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Manipulative Bastard / Live-Action TV

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  • Sunny Capaduca on 15/Love. A Child Prodigy and Jerk Jock, Sunny was inevitably able to use her seeming innocence and tremendous financial backing to get her own way. Resident High-School Hustler, Gary "Squib" Furlong was also an effective liar and Con Man; he was opposed for most of the show's run by President Harold Bates who was less of a Dean Bitterman than he was a Stern Teacher/Manipulative Bastard cross.
  • If you want to be a bad guy on 24 you must have a Masters degree in Manipulative Bastardness. They seem to specialize in the Smug Snake and Con Man subtypes, but that show has showcased at least three kinds of every type in its eight seasons.
    • This doesn't just extend to the antagonists, as sometimes the heroes manage to become this as well.
  • Raina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the villain who recruits people to test the super-soldier drugs that currently make them liable to explode. Talking around a guy who she's just had kidnapped was a step up, but she earns her place in this list in the episode "A Magical Place", where she convinces Coulson to co-operate with the Mind Reading Machine to find out how he was brought back from the dead.
  • The Aliens: Lily to a tee. She's constantly manipulating people around to get her way. Usually this involves playing on men's desire for her, but not always. Antoine seems to be the only one who sees through this, and he won't go for it.
  • Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development starts off like this. By the end, it's clear she's also a Chessmaster.
    • Same with her husband, George Bluth; he's been coming up with plans to manipulate his family before he got detained in the first episode. However, most of his plans fell short due to his family's utter incompetence, and their gambit pileups leading to very unpredictably farcical situations.
  • Arrow, despite being somewhat of a newborn series, has already dished out at least three of these:
    • In Season 1 we had Malcom Merlyn, who was able to control a cabal of Corrupt Corporal Executives by blackmailing them and threatening to kill their loved ones. And he was a psychologically abusive father.
    • In Season 2, Sebastian Blood manages to get the support of most of Starling City and run for mayor, and fools cast into believing he's a honest, good-willed activist, while at the same time being in charge of a cult of devoted servants. The only one who doesn't trust him is Laurel, and he uses her drug problems to make everyone, Laurel herself included, believe she's just crazy paranoid.
    • Finally, Professor Ivo was able to play Sara like a violin, putting on a "poor misunderstood scientist" facade, and assuring her that everything he does is for the betterment of the human race. When Sara calls him out on killing Shado, however, the mask slips off.
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  • Ascension (Miniseries): Viondra Denniger, who is not above using her social position as the captain's wife and her official post of Chief Steward as a power broker.
  • In Ashes to Ashes (2008), Jim Keats, who is also a Corrupter and a Chessmaster starts out as a hugely successful one, turning the CID team against Gene Hunt. He's actually Satan incarnate — or at the very least, a high-level minion — and it's been his plan to shatter the Purgatory that Gene's created and used to help troubled coppers. Unfortunately, his manipulation of Alex doesn't quite counteract her loyalty and affection for Gene, and everyone crosses over, preserving the order of things.
  • Mr. Morden from Babylon 5 is this, and by extension, the Shadows as a whole. The Vorlons could also be considered this. Come to think of it, quite a few characters in the series could be considered this.
  • Evil! Will Wheaton from The Big Bang Theory once broke up the Official Couple to win a bowling match.
  • Blackadder, in his later incarnations, can be very skilled at this. He tends to take this route when dealing with each series's wealthiest or most powerful Upper-Class Twit (Prince George, especially, but also Queenie and General Melchett). Mostly, though, he prefers to lie, cheat, scheme, and use his skills instead.
    • Another example is Philip of Burgundy from the first season finale. He assists Edmund in collecting together the band of villains that will seize the crown, then manipulates them into turning against Edmund so as to seize the crown himself.
  • Breaking Bad
    • Walter White slowly becomes more manipulative to everyone around him, but mostly to Jesse, through a variety of ways. He manipulates criminals he runs into by promising them he can make more money for them, he mostly lies and plays the victim for his family, and he uses Jesse's "Well Done, Son" Guy problems to get him to do whatever Walt wants.
    • Walt's wife, Skyler, has shades of this as well: she fakes labor to get out of being arrested when she is mistaken for a shoplifter (who was actually her own sister, Marie), fakes a panic attack and asthma to get a locksmith to let her into Walt's condo, and plays to Walt's Pride to get him on board with buying out the car wash owned by Walt's former employer.
    • Gus Fring was able to convince the entire south coast that he was an upstanding citizen that ran a chain of fast food chicken joints and a dry cleaners. He often gave money to community causes, especially those that dealt with law enforcement, while at the same time, he was in control of a vast criminal empire. Walter White even picked up a thing or two by studying him, even though Walter saw him as a dangerous enemy.
