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Obvious Judas

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The one on the right...
Image by Crowden Satz. Used with permission.
Dennis: Hey, it's nice to meet you!
Lysanderoth: (wearing a monocle and sporting a moustache) This world is imperfect...
Dennis: What?
Lysanderoth: If only I could wipe away the impurities...
Dennis: (in disbelief) Is anybody else... listening to this?
Lysanderoth: ...and make it as beautiful as me!

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? Usually, it's because they express traits that seem Obviously Evil. For example:

Whatever the reason they have for drawing the audience's suspicion, when they finally betray the heroes, the audience says, "I Knew It!"

The writers may have intended the audience to feel uneasy about Mx. Suspicious and anticipate a betrayal, creating a sense of suspense. After all, a character's betrayal should be foreshadowed, lest a plot-twist look like it was made up on the spot. However, Obviously Evil character traits are not the best way of accomplishing that goal.

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. Sometimes, the surprise is not that Mx. Suspicious turns out to be evil, but how evil they are when they reveal their true colors. They could even turn out to have been working against the villain all along.

For some reasons, Video Games are often prone to this. A possible explanation among many is that games focusing on a limited number of characters' Points of View will have the villain often introduced as an ally as a way to justify giving them more on-screen time and fleshing out their relationship with the protagonist. Naturally when this same template is used too many times, the audience will begin to foresee the pattern.

A Sub-Trope 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. If a betrayal becomes too widely known to be a twist in newer adaptations, that is It Was His Sled.

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


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach is quite notorious for this, especially in the later arcs:
    • 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 whose 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.
    • Kugo Ginjo was Evil All Along. He even looks like an Aizen recolor for cripes' sake!
    • Uryu Ishida, who'd fought alongside Ichigo since the Soul Society arc, was The Mole in the Vandenreich. Fans had theorized this the moment he was revealed to have joined them.
  • Kai from Bakuten Shoot 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 Yu-Gi-Oh! 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: 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.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood: There was already a bit of a buildup to Dio Brando being the main antagonist, what with him poisoning his Jerkass of a dad, so him ruining Jonathan's life as children was to be expected. However, by the time he and Jonathan are in college, he seems to act noticeably nicer to him, which feels like it comes out of nowhere, so his eventual Face–Heel Turn into a vampire once he learns the Stone Mask's effects isn't all that surprising.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Annie is the Female Titan. The only other female with blond hair in the military (Krista) was present during her attack, and her face was similar to Annie's. Even before the Female Titan was introduced, you could tell by Annie's facial expressions that she may have a darker moral alignment.
    • Afterwards, the Armored Titan being Reiner is even more obvious, thanks to the readers having gotten enough examples of Titan Morphic Resonance to know the muscular Titan with close-cropped blond hair is going to be a muscular human with close-cropped blond hair.
    • While the Colossus Titan is a massive titan with no skin or hair, the fact that Bertolt is closest to Reiner makes it obvious that he's the Colossus Titan, which attacks alongside the Armored Titan. It also helps that Bertolt is one of the tallest members of the class.
  • ERASED attempts to treat The Reveal that Satoru's teacher Yashiro is Kayo's killer as a huge twist, despite Yashiro being literally the sole character who fits the very basic information one is given concerning the culprit.
  • It's not difficult to figure out that Shou Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist is hiding a dark secret, what with Colonel Mustang's sombre recount of what happened to a chimera capable of understanding human speech that he transmuted, the Scary Shiny Glasses, and his asocial personality that leaves his little daughter feeling lonely. It's how depraved he really is that succeeds at being genuinely horrifying.
  • Mad Bull 34: Lieutenant Tom DiMeyer. The narrative would have viewers believe he was just a strict and tough boss who did whatever was necessary to get the job done, but he goes so far out of his way to Kick the Dog and just be unpleasant in general that most viewers will have him pegged as a traitor before he even gets 5 minutes of screen time. Hell, even the characters themselves seem to be completely unsurprised by his eventual betrayal to the episode's Big Bad halfway through the story.
    Perrine: I should have known you were a crook.
    DiMeyer: Yeah you should, Don Enrico pays more than the police department.

