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Lady Macbeth

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The couple that slays together...

"She'd be back. And she wouldn't burden herself with a husband this time either. Weak! He was the worst of them all, with no courage in him to be as bad as he knew he was, inside."
Lady Felmet, Wyrd Sisters

Nagging spouse of the Big Bad does not even begin to describe this woman. She is frequently even crazier than her husband and is often The Sociopath. Not only is she supportive of his ambitions, but she helps him to achieve them. She might even turn out to be the leading force behind his evil.

Whether it's lying to cops, disposing of a body, or helping her man overcome any uncertainty about carrying out his Evil Plan, she'll do it. She might even push him to do it. She'll take charge if she has to. In fact, she may turn to be such a good villain in her own right that the audience will wonder, "Why is she with this guy? She could have just done X by herself!" In the end, this usually is not the case. If she doesn't get herself killed (or outright kill herself out of guilt like her namesake), it is inevitable that something will happen to her so that she can no longer upstage her husband.

In more modern works, however, it is becoming more frequent for her to kill him once he outlives his usefulness and take the reins herself. Or if he expires some other way, she'll make the most of his death and either become the new Big Bad or make it clear that she has been the main villain all along. This is especially common if The Hero is a woman as well, to have the Designated Girl Fight at the climax.

The real Lady Macbeth was probably nothing like this, but historical records are few. The only things we absolutely know about her is that her name was Gruoch, Macbeth was her second husband, and she had one son from her first marriage. We do know that she didn't nag him into killing a wise old king in his sleep, though; the real Duncan was younger than Macbeth and a worthless wastrel, and Macbeth killed him in a fair fight in battle.

Compare The Man Behind the Man (or the Woman, as the case may be), My Beloved Smother (when it's the villain's mother who's calling the shots), Evil Chancellor, God Save Us from the Queen!, Dark Mistress (where the relationship is less equal), and Unholy Matrimony. If she's particularly ambitious and her husband is particularly weak-willed, he could be a Puppet King. A subtrope of Vicariously Ambitious.

Contrast Morality Chain, Females Are More Innocent and Wet Blanket Wife.

Please refrain from adding Real Life examples.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Leda in Casshern Sins falls squarely in this trope, goading Dio to take his place as the king of robots and being the much more sexually dominant one in their relationship.
  • Both Kiyomi Takada and Misa Amane sorta aspire to be this for Light in Death Note, due to their interest in Kira and their Yandere qualities. It goes badly for both of them: one is ruthlessly disposed of by Light himself when she is no longer useful to him and the other commits suicide after his death.
  • Empress Marianne vi Britannia turns out to be one in Code Geass.
  • Mrs. Rara of Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure acts as this. Her husband is struggling to be a competent scientist. She coerces him and their daughter to become evil, eventually taking over the reins, while her husband is now a janitor.
  • Doctor Ritsuko Akagi from Neon Genesis Evangelion fits into this one, although she wasn't married to Gendo Ikari. Most notably, she created the Rei clones that were central to Instrumentality. However, she's not a completely straight example as she is being manipulated by Gendo Ikari instead. A large part of her breakdown at the end of the series comes from realizing this, and that she's unintentionally followed in her mother Naoko's footsteps, since she played the same role, including being Gendo's lover, prior to her death.
    • Yui Ikari, the ACTUAL wife of Gendo Ikari, may or may not be one depending on how you interpret her and how much of the plot was actually because of her all along.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Yaminade no Itsuki might be a rare male one of these. Though his way of getting Sensui to do his bidding and fight on his behalf (it's complicated) isn't outright nagging as much as it is passive-aggression, Undying Loyalty, and patience for Sensui to be completely broken according to his wishes.

