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"Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"
Wash, Firefly


In fiction, it is common for characters on either the heroic or villainous side to betray their superiors or comrades. Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is when a specific character constantly and successfully betrays his apparent allegiances, only to move on to a new group and repeat the pattern. The character may be doing it for a higher purpose (making them The Chessmaster) or their own selfish betterment (making them a Wild Card), or they could just be Ax Crazy. Different from the Heel Face Revolving Door in that it's not always a hero/villain swap, and in fact is usually switching between different groups of antagonists.

Named for Revolver Ocelot's "condition" in The Last Days of Foxhound, which is his proclivity for this deliberately Flanderized into a physical compulsion for comedy value.

Frequently happens when a Magnificent Bastard plays the Enigmatic Minion. See Reliable Traitor for a possible reason why the character can continue to find work. Related to The Starscream, except that that character type doesn't succeed (most of the time, anyways... and when they do, they usually don't get to revel in it for long.) These characters are also commonly Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil, Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Evil, or Stupid Neutral. (Lawful and/or Good characters tend to see betrayal as a big no-no, and Neutral Evil characters (probably) won't betray their current allies just for the hell of it.)

As a Betrayal Tropes, this is probably going to be Spoilicious.

Examples of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder include:


Anime Edit

  • Char Aznable of Mobile Suit Gundam. Bonus points in the first series for being re-hired by the very government he betrayed and deserted.
    • Though, he doesn't stab everyone. (Reasons for leaving AEUG are never really explained, are they?)
      • Char states at the end of Zeta Gundam that he'll leave his ambitions of escorting mankind to space to the AEUG. In the years that follow, however, he gets tired of waiting around, culminating in Chars Counterattack.
      • It's worth noting that he was pretty much forced into leaving AEUG, after faking his death after losing to Haman. He was never really comfortable in the AEUG anyway, and being presumed dead helped him get out of his obligations. It's not really treason so much as not renewing his contract for another term.
      • A Play Station 1-era Zeta Gundam game offered a bit more elaboration in Quattro's storyline, showing that Kamille's getting mindraped was the tipping point, since he wanted to entrust the future to Kamille's generation.
  • Zechs Merquise aka Milliardo Peacecraft in Gundam Wing leads a life of it.
    • First abandons his family and country to join The Alliance, which destroyed it.
    • Betrays the Alliance in a coup to join Treize and OZ.
    • Leaves OZ after Treize is deposed and goes crazy for a while. (Including assuming a role as a "peace ambassador" that went around blowing things up for no good reason.)
    • Joins White Fang against OZ (now without Treize)
    • Leads White Fang against all of Earth (now with Treize)
    • Stops Earth's destruction and commits suicide....
    • ....only to return in in the movie to fight the Big Bad for the woman he loves and his (kidnapped) younger sister.
  • Paptimus Scirocco from Zeta Gundam gives Char and his various expies a run for their money. He swears his loyalty to Jamitov, Bosque, and Haman, only to betray them all in turn. He kills Jamitov directly and orders the deaths of Bosque and Jamaican via his followers. Through his double-dealing he climbs the ladder from a nobody from Jupiter to the unquestioned master of the Titans.
  • Gundam 00 - Fucking Ribbons!. Alejandro Corner, Wang Liu Mei, and Regene Regetta are also not very trustworthy people, but Ribbons is pretty much king of this.
  • After War Gundam X - The Frost Brothers betray from their initial debut up until the final episode.
  • Code Geass - Suzaku Kururugi. Bismark, the Knight of One, even lampshades the trope by openly stating that he betrays everyone and everything, and they expected him to do that. Which isn't really all that inaccurate since he was helping with a coup d'etat at the time. Suzaku killed the leader of his country three times, having some kind of special relationship with the killed leader in all three cases. Granted, one of these cases wasn't an actual betrayal per se, but he'd betrayed that person earlier on. Even Suzaku openly admits to being this way in an earlier episode:

 Suzaku: I told you before, Lelouch...that I was going to change this world from the inside.

Lelouch: Even if it means selling out your friends?!

Suzaku: That's right.

    • There's also Diethard Reid, who first worked for the Britannian empire, then became a Black Knight, and then joined Schneizel purely because of the thrill.
    • Villetta Nu. You know, the woman who first fought for Britannia, then lost her memories and fell in love with a rebel, then regained them and shot him, then was blackmailed into fighting for the rebels, then betrayed her blackmailer to his eventually undyingly loyal knight, then reported this to her blackmailer, then betrayed him and joined his sibling who was trying to kill him, then ended up on the side of the guy she fell in love with and shot, and eventually had a baby with him? Her.
  • Gauron of Full Metal Panic. Mainly For the Evulz. He switches sides countless times (many times without the side he was originally on even knowing), without much reason other than that another side is offering more possibilities for destruction and meeting Kashim.
  • Nergal of Martian Successor Nadesico as a whole, and especially their chairperson Nagare Akatsuki have no trouble whatsoever constantly backstabbing The Government and their employees, only to come sidling back to either or both when things don't go their way. One suspects said "chairman may just be doing it for laughs".
    • By the same token, the leader of the Alien Invasion has no qualms about having his underlings covertly assassinated, or with starting an entirely new faction and backstabbing everybody when his invasion plans don't work out.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has a few examples. End of Evangelion kicks off with Gendo and the SEELE committee simultaneously betraying each other and every single other faction in the series. On the other hand, Ryoji Kaji is simultaneously double-crossing SEELE, NERV, and the Japanese government all in a personal quest to figure out what the fuck is going on, and he turns out to be one of the more unambiguously heroic characters on the show. He doesn't get away with it, though.
  • Slayers - Xellos is a pretty good example of this trope, as his loyalties can (And will) change at the drop of a hat (except for Zelas Metallium, the mazoku lord he serves). In the books, the sheer awesomeness of this is turned up to eleven. Mazoku are bound, absolutely, to follow the orders of their superiors. He still manages to betray them. In the anime, it comes off as Xellos just having fun with humans by frusterating them.
    • Zelgadis also suffered from a minor case of CBD very early on in the series, although it was to a much lesser extent.
  • Big Bad Vicious from Cowboy Bebop was willing to (and did) backstab and murder anyone for the purpose of rising to the top of The Syndicate.
  • The Tower of Druaga: Neeba, older half-brother to protagonist Jil, has a bad case of this. This guy betrayed Jil and his own adventuring party twice and also betrayed the party who took him in and trained him in his Magic Bowman class.
  • In Weiss Kreuz, Schwarz inevitably turn on every single one of their employers over the course of the multi-part series.
  • One Piece has a scene where the Straw Hats are told not to trust their True Companions, Nico Robin, as every organization she has ever joined was destroyed before her departure. Unlike Usopp's "Chronic I-Must-Not-Travel-To-This-Island Disease," her disorder is presumed cured. When her backstory is revealed, we learn that she actually suffered from Chronic Getting-Backstabbed Disorder, since the age of 8 no less.
    • Blackbeard on the other hand plays this straight. He betrayed Whitebeard, killed one of his own crewmates, and later captured Ace to deliver him to the World Government so that he could join the Seven Warlords of the Sea. When the Warlords are later recalled to Marine Headquarters to defend it from Whitebeard's expected attack in retaliation for Ace's capture, Blackbeard then betrays them by heading for Impel Down instead. His motivation for these betrayals, and indeed for everything he does, is to fulfill his dream of becoming the Pirate King.
    • Nami at the beginning of the series when she betrayed Luffy to Buggy, then she betrays Buggy himself to join up with Luffy again. Then just before Sanji joins the crew she steals their ship and their treasure for Arlong. Then she betrays Arlong and goes back to Luffy again. They even lampshade these betrayals in the sixth movie when Nami accuses Usopp of betraying her and he says that that's her thing.
  • Sasuke from Naruto changes allegiances/betrays people so often and for so little reason that it's a wonder anyone trusts him anymore. In order, he betrayed the Leaf Village (along with a personal betrayal of both his teammates); Orochimaru; Itachi's beliefs; Akatsuki; Jugo and Suigetsu; and Karin. Zetsu has also recently joined the list. Some of his betrayals are reasonable, but most go along the lines of "if I stay loyal, I don't get anything out of it". Tobi seems to have noticed this trend and beat him to the punch by promising to hand him over to Kabuto.
    • Kabuto is a chronic backstabber himself, having betrayed Konoha and Akatsuki, although he subverted the trope with Orochimaru. Unsurprisingly, Madara doesn't trust him. And with good reason, as Kabuto is planning on getting the powers of Rikudo Sennin himself, and is more concerned with making the Alliance and Madara's forces destroy each other.
  • From Robotech/Macross, we get Khyron/Kvamzin Kravshera. Known by his own people as "Kamjin the Ally-Killer". It's not a reference to his battle tactics. It is a reference to the fact that he'll murder his own men, and even other people's men, to advance his own objectives or if they displease him in some way. It's only the fact that Britai and Laplamiz have vastly superior firepower and numbers to Kamjin that prevents him from launching a full-on mutiny.
  • Sora in .hack Sign, who is very clearly not to be trusted. However, he's one of the strongest characters in The World and has a good ear for rumors. By the end, he's killed BT three times, switched to and from her side about as many times, worked with the Crimson Knights and finally ends up accidentally buying time for Tsukasa and Subaru to escape. He wasn't expecting to get caught, but eh, at least he tried at the end. He stops his backstabbing ways after he loses his memory and returns as Haseo
  • In Outlaw Star, Professor Gwen Khan has a bad habit of using people to achieve his ultimate goal and acquire the power of the Galactic Leyline, and then ditching them once they've gotten him as far as they can. In the course of the series, he's rode on the coattails of the Kei Pirates, Gene Starwind and his crew, and finally the McDougall brothers, always skipping off when they've done all they can for him (although Gene manages to pull a premature backstab on him first). He also manipulates the android Melfina, who he created himself, as a bargaining chip, but unlike most examples of this trope doesn't seem sinister for it, mainly because he seems more True Neutral then Neutral Evil.
  • Clone Syaoran in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts out as the main character, and then tries to kill Fai by eating his eye, and after that ... well, I'm not even sure what happens after that. But it appears that by near the end, he is one of the good guys. I think.
  • Bleach: Who knows what side Gin Ichimaru's on?
    • Easy: Rangiku's. And he always was on her side. Anyone else? Fair game, though.
  • RG Veda: Shashi -- better known as Ashura's bitch of a mother. After the Ashura clan grants her a god's lifespan as their priestess, she promptly swears off those lowly, miserable humans (that she used to be one of). Then, she seduces Lord Ashura so that she can rise in status as his wife. Still not satisfied, she gets pregnant with another, more ambitious god's child at the same time as Ashura's child (twin half-brothers), and betrays the entire Ashura clan (including her husband) to their deaths when Taishakuten (her other babydaddy) revolts to become the new Emperor.
    • And when Ashura was born, she tried to kill hir as well, because a child of Lord Ashura was no longer advantageous to her. After three hundred years as the wife of the iron-fisted emperor of the gods, is she pretty much through digging for more power? Hell no! She plans to supplant him with her son and rule through him. Oh, Shashi, you backstabbing little minx, you!
  • Mine Fujiko in Lupin III betrays Lupin in most of her TV appearances and all of her movie appearances. Then, if it looks like the villain (and/or Inspector Zenigata) isn't going to keep their end of the deal or she can get a better deal with Lupin, she'll betray them as well. Despite this, Lupin continues to blindly trust her until the next betrayal.
  • Death Note's very own Light Yagami qualifies. Over the course of the series, he betrays the trust of L, whom he considered, at least at one point, to be a friend (saying at one point, "Ryuuzaki is Light Yagami's friend, but L is Kira's enemy"). He also betrays his father and his co-workers, especially Matsuda, who genuinely looked up to him, by murdering or conspiring to murder them all. He betrays his fiancee Misa Amane by starting a relationship with Kiyomi Takada -- besides, you know, considering murdering her as well. He continues on to betray this girlfriend as well, killing her when she outlives her usefulness to him. He ALSO betrays his devoted heir Teru Mikami at the Warehouse by denying that he knew him. Considering his betrayal of Naomi Misora's trust and his betrayal of his mother's and sister's trust (he considers killing them both at various points in the story), and the list only goes on. All in the name of a New World, of course.
  • Michio Yuki from Osamu Tezuka's manga, MW, has betrayed everyone over the course of the manga. He killed a man who happens to be his client at that time. Afterwards, he starts a relationship with Miho, his corrupt boss's daughter, only to have her killed. Later on, he betrays his own boss, whom he trusted with his life, when it turns out that he's part of the MW cover up. He betrays Sumiko, whom she keeps falls in love despite how evil he is, by starting a relationship and marrying Mr. Nakata's daughter, only to betray her later on when she is told by Detective Meguro of his evil actions. Prior to that, he betrayed Father Garai, the man whom he formed a homosexual relationship with, by sending him to a nightclub to take a picture of him with a customer. He did all that to achieve his goal: obtaining the MW, the same gas that loses his morality, and use it to end the world when he dies.
  • In Digimon Xros Wars, DarkKnightmon revels in this trope, backstabbing everyone he allies with, even his brother.


