Follow TV Tropes


Manipulative Bastard / Western Animation

Go To

  • South Park:
    • Eric Cartman has manipulative abilities to a near-frightening quality. Although many of his victims are indeed gullible simpletons, still his ability to persuade people en masse is shocking. Even those familiar with his methods get dragged in by his way with words.
      • He manages to form a Neo-Nazi organization out of fans of The Passion of the Christ and lead them on a march chanting anti-Semitic slogans and they never got the slightest idea of what they were nearly dragged into!
      • Cartman also convinced everybody that ginger kids are soulless monsters. In order to teach him a lesson, Kyle, Kenny and Stan make him up as a ginger. Unfortunately Cartman's xenophobic nature doesn't change one bit; all that changes is who he's prejudiced against. He rallies all the ginger kids into a sect and begins an extermination of non-gingers in a drive to make sure that he is not a minority. Mere moments before the extermination commences, Kyle reveals the truth to him. He then has seconds to devise an inspirational speech that usually Stan or Kyle would make. His audience notices his change in tune and press him for some time, but in the end, Cartman still manages to pull the lie off by manipulating the gingers into joining him in a corny improvised song-and-dance number about loving your fellow man, despite their appearance or skin color.
        Kyle: You are such a manipulative asshole, Cartman.
        Cartman: (whispering) Yes, but I'm not gonna die!
      • There's also his utterly unsympathetic deconstruction of one of the nannies in "Tsst". He skillfully convinces her that her psychological techniques are working on him, then turns the situation on its head and tears into her brutally by not simply mocking her lack of children, but mocking her ability to judge people. She walks out on her first day in near-hysterics. Then Supernanny is brought in... briefly. We don't see what he does to Nanny Jo, but three days later she's shown utterly broken in an asylum, eating her own excrement and sobbing the phrase, "From hell. It's from helllll!"
      • One of Cartman's proudest moments (for him) is in "Cartoon Wars Part II". He sets off to have Family Guy taken off the air with his Game Face on, ready to spout a sob-story to the writers, the likes of which he's done many times before. Just another job, right? Then he finds out that it gets a little more complicated when you have to pitch a sob-story to Manatees. And yet he still manages to manipulate a TV executive into not wanting the Manatees to push him around - when the guy had previously been making a fortune out of allowing them to do so. Anybody can push around humans. He manipulated sea-mammals. No wonder this was his next line:
        Cartman: I did it! I... AM... GOD!!!!
      • And in "Mysterion Trilogy" Cartman befriends/tames Cthulhu. Yes. THAT Cthulhu.
    • Advertisement:
    • Leslie Meyers, the Big Bad of season 19 proves to be just as manipulative as Cartman, if not more so. She got Jimmy to help her escape from the news anchors that were keeping her in captivity. As soon as she finds a computer, she beats the hell out of Jimmy and starts sending advertisements through it. After she's done there, she sets her sights on manipulating Kyle.
    • One of the Big Bads of season 20, Lennart Bedrager, manages to rival both Cartman and Leslie in terms of manipulativeness. He gains political power in Denmark despite not actually being from there, manages to convince his new subjects to create a database that can expose the internet history of everybody on earth (which causes enough global tension to potentially start World War III), all to get a laugh.
  • Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender, no question. As she puts it: "I'm a people person." When she successfully turns the Secret Police in control of the capital of the kingdom her nation has been at war with for a century against its leader, Long Feng, he says that she beat him at his own game. Her response?
    Azula: "Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player."
    • A certain Bloodbender deserves a mention here too...
    • Advertisement:
    • As does the "very smooth" Jet, on the Well-Intentioned Extremist front.
    • Azula's old man Ozai fits the bill as well. During the Day of Black Sun, he even deploys a manipulative tactic against Zuko at the exact same time that Azula is employing a similar one against Sokka. However, that's nothing compared to the event he describes, which involved manipulating his wife into killing his father for him, and then banishing her. That's how he became Fire Lord in the first place.
      • Ozai really proves he's where Azula gets it from in "The Promise" graphic novel trilogy that take place after the show's conclusion, in which he constantly is able to manipulate Zuko from behind bars.
  • Being a chessmaster and the successor to Azula in the Magnificent Bastard department, Amon from The Legend of Korra continuously played everyone like fiddles. Even Lin Beifong and Korra admit that they played right into his hand after his terrorist attack on the Pro-Bending arena.
