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The Quisling

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"It has come to my attention that some have lately called me a 'collaborator', as if such a term was shameful. I ask you, what greater endeavor exists than that of collaboration? In our current unparalleled enterprise, refusal to collaborate is simply a refusal to grow — an insistence on suicide, if you will. Did the lungfish refuse to breathe air?"
Dr. Wallace Breen, Half-Life 2

Named after Vidkun Quisling, who assisted the Germans in their conquest and occupation of Norway during World War II.note  The Quisling is the poster person of Les Collaborateurs, who appears whenever one country or culture is being conquered, occupied, or colonized by another, whether it be a human Evil Empire, an Alien Invasion, an AI uprising, The Legions of Hell, or some other foreign enemy. They do everything possible to curry favor with the new rulers - they speak the invaders' language more often than their own, ape the foreign customs, and refer to their hometown as New Invaderia, Airstrip One, or Egopolis instead of Freedomville. They might justify this on the grounds that by securing a position of power and influence, they can ensure the occupation is as painless and least oppressive as possible — this may be genuine or an excuse to grab power. Sometimes, this person will have been a friend of the heroes before the invasion but will often be someone who had always given our heroes a hard time. Often, they will also try to make them "see reason" and stop their futile attempts to restore the old regime. Frequently has elements of the Obstructive Bureaucrat or The Dragon. When conversing with the conquering leaders they will probably be Opinion Flip-Flop personified.

Despite all this, the Quisling is never seen as an equal by the conquerors, but at best as a useful tool to keep the natives in line. At worst, they hold them in almost as much contempt as the Quisling's own people. Either way, they won't hesitate to dispose of them once they outlive their usefulness. If the invaders value honor, expect them to eventually get killed BECAUSE they're a traitor to the cause: at least the other invaded have a sense of pride and honor!

What distinguishes the Quisling from other Collaborateurs is authority. A Quisling will never be considered an equal by the conquerors but will have a position of power that will be used to influence the conquered people. They will often be the local "poster child" for submission to the conquerors. If a character has a minor job within the conquerors' hierarchy or simply chooses to accept the conquerors' rule rather than resist, then they are Collaborateurs but not Quislings.

The Quisling's storyline tends to end in one of a handful of ways:

  • The first against the wall when the revolution comes. Disposing of or disgracing them is one of the first major victories for La Résistance, and now the real struggle begins as the invaders start to take those rebel scum seriously...
  • As the rebellion grows and its victory draws near, they opportunistically switch or are coerced to switch sides. They’re disgraced and held in even more contempt but manage to be just useful enough to save their neck.
  • They finally do a Heel–Face Turn and joins La Resistance for real, becoming a redeemed hero in the process (though expect redemption to equal death in a lot of cases). Most common when the apparent betrayal is really a futile attempt at trying to moderate the oppression of the invaders, and they finally go too far.
  • They were actually the Secret Identity of La Resistance's leader all along, playing a dangerous double game to act as The Mole. They might still be vilified in the histories, but the heroes will remember their name with honor.
  • The first against the wall when the revolution ends, as the newly freed heroes are only too eager to convict the heinous traitor in a court of law (or just lynch them in the street). This is what happened to the historical Quisling, who after being removed from power had the Norwegians re-institute the death penalty just to apply it to him.
  • The first against the wall when the revolution fails or is temporarily crushed, and they're killed, "purged" or otherwise done away with anyway, because the higher-ups don't trust a former member of the conquered nation (let alone a traitor). Alternatively, they may kill them if the revolution is doing too well, to get rid of an incompetent puppet leader who not only can't control their own people but is only furthering this unrest.
  • If The Quisling is a Well-Intentioned Extremist or a Knight Templar who earnestly believes that selling their nation out would benefit the people in the long run (as opposed to just being an opportunist or Glory Hound) the heroes may well decide that the Strawman Has a Point and adopt the Quisling's goals even after stripping the original of political power, especially if they simply did what was necessary to try to save as many people as they could in the face of an overwhelming enemy they couldn't possibly defeat.
  • The Quisling will outfox both the heroes and their puppet masters and achieve some hidden agenda that both sides oppose and/or become a legitimate power player in their own right, like in Metal Gear Solid or Suikoden. Since this requires a greater-than-normal amount of Magnificent Bastardry to pull off and toadyism isn't viewed as a cool Evil Virtue… this rarely happens.

Note that "Quisling" is rarely heard in the United States. This is because Americans have their own term for the same thing. See Real Life, below.

Compare to Professional Buttkisser. Contrast with Head-in-the-Sand Management, who is not actually in the employ of the villain, but ends up helping them anyway through inaction or counterproductive actions, and the Peer-Pressured Bully, whose malicious acts are the result of societal pressure.