  • Buffyverse:
    • The raison d'etre — his love of torturing people, both physically and emotionally — of the sadistic vampire Angelus from Buffy and Angel:
    Angel: I couldn't take my eyes off [the victims]. I was only in it for the evil. It was everything to me. It was art. The destruction of a human being.
    • Though he rarely makes use of it, Angel is still dangerously capable in this regard.
    • Also, Holtz, Holland Manners, possessed Cordelia, Lindsey in the fifth season appears to have picked up a couple of Holland Manners' tricks, well let's just say that Angel liked this sort of character.
    • Spike had whole episode in Season 4 where he exploited the Scooby Gang's emotional shortcomings to drive them apart. He made a deal with Adam to get the chip out of his head.
    • Whistler in Season 9 of Buffy.
    • Twilight manipulates its own birth.
    • Simone is first seen in Season 9 driving a van loaded with guns, before the focus shifts to a former Vampire Vannabe who had been killing vamps then sets his sights on Buffy because of her Nice Job Breaking It, Hero actions. To cut a very long story short: the police shoot him, he turns out to have survived in the hospital where we discover Simone had sent him. She manipulates the AI personality Andrew placed into the real Buffy's body into fighting the real Buffy, who was in a robot body, and she manipulates Xander into helping her to save Dawn's life.
  • Ansen Fullerton of Burn Notice certainly takes the cake among the other manipulators Michael has dealt with. He plays Michael like a fiddle for half of a season, using a mixture of passive-aggressive emotional bullying, blackmail, and hints of the answers Michael has been seeking.
    • Also, Tom Card, who has Ansen shot, with Michael's brother being collateral damage and nearly sucessfully manipulates Michael into walking straight into a trap. When Michael figures out the truth and tries to turn the tables on Card, the latter calmly shoots his Dragon (whom Michael subverted) and talk to Michael while planting evidence that it's all self-defense. He almost succeeds in getting Michael to join him... then Michael shoots him in the head.
  • In Charmed, there is Cole Turner, who unbeknownst to the sisters throughout Season 3 (but immediately to the audience), is the evil demon bounty hunter, Belthazor. Prue has her suspicions but nothing is confirmed until the mid-season finale. Then again in Season 4 when Cole is possessed by the source in the mid-season finale. Paige catches on, but Cole/The Source uses various tricks to make her question her own sanity. In both cases, Prue and Paige are the Only Sane Women
    • Christy Jenkins is revealed to be working for The Triad in Season 8 and manipulates her sister, Billie, in to turning against the Charmed ones.
  • Brenda Johnson on The Closer, to a certain extent. She's an expert at getting the guilty party to confess to their crimes, but getting that confession often takes manipulation and outright lying on Brenda's part.
  • Community: Jeff, though his skills started failing him right around when he came to Greendale.
    • The study group seemed to start figuring out his tricks.
      Jeff: How can I convince Senor Chang to do anything if I can't even convince you to not make me?
      Group: Ah yeah that makes sense...
      Troy: Wait a minute, he's convincing us!
    • Abed is another example. Although he is far more endearing than Jeff due to being not as clearly manipulative as the other, Abed will sometimes see himself in the right to play and mess with the life of his friends for the sake of living his homages and TV references like he wants to, such as pushing a relationship between Britta and Jeff on Season 2 just so he can make a romantic episode.
  • Both Patty and Ellen in Damages. It's especially fun when they're trying to do it to each other.
  • Dark Desire: Esteban is eventually revealed to be one of these. He first manipulated people to think Darío killed Brenda, then Leonardo, all while being the real bad guy, with nearly everyone thinking that he was on their side the whole time.
  • Dawson's Creek:
    • Capeside High bully Abby Morgan and sexually perverted marina boss Rob Logan, who repeatedly made lewd advances at Joey.
    • Robbing a van is nothing compared to getting a guy to pull out a gun in public and shoot a well-known actor. Go ahead, talk about how hypnosis can't get normal people to kill after this. All you have to do is convince them they're not shooting at people but at targets on a gun range.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor in general tends to have shades of this, with the degree varying from incarnation to incarnation. However, the Seventh Doctor has this as his hat among the Doctors, with his speciality being manipulating villains into melting down and self-destructing — indeed, he was so good at this, he tricked Davros into blowing up Skaro.
      • The Tenth Doctor noted this somewhat bitterly towards the end of his life, regarding his tendency to shape others in his own image and them performing Heroic Sacrifices: "I've taken lives. And I got worse; I manipulated other people into taking their own."
    • "School Reunion": Mr. Finch, the leader of a group of aliens looking to become gods, nearly talks the Doctor into joining him by turning the Doctor's snarky question "What, the whole of creation with the face of Mr Finch?" and telling him how much good it could do... if wielded by the Doctor ("The Paradigm would give us power, but you could give us wisdom"). When Sarah Jane intervenes, he changes track at the speed of light, using a snapshot of information to get right under her skin. Remarkably, it very nearly works, and would have if not for Sarah Jane's emotionally heartfelt speech about how you have to move on.