    • Tarrlok is a Manipulative Bastard par excellence. Apart from Tenzin, he's got the whole United Republic Council on a string - their sole purpose seems to be supporting whatever Tarrlok is proposing. He cleverly takes advantage of anything and everything that might help him gain more power. Through his smooth talking and media play he manoeuvred even Korra into joining him (albeit temporarily). After Lin Beifong's resignation, he virtually took control of the metalbending police and began imposing his iron-fist régime on the city.
  • Advertisement:
  • Vlad Masters/Plasmius from Danny Phantom does this all the time, especially with the main character whom he likes to play up the similarity between the two in order to get him on his side.
  • Slade from Teen Titans definitely goes here. Manipulating others and making them suffer for it is what he does best. Unfortunately he cannot see outside of his big plans, so his manipulations usually come with a price.
  • Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown. His main goal during his Season 2 debut is to manipulate Omi into joining the Heylin side. When that didn't work, he took matters into his own hands and concocted a complex plan that led to Omi's eventual Face–Heel Turn, but against his will. Chase is even classified as a Magnificent Bastard because of this.
  • Generator Rex's Van Kleiss is another one. Rex has no knowledge of his past due to the Nanite Event, so Van Kleiss takes advantage of this and taunts him with bits and pieces of information (at one point using a brief comment to get Rex to hesitate for one second so he could get away), telling him that he won't give him all the info unless he joins his side. He also manipulates and uses his own minions (and they are aware of it, and he's aware that they know and doesn't seem to be bothered by it). He's also now trying to drive a wedge of mistrust between Rex and his brother Caesar, and it seems to be working a little. His plans are also primarily Batman Gambits.
    • Rex himself can also be one at times, when he needs to be. The Big Bad even complimented him on it in one episode.
  • The version of Megatron in Transformers Animated was able to convince Isaac Sumdac he was an Autobot and to never mention his name to the Autobots, as well as get the Constructicons on his side with a story of "Autobot oppression" and a couple drinks.
    • Getting Bulkhead to build him a space bridge by being the only person who seemed to believe he wasn't a complete idiot, and talking Omega Supreme right back to Cybertron rather than killing him.
    • He even managed to convince Starscream to join him in conquering Cybertron together after Starscream took over Omega Supreme and had Megatron at his mercy.
  • Megatron in Beast Wars is just as manipulative. The guy managed to convince Silverbolt (the noblest individual Optimus Primal has ever met) to become a Predacon when he first met him. In Beast Machines he later played on Rattrap's insecurity about his now useless robot mode and got him to help him out for a night. After infecting all the Maximals except Optimus with a virus that causes discord he got Optimus to consider (admittedly, for like five minutes) that maybe his vision of forced harmony was the way to go.
    • Tarantulas in Beast Wars was about as talented. More than once he duped Quickstrike into betraying Megatron, and once even got him to go along with a plan that would negate both him and every other Transformer (but Tarantulas) from existence.
  • Big City Greens: Chip Whistler becomes this in the climax of "Reckoning Ball", where he manages to use the Greens' kindness and innocence and makes them believe he's changed and sorry for his actions against him, so he can take over for his retiring father and carry out his revenge without any interference from him. The Greens realize the truth by the time of "Friend Con".
  • Dave from Code Monkeys tends to fall into this territory sometimes, most notably In the Drunken Office Party episode where he gets Jerry to believe he is responsible for all the horrible things he (Dave) actually did at the Office Party. The whole episode Jerry is racked with guilt and is insulted, physically attacked, thrown up on trying to make up for what he did. He even considers quitting. Because Jerry believes he broke Dave's arm he gives him his ticket to Hawaii and thanks him for being such a good friend. It is only at the end of the episode he realizes Dave was behind it all and the things happening to him were happening because Dave was with him and he happened to be caught in the crossfire. Several of the people he offended were made up and Dave gets go spend two weeks in Hawaii while it all blows over.
  • Despite the series being known for its incompetent or even stupid characters, The Simpsons actually has a surprising amount of Manipulative Bastards. Though very few come across as being completely unlikable or evil... a rare thing to have accomplished, the fact is that most of the cast dabbles in deception on more than one occasion. In fact more than 90% of the cast could be considered in this category.
    • Mr. Burns is an obvious choice. However, many seem acutely aware of Burns's evil ways so sentiments may vary here.
    • The Mayor of Springfield, "Diamond" Joe Quimby, makes his living being a Manipulative Bastard. He's a satirical politician after all. Though one must admit, even in the somewhat morally confused world of the Simpsons, many of Quimby's actions are particularly bad. Even the incompetent Chief Clancy Wiggum, whom Quimby seems to have under his thumb, holds a thinly veiled desire to see Quimby answer to karma. Not without moments of sympathy, but a Manipulative Bastard no less.
