Big Bad Friend

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Hartigan: Then there's thunder from behind me and lightning bolts punching holes through my chest. I guess I won't be having that steak I was looking forward to, after all. My last day on the job. Hell of a way to start my retirement.
Bob: Damn it, Hartigan, I warned you.
Hartigan: Hell of a way to end a partnership.

Sin City: That Yellow Bastard

The Hero is looking for answers, beating up bikers, paying off informants and searching through the Library of Babel. His best friend and partner pleads with him to stop, it won't bring "her" back, and it just puts him in danger. Yet still the hero persists.

A few acts later, he's getting beat on by the Giant Mook, it looks like it's all going to fade to black when... his partner shows up, gun in hand! Wait, why is he pointing the tranquilizer gun at hi—When he wakes up, the friend is terribly distraught. Says he tried to get him to stop, that he warned him what would happen. Saving him is out of his hands now, it's all on his head. Wait, what?

The best friend has been in league with (or is) the Big Bad behind the whole plot. However, they genuinely like the hero and would rather he live a long and happy life. He might try a Circling Monologue to bring him onboard, but chances are he already knows the hero's moral code is such that he'd just be wasting both their time by doing it. Still, he just might try, for old time's sake. Compounding matters, he's usually a Straw Traitor to some horrible ideal, is either directly or indirectly responsible for much of the heroes recent suffering, and/or was covering it up.

Contrast Friendly Enemy and Living with the Villain. Not to be confused with another type of big bad friend. Evil All Along is for anyone who turns out to be evil, not just friends. Related to They Were Holding You Back.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Examples of Big Bad Friend include:

Anime and Manga

  • At one point in Death Note, L, who suspects Light of being Kira by then, says he would be disappointed if Light turned out to be Kira because Light's the best friend he's ever had. It's especially heartbreaking because the audience has known from the beginning that Light is indeed Kira.
    • However, Word of God says that he was lying.
    • However, Matsuda wasn't. In fact, in Matsuda's case it was arguably worse: Light had been deceiving him for five years straight by the time the finale comes up and he tries to have Matsuda murdered.
  • Freesia from the second season of Jubei-chan was a very calculating Dark Magical Girl who had wormed her way into Jiyu's home (and bed). When Freesia finally reveals herself later in the series, she shatters Jiyu's mind, sends her wounded off a cliff, and turns her father against her.
  • This trope also applies to Wolfwood in the Trigun anime. He turns against the villains shortly afteward, only to die in the process.
  • This is actually most of the premise for Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas. The main character's best friend, Alone, becomes the host of the evil god, Hades. As one of Athena's saints, our hero must fight against his best friend.
  • After Arachnophobia's arc in Soul Eater, it turns out that Justin Law had gone through the first phase of this, but afterwards... well, turns out that Law worships Asura, not Shinigami-sama, is an extreme misogynist, likes to be playing Ho Yay with his longtime apparent enemy, and more than likely helped set up Kid to be kidnapped by the arc's Big Bad Chessmaster. So, he subverted this while acting The Mole. He might still like Stein, though, because he did retreat before injuring him.
    • As of chapter 96, Chrona is stepping up to the role too.
  • Jin to Joe in Innocent Venus.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch and Suzaku, as Suzaku is in league with the Emperor himself for a while.
  • Youko's Poisonous Friend Yuka Sugimoto in The Twelve Kingdoms. Though unlike others, she gets better.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Jet confronts one of these in "Black Dog Serenade".
  • In one story of Franken Fran, Fran's younger sister Veronica realizes that the only girl that had befriended with her in the private school where Fran has sent her is actually working for a criminal organization that is kidnapping students and selling them to pedophiles in foreign countries.
  • In Devilman, Akira's best friend Ryo, the guy who got him into the whole horrible mess, turns out to be Satan.
  • The third-to-last episode of Star Driver reveals that Sugata is the long-absent Emperor of Glittering Crux.
  • As of chapter 117 of Medaka Box, Zenkichi joins the Flask Plan to teach Medaka the value of failure.
  • In Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, Eucliwood Hellscythe considered the King of Night to be her friend still, despite him unleashing a lot of megalo (demons) into the city to harm people and her new friends. He wanted to die, since he became an immortal zombie to serve her, but she wouldn't do it.
    • In Season 2, Nene, implied to be the strongest fighter in the underworld, is seen eating and drinking with Chris, the current Big Bad, and implied to be the strongest magical girl, who had fought each other before in the past.
  • In Black Butler, Madam Red, who genuinely loves Ciel, tries to stop him from investigating further, not wanting him to learn that she is Jack the Ripper.