    Arts 
  • 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."
  • In Batman (James Tynion IV), the story in the DC Infinite Frontier era has Simon Saint teaming up with The Scarecrow to push his Magistrate Police State on Gotham City. However, seeing the fear that's been kicked up by Saint's actions behind the scenes, Scarecrow decides to hijack the plan, leading into Fear State. This is a Point of Divergence from DC Future State, where the Scarecrow went all in on Saint's plan, even allowing himself to be arrested by the Magistrate.
  • Superman: Red Son: Why is Superman so shocked when he finds out from Batman before his suicide that Pyotr betrayed him? He made no secret whatsoever of his hatred of him, and even drunkenly admitted that he poisoned Stalin.

    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.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf makes it plain and obvious that he's trying to bring Chaos to Westeros, even repeatedly stating this outright. No one pays him much heed, because a) no one knows who or what the Chaos gods are, and b) they have more important things to do than listen to him what with the White Walker invasion and the conquest of King's Landing. While nobody is surprised at his eventual betrayal (it being more of a question of when his dwindling usefulness would finally be outweighed by his obnoxious Evil Is Hammy behavior), they're flabbergasted by the circumstances in which it happened, namely that he try to remove the Iron Throne in Daenerys' presence and expect her to go along with it.
  • Highschool Dragon: When Prince Blueblood revealed himself to be The Mole for Nightmare Moon, it didn't came off as that much of a shock given how he acted towards the heroes, especially Spike, beforehand.
  • Jaern in Pokémon Insurgence is introduced as the second Augur, the Big Good of the Torren region...who just so happened to be there to step up to the position after the mysterious disappearance of the first Augur, apparently wants people to give him gifts when he visits their towns, has set up statues of himself everywhere, and dispatches a couple would-be assassins with a spell that translates to "bonds of death" while assuring the populace he just teleported them to jail. Needless to say, it's hardly a surprise when he turns out to be a Villain with Good Publicity.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Animal Farm (1954), 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.
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Rourke's status as the villain should probably be evident to anyone vaguely familiar with this kind of film: the macho guy in the military uniform with the Femme Fatale girlfriend on an archaeology expedition that preaches the value of understanding is probably the bad guy, especially since the movie doesn't really have another character to fill the antagonist role. He's also not involved in a scene where the whole crew bonds, which alone should be a red flag. Once he's said "this changes nothing" upon learning there are people in the ruins, it's pretty much confirmed. What's somewhat more surprising, albeit less plot-relevant, is the reveal that the rest of the crew aside from Milo was in on it with Rourke (albeit briefly). When Rourke pulls a gun on Milo, Milo isn't so much surprised as he's angry with himself for not realizing Rourke probably came for more than the scenery.
  • Bartok the Magnificent: Even before the reveal, its pretty easy to piece together that Ludmilla is the real villain behind Ivan's kidnapping (or is at least a villain, anyway).
  • Incredibles 2: Evelyn Deavor's identity as The Screenslaver is rather obvious from early on in the film, with major red flags including having a vague motivation for recruiting Elastigirl into promoting superheroes, constantly being snobbish, and often making evil-looking faces. Her name also has a similar pronuntiation to "evil endeavor".
  • 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.
  • The Scooby-Doo Direct-to-Video Film Series has this happen a lot:
    • Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost has a bunch of suspects for the role of the Big Bad... and a character who is played by perennial villain portrayer Tim Curry and is suspiciously too helpful. Guess who turns out to be the villain.
    • Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase has Bill be the one behind the Phantom Virus... and do such a terrible job of keeping it a secret that every single clue blatantly telegraphs Bill's involvement.
    • Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico: Mr. Smiley is so cartoonishly, obviously evil, that the film treats it as a given that he was one of the culprits. The museum guide and Charlene are not necessarily wildcards, with the museum guide kidnapping Daphne for seemingly no reason and Charlene getting a lot of exposition for a love interest. While the movie claims Charlene was kidnapped, once El Chupacabra appears with Mr. Smiley present, it's clear there are two conspirators. Guessing they are one and the same isn't a far-fetched guess with the franchise's notorious use of Latex Perfection.
  • Despite looking very evil, Clayton from Tarzan isn't actually revealed to be the final major villain until about fifteen minutes until the end of the movie. Not helping is the fact that he was already an antagonist (albeit a more sympathetic one) in the original Tarzan stories.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Up's Big Bad, Charles Muntz, is barely even a twist villain. 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 
