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Bartlet: I don't need a flu shot.

Navy Doctor: You do need a flu shot.

Bartlet: How do I know this isn't the start of a military coup? I want the Secret Service in here right away.

Navy Doctor: In the event of a military coup, sir, what makes you think the Secret Service is gonna be on your side?


Bartlet: Now that's a thought that's gonna fester.

A man is betrayed by the very ones who are supposed to be protecting him. Usually this ends up with the victim dead, but in rare cases (especially if the attempt is on The Hero) he survives to seek his Revenge on the guards, or whoever was manipulating them. Many cases of The Dog Bites Back will involve this, particularly in the case of Dragons who betray their Big Bad masters.

May be a manifestation of Even Evil Has Standards.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Bodyguard Betrayal include:

Anime and Manga

  • Kiyomi Takada from Death Note is directed by Hal Lidner into being kidnapped by Mello. She kills Mello, but gets stuck with evidence on her, getting her killed by Light.
  • Monster has fun with this. After the death of the Baby, Petr Capek is paranoid that his bodyguards are trying to kill him at Johan's request. This leads to him killing a bodyguard while the man is reaching for his lighter, thinking that the bodyguard was trying to grab a gun. This in turn causes his other bodyguards to shoot him, in retaliation for him killing one of their innocent comrades.
  • Wei in Darker Than Black does this to Alice Wong after assisting her in killing her father's entire crime family.
  • In Dragon Ball, Commander Red's right-hand man Black betrays him in this fashion, after finding out that Red doesn't care about the success or glory of the Red Ribbon Army; he actually just intends to use the dragonballs to make himself taller, and doesn't care how many of his subordinates die along the way.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, most of the high-ranking Amestrian officers who died in Ishval weren't killed by the enemy...
  • Requiem for the Phantom has Godoh Daisuke being shot at point-blank range by his best friend and right-hand man, Shiga, at the insigation of Scythe Master. Unlike most other examples of this trope, Shiga truly respected and admired Godoh and, even after taking over the Godoh Group and turning it into an affiliate of Inferno, loathed Scythe for setting into the motion the events that led to the murder.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Turns out Rika thought all the way up until the second to last world that the group that kept killing her was there for her protection, mostly due to memory loss.
  • In one filler episode of Naruto, Kunihisa, a spoiled rich kid who accompanies Naruto to see what it's like to be a ninja, uses money to get his helpers to do what he wants, calling it his own kind of ninjutsu. When some kidnappers target him, his bodyguards desert him, as he's out of money and they don't like how they've been treated, teaming up with the kidnappers instead..

Comic Books

  • Happens to Darcy Parker in Strangers in Paradise, after she was publicly outed as a mafia boss with political ties.
  • Marvel's Kingpin was hired as a bodyguard for Don Rigoletto. He used this position to secretly unite the mobs behind his boss' back. His final step in usurping Rigoletto's power was to snap his neck.


  • Twice in The Tainted Grimoire.
    • Raven is actually a member of Khamja. While he and Crow are protecting Maria, their true objective is separate and more sinister but the moment Maria got involved, Raven could have killed her without remorse if it wasn't for Adelle.
    • Fasullo is actually Ewen in disguise and the whole time he spent working as the leader of Baron Beltorey's guards was just so can take something the Baron had.


  • Air Force One. One of the Secret Service agents is actually a Mole, and starts the whole plot in motion.
  • Done very well in Quantum of Solace. When interrogating one of the leaders of Quantum, he mocks them saying "The first thing you should know about us is that we have people everywhere.", at which point the aide following M everywhere pulls a gun and shots the other MI 6 agents.
  • In Star Wars: Episode III, all the clones "betray" their Jedi charges when they're told to execute Order 66 by Palpatine.
  • The Running Man. Earlier in the movie, Big Bad Killian insulted his bodyguard Sven by asking "Steroids made you deaf?" At the end, Ben Richards confronts Killian.

 Killian: Sven, do you wanna talk to Mr. Richards? [pause] Well?

