Manipulative Bastard

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Manipulative Bitch)
The other heroes always get annoyed when Batman breaks out the puppets to illustrate his plans...

Ben: I can convince him to do it.
Juliet: How?
Ben: Same way I get anybody to do anything: I find what he's emotionally invested in and I exploit it.


Trickster doesn't even begin to describe this character. If The Chessmaster is the master manipulator of events, the Manipulative Bastard is the master manipulator of emotions and perspectives. This is the villain who gets off on playing head games—clever and dangerous and lacking comedic overtones. He or she always has a plan, but rather than do any work, the Manipulative Bastard prefers to play on other characters' emotions and then watch the victims destroy themselves as they waste their energy on fighting against fake dangers or their friends.

In many cases, despite relying on other people's emotions to achieve their aims, the Manipulative Bastard personally is rarely emotional and seldom burdened by notions such as empathy, yet is all too willing to abuse it in others. Usually an intellectual creature, the Bastard is unmoved by the pain of others, if not actively basking in it. Thus the frequent association of how someone who does manipulative bastardry too often can come across as a Sociopath. However, too many Pet the Dog moments may lead this character to become the mask, caring about the people he or she previously saw as playthings.

Like Chessmasters, Manipulative Bastards will probably have some larger scheme in mind, but tend to lose sight of it more easily, just enjoying the control they have over their peers. A highly-focused/ambitious Manipulative Bastard is scary indeed; not only achieving his or her goal, but then ensuring permanent supremacy by destroying the souls of everyone he or she used to get there. And then gloating about it. A hell of a lot of Heroic Willpower, and often Shooting The Dog is required to topple this character.

While this character type seems inherently villainous, many of them are at least nominally on the heroes' side. A cunning branch of the Anti-Hero family sports this trope; many Tricksters overlap into Manipulative Bastard territory as well. Any damage done by a Manipulative Bastard will be far-reaching, if not permanent. The hero will probably survive a relationship with this character, but their trust in people will not.

Manipulative Bastards are seldom held accountable and many fall into the Karma Houdini trope—after all, they never "force" anybody to do anything...

May eventually drive the audience to scream, "Why do you keep falling for this?" at the other characters.

Different methods of Manipulative Bastardry exists, depending on these characters' favourite tricks to manipulate people:

Sometimes overlaps with Devil in Plain Sight, but is often the "grown up" version, where the "look cute" fallback has become a fairly professional strategy. A Manipulative Bastard who mixes emotional manipulation with complicated schemes, mind games, and sufficiently scary facial expressions, — and does it all with style — can get promoted to Magnificent Bastard. Compare Clock King, who does the same thing with people's schedules instead of their emotions. Manipulating people specifically to bring out their worst natures is the mark of The Corrupter. May engage in a Battle of Wits, if anyone can match the Manipulative Bastard. For the much more heroic equivalent, see Guile Hero.

No real life examples, please; calling a real person a "bastard" is rude.

Examples of Manipulative Bastard include:

Anime and Manga

  • Paptimus Scirocco of Zeta Gundam is one of the first anime examples and still one of the best examples of this character. He manipulates practically everyone he encounters, instigating many betrayals and coup d'etats in his name as he goes. By the end of the series, he's gone from a nobody from Jupiter to the unquestioned master of the Titans.
  • Gendo Ikari is either one of these, or simply a Jerkass that everyone respects enough to be affected by what he says. Your Mileage May Vary.
  • Both Sae and Ryo from Peach Girl play with people's minds by relying on their ability to charm people into doing what they want. Ryo's manipulation/mistreatment of Sae is so bad, though, that it's enough for her to change her ways. Sort of.
  • Meowth from Pokémon has done this several times throughout the series, but what took the cake was in Best Wishes, where he lies about being kicked out of Team Rocket, gains the trust of Ash, Iris, and Cilan, and unveils TR's most malevolent plan to date.
  • Dark Marik and Dartz from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • Akio in Revolutionary Girl Utena is a master Casanova manipulator very adept of the More Than Mind Control, in these matters Touga is his apprentice, playing mind games with his sister Nanami and his on-and-off again best friend Saionji since they were very young.
  • Shigure from Fruits Basket belongs to the Obfuscating Stupidity category of manipulators, but still manages to get away with lots of mind games while remaining rather sympathetic.
    • Akito, from the same series, is more Manipulative Bastard than passive-aggressive, although a case could be made for both. He ( or better said, she) has sufficient status to ensure that he is obeyed, but prefers to deploy the tyranny of the weak (due to his illness) and mental/physical torture to make absolutely sure that he controls their souls. After a massive Break the Haughty, however, Akito manages to get better.
  • Corrector Haruna in Corrector Yui. Of course, she turned out to be manipulated herself by someone that used her emotions of jealousy against her.
  • Nagi in My-HiME. It's basically his "profession", as one of the perpetrators of the HiME Carnival, to trick the girls into eliminating each other by playing with their fears. His Mai-Otome incarnation was also like this at first, but eventually transformed into a Smug Snake.
  • Count D, in Pet Shop of Horrors, loves to watch humans dig traps for themselves, with a minimum of encouragement from him and his pets.
    • D finds himself Becoming the Mask, though, with his growing attachment to Leon and Chris. He becomes increasingly sympathetic towards humankind only to be badly affected when a girl he felt some responsibility for dies.
      • He's still a Manipulative Bastard in the sequel, though.
  • The Loveless cast is full of both true Manipulative Bastards and passive-aggressives—some are both at once. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone is trying to manipulate someone else, while having serious emotional vulnerabilities of their own.
    • Case in point: Soubi. He's constantly trying to maneuver Ritsuka into doing what Soubi wants him to do at the start of the manga. Turns out Soubi himself was badly abused and manipulated by a whole herd of people, including Ritsuka's big brother. To further complicate matters, Soubi becomes subservient to his "target," Ritsuka.
      • I have to disagree. Not only does Soubi genuinely care about Ritsuka and does what he can to prevent him from feeling the pain a sacrifice must go through, but, following their Fighter Unit and Sacrifice relationship, it's Ritsuka who's actually in charge. The only exception is that Soubi is a still controlled by Seimei, Soubi's previous sacrifice. It's shown in later chapters that Soubi doesn't really have a choice in the matter, as Fighter Units must follow their Sacrifice's orders; again, it's the base of the whole Fighter/Sacrifice thing (not to mention Seimei's apparent powers; other sacrifices aren't NEARLY as powerful as Seimei).
      • He's very manipulative towards poor Shinonome, however.
    • Seimei is the king of this trope. Not only does he masterfully fake his own death (they even find a body), he kills and/or manipulates almost everyone he comes in contact with. Not only is he extremely manipulative on his own, but he also seems to have an inhuman kind of mind control power. Soubi? Nothing but Seimei's pawn. Of course, this is all just a plan to test his younger brother Ritsuka's love for him. Speaking of Ritsuka, Seimei is not above Mind Raping his beloved (twelve-year-old!) brother.
  • Kyou Kara Maou's resident trickster, Murata, is a more benign version. He lets Yuri and company walk into trouble just because he likes seeing how they react, even when he knows enough to prevent the trouble in the first place. His Omniscient Morality License lets him get away with it without Wolfram or Gwendal killing him out of frustration.
  • Tohma, from Gravitation is a variant. He's certainly adept at messing with people's heads and hearts, being an extra-special bastard to hapless and naive Shuichi. However, he doesn't really care about his victims' emotions... well, maybe he gets a bit of a power trip out of it. Mainly however, he's invested only in Yuki's feelings. He maintains that everything he does is to protect the novelist, but by doing so he also maintains Yuki's dependency on Tohma himself. As a result, his nastiness to Shuichi is due at least in part to jealousy.
    • Yuki himself is a Manipulative Bastard / The Vamp to his boyfriend in the manga, and makes no secret of the fact. At one point, he taunts Shuichi by saying that he's only nasty because that's the romantic ideal that Shuichi wants. Since the anime is less convoluted than the manga, this aspect of Yuki's personality is played down, making him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead.
  • Seishirou in Tokyo Babylon shows to be an extremely good liar, and wholly shameless about it.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto is somewhat unusual, in that he normally doesn't target the heroes (although he is adept at Hannibal Lecture, and seems to teach it to those closest to him as well). Instead, he seems to specialize in finding traumatized young ninja and using his manipulative powers to turn them into his devoted followers.
    • Orochimaru pales before Madara Uchiha though. While his Well-Intentioned Extremist Dragon Nagato is a Person of Mass Destruction capable of successfully giving a typical Shonen-Hero a Hannibal Lecture, he still holds his standards and ideals high and wouldn't let anyone touch Konan. His Boss, however, is a pretty different creature. As the Fourth Hokage has outright stated, Madara has been using Nagato's ideals and his quite understandable hatred against the people who killed his parents, and his little dog, too and were responsible for his Unlucky Childhood Friend's suicide to control him. After Nagato's death, he merely complains about needing another pawn.
      • Oh, and then, there's Sasuke Uchiha, who was also Orochimaru's favorite victim, a prime example for Madara's Mind Rape skills. It is even lampshaded by the fact that Itachi set things up so the sight of Madara's Sharingan would trigger the Amaterasu he implanted within Sasuke, as he foresaw that Madara would reveal himself as an Uchiha to gain Sasuke's trust and turn him against the Leaf Village. But as it turned out, Madara doesn't need his Sharingan to mess with people's heads. Just telling Sasuke the truth about his clan's sinister origins (and, of course, twisting it all so that the Uchiha and Madara himself come off sympathetically) and revealing to him that the brother he had been trying to kill all the time actually loved Sasuke more than anything was enough to make him lose the last remaining threads of his sanity.
      • Oh, and then he cheerfully tells Naruto about all that, telling him that Sasuke, as an Uchiha, was destined to be an avenger all along, and how Naruto is destined to fight and kill his former best friend...
      • He also manages to get Kisame on his side by convincing him that his plan for world domination would lead to a "world of truth".
    • What little is known about the Kazekage points to him falling under this archetype. He used his own son to gain power, killing his wife in the process, and began his campaign against Gaara's sanity. Social isolation, no contact with his siblings, and multiple assassination attempts, culminating with the one person Gaara trusted (whom the Kazekage forced to lie about hating the kid, and then commiting suicide over it), all results of the Kazekage's decisions, drove Gaara beyond the Despair Event Horizon, finally netting the Kazekage the uncaring weapon he desired. Until Gaara is defused by Naruto, and when the Kazekage is revived by Kabuto, he gets to epically call his dad on all of his shit.
    • Also, Kabuto Yakushi, Orochimaru's right hand man. He has shown himself to be a very skilled manipulator. For years, he was able to convince the entire Leaf Village into believing he was a genuinely kind-hearted man with inept shinobi skill outside of medical skills (to which he made it appear he was only decent at) to make it easier in gathering information. He is also able to use his strong powers of deception to fool his targets into aiding him in several manners and rather enjoys playing mind games with his enemies, often unnerving them by pointing out their weaknesses and turning personal horrors against them.
  • Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi is a prime example of this. One main reason: he manipulates the heroine Miaka's best friend Yui into believing she was raped and betrayed, and also plays off of her unrequited feelings for Miaka's lover Tamahome, effectively turning the two girls into archenemies. He also appears to like going out of his way just to screw with the characters' heads, even when it no longer serves a real purpose.
  • Naraku of Inuyasha loves to do this, and his creations and minions often favor it as well. Naraku's favorite tactic is to turn people with close relationships against one another - for example, the nearly series-long campaign he wages against Sango by controlling her little brother Kohaku and trying, repeatedly, to provoke her into killing Kohaku.
  • Eriol Hiiragizawa, Cardcaptor Sakura's resident holder of the Omniscient Morality License, falls into this trope more than once. To a lesser extent, so does his pet Genki Girl Ruby Moon, though she's not as good, continuing to persist in being a Manipulatrix even after the object of her manipulations catches on.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge isn't as bad as you might think in this department, considering his Geass, which only works once per victim, but he still has his moments. The greatest example of this comes in the second season: Rolo, Lelouch's fake little brother, was actually a teenage assassin charged with the task of keeping an eye on Lelouch in case he regained his old memories. When Lelouch found out, he continued treating Rolo kindly and even orchestrated a situation where Lelouch could pretend to risk his life to save Rolo, winning his trust and bringing him over to his side. After Lelouch's real sister died, he admitted to Rolo that he was just using him, actually hated him, and had tried to kill him on several occasions. Nevertheless, without being asked or influenced by Lelouch's Geass, Rolo sacrificed himself to protect Lelouch. and There's also his evil, evil abuse of Suzaku in ep. 18 of Season 1. He'd found out from Mao that Suzaku's father hadn't killed himself, Suzaku had killed him and been carrying the guilt about it around for years. So when he, as Zero, has Suzaku trapped and wants to convince him to switch sides, he makes a Not So Different speech predicated on the fact that the Prime Minister's death was murder, not suicide -- but he delivers it as if he expects this to be news to Suzaku. He doesn't reveal that he knew about it until Suzaku has melted into a little puddle of guilt and self-loathing. Lelouch, you are a terrible person.
    • He only had to yank the kid's chain lightly. Rolo seemed already infatuated with him, wanting to be his only family, only friend. And lo and behold, did that end up blowing on Lelouch's face. (Poor Shirley).
    • And he did it to Suzaku to try and guilt him to joining his side. The alternative was using his Geass, which he did not want to do.
    • Schneizel is even more dubious. He builds his entire reputation on manipulating characters and expertly derails Lelouch close to the end.
    • Later on it turns out that C. C. knew the truth about Marianne's murder and was just stringing Lelouch along so that he could grant her wish to have her code, and along with it, her immortality taken so she could finally die. Later on she regrets this, and asks Lelouch if he hates her for it. He doesn't.
    • Villetta Nu could be considered one for using a distraught Shirley to expose Zero's identity and causing Shirley to break down even further when she figures out that Zero is her beloved Lelouch and Villetta attempts to goad her into turning him in. And given Alternate Character Interpretation (if not carrying the Idiot Ball), she just might qualify for this for convincing Ohgi to use the circumstancial at best Geass evidence on Lelouch against him, when she more than likely knew more about Geass.
  • The Big Bad of Kara no Kyoukai:, Araya Souren.
  • Sideways, from Transformers Armada. If something happens that isn't directly related to finding a Minicon, this guy's behind it.
  • Dr. Nii, also known as Ukoku Sanzo from Saiyuki since it turns out he's been behind just about everything in the manga story so far in one way or another.
  • To some extent, L from Death Note. His main strategy seems to be "jerk Light around until he slips up and reveals himself as Kira." He manages to convince Misa to join him in his investigation of Yotsuba by playing on her concern for Light's safety... and then in the same breath convinces Light to join him by playing on his concern for Misa's safety - which was only jeopardized due to her joining the investigation.
    • And Light, of course. The boy managed to manipulate a shinigami into killing L at the cost of her own life for chrissakes. Not to mention getting Naomi Misora's real name out of her simply by smiling, listening to her theories and then lying through his teeth. Light really is the expert on taking people's emotional investments, patterns of thought and trust in him and twisting it all to his advantage.
  • The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk has two of these, though Neeba is probably the closest to Magnificent Bastard status. He even tells his party members that they are going use the blue crystal rod to rebuild their dead friends hometown. Then, he kisses The Lancer, just out of the blue. She promptly melts and gets enough of a morale boost to last right up until The Reveal. How does he repay his friends after the Big Bad is dead? By shooting The Big Guy in the kneecap with an arrow. The only person he was ever honest to was his brother, whom he thinks is 100% worthless with no redeeming value.
    • Kaaya is also pretty Manipulative of her Five-Man Band, as well. She even lets Her literal and figurative Lancer die , in addition to playing the Protagonist much the same way that Neeba played Fatina, however, this Manipulative Bastard seems to feel genuinely sorry about it. The pair's only slip-up was that they left a perfectly good five man band and two army officers alive - albeit separated - and really, really wanting to kick their ass.
      • Kaaya actually is not all that great at this trope. While she had intended to use them to accomplish her goal, she was a compasionate person at heart, and quickly came to care for her companions (along with genuine feelings towards the protagonist). She also knew that she was leading them towards certain death, and this weight became heavier the longer she traveled with them. Her betrayal at the end of season one came about because she simply did not want to see her friends killed.
  • Vetti Sforza of Glass Fleet seems to prefer to use emotional manipulation to accomplish his goals. During his Start of Darkness, he seduced, if not actually raped, his foster mother in order to manipulate her into killing his foster father. Then, since she was no more use to him, he killed her. During the series itself, he exerts considerable effort to persuade Rachel, the daughter of the Pope, to marry him. Although she eventually agrees to marry him for political reasons only, Vetti goes the extra mile to get her to fall in love with him for apparently no other reason than to be able to snub her later.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, Hajime Mizuki of Saint Rudolph is one of the biggest examples, playing up the manipulative card so much in the SeiRu arc that lots of people cheered when he got Hoist by His Own Petard.
    • To some degree, also Renji Yanagi of Rikkaidai (mixed with Knight Templar) and Sadaharu Inui of Seigaku, but these sides of their personalities come out quite more in the courts than outside of them.
  • In Bleach, none other than... Sousuke Aizen. No other Manipulative Bastard deserves more hate than him.
    • Also, Ichimaru Gin. Boy, does he love pulling people's emotional strings. He even manages to deceive Aizen and then attack him. He also lied to his old superior about his bankai ability.
  • Urahara is another example
  • Griffith from Berserk really likes to emotionally manipulate people for his own ends. From holding Foss' daughter hostage to foil an assassination plot, to pretending to be in love with Princess Charlotte so that he can marry her, to giving Casca the strength she needs to defend herself and thus gaining a powerful fighter, to pretending to be Guts' friend and gaining himself an even stronger fighter, to giving thousands and thousands of people, including the Crystal Dragon Jesus equivalent of the Pope, visions of a saviour defeating darkness so that half the world effectively rallies behind him, Griffith does qualify for this trope to say the least. The Godhand as a whole to a lesser extent, as they offer people demonic powers and make them give up their loved ones at their lowest point. The goal of the Godhand is just making Midland an even shittier place to live in, though.
    • He didn't pretend to be Guts's friend...* facepalms*
    • You must admire his prophetic vision. To be able to spot a skinny, half-starved girl-child about to be raped in a field and know that she would grow up to be an amazing warrior completely devoted to him if he'd only save her is pretty impressive.
    • He didn't "know" that Casca would grow up to be an amazing warrior. He seems to do this with almost everyone he meets; the ones with potential rise up in the ranks, and the ones without remain grunts.
    • It's debatable how bad he was initially. Most effective leaders create personal connections with their subordinates to motivate them; it's also pretty obvious he felt something or other for Guts and Casca. That said, his seducing Charlotte, kidnapping Foss's daughter and basically everything post-Eclipse put him squarely in this trope. Among others.
  • Xellos is particularly adept at this, especially in the novels. Seriously, just read novels 7 and 8 to get a good idea of how thoroughly he can screw the protagonists over. You know you're good when your victims know you're up to something and still fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
  • Quite a few of the Hentai productions out there that showcase material that live adult movies couldn't get away without breaking countless laws have Manipulative Bastards of both genders as protagonists. In the cases where the protagonists are the victims, then every other character will be a Manipulative Bastard. It reaches the point where the plots focus as much on Mind Rape as they do on actual rape.
  • Johan Liebert from Monster is arguably the epitome of this trope. He is directly responsible for the deaths of a fairly small number of people, he prefers to have conversations with anyone that interests him and, very politely, talk them into committing acts of mass murder or just killing themselves. In fact it's rare for Johan to leave a room without leaving someone Mind Raped to the point of temporary paralysis. He's just that damned evil.
    • Special mention: He managed to get everyone in a peaceful little town in the countryside into a state where just a little push would turn the place into a veritable warzone. He also once sent a boy looking for his mom into a red light district, telling him in the kindest voice imaginable that if no one claims him, it means no one in the world loves him. The heroes only catch up to the poor kid seconds before he was about to jump off a bridge. It's one of his most despicable acts in the series, which is saying a hell of a lot.
    • Don't forget all the kids he talked into playing a suicidal 'game'; apparently just for the heck of it.
  • Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn is somewhat of a Manipulative Bastard. He frames other people for murders he committed while using their bodies and manages to receive forgiveness for his actions with minimal effort. Tsuna very readily forgives him after Mukuro (very likely on purpose) showed him strategic memories of how he sacrificed himself for the sake of letting his subordinates escape. This prompts Tsuna to actually feel apologetic, complete with a "I didn't understand anything!" scene. Never mind that Mukuro was shown to be completely unapologetic about the whole thing and actually came out and said that his plan was to turn the world into a sea of blood...Also, Mukuro was taken in when he was a child by a Mafia boss named Lancia. Except Mukuro betrayed and brainwashed Lancia with his Evil Eye which forced him to kill his entire family. And during his first meeting with Tsuna, he pretends to be a poor, innocent boy who was kidnapped by...Rokudo Mukuro.
    • Also Byakuran. He pretty much uses mind games with everyone in every conversation he has.
  • At his best, France from Axis Powers Hetalia is like this.
  • Demidevimon/Picodevimon of Digimon Adventure is a good example, having used deception and played on their fears to keep the Digidestined apart after they split up to look for Taichi and Agumon, as well as to prevent their crests from glowing (causing T.K./Takeru to despair, Joe/Jyou to appear unreliable, Matt/Yamato to doubt Joe's friendship, Koushiro/Izzy to trade away his curiosity, Mimi to act selfishly and deceptively, and Sora to believe she had never been loved). The only reason he ended up failing was because Taichi came back.
    • Cherrymon/Juraimon also manipulated Matt into turning against the other Digidestined, especially Tai.
    • The greatest Digimon example, however, has to be DarkKnightmon from Xros Wars, who gained multiple long-term allies by toying with their emotions.
  • Kurt Godel from Negima. Every single thing that the man has done is part of a massive ploy to get Negi to do what he wants...Revenge for the unjust incarceration and near-execution of Queen Arika, who was both Negi's mother and the love of Godel's life ever since he was a teenager. Bloody, fiery revenge.
  • Hikyou Bancho combines this with Dirty Coward and Badass. For some reason, he's a good fighter too.
  • In Ranma ½ Fanon, Nabiki Tendo is often made into one of these. In the actual Canon some would argue that she is too hedonistic to qualify, is more of an opportunist than manipulative, since she generally takes advantage of situations for swindling, blackmail, entertainment, and revenge, rather than engineer them from scratch herself. She has been able to successfully lead (susceptible and rather predictable) targets through hoops by manipulating their emotional reactions (better at it in the anime than the manga), can quickly make up several minor backup plans, such as manipulating Ranma into producing sounds akin to attempted rape, is skilled at acting and hazard games, has virtually unflappable self-control when she feels like it, and predicted her rival's plans by tampering with his parachute in advance and then demanding victory to throw one to him as he fell.
    • Ranma Saotome, a Manipulative Bastard, particularly in the manga. Tricking, deceiving, manipulating and outright blackmailing others into doing what he wants (or for the fun of it) is a common thing for him. His personal style of fighting can even be reasonably said to have a firm grounding in finding ways to use distractions, ambushes, cheap shots, exploit weaknesses, and play headgames with his opponents.
    • And that's why his style is called "Anything Goes Martial Arts."
  • Doe-Doe from the manhwa Pig Bride is a very subtle seductress: She's a violent, foul-mouthed, girl-gangleader-bully of the whole school disguised as a sweet and innocent girl trying to win the heart (and money and political power) of the main character. So far it's worked, although the main's friend really dislikes her but can't put his finger on why other than the fact that she doesn't know her target's heart at all ("He must love living in such a luxurious house!" "Actually he hates this house and couldn't care less about luxury").
    • One person on MangaFox declared her to be worse than the Rich Bitch from He's Dedicated to Roses, who had been using the main character as her Beleaguered Assistant for years thanks to her mastery of the Wounded Gazelle Gambit. At least that girl never (personally) tied up her "maid"/romantic rival and threatened to leave her in an empty building for a weekend, but then again she wasn't a desperate golddigger either.
  • Nagi Sanzenin's grandfather, Mikado Sanzenin, has proved himself one of these in chapter 249 of Hayate the Combat Butler. In past chapters he essentially plays with Nagi's status as a target for people after the inheritance, which is reason enough. In the latest, he forces Hayate, her butler, into deciding her lifestyle, forcing him to choose between protecting a stone which has become the symbol of the Sanzenin inheritance, or breaking it to save his former girlfriend's life. And to make it even worse, he admits to manipulating the boy's life ever since he can remember by posing as innocuous figures. The only thing that keeps him from being a Complete Monster is the fact that he genuinely loved his daughter, favors his granddaughter's maid, and taught said granddaughter how to invest.. so she's not rendered completely poverty-stricken when the inheritance gets taken away from her.
  • Hiruma of Eyeshield 21. And mind you, even with all of his manipulation, he's genuinely cared for his team. It wasn't much manipulation more than giving them reason to fight, pull the miracle, and win.
    • Marco Reiji of the Hakushuu Dinosaurs as well. He plays with the emotions of his own teammates and those of the other team to the extreme. Unlike Hiruma, who's also a Chessmaster, Marco will settle for screwing with your head.
  • Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest: Haguro. Manipulates the younger Kuroda into going Columbine on half the student body out of vengeance against Inugami for his brother's death. Using weapons from his family gun cellar. The kicker? His brother died because HAGURO pulled his life-support.
  • Wiseman from Sailor Moon uses Chibi-Usa's feelings of inadequacy and abandonment to turn her evil. He twists Prince Diamond to his purposes by preying on the prince's feelings of rejection and bitterness at the moon kingdom. And he also tries to manipulate Sailor Moon into believing that Mamoru and Chibi-Usa don't care about her and have abandoned her. Death Phantom basically cares little for his pawns; he manipulates them, and even kills Rubeus and Saphir himself. He also humiliates Esmeraude when she comes to him asking to be the queen of Nemesis, and brings about her transformation into a dragon and, ultimately, her death.
  • Happens with almost Death Note-esque frequency in Mirai Nikki.
    • A particularly disturbing mention must be given to Yuno Gasei Chapter 49: Yuno cuts herself with a knife after fighting Akise and covers herself in blood, and is trying to reach Yukiteru before he kills the 8th and Hinata/Mao/Kousaka. Yuno calls Yuki and tells him that her diary told her that they (his friends) were going to betray and kill him and that Akise was trying to kill her. Yuki, in the middle of a mental breakdown at the time, believes her and shoots (and assumedly kills) Hinata. Yuno, on the other line, starts laughing her butt off, while a shot of her diary reveals that, no, Yuki's friends weren't trying to betray or kill him. She just didn't want them to have him.
  • Izaya Orihara from Durarara!!. The first time you properly see him in the anime, he spends most of the episode having a girl, that he pretended to sympathize with online, kidnapped and then orchestrating her rescue, only to hold her over the side of a building, toy with her desire (or lack thereof) to actually commit suicide, and then wander off to watch from a distance as the girl decides to jump anyway. (Luckily for her, someone else was a little more worried about her safety and saves her.) Pretty much anyone who meets him in the series is wary of him, has a number of tales to tell about how manipulative and dangerous he is to be around, or just skip the talking completely and throw vending machines in his face.
  • Sa Sakujun from Saiunkoku Monogatari.
  • Azuma Yunoki from Kiniro no Corda.
  • Sekai from School Days. Specifically in the manga version.
  • Azusa Odagiri from Hot Gimmick.
    • Also, Natsue Tachibana. She delights in manipulating the lives of those beneath her, starting malicious rumors and relocating workers based on their family's reputation. Multiple times she tries to separate Hatsumi and Ryoki, seeing Hatsumi as unsuitable and undeserving of her son. Natsue is presumably obsessed with controlling the people of the complex because she has almost no control in her own family (Ryoki never listens to a word she says and rebuffs her concerns with no emotion, and Shuichiro, in his rare appearances, easily undermines her at every turn).
  • Q-Ta from Honey Hunt has a desire to monopolize Yura in a decidedly unhealthy way, bringing to mind the worst of the controlling, abusive tendencies exhibited by Ryoki from Hot Gimmick. The difference here is a level of scale and dysfunction, as the much slicker Q-Ta (who has shades of Azusa) is much smarter about getting what he wants without having to resort to underhanded tactics. For example, the whole "I guess you like Keiichi (her manager) more than me" thing he pulled to get her to go to the hot springs and miss her curfew and Nanase's dinner was subtle emotional blackmail.
  • Auguste, Rosemarine, and Gilbert from Kaze to Ki no Uta.
  • Glass Mask: Hayami, Suzuko aka Norie, etc.
  • Askeladd from Vinland Saga.
  • Saiyuki: Dr. Nii. Gyokumen Koushu also qualifies, especially towards Kougaiji.
  • Ashita no Nadja: Antonio, Hermann, and, to a degree, Oscar. Rosemary takes it to new extremes.
  • Ryouko, Arima's mother from Kare Kano.
  • Kimi ni Todoke: Kurumi tries to be this, but fails. Yano seems to be better at it.
  • Sasaki of Amatsuki.
  • Karneval: Hirato, although he seems to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Karoku definitely, though we're unsure of his intentions at this point. He hasn't been nice, though.
  • Kirie of Girls Bravo displayed tendencies of this sort in the anime, like in the the second season when she emotionally manipulated Yukinari into cross-dressing for an event and allowed Fukuyama to practically molest Yukinari since it meant Fukuyama would pay her for it; and she didn't get punished for her actions either.
  • Kanata aka Reiga of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru.
  • From Kekkaishi, we have Kaguro. He can look at you, and immediately know how to hurt you emotionally. He pushes all those little buttons, up to and including making sure to kill people close to his designated target to further play with them. He even psychologically dissects his own ally, Aihi, right before killing her for no reason whatsoever. Even during his battle with Yoshimori, he talked a lot, goading Yoshi on for the first part of the battle. This ends up his undoing.
  • Cassius from Kimba the White Lion.
  • Madoka Magica: Kyuubey. Pretty much everything he does is an attempt to get Madoka to make the contract.
  • Albert Maverick from Tiger and Bunny turns out to have been extensively manipulating Barnaby for years. How much so? Over half of what Barnaby remembers of his past is a complete lie. He doesn't even realize that he actually grew up in an orphanage rather than under Maverick's care because of the constant memory alterations.
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula has both Henri Claytor and Kyoshiro Nagumo (who can be considered to be Durandal's Expy), in ZERO and SAGA respectively.
  • Niijima Harou from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is this at first. He manages to create the Shinpaku Alliance through a combination of deceit, blackmail, bribery and outright lies. Has at times exibited traits from most of of this trope's subtypes.
  • Kanade from Mayo Chiki fits several of the variants, although she's one of the more benign examples.
  • Fukiko from Oniisama e..., specially to Rei, and later to Nanako.
  • Michio Yuki from MW. Manipulating and blackmail the corrupt politicians involving with the titular chemical warfare into handing over the money to him; once that is done, he kills them.