  • Fantastic Four (2015): Even those viewers unfamiliar with the comic book source material can't have been too shocked when one member of the group of friends turned out to be the villain... the guy named Dr. Victor von Doom.
  • Friday the 13th (1980): A notable example overlapping with Ass Pull, since it had more to do with the "Judas" in question suddenly appearing rather than how they were foreshadowed as such. Towards the end of a film where the killer's identity has been shrouded in mystery with practically no hints whatsoever, in steps one Pamela Voorhees, claiming to be an old friend of the camp's owner. It doesn't take long before this woman who showed up out of nowhere and with no buildup or explanation reveals herself as the killer, shortly after telling Alice Hardy her motive.
  • In Geostorm, the secret villain turns out to be Secretary of State Dekkom, who is played by Ed Harris (one of the go-to actors for government bad guys), acts super suspicious, and is given lots of screen time for someone in a supposedly small role.
  • I, Robot: If it's not obvious from the moment she appears that VIKI is behind everything, just from the fact that she's USR's distributed AI operating system (with a direct line to their 24-hour security feeds!), it becomes obvious about half a minute later, when she can't pull up the one piece of security footage that would have conclusively proven what happened to Langdon, claiming there's "data corruption". It's frankly incredible that Del, who is paranoid in general and extremely distrusting of robots in particular, took her word for it.
  • Mills and Wheatley from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom betray the 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 shifty, creepy-looking 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.
  • 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." 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, is most critical of the plan to destroy it, and initially 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. Boromir also keeps insisting that they take the Ring to his home city at some point—it's not hard to assume, correctly, that this is so he can fall back on his original idea. And to cap it all off, the film has repeatedly shown that Men are most vulnerable to the Ring's power, and the other Man in the party, Aragorn, is shown to be strongly defiant of his heritage and aware of the Ring's dangers. 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.
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941): We're supposed to be surprised when it turns out Brigid's the one who killed Sam Spade's partner, Miles Archer, but considering how suspicious she was for the majority of the film, and the fact that even Sam himself didn't trust her for those reasons, the twist should have been pretty obvious.
  • 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.
  • August Walker from Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He's openly antagonistic to Ethan and the team, expresses very little concern about human life, accuses Ethan of being The Mole with clearly fake evidence, and gets several ominous close-ups during otherwise innocuous scenes.
  • Saw:
    • Saw 3D: Ever since Saw II, a progressively increasing number of viewers had thought (whether it be out of suspicion or as a suggested fan idea) that Dr. Lawrence Gordon might have survived and become an apprentice of Jigsaw, since his ambiguous fate from the first movie's events was referenced in some way in every following one as a sort of Myth Arc, starting with the figure who performed Michael Marks' eye surgery on the Death Mask video tape from Saw II (initially meant to be John Kramer) having a notable limp (intended on part of the figure's actor Darren Lynn Bousman, who wanted a flavored movement that showed the progression of John's cancer by the time of the film) comparable to Lawrence's self-amputated leg. Once it became Ascended Fanon as the final twist of Saw 3D (and thus the final one of the original seven films, albeit with Lawrence being a more minor accomplice rather than a full-term apprentice), said viewers, in addition to many others, were able to see the reveal coming, not helped by the movie opening with Lawrence losing consciousness after attempting to treat his stump, then showing him midway through completely fine in the Jigsaw Survivor Group meeting, where he gives Bobby Dagen a mocking speech with a rather suspicious tone, followed by Cale referring to him as "the creepy man with the cane" when he talks to Bobby after the meeting.
    • Spiral (2021): William Schenk being the Spiral Killer becomes very blatant when he supposedly dies in one of the games, simply due to the fact that, unlike all the past victims (as well as the fact that this already happened in two previous films with other killers), he's never seen getting kidnapped nor is his game itself shown. Also, his surname sounds like "shank" (as in to stab someone in the back), and the fact that he's played by Max Minghella (who's already known for playing twist villains) was enough for some people to figure him out as early as the film's trailer came out.
  • 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).
  • A Foregone Conclusion in the Star Wars prequels, but as early as Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 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 Attack of the Clones, has broken almost every part of the Jedi code by slaughtering non-combatants and children and getting married. If you were surprised that he became Darth Vader at the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, not only were you living under a rock for years, you didn't pay attention to some really heavy-duty Foreshadowing either.