Sven: I've got to score some steroids. [turns and leaves Killian to Richards]

Richards: [kills Killian in a Hoist by His Own Petard way]

  • In G.I. Joe the Rise of Cobra, the villains use a mind-controlled Secret Service agent to gain access to the President so that Zartan can replace him.
  • In Toy Story 3, Lotso-Huggin' Bear is literally disposed (put in a dumpster) by the Big Baby.
  • In The Sentinel, the Secret Service finds out that one of them is involved in a plot to assassinate the President, but they focus all their efforts on the main character because his story doesn't check out. This is due to him sleeping with the First Lady, though. The real traitor is doing this to protect his family. He does get a Redemption Equals Death ending, however.
  • Barely averted in The Bodyguard. A casual line at the beginning of the movie mentions that the (to-be-revealed) hitman (a former Secret Service agent like Kevin Costner's character) was interviewed and was "eager" for the job of guarding his future target.
  • In The Godfather, Michael notices his bodyguard Fabrizzio hurriedly walking away from his villa. He turns and screams to his wife, but it's too late—she starts the engine and the car explodes, killing her.
    • There was also Paulie when Vito was shot on the same day he called in sick.
  • In Zorro The Gay Blade, the Big Bad's soldiers are loyal to him up until the last minute of the Zorro-led revolution. In the end, the Big Bad (and wife) are surrounded by his soldiers (guns pointing out), who are in turn surrounded by an angry mob. The troop leader sees which side his bread is buttered on, and commands, "ABOUT FACE!"
  • In a deleted scene from Conan the Barbarian, Max Von Sydow's King Osric ends up on the receiving end of a pretty brutal stabbing by his own royal bodyguards.


  • This is what happens to Admiral Thrawn in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It's also the reason Palpatine's cloned-bodies plot couldn't continue indefinitely. One of his bodyguards sabotaged something or other.
    • One of Palpatine's supposedly fanatically-loyal Royal Guardsmen actually tampered with the source DNA being used to create all of his clone bodies; the result that every single Palpatine clone made would start degenerating/aging way too fast to be of any use.
  • Happens to the Lady Door in Neil Gaiman's book Neverwhere.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Jaime Lannister, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, known as "The Kingslayer". It says something about how bad things had gotten that when Jaime is made Lord Commander he really probably was the best left. The Kingslayer was the best one they had left. In fairness it was only the one king, it wasn't as if it was a habit.
    • He had a good reason, though. That no one else knows that reason and he was still made Lord Commander just further reinforces both the dominance of his House and the general crapsackiness of the situation given, bar Barristan Selmy, he was better than any others.
  • This happens to Anita Blake in one of the earlier books. A werewolf who is supposed to protect Anita from her enemies turns her over for human sacrifice to her vampire master.
    • Quite a while later, about the same thing happens again (although it doesn't end up the same way). Interestingly, both planted bodyguards are female.
  • Vivenna, in Warbreaker, hires a set of bodyguards to protect her. Shame that they were double-agents who were secretly holding her for ransom and simply pretending to help her.
    • It was a bit more complicated than that- they'd been using her to advance their own agenda (and that of their real employer) all along. Denth in particular was quite irritated when she got away, because he lost his best weapon.
  • In the Jack Ryan novel Executive Orders, an Iranian sleeper agent inserted into the US Secret Service, years ago, is activated to assassinate Jack Ryan. Another Iranian sleeper agent at the start of the book succeeds in killing "The Moustache" (presumably Saddam Hussein, from context elsewhere in the book, but never mentioned by name), years after working his way into the Iraqi security service and working up through the ranks.
  • The Discworld novels speak of Lorenzo the Kind, last king of Ankh-Morpork. He "loved" children. He loved children so much that he was hauled into the street by an angry mob and the then-Commander of the City Watch, Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes, chopped off his head.
  • Averted in The Religion War by Scott Adams. The antagonist abandons his base when the war starts because he knows his bodyguards will inevitably betray him for money/favors.
  • In Wen Spencer's The Wolf Who Rules, the climatic confrontation is ended when Wolf persuades not his opponent but his opponent's bodyguard, who kill him on the grounds he's advocating wrong-doing. This is their job, and it is fully accepted that they have the authority to do so.
  • Mindstar Rising by Peter F. Hamilton. The Mole working for the Big Bad turns out to be one of Julia Evans' own bodyguards.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Oathbreakers Tarma pulls this in order to avenge Captain Idra, who was raped and killed by her brother, the king of Rethwellan.
  • in a non-fatal example, Kimo of Spy Hunt betrays his 11 year old charges, leading to their kidnapping.
  • In Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering, Tanaris was the king's bodyguard, but when he discovered that the king had fathered a child with his new wife Tanaris killed both his wife and the king in a fit of rage. It comes up a lot.
  • In the Backstory of Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, how the governor died.
  • Norman Spinrad's Agent of Chaos starts with an assassination attempt on the Coordinator. The initial phase of the attempt involves ten guys blasting with lasers to draw the attention of the bodyguards—so they won't notice in time to stop one of their own turning and shooting the Coordinator.
  • Timothy Zahn's The Backlash Mission has bodyguards subjected to "loyalty conditioning". One guard in particular knows very well how much reason he has to want a certain official dead, but loyalty conditioning means he'd give his life to defend the man. And then he gets dosed with a drug that neutralizes the conditioning....
  • In Oleg Divov's Brothers in Reason, a wealthy European businessman is kidnapped by an unknown organization in order to investigate his ties to a powerful Russian psychic agency. His loyal bodyguard lets it happen, as the kidnappers have taken his daughter.
  • In The Godfather, Michael' bodyguard Fabrizzio is oddly absent. As his wife gets into the car, Michael suddenly realizes what's going on, but it's too late to stop her from turning the ignition. The care explodes, killing her.
  • In the first arc of The Saga of the Noble Dead, The Dragon Chane Andraso turns on Big Bad Welstiel Massing at the climax of Child of a Dead God when Welstiel lies one time too many. Chane goes on to become the Token Evil Teammate in the second arc of the saga.

