We passed those eyes of buckshot lead;
Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"
Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."
The villain approaches one of the good guys, often having captured them first. The good guy is then offered a deal: if he will help the villain by betraying his comrades, he will be amply rewarded with money, a high-ranking position in the villain's organization, or something else that would be attractive. He accepts the bargain, and keeps his end of it.
Of course, the villain has no intention of honoring his own part of the bargain. One reason is that no Card-Carrying Villain would want to share anything with a stooge who has outlived his usefulness. Another reason is that smart villains never trust a traitor, no matter which side he's working for after all, they have proven a willingness to abandon their cause for filthy lucre's sake; who is to say that they won't turn double agent on the villain at the first ripe opportunity?
So, the traitor gets the "reward" of being put to death or being reduced to menial slavery. Not such a pleasant outcome for him, is that? Frequently, this is accompanied by a speech of withering contempt for treachery, which demonstrates that the villain is an honorable enemy or Worthy Opponent to some degree though in most cases this only serves to make the villain look like a great big hypocrite (after all, he did solicit and employ a traitor, and by invoking this trope, betrayed them). In other cases, it could be more Pragmatic Villainy; as noted above, trusting a proven traitor is never a good idea. In a variation, the hero refuses to turn, and is rewarded and praised for his loyalty.
Sometimes it happens in reverse, where the good guys are approached with an offer by a would-be Turn Coat from the enemy, and invoke this trope to show their scorn for treachery before or without even using him or his information. This can be a prime source of Values Dissonance with works created or set in feudally organized cultures, where loyalty placed much, much higher in the hierarchy of virtues than in modern Western society. In these cases, what seems to the reader like a straight MookFace Turn will instead be met with an ostensibly deserved horrible fate. This might be justified for pragmatic reasons, as shoving a HeelFace Door-Slam is much safer than dealing with a would-be Sixth Ranger Traitor.
One frequent variation has the villain show the good guy that he has his wife, and offers to release her from his prison in exchange for his cooperation. When it comes time to reward the traitor, the villain slyly gives him False Reassurance that she has indeed been "released", and that now it is time for him to join her.
In another variation, the villain is besieging a city or fortress. Someone leaves a side door (a sewer gate is a popular choice) open, and the bad guys storm in. But when the turncoat comes to the villain for his reward, he's promptly killed because that's what any traitor deserves. This usually either signifies that the villain likes to use it as an excuse to satisfy their bloodlust, or show that they have at least some standards about loyalty (which would, again, make him a hypocrite), depending on how it's played. It generally shows, however, how ruthless and treacherous the main villain is.
The one persistent exception to this trope if the reason for being a traitor was to indulge in their malicious urges that would be allowed under the new regime. While Greed, pragmatism, or cowardice won't save you from this trope, for some reason, the Evil Overlord tends to trust people who betray their comrades out of hatred or cynicism, perhaps because such people are less likely to have second thoughts and even if they do would find it difficult to return to their former allies after showing their true colors.
Also, historically, smarter betrayers have always had two options open to them for avoiding this punishment. The first, if the betrayal was of a ruler, is to seize power as a de facto Klingon Promotion. Since some cultures consider this a legitimate method of succession, the new ruler will not be considered guilty of treason, though he may have to rule by fear to keep the former ruler's supporters from taking their revenge on him. The other method, if the betrayer lacks the ambition or power to seize the throne and hold it, is not to wait for the axe to fall, but get the hell out of Dodge. Notably, the latter method is especially recommended to anyone who has helped another betrayer achieve the former method: the new ruler all too often gets a taste for backstabbing minions as well as superiors, is just as aware of this as his fellow conspirators, and will surely hate to be reminded that he owes his position to them.
Recurring problem for The Starscream, but a Defector from Decadence may face it too. Compare Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil. Often, the metanarrative purpose of this trope is to have Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work by having them finish off a traitor that the audience would want to see punished without dirtying the heroes' hands. Frequently accompanied by Contempt Crossfire.
- In D.Gray-Man Suman Dark is defeated by Tyki Mikk and begs for his life. He is offered to survive if he betrays his comrades. After all his good deeds, Tyki thanks him by having him devoured from inside by flesh-eating butterflies.
- Naruto, Episode #187: When the Lord of the Land of Vegetables is betrayed by his people, the collaborators are dispatched by the band of bandits they betrayed their feudal lord to. When the last one to be killed asks why, the villain recites this trope.
