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Obvious Judas

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Image by Chuckle-A-Duck. Used with permission.

Richard: It truly is a tragedy! I cannot believe someone would poison our afternoon brandy! What bittersweet fortune that I was somehow spared!
Arthur: Yes, it truly is a blessing that you are well, my brother — Richard Traitoro Hellsing!

A Face–Heel Turn or Evil All Along reveal that was obviously coming.

This character is supposedly one of the good guys, but they have a certain air about them. You just know that they'll eventually betray the group in some way or another, even though the writer has shown no evidence that they plan to actually do evil (rather than just look evil). So why suspect them? They express traits that seem Obviously Evil; perhaps they speak in a Creepy Monotone and wear an Ominous Opera Cape, or they have white hair that makes them look a bit too much like Sephiroth, or they constantly go on monologues about how the world is imperfect and corrupt and needs to be cleansed of its impurity, or their name is "Mordred M. McTraitor", or they just look like a Dastardly Whiplash. When they finally betray the heroes, you say, "I Knew It!"


This trope is an Audience Reaction, because the other protagonists suspect nothing. This trope can also happen in-universe if a character predicts a betrayal, but doesn't warn the good guys. This trope can become The Un-Twist, if the audience thinks (by mistake) that the character can't be/turn evil, because it would be too obvious. It can overlap with Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize, if one protagonist's actor usually plays evil characters.

Often can come across as rather insulting. However, Tropes Are Not Bad: occasionally this trope can intentionally be used as a Red Herring, such as when the obvious traitor turns out to be The Dragon to a not-so-obvious one.

Subtrope of Captain Obvious Reveal. Related to Devil in Plain Sight, though this requires that a character is deliberately portrayed as obviously untrustworthy and that another character picks up on this. Contrast Never the Obvious Suspect and Red Herring Mole.


Do not add an example until the work has the character commit the betrayal. The audience might see an Obvious Judas where the author did not intend one. It would be stupid to list someone as an Obvious Judas, only to reach the end of the story and find that the character never became a Judas, and Speculative Troping is not allowed. Examples for characters who aren't evil yet belong in Wild Mass Guessing.

Also beware of hindsight: anyone can predict a Face–Heel Turn after it already happened. This trope only counts if the character seemed evil back when he or she was outwardly good. Judas Iscariot doesn't fit this trope in The Bible (though he did betray Jesus), but Judas might fit this trope in newer works that retell biblical events, and other characters might fit this trope if the audience sees an allusion to Judas.

Finally, THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD... but considering what the trope is about, they're pretty obvious ones.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Many readers were suspicious of Aizen long before he was revealed as the Big Bad due to the fact he was playing the stereotypical role of the too-nice character that's deeply concerned about a potential conspiracy, who confronts the apparent villain and gets killed off shortly afterwards. Aizen's reveal was therefore fully expected rather than surprising.
    • Also Gin Ichimaru from the same story act. The only people both in and out of universe who were surprised that he was a villain were the people who though that someone this obviously a villain (a Perpetual Smug Smiler who's eyes are always closed with a snake motif that every one is suspicious of) couldn't possibly be a villain.
    • And then Gin Ichimaru manages to be a Obvious Judas again, only this time to Aizen.
  • Vegeta in the Majin Buu arc of Dragon Ball Z. Double Subversion. Due to everyone knowing he's a giant Jerkass, and still pretty evil, and making more than his normal "evil" behavior during this specific time, he was expected to do this. The subversion is that it appears he was FORCED into his Face–Heel Turn, then the other comes from that he used a rather elaborate Batman Gambit to get Babadi to target him, thus making him a Judas in the sense of the trope.
  • Defied with Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho. Everyone except Yusuke believed that he would betray the group during the Saint Beasts arc, however this proved not to be the case once the demon tells the Saint Beasts to go to hell. Yusuke's trust had a weird effect on Hiei. Later, in the Chapter Black arc everyone is startled when Hiei goes 'stop the tunnel to Demon World? Screw that, I want to go home,' and ditches the rest of the team. He comes back and saves Yusuke's life less than a week later, though. And then he and Hiei beat the snot out of each other for a while, and then they're friends again. Even after the team splits up.
  • Kai from Beyblade. He barely tolerated his teammates, and gave off the impression that they were beneath him and his talent. The only thing that makes his teammates' shock at his betrayal remotely believable is that such a low, petty thing as stabbing them in the back in exchange for being given power seems strange coming from someone as openly confrontational, arrogant and self-reliant as Kai.
  • Dennis Macfield of Yugioh Arc V. He pretty much pops out of nowhere and latches on to Yuya, seemingly fits into Yuya's group perfectly despite just meeting them, gives off a creepy vibe to Yuzu, and hides his ability to use Fusion for seemingly no reason. (Fusion used by the main antagonist group, Academia, though anybody on either side can use it if they learn how.) Surprise surprise, he actually works for Academia and was sent to capture Yuzu and/or infiltrate the good guys' team. This is also parodied when he and Gongenzaka have a duel in front of an audience. Dennis plays the Face and forces Gongenzaka to be the Heel. The audience believes Dennis despite his attitude, until Gongenzaka pointing out that Dennis's behavior is clearly indicative of the villain; afterwards, Dennis plays the Heel of the duel.
  • Ren Gyokuen from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. Back in Alma Torran, how could King Solomon have ever possibly foreseen his betrayal at her hands, given how she's portrayed in flashbacks as a shady figure with a winged staff, creepy Empty Eyes, and couldn't be any more Obviously Evil if she tried? That's because the person we're seeing is not the traitor Gyokuen, but Solomon's future wife Sheba, who looked like that from a lifetime of Break the Cutie but eventually recovered. Gyokuen is actually Arba, the Magi who always portrayed herself as Solomon's faithful follower and mother figure and didn't show her true colors until Solomon decided to become the new god of Alma Torran. Gyokuen has the same staff as Sheba because Arba stole it after killing Sheba.
  • Sigurd from Sword Art Online. He pushes Leafa around, even outside the terms of their original agreement, and when Kirito intercedes on her behalf, Sigurd threatens to kill him while Kirito is unable to fight back due to being in an enemy city (Which unlike in SAO won't actually kill him, but since death in ALO has an apparently steep EXP penalty, this is quite a Kick the Dog moment), only stopping when his underlings point out that there are people watching. It's thus fairly obvious that he's the traitor to the Sylphs, although the twist is more about the existence of one, rather than the traitor's identity.
  • In Geneshaft, it really isn't hard to guess that Lord Sneak is the terrorist leader working with Oberon. He has a mysterious atmosphere around him, is always seen in dark lighting, talks rather cryptically, always has ominous and threatening music playing in his scenes, treats Beatrice with no respect, basically says that men are better than women at one point, and is working for an Omniscient Council of Vagueness- oh, and his name is Lord Sneak, a clear reference to his sneakiness.