Comic Books

Fan Works

  • Grunnel in With Strings Attached. He genuinely likes the four and is fascinated by what they have to say about Earth. But when Brox comes up with a use for Paul that Grunnel knows Paul won't agree to, Grunnel quite readily backstabs the four to ensure Paul's participation in Brox's scheme. As he says to Ringo: “ Brox is my friend. You are not my enemies. Do you understand the difference?” Yet he prevents Brox from killing George and Ringo because he likes them.
  • Drew in the Hannah Montana fic I Didn't Sign Up for This. She is quick to befriend Miley and even dates Lilly but in the last chapter, she is revealed to be a murderous sociopath that cares about no one but herself.

Films -- Live-Action

  • Happened at least twice to Indiana Jones.
  • More than once to James Bond, though he ought to have expected it.
  • The film of Max Payne had this happen with the father's old partner and Max's mentor.
  • The film Rogue features this as part of it's double-twist ending.
  • Happened in Snake Eyes, the best friend being a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • The villain in Sneakers.
  • Mission: Impossible III
  • Harry Lime from The Third Man.
  • Strange Days.
  • Minority Report: Lamar Burgess is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who tries to set up a Utopia that unfortunately involves a murder. He was also John Anderton's good friend until he was exposed.
  • The Truman Show. Truman's "best friend" since childhood (who is really an actor) at one point appears to truly be listening to Truman's plight and confusion, almost seeming to really want to help his buddy understand the crap that's going on with his life. However, he allows himself to be instrumental in the biggest Mind Screw the studio pulls on Truman in bringing his "father" back from the grave. He later leads the hunt to capture Truman once he starts escaping. Earlier drafts and deleted scenes emphasised the actor being torn over doing such a thing to a man he had genuinely come to view as his best friend, and in these drafts he initially redeemed himself by intentionally looking the other way when locating Truman and allowing him to escape.
  • Hot Fuzz. The cop Nicolas Angel befriends is actually in on what is going on, but tries to keep him out of trouble, even going so far as faking his death. (This also makes him a practioner of Obfuscating Stupidity.) He's brought around by The Power of Friendship in the end.
    • "In on it" is wrong, or at least overly simplified. Danny knew that there was a conspiracy involving his own father to keep the town quiet and orderly. However, he didn't know that the victims were actually being killed, he thought they were all just being forced to leave the town and not return. It's not clear whether he thought the deaths attributed to accidents were elaborate extremely sophisticated stunts, or whether he just never connected them to the conspiracy, but in either case the stupidity is probably not obfuscation.
      • Obfuscating Stupidity isn't always pure obfuscating. It's sometimes self-imposed flanderization, y'know.
    • Considering that when Nick forces him to realise the truth, Danny immediately enters an extreme state of denial, its possible that he was aware on some level, but subconsciously never connected the dots for the sake of his own psyche.
  • Bloodwork: A friend of the hero is quite the Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Happened to Hartigan at the beginning of his segment in Sin City, when his partner shoots him in the back to keep him from killing the bad guy. But, you know, he really ought to have seen it coming, what with the partner being played by Michael Madsen.
  • The Julia Roberts/Nick Nolte rom-thriller I Love Trouble.
  • Textbook example in the Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris film, Cleaner. HINT: Ed Harris is Sam's best friend the helps him but later betrays him.
  • Subverted in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Ricky Bobby is betrayed by his best friend Cal, who steals his glory, his house and even his wife. Despite this, Cal continues to call Ricky on the phone to chat and ask advice (for instance, asking where things are stored in Ricky's house). Ricky, out of force of habit, chats with him until he remembers that he is mad at Cal.
  • In Last Action Hero's Movie Within A Movie, Cowboy Cop Jack Slater's buddy in the FBI, John Practice, turns out to work for Big Bad Vivaldi.
    • As with most tropes in the film, both parodied and lampshaded. The Kid recognizes Practice as the man who "killed Mozart", F. Murray Abraham
  • The Partner, played by Kevin Pollock, in End of Days.
  • Edward (not Edmund, like in real life) is this to Detective Harris in Kemper: The CoEd Killer.
  • Detective Ludlow's entire police unit in Street Kings, Wander (his boss and best friend) especially.