- In the Hellsing manga, the captain of a aircraft carrier, the HMS Invincible, turns it over to Millennium (turning the rest of the crew into ghouls in the process) in exchange for becoming a vampire. Rip Van Winkle arrives, congratulates him, informs him that his new orders are to "provide nutrients for the fish" and blows him away with her gun. When this happens in OVA 4, she makes sure to point out that he "betrayed his True Companions" just for his own benefit. Although it's worth noting this paints her as a massive Hypocrite. At the beginning of that same OVA, she helped The Major betray their superior officers, who they (falsely) promised to turn into vampires in exchange for their financial support.
- In To Love-Ru, during Trouble Quest, almost all the characters are trapped in a VR game that seems to have Magical Girl Kyoko from Lala's favorite Show Within a Show as the Big Bad. Run, The Queen and her posse all agree to stop the progress of Rito and Lala's group in exchange for being sent home. Run ends up being chased by the pervert Principal (again) and Aya's would-be spell renders her own team topless. Their betrayal must have angered Yami, for she doesn't even punish Rito for gawking at them when this happens. In the end, not being with the main group has them all forgotten about when Kyoko is revealed as Lala's even more irresponsible sisters, testing Lala's circle of Earth friends. As a result, they are transported to the Amazon, where wackiness ensues.
- During Vinland Saga, half of Askeladd's men turn traitor during a Stern Chase to escape Thorkell, and capture Askeladd. When Thorkell finally catch up to the waiting (and surrendering) traitors, he 'rewards' them by letting them pick up their own weapons again so they can die honourably and go to Valhalla when his men kill them. He leaves Askeladd alive.
- The anime OVA of Ai no Kusabi has this combined with You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness. Iason has successfully used former Bison gang member Kirie to sell out and destroy the gang. When Kirie shows up to collect his reward money, he's instead taken away, Brainwashed and turned into an unthinking and obedient Pet.
- In the Digimon movie X-Evolution, after WarGreymon X gathers a group of Digimon in an attempt to band them together for survival against the Knight Templar Royal Knights, Andromon reveals that he's already come into contact with them. When Omegamon arrives, he's one of those gunned down by the Jogressed Ultimate.
- Digimon Xros Wars has this attempted when Puppetmon steals Mikey's Digivice to have GrandLocomon allow him out of their Zone. Naturally, GrandLocomon takes it for himself and nearly kills Puppetmon in turn.
- The manga Gundam Legacy has a particularly extreme example in its final story arc, where some Zeon remnants launch a plan to nuke their former home colony. The betrayal, at least in their eyes, is that most of Zeon surrendered after losing the One-Year War rather than fighting to the very last man, which is apparently a crime worthy of killing millions of innocents.
- Casshan: Robot Hunter: Happens to the human prisoner who betrays Luna and his fellow prisoners' escape attempt, under the assumption that he'd be freed.
- In the ALO arc of Sword Art Online, one member of the Sylphs tries to sell out his race (which is in the process of allying with the Cait Sith), to the Salamanders, who are in a powerful position now and are expected to be even better off in the next patch, so that he can reroll as a Salamander. The plot fails thanks to Kirito's intervention and the traitor is exiled, but the Sylph leader suspects that even if the traitor's plan had succeeded, it's unlikely that the Salamander leader would have kept his end of the bargain.
- In Fairy Tail's Tartarus arc, the former head of the magic council, Crawford, is revealed to have allied with the demons for a hefty amount of gold despite knowing that they plan to wipe out all magic on the continent and kill all humans when they're defenseless. However, to do so, the demons need to kill the other former members who're living keys to activate the doomsday weapon. When down to one last key which Jellal has, Crawford uses his magic to transfer the key to himself with the intention of passing it on to someone else that the demons can kill. You can guess what happens when he shows this to the demons.
- Herr Gutheimer in Adolf is a Jewish businessman who has dealings with Nazi-affiliated companies. This does absolutely nothing to deter the Nazis from sending him and most of his family to the camps.
- In DC's Villains United #6, Cheshire, having leaked the location of the Secret Six's hideout to a Secret Society of Super-Villains death squad, attempts to leave the hideout to join them:
Cheshire: I'm coming out! I am unarmed! I'm one of you! I'm one of you! I am un— [shot by Deathstroke]
Deathstroke: Sorry, Cheshire. We don't need any traitors in the Society.
- Happens in the Squadron Supreme limited series, when The Mink fatally stabs Foxfire after she betrays Nighthawk's rebels.
- In the UK Sonic the Comic, after selling out the entire Chaotix Crew to the Metallix Empire, Nack the Weasel is told he'll "Get what he deserves". And he does, when the Metallix blast him, nearly killing him. Nack was actually clever enough to expect this, and bring a Disruptor, but it didn't do him much good.