Comic Books

  • The Joker occasionally falls into this trope, although he is very emotional and his plans often do involve comedy...although in many cases, only he thinks it's funny.
  • Henry Bendix, the creator of Apollo and Midnighter, is all over this trope in the nastiest way. His amazing talents of mindfuckery let him plan ten steps ahead on any given day, but he has a special talent for screwing over his own creations: he knows where all their buttons are, and in many cases, he installed them. See The Authority: Revolution for a crowning example of this - all he had to do was prey on Midnighter's worst insecurities, and bam: one indomitable superteam dissolved, one happy family ripped apart, and the world left wide open to a fascist takeover. Sure, it's all (mostly) okay in the end, because Jenny Quantum is too awesome to stand for supervillains or parental abandonment, but Midnighter still spends several pointless and horrible years apart from his husband and daughter, unwittingly helping the bad guy. For someone with no apparent superpowers, Bendix manages to scare the crap out of some very high-level heroes.
  • Mister Sinister from X-Men has been the ultimate Marvel Manipulative Bastard for the past twenty years, manipulating the lives of the Summers family in particular You can blame him for the Summers' Tangled Family Tree.
    • Good example is also Selene, who just loves to trick and manipulates hapless teenagers, male or female alike, to do her bidding and dirty their hands in her stead. Not that she actually needs to - she's one of the most powerful mutants alive - but toying with people's feelings is just too entertaining for her not to indulge. She even tried this on The Hulk and Rachel Summers but well, everyone has their limits...
  • John Constantine
  • During the Sinestro Corps War storyline in Green Lantern, Sinestro managed to manipulate the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, every superhero on Earth, and even everyone fighting on his own side. He assembled his own intergalactic army, created a power source run on pure fear, brought together the most powerful collection of supervillains the cosmos had ever seen, declared war on the entire universe...and lost. The Lanterns sentence Sinestro to death, thus breaking their own law against never taking a life. It turns out this was what Sinestro wanted all along—his plan was not to destroy the Green Lanterns or conquer the universe, but to create a threat so great and terrifying that they would abandon all their principles to stop it. Essentially, instead of destroying the GL's, he wanted to destroy what they stood for. And when his death sentence was handed down, he had done just that.
    • Not So Fast My Friend: Sinestro didn't want to destroy what the Green Lantern Corps stood for. He in fact (in his Hannibal Lecture to Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner) says that he still believes very much in what the Green Lanterns stand for (so much so that he's proud to have a daughter in the Corps). He didn't want the Lanterns to kill him, he wanted the Guardians to rewrite the Book of Oa to allow Green Lanterns to wield lethal force. "The universe will fear the Green Lanterns, and the universe will be better for it." He essentially assembled a bunch of heavy hitters (Hank Henshaw, Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor) that the GLC (and possibly the JLA and the JSA) would have to kill in order to stop. In fact, even Superman considers killing (which he has only done once) when Hank Henshaw tells Big Blue that he could never kill him, "To be honest Henshaw, I've never tried."
  • Carl Barks' Scrooge McDuck was a master manipulator and trickster who enjoyed every minute of it... all done in the name of teaching his nephews and grand-nephews important lessons about courage, money, hard work, etc., of course.
  • Hush is going to manipulate you. No matter what. Good or evil. And he is going to put other plots underneath the current plan just in case you don't serve his purpose.
  • Loki is a great example. Pretty much all he does revolves around this. Let's just sum up what he did after Ragnarok: he came back in a female body (which was presumably meant for Sif), started plotting with Dr. Doom behind the Asgardians' backs, tried to convince the same Asgardians that Beta Ray Bill was an infiltrated Skrull, gathered the Mighty Avengers with an astral disguise of the Scarlet Witch just to break Norman Osborn little by little (while at the same time plotting together with him), brought Bor to the future and allowed Thor to kill him so his brother could be banished, gave Osborn the idea to invade Asgard, allowed him to convince the authorities to do so by sicking the U-Foes on a rather reckless Volstagg... Should I go on from here?
  • TAO. For those of you who don't know, The Tactically Augmented Organism was created to be the ultimate tactical intelligence. Unfortunately he was even smarter than the people who built him. In his search for meaning, he learned "everything worth knowing" and tried to be a super-hero. On his good days he's a Magnificent Bastard and Chessmaster. On his bad he's a Complete Monster and an Omnicidal Maniac. Nietzsche wants to be him and David Xanatos couldn't even begin to comprehend his plans. TAO is Master of the Logic Bomb and the Batman Gambit, always five steps ahead of everyone. Even the unpredictable moron is manipulated into the place where he will do TAO the most good. Could get Dr. Lecter to kill himself in minutes. Plans on throwing the world into chaos because he's bored and because it will piss off his "father", John Lynch. He does this by controlling a secret army of super-villains while simultaneously using his role as advisor to the Ancient Conspiracy to fuck with them and turn them against each other. TAO is always well-dressed and well-mannered, and he never gets upset. He is Frankenstein's Monster come to life: Wondering why he doesn't have a soul and taking it out on everyone else, all with a smile on his face.

Holden Carver: TAO is the scariest bastard I've ever met. Don't get me wrong, it's not like he's some rampaging psycho who'll rip your guts out. He's worse. TAO will get you to rip your own guts out.
Holden Carver: John Lynch has been in a coma for a year, since his best friend Cole Cash shot him. Cash doesn't even remember shooting him, because TAO thought it would be funnier that way.

  • Surprisingly, Archie Comics has its very own with Trula Twyst, an obsessive psychologist teen with a focus on Jughead Jones. She uses her powers of persuasion (bordering on mind control) to, on separate occasions, convince him he loves her, give up hamburgers, give up his master revenge plan on her, etc. Her first appearance features her convincing Jug he likes her, just so she can get the attention of all the other boys in town for "seducing the un-seduceable".
  • Both Hobgoblin and Green Goblin are masters of this. Hobby was able to perform shady and illegal business practices and frame a reporter to take the fall for him, and got away with it for several years. Osborn masterminded The Clone Saga and basically ruined Spidey's life as well as getting to be Director of SHIELD. Unlike Hobby, Norman had been under suspicion for years, if not as the goblin by Ben Urich, then as a crooked businessman by nearly everyone else.
  • Deathstroke from The DCU. He's not quite as good at this as other on this list—most of his targets tend to be damaged teenagers a generation or two younger than him, hardly the most challenging targets. When his powers of persuasion aren't enough to get them to work for him, he's not above using blackmail, death threats, mind controlling drugs, and Psycho Serum to force them to join him.
  • Ava Lord from Sin City is a Manipuative Bitch who is good enough to manipulate fellow manipulator, Dwight McCarthy.
  • Moonstone was an extremely unethical psychiatrist who got her powers by manipulating the original Moonstone into giving his up then stealing them. Afterwards, even though she was super-strong and could fly, emit energy bolts, and phase though walls, her ability to manipulate people was considered at least as dangerous as her powers.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, we have Doctor Finitevus, who is most famous for the time he manipulated Dimitri, the Guardians (including Knuckles), and two factions of the Dark Legion in order to create a new incarnation of Enerjak, and then teleporting away from the resulting carnage with a smirk. Fortunately, Knuckles seems to have learned his lesson since then - when they next met and Finitevus tried to use him again, Knuckles kicked his ass and (literally) threw him off of Angel Island.
    • Finitevus' former minion Scourge seems to have learned a thing or two from him—half of his Sonic Universe arc is learning and playing off of the Destructix's secrets and emotional weaknesses, in order to convince them to work for him.
  • Moretti of Give Me Liberty, who manages to blackmail the Action Girl heroine into servitude, frames the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for destroying the Apache Nation with an orbital laser, stages a Presidential coup that destroys the White House, and appoints himself interim leader of the United States.
  • All Fall Down: Using Phylum's voice box, AIQ Squared manipulates Pronto into selling his soul for the chance to get his powers back.

Fan Works


Two-Face: (flips coin) You're a lucky man. (flips coin) But he's not.
Maroni: Who?
Two-Face: Your driver. (puts on seatbelt) * BANG* (car flips over)

  • Rotti Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera, sometimes to the point where it's hard to figure out who he's not manipulating.
  • The Warden from Death Race. She's also The Chessmaster the way she makes the convicts participate in her Game Show that she uses to finance the operations of the prison, she's an Anti-Hero by the way the movie makes us not like her, and she's a Manipulative Bastard by the way she uses people to get what she wants. I was considering if she was a Magnificent Bastard but she's not quite that good.
  • Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon. As Sam Spade says at the end of the film, he wants more than anything else to believe her version of events, and that's why he doesn't.
  • Eve Harrington, Addison DeWitt, and Margo Channing in All About Eve can all play people like instruments.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean is the king of this, despite not being a villain... kinda. In Dead Man's Chest alone, he managed to renegotiate a non-negotiable deal with Davy Jones, change the thing that Elizabeth wanted most in this world, and, after Will and Norrington tag-team fight him, having him disarmed and at both of their mercies, ends up turning Norrington on Will, and manages to walk off with the key while they fight each other to the death. All with nothing but the gift of gab.
  • Dr. Frank N Furter is very good at manipulating people into sleeping with him.
  • The titular character of Teaching Mrs. Tingle plays two of the other three main characters like a fiddle before showing weakness on-screen (but away from other characters), and would have gotten the third already were it not for a convenient interruption.
  • Keyser Söze, the villain in The Usual Suspects. To explain any more about the character would probably spoil the entire movie.
  • Evie in Thirteen (although she's not as evil as some of the other examples)
  • Hamegg from the Tezuka Star System (most notably Astro Boy) might be called this in general, but it's hit pretty hard in the CG movie. He's made a career of manipulating lost, lonely children for a living - and even after realizing Astro is a robot, he keeps toying with his emotions to get him ripe and trusting for the opportunity to toss him into the Robot Games.
    • Also has managed to get enough people under his sway that no one has a problem with him publicly torturing Astro after the gladiator bots fail to kill him. Yikes.
  • Emperor Palpatine, A.K.A. Darth Sideous, is the main antagonist from Star Wars. He is the puppet master behind the curtain, pulling the strings of all the characters in the movie. His manipulativeness is evident throughout the saga. From co-ordinating, and eventually betraying the Trade Federation, as they attack Naboo as an excuse to replace the incompetent Chancellor Valorum as Chancellor. Setting up the various commerce guilds in the Galaxy to take on the Republic as an excuse to access emergency powers. Getting Anakin Skwalker/Darth Vader to kill Count Dooku to replace him as his apprentice, and then promising to save his wife from certain death with his knowledge of the dark side so he would turn his back on the Jedi. And this is just to name a few of the manipulative things he's done; he should be the fricken Patron Saint of this trope! This trope should be called "The Emperor Palpatine" instead.
    • If he were just the Chessmaster or even "just" the Magnificent Bastard he is, the Emperor would not have gotten Anakin on his side and might have failed outright. His ability to turn the emotionally vulnerable Skywalker into a desperate pawn saved his life at least once.
      • And ended it.
      • Up against Luke Skywalker, Palpatine was defeated because of the simple fact that the things Palpatine was expert in manipulating didn't apply. Luke wasn't interested in political power. He had already entrusted victory in the war to Leia and Han and the others. Money didn't mean anything to him. He wasn't out for revenge. Pride wasn't an issue. He was just this farmboy from the sticks who hoped to convince his father to change his path. That's all he really wanted and Palpatine just couldn't work with that.
    • His bastardry is especially appreciable in the novelization of Revenge, in which he prepares for the arrival of the four Jedi Masters by activating a recording device and playing the part of a helpless, terrified politician, making them sound all the worse.
      • In that case, his work was made easier by the sheer political incompetence and naivete of the Jedi.
  • Bruno in Strangers On A Train.
  • Randal Graves, famous for his intricately thought-out, vicious verbal traps. Try this one on for size.
  • Mother Gothel from Tangled. She managed to keep Rapunzel voluntarily isolated in their tower for nearly two decades by playing to her fears and insecurities. She manages to be a Vain Sorceress without any magic powers, because she's so good at manipulating people she doesn't need to have spells to make the plot work.
  • Speaking of Disney villains, Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog easily appeals to Lawrence and Naveen's desires during his Villain Song so that they get sucked into his devious schemes with a little help from his Friends on the Other Side.
  • Rumpelstiltskin in the fourth film of Shrek.
    • The Fairy Godmother even more so.
  • The titular Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. For years he conned everyone in Oz into believing he was the greatest sorceror in the world and set himself up as a sort of quasi-god king, despite having no magical power whatsoever. When Dorothy and her friends finally see through his disguise, they're at first outraged, but he quickly has them fawning at his feet just by handing out a few Magic Feathers. To give you an idea of how smooth an operator he is, when he admits to being a fake, the Scarecrow angrily shouts "You humbug!" Less then two minutes later:

Scarecrow: How can I ever thank you enough?
Wizard: Well, you can't.

  • Ferris Bueller, the main protagonist from Ferris Buellers Day Off, is intended to be this and a Sociopath, according to the Director's commentary.
  • Loki in Thor and The Avengers fully lives up to his title as the God of Lies and Mischief. He leads Thor to believe that Odin is dead, double-crosses both his Asgardian family and the Frost Giants, and continually uses those around him to get what he wants (the throne of Asgard). In The Avengers he gets even more devious: he manages to sow dissent among the members of the Avengers, eventually causing them to battle each other rather than him. It's even been speculated that his whole attack on Earth was just an elaborate Xanatos Gambit, with his eventual defeat and return to Asgard an integral part of the plan.


