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Love-Interest Traitor

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Her left hand knows what her right hand is plotting.

Batman: But we totally had sex. … Like hardcore. Three times.
Talia: It was all a cruel ploy to gain your confidence.
Batman: That was a cruel ploy? Sign me up for another!

This trope is just like it sounds. A particularly insidious type of Romantic False Lead, this character is built up to be the Love Interest of the (or a) protagonist, but eventually The Reveal comes that they’re Evil All Along, and possibly even the Big Bad or The Dragon, or both!

This character is almost always female, and while she may pull a Sex–Face Turn (often by revealing that she became the mask and genuinely fell in love with the protagonist), they rarely if ever get back together. She is occasionally a Honey Trap as well as The Mole, but not always; sometimes the fact that she's a love interest and the fact that she's a traitor have nothing to do with each other. Done badly (or done very well) this can be a Shocking Swerve.

Was It All a Lie?

See also Big Bad Friend. Compare In Love with the Mark and Dating Catwoman.


As a Betrayal Trope, many if not all spoilers will be unmarked.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Occult Academy has an example in Mikaze, who is set up as a love interest for the hero but ends up being the Big Bad.
  • Kaworu Nagisa in the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. Arrives at NERV HQ as a new pilot who immediately takes an interest in poor, depressed Shinji when everyone else had either died or become estranged from him, turns out to be the final Angel. Since he genuinely cares for Shinji despite all of this, Kaworu ultimately goes with the Heel–Face Turn option and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save both Shinji and humanity via allowing Shinji to kill him. Notable for being a same-sex example.
  • Saruhiko and Misaki's backstory in K, as shown in the prequel novel Lost Small World. Subverted in that they do become friends again, and probably more, once Misaki realizes that Saruhiko really just belongs in the Blue Clan, not the Red - Misaki's myopic loyalty to the Red King made him think Saruhiko was just a power-hungry Jerkass, and Saruhiko went with it until the end of the second season. It doesn't help that Saruhiko has a lot of issues left over from his abusive father that others took advantage of to split Saruhiko away from the Red Clan and Poor Communication Kills as a result. It takes until the second season for Saruhiko and Misaki to both be in the position to make up. Another same-sex example.
  • Male example: Yona's beloved Su-won in Yona of the Dawn. Although he may have a genuine affection for her, he did kill her father and steal his crown.
  • In Master of Martial Hearts, it is revealed that Haruki Honma, who heroine Aya had a crush on for the whole series, and Natsume Honma, who Aya had some Homoerotic Subtext with, are two of the masterminds behind the Platonic Heart tournament and have conspired with their mother Kumi and Miko Kazuki to turn her into a Sex Slave to get Revenge by Proxy on Aya's mother, who subjected their parents to the same fate.

