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Mysterious Backer

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"Trying to look up my information? Don't bother. There is nothing that you need to know about me. You're a client, and I'm a provider. That's all we need to know about each other."
Info-chan, Yandere Simulator

More often than not when a story has a Big Bad there will be a Big Good to counter them. This has a number of advantages; it keeps the heroes' side balanced against the antagonists', provides a source of support for the heroes, and generally stops the series from getting too cynical. On the other hand, it raises some problems. Namely, with the strength of such a strong ally, where's the tension? The Big Good could easily end up being a Story-Breaker Power, which also begs the question of why they don't get off their arse and send their villainous counterpart packing (or vice versa).

Cue this trope — a powerful benefactor of the heroes (essentially doing the same thing in the story that a Big Good would) who has their own agenda or reasons for helping them. Perhaps they're mysterious and hard to trust, perhaps they're visible, but seem a little too keen to Shoot the Dog. Other times, they're genuinely benevolent beings who are working within some sort of non-interference clause and may employ the same tactics as their opponents. Either way, they'll provide the support the cast needs, but the heroes (or at least the audience) don't quite know if they can be trusted. Even if they are the Big Good proper, they might not be planning to do things in an entirely moral manner or have it in for the heroes and wish to make them suffer more than they really need to. In a worst-case scenario, they might become the new Big Bad or turn out to be a Greater-Scope Villain.

Remember that this isn't a simple case of Omniscient Morality License or In Mysterious Ways, nor are they a Big Good who likes to stay hidden or keep an air of mystery around themselves; the entity in question must be at least visibly untrustworthy rather than having an excuse for their seemingly questionable behaviour. A hero with this trope as their main support might (but doesn't always) find themselves as an Unwitting Pawn, although to count as this trope, the Mysterious Backer must further the heroes' agenda as much as their own (assuming they aren't one and the same). They're quite fond of the Passive Rescue (particularly when it means the hero might be forced to do something on his way out). It's not unheard of for them to be a Greater-Scope Villain if their interests turn against the protagonists'.