  • Paintings of the Last Supper usually depict Christ and all the Apostles with big shiny halos... except for one guy at the table.

    Comic Books 
  • In his very first appearance X-Men villain Fabian Cortez betrays all his allies, including Magneto and his own sister, making him this in every appearance thereafter.
  • No matter if a good guy or a bad guy, any comic that tries to treat Loki's inevitable betrayal as a twist (for example A-Force) will inevitably fall into this category.
  • In White Sand, Drile's Establishing Character Moment comes when he's trying to sell his skills for money and is subsequently demoted from top rank to the middle. When it turns out he's survived the massacre of the Sand Masters, it doesn't take a genius to figure out who was Kerztians' inside man.
  • Played for Laughs in Ghostopolis when the protagonists run into the ghost of Benedict Arnold; there's maybe a fraction of a second where it looks like he'll help them, than he immediately sells them out to the villains while standing right next to them. Towards the end of the book they run into him again and Frank makes sure to call him a jerk, to which Benedict says "sorry, but it's in my nature!".
  • Zeta Prime in The Transformers: Autocracy had people figuring out he was clearly the main villain from the first covers. Between the fact that the lineage of Primes in that continuity is historically Royally Screwed Up (Optimus was the White Sheep) and the fact that he has to be the leader in between "Decepticons are formenting rebellion" and "Decepticons are in all-out war", it wasn't a hard guess, and that's before you look at his design. And the first thing he did was demonstrate a Life Drain weapon on a captured soldier, while ranting about being "the monster these people need." Most stories involving him since Autocracy have been about Optimus kicking himself for ever thinking the crazy bastard was a good option - and the main reason he did so was that, as horrible as Zeta was, he was actually somewhat progressive compared to his predecessors (which is less a recommendation of Zeta and more a sign that Nominus and Sentinel were even worse). The wiki had a field day with him.
    Is that masked, horned face the face of someone who would torture and brainwash the dissidents and suck fuel from his own citizens to fuel his army? Totally! So if he were actually bad, he'd probably try to hide it a little, don't you think?
  • While none of the members of the new Infinity, Inc. in 52 are very good people, one turns out to be a Psycho for Hire and a cannibal who is totally on-board with the worst of Luthor's plans. This would probably be very surprising to readers, had he not been named "Hannibal Bates."