    Comic Books 
  • Runaways: Alex is set up as Nico's love interest, but is ultimately revealed as the team's mole.
  • As mentioned below, in The Judas Contract arc of Teen Titans Terra is set as this to Beast Boy. Noticeable in that this original Terra was far, far nastier than the cartoon one: while cartoon!Terra was a sort-of Dark Magical Girl, comics!Terra was a Manipulative Bitch and so psychotic that Slade was afraid of her.
  • Jezebel Jet dated Bruce Wayne while trying to break him on behalf of the Black Glove in Batman RIP.
  • A twist on this in Wolverines: Lady Deathstrike starts a relationship with Shogun, who is one body shared by the personalities of Sharp and Ogun. The Ogun personality is actually a former lover, and Deathstrike is playing the Sharp side for an opportunity to betray and "kill" him, so Ogun can fully take control of their body.
  • Robot ends up being this to Monster Girl in Invincible once his true colors are revealed. Unlike most examples, he legitimately loves her (as much as someone like him can feel love) and really wishes he wasn't this trope, but she refuses to switch sides and he ultimately chooses his "duty" over his love for her.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • This happened to varying degrees in all three of the animated Scooby-Doo movies that are generally considered "the good ones;" in fact, it may be part of the reason they're regarded so highly that they give the gang other characters to play off of:
    • Zombie Island, the first, played it straight, with Fred developing feelings for a Moe Cajun chef named Lena, with hints dropped that she may like him, too. Nope, turns out she's a centuries-old soul-devouring cat monster...
    • Witch's Ghost had Velma's (again, implied to be mutual) crush on horror novelist Ben Ravencroft, who turns out to be using the gang in an attempt to free his Eldritch Abomination ancestor (the title character).
    • Finally, in Alien Invaders, Shaggy's girlfriend Crystal isn't a traitor, exactly, but she is connected to the film's haunting; she's an alien. A real one. She and Shaggy part on amicable enough terms, but she ultimately has to go back to her home planet (insert Simpsons reference here).
  • Megara in Disney's Hercules. She is already working for Hades because of having made a deal with him, so when Hades discovers that Hercules is still around, he uses her as a pawn to get at him. Also a rare example in which she does fall in love with him, the two end up together.
  • A rare example of this being done with a male character is the Vídeo Brinquedo "spectacular" What's Up? Balloon to the Rescue, in which the lead girl is infatuated with suave Frenchman (read: Devil in Plain Sight Ethnic Scrappy) Jean-Pierre.
  • Prince Hans from Frozen is a Rare Male Example. He pretends to fall in Love at First Sight with Princess Anna, planning to marry her and then arrange an "accident" for her older sister Queen Elsa, and thereby become the King of Arendelle.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • About half of The World Is Not Enough is spent building up Broken Bird Elektra King as Bond's new one and only, replacing dear departed Tracy. The film is full of Call Backs to Tracy, comparisons between the two, and includes the most explicit Tracy reference of the Brosnan era, all the while implying that Elektra may not be completely right in the head (she enjoys fiddling with ice cubes mid-coitus, for one thing). Then, at around the midpoint of the movie, it comes out that Elektra is in fact a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who is not only in on Renard the Anarchist's plot to nuke Istanbul, she's co-author of it! Ultimately, Bond is forced to Shoot the Dog in a vain attempt to stop her from telling Renard to move the stolen nuclear submarine into Istanbul's waters.
