him or her, and then that person turns out to be a False Friend, it's almost certain that the character will then have crossed the Despair Event Horizon, or at least is very vulnerable to such, especially if that character defended them against rightful accusations, leading to Post-Support Regret. Speaking of event horizons, forming a "friendship" with someone only to take advantage of them is a common way to cross the Moral Event Horizon. A False Friend is also likely to be intended to be hated by the audience.

The Mole is perhaps the best-known practitioner of this brand of betrayal.

Closely related to Evil All Along, Was It All a Lie?, and I Just Want to Have Friends. Can lead to an Et Tu, Brute? situation. If the False Friend turns out to be the guy behind everything, he's a Big Bad Friend. Contrast True Companions. The polar opposite of both Vitriolic Best Buds and With Friends Like These... if true friends are always mean to each other but still remain friends. If it's about a character revealing their hatred for another during a falling out, then it's Hidden Disdain Reveal. See also The Farmer and the Viper.


Sadly,... Truth in Television.

Not to be confused with the term in linguistics for words in two languages which look similar but do not mean the same thing. ("Embarazada? But… I trusted you!")

Related to Broken Pedestal.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the final part of Justice League: Trinity War, the Atom (Rhonda Pineda) who was first thought to be a sleeper agent for the JLA working on the Justice League, but was revealed to have put a small piece of Kryptonite in Superman's brain, poisoning him. She revealed that she was a sleeper agent from Earth 3. before this, she was actually quite friendly to everyone.
  • Largo Winch: Largo finds himself in a Turkish cell framed for murder with a Swiss safecracker named Simon. When word gets out that he's the heir to an enormous fortune and company, the terrified higher-ups let him out, but the State Sec guy secretly has them shadowed to be murdered. This backfires on him, and with Simon and Largo now Fire-Forged Friends, they start looking for the person who had Largo framed in the first place. This leads to one of his company's CEOs, who... orders Simon to pull a gun on Largo, before revealing that he'd set up the entire thing, counting on the two becoming friends, to get Largo exactly where he wanted. What the CEO hadn't counted on was that his hold on Simon was guaranteed by holding Simon's adoptive mother hostage, which made Simon confess as soon as they were out of Turkey. Then Largo found out that the CEO's goons had tortured her to death... The CEO's death at Simon's hands was neither pretty, soundless nor quick.
  • In The Smurfs comic book story "The Jewel Smurfer", Ganelon is revealed to be this to the Duke of Abelagot, having kidnapped the duke's son and held him hostage to extort a ransom from the duke. The Smurfs know about this and put on a Show Within a Show to expose Ganelon as a traitor.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lil Lightning the Welsh Corgi from 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure,: He informs Thunderbolt that his character is being killed off the show, when in fact, it's soon revealed to be a lie just to trick the German Shepard into getting out of the picture in order so Lightning can have the spotlight for himself, having grown tired of being in Thunderbolt's shadow.
    Lil Lightning: [to a Thunderbolt Plush Toy] A whole new direction! What do you think of that, Thunderbolt, old pal? Finally, I'll be able to step out of your shadow, you overrated, overacting ham! "The Lil' Lightning Adventure Hour". Has a nice ring, doesn't it? What do you think? (chuckles)
    • Then upon hearing about Thunderbolt still gaining fame while on a real heroic mission, Lil' Lightning then decides to join forces with him, along with the pup, obviously just to stop them from succeeding as to prevent Thunderbolt from reclaiming the spotlight. Once they reach the bad guys' hideout, Lightning persuades them to go for an open attack to rescue the puppies instead of a stealth plan, which of course, fails and gets Patch and Thunderbolt locked up in cages along with the other puppies. He even reveals to them his true nature and intentions before leaving them behind in their cages.
