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Unwitting Pawn / Video Games

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Unwitting Pawns in video games.


  • Assassin's Creed has many of these throughout the historical stories, but The Reveal at the end of Assassin's Creed III is that the entire Assassin-Templar conflict throughout history was both sides being the Unwitting Pawns of Juno, and the historical story of that game concludes with the reveal that Connor had been Juno's Unwitting Pawn for over a decade.
    • Word of God on Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is that Olivier Garneau alone "does know who his bosses are" — namely, Abstergo Entertainment being a Templar front — while "most people at AE just work for Templars without even knowing it."
    • By the time of Assassin's Creed: Rogue, Mélanie Lemay has been made aware of the Templar order, as she gets inducted during the course of the game.
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  • The majority of the plot of Atelier Iris 3 concerns three quirky teenagers trying to find eight gemstones so they can open a book which will grant any wish, while helping the even-more-quirky townsfolk with their problems. What could go wrong? How about nearly causing The End of the World as We Know It because you were manipulated by an evil spirit from (almost) the very beginning into wasting the only wish you get?
  • The premise of Battle Garegga revolves around the Gadgeteer Genius Wayne brothers, who produce highly advanced military machines for the federal government in exchange for riches as part of the contract. When the government goes on a rampage of conquest, the brothers discover that the very machines they developed for the government are being used for such malicious acts, and set off in their secret Super Prototype aircraft to destroy the machines they helped create.
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  • The player character in BioShock. However, this is justified, as the player character is being mind controlled by Atlas/Fontaine from the very beginning, so he had no control over his actions. At least, until Dr. Tennenbaum snaps him out of it.
  • BioWare loves this one to death:
    • In Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, your whole party is this, killing off the other Bhaalspawn for Melissan's scheme to ascend to power.
    • Knights of the Old Republic, anyone? You're the ex-Sith Lord? Captured, mind-wiped by the Jedi Council, and with Bastila holding your leash. Jedi Truth on par with Obi-Wan and his "certain point of view."
      • Although not made by BioWare, the player character from the second game counts too.
    • The protagonist in Jade Empire. "Magnificent" indeed.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Dwarf Noble origin story has the player character's exile come about as a result of becoming an Unwitting Pawn in a particularly vicious piece of dwarven politics.
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    • In Dragon Age II, Hawke becomes an Unwitting Pawn of Anders, a party member in a scheme to start a war between the Templars and Mages; to be fair to Hawke, Knight-Commander Meredith, the leader of the Templars, gets suckered just as effectively. Since Dragon Age II is Darker and Edgier than other Bioware games, the scheme works regardless of Hawke's actions afterwards.
    • In Mass Effect, so many of them. Notably Saren Arterius and Matriarch Benezia for the Reapers. Commander Shepard is an interesting case, as they voluntarily ally themselves with the Illusive Man despite his questionable morals, but can also turn on him and screw over his plans in the Paragon ending of Mass Effect 2.
      • And in Mass Effect 3, as brilliant as he was, the Illusive Man was no match for the power of the Reapers and ended up being their pawn.
  • Happens to the player in several Runescape quests.
  • BlazBlue: Tsubaki is used as a pawn by Hazama many, many times over. He has manipulated her into fighting her best friends Jin and Noel by inspiring feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, telling her that she was meant to be with Jin and Noel took her rightful place at his side. As a bonus, she's also obstructing Takagamagara's surveillance by using the Izayoi, and she serves as a sort-of hostage to Hakumen, who has feelings for Tsubaki because he's Jin from another timeline and watched her die there. As for Tsubaki, she follows the NOL's (and by extension the Imperator's, and by extension Hazama's) orders loyally. This continues through to the end of Chronophantasma, where the Mind Control Hazama puts her through is broken and she becomes one of the good guys.
    • Worth putting down that although Litchi is also working with Hazama, she is NOT this trope. She's advancing his evil agenda knowingly, because he has Arakune.
    • In a supreme bit of irony, Terumi and Relius were also the pawns of someone who they believed was their pawn Imperator Saya who was the host of Izanami the goddess of death. She ditches them the moment they stop being useful and puts in motion her own plans to create a "world of death".
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd is revealed to have set up a five-year gambit to pit the USA and Russia against each other, so that he may lead the USA to the status as permanent ultimate world power, and be known worldwide as a "hero" for it. And he doesn't give two shits over how many millions of innocents get in his way. The man made all of the US, UK, & Russia into his Unwitting Pawns, including the player characters, one of whom (Roach) he kills after sending him to retrieve the evidence that would have exposed him as the mastermind behind the plot. Even though Price & Soap managed to kill him, it's not stated if Shepherd's plan has already succeeded. Hints suggest that it did. The third game subtly reveals that Shepherd was also this to Makarov, who had been feeding false information to the former and had actually caused Shepherd's Start of Darkness via the nuke detonation that he ordered. And, if what Makarov's actions in "Persona Non Grata" are taken into account, then he was planning to have General Shepherd killed anyway. Having Price and Soap do it was simply convenience.
  • Castlevania
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Shanoa seeking out the three pieces of Dominus, a glyph that is to be used on a particular artifact that, according to Barlowe, will bring about the defeat of Dracula when destroyed. Only after meeting certain conditions that allow you to bypass the bad ending do you learn that said object actually resurrects Dracula, as Barlowe demonstrates after Shanoa refuses and defeats him in a boss battle.
    • Leon Belmont and Sara Trantoul (and even Walter Bernhard) in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Our man Drac practically lives (unlives?) off of Unwitting Pawns. Trevor, Simon and Richter Belmont have also been pawns in his or Shaft's, in Richter's case plans for resurrection.
    • Celia Fortner in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow tried this on Soma, and depending on the ending, either succeeded or failed. The former ends up with Soma killing her anyway.
    • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Gabriel and Zobek are the Unwitting Pawns of Satan in his bid to obtain the power of the Mask of Shadows to overthrow Heaven.
  • Serge of Chrono Cross defines this trope. The guy can't go to the bathroom without furthering someone or something's plans. The fact that everyone's plans revolve around him trying to get out of someone else's gambit does not help.
    • Here's the short version: First, Lynx manipulates him into coming to Fort Dragonia so he can steal Serge's body and release the lock on the computer system FATE (which Lynx is a Wetware Body for). The Dragon Gods and Harle get him to kill FATE to release the seal on their power, then merge into their original Eldritch Abomination-ish form and start work on annihilating all human life. Except that all of this was planned by Balthasar, because only by awakening the Dragon Gods would it be possible to create the Chrono Cross, which is the only thing that can save Schala from Lavos's hold over her. Confused yet?
  • Practically everyone in the Chzo Mythos is a Unwitting Pawn in some way. Practically a testament to how incredibly good Chzo is at this Magnificent Bastard business.
  • Alex of Code 7 ends up being one. S.O.L.I. and Code 7 can't leave Schrödinger Station, so they corrupt his core program and make him create a fake anti-virus to successfully get to earth. Zoya of Episode 1 also believes to have been one.
  • The Global Defense Initiative (okay, mostly Boyle) in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars walks right into Kane's Gambit Roulette, and their only hint that they were even hit by it is when the Scary Dogmatic Aliens arrive. The expansion pack then explains that Kane specifically planned for Boyle to be the only surviving GDI leader after the nuclear strike on the Philadelphia specifically because Boyle is easily predictable. If you play the Scrin campaign, even the Scary Dogmatic Aliens are suckers in Kane's roulette.
  • The trope comes up a few times during the course of the Dark Parables games. In the third game, the villain turns out to be one for Snow White's Wicked Stepmother's equally evil magic mirror. The detective is one in the fourth game; the Big Bad needs an artifact from a shrine that she's not allowed to enter, so she simply waits until the detective goes in to collect it.
  • The Player Character is this in Dark Souls. No matter what you do, by beating the game you're just a pawn in an Ancient Conspiracy and Forever War regarding whether the Age of Fire should continue or end. Though at least the ending that isn't an And I Must Scream scenario gives you the chance to be something other than a mere pawn.
  • In Dark Souls II the protagonist is the pawn of Shanalotte. From the opening cutscene to the very end of the game, Shanalotte had been guiding/aiding/manipulating the Bearer of the Curse to free Drangleic from Nashandra and Link the Fire. She only begins to admit her role in everything near the end of the game.
  • Diablo: This trope is played painfully straight when the player character gets possessed by Diablo. Downer Ending for sure.
    • Even more so Diablo 2: The entire game is the tale of how Marius gets manipulated by Baal into rescuing his soulstone from destruction at the hands of the player character, escaping the fate that his brothers suffered. Poor Marius dies in asylum cell as the horrible truth comes crashing down on him.
    • Diablo III: Diablo's unwitting pawns? Everyone. Except Adria, who wasn't unwitting, and may not have actually been a pawn.
  • Captain Gordon (Defender of Earth!), from Disgaea, thinks he is sent to defeat you in order to defend Earth, but soon discovers he's being played like a piano by his superiors and that his mission is merely a pretext for an invasion of the Netherworld.
    • Trumping that is General Carter, who himself was played like a fiddle by Archangel Vulcanus, who really wanted the Netherworld razed as part of his ploy to become a god. He (along with everyone else in the plot) was being used as a tool to fulfill Seraph Lamington and King Krichevskoy's combined Gambit, and had no idea how bad his own scheme fell into the puzzle until the curtain fell - on him. HARD.
  • DoDonPachi presents itself as your usual "human military vs. alien invasion" Vertical Scrolling Bullet Hell shooter. That is, unless you unlock the 2nd loop and your commander reveals that the "mechanized aliens" he had you think you were fighting were actually your own comrades that he tricked you into destroying, then declares his intent to kill you with his special forces.
  • Inuart in Drakengard. He submits to the Big Bad's mind control to become The Dragon, attains the power to sweep Furiae off her feet and defeat Caim, so finally she has to love him, right? Well, he forgot that the Big Bad's plan was to kill her, and predictably realizes this too late to do anything.
    • It gets worse in the lead-in to Ending Four, where, after the Gods die and he gets everything he wanted as a result... he decides, apropos of nothing, that it's up to Furiae and him to become the new gods and finish their plan to destroy and recreate the world. This entire route being something of a bizarre Mind Screw...It's not clear whether the giant flying man-eating babies are related to this, or just a consequence of the Gods being dead, although the game more implies the latter. Yes, really. Giant killer babies.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale it's revealed at the very end that your questgiver was The Starscream to the Big Bad Rezlus, and she had you kill Rezlus so she could take over the tower for herself.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In general, Elder Scrolls protagonists have this happen to them frequently. Thankfully, the only manipulators who you can't get bloody revenge against in these games are the untouchable Daedric Princes, and they at least compensate you for your work with cool artifacts.
    • Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, is said to be one by Haskill, the chamberlain of Sheogorath, in an obscure text. Haskill describes Dagon as "the pawn of every Prince of true power, the dupe of every schemer in the Nineteen Voids." Essentially, whenever one of the other Powers That Be in the setting wants to accomplish something that involves destruction of some sort, they get Dagon to do the heavy lifting, and thus they pass all the blame on Dagon who is already widely considered a God of Evil.
    • In the series' backstory, Barenziah, while she was Queen of Morrowind, was one to "the Nightingale" (who was either Arena Big Bad Jagar Tharn or his agent, Drayven Indoril, sources are unclear). The Nightingale used her attraction to him in order to acquire the Staff of Chaos. She would, however, work to make things right, using Jagar Tharn's attraction to her in order to get close enough to him to decipher his notes and send them as clues to the people working against him.