    • Casino Royale (2006) has Vesper, playing along with Bond until she steals the money to get her boyfriend (who she's still in love with) back. However, it's suggested that she did fall for Bond as well, cutting a deal to save his life in exchange for going through with the theft. Bond's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the next film culminates with the reveal that the original boyfriend is himself a traitor, seducing women with access to state secrets and using them to obtain and sell said secrets. Fortunately(?), Vesper's killed before she finds out about that facet of his personality. She dies thinking that she has at least saved the lives of the two men she loved.
  • Something similar to this trope happened in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, resulting from the adaptation combining the characters Cho Chang and Marietta Edgecombe. In the movie, it's implied poor Cho was under a Truth Serum, but that doesn't stop Harry from dumping her (in the novel, she dumps him over realising that they simply didn't work out, since Cho was still massively hurting over the death of her boyfriend Cedric, murdered by Voldemort in front of Harry).
  • Sky High (2005) features a generally dorky Nice Guy named Will going out with an older girl named Gwen, whose role is basically showing him the ropes of superhero school in between being sweet on him. Turns out she just wanted the weaponized Fountain of Youth in his basement...
  • The infamous The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has the equally-infamous Tangerine (infamous because she looks about ten years older than her early-teens leading guy; the actors are a year apart in real life). Her loyalty turns out to be to a street gang, and the poor girl gets pooped and vomited on at the end of the movie by the title characters for it.
  • Warriors of Virtue (also known as "that one with the ninja kangaroos") did this, too, with the girl joining up with the hamalicious Big Bad to avenge her brother, who had been accidentally killed by a kangaroo ninja. She's ultimately killed by her boss when she has a change of heart and helps the hero escape.
  • Spy Kids 3D: Game Over had Juni's girlfriend in the virtual world, Demetra, turn out to be a program inserted into it to trick players into freeing the Big Bad (who's also trapped there). In all fairness, she didn't want to do it, and ends up rebelling against her programming and holding open the virtual reality's physical exit(!?) so the human characters can escape. She's never mentioned again after this. One can only hope the agency didn't delete the virtual reality with her still in there...
  • Elsa from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. To be fair, she genuinely loved Indy (and...uh...Indy's dad too, apparently), but she's single-mindedly obsessed with getting her hands on the Holy Grail to the point of working with Nazis.
  • In the 1966 Batman: The Movie, Bruce falls in love with Kitka only to find out she's Catwoman (and definitely a villain in this incarnation).
  • The Dark Knight Rises have Bruce romance his business associate, Miranda Tate, who is later revealed to be Talia al'Ghul, and also the Big Bad of the movie.
  • Peggy Brandt in The Mask, as part of the Betty and Veronica Switch.
  • Phoenix: Nelly survives a concentration camp and yearns to be with her husband Johnny again. However, Johnny doesn't recognize her and instead hires her to impersonate the wife he believes is dead so he can collect her inheritance. That gives a pretty good hint that Johnny is really a scumbag, but Nelly goes along with it out of love anyway, hoping he'll recognize her eventually. In the end, Nelly learns that Johnny was the one who sold her to the Nazis and had her put in the concentration camp, and that's when she decides to leave him.
  • In North By Northwest, Eve Kendall helps protagonist Roger hide from the police after he's Mistaken for Murderer and things quickly get steamy. She's soon shown to be in contact with the bad guys, receiving instructions and sending Roger on a Snipe Hunt designed to get him killed. Subverted when it turns out that she's actually The Mole for the good guys and hated sending Roger into danger, but had to do so to avoid blowing her cover, and her feelings for Roger are genuine.