    • The Daleks in "Victory of the Daleks" are a bit of this, as they trick the Doctor into helping them rebuild their race.
  • Dollhouse: Alpha, full stop. Sent information about the Dollhouse to Ballard, causing him to write up a whole conspiracy about it and get him in on the case, culminating in Ballard sneaking in Alpha (who was posing as Stephen Kepler, a designer of the Dollhouse), all to get to Echo. He also showed signs of this as he uploaded Sierra with a mind virus that would spread to any other Doll who sat in the mindwiping chair after and Alpha activated it when he let go of Adelle as his hostage, resulting in the Dolls currently in the Dollhouse violently attacking their handlers while he looked on and chuckled to himself. The Berserk Mode the Dolls were in lasted even after Alpha's defeat, up until they were given a specific codeword (or tased, either way
  • Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey, although admittedly his schemes backfire most of the time.
  • Megan of Drake & Josh raised the bar to Olympic-worthy standards before hitting her teens.
  • Elementary's Moriarty, also known as Irene Adler. Manages to construct an alternate identity apparently for the sole sake of getting Sherlock to fall in love with her, and is completely successful at it — and would probably have continued to be completely successful at it if Sherlock hadn't noticed a missing mole on her back. Sherlock and Watson are no slouches at being Manipulative Bastards themselves, and when Watson notices Moriarty is actually genuinely in love with Sherlock, this proves her undoing, at least for now. For an added bonus, she is portrayed by the same actress as the above Margaery Tyrell.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond has Ray's mom, Marie, who manipulates the family by being passive-aggressive and guilt-tripping them into doing her bidding. She always manages to make Ray and Robert feel guilty and do her bidding as a result, and also apparently knows enough embarrassing information about each family member to keep them in line. Her daughter-in-law Debra, with whom she has an antagonistic relationship, is also a manipulative bitch within her household in the sense that she's constantly bullying Ray, and often goads him into fighting her battles for her whenever she's in conflict with another person, even when Ray himself thinks everyone should just try to get along; also in one episode she manipulates Robert as part of a larger scheme to make Ray quit his volunteering post at a hospital just because she wants him to do more chores around the house.
  • Steve Urkel on Family Matters has his moments. Moreso in later seasons. He'll often try to pull a guilt trip on Laura when he doesn't get his way with her. He often tries to force love on her. Though he's not quite a bastard all the time.
  • Firefly:
    • Jubal Early.
    • Saffron/Bridget/Yolanda is a tremendous straight example in her first appearance, but almost counts as a deconstruction of just how messed up this character type would have to be during her appearance in "Trash".
    • River is a bit more playful in how she does this to other crewmembers, but she turns it into a rather deadly game of manipulation when she chats up the aforementioned Jubal Early.
  • Fraggle Rock: "Convincing John can convince anyone to do anything!"
  • Game of Thrones.
    • Margaery Tyrell. In a setting filled with Smug Snakes and Obviously Evil conspirators, she manages to not only entice Joffrey into falling for her but also win over the greater public (who had previously been almost murderous in their hate for the king) through little more than being observant and playing her role as a kind, selfless, beautiful woman very, very well.
    • Ramsay. He pretended to be an Ironborn spy sent by Yara to break her brother Theon out of captivity and help him escape, only to lead Theon back to the Dreadfort to be tortured again.
    • Jaime tries his hand at this with Locke and loses it. Afterwards, he edges more towards Guile Hero territory. He goads Randyll Tarly to go against Olenna Tyrell by pointing out that she is siding Daenerys, who has a Dothraki horde in her army, and promises Tarly the Wardenship of the South if he remains loyal to the Crown. Of course, Jaime omits the real reason of Olenna's decision to join Daenerys: avenging her family who had been burned to death by Cersei.
  • Many of the villains on the Batman prequel show Gotham are this:
    • Ra's Al Ghul is behind the Court of Owls, a shadowy secret society that has controlled the power structure of Gotham for generations, and gives them instructions on how to carry out his plans for Gotham through intermediaries so no one knows he is directing any of their actions. He is also able to convince a young Bruce Wayne to kill him at one point, even though Bruce is already vehemently opposed to killing criminals, by telling him that if he doesn't, he'll come back and kill any family he has in the future just when he thinks that they're safe. (Ra's needs Bruce to kill him, because he's an immortal who wants to die, but can't because no one can kill him except Bruce, his prophesied heir. After he is resurrected, he is able to convince Jeremiah Valeska to work with him by bonding over their mutual obsession with Bruce, even though Jeremiah was recently betrayed by his previous allies and not very inclined to trust people.