  • Long John Silver is probably the most famous example of this trope.
  • In Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence, the former nanny is this to Philip Durrant, warning him to stop prying into the murder of his mother-in-law, which she committed on behalf of the victim's delinquent son. She murders Philip to cover her tracks.
  • In Dragonlance, Kitiara in her final moments is mind raped when she discovers that her servant, Lord Soth intends to kill her and make her serve him as his banshee for all eternity.
    • Of course, this being Kitiara, the surprise isn't that Soth is evil, but that he'd betray her. For his part, although he knows it's entirely selfish, Soth does what he does purely out of love for Kitiara. It's a big bad dysfunctional family they've got going on.
  • Robert Harris' Fatherland, where Xavier's old friend Max Jaeger turns out to be the source of the SS's inside information.
  • Fidelias to Amara in the Codex Alera series. Not much of a spoiler, though, since his real allegiance is revealed within the first couple of chapters of the first book.
  • Every Dan Brown novel features this trope where the friend or trustworthy boss turns out to be the Big Bad
    • Carlo Ventresca in Angels & Demons.
    • Trevor Strathmore in Digital Fortress.
    • William Pickering in Deception Point.
    • Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code. There's actually a few betrayals and friend-turned-villains here including Andr?ernet, R? Legaludec and to a lesser degree Bezu Fache.
    • Surprisingly Averted in The Lost Symbol. This was really a plot twist in its own right, since Brown has used this trope in literally every book he's written.
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies begins with a flash-forward scene where best friends Locke and Jean are in a standoff with two assassins, all four of them armed with crossbows. With some reluctance, Jean suddenly turns on Locke, claiming to be in league with the assassins' employer and demanding he hand over his weapon. Subverted, however: when we eventually get back to this scene in the main story, it is followed by Jean using both crossbows to shoot the assassins dead while their guard is down.
  • In Tunnels, the Big Bad turns out to be the protagonist's little sister.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Rough Draft, the main character has just killed a powerful Functional who was trying to kill him. He then meets his friend but quickly realizes that he's one of them. The friend initially tries to help him but then nearly kills him. It gets weirder in the sequel, Final Draft, where the friend returns, explaining he was just scared. At the end, though, he challenges the main character to a duel.
  • American Gods: Low-Key Lyesmith, Shadow's friend from prison, is actually Mr. World/Loki, and Mr. Wednesday is working with him to manipulate both sides into a devastating war.
  • For the first two Harry Potter books and a large portion of the third, Ron's had a rat companion named Scabbers. It was revealed in the third book that Scabbers was actually the animagus Peter Pettigrew, a murderer and traitor who had double-crossed Harry's parents and committed at least 12 murders while working for Lord Voldemort.

Live Action TV

  • Gaheris Rhade from Andromeda. However, the episode "The Unconquerable Man" put one hell of a twist on it. Gaheris actually won the fight originally, but got frozen in time like Hunt did in the pilot. He eventually gets rescued by Beka and company, just like in the pilot. In fact, he lives through much of the series plot, though it plays out far differently. He tries to rebuild the Commonwealth to make up for the fact that his people pretty much slaughtered everything that moved after the Andromeda was lost, and were ultimately nowhere near the Warrior Poets he had thought. Tyr is killed by Rhade for betrayal, Perseid gets annihilated, and the universe is about to be ripped to shreds when Trance tells him there's another chance to fix it all. Rhade eventually agrees, uses said universe shredding phenomena to travel back in time and kill his previous self moments before he begins his mutiny, takes his uniform, and throws the fight with Dylan Hunt at the beginning of the pilot episode. Chronologically, the main series then follows. On a related note, does anyone have anything for a headache?
  • In Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, lovable, loyal Boyd turns out to be the Big Bad.
  • On season 4 of Angel, the Big Bad orchestrating the disappearance of the sun and master of the giant rock demon turns out to be Cordelia, although she's actually being controlled by a god.
  • An inversion occurs in Battlestar Galactica. After Saul Tigh is outed as a Cylon, Adama accuses him of being one of these. Tigh himself however was more of a Poisonous Friend.
  • In season 6 of Supernatural, the Big Bad of the season, to whom both Crowley and Eve played Disc One Final Boss, is revealed to be Castiel, who has decided that to defeat Rafael and put Heaven on the right track, anything is acceptable - in this case, taking on a million souls. The Winchester boys do their best to stop Castiel throughout the final episodes of the season, while he continues to plead for them to accept him and his reasons for evil.
  • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tommy plays with this, though he's just Brainwashed and Crazy himself.
  • In Luther, the antagonist of the first series' final two episodes is DCI Ian Reed, Luther's friend and confidant, who is actually a Dirty Cop.
  • Subverted in the episode The Great Game from Sherlock. When John appears to meet Sherlock at the pool, we (and Sherlock) assume that he's Moriarty. However, it's soon revealed that he is strapped to a bomb and the real Moriarty was just making him say lines that imply he is.