  • Goethe gives an opinion of what makes someone a manipulative bastard in the following passage from Elective Affinities. Eduard, who's married to the Baroness's friend Charlotte, has just told the Baroness that he's in love with Ottilie. And the Baroness decides to break up the love affair: "[A]s she made up her mind, she appeared to become even more sympathetic to Eduard's desires, for no one had more self-control than the Baroness. Self-control at crucial moments accustoms us to maintain outward composure on all occasions. When we have so much control over ourselves, we are inclined to extend it to others as an external compensation for all our inner privations... This state of mind is usually connected with a secret enjoyment of the blindness of others who walk unsuspectingly into the trap. We enjoy not only our present success but, at the same time, the other person's future embarrassment. The Baroness, therefore, was malicious enough to invite Eduard to come with Charlotte to her estate at the vintage season; and when he asked whether they might bring Ottilie, she gave an answer which he could take to be affirmative, if he chose."
  • Dolokhov from War and Peace often manipulates others during games of chance to earn far greater winnings, or to spur them into doing things they will regret later. He also seems to take some sort of perverted delight in seeing people, his social betters, strung around so easily.
  • Shift from The Last Battle demonstrates his Manipulative Bastardry multiple times just in his first few scenes. He gets his "friend", Puzzle, to do whatever he wants through a combination of guilt-tripping and playing on Puzzle's insecurity/low self-esteem (which, of course are a result of the way Shift treats him in the first place).
  • Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov fits this trope to a fault, to the point of convincing Ivan that he is the one responsible for his father's death, despite the fact that Smerdyakov was the one who did the old man in. According to Smerdyakov, Ivan subconsciously told him through various cues and actions that he wanted his father dead. Whether this is true or not is left rather ambiguously defined.
  • Long John Silver from Treasure Island. While lacking the style needed to be a Magnificent Bastard, he fits this trope perfectly; acting so damn charming and likeable that one can easily forget that he's in fact a ruthless, murderous pirate. His fondness for Jim Hawkins is particularly of notice, as even in the end it's never made clear just how much of their relationship was genuine and how much was manipulation on Silver's part.
  • Ellsworth Toohey from Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead. Here's a man who holds to the Strawman Political philosophy that no one should ever achieve anything great, and he does everything he can to make people feel so insecure to be anything but a mass of mediocre and dependent "second-handers." He has a well-developed Backstory to show that he's been growing into this role all his life, and he gives a Hannibal Lecture to Peter Keating that explains all his motivations and goals.
    • What makes him even more Manipulative and Bastardly is that he doesn't genuinely believe this himself: rather, he realizes that people who lack a sense of the greatness in life are easier to control. (As witness the way he sabotages his niece's chances for a fulfilling career and a happy marriage.) Basically, Toohey is driven only by the desire for power over others, like the Party in 1984. (In fact, both Orwell and Rand stated that inspiration for the antagonists came from observing the very worst tendencies in contemporary socialists and taking them to their logical conclusions.)
  • Stephen Norton in Agatha Christie's Curtain: The Last Case of Poirot is largely based on Iago. The manipulations quickly reach downright ridiculous extremes bordering on full-blown Gambit Roulettes. It often takes little more than a casual remark on Stephen Norton's part (or on the part of any of the dozens of people he uses as unwitting proxies to voice his 'suggestions' to the people involved, both victim and murderer alike) in just about any given conversation to set a complex chain of events into motion that will lead to someone getting killed shortly afterwards. Norton is actually so good at this, that even Poirot knows that it'd be just about impossible to ever him get convicted of any crime whatsoever. So Poirot decides to just kill Norton instead.
  • Abelard Lindsay and the other Shaper diplomats in Schismatrix, but also Lindsay's untrained rival Constantine.
  • The three Wiggin children, plus Graff, from Ender's Game.
  • Raistlin Majere in Dragonlance is very good at The Chessmaster event-manipulating (he earns his title as 'Master of Past and Present' in more than the time travel sense) but arguably even better at using people, effortlessly twisting his brother's love to his own purposes, maneuvering apprentice-Bastard-in-training Dalamar into both hating and worshiping him, manipulating guileless kender Tasselhoff into achieving several of his goals (though he screws up others) and even playing (and almost always winning) mind-games with the heads of the Orders of High Sorcery, Fistandantilus, and the Dark Queen Herself. His crowning achievement, however, is his protracted seduction minus any sex (losing her virginity would cause her to lose her powers) and subsequent cruel abandonment of a holy cleric of Paladine simply so he could use her to enter the Abyss and kill the Queen. To take her place, naturally.
    • Raistlin's half-sister, Kitiara Uth Matar, also qualifies. Tanis Half-Elven was putty in her hands. She successfully seduced Sturm Brightblade, effectively getting a paragon of Honor Before Reason to betray his best friend. She easily manipulated her rival in love and war, Laurana, into getting herself captured. She tricked her lover Dalamar into letting her get close enough to stab him. Though she muffed the attack and failed to kill him. And she even got the best of Raistlin a couple of times.
  • In the Forgotten Realms series War of the Spiderqueen, Danifae Yauntyrr starts as a lowly slave after her clan was wipped out in one of the common political feuds and she was captured alive as a trophy, to serve as a personal slave to a spoiled princess. Even though any other member of her group could kill her at any time without requiring a reason, she defies and antagonizes about everyone else, makes her former mistress her personal bitch, has her Love Interest shred to bloody pieces by Jaggred, makes a high priestess to end up paralyzed with self-doubt, and gets the half-demon Jeggred to defy his aunt and follow her orders instead (as she continually proves to be much more ruthless and manipulative, and thus being worthy of his loyalty). And when it comes for the reincarnated godess to chose her new champion, she spits everyone in the face by being chosen over priestesses who had served her all their lives and sacrificed everything to gain her favor.
  • Lord Havelock Vetinari from the Discworld series is practically the definition of this trope (and he's a Chessmaster to boot, the combination turning him into an outright MagnificentBastard).
  • Leland Gaunt from Stephen King's Needful Things. He's similar to Iago, but on a large scale; he takes the conflicts among people and turns them into murderous feuds. With "pranks".
    • He even makes sure his customers only play pranks on people they don't know well enough to realize that the prank will play on a flaw or insecurity, but know enough about to be able to rationalize the prank to themselves by denigrating the person. And then he makes his final bit of money by selling guns...
  • Honor Harrington is positively awash with this types, given the series somewhat political bent, especially in the latest novels.
  • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish of A Song of Ice and Fire. As well as being The Chessmaster and a card-carrying Magnificent Bastard, he emotionally manipulates those around him callously and shamelessly, starting with Unlucky Childhood Friend Lysa Tully. And he's seemingly training Lysa's niece, Sansa Stark to follow his steps.
    • Actually, Sansa had inklings of this from the beginning. She's said to be good at putting up a false front and lying to others right to their faces, so while she's caught more than a few times ( Sandor and Cersei pretty much tell her "learn to lie better, kiddo"), Littlefinger just has to pass his best manipulation techniques onto her...
  • Cassie from Animorphs. Many, many times throughout the series, she uses her innate understanding of people for the good of the team, if not necessarily for the good of herself, or the person. Her main victim of her manipulations was Visser Three (mainly because the Visser was an evil ego-driven son of a bitch). She also (reluctantly) used her understanding of people to trap a traitor of the group in the body of a rat. Beware the nice ones, indeed.
    • She and Marco tend to share this role, with Cassie being the "play on what you love" type, and Marco being the borderline Smug Snake, "irritate, annoy, threaten, and offer you the world" type. A villainous example would be Yeerk Torture Technician and utter psycho, Taylor.
    • David, the aforementioned 'Ani-Traitor', also falls into Manipulative Bastard territory, coming closer to wiping out the Animorphs than the entirety of the Yeerk Empire in his trilogy. He goads Jake into fighting a battle he cannot win, manipulates Ax's ignorance of alarm clocks and Rachel's opinion of him as a robber to lure Rachel into another trap, and turned the entire Berenson family into puppets by pretending to be recently-hospitalized cousin Saddler. His return in #48 goes even further, working the Hannibal Lecture and "The Reason You Suck" Speech tropes overtime in his attempt to break Rachel's will to fight.
  • Honor Harrington: One good example of the cold and ambitious Manipulative Bastard would be Solarian Vice-Admiral Luis Rozsak, who is also The Chessmaster, and has absolutely no qualms about bending almost everybody to do his bidding. Surprisingly he isn't a villain, at least technically: he's a rather personable guy, and his goals are mostly noble, so he's actually more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • The same series also subverts this trope with Havenite secret agent Victor Cachat, who fits the same analytical type to a T, but it is only ONE part of his otherwise genuinely kind and meek personality, and manifests itself only when he firmly believes in its necessity.
  • Gentleman in Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. He has exceptional insight and sometimes understands a person's mind better than they themselves do, but only uses the knowledge to exploit them, for profit and for fun.
    • Also Mrs Sucksby. She raises Sue as a daughter, keeping her close and innocent (and making Sue love her like a mother), but the whole time planning to her being able to put Sue away and reclaim Maud, her biological daughter.
  • 'Sticky Eye' Kawakami in Cloud of Sparrows. He raises Heiko from a village of eta, outcasts who perform disgusting but necessary work such as butchers and tanners, as the most beautiful geisha in Edo, and assigns her as a spy and assassin attached to Genji. Genji quickly cops to the fact that she's an assassin, but it turns out Kawakami had counted on this so he could reveal her background to Genji at the right moment. This sends Genji into a well-concealed Heroic BSOD, which culminates in him sending Heiko to America and massacring her entire village to prevent anyone else finding out.
  • Sol in Warrior Cats. His voice even seems to have the power to influence other cats' minds.
    • And Hawkfrost.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, Iagon reveals his True Colors when he manipulates Tsu'gan into not reporting his ploys. Followed up by his reflection that he has to do something about the Apothecary who knows, and later by his murdering a helpless servant.
  • Ysanne Isard, particularly in the comics. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, she served the Emperor until his death. After the Battle of Endor, Isard advised Grand Vizier Sate Pestage while plotting to make his position shaky enough that he made plans to abandon the Empire and flee to the Rebellion. In the same day, Isard had Pestage and the obstructive Imperial Ruling Council assassinated, leaving her Empress in all but name. A favored element in her plans involved capturing members of the Rebel Alliance, brainwashing them into becoming sleeper agents, and sending them back completely unaware to their superiors, awaiting the right moment to activate them.
  • If they have a pulse and have set foot on the planet Arrakis (Or, as it's also known, Dune), then they're probably magnificent bastards. Paul manipulates the Fremen to make them both into an army to win back the planet AND avert a jihad he sees in the future. Jessica does to (again to the Fremen) in order to survive. Baron Harkonnen does it to eventually put a Harkonnen on the Imperial throne (although in his case he never seriously considers doing it for himself. He's in it for the legacy). The Emperor himself kills off someone described repeatedly as looking like the Emperor himself (Duke Leto Atreides) because he feels threatened by him. The only people in the book who aren't magnificent bastards (or just bastards) is Gurney Hallack or dead (like Duncan Idaho. Don't worry, he gets both better and a magnificent bastard).
    • How come we have a Dune entry and no mention of Leto II? There's a reason he's becomes the God Emperor. He manages to manipulate every single human being that crosses his path, up to and including his grandmother, his aunt and his own father, all of which should have known better. Then he ends up ruling the entire known universe for 3500 years with an iron fist.
      • To be fair, he really didn't manipulate his father Paul. It was more like winning an argument and Paul realizing Leto was right, much to his dismay.
  • American Gods: Mr. Wednesday. Dear god, Wednesday.
  • Nigel Bishop, from Dream Park novel The California Voodoo Game, literally wrote the book on Manipulative Bastardry (The Art of Gaming). An outstanding example of this trope, not least because Bishop unabashedly convinces the Gaming world he's a Magnificent Bastard, and is universally admired for it; only the reader knows the extent of his crimes, or the tone of his internal monologue, that show he's too much of a Bastard to rightly qualify as Magnificent.
  • Julian from The Forbidden Game.
  • Considering the sheer number of chessmasters, Magnificent Bastards, and people aspiring to those titles in the Codex Alera, several characters qualify. But probably the clearest bit of emotional manipulation comes from an unexpected quarter: Ehren. He plays on Attis's pride and self-confidence to get him to act as bait for The Dragon and the Big Bad, knowing that he would see it more as a chance to destroy the enemy leaders than putting himself in their way. As a result, Attis gets, in his words, "filleted," Invidia gets severely inconvenienced, and Tavi no longer has to worry about competition for the throne.
  • Also from Jim Butcher, Martin, in The Dresden Files. Nicknamed "Mr. Bland" when Harry meets him, the guy is a half-vampire working for an anti-vampire organization called the Fellowship of St. Giles who seems to have absolutely no emotions. He says it's necessary for his work, where emotions create attachment and he has to do very bad things in order to defeat the Red Court vampires. He ain't kidding. In the end, turns out not only is he a mole for the Red Court, but he is actually against THEM as well. He's been feeding them entirely accurate information, including that which has led to hundreds of deaths of humans, to put them into a position of enough power where they would initiate an incredibly dangerous magical ritual just for the sake of vengeance. Then he manipulated Harry into being forced to kill Susan-- his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child (as well as Martin's partner for about a decade)-- in a way that would turn the ritual against the Reds, wiping out all the Red Court vampires in the world. Yikes.
    • Nicodemus also likes to do this sort of thing. Highlights include tossing an Artifact of Doom at a toddler in order to force Harry to pick it up (implanting a copy of a Fallen Angel's personality in his head in the process) and displaying a horribly-tortured little girl to try to provoke Harry into using the Sword of Faith to break a promise. (The latter of which fails; Harry immediately realizes what Nick's trying to do, and he's made that mistake before and does not wish to repeat it)
    • Harry's developed this as well. Witness using Lara Raith as a catspaw to destroy Lord Raith while making her think that he is her catspaw/
  • Azrael de Gray from John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming manages to get out of the Tailor-Made Prison he was locked in by, among other things, persuading his great-grand descendent to jump off the edge of the world.
  • Any decendant of Kushiel in Kushiel's Legacy can become a Manipulative Bastard. They can actually "see" what it will take to get people to act in a specific manner. Melisande embraces being a Manipulative Bastard and manipulates people just because she can. Her son Imriel tries to avoid being a Manipulative Bastard but still has that ability for when he needs to use it.
  • Many Sherlock Holmes villains qualify and So does Sherlock Holmes himself. In more than a couple occasions he has gone as far as to emotionally manipulate, not just the villains but innocent bystanders and even Watson as well, to achieve his goals. Watson notes that this amuses him greatly.
  • Anna from Ann M. Martin's Slam Book. She borders on Complete Monster territory after she admittedly accidentally drives an unpopular girl to suicide. She feels bad briefly -- but her parents assure her that oh, it's mostly because that girl was unadjusted in the first place! Right...
  • Rimmer Dal, Big Bad of Terry Brooks' The Heritage of Shannara series. He so thoroughly destroys Par's sense of self and right and wrong, that by the end the poor kid is borderline insane, and barely able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Worst of all, this is exactly the result he was after, as a Par whose will is utterly shattered won't be able to prevent Dal's Grand Theft Me from going into effect. He turns this kid into The Woobie purely for his own benefit, and the kicker? It takes the Sword of Shannara (an artifact designed to expose the truth) to pierce through all the lies he's told. And even that almost isn't enough, because he manages to talk Par into believing he can't use it. Manipulative Bastard and Consummate Liar indeed.
  • Anasûrimbor Kellhus of Second Apocalypse, like all members of his secret monastic order, is a Chessmaster Ubermensch who is Awesome By Analysis and has Hyper Awareness, which because he is unfettered allows him to become a Consummate Liar. He eventually manipulates an entire civilization into viewing him as a God-Emperor. His father Anasûrimbor Moënghus was only slightly less successful.
  • In China Mieville's novel "The Scar", Uther Doul is either this or Magnificent Bastard, depending on your interpretation. He knows that the Lovers' plan will get them all killed (if you believe that; arguably, that part could have been a lie too), but he doesn't want to be shown doing anything himself to oppose the Lovers, so he manipulates Bellis by giving just enough information to start a rebellion of Armada's citizens, even indulging her growing infatuation with him. Many readers fell for it hook, line, and sinker, thinking he'd become an Anti-Villain in time and end up with Bellis, and oh how wrong they were. The revelation that he never felt anything for Bellis, and was only using her, felt pretty harsh.
  • Irial from Wicked Lovely is very good at this.
  • Mayor Prentiss from Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series. Throughout The Ask and the Answer, he plays head games with Todd, Viola, and even his own son who he ends up shooting. He could also be considered a Magnificent Bastard as he is extremely confident and independent. Pretty much starts a Big Badass Battle Sequence at the beginning of Monsters of Men. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, drags Aaron along as a Church Militant while trying to chase Todd down.
  • Sauron. He tricks a loyal follower of Barahir into betraying the location of his hideout, makes the king of Nùmenor attack Valinor, which causes the destruction of Nùmenor, and shows the Elves how to create the Rings of Power, which Sauron later uses to enslave or corrupt some of the leaders of the races of Middle-Earth.
    • Only to fall foul of the fact that the existence of God makes being a Manipulative Bastard and/or a Chessmaster ultimately futile.
  • Voldemort from Harry Potter. Especially when he was younger, and charmed everyone around him into to thinking he was the hero. Pretty much everything he says is a form of emotional manipulation (guilt-tripping, flattery, fear-mongering, put-downs to lower self-esteem), it's just that he doesn't use his charm to its full extent as an adult, preferring to manipulate using negative reinforcement instead. As is repeatedly stated in the series: "Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great."
    • Dumbledore. He plays people from beyond the grave, using his reputation as a kind, slightly Cloudcuckoolander Big Good to get everyone to do exactly what he wants, playing on Voldemort's vanity and shortsightedness, Snape's love for Lily and Harry's chronic heroism.
      • Not to mention what he did with Draco. He knew the kid was trying to kill him, and he knew he wouldn't be doing it if Voldemort hadn't put him up to it. Yet he still refused to confront him until the plan he'd dragged Snape into came to fruition. When he offered to hide Draco and his family, it was already too late for him to accept--even though it seemed he wanted to.
  • Diana Ladris from Gone (novel). With the exception of Drake and sometimes Caine, she gets people to do whatever she wants them to just by playing off of what they want, and she's not even pleasant about it.
  • Tarantyev and his buddy in Oblomov.
  • Xanatos from Jedi Apprentice and his bastard son Granta Omega from Jedi Quest are both very effective Manipulative Bastards, specialising in screwing with their opponents' minds during combat. Xanatos is especially brutal, giving Obi-Wan a Not So Different/"The Reason You Suck" Speech after the former is forced to kill fellow student Bruck, that nearly shatters the boy's self-confidence.