A subtrope of The Powers That Be and Mysterious Stranger. See Psycho Supporter for another type of ally who might not see eye to eye with the rest of the team. Compare Anonymous Benefactor. Contrast with Big Bad Friend, for someone who's close to and trusted by the hero, but leads the villains, and Enigmatic Minion for someone who's on the villain's side with unclear motives. A Mysterious Employer may turn out to be this trope when the 'employment' is revealed to be a Secret Test of Character or initiation rite, or may remain strictly mercenary with the heroes afterwards.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Urahara from Bleach. He guides Ichigo through the whole series, and obviously knows more than just about anyone else when it comes to just what the hell is going on, but don't expect him to fill you in any time soon.
  • In Blue Reflection Ray, The AASA is an institute researching the Common, Fragments, and Reflectors. They employ Momo and Yuri to investigate what is happening with Fragments in the city and are the source of the Blue Reflector rings. Beyond that, though, they're of no help, providing little information, and no backup when trouble arises, leading to the Reflectors ignoring their existence.
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard:
    • In the original series, this was the role of the Ultra Rare trio. They run The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday, which apparently on;y gets customers through invitation (not that they stop anyone from walking in), provide extremely rare cards without any word on how they got them, only go by their first names (in a setting where everyone has a full name), and surprisingly work as idol singers too. Absolutelly nothing is known about their background or why they are helping Aichi and Ren until a series of reveals starting from the Link Joker Arc.
    • Cardfight!! Vanguard G: During the entire first season, Chrono would find anaonymous letters in his locker containing Gear Chronicle cards - which are one of a kind and not sold in any stores or even listed in any websites. The end of the season reveals that the person sending these letters was Ibuki, who made himself something of The Rival and Stealth Mentor to Chrono after his offscreen Heel–Face Turn before the start of the series.
    • Cardfight!! Vanguard (V Series):
      • This trope comes to bite Ryouzou in the ass at the end of the series when he realizes that he doesn't know where the funding for his research comes from. It comes from The Man Before The Man, his Secretly Wealthy assistant Tatsuya who is the real Big Bad of the season.
      • Parodied in the -IF- arc, where the series' genre has shifted to Magical Girl Warrior. "Mask the Dark" is simply the long-since established character Ren in a Paper-Thin Disguise, and everyone lampshades this. Except that the magical girls in question think this trope is played straight because they never met Ren prior to this and really don't know who he is. Not to mention Ren always stops those who know him from explaining.
  • Nona from Death Parade is revealed to be this to Decim. When a human who immediately remembered that she was dead arrived at his bar, he was unable to fulfill his task as a Psychopomp and could not accurately decide on whether to send her soul to even or hell. He became interested in her however, so Nona allowed her to work with him as an assistant at his request. However, it turns out that she has an ulterior motive to experiment with the current afterlife system. Throughout the series, she’s constantly putting Decim and his assistant in situations to further her own agenda without any of them knowing, all the well acting the part of the Benevolent Boss. The audience isn’t even privy to how much of the show’s plot beats were set up by Nona. As it turns out, she also orchestrated the situation that led to Chiyuki becoming his assistant in the first place.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, the Data Entity fits this role, being the creator of Yuki Nagato and the other interfaces to study the titular character and her godlike powers.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Golden Wind: After the heroes manage to uncover a facial construct of Diavolo, they are contacted by an unknown confidant who reveals to them that he knows of the method capable of defeating Diavolo and request they meet at Rome's colosseum to reveal it. The confidant's identity is actually Jean-Pierre Polnareff, who previously fought Diavolo and was nearly killed.
    • Stone Ocean: Emporio first acted as this to Jolyne during their first meeting. He initially shows up when Jolyne was alone to give her a vague warning, and then later gives a bone fragment that would help her escape Pucci's trap.
  • In One Piece, Nico Robin seems to have been this for Nefertari Vivi during her time as a mole in Baroque Works. Though to what extent is never explicitly shown, as much of it takes place before the story begins.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey is this to the letter- even after finishing the series, his Blue-and-Orange Morality makes it difficult to discern whether or not he was a villain or hero, or any variation involving the prefix "anti-".
  • Rebuild World: Akira's Evil Mentor Virtual Sidekick Alpha, who he finds in the ruins, and makes a contract with to raid a ruin to recover a MacGuffin for her, being trained and mentored until he's strong enough to do so. What greater purpose this mission serves as a Jig Saw Puzzle Plot mystery, but we're told it will effect the well-being of millions. Alpha's a Manipulative Bitch who tries to keep Akira from getting too close to anyone, as well as doing things like disappearing at inopportune moments to make Akira appreciate her, seeming to make him an Unwitting Pawn. However, Alpha needs Akira alive for her own objective, so Akira trusts in her self-interest, not in her, and is an Unscrupulous Hero in the first place. Additionally, Akira takes things like I Gave My Word and I Owe You My Life very seriously, to the point it's My Master, Right or Wrong.
  • Yugi Muto is this in the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, giving Judai the Winged Kuiboh card that becomes his Non-Human Sidekick, and not showing up until the Series Finale to explain why.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern's Guardians of the Universe. They think they're the Big Good, but they're completely full of themselves and wind up being the cause of a lot of messes the Lanterns have to clean up.
    • As of the New 52, they've given up all pretense of this, attempting to annihilate all life in the universe by converting it into the Third Army.
  • Invoked in the second series of Runaways. A group of former superheroes get a mysterious phone call asking them to come out of retirement for One Last Job. The heroes call him out, but they still wind up taking the job.
  • Most of the major Marvel principalities, particularly the Vishanti. They're mainly on the side of good, but they have a perspective that is sometimes completely alien to normal humans. On more than one occasion Doctor Strange has renounced them, taking the loss of power as a consequence, rather than be beholden to them any longer.
  • The "Fourth Man" of ''Planetary. A major part of the first half of the series is the mystery of his or her identity.
    Jakita Wagner: We don't know a name, that's part of the deal. Could be Bill Gates, could be Hitler, all we know is he's got more money than God and has been funding Planetary's operations since before any of us can remember.
  • Haeroth the Damned in Warhammer 40,000 comic Bloodquest serves as a guide to the Blood Angels while they are stuck in the Daemon World of Eidolon. Because of his nature as a Dark Angel and having stayed for too long in the Warp, the heroes are very suspicious of him, but given they are trapped on a planet surrounded by daemonic enemies with no allies to rely on, they have no choice but to accept his help. Turns out their suspicions weren't unfounded as it turns out he was possessed by the same daemon who brought them in the first place.
  • The Chief started as this in Doom Patrol. He seemed relatively benign and was a Big Good in the Sixties run. Come the Morrison reboot, it turns out that he was an utter bastard who engineered the incidents that transformed the original members to prove a point about adversity improving people. Some of the Brotherhood the Patrol were fighting were the ones who turned on The Chief after realizing they'd been set up.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Jack and the Beanstalk, there's the merchant who trades Jack the beans for his cow. At first he seems like a Snake Oil Salesman, but as it turns out, the beans are clearly worth far more than a cow that no longer gives milk. His motivations for helping Jack are never revealed.