- In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Private Scales, one of the original Freedom Fighters, betrays the others to Robotnik, proudly boasting that, as a snake, it's in his nature to betray others. In response, Robotnik throws him into the trap with the others, commenting "How can I trust you? You did just say you were a snake," before roboticizing him and banishing him to the Zone of Silence with the others.
- Appears in Give Me Liberty. President Nissen's Cabinet members kill him, Julius Caesar style, then are promptly killed when their ringmaster blows up the White House.
- In the Chick Tract "The Poor Revolutionist", the main characters are executed after the rebellion succeeds, with the leader reasoning that they will eventually betray him.
- In Les Légendaires: Origines, Prince Halan's bodyguard Chakra agrees to provide Darkhell's lieutenant Raptor with a map showing him the route Halan's fiancé Princess Jadina is gonna use, hoping to make Jadina disappear so she can have Halan instead of her. Unfortunately for her, as soon as she gives the map to him, Raptor mocks her by pointing out how Love Makes You Dumb and mercilessly kills her with his magic blade. And the kick? It was entirely pointless for her to do this: Jadina didn't want to marry Halan anyway and was just coming to tell him about her disagreement.
- In Runaways, Alex's brilliant plan to betray all his friends to the Gibborim earns him a fiery death; the Gibborim, it turns out, don't appreciate children trying to "improve" on their plans.
- The Ten-Seconders: When Malloy is turned into a God, he tries to remake the Earth. He starts by incinerating every human who collaborated with the former Gods in their fascist regime, "because fuck 'em".
- In Old Man Hawkeye, a spin-off of Old Man Logan, the Thunderbolts get this in spades. While they were still "good guys", they betray the Avengers sparing only Hawkeye. For this, the Thunderbolts get to live under the villain regime but are "awarded" dead-end menial jobs like circus freak and Doombot assembly worker. Then Hawkeye goes to kill the traitorous Thunderbolts before he becomes completely blind.
- Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Emperor orders Sakritt executed once her the information she's given them while betraying the revolutionaries is proven. When Sakritt's betrayal turns out to have been a ruse and the Emperor concedes to the revolutionaries' demands the Emperor instead chooses to work with Sakritt long term since they greatly value loyalty and Sakritt's dangerous play proved that she is incredibly loyal to her companions of choice.
- In Thorgal, when a group of cultists shows up in the village to kidnap Thorgal's son, an elderly woman leads them to his house for a promise of reward. Once they capture the child, one of them tears off her tongue.
- In Flash Gordon, after rewarding Sonja's treachery as promised, by marrying her and making her empress, Ming the Merciless immediately has her executed.
- In Terry and the Pirates, Klang does this to a defector from the Dragon Lady's forces. After the defector has given Klang the information he desired, he is rewarded with a bayonet through the chest.
- Queen of Shadows: During the Shadowkhan's conquest of Kyushu, several samurai betray their lord, in order to earn favor with their new masters. Ikazuki is so disgusted with this, that he has all the offenders gelded, cuts out their tongues, and has written explanations of their treachery carved into their flesh, before sending them off to toil as slave laborers until they die.
- Ages of Shadow features a minor example — after the Himinate conquers a small kingdom only because the king's brother betrays him, the Shadow Walkers repay him by placing him right behind the king on the Human Sacrifice menu.
- In XCOM: The Hades Contingency, the UN want the Commander to surrender Zhang to them for trial, with execution or life imprisonment the most likely outcomes, after he defects from the Triads with the alien artefact. This disgusts the Commander, who already had a low opinion of them and proceeds to defy this trope.
- In The Elements of Friendship Book I: Harmony, Madam Oleander sells out Harthind and the Mane Six to NightMare Moon, in exchange for the restoration of her youth. Instead, NightMare Moon kills her.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, a vampire mook slays his abusive mob boss and then tries to cut a deal with Buffy and Supergirl, claiming that he did "their work for them". Buffy stakes him.
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Jordan Pryce uses his position within Wayne Enterprises to help the Joker to steal from the company in exchange for their cooperation in getting rid of Bruce Wayne so he'll become the new CEO. When the Joker decides to cut loose ends, they try to kill Pryce. Batman saves him but, thanks to that failed attempt, has evidence of the betrayal.
- In The Jungle King, the evil chancellor, seeking the throne, approaches the neighboring king for help after his last plan somehow failed. The king agrees to help him, ostentatiously for a piece of the kingdom. After the chancellor leaves, the king asks one of his retainers to remind him to execute the chancellor after helping him. "Never trust a traitor."