    • Morrowind:
  • In Fable II, the protagonist spends his entire LIFE trying to stop the Big Bad Lucien from rebuilding an ancient tower of magical doom. Once Lucien is dead, Theresa, who guided him through this quest, reveals that she was just using Lucien to rebuild the spire and using you to defeat Lucien so she could claim the spire herself.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas the reason that you're told to try and keep President Kimball and General Oliver alive if you're working for Mr. House or Yes Man is that after the NCR gets the boot from Vegas their citizens will be quick to blame them for waging a costly and unpopular war while still capable of being on decent enough relations with Vegas to do trade.
  • The Final Fantasy series. Multiple times.
    • Terra and her comrades fall for this hard when the Empire in Final Fantasy VI insists that it wants to commence peace talks. Granted, a few party members are suspicious enough to prepare a backup plan, but Terra, Locke, and General Leo swallow the plot hook-line-and-sinker and deliver a whole bunch of Espers for Kefka to turn into Magicite. Worse, this enables him to enter the Esper World and raise the Floating Continent, where the Warring Triad are hidden away. It turns out that Emperor Gestahl was also a Unwitting Pawn: Kefka uses him and the Empire to get to the Triad, and then uses their power to kill him and take all of it for himself.
    • Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. One of the main points of his character is that Sephiroth can make Cloud do anything by manipulating him just the right way, and he makes sure Cloud knows it.
      • One can argue that, for a brief, shining moment, Sephiroth himself could be considered one, depending on whether or not Aeris knew she needed to die to make Holy work.
      • Sephiroth was also implied to be one throughout the whole game. No, not the fanon about him being used by Jenova. It was by Hojo. Hojo was implied to have set up all the events for Sephiroth to go berserk, and then was trying to aid him upon his return without Sephiroth knowing it, not simply because Sephiroth was his son, but also because Hojo wanted to see his (amoral) research blossom to full fruition. The Novellas also implied that Hojo actually ended up possessing Sephiroth to give him more power after he was killed by AVALANCHE so he can bear witness to the final results of his creation, due to not being able to properly diffuse into the lifestream. What's worse, he doesn't stop there. He also ends up digitalizing his mind into the worldwide network and later possesses Weiss, making most of Deepground unwitting pawns as well for his final, final experiment, the revival of Omega, which was also implied to be concurrent with Sephiroth's revival and ascension.
    • Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. They get bounced like ping-pong balls back and forth between Yevon's plan to continue the spiral of death and Auron's plan to destroy it and free Spira. Final Fantasy X-2 seems to imply that Yuna, at least, never figured it out.
    • Almost everyone ends up this way in Final Fantasy Tactics after the dust has settled from the Gambit Pileup by the story's end. Except Delita. And Ramza..
    • Bartz is this, aside from being an Idiot Hero. He and his companions Head into the Great Forest of Moore, in order to stop Exdeath from taking what's sealed inside. Turns out he waited for them to get to that world's crystals... And destroy them. Wow.
      • Bartz and Krile go to seek Ghido for help after Exdeath is defeated and the worlds fuse together and at that point, an innocuous-looking splinter that Krile has enables Exdeath to return. Having overheard the converstion, he sets out to take control of the Void.
    • Oh Cecil. We love the guy, but he's got a bad history with traps. First he delivers a trapped ring to the village of Mist (which, is known as the "Bomb Ring" in some versions). Then later he's approached with a Hostage For Macguffin deal, and he hands over the macguffin (assumed at the time to be the last one Golbez needed) before seeing the hostage. Then he and his group have the door to the second-to-last Underworld crystal opened because of some disturbance inside, and end up giving Golbez a way in. And then, after failing to secure the (seven!) lost Crystals, they go and unseal the door to the last one, and trudge through the Scrappy Level both ways to bring it outside, only for Golbez to re-control Kain and take it at the last second. And if you include the crystal that he retrieved for Baron in the backstory, that makes him directly responsible for Golbez getting fully half of the Crystals. Sometimes, you wonder why Cecil keeps doing things, considering that the situation gets worse every time he gets close to a macguffin.
    • By the time Final Fantasy XIII rolls around, the main group is being told that they're Unwitting Pawns.
      • And in the sequel, it comes up again when Noel kills Caius, destroying the heart of Etro, killing her with him, ensuring his plan succeeds. The most infuriating part is that Noel and Serah already knew this but Remembered Too Late.
  • God Of War 3, reveals that throughout all three games, Kratos was an unwitting pawn of Athena, who used his thirst for revenge to kill all of her threats to power, which are basically the other Gods, especially Ares and Zeus. She watches Kratos kill them all, so she can rule over the humans as the one true God and to take possession over Hope so that she will have complete control. Hope being in the image of a little girl, which reminds Kratos of his daughter helps him finally snap out of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge and realize what is happening in time to stop her.
  • Golden Sun I and II has Alex, who uses both parties as Unwitting Pawns. While they fight amongst each other about lighting the lighthouses Alex twiddles his thumbs for when they finally do and cause the Golden Sun to rise and shine down massive power down on Mt. Aleph, where he happens to be waiting.
    • Only to discover that he himself was the Wise One's Unwitting Pawn in his plan: he knew lighting the lighthouses would allow someone to gain enough power from the Golden Sun to conquer the world, so when all but one of the gems required to light the lighthouses was removed from their chamber, the Wise One transferred just enough of that power (which was originally split evenly between the gems) from the remaining gem to Isaac without telling him, meaning that if the lighthouses were all lit, anyone who wanted the Golden Sun's power would not get enough of it to conquer the world.
      • And in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn it's shown that he one-upped The Wise One, and is doing the same thing again. He's so good at this that in his very first appearence, he even says to the characters they're pawns, and they can't do anything about it. By the end of the game, it's clear that he's been using almost everyone of importance throughout the whole plot, including Those Two Bad Guys. And the player still doesn't have the slightest idea what his long-term goals are, as he remains The Unfought.