    Thunderbolt: [about getting hit in the head with a paint can by Cruella] That hurt. That really hurt!
    Patch: I knew you were faking it.
    Lightning: (suddenly, out of nowhere, he appears and chuckles) Oh, he's been faking it, all right.
    Thunderbolt: Lightning, little buddy.
    Lightning: (angrily in Thunder's face) I am NOT your "little buddy!" And YOU are no wonder dog! This kid trusted you, and look where it's got him.
    Patch: What's he mean?
    Lightning: He's been lying to you all day, kid. He doesn't care about you, or your family. He was just trying to get his name in the paper, and SAVE his job. Ask him!
    Thunderbolt: NO! Well, yeah, but - but...
    Lightning: (mockingly) "But - but - but." HEY, GENIUS! You're no hero! You're a FRAUD! And by the way, there never was a plan to recast you. I just had to get you out of the way. [grins evilly at him, then starts to head back toward the exit with a wicked chuckle and a devious look on his face] And now, I get to go take your place on the show! MY SHOW!
    (laughs evilly, and exits, just as it is about to storm outside)
  • In Frozen Prince Hans eventually reveals that he simply wanted to get close to Anna in order to marry into the royal family. After learning that Anna is dying and can only be saved by true love, he has this to say:
    "Oh Anna... if only there was someone out there who loved you.”
  • In Hercules, the Big Bad Hades is unable to defeat his enemy Hercules because he is unaware of his weakness, so he instructs Megara to get close to Hercules and they both end up falling in love. However, before she can tell Hercules the truth, Hades ends up telling Hercules about how Meg was working for him all along in the most cruel manner possible.
  • Gothel in Tangled tried to make Rapunzel believe that Flynn was this, that he was only after the crown and never cared for her. She nearly succeeded, until Rapunzel remembered her true heritage and realized that Gothel had kidnapped her and Flynn was going to be executed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Acts of Vengeance (2017): Strode seems like Valera's friend at first, giving him sympathy over the loss of his wife and daughter. He's the one who murdered them, and secretly loathes Valera. Later he discovers Strode had been stalking him before and they got close to facilitate the murders.
  • In The Adventures of Tartu, it's Played for Drama and Averted. Terence admits to Marushuka (part of La Résistance) that he's a British spy sent to sabotage a German gas plant, but she becomes suspicious of him when his actions led to the deaths of several underground members. Because of this, she then believes him to be a False Friend, but in reality, he's really is a British agent.
  • In All About Eve, Eve initially appears to be a sweet Ingenue who just wants to be Margo's best friend and assistant but gradually reveals her true colors as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who wants to steal Margo's acting role and husband away from her.
  • Ajnabee: Vicky and Neeta were planning to frame Raj and Priya for their crimes the moment they moved in, and only faked being their friends.
  • Played with in the case of Shogo in Battle Royale: he is initially introduced as The Mentor to both Shuya and Noriko, but near the end, he confesses that they were just his unwitting pawns and subsequently opens fire upon them both. That was part of his plan to get them both to safety.
  • Berkshire County: When Kylie calls 911, she gets in touch with a woman named Barbara, who gives her tips and guides her to avoid the intruders. However, she herself is one of them and has had all of Kylie's 911 calls rerouted to the radio in the intruders' van.
  • In Black Swan, Nina sees Lily as one of these, but the truth is anyone's guess.
  • Blood Pi: The Omega sisters (minus Stephanie) invited Agnis into their inner circle simply to break off Agnis' friendship with Amber. And their ultimate plan is to utterly humiliate Agnis.
  • In The Hobbit, this is how Thorin sees all elves after Thranduil the Elvenking refused to help the dwarves when Smaug invaded Erebor.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Elsa Schneider is ordered to seduce both Jones to steal the Grail but ends up falling in love with Indiana.