    Fan Works 
  • Bad Future Crusaders has Arpeggio, who borders on being the Big Good, or would if her intentions weren't so enigmatic. She hires Silver Spoon to steal the Element of Magic from Dinky Doo, hires Apple Bloom to hunt down Scootaloo so that she can tell them where the Element of Loyalty is (though she drops the ball on this, not knowing that the two know each other), and has some connection with the Rainbolts. It's clear that she wants the Elements of Harmony in order to take down Queen Twilight, but it's clear just how benevolent her intentions or, or even who she really is.
  • fernwithy's The End of the World series, being set in the universe of The Hunger Games, cast Caesar Flickerman in this role. He is seen to provide every kind of support he can to each and every tribute, and being quick to do favors for the victors despite being uninvolved in the Rebellion with it eventually being revealed that this is because he is a mostly-forgotten victor who reinvented himself and knows exactly what they're going through.
  • Persona: HEAVEN (Afreaknamedpete): ETTEILLA, the new proprietor of the Velvet Room as a textbook example, a dark mysterious figure who speaks in vague philosophical terms who gifts Hiyori with the power of Persona and tasks her with destroying HEAVEN, though to people more familiar with the older Persona games might not find him so mysterious.

  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy Senator Palpatine fulfills this role since he's apparently helping the protagonists, but anyone who had already seen the original trilogy knew what he had in mind.
  • In the film Upldr, Lucius appeared to Victor to offer him funds, technology, and even a brain.
  • Rufus in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Neither the two protagonists nor the viewers know why he's helping them until he tells them at the very end.
    • He fits the Trope in the sequel too, as not even the viewers know until the end that the—female—concert director who gives the protagonists a chance is actually him in disguise.
  • Deep Throat in All the President's Men, emphasis on "mysterious". Of course, he was based on an informant whose identity and motives were, at the time, a heavily guarded secret, but the film certainly upped the mysterious part, portraying him as a shadowy figure with a gravelly voice. (Very much unlike the actual Mark Felt, especially when he admitted, publically, to being the informant in 2005.)
  • The Driver in Drive (2011). It's not revealed who he is, what his relation is to the woman and child he's escorting, or just why he's protecting them; important thing is, he does so.