Live-Action TV

  • If you want to be a bad guy on 24, you must have a Masters degree in Manipulative Bastardness. They seem to specialize in the Smug Snake and Con Man subtypes, but that show has showcased at least three kinds of every type in its eight seasons.
  • As the page quote suggests, Benjamin Linus of Lost beats out the majority of the other characters on this page.
    • Ben Linus is a combination of this, The Chessmaster, the Magnificent Bastard, and an emotionless monster. He has only shown a genuine facial expression in one episode of the series, where his daughter is shot by a Psycho for Hire. He's manipulated almost the entire cast at some point or another, and they only continue to even pay attention to him because he convinces them to. He actually spends most of the first part of season four tied up and constantly being hit by angry people, but he manages to talk his way out of it.
      • The incident above is the only time a genuine emotion is wrenched from him, but he's also smirked a couple of times when no one is watching him.
      • Funnily enough the page quote references his attempts toward one character where his actual plan was overly convoluted and in fact failed. Fortunately he was able to salvage what he wanted through a quick rethink later on.
        • Though he also became manipulated by a Bastard ER Bastard The Monster himself
  • Megan of Drake and Josh raised the bar to Olympic-worthy standards before hitting her teens.
    • Drake is another example
  • Helena Peabody in season 2 of The L Word.
  • Rachel in This Life
  • Almost every demon on Supernatural. Even Crowley in season five- who he is helping the Winchesters without being overly manipulative- is still pulling deals with random mooks on the side. The crossroad demon, Azazel and Ruby all pull off impressive displays of manipulative bastardry. Even Meghas her moments - encouraging the boys to split up, for example- although she seems to lack the patience or psychological insight to be as good at this as the others. Maybe she just got found out too soon.
    • And, playing (sorta) for the other team, the Trickster/ Gabriel. I know! Let's kill a guy who's doomed anyway just to teach his brother a lesson! And now let's do it a hundred more times!
    • And Zachariah, who will shunt you into a post-apocalyptic future to convince you to allow yourself to be possessed. Fun times.
  • Mike from The Young Ones can pull this off when dealing with the other members of his househould, but nobody else.
  • Clay Davies in The Wire
  • Livia Soprano and sometimes Johnny Sak in The Sopranos
  • Alex Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place.
    • And Justin, who really takes the cake because he gets away with it. The Frankengirl episode, for instance, he metaphorically and literally twists Alex's arm into becoming a cheerleader (knowing she'll hate it) to keep her out of his room. The kicker? He gets his mom to call him the 'perfect son' because he got his sister into an extracurricular activity, as if this were his plan all along.
  • Pretty much the raison d'etre—his love of torturing people, both physically and emotionally, leads to his downfall more than once—of the sadistic vampire Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:

Angel: I couldn't take my eyes off [the victims]. I was only in it for the evil. It was everything to me. It was art. The destruction of a human being.

    • Also, Holtz, Holland Manners, possessed Cordelia, Lindsey in fifth season, well let's just say that Angel liked this sort of character.
      • Spike had whole episode in season 4 where he exploited the Scooby Gang's emotional shortcomings to drive them apart. He made a deal with Adam to get the chip out of his head.
        • Of course, since his less-then-impressive machinations resulted in them disliking each other for a grand total of less than ten minutes screentime, you could argue that Spike's less a manipulative bastard and more a generic bastard trying desperately to be manipulative.
  • Virgil "Web" Webster from the short lived crime drama The Inside ruthlessly preys on the psychological flaws of other people with a chilling indifference, often drawing comparisons to the very criminals he pursues.
  • Dr. Gregory House. He tricks his patients into highly risky medication or procedures, as well as manipulating colleagues/superiors for various purposes (chief among which is getting a Vicodin prescription).

Rodney Foreman: My son says you're a manipulative bastard.
Dr. House: It's just a pet name. I call him Doctor Bling.
Dr. Cuddy: Don't you think this is a little manipulative?
Dr. House: No. I think it's hugely manipulative.

    • Dr. James Wilson knows how to manipulate people too, sometimes seeming to be the only one who can manipulate House.
  • Guy from Noah's Arc, who bit by bit manipulate Alex, Trey, and even Alex's friends in an attempt to get Alex out of the picture and be with Trey. His plan is effective enough that at one point even Noah, Ricky and Chance (Alex's closest friends) are questioning Alex's credibility.
  • The magician Derren Brown is well known for this trait. In one show he recruits volunteers and offers to teach them psychological techniques. Instead, he manipulates them into robbing a security van. He once fooled a man into thinking that he was a ventriloquist's dummy, for heaven's sake.
    • Alternate interpretation: Derren Brown also manipulates viewers through use of paid actors.
      • Thing is, that comes under the realm of Fridge Logic. Given how many stunts Derren has pulled, and the massive scale of some of them, if he used paid actors for things (and bear in mind that over the past ten years, not counting his early student days, he'd have to use different actors every time), then he'd risk too many people knowing that he used actors. Thus by this point someone would have already blown the lid on such a scam. The BBC had problems keeping the Stig's identity secret, and that was a small number of people in the know. If Derren Brown could keep actors in his stunts secret with so many people who would, by default, have to already know, then he'd be such a Magnificent Bastard that he wouldn't even need actors in the first place...
    • Internet essayist Dan Hemmens of ferretbrain has written an alternative alternate interpretation that if right, would catapult Derren Brown to full-blown Magnificent Bastard status.
  • Jim Profit and Bobbi Stakowski of Profit. LIKE WHOA. There's a reason Profit is where he's at in life despite being literally raised in a box: he finds your deepest weakness and exploits it. This can range from nudging the boss's wife into an affair with him to his psychological torture of Joanne in "Healing". As for Bobbi? Well, where do you think Jim got it from?
  • Just about any reality show is going to have at least one of these in the cast. Richard Hatch from the first season of Survivor is an example.
  • Firefly:
    • Jubal Early.
    • Saffron/Bridget/Yolanda is a tremendous straight example in her first appearance, but almost counts as a deconstruction of just how messed up this character type would have to be during her appearance in "Trash".
    • River is a bit more playful in how she does this to other crewmembers, but she turns it into a rather deadly game of manipulation when she chats up the aforementioned Jubal Early.
  • Blackadder, in his later incarnations, can be very skilled at this. He tends to take this route when dealing with each series' wealthiest or most powerful Upper Class Twit ( Prince George, especially, but also Queenie and General Melchard ). Mostly, though, he prefers to lie, cheat, scheme and use his skills as a Magnificent Bastard instead.
  • T-Bag in Prison Break.
  • Fraggle Rock: "Convincing John can convince anyone to do anything!"
  • Evil Matriarch Angela Petrelli, Serial Killer Sylar and Magnificent Bastard Adam Monroe of Heroes. Nathan somewhat subverts this trope as his manipulations usually wind up blowing up in his face.
  • Dave Williams in Desperate Housewives.
  • Kings:
    • Queen Rose. Her Manipulative Bitch wonderfully compliments Silas' MagnificentBastardry.
    • Katrina Ghent tries hard for Manipulative Bitch status, and almost gets it when she blackmails Rose into almost ruining the reputation of either Jack or Michelle and then turns around and proposes to Jack, poised to become the next queen. Shame about that trip to Osteria.
  • Gemma in Sons of Anarchy.
  • Olivier in Six Feet Under
  • Long in Juken Sentai Gekiranger. And in spades, I might add. In fact, come to think of it, calling him this is putting it mildly.
  • Micheal Cutter from Law and Order.
  • Robert Goren from Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
  • Editor Lynda Day from Press Gang. To quote her best friend Sarah after one of Lynda's finest moments of manipulation: "Can you explain to me how I just argued myself into doing what you wanted me to do in the first place? You are a devious, unfeeling, calculating, manipulative bitch!" Lynda's reply? "Well, you were asking what made me a better choice for editor."
  • Tony in Skins (seasons 1 & 2). Overlaps with True Art Is Angsty, which is lampshaded in his speech to Sid, where he tells him that he is a Manipulative Bastard to liven things up.
  • Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development starts off like this. By the end, it's clear she's also a Chessmaster and therefore a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Humphrey in Yes Minister always knows exactly what to say to get people to see things his way, and it's clear he's the person who actually runs Hacker's department. Dorothy also has shades of this.
  • Helen Cutter from Primeval.
  • Molly Hightower, the new boss on The Mentalist, shows signs of this in her very first episode. She politely and cheefully informs Patrick Jane that as far as she's concerned, he's an asset to the CBI and if he screws up with one of his stunts, no problem. She'll can Lisbon, who she immediately realizes he cares for deeply, instead. And despite what she says, she subtly gets Lisbon out of an interrogation, leaving the suspect alone, because she knows odds are Jane will try something, and she wants to give him the opportunity to see if he can succeed before the man's lawyer gets him out of custody. Jane, himself a card-carrying manipulative bastard, is suitably impressed.
  • Oz has Chris Keller who is obsessed with controlling and manipulating others and is recruited by Vern Schillinger to seduce Beecher for the express purpose of breaking his heart (and arms and legs). Also, Ryan O'Reilly who pits the various gangs and cliques within Oz against each other for the purposes of surviving.
  • Gossip Girl Chuck Bass, Jack Bass, Bart Bass...
    • Don't forget Blair Waldorf.
  • Community: Jeff, though his skills started failing him right around when he came to Greendale.
    • The study group seemed to start figuring out his tricks.

Jeff: How can I convince Senor Chang to do anything if I can't even convince you to not make me?
Group: Ah yeah that makes sense....
Troy: Wait a minute, he's convincing us!