    Literature 
  • 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 separate statements, and the traitor is exactly what she seems.
  • During the Xyrus Academy Arc in The Beginning After the End, it's painfully obvious that Kai Crestless, one of Arthur's fellow Disciplinary Committee members, isn't someone to be trusted. His presence makes Arthur feel uneasy (especially since Arthur can't sense his powers), he suspiciously takes up bigger patrols than the other members of the committee all on his own, and at one point, when Arthur asks him about his unique powers, he casually threatens to kill him. Sure enough, he is revealed to be The Mole for the Radicals (who are under the sway of the Vritra) and he ends up helping kickstart the attack on Xyrus that marks the conclusion of the arc by sabotaging the barrier the Disciplinary Committee tried to set up. The Webcomic version makes his true colors all the more obvious by giving him a perpetual sinister leer on his face that screams Smug Snake. However, both Kai (alongside Lucas Wykes, another student who was Arthur's enemy as an adventurer and also ends up falling under the sway of the Vritra), are meant to obfuscate who among Arthur's classmates will end up becoming one of his greatest enemies in the future.
  • 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 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.
  • 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. Naturally, the Boltons end up conspiring against the Starks along with the Lannisters and Freys (see below) by helping to orchestrate the Red Wedding and take control over the Stark ancestral castle of Winterfell in the aftermath.
    • 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. On top of that, 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 in the Red Wedding. 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.
  • Star Wars: Razor's Edge: Kifar Itran butts heads with Han Solo at every opportunity, alienates his fellow Rebels, and is nonetheless oddly eager to volunteer for dangerous roles that take him away from the others. He doesn't display the sense or steady loyalty of Sian, the other rank-and-file Rebel in the party. While no one is especially surprised that he gives up information to Big Bad Viest under captivity and presumed torture (when he actually cuts a deal with her using Imperial info), they take longer than they really should (as Leia admits) to suspect him of being the Imperial mole; it only truly becomes clear after Itran and Luke go off alone in the Falcon to complete a task and are captured by Imperials.
  • The Wheel of Time: Mazrim Taim is so obviously evil that it's no surprise at all when he turns out to be a Darkfriend trying to turn the Black Tower into a weapon against Rand.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shibuki Saori in Alice in Borderland, a manipulative Dirty Coward who in her very first meeting with the boys sends a high schooler to her death to get ahead in the Deadly Game. In spite of this and her frequent assertions that she's willing to do anything to survive, the group keeps her around out of desperation only for her to immediately betray them in the third game rather than cooperate.
  • Played for Laughs in the series finale of Angel.
    Angel: This may come out a little pretentious, but one of you will betray me.
    Spike: [raises hand eagerly]
    Angel: —Wes.
    Spike: Oh! Can I 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 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.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Halbrand is Sauron in disguise. He's the first person Galadriel travels with in her hunt in Middle Earth, which dramatically makes him a key suspect for the hidden person she's looking for. She believes he's meant to be the lost King of the Southlands (Which sounds like code for Lord of Mordor) because of his pouch's insignia, but he replies to her suspicions with dubious non-answers. He says suspicious things like "What do you know of Darkness?", "I am not the hero you seek" says he wish he could "Bind" his belief of himself "To his very being" clearly alluding to what he does with the One Ring, binding his will. In Numenor, he shows an interest in forgery, is attacked in a bar fight and demonstrates freakish strength. When Galadriel and Halbrand interrogate the Orc's current leader Adar, he gets suspicious and asks who Halbrand is. To the show's credit, they throw out a few red herrings with the orc leader Adar looking like Sauron in a blurred camera focus, and three of Sauron's cultists mistake a wizard for him, but the clues for Sauron/Halbrand's identity are very signposted, and one of these two is discounted shortly after his introduction while the other makes far less sense.
  • In Preacher (2016) Eugene gets sent to Hell by mistake, and there he ends up befriending Adolf Hitler of all people, and receiving help from him to escape. The series goes an extra mile to portray Hitler in an unusually complex and sympathetic light, giving the viewer at least some reason to assume that the years in Hell might have changed him for the better. Naturally, they haven't, and he goes back into Fascist dictator mode as soon as he manages to break into the world of the living.
  • In the second series of Robin Hood, there is a story arc concerning one of the outlaws becoming a spy for Gisborne. The writers apparently realised that Allan a Dale was obviously the only one at all likely to turn traitor, since the audience know right from the beginning, and when the outlaws discover there's a spy suspicion immediately falls on him.
  • In the third and fourth season of Supernatural, Ruby tries to pass herself as a heroic demon who wants to help Sam and Dean in their fight to stop Lilith from causing the Apocalypse. However, it becomes increasingly obvious that she's up to no good when she gets Sam addicted to her blood and encourages him to commit morally dubious actions supposedly for the greater good. Even in-universe, Dean questions her true allegiance more than once. Eventually, neither Dean nor most of the fandom were schocked to learn that she was in cahoots with Lilith all along.