Comic Books Edit

  • Snively from Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog, once they entered Cerebus Syndrome territory. He even had a monologue about all the people he's betrayed over the course of the comics.
    • Interestingly, in an early and abandoned draft of the comic Snively's Heel Face Turn was to have been genuine. Not only that, but he was to sacrifice his life to help Sonic.
    • There's also Lien-Da. Let's see: first, she and her brother Kragok kill their father so that they can take over the Dark Legion (though Kragok then cut her out; guess this trope runs in the family). Years later, after the Legion's been reorganized into the Dark Egg Legion and being led by Lien-Da's distant ancestor Dimitri, she eventually destroys his life support system and leaves him for dead so that she can take over. And then, a few issues after that, she tries to betray the current Big Bad, the Iron Queen, and become the Dragon Ascendant... it doesn't go well for her.
    • Nack the Weasel also qualifies: He often sells out his comrades to either save his own skin or because they are a hinderance towards his mission. Usually, Sonic and his friends often get him to help them by hinting that they'll put him in jail with his friends (who from what is shown of them, most likely intend to exact revenge on Nack).
  • X-Men
    • Gambit has switched sides so many times that it's a wonder that any team, let alone the X-Men, take him-- although the fact that he's pretty consistent in choosing the side with Rogue on it probably allows whoever his current employers are some degree of peace of mind, if not exactly a high degree of long-term trust.
    • Mystique. In one issue, Cable (time traveling dude from the future) even mentioned that in his time, "Mystique" was used in much the same way that "Judas" is used now.
    • Mister Sinister betrayed Apocalypse pretty much immediately after being empowered by him, has betrayed him again in several alternate timelines, and knifed the High Evolutionary and Malice in the back as well.
    • Daken, Wolverine's son. In one issue, he faces Cyber (whom he was allied with in the past) and chooses to be on Wolverine's side. Then betrays W. and sides with C. because "C. has a better plan". Then comes out that there is no freakin' plan! Then betrays C. again and says he planned it all with W. from the start... and then, of course, he betrays W. too. And the X-Men, for good measure.
  • Pretty much every Asterix villain. The Romans at least, parodying the politics of the Roman Empire.
  • In Empowered Thugboy's former group, the Witless Minions' MO was pretty much this (mostly by swiping their stuff for money), though they're not above mind screwing an employer until they suffer a nervous breakdown. This ends BADLY when they made the mistake of trying to dupe Willy Pete.
  • In ABC Warriors, Blackblood's weapon of choice is listed as "treachery". That's pretty much all there is to him.
  • Raven from Teen Titans has a habit of being brainwashed or suddenly turning evil. When some new members join up, Starfire gives them a run-down on Raven's backstory, trying clearly to downplay the amount of times this has happened and emphasize her tragic life. The new members agree to secretly keep an eye on Raven, with Robin summing up, "She's betrayed them more times then they're willing to admit."
  • New Gods: Darkseid. Whenever they have to work together with him for the greater good, it's not a question of whether or not he's going to betray them... just when. Darkseid's right-hand-man Desaad is even worse. While most residents of Apokolips revere Darkseid fearfully, the sadistic Desaad dreams of betraying him and becoming ruler. He's smart enough to not try it until the opportune moment, but he still slips up enough for Darkseid to murder him repeatedly. Over and over and over.
  • Marvel's Loki does this at any given moment, and why his brother The Mighty Thor still gives him the time of day is anyone's guess. He knows it, too, and isn't always happy about it: Kid!Loki was created because his previous incarnation realised that his treacherous nature had made him too predictable - an unacceptable state for a God of Chaos.
    • He gets a taste of his own medicine whenever he teams up with Dormammu.
  • Marvel's Thanos isn't the most reliable guy to have on your side either.
  • Cheshire, former member of the Secret Six is very much this, but unfortunately for her The Society catch on and are not idiots.
  • Rawlins and Barracuda from The Punisher stories by Garth Ennis.
  • Suffice it to say that bringing The Joker along on your evil plan du jour is not a sensible career move.
    • Played with in Infinite Crisis - Alex Luthor is Genre Savvy enough to leave the Joker out of his grand scheme, but does it ever come back to bite him in the end, especially when he's been defeated and the Joker's got him cornered in a dark alley...


Fan Works Edit

Film Edit

  • Eric Qualen of Cliffhanger might have actually pulled off his elaborate scheme if he had assembled a team of henchmen that actually liked and trusted each other.
  • Spy Kids - The real Big Bad, Mr. Alexander Minion made a business out of this. He was a Dragon for hire that always ending up betraying his master and hijacking their Evil Plans for his own purposes.
  • The Largo siblings from Repo the Genetic Opera are vying for a place as their father's heir, and are pretty damn vicious about it.
  • Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean; it rubs off on just about everyone else, too. Jack and his more-or-less friends betray each other constantly, yet always end up on the same side again in the end.
  • Star Wars - The Sith use betrayal and treachery as their modus operandi. If you're able to keep what you take, you deserved it. If the Master can't keep his subordinates in line, then he shouldn't be the Master. Palpatine gets Anakin to kill off Dooku, then later tries to get Luke to kill off Vader and become his newest apprentice. While at the same time, Vader tries to get Luke to kill off Palpatine so they can "rule the galaxy as father and son."

 'Palpatine, as gatekeeper of the Telos Holocron': "Choose someone as successor and you will inevitably be succeeded. Choose someone hungrier and you will be devoured. Choose someone quicker and you won't dodge the blade at your back. Choose someone with more patience and you won't block the blade at your throat. Choose someone more devious and you'll hold the blade that kills you. Choose someone more clever and you'll never know your end. Despite these cautions, an apprentice is essential. A Master without an apprentice is a Master of nothing."

    • Star Wars: The Old Republic gives us a glimpse of Sith motivations, since it has two Sith class storylines.
      • It was recently asked if there will be an opportunity for this sort of political backstabbing in the Inquisitor storyline. The response; "More then you can possibly imagine."
    • Ironically, Darth Sidious's own master, Darth Plagueis, attempted to avert the trope by having himself and Palpatine/Darth Sidious form a genuine bond. Unfortunately for him, Sidious still managed to do it onto him anyway.
  • General Hein of Final Fantasy the Spirits Within seems to inadvertently or otherwise kill off almost all of his allies within the course of the movie. The best example of this is when he tells his inferior to collect up "his most trusted troops". Within the next fifteen minutes, these troops are all dead due to Hein's poor judgment. Later, near the end of the film, he overrides the fail safes of the Zeus orbiting laser cannon, causing it to explode and killing all of the inhabitants of the space station.
  • John Shields of The Bad and The Beautiful
  • The Departed has this as a pervasive ambiance as opposed to a single character.
  • The Good the Bad And The Ugly - At the end, Blondie backstabs Tuco by not backstabbing him.
  • Zombieland - Wichita and Little Rock. First, they fake a zombie bite on Little Rock as part of a scheme to steal Columbus and Tallahassee's weapons and vehicle. Then when the guys catch up to them, they hijack their new vehicle, holding them up with their own weapons. At least they let them come along this time, and eventually the group builds a grudging rapport. Next morning, however, they steal the truck again. Finally, after the guys they've repeatedly betrayed rescue them from certain, messy doom, they drive off again. They were joking this time, knowing that the guys would be all too willing to take them seriously.
  • The opening sequence of The Dark Knight Saga has a long chain of henchmen backstabbing each other, with the Joker killing the final henchman.
    • At least the last one sees it coming. The Joker manages to avert the Mexican Standoff.
    • Note that the Joker later reveals that he doesn't care one bit about money, and even goes to show just how much he truly doesn't care about it by setting the half of the Mob's money that he earned by retrieving Lau on fire, meaning that the backstab was most likely instigated by the Joker solely for the laughs.
  • Mac in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. First he's Indy's friend, then he betrays him to the Russians, then he pretends to betray the Russians to get back on Indy's side, and then betrays Indy again.

 Indy: "Wait, so you're a triple agent?"

Mac: "No, I was just lying about being a double."

  • Ward Abbott from The Bourne Series is a fine example -- he first betrayed his superiors to form a black ops squad with Conklin, then betrayed his black ops squad to use it for personal gain and finally betrayed Conklin as well.
  • Scar from The Lion King is a classic case of this. He has his own brother killed, tricks his own trusting nephew into blaming himself, tries to have that nephew killed, drives the hyenas (who helped him kill his brother) nearly to starvation, and then when confronted by his previously self-blaming nephew, (who finally saw Scar for the backstabber he was) Scar tried to blame everything on the hyenas to save his own hide. Even though all this lying and backstabbing is what got him into the situation he was in to begin with.
  • Simon Gruber in Die Hard With a Vengeance (played by Jeremy Irons, who voiced Scar). He betrays his middle eastern clients by stealing the gold they hired him to destroy and then screws over some of his accomplices to make sure he gets as large a share as possible. In the alternate ending, which takes place a few months after a successful heist, he has even eliminated his girlfriend to rob her.

Literature Edit

  • A Civil Campaign: Byerly Vorrutyer, the man-about-town and general political stirrer. He has motives so indiscernible that it's very hard to tell exactly who he's actually betraying, and whether he's a double agent, triple agent... or what, really. Actually working for the government. We think.

 Ivan:"You've lied and you're lying, but I can't tell about what. You make my head hurt. I'm about to share the sensation."