    • This is one of the things that makes Jeremiah so dangerous, as well. His efforts to get Bruce to see him as either his best friend or his greatest enemy go to the extent of gaslighting and mind rape, and at one point, he even uses Scarecrow's fear toxin on him in order to force him to embrace the darkness within himself just like Jeremiah did after being exposed to insanity toxin. He is also an extremely talented actor who is capable of convincing people that he is much more innocent than he actually is in order to manipulate both enemies and allies.
    • His brother Jerome tends to attract followers because he is a charismatic, hilarious psychopath who gives already unbalanced people an excuse to embrace their worst instincts, but like the Joker in the Dark Knight, he plays mind games with people because he wants to prove that everyone is just as evil as he is. He also is good enough at understanding people to convince a group of unstable, powerful villains with their own agendas to help him with his plans, and realized one of his allies would betray him and planned for that, as well.
    • Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter, of all people, is this. Not only can he use his compelling voice to force people to do things they don't want, but he is good at playing mind games with people, and at one point set up an elaborate plot of revenge against Gordon.
    • Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, toppled three crime families primarily due to his ability to manipulate people, make key allies, and then backstab them at opportune times.
    • The Riddler, despite the fact that his other personality, Ed, seems to lack social skills to the point that it makes him an outcast at work, has moments of this. When he gets sent to Arkham, for the first time, he easily handles his fellow patients by solving their personalities much like he would a riddle (unlike Oswald, who is much better at manipulating sane people than he is at manipulating patients at Arkham, possibly because he's not actually insane).
    • Theo Galavan manipulates his way into becoming the mayor of Gotham, for awhile, by appearing to save people from Jerome, an insane murderer-turned-terrorist that he broke out of Arkham in the first place. He also cruelly manipulates a young Bruce Wayne in order to convince him to sign his company over to him.
  • Joanna of Hell's Kitchen Season 3 attempted this and failed badly. She tried to convince Melissa to not nominate her in the first episode and tried to convince Ramsey that taking Spaghetti from the top of the rubbish and reboiling it is somehow worse than actively trying to get away with serving rissoto with rancid crab in it. It didn't work either.
  • Angela Petrelli, Sylar, and Adam Monroe of Heroes. Nathan subverts this trope as his manipulations usually wind up blowing up in his face.
  • Methos from Highlander: The Series is this. He has a habit of teaching Duncan hard lessons about morality and life by tricking and manipulating him. At one point, he also acts as a mole while pretending to join a group of evil immortals in order to stop them, which he is only able to convincingly do because he actually used to be one of them. He pretends to betray Duncan in order to convince Kronos, the leader of the group, that he's on his side again, and when Kronos starts to get suspicious about his loyalties anyway, still manages to convince him that he's a wild card with no real loyalties who will go with the winner. Kronos, being entirely self-serving, admires this attitude, and so he is completely caught off guard when Methos sides with Duncan in the end in order to stop his former friend.
  • From House, the main character Dr. Gregory House. He tricks his patients into highly risky medication or procedures, as well as manipulating colleagues/superiors for various purposes (chief among which is getting a Vicodin prescription).
    Rodney Foreman: My son says you're a manipulative bastard.
    Dr. House: It's just a pet name. I call him Doctor Bling.

    Dr. Cuddy: Don't you think this is a little manipulative?
    Dr. House: No. I think it's hugely manipulative.
    • In "Poison" House brutally manipulates a sick high school student's mother for half the episode, then, after the boy is treated and is leaving the hospital his mother stops to mention to House and Foreman that the CDC called her again. Oops indeed. When she catches back up to her son being wheeled out by Cameron we get this gem.
      Matt: Who were those guys?
      Matt's Mother: Oh, they're the arrogant jerks that saved your life.
    • Dr. James Wilson knows how to manipulate people too, sometimes seeming to be the only one who can manipulate House.
      House (to Wilson): You manipulative bitch.
    • House's facial expression and tone of voice clearly indicated this was his way of complimenting Wilson!
  • Rufus from House of Anubis, mostly in the first season where he tricked Patricia into trusting him in order to get close to Joy and the Cup of Ankh.
    • Jerome has a reputation for this as well, even after he Took a Level in Kindness.
    • Mara also showed shades of this when she was getting revenge on Jerome for cheating on her, mostly by forcing Joy to pretend to love him in order to later break his heart.
    • Frobisher-Smythe of Season 3 managed to out-class everyone when he managed to trick Eddie and KT into helping them unleash Ammut, with one of the most effective gambits on the show.
    • Vera and Miss Denby weren't exactly slackers as well, managing to trick the students into thinking they were just a good housemother/good teacher respectively, in order to fulfill their goals. Vera managed to convince everyone that Mara's article on her was completely false, and she also manipulated Victor into trusting her when she was really allied with Rufus the entire time. Denby tricked KT into thinking she had turned good, she tricked Patricia into believing Eddie cheated on her, and convinced everyone that she was the true Keeper rather than her crazy stepsister.