    • Being a comedic center of a lot of villainous staples, Sideshow Bob has dabbled in the art of the manipulative bastardry on more than one occasion.
    • Krusty the Clown, Springfield's resident celebrity, will do almost anything to keep his fame and fortune in check. Much like Quimby in a sense, Krusty in a way makes his living off of being a Manipulative Bastard.
    • Let's not kid ourselves... Homer Simpson may be the de-facto main character and the big doofus (Jerkass most of the time...) we all love...but at the end of the day he's one Manipulative Bastard. Just consider how many situations Homer slimed his way out of by playing on people's emotions... whether it'd be Marge, the townsfolk, or even YOU! This doesn't mean he's a bad man, anyone who's watched the show knows that he's got a good heart somewhere in there... but he really is a manipulative man in many ways. Thinking otherwise means you're under his spell most likely.
      • Bart. Though not as shameless perhaps as his dad, and with a little more of an apparent heart of gold most of the time, entire episodes have been spun around the fact Bart gets by so much because of the fact he knows how to play on people's sympathies. Although not truly evil by any extent like with most of the characters, still a true little bastard to the very end.
  • At the risk of sounding redundant, David Xanatos of Gargoyles.
    • The Archmage takes the cake in the three-part episode "Avalon". He convinces the weird sisters (who don't like mortals telling them to do anything) to do his bidding, while showing his past self the steps needed to obtain unlimited power. When he finally gets his power, he attacks the humans and Gargoyles on Avalon, but spares them so that they can go and get Goliath to help them. With Goliath in the battle, the Archmage can now exact his revenge for supposedly killing him.
    • Thailog's a definite example as well — he's at least as good as Xanatos, and possibly better. Demona's got a manipulative streak as well, but as usual she's her own worst enemy, and her bad temper and bouts of genocidal insanity often wind up shooting her in the foot at key stages.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Him is easily one of the biggest ones. He acts like a Manipulative Bastard to everyone, but mostly to Bubbles, as two episodes of the series involve Him torturing and manipulating Bubbles by using her sweetness, naivete and her extreme emotions to destroy her and her sisters and in one case break them up. But what else would you expect from their world's equivalent of Satan?!
    • Mojo Jojo in The Movie, which is the girls' origin story. He gets them to believe he's on their side before showing his true colors. It was all downhill from there for him, though.
  • Futurama: Zoidberg apparently acts pathetic to make sure people don't bully him.note  This means that, conceivably, every time Zoidberg has ever seemed pathetic, he was pulling this. And this is Zoidberg. That's 98% of his screen time.
  • Total Drama World Tour's Alejandro is a spectacular case. He's masterminded more eliminations than any other villain on the show, and the kicker? Not one person on the remaing cast in the season knew he was evil (except for Heather), and those that do find out don't last long or don't find out until it's too late to do squat.
    • Heather was quite manipulative herself in the first season, but her spark fizzled out afterward, due to everyone now being fully aware of how vile she is and thus never putting even an ounce of trust in her in later seasons. As a result, this makes her attempts at genuine sincerity difficult for others to believe in (such as her attempts to warn others about how much of a threat Alejandro is).
  • Legion Of Superheroes has a few, some of the biggest examples are Dr. Londo (during his son's Calling the Old Man Out routine he mentions that he uses everyone), Brainiac, Imperiex and Alexis Luthor.
  • Hey Arnold!'s Helga Pataki is this in the episode "School Play". When Helga learns that Arnold will be playing Romeo, she wants to be Juliet but gets stuck as 4th understudy. So, only in the unlikely event that all four girls, Rhonda, Sheena, Phoebe and Lilanote , were to all drop out, would Helga be able to play Juliet. It just so happens Helga can be such a Manipulative Bitch.
    • In another episode, Helga's older sister Olga was going to give up her amazing life to marry her boyfriend, who's equally amazing. Problem is, he's a total liar who wins over everyone he meets with false tales of bravado, even if some of them really don't make sense. Helga isn't fooled for one minute and exposes him privately.
  • The Creeper from Animalia. One of his favorite methods includes fake crying to trick the heroes.
  • Prince Phobos from W.I.T.C.H. is very good at this (though his ego and laziness keep him from being as good at it as he could be), and his Dragon Cedric has his moments. But Season 2's Big Bad Nerissa is even better.