    • It's strongly implied that Byerly's contact/handler is Ivan's own mother, opening a new can of fractal worms in Ivan's suddenly illuminated head. Cue spit-take.
    • Another implied possibility is that his "blind drop" is Ivan himself (making the drop REALLY blind).
    • In The Vor Game we meet a more pathological version in Commander Cavilo. Having already vamped her way into command of a mercenary warfleet; she gets hired by a planet during a staredown with a rival, sells them out to the Cetagandan Empire, then backstabs both the Cetagandans and her own fleet for a chance at seducing the Barrayaran Emperor Gregor (who had slipped out of The Chains of Commanding after a drunken, halfhearted suicide attempt) into making her his consort. It is mentioned (though not by name) as being her downfall. If she had stuck with one plan, any plan, she could have probably pulled it off. But she's unwilling to follow through when she thinks something better comes along.
    • Miles (the series' protagonist) himself seems to suffer from a variant of this disorder (which is lampshaded in the series, especially The Vor Game and Memory). Rather than intentionally betraying allies and neutrals, he makes commitments (implicit or explicit) which he later can't fulfill without breaking another one. (He doesn't want to betray people, and he generally manages to juggle responsibilities and deceive people until he finds a solution. However, his skill at avoiding having to follow through with the final outright backstab doesn't prevent the lead-up from being its own form of betrayal.) The pattern is most clearly (and avoidably) showcased in the first book The Warrior's Apprentice.
  • The villain, Achilles, in Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets trilogy. By the end, he's betrayed Russia, India, Thailand, China, and the Hegemon. Also, he kills anyone who's ever seen him vulnerable, including people who help him out of said situation.
  • Fernand Mondego of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo achieves success through this. First he participates in setting up Dantes so he can have Mercedes for himself. Then, during the Napoleonic Wars, he and his superior officer both desert Napoleon at the right moment, earning promotions from the new Royalist Regime afterward. Then, as a sort of mercenary in the Greek Wars of Independence, he is a well-paid commanding officer under Ali Pasha who he betrays to the Turks. Not only does he gain a fortune for this treason, but back in France everyone thinks he's a war hero and he ends up a general.
  • Lord Gro from E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros had a bad case of this, due to his desire to be fair and support the underdog. Eventually it did cost him his life, when he started killing soldiers on both sides in the middle of a battle to show there were no hard feelings.
  • Flashman - Flashman inevitably gets to see any conflict from both sides due to getting captured and/or turning his coat.
  • Lily, of Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. In her Backstory, before the events of the book, she was sent back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, did so, then decided to attempt to undo her changes so that she could go home. (This Backstory is revealed to be false. She was originally Lois Lane to the Superman-like CoreFire before getting empowered and dumping him.) She became a supervillain, eventually hooking up with villainous Dr. Impossible, then left him for his Arch Nemesis, the Superhero CoreFire; as the story opens, she is just being recognized as an official member of CoreFire's team, the New Champions. She then provides Dr. Impossible with the last Plot Coupon necessary for his latest Doomsday Device. Doing so is what saves the world from the disaster described in her Backstory, and lets Dr. Impossible beat the snot out of CoreFire. Then she backstabs Dr. Impossible again to save the world yet another time, before chewing out both him and CoreFire and leaving them tied up to the same post. Even at the end of the series, it's clear the only side she's on is her own, and quite effective at it. Ironically, she's transparent.
  • This seems to be a deep cultural practice of the entire Psychlo race in L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth. They spend so much time blackmailing and backstabbing each other its amazing their species manages to run an inter-galactic empire. Terl, the Earth franchise's security chief is a toxic example even amongst this crew: he needs to betray so badly it at some level it surpass rationality. It turns out that Psychlos literally have bad wiring in their heads.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, the resident Magnificent Bastard. He's actually pretty upfront about being a chronic backstabber, but no one takes him seriously. He allies himself with Eddard Stark, causing him to believe that he had the resources to move against the Lannisters. But then when it comes time to act, Baelish betrays Stark to the Lannisters. He then frames Tyrion Lannister for the murder of his nephew Joffrey, causing House Lannister to tear itself apart - and making way for his new allies, the Tyrells, to take control of Westeros. With each successive betrayal, Baelish's own personal standing is increased, going from an unappreciated civil servant to the ruler of two of the Seven Kingdoms, and with Stark's eldest daughter, Sansa, as his protegé and one of the candidates for Queen Cersei's throne. And then we learn that the murder that made Stark want to get revenge on the Lannisters (Jon Arryn's) was committed by Baelish all along, having manipulated his wife Lysa into doing it..
    • Everyone assumes this of Jaime Lannister "the Kingslayer", ever since he killed King Aerys II while serving as part of his Kingsguard. Aerys was planning on burning down the entire capital city and the entire population thereof rather than allow his enemies to conquer it; Jamie only killed him to prevent this from happening. When he gets a POV chapter later in the series, we see that he's completely aware of his reputation and enjoys utilising it to his advantage.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space 'verse, Pak Protectors were in a perpetual state of war because they were biologically incapable of staying allies for any extended period of time. If they ever saw an advantage for their clan in betraying other clans, they were hardwired in a way that basically forced them to take it. The only partial exception is if they had no successors, then they could try to adopt their entire species. The only thing that can unite them for a longer term is an outside race, whom they will exterminate utterly if it could ever be a threat to the Pak.
    • Pak wars usually functioned like this. A few clans would team up to reclaim an area made uninhabitable by nuclear war. The land would become functional and profitable. Then all clans involved would work on WMDs to kill the rest. One such case had bio weapons versus nukes, with nukes winning and the bio weapon only killing 80-90% of the opposition without harming the military ability to fight. And then the side that got hit by the bio weapon would die off because Pak go suicidal if the breeders that they are supposed to be protecting get wiped out. Or go wage genocide on other species. A full human who goes protector makes an entire race of martians extinct because a few humans died in an incident long before. At one point there's a chance of a protector forming on a small human colony on an alien world friendly to the humans. Protectors have to be put down because no matter how friendly the aliens have been they are a possible threat to humans and must be killed.
  • Discworld series:
    • The way to get ahead at Unseen University is "by way of dead men's pointy shoes." In other words, kill the guy above you and steal his shoes and hat. Rinse, lather, repeat. Since the elevation of Mustrum Ridcully as Archchancellor this process has been halted, by virtue of him being virtually unkillable, resulting in a lot more permanency among the other senior wizards as well as backstabbing decreases.
    • Played straight in The Last Hero with Evil Harry Dread, who has a(n im)moral obligation to betray the heroes. This is not only not frowned upon, but actually applauded by them.
    • Lord Hong in Interesting Times. He helped along the revolution himself just so he could start a counter-revolution, he more-or-less cooperates with the other feudal lords while maneuvering for the crown, he has his minions killed after explicitly promising them to not give any orders to that point, he has no problem telling his soldiers lies which run exactly contrary to what they were told a few hours ago (and expects them to believe him!) and last but not least, is very clear on it that it's fine for a few hundred or thousand of them to die, because that's what they are for. Oh, and he had the emperor killed (stabbed!), but that's pretty much part of the power routine.
  • X Wing Series Ysanne Isard. Nominally always working for the Empire, but after the Emperor died, she was just working for herself. Later in the series, Baron Soontir Fel and Gara Petothel are both accused of this. It's untrue on both counts.
  • Ludovico in Leonardos Swans. He does this both to his wife and his political allies.
  • The Warlord Chronicles, a highly realistic retelling of the Arthurian legend, features a couple of examples:
    • First we have Gundleus from the first book. Already King of Siluria, Gundleus is set to marry Uther's daughter in the wake of Uther's death and be the regent for Uther's infant grandson, who will be the future High King. Instead Gundleus gets greedy and decides to shoot at becoming High King himself, murdering his wife to be and attempting to kill the baby as well. After Arthur captures him alive and treats him well, Gundleus promptly sides against Arthur in the next round of warfare among the British kingdoms when it looks like Arthur is going to lose. Oh, and in addition to killing his wife and attempting infanticide, Gundleus also rapes another character and rips out her eye. Fun guy, and particularly notable because even without doing any backstabbing he would in a position to wield enormous power.
    • Bishop Sansum is a Corrupt Churchman who operates on a single rule when it comes to the endless wars and political squabbles between the British kingdoms: be on the winning side. As soon as one faction gets the upper hand, Sansum is sure to make himself just useful enough to them that he'll survive and prosper regardless of who actually wins.
    • Also, in a very different take on the legend than usual, there's also Lancelot.
  • Dragonlance
    • Raistlin Majere's scoreboard:
      • He betrays his brother, as well as Tanis, Goldmoon, and Riverwind when he saves himself with the dragon orb when they are trapped in the Maelstrom.
      • He betrays the conclave of wizards by switching from Red robes to Black without consulting them.
      • He betrays Ariakas by aiding Tanis in assassinating him.
      • He betrays Takhisis by allowing Berem to seal her away in the abyss by impaling himself on the stone column.
      • He betrays Fistandantilus when he was under his apprenticeship in Istar by turning the tables on him, and using the bloodstone to consume his soul.
        • To be fair to Raistlin, Fistandantilus was planning to use the bloodstone to consume Raistlin's soul, so that one's probably okay. To a certain extent.
      • He betrays Tasslehoff by making him break the magical time traveling device as the fiery mountain is about to fall on Istar, sending him to the Abyss.
      • He betrays Caramon again by promising the Dewar his head in exchange for their help in taking over Pax Tharkas.
      • He betrays Crysania when she has outlived her usefulness to him.
      • Finally you have his (arguable) betrayal of himself, when he undoes everything he's been working towards in order to save himself from eternal loneliness.
    • Raistlin's half-sister Kitiara steps up to the plate:
      • She betrays Tanis by seducing his best friend Sturm.
      • She betrays all of the Companions by not honoring her oath to them and by joining the Dragonarmies.
      • She betrays Laurana by luring her to a false parley and kidnapping her.
      • She betrays Raistlin and Iolanthe by trying to kill all wizards.
      • She betrays Tanis again by offering to spare Laurana when she has already decided to give the elfmaid a Fate Worse Than Death.
      • She betrays Ariakas by plotting to overthrow him.
      • She betrays Lord Soth by letting Tanis take Laurana.
      • She betrays Raistlin again by having Lord Soth try to kill Crysania.
      • And she betrays Dalamar by stabbing him.
  • Codex Alera: Aquatainus Invidia will betray anyone and everyone in order to secure greater power for herself and, later, survival. Any character who has dealings with her not already possessing it quickly develops enough savvy to try to take Invidia's sudden but inevitable betrayal into account.
    • In the last book, The Vord Queen doesn't even have any emotion reaction at all when it's her turn to be backstabbed. She explains that Invidia IS this trope incarnate and doing anything else simply would not be Invidia.
  • His Dark Materials - Marisa Coulter. Spends an awful lot of time trying to capture her daughter, Lyra. Then it turns out that she was trying to protect her. Then she finds out about the prophecy. Then she starts trying to capture her again, with the help of some old guy. Then she poisons him and kidnaps Lyra to protect her from the Church, who want to kill her. Then Lyra escapes and Marisa goes over to Lord Asriel's side (the people who want to destroy the Church). Then she betrays him and defects back to the Church. Then she stops the Church from destroying Lyra and it turns out that her only intention was to stab them in the back. Then she helps kill the angel who has taken God's place, overthrowing the Authority in all worlds forever. Then she dies.
  • Many characters in Jack Vance's books, most notably Cugel the Clever, who for most of his two books will steal from, exploit, murder, or in some other way take advantage of literally anyone who has something he wants, or, really, even those who do not. Cugel is squarely the protagonist and Vance is a master of neutral treatment -- Cugel's un-judged behaviour can be quite breathtaking.
  • Vissers 3 and 1 in Animorphs. Probably other officers of the Yeerk army as well, but these two are most prominent, constantly working to undermine each other's position, even if it harms the greater cause and helps the Animorphs.
  • The Stanleys in The Sunne in Splendour. They keep betraying people even when it doesn't actually improve their situation. Since this is an historical novel, that was Truth in Television. The Stanleys were known as being turncoats.
  • The Lealfast in Sara Douglass' Dark Glass Mountain trilogy pretty much have this as their racial hat.
  • Conan the Barbarian: How does Conan justifies himself in Robert E. Howard's "The Vale of Lost Women"? Everyone does it here:

 "Truces in this land are made to be broken," he answered grimly. "He would break his truce with Jihiji. And after we'd looted the town together, he'd wipe me out the first time he caught me off guard. What would be blackest treachery in another land, is wisdom here.

  • Lu Bu of Romance of the Three Kingdoms manages this in truly appalling fashion. The full version can be found in "Real Life" examples, below, but the Reader's Digest version would go: murdered his master for a horse, murdered his next master for a 16 year old girl, became a rebellious warlord, betrayed his friend Liu Bei, and finally tried to sell his services to his sworn enemy Cao Cao. Cao, being a Magnificent Bastard and Dangerously Genre Savvy, said simply, "Strangle and expose."
  • In the Chung Kuo novels there are many betrayals - the upper levels of society run on Machiavellian scheming - but the supreme Wei Chi Master Howard DeVore outdoes them all. At first his betrayals seem to follow the logic of power, and he gets away with them all - he's slippery - but in the end he descends into Complete Monster territory and betrays everyone, that is, the entire human race.
  • In Doc Smith's Lensman novels, the entire Boskonian culture, spread through two major galaxies, runs on this trope. Everyone moves up through assassination and/or betrayal of their superiors. And they get away with it, as long as they protect themselves from others assassinating/betraying them, because that's how you /legitimately/ advance in their culture. Kim Kinnison goes undercover and works his way up to supreme dictator of an important planet and all its dependencies by a series of betrayals and assassinations, and he's widely admired and respected for this.
  • Uwe in The Black Swan toes the line between this and Manipulative Bastard. He allows Queen Clothilde to believe he is helping her set up her son for a tragic 'accident' which will let her keep the throne for life -- in reality he is setting her up for Baron von Rothbart to destroy her. Unfortunately for Uwe, the Baron rewards him as a traitor deserves.
  • In the second Time Scout book, Wagers of Sin, Chuck Farley is a master of this. And he gets away with it.
  • In the Age of Fire series, Infamia takes the cake. She's betrayed her mate, abandoned her other mate, defecting from her new employers after leaving in exile, then betraying her new king, and then betraying her mate again (who was the first one she betrayed). Subverted in that, except for the first two incidents, she was possessed by the Red Queen.
  • This isn't even a spoiler in The Clique series of YA novels, over the course of 13 (14 if you count the prequel) books the middle school girls, including Claire, back stab each other at least thrice. Prize goes to Massie and Alicia, who back stab each other so much it's not hard to lose count.
  • The entire society in Cyril Kornbluth's classic dystopia The Luckiest Man in Denv operates this way. In particular, the generals appear to spend more time intriguing against each other than prosecuting the war against Ellay. The protagonist, Reuben, is also no slouch when it comes to backstabbing his own superior officer.
  • The Eunuch Narses as depicted in the Belisarius Series has a genuinely pathological form of this. For his first (and by no means last) betrayal he, Grand Chamberlain of the Roman Empire and literally the only high offical the Ruling Couple completely trusts, commits to a conspiracy that would cost the life of the closest thing he will ever have to a daughter[1] in the hopes of becoming the Man Behind the Man for Justinian's replacement. He hates himself for it, and is convinced he will be dead of old age (not to mention damned to Hell) in a few years no matter what, but he just... can't... stop.
  • According to Pottermore, the Ravenclaw house of Harry Potter has a problem with this at times. Though since the information came from the Slytherin Prefect it must be taken with a grain of salt.