    Fan Works 
  • Trixie, in Rainbooms and Royalty. She's a huge jerk to just about everyone except Dash, so it's little surprise when she starts actively trying to mess with the Ponyville ponies.
  • The version of Judas Iscariot in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Passion Of The Smurfs" is a little too obvious if he happens to be related somehow to the Smurfs' main enemy Gargamel.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the 1954 adaptation of Animal Farm, the design of Napoleon makes it far too evident that he is or will become the bad guy, especially if you compare him with the other pigs.
  • Titan A.E. has Preed, the resident Jerkass and Deadpan Snarker who the rest of the crew can barely stand, and at one point was more interested in shooting grasshoppers than keeping a look out for The Drej. The fact that he turned out to be The Mole surprises no one; the identity of the other Mole is far more shocking.
  • Quest for Camelot's antagonist, Ruber, has greenish skin and a bizarre, banana-shaped head, whereas all the other Knights of the Round Table look perfectly normal.
  • Evelyn Deavor in Incredibles 2 has the means, motive, and opportunity to pull off the villain's evil plans, and she's frequently shown ominously lurking in the background, standing behind her brother Winston. Her name is basically "evil endeavor". As such, not many people were surprised when she was revealed to be the true identity of the Screenslaver. The main surprise is that her brother, whose nice but slightly dim-witted behavior is a classic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing act, is actually a Sheep in Sheep's Clothing who really is serious about returning supers to the world.
  • Despite looking very evil, Clayton from Tarzan isn't actually revealed to be evil until about fifteen minutes until the end of the movie. Not helping is the fact that he was an antagonist (albeit a more sympathetic one) in the original Tarzan stories.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part parodies this. Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi has an entire Villain Song about how she's Most Definitely Not a Villain, and she seems to basically be the Lego equivalent of an Eldritch Abomination, which makes the ominous music playing as she calls herself "the least evil queen in history" even more blatant. Even Wyldstyle points out how her song is basically just one long Suspiciously Specific Denial. It then subverts this, as it turns out she's actually a genuinely good being who happens to have a degree of Blue-and-Orange Morality — she doesn't get that she comes across as an Obvious Judas. It's even Lampshade by her Dragon:
    Wyldstyle: Why didn't you guys just tell us that?
    General Mayhem: We tried! The Queen sang a whole song about how not evil she was!
    General Mayhem: I know...
  • In Thor: Tales of Asgard Thor finds the Sword of Sutr, and accidentally sparks a race war between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. In order to prevent this war, Odin must find his son and return the sword to the Giants. But, of course, he's too busy to go find his son himself, so he sends his trusty advisor Algrim the Dark Elf. Throughout the film, Algrim reveals the Frost Giants committed genocide against his race and Odin failed to help them; despite this, Algrim is portrayed as a very soft spoken and endearing man. However, when he finds Thor, and offers to hold on to the sword for him, he begins to rant about all the pain he has endured. Everyone becomes unnerved by this, and one of the royal guards sees the betrayal coming and unsheathes his sword, however it's too late when Algrim kills all the guards and leaves to kill Odin as revenge for his people.
  • Up's villain, Charles Muntz, is barely even a twist. On top of his nasty-looking dogs and somewhat off-putting demeanor, he's really the only character in the movie who could be the main villain, due to how small the cast is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harry Osborn from the Spider-Man Trilogy. He was pretty much set up solely for the purpose of being Peter's Judas (starting with hitting on Mary Jane and starting to date her, the implication being that he wanted Peter to be jealous of him like he was jealous of his dad's affection for Peter).
  • One review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring mentioned "If I were Frodo, and Boromir had been this obvious about his intentions, I'd have been off on my own before the Fellowship reached Moria." To elaborate, Boromir has openly argued in favor of using the One Ring against Sauron (a very bad idea, considering that the correct choice of action is to destroy it), seemed most reluctant of its members to join the Fellowship, and distrusts the morally-redoubtable Aragorn. Later, Boromir longingly gazes on the ring while musing about it, only returning it to Frodo when Aragorn ordered him to do so. Naturally, all this culminates in him trying to take the ring from Frodo at Amon Hen, resulting in Frodo leaving the Fellowship. Downplayed, though, in that Boromir is still shown to be a goodhearted person and his truly malicious actions are solely limited to the above event, which he immediately regretted. It's just that he was the member of the Fellowship most susceptible to the Ring's corruption, being the most ambitious and high-minded.
    • Grima Wormtongue is even worse. Who would have thought the slimy advisor who is always present while Theoden is weak, pervs on Eowyn and has this name and appearance, is Saruman's spy?
  • Cypher in The Matrix has a shifty vibe from the beginning, solidified when he tells Neo, "Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?" In the next scene, he's shown making a deal with the Agents- if he turns over Morpheus, who knows the codes to Zion, Cypher will be allowed to return to the Matrix. Even his name is a warning sign.
  • A foregone conclusion in the Star Wars prequels, but as early as Episode II, Anakin Skywalker was wearing dark robes as a contrast to the light brown ones of his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as almost every other Jedi that appears. He's also more angry and impulsive than the other Jedi (something which is repeatedly pointed out), and by the end of Episode II, has broken almost every part of the Jedi code by slaughtering noncombatants and children and getting married. If you were surprised that he became Darth Vader at the end of Episode III, you were not only living under a rock for years, you weren't paying attention to some really heavy-duty Foreshadowing. (A poster for Episode 1 featuring child!Anakin casting Darth Vader's shadow is even the page image.)
  • August Walker from Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He's openly antagonistic to Ethan and the team, he expresses very little concern about human life, he accuses Ethan of being The Mole with clearly fake evidence, and he gets several ominous closeups during otherwise innocuous scenes. Was anyone surprised that he turned out to be the bad guy?
  • Was anyone really surprised when Mills and Wheatley from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom betrayed our heroes (minus Zia who was critical to keep an injured Blue alive) and left them to die on an exploding Isla Nublar? Mills is a creepy-looking, shifty guy who doesn't really seem very trustworthy and Wheatley is an arrogant Egomaniac Hunter who's very condescending and rude toward the good guys, particularly Zia and Franklin.