    Audio Play 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • Though a mother rather then a wife, in fact she killed her husband, Lady Calcula from the I, Davros audio fits the trope to a T. She uses all of her political savvy, and frequently plain old murder to ensure Davros reaches a position of power. She even has the distinction of becoming the first complete, albeit terminal, Dalek.
    • In The Tears of Isis, Russell Courtland is supposedly the leader of the Cult of Sutekh, but it only takes a few minutes of listening to them to realise that his wife Susannah is really the mastermind behind the whole thing, and is much more ruthless than he is. Although she's just as clueless about what a bad idea worshipping Sutekh actually is. They end up desperately attempting to sacrifice each other to a god who sees no reason not to kill both of them.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: Roger Stern's run sees Nebula (who later turns out to be Ravonna pretending to be Nebula) manipulating Dr. Druid, partly via brainwashing and partly via just playing his ego, into usurping leadership from the Avengers after Monica Rambeau is incapacitated so she can gain access to an item of unlimited power.
  • Avengers vs. X-Men sees Emma Frost become this as she eggs the increasingly unstable Cyclops on into the titular war with the Avengers, completing a long descent for both characters into Fallen Heroes. In the end, her machinations come back to bite her as the thoroughly Drunk on the Dark Side Cyclops decides he needs the last half of the Phoenix Force more than he needs her.
  • Lady Death started out as this kind of character in Evil Ernie, using her seductive wiles to goad its Villain Protagonist to commit genocide after he became an undead serial killer.
  • Shazraella, wife of Baron Karza in IDW's Micronauts. In an interesting variation, he knows that she's scheming and manipulating him; he just doesn't care, because he genuinely loves her.
  • Sub-Mariner: Namor was manipulated by one-off villainess Rathia into attempting to conquer the surface world, leading into his famous tussle with the Human Torch.
  • Helen Heyer of V for Vendetta, married to Conrad, the head of the Eye (the fascist Norsefire regime's video surveillance department). In her brief appearance early on, she seems to be nothing more than a catty high-society woman. Later, however, as the Leader becomes mentally incapable of running the country, Helen shows her true colours as a savvy and ruthless manipulator who, having gotten the submissive Conrad his current position, now schemes to have him become Leader, albeit in name only: "I'm going to be like Eva Perón," she vows. In the end, after the regime has completely collapsed, she's reduced to homelessness and trading sexual favours for basic life necessities.

    Fan Works 
  • System Restore features this in the second chapter. Following their discovery of a very strong motive, Pekoyama encourages Kuzuryuu to seriously consider killing somebody. Even though the rules of Monobear's Deadly Game state only one person can 'graduate', she really wants him to win, even if it means sacrificing herself. Unfortunately for her, someone overhears and decides to eliminate her before she can convince him to act.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Seska tries to get Chakotay to challenge Captain Janeway for command of Voyager, saying that people feel better when there's a man in charge. Chakotay can't help snarking, "I'll remember that next time you tell me what I should do."