  • Janus, the villain of the James Bond film GoldenEye turned out to be ex-MI6 00-agent Alec Trevelyan, who was presumed dead in a spy mission gone wrong. He is now on a revenge mission against England for past grievances, namely the fact that his parents, who were Lienz Cossacks, killed themselves out of survivors' guilt after WWII.
  • The Mask. Intrepid Reporter Peggy Brandt pretends to be Stanley Ipkiss' friend so she can get the $50,000 bounty for betraying him to Dorian Tyrell. While she did seem to believe that Tyrell wouldn't kill Ipkiss, she never tries to help him after the fact.
  • In Plan B, Bruno befriends his ex Laura's new boyfriend Pablo with the intent of sabotaging their relationship so that he can win Laura back. His Relationship Sabotage centers on getting the reportedly bisexual Pablo to fall for him by feigning an attraction to him. What Bruno doesn't count on is his feigned friendship — and attraction — becoming real.
  • Given the whodunit nature of their plots and their mostly teen/college-age casts, many of the killers in the Scream films are close friends of the protagonists who are revealed to have betrayed them.
    • In the first film, Billy and Stu were Sidney and Tatum's respective boyfriends. Billy especially secretly hated Sidney, blaming her mother for destroying his parents' marriage.
    • In the second, Mickey was one of Randy and Sidney's movie geek friends who joined Mrs. Loomis' revenge plot as part of his own scheme to achieve Fame Through Infamy. In the original script, Sidney's boyfriend Derek and roommate Hallie were instead the killers, an Outlaw Couple in the manner of Natural Born Killers.
    • In the fourth, Jill wasn't merely Sidney's friend but her cousin, while Charlie was Robbie's best friend in the Cinema Club. Jill especially resented Sidney growing up for how she became famous as a result of her repeated ordeals and staged everything as part of a scheme to replace her as an iconic Final Girl.
    • In the fifth, Richie was Sam's boyfriend, while Amber was Tara's best friend. Richie especially only started dating Sam in order to get close to her, knowing that she was Billy's illegitimate daughter and using that to set her up to take the fall as part of his own scheme to create a new "true story" to inspire a new Stab movie.
  • In Searching, it turns out two of Margot's friends who she still keeps on Facebook and in her contacts, Abigail and Derek, are this. Abigail admits to David that she is just using Margot as a fake best friend so she could get into Berkeley while Derek is just exploiting Margot's disappearance for his own petty ends.
  • 10 Things I Hate About You. Chastity, who is supposedly the best friend of the second leading lady Bianca, not only goes out with her original date Joey but even rubs her face in it afterwards by revealing that Joey only took her out on a bet with his buddies in the first place.
  • In Training Day, street-wise cop Alonzo is friends with a local neighborhood drug kingpin named Roger, and has been using him as his go-to drug contact for information and arrest of minor dealers for over ten years. Later in the film, Alonzo robs Roger of all the drug money he saved up over the years and then murders him as a way to cover it up. When rookie Jake is shocked by this and calls Alonzo out on killing his friend, Alonzo explains this trope, claiming that just because they were on a first-name basis doesn't mean anything. He was using him the whole time until he was given permission to take him out by his equally corrupt superiors.
  • The Truman Show. Truman's "best friend" since childhood (who is really an actor) at one point appears to truly be listening to Truman's plight and confusion, almost seeming to really want to help his buddy understand the crap that's going on with his life. However, he allows himself to be instrumental in the biggest Mind Screw the studio pulls on Truman in bringing his "father" back from the grave. He later leads the hunt to capture Truman once he starts escaping.
    • There are deleted scenes that indicate that Marlon/Louis does, in fact, feel guilty about what he's doing to Truman, and the (actual, real-life) actor said that the character has a drug addiction from the stress.
  • The Whole Truth (2021): Pim's friend Paew is revealed in the middle of the movie to have filmed the clip of Pim in the showers that Fame is threatening to distribute if Putt doesn't help him get with her. She did it because she hates that Pim is head of the cheer squad, and wants to humiliate her into leaving.