  • Jim Keats, who is also a Corrupter and a Chessmaster starts out as a hugely successful one, turning the CID team against Gene Hunt. Evolves into a Magnificent Bastard when it's revealed he's actually Satan incarnate - or at the very least, a high-level minion - and it's been his plan to shatter the Purgatory that Gene's created and used to help troubled coppers. Unfortunately, his manipulation of Alex doesn't quite counteract her loyalty and affection for Gene, and everyone crosses over, preserving the order of things.
  • Cameron proves to be very capable when it comes to making people react how she wants. She can alternate between being innocent, friendly, and disarming to cold, dangerous, and intimidating with ease, and more than once has used her physical body and complete inability to be creeped out or embarrassed to manipulate others.
  • When Monty Hall, host of Let's Make a Deal, was interviewed by the New York Times with regards to the Monty Hall Problem, he quickly dispensed with the textbook solution only to demonstrate quite clearly who controls what happens on the show.
  • Joanna of Hells Kitchen Season 3 attempted this and failed badly. She tried to convince Melissa to not nominate her in the first episode and tried to convince Ramsey that taking Spaghetti from the top of the rubbish and reboiling it is somehow worse than actively trying to get away with serving rissoto with rancid crab in it. It didn't work either.
  • Smallville has Lionel Luthor (Trope Codifier for Magnificent Bastard) and his son Lex. Then there's Brainiac who uses Clark, Bizarro, and even Lex with the greatest of ease, and Tess Mercer and Major Zod who spend the whole 9th Season trying to use one another for their own ends. And that's without counting Lex's various clones (including the very creepy Alexander), or Earth-2 Lionel, or the various telepaths.
  • Sophie from Leverage pretty much has this as her job description. Nate is good at this as well.
  • Walter White, from Breaking Bad, slowly becomes more manipulative to everyone around him, but mostly to Jesse.
  • Mr. Morden from Babylon 5 is this, and by extension, the Shadows as a whole. The Vorlons could also be considered this. Come to think of it, quite a few characters in the series could be considered this.
  • Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time seems to have everyone dancing to his tune.
    • Regina also has some skill in this direction, when she doesn't simply take the sledgehammer approach.
  • Agravaine in Merlin. Not many people can talk their way out of holding a knife to someone's throat.
    • Morgana. She manipulated Uther for quite a while until openly betraying him.
      • She also brought Lancelot back from the dead to break up Arthur and Guinevere's wedding.
  • Sunny Capaduca on Fifteen Love. A Child Prodigy and Jerk Jock, Sunny was inevitably able to use her seeming innocence and tremendous financial backing to get her own way. Resident High School Hustler, Gary "Squib" Furlong was also an effective liar and Con Man; he was opposed for most of the show's run by President Harold Bates who was less of a Dean Bitterman than he was a Stern Teacher/Manipulative Bastard cross.
  • Jim Moriarty in Sherlock. Moriarty is an infamous character, but his Manipulative Bastard status get bumped Up to Eleven in this incarnation. He's no longer the nonchalant professor, but now is a "consulting criminal" who has just as much power and influence over people, if not more, than Mycroft. What really makes him a Manipulative Bastard? Our Sherlock Holmes is no longer quite as stoic as previous incarnations and has an entirely co-dependent relationship with his only friend John, whom Moriarty, at one point, kidnaps and straps a bomb to before forcing him to confront Sherlock, pretending to be Moriarty himself in "The Great Game". In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty manages to make everyone in the show, sans Mrs. Hudson, Molly, and John believe that Sherlock is a fraud who created Moriarty by hiring an actor named Rich Brook to play the villain. What really takes the cake, the thing that really sends Sherlock into his Heroic BSOD, is threatening to assassinate John (and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson) unless Sherlock flings himself to his death off a building. Moriarty then shoots himself, leaving Sherlock with no choice but to fake suicide. While John is watching. Like Shakespeare's Iago, Moriarty does it all because he's bored. Everything he does, from kidnapping children and poisoning them with mercury to threatening to skin people and turn them into is an exercise in terror.
    • Irene is this, although she's not nearly as much of a bastard as Moriarty. Her biggest bastard moments include making John extremely jealous and faking her own death.

Professional Wrestling

  • Former ECW president and Smug Snake extraordinaire Paul Heyman fits this troop to a tee. He stole most of his ideas from other promoters like The Sheik, Joel Goodhart, and Atsushi Onita, and was not only able to convince his fans that they were his ideas, but that anyone else who used them was stealing from him. He was also able to convince them that they were watching only high quality wrestling, and that the WWF and WCW wrestlers were crap, while he made stars out of people like Public Enemy and 911. Then there is the way he treated his wrestlers, which made them loyal to him despite the fact he had not paid them for the last six months. Even though most people that worked for him realize what a bastard he was in retrospect, he still has a strong Creator Worship following today despite his all his failures in the industry.
    • It was said of him in the DVD ("Rise and Fall of ECW") that Paul always lied to the wrestlers, but he'd never lie to the fans.
  • WWE's commentators don't refer to Triple H as "The Cerebral Assassin" for nothing.
  • Raven, especially during his first ECW run and his WCW run, is another prime example just for his ability to gain loyal follower after loyal follower. The man got The Sandman's own wife and son to turn against him, for god's sake.
  • There's a good reason Edge is known as the "Master Manipulator".

Tabletop Games

  • The Craftworld Eldar from Warhammer 40,000 are magnificent manipulative bastards, thanks to a combination of psychic farsight and their it's-them-or-us attitude towards the "inferior" life-forms they manipulate. For example, the Eldar are willing to slaughter an entire Imperial Guard regiment so the oblivious humans wouldn't accidentally awaken a Necron tombworld (to be fair, this was a good thing for everybody), systematically murder or dethrone the leaders of several other armies just to maintain a bloody stalemate (again to stop the Necrons, but considerably more callous), and trick some of their own people into the hands of their dark kin so they might stave off their species' demise a century or two longer (which, while pragmatic, was just Jerkass). These are just the small-scale stuff: the Eldar of Ulthwe subtly redirected Ork warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka to the planet Armageddon, leading to two cataclysmic wars that killed billions and turned the region into a perpetual warzone, because otherwise the Orks would have attacked a craftworld (leading, according to Eldrad Ulthran, to the loss of ten thousand Eldar lives). Worst of all is the fact that the Eldar can't compete with the C'Tan known as The Deceiver, or the Chaos god Tzeentch.
    • Unfortunately for their image, they really got given the Idiot Ball on Armageddon. The second war was played as a worldwide campaign, meaning every army in the galaxy (Eldar included) sent people to fight and die over it. Troops had to be redirected from fighting the Tyranids in the Eastern Fringes, meaning the Tyranids could get further into the galaxy, something the Eldar living there had been desperately trying to stop (and, in the case of Iyanden, been all but wiped out by). Lastly, the Imperium had been weakened just before the Eye of Terror campaign, fought to decide the fate of the entire galaxy, in which many, many Eldar died and various Eldar, including Eldrad Ulthuan, the one behind it all, were doomed to a Fate Worse Than Death. Oops.
      • Sounds like Gameplay and Story Segregation to me (they couldn't very well bar all Eldar players from the campaign). And to be fair, the Eldar knew they were going to have to fight in the EoT, Eldrad knew he was going to have to make a Heroic Sacrifice, and they managed to recapture one of their original homeworlds within the Eye itself.
    • On the subject of Tzeentch, it is said that it has so many plans working in unison manipulating so many people and events that they effectively cancel each other out. Foiling one plan will cause a dozen more plans to initiate, which will in turn foil several dozen more plans... and so on and so forth.
      • Essentially, no matter what you do, you're furthering one or more plans of Tzeentch. I'm straining to remember the title, but one short story had a fairly prominent sorcerer engaged in a pitched battle: the forces of Chaos had far greater numbers and armaments, but the defenders were well dug in and supplied. The battle took months, and in the end a last-ditch effort on the part of the Imperials routed the remnants of his army and caused him to flee. The sorcerer feared for his life and soul, but on the first night had a vision from Tzeentch congratulating him on accomplishing just what he was supposed to do. When your greatest, most honored champions have no clue what your endgame is (or even if you have one) then you, sir, are beyond manipulative.
      • Part of the reason why Tzeentch is seldom the first guy who comes to mind in the 40k setting is that none of the writers either in fiction or rules really knows how to show Tzeentch succeeding. Almost all the fiction is from an Imperial viewpoint, which means they have to win, and so when Tzeentch crops up they tend to bust up one of his plans for reals, or at least genuinely setting him back because otherwise they may as well not have bothered. Tzeentch has never really gotten a chance to win or even be progressing and is always foiled by suitably clever and heroic imperials, which is somewhat contrary to his web of intrigue that has everything plotted out for every eventuality.
        • Of course the real question is exactly what Tzeentch's designs might be. Out of all the Chaos gods he is the least Exclusively Evil and could be attempting to achieve... well ... anything in the long term. If anything, since conspiring in general is praise to Tzeentch, he could be slurping power out of all the bickering and politicking in the Imperium with eventual plan to re-introduce magic into their ranks, participating in wars and invasions to provoke further in-fighting in the Imperium. Basically, we just don't know, no-one has ever really tried to tell us, and that's why Tzeentch SHOULD be a manipulative bastard but tends to more feel like a very clever scooby doo villain with no specific motivations that the bad guys can stop.
      • Tzeentch has plans, but he inherently has no agenda. Tzeentch, along with the other Chaos gods, is a psychic manifestation. He is the manifestation of plotting and change. He becomes more powerful simply by the existence of plots and change, not by them achieving any sort of actual objective. If Tzeentch ever definitively "won," he would cease to exist because there would be no one to plot against.


  • Iago, from Shakespeare's Othello, is the absolute definition of a Manipulative Bastard and the inspiration for many other entries on this list.
    • Shakespeare was using a traditional Christian theatre character called a Vice, who was always scheming and bragging to the audience. (Obviously it was a coveted role.)
    • If we're including Shakespearean Manipulative Bastards, then we also need to include Richard III.
    • In Shakespeare's King Lear, the appropriately-named villain Edmund The Bastard gets his brother disowned and banished by framing him for an attempt to kill their father Gloucester, then arranges for Gloucester to be disowned and banished after having his eyes gouged out; he does this all for minor political gains. After Edmund becomes king, he seduces two different women with promises of being his queen, even though they are both sisters, and already married. He also secretly arranges for their father to be killed, and another sister as well, to solidify his claim to the throne.
    • Lady Macbeth.
  • The Black Knight in Middleton's A GAME AT CHESS—a caricature of the Spanish ambassador Count Gondomar (who then had the play closed.) When told "Your plot's discovered", he exults "Which of the twenty thousand and nine hundred/Fourscore and five, can'st tell?"
  • Archie, who you would think would be Thirteen's Morality Pet, is a more sympathetic version of this. He uses his Muscular Dystrophy to guilt people (mainly adults, as he is not one of the cool kids) to get what he wants. This is actually used as a Chekhov's Gun when he uses his disease to guilt Mrs. Goldman into buying tickets to an R-rated movie.
  • Let's not forget about Hedda Gabler. While Hedda has been portrayed as a hero, tragic hero, victim, villain, feminist, basket case, square dance caller, and two hard-boiled eggs, one factor remains consistent from interpretation to interpretation: she is a Manipulative Bastard, particularly in an insanely ingenious "conversation" with Thea Elvsted. Judge Brack is certainly one of these as well, a sociable rival of sorts engaged with her in a constant battle of passive-assertive one-upmanship, leading to a bizarre, diluted Kismesissitude.
  • Mayor Hector in The Golden Apple.
  • Female example (her title ought to be Bloody Wonder): Nellie Lovett, from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Not only does she fuel Sweeney's rage to her own financial gain, she conveniently leads him to believe his wife is dead, just to get him for herself.
  • Madame Morrible in Wicked. The Wizard as well, but to a lesser degree.


  • Roodaka from Bionicle, with shades of The Vamp and The Starscream.
    • Teridax is the Ace of this, as he was able send Mata-Nui in another world, and take over his body, making a god.

Video Games

  • Albert Wesker from Resident Evil. In RE1, he blackmails Barry into betraying Chris and Jill by holding Barry's family hostage so that three would kill each other. In RE5, he captures Jill, turns her into his slave against her will, and forces Chris to fight against her, for the same reason as before.
  • EVE Online. One of the main ways to succeed at EVE Online is to become a manipulative bastard. It's not the only way, but most players are bound to go this path.
    • The most infamous example being Cally - aka Dentara Rast - who, after forming a corporation called the EVE Intergalactic Bank (EIB), transformed his above-board loan dispensing enterprise assisting new corporations with start-up capital and the sale of desirable tools and other in-game items (complete with loans and associated repayment schemes) into what is arguably regarded as one of, if not the, largest scams ever legally conducted in a videogame. From the initial start-up capital for his own corporation (100 million ISK - EVE's in-game currency), Cally utilised various means such as verbal misdirection, inventing a friend (Peter) to whom he had "entrusted" the reins of the corporation and, at one point, even faking his own death (in the eyes of his fellow EVE players) to rake in a cool 790 billion ISK; increasing his own money almost eight thousand fold. The best part of the whole scheme? The sixteen-minute video where he admits to and brags about the entire thing.

Cally: I didn't break any rules. I didn't hack into your accounts and take the money. You gave it to me. And there's nothing you can do about it.