    • Mr. Sweet of all characters got in on this in Season 3 as well, manipulating Eddie into giving him the bracelet and doing it masterfully.
  • Barney from How I Met Your Mother is a self-described "master of manipulation" who mainly uses his manipulative powers to seduce women; on more than one occasion, he's actually convinced women that the fate of the world depends on them having sex with him. He's also played plenty of mind games on his friends, going so far as to spend five years using Pavolovian conditioning on Marshall, all so he could win a bet he hadn't even made yet.
  • Virgil "Web" Webster from the short lived crime drama The Inside ruthlessly preys on the psychological flaws of other people with a chilling indifference, often drawing comparisons to the very criminals he pursues.
  • JAG: Loren Singer will gladly do anything short of actual criminal behavior to advance her Naval career. Even if it risks getting people disbarred (Mac), divorced (Bud), or humiliated (Bud, Harriet, Harm).
  • Long in Juken Sentai Gekiranger. And in spades, I might add. In fact, come to think of it, calling him this is putting it mildly.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The main antagonist of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, Xaviax, hands out Kamen Rider equipment to people, then manipulates them to fight his enemies.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: For Parado, this mostly comes along with being The Corrupter of The Hero. Well, trying to be. When Good Is Not Dumb, it's no easy work. Still, he manipulated Emu through his distress several times and also managed to use Kuroto's ego against him to futher his own plans. Emu is not so bad himself, but he detests exploiting his knowledge of people as he prefers to leave them to their own free will. He may make an exception. He saved a patient by stroking his surgeon colleague's perfectionist ego and pushed Parado from Hazy-Feel Turn into Heel–Face Turn by exploiting his fear of death.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O tries to be a Guile Hero, but part of his character development is realizing that manipulating other people comes so naturally to him that he's actually this trope instead, and it's part of what's going to cause him to grow up into an Evil Overlord if he doesn't get it under control.
  • Kings:
    • Queen Rose. Her Manipulative Bitch wonderfully compliments Silas's Magnificent Bastardry.
    • Katrina Ghent tries hard for Manipulative Bitch status, and almost gets it when she blackmails Rose into almost ruining the reputation of either Jack or Michelle and then turns around and proposes to Jack, poised to become the next queen. Shame about that trip to Osteria.
  • Sophie from Leverage has this as her job description. Nate is good at this as well.
    • Sterling is Nate's Evil Counterpart, although the fact that Nate is a criminal and Sterling is an Interpol agent, he may actually be a Good Counterpart.
  • Lost:
    • As the page quote suggests, Benjamin Linus beats out the majority of the other characters on this page. He has only shown a genuine facial expression in some episode of the series, as when his daughter is shot by a Psycho for Hire. He's manipulated almost the entire cast at some point or another, and they only continue to even pay attention to him because he convinces them to. He actually spends most of the first part of Season 4 tied up and constantly being hit by angry people, but he manages to talk his way out of it.
      Alex: "That's what my father does — he manipulates people. He makes you think it's your idea but it's his."
    • Ben Linus's lancer Juliet isn't anywhere near Ben's level, but she plays Jack Shepard like a fiddle for a good part of Season 3 until she undergoes a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Sawyer is manipulative of his fellow survivors in early seasons. For example, he claimed to be in possession of Shannon's asthma medication and promised to hand it over for a kiss from Kate: it is revealed after the kiss that he never had the medication in the first place.
    • Michael's ex-girlfriend and mother of his son pressures him into agreeing to let her wake Walt when she starts moving around the world for work. When Michael tries to stop her by going to the court Susan's lawyers twist everything to make it look like he was willingly absent from his son's life.
  • Lucifer: For all that Lucifer is painted by religion as a manipulator it's actually his twin brother Michael who's the expert at getting people to do what he wants. He provoked Lucifer into the original act of rebellion that led to his Fall so he could take over as God's Number Two. Apparently even that didn't satisfy him, as he subsequently gaslit God into thinking he was suffering Power Incontinence and needed to retire.
  • The L Word: Jenny starts becoming this in Season 5, starting by seducing the girlfriend of a reporter who'd trashed her memoir to prove she's not really so saintly as made out. To this end, she does things such as get an old dog to garner sympathy from the woman (a vet) as he needs euthanasia, and tricks the reporter off on a fake interview.
  • Melrose Place:
    • Chris Marchette, Jane's Aussie business partner/boyfriend who bullies, violates, and ultimately abducts sister Sydney to Vegas.
    • Dennis and Marilyn Carter, parents of Jo's ex, Reed, who obtain custody of her unborn child.