Live Action TV Edit

  • The Wire: Stringer Bell betrays three people, all of them main characters, and all of them considering him trustworthy. They are, in order, Wallace, D'Angelo (coming and going), and Avon Motherfucking Barksdale.
  • Tony Almeida in the seventh season of 24. He betrays Emerson's group, which he claims he had actually been loyal to at one point for serving as a deep cover agent for Bill Buchanan, then betrays the FBI by killing Larry Moss after thwarting Juma and Hodges' plans in favor of the masterminds behind the conspiracy, all so that he can meet their leader face-to-face and kill him.
  • The Apprentice. Every candidate who has ever appeared on The Apprentice.
    • The entire genre of reality television (or at least those shows based upon forming teams and alliances) is built around this.
  • The Grant clan from Big Love are all like this. By this point, you need one flow chart just to figure out who's related how to whom (living on a xenophobic polygamist compound where wives get swapped around at the whim of the Big Boss can do that to you) and at least three more to keep track of who's currently trying to have how many of said relatives jailed, killed, or terrorized into submission (and who's just in it for the book deals).
  • Blackadder: Any character with this family name.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This is pretty much Spike's entire role.
  • Doctor Who
    • The Daleks of frequently betray any and all individuals/species that think the Daleks are working for them, almost always with a cry to "Exterminate!" the betrayee.
      • Pretty much lampshaded in "Victory of the Daleks" where a group of impure Dalek refugees manage to activate a device which makes shiny new model "pure" Daleks, which then proceed to immediately exterminate the old Daleks, who die willingly.
    • The Master is also a fan of the tactic, but he is backstabbed almost as many times as he is the one doing the backstabbing.
    • The Sontarans. They backstab Irongron, the Vardans, the Androgums, and Luke Rattigan.
    • Fifth Doctor companion/would-be assassin Turlough originally met the Doctor after the Black Guardian offered the exiled alien schoolboy a lift off planet Earth in return for killing the Doctor. He abandoned and betrayed the Doctor pretty much anytime things got too dangerous, even after Fivey forgave him for the whole, you know, attempted murder thing. However, he always seemed to redeem himself by doing something heroic, especially in his last episode, Planet of Fire.
  • Farscape
    • Sikozu from was an embodiment of this trope, her only consistent trait (besides total arrogance) being her capacity for 'sudden and inevitable betrayal'. Close to the end of the fourth season, however, she looked to be outgrowing this character flaw- only for the Scarrans to employ her as a spy during The Movie. Her comeuppance finally came at the hands of her current boyfriend Scorpius, who beat her to a bloody pulp and left her to die.
    • Grunchlk in the episodes "Die Me Dichotomy" and "Season of Death" qualifies: while overcharging the crew of Moya for various medical services, he quietly betrays them to Scorpius. However, when Scorpius arrives with a squad of heavily-armed Peacekeeper commandos, Grunchlk panics and releases a Scarran warrior from stasis in an attempt to hold the attackers off. And it turns out that the Scarran was also double-crossed by Grunchlk...
    • During season 4, Crichton believes that Scorpius suffers from this disorder after he joins the crew. Of course, Crichton has good reason to be suspicious of Scorpy, but seems to believe that Scorpius is going to try and backstab him at the most idiotic times: for example, in "I Shrink Therefore I Am" he gives Scorpius an empty rifle just in case any treachery occurs- while they're both stuck on Moya, with all their escape ships disabled, and being hunted by bounty hunters with no interest in negotiations. Lo and behold, Scorpius isn't that dumb. Eventually, Crichton decides that Scorpius can at least be trusted to a certain extent after several incidents where not only remains loyal but even puts his own life on the line to save the day at least twice. Unfortunately, after being used as bait for Talikaa, Scorpius decides he's had enough of his role as Sixth Ranger and backstabs Crichton so masterfully that it takes him two episodes to figure out who was really behind Aeryn's kidnapping.
    • Rygel. Back stabbing was basically his default setting. Circumstances seem like Rygel might be somewhat inconvenienced? Time to throw everyone else to the wolves.
  • Firefly
    • Saffron. In the episode "Trash," when she called upon Serenity's crew to help her steal the Lassiter, the heroes cooked up a Batman Gambit to take her down, which took advantage of Saffron's "sudden, but inevitable, betrayal".
    • Jayne - who repeatedly try to sell out his own crew for money or to become the captain. Naturally, Mal repeatedly thwarts these plans and generally beats Jayne up or threatens to kill him... but he's a slow learner.

      He also betrayed his original crew in order to join Serenity. Why? Well, they were robbing Serenity, and Jayne's share was 7%. Mal offered him 11% and his own bunk. Several shots to the back later, Jayne was Serenity's newest crewmember.

      In The Movie, Jayne tries to go behind everyone's back and throw River off the ship once he realizes how much a threat she represents. River advises Jayne of his fallacious reasoning via ceiling-launched cranial trauma.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek's Mirror Universe is a living example of this trope. Officers assassinate their superiors to get ahead in the ranks. In The Original Series, this universe's Pavel Chekov tries to do Captain Kirk in, unaware that he's actually trying to kill the good version. Enterprise suffers from a similar position, in which their Vulcan Officer literally sacrifices their entire ship for the sake of her own personal research. It gets even better when a female officer seduces a naive Guard to kill their Captain, only to end up killing him, too.
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine. There's a bunch of them on the station.
    • Garak (whom Dr. Bashir is constantly trying to decipher) and Quark, whose alliances change based on his own benefit. Quark's family often have to play the same games - which Quark approves. Dukat is another good example, as he is even trusted by his allies even after a third betrayal.
    • Most Cardassians that appear in the show are either in some kind involved with the Obsidian Order, or on the run from them, which makes Chronic Backstabbing appear like the Cardassians hat.
  • Heroes
    • Mohinder Suresh seems to be doing a lot of this, although it's mostly due to him being an atrociously Horrible Judge of Character than any sort of malicious master plan on his part.
    • HRG, Mama Petrelli, Nathan Petrelli, and of course Sylar. More backstabbingness than you can shake a knife at.
  • In Kamen Rider Ryuki, Satoru Toujou/Kamen Rider Tiger has this so badly, he's far more dangerous to people he considers allies than his enemies. In Kamen Rider OOO, according to Ankh, the Greeed as a species suffer from this, though he's an exception because he'll let you know upfront he'll betray you if you're no longer of use.
  • On Lost, being the Manipulative Bastard that he is, Ben has a tendency to do this.
  • Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, Once an Episode. Although his attempts at betraying the Robinsons were never successful for very long.
  • Oz. Ryan O'Reilly is an excellent example, as he changes allegiances purely on his need to survive.
  • Smallville:
    • During season eight, Chloe successfully manages to stab both Clark and villain Davis in the back simultaneously.
    • Tess Mercer. By season nine, there's really no reason for anyone on any side to believe anything she says.
      • She manages to go the entirety of Season 10 on the Face side of things without actively betraying anyone. The other characters are aware that she is this trope, though, because whenever something bad happens, they accuse her of turning on them.
    • Here's a fun game. Watch Smallville and have a drink every time someone is or is revealed to be lying to, manipulating, or downright betraying another character. Two drinks if their last name is "Luthor", "Teague", or, hell, "Lang".
  • Alex Krycek from The X-Files, easily. Good luck figuring out whose side he's on, and if (you think) he's on your side? Well, just don't turn your back to him.
  • Power Rangers, over the years, has had a number of these guys:
  • In At The End Of The Milky Way, the Terrible Trio is seen with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, most egregiously Lennartsson, who badmouths The Professor to The Count behind the Professor's back, then does the same thing with The Count, causing them to mistrust one another and causing the two most prevalent of the Trio to fight amongst themselves.
  • In Alias, Mr. Sark was known for his "flexible loyalty."
  • Charles Brandon of The Tudors may count as this. Season One he allies with the Boleyn faction against Wolsey, Season Two with Cromwell, Chapuys, and the Seymours against the Boleyns, and in Season Three with the Seymours (and Francis Bryan, whose motive never was explained) against Cromwell. Season Four he's finally sick of plotting, but he really doesn't like the Seymours. Cromwell also could count as this. He owed his career to Wolsey, but still refused to help him in his time of need. He also owed much of his later rise to Anne Boleyn but still frames her for adultery and treason. But, actually, the only one he's truly loyal to is Henry, who he never betrays. This does not save him.
  • Psych: Sean's uncle Jack offered fifty percent of a fortune in Spanish gold to his nephew. And his partners. And his other partners. And the guy at the muffler shop. And the guy at the Chinese restaurant. Yes, that's three hundred percent.
  • Stargate, the Goa'uld in our galaxy, the Wraith in Pegasus.
  • Done when funny in Top Gear - the three presenters take it in turns to team up two-against-one, before someone invariably switches allegiance and starts making fun of their former ally.
  • Harmony on Angel is nice and good-natured, but she is an evil soulless vampire. At the series finale, she sells out the team to their enemies. It's okay, Angel knew she would do that and built it into his plan. He fires her, but gives her a letter of recommendation.

  Harmony: You're the best!

    • When Angelus is unleashed he discovers a demon that blocks out the sun. Vampires rule the day as well as night, and when Faith tries to stop him he beats her. Angelus had won, and the demon is about to kill her, then Angelus picks up the Villain Ball and grabs it hard by destroying said demon. Not for power, not so he could kill Faith himself, just because. He doesn't even give any reason for it, and as he cowers away from sunlight admits he knew the demon's power would be undone, but he did it anyway. For some things there is simply no excuse.
      • Well, he didn't actually know that destroying the beast would return the sun. He thought that was just Angel's "retarded fantasy".
  • Omen on Dark Oracle suffered from this as part of his Heel Face Revolving Door. Somewhere in the backstory he betrayed Doyle and was turned into a frog as a result. When he reappears he romances Cally, only to betray her and use her as a pawn against Doyle and Lance. He later promises Cally that he will rid her of Blaze and Violet if she returns his humanity. She does so, but Omen's attempt at killing them only makes them stronger and results in his imprisonment. After being freed by Vern he offers Vern a chance at Revenge on Lance, only to betray Vern by taking it too far and trapping Lance in the mirror world. When Cally comes to him for help he betrays her by swapping out Lance for Blaze who he was really working for, and helping them set up a curse that will eliminate Cally as well and let Violet escape. Finally, he betrays Blaze & Violet, helping Cally free Lance and dying in the process. Phew.
  • Baltar from the classic Battlestar Galactica. He betrays his own people to the Cylons, then turns around and betrays them in the last episode The Hand of God.


Music Edit

  • In the Headstones Tiny Teddy the eponymous character is described as willing to sell out everyone, and he proves it by strapping timed explosives to his follower and sending him into the mansion belonging to the guy whose money he gambled and snorted away in an attempt to escape the debt.
  • Pink Floyd's song "Dogs", from Animals: "You have to be trusted/By the people that you lie to/So that, when they turn their backs on you/You'll get the chance to put the knife in."
  • "Backstabber" by Ke$ha no?


Professional Wrestling Edit

  • Bret Hart had this during his entire tenure with World Championship Wrestling, but especially in the first couple of years or so, where it seemed sometimes even the writers were confused as to whether he was a good guy or a bad guy at any given time. In late 1999, he got the biggest push of his WCW career, winning the World Heavyweight Title as a face-- only to, within a month or so, turn on former partner and friend Bill Goldberg and re-form the New World Order.
  • Shawn Michaels was teaming up with John Cena to become a championship tag team. Given that they were slated to compete at Wrestlemania for the WWE Championship, the team seemed shaky but HBK was determined to keep Cena at 100% for Wrestlemania. Cena was consistently worried that HBK would turn on him like he had done with pretty much every single person and team he had ever worked with. Inevitably, yes, HBK turned on Cena.
  • On a larger scale, the NWA suffered from this to the point of ruination with any member who's popularity had grown ending up leaving and competing against them. The major organizations that defected, there were many more minor ones, were the AWA (American Wrestling Association), the WWWF, JCP, ECW, and TNA
  • Paul Heyman, thanks to his I Fight for the Strongest Side mentality.
  • Ever since Kane debuted, Paul Bearer has been switching allegiances between him and The Undertaker. It actually started when Bearer abandoned Undertaker for Mankind after six years of managing The Undertaker.
  • Christian turned on pretty much EVERY partner he's ever had, until AJ Styles & Tomko turned on him to join the Angle Alliance and Christian underwent a Heel Face Turn, which carried over to his second WWE run. Lampshaded early in his TNA run, as Jeff Jarrett pointed out to Sting that Christian couldn't be trusted, and Christian retorted that Edge & Chris Jericho would vouch for his loyalty; before immediately remembering that he did betray them and remarking that calling them wouldn't be a good idea.
    • Subverted at Wrestlemania XXVII in a Meta Twist: everyone and their mother was expecting Christian to turn on Edge (who had been Those Two Guys pretty much their entire careers) during the match with Alberto Del Rio and yet amazingly, this wasn't even hinted at during the match. Christian never turned and pretty much everyone was rather surprised and happy. When Edge retired days later to a legit injury, it meant that instead of having Edge's last match be a loss due to the betrayal of his best friend, it meant he went out and retired as the champ.
  • The Miz. He was tag team partners with John Morrison and then became one of his biggest rivals. He had Alex Riley as an apprentice but made another enemy after berating him too often. He formed a team with R-Truth in the later part of 2011 only to turn on him before the year was over. If you want to join up with him, expect a Skull Crushing Finale in your future.