- In Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Allomere betrays the Guardians to Metalbeak, who soon after has him killed by bats. Allomere believed he would get to rule the Guardians' tree for his part, but Metalbeak told him "There is only room for one king."
- Wonder Woman (2009): Subverted. Body language right before the fact strongly implies that Ares will sacrifice Persephonewho betrayed her fellow Amazons to free himto open the gates of Hades, but he simply uses one of his cultists as a sacrifice instead.
- The Mask: In a Deleted Scene, after Peggy sells Stanley out to Tyrell and his men, the first thing Tyrell does after putting the Mask of Loki on is toss Peggy into a printing press, killing her.
- In Inglourious Basterds, the Allies accept Hans Landa's offer to betray Hitler in return for protection after the war. Aldo Raine is furious that the Allies uphold their end of the bargain, but manages to get one last shot at Landa by killing his minion and carving a Swastika into his forehead, marking him for life as a Nazi. In this case it is less about treason and more the fact that he was a Nazi (and a willing one who betrayed Hitler because it was in his own interest).
- In the original Battlestar Galactica movie, the Cylons beheaded Baltar after he betrayed his fellow humans.
- Serenity. Mr. Universe reluctantly cooperates with the Operative by luring Serenity into an Alliance trap. Afterwards he turns to the Operative and begins an angry rant, only for the Operative to run Mr Universe through on his sword rather than allow any chance of the truth coming out. Bonus points because the traitor was demanding his thirty pieces of silver. He knew that one way or another, he didn't have much to look forward to after what he'd done.
- In Ran two retainers help defeat their master, Hidetora. Hidetora's son rewards them as they agreed, however he then explains that he can't very well have retainers who obviously disregard loyalty to their master, and kicks them out. Later on they wander too close to one of Hidetora's loyal followers and get chased down and killed.
- Superman II. Lex Luthor betrays the human race by allying with the Kryptonian super villains and leading them to Lois Lane so they can find Superman. After he does this General Zod orders Non to murder him, and he's only saved by the arrival of Superman.
- A very satisfying example in Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. when black marketeer Brockley betrays the Doctor to the Daleks. As the Doctor is led away, most of the Daleks remain behind and stare at Brockley silently. Realising where this is going, Brockley runs back into the shed where the Doctor was hiding before he turned him in, which the Daleks promptly blow up.
- Roach from Demon Knight sells out his friends to the demon leader and his horde, in exchange for being spared. Not surprisingly, the head demon informs him that he lied and promptly has his horde devour him.
- In the 1960s Fu Manchu movie series starring Christopher Lee, Fu Manchu rewards just about everyone who helps him by smiling, thanking them, then having them dragged away to be imprisoned or executed. One wonders how he manages to get anyone to help him at all by the time the last movie in the series rolls around.
- In Sucker Punch, Blondie tells Blue about the girls' plan to escape, but only because she didn't want her friends to die. Blue praises her, at first, then replies that he doesn't like snitches. She's quickly dispatched with a bullet to the head.
- Snatch.: Brick Top's Establishing Character Moment has him disposing of someone who's betrayed him in some manner or other before having the man's sidekick disposed of in the same manner while explaining he's "got no time for grassersnote ".
- Castor and Gem in TRON Legacy by Clu, as well as outliving their usefulness.
- This happens to Nash, Cobb's original architect in Inception, who betrayed Cobb and sold him out to Saito. Saito originally offers Cobb a gun to deal with it personally, but Cobb isn't willing to kill. Saito then leaves him to the mercy of Cobol Engineering, who would inevitably hunt him down and kill him when they catch him.
- In Sword of Sherwood Forest, the Sheriff makes this offer to one of Robin Hood's men; promising him a free pardon. After he gets the information, the Sheriff has him shot and then orders a pardon drawn up for him.
- In the film Immortals, Lysander does a FaceHeel Turn since he fears Hyperion's forces cannot be stopped. Hyperion agrees to take him in, but orders his guards to physically scar his face as well as neuter him via giant mallet, since he feels Lysander shouldn't get preferential treatment for switching sides the way he did, nor does he want the traitor to spread his seed by having kids.
- In The Patriot, when Tavington rounds up an entire town suspected of aiding Martin's soldiers, he offers them forgiveness if they give up any relevant information. One of the townspeople ends up talking, but Tavington has the entire town killed anyways, saying that they can get their forgiveness from God.
- In a 1979 Romanian biopic of Vlad Dracula, a battle with a rival prince is averted when he's killed by his own captain. When Vlad orders the assassin executed (with his own murder weapon), he points out that Vlad would have slain his rival anyway. Vlad counters that he never swore loyalty to him.