    • Brooke Armstorng, who wooed and married Billy, taunted blind Alison, found out about Amanda's past...only to wind up destitute and dead.
    • Richard Hart, Jane's fellow fashion designer lover, who then dumped her for Jo, stole Jane's designs as his own, beat and raped her, and ultimately stalked her from beyond the grave.
  • Hightower, the new boss on The Mentalist, shows signs of this in her very first episode. She politely and cheefully informs Patrick Jane that as far as she's concerned, he's an asset to the CBI and if he screws up with one of his stunts, no problem. She'll can Lisbon, who she immediately realizes he cares for deeply, instead. And despite what she says, she subtly gets Lisbon out of an interrogation, leaving the suspect alone, because she knows odds are Jane will try something, and she wants to give him the opportunity to see if he can succeed before the man's lawyer gets him out of custody. Jane, himself a card-carrying manipulative bastard, is suitably impressed.
  • Agravaine in Merlin. Not many people can talk their way out of holding a knife to someone's throat.
    • Morgana. She manipulated Uther for quite a while until openly betraying him. She also brought Lancelot back from the dead to break up Arthur and Guinevere's wedding.
  • Never Have I Ever: Devi, to a minor degree, Played for Laughs. When Fabiola hears her plans for upgrading their status in school, she calls Devi a sociopath. Devi responds that sociopaths get things done.
  • Stephen Fisher, Tim McInnerny's Home Office official in New Tricks, who amuses himself by maneuvering the team into doing what he wants, in at least one case by making them believe he wanted the exact opposite.
  • Guy from Noah's Arc, who bit by bit manipulate Alex, Trey, and Alex's friends in an attempt to get Alex out of the picture and be with Trey. His plan is effective enough that at one point even Noah, Ricky and Chance (Alex's closest friends) are questioning Alex's credibility.
  • Odd Squad:
    • Most, if not all of the Enfant Terribles seen on the show are manipulative to some extent, but Odd Todd is easily one of the best examples in the entirety of the show. Being a former Odd Squad agent, he knows exactly how to dig under his enemies' skin to further his own goals, especially Olive, who was his former partner. In "O is Not For Over", he preys on Otto's emotions following his partner being promoted to the Management position and being given her own precinct to run and encourages him to pull a Face–Heel Turn and join him. It seems like it works too, only for Otto to later reveal that he came to terms with the change and was a Fake Defector.
    • Ohlm, the Big Bad of Season 2, also deserves a special mention. He manages to fool not only Olive and Otto, but also Olympia, Otis, Oona and even Oprah simply by way of Obfuscating Stupidity.
    • On the heroes' side, Orchid is by far the most manipulative. Her most impressive display of manipulation is in "Hands on a Desk Chair", when she tricks her six opponents into taking their hands (and feet) off of Oprah's desk chair so she can take the Director's place while she leaves on a secret mission. She has nearly everyone, bar Oprah, on crosses and strings, and it's partially why she's known as The Dreaded to most.
    • In "Slow Your Roll", Opal ends up using some manipulative tactics in order to get her teammates to join her and save the van that's essentially become a home from being driven into the Lake of Goo. She attempts to invoke memories of the various things the Mobile Unit did in the van so they'll be inspired to take action instead of living in resignation that the vehicle will be destroyed. Works for Omar and Orla, but fails for Oswald (at least at first).
    • Even Oprah isn't above being manipulative at times when brute strength (both verbal and physical) won't get the job done. "Mr. Unpredictable" features a minor example of this, with her playing a game with the Mobile Unit in which the person to correctly guess what odd problem she's calling them about will receive a free juice box from her. None of the four agents guess correctly, and once she declares herself the winner, Oswald mutters that "she always wins this game" — which is a fair observation, given that there are numerous oddities in the world of the show that she could be referring to.
  • Once Upon a Time
    • Rumpelstiltskin seems to have everyone dancing to his tune.
    • Regina also has some skill in this direction, when she doesn't simply take the sledgehammer approach.
    • Regina's mother, Cora, makes it plain where she gets it from.
    • It seems this trait runs in the family as Zelena displays it as well.
  • Oz has Chris Keller who is obsessed with controlling and manipulating others and is recruited by Vern Schillinger to seduce Beecher for the express purpose of breaking his heart (and arms and legs). Also, Ryan O'Reilly who pits the various gangs and cliques within Oz against each other for the purposes of surviving.
  • Person of Interest: Root. She's good enough to manipulate the characters who know she's going to try to manipulate them. As Finch once said, she hacks people as easily as she hacks computers.
  • Fletcher in Porridge excels at this, viewing it as the "moral" option (at least when compared to violence). That he's a housebreaker rather than a con-artist is a wonder for the ages. In the second proper episode, he has Ives dancing to his tune the entire time.