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  • Writer James Lileks has humorously referred to certain advertising mascots for meat products as "quislings": e.g., a "quisling pig" advertising pork products, or a "quisling fish" selling fish-cakes. Click here for what Lileks calls "the motherlode of Quisling Pig propaganda" — the singing, marching pigs of Valleydale Foods shilling for pork sausages.
  • Humorously averted by the Chick-fil-A Cows, who ask that America "EAT MOR CHIKIN". Chick-fil-A had previously had an anthropomorphic chicken for a mascot; its switch to cows was widely seen as a wise move, in part because this subtrope leads people to think that anything with cows would be for milk, or perhaps beef... nope.
    • There was a somewhat similar advertising campaign used by McDonald's in Finland around the turn of the millennium, where an anthropomorphic pig was standing on the streets around Christmas shouting Syökää Kanaa, meaning "eat chicken" and telling people about promotions at McDonald's. Naturally the pig had ulterior motives for this, namely the fact that during the traditional Finnish Christmas dinner is ham.

    Comic Books 
  • Annihilation: House Fiyero, who seized control of the Kree Empire in a coup, eventually sell out to the Wave. They try to justify it on a dozen grounds, ignoring their refusal to help fight the Wave (or at least, fight it sensibly) in the first place is what's led to their situation. Ronan the Accuser ain't having any of it.
  • Asterix: Cassius Ceramix in Asterix and the Big Fight is one played for laughs: he forces his village to adhere to Roman customs to an absurd degree (for example, he orders an aqueduct to be built in the village despite a river running right through it. When someone points this out, he orders that the river be diverted because "aqueducts are more ROMAN!") and addresses the Roman Villains of the Week as "our beloved invaders."
  • The Flash: Wally West's father Rudy West was revealed to have been an agent of the Manhunters, a race of Knight Templar alien robots, since before Wally was even born. He tries to recruit Wally to his cause, but obviously he isn't interested. And then as soon as the Manhunters are beaten, he fakes his death, only resurfacing during the next alien invasion (this time ostensibly on Earth's side).
  • The Flintstones: Mr. Slate once the aliens arrive at Bedrock.
    Mr. Slate: The people of Earth are honored by your visit. And should you ever need a puppet dictator to rule on your behalf... well, I am the richest guy in town.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Hawley Griffin betrays the group and sides with the Martians. He plans on becoming the ruler of the earth along with the Martians, to ensure his own survival. He ends up first against the wall, beaten and raped to death by one of the good guys.
  • Savage has two major examples, both of whom were installed as Prime Minister by the Volgans once the UK has been conquered. In the original run, this was a man named Simon Creepton, while the 2004 revival has a pastiche of Tony Blair nicknamed "Scooty".
  • Secret Invasion (2008): The Skrulls plan to set up local Governors. Moonstone claims to be one, asking the Skrulls for control of South America if she helps them. However, this is a trick.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Most of Dr. Eggman's Egg Bosses are this to some degree. The biggest example, however, is Mordred Hood, who sold out his nation just so Eggman would put him in charge.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: The idea of My Master, Right or Wrong is repeatedly explored as a samurai ideal throughout the series, with Lord Hebi (a giant snake) serving Lord Hikiji faithfully despite his constant scheming to one day become the Shogun. That is, until the Bad Future of Senso, where Hikiji collaborates with the invading Martians and does nothing to stop them from attacking his own people. This is too much for Hebi, who proceeds to destroy his master by picking him up and repeatedly bashing him against the ground, getting scorched shortly after.
  • X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse versions of Maximus the Mad, Deadpool, Donald Pierce, Arcade, Norman Osborn, Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock, and the Owl were all too willing to toward their lot in with Apocalypse despite not being mutants themselves.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the Dan Dare story "Operation Saturn", an aristocratic scientist called Blasco plans to conquer Earth with help from the Rootha, the ruling aristocracy of the moons of Saturn. On arrival, he discovers that the Rootha are in fact Quislings themselves (and the strip explicitly calls them this). The true ruler of Saturnia is a being called Vora, who came from outer space. Vora actually intends to set Blasco up in a similar position to the Rootha, and Blasco is entirely willing to go along with this. Their fates? Dan helps Saturnian rebels overthrow Vora, who sets off to conquer Earth and abandons the Rootha to the mercy of the rebels. Later, in a desperate struggle to save Earth, Digby accidentally knocks Blasco's space helmet off and he suffocates. Seeing this, a defeated Vora then turns his guns on himself.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Balibo: Roger at one point discovers an East Timorese man being tortured by the FRELIJIN for selling out to the Indonesians.