Live Action TV

Professional Wrestling

  • Expect anyone with a bodyguard in the WWE and other federations to have said bodyguard turn on them eventually. The one that comes to mind immediately is Shawn Michaels being betrayed by Sycho Sid.
    • This trope is also often inverted. When the bodyguard becomes too successful, expect them to be betrayed by their protectee, like when HBK attacked Diesel because he was overshadowing him.

Tabletop RPG

  • Warhammer 40000: The fate of Mad Lord Vandire in the fluff, assassinated by his own Amazon Brigade bodyguard.
    • Probably the leading cause of death for Dark Eldar Archons.

Video Games

  • In Mafia, Don Salieri is sold out to Morello by his personal bodyguard but luckily, Tommy is with him at the moment of their attack. Also, it is Tommy who gets to kill the traitor.
  • In Mirrors Edge, Robert Pope is murdered after being sold out by his bodyguard Ropeburn.
  • Dead or Alive: Christie, Helena's bodyguard, reveals that not only is she an assassin hired to kill her, but that she was also responsible for killing Helena's mother years ago.
    • Which was an accident. She meant to kill Helena, but the mother jumped to shield her daughter at the last second.
  • In Suikoden V, Georg Prime is accused of killing the queen and kidnapping you. He really did kill the Queen, but it was a Shoot the Dog moment that she and her husband had him agree to so she won't blow everything up with the Sun Rune. You also run away with him by choice. Straighter examples of this would be Zahhak and Alenia, filthy Godwin devils.
    • In the first Suikoden, Pahn betrays the young master after Ted comes back from his fateful meeting and reveals the secret of his Rune to them. In this case, Pahn is trying to keep them from betraying The Empire, which would be bad, given that the hero's father is one of their best officers and all... Pahn also eventually regrets his actions and switches back to your side; however, this can lead to a delayed case of Redemption Equals Death if you don't pump enough time and money into leveling him up before he pulls a You Shall Not Pass.
  • Raven in One Must Fall 2097. (If his ending is canon, anyway)
    • Even in backstory Raven was grooming freelance assassins for the job, only waiting until his future career and retirement were assured before finally choosing to let one of them get by him. (And his employer knew it.) The peculiar circumstances of the tournament just provided Raven with a perfect opportunity to legally and openly kill his employer and set himself up for life just by doing so.
  • Inverted in Assassin's Creed II: Silvio Barbarigo, a corrupt inquisitor in Venice, stabs his loyal bodyguard in the head because he wants the man's wife. Worse, when the bodyguard survives but with heavy brain damage, Silvio basically makes him his slave.
    • Played straight after Ezio stabs both men. The bodyguard reveals the Templars' plan with his dying breath.
  • In Final Fantasy XII Vossler sells out the main party—which includes Ashe, the princess—to Judge Ghis to obtain some degree of autonomy for Dalmasca.