  • Editor Lynda Day from Press Gang. To quote her best friend Sarah after one of Lynda's finest moments of manipulation: "Can you explain to me how I just argued myself into doing what you wanted me to do in the first place? You are a devious, unfeeling, calculating, manipulative bitch!" Lynda's reply: "Well, you were asking what made me a better choice for editor."
  • Jim Profit and Bobbi Stakowski of Profit. LIKE WHOA. There's a reason Profit is where he's at in life despite being raised in a box: he finds your deepest weakness and exploits it. This can range from nudging the boss's wife into an affair with him to his psychological torture of Joanne in "Healing". As for Bobbi? Well, where do you think Jim got it from?
  • Scandal: Everyone in the show qualifies as this. Justified Trope, because the show takes place in Washington, D.C., where the rich and powerful perform politics daily.
  • Scream (TV Series): The Ghostfaces are both manipulative towards Emma in different ways.
    • Piper Shaw pretends to be friendly with Emma, but in reality plays mind games with her as Ghostface. Additionally, she misleads Emma into believing that other people are the culprits, namely Seth Branson and Kieran Wilcox. Piper later mocks Emma for falling for her misdirection.
    • The aforementioned Kieran Wilcox gaslights Emma as Ghostface, while pretending to be a loyal romantic interest to her, and a part of her circle of friends, in addition to planning their eventual demises. Furthermore, he blackmails Audrey regarding her affair with Piper.
  • Sherlock
    • Jim Moriarty. Moriarty is an infamous character, but his Manipulative Bastard status get bumped up in this incarnation. He's no longer the nonchalant professor, but now is a "consulting criminal" who has just as much power and influence over people, if not more, than Mycroft. What really makes him a Manipulative Bastard? Our Sherlock Holmes is no longer quite as stoic as previous incarnations and has a co-dependent relationship with his only friend John, whom Moriarty, in "The Great Game", kidnaps and straps a bomb to before forcing him to confront Sherlock, pretending to be Moriarty himself. . In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty manages to make everyone in the show, sans Mrs. Hudson, Molly, and John believe that Sherlock is a fraud who created Moriarty by hiring an actor named Rich Brook to play the villain. What really takes the cake, the thing that really sends Sherlock into his Heroic BSoD, is threatening to assassinate John (and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson) unless Sherlock flings himself to his death off a building. Moriarty then shoots himself, leaving Sherlock with no choice but to fake suicide. While John is watching. Like Shakespeare's Iago, Moriarty does it all because he's bored. Everything he does, from kidnapping children and poisoning them with mercury to threatening to skin people and turn them into shoes is an exercise in terror.
      • And, according to Word Of God, it's possible that Moriarty somehow survived eating his gun, although he won't be a major character in the third season.
    • Irene, although she's not nearly as much of a bastard as Moriarty. Her biggest bastard moments include making John extremely jealous and faking her own death.
    • In the first episode, Sherlock seems Oblivious to Love when Molly asks him out for coffee. In the next episode, he deliberately manipulates her feelings for him to get what he wants.
    • Sherlock himself definitely shows traces of this on his return in the third series, in particular getting John to believe that he can't stop the bomb, he hasn't called the police, and they will surely die below London He begs for forgiveness, complete with quavering voice and tears. And having received John's forgiveness as he reconciles himself to their deaths Sherlock laughs and turns it into a Did You Actually Believe...? moment. .
  • Tony in Skins (Seasons 1 and 2). Overlaps with True Art Is Angsty, which is lampshaded in his speech to Sid, where he tells him that he is a Manipulative Bastard to liven things up.
  • Smallville has Lionel Luthor and his son Lex. Then there's Brainiac who uses Clark, Bizarro, and Lex with the greatest of ease, and Tess Mercer and Major Zod who spend the whole ninth season trying to use one another for their own ends. And that's without counting Lex's various clones (including the very creepy Alexander), or Earth-2 Lionel, or the various telepaths.
  • Star Trek: Discovery:
    • The show gives us Gabriel Lorca, who has been planning his grand return to the Terran Empire for at least a year, managing to successfully impersonate his Prime double to the point where an ex-lover simply assumed he had PTSD and manipulate the events to get command of the USS Discovery and bring the convicted mutineer Michael Burnham (the Prime double of his dead lover) aboard. He then pretends to be himself in order to be placed in an agony booth of the Imperial flagship, right next to his former crew, still loyal to him. This allows him to stage a coup. He is nearly successful in becoming the next Terran Emperor.
    • There's also the Magnificent Bitch in the form of Emperor Phillipa Georgiou, who convinces Starfleet brass to give her temporary command of the Discovery, while pretending to be he own deceased double, even brushing up on the Prime!Georgiou's biography. In the end, she receives a full pardon and is free to go about her business.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock's fiancee, T'Pring. She waits until Spock is half-mad with hormones and then forces a Xanatos Gambit on him.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Section 31. Enough said.