  • Cira in A Brother's Price. First she seems to be one of the villains, then she announces her intent to help Jerin, and indeed does so.
  • The Dresden Files has loads of these; Marcone (a pragmatic, but still ruthless, gangster), the head of the White Council (who is the Big Good... but also has it in for Harry), pretty much any fey that helps him (since Blue-and-Orange Morality is their chief export).
  • The Ellimist from Animorphs technically tries to help the heroes, but he is either too roundabout in his methods to really gain their trust or too held up by Crayak (with whom he has a self-enforced stalemate) to help at all.
  • Eru in all of J. R. R. Tolkien's works. All of the Valar as well.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: The leader of the rebel group Red Crown is known only as the Prophet; everything else about them is a mystery.
  • Melisandre from A Song of Ice and Fire. A red priestess from Asshai who supports and advises Lord Stannis Baratheon in his campaign for the throne of Westeros and believes he is The Chosen One. It's ambiguous whether she's actually good; she might be a Tautological Templar.
  • Trent from the S.D. Perry Resident Evil was invented to be this and fill the gaping Plot Holes between the games the books are based on.
  • Shade's Children has Shade, the morally ambiguous Virtual Ghost who leads his eponymous children.
  • The Balanced Sword has Khoros, the wizard in the funny hat who shows up from time to time to give events a nudge. He has no scruples about lying or putting people into danger with incomplete information, and on at least one occasion seems to have deliberately steered someone into getting seriously injured so that they would be rescued by someone they needed to meet; the presumption is that it all works out for the best in the long run, but he attracts a certain amount of distrust and, from at least one character, intense and personal dislike.
  • The Imperial Japanese leaders in Victoria. Early in the story, they support the oppressive Federal regime against the Confederation's secessionists; then, when the government's position looks increasingly hopeless after President Warner's death, they withdraw their aid and instead recognize the Confederation. Imperial Japan subsequently becomes an important commercial partner and occasional military ally to the struggling new state — but always on her own terms, backing them where their interests coincide and remaining largely inscrutable otherwise.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Warehouse 13 (which has its own series) serves as this in Eureka.
  • The Vorlons were this in the first part of Babylon 5. Their definition of good (as opposed to the chaos of the Shadows) lets them help the heroes, but they go past good. Soon they are blowing stuff up veering into Lawful stupid territory.
  • Escher and his Piron Corp. from Continuum. Escher obviously has motives of his own, but he does help Kiera out every once in a while despite her open contempt for him, not to mention that in season 2 he begins funding the police department, which the public ends up (rightfully) accusing them of having a conflict of interest because of it, although it still obviously helps with the department's resources.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Definitely an odd example, but the "Machine". It's a practically omniscient computer that can see and hear almost everything happening in the entire country, and while it does provide the "team" with the basic information they neednote  to carry out their "mission", it never, say, leads them to catch their (and arguably the public's) biggest threats, i.e. the various Big Bads they face unless they happen to line up directly with the Machine's "Irrelevant" list.
    • While it's true that the Machine's creator, Finch, intended for it to be as inaccessible to everybody as possible, and to not give out information that anybody could use personally so as to keep anybody (himself included) from abusing its power, and it hasn't ever lead them directly to a Big Bad, even when violent crimes are plotted and happen only because of them. It only gives Finch their numbers if they're personally involved in the violent crime, even though it must know that some of these numbers have, and will continue happening only thanks to the people who are masterminding them.
    • It's also been shown to be perfectly capable of giving out reliable on-the-go information, although, granted, this only happens in certain specific situations (after Finch made it personal-use proof), such as when something is happening to the Machine itself, like while it's searching for a new administrator after being attacked by a virus, following a self-reboot.
    • Definitely some bonus points for it, at times, learning. It's even occasionally been vaguely hinted at being self-aware. Which ended up practically stated as true in the episode Aletheia.
    • There are also some other things even Finch couldn't predict and doesn't completely understand about it.
    • Of course, this is also what Finch is to John, from John's point of view.
    • The villainous hacker Root has a Heel–Faith Turn when she is confronted by all that the Machine has accomplished and starts treating the Machine as her god. As part of her belief system, she does not question the many mysterious things the Machine has her do but takes it as a matter of faith that the Machine has an excellent reason for it. She follows the Machine's instructions without question and is rewarded for that faith when the Machine helps her accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.
  • In the two-part Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode "Island of Illusion", there was Quagmire (no relation to this one) an elf-like being who spoke in rhymes. Who he was or why he was on the Island isn't known, but he was clearly one of Rita's enemies, and he was instrumental in the heroes escaping the horrid place.
  • The Kougami Foundation in Kamen Rider OOO, a philanthropic organization headed by the extremely eccentric Kousei Kougami, provides the protagonists with exposition, a variety of useful technology, and later, backup, all for Kougami's own mysterious reasons. However, what Kougami doesn't provide is funding, bad luck for our broke heroes. In fact, they have to pay a fee to use any of his tech, though the currency he takes is coin-like MacGuffins that all the monsters they fight are Money Spiders for.
  • Eddie Morra from Limitless, who kidnaps Brian, patches up his gunshot wound, and offers to supply him with the formula that staves off NZT's side effects. In return, all he wants is for Brian to solve his friend's murder, as Eddie somehow knows that doing so will land him in a good position with the FBI. Somehow this all works in Morra's favour, whatever he's after.