    • Gloriously subverted in Agatio's intro scene in The Lost Age, in which he flat-out tells Alex to his face that he knows he's being used, and just doesn't care as long as his goals get accomplished, too. Agatio's otherwise one of the flattest major characters in a series known for Flat Characters.
  • General Morgahn during much of Guild Wars: Nightfall. Once he learns the truth about Varesh, however, he helps defeat her and joins the player character's team as an NPC. The PC also spends a fair bit of time being this during various schemes in Guild Wars: Prophecies.
  • In the original Guilty Gear, after you defeat the sub-boss, Testament, he reveals that this was all part of his plan, since he can now use his blood to awaken Justice.
  • Gordon Freeman and Adrian Shephard in Half-Life. We don't exactly know what the plan is but that G-Man keeps laughing at us.
  • Kingdom Hearts II - Sora. Organization XIII urged him to destroy heartless so they could collect the hearts released, in order to build Kingdom Hearts. Kinda justified here... once he figures it out, he still has no choice but to continue slaying them.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Everything he does until the 13th floor is part of the Organization's plan to wipe his memory. It would have worked, too, if not for, well...
    • Also, The Heartless took advantages of both Maleficent and Organization XIII by playing on their darkest desires while pretending they were the mooks. Maleficent never figured it out but the Organization did, but kept playing the game for their own purposes.
    • Most of the cast of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep are thoroughly manipulated by Master Xehanort, Terra being the biggest sucker of them all, but Vanitas is at the top of BBS trickery list for playing Xehanort just as he was being beaten over the head with Terra's Keyblade...By Terra's Animated Armor, no less. And all of this trickery was simply for the X-Blade . And during the game Terra gets suckered by Maleficent, Jumba, Hades, and Captain Hook. Genre Blindness doesn't begin to describe it.
    • Then Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance rolls around... hoo boy. Turns out The entirity of Organization XIII were Unwitting Pawns of Xehanort, or specifically his Xemnas incarnation. He lied to them about the Organization's true purpose and made them think bringing back Kingdom Hearts would give them all their hearts back. In actual fact, most of them were already beginning to regain their hearts on their own, but he did everything in his power to ensure they never found out and believed they had no hearts in the first place. The reason? He wanted to hook them all up to Kingdom Hearts and turn the ALL into HIM!! Oh, and he's been planning this so long that even his teenage self may actually be an Unwitting Pawn to HIMSELF. (Time Travel is involved, as is copious amounts of Mind Screw) Oh, and Sora unwittingly plays into his hands once again.
  • Kirby himself (and the other player characters, if you use them) in Kirby's Return to Dream Land. Once you beat the apparent final boss (though anyone familiar with the series would know otherwise as there's always a True Final Boss), it turns out that it was actually a Big Good and that the person you've been helping all game is the Big Bad...and manages to retain the usual surprise by giving you a boss stage even if you haven't reached True Final Boss levels.
  • Last Scenario, in its grand quest to break RPG plots, couldn't possibly leave this one alone. However, unlike most of the tropes it targets, it's not subverted- it's exaggerated. Not only is Hilbert doing exactly what the Kingdom wants him to do for the first half of the game, he was set up as a hero purely for this purpose. The entire Heroic Lineage spiel was lies, and in falling for it hook, line, and sinker, Hilbert was doing exactly what they wanted.
  • Ironically subverted by Raziel from the Legacy of Kain series. Throughout all three games, every character is constantly waving this in his face, telling him how he has no idea what his true purpose is, and that he's just been their "unwitting pawn" the whole time. In the end, their manipulations buy him time to figure out his actual destiny, which none of them had ever guessed, thus making all of the villains the suckers in their own Gambit Roulette.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Throughout the first half of the game, Link ventures across Hyrule, gathering the three Spiritual Stones which will allow him access to the Master Sword and the Sacred Realm... only to allow Ganondorf to get in and grab the Triforce in the process!
    • Link has a tendency to fall victim to this trope. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, he accidentally lifts the seal that keeps Ganon's power sealed, in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords he releases Vaati from his prison by pulling out the titular sword, and in Oracle of Ages, he moves a sacred rock that is supposed to keep Veran from getting close to Nayru. Every time this trope happens, it's because Link is following the orders of Mission Control, who's supposed to be on your side but every damned time just ends up having you go help out the enemy.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Link is this to Hilda. He goes about rescuing the Sages and eventually getting the Triforce of Courage under her direction supposedly just so he could defeat Yuga-Ganon and rescue Zelda. Turns out that Hilda actually wanted to take all three pieces of the Triforce in order to replace the Lorulean Triforce that was destroyed ages ago, and she had Yuga kidnap Zelda for the Triforce of Wisdom and revive and fuse with Ganon for the Triforce of Power. But after all this, it turns out Yuga was using Hilda as his pawn, planning to use the Hyrulian Triforce to remake the world in his image, Hyrule and Lorule be damned.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Thanos is played like a fiddle by Jedah and Mistress Death, using his love for Death in order to kickstart the merging of the Capcom and Marvel Universes by Ultron and Sigma. The Stinger reveals that Thanos is not too happy with this level of betrayal and has obtained the Satsu no Hadou with the intention of killing Death.
  • Copy-X, and, to a lesser extent, Zero and his La Résistance allies in Mega Man Zero 3. Dr. Weil played them all for fools, orchestrating the new conflict between Neo Aradia and the La Résistance, which was just after an unofficial truce made by Zero and the Guardians. Zero goes off to fight Copy-X to stop the conflict, and when the latter tries to go One-Winged Angel, a booby-trap which Weil installed earlier on Copy-X, was activated, killing him. With Copy-X gone, Dr. Weil, the one next in power, is now the new dictator of Neo Arcadia. It was pointed out by Zero himself:
    ...It's all going according to his plans.