    Films — Animated 
  • Roodaka from BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows was nicknamed this by the production crew. She is the viceroy and unofficial queen of the Visorak horde, having completely twisted her would-be husband Sidorak around her finger in a ploy to overthrow him and free her true master Makuta. Unlike the bumbling Sidorak who is actually respected by the spiders, Roodaka uses cruelty and fear to rule them. She convinces Sidorak to make a spectacle out of the Toa's deaths to stroke his ego, in a bid to drain the Toa's Elemental Powers that will unlock the crystal holding Makuta captive. Meanwhile, outside of the film, she also secretly conspires against the Brotherhood of Makuta to gain the trust of the Dark Hunters, selling out both organisations to each other.
  • In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Wonder Woman's Evil Doppelgänger Superwoman was a sadistic psychopath in a relationship with Batman's Straw Nihilist counterpart Owlman and actively encouraged his worst qualities. In some ways, she was even more detestable since she has absolutely no good reason for becoming an Omnicidal Maniac, she just goes along with it For the Evulz.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Zira is this posthumously for Scar.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dame Vaako from The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) is shown constantly trying to convince her husband to kill the Lord Marshal and take his place. Lord Vaako is initially reluctant given his oath of loyalty until he perceives the Lord Marshal to have acted in weakness by pursuing Riddick and opens himself to his wife's prodding.
  • Death Note (2017): Mia, big time. She eagerly encourages Light to take drastic and increasingly unscrupulous measures that he declines on moral grounds, or at least opposes until she pushes hard enough. She is basically the one who crosses the line from killing criminals to killing innocents, knowing that Light didn't have it in him.
    Light Turner: You killed [Watari].
    Mia Sutton: No, Light, I saved you. From yourself. Again. Because every time things get hard, you leave me to do the real stuff. […] You don't get to feel superior for being a pussy.
  • The villain's wife from Hudson Hawk.
    Eddie: It's pretty clear to me who has the balls in this marriage.
  • Mary in Infernal Affairs II, possibly with or without her husband's knowledge.
  • The '90s TV movie Killers In The House made it clear that despite it appearing as though Delaney Beckett is the leader of the four bank robbers, his lover Kendall Dupree's the one who came up with the plan and goaded Delaney into doing it. Their fellow robbers Sykes and Henley argue about Beckett's stability and dependency on Kendall, with Sykes believing Beckett's gonna screw them over at Kendall's orders. Kendall's last words before she died from her gunshot wounds are about the money, making it clear she was manipulating Beckett the whole time. Despite this, Beckett refuses to believe otherwise and becomes even more unhinged with Kendall dying on him. Rodney Sawyer later reveals Sykes was right about them, after Rodney reveals the two plane tickets to Rio confirming Kendall and Beckett were gonna leave him and Henley to rot.
  • In the 2017 film Lady Macbeth, Katherine Lester kills her stern father-in-law after he chastises her for her adultery (she's trapped in a loveless, Sexless Marriage to his son). Then, she and her lover kill her husband when he confronts her as well. When the mother of a woman her husband once had an affair with shows up with his illegitimate child — an heir to his estate and an impediment to the two continuing their affair — they eventually kill him also. However, her lover is soon racked with grief and guilt and confesses everything, at which point, Katherine turns on him and claims that he and her maid are responsible for everything, knowing full well that their differing social status and races will ensure that she will be believed instead of him. The movie ends with him being led to the gallows, meaning that she was this trope to him, rather than her husband as is more typical for this trope.
  • The Master has Lancaster Dodd's wife Peggy. Despite giving the air of the perfect '50s submissive housewife ideal, she is frequently shown cajoling her husband into taking drastic and immoral actions. If one sees the obvious subtext of Dodd's movement as the Church of Happyology, then Peggy represents its most immoral deeds such as aggressive smear campaigns and "disconnection".
  • At the end of Mystic River, Annabeth, second wife of Jimmy Markum, is revealed to be this. She comforts and encourages Jimmy to be proud of killing the wrong man for the murder of his daughter. She even goes so far as to blame the man's wife for the mistake. Given that her name is Annabeth it's possible this was even on purpose.
  • In The Northman, Amleth's own mother is revealed to be the one who pushed his Evil Uncle to Rape, Pillage, and Burn their Doomed Hometown, and planned to run off with him all along.
  • Lady Kaede from Akira Kurosawa 's Ran is basically Lady Macbeth married to King Lear's son. She's a major reason that Kurosawa's ending is significantly more tragic than Shakespeare's.
  • In Scotland, PA., based upon the source of the Trope Namer, Pat McBeth (Maura Tierney) naturally acts in this capacity for her husband, Joe (James LeGros).
  • In Shock, Dr. Cross' nurse/lover Elaine Jordan first urges him to keep wife's murder secret and then to take Janet Stewart, the only witness to the murder, into his sanitarium. Once there, Elaine first persuades Cross to make Janet forget the incident, and then to discredit her by proclaiming Janet insane. Finally, she persuades him to murder Janet under the guise of giving her insulin shock therapy.
  • Sarah (played by Bridget Fonda) in A Simple Plan plays this role for the protagonist, Hank (Bill Paxton).
  • The female Klingon in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
  • In Super Mario Bros. (1993), Lena supports Koopa's plans to take over Earth, sharing his disgust for mammals and the fungus-infested city, and mentions to Daisy that he needed her close by, hence her promotion. Later in the film, she betrays Koopa and tries to kill Daisy, intent on merging the dimensions herself.
  • Mrs. Lovett of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. See Theatre below.
  • Nefertiti to Ramses in The Ten Commandments (1956).
  • Asaji from Throne of Blood, which is a Setting Update of Macbeth. In some ways, she's even more evil than the original, implying to her husband that if he doesn't kill the daimyo first, the daimyo will kill him, and even distracting the guards.
  • In Tower of London (1962), Richard's wife Anne supports Richard in his ambition and encourages him in his murder spree in his bid to claim the throne. Until he accidentally kills her.
  • The Lifetime Movie of the Week Young, Stalked and Pregnant has a mother-son variant. High school senior Sam has accidentally gotten his girlfriend Audrey pregnant, and she's planning to give the baby up for adoption. At first he seems to accept it, but then his estranged mother Casey, who's recently re-entered his life (and, unbeknownst to him, is a psychotic murderer), tells him that, as the father, he shouldn't let Audrey just toss away his flesh-and-blood like that, and encourages him to harass Audrey and her family.