Tabletop Games Edit

  • In a series of articles about two-color combinations, Magic the Gathering creator Mark Rosewater described white/black as essentially this. The game tries to avert Good Colors, Evil Colors, but white/black's guild in Ravnica is a religion that doubles as a slave operation.
    • And then there are The Seven Steel Thanes of New Phyrexia: backstabbing each other and any other Phyrexian higher-ups is pretty much the only thing they ever do.
  • Diplomacy can be a bit of a subversion. The player who stabs at every chance quickly finds himself friendless and doomed. Skilled players know that a long-term alliance is one of the most valuable things you can have, and only stab when doing so is necessary for survival or likely to win the game.
    • That said, it's still not if but when even an expert is going to backstab.
  • The Skaven of Warhammer, which is pretty much the only reason they haven't taken over the whole Warhammer world. We should probably be thankful they consider Chronic Backstabbing Disorder to be a desirable way of life.
  • True Neutral people in the old AD&D were described as switching sides to whichever one was weakest, to preserve the "balance" between good and evil. This was dropped in later editions, due to being insane.
    • This ended up being played very literally in a very D&D-inspired novel called Villains by Necessity, by Eve Forward. The neutral druids had to betray whichever side was strongest and help the underdog because if the forces of light or the forces of darkness became completely dominant, the world would be subsumed into the raw metaphysical force of good or evil because of it (depending on which one they fell into, of course). When they stopped helping the good guys because good was becoming too dominant, they faced the fact that evil wouldn't trust them and they'd just stuck the knife in the back of good, meaning the druids got wiped out between the two.
  • Like the Skaven, the Drow from Dungeons and Dragons live underground, keep slaves, and betray anyone whose death would provide the slightest benefit. Their goddess, Lolth, encourages this behaviour. It's gotten to the point where in some of the Forgotten Realms novels, the Running Gag is that a drow found dead with a knife in her back is considered to have died of natural causes.
  • This is one of the reasons why good and evil characters don't play well together. At least, if the evil character is the type to murder the other characters in their sleep at the first opportunity.
  • Paranoia: Backstabbing your fellow players is pretty much the point of the game.
  • Munchkin is based on the trope, so much so that the phrase is part of the tagline. You'll help them with one difficult fight, then do everything in your power to see that they lose the next one. Gets particularly nasty towards the end of a game, when players will frequently form alliances to stop someone from winning, then immediately side with that person against their former allies. It's all Rule of Fun and Rule of Funny, though, so hopefully it won't be played by anyone who holds grudges.
  • For In Nomine, Malphas (Demon Prince of Factions) is assigned with creating divisions in society, from mere distrust to full Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Not surprisingly, he instigates so much backstabbing in Hell (both by himself and by making others paranoid enough to do it) that it's amazing that he hasn't betrayed Lucifer (yet).
    • A supplement to the French game In Nomine was based on introduces the secret A.P.H.T.E. organisation, Malphas's pet project. Truly amoral, this organisation can be hired by anyone, including humans, to ruin anyone else's life. The canon operative? Monica Lewinsky.
  • The Ebon Dragon, in Exalted, is essentially the cosmic principle of selfishness, deception, betrayal, and general jackassery. He doesn't even need a reason to betray one of his "allies"; he'll do it just to spite them. He is the reason you can't have nice things.
    • He doesn't just betray his allies, he betrays himself. He's only crafted one jouten (physical body - most Yozi have multiple different bodies, often operating simultaneously) because he knows that if he crafts any more, they'll try to turn on him.
  • In Warhammer 40000, the Dark Eldar are quite fond of betraying each other, and are probably a greater threat to each other as they are to their actual enemies. Also, followers of Chaos, with exception of Nurgle and his followers, are willing to turn on each other, especially Tzeentch and his followers, being the Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard that he is.
    • The Dark Eldar do, however, have enough sense to leave the backstabbing knives at home when they go on raids. Kharn the Betrayer though? Not so much (though in all fairness, he'll probably stab you in the front).
    • The C'tan known as the Deceiver is another master of this- he constantly switched sides during the war between the C'tan and the Old Ones, and when neither side would trust him, he started using disguises- And, according to the Necron Codex, the mistrust sown between the various races serving the Old Ones by the Deceiver's machinations probably did more for the C'tan war effort than the other three remaining C'tan combined.
    • That all can be said about most races in 40k if not all. (Except Tyranids, and even there players can find reasons to fight each other) Some races are just better at it or backstab more often.
    • The Inquisition. May be a crucial part in a Dark Heresy game.
  • Steve Jackson tends to love this in various games, especially:
  • Kindred of the East who follow the Dharma of the Thousand Whispers, which upholds the principle of balance through diversity, are known for this, since to maintain their Dharma they have to see life from different perspectives, for example by changing allegiances.
      • Vampires in general seem to have this as their species-wide hat. After all, the happiest vampire in the world is the last one.
  • The Nephandi don't really have it much easier, though it's kind of justified, given that they're an entire order of total dicks and Evil Sorcerers.
  • Anyone who forms a pact with the demon lord of betrayal is kind of obligated to act this way in The Dark Eye. Even if they don't want to...


Toys Edit

  Vezon:It's all a trick, you see. They want me to pretend to betray them. They want you to concentrate your forces here against an attack that won't come. But I decided: Why pretend to betray them when actually doing it would be so much more fun?

    • The Piraka pretty much were made out of this trope, since they double-crossed each other several times in the 2006 storyline.
    • Special mention also goes to Roodaka, especially becaused she betrayed BOTH SIDES in the Makuta/Dark Hunters war.
    • Don't forget about the Makuta. Teridax betrayed Miserix and took over, and Icarax teamed up with Krika to do the same against old Terry, (arguably, Icarax was probably going to kill Krika, or vice versa, seeing as they had different views).