    Mythology & 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. 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.
    • Arguably, even Jesus was hoodwinked by the original Judas, especially for non-Christians and Christians who emphasize the "human" side of Jesus (i.e. Jesus had voluntarily limited himself to not be all-knowing while living as a human). In the gospels of both Matthew and Luke, Jesus promises the disciples that they will be seated on twelve thrones ruling the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:28-30). That's a curious promise to make when one of those disciples was Judas! He could, however, have been referring to Matthias, Judas' replacement in Acts after he hanged himself.

    Professional 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.
  • Chris Jericho played into this trope so much he ended up making a "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune with his metal band Fozzy called Judas and called his new Finishing Move "The Judas Effect".

    Roleplay 
  • 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.

    Theatre 

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
  • Played with in Cemetery Mary. The central mystery is the identity of the Blackwood Butcher. In all three routes, Reginald Tetra seems nice at first but starts acting very suspiciously; he regularly purchases antifreeze (the usual murder weapon found in the Blackwood Butcher cases) and rat poison, constantly tries to bring the titular heroine to places while not telling her where they are, acts too nice to her, keeps disappearing to "make calls" to "clients", and is a coffin-maker with a morbid fascination for making a coffin to fit Mary in, among other things. Twila Sophio, the Amateur Sleuth on the case, is convinced that he is the culprit... and is so adamant about it (and a jerk in general) that the player is likely to dismiss him as a Red Herring. But no, he really is the killer.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Tsumugi Shirogane is a self-proclaimed plain, background-esque character whom no other student generally gave attention to until she's revealed as the killing game's mastermind in the final chapter. Her status as an Out of Focus archetype was meant to hide that twist in favor of other forms of Foreshadowing, but for many players (newcomers and past Danganronpa fans alike), that's exactly what gives her away; she never really participates in investigations, never has anything meaningful to say in trials, never falls under suspicion, and never has any subplots to herself, even in the later chapters where everyone else has had their focus. The writers' seeming disinterest in Tsumugi despite the limited cast of characters clued players in that they were planning on something big with her near the endgame... and what could that be except the Mastermind reveal?
  • Heart of the Woods: Evelyn Fischer is revealed to be the Big Bad behind the curse that started the novel's plot. Beforehand, she's rather cold toward not just Tara and Madison, but also her own daughter Morgan, with a lot of her lines containing thinly veiled death threats against Madison. As a result, if there's any character among the human cast who comes off as a candidate for the villain, it's her. The game doesn't even treat this as much of a surprise, since Madison is unsurprised after Abigail tells her that Evelyn tricked her.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: Miyo Takano is unveiled as the Big Bad posing as Oyashiro-sama. She consistently appears right before or after the arc takes a dark turn storywise, continually makes incredibly unsettling and downright psychotic comments related to Oyashiro-sama and Hinamizawa's history, and her method of death in all arcs is her body being found burnt to a crisp, which as early as the second arc is revealed to have happened before the Watagahashi festival, where she appeared, even happened, obviously signifying a fake body (by comparison, the other victim, Tomitake, was found with his throat torn out). And in the sixth arc, she is the one who provides Rena with the theory/lie that the curse of Oyashiro is actually aliens, causing her to become paranoid and turn against the others, which was almost certainly intentional on Miyo's part. The only way to not see the answer is that the game hints that Takano is possibly a kind of malevolent spirit, befitting the horror vibe of the first three arcs. As soon as it becomes clear that the supernatural elements of the story are largely a Red Herring and all the mysteries have grounded explanations, her being the mastermind is almost comically obvious.
  • Dio from Virtue's Last Reward is somewhat of an in-universe example. 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 managed to hide themselves rather well.