  • The story of Samson and Delilah in The Bible. Samson, an Israelite who had great strength because of his unshorn hair (a symbol of a vow to God), was betrayed by his lover Delilah, who cut his hair and handed him over to the Philistines who blinded him and made him a slave.
  • In Dragon Bones, there is some flirting between Bastilla and Ward, and the woman turns out to be a traitor. It doesn't develop into an actual relationship before it becomes clear who is with the villains, though.
  • James Bond:
    • In For Special Services, Bond thinks Nena is the sympathetic Bond Girl, but it turns out she's the Big Bad.
    • Subverted in Icebreaker with Bond's Finnish girlfriend Paula Vacker, who initially seems to be on NSAA's payroll, but turns out to be an agent of SUPO (Finnish intelligence agency) working within the organization. The trope is played straight with the other love interest Rivke Ingber, who is revealed to be working for them when the former's allegiance is made clear.
    • Two women accompany Bond throughout Nobody Lives for Ever as he makes way to SPECTRE's base, and once he reaches it, one of them is revealed to be working for them.
  • In October Daye, Devin was Toby's first love and mentor, years back and she even lost her virginity to him. They even rekindle their relationship during the first novel of the series, Rosemary and Rue, only for it turn out he was using her and is the true Big Bad of the book.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Starting with Final Justice, Little Fish is set up to be a love interest for Countess Anne "Annie" Ryland de Silva and Stu Franklin is set up as a love interest for Isabelle Flanders. However, by Cross Roads, both relationships are falling apart. The final blow comes when Little Fish and Stu Franklin are revealed to be Co-Dragons for Big Bad Henry "Hank" Jellicoe — as well as cold-blooded murderers. Ouch!
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Jason to Diana. They bond about wanting to prove themselves and even kiss, and then it turns out he's been sabotaging The Quest the whole time.
  • In the Wraith Squadron trilogy this is the situation from the perspective of Myn Donos in that he falls in love with Lara Nostil only to find that she was the infiltrator that destroyed his squadron. Though more generally it is more of a Dating Catwoman scenario in that the reader fully knows who she is. It is also more complicated in that while she was originally an infiltrator, she defected to the New Republic without telling them.
  • Utopia 58: LE905/Ellie seems to fall in love with KB209/Kay and gives new meaning to his life, inspiring him to rebel against Isonomia and seek freedom, and they have a loving relationship. Then she turns out to be the Father, the Big Bad themself, and reveals she used Kay to snuff out the rebels threatening her empire. She explains that she “loved” him, but in a shallow way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, Lexa kisses Clarke and asks her to come away with her to the Grounder capital, but soon afterwards betrays Clarke to Mount Weather. Unlike most examples of this trope, Lexa had no intention of betraying Clarke when she made those romantic overtures; she just felt that the deal Mount Weather offered her was more important than her personal feelings towards Clarke.
  • Attila: Attila ends up falling in love with a woman who resembles his late wife. However, she's an assassin sent by Flavius Aetius to seduce and marry Attila so he will let his guard down at a critical moment. She succeeds with the plot by killing him on their wedding night at the cost of her own life, which she had accepted beforehand.
  • On Blake's 7, Avon discovers that his old love Anna was an undercover Federation officer assigned to betray him. This being Blake's 7, he shoots her dead and then tenderly cradles her body.
  • In Criminal Minds, Garcia goes on a date with a man who then shoots her. The team learns that it wasn't the first time he'd done this and that his other victims didn't survive.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Runaway Bride", Donna Noble discovers that her fiancé Lance only offered her coffee to begin with so he could dose her with huon particles to benefit the evil alien empress he was secretly working for. He only accepted her marriage proposal because he couldn't risk her running off.
  • Saffron on Firefly. An episode has Mal being (unintentionally) married to her for a reward, but she turns out to be a con artist, intent on killing the crew (by leaving them to die) and selling their ship. Her appearance in a later episode reveals this to be her standard operating procedure: seduce (and/or marry), steal, leave 'em for dead, repeat...
  • In The Flash (2014), Zoom in his Jay Garrick persona strengthened his façade by posing as a love interest to Caitlin. He is just using Team Flash to cure his deadly condition by robbing Barry's speed and be free to commit more atrocities. After being unmasked, Zoom kidnaps Caitlin, mistreats her and threatens her.
  • Homecoming: In 2022, as she’s trying to make sense of her missing memories from Homecoming, Heidi kindles a brief romance with “Hunter”, a divorced veteran who’s willing to listen to her problems; he even drives her back to Tampa when she decides to return to the Homecoming facility to investigate. It’s actually her old boss, Colin, trying to find out what she knows and steer her away from remembering the truth about Homecoming - she just doesn’t remember who he is.
  • The Mentalist features a male example in Craig O'Laughlin, an FBI agent who begins dating and eventually gets engaged to Grace Van Pelt. He turns out to be an associate of serial killer Red John. Unfortunately, they don't figure this out until after Van Pelt and Lisbon have let him in on the location of a key witness against Red John, and Van Pelt ends up having to shoot him to protect Lisbon and the witness.
    O'Laughlin: (after the revelation; his last words) Sorry about this, Grace. Truly. I've grown genuinely fond of you.
  • In Supernatural, Sam's love interest Ruby turns out to have been manipulating Sam into freeing Lucifer.
  • Total Recall 2070: After a passenger transport blows up, Dr. Olham is visited by her former husband, whose brother was killed in the explosion. She even has sex him again. He later turns out to be working with the people who assassinated his brother.