  • In the second Bionicle movie, Turaga Dume starts out as a trusted friend and city leader to both Toa Lhikan and Toa Vakama, even if he DOES act a little strangely. Turns out he's the one who ordered the rest of Lhikan's team to be killed off years ago and for ex-Toa Nidhiki and Krekka to capture him as well, even managing to capture and imprison half of Vakama's team in the Coliseum and generally causing mass chaos and destruction all around. And then it turns out that Dume is not Dume at all, but rather Makuta disguised as Dume, who has been in stasis for years. Even better, before this, Makuta was a trusted guardian of their home island, meaning there are two examples of this trope in one movie.


  • Dr. Wily is this to Light, in The Protomen.
  • The music video for "Handlebars" by Flobots.

Tabletop Games

  • In Magic: The Gathering, the Big Bad for the Antiquities expansion is Urza's brother Mishra. But the true Big Bad, Yawgmoth, has been manipulating both brothers this whole time. Urza does not take this well.

Video Games

  • Old school Japanese PC/NES adventure game Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (The Case of the Portopia Serial Killer) has this as The Reveal, as the titular killer turns out to be Yasuhiko "Yasu" Mano, who is not only the main character's partner but also the single most unlikely suspect as he is with you throughout the entire game, executing the commands of the unseen protagonist. The shock factor was so high that nowadays the phrase "Yasu is the culprit" is something of a meme amongst old fans. It was even given a Shout-Out in Haruhi-chan.
  • Flipped around in Dragon Age: The villain Loghain thinks that his king and son in law is a Big Bad Friend who is selling out the kingdom to the same empire that his father and Loghain expelled from the country just one generation ago. Thinking the king has already made his Face Heel Turn and become The Quisling, he betrays him and takes control of the kingdom himself.
    • Return to Ostagar reveals that the king was indeed planning to divorce Loghain's daughter Anora and marry the Empress of Orlais had he survived the battle.
  • Gary Smith from Bully pulled a serious dick move.
  • Mithos and Genis in Tales of Symphonia.
    • Once you've beaten the game, one may look back at the story and decide Kratos and Lloyd may be another case, but it's sort of hard to tell since he's normally so bloody incomprehensible.
    • And in Dawn Of The New World, Emil and Richter without a doubt.
  • We don't actually see the moment of revelation for Phoenix Wright, but Kristoph Gavin is the one who set him up to be disbarred and dishonored in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney. He then spends seven years pretending to be his dearest friend until Phoenix finally takes him down.
    • And in Investigations Shi-Long Lang is shocked to discover that Byrne Faraday's killer and a key member of the smuggling ring is his assistant Shih-na.
    • Calisto Yew serves as one to Byrne Faraday and Tyrell Badd, her accomplices in the Yatagarasu, when she betrays and kills Byrne, due to being The Mole for the smuggling ring the Yatagarasu is fighting.
  • Mathias in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. The series likes this trope: There's also Albus in Order of Ecclesia and Zead in Curse of Darkness.
  • The possibility is explored in Bomberman 64. the friend is indeed the big bad.
  • Special Agent Kato the third and final Big Bad in Shadow Hearts Covenant, doesn't let a little thing like wanting to destroy the world ruin the good friendship he has with Yuri. He even encourages the heroes to stop him if they truly believe they've got the right moral standpoint compared to his.
  • Joshua in The World Ends With You. You actually have him as a member of your party for an entire third of the game, as well as a cutscene that starts out short but is slowly revealed (an attempt to confuse the player as to whether Neku's killer was him or the Reaper, Minamimoto). Basically, the game switches itself up on you: It intentionally makes you suspect that Joshua did it, then reveals it to be Minamimoto with some rather convincing evidence, even so far as to make you think that Minamimoto could be the final boss, especially after he revives himself. Then, the end of the game does a 180 and reveals that Joshua was not only the killer, but the Composer of the game as well: He killed Neku (who could use any pin) so that Neku could take his place in the Game that would determine Shibuya's fate.
    • Going even further into the "friend" category, it's also been debated that the reason Joshua spared Neku (and therefore Shibuya) was because he had a crush on Neku. This is evidenced by the fact that Joshua's Brave stat starts off unusually high, allowing him to crossdress right off the bat, as well as a scene in the manga which depicts him taking pictures of Neku's ass. Nice.