  • Serpent in Mega Man ZX was manipulated by Prometheus and Pandora under secret orders from Master Albert while serving as his Co-Dragons, intending for him to dig up and awaken Model W while stating that it will eventually devour his soul just like the helpless people he fed to it for the awakening. However, Serpent himself was seemingly aware of Albert's existence if nothing else, as he alludes to him in Aile's ending, though if he knew about said manipulations but disregarded them out of pride is up in the air.
  • Prometheus and Pandora find themselves on the other end of this in Mega Man ZX Advent. At first, they backstabbed Albert and then fight Grey/Ashe. After they fight and break off the fight deciding it's just pointless, suddenly their anguish, hatred, and despair are absorbed by Model Ws in the background and then they collapse. The real Albert then appears, stating that the body that everyone thought was "Albert" is actually a decoy, and that those negative emotions are necessary to revive and activate the Model Ws.
    Albert: Just as I planned! Soon all of the Model Ws will begin to merge! I will become the ultimate Mega Man and the plan will be complete!
  • Messiah has Bob guided by a mysterious voice to kill the dictator that rules Earth with an iron fist. Turns out, the voice is Satan, who was earlier captured by humans, and now with the dictator dead can take over the world.
  • The Metal Gear series:
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater shows Naked Snake being used by the United States government into achieving their goal of gaining Russia's portion of the Philosophers' Legacy. Portable Ops has Zero use Big Boss to defeat Gene and scare the Philosophers enough that Ocelot can gain control of their whereabouts and the American portion of the Philosophers' Legacy.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 retcons many of the events previously established in the franchise. It is explained that the events of the first two Metal Gear games involved Big Boss trying to create a place where individual liberty is guaranteed for everyone, instead of being a soldiers' haven. The Patriots have Solid Snake tear down both Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land to destroy Big Boss' dream of freedom. The first two Metal Gear Solid games are changed to have Solid Snake again being used by the Patriots and possibly Zero to defeat anyone who stood in their way. The Patriots by MGS4 (set in 2014) are now an AI system which was supposed to continue Zero's legacy by gaining control of all of mankind using the Sons of the Patriots (SOP) system. Snake is sent in to stop Revolver Ocelot from destroying the Patriots AI system. At the same time, Snake and his allies are used by Liquid Ocelot in his goal in destroying the Patriots AI systems, Liquid Ocelot pretending to plan to hijack the System using the AI named 'GW' and Snake and company countering it by using a virus to destroy the it, not knowing the virus as written by Naomi would destroy the remaining Patriot AIs as well; even if he didn't know about it or plan for it to happen, it certainly fit his goals. Somewhat averted in that his own post-Patriot vision was averted by Sunny Gurlukovich, who wrote the virus to destroy the Patriot AIs but preserve key parts of modern civilization, and then, Drebin implies that Ocelot's vision of a war-torn world would still be an inevitable likely outcome despite this, that or the UN becoming a neo-Patriots/Philosophers III group.)
    • Solid Snake was manipulated throughout the entire series. The most affecting part of the MGS4 ending might be Big Boss promising Snake that there is no one left to manipulate him anymore.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid's plan hinged on Snake discovering the card keys (Really, 3 keys in one). To manipulate Snake into doing this, Liquid masqueraded as one of Snake's few friends (Snake's support staff apparently figured out the location of his radio calls, but not until the big reveal), locked Snake in a cell with a dead hostage whom a master of disguise had been pretending to be (Snake even recognized that the hostage should not have been as decayed as he was), and left the control room for the card keys virtually unguarded even when Liquid had earlier encountered Snake outside the room. Snake didn't realize he was being duped until after he activated Metal Gear.
      • The sad thing is that, even if Liquid's plan didn't work or didn't even happen, Snake still would have been an unwitting pawn in either case: According to Liquid and his Pentagon spy, the real reason why Snake was sent over to Shadow Moses was to infect most of the people on the island, both the terrorists and most of the people involved in the REX project, so the Pentagon, and presumably the Patriots, would have recovered REX and the Genome Soldiers from the island without any risk of damage, even making absolute certain that FOXDIE was injected into Snake.
    • Arguably in the original Metal Gear, where Big Boss intentionally selected Snake as the agent to send false information back to NATO (and by proxy, The Patriots), not counting on Snake's hereditary ability to kick ass and take names.
      • If Peace Walker is anything to go by (and possibly Metal Gear Solid 4), Big Boss's misinformation doesn't even come close to the fact that the Patriots essentially manipulated Snake into trying to destroy Metal Gear and take Big Boss down as an insurance policy in case they failed to either bring him back into the fold or ruin/kill Big Boss the first time by one of their agents firing a nuke at the East Coast.
    • Speaking of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, other than the brief revelation that Coldman was the deviously cunning strategist that Gene alluded to in Portable Ops, it turns out that most of the game was manipulated by Paz Ortega Andrade, even the KGB agent Zadornov hiring Snake as a distraction to force Coldman to activate Peace Walker so he could hijack it and frame America with an attack on Cuba, and she wasn't even the one who pulled all the strings: Her employers, Cipher, had planned out the entire incident just to get Big Boss to rejoin the fold, and it is also heavily implied that they also ordered Paz to frame Big Boss and MSF with nuking the East Coast when Big Boss refused the offer. They also arranged for Kaz to briefly work with them, although it is also implied that they didn't tell him about the nuke plan.
    • The ending to Metal Gear Solid 2 implies that Solid Snake and Otacon may have ended up being Unwitting Pawns of the Patriots all along.
    • Metal Gear Solid: the first game that comes to mind when you hear the words "unwitting pawn".
  • Onaga's manipulation of Shujinko in Mortal Kombat: Deception is actually the namer of the game.