    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern loves this trope. Nearly every possible setting recommended in the various sourcebooks has some kind of suggestion for a mysterious backer. By default it's Department-7, which comes with a few suggestions for how it might fit into a campaign but whose true nature is ultimately left up to the Game Master. The d20 Past book suggests "the Fellowship" instead in the late-Victorian Shadow Stalkers campaign, a group that becomes a rival or potential villain in the modern-day Shadow Chasers setting.
  • And then there's the Hoffman Institute in Dark•Matter (1999), from which d20 Modern took a lot of inspiration even before republishing it as a sourcebook for the latter game. Ostensibly a Benevolent Conspiracy, the Institute is still very secretive and run by a grey alien disguised as a human. The game books provide suggestions for making the Institute's goals and behavior quite murky, turning them from a "save the world" organization into an alien-backed conspiracy out for its own slice of the secret world pie, only happening to do good things through the Player Characters along the way.

    Video Games 
  • Mantarok from Eternal Darkness. Sure it's the only one of the ancients who isn't planning to enter the world and run amok, is actively opposing the others, and even spent some time serving as a small village's personal fertility god. On the other hand, it's hardly in a position to oppose humanity and after masterminding the destruction of the other three ancients, who knows what it's planning. Word of God also states that another ancient is responsible for protecting humans by cleaning away the remains of Eldritch Abominations (as seen in the form of the yellow glow that accompanies the disappearing dead enemies), and may be an example of this (its yellow element certainly blocks Alex's progress in the final chapter).
  • XenoGears: Fei starts having several encounters with a masked man called Wiseman, who tells Fei what he needs to accomplish if he wants to overcome the obstacles in his journey. Wiseman is eventually revealed to be Fei's father.
  • Sammael from Darksiders; An archdemon from hell so Powerful that the destroyer had him imprisoned and reduced to an extra. But He uses what power he does have left to help War, the game's protagonist, so that War will help him get his powers back (and because he respects a man bent on revenge).
  • Guild Wars: The Order of Whispers, in Nightfall, is the Big Good organization confronting Abaddon. However, they're a very mysterious lot, none more so than the Master of Whispers himself (one of the NPC heroes the player can acquire during the campaign), and the player character lampshades this in in-game dialogue with the Order of Whispers shrine attendants from which he/she gets bonuses in explorable areas, saying, in almost as many words, "I don't trust you or your Order, but we have a common enemy, so I'll help you."
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel: The Imperial Liberation Front is said to have one, which keeps it supplied with Mira and resources. It's heavily implied to be Duke Cayenne of the Noble Faction, which is more or less confirmed in the epilogue but ultimately Ouroboros is behind them both, to the surprise of precisely nobody.
  • Verus in Baten Kaitos Origins was manipulating the party and Baelheit all along.
  • Theresa in Fable II is this and apparently the Big Good of the whole game until the last ten seconds of the final cutscene.
  • The Half-Life series has the G-Man. Is he on Gordon’s side? Seems to be, but it's hard to say, and he has a far more sinister vibe than any other person Gordon meets. And he doesn't give Gordon much reason to trust him, seeing as he blackmails Gordon into working for him, puts him in a twenty-year nap without warning him beforehand, sets him down in a dystopian future so he can risk his life sparking a revolution, then tries to kidnap him again— while ostensibly leaving beloved sidekick Alyx Vance to get blown up in a reactor explosion. All very politely, of course. It certainly doesn't bode well for his trustworthiness that the Vortigaunts, an unmistakeable ally, stop him from carrying out whatever plan he had for Gordon in Episode One, and are implied to actively prevent him from consorting with Gordon for the entire rest of the game. Not to mention that in Opposing Force, after Adrian deactivates a nuclear bomb that was set to blow the Black Mesa Facility, the G-Man turns it back on and lets the facility blow up, killing what was probably hundreds of people still left inside. the end of the day, he does seem to want Gordon—and the Resistance—to succeed against the Combine. He just uses questionable means to achieve his goals.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, despite the nature of the organization, Cerberus acts like this towards Shepard. On its shiny, exterior surface anyways, which is horrifically shed in Mass Effect 3, and while Miranda does her best to 'justify' their 'questionable ethics', even from Mass Effect 1 it's fairly obvious from the start that they're very cruel, selfish people that, once again, Miranda claims they're not evil, just "advancing the future of Humanity", it's pretty easy to see past that petty lie.
    • The memories of Ryder's father in Mass Effect: Andromeda reveal that the Andromeda Initiative had an unknown backer. Someone, or something, who apparently knew about the imminent Reaper invasion - possibly before even Shepard knew - and was trying to Fling a Light into the Future by putting a viable population outside their reach.
  • Tales of Monkey Island portrays the Voodoo Lady that has helped Guybrush throughout his career as this.
  • MadWorld featured Jack participating in the Deathwatch at the behest of his sponsor, Agent XIII. After he goes rogue from the competition, he still receives backing, though it becomes obvious that Agent XIII helped him because he despised what the game had become.
  • Zeno Clash has Golem; a mysterious giant with a face that's shrouded in shadow and an extremely out of place Rubix cube in his possession;