  • Just about every demon on Supernatural. Even Crowley in Season 5 — who's helping the Winchesters without being overly manipulative — is still pulling deals with random mooks on the side. And then there's Season 6 (where he manipulated an ally of the Winchesters into going crazy and opening a Can that turned out to have an Evil Sealed in it), Season 7 (where he was the only "game piece on the board" to get out of the finale ahead of where he went in), and Season 9 (where he barely had to do anything to pull off his plan, despite starting the Season a prisoner). He always has both a long-term goal and a plan for getting there. The crossroad demons, Azazel, and Ruby all pull off impressive displays of manipulative bastardry. Even Meg has her moments — encouraging the boys to split up, for example — although she seems to lack the patience or psychological insight to be as good at this as the others. Maybe she just got found out too soon.
    • And, playing (sorta) for the other team, the Trickster/Gabriel. I know! Let's kill a guy who's doomed anyway just to teach his brother a lesson! And now let's do it a hundred more times and make the last one stick for six months!
    • Zachariah, who will shunt you into a post-Apocalyptic future to convince you to allow yourself to be possessed. Fun times.
  • Any reality show is going to have at least one of these in the cast. Richard Hatch from Season 1 of Survivor is an example.
  • The final villain of Tensou Sentai Goseiger turns out to be this. It's how Buredoran was on all three villain groups. He got all possible knowledge from each group and added them to his already incredible power. After he gains all necessary knowledge from a group, They Have Outlived Their Usefulness. He reveals after the defeat of the third group that he was once the ultimate Gosei Angel named Brajira but was condemned by other Gosei Angels, prompting him to time travel into the future and wipe out the corrupt humans and angels, manipulating all of the groups and, in some cases, the Goseigers themselves to become the only villain left.
    • The Power Rangers Megaforce counterpart, Vrak, is also this. In a bid to impress his father, Emperor Mavro of the Armada, Vrak sets off a series of complicated schemes, starting with his alliance with the Warstar and the Toxic Mutants, as well as the robots he built himself. He ultimately used those three groups as cannon fodder for the rangers. And when Super Megaforce hits, his plans are even more manipulative. While Vrak pulled the same You Have Outlived Your Usefulness schtick like Buredoran/Brajira did, he comes off as worse than his Japanese counterpart — as he lets his own brother, Prince Vekar, die at the hands of the rangers first. All the while, he powers himself up for his final, invincible form without the Armada's knowledge. And it doesn't stop there. He drains Orion's life force, disables Super Mega Mode powers, and plans to destroy Earth by using three huge drills that are powered by the Super Mega Mode powers. He also turns the then-missing Robo Knight against the poor rangers by using Orion's life force. And in what can be called the ultimate culmination of his complicated schemes, he manipulates his two last monsters into being his last cannon fodder for him, absorbing the rangers' attacks and turning them into the last two drills needed for his ultimate goal to come to fruition.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron proves to be very capable when it comes to making people react how she wants. She can alternate between being innocent, friendly, and disarming to cold, dangerous, and intimidating with ease, and more than once has used her physical body and complete inability to be creeped out or embarrassed to manipulate others.
  • Tidelands (Netflix):
    • Adrielle has a tendency to emotionally blackmail or otherwise manipulate people for her own benefit.
    • Violca manipulates constantly, pushing people by various means to act as she wants in furtherance of her schemes.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Klaus. He is cunning, calculating, and sociopathic.
    • Katherine is sociopathic, cunning, and always has an agenda.
  • Press Secretary CJ Cregg from The West Wing is on a national (often even global) scale: her job is to play the White House press corps, the American news media, the heads of state of every other nation, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the DNC, the RNC, the DOD, the DOJ, all of K Street, every political organization and interest group in Washington, and the American public in general like a banjo. However, she is never this towards her friends or colleagues, and is in fact one of the bluntest and most straightforward advice-givers in the White House.
  • Why Women Kill: Jade is slowly revealed to be one, manipulating Eli and Taylor to drive them apart, then kill both. Beth Ann also turns into one, seeking revenge for Rob's adultery. She later manipulates a neighbor into murdering him.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place.
    • Alex Russo
    • Justin. The Frankengirl episode, for instance, he twists Alex's arm into becoming a cheerleader (knowing she'll hate it) to keep her out of his room. The kicker? He gets his mom to call him the 'perfect son' because he got his sister into an extracurricular activity, as if this were his plan all along.
    • Max just might be better at manipulation than both of them combined.
  • Humphrey in Yes, Minister always knows exactly what to say to get people to see things his way, and it's clear he's the person who actually runs Hacker's department. Dorothy also has shades of this.
  • Mike from The Young Ones can pull this off when dealing with the other members of his household, but nobody else.