    • He's got it bad? Poor Kitana has been a victim of this multiple times, throughout the whole franchise. The first time was by Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat II. Then it was by Onaga in Mortal Kombat: Deception, and then by both Mileena and Jade in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. Even in the non-cannon Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, she was an Unwitting Pawn of both Dark Khan and Quan Chi.
    • In fact, this has happened to a lot of characters in the franchise. It's hard to find one who hasn't been tricked, brainwashed, and/or magically enslaved by one or more of the main villains at least once.
  • Both the Judge and the player him/herself in OFF get played by the Batter. By the time they get to find out and correct their mistakes, it's far too late, as he already plunged almost the entire world into white void.
  • Edge in Panzer Dragoon Saga spends the whole game being used by the Seekers, the Empire, and by Craymen, since he's the only dragon rider aside from Azel atop Atolm Dragon.
  • Persona:
    • All of Persona 2's human antagonists are nothing more than pawns being manipulated by Nyarlathotep in its Cosmic Chess Game against Philemon.
    • The main characters in Persona 3 spend a good portion of the game fighting a series of powerful bosses that appear once a month only to discover that Ikutsuki tricked them into doing so by doctoring video footage of Yukari's father so that he could summon Nyx. Ikutsuki's plan fails when he forgets about the dog. However, that mistake only serves to delay the inevitable, and the protagonist is ultimately forced to sacrifice himself/herself to prevent Nyx from bringing forth The Fall.
    • Persona 4:
      • If the player doesn't choose to immediately kill him (thus getting the Bad Ending), Taro Namatame is revealed to be a Tragic Hero with genuinely good intentions misguided by the true murderer, Tohru Adachi, who manipulated Namatame into throwing Adachi's intended victims into the TV World to try to save them from him, without telling him that throwing them into the TV World and leaving them at the mercy of the Shadows there was how Adachi killed people. When Namatame learns from the Investigation Team the truth about what happens to people thrown into the TV World, he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment. But then it turns out there's an even BIGGER Man Behind the Man who's been manipulating Namatame, Adachi, and you.
      • The Investigation Team also end up pawns to Adachi. In rescuing the people Nanatame kidnapped and threw into the TV World, they reinforced Namatame's delusions that the TV World was a safe place, which led to him kidnapping more people. Of course, their actions are still for the better, since the people Namatame "rescued" would have died had they not done so.
    • Persona 5:
      • The main characters' rise to fame was orchestrated by The Conspiracy, so that the good guys could eventually become The Scapegoat for all the crimes the villains committed using the Metaverse.
      • Goro Akechi ends up being this to both the heroes and The Conspiracy: The good guys know he's working for the Conspiracy right from the start, and play him like a fiddle, while the bad guys plan on killing him the moment he outlives his usefulness.
      • The heroes and The Conspiracy were both being manipulated by Yaldabaoth, the God of Order, who was manipulating both sides to eliminate any "chaotic elements" inside the Metaverse that would stop him from removing The Evils of Free Will from the rest of humanity.
  • Vhailor in Planescape: Torment by the Practical Incarnation. And then, yourself fall for it, by the aptly-named Trias the Betrayer.
  • N of Pokémon Black and White. He was raised by Ghetsis to believe that all humans were bad, sheltered all his life around abused Pokémon. He genuinely had good intentions to free all Pokémon, but in the end of the game, we find out that he was just a pawn to advance Ghetsis's plan of dominating Unova. Poor guy doesn't take it lightly.
  • In [PROTOTYPE] Alex Mercer spends most of the game unknowingly aiding the plans of people who want him dead. First, he frees Elizabeth Greene, thinking she's just another victim. As it turns out, she's the Hive Queen behind the virus. Then, he tries to help his ex-girlfriend, Karen Parker, by providing her with biological materials from the infected. As it turns out Blackwatch has coerced her into working for them, and that genetic material Alex collected gets turned into a parasite which almost kills him. Then, Blackwatch Captain Cross tricks him into going to a location where they hit him with both Bloodtox and D-Codes. Finally, the Supreme Hunter consumes Cross, and uses that form to get Alex to kill off the Blackwatch leadership, and in an attempt to catch Alex off-guard so that the Hunter might eat him. Our sociopathic hero manages to overcome all this because he's a badass, but he does come across as a bit of a gullible idiot.
    • Part of the reason is because the amnesiac Mercer, even though he's eating people left and right in order to understand what the hell is going on, is often in the dark about what the hell is going on. As the game progresses he knows he's probably being played, but due to a lack of options he has to play along anyways if he's going to have a hope of accomplishing anything. He even says it outright to Cross.
    Mercer: Why do I get the feeling I'm getting the short end of this deal?
  • The hero from the Quest for Glory series has a terrible habit of playing right into the game's villain's hands, even though he manages to fix things in the end. In Quest for Glory 2, he gets mind-controlled into releasing the evil djinn Iblis by the game's Big Bad, then is almost trapped forever in Iblis' chamber. In Quest for Glory 3, in an attempt to bring peace between two tribes, he brings their leaders together in front of a third-party king. Then one of the leaders becomes possessed and kills the other, and is promptly killed by another person in the room, almost guaranteeing the war he was trying to stop. In Quest for Glory 4, he falls for a trick by the Big Bad from the second game, back for revenge. As a result, he ends up having to go through the motions to release a monster on the world. However, Elsa Von Spielburg is the Unwitting Pawn in Quest for Glory 5.
  • Radiata Stories. Jack does Lucian's job for him. All he has to do is provide the tools and the directions.
  • Raguna is a massive one in the first Rune Factory game. Going by hours spent playing the game, you will spend over 99% of the game actually supplying the enemy with energy for their final plan. Going by plot events, it depends on how large a percentage you want to give to the final boss fight end ending cutscene, because up until then you're playing into the Sech's hand.
  • Valdo, the protagonist of the PC game Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript, falls squarely into this territory. He's on a mission at the behest of an unknown employer, unaware that doing what his boss wants will lead to either him either being killed or thrown in prison for treason (which would probably lead to his death anyway).