  • In The Last Hero the character of "Evil" Harry Dread proudly wears this as his hat, and even reminds the party that he is evil and therefore contractually obliged to betray them at some point. The heroes accept this as part of the Heroic Code and even congratulate him on a job well done when he does betray them.
  • The Harry Potter novels love to subvert with Professor Snape. Severus Snape is Harry's least favorite teacher, and for a good reason- he's heavily biased against Gryffindors in general and Harry in particular, and never stops trying to get the boy in trouble. But every time he's a suspect in some mystery, he's actually a Red Herring. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone he seems to be planning to steal the titular object and threatening Quirrel about it- but Quirrel is the actual plotter, and Snape was investigating him (Quirrel even lampshades that Snape made a good smokescreen by swooping around and acting suspicious). He's eventually revealed to be a former Death Eater, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has him swear an Unbreakable Vow to help Draco kill Dumbledore and following through- which a flashback in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals was a Mercy Kill after Dumbledore contracted a curse that would kill him soon anyways.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • For the North Roose Bolton. He's on the "good" side of the Starks, but comes from a long-time rival of House Stark that still brags about how they would flay their enemies alive, and even has the flayed man as their sigil, along with living in the Dreadfort. He's also constantly described as creepy, being very pale and having a quiet, whispered voice due to his frequent leechings (even holding a meeting while naked and being leeched), and has a number of weird habits.
    • The Freys have the reputation of being up-jumped, self-important and loyal only when it suits them. This reputation was galvanized when they obeyed their oath of loyalty to the Tullys during Robert's Rebellion only after it became clear that the Tullys were going to win anyway. Also, most of the Freys are described as very unattractive, many reassembling their weasel-like common ancestor, Lord Walder Frey. Also many of them are very unpleasant, from the abrupt and rude "Bastard" Walder Rivers, the thuggish and fierce Hosteen Frey, the scheming "Lame" Lothar Frey, and the brutal "Black" Walder Frey. The trope is confirmed when Walder switches sides against the Tullys and Starks, and then has them slaughtered. Ironically, some of the nicer Freys, such as Roslin, are described as being relatively attractive.
    • Littlefinger plays with this by being so obviously up to no good that people write him off as either a Sarcastic Devotee or a Smug Snake with a blatantly obvious (and thus easily foreseeable) case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, rather than a full-fledged Manipulative Bastard who excels at inducing wrong genre savviness in those around him until precisely the right moment.
      Littlefinger: I did warn you not to trust me.
  • The Jenkinsverse: In-universe. A Corti doctor (who humans call "Grizzly") is ordered to offer his services to Adrian Sanders, the most dangerous human alive, and then report all his activities to the Corti government. Grizzly knows that he'll be discovered sooner or later, so after bouncing some ideas off someone else, he walks up to Adrian's pirate crew, tells them he's a spy, and offers them his services. The pirates are careful not to mention anything particularly important around Grizzly, and Grizzly is careful to stay far away from anything that might be considered important.
  • Angels of Music actually manages to use this as a Prophecy Twist. The prophecy is "One of us is a traitor. One of us is not what she seems" and the twist is that these are two seperate statements, and the traitor is exactly what she seems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A strange sort of subversion in Merlin. That Mordred will one day kill Arthur is a Foregone Conclusion, one that Merlin learns about as early as the first series. By the time an adult Mordred reappears in the fifth series, Merlin is nearly beside himself with paranoia, certain that the young knight is playing some sort of long con to get in good with King Arthur before betraying him. As it turns out Mordred is completely genuine in his loyalty and affection for Arthur and all his creepy behaviour and ominous looks are just incidental. His betrayal comes when Arthur has his Childhood Sweetheart executed for treason, thus leading Mordred on an arguably justified (to some degree) Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Played for Laughs in the series finale of Angel.
    Angel: I know this is going to sound pretentious, but one of you is going to betray me tonight.
    Spike: [raises hand] Ooh! That's me!
    Angel: —Wesley.
    Spike: Aw. Can I at least deny you three times?
  • Similarly Played for Laughs on Mock the Week in a "Scenes We'd Like To See" segment subtitled "Unlikely Lines from The Bible".
    Rob Beckett: Oh, I shoulda known it would be you, with a name like bloody Judas.
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Parodied and Double Subverted in an episode where Robert Picardo shows up playing a creepy, sinister tech expert who just so happens to have shown up after "the mysterious untimely death of the previous tech expert". Nobody except Sam seems to notice his suspicious behavior (like making headless dolls of the entire team), who later confronts him about it and is immediately proven wrong when the guy acts shocked at the suggestion and it turns out he is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood. Then the final scene shows that he and Agent Trent were both behind the episode's plot.
  • Littlefinger of Game of Thrones flat out tells Ned Stark not to trust him. When the inevitable betrayal comes, he makes a point to remind Stark of the early warning. And this is only the first time of many that he betrays someone.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The original Judas Iscariot is something of a mixed example, as all the Gospel writers themselves pretty much presented him to the readers as a traitor from the start, with John in particular mentioning that Judas had been Stealing from the Till (he apparently being the group's unofficial treasurer, since he helped carry their money bag) and that his ostensibly righteous motives were all hypocrisy. At the time these events were taking place, however, none of the disciples had any reason to suspect Judas of ulterior motives. In fact, when Jesus announced that one of them was going to betray him, each of them doubted themselves more than anyone else. (They all asked him "Is it I?" rather than "Is it Judas?") This implies that the disciples only noticed these red flags about Judas retroactively when they were writing about them in the Gospels many years later. Another explanation could be that they trusted Jesus' judgment despite the signs that Judas was up to no good. Or it's possible that they noticed that he was untrustworthy with money, but didn't think his shortcomings extended so far that he'd betray Jesus. This interpretation was favored by Origen of Alexandria, who suggested that Judas simply lacked moral fortitude, and the act of betrayal was a moment of weakness that no one saw coming.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Claudio Castagnoli and Kevin Steen during the Ring of Honor vs CZW feud, depending on which promotion you were a fan of. Chris Hero was the driving antagonistic force behind the feud, resentful over fact a venue had changed the starting hour of a CZW show after a scheduling conflict with an ROH one and deemed ROH should be destroyed after he was buried in a Worked Shoot by ROH head booker Jimmy Bowers (Gabe Sapolsky). Anyone who knows Hero and Castagnoli knows they act as a Tag Team far more often than they feud, so even though Castagnoli had an ROH "contract" his turn wasn't all that surprising. Steen, meanwhile, openly hated CZW and was looking for any excuse to get out of any bookings he had committed to it. While ROH was merely alternating between defending or avenging itself with no designs towards CZW's permanent destruction, the formal entrance of CZW founder John Zandig into the feud had ROH genuinely concerned for its continued operation and willing to take all the help it could get. Even if that meant hiring a known traitor like Steen and giving into some of his demands (in exchange for some CZW assets of course).
  • Kenny Omega in Bullet Club. It would be a lie to say Bullet Club always got along ("Go Home Young Baxu!"), but brothers fight. They were True Companions, until Omega, a Psycho for Hire who sold out his "homeland" twice, was brought in solely to fill the super junior singles void left by Prince Devitt. No one was really surprised therefor when he turned on the defacto new face AJ Styles and caused a permanent rift in the stable, which has gone on to be defined by in fighting and back biting ever since.
  • Ric Flair isn't called "The Dirtiest Player In The Game" for nothing. You could set your watch to the inevitable betrayal, particularly when teamed with Sting.

  • When the term "pre-made psycho" or similar is used among Survival of the Fittest handlers, it's generally a reference to this. It's used when a character is clearly going to play the game the second they get on the island just from a read-through of their profile. It often includes any mixture of sociopathy, Dark and Troubled Past, prior firearm or martial arts knowledge, mental instability, or excellent manipulation skills. While more common in earlier versions, the staff nowadays tries to avert this by requesting profiles that have clear pre-made traits to be rewritten if not outright denied.