    • When he appears in the first game, he seems to know exactly what's going on, is opposing Father-Mother and guide's Ghat... but seriously, what the hell are his goals? Plus another Golem was watching what he was doing from afar.
    • In Zeno Clash 2, Golem's basically become ruler and tried to bring law and order to the land...which puts him at odds with Ghat. This is further complicated by another Golem, who helps Ghat along on his journey (apparently just to see what would happen). To cut a long story short; the first golem's a Well-Intentioned Extremist (who performs a Heroic Sacrifice to set things right), while the second one just likes putting people through cruel "tests" for the sake of it.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Delita effectively acts as one for Ramza. Delita's biggest contribution to Ramza's cause is effectively deploying Thunder God Cid to fight along his side. Talk about friends in high places...
  • The composer (AKA Joshua) in The World Ends with You. He more or less manipulated Neku into stopping the Big Bad's Evil Plan and was even considering destroying everything anyway (although Neku's actions made him change his mind).
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has in its post-credits scene Otacon informing Snake that one of their biggest contributors was in fact one of the supposed members of the Wisemen's Committee, although he shortly thereafter reveals that they were dead since a century before the events of the game.
  • In the tie-in comic for Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Road to Arkham, Batman suspects that the anonymous tips about Zsasz's activities, Scarecrow's activities, and the location of The Joker were given by the same person. Evidence from the game itself as well as its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, implies that the source of the anonymous tips were either Quincy Sharp, Dr. Hugo Strange, or Ra's al Ghul.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, Kreia mentors the PC, but don't think she's the same as those other Jedi masters.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Igor from the Persona series. He's very weird and creepy, speaks in generalities and riddles, and never gives away the game. But he's also well aware that something bad is about to happen and the protagonist is in the best (and usually only) position to stop it, helping them out and guiding them, subtly. The exception is Persona 5, though explaining why gets very, very complicated. The short version? That isn't Igor you’ve been talking to.
    • In the main series, this role tends to go to either Lucifer or Stephen.
  • Submachine: Murtaugh towards the player, especially since he's the only contact you have throughout the series. And it turns out he was Dead All Along.
  • One famous example is the sinister "Happy Mask Salesman" from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Sure, he leads and supports Link on his quest to defeat Majora and save Termina, but given how unclear his motives are, and how shady and downright nightmarish he is, his status as Big Good becomes kind of doubtful.
  • Touhou: This is Yukari Yakumo's usual modus operandi. One of the most powerful beings in Gensokyo, she positively oozes shiftiness to the point where the protagonists have been known to attack her on sight, assuming she's up to something. At the same time, she's more or less the valley's custodian - she offers Reimu a good deal of support (both seen and unseen), and when she actually asks for help with something the protagonists tend to assume the situation must be serious and agree to it immediately. Then again, it's implied that her idea of "serious" is very different from that of humans or even other youkai.
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown features the Council of Nations and their Spokesman. The Council of Nations themselves are the Omniscient Council of Vagueness, but the Spokesman definitely qualifies. In XCOM 2, despite the fact that's he's no longer a Spokesman for anyone, he single-handedly infiltrated ADVENT to provide information to the nascent Resistance movement, and serves as your overseer, grading your performance and giving information on targets of opportunity.
  • Yandere Simulator has a Villain Protagonist version with Info-chan, the school's resident information broker and black market dealer. Her existance itself is believed to just be an urban legend among the students of Akademi. All that's known about her is that she hangs out at school in the Info Club room, which she got after blackmailing the school's headmaster, she has access to a lot of things she shouldn't, she deals in photographs of girls' panties and any dirty secrets the students may have, and for some reason, she hates Osana Najimi, your first rival, enough to set a Yandere on her.
  • In Control, the Federal Bureau of Control has a Board, which appears as a huge, inverted black pyramid hovering in the Astral Plane. The Board appoints and advises new Directors to the Bureau (speaking in garbled radio noises that they mysteriously understand perfectly) and, via its control over its region of the Astral Plane, enables the powers of certain paranatural artifacts to be harnessed by human wielders. Nobody knows what exactly it is or what its motives are, but it seems to be benevolent.
  • In Daughter for Dessert, Saul becomes this in the lead-up to the protagonist's trial. Saul states that he has his own reasons for representing him for free, and he disappears after the trial is over. He speculates that Saul might be a relative of Lainie’s family lawyer whom he and Lainie previously hoodwinked, but Saul’s motives are still unclear.
  • Dr. Mosely is this to the protagonist of Double Homework. She seems helpful and sympathetic to him at times, but it’s always clear that she has a hidden agenda. As it turns out, she wants him to sleep with all of the girls in his summer school class (minus Johanna), because she would receive a grant if that were to happen.