  • Roger from American Dad!. In the episode "The One That Got Away", to get revenge on Sidney Hauffman for using his credit card, he completely ruins every aspect of his life from his job, his garden, his pigeon friends, his fiancee, and his apartment. Only to find out Sidney was one of his personas that had taken on a life of its own.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Rarity is extremely skilled at getting people (especially males) to do what she wants through skilled application of her abundant charm and her ability to read personalities.
    • Sweetie Belle, albeit young, has shown serious potential and could be considered a Manipulative Bitch In Training and might as well have her older sister on a cross and strings. This is the face of a filly that will play you like a violin if given the chance.
    • Discord is depicted in stained glass window images controlling ponies via puppeteer strings (something we actually see him sort of do) and in the episode itself generally plays everypony for fools. By the end of the first episode he appeared in, he's successfully manipulated and broken the mane cast through his mind games and manipulations.
    • In the season 4 finale, we have the G4 version of Tirek, who manages to play Discord like a fiddle!
    • Diamond Tiara is great at manipulating others, especially for a filly. Apparently, manipulating others is her cutie mark talent. It's not.
    • In "Viva Las Pegasus," Gladmane retains his amazing array of talented performers by playing off duos against each other, leaving them too distracted by arguing to make plans to leave. Unfortunately, he included Flim and Flam in this, and they promptly Kansas City Shuffle him out the door.
    • Cozy Glow turns out to be the best one on the entire show. Apparently, it's her cutie mark talent (along with being The Chessmaster).
  • Pepé Le Pew: The glass case scene in "For Scentimental Reasons" ended with Pepe putting a gun to his head and supposedly killing himself after Penelope says that she's not coming out because he stinks. Penelope is so distraught that she unlocks the case and runs out — into his still-alive arms. Turns out the whole thing was a trick to get her out and he missed.
  • Pete on Goof Troop prides himself on tricking the people around him into doing his bidding or giving their things up to him by exploiting their weaknesses. His neighbor Goofy is really dumb so he just tells him Blatant Lies. If he's attempting to trick Goofy's ambitious son Max, he will often try to entice him with false promises and then take it back. His own sweet, vulnerable son PJ? The way to go is guilt-trips, intimidation, and false or out of reach signs of affection, all the way. Then there's his job...
  • Aku from Samurai Jack has a terrible case of this. Taking the form of a beautiful woman and making up a fake sob story to gain Jack's trust? Check. Threatening to destroy a scientist's village if the scientist does not build robotic assassins for him? Check. Kidnapping a sentient android's pet dog and threatening to kill it if the android doesn't hunt down Jack? Check. And he always ends up betraying or screwing his marks over somehow. He destroyed the time travel artifact Jack was seeking. He used the robots the scientist created to destroy the scientist's village. The android's dog is probably already dead. To top it all off, he feels absolutely NO remorse for doing any of these things and in fact takes great pleasure in letting his victims know just how foolish they were to trust him.
  • Tangier in Littlest Pet Shop (2012), a modeling dog who hates rookies entering the pet photography circuit. When Russell joins, Tangier repeatedly plays Oliver, the photographer, against Russell while playing himself up to be polite and helpful to maintain Oliver's favor. Tangier is only undone because he respects Zoe as a fellow veteran, not realizing Zoe doesn't share the same attitude as him.
  • Trollz has Mica and his girlfriend Shale, who exploit Sapphire's crush on Mica and fake Shale breaking up with him to use her for their own means.
  • Dick Dastardly does this to the other members of the Vulture Squadron in "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon." He plays on the emotions of Klunk, Zilly and Muttley, who are about to be discharged, so they'll stay and help him chase Yankee Doodle Pigeon at least once more. After too many "once mores," the three have had it, so Dastardly gets them to sign his memory book. The joke is on them: Dastardly tricked them into signing re-enlistment forms for four more years.
  • The Stingers from Jem are so manipulative that one of their songs, "Mind Games", is even about it. All three Stingers are quite intelligent and manipulative - Riot and Minx with their sex appeal while Rapture with her New Age schemes - but cast aside people once they've met their goals. There are some implications that their reasons for being manipulative is due to being poor Street Musicians (and whatever else with Minx and Riot, as their pasts were never explained) however it doesn't give them an excuse for being so manipulative.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Mr. Cat, the show's main antagonist, is absolutely brilliant at manipulating people into giving him what he wants. In some cases, it's really not even clear what his goals are until the end of the episode, which reveals that he was pulling off a scheme to benefit himself.
    • Stumpy is one in Episode 128. He manages to trick Kaeloo into giving him money on four different occasions, and then, taking Mr. Cat's advice, goes on TV and makes up a fake story about his life so people will feel pity and donate money to him. He plans to use the money in question to buy video games.