  • Kurow Kirishima of Rival Schools is best described as Capcom's loving tribute to Paptimus Scirocco. Think Scirocco... with claws. Hell, they even have the same voice actor.
  • Ratchet and Clank‍'‍s Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek deserves a mention here. He's quite good at what he does, has an impressive voice (done by Kevin Michael Richardson) and has eyes that are large, shiny and blueish with no pupils.
  • The Practical Incarnation from Planescape: Torment. He gets a woman who knows he's a Manipulative Bastard but is still in love with him to accompany him to her certain death so he can have a spy in the place where she'll die. He creates a holy text quite possibly wholecloth in order to get a member of a race that freed itself from slavery and despises the notion to swear fealty to him. He gets a blind archer to effectively sell himself to him. Manipulative? Oh yes. Bastard? Very much so.
    • And, depending on how you play the game, the player character can be as well. If you're smart enough, you can actually out-manipulate the above Bastard.
  • Ocelot can be considered this in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and hell, even throughout the whole series.
  • I-no from Guilty Gear is an allegory of this trope. And she loves it.
  • And from Guilty Gear's Spiritual Successor, BlazBlue, we have Hazama/Terumi Yuuki who, so far, has manipulated everyone (except for Rachel Alucard and Makoto Nanaya) into playing him straight into his hands... And, yes, when I said "everyone", I really meant everyone. Including the triple minded, omniscient supercomputer, Takamagahara.
  • The Warcraft series seems to love this kind of villains. Kil'jaeden The Deceiver is probably the biggest of these, doing countless Gambit Roulettes behind the scenes and rarely, if ever lose his cool.
    • Every single member of the Black Dragonflight you meet are manipulative bastards in their own right, seemingly a requirement to be a black dragon, even the ones who aren't downright evil such as Sabellian aka Baron Sablemane and the supposedly purified Wrathion manipulated the player character for a great deal and only showing them their true form and purpose when they have trusted the player character enough.
  • Lord Galcian of Skies of Arcadia.
  • Axel from Kingdom Hearts, playing both sides in an Organization XIII internal conflict so that he could feel amused (hey, when you're a Nobody, you'll take any feeling you can get.)
    • Zexion, as well, though he tends to fall into Smug Snake territory. Axel could be considered a Magnificent Bastard in Chain of Memories, compared to the others who try.
    • Maleficent definitely count too. In the first game, she had gained the loyality of Disney's most ruthlessly evil villains by promises of high power of galactic scale, something most people wouldn't ignore. She also played Riku into her hands by using some good old fashion "play on his jealousy of his best friend, 'cause he has the girl and greater powers" while playing the mother figure to him.
    • How did Master Xehanort not get a mention here. He manipulated the three protagonist of the first game so he could get a new body, get Kingdom Hearts and restart the Keyblade War. Even after the prequel's end he still succeeded with one of his goals. Not only that but even after his two halves are defeated he's going to make a return as the original. It's as though this is just another alternate plan he created in case his other halves failed. The events of all of the games but 1 is due to him, and even then you could say he was responsible for that game being necessary at all.
  • In the Fallout series you can get out from/make almost any/every situation if your Speech-skill is high enought...this, of course, depending are you good or evil. In Fallout 3 alone - when playing Good - you can negotiate/seduce a man to give up his plan to blow up a city or - as Evil character - manipulate him to double the reward if you want to blow up the bomb for him.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Kreia digs into Atton's subconscious and holds his past over his head like an axe for the whole game, ensuring he remains loyal to the Exile. When she meets Mandalore later, she casually namedrops Revan, and then promising an answer to "the question that burns within his shell" - which likely boils down to "Why did he abandon me?" - to ensure his loyalty to the Exile.
    • Emphasized by an optional scene in the game - If Atton and the Exile develop enough trust between them, Atton tells the exile of his murder of several Jedi during the war, some former comrades of the Exile. The Exile accepts this and forgives Atton. Atton, having done this, confronts Kreia, and states that she has no power over him any longer. Kreia's Response - "If you thought I had any power over you in the first place then you were more of a fool than I thought. However, never forget, traitor, the feeling of guilt you had, and know that I can make you recall that feeling at - any - moment. Now, leave me, murderer". A Magnificent Bastard, indeed.
    • Unfortunately for Kreia, she can't manipulate droids.
  • There's no way SHODAN couldn't be one of these. Particularly in the second installment. When she first contacts you, she pretends to be the dearly departed Dr. Janice Polito, until you finally make it into her office on Deck 4. There, she will explain how her creations, The Many, are her enemies as well, and then, well, she becomes more of a slave driver than a manipulator, except that she continuous to give you cyber modules so you could be tempted to embrace her cybernetic phylosiphy. So, sure SHODAN threatens you to accomplish the tasks she gives you, and she coldly insults you every step of the way, but there's no denying that SHODAN's influence is one of the scariest things about her.
  • Metal Sonic from Sonic Heroes fits this trope well. Despite being seen right in the beginning, he worked behind and in the scenes, and manipulated everyone to the point where he almost won, had it not been for the teams collecting the emeralds.
  • Master Li of Jade Empire is the epitome of Manipulative Bastardry. He pulls off a twenty year Xanatos Gambit (only saved from being a Gambit Roulette because he is always in control of it) perfectly, even anticipating crash sites of flyers and manipulating family Genre Savvy enough to assume he survived a blizzard after being chucked around by a deity and to still be looking for him. Hells, he knew about and relied on Sun Hai doing that. All hail the Glorious Strategist!
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Apart from all his standard Batman Gambit (in relation to Ramza,) and his Xanatos Gambit amid everyone else's Gambit Roulette, Delita may be seen as a Manipulative Bastard towards Ovelia if you think that he never truly loved her. Duke Barrington was one too towards Rapha and Marach, even if the former realized it very early on. Zalbaag and Dycedarg could also count on Ramza's passion for their own ends.
  • The Ace Attorney games have Matt Engarde from Justice For All and Dahlia Hawthorne from Trials and Tribulations.
    • And we can't forget Damon Gant. Not quite as manipulative as the above, but still a master at playing everyone around him.
    • Kristoph Gavin is another good one, having befriended Vera Misham solely to cover his tracks after using her talents to forge evidence.
    • None of them hold a candle to Morgan Fey, whose machinations span two games. The second time, she even manipulates her eight-year-old daughter into becoming an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Adachi of Persona 4 makes another unsuspecting man do his dirty work for him and manages to successfully avoid capture until the very end of the game. Somewhat subverted in that the part with the other man was a stroke of luck.
  • Lucifer. Lucifer. Lucifer. While he's a genuinely caring figure towards Humanity, his methods to "save" it are... extremely questionable. It helps very little to learn he's also a master of Batman Gambits.
  • Gravemind from Halo deserves a nomination for convincing a super advanced AI who's sole function and goal was his destruction to join him.
    • The Prophet of Truth, the other major antagonist of the series, is also an example. Much emphasis on the 'manipulative' and much emphasis on the 'bastard.'
  • Sakaki of .hack//G.U. is an interesting case. Some people can see the manipulative bastardry from the beginning, others don't realise it until his victim does. Full details: Sakaki is practically mindraping Atoli from the beginning, and always turning her away from everyone and towards himself. This is very similar to the Orochimaru gambit of taking an already heavily abused victim, and then twisting them around your little finger. He even then admits to the whole thing fully aware that Atoli is in ear shot, but unable to do anything about it.
  • Dimentio of Super Paper Mario. At first he appears nothing more than an amusing little henchman, but, particularly in the endgame, it becomes clear that he's manipulating both sides of the conflict to further his own ends, playing off each side's desires as well as the prophecy itself. In fact, some Epileptic Trees concerning him even go so far as to suggest that he wrote the Dark Prognosticus in the first place, setting up the whole prophecy from the beginning.
  • Kirei Kotomine. He isn't even revealed as a bad guy despite his rather openly villainous attitude until late in each path, just as a jerk who likes messing with Shirou.
    • Even worse, Zouken Matou. He doesn't pretend to be a good/neutral guy or even bother masking the fact that's a vicious and creepy old man. Yet he manipulates Shinji/Sakura etc. regardless. Kirei Kotomine at least manages to also net being a Magnificent Bastard.
      • Actually, Sakura is just about the only person he can't easily manipulate (because she's fully aware of his true nature, and has gone way past caring what he does to her), hence why there are three different routes to the game, rather than three slight variations of Heaven's Feel. In order to force her to do his bidding, he has to use a combination of the corrupted worms he's implanted in her, and manipulation of everyone else (especially Shirou and Shinji). Even then, it goes wrong.
  • In Mitadake High, you are either this or a puppet of everyone else
  • Touhou has Yukari, especially in Silent Sinner in Blue, or the numerous fanfics play this role all the time.
  • Shizune of Katawa Shoujo. She's not the master manipulator Hisao thinks she is (probably...), but she is very cunning, her favorite game is Risk, and she has a lackey in Misha (well, a ditzy lackey with no volume control, but still.) Misha says late in Shizune's route that while she often manipulates people, some of those instances are unintentional.
  • Kil'jaeden the Deciever is made of equal parts this and Lawful Evil, if the sobriquet didn't make it obvious enough.
  • Sarah Kerrigan from StarCraft is pretty much able to get everyone, especially Zeratul, to do what she wants even after everyone knows she's a bad zerg. In Zeratul's case, she mainly does this by getting the Matriarch to tell him to go along with it. She takes advantage of Arcturus' sentimentality about Korhal too.
    • Technically, though, the biggest manipulator would have to be the Zerg Overmind.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the Illusive Man knows just the right words to say and just the right favors to grant to ensure that you'll give him everything he wants. At least until the endgame, where Shepard can refuse to give him the Collector Base.
    • TIM is so manipulative that even if you don't believe his bull for a minute, you'll end up working for him anyway because almost every other source of assistance (the Council, Alliance, et al.) has turned against you just for being associated with Cerberus. Exactly as planned.
    • Also, there's Morinth, an asari sex demon who manipulates people into melding with her, killing them and making herself more powerful.
  • BioWare just loves this trope. In Dragon Age Origins you have Bhelen, who outplays the character in the beginning, if you chose the Dwarven Noble origins.
    • To elaborate, he tricks you in to believing that your eldest brother Trian is out to kill you for being a contender for the throne, frames you for killing him during a darkspawn campaign, and votes for exiling you and stripping you of everything and to be sent to the Deep Roads to DIE.
      • It's actually even better than that, if you go choose to go along with him and believe that Trian is out to get you - he manipulates Trian into attempting to kill you. If you express your disbelief, he resorts to the above, killing Trian himself and framing you for it. No matter what you do, Bhelen wins. Fortunately you can get your own sweet revenge at a later time if you so choose.
        • You gotta admit though, he knows how to play the game.
  • Atlas from BioShock (series). Why did you just inject yourself with some strange goo that makes people go insane? Why did you shoot that big and seemingly harmless guy? Because he asked you so kindly. That's right. The reason why the player does anything is because Atlas, "the good guy" who has been helping you since the very beginning in your wacky adventure in Rapture tells you to with the phrase would you kindly? which the player just has to obey. Also, the BBEG uses the phrase to actually make you to kill himself.
  • Michael Thorton of Alpha Protocol is stated in the intro to be hired into the titular organization due to being this. If the player is good enough at manipulation and alliances, Michael can even ascend to Magnificent Bastard levels.
  • Bob Page from Deus Ex creates a plague to infect most of the United States. Of course, having also created the vaccine, he brags about how much power and manipulation he has over even the most powerful people.
    • By extension, Walton Simons is head of FEMA. During an emergency, (such as the one created by his boss's plague), Walton Simons gets to take control over most of the government, overstepping even the president of the United States. He's apparently such a manipulative bastard that there are casual NPC conversations about what a swell guy he is.
    • Then again, both Page and Simons likely have a skilled PR department devoted to making them look like upstanding citizens. Better examples would be Maggie Chow who plays her allies, the Red Arrow Triad into a gang war with Luminous Path to ruin them both and when confronted by JC, she tries to distract him with a Red Herring despite having a squad of MJ12 soldiers stationed inside her apartment. Her DE: Human Revolution Expy, Zhao Yun Ru, actually manages get the better off Adam Jensen with a reasonably convincing Damsel in Distress impression.
    • In Human Revolution there exists CASIE augmentations that give its owner an enhanced ability to read a person's reactions and exhale resistance lowering feromones. Activating this aug turns Adam Jensen into a player controlled Manipulative Bastard.
  • Albert Silverberg of Suikoden III is also a Magnificant Bastard, given that he manipulates everyone into the events of the game just to show the world that yes, he is indeed a Silverberg and improve his reputation of being a genius Chessmaster. Then he casually derails the whole thing and waltzes away, leaving players to hope that a future game will let them get their revenge.
  • Suikoden IV has Graham Cray, who turns the entire country of Kooluk into his Unwitting Pawn in order to flush out and reclaim the Rune of Punishment.
    • Another example from IV is the elder of Na-Nal. After you fight some Kooluk soldiers trying to liberate the island, he captures you and reveals that he's allied with Kooluk, then forces you to go and steal a remedy from the Hidden Elf Village so he can score even more points with The Empire by healing the soldiers you wounded. Unfortunately for him, it turns out the Elven Elder is an even bigger bastard who predicted Na-Nal's elder would do this and lets you steal a poisonous 'remedy'. Na-Nal's apparent betrayal does NOT go over well with the rest of Kooluk's occupying forces...
  • In Suikoden Tierkreis, it turns out that Danash VIII deliberately engineered the tension between the Magedom ruler's multiple wives. The three consorts are constantly competing for their husband's attention and affection, and thusly go out of their way to prove themselves the one willing to do the most to support and strengthen the Magedom... leading them to do things like turn their children into tools.
  • Fain of Lusternia is a Consummate Liar Manipulative Bastard. It's unclear how much of this was his natural personality and how much is the result of his exposure to Soulless essence; it's hard to even pinpoint the moment he Jumped Off the Slippery Slope, since he defends his actions to the last. He still has followers, amongst mortals and Gods!
  • In both Final Fantasy II and Dissidia Final Fantasy, The Emperor is a Manipulative Bastard who frequently approaches magnificence, in his original game wheeling and dealing with God and the Devil and winning, and in Dissidia, playing every side against the other in a ploy to rule all of existence. It's very late in the game when the other villains figure out his plans in their entirety and still can't stop him, the heroes never figure them out properly. But the most interesting twist is that this is integrated into playing as him in Dissidia—his playstyle is called "Trap Master", and is unique in that it revolves around forcing his opponent into traps or into situations where they cannot stop his virtually undodgeable Charged Attack from executing. In other words, in order to use the Emperor effectively, the player themself has to be a Manipulative Bastard!
  • Midna in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is quite manipulative when her relationship with Link starts out. She manages to take advantage of Link's concern for Ilia to get him to be a pawn in her quest to stop Zant.
  • Dr. Eggman has been shown to be this at times in the Sonic series. He has tricked Knuckles on several occasions, tricked Tails into revealing he had a fake Chaos Emerald, and has, at one point, tricked Sonic to get to the center of a machine that would unseal Dark Gaia and break Sonic out of his Super Mode.
  • Fenrich from Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has a long streak of supporting his somewhat gullible Noble Demon lord, Valvatorez, through scheming and manipulation of the people around him—including Valvatorez himself.
  • In Soul Calibur V, Tira pulls this on Pyrrha to ensure the latter will be the next host for Soul Edge.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, Jihl Nabaat often pulls this on Sazh by claiming to ensure his son's safety but is really trying to snuff out the other l'Cie.

Web Comics

  • MAG-ISA -- Love is an easy emotion to manipulate... how sad.
  • Adam from Loserz seems like a Casanova at the first glimpse, but in this strip he displays what a master of manipulation he is.
  • Tohya Miho from Megatokyo does this with varying levels of success.
    • Miho is an interesting (and arguably realistic) example, because while the impact of her schemes has been truly dramatic she is forced to admit that she actually ended up achieving the opposite of her true objectives. Her Manipulative Bastard actions in the Endgames prequel similarly end in failure, when Piro plays her own game back at her.
  • While some view Maytag of Flipside as a Purity Sue both inside and outside the comic, others view her as a frighteningly powerful Manipulative Bastard.
  • Mike from CRFH is a good example. Physically, he's about evenly matched with roommates Dave and Roger—but mentally, he's always two steps ahead of them. Mike can accomplish almost anything by manipulating others' actions, and he seldom betrays any affection for people other than his sister Blue and girlfriend Marsha. He can even see through the devil's mind games while being tortured in Hell.
    • More recently, April—once the nicest character in the strip—has let her doomed love for Mike drive her into becoming a Manipulative Bitch. In a way, she's his opposite: while Mike only falters on the rare occasions when he loses his cool, April is at her scheming best when she's most bitter and desperate. After one series of lies so brazen that it literally killed her conscience, there was no turning back.
  • Christian and Rory, a rich jerkass and a Jerk Jock Aloof Older Brother, respectively.
  • Keychain of Creation gives us Sonorous Aria, starting here.
  • Fructose Riboflavin in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob. (Poor lovestruck Galatea!) He seems rather flummoxed in his first appearance when Bob turns out to be Too Dumb to Fool.
  • Priti of Snowflakes has all the makings of a brilliant political strategist, or so she would have you believe. She's very good at manipulating any given situation to her advantage, but she only sticks around for as long as she's getting results, meaning that she never stays friends with anybody for very long. And recently, the other children have started to employ the same methods right back....
  • Most of the Trolls in Homestuck are this to some degree (it's practically required in their society), but Terezi is the freaking master of it, especially considering her ability to play mind games without the aid of any Psychic Powers. She's just that good at pushing the right buttons.
    • Vriska really, really wants to be one, but tends to piss everyone else off so much that she always gets frustrated and uses Mind Control Psychic Powers when she wants to "manipul8" someone. This tends to backfire regularly.
    • Doc Scratch takes the cake, though. Despite making it very plain that he intends to summon an immortal demon to destroy the universe, he is still able to manipulate nearly every single character in the comic into furthering his plans.
      • Which goes beyond the impossible in the End of Act 5, where it's revealed that he manipulated the entire main cast into creating the very thing they were trying to destroy without telling a single lie.
  • Xykon from The Order of the Stick definitely displays shades of a Manipulative Bastard at the end of Start of Darkness. He uses Redcloak's guilt and unwillingness to admit his mistakes against him to effectively turn the goblin cleric from a semi-loyal follower to a willing slave. Xykon notes with no small amount of satisfaction that Redcloak will continue to operate in his interests even when the lich can't supervise him personally because doing otherwise will force Redcloak to admit he killed his baby brother for nothing.
    • However, this was recently turned on its head with the reveal that Redcloak's been lying to Xykon all along about the true purpose of the Ritual, playing the spineless servant and suffering every indignation, all in order to manipulate Xykon into helping carry out a plan that doesn't help him out at all.
  • The Head Alien from the Walkyverse.
  • Bestseid from Sluggy Freelance qualifies: he's a master of making you believe and feel what he wants. After all he's a uber-PR.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Nanase's mother, as shown in this comic.
    • Because anyone who isn't a hapless hysterical wreck is one of the lowest dregs (and probably a murderer).
    • Pandora would also qualify.
  • Brian from Multiplex is a perfect example of this. He pretends to be an idiot so he can steal money from the theater.