  • Sanitarium has an interesting variation. There's two main antagonists the Morgan that exists within the protagonist's Dream Land, and the the one that exists in real world); both want the protagonist's death. The "unwitting" part comes from the fact that the first antagonist believes himself to be the second, and doesn't realize that killing the protagonist will cause him to die too; while the second doesn't even know that the first exists or that he's helping him by keeping the protagonist into a coma.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Yuko Takao in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. In the middle of the bleak Death World that the Conception has made of Tokyo (and which she is semi-directly responsible for), she's contacted by a goddess capable of giving her the power to undo said horrors, with only the small caveat of adding her into the ruling pantheon when it's done. Said goddess isn't a goddess at all, and she never had the means to restore the world. The part about being in danger if she's not incorporated into the new reality is entirely correct, though.
    • Zelenin from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Manipulative Bastard Mastema and The Three Wise Men play her like a fiddle all the game, playing on her insecurities and fears like a cheap kazoo, which she always blissfully ignores, until either their plans come to fruition or she's been reduced to holy dust.
    • The four Prentice Samurai, and indeed, the entire Eastern Kingdom of Mikado are used as puppets by Gabby, who is the Archangel Gabriel in disguise to kill Kagome Tower's guardians and spring the captive Archangels.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Lucifer (and, to a much lesser extent, Merkabah) is revealed to be one to YHVH, being used by YHVH as a scapegoat to prolong the people's suffering and maintain his power. Also, earlier, every human is played like a fiddle by Shesha and Krishna after their supposed defeats in Ikebukuro and Tsukiji Konganji. Under the guise of Flynn, Shesha gets Nanashi to kill Merkabah and Lucifer so the Divine Powers can re-emerge at the last moment.
  • Harry spends most of Silent Hill being Dahlia's Sucker, but his unwavering love for his daughter is also what causes him to be the Spanner in the Works. Depending on which of the Multiple Endings you get, you can argue the same for the protagonists of the other games: passively taking directions from everyone and their dog at every turn, but fully capable of killing the local Eldritch Abomination when push comes to shove.
  • Patroklos Alexander from SoulCalibur V is the son of legendary Holy Warrior Sophitia Alexandria and has pledged himself to hunting the 'malfested' who slew her and kidnapped his elder sister. So he winds up killing the human enemies of Graf Dumas, an alias of what amounts to the grand-daddy of all malfested... the Azure Nightmare himself.
  • There is sort of a subversion played on this in Spartan: Total Warrior The game, like the movie 300 which it shares many similarities to, consists of ridiculously epic One Against Billions battles and sweeping, one-button-per-5-victims decapitations like a living lawnmower, all while listening to the god of war Ares's evil laughter and bloodlusty encouragement ("Hahaha, kill and kill again!"). It appears blatantly obvious to anyone familiar with button-mashing spells and swordplay epics that he will turn out to be some sort of enemy in the future, and that his plan all along was to get you to kill every Roman and his mother, but it turns out that it's only half true; while Ares does indeed to turn out to be the Big Bad, your genocide on the Romans was merely a distraction so that your homeland of Sparta could be destroyed while you were away. We are treated to multiple more tropes during Ares's Hannibal Lecture, such as the fact that he is your father and Tiberias was merely a puppet. You technically did fulfill his plans for mass murder, but it was of both your enemies AND your friends.
  • StarCraft: Brood War was already a pretty confusing Gambit Pileup to begin with. Every character who isn't directly opposed to her ends up being one of Kerrigan's Unwitting Pawns as time goes on, with the exception of Samir Duran. He used her rise to power to speed up and hide his Protoss-Zerg Hybridization project. It can be said that the biggest pawn of all is Jim Raynor, who despite being one of the more heroic characters in the game, often ends up directly or indirectly helping villains, and in the grand scheme of things, is almost powerless. This tendency has unfortunately carried on into the next game. To his credit, he spends the Wings of Liberty campaign openly bemoaning the fact that he's probably either being openly played with, or just being set up to be used later. He spends nearly as much time trying to figure out how as he does trying not to have a bunch of Zerg chew his face off.
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Starkiller/Galen Marek is shown to have been one when Vader reveals that everything up to that point had been planned by himself and Palpatine to have Stakiller assemble a proto-Rebellion. It didn't matter if his goal was to stay loyal to Vader and "distract" the Emperor, or if he thought he was fooling Vader and genuinely attempting to form a rebellion, his only purpose was to get them together in the same place at the same time. It only fails because Juno and PROXY are jointly the Spanner in the Works, one sacrificing himself to distract Vader as he's about to kill his apprentice and the other rescuing him after his fall. The ending also implies that Vader was also an Unwitting Pawn to Palpatine all along. He wanted to see if Starkiller had the potential to surpass Vader and become Palpatine's new apprentice.
  • In the old FPS/RPG Strife you get hit with this in the bad ending, Blackbird, your Voice with an Internet Connection, is revealed to be the Entity and has been using you to free her.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, once Mario collects every Crystal Star except the one the X-Nauts found before the game started, Grodus, leader of the X-Nauts, creates a plan to give the Crystal Star he has to Lord Crump, who he has lost all trust in, so Mario can take it from him and open the Thousand-Year Door for Grodus while disposing of Crump. Unfortunately for Grodus, upon achieving his goal of reviving the Shadow Queen, it's revealed that Beldam, leader of the Shadow Sirens that were working for him, had lied to Grodus about the Queen becoming his servant so he would try and use her to Take Over the World, thus making the entire X-Naut organization a pawn to Beldam.
    • In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio spends much of the game manipulating Mario and co.
      "Even if the count dies, the Chaos Heart won't disappear if I continue to control it! But I needed the power of the Pure Hearts to beat him. I couldn't do that on my own. So I had you do all the sweaty labor for me. And you even used your Pure Hearts to defeat Count Bleck! If they make greeting cards to thank people for helping with evil plans, I owe you one."