- In Wrath of the Titans, Perseus warns everybody not to pray to Ares, since a god can hear and locate anybody who prays to them and Ares is their enemy. Eventually, Korrina gives in to fear and prays to Ares, thinking he will save her. Ares teleports to the heroes' location and starts slaughtering everybody. When Korrina reveals herself as the person who prayed to him, Ares kills her without a second thought.
- Discussed and wiggled around in Hard Boiled, when Alan (secretly an undercover cop named Tony) is in the process of selling out mob boss Mr. Chiu to the up-and-comer Johnny Wong. He insists to Wong that he's not a traitor and will be loyal to Chiu until Chiu is dead, and then helps to make that the case. Wong is entirely okay with this and keeps Alan around, but his right-hand man, Mad Dog, is unimpressed with the treason.
- RoboCop 2: One of the councilmen sells Mayor Kusak out to OCP upon hearing of an impending deal that would derail OCP's plans for Delta City. It doesn't exclude him of being targeted and gunned down by the newly made RoboCop 2 all the same.
- In RoboCop 3, Coontz leads the Rehabs to the rebel base in exchange for money. The Rehabs then kill him so they don't have to pay him.
- When one of the outlaws in Robin Hood (1991) rats out to the authorities, he's next seen dead in a gibbet with maggots in his empty eye sockets.
- In Bad Day at Black Rock, Liz Wirth helps Macreedy escape from town in her jeep, only to drive him straight into an ambush set by Reno Smith. Smith then shoots her in the back as part of his plan to silence his old accomplices.
- In Wee Willie Winkie, Mohammed-din is the seemingly loyal, obsequious manservant to a British army unit on the Afghan frontier. It turns out that he is The Mole, working on behalf of the enemy Afghans. He helps them liberate their leader Khoda Khan from imprisonment, then kidnaps Col. Williams' cute little daughter Priscilla (Shirley Temple) and brings her to the Afghan fortress. The Afghans reward him by throwing him off the battlements of the fortress to his death.
- In The Last Witch Hunter, The Mole in Axe and Cross betrays them to the Witch Queen in exchange for gaining magic, only to be told that "you can't turn clay into gold" and the Witch Queen killing him for being human.
- Deep Cover: After one of Barbossa's henchmen is caught by the police, the henchman gives up undercover cop Russell (thinking he's just a street dealer) to keep his own ass out of jail, confident that his bosses would consider Russell expendable. Instead they kill the henchman for making a deal with the cops and reward Russell for keeping his mouth shut all the way to his trial by giving him the henchman's job.
- Played with in Black Mass when "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) briefly threatens the life of one of his cronies for revealing a secret family recipe — to him. It is of course a sick joke, but not a terribly funny one, since Bulger is a confirmed sociopath and will personally kill anyone who becomes a liability to him if given half a chance.
- Defied in Licence to Kill. After persuading DEA agent Ed Killifer to help him escape, Franz Sanchez still insists upon properly paying Killifer as promised. When Milton Krest, one of Sanchez's associates, ask why he would do this instead of killing him, Sanchez answers "Loyalty is more important to me than money." Killifer eventually dies facing a vengeful James Bond.
- In The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood, Polly betrays Robin to Prince John; telling him that Marian has informed Robin of the trap to catch him. Lady Sallyforth takes Polly away to receive her 'reward', but then kills her when she will not reveal the location of Richard's gold (which was something she did not know).
- Mean Guns: Cam is approached by a police detective she believes she can trust with incriminating evidence about the Syndicate she was unwittingly laundering money for. It turns out that he's a Dirty Cop when he immediately delivers her to Marcus, one of the Syndicate's chief enforcers. However, when he starts demanding a huge sum of money for his services, Marcus just shoots him for being a rat.
- Cold Pursuit: When Coxman hires the Eskimo to eliminate Viking, the Eskimo takes the upfront payment and then goes to Viking to inform him of Coxman's intent, collecting another $90,000 from Viking. Viking pays the money into the Eskimo's account, and then has the Eskimo executed; disgusted by his lack of professionalism.
- In the Iliad, Dolon was captured by Odysseus and Diomedes and interrogated. To save his life, he quickly tells everything he knows. Then Diomedes kills him for speaking too easily.
- King of Pisa, Oenomaus challenged the suitors of his daughter Hippodamia in a chariot race and killed the losers. He was always winning as his own horses were gifts of his father the god Ares. Pelops bribed the kings charioteer, Myrtilus son of Hermes, to sabotage the chariot in exchange for half the Kingdom and one night with Hippodamia. Pelops then casted Myrtilus in the sea later named the Myrtoan Sea.