Web Original

  • While Lear Dunham, the Big Bad of Broken Saints is the consummate Chessmaster, it is his Dragon/ son, Gabriel, who is fits this trope better; he is easily able to earn Shandala's trust, play on Tui's jealousy like a drum, and keep the suspicious heroes calm long enough for the effects of his paralysis-inducing wine to kick in.
  • While not as extreme as some other examples, The Nostalgia Chick is pretty good at this. The best example is Kickassia, where she pretended to be sweet and nice to get her way, and then there's "Linking Up With Linkara" (along with Marz Gurl) where they made Linkara think they had an epic, once-in-a-lifetime threesome.
  • In the novel Theatrica, Arthur proves to be an effective example of this trope.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Survival of the Fittest's Aaron Hughes. This is a guy who, instead of killing an attacker, lets his ally get killed by said attacker, and goes back to his other allies portraying the poor victim as dying in a Heroic Sacrifice in an attempt to encourage them to get revenge on the murderer. Yikes.
  • Stephen Reyes from Shadow Unit. With knobs on. Just ask Chaz.
  • In Stupid Mario Brothers Season Four, Professor Oak willingly tricks Gary and Brock into doing several mundane tasks for him just so they could find out from him which one of them sucks more. Oak eventually claims they equally suck for not turning down the tasks. As a result the two fight over which one of them hates each other the most which Oak uses to his advantage once more.
  • Whateley Universe: in "Ayla and the Networks" it's pretty clear that everyone is trying to manipulate at least one other group, but the only one who really wins is Phase. Because he made his moves in previous stories, setting up everything.

Western Animation

  • Eric Theodore Cartman of South Park has manipulative abilities to a near-frightening quality. Although many of his victims are indeed gullible simpletons, still his ability to persuade people en masse is shocking. Even those familiar with his methods get dragged in by his way with words.
    • He manages to form a Neo-Nazi organization out of fans of The Passion of the Christ and lead them on a march chanting anti-Semitic slogans and they never got the slightest idea of what they were nearly dragged into!
    • Cartman also convinced everybody that ginger kids are soulless monsters. In order to teach him a lesson, Kyle and Stan make him up as a ginger. Unfortunately Cartman's xenophobic nature doesn't change one bit; all that changes is who he's predjudiced against. He rallies all the ginger kids into a sect and begins an extermination of non-gingers in a drive to make sure that he is not a minority. Mere moments before the extermination commences, Kyle and Stan reveal the truth to him. He has seconds to devise an inspirational speech that usually Stan or Kyle would make. His audience notice his change in tune and press him for some time before he manages to convince them.
      • Fridge Brilliance is that Cartman admires Adolf Hitler not because he killed six million Jews, but because of his ability to manipulate the entire world into entering World War 2. Cartman doesn't admire Hitler because he hated Jews; he hates Jews because he admires Hitler. This can be reasoned by Cartman's irregulatity with Jew insults and his antagonistic but nonetheless existant relationship with Kyle - it's like he only insults Jews when he remembers to.
    • There's also his utterly unsympathetic deconstruction of one of the nannies in "Tsst". He skillfully convinces her that her psychological techniques are working on him, then turns the situation on its head and tears into her brutally by not simply mocking her lack of children, but mocking her ability to judge people. She walks out on her first day in near-hysterics. Then Supernanny is brought in... briefly. We don't see what he does to Nanny Jo, but three days later she's shown utterly broken in an asylum, eating her own excrement and sobbing the phrase, "From hell. It's from helllll!"
    • One of Cartman's proudest moments (for him) is in "Cartoon Wars Part II". He sets off to have Family Guy taken off the air with his Game Face on, ready to spout a sob-story to the writers, the likes of which he's done many times before. Just another job, right? Then he finds out that it gets a little more complicated when you have to pitch a sob-story to Manatees. And yet he still manages to manipulate a TV executive into not wanting the Manatees to push him around - when the guy had previously been making a fortune out of allowing them to do so. Anybody can push around humans. He manipulated sea-mammals. No wonder this was his next line:

Cartman: I did it! I... AM... GOD!!!!

  • Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender, no question. As she puts it: "I'm a people person." When she successfully turns the Secret Police in control of the capital of the kingdom her nation has been at war with for a century against its leader, Long Feng, he says that she beat him at his own game. Her response?
    • A certain Bloodbender deserves a mention here too...
    • As does the "very smooth" Jet, on the Well-Intentioned Extremist front.
    • Azula's old man Ozai fits the bill as well. During the Day of Black Sun, he even deploys a manipulative tactic against Zuko at the exact same time that Azula is employing a similar one against Sokka. However, that's nothing compared to the event he describes, which involved manipulating his wife into killing his father for him, and then banishing her. That's how he became Fire Lord in the first place.
      • Ozai's greatest success may have been manipulating Azula into thinking he cared about her at all.
  • Being a chessmaster and the successor to Azula in the Magnificent Bastard department, Amon from The Legend of Korra has so far played everyone like fiddles. Even Lin Beifong and Korra admit that they played right into his hand after his terrorist attack on the Pro-Bending arena.
  • Tarrlok from The Legend of Korra is a Manipulative Bastard par excellence. Apart from Tenzin, he's got the whole United Republic Council on a string - their sole purpose seems to be supporting whatever Tarrlok is proposing. He cleverly takes advantage of anything and everything that might help him gain more power. Through his smooth talking and media play he manoeuvred even Korra into joining him (albeit temporarily). After Lin Beifong's resignation, he virtually took control of the metalbending police and began imposing his iron-fist régime on the city.
  • Vlad Masters/Plasmius from Danny Phantom does this all the time, especially with the main character whom he likes to play up the similarity between the two in order to get him on his side.
  • Slade from Teen Titans definitely goes here. Manipulating others and making them suffer for it is what he does best. Unfortunately he cannot see outside of his big plans, so his manipulations usually come with a price.
  • Chase Young from Xiaolin Showdown. His main goal during his Season 2 debut is to manipulate Omi into joining the Heylin side. When that didn't work, he took matters into his own hands and concocted a complex plan that led to Omi's eventual Face Heel Turn, but against his will. Chase is even classified as a Magnificent Bastard because of this.
  • Generator Rex's Van Kleiss is another one. Rex has no knowledge of his past due to the Nanite Event, so Van Kleiss takes advantage of this and taunts him with bits and pieces of information (at one point using a brief comment to get Rex to hesitate for one second so he could get away), telling him that he won't give him all the info unless he joins his side. He also manipulates and uses his own minions (and even they are aware of it, and he's aware that they know and doesn't seem to be bothered by it). He's also now trying to drive a wedge of mistrust between Rex and his brother Caesar, and it seems to be working a little. His plans are also primarily Batman Gambits.
    • To be fair, it's looking like he was right about Caesar.
    • Rex himself can also be one at times, when he needs to be. The Big Bad even complimented him on it in one episode.
  • The version of Megatron in Transformers Animated was able to convince Isaac Sumdac he was an Autobot and to never mention his name to the Autobots, as well as get the Constructicons on his side with a story of "Autobot oppression" and a couple drinks.
    • Not to mention getting Bulkhead to build him a space bridge by being the only person who seemed to believe he wasn't a complete idiot, and talking Omega Supreme right back to Cybertron rather than killing him.
    • He even managed to convince Starscream to join him in conquering Cybertron together after Starscream took over Omega Supreme and had Megatron at his mercy.
  • Megatron in Beast Wars is just as manipulative. The guy managed to convince Silverbolt (the noblest individual Optimus Primal has ever met) to become a Predacon when he first met him. In Beast Machines he later played on Rattrap's insecurity about his now useless robot mode and got him to help him out for a night. After infecting all the Maximals except Optimus with a virus that causes discord he got Optimus to consider (admittedly, for like five minutes) that maybe his vision of forced harmony was the way to go.
    • Tarantulas in Beast Wars was about as talented. More than once he duped Quickstrike into betraying Megatron, and once even got him to go along with a plan that would negate both him and every other Transformer (but Tarantulas) from existence.
  • Dave from Code Monkeys tends to fall into this territory sometimes most notably In the Drunken Office Party episode where he gets Jerry to believe he is responsible for all the horrible things he (Dave) actually did at the Office Party. The whole episode Jerry is racked with guilt and is insulted, physically attacked, thrown up on trying to make up for what he did. He even considers quitting. Because Jerry believes he broke Dave's arm he gives him his ticket to Hawaii and thanks him for being such a good friend. It is only at the end of the episode he realizes Dave was behind it all and the things happening to him were happening because Dave was with him and he happened to be caught in the crossfire. Several of the people he offended were made up and Dave gets go spend two weeks in Hawaii while it all blows over.
  • Digeri Dingo from Taz-Mania is a milder, more lovable example of this
  • Despite the series being known for its incompetent or even stupid characters, The Simpsons actually has a surprising amount of manipulative bastards. Though very few come across as being completely unlikable or evil...a rare thing to have accomplished, the fact is that most of the cast dabbles in deception on more than one occasion. In fact more than 90% of the cast could be considered in this category, but let's just stick with the noteworthies.
    • Mr. Burns is of course an obvious choice. However, many seem acutely aware of Burns' evil ways so sentiments may vary here.
    • The Mayor of Springfield, "Diamond" Joe Quimby, of course makes his living being a manipulative bastard. He's a satirical politician after all. Though one must admit, even in the somewhat morally confused world of the Simpsons, many of Quimby's actions are particularly bad. Even the incompetent Chief Clancy Wiggum, whom Quimby seems to have under his thumb, holds a thinly veiled desire to see Quimby answer to karma. Not without moments of sympathy, but a manipulative bastard no less.
    • Being a comedic center of a lot of villainous staples, Sideshow Bob has of course dabbled in the art of the manipulative bastard on more than one occasion.
    • Krusty the Clown, Springfield's resident celebrity, will do almost anything to keep his fame and fortune in check. Much like Quimby in a sense, Krusty in way makes his living off of being a manipulative bastard.
    • Let's not kid ourselves...Homer Simpson may be the de-facto main character and the big doofus (Jerkass most of the time...) we all love...but at the end of the day he's one hell of a manipulative bastard. Just consider how many situations Homer slimed his way out of by playing on people's emotions...whether it'd be Marge, the townsfolk, or even YOU! This doesn't mean he's a bad man of course, anyone who's watched the show knows that he's got a good heart somewhere in there...but he really is a manipulative man in many ways. Thinking otherwise means you're under his spell most likely.
      • Let's not forget Bart either. Though not as shameless perhaps as his dad, and with a little more of an apparent heart of gold most of the time, entire episodes have been spun around the fact Bart gets by so much because of the fact he knows how to play on people's sympathies. Although not truly evil by any extent like with most of the characters, still a true little bastard to the very end.
  • At the risk of sounding redundant, David Xanatos of Gargoyles.
    • The Archmage takes the cake in the three-part episode "Avalon". He convinces the weird sisters (who don't like mortals telling them to do anything) to do his bidding, while showing his past self the steps needed to obtain unlimited power. When he finally gets his power, he attacks the humans and Gargoyles on Avalon, but spares them so that they can go and get Goliath to help them. With Goliath in the battle, the Archmage can now exact his revenge for supposedly killing him.
    • Thailog's a definite example as well—he's at least as good as Xanatos, and possibly better. Demona's got a manipulative streak as well, but as usual she's her own worst enemy, and her bad temper and bouts of genocidal insanity often wind up shooting her in the foot at key stages.
  • Him from The Powerpuff Girls is easily one of the biggest ones. He acts like a manipulative bastard to everyone, but mostly to Bubbles, as 2 episodes of the series involve Him torturing and manipulating Bubbles by using her sweetness, naiveness and her extreme emotions to destroy her and her sisters and in 1 case break them up. But what else would you expect from their world's equivalent of Satan?!
  • Futurama: Zoidberg apparently acts pathetic to make sure people don't bully him.[1] This means that, conceivably, every time Zoidberg has ever seemed pathetic, he was pulling this. And this is Zoidberg. That's 98% of his screen time.
  • Total Drama World Tour's Alejandro is a spectacular case. So far he's masterminded more eliminations than any prior villain on the show, and the kicker? Not one person knows that he's evil on the remaing cast except for Heather, who has strangely not been punsihed, and those that do find out don't last long or don't find out until it's to late to do squat.
  • Hey Arnold!'s Helga Pataki is this in the episode "School Play". When Helga learns that Arnold will be playing Romeo, she wants to be Juliet but gets stuck as 4th understudy. So, only in the unlikely event that all four girls, Rhonda, Sheena, Phoebe and Lila, were to all drop out, would Helga be able to play Juliet. It just so happens Helga can be such a manipulative bastard.
    • In another episode, Helga's older sister Olga was going to give up her amazing life to marry her boyfriend, who's equally amazing. Problem is, he's a total liar who wins over everyone he meets with false tales of bravado, even if some of them really don't make sense. Helga isn't fooled for one minute and exposes him privately.
  • The Creeper from Animalia is a master at this trope. One of his favorite methods includes fake crying to trick the heroes.
  • Prince Phobos from WITCH is very good at this (though his ego and laziness keep him from being as good at it as he could be), and his Dragon Cedric has his moments. Season 2's Big Bad Nerissa is even better, easily qualifying for full Magnificent Bastard (something neither of the other two were able to pull off).
  • Roger from American Dad
  • Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, BIG TIME. He's depicted in stained glass window images controling ponies via puppeteer strings (something we actually see him sort of do) and in the episode itself generally plays everyone for fools. By the end of the first episode, he's successfully manipulated and broken the mane cast through his mind games and manipulations.
  • Pepe Le Pew: The glass case scene in "For Scentimental Reasons" ended with Pepe putting a gun to his head and supposedly killing himself after Penelope says that she's not coming out because he stinks. Penelope is so distraught that she unlocks the case and runs out — into his still-alive arms. Turns out the whole thing was a trick to get her out and he missed.

Real Life

  • This trait is part and parcel of any leader of a military dictatorship. Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung, Robert Mugabe, and the likes are all generally despicable human beings who climb their way to power through trickery and deceit. Then they systematically impose new restrictions on the populace in such a way that people don't realize they're being robbed of their ability to effectively fight back, until it's too late.
  1. This may extend to taking a little bullying now to save a lot later.