    Video Games 
  • While he's not a full Love Interest due to his plot being mostly Dummied Out, Bishop of Neverwinter Nights 2 for a female protagonist. He will always betray her to the King of Shadows at the end of the game, and there is nothing she can do to stop it; at best she can persuade him to walk away from the battlefield, but he won't rejoin her side. And then a bunch of rocks fall on them both.
  • Played with for Morrigan if you romance her from Dragon Age: Origins. At the start of the game, her mysterious witch hermit mother saves the Player Character and their Number Two Alistair from certain death, and both assure you they have no ulterior motive besides wanting to aid you in saving the world from the Blight, despite them both exuding Dark Is Evil vibes. If the male protagonist pursues a relationship with Morrigan, she's convinced Love Is a Weakness, struggles with What Is This Feeling? and practically begs you to break up. Towards the end of the game, she reveals she and her mother always planned to convince you (or one of your male Grey Warden companions) to impregnate her in a mysterious dark magic ritual that will lead to her fetus being possessed by the soul of an Old God, after which she'll leave to raise the child Maker knows where for Maker knows what reason. The player can accuse her of betrayal, though she argues that she was always upfront about wanting to aid you till the Blight was over, and she has done just that. For the Witch Hunt DLC, the protagonist may agree with her, or stab her for it.
  • Anders in Dragon Age II if he is your love interest. No matter what you do, he will blow up the Chantry near the end of the game in order to start a war between the two major factions, even if you are trying to be neutral.
  • Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition to a female elven protagonist who romances him. Turns out he was the Greater-Scope Villain all along, although he assures you that what you had was real, and he only broke up with you because he knows you're the only person who can still talk him out of trying to destroy the current world to restore the old one.
    • Averted for the Iron Bull should you romance him, since he tells you straight up when you first meet that he's a spy for the Qunari, and will be sending reports back to them (and them to you) as-needed. Subverted in the Trespasser DLC if you had Iron Bull reaffirm his loyalty to the Qunari in his personal quest. The Qunari reveal they were always planning on betraying you and had sent him as a sleeper agent. If you convinced him to stay loyal the Qun, then when his commanding officer orders him to kill you he coldly tells you "Nothing Personal, Basnote ," forcing you to kill him. If you had convinced him to leave the Qunari, then he basically tells his former commanding officer to shove it when she orders him to kill you.
  • Penelope of the Sly Cooper games. She betrays Bentley due to his devotion to his friends over her, and becomes a major antagonist in the fourth game.
  • In Tales of Xillia, Alvin was this to Presa in the past. A rare case where the traitor is on your side (well, at least half the time) and the one betrayed is a villain. (Though she's actually a Type IV Anti-Villain) It's implied she genuinely loved him, but... a complicated string of betrayals got in the way.
  • Played with in Fire Emblem Awakening: The Avatar can be one of Prince Chrom's love interests if female, and has massive Ho Yay with Chrom if male... but the part where s/he kills Chrom and thus kicks off the Bad Future happens whether the Avatar is a male or a female and whether a girl Avatar is married to Chrom or not. Also, s/he doesn't do it willingly but only when his/her body is taken over by the Evil God Grima, whom s/he is supposed to be the vessel of... and the plot of the game as a whole is about preventing the Bad Future (and thus the Avatar's betrayal) from taking place.
    • If you're playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses and didn't choose to witness Edelgard's coronation in the Black Eagles route, you're in for a nasty shock if you're trying to A-Support Edelgard or Hubert with just about anyone they can potentially marry.
  • In Baten Kaitos:
    • Xelha falls in love with Kalas very badly, but he has other priorities, like avenging his grandfather and brother and helping the Big Bad unleash a Sealed Evil in a Can. They get together in the end.
    • In the prequel, Milly drops from the sky to aid Sagi and Guillo, and unconditionally helps their quest while spying on the party's activities for one Big Bad, who's also her dad. She has a big crush on Sagi through, and eventually, they elope together.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has this in the form of "Michelle", Niko's first potential girlfriend, who actually works for a shadowy government agency. Played with, as she's terrible at getting information from Niko, and it's clear that she regrets lying to him.
  • Yuna from Final Fantasy X. When she finds out that Seymour killed his father and plans more deaths, she agrees to marry him, so she could get close to him and kill him. Later, when he's already dead she marries his ghost so she could send him to the Farplane, making her rare heroic example of this trope.
  • Resident Evil has several of these throughout the franchise, though mostly Ship Tease as opposed to explicit romance.
  • Do It For Me:
    • The girlfriend who tells the protagonist to go on his journey to kill the Wooffles is actually the real Big Bad who has been using him to kill innocent high-schoolers (the “Wooffles”). The girlfriend betrays the player in the "Puppet" and "Innocent Love" endings, by framing him for the massacre and killing him for refusing to carry out the massacre, respectively.
    • The protagonist himself betrays the girlfriend in the "Psychopath" ending, where he says he was killing the students of his own will. Averted in the other endings where he is a Love Martyr.
  • Dead In Vinland: The snarky teenage daughter of the protagonist family can have a romance with a sweet gentle young man who's willing to turn away from his religious vows for her... and he later turns out to be a possibly-demonically-possessed Serial Killer who murders another party member.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors June/Akane is this to decoy protagonist Junpei when she turns out to be the big bad Zero, who kidnapped him and 8 other people and put them in a deadly game. Unlike most examples her affection is genuine (as confirmed by Word of God) and the betrayal is more of a case of I Did What I Had to Do since the game was actually designed to save her life in the past; when all is said and done, the victim of the betrayal doesn't hold a grudge, and the two get together for real at the end of Zero Time Dilemma (where she no longer qualifies as this trope).
  • In Tsukihime, Kohaku has this role on their route. The two stay together afterward.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, protagonist Makoto Naegi wastes no time hitting it off with pop idol Sayaka Maizono. Then she tries to use him as the fall guy for a murder she plans to commit, only for the intended victim Leon Kuwata to turn things around and kill Sayaka. It's later speculated that her dying message may have been a way to apologize for her betrayal. Ironically it's also implied Leon had a crush on her, making her a Love-Interest Traitor to two boys.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, protagonist Kaede Akamatsu wastes no time hitting it off with detective Shuichi Saihara. Then inverted when another student dies in Kaede's botched attempt on the mastermind's life, leaving her hopes and the protagonist title in Shuichi's hands. It also turns out that she wasn't even responsible for killing Rantaro, but this fact is only discovered after she's been convicted and executed.