- Scylla, daughter of king of Megara Nisos, fell in love with invader Minos, the king of Crete. Nisus had a single lock of purple hair which granted him invincibility. When Minos saw the princess presenting Nisus' hair, he cursed her and left her alone or threw her into the sea depending on the versions.
- The Bible brings us Baanah and Rechab. They were commanders that worked for Ishbosheth (Saul's son). Having heard of his father's defeat, Ishbosheth lost heart. While he was resting on his bed in the afternoon, Rechab and Baanah killed him. They proceeded to behead him and bring the head to David. They expected reward but things turned out differently:
2 Samuel 4:9-12David replied to Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every adversity, when a man told me, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking that he was bringing good news, I seized and killed him in Ziklag, to reward him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous and just man in his own house on his bed, shall I not require his blood from your hand and remove you from the earth? So David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hung them beside the pool in Hebron. But they took Ish-bosheth's head and buried it in Hebron in the tomb of Abner [his relative].
- In Interstitial Actual Play, Larxene decides to help the party rather than their own associates since they don't like them very much. Not long after that, they get shot by Diz and begin to fade into darkness.
- In the Planescape verse, the githzerai race, which is much devoted to examples in history and folklore, uses the story of Vilquar to describe the foolishness of betrayal in general. Once, when the Mind Flayers were still holding their race in slavery, Vilquar tried to get special treatment by selling out the rebellion. They tricked him into thinking it had disbanded, and when he went to claim his reward, Vilquar's master ate his brain.
- While the convicts of the Penal Legions of the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000's crimes vary from more standard crimes such as murder to heresy and apostasy, the Imperium clearly sees them as traitors to the Emperor — fit only as cannon fodder. Subverted on some occasions since it is possible for Legionnaires to be pardoned for performing a particularly meritorious act.
- One friendly neighborhood Ordo Xeno inquisitor states that Callidus Temple has "Treachery is its own reward" as organisation motto.
- This is the eventual fate of Michael Hasek-Davion after one too many attempts to double-cross both his own liege and the enemy ruler he was conspiring with. Said enemy ruler is from a notoriously unstable royal family and orders Michael's execution when he's had enough of the constant betrayal.
- It is implied that this would have been the ultimate fate of Aldo Lestrade, a separatist and secessionist whose scheming nearly got the heir-princess of his nation killed. The Draconis Combine intelligence services viewed him as a distasteful necessity... who then end up asking each other who was the one that spoiled the satisfaction by carrying out their planned assassination of Lestrade too early. It turns out to be none of them. An angered third party harmed by Lestrade's schemes makes him pay his last dues before the Combine can.
- Shadowrun, KaGe magazine Volume 1 Issue 8 (2nd quarter 1993) story "Instruction Takes A Turn". The decker Kam betrays the rest of his team to the corporation they're infiltrating in return for money, allowing the corp to prepare for their attack. However, the corp has Kam murdered because they have no love for traitors and know that if he will betray his fellow shadowrunners, he'll betray the corporation too.
- This happens to Parolles in All's Well That Ends Well — although his captors were actually his comrades playing a trick on him.
- In the stage version of Bugsy Malone, Shady gives Fat Sam information that will lead his men into a trap; he then collects his money from Dandy Dan only to be killed (splurged) while walking away. Dandy Dan takes back his money, commenting he can't stand traitors.
- In The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew, the Baron hires Doctor Moloch to poison the dragon that rules half the island. When the Baron attempts to pay his fee with chocolate money, Moloch goes to the dragon's cave and tells it of the plot (omitting his own part). The dragon, having thanked Moloch for the information, promptly tempts him into its cave with promises of financial reward and eats him.
- In BIONICLE, Nidhiki attempts to betray Metru Nui to the dark hunters during the Toa-Dark Hunter War, but Lhikan catches on and arranges things so the Toa win anyway. Nidhiki is forced to go back with the Dark Hunters to their island base, Odina, where he is treated very poorly due to his known status as a would-be betrayer of Metru Nui. He is rejected from partnering with his only "friend", Lariska, in favor of the big dumb brute Krekka, who is meant to keep him in line, and upon trying to escape, Roodaka transforms him into a horrifying insectoid creature. This forces him to remain a Dark Hunter until his death at the hands of Makuta, and to top it all off, Nidhiki's worst fear was his phobia of insectoid creatures...