Video Games Edit

  • Inverted in the Assassin's Creed series for the Masyaf Assassins. They can't seem to go more than one game without someone in their ranks doing a Face Heel Turn or becoming The Mole. Canonically, they've been betrayed by Al Mualim, Abbas Sofian, Jamal and Masun, Haras, Harash, and depending on who you ask, Altair.
  • Baldur's Gate 2 has a marvelous example where the PC himself can do this: A silver dragon asks you to get her eggs from a drow city. The drow want to feed the eggs to a lesser demon lord. The daughter of the Evil Matriarch wants to betray her mother so asks you to switch the eggs for fake ones. Her Defector From Decadence lieutenant offers another double-cross, by providing a SECOND set of fake eggs. So you can now give the Evil Matriarch the fake eggs (making the demon lord kill her), give the daughter the fake eggs (making the demon lord kill her too), and then, finally as a Crowning Moment of Awesome you can hand the real eggs over to the demon lord anyhow, in exchange for some spiffy rewards. That is, if I'm counting right, a quadruple-cross.
    • Only a triple-cross at best, since of the five people involved three get what they want. (The Lieutenant gets his target killed, and either the demon or dragon gets the eggs.)
      • Backstabbing the mother = double-cross. Backstabbing the daughter too = triple-cross. Finally backstabbing the dragon as well = quadruple cross.
    • Another lovable example from the same game is Saemon Havarian. He first appears as a captain hired to take you to Spellhold, where it turns out he was actually in the employ of Irenicus all along and had doped your meals on board for an easy capture. He then betrays Irenicus, helps you to boot him out of Spellhold, and offers you a ride back to the mainland. As it turns out, his ship has 'tragically' been stolen in the meantime without his knowledge, so he obtains your services to steal him a new one and rewards you with a Githyanki Silver Sword... Then, when the Gith show up to claim it, he abandons you to them! (To be fair, the ship was sort of sinking at the time.) You also encounter him in ToB, where as soon as he sees you he tricks some local thugs into attacking you to get himself off the hook. Finally, he shows up to offer to show you a hidden backdoor into the Big Bad's lair... Which has an ambush outside of it, ready to take you prisoner. Unfortunately for the ambushers they had instructed him to dope you again so they can take you without a fight... And he didn't, making it a double-cross of both ambusher and ambushee at the same time. That's at least seven betrayals for all of two appearances.
  • Kain Highwind of Final Fantasy IV. He blames mind control, though.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder has apparently become a pandemic. One character in particular (Delita Hyral) is arguably the reigning king of this trope. As the game goes on it becomes practically expected of him to stab whoever he appears with. And he is one of the good guys.
  • In the Fire Emblem games Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, Naesala betrays everyone several times over, to the point that the habit is hilariously lampshaded when another character exclaims "Naesala betrayed us? Again?" He did have an excuse, though, as we learn in Radiant Dawn.
  • Alex of Golden Sun suffers from a severe case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, which is made all the more confusing because of the ambiguity over which side is "good" and which is "evil."
    • As of the end of the second game, he appears to be the only member of the main cast who was unambiguously evil. Then the third game comes around and he's back to being infuriatingly enigmatic.
  • Revolver Ocelot of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, obviously. In almost every game, he's pulling a Fake Defector from one nefarious organization to another, sometimes through multiple fronts.
    • And Guns of the Patriots reveals he was, in a weird sort of way, on Solid Snake's side the whole time, though that he helped cause the PATRIOT mess as well prevents him from being the true hero of the story.
    • In Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, despite not appearing, the backstory revealed he'd pulled the hitherto unprecedented feat of backstabbing his own mother before he was born.
    • The only other person who backstabs as much as Ocelot and gets away with it is Naomi Hunter; she pulls several in her first appearance and in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots she betrays the good guys and the bad guys multiple times, confusing everyone and even making the heroes feel sorry for her. It is generally believed that her eventual goals were good, but man. Did she have to be so roundabout about it?
      • Actually, the Patriots themselves probably qualify as such as well, considering how they usually manipulate people into acting in accordance to their will (even feeding some people ambitions to betray them in order to carry out exactly what was intended all along), and apparently even out-backstabbed Ocelot (as they deliberately kept some information from Ocelot about the S3 Plan, although given his status as a founder of the Patriots as well as Naomi knowing what the Patriots were planning to do, it's likely he at least deduced what their true plan was anyways.).
  • The spy of Team Fortress 2 also has a nasty habit of backstabbing people, though he does this a bit more literally.
    • "I never really was on your side..."
      • His old info card described him as "a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent whose reflexive suspicion is entirely justified." In any event, no-one really knows what the Spy of either side is up to.
  • Dimitri Rascalov of Grand Theft Auto IV backstabs every alliance he makes throughout the course of the game, regardless of what outcomes are chosen. At the start of the game he sells Niko Bellic out to a debt collector after convincing Niko to kill his boss Faustin. He is behind the diamond theft from the Chasid Mafia, and he doesn't change at the end of the game, without revealing any spoilers
    • Much, much earlier, in Grand Theft Auto III, the PC is prepared and often encouraged to assassinate his allies if another client pays more. The mostly-justified killing of Salvatore Leone, the Yardie-sponsored shooting of former allies among the Diablos, the drive-by shooting of Kenji Kasen... the list goes on.
      • And this is all in the name of tracking down Catalina, who has a few backstabbing issues of her own.
  • From Sly Cooper 2, Constable Neyla betrays every side in the game, from the Cooper gang to the previous Big Bad (even lampshading it afterwards).
  • In Fate Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works route, Archer switches sides and then betrays his new allies. Everyone naturally expects him to be a Fake Defector, but he then attacks his original side. Of course, it's all part of his plan to cause a Temporal Paradox... but only sort of, since he actually exists outside of time, apparently as a plot device specifically meant to prevent such a paradox.
    • It's also kinda inverted to, as we discover from Archer's memories that he had been betrayed by literally everything while pursuing his ideal, by the people he saved, etc, etc, to the point where he was betrayed by his own ideal.
  • Mortal Kombat's Tanya either betrays or seeks to betray every master she works for.
    • It's pretty much standard for any villainous character's ending to involve them killing the Big Bad and taking his place. In Deadly Alliance there are two Big Bads; both having displayed CBD for the entirety of their appearances. Guess what happens in their endings.
  • In Starcraft: Brood War, Kerrigan or her lieutenant, Duran successfully betrays every major organization in the game. She gets away with it because her later targets are out of contact with her earlier targets. There isn't a single moment in the entire expansion campaign when the player isn't somehow furthering her goals.
  • In Shiren the Wanderer for the Wii, people are betraying each other all the time. The character named Sensei is supposedly your uncle/mentor, then joins a hulking bandit leader and tries to kill you. He later rejoins you casually. Asuka rescues you, later fights you for like five seconds (still having access to the Bag of Sharing) because she worries you will accidentally destroy the world. She joins you again when you defeat her. Also, I think some villains kill each other off for acting dishonorably.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Kratos and Yuan go from helping you to backstabbing you to helping you to backstabbing you, back and forth constantly. There's also Zelos, who is playing several of the factions of the game up against each other so he can join whoever's the winning side, but does so considerably more subtly.
  • Axel in the Kingdom Hearts series has this problem. He is part of an alliance with Marluxia and Larxene to take over the Organization... but he betrays them. Zexion and Vexen oppose Marluxia and Larxene's plan, so Axel should be aligned with them, right? Nope, kills them both. Turns out Axel's working with Saix and the two of them want to take over the group, killing other traitor factions and loyalists that would get in their way. But then Axel becomes friends with Roxas and Xion, and leaves Saix behind. And then he (semi-accidentally) betrays them too!
    • It's practically tradition in Kingdom Hearts fanfiction for the Organization ripoff of the week to revive the original Organization... and when they succeed in this, it's not a matter of if, but how many sentences it'll be after he's revived before Axel joins up with the heroes!
    • Organization XIII in general has this problem. Almost all of them has had some scheme going at one point or another. In fact, it's the reason they ended up The Soulless to begin with. Exceptions are Demyx, who just wants to play his sitar; Luxord, who just wants to play poker with Marluxia; and Roxas, who just wants to eat ice cream with Axel and Xion-- (apparently enough to try to take down Riku and the entire Organization just to have a chance to revive Xion).
  • Knights of the Old Republic features this in both games, this being attributed to how easily enticing the Darkside is.
    • In the first Bastila falls to the darkside after being captured by Malak, despite the fact you could have easily defeated him at the point of capture, and in the second Kreia reveals herself as Darth Traya, who has been manipulating you from the start.
      • Kreia actually has a philosophy on betrayals, seeing such things as necessary!
      • In both, you get the chance to betray pretty much everyone, from small families on Dantooine to your True Companions.
    • In the first game, the "GenoHaradan" missions. Hulas, the Rodian who gives you all the missions, gives you a final four missions to kill 'criminals', later revealed to be other "Genoharadan" leaders he has hired you to kill so he can assume sole power. Then he betrays you, but has the pleasant gentlemanly nature to set a time and place on Tatooine, although he tells you to come alone while he brings a small gang.
    • Also in the first game, while infiltrating a Sith training academy, the academy master's apprentice knows that her master is planning to kill her, and asks you to help her when the time comes. You can then tell the master, who will tell you to play along but turn on the apprentice when the time comes. You can tell the apprentice about this, and she will of course ask you to play along but, again, support her when the time comes. Whichever one you choose at the showdown will naturally try to kill you immediately afterwards.
      • You can thwart the apprentice from killing you by appealing to the bit of lightside still in her: You can later find her at the Dantooine academy if you do.
      • Even better, when the time comes to do the betraying, you can betray them both and kill them. Honestly you could say the entire planet of Korriban is this trope.
  • Ingway of Odin Sphere is hard to figure out. He's on the cover with the other heroes, but he spends time either helping or deterring the other characters almost at random, and in the end, he winds up as one of the five catastrophes.
  • This actually costs Matt Engarde his case in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice For All. Having arranged for an assassin to kill his rival and frame his own manager for it, Engarde just can't resist trying to blackmail the assassin. Problem: the assassin has a very strong sense of honor. When informed he's being betrayed, he vows to get his revenge on Engarde - who pleads guilty in the hopes that prison will save him.
    • And, in Investigations, this costs Manny Coachen his life. If he'd never tried to usurp the ringleader he was working for, Alba would probably have left him to his affairs.
    • Also in Investigations, there is Calisto Yew. She herself acknowledges this in her own words, "I was destined to betray everyone from the very beginning." She betrays her own Yatagarasu members because she was a mole, Shi-Long Lang by revealing that she is a mole in Interpol as Shih-na, and while being taken away to be arrested she drops a valuable clue to betray her OWN BOSS.
    • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Dahlia Hawthorne steals a two million dollar gem from her father, frames her first boyfriend for murder twice before getting him to kill himself, kills her stepsister, puts her cousin's boyfriend in a coma by trying to kill him, kills her second boyfriend, tries to kill her third boyfriend, puts her half sister in danger, tries to kill her other cousin, inadvertently causes the death of her aunt in the process, and locks her twin sister in a freezing and unstable cave to steal her identity and commit perjury in her name against her cousin. After admitting to all that, she claims that her mother is more evil than her.
      • She almost qualifies solely through the sheer number of times she betrayed Terry Fawles. The ways she betrayed him consisted of: convincing him to commit extortion and then letting him get arrested for it, possibly lying to him about who was in on the plot, probably pretending to love him back, being involved in getting him shot, letting him get blamed for kidnapping when it was consensual, framing him for murder twice and hiding the information that could get his death sentence cancelled, letting him mourn her when she was still alive, cheating him out of his cut of what they stole (or intending to), perjuring against him, (presumably) falsely accusing him of trying to kill her, giving him poison and instructions to drink it if a likely situation occurred (possibly without him knowing it was poison), and watching him drink it.
  • In one of the Dynasty Warriors games where one is allowed to create a custom character, the player can do quite a bit of this. Often one of the other two kingdoms' strategists will send you a letter asking you to defect to their side. Notably, this can happen repeatedly, and you can keep defecting as many times as you receive offers. Do this enough, and your character will gain the title of "The Hidden Blade," with a well deserved reputation for being reliably untrustworthy.
  • The Betrayal gamemode in Unreal Tournament III is basically CBD: The Game. Since the fraglimits tend to be high and the two most effective methods of garnering points is through backstabbing your teammates and gunning down said backstabber repeatedly, playing Betrayal is basically looking over your shoulder for teammates as well as enemies. Successful betrayals are also tallied up against your name on the scoreboard, and next to your name on the team roster, so everyone can see how much of a bastard you've been.
  • In Mass Effect, the krogan are a species whose homeworld bred them to be brutal, vicious, and straightforward, to the point that not only is treachery the norm, it's expected and understood. Having a "krannt" - a team of warriors who are loyal enough to you that they won't shoot you in the back - is a sign of a great leader.
    • Commander Shepard is on the receiving end of this, especially in Mass Effect 2. There are no fewer than three treacherous attempts to kill him/her in the first couple of hours of the game, Shepard saves Garrus from another betrayal, and the Illusive Man kinda-sorta betrays-by-not-warning-you with the Collector trap.
      • "You're working too hard." *Stab*
    • Shepard can become one of the kings/queens of this by the events of Mass Effect 3. You can backstab Samara, replacing her with her psycho daughter Morinth. Later, you can backstab Cerberus and the Illusive Man by destroying the Collector base. Then you can backstab the entire krogan species by sabotaging the genophage cure, which also involves backstabbing and killing both Wrex and Mordin. Then you can backstab either the geth or the quarians. Yes, Mass Effect 3 lets Shepard potentially betray and kill an entire species.
  • Depending on how you play the game, this can quite simply be a way of life in The Elder Scrolls. Whenever it may tickle your fancy (or, if you're playing Oblivion, whenever a character stops being important to the plot), you can sneak up behind the guy giving you your quest and backstab him. Literally. To death.
    • Even within the plot of Oblivion, there's a lot of backstabbing going on (literal and figurative). It gets downright ridiculous after a while, to the point that you can almost guarantee someone is going to backstab someone else or turn out to be a double agent before any given mission is over.
  • Sho Minamimoto of The World Ends With You went and betrayed God himself, hoping to claim his throne. It turned sour, and he wound up under a bus.
  • You get plenty of opportunities to be a backstabbing bastard in Dragon Age Origins -- and not just literally either. You can betray Wynne in the "Broken Circle" Quest by agreeing with Cullen to purge the Tower, you can betray Kolghrim either by refusing to poison Andraste's Ashes with dragon blood or by poisoning the ashes to get the "Reaver" specialization then kill him afterwards, you can betray Zathrien or Witherfang at the climax of the "Nature of the Beast" Quest, you can betray Ignatio by deciding to kill him after completing the assassination contracts...it's a long list. All of these pale in comparison to the "A Paragon of Her Kind" Quest. If you play it a certain way both candidates for the throne will be confident that you will support him. You're free to choose whoever you want. If you've been performing tasks for one candidate there's nothing stopping you from picking his rival in the end.
    • And let's not forget that Queen Anora can also do this to you twice! Once when you rescue her in Arl Howe's estate when you tell Sir Caulthren that you're here to rescue her and twice in the Landsmeet if you don't agree to get her to the throne.
  • This is essentially the goal of DEFCON, especially on the diplomacy game mode. Six players control shares of the world's supply of nuclear weapons, an on-screen timer lets you know when you can use them, you all start on the same team, and only one person can come first. You can be almost certain that at some point in the game every player will try to court every other player for an alliance, and every player will at some point attack every other player regardless of their past usefulness and / or loyalty.
  • Not an installment of Command and Conquer passes in the Tiberium setting without someone trying to betray either the Nod player or Kane. Its pretty much become tradition to expect at least one Starscream to rear their head during the Nod campaigns...
    • Forget just the Tiberian games - the Red Alert series's Soviet Union seems to live off of this trope (though this is a case of real life as well). Indeed, it was originally planned that in the Soviet campaign of RA 1 that a fight would break out between Stalin and Zukhov, and that a gun would get knocked to you - allowing you to decide who you were to betray.
  • The Resident Evil series gives us Albert Wesker, a man who seems to have betrayed every superior, subordinate, and partner he has ever worked with.
    • Considering Resident Evil 5's revelation of Albert Wesker being an Unwitting Pawn in Spencer's plan to make himself a god, it's very likely that Spencer himself also qualifies under this trope, arguably even moreso than Wesker.
  • The Budokai Tenkaichi What-if Saga The Plan to Conquer Earth's ending implied that the main villains (Broly, Mecha-Frieza, Bojack, Cooler, Baby Vegeta, and Super 17) intended to utilize this trope on each other.
  • In the first two games of the Geneforge series this is a viable option for the player due to the number of factions. It also makes an Omnicidal Neutral playthrough much easier if you can join a faction, loot their treasury, and simply walk into their leader's chambers before turning against them. Sadly, this is almost impossible in the later games.
  • Anyone with the Rebellious trait in Crusader Kings. Even if you can keep their loyalty going up, hell, even if you support them with constant gifts, they will suffer random drops in loyalty to you, gain prestige gradually till they can claim your lands or even throne, and will eventually enforce those claims. And the worst part? If you put them back in their place, they'll probably revolt again, and give you the Realm Duress trait, making all your vassals like this. And if you do crush the rebel and take his titles, it upsets your other vassals... and you'll probably end up with them up in arms anyway.
  • In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe The Joker turns on Deathstroke while on a mission for Luthor. He was infected with "RAGE" but unlike the Flash and other characters, stayed in character, even going after Batman with his newfound strength. Batman understandably knocks him out after the fight and informs Lex he shouldn't have trusted the clown.
  • In The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Letho the Kingslayer and the Lodge of Sorceresses share this trait.
  • Subverted in Bioshock 2, where every hint given throughout the game (and experience with the original) leads the player to believe that Sinclair, your Voice with an Internet Connection, will betray you. And then...he doesn't. He even gets a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dane Vogul. Lets see, when he makes a deal with the Brotherhood to release their gang members from jail, he hijacks their weapon shipment after the gang members are killed by You. He had a partnership with the Ronin that he betrayed when they couldn't protect his company, and teamed with the Saints to let them take them out. And in the Ultor missions, he sends his personal hitsquad to wipe out the Saints. Then he blames it on the Board of Directors, allowing you to take them all out so he may take full command of Ultor. Then you kill him.
    • Tanya Winters in the first game. She betrays Tony Green for Warren Williams, Benjamin King for the both of them to rule the Vice Kings, and Warren himself so that she can take over by herself.
  • Bat betrays every person he works for in Digital Devil Saga. Not surprisingly, his demonic form is Camazotz, a demon of treachery from Mesoamerican myth.
  • Terry Higgins in True Crime: New York City betrays the entire NYPD by faking his death, the four crime syndicates by having Marcus apprehend the leaders, pins the blame on Victor Navarro, his own boss, for the entire mess, and leaves Marcus when he refuses to join with him.
  • Gary Smith from Bully.
  • In Civilization IV, almost all leaders will never declare war against civilizations that they are on good terms with, and you can't even suggest it in negotiation. Almost all. Catherine the Great of Russia is unique - if you bribe her sufficiently, she will attack her allies.
  • Xana in Dark Messiah encourages Sareth to be a backstabbing bastard at every opportunity. She even encourages him to betray her supposed master and Sareth's father the Demon Sovereign by suggesting that Sareth should claim the Skull of Shadow's power for himself and leave his father to rot in Sheogh. Ironically enough, Sareth can betray Xana by purifying himself, an act that will render her Deader Than Dead.
  • "Trusty" Patches from Dark Souls. The guy literally acts all buddy buddy with you only to try and outright murder you mere moments later so he can take your stuff. He does this exact routine to you twice in the game.