Web Comics

  • In Drowtales, Yaeminira was the protector-twin of Vy'chriel. When she feels her "twin" has dishonored the clan, she murders Vy'chriel and assumes her name and rank. (She gets what she deserves in the end.)
    • In the Overworld Arc, Rikshakar is hired to be Ariel's bodyguard when she travels to the surface. He turns on the group, kidnaps Ariel, and tries to rape her. She beats the crap out of him when she merges with Squishy the Purple Dragon, and leaves him to be finished off by a certain orange-haired demon-girl.
  • In Marilith, the bodyguard Stark betrays his old boss, the drug cartel leader Krystiyan, to the Big Bad, Valentino. Bonus points for the "Nothing Personal, it's just business" line.
  • In Ebin and May, the titular Character Ebin was the only member of his family that survived this betrayal.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Caliban, Hannibal Losstarot's new bodyguard after the death of the previous bodyguard Tybalt, ends up being in league with the Totenkopfs and kidnaps Hannibal after leading him to a location where the Totenkopfs can more easily extract Hannibal before the rest of the Coalition is alerted to their shenanigans.

Western Animation

  • In The Venture Brothers, The Venture Family Bodyguards are assigned to not only protect the Venture Professors but to kill them if they ever want to activate the mysterious Orb. Rusty's father, Professor Venture, was killed by his bodyguard.
    • Well, maybe. Kano has steadfastly refused to talk about it, even after his vow of silence was lifted. We already know that the bodyguard of Rusty's grandfather opted to break the Orb rather than kill his boss
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Dragons of Ashida". After being punished once too often, Ashida's servant Sumi turns on him and throws him to his own dragons to be eaten.

Real Life

  • Happened to more than a few Roman emperors, including Caligula.
    • For a very long time, you did not become emperor without the support of the Praetorian Guard, and you certainly didn't stay one when they no longer liked you.
  • Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards after ordering the invasion of the Golden Temple (the holiest Sikh Shrine) in Operation Blue Star.
  • Likewise, the Governor of Pakistan's Punjab region, Salmaan Taseer, was recently shot and killed by one of his own bodyguards over statements calling for religious moderation which were interpreted as secularist.
  • The Hashishim assassins supposedly often had sleeper agents installed in various courts of the Middle East, aiming to get as close as possible to their ruling members, ideally into their bodyguard, so that if it became necessary to kill them, it could be easily arranged.
  • During the eighteenth-century, Russian Palace Guards often did it to the emperors (Ivan VI was put into Petropavlovskaya fortress, Peter III was murdered) so often the period is referred to as the Age of Palace Revolutions.
  • 2011 saw the president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzais brother, Ahmad Karzai, shot dead by his own head of security. The Taliban claimed responsibility, with others scepticism over their actual involvement.
  • A frequent occurrence within The Mafia. Victims include Carmine Galante, Joe Columbo (who survived but was left in a vegetative state), Sam Giancana, and Albert Anastasia.