  • Accidental Detectives: Thelma, in Terror on Kamikaze Run who convinced her fiancee to commit tax fraud in the first place all the while planning to steal his money once they get married, and also urges him to kill Ricky for discovering them, something Robert refuses to do.
  • Jezebel. Her husband, King Ahab, is described in The Bible as Israel's most morally bankrupt king, but she was even worse. Making this Older Than Feudalism. At least, western European feudalism.
    • She was from another country and believed in a different god, so she had all the Jewish priests killed...hmm...that sounds familiar.
  • Codex Alera has Lady Invidia Aquitaine, to her husband High Lord Aquitainus Attis. But it turns out their relationship is actually much more complicated than that, Attis is smarter than we thought, and their goals may not be all that compatible...
    • The Cursors even had a betting pool going: "Which one will win when they finally try to kill each other?" She won, and true to the trope, ends up getting killed within the same book.
  • The Ghost (2007): Adam Lang's wife is a sinister manipulator towards him.
  • Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O'Hara inadvertently embodies this trope with Frank Kennedy, with her reckless behavior (driving through dangerous parts of town late at night) resulting in her being attacked and the newly minted Ku Klux Klan, which he is a member of, going out to seek revenge for her. This raid leads to his and another member's death and everyone in town—including herself—holding her responsible.
  • Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series is this to the Evil Sorcerer Voldemort without technically being his wife. She actually has a husband named Rodolphus, but they married out of Blue Blood tradition rather than love, and Bellatrix remains strongly infatuated with Voldemort. Meanwhile, Rodolphus is a mere Satellite Character in the books and Adapted Out of the movies altogether.
  • I, Claudius gives us Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus and the Manipulative Bitch who essentially becomes the Woman Behind The Man by killing all the people that he won't to ensure that her descendants inherit the empire. Clearly one of the bad Claudians.
  • Melisande Shahrizai of Kushiel's Legacy excels at manipulating powerful men into committing treason in order to advance her own ambitions.
  • Eleanor Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate is the scheming wife of a senator (who's basically her puppet) in the original novel and first film adaptation, made in 1962. The expy of Joe McCarthy, John Iselin, frequently complains about the rhetoric he's been given to read to the senate with its ever-changing total "Communists" in government. (This is especially hilarious given McCarthy's same inconsistencies.) Actually, it's at the insistence of his wife, Eleanor, who is thinking ten steps ahead and knows the press will keep asking "how many Communists" rather than "are there Communists." Eleanor plans to rule through her henpecked husband once he hijacks the Presidency. For an added, Oedipal twist, Eleanor is also the Lady Macbeth for her sleeper-agent son and his Communist controller, taking command of him and forcing him to further the communist (and later her) cause.
    • In the 2004 adaptation, Eleanor is a Senator herself. However, she is still stymied by the boy's club in Washington and decides to groom her son for the Presidency.
  • Regan is this to Henwyn in Marcus Pitcaithly's The Realm of Albion - unsurprisingly, since this element is drawn directly from King Lear.
  • The Saga of the Greenlanders: During their winter in Vinland, Freydis Eriksdottir lies to her husband Thorvard that the brothers Helgi and Finnbogi have beaten and abused her, and thus incites him into attacking and killing the brothers and their entire crew. Her true motive is to take the brothers' ship and cargo.
  • The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal: Hrolleif, a notorious troublemaker and eventual killer of Ingimund, is encouraged by his mother Ljot to behave aggressively and confrontationally to their neighbours. Eventually it turns out she is also a witch who uses sorcery to protect her son and prepares to put a curse on the sons of Ingimund.
    "[H]e was provocative and overbearing and, under his mother's influence, repaid good with bad."
  • Although Esmé Squalor from A Series of Unfortunate Events isn't Count Olaf's wife, she otherwise fits the trope to a T.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Selyse Florent, Stannis Baratheon's wife, brings the priestess Melisandre and the religion of R'hllor to Dragonstone and urges her husband to fully utilize her powers in his struggle for the Iron Throne. Melisandre also acts as a more successful version of this.
    • Cersei Lannister spurs on her brother Jaime and later, her cousin Lancel, to acts of villainy like causing King Robert's death. It was originally thought that Cersei and her brother had a more equal relationship, but in the later books, Jaime undergoes a Heel Realization and was only going along with his sister's plans because he loves her. She also gets called out by her father and uncle who let her know that she's neither as cunning nor as intelligent as she thinks she is, for all both recognise she has drive. Which, to their minds, she's pointed in the wrong direction.
    • Daenerys Targaryen becomes this towards Drogo to an extent, encouraging him to invade the Seven Kingdoms and take back the Iron Throne for her. However, Daenerys is actually shown to be disturbed by his methods of doing this (attacking helpless villages and capturing slaves to sell, to earn money for ships) and actually talks him into protecting the female captives from being raped and abused by his warriors. After he dies, she decides to take back the Iron Throne herself but is generally less brutal than her late husband (or at the least, she usually directs her brutality towards slavers and other nasty people) and aspires to be The High Queen.
    • Tyanna of the Tower, the third of Maegor I Targaryen's wives and the only one who supported him in his cruelties. Maegor frequently left her to deal with his political opponents and hostages, such as his nephew Viserys, whom she tortured for nine days. She was also intensely jealous, slandering Maegor's second wife, Alys Harroway, leading her and her entire House to destruction, and killing off any heirs born to the other queens by poisoning them, causing them to give birth to monstrosities. After realizing the extent of what she did, Maegor executed her, but by this point, he had no heirs, his realm was in open rebellion, and he would die the same year.
    • During the Dance of the Dragons, Daemon Targaryen was a Rare Male Example, since it's his wife, Rhaenyra, who was the queen regnant. While Rhaenyra was already a piece of work, Daemon advised her on some of the infamous things that the blacks were associated with, like the callous murder of Aegon II's young son Jaehaerys in front of his mother, as well as the harsh punishment handed over to the Houses who supported Aegon II. Most historians attributed Rhaenyra's moral decline to her husband's corruption, noting that before the Dance, she was known as "The Realm's Delight", instead of "Maegor with Teats".
    • Meanwhile, there's Rhaenyra's rival, and Aegon II's mother, Alicent Hightower, who encouraged Aegon to take the crown from his half-sister despite Rhae being his father's choice for heir. She continues to insist Aegon hold onto the crown even when all hope of winning is clearly lost, and even Aegon is thinking of packing it it. Alicent chimes in with the suggestion that it'd be a better idea for Aegon to slice his nephew into pieces as a warning to Rhaenyra's supporters, who are marching on King's Landing and outnumber the Green's forces considerably. Aegon agrees, and "mysteriously" dies within the day.
  • Carlaze—who turns out to be at fault for just about the entire recent crisis—in Troika.
  • Viking Britain by Thomas Williams has this to say about Eric Bloodaxe:
    When taken together, the range of sources for Eric's life suggest that Eric, alongside his wife Gunnhild (who, we are told, was a wicked, manipulative and beautiful enchantress — a literary trope for which human society has an apparently inexhaustible patience) was responsible for the deaths of no fewer than five of his brothers.
  • Inevera from book two of The Warded Man, constantly encourages Jardir towards power, and ultimately to declare himself the Deliverer.
  • Duchess Felmet in the Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters (unsurprisingly, since it was a Macbeth parody) is Lady Macbeth turned up to eleven (and into a sadistic Torture Technician).