Web Comics Edit

  • As mentioned above, the Trope Namer: The Last Days of Foxhound, being a Metal Gear Solid-based webcomic, plays Ocelot's betrayal habit for laughs, explaining that he has an actual disease called Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and needs an inhaler-like device to suppress it temporarily. In the meantime, woe betide anyone who bends down to pick up a nickel in his presence (as Liquid found out).
    • It appears that the Defense Secretary, Jim Houseman suffers it too.

 "Is there a federal hiring quota for you people or what?"

 Gil: You're up to something.

Tarvek: What makes you think I'm--

Gil: You're breathing.

    • And "iz-no-longer-a-Jäger" Vole, who tried to kill one of his old masters and changed teams later.
  • Black Mage from Eight Bit Theater, an Ax Crazy Heroic Sociopath and member of the Light Warriors, suffers from both metaphorical and literal Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Or rather, everyone around him suffers. Usually from a knife to the head. He betrays his allies whenever a chance opens up, usually only to enjoy making them suffer. It usually backfires on him soon afterwards as it did when he sucked up to the dragon Muffin. Take note that Black Mage is not minion material and will object violently to the suggestion.

 Drizz'l (self-proclaimed new leader of the New Dark Warriors): "What do you think you're doing?"

Black Mage: "I'd say I was joining the winning team, but that'd imply there existed a time when I wasn't on Team Evil."

    • Thief is screwing his teammates over even more regularly than Black Mage is, he just rarely join another team in the process.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Dr. Schlock switches between helping the main characters, helping Hereti Corp, and just looking out for himself over half a dozen times. It gets to the point where Riff insists that Schlock roleplay betraying the gang, just to get it out of his system.
  • Dr. Ginny Smith, from Irregular Webcomic's Cliffhangers storyline. A secret agent from Russia who works for both the Nazis and the heroes depending on what suits her, and plays on the affections of both Indiana Jones stand-in Montana Jones and Nazi lackey Erwin. Although she usually comes through for the heroes, she has handed over incredibly powerful artifacts to all three sides, or at least tried, in the past. In the words of Monty himself, "She's a Russian triple agent working for the Nazis. You expect her to be consistent?"
  • Wrecking Paul from Everyday Heroes always works with female sidekicks since he's a serial killer who prefers women as his victims. If for some reason his preferred target doesn't show up, he'll turn on his teammate. This eventually leads to Iron Jane's Heel Face Turn.
  • Vriska of Homestuck has a pretty severe case of this. The other Trolls have wisely learned to stay well away from her schemes.
  • Anthem in the Torture Lord's temple, having lost her sword again, uses Vish! as a weapon against the monsters and proclaims herself this:

 Anthem: Never let it be said cowardice and betrayal ever led me wrong.

  • Quite common in Survivor Fan Characters, being based off Survivor. Baxter from Season 3 is the most prominent example of this trope, having backstabbed approximately five people, some in direct succession, in order to get to the finals. Unfortunately, four of the people he backstabbed happen to have been on the jury, and three of them vote for someone else who didn't backstab them, Montana, ultimately loosing him the game.
  • It's starting to look like Nale of The Order of the Stick has a case of backstabbing disorder. The jury's still out on whether he works for the fiends, Xykon, his father, or himself.
    • Oh, he definitely works for himself. He only works for Xykon and Tarquin when it's convenient (and when it keeps him alive), and as for the Fiends, he doesn't even know about them -- he's being manipulated by them, via Sabine and Qarr.


Web Original Edit

  • Tech Infantry has Andrea Treschi, who starts out as a Federation officer, retires and joins a criminal gang, kills the leader of the criminal gang and takes over, gets drafted back into military service, and promptly assassinates his former commanding officer. Then he contacts the biggest group of rebels currently fighting the Federation and agrees to find and retrieve a disgraced former politician and bring him back to launch a political coup. He succeeds, but the politician gets assassinated by a rival faction and the coup fizzles. So Treschi flees to a neighboring star nation and offers his services, and helps them set up a Xanatos Gambit that leads to their conquest of the Federation after a civil war followed by alien invasion severely weakens it. Treschi becomes the right-hand man of the new Emperor, then orchestrates some elaborate court intrigue to ensure his puppet prince takes over when the Emperor dies, and Treschi becomes the true power behind the throne.
  • Agent South of Red vs. Blue is revealed to suffer from this. It's apparently a survival reflex.
  • Sahar, of the Whateley Universe. She started out backstabbing as an orphan in Beirut, and then got superpowers. At Whateley Academy she went from clique to clique, picking a target, backstabbing, getting a copy of said target's powers, and then moving on. Even the Alphas fear her. Note that she doesn't betray a target to join with the new one. She just betrays a target so she can start over, finding a new power to copy! Best one was when she pulled this trick to a guy AND his girlfriend!
    • Ironically, she pulled a heel face turn before the series started, and attempts to redeem herself.
  • Javelin Whitetail on M3, having defected from numerous factions over the years. It took a while for some characters to clue in on the notion that she should not be trusted. Repeated betrayals is a staple of the MUSH.
  • Wario's loyalty in There Will Be Brawl is to money, power and survival, and he is willing to backstab and use anyone to get and/or keep it. This is a guy that used his mentally challenged brother to kill a kid because said kid was a Pokémon trainer.
  • A Very Potter Musical: "I'm Snape, the traitor. And I'm about to betray someone... right... now!"
  • Darth Apparatus in The Gungan Council has betrayed every faction he's been a part of at least once in some way. Bonus points for people still wanting to be his ally at times.


Western Animation Edit

  • Re Boot's Megabyte suffered from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and was brave enough to admit it. "I doublecross whomever I please." Good for you, Megabyte. You know, the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem.
  • Starscream of Transformers Generation 1 was already The Starscream, but he came Back From the Dead in Beast Wars to doublecross the Predacons. 'Screamer backstabs, therefore he is. Oh, and the first time he came back from the dead? He betrayed Unicron successfully!
    • And his "physiological" cousin, Protoform X (Rampage) had to be locked up because he was chronically treacherous.
      • Not so much treacherous as an unstoppable, immortal, psychopathic, cannibalistic monster who was going to be left on a distant asteroid simply because the Maximals had no way of killing him. He's never claimed to be loyal to anyone bar himself.
    • Starscream in Animated is working on it. Unfortunately, Megatron is a good bit smarter this time.
    • Prime provides an interesting twist: 'Scream only gets stabby if he thinks he can get away with it -- basically, if he thinks Megaton won't ever find out. The rest of the time ...
  • Wuya from Xiaolin Showdown. Once she was demoted to minion, her Chessmaster boss considered her so reliably untrustworthy he incorporated her inevitable betrayal into his plans.
    • And sided with the heroes in the same show is Raimundo. He betrays the Xiaolin monks just because he wasn't promoted to help Wuya (who ironically didn't back stab him). He backstabs Wuya to save his former comrades, and reduces Wuya back to a spirit. Then in a much later episode, Raimundo pretends to betray the monks again to side with Hannibal Bean, just so he could bet Bean's Shin Gong Wu, raise the ante, then backstab bean by throwing the match so the Xiaolin monks would get what was bet.
  • Bender from Futurama will switch sides whenever he feels like it, if there is something in it for him, that is. In the DVD movie Into the Wild Green Yonder he helps Zapp Brannigan capture Leela because her eco-terrorism is threatening to overtake his crime track record. After helping to send her to prison, he busts her out, committing 15 felonies in the process thus retaining his title.
  • Darkseid is just as untrustworthy in the DCAU as he is in the comics, which he demonstrates in one episode. First he convinces the Justice League to help him fight off Brainiac's invasion of Apokolips. Then he betrays Superman to Brainiac in exchange for Apokolips' safety. Then Darkseid betrays Brainiac by using a Mother Box to take control of him in a bid to discover the Anti-Life Equation and rewrite the universe. This left an impression on Brainiac -- in a later episode, Brainiac was reluctant to make a mutually beneficial deal with Luthor because his experiences with Darkseid taught him that organic beings couldn't be trusted.
  • On Wacky Races, Muttley was known to bite the hand that feeds him (a.k.a. Dick Dastardly), but in "Race To Racine" he pulls a doozy. In a sabotage attempt, Dastardly plants him among the Ant Hill Mob, who take him as one of their own (Smiley O'Toole). Clyde instructs him to take Dastardly out, of which Muttley first surprised says "Who, me??" But then he gets a shit-eating grin on his face, snickers, runs atop the Mob car and fires a hand grenade at the Mean Machine.

 Dastardly: (emerging from the smoldering wreckage) And after giving him the worst years of my life...where did I go wrong??

  • Shendu in Jackie Chan Adventures. Where to begin? His siblings, Valmont, his siblings again, and Daolan Wong.