    Video Games 
  • Kreia aka Darth Traya from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. She comes across like a Sith Lord, admits to having been one early on, constantly manipulates and mentally tortures your companions, and acts as arrogant and pompous as any of the Sith. Not to mention, her (and the writers') attempts at deconstructing the Black-and-White Morality of the Star Wars universe almost always result in acting like a heartless bastard (and Dark Side points). With a good Intelligence, you can outright call her out on being a former Sith and a possible traitor the moment you meet her... and her response is basically "So?"
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Bishop and Qara from Neverwinter Nights 2. One's a Social Darwinist who practically screams "don't trust me!", and the other's a sociopath who hates being one-upped, which The Hero frequently will. Do the math yourself. Surprisingly, though, this can be somewhat subverted; while Bishop will always sell you out, he can be persuaded not to fight you if you're female, and while Qara will almost always betray you, there's a slim chance she won't.
    • You can easily plan for maintaining Qara's loyalty if given the simple piece of info that whoever is more loyal of Sand and Qara will stay with you and the other will betray you. If that's your thing. Pissing off Sand was not something most players did, as he's both plot-relevant and one of the more likeable characters.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • The trope is frequently inverted, as Awkward Zombie pointed out, featuring enemies who are better-looking than their comrades, have their own name, design, and class, and are shown doubting the cause and acting friendly in the pre-level cutscene. Nine times out of ten, they're recruitable, and will join your side with nary a backward glance if the right person talks to them. This in itself has led to the Camus archetype — a character who meets all the above criteria, and then turns you down.
    • It really doesn't take much work to figure out Arvis is evil in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War—the mere fact that this is his theme should probably clue you in. In the prologue chapter, we also see his overkill statline, his coldly disdainful attitude, the fact that his little brother is scared of him, and if you check his Holy Blood, you notice a glowing purple circle in the middle. When it's revealed a few chapters later that the Loptyr cult has a powerful ally, anyone should probably be able to put two and two together.
    • Orson in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is introduced to us after a scene where Tirado, right-hand man of Smug Snake Valter, mentions having a traitor in Prince Ephraim's force. He also spends large amounts of time away from the party, he seems a little too powerful for a character you'll be keeping around on a permanent basis (especially when there's already a strong Crutch Character in the party), and most damningly, the other potential suspects fit the longstanding tradition of the red and green cavalry duo while Orson is the odd man out. The numbers add up quickly against him.
    • Shortly after Nasir joins the group in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, we see Big Bad Ashnard mention that there's a traitor in Ike's ranks. Nasir has a unique design, but isn't playable, which should instantly tip players off that something is wrong. Soren, the group's tactician, even confronts Nasir about it early on. Unlike the above example though, Nasir turns out to have sympathetic motives, and if the right conditions are met he makes a Heel–Face Turn near the end of the game and does become playable.
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • In the Birthright route, Zola, who'd been introduced posing as Izana in order to try to kill the Avatar and Sakura. He looks as Obviously Evil as they come and is another example of "joins the group but isn't playable," after he tags along with the group after the Avatar prevents Leo from killing him. Everyone remains suspicious of him from the moment he joins, and sure enough, he's a Heel–Face Mole. It's played with, however, in that Zola genuinely came to sympathize with the party while he was with them and pleads with Garon to spare them, which gets him killed.
      • On the Revelation route, it becomes clear that there's a traitor in the party in the last act. The fact that Gunter can't support with anyone on this route (in Conquest, he can support with the Avatar and Jakob) makes him very suspicious, and sure enough, it's him.
    • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the remake of Gaiden, has Fernand. A Canon Foreigner who didn't exist in the original game, he's a highly classist member of the Deliverance who looks down on Alm for being a commoner (and not in the benignly oblivious way Clair does), so it's not all that much of a surprise when he leaves the Deliverance and joins up with Rigel.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
      • After Chapter 6, the party rescues Flayn from the Death Knight, along with another captive they didn't know about: Monica. We're informed Monica was a student from the academy who "went missing" a year ago, and that she has now joined the Black Eagles house. The first red flag is that, if you're on the Black Eagles route, she (you guessed it) isn't playable. The second is that she seems oddly nonchalant for someone who supposedly spent a year in captivity. Hilda even comments on how suspicious she is in-universe. It came as no surprise to most players when she revealed her true colors a few chapters later.
      • The DLC story, Cindered Shadows, has Aelfric. It's established early on that the enemies you're fighting are working with a mole in Abyss. Aelfric was the only new character in the DLC who wasn't revealed to be playable, and is suspiciously knowledgeable about the Chalice of Beginnings (the item the hired thugs are trying to find), controls Abyss, and was the reason all four Ashen Wolves (who have the bloodlines necessary to unseal the Chalice) ended up there. He's also a little too fixated on Byleth's mother. Sure enough, despite the story's attempts to use Yuri as a Red Herring (the fact that he has support conversations for the main story ruins that), Aelfric was the Arc Villain all along.
  • Dragon Age: Origins subverts this by how quickly the villains turn; so soon that their reveals doesn't get a chance to become a spoiler. If playing the Human Noble background first, Arl Howe might surprise you in the introduction, otherwise he's already obviously evil the first time he's seen. Loghain commits his betrayal and heads for coup at the end of the first Act, and the first time we see him his pale, cadaverous look screams Obviously Evil (although the "evil" part turns out to be a case of Well-Intentioned Extremist who's overestimated his own capabilities).
    • If you fail to gain enough loyalty Zevran will turn on you as soon as he's given a chance to return to his previous life with the slate wiped clean of his initial failure. This is after he's spent the game playing up how shallow, self-interested and jovially merciless he is.
  • Jeanne d'Arc has Gilles, a very pale, dark-eyed, and overall somewhat sinister-looking nobleman who joins Jeanne's cause. He's so polite and supportive of Jeanne that it feels like he must be up to something. And for anyone who knows their history, he's obviously Gilles de Rais, a compatriot of the real Joan of Arc who, some time after her death, was tried and convicted as a molester and serial killer of young children who had also attempted to summon a demon. By the way, the game involves a secret war against demons behind the real war between France and England... Defied in the game as Gilles turns out to be perfectly heroic and loyal throughout. However, he does in the end become the can in which the evil is sealed in hopes of smothering it to death under his heroic spirit, which could mean the demon got the better of him in the end.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: Bosch. He may be your best friend, but it's obvious, due to his smug, aristocratic manner and the the way his ego is tied to his D-Ratio, that he's going to betray Ryu the moment Ryu bonds with the most powerful dragon in the land (thus proving that the all-important D-Ratio has nothing to do with the greatness of one's destiny).
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of the Abyss: The first half of the game does a good job at hiding the potential mole in your party. It's during the second half, when suddenly all curtains are raised and an arrow points at Anise, including her utterly exaggerated reactions to things or mysterious disappearances, along with the fact that her parents are in debt to the Order of Lorelei, so Mohs has leverage against her. According to some players, Anise being the mole felt like an Ass Pull.
    • Tales of Xillia: In the series in general, everyone expects one traitor per game, but Alvin vin Svent takes this Up to Eleven. Not only is he a very suspicious mercenary who very conveniently bails Jude and Milla out of getting arrested, he betrays the party constantly (not kidding, it was at least eight times). The party justifies keeping him around by saying he'd follow them anyways and at least this way they can keep an eye on him, but it's a surprise no one just kills him with all the trouble and grief he causes.
    • One of the factors to how obviously the Traitor character in any given Tales game will be portrayed comes down to Idealistic vs. Pragmatic spread among the party members; Tales of Vesperia is no exception. Raven betrays the party once or twice before he even formally introduces himself to them. When he does join, he shamelessly does so by exploiting their need for information he has after they make it clear they don't trust him. While the revelation of his true identity as Captain Schwann seems to catch everyone by surprise, only Karel and Rita seem genuinely surprised by his betrayal, whereas the more experienced Yuri and Judith seem to have anticipated his inevitable betrayal.
    • Tales of Symphonia: After Kratos, who was a mercenary with suspiciously varied knowledge in all sorts of aspects of the world of Sylvarant (see where Alvin got it from?), betrays you, the player can easily tell the next one coming. It's no surprise when it turns out that Zelos is the next traitor in the group. He disappears at times, has convenient excuses or explanations for things. His Obfuscating Stupidity didn't fool any player for very long, either. Ultimately, however, it's subverted in that Kratos is really on your side the whole time, and in most story routes Zelos is too.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lysandre from Pokémon X and Y has so many tip offs and Obviously Evil tropes stapled onto him. Between his intimidating character design, red (specifically Team Flare red) and black color scheme, ominous Leitmotif, tendency to go on Motive Rants over the fate of the world (along with calling people "filth"), and the fact that Team Flare members openly congregate at his cafe, the only people surprised that he was the Big Bad were characters in-game... this includes the region's professor and Champion, both of whom he's openly given villainous monologues to.