    Live Action TV 
  • 24: Sherry Palmer has often been compared to Lady Macbeth and is a semi-example of this trope, trying to convince her idealist husband to do whatever is necessary to secure the presidency; but only so that she can be the First Lady. During its Golden Age, Television Without Pity nicknamed her "Lady MacPalmer" or "Lady Mac".
  • In AD: The Bible Continues, both Claudia (wife of Pilate) and Leah (wife of Caiaphas) qualify. Claudia's a rare basically benevolent version, doing her best to soothe down her husband and keep the bloodshed to a "minimum". Leah plays the trope straight, even going so far as to seek out paid killers to achieve her goals, whether her husband shares those goals or not.
  • Arrested Development: Lucille. No, really.
  • Arrow: In season 4, Ruvé Adams, the wife of Damien Dahrk. She not only supports her husband's plans to nuke the world and reset it from scratch, she actively works on them, even running for mayor of Star City against Oliver. Furthermore, she pushes her husband to kill the Green Arrow as soon as possible, no matter if he saved her ass a couple of times.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Ellen Tigh regularly used alcohol, nagging, and what we'll politely term "feminine wiles" to goad her husband, Colonel Saul Tigh, into making some of the Worst. Decisions. Ever. While she didn't quite have a Karmic Death - it was too heartwrenching to be Karmic, as she was poisoned by Saul on (valid) suspicion of being a Cylon collaborator. Double irony points as 1) she did it for him, and 2) Saul and Ellen are both big damn Cylons ANYWAY - she was still one of the most unashamedly manipulative characters on the show.
  • Betsy Kettleman in Better Call Saul is a narcissistic Smug Snake who goads her Henpecked Husband into embezzling nearly 2 million dollars in taxpayer funds and is willing to throw him under the bus and risk sending him to prison for three decades for the slight chance of preserving their (read: her) reputation. In spite of their own idiocy they get off easy thanks to Jimmy's efforts but, Ungrateful Bastard that she is, Betsy develops an Irrational Hatred towards him.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Gillian Darmody spends much of the second season pushing her son into some truly reprehensible actions. Her Moral Event Horizon comes when she talks Jimmy into letting a hit on Nucky go through, even though Jimmy is very much opposed to the idea and begs to be allowed to change his mind.
  • Played for Laughs in The Boys (2019) as Butt-Monkey The Deep's Gold Digger wife Cassandra acts more like his manager than his spouse, pushing him to do whatever it takes to suck up to Homelander and feeding him lines to say.
  • The Caesars features two examples.
    • In "Augustus", Tiberius' mother Livia is determined that he will succeed her dying husband Augustus as Emperor, and urges him to eliminate the only other possible contender, Augustus' grandson Agrippa Postumus. As Tiberius doesn't particularly want to be Emperor, he resists her entreaties. (It turns out they needn't have bothered, as when Augustus dies, he leaves secret orders that Postumus is to be executed anyway.)
    • In "Germanicus", the title character's wife, Augustus' granddaughter Agrippina, is anxious to become Empress and tries to urge her husband to use the support of the armies on the Rhine, who are under his command and are rebelling because they want Germanicus for Emperor rather than Tiberius, to march on Rome and declare himself Caesar. Germanicus is secretly keen on the idea but outwardly rejects it, especially when told (falsely) that Tiberius is dying, and he thus only has a short wait to become Emperor anyway. Agrippina sees through the lie, but cannot do anything about it.
  • Charmed (1998) had a variation where it was the nanny of a young executive. She was a demon and she had raised him from birth to take control of a major company and gain power. The plot of the episode revolves around her orchestrating the murder of the man's half-brother.
  • Criminal Minds: When an episode deals with a killing couple, like in "Mosley Lane" or "The Thirteenth Step", generally the female UnSub fits this trope. Although in some killing couples the wife has to act like this to stay alive, giving her sadistic husband other targets than herself.
  • Defiance: Stahma. When Datak is upset that their son is dating the daughter of his rival Rafe McCawley (who's also a racist), she manages to calm him down and feels the two should get married. She points out how this would make them family, and points out that mining is a dangerous job, and if Rafe McCawley and his remaining son were to suffer an accident of some sort, then it would only be right of them to help Christie with the sudden burden of running an entire mining operation. Fittingly, she's played by Jaime Murray who played Lila on Dexter.
    Nolan: I've had my eye on the wrong snake. You're the dangerous one.
    Stahma: You're sweet.
  • Dexter: Lila West spends most of her screen time doing her very best to become Dexter's very own Lady Macbeth, even going so far as to blow up Sgt. Doakes instead of rescuing him, just to protect Dexter from being discovered as the Bay Harbor Butcher, as well as to save him the trouble of doing it himself.
  • Doctor Who: In the serial The Tomb of the Cybermen, Kaftan fills this role expertly, supporting, encouraging, and enabling her Nietzsche Wannabe hubby Klieg at every turn, and even supplying her own badass minion, Toberman.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Caesar", Cleo was the driving force behind Ty's rise to power in the gang scene. When he decides he wants to go straight, she kills him and usurps his place as head of the gang.
  • The Flash (2014): A non-romantic example with Dr. Ambres, who not only aids and abets Cicada in his murder spree aimed at metahumans, but actively encourages him and even picks some of his targets. Apparently, she's had enough of treating people hurt by criminal metas and wants to use Cicada's grudge against them to end the threat once and for all.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Despite being a male character, Ser Loras Tyrell essentially fulfills this trope by planting the idea into Lord Renly Baratheon's head that he should be king instead of his brothers and nephews with the help of Highgarden.
    • Cersei Lannister is behind some of Jaime's callous or outright evil decisions. However, Jaime slowly starts to become independent after his imprisonment. Even though he's still in love with Cersei, he makes his own decisions and starts to see everything wrong about her.
  • Heroes: Angela Petrelli, though she's this more to her son Nathan than her husband Arthur, who doesn't need her pushing to be villainous.