    Western Animation 
  • Teen Titans:
    • In addition to being a Sixth Ranger Traitor, the series's version of Terra was this to Beast Boy. It was implied that (unlike the original Terra), she did like Beast Boy back, trying to save him from the rest of the Titans' fate, but not enough to choose him over Slade. She ultimately rebelled against Slade when Beast Boy confronted her upon her deeds, and then performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save the whole city as well as the Titans themselves.
    • This trope was revisited in the next season when Raven falls for a handsome magician trapped in a book—who turns out to actually be an evil dragon that tried to use her as the key to return to the world, and whom Raven must re-seal and defeat. Notably, Beast Boy is the one who consoles her afterwards.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Superman's Pal", Jimmy discovers that his new girlfriend, Tina, is working with Metallo and only wants him as bait for Superman. The last we see of her is him locking her in a closet before going off to help the superhero.
  • In the Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Eric romances Kim and takes her to the Junior Prom. When Kim and Ron rescue him from Dr. Drakken, he reveals that he's a syntho-drone and has been working for Drakken all the time. When Ron consoles Kim and reveals his own feelings for her, the show's real romance finally begins.
  • Helena in Neo Yokio. Despite being in love with Kaz, she tricks him into helping her and backstabs him by switching places with Sadie and running away with Charles at the end of the show.


Video Example(s):


Elsa Betrays Indy

Indy finds Elsa at gunpoint, his father warns him that she is a traitor, unfortunately Indy does not heed his advice and suffers the consequences

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveInterestTraitor

Media sources:

Main / LoveInterestTraitor