    • Antasma from Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Although he's billed as the main antagonist, he forms an alliance with Bowser that backfires horribly for him, since Bowser turns out to have been taking advantage of him and screws Antasma over in the end.
  • In System Shock 2, this happens often enough through the game's plot that it's practically the player's full-time occupation. However, those who had played the first game, and knew who they were dealing with, walked into the Gambit with open arms.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Harry Whitehorse unwittingly falls into Alexei and Yeager's plot to cause tension in the guilds by helping cause the death of Belius, and by extension, his grandfather, the Don. Belius gets better, the Don does not.
  • The protagonist in almost every Touhou installment. Blatantly obvious in the later installments, where Reimu is used by Yukari to counter Kanako's influence.
    • Remilia Scarlet in the Silent Sinner in Blue manga. She actually realized she was this trope after a while but decided to go along with it anyway. Partly to relieve some boredom and partly because, by then, she had actually started to care for the path she was being manipulated into following. Even worse, the ostensible "winners", the Watatsuki sisters, are completely fooled by both Yukari and Eirin's plans, tricked out of a rare bottle of wine by the first and getting extorted out of considerable favors by the latter.
    • And in Double Dealing Character, Shinmyoumaru Sukuna exemplified the "unwitting" part of this trope when she became Seija Kijin's pawn. Seija is an amanojaku, a kind of youkai notorious for being pathological liars, and Sukuna was aware of this fact when she bought into Seija's lies. "Horrible Judge of Character" doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Non-FF Squaresoft example: Surlent from Treasure of the Rudra. Being fooled by a thief is one thing, being fooled about once every thirty minutes by the very forces of Creation is another. Although it quickly becomes clear that Surlent helping the game's Gambit Pileup along (and losing his body thrice in the process) is actually his destiny (by failing hard but consistently, he accidentally brings all of the MacGuffins to the right people at the right time), it still occasionally starts looking like a case of Just Eat Gilligan.
  • Vagrant Story: In a very unusual example, Ashley Riot was a Unwitting Pawn for an Anti-Villain, who manipulated him into saving the world from the much more dangerous Knight Templar Guilderstern.
  • The protagonist in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. And with the Gambit Pileup that's going on, it's at time hard to tell exactly whose plan.
    • Possibly also anyone who tried to use the Ankharan Sarcophagus to gain power.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War ends with Gabriel destroying Maledictum, which turns out to be the prison of Daemon of Khorne. Forces of Chaos used unknowing Gabriel as an Unwitting Pawn in their scheme to free the Daemon.
  • The World Ends with You
    • Makoto wound up being one of these for Kitaniji, as the whole point of making the Red Skull Pins popular in the first week later comes back to haunt him in the last one when almost all of the Shibuya UG, citizens and Reapers included, gets brainwashed and homicidal toward Neku and Beat.
    • The main characters themselves are pretty severe cases of this as well, especially Neku: Every single thing they did turned out to serve the sole purpose of helping Joshua fulfill his goal of erasing Shibuya. Although failing to defeat Kitaniji would result in Shibuya falling victim to an Assimilation Plot. This is one case in which the pawns don't have any choice but to go along with the scheme.
  • Thrall and Sylvanas Windrunner from World of Warcraft are good examples. Thrall explicitly trusted Sylvanas, despite the fact that she was using the Horde for her own vengeance against the Lich King. In turn, she believed she had Varimathras firmly under her control, which is what he wanted her to think all along; the Nathrezim are a race of MagnificentBastards.
    • It's implied that Thrall only let the Forsaken into the Horde because they need a presence in the Eastern Kingdoms, and because the Earthen Ring suggested that they could potentially cure undeath. The Forsaken are considered allied to the Horde rather than true members.
    • You too. There are multiple quest chains where you're suckered into doing a bad guy's bidding. Unfortunately for the bad guy, once they decide that you've outlived your usefulness, you show up with friends and proceed to beat the tar out of them and take their loot.
  • Speaking of which, the Warcraft franchise is full of these, really. Arthas thought he was fighting against the Scourge right up until they sucked out his soul and made him their champion. The entire Scarlet Crusade seems not to realize it's actually run by demons (those Magnificent Nathrezim again.) And the quests player characters keep getting have led fans to lament "How many times do I have to help the Lich King before I learn better?"
    • The game implies that Thrall doesn't really trust the Forsaken, apparently he flat out needs them because otherwise the Alliance is too much more powerful. (Without the Forsaken and the Blood Elves, the Horde would be entirely on Kalimdor [and then Outland and more recently Northrend] which is also home to two of the Alliance races and a noticeable number of human outposts, including Jaina Proudmoore's city of Theramore Isle.) The other Horde leaders never even mention Varimathras when planning. It's very likely that nobody trusted him at all except Sylvanas. And Arthas was savvy enough to realize he was probably selling his soul and just didn't realize it was to his enemy. After all, it DID give him the power to almost destroy the Scourge. The Scarlets? Morons.
    • Thrall is not fooled though by Neeru Fireblade, who remains only at Thrall's pleasure because he doesn't have enough information to move against the Burning Blade cult, all the while convinced that he has ''Thrall' outwitted.
    • Sintharia, Deathwing's only surviving consort, despises him and plots to make a new Twilight Dragonflight to take over Azeroth. It is implied that she's been manipulated by him all along, as in Cataclysm, he has reanimated her and uses her eggs to create Twilight Dragons to assist him in his plans.
  • Fei Fong Wong of Xenogears. Not only was he a sucker for Solaris, the Wave Existence, his split personalities and his own prior incarnation, but even his friends manipulated him without reservations.
  • Virtually every single named character in the Xenosaga trilogy is a Unwitting Pawn. This is not an exaggeration.


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