  • Holocaust: Marta Dorf, wife of SS officer Erik Dorf, in this 1978 miniseries.
  • House of Cards (UK) has Elizabeth Urquhartnote , who conspires with her husband to lie, backstab and manipulate others into servitude. She helps her husband not only to make him prime minister but also to better her own status as first lady. Despite the manipulative affairs Francis engages in, she loves her husband deeply (mainly because she helps plan the affairs in the first place).
    • The US version has Claire Underwood be this to her husband Frank. At the start of the series, when he's throwing a tantrum over the President backing out of a deal to make him Secretary of State, she's the one to tell him to man up and do something about it, kickstarting Frank's Long Game of manipulation, betrayal, and murder which leads him to the White House, all of which Claire is completely complicit in.
  • Zig-Zagged Trope with Annie Rhodes from The Invaders (1967) episode "The Saucer", who motivates her engineer boyfriend, Robert Morrison, to steal the blueprints for a new computer and flee the country with her. When their plane crashes near the alien saucer that David Vincent has captured, Robert abandons his plans because he realizes how important it is to help Vincent, while all Annie cares about is escaping before the authorities arrive. However, she does a Heel–Face Turn after the aliens take her hostage to trade for the ship, and on top of that she sees them kill several humans.
  • Jake and the Fatman: In "Rhapsody in Blue", Ned Covington is passed over for promotion by his boss Phil Duncan. On learning this, his wife concocts a plan to murder Duncan and pressures her husband into going along with it. However, they kill another employee by mistake. Realizing this, the wife comes up with a plan to frame Duncan for the murder.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: There was a sister Macbeth who wanted her brother to take over a tiny African country (they're the children of said county's king) by blowing up their parents and killing the detectives' boss, who had gone undercover to expose their weapons dealing. Oh, and her brother's white, American girlfriend had to go, and since he was dragging his feet about it...
  • Lois & Clark has Mindy, a seemingly dumb-as-bricks nurse who wound up marrying her patient, the crime lord Bill Church. It soon becomes clear, however, that Mindy has been puppeteering her hubby from the beginning, and she eventually takes over the entire mob and leaves her husband to dry.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Privess Disa gives Durin an earful on how to commit treason, telling him they should be ruling Moria and mine the Mithril in place and contravention of his unfitting father, the King.
  • Luke Cage (2016) features a non-romantic variation with Mariah Dillard to Cottonmouth, who fits nearly all qualifications of this trope despite being his cousin and surrogate sister rather than his wife. She is constantly nagging him to solve his problems because that would affect her own career and comes up with ways to get rid of Luke (who is pretty much invulnerable on the outside) by using poisoning and drowning. Eventually, she ends up killing him and taking over his criminal empire, not due to ambition or thirst for power but because of an argument that got out of the way that lead to Mariah killing him in a fit of anger after pushing her Berserk Button.
  • M*A*S*H: Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan was sort of this in the early seasons of the show. She would constantly goad Frank Burns into going over the head of the 4077th's nominal CO, Henry Blake. And she relishes the prospect of "helping" Frank run things after Henry leaves and Frank is appointed the new commander... at least until Col. Potter takes over.
  • Murder, She Wrote: After Sheriff Metzger arrested the son of a politician for drunk driving, the son was found murdered and Metzger fell under suspicion. The killer turned out to be the drunk driver's stepmother, who feared that the lad's previous indiscretions would hinder his father's political ambitions, and by extension her own. Jessica Fletcher mentioned Lady Macbeth by name when referring to the politician's wife at the end of the episode.
  • Oz: Spoofed. The prisoners put on a play of Macbeth, and when rehearsing the scene where Lady Macbeth is pushing her husband to shank kill Duncan, get rather annoyed over Macbeth's lack of balls.
  • Power has Tasha, who attempts to counteract her husband's attempts to leave the drug-dealing business.
  • In Princess Returning Pearl, Rong Mou Mou is Lady Macbeth to the Empress's Macbeth, egging the Empress on whenever her spirit falters and wants to give up on this war in the imperial court.
  • Proven Innocent: Mrs. Bellows cheerfully encourages her husband's darker political impulses.
  • Revolution: Julia Neville, who in episode 8 suggests to her husband that he might make a better ruler than the unstable Monroe.
  • The Shield: Mara Vendrell. If anything she made Shane Vendrell even worse than he already was.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
    • Lucretia is every bit as manipulative and cunning as her husband Quintus Batiatus. The prequel series shows her resorting to murder and deception far sooner than he does.
    • Ilithyia is this to Glaber. The first episode shows her encouraging him to lead the attack that ends up involving Spartacus in the plot, and the tendencies continue throughout the series (particularly in Vengeance). Though, unlike other examples, Ilithyia is much more willing to cut her husband out if she deems him to be dead weight.
    • Naevia takes on a similar role in War of the Damned, often questioning Spartacus, undermining his leadership, and pushing Crixus towards turning away from him and choosing a far more violent path centered on vengeance.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo perhaps wouldn't have come out as evil as he did if he didn't have the sociopathic Melissa egging him on whenever he had doubts about his villainous activities. It's to the point that she can be considered the real leading force behind his gang. She demonstrates the same manipulativeness later when she convinces the Dark Dragon to attacks innocent civilians to further her own plot.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Arthurian Legend: While later versions of the story focused on Guinevere's love affair with Sir Lancelot, earlier sources (most of them predating to Lancelot's introduction to the mythos) paint Guinevere as this to Mordred, openly complicit in or even encouraging his usurpation of Arthur, even being the one to give him one of Arthur's swords to use against her former husband.