    • The Aether Foundation, specifically Lusamine from Pokémon Sun and Moon suffers from this to an even greater extent thanks to having much of the games' plot revealed in marketing. In their debut trailer, the Aether Foundation appeared to be a group of Motherly Scientists dressed in gold and white who run a conservation group for Pokémon that were hurt by Team Skull. Of course, people quickly got Light Is Not Good and Pure Is Not Good vibes from them when they saw that their "branch chiefs" and "employees" were basically admins and grunts in disguise. Within the game itself, the opening sequence features Lillie running away from Aether employees, and their formal introduction includes a number of Obviously Evil tropes, raising the question of why the marketing even tried to pass them off as good guys. A twist still exists in that Lusamine's research with Ultra Beasts has made her Brainwashed and Crazy, and that Admin Faba is the only actual sinister member of the organization (with the post-game of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon emphasizing both these points even more), though.
      • Not helped by the fact that Team Skull, a group of Large Ham goofballs mostly involved in petty crime who nobody took seriously in-game, were the ones advertised as the supposed actual villain team of the story. Due to the series' Plot Leveling of having the villainous teams becoming more and more dangerous with each new installment, to the point that the entire world was usually at stake by the end of the game, everyone correctly pegged them as decoy antagonists meant to hide the real villains.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield does this again with Chairman Rose. Just like its predecessor, Sword and Shield had Decoy Antagonists in the form of Team Yell, who were little more than obnoxious fans of your rival, Marnie. Meanwhile, Chairman Rose and his assistant Oleana were shown to have a lot of power in the Galar region by virtue of being the organizers of the Gym Challenge and Leon's sponsors. Genre Savvy players, already familiar with Sun and Moon's plot, were able to catch on to Rose's villainy very quickly.
    • Nuzleaf of Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon has received this reaction from quite an amount of players. He acts pleasant enough with the heroes, but the series has a tradition of making the overtly nice ones Evil All Along. He also seems a little too interested in the player character's amnesia and Serenity Villages's high security area...
  • World of Warcraft:
    • During one Alliance quest in Spires of Arak, the traitor who was selling plans to the Horde turns out to be a drunk with a history of disciplinary problems, meaning he clearly wasn't even pretending to be a model soldier.
    • In the Dagger in the Dark scenario it is rather obvious that Rak'gor is going to turn on Vol'jin and the player based on his disrespect and simmering hostility. The hostility between Vol'jin and Garrosh's loyalists had been built up since Cataclysm, and the game even changes the objective to killing Rak'gor and the Kor'kron assassins with him before Vol'jin gets stabbed.
    • In the Highmountain storyline, the player is tasked with helping Mayla Highmountain, chief of the Highmountain tauren, gain the assistance of three fellow tauren tribes. One of them, the Bloodtotem tribe, not only has the most imposing name, but is also the most xenophobic and hostile. Eventually, the player realizes that the Bloodtotem are in league with the Burning Legion.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 5, it's learned at the beginning that someone betrayed the party, but not said who. For a variety of reasons, it's fairly obvious that it's Goro Akechi, the detective investigating the Phantom Thieves, who'd recently forced them to let him join them with a mix of Blackmail and Enemy Mine so that he could lure them into a trap. In a unique twist on this, it's eventually revealed that the party was entirely aware of Akechi being a mole after Joker realizes he was able to hear Morgana long before he said he could while the game is deliberately misdirecting the player, leading to dueling Gambit Roulettes from both the traitor and the party. Even in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, several members of the Investigation Team and S.E.E.S. realize that this trope is in play after being around Akechi for long enough.
    • In the same game there's also the true Big Bad and the Greater-Scope Villain, Yaldabaoth himself, who was impersonating the Big Good Igor all along. And he does a terrible job hiding it too; his voice and speech tone are completely different from the real Igor, which is extremely arrogant and condescending and much unlike the real one who is much more calm and refined. In fact, he even blatantly tells you "the game is over" if you die! (As opposed to the real one who just tells you to hit the Reset Button, in case of a deadline-induced game over.) Igor starts acting even more strangely the night before the final dungeon of the original game, to the point that even the twins who are the Velvet Room attendants are unnerved. While the voice change can be dismissed as the result of his previous Japanese voice actor's death, you can definitely see that "Igor" is defintely not the real thing if this is not your first Persona game.
    • Speaking of Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, there's the Big Bad Nagi, actually Enlil. Unlike Yaldabaoth above, she doesn't even try to pretend that she's the Big Good. For all of the Persona users' ventures in the movie world, there is a clear story behind it, which is the embodiment of the traumas that caused Hikari to fall into suicidal depression, and even Doe has been revealed to actually trying to help her up to the fourth labyrinth. (Remember that the Fourth Dungeon is near-endgame in Etrian Odyssey, which the Persona Q titles take after.) Yet, Nagi herself appears to be absolutely doing close to nothing throughout the four movies. And of course... she's obviously going to be the Obliviously Evil Big Bad of the game, being responsible for locking thousands in catatonic depression in a misguided attempt to save them from the pain of society.
  • In Ultima V, who would have suspected that Saduj was secretly plotting against you?
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep may be a prequel, so anyone who's played the other games would recognize that Xehanort guy as evil — but anyone else would probably guess it from the fact that he's a bald bearded old man with yellow eyes (in-universe, a sign of The Corruption) who dresses in all black and is a little too fond of what are unmistakeably Hannibal Lectures. Any chances to the contrary go out the window when he starts openly manipulating and deceiving his disciples, butting heads with the Old Master, and actively recommending "embracing the inner darkness" at every opportunity. Really, the only surprise involved is that it takes the heroes a good chunk of the game to realize he's bad news.
  • In Guild Wars Vizier Khilbron has several marks against him on introduction. He is the only known survivor of an entire kingdom which has been turned into the undead, is a powerful necromancer capable of controlling said undead, and has unnatural bright blue eyes. Of course this pales somewhat compared to the fact that he has the same voice as the Undead Lich.
  • It came as a surprise to absolutely no one when Richtofen, the Ax-Crazy Herr Doktor of Call of Duty: Zombies, ended up having masterminded the events up to that point in order to take control of the zombies for himself. Of course, Zombies being what it is, this was played completely for laughs.
    FINALLY! IT WILL BE MINE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH- I mean uh... Hey, look, I think we're in space!
  • Red Dead Redemption II: In Chapters 4, 5, and 6, Dutch begins to suspect that one of his men is talking to the Pinkerton Agents who are after them due to how quickly they keep getting found. It turns out he's right. Who's the traitor? Micah Bell, the Obviously Evil Psycho for Hire who's only been in the gang a few months. Unfortunately, Dutch's paranoia causes him to start pushing away all of his lifelong friends who are questioning his increasingly dubious decisions while relying on Micah more due to him always being (outwardly) supportive of anything Dutch does. Dutch does eventually get revenge on Micah in the game's epilogue, however.
  • Fate/Grand Order's Agartha arc has the Rider of Resistance actually Christopher Columbus, having undergone a Historical Villain Upgrade. Between his overly-detailed, shadowy, and sketchy Nonstandard Character Design, black and purple outfit, and his guttural voice, it's pretty clear on the surface that he's bad news. That's before he keeps ranting about how he's close to achieving an unspecific goal, or his base burns down under oddly suspicious circumstances to necessitate the group move forward. Also, the fact that he keeps conspicuously hiding his identity is rarely a good sign, nor is the fact that your Mission Control is openly suspicious of who he really is. Despite this, the group pretty much does everything he says until the very last minute.
  • In Octopath Traveler, the end of Ophilia's Chapter 3 and start of Chapter 4 reveal two traitors. One of them, Ophilia's adoptive sister Lianna, is genuinely surprising, but the other Mattias, a merchant who Ophilia had met not long before setting out from Flamesgrace, and again in Chapter 3, is more obvious. Mattias had stood around suspiciously after Ophilia heard the news of her father falling ill; it's later revealed that he poisoned her father as part of a plan to get Lianna, the original Flamebearer, on his side. When Ophilia sees Mattias again in Goldshore, he's the first to bring up the cult (to which he belongs) and sympathizes with the people who choose to follow it.
  • Daikatana's main villain openly tells Hiro multiple times that he shouldn't trust his allies. One of said allies, Mikiko, acts incredibly sadistic and cruel in all her combat dialogue, keeps pressing for the most selfish action possible whenever asked for her opinion, and told Hiro's other ally, Superfly, "don't worry; you'll get what's coming to you" in her first appearance. For some reason, Hiro is legitimately shocked when she proceeds to backstab Superfly and try to murder him.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dio from Virtue's Last Reward is somewhat of an in-universe example of this. He's a haughty Jerkass with a potty mouth, a mysterious background, and a tendency to cause trouble. Because of this, even the other characters don't trust him. Since they're all playing a Deadly Game that is built on trust, just about everyone voting against Dio votes "betray." So the reveal that he's a terrorist leader who's planted bombs in the warehouse isn't exactly surprising. This is in sharp contrast to the game's predecessor, where the Big Bad Ace/Hongou managed to hide themselves rather well.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Tsumugi Shirogane as the Mastermind. While the fact that she was an extremely plain background character was meant to hide it, but for many fans, that's what gave her away. By Chapter 4, she was the only character to not help or hinder any investigation or trial, which led fans to believe she was the last available option for being the Mastermind since nothing else was done with her character so far and everyone else already had a role to play. Some fans also found her too similar to the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Sayaka from the first game (in fact, they have the same English voice actress) and called her out as a villain as early as her character design was revealed.