- In Girl Genius, Dr. Beetle, the much beloved ruler of Beetleburg, dies as a result of Silas Merlot's unnecessarily dramatic actions. Merlot attempts to toady up to Baron Wulfenbach and formulate a plan to hide Dr. Beetle's death—whereupon the Baron commands that Dr. Beetle be given a funeral with highest honors, the exact details of his death hidden from the public, and, just to illustrate to Merlot how hard he's fucked up, Merlot is put in charge of Beetleburg and the University. Merlot, having never much liked our protagonist Agatha, expels her on the spot for sheer petty spite. Later, a team of Wulfenbach's cryptographers decode Dr. Beetle's encrypted notes, revealing Agatha's true identity to Merlot, who begins a frantic search for her, which fails (because she's already on Castle Wulfenbach). Merlot thinks that if Wulfenbach found out who Merlot let slip through his fingers, it would be curtains... so he destroys all evidence — labs, record halls and the cryptographers — in a fire. Wulfenbach discovers it another way, finds out about Merlot's attempts to cover his butt and so he sends him to Castle Heterodyne.
- In Sluggy Freelance:
- The future Lord Horribus was set to do this to his informant Amospia, who gave the demons the key to the city so that she and her lover could escape. The Asps accidentally kill Amospia's lover instead, and are then fused to her when she is turned into a snake demon by the city's wizard as punishment.
- Basphomy was the original patron of Halloween, a nightmarish holiday she created to torment mortals. Terrified of her ambition, the other holidays voted the Pumpkin King, a Harmless Villain, as her replacement, forcing her to serve as his second. She always kept a hammer ready just in case she ever got the opportunity to usurp him. When Bunbun attempts to conquer the Holidays in a bid for godhood, she sides with him. But he knew she would eventually betray him next to reclaim Halloween, and as such left her imprisoned in the obsidian cage.
- In The Pirates of Dark Water, during the pilot mini-series, Bloth "rewards" a pirate who returns his minion Konk by conscripting her into service as a Dagron pilot.
- In the first Wing Commander Academy episode, "Red and Blue", the human technician who betrayed the Terran Confederation was asked by the Kilrathi captain he ran to with the stolen information why the human had betrayed his own kind. Played with in that the captain spaces the human not necessarily for treason, but because his reason was absurdly petty.
- Narrowly averted in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002). Evil-Lyn is offered to be 'honored above all others' if she betrays Skeletor and joins the ranks of King Hisss. It turns out that, as far as Snake people are concerned, there is no higher honor than to be devoured by your king... but Hisss decides to spare her when he decides she's of more use to him alive.
- A mild version occurs in The Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul". Bart pulled a prank at church by switching the opening hymn with "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". Milhouse ends up ratting him out and is praised by Rev. Lovejoy for it, who then takes Bart away from punishment... and drags Milhouse along, too, saying, "You too, snitchy."
- In Gargoyles, this happens when Demona betrays Macbeth to Canmore. After Canmore "kills" Macbeth and Demona, he says, "She betrayed Macbeth; it was only a matter of time before she would have betrayed us. It's a good thing we had the rest of her clan destroyed as well. Her kind was an abomination; they did not deserve to live!"
- In one episode of Sonic Underground, a black-market dealer, angry with Sonic and his siblings for not paying him for some vital information, sells them out to Sleet and Dingo. Sleet promises him, "I'll make sure you get everything that's coming to you". The dealer assumes this means money. It doesn't.
Sleet: [activating the roboticizer] I said you'd get what's coming to you.
- In Skeleton Warriors, Baron Dark frequently rewarded people who betrayed the rebels by turning them into more Skeleton Warriors. Since the transformation burned all of the goodness out of a subject, it effectively turned them into a Black Shirt and partially falls under the exception mentioned near the end of the trope description.
- Played with and ultimately averted in the Justice League Unlimited finale. In the aftermath of an Enemy Civil War, Luthor's side has beaten Grodd's and Luthor asks if any of them can give a reason they shouldn't continue following Grodd. Killer Frost, one of Grodd's cabal, steps forward, turns around and immediately freezes all the others on her side. This even unnerves the villains on Luthor's side.
Luthor: Killer Frost... you've got a future. Get rid of the rest.
Frost: You got it.
- In Ben 10: Omniverse has a non-lethal example in the episode "Frogs of War": Argit betrays the rebellion to the Incursean Empire. As soon as he has lured them in the trap, Attea shoots him and has him imprisonned with the others.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Twilight's Kingdom, Part 2", Discord betrays the ponies to aid Tirek after he offered him freedom. In the end, Discord is betrayed by Tirek and his magic is drained, leaving him to dwell on what he had done.