  • Dice Funk: Jayne hates Rinaldo so much that she tries to sell him into slavery.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Kevin Steen and El Generico used to be friends, but not quite as close of friends as Generico thought they were, and Steen slowly but surely drifted apart from him until, well...Steen was this trope.
  • Jimmy Jacobs acted this way towards Ta'Darius Thomas in Ring of Honor for the purpose of expanding his Power Stable Decade and breaking up rival Tag Team Adrenaline Rush, which Thomas was a part of with actual friend ACH.
  • No one in Valkyrie treated Su Yung any better than a dog, except for unofficial member Sweet Saraya, who treated Yung the way she treated her kids. Allysin Kay was the only member who pretended to respect Yung as an independent human woman, simply to get Yung to let her guard down so that it would hurt more when Kay inevitably showed her true colors.
  • After the Bro-mans caused the The Beautiful People's second TNA disbanding when Robbie got Velvet Sky fired, Angelina Love, who had tried to rejoin the group early into her fourth TNA run, was happy to see Sky go.
  • After breaking up The Shield, Seth Rollins claims he was this to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Though he tends to slip and show that he may have cared about them more than he'd like to admit.

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Given the shallow Parisian society at The Cavalier Years, this play is full of them:
    • De Guiche pays a fine court of obsequious noblemen, but the nobles really distrust and despise him because he is a Gascon. They only bow to him because he is successful.
      Second Marquis: Faugh!...Another Gascon!
      First Marquis: Ay, but the cold, supple Gascon—that is the stuff success is made of!
      Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.
    • The poets who frequent Raguenau's rotisserie claim to love Raguenau’s poetry, but they only want to leech off him.
    • Cyrano defies this trope with all his will, as lampshaded in Act II Scene VII:
      People (crowding round Cyrano):
      My friend! friend...
      Cyrano: Meseems that yesterday
      I had not all these friends!
      Le Bret (delighted): Success!
      A young Marquis (hurrying up with his hands held out): My friend,
      Didst thou but know...
      Cyrano: Thou!...Marry!...thou!...Pray when
      Did we herd swine together, you and I!note 
  • Iago of Shakespeare's Othello pretends to be the titular character's trustworthy adviser while secretly plotting his demise out of jealousy and For the Evulz.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • There's an odd version of this in the series. Dahlia Hawthorne tricks Phoenix into thinking she's in love with him, just so she can get a piece of evidence back that incriminates her for a previous murder. She tries to kill him when it doesn't work. It's subverted when Dahlia has her sister impersonate her for a while, and her sister actually does fall in love with Phoenix.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Kristoph Gavin became Phoenix's "friend" only to closely monitor his activities after Kristoph got him disbarred, and ends up framing him for murder. Phoenix was aware of this, however.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend sequel Holiday Star makes it clear this was the case for Hitori Uzune and the original Nanaki Kazuaki, a quail whose clinical depression was exploited by Hitori to double-cross him in a suicide pact and steal his identity. The betrayal caused Nanaki's spirit to become an Eldritch Abomination hell-bent on eternal companionship.
  • Magical Diary: Damien. That bastard.
    • If you get his good ending, it turns into Becoming the Mask... maybe. If you believe anything he says by that point!
      • If you've ground White magic enough to have gotten the spell Empathy, you can use it on him when you next talk to him. He's telling the truth about how he feels now.

  • The Dreamland Chronicles: Here.
  • Happens quite a bit in the Gambit Pileup that is Erfworld. Since Erfworld also features quite a few PunnyNames from earth, the two untrustworthy allies of one side are actually called Frenemy and Quisling.
  • In Girl Genius, Tarvek and Gil's childhood friendship was real. Sadly, circumstances separated them and they both became convinced that the other was a False Friend due to some more unfortunate circumstances. They are currently Fire-Forged Friends / Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • In The Guide to a Healthy Relationship, Apollo becomes friends with Daniel, the boyfriend of his childhood best friend Julian. Daniel manipulates them both to sabotage their friendship.
  • MegaTokyo. Miho did this to Piro sometime before the start of the series.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Nale drives Elan to the Despair Event Horizon by telling him that Haley is this trope, taking advantage of incriminating evidence and Haley's inability to defend herself to gloat about Haley's supposed betrayal of Elan's friends and Elan's stupidity in not seeing that she was Evil All Along. Elan is briefly convinced and goes into a murderous fury, telling Haley that he hates her, before Haley finally manages to spit it out.
    • Nale also uses a suggestion spell to make Elan angrier, hence the uncharacteristic murderous fury.
  • Tower of God has several people like this: Hoh, Nia, and most notably Rachel. Later, Apple, Khun's hacker in the second season, turns out to be a FUG agent.
  • In Tellurion, this is how the lead guy is regarded by the gang of thieves, in the beginning, it might be a bit of a stretch to call them "friends". But they definitely aren't worth any trust in the end.
  • unOrdinary: Arlo pretends to befriend John, but in actuality is getting him to trust him just enough that Arlo can trick him into an ambush to force him to use his powers and force him to take part in the tiered hierarchy Arlo is such a firm believer in.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Ferron befriends Refan during the Great War but does so only for two reasons: to avenge his lover who died by Refan's hand and to use Refan to get rid of The Dragon who had also wronged him (hoping that the two weaken each other enough in battle so that he can finish both of them off).
  • Manga Room: Claire's circle of friends ditched her when she became poor after her father's company went bankrupt and they even mocked her when they see her. They change their attitude towards her when they find out that she became rich again.
  • Felix in the 12th season of Red vs. Blue. It turns out that he'd been working with Locus all along, and was hired to wipe out the entire population of Chorus.
  • Hanson in End Times pulls a major one of these.
    Charlie: You needed my help!
    Hanson: Or else I never would have been here.
  • RWBY: Emerald Sustrai seems friendly and chatty in her conversation with the eponymous heroines at the beginning of Volume 3, but the moment they part ways, Emerald makes very clear to Mercury how much she really despises them and finds their constantly happy, positive attitudes annoying. She's the one responsible for framing Yang and tricking Pyrrha into destroying Penny.
  • Story Time Animated: Marle became a fake friend for Aria when she ditched Cassidy for her. She didn't show up for her group science project and even framed Aria for ruining the prom when it was actually Marle's fault.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): I Was Only Pretending To Like You


Scumbag Fan

Tina meets some friendly equesticles, unfortunately, Bronconius is among them and he pretends to befriend her in order to take away her doll.

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