    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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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-Universe 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: Oscar, one of the devils hired by Allison for her Caper Crew in Seeker of Thrones, is a Big Red Devil with a permanently grinning Tengu mask, "EVIL" printed on his pants and "BAD MAN" printed on his jacket. During the course of the caper he feeds no less than two other members of the crew into the Malevolent Architecture mostly on a lark. The fact that he eventually turns on the rest of them is heralded by the Alt Text linking to John Cena's "BAD, BAD MAN" and the "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!" clip from Firefly.

    Web Videos 
  • Parodied by ProZD's King Dragon Canon with Lysanderoth (partially named after fellow Obvious Judas, Lysandre), who makes his first appearance speaking ominously about his desire to 'wipe away the impurities' of the world. Also, he wears a monocle and has an evil mustache. Dennis the player is instantly suspicious of Lysanderoth's tangent during the first meeting with the Player Character. In-Universe, after he kills Archibald, the rest of the party is surprised to discover that he is The Mole. Dennis, however, is unimpressed, especially when he replays the game and already knows the Plot Twist coming. In his further scenes, Lysanderoth makes blatant remarks hinting at his betrayal, making it even more obvious.
    Lysanderoth: This world is imperfect... If only I could wipe away the impurities and make it as beautiful as me!
    [later]
    Sonia-Rica: LYSANDEROTH??! You were behind this?
    Lysanderoth: Yes, it was I! My machinations lay undetected for years, for I am a master of deception!
    [camera zooms in on Dennis's increasingly annoyed expression]

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: King Andrias Leviathan's status as the series' Walking Spoiler villain was so blatantly and excessively foreshadowed that viewers started making many theories about him right after his first appearance, where he's seen moving a chess piece resembling protagonist Anne Boonchuy on a chessboard, and then kneeling down to a sinister-looking entity, which is later revealed to be The Core (the Greater-Scope Villain whom he reports to). And that's without mentioning the indications present in Andrias' aesthetic, as he's covered in dark-colored, battle-scarred armor, has white hair and a beard, and is voiced by Keith David, who's known to have portrayed numerous villains in his career. Andrias' last name is also a dead giveaway, since "leviathan" is a word used to describe autocratic monarchs who are tyrants. When the final Season 2 episode was announced to be titled "True Colors", the betrayal Andrias was going to commit was basically spoiled out, and became not as exciting of a twist as the reveal that Marcy Wu duped her friends into going to Amphibia because she didn't want to lose them from moving away from home.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends: General Rinaker has so many hints dropped about being a traitor to the Alliance — or at least, thoroughly corrupt and out for himself — that the eventual revelation he is indeed a bad guy comes off as quite obvious after almost forty episodes of build-up… which is all actually a smokescreen for the real plot twist that "Rinaker" has been Dead All Along and the guy the characters have been interacting with is actually Wraith, a Shadoen agent, wearing the guy's skin to prepare an invasion of Earth.
  • Sinedd from Galactik Football, he was arrogant and very distant from the Snow Kids.
  • The Legend of Korra: Korra's Uncle Unalaq in Season 2, who comes across as very eerie and manipulative right off the bat, not to mention having two Creepy Child kids. Korra and almost everyone else totally trusts him despite his sinister presence. Korra's father stands out as the Only Sane Man for being suspicious of his brother's motives, but naturally Korra doesn't listen to him.
  • Coverton from Monsters vs. Aliens (2013), being snobbish, scheming and working for Coverlord. Hell, his own name shows that he is a villain!
  • Reboot:
    • "Identity Crisis" treats the reveal that Cyrus turned on Dot as a big twist, even though it's really obvious since we saw he had just taken her organizer before handing it back to her.
    • "Where No Sprite Has Gone Before" we see both the Spectrals and Hero Selective are suspicious of each other, but both sides deny doing damage to the system. Unsurprisingly the abrasive members on both sides turn out to be the real culprits. Bonus points for Powerlock, the member of the Hero Selective who turned out to be evil, having a '90s Anti-Hero attitude and design.
  • South Park:
    • Eric 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Cassandra from Tangled: The Series looks very similar to Mother Gothel, the Big Bad of the movie the show is based on, but is one of Rapunzel's allies... until the final season, when she betrays Rapunzel and friends and becomes a villain. And on top of that, turns out Gothel was her literal biological mother.

 
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Lord Vladek

Caddicarus points out how narratively obvious it is that Vladek betrays the king in this LEGO game.

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