- Young Samson & Goliath episode "The Idol Rama-Keesh". Ramu is the priest of a temple of the deity Rama-Keesh. He constructs a robot in the shape of an idol of his deity and uses it to scare the local villagers into leaving. He later meets with General Tong, who had him do it so he could invade and use the village as his headquarters. When he asks General Tong for his reward, Tong hits him over the head with a mallet, knocking him unconscious. He tries to have the robot drop Ramu in a fire pit to kill him, but Samson appears and saves Ramu from death.
- The TRON: Uprising episode "Isolated" has this with Paige's friends. They alert General Tessler to the fact that two ISOs, Quorra and her friend, passed through and were given medical assistance. General Tessler promptly thanks them for their assitance, then procceds to derezz the pair of them (and everyone else in the Hospital bar Paige) because they harboured and assisted ISOs.
- Superman: The Animated Series:
- Queen Maxima's handmaiden Sazu helps De'Cine to take over Maxima's throne and De'Cine rewards her by having her imprisoned with the dethroned Queen.
- Once Darkseid has no further use for Bruno Mannheim, he leaves him to die in a reactor explosion. When Mannheim protests that Darkseid promised to make him a king, Darkseid replies that he is a king — a king of fools.
- She-Ra: Princess of Power: In "Of Shadows and Skulls", Shadow Weaver is so tired of being mistreated by Hordak she helps Skeletor to overthrow him. Skeletor rewards her by locking her up inside the same cage they locked Hordak in.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk: Mildew, the local Berk Jerkass, betrays his tribe (his chief's son most specifically) to the Outcasts. The result? He spends his residence with the Outcasts in constant terror of being disposed of by his new Bad Boss and has to repeatedly come up with new plans (that always fail) for attacking his homeland to convince Alvin he has not outlived his usefulness. Once the Outcasts are taken over by Dagur and his Berserker tribe, he's demoted to a servant assigned to feeding/taking care of the trained dragons (the creature he hated enough to prompt his betrayal in the first place).
- Surprisingly averted in Xiaolin Showdown, despite the show's usual Black and White Morality. Wuya, a Card-Carrying Villain in nearly every other respect, actually gives Raimundo plenty of wealth and status after his betrayal, with zero strings attached. This ultimately leads to her downfall.
- Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: Episode 12, one of the members of Mario's resistance group tries to betray them to the Germans in an attempt to save his own skin. Naturally, as soon as he has told the Germans everything he knows, they promptly arrest him.
- Elena of Avalor: As revealed in the episode "King of the Carnaval," Esteban and his friend, Victor Delgado, willingly helped Shuriki take over Avalor in exchange for a high-ranking position. Shuriki gave Esteban the power he wanted when she took over, but not before killing Elena's parents, trying to do the same to Elena herself, and having Victor and his entire family banished from the kingdom, ensuring that at every waking moment, Esteban would be tormented by the guilt of losing everyone he ever cared for.
- Averted in the backstory of Storm Hawks. The Dark Ace of Cyclonia was a member of the original Storm Hawks who betrayed his team when they fought against the Empire for glory and power, and the previous Master Cyclonis followed through on the deal with no strings attached. He even became The Dragon for the current Master Cyclonis in her campaign to conquer Atmos.
- In the Castlevania animated series, Hector, one of Dracula's most loyal human servants, lets Carmilla, one of his generals, manipulate him into betraying his master. This along with other factors led to Dracula's defeat. Afterwards, Carmilla rewards Hector by savagly beating him into submission while laughing and makes it clear he is her slave now, and the real reason she fooled him into betraying Dracula was because she needed a Forgemaster of her own to create an army of demons to take over and rule in Dracula's place.
- In Beast Wars Dinobot is afraid of returning to Cybertron alongside his new Maximal companions because, despite Optimus Primal's insistence he'll be treated as one of them, he fears they'll pull this trope on him instead.
Dinobot: YOU'RE what I'm afraid of! You're so eager to go home, but your home is not my home. I am Predacon, despite our alliance, and when your ship comes to rescue you, my fate will be the same as Megatron's. Perhaps, even worse.
- In Gravity Falls, Preston Northwest gets a full face of Nightmare Fuel and Body Horror as a "reward" for offering to join Bill Cipher's legion of Hench-Maniacs. Quite literally, in fact:
Preston: I would just like to say that as a rich capitalist I welcome your tyrannical rule. Perhaps I could be one of your, uh... horsemen of the apocalypse?Bill: Oh wow, that's a great offer. How 'bout instead I shuffle the functions of every hole in your face?