  • Hamlet Queen Gertrude might be playing Lady Macbeth to new King Claudius. Or did Claudius decide on his own to kill his brother, King Hamlet? Gertrude's son Prince Hamlet wonders whether or not she is one, before deciding that even if it's true she's his mother and he should be focusing his hate on Claudius instead.
  • In Richard Wagner's Lohengrin, the easily led Friedrich, Count of Telramund, is induced by his wife, the pagan sorceress Ortrud, to accuse the heroine Elsa of murdering her little brother Gottfried (whom Ortrud herself has turned into a swan), and then later to attack Elsa's husband and champion, the eponymous Grail knight. She's a bad lady.
  • The trope is named after the female lead of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. While Macbeth is keen on becoming king from the beginning, it is his wife who encourages him to take the throne through regicide. Ironically, unlike most examples of this trope, she ends up going insane with guilt when her actions spur her husband into becoming a tyrant.
  • Mme Thernardier of Les Misérables is this to M. Thernardier, with generally hilarious results.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Though Mrs. Lovett never actually marries Sweeney Todd as that would be bigamy on his part, Sweeney wouldn't have gotten as far as he did without her, as she was the one who came up with the idea to bake his victims into pies.

    Video Games 
  • Darla in Fallout 4 is the Rich Bitch bad boy-loving girlfriend of Triggerman boss Skinny Malone and far more evil than he is, chiding him for not being ruthless enough over acts like leaving his rival Nick alive. With a high enough Charisma stat, the Player Character can convince her to kill Skinny herself.
  • Regime's Wonder Woman in the Injustice: Gods Among Us exploited Lois' death to approach Regime's Superman. In the process, she has made him more evil.
  • Mortal Kombat 11 reveals that Sindel, long thought to be the benelovent Queen of Edenia who was corrupted by Shao Kahn, has been evil since the very beginning. Far from being a Trophy Wife, she genuinely loved Shao Kahn, and killed her husband, Jerrod, so he could take his place and merge Edenia with Outworld. In the present, following her resurrection, she works together with Shao Kahn to hijack the heroes' plan and take Kronika's crown so they can use it to rule the universe together.
  • In Overlord, there are two possible 'Mistresses' you can pick up. The first one is practically the antithesis of this, trying to convince you that helping people might benefit your plans for world domination. However, if you 'trade up' for her Evil Sister, Velvet, you've got a bonafide Lady Macbeth for your castle. While it's not like you need the encouragement, it's always nice to have a dame who can appreciate good evil.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Celestia Ludenburg from the first game manipulates Hifumi into committing a murder as part of her own murder plot so she could frame Yasuhiro for murder in order to graduate. She then takes him out as well.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Peko Pekoyama would be very happy if Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu to commit a murder and graduate and even tries to argue that she murdered Mahiru on his orders so the crime isn't her fault... after getting voted as the murderer. The feeling is mutual with Kuzuryuu even demanding she not get caught for her own sake. Unlike the previous example, this is out of genuine concern for the other person in the situation.
  • It isn't immediately obvious by a long shot, but Hate Plus gives a patient, plotting example in Oh Eun-a, a seemingly-minor character who turns out to have complicated motivations for providing and facilitating the plans of her despotic lover. True to form, she's even rendered emotionally vacant (and thus, a non-agent) by the end of the plot.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kyrie is eventually revealed to be this to Rudolf in Episode 7 and is capable of extreme coldness and ruthlessness when it comes to helping her husband. She's even willing to kill for him and abandon her daughter if he dies because she's not longer of any use. It's also heavily implied at the end of the series that she was behind the Rokkenjima massacre.