  • The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, before defecting, was Naked Snake's mentor and one of his closest friends. She celebrates her Face Heel Turn by beating him up and stealing his rescued hostage. It was a ruse to make Volgin trust her and Snake wasn't in on it.
    • The same goes for Naked Snake as Big Boss with the chronologically later Metal Gear as the commander of the young Solid Snake.
  • In Sonic and the Black Knight, Merlina
  • Vossler from Final Fantasy XII fights alongside you for a chunk of the game, but sells you out to the Archadian Empire afterwards on the belief that it would be better to surrender to stop the bloodshed instead of continuing a seemingly fruitless rebellion. He's immediately given the Straw Traitor treatment, fights you as a boss later on, and then dies dramatically on an exploding warship.
  • N Harmonia in Pokémon Black and White.
  • The Neverwinter Nights mod series The Bastard of Kosigan has a couple. That group of mostly-nice witches you were helping out in the first module? Oops, they were manipulating you into helping them summon an ancient demon with which to wipe the world clean of civilization and start over with magic-users in control. Your lover in the second module? Whoops, she was the mastermind behind every assassination attempt on you or your family for the entire story so far. Both cases give you the chance to join them when their plots are revealed, which due to the story's Grey and Grey Morality, isn't that far off the 'good guys' plots.
  • In Dungeon Siege 2, the Azurite Scholar that has been helping you throughout the game turns out to be the Overmage of the Cinbri, who has been manipulating both you and the Big Bad in order to reshape Aranna in his image.
  • Fasti, who is actually Mobius, is the Big Bad of Agarest Senki 2. Until he does The Reveal, he was the resident Smart Guy.
  • In EarthBound, Pokey claims that Ness is his best friend, and you can tell a cop that you're both friends, too... until he does a Face Heel Turn. Though, that would make him The Dragon Friend... Until Mother 3. In that game, it shows that he really did consider Ness a friend; he cherishes the latter's weapon, the "Friend's Yo-Yo" and keeps a shrine to him in his headquarters.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Pacer is this to The King. While The King himself is a genuinely good man who does what he can to help out and protect Freeside, Pacer is a xenophobic jerkass who makes outsiders pay a toll in order to see The King (who will at least refund the player personally) and starts fights with the NCR.
    • He is mostly a Poisonous Friend... unless the Courier negotiates a peace agreement between the NCR and the Kings without using the King's favour. Then he tries to lead a coup to stop it.
  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, Iris is considered like a kid sister to the rest of RKS, including Tia. Of course, what they don't know is that she's really the Big Bad who's making RKS fight against the Holy Empire For the Evulz. She eventually reveals to Tia who she really was and the real reasons for the war, and that she's really a Complete Monster who did all that for both said reason and to become god of the world. That's where none of RKS trusts her anymore.
  • At the end of Beyond Divinity, its revealed that your only ally throughout the game, the unnamed Death Knight, is actually, Damian, the Big Bad of the Divinity series.
  • Citan Uzuki from Xenogears isn't only a Big Bad Friend to Fei, he's Fei's mentor!.
  • In Paladin's Quest, Duke, an apparent classmate of Chezni, is actually Zaygos.

Web Comics

  • In Sluggy Freelance Torg believes Riff is one of these following the "Hereti-Corp freelancer" revelation, though it's more a case of "unwitting stooge." Played straight with Sam during the "Vampires" Story Arc and again when we discover who Kusari is.
  • Subverted in Brawl in the Family's "Cocoon Academy" arc. Not only is it not Dedede's Start of Darkness, but it turns out to be Meta Knight's origin story instead of Kirby's.

Western Animation

  • In the South Park episode "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce", we find out that it was Stan who put the dookie in the urinal. Though it was terrorists who caused 9/11. The "9/11 Truth" movement is a Government Conspiracy in order to keep the "retarded one fourth of America" in line through fear.
    • In several other episodes, Cartman. Though something of a parody, because his friends know he's not to be trusted---it's just that somehow, he usually winds up convincing one or more of them to believe him anyway, just to stab them in the back. Further parodied/lampshaded in the Wal-Mart episode, where Kyle keeps pointing this out, though Cartman still seems to think they all believe him.