    • Kaeloo herself has her moments. For example, in "Let's Play Courtroom Drama", she pulls a Wounded Gazelle Gambit by threatening to leave Smileyland in order to get Mr. Cat to confess to the crime.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Hawk Moth's modus operandi is taking advantage of people's negative emotions to turn them into supervillains so they can deal with whatever/whoever caused their negative emotions in the first place, in exchange for them bringing him Ladybug and Cat Noir's Miraculouses. Typically this makes him an Opportunistic Bastard who simply waits to pounce on instances of strong negativity, but on several occasions he has used his civilian identity to deliberately set up events to upset people so they'll be vulnerable to Akumatization. In the finale of Season 3, he executes a gambit to deepen Chloé's growing resentment of Ladybug and successfully convinces her to become his ally willingly.
    • Chloé Bourgeois has picked up a few tips on how to be a Manipulative Bitch from her father André Bourgeois. She frequently takes advantage of her social status to get out of trouble for things she did and get her schoolmates in trouble instead.
    • Lila Rossi is so good at manipulating people that in just a few minutes, she manages to turn the entire class against Marinette, of all people. Summed up by this exchange:
      Lila: I only tell people what they want to hear.
      Marinette: It's called lying!
      Lila: There's nothing you can do about it, anyway. People can't resist when they hear what they like to hear.
    • Adrien's cousin Félix Graham de Vanily from the episode of the same name, who takes advantage of Adrien's kindess to ruin his relationship with his friends purely out of spite. At the end of the episode, he gives a very sincere-sounding apology to Adrien for what he did, but doesn't actually feel any remorse and was merely taking advantage of his cousin's feelings once again in order to get an opportunity to steal his uncle Gabriel's wedding ring (which was his overall goal to begin with).
  • The Crumpets: In "Amenez-zique !", one member of a popular male music duo crashes his helicopter outside the Crumpets' house. Caprice, who is a big fan of the duo, gets involved in rescuing him, who is left with Identity Amnesia after waking up. She explains to him that they've been in a romantic relationship. Hoping to keep him as her "ideal boyfriend", she hides him in her bedroom, altered his clothes and hair to match her own colors, and gives him a different name. Caprice's cousin Cordless, who also took part of the rescue, feels anxious due to his guilt for assisting her scheme despite his initial opposition. At one time when the amnesiac man gets left unattended, the Trickster Twins tell him that he had robbed farmers (influencing him to steal Pa's basket of strawberries) and that he was a bartender.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • This is Shadow Weaver's entire deal. Her most dangerous trait isn't her magical skill, it's her manipulation. Even people who should, by rights, know better, can be sucked in by her deceptions, as shown when Catra brings her sorceress guild badge in return for feigned kindness. And when she switches sides, she turns her attention to Glimmer, who begins to fall under her influence even though she knows full well from Adora how Shadow Weaver operates.
    • Catra turns out to have learned quite a bit from her. From getting Entrapta to switch sides to deceiving Hordak, she gets a lot of mileage out of well-chosen lies until it all burns down around her ears thanks to Double Trouble.
    • Double Trouble is probably the master, though. DT uses shapeshifting and a keen understanding of others to raise hell, and even when they're Out-Gambitted, they still get what they're after. They play the Rebellion like a fiddle from "Flutterina" to "Mer-Mysteries", and then after Glimmer hires them, it takes them less than two episodes to utterly break the back of the Horde by luring their forces into a trap, pressing Hordak's Berserk Button and sending him after Catra, and then taking Catra out of play with a Breaking Speech that leaves her almost catatonic.
  • Arthur:
  • D.W. Read can often be quite the manipulative little bitch as well; quite a few episodes in the series have her get exactly what she wants at the end by tricking others (usually her titular older brother). A notable example of her manipulativeness is in "Prove It", where she intentionally makes up several false scientific "facts" and sells them to other kids with the intent of bothering Arthur into taking her to a science museum. Even Brain is unable to refute her "facts" despite knowing she's lying! Oh, and did we mention that this whole scheme was pulled off by a four-year-old? It should also be noted that she shows no remorse whatsoever over the fact that she had to knowingly lie to other kids and screw them out of their money to accomplish this. Her manipulative side mostly disappeared after the characters' personalities were Flanderized in later seasons, but Season 18's "The Pageant Pickle" saw that side of her make a comeback when she uses Crocodile Tears to trick Arthur into humiliating himself in front of her preschool spring pageant's audience.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: