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Starscreams in video games.


  • Manny Coachen to Quercus Alba In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. He tried to make Ambassador Palaeno the ambassador of Cohdopia instead of Quercus Alba when Allebahst and Babahl were going to be reunited.
  • The Barbarossa campaign of Age of Empires II has Henry the Lion getting ambitious and betraying Barbarossa twice, and then being exiled. As you finish the last scenario, the Narrator says "What of Henry the Lion? With Barbarossa gone, there was nothing to stop him from returning to the Holy Roman Empire. But I'm an old man now. What harm could I possibly do?
  • Baldur's Gate:
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    • Sarevok is an especially competent one. Presumably few ever thought Rieltar/Reiltar Anchev, leader of the local branch of the evil merchant organisation, was really the Big Bad, since it was obviously the guy with the Glowing Eyes of Doom and Spikes of Villainy seen at the beginning. But most of the plot is about thwarting the Iron Throne's actions, largely centering around Rieltar's plans which he has no idea are only a part of Sarevok's own plan. Rieltar doesn't really understand Sarevok and especially hasn't a clue about his motives, which is why Sarevok is able to dispose of him casually at the strategically right moment while Rieltar thinks himself safe.
    • Played for laughs with Smug Snake Edwin Odesseiron, who often plots killing the hero and his party under his breath, apparently unaware that everyone can hear him.
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    • Amelissan from Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal fits the bill nicely. While Bhaal could foresee his death, he did not realize his head priestess would be happy to take his place as the goddess of murder instead of reviving him. You'd think a name like Amelissan the Black-Hearted would have given him a clue.
  • BlazBlue: Kagura Mutsuki, head of the largest of the Duodecim families, has been plotting to overthrow the Imperator of the Novis Orbis Librarium and take her place since Continuum Shift. Subverted: He's actually a good guy, and he doesn't want to take power, he wants to install another person in place.
  • Jade, Emperor Zog's second-in-command in Breath of Fire I, who helps Ryu and his allies throughout the game disguised as a thinly veiled cloaked man with a color swap —- in the process dropping big hints on how Ryu can fight the Dark Dragon Empire right down to letting Ryu know about a weapon (a bottled song named 'D.Hrt') that reduces Zog's HP by half in one blow (and Ryu's to 1). After Zog is defeated, Jade reveals himself, having set Ryu up to defeat Zog to obtain the Goddess Myria's powers all for himself. Later on, Jade's hints potentially end up stabbing himself in the foot —- if the player defeated Zog the hard way without D.Hrt, he/she can instead use it against the mind-controlled Sara (who Jade kidnaps at the start of the game and had kept around for his own purposes) when she transforms into a Dragon and fights the party. This reduces her HP (and as usual, Ryu's) to 1, instead of half.
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  • Clive Barker's Undying: Jeremiah plotted to use Gel'ziabar stone to drain energy from the Undying King and become a god himself.
  • Command & Conquer - Being traitorously ambitious seems to be all but a job requirement in the Nod Brotherhood: "You see, power shifts quickly in the Brotherhood...."
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, the Weasel Scientist fits this trope well. At the end of the game, he kills the panther king by putting an alien egg inside him.
  • In Crusader Kings, any high-ranking ambitious vassal can be expected to be this to their liege. And if the player themself is a vassal, it's pretty much a given that, regardless of their character's nominal traits, the player will be planning to be this.
  • Danganronpa has Nagito Komaeda of the Remnants of Despair. His real intention is that someday, they will all be defeated by an even bigger and brighter hope, so he does everything to help them create despair in order to create the greatest hope that will defeat Junko Enoshima.
  • In Darksiders and Darksiders II, the Demon, Samael is essentially a starscream to the Prince of Hell, Lucifer, and to his primary general on Earth, the Destroyer aka Abaddon, so much so that the latter had Samael imprisoned for fear of his power.
  • In Destiny, this is actually encouraged as an act of love by the Hive.
    • According to the Taken Captain's Grimoire, when Fallen Captains are not busy serving their Kells and Servitors, they are busy worrying about some upstart trying to take power from them...and they are surrounded by a lot of opportunistic pirate-people.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Etna openly threatens to become this to Laharl if he should ever step out of line as Overlord of the Netherworld. He has no problem with this because A) it's how demons are supposed to act, B) it's Etna's way of fulfilling her promise to Laharl's father to make sure he becomes a good Overlord, and C) Laharl deeply respects Etna, knows she could do the job well, and would rather she be his replacement than anyone else.
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, Mannimarco, the legendary Lich/Necromancer recurring villain, serves as The Dragon to the Daedric Prince Molag Bal, the Big Bad of the main quest. Mannimarco is having his Order of the Black Worm set up Dark Anchors in Tamriel as part of Bal's plot to merge his Daedric Plane with Mundus, the mortal realm. However, Mannimarco, who is an Immortality Seeker with even greater desires to become a full blown god, plans to double cross Bal and usurp his position of divinity in the universe. This goes poorly for Mannimarco, though he canonically survives, as he appears in (chronologically) later works in the series.
  • Escape From St. Mary's: Renuka Desai, in her attempts to overthrow Mr. Souza. The man denies her computer access... and forces her to do his laundry.
  • Wernher is eventually revealed to be this in The Pitt add-on of Fallout 3. While initially coming across as noble and heroic, and claiming to be an escaped slave, Ashur reveals that he was actually the latter's second-in-command, and wanted to use Ashur's infant daughter as a way to gain power.
    • Col. Autumn played the Starscream for President Eden. He succeeds in becoming the Dragon Ascendant, but it's up to the player whether Autumn gets to keep that position for long.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Benny is this to Mr. House, planning to use the Platinum Chip to take over New Vegas. House is fully aware of Benny's plan, but can't really do anything by himself. That's where you come in. It's later possible to be this to Mr. House with the help of Yes Man, who's originally Benny's trump card. Yes Man himself subverts this in the ending, where he states that he'll be upgrading himself to be more "Assertive". This actually means that he'll be making sure that only the Courier can give him orders so that he can't be used against you.
    • The Brotherhood of Steel's Head Paladin Hardin is this to Elder McNamara. The Courier can either aid the latter or help the former take over as Elder. Interestingly, if you do help McNamara, he takes no action against Hardin, since all Hardin wanted was what McNamara needed your help to do.
  • Happens a lot in Final Fantasy games, at least the later ones:
    • Kuja, like Kefka, in Final Fantasy IX, in much the same manner. For most of the game, Kuja's actual intent is to enslave a powerful eidolon and use it to overthrow Garland as ruler of Terra, seizing control of both worlds himself.
    • The Emperor plays this role in Dissidia Final Fantasy, and doesn't seem to mind admitting to Chaos's face that he's plotting something. He gets taken down by the heroes before his plan succeeds.
    • While Kefka from Final Fantasy VI may have some subversions, it is generally impossible for anybody to control somebody that insane, as Emperor Gestahl eventually found out.
  • Ashnard, from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance thought of all of his generals as Starscreams, but never worried about it. It's just what happens when you combine The Social Darwinist with a Blood Knight.
    • Gharnef is this to Medeus in the Archanea games. But because he carries a magic tome that gives him Nigh-Invulnerability that not even Medeus could remove and Medeus himself could only be defeated a sword that only Marth can wield, Gharnef serves Medeus obediently while plotting to overthrow Medeus.
  • Certain storylines in Gunstar Super Heroes have Green overthrow General Gray and seize control of the Empire to avenge his father's death.
  • The protagonist from Impire makes no secret that he is tolerating his summoner giving the orders because he was bored earlier. At one point when you get invited to betray him by a lich queen, you give a speech roughly equating to that you've got an army to help fight her and you prefer employers who you can kill and eat solo in case you get fed up.
  • In Jade Empire, Master Li has already tried to steal power from the Emperor once, and in the course of the game he gets his revenge, pulling off a masterful Evil Plan twenty years in the making to become the game's true Big Bad.
    • The Lotus Assassins ALL seem to have this outlook. Especially Gang toward Shin; after helping Gang kill his direct superior Shin to get his favor, you can kill Gang yourself.
  • Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts series is full of these, most of whom are stationed in Castle Oblivion during Chain of Memories. First there's the Castle's lord Marluxia and his Dragon Larxene, who plot to take over the Organization using Sora and Naminé. Opposing them are Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion, who try to derail their plans using Riku. These five are eventually eliminated by Sora, Riku, and Axel, the last of whom was specifically ordered by Xemnas—through his friend Saïx—to do so. Then it turns out in 358/2 Days that by eliminating the potential traitors in Castle Oblivion, Saïx and Axel have removed the potential obstacles to their plans to overthrow Xemnas, which fell apart when Axel ended his friendship with Saïx for one with Roxas and Xion, while Saïx himself ended up becoming too absorbed by the authority he had over the other members to care about betraying Xemnas anymore.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot's President Haltmann has two, who turn against him at the same time and end up becoming each others' Spanner in the Works. At the end of the game, Haltmann plugs himself into Star Dream, his company's supercomputer, only for his assistant Susie to swipe the controls from him at the last second so she can sell Star Dream for massive profit. Immediately afterwards, Star Dream itself activates, takes control of Haltmann, and decides to eliminate all organic life from the universe. The former, in turn, resorts to an Enemy Mine with Kirby to stop the latter.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • Jorgal Strux, on New Tuchanka. He tries to get Pathfinder Ryder to kill or get rid of Nakmor Morda, on the grounds that his bloodline is older, and therefore he should be in charge. When Ryder doesn't fall for his manipulations, he decides to just challenge Morda to a fight, forgetting how she got in charge in the first place.
    • The Primus, lieutenant to the Archon. In a variant, she's a Starscream to a Starscream. The Archon is deviating for his orders in favour of studying the Remnant, and the Primus just wants to get back to systematically annihilating the angara. To that end, she stirs up the troops, causing a brief Enemy Civil War, and even tries to make a bargain with Ryder allowing them a shot at the Archon when the time comes.
  • In Mega Man X, Vile is a loyal second-in-command of the Big Bad Sigma. Maverick Hunter X, on the other hand, portrays him as this, especially in his own story, where he decides to take on both his enemies X and Zero and Sigma's Maverick army. Vile also admits in his ending that he actually didn't know if he would have fought Sigma or joined him.
  • Prometheus and Pandora from Mega Man ZX obviously hate their creator, but they had their reasons for not stabbing him in the back at first - Master Albert had to limit the amount of time they could live in order to keep them under control, since they had to keep going back for maintenance in order to stay alive. But when they do, Prometheus simply walks up to Master Albert, kills him off right in front of the hero, and declares that Albert's "Game of Destiny" was all a farce (Those two are the only villainous characters in the series who actually realized this), and that he and Pandora will destroy everything as part of their revenge. Interestingly enough, they didn't quite succeed. There's a good reason why Master Albert is a Magnificent Bastard - Albert actually faked his death as part of a plan that his own creations unintentionally provided him with, and it's implied that both Prometheus and Pandora are both dead... thanks to their own traitorous actions.
    • Of course, they betrayed him fully understanding that they were throwing away their very lives doing so, as Prometheus willing admits before fighting that they intend to, 'go out with a bang!' by destroying everything in the process, but it didn't matter as long as Albert died with them. The fact that he didn't is what would have really pissed them off, even if he would eventually by the protagonist's hand.
    • Mr. King from Mega Man Star Force 3 is a shining example of an evil villain with a disastrous (for him) hiring policy. Ace defected to the Satella Police before the game starts, Joker has been serving him to fulfill his own desire for power, Jack and Queen were using him solely to access Meteor G as a WMD, with or without Corvus and Virgo's guidance, and Heartless was only half-loyal so she could try to contact Kelvin Stelar. The man was surrounded by traitors with intellect on par with aforementioned Prometheus and Pandora, and wound up the only human in Dealer to not live to the end credits.
  • Might and Magic VII's story centres around two groups of strange advisors, one to Bracada's Gavin Magnus and one to Deyja's Archibald Ironfist. Magnus' advisors are not this trope. Archibald's advisors end up deposing him and initiating a scheme to take over the world through superior science.
  • A shtick for many Mortal Kombat villains.
    • While Shang Tsung is loyal to Shao Kahn in the first three canonical installments, in Deadly Alliance he teams up with Quan Chi to take the realms for themselves. There's also the matter of his endings in Mortal Kombat II and 3, where he kills his former master and conquers both Earthrealm and Outworld. Sort of justified by the fact that you actually need to defeat Shao Kahn with Shang Tsung to get said ending.
    • Reiko apparently acts as a starscream to both Shao Kahn, whose power (or at least the helmet) he wants for himself, and Quan Chi, who he openly dislikes despite being a member of the Brotherhood of Shadow. In Armageddon, it's hinted that he let Taven beat him so that Taven could continue hunting down Quan Chi.
    • Quan Chi himself serves as this to Shinnok. In turn, his most powerful enforcer, Noob Saibot, acts as a starscream to him.
    • If her in-game endings serve as any indication, Tanya is this in spades.
    • In fact, almost every villain who's supposed to be loyal to Shao Khan has a non-canon ending in one or more games that suggest Starscream-like goals. Since they are non-canon, it's uncertain whether they are true or not.
    • Shao Khan used to serve as this to Onaga, but unlike most examples he was able to go through with it AND keep the power for quite a long time.
    • In Mortal Kombat X, D'vorah turns out to be this for Kotal Kahn, who in turn overthrew Mileena and became Outworld's new emperor. She actually is The Mole for Quan Chi and Shinnok. And her arcade ending clearly shows that she betrayed Shinnok by killing him and using his corpse as an incubator for creating god-Kytinn hybrids, and she uses them to take over the realms. Ultimately, D'Vorah's loyalty is not to any Outworlder, Netherrealmer or Earthrealmer, but to herself only.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2 the Luskan archmage Black Garius is helping the King of Shadows with the intent of eventually stealing his power. His death at the hands of the Player Party throws a Spanner in the Works, and the King resurrects him as a powerful Shadow Reaver under its direct control.
  • Nintendo Wars: In Advance Wars, Hawke is always a reluctant servant of Sturm, who he eventually kills. In the later games he defects to the side of the four nations and fights against Von Bolt. And the end of the game he shoots Von Bolt (if the player refuses) and apparently assumes control of the Black Hole nation.
  • In Odin Sphere, Brigan attempts to overthrow Demon Lord Odin by killing his daughter and announcing it to make Odin look bad. Although his plan never even gets to the first act, because Gwendolyn kills him before he can even begin his plan, he does manage to snatch power for a short while because he later possesses Odin from beyond the grave, only to wind up getting exorcised by, you guessed it, Gwendolyn.
  • Alastor from Painkiller, who turned out to not be upset at all that Daniel helped him kill Lucifer. Also, Eve, who wanted Daniel to kill Alastor so that she could become ruler of Hell herself.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Platinum, Charon somewhat fits this role, seemingly having a completely different agenda than the rest of Team Galactic. This finally comes to fruition when the player goes to Stark Mountain and ends up encountering Team Galactic again, something that didn't happen in Diamond and Pearl. An extra battle with Mars and Jupiter is fought, and then they leave while Charon enters the mountain. He is eventually captured by Looker.
    • In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Faba ends up succeeding at this, and allows Team Rainbow Rocket to use the Aether Foundation's technology so they can conquer the multiverse.
    • Additionally, In Team Rainbow Rocket, Ghetsis shows that he has plans to seize power from Giovanni when the time is right.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, Ad Avis hates being magically compelled to serve his master,Katrina. At the end of the game he baits her into breaking the bond by attacking him. He then proceeds to kill her by casting a spell that brings her to the attention of the Eldritch Abomination who's brain the scene takes place in..
  • Albert Wesker in Resident Evil deconstructs this when it comes to Umbrella due to not only his boss, Ozwell E. Spencer, being aware of backstabbing him, but also orchestrating the plans resulting in Wesker deciding to take down Umbrella.
  • In Saints Row during the Vice Kings storyline, Benjamin King's lieutenant Tanya Winters believes that Ben is too weak to run the Vice Kings and convinces his other lieutenants Big Tony and Warren Williams to stage a coup against him. Warren betrays Ben before Tanya betrays Warren, then the player and Ben team up to defeat Tanya.
  • During a Space Route scenario in Shin Super Robot Wars, the Londo Bell rescues Fonse Kagatie from imprisonment. He relates how the alien attack and Tassilo Vago's treachery brought about the end of the Zanscare Empire (just as Lupe had said), ending in Tassilo imprisoning him in the first place. When the group tells him that Zanscare Empire is still active, he realizes quickly that Char must have taken control. Increasingly panicked, he tells the Londo Bell that they must stop Char before he achieves his misguided goal of robbing all mankind of its emotions, creating obedient soldiers as the aliens want.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Astaroth, in the Soul Series gets a double dose. In the first Soul Calibur, he's working for Big Bad Nightmare. The next game shows that he was really looking for a chance to take Nightmare down, to bring his Artifact of Doom to the cult of Ares which created him - but after failing, he destroys the cult and starts working for Ares directly. By the third game, his endings start showing him trying to kill Ares, as well.
  • Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm, Zagara serves as a reconstruction of the trope. At first she rebels against Kerrigan's rule of the Zerg Swarm, but when subdued admits she was only doing as Kerrigan, suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia, ordered; only the strongest shall rule the Swarm, and Zagara now knows that is still her, and so she returns to the fold without question. Kerrigan seeks a more capable second-in-command and has Abathur evolve Zagara to be stronger and smarter. Following her evolutions Zagara contemplates killing Kerrigan and taking over the Swarm, but recognizes she isn't strong enough. As the campaign progresses it becomes apparent that Zagara does want to command, but her first interest is in making sure the Zerg have the best leader they can havem and for the time being, that is Kerrigan — Zagara acknowledges that even if she could somehow get kill of Kerrigan and take over, she would be an inferior leader. Thus she is content to be a loyal lieutenant as she continues to evolve and learn, and when the day comes that she is confident that she would be just as good a leader as Kerrigan, then she will usurp her. In one cutscene shortly after Kerrigan is badly wounded, Zagara is helping to see to her recovery, and Kerrigan expresses confusion over her helping to heal her instead of taking over; Zagara replies she isn't ready yet, the Zerg still need their Queen.
  • Star Trek Online: Commander Bo'roth, first officer of the Klingon flagship IKS Bortasqu', openly admits that Klingon XOs are quite often this trope, hoping for their CO to foul up so they can kill them for their jobs. Bo'roth, however, pointedly states that he is not one of them: he was a classmate of Captain Koren at the Klingon Academy and the two are Platonic Life-Partners. The same can't be said of the tactical officer, Lieutenant Commander Hark, an admitted Glory Hound who wants his own command and implies he may be willing to take Koren out to get it.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Every Sith, except for the Dark Council (because as The Omniscient Council of Vagueness they don't have anyone to backstab), but most especially the player characters:
    • The Inquisitor is responsible for killing, in order, their boss's boss's apprentices, their boss's boss, their boss, their new boss's apprentice, and their new boss (having been saved from killing their new boss's boss by said new boss). Indeed this is the sole method the Inquisitor uses to gain ranks. Also, it's not like they have a choice since it's usually their master trying to kill them, thus forcing the matter.
    • The Warrior is somewhat lower key about this, but they still take down their overseer at the Academy (though there is the option to let him live), their long-time master, one of his masters (before that), and then they end up being the right hand of the Emperor. Like the Inquisitor, it's not as if they have much of a choice since their masters generally force the issue.
    • And then comes Shadow of Revan, when the Emperor's Omnicidal Maniac tendencies finally become common knowledge and the Warrior and Inquisitor (and everyone else) turn against them.
    • In Knights of the Fallen Empire, Arcann is this to the Emperor Valkorion. When Valkorion offers to share his power with the Outlander, Arcann either frees the Outlander to kill him, or kills the Emperor himself with his lightsaber, and takes control of the Eternal Empire.
  • While Luca Blight from Suikoden II may have some subversions, it is generally impossible for anybody to control somebody that insane, as his father, Agares Blight eventually found out. That out of the way, the real Starscream of Suikoden II was the main character's former best friend, Jowy. As soon as Luca is out of the way, Jowy reveals his true plans, and the war continues.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In the Mario & Luigi RPG series, Fawful sort of fills this role. Although wholeheartedly loyal to Cackletta throughout most of the first game, and never actually outright betraying her, in the final fight he has the sudden realization that — (gasp) — he is merely a useless peon, and decides to disregard his boss and fight the titular brothers on his own accord. He then goes on to be the only character exclusive to the Mario RPGs outside of the main four characters of the series (The Bros., Peach, and Bowser) to appear more than twice. In his second appearance he is recovering from his first defeat and describes the events of the first game, but completely neglects to mention Cackletta at all, and makes himself out to be the true villain. In the third game, Bowser's Inside Story, Fawful is the main villain.
    • Dimentio of Super Paper Mario. He succeeds through manipulating everyone to use the Pure Hearts to defeat Count Bleck so he could control the Chaos Heart and destroy all worlds and create perfect new ones so he could be a god
    • The Elite Trio in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, who try to do well thinking they'll get promoted over Bowser himself and take over the Koopa Troop. They don't succeed at either goal.
    • According to a Nintendo Adventure gamebook, Wendy O. Koopa is actually this to Bowser.
  • Karai in the ending to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up's Arcade Mode.
  • In the first Time Crisis, Wild Dog is both this and Dragon Ascendant to Sherudo, but in subsequent games, he's standard The Dragon.
  • In The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, General Hydra intends to do away with Von Hesler and seize power for herself, but she never gets around to doing so.
  • In Vay, Sadoul actually kills his superior, Emperor Zeal, halfway through the game and positions himself as the real Big Bad.
  • Warcraft:
    • The orc player character (later revealed to be Doomhammer) in War Craft Orcs And Humans. You eventually overthrow your boss (Blackhand) and rule the Horde yourself.
    • Gul'dan, waiting for the right chance to betray Orgrim Doomhammer throughout Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.
    • And in World of Warcraft, Varimathras to Sylvanas. It doesn't end well for him.
    • Happens to Sylvanas again when Godfrey, who she had turned into a Forsaken to help fight the Worgen, betrays and murders her at the climax of Silverpine questing. She gets better, though.
    • Also Arthas to Ner'zhul in Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.
  • Sindri Myr in the original Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War; Lord Bale is his Megatron.
  • Cecile in WinBack, who offs the Big Bad Kenneth near the end of the game, before being temporarily KO'ed by The Mole.
  • Sho Minamimoto from The World Ends with You has elements of this; while several people want to overthrow the god-like Composer, Sho is the only one who is willing to toy with the exceedingly dangerous and violent Taboo Noise to do such, and the only one willing to chase the Composer to the RealGround (which is to say, mortal life) to do it. In a bit of a twist, the ending reveals that the Composer, Joshua, actually kind of enjoys having such a loose cannon around. It helps that, even reincarnated with the powers of Taboo Noise, Minamimoto isn't even close to Joshua's level; the last encounter the player has with Minamimoto is finding his dead body sticking out from one of his own junk-heap art displays.
    • This also fits Mitsuki Konishi. She states on the final day that she would have no qualms whatsoever about betraying Megumi Kitaniji in order to take his place as Conductor. She makes a deal with Minamimoto that she will help him defeat the Composer, so long as she is allowed to be second in command.


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