  • In Bumblebee, Dr. Powell — a scientist of government agency Sector Seven — ends up stumbling into this role once they establish First Contact with the Decepticons, gleefully cooperating with their new alien encounters and exchanging knowledge of their communications technology. Powell has a somewhat reasonable paranoia that if the US military doesn't take advantage of this discovery, the Soviets will (it is The '80s, after all), but he has a much less reasonable assumption that their visitors are benevolent in spite of calling themselves Decepticons (a fact that's even pointed out to him). He only comes to realize they've made a terrible mistake once they start announcing their plans to invite the rest of their kin to destroy Earth, and he pays the price for it.
  • Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca, the Vichy French prefet de police nominally subservient to the Nazi German invaders. He professes to have no real loyalties, that he "blows with the wind" out of pure self-interest. He certainly has no respect for the Nazis themselves, as he does the absolute minimum to help them whenever they come stomping into his jurisdiction. In the end, Rick Blaine's example reawakens Captain Renault's own idealism, and he joins Rick in the Allied resistance.
  • Edge of Darkness: Johann was a follower of the Quisling, having gone over to the Germans in 1940 when they invaded Norway. He regrets it.
  • Many of the former Dead Rabbits in Gangs of New York, but especially Happy Jack Mulraney, who had become one of Bill the Butcher's most valuable men, and whose death marks the return of the Dead Rabbits.
  • Goya's Ghosts: Lorenzo is a complex case. He represents the invading French forces that cruelly oppress the Spanish, but he also represents modern, enlightened ideas in opposition to the Spanish Inquisition whose leaders he persecutes.
  • Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen, has a normally Wiggum-esque police chief become this when the Japanese invade China. Has a last-minute Heel–Face Turn after Ip Man is shot; he kills the Japanese officer who did it and helps the Chinese citizens in fighting the occupying Japanese forces, allowing Ip Man and his family to escape to Hong Kong.
  • Mars Attacks!: When the Martians attack Las Vegas, Joe Weinberg (Danny DeVito) tries to sell out to the Martians, even offering them his watch. The Martians are clearly disgusted with his cowardly betrayal of his own kind, shooting him with a ray that kills him far more slowly and painfully than usual for them.
  • Men Without Wings: Ullmann, the boss of the Czech workers at the airport in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Ullmann is a Sudeten German, one of the ethnic-German Czech citizens who helped destabilize and partition the country in 1938, eventually facilitating the 1939 Nazi takeover. He suspects, but can't prove, that his people are conducting sabotage.
  • The reverse-mole type of Quisling is exemplified by Tom Reagan in Miller's Crossing. Cast out by Irish-mob boss Leo O'Bannon for fooling around with Leo's mistress, he joins up with Johnny Caspar's rising Italian-American gang, but only to take Caspar down from within and save Leo. A Campbellian heroic archetype: To save his own side he sacrifices his honor; this is pointedly an irreversible sacrifice. At the end, Leo invites Tom back into the fold but he can't accept.
  • Two examples from the German film Novembermond: Played straight with a male character who fits the Les Collaborateurs trope, and pretended at by Fèrial to act as The Mole.
  • Red Dawn:
    • The original film has Mayor Bates of Calumet, Colorado, as a reluctant collaborator, especially given that the Soviet and Cuban occupiers are shooting his townspeople in retaliation for the guerrilla actions of the Wolverines. Despite this (or maybe because of it), he turns in his own guerrilla son to the KGB, who force him to turn traitor (for which he gets executed by his friends). It's never shown what, if anything, happens to the Mayor.
    • Likewise in the remake the mayor of Tacoma, Washington is also one, but only because he is entirely concerned for his citizens' own safety and well-being. He doesn't like the invasion, but he knows that the best thing he can do is to make the transition as easy and peaceful for his people as possible. When the time comes that the mayor may end up being killed in a Wolverine operation, the mayor's son apologizes to himself and says that it's for the greater good.
  • Superman II has Lex Luthor join Zod to help him against Superman, asking in exchange for control of Australia.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Dylan and his late father, from whom he inherited the Decepticons as a "client". He actually takes this to confusingly extreme measures, suggesting they kill their Autobot prisoners and fighting tooth and nail for the Cons to win, even though it's pretty clear the Autobots are winning and they don't really care much for his deal with them to begin with so he'd be safer just letting the Autobots win. Then Fridge Brilliance sets in and you realize that he'd rather die than have the Cons lose, because after what he did he'd be considered a war criminal for assisting aliens in enslaving his own species. Comic backstory goes even further, revealing he craves power (to the extent that the look in his eyes reminds Soundwave of Megatron and gives him a measure of respect) and the idea of being the middleman boss to a planet of slaves, answering directly to Megatron is very tempting to him.
  • Kirkland in Troma's War. He gets his.
  • TRON: Legacy: The Administrative Program Jarvis will salute whoever looks to be in power. Finally, Clu has enough of Jarvis and casually de-rezzes him without breaking a stride.
  • Volhynia. The Ukrainian administrator of the village serves the Poles, the Soviets, the Germans, and finally the UPA with the same level of shameless flattery and enthusiasm.

  • "The Vicar of Bray" cheerfully recounts the Vicar's unending deference to whoever is power.
    And this is law, I will maintain
    Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
    That whatsoever King may reign,
    I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!
  • Bill Bailey notes in his song "Insect Nation" that crabs will be the "sideways Quislings" during the inevitable Bug War, joining with the insects despite not being insects. He also adds that the spiders will also side with the insects even though they're not insects either.

  • The Bible:
    • Jeremiah the prophet was considered this by his fellow Israelites when he (or rather, God through the prophet) advised the kingdom of Judah to surrender to the Babylonians so that their lives would be spared and that Jerusalem would not be destroyed. Unfortunately, they ignored his advice, and thus Jerusalem was sacked, and the people were deported to Babylon, where they remained until the time of the Medo-Persian Empire.
    • The Bible often makes a point of how Roman tax collectors are seen as the worst kind of people due to this. And yet even they are not beyond redemption.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Kingdom Adventure: Magistrate Pitts is helping to bring Lumia under Zordock's control, and owes his position as Magistrate to Zordock in the first place.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Paizo Pathfinder campaign, "Rise of the Runelords," Mokmurian, leader of the giants was this to Karzoug as giants were viewed as slaves in ancient Thassilon, not as generals or lords of some sort. This doesn't stop him from doing his level best to wipe out humanity so Karzoug can have lots of souls.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • This is how Chaos cults starts on any world in this game's Crapsack Universe. Each Chaos God promises power in return for loyalty and worship, although the power they grant you is often at a high cost, and most don't survive it. This is why the Inquisition works so hard to root out chaos since there's always one guy who'd want the Dark God's more tangible gifts (as compared to the less pleasant Imperial faith). Chaos being made of demons and evil, they tend to regret it.
    • Also, Gue'vasa is the Tau name for humans who have turned their back on the Imperium of Man to serve the Tau Empire. They are mostly the descendants of Imperial Guardsmen who were abandoned in Tau territory after the Damocles Crusade, but occasionally, Imperial border worlds will rebel against Imperial control and secede to the expanding Tau Empire. This is used in meta to justify skirmish battles between the two factions, as they fight over control over the worlds; the Taros Campaign is a prominent example of this.
    • Herman von Strab, the ex-Military Governor of Armageddon, became this to the Orks of all races when he sided with Ghazghkull Thraka during the Third War for Armageddon, hoping to regain his position after being overthrown due to his incredibly incompetent handling of the Second War for Armageddon. Ghaz kept von Strab around for a while to taunt his Imperial opponents, but eventually tired of it and had von Strab killed.

    Visual Novel 
  • Gnosia has the AC Supporter role, who's human, but is there to HELP the Gnosia (humans infected by the titular virus originating from the entity Gnos) take over the ship by lying their way through, with high stats able to convince someone on the crew is an impostor or talk their way out.
  • Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return introduces Miirage Foster, a Ceran politician campaigning for the position of planetary prime minister on a pro-PACT platform. You know, the faction that conquered Cera seven years earlier and turned its capital city into a glass crater. She wins the election after her only real competition, Ava Crescentia, is removed from the picture, and is shown doing her best to turn the world's population against Kayto Shields (who has spent the entire series fighting to free Cera from its PACT conquerors) at the end of the game. In a twist, Foster genuinely believes the rhetoric that PACT is a force for good in the galaxy and that humankind would be better off under Veniczar Fontana's leadership. Kayto doesn't share her sentiments, and the two view each other as traitors to their homeworld.

  • In d20monkey, Dove tries to win an important Dungeons & Dragons tournament by pledging service to the Big Bad of the adventure and offering Dallas, the only other surviving character, as a sacrifice. When Dallas calls upon a construct of vengeance as retribution for this backstab, Dove tries to pledge himself to it as well, only to be smooshed into a bloody paste instantly without as much as a charisma roll for his attempt.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Captain Vole is a Jagerkin example of this trope; the only one of their kind to utterly discard his loyalty to the Heterodynes to serve Baron Wulfenbach, Vole doesn't consider himself a Jager and seems to relish the idea of destroying what is left of the Heterodynes so the Jagers have no choice but to follow his lead. Because of the friction this causes with the other Jagers (who all serve Wulfenbach while awaiting the Heterodynes' return), Vole has been forcibly assigned to Mechanicsburg — the only town in Europa the Jagerkin cannot enter.
    • See also Doctor Silas Merlot. When Dr. Beetle is killed, Merlot attempts to pose the suggestion to Baron Wulfenbach that no one need know that the well-respected Beetle is kaputski. Unfortunately, the Baron is a little smarter and a bit more principled than most overlords; he despises traitors, and not just because a man willing to change sides that easily certainly can't be trusted to stay loyal to you. Merlot's punishment? He has to run Beetleburg, after the populace has been made aware that Dr. Beetle's death was the direct result of Merlot's petulant theatrics. He doesn't learn, either.
  • Homestuck:
    • Eridan Ampora attempts to become this. He gets as far as murdering Feferi and Kanaya, destroying the Matriorb and blinding Sollux in a duel before Kanaya comes back as a rainbow drinker and dispatches him with her chainsaw.
    • And, as it turns out, Gamzee. He's the only character who hasn't been tricked into following Doc Scratch's plans. (Rose did work with Scratch, but she had no idea what his true plan for her was.)
    • Numerous celebrities become this on Post-Scratch Earth, most notably Insane Clown Posse and Guy Fieri.
  • Tsukiko the necromancer in The Order of the Stick, who joins the Azurite military solely so she can switch sides and help Xykon at the first opportunity. And a couple other prisoners the Paladins released. In retrospect, that was a universally bad decision on their part, as the prisoners seem to all be Chaotic Evil and immediately started looking for ways to join Xykon. Belkar was offered the chance to do so and turned it down solely because he thought it was funnier to throw a cat in Tsukiko's face. Yes, folks, in Dungeons & Dragons, being the Quisling can be a major part of your morality and/or religion!
  • Subverted in Schlock Mercenary: At first the crew of the Cynthetic Certainty think they're dealing with Andromedian residents who have chosen to side with the Pa'anuri. Turns out the Pa'anuri built them, or had the first ones built. And can imprint copies of their minds on their organic robots.
  • In Vattu, the title character encounters another slave who reveres the Sahtan civilization and scorns the fluters that he came from.

    Web Original 
  • Aldrivers, Devourer of Cos: Tony Hawk is this because he sold out humanity to Joan Rivers for "extreme sexual powers".
  • In an article about a computer learning to play "Pong" from EGMi, EGM's digital magazine, the writer of the article said, "I'd like to be the first to welcome our new computer overlords as that's how a lot of apocalyptic science-fiction novels start."
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, during the RtAU arc, where dragons turn most of humanity into Pokémon, Vallok gets some draconic humons to betray their species in return for better treatment, including Benjamin's old classmate Reggie, who now goes by Julkriid.
  • World War II: The show depicts the Trope Namer's attempts to establish a fascist government in Norway, only to be brushed aside by Germany dealing with the legitimate government it has overthrown.

    Real Life 
  • Vidkun Quisling, the real life Trope Namer, was a Norwegian fascist politician. Prior to this, he was known for his humanitarian work in Russia and Armenia with Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen. Nazi Germany invaded Norway on April 9th 1940 and, hoping for an easy capitulation like Denmark the day previous, asked Quisling to form his own government. Quisling attempted to do so, only to find he had no popular support and no one listened to him. The Germans attempted to negotiate support for him with the King of Norway and the government in exile but were flatly refused. He was finally appointed Minister President of Norway in 1942. When Germany lost the war, he was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death by firing squad (did we mention that Norway reinstated the death penalty just for him? No? Well, they did that). The Trope Namer was created in an editorial in The Times in 1940 and quickly picked up by other news agencies and Winston Churchill.
    "To writers, the word Quisling is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor... they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters. Aurally it contrives to suggest something at once slippery and tortuous."
    • Vidkun Quisling's example was actually preceded by that of Artur Seyss-Inquart, who succeeded Kurt Schuschnigg as Chancellor of Austria and held the office for all of two days before handing over control of Austria to Germany in 1938 (the Anschluss). As reward, he was appointed the governor of the newly-created German territory of Austria. Since Austria under his rule was fully on board with the military annexations of Czechoslovakia and Poland, and enthusiastically took part in the Holocaust, after the war Seyss-Inquart was condemned as a war criminal at Nuremberg and executed.
  • The United States has a much older "Quisling" in the form of Benedict Arnold, whose name has become synonymous with "traitor" in American English. As a general in the rebel Continental Army, Arnold performed a number of particularly courageous acts, but a combination of financial troubles and a perceived lack of recognition by his peers convinced him to sell out his comrades to the British. He tried to take a fort (West Point, today the site of the US Military Academy) with him, but his plot failed and he ultimately fled back to Britain. Recent scholarship suggests that Arnold's wife Peggy Shippen Arnold might have instigated the betrayal, though at the time she was cleared of charges. Some also say that there was a religious motive – as a staunch Protestant, he didn't like the idea of the Rebels accepting aid from Catholic France. The famous Boot Monument was erected in honor of his heroism at the Battle of Saratoga, but due to his later betrayal, it is the only US war memorial to exclude any mention of the honoree's name. Instead it simply alludes to his identity by describing his actions and the wound he received (a bullet to the foot, hence his boot being honored rather than the man himself). Historians believe that had he died in that battle, the name "Benedict Arnold" would probably be associated with schools, forts, and warships named in honor of a national war hero.
  • Wang Jingwei, one-time heir to Sun Yat-Sen until Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek asserted himself as the leader of the KMT/GMD with the backing of the military. In 1940 he became President of the Wang Jingwei regime based out of the Japanese-occupied areas of China. His name is considered a byword for supreme treachery to a degree that makes Benedict Arnold's look petty. Fortunately for him, he died of natural causes in '44, though his wife was tried and found guilty of treason at the post-war Nanjing War Crimes trial. To be fair, Wang had good cause to believe that his defection could ensure that the relationship between China and Japan would be one of co-operation and not exploitation. Additionally, the KMT had been forced to stoop to extreme levels to stop the brutal Japanese onslaught. Their "scorched earth" policy, while largely successful, killed hundreds of thousands in a man-made flood and a completely pointless fire. Wang hoped that with Japanese military backing, he could put an end to the war, topple Chiang's military dictatorship and rebuild China. However, the political situation changed as Japan moved to strike out at the Allies and the USA, and he quickly became little more than a puppet. All he could really do from then on was try to limit the worst excesses of the Japanese Army as they bled his country dry. Recent Chinese and Western assessments of Wang helped reinforce this view, and pointed out his important contributions during the Xinhai Revolution. Nowadays, Wang is seen as a pitiable, naive fool within China, rather than a despicable coward.
    • In general, Chinese Quislings are referred to in Chinese as Hanjian. Note that this refers specifically to Chinese traitors (and specially, those who betray China to foreigners, as opposed betraying one Chinese ruler or faction in favor of another); traitors from other countries are referred to with another, more general word.
  • Puyi, the "emperor" of "Manchukuo", the Japanese puppet state in Manchuria. He quickly found he didn't much care for the job and was constantly at odds with the Japanese and their exploitative zaibatsu corporations; the only reason he took it on was that the Japanese wanted a monarchist Quisling to rule the northeast, and he happened to be the only candidate for the job (having previously been the legitimate Qing Dynasty Emperor of China before the Xinhai Revolution). After the war, he was imprisoned by the Soviets, then handed over to Communist China. He was then imprisoned and rehabilitated by them and finally released after ten years, now a very humbled and devoted Communist. He lived out a relatively normal life afterward. He married his fourth wife, wrote his autobiography, and gave interviees before dying of natural causes at the age 61.
  • Pierre Laval, who was The Man Behind the Man to Marshal Pétain in the Vichy French regime, and the reason "Les Collaborateurs" is a French phrase. Laval had been obsessively anti-Nazi and anti-German prior to the fall of France, but afterward decided the Nazis were the inevitable winners and did everything possible to ingratiate himself to them. Formerly a prominent member of the Socialist Party, Laval's defection disgusted the French left-wing to no end, with the socialists chanting "Death to Laval" as a rallying cry, that the rest of France quickly picked up. When France was freed from Nazi rule, both Pétain and Laval were sentenced to death, though Pétain got his sentence commuted to life imprisonment by de Gaulle. Laval, lacking Pétain's record of World War I heroism, advanced age and past friendship with de Gaulle, was given no such mercy.
  • Andrey Vlasov, a former Soviet general who defected to Germany during World War II and founded the collaborationist Russian Liberation Army, is the most infamous example of a pro-German collaborationist from the Soviet Union, to the point that his namesakes (Vlasov is a relatively common surname for Russians) during the Soviet times often noted in their questionnaires that they have no relation with the traitor-general.
  • The Belarusian Central Rada was a collaborator's government made up of Belarusians previously involved in anti-Red/pro-White fighting in the region during the Russian Civil War.
  • In one of the greatest ironies of World War II, Benito Mussolini ended up becoming one himself during the Italian Campaign in the later years of the conflict. Early in the war, he had been the very first fascist dictator to rise to power, eleven whole years before Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, and he'd had plans to carve out a "new Roman Empire" across the Mediterranean, for which he would inevitably need Quislings of his own. However, the Allies and his own monumental incompetence thwarted those plans and in 1943, the Allies singled him out to be the first Axis leader to fall. After the invasion of Sicily, with the Italian people angry and fed up with him, Mussolini was overthrown by King Victor Emmanuel III and General Badoglio, who signed an armistice that effectively saw Italy change sides and join the Allies. The Nazis didn't like that and ordered the troops they had in the country to take Italy back. German commandos freed Mussolini from his prison and he was appointed head of the "Italian Social Republic", or RSI. However, the RSI was just a puppet state for the Nazis, with Mussolini and his fellow Italian fascists now fully subservient to Hitler and the Wehrmacht. He was so hated by his own people that when he was finally recaptured near the end of the war, he was executed by firing squad and his body was unceremoniously strung up in public.
  • Ancient Rome:
    • One of Ancient Rome's favored tactics for conquest was to promise a local chieftain that he would be able to rule as a petty king over the conquered land if he agreed to provide information or troops to the Romans. What made it particularly effective was that the Romans punctiliously kept their word; submit, and Roman armies would protect you from others; don't submit, and the results would be very messy and very bad for you.
    • The Romans created cultural quislings where they would demand the pliant chieftains' sons as "hostages" and ship them to Rome, where they would be treated to the high life and the best Roman culture could give. This resulted in the heirs becoming thoroughly Romanized and converting a previously "barbarian" kingdom into a miniature Rome. It backfired with the Germans, however: instead of Going Native, Cherusci chief Arminius used his Roman military training to plan what became the first successful bid for independence by a Roman territory. Though for the most part, this system worked. Conquered lands became increasingly Romanized over the decades, and Roman citizenship eventually extended almost all residents of the Roman Empire (aside from slaves).
    • The British Empire copied this by setting up British-style schools and universities all over the empire, and by sending the sons of native rulers (and some bright commoners) to Eton and Oxford; this was also the purpose behind the Rhodes Scholarship, set up by colonialist Cecil Rhodes, to educate suitable people and preferably give them an appreciation of the British point of view on world affairs. Nehru, as one of these, was considered "the last Englishman to rule India". Likewise, the native leaders of princely states within The Raj could also be considered this.
  • Ephialtes of Trachis is remembered in Greece in the same way that Quisling is in Norway, and "Ephialtes" has become a synonym for traitor. He betrayed the Hellenites and joined the Persians during the Battle of Thermopylae, showing them a mountain path that allowed the Persian forces to outflank the Spartan and other Hellenic forces that were defending the narrow pass. After the Persians were defeated, the Spartans put a bounty on his head. He was eventually killed in a bar fight by someone who knew nothing of the bounty, but the Spartans tracked the killer down and paid him anyway.
  • Alaa Hussein Ali, Saddam Hussein's puppet leader following the invasion of Kuwait. Prior to the war he had held dual Kuwaiti/Iraqi citizenship. He had grown up in Kuwait and later went to Iraq to study. While there he joined Saddam's ruling political faction, the Baathist Party. Sometime after returning home he joined the Kuwaiti Army and held the rank of lieutenant when the invasion began. But rather than fight the invasion, he latched on to it and was appointed head of the "Republic of Kuwait" puppet regime. However, just one week later Saddam declared Kuwait was now part of Iraq and rewarded Ali by making him Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq. After Kuwait was liberated and Saddam's army utterly devastated by Coalition forces, Ali disappeared. He wasn't seen or heard from until 1998, seven years later, when he turned up in Norway. He returned to Kuwait in 2000 where he was convicted of treason.
  • After the American Civil War, the formerly little-used term "scalawag" (meaning "scoundrel") became widely known as a term of abuse for Southerners allied with the North during the war and Reconstruction.
  • The equivalent term in South Asia (or at least in the Bengal region) is 'Mir Jafar'. Mir Jafar was a courtier and a general in the court of the Nawab of Bengal, Sirajuddowla. He made a pact with Robert Clive of the East India Company and during the historical Battle of Plassey, stood by and did nothing while Sirajuddowla's army was slaughtered by the British Army. This treachery thus led to the beginning of the Company's political domination of India and eventually to the British Raj and 200 years of political, economic, and social domination.
    • The term 'Jaychand' predates the above by about seven hundred years in northern and western Hindi speaking regions. Maharaja Jaychand notoriously refused to send help when the Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan was attempting to repel an invasion by the Afghan Muslim warlord Muhammad Ghori. Jaychand’ s reason for betraying Prithviraj was due to the latter eloping with his daughter. This betrayal resulted In Prithviraj’s death and Ghori gaining a strong foothold for what would eventually become the Muslim conquest of Northern India, culminating in the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • People who suck up to invaders don't always end up condemned by history.
    • Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince who first rose to prominence as a military leader in the aftermath of the Mongol invasions of 1223-1240, winning several victories against invading Catholic armies. Rather than try to fight the Mongols, he did everything he could to placate them. He was successful; Russia ended up with a better deal from the Mongols than they gave to other nations they had invaded and conquered. Today, Alexander Nevsky is considered a national hero of Russia and is a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. In a context, he is more of a rare Heel–Face Turn example.
      • Nevsky's good name derives in part from the fact that the Catholics (the Swedes, Germans, and Poles) were trying to convert the Russians to Catholicism, while the Mongols didn't give a damn what church the Russians were members of so long as they paid tribute.
      • The first few princes of Moscow - starting with Daniel, Alexander Nevsky's youngest son - continued collaborating, and were able to expand their territory and conquer other petty Russian principalities with the approval and sometimes active support of the Mongols. Eventually, the Muscovite state grew strong enough to first break free from Mongol rule and then conquer all the remnants of the Golden Horde.
    • Jose P. Laurel is today mostly known as the president of Japanese puppet government of the Philippines during World War II, but he had an illustrious political career both before and after the war. Although in his case it was actually a subversion because he was basically told to do so by the exiled president, Manuel L. Quezon. He was thus this, Promoted to Scapegoat, The Mole and Mole in Charge.
    • Also in the Philippines, president Emilio Aguinaldo was more of a straight example of this trope, and it actually happened to him twice; first during the Philippine Insurrection, when he surrendered to the Americans and assisted in helping them fight the remaining anti-American resistance, and later during World War II, when he sided with the Japanese and gave a radio speech urging American and Filipino forces to surrender to Japan. In fact, the latter example led Aguinaldo to be lambasted as this by name by the American press.
  • One of the reasons why the beatification of Croatian archbishop Aloysius Stepinac is divisive among Catholics is that he has been accused of being this to the Ustasha, the horrifyingly brutal Nazi-inspired group that ruled Croatia during World War II. His defenders say that he initially welcomed the Independent State of Croatia, but by 1942 he had started to openly condemn the Nazi-aligned state's atrocities against Jews and Serbs, and even spoke against the Ustasha in public, but was unable to do a lot to help the Ustasha's victims.
  • Only the truly famous or infamous are known to history by a single name. One of these is Bessos. Bessos was a Persian nobleman who ruled Sogdia, the largest province in the Persian Empire. After the battle of Gaugamela as the Great King was fleeing to the Persian heartland with Alexander breathing down their necks, Bessos and another nobleman plotted to kill him. This action guaranteed Alexander's victory, which Bessos and his cronies had hoped to be rewarded by Alexander for. Alexander was (depending on the source) either smarter, more honorable, or more idealistic than Bessos realized. Bessos' role in the plot was revealed, and the Sogdians captured him and tied him to a post on the side of a road with a sign reading "this is Bessos the dog" in Greek around his neck. Alexander, for his case only, decided to use the standard Persian punishment for treason: impalement. Normally he employed the somewhat more humane Macedonian punishment of a poisoned arrow. Basically, Bessos is the guy who killed the Achaemenid Empire. Oops.
  • In 1306, English forces besieging Scottish rebels at Kildrummy Castle managed to bribe a royal Scottish blacksmith named Osbourne who, in exchange for all the gold he could carry, set fire to the defenders' food supply. Once the castle was taken, the English, who were disgusted by his greed, melted the gold and poured it down his throat.
  • Believe it or not, some Jews were this to the Nazis during The Holocaust. Adam Czerniakow, head of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Jozef Andrzej Szerynski, chief of ghetto police, were both Polish Jews who chose to suck up to the Nazis to avoid extermination, as were Chaim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz Ghetto, and Moshe Merin, who was in charge of overseeing the deportation of Jews from East Upper Silesia. None of them would survive the war, either by deportation to a concentration camp or suicide.
  • When some Filipinos defend the actions of the Chinese Coast Guard firing a pressurized water hose on a Filipino supply ship on route to BRP Sierra Madre, PCG Spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela have this to say to the nation's traitors.
    "If you are a Filipino, whether in government or private sector, regardless of your politics, defending and making excuses for China’s aggressive behavior should deem you unpatriotic, and a traitor to the Philippines and to our people."

Alternative Title(s): Collaborator Figurehead, Quisling


Hail Ants

And I for one ...

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Main / TheQuisling

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