  • AsteroidQuest: Waska is ostensibly the leader of his gang, but his girlfriend Mimi is the actual brains, ensuring the gang's day-to-day operation. She's a lot more pragmatic and reasonable than Waska, who is himself a bit too impulsive to be a good leader, but by her own admission, she "absolutely can be" a "cold hearted bitch" when she wants to. However, Waska resents this arrangement a bit, and tries to pull some scheme without her help every few years.
  • Vriska in Homestuck towards her Masochism Tango partner Tavros. At least, she fancies herself as this, but since she is, for the most part, terrible at manipulating people, she ends up more as a particularly psychotic Toxic Friend Influence — the only person she can manipulate is Tavros, and despite her influence over him she can't make him kill her when he needs to as part of her plan to Come Back Strong.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Demona's relationship with Thailog; Goliath originally assumes she's playing this role for him, since she's an established villain while he's a clone who's only evil because he was programmed that way... but it turns out he knows full well what she is, and is manipulating her rather than the other way around - right down to getting her to kill Macbeth for him despite the fact that this will kill them both. In fact, it's ultimately established that Demona has at least some genuine feelings for Thailog, but he never sees her as anything but a tool.
  • During the flashback scenes of the episode "A Long Way Till Morning", Demona tries to convince Goliath to take the clan over from Hudson, and by force if need be. Goliath refuses much to her disappointment, due to his genuine respect for Hudson even when he makes decisions he disagrees with, revealing elements of her true character and questioning rather Demona was Evil All Along.
  • Icy in Winx Club is this to Tritannus. While they're not married, they quickly fall in love with each other after meeting in prison. She is a massive influence on him, and without her Tritannus probably wouldn't have tried or had the necessary power to attempt to conquer the Magic Dimension. She has more experience in the evil department, so while he has more power, she assists in directing the next phase of their plan.


Video Example(s):


You Have Forgotten the Throne

Grigory is besotted with Marina, but she is adamant that he can only win her love by posing as Tsar Ivan's son and claiming the Russian throne.

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Main / LadyMacbeth

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