    Web Animation 
  • In Puffin Forest: Garathor doesn't even try to be subtle, he outright states that he has hired the party to collect a crystal of evil magic that he will use to summon forth his Evil Master. The party are also constantly attacked by the forces of a certain Tar Hogar. And no, we never get to know why Garathor would try to stop the party from succeeding in the mission he hired them to do.

    Web Comics 
  • This Chuckle-A-Duck comic features Judas Iscariot himself as a Dastardly Whiplash.
  • This episode from DM of the Rings discusses the less than subtle reveal of Wormtongue as being a traitor. "Remember the nasty old guy who dressed in black? Named Wormtongue? ...Brace yourself for a shock, Laddie. He was a spy."
  • Eridan Ampora from Homestuck who was near-immediately established as a genocidal orphaner with a love of gunplay. Almost all of his darker traits were quickly overshadowed by his pathetic love life, though anyone who remembered his original introduction probably expected his turn to evil the instant his various romances were sunk.
  • Subverted in Darths & Droids. Jim, who is playing Qui-Gon Jinn, is convinced Sio Bibble is this since he has a goatee and is an advisor to the queen which means he must be an Evil Chancellor. He wasn't.
  • Mega Man Dissonance: Readers have suspected that Dr. Hook might actually know more than she lets on and be behind everything. Come Chapter 11, and lo and behold, she's involved with Requiem's plan.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In-universe. 82 White Chain Born in Emptiness Returns to Subdue Evil, an angel, believes that the Key of Kings lodged in Allison's forehead rightly belongs to her boyfriend Zaid, and is only protecting Allison until she can give it to him. This puts White Chain far above the morality of the other angels, who plan to kill Allison and give Zaid her skull. When White Chain explains this to Allison, she dismisses it as not worth arguing about, figuring it's better to have White Chain around helping rather than fight over it.