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja features the clone of Benjamin Franklin, who is working on an eternal life serum, which doesn't quite work out the way he expected (he's killed by ninjas, but comes back to life—sort of, as he becomes a Headless Horseman). He reveals to Dr. McNinja that his backer was a reclusive Eastern European billionaire that he hadn't met personally, who gave his name as Alucard. Doc, who can't believe Ben fell for that Sdrawkcab Alias, instantly realizes the true identity of the backer: Dracula! King of All Vampires!
  • The Far Side Of Utopia: Peter is this to the MSB and Malsa. They don't trust him but need his help just enough so they can't tell him to go away either, especially when he comes to them instead of the other way around.
  • Fate/type Redline: Servant Rider and his companion Oryou are this to Kanata, Tsukumo and Saber. The two come to Kanata's group making their intentions and reasoning for helping them very clear; they have evidence that the Imperial Army has the Holy Grail and they want to remove it out of fear of the consequences. However, they deliberatelly keep everything else about them unclear. First of all, he says that he and Oryou are BOTH Rider (which is normally impossible because a Servant is one person at the time), he says they don't have a Master (which again, is impossible because Servants need a Master to provide mana for them to be anchored to the world of the living), refuses to elaborate where their mana source comes from, and then Oryou says that she's not a Servant and that she's "simply Oryou", and she's a Flying Brick with the additional perks of a healing saliva, and what appears to be some sort of bestial transformation - which again, they refuse to elaborate upon. Not to mention how they keep arranging stuff via mysterious acquaintances, like borrowing a detective agency or preparing a car ride. They should not even have acquaintaces; they're ghosts (like all servants are). The overall result it that while the protagonists accept the offer, they have a LOT of questions about Rider and Oryou.

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue has the enigmatic Director, head of Project Freelancer.
    • Vic too in the early episodes, in the sense of being Mission Control with some sort of agenda.
  • Worm has the Undersiders' unknown boss. Eventually revealed to be Coil
  • The Administrator from Magik Online fits this trope to a tee. He gives Mathias access to Magik Online, which gives non-magical beings the ability to become sorcerers by having an account. But their identity is a complete mystery, they only communicate through chat messages, and Mathias needs to fulfill 'Quests' for his benefactor in order to gain Spellcoins to even be able to buy new spells from Magik to use.
  • Title Pending: Bayden pretty much gave the channel to Arcanoth Industries under the promises of money, while knowing absolutely zero about them. The Arcanoth Industries turn out to be Bayden's sister Alyssa Goode, but the contract has every shady deal cliche in the book without any details revealed.

    Western Animation 
  • Deconstructed in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, during the first half of the first season, Mr E has been secretly helping Mystery Inc in some of the mysteries they are solving, but he soon puts them all in real danger for his personal gain. Such as sending one of his hired hands to attack them so that he can lure out Prof Pericles.
  • In Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode "Decommissioned", The Bad Batch don't know who hired them through Cid to recover the tactical droid. And at the end, Rafa and Trace report to a mysterious cloaked figure via hologram.