Real Life Edit

  • Hello Talleyrand. There's a trope just for you...
    • The leading scholar on Napoleonic history, J. David Markham, goes out of his way to mention how backstabbing Talleyrand was.
      • Of course, when you look at Napoleon in comparison, it is a bit of a case of pot and kettle. Napoleon Buonaparte was looked on as a pro-French traitor by Corsican nationalists, and you can say he betrayed the ancien régime (which had e. g. provided the money for his military education), some of his Revolutionary allies (notably Barras), and the Republic, which he transformed into a dictatorship and then an autocratic monarchy. He had Toussaint-L'Ouverture, the Haitian leader, captured by an act of treachery and did all he could to have the liberated Blacks, many of whom had fought for the Republic, returned to slavery. By a similar act of treachery, he imprisoned the Spanish royal family, who for years had been France's allies, in order to grab their throne for his family. His treatment of other allies also placed expediency over loyalty, e.g. when he annexed the Kingdom of Holland, which was ruled by his brother Louis, in 1810...
    • Also, as soon as Napoleon set up someone as the King of Sweden (an officer by the name of Charles Bernadotte...very Swedish, no?), the guy declared war on Mr. Bonaparte. His descendants still sit on the Swedish throne.
      • Actually, that's not quite right. His name was actually Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Napoleon lost patience with him after he bungled a battle, and consequently when the Swedish suggested him as their new king, Napoleon didn't care either way. Bernadotte did change sides in 1813, while he was the Crown Prince of Sweden, but he wasn't actually crowned King until 1818, and Napoleon ditched him before he ditched Napoleon. As an amusing side-note, he was styled Charles XIV when he took the throne, but he was only the eighth Charles on the Swedish throne - an earlier Charles, when determining the correct numbering, didn't realise that the book he was using was fictitious.
      • Bernadotte switched sides because it was in Sweden's best interest to do so. So what we have here is switching loyalties from his native to his adoptive country, and Bernadotte did not make switching sides a habit.
        • He also switched both because ideologically he was conservative and sympathetic to the monarchies of Europe versus Napoleon, and because he and Napoleon absolutely hated each other, partly because Bernadotte married Napoleon's old fiancee`, whom Napoleon dumped to marry the wealthier and more politically connected Josephine, making the poor girl another victim of his backstabbing.
  • The later Han general Lu Bu became infamous for this during the Three Kingdoms era. He was raised by a Han official named Ding Yuan, and gained a reputation of being an insanely powerful warrior. This was noted by Dong Zhuo, an obese, Emperor-controlling tyrant that Ding Yuan opposed, and he offered Lu Bu a very lucrative position under him and Red Hare, leading to Lu Bu taking Ding Yuan's head with him as a gift for his new master and father-figure. The two, after a good run, had a falling out over a woman, and Lu Bu took part in a coup against new father-figure and took his head. He ended up being driven from the capitol by Dong Zhuo's loyalists, and his reputation caught up to him when the various warlords decided that taking in the land's strongest warrior wasn't worth the price of an inevitable betrayal. He was rejected by both the warlords Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao (after becoming a little too uppity for the other vassals of the latter), but eventually became friends with Liu Bei, whom he called 'little brother'. Of course, things inevitably went south and Lu Bu eventually turned on Liu Bei and seized his city from him (albeit in rather ambiguous circumstances), who turned to the local Magnificent Bastard Cao Cao for help. Lu Bu held out for a while before irritating the men under him enough that they ended up betraying him and turned the city over to Cao Cao. The bound Lu Bu asked Liu Bei to help out his case, who agreed, and then he made his usual sales pitch to Cao Cao, that the two of them would be unstoppable. Cao Cao considered this, until Liu Bei pointed out the obvious fact that Lu Bu betrayed everyone he ever worked with. So he had Lu Bu strangled to death with a rope instead, which is normally reserved for women.
    • One could argue that Liu Bei is a rare heroic example of this. At various times in the story and in real life, he served under or allied with Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, Lu Bu, Cao Cao, Yuan Shao, Liu Biao, Sun Quan, and Liu Zhang. Not all were out and out betrayed, but his record was still so bad that it was lampshaded by one of Sun Quan's advisers when Zhuge Liang was trying to negotiate that alliance... which ended with Sun Quan's forces having to go to war with Liu Bei over his holding of Jing province under dubious circumstances.
      • In fairness, he didn't betray his early lords, more just shuffle around between warlords whilst trying to find somewhere to settle down. Although he did turn against Cao Cao, it may or may not have been a secret Imperial decree, depending on who you believe. And he only left Liu Biao's service after the old man himself had died, his power-grabbing second son had tried to kill Liu Bei more than once, and said son had just surrendered the district to Cao Cao, who by this point Liu Bei was regarding as his nemesis. He never even served Liu Zhang to betray him - his attack was just a full on invasion (which may or may not be a worse crime). Stealing Jingzhou off Sun Quan, however, was admittedly a dick move.
      • The ironic thing is, Lu Bu himself went back and forth in his opinion of Liu Bei more than once while they were connected, but decided never to harm Liu Bei's family and respect him, while Liu Bei himself trusted Lu Bu implicitly more than once... In fact, it was Zhang Fei, Liu Bei's relatively well-meaning brother who was the catalyst in breaking their alliance at least twice, after Lu Bu saved Liu Bei from a pickle.
      • Being historical, it's up to the reader to determine whether or not Liu Bei is a heroic example of this or not. Opinions differ greatly, especially in relation to Liu Bei's true motives. Since most of the details of the story that most have read come from a Liu Bei fan several centuries later (often they are completely fictional), it makes it even more ambiguous.
    • The Lu Bu example is completely inverted by Guan Yu, who repeatedly shows his loyalty to Liu Bei despite surrendering to Cao Cao, subverting every attempt to convert him. When he does find that Liu Bei is indeed alive, Guan Yu then returns every gift given to him except Red Hare... as riding it, he could more quickly return to his brother's side. (This ironically got Guan Yu killed when he was finally captured by Sun Quan's forces, as Sun Quan's secretary made his only appearance in the story solely to warn his lord that Guan Yu was too loyal to be converted.)
  • Don't forget Alcibiades in the Peloponnesian War. He's almost an Ur Example.
    • Although he mostly just kept pissing people off and getting exiled, only joining the enemy (or the enemy of the enemy) afterward.
  • The Hungarian mobster Andrei Gyorgy during World War II, worked for the Russian, American, British, Hungarian, and Zionist intelligence services at the same time. He was tolerated either because his employers were not aware of his moonlighting or because his smuggling skills were indispensable. After the war he followed in the footsteps of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and retired to become a bartender. Yes, Really!
    • Actually, people like Gyorgy are incredibly useful in intelligence work for relaying messages discreetly from one side to the other (or for planting disinformation). And because he's a criminal he can be easily disavowed/discredited should the enemy get hold of him. More than likely everyone involved knew exactly what they were getting and exactly how to use him to advantage. It also helped that, for the most part, none of the goals of the various sides he served were at odds in the time-period he served them -- all of them had their own reasons to want to defeat the Axis, and none of them were in a position to be picky as long as he was generally on their side.
  • Caesar's Gallic Campaigns: Every time Caesar pacified one Gallic tribe, another would rise up in rebellion. As soon as Caesar puts them down, the tribe he'd just pacified rises up again to backstab him. Part of the reason why a campaign for glory became an 8 year guerrilla war.
  • Cicero spent a lot of time grooming Caesar's grand-nephew and adopted son Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, hoping to mold him into a restorer of the Republic. A mix of one of Cicero's ill-timed jokes at his expense and political expediency drove Octavian into an alliance with Marc Antony, who loathed Cicero with every fiber of his being. He demanded that Cicero be one of the men to be purged with extreme prejudice from Rome.
  • Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of an army of ethnic Uzbeks in Afghanistan (that at one point numbered in the tens of thousands with armor and air support), was known to have made and broken alliances whenever he deemed "convenient". He helped the Soviets when they invaded Afghanistan, but then turned around and sided with the Mujaheddin when the Taliban began climbing to power. He supported various anti-Taliban regimes during the Afghan civil war, and even allied himself with the Taliban on more than one occasion, without giving prior warning to his former allies. This ended up becoming so commonplace that at one point Taliban forces were stalled in pursuing a major enemy because Dostum's men had blockaded the only road out of the area and the Taliban were hesitant to fire because they weren't quite sure who's side Dostum was on at the time. Apparently, Dostum pissed enough people off that he was exiled from Afghanistan until after the coalition invasion in 2001.
  • Ibrahim Babangida, a Nigerian soldier, ruler and politician is quite the example. As an army colonel in 1975, he was instrumental in the coup that toppled General Gowon and installed General Muritala Mohammed. Mohammed rewarded him with a seat on the Supreme Military Council. In 1976, Mohammed was assassinated,and Babangida helped arrest the conspirators, who insisted that he was actually one of them, but had switched sides when he realised the coup had failed. In 1983, as a Brigadier, he led the coup that toppled the democratic Second Republic, and installed his friend General Buhari as head of state. He was rewarded with a promotion to Major General. Next, he toppled Buhari, and took power himself in 1985, promising a transition to democratic civilian rule. Eventually, Babangida organised elections in 1993, hailed by international observers as Nigeria's fairest since independence. They were won by MKO Abiola, Babangida's friend. In a stunning move, Babangida refused to endorse the results, and instead annulled the election. Public outcry and rumblings in the military forced him to step down from office.
    • Sani Abacha raised the stakes. He was Babangida's friend and henchman for years, having assisted him in most (if not all) of his coup attempts. When Babangida ruled, he rose to Chief of Army Staff. After the June 12 election of Abiola, he put pressure on Babangida to cancel the results, take the blame for the act, and step down. Faced with an army now loyal to Abacha, the old coupist complied. Abacha then struck a deal with Abiola: the General would be allowed to rule (and plunder) for a few months, then he would hand power over to the election winner. The handover never took place, and when Abiola protested, he was arrested and charged with treason. So Abacha was head of state, but the backstabbing did not stop. Annoyed at their verbal support for Abiola, he staged the infamous "Phantom Coup" to frame his former superiors, retired Generals Obasanjo and Yar'Adua (former Head of State and Deputy Head respectively). Both men got life sentences, and Yar'Adua was poisoned in Prison. Obasanjo was released after Abacha's death in office in 1998, and was elected the first President of the democratic Fourth Republic the following year; Yar'Adua would eventually be elected Obasanjo's successor (before dying in office prematurely).
      • Babangida had to get one more stab in though. After Abacha's death, election-winner Abiola was still in prison. While the provisional government was negotiating with him and the international community, Abiola died mysteriously. Many Nigerians finger Babangida for it, believing he feared a reprisal if his former friend became President after he screwed him over.
  • Adolf Hitler, anyone? Surely breaking the Nazi-Soviet pact ought to count for something. Or is it that he's too obvious an example to mention?
    • Disputable. Hitler certainly shifted alliances frequently, but his few actual backstabs were against his fellow Nazis and Nazi allies (Night of the Long Knives, anyone?), many of whom were planning to backstab him. Hitler mainly stabbed people in the front after making it quite clear that he intended to do so (take a look at Mein Kampf and some of his proclamations). It is just that most of the victims didn't really bother looking for the knife that was heading straight for them.
    • Not to mention it is generally believed Stalin was planning the same thing. Hitler was just faster.
      • Even before the Nazi-Soviet pact, Stalin had quite the nasty case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. During his rise to power, he would continually make alliances with other Bolsheviks and stab them in the back as soon as they had served his purpose.
    • Before war broke out in Europe, many European leaders were under the impression that they could avoid war by ceding (arguably historically German) territory to Hitler. Hitler took the territory, then invaded everyone anyway.
  • Aulus Caecina Alienus apparently had issues with staying loyal to just one man. In the Roman Empire's Year of the Four Emperors, anyone he joined with he was guaranteed to betray. The son of Vespasian was much less tolerant of this behavior, and executed him the minute it looked like he was looking sideways at his father.
  • Winston Churchill defected from the Conservatives to the Liberals in 1904 and back again in 1923. He was quoted as saying "Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat."
  • During World War One, the British promised the Arabs that they would help them form an independent Arab state in exchange for help fighting the Ottomans. They also made a conflicting agreement to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine as a means to convince wealthy Jews to back them financially. After the war, they broke both agreements. They turned all of their former allies into colonies, and ended up fighting a multi-front war, against both Jews and Palestinians, in Palestine.
    • This troper's history teacher was quite willing to point out that Britain's backstabbing quite probably seeded the Palestinian-Israeli tensions of today.
      • The British used this tactic to capture India. They also tended to backstab/abandon their allies once they'd got bored/beaten the snot out of France/it no longer benefited them. Note this isn't true of them any more.
  • During the 80s, when the Iraq-Iran war was going, people would argue whether the US supported Iran or Iraq. Eventually, it was revealed they had supported both.
    • Iran probably takes a prize, being one of Israel's closest allies before the Revolution, demonizing them after, then being secretly allied to Israel while still denouncing them during the war, followed by outright attempts to destroy Israel.
    • The USSR also supported both Iran and Iraq.
  • Women who marry men for their money and then promptly divorce them to get it, often repeating the process with several other men. This is quite common in celebrity marriages.
    • When the woman simply opts to commit murder in order to gain the fortune instead of relying on a divorce settlement, we have the Black Widow.
  • The entire Sengoku era of Japan is this; to the level of having a specific term.
  • Yevno Azef was incredibly prone to this. He started out by joining the Socialists in Tsarist Russia. When he was about to be arrested by the Okhrana (the Tsar's secret police), he fled to Germany, taking 800 rubles of party funds with him. He joined the Social Democratic Party of Russia in Exile. Then, the Okhrana contacted him, offering him a lucrative salary to become The Informant. At the turn of the century, he returned to Moscow, making himself indispensible to the Revolutionaries, and becoming head of their "Combat Division" by betraying his predecessor to the revolutionaries. His job was to become an agent provocateur - force the revolutionaries into doing stupid things that would get them captured. Unfortunately, this would mean that he would end up being seen as an incompetent head of Combat Division and he would be replaced. So, he set up genuine assassinations every now and again (the Minister of the Interior, a Duke or two) to cover his ass, telling the Okhrana that he didn't know about them. As a result, when sympathetic policemen told the rebels about Azef's double dealing, they ignored it as malicious propaganda. Eventually, however, events caught up with him, and a "Court of Honour" was convened in Paris to try him. He had one last trick up his sleeve, however - he promised to provide convincing proof of his innocence...if they would just let him go back to his house to get it. They believed him. He fled back to Germany, becoming rich on the stock market. He would have got away with it too, if it weren't for that meddlin' World War One, in which he was interned as an enemy alien. In prison, he caught a kidney disease, and died of renal failure in 1918.
  • The Venetian families, e.g. the Borgias
  • U.S general during the American Revolution,James Wilkinson,was infamous for this:He was a member of the Conway Cabal a plot to remove George Washington as commander of the Continental Army and replace him with Major General Horatio Gates.The leader actually wrote a letter to Gates telling him how weak Washington was and how he should replace him.BUT Wilkinson secretly leaked the contents of the letter to Washington who then broke up the cabal.After resigning as Gates aide and resigning as clothier-general he began to work as a double agent for the Spanish Empire,swearing allegiance to the King Of Spain and became known as "Agent 13" and attempted to admit Kentucky as a vassal under Spain and was paid in thousands of silver dollars which he hid in cask for sugar,coffee,and rum in return for information he funneled to them on American trade routes.He then went back into the military becoming a lieutenant colonel and then 9th Senior Officer Of The Army,even taking possession of the Louisiana Purchase on the behalf f the U.S.However after the purchase he went directly to the Spanish and told them to build defensive lines to prevent American expansion in the west.He was later promoted to Governor Of The Louisiana Territory and collaborated with Vice President Aaron Burr to create an independent country with land leased to him by the Spanish.However after receiving a letter from Burr on the plot Wilkinson edited it to prove he was innocent and Burr was guilty and then sent the letter to President Jefferson which lead to Burr's arrest.Wilkinson also,through coded messages informed the Spanish about the Merryweather and Lewis expedition and told them to send armed patrols to intercept the expedition.He then became U.S Envoy to Mexico and asked for a Texas land grant from Mexico,only to die in Mexico City before he could complete the scheme.
  • Zhao Gao.Served as an advisor to all three emperors of the Qin Dynasty in China and caused the deaths f the majority of the members of the dynasty.After the death of Qin Shi Huang,he orchestrated a plot with Chancellor Li Si to forge the emperors final edict ordering his eldest son Fusu and the commander of the army of the north Ming Tian to both commit suicide and naming his youngest son emperor Qin Er Shi.After Gao was promoted he convinced Shi to massacre his political opponents,including Tian's youngest son Meng Yi.Gao then betrayed Si,framing him for treason against the emperor and having him executed by cutting off his hand,foot,nose,and finally in half.He then betrayed him again by having his family killed,when he promised him he would not.He then betrayed the emperor,orchestrating a coup against him and assassinating him installing Fusu's son Ziying as the emperor.Only to be killed by Ziying since he knew his chronic backstabbing tendencies.

Notes

  1. (to his credit, when the whole thing goes south he goes out of his way to save her before escaping)

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