    Web Videos 
  • Parodied in this short skit by ProZD.
    Lysanderoth: This world is imperfect. If only I could wipe away the impurities and make it as beautiful as me!
    The Chick: LYSANDEROTH??! You were behind this?
    Lysanderoth: Yes, it was I. My machinations lay undetected for years, for I am a master of deception!

    Western Animation 
  • South Park:
    • Cartman is the Token Evil Teammate. Even in a reference to the last supper, Kyle believes someone will betray him. Cartman (who has already betrayed him) makes an outbursts that anyone that would betray Kyle is a loser. Through the rest of Kyle's speech, he is giving Cartman a Death Glare.
    • Also parodied in "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes", where the boys are reluctant to bring Cartman with them on their trip to Wal-Mart because they know he's going to betray them. Cartman is even offended when they say they saw his betrayal coming, and claims that they're just lying. Kyle even says he saw him impeding their progress but Stan and Kenny don't care since Cartman is inept at betrayal so they don't have time to make sure he won't join them.
  • Sinedd from Galactik Football, he was arrogant and very distant from the Snow Kids.
  • Subverted in The Legend of Korra. Asami is incredibly obviously secretly evil; her beauty, having paler, sharper features than the heroine and being more traditionally feminine, wealth, red and black clothing, striking up a relationship with the guy Korra's interested in, and being the daughter of their enemy's Evil Genius accomplice all mark her as the person who turns out to be evil to the shock of the characters but not the audience. In fact she's nothing of the sort, and remains one of the most noble characters in the show. Apparently in the early stages the writers planned for her to be an Equalist spy, and when they changed their minds saw no reason to change her character design. Even more subverted in the last season, where she becomes Korra's Love Interest.
  • Bismuth of Steven Universe is introduced as an old war comrade and friend of Garnet and Pearl, but savvy fans suspected something amiss given that Bismuth had been bubbled and left in Lion's mane, inaccessible to the rest of the team, who assumed that she was shattered in the war. She also fits in a little too perfectly with the main team in a show that generally doesn't give secondary characters much screen time. Ultimately downplayed in that she's revealed to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist instead, whose disagreements with Rose Quartz (and eventually Steven) over Bismuth creating a weapon capable of easily murdering their enemies ended up becoming physical. Her episode ended with Steven leaving a better impression on Bismuth than Rose Quartz had, and her being re-bubbled for the next two seasons before Steven releases her once more.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse:
    • In Frogs of War, La Résistance against the Inkursean invaders is made of Gwen Tennyson, Kevin Levin, Rook, Blucik, and... Argit. One guess on who ends up being The Mole.
    • A special mention goes to Dr. Viktor for being a rare Heel–Face Turn example of the trope. In summary, Viktor makes it no secret that he will eventually be the Judas in the midst of Zs'Skayr's henchmen. In The Vampire Strikes Back, Zs'Skayr resurrects Lord Transyl, a member of a long-extinct species that once enslaved Viktor's people with the intention of ruling the universe together. Viktor voices obvious disapproval for the scheme, even going so far as to call it "madness," and yet at the very end where Zs'Skayr orders Viktor to hold onto Ben so that Transyl can take control over him, Zs'Skayr is still legitimately shocked when Viktor drops Ben at the last second, proclaiming that the Vladats must never rule again.
  • Played with in Beast Wars with Dinobot. The character is introduced as a rogue Predacon who defects to the Maximals for the sole purpose of getting payback against his former boss, and actually initially tried to take over the Maximals as their leader. He is portrayed as by far the most aggressive main character, makes absolutely no secret he would still want to lead if given the opportunity, and is treated with distrust by other main character Rattrap. However, he also happens to be a Noble Demon with a very strong sense of honor, and actually declines multiple opportunities to betray the Maximals over the course of the show. He does end up returning to the Predacons later on, but by this time he had gone through Character Development, which leads him to re-join the Maximals and eventually redeem himself through a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Coverton from Monsters vs. Aliens (2013), being snobbish, scheming and working for Coverlord. Hell, his own name shows that he is a villain!
  • The Count Duckula episode "Dear Diary" has Duckula wanting to sell his diary to the Transylvanian newspaper for serialization, but it turns out that the newspaper's readership are a bunch of Philistines who aren't interested in the life of a vampire duck. That evening, Igor comes in with the evening edition with the life of Duckula...through the eyes of Igor!
    Duckula: Igor, is this true?!
    Igor: Well, I began to think you were right about keeping a diary...
    Duckula: Right?! Of course I'm right! I'm always right! But you—you turncoat, you Judas! How—-how could you do this me?
    • It does not help a bit that Nanny's diary got syndicated on radio!
  • Ducktales 2017: The Board of Directors for McDuck Enterprises are vultures who live off the Scavengers Are Scum stereotype, generally act like jerks to Scrooge and his employees, and one of the tie-in comics all but states that they're plotting against him. Naturally, most of the fandom's surprise when they were revealed to be major villains at the end of season 2 wasn't directed at the fact they were villains at all, but at the fact they were the F.O.W.L. High Command from Darkwing Duck reimagined.

Richard Traitoro Hellsing: To hell with this! If you want your family murdered, you do it yourself! Again!
Bodyguard: I knew he did it!


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