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The hero is searching for a very special treasure. Too bad he doesn't know his way around. He meets a very nice person who offers to help the hero find the treasure. But wait, wasn't the temple supposed to be toward the south? Then why are you walking north? And why won't his guide answer his questions? And oh drat, there's the Big Bad. That "guide" was his minion, and thus evil all along.
Variation: If the guide turns out not to be just a minion, but the bad guy himself, he was the Big Bad all along. However, it may be that the Evil All Along was fake, and the person in question was Good All Along. It could also be that the person in question made a Heel Face Turn.
WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.
Anime and Manga
- Jack Vessalius of Pandora Hearts.
- This trope is used all the times in the anime, with Team Rocket always disguising themselves.
- Other examples exist, like in the movie Pokémon: Jirachi Wishmaker, where Butler seems like a good guy, but is actually evil and tries to abuse Jirachi. He does make a Heel Face Turn, however.
- And Domino from Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns, who seems like a good-natured ditzy teenage girl but actually a mean, hyper-efficient Team Rocket operative who is working directly under Giovanni.
- In Digimon Adventure 02, Ken was the evil Digimon emperor all along. This is made glaringly obvious from his first appearance onwards.
- Kabuto from Naruto actually did manage to pull off the "helpful, harmless stranger" routine pretty well. From his personality, to his appearance there's very little to tip you off to his being a threat. He was trained from childhood specifically for this, having worked as a spy on behalf of the Hidden Leaf Village from within all of the other major ninja villages.
- Blackbeard from One Piece encourages Luffy to continue to pursue his dreams after he is mocked by another pirate crew. This guy would go on to defeat Luffy's elder brother Ace, and hand him over to the World Government. Once his and Luffy's goals crossed over in Impel Down, he gloated about his in his face, provoking a small fight.
- The anime version of Blue Dragon has one of these in the form of Zola near the end of the series. Though it appears at first that it's just a simple Face Heel Turn, the characters try to fool themselves into thinking that. Evidence in the last episodes proves otherwise.
- In chapter 50 of Mirai Nikki, Akise claims that Yuno is the actual villain, who used Yukiteru, and plans to drive him to the brink of despair and kill him in order for her to become God. Of course, Akise is the one who said it, so who knows if it's actually true. As of chapter 53, it seems that Akise was right and wrong at the same time. Yuno wants to kill him, but only so they can be together forever via an endless cycle of Peggy Sues. Maybe.
- In the last minutes of the final episode of Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt we find out that Stocking is actually a demon.
- Walter from Hellsing (only in the manga).
"The Aizen you knew...never even existed."
- And Ginjo.
- Rasati and Lillia's guardian in Elemental Gelade. He broadcasts it from a mile away, but Rasati doesn't seem to notice.
- Fuuma Kotarou from Nabari no Ou.
- Heathcliff from Sword Art Online acted like a benefactor to the heroes for a long time, before being revealed to be the in-game avatar of the Big Bad himself. Ironically, most fans of the series find this rather obvious in hindsight, given how he seemed to be a Boring Invincible Hero before The Reveal.
- Frost, from Dragon Ball Super. Maybe fans - and Goku - were suspicious of him at first, seeing as he was, you know, an alternate dimension equivalent of Freiza, but at first the guy seemed to be a decent sort, acting polite, honorable, and courteous to the heroes. Turned out the initial suspicions were correct, and he was just as much a narcissistic fiend as the original, he just hid it better. (Seems one constant in the multiverse is that Freiza will always be a murderous weasel.) Still, this deception didn't help him much, as he not only got his ass soundly kicked by Goku, but by the real Freiza too.
Films — Animation
- Happens several times in the Disney Animated Canon but it's more an In-Universe surprise. While other characters are caught off-guard, to the audience, it's fairly obvious that characters like Ursula, Jafar, Scar and Clayton are evil.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Rourke and the other mercenaries (basically, everyone on the expedition but Milo) were Evil All Along. Fortunately a Downer Ending is averted when everyone but Rourke and Helga do a Heel Face Turn.
- Professor Callaghan of Big Hero 6. He's introduced as a well-meaning Team Dad who even tries to shield Hiro's brilliance from a corner cutting Corrupt Corporate Executive. And then in the climax, he's unmasked as the Roaring Rampage of Revenge Big Bad.
- The most infamous case in Disney is probably Prince Hans from Frozen. He's introduced as a model Disney Prince, loving Anna and caring for the citizens of Arendelle but it's all revealed as Pragmatic Villainy so he can be a Villain with Good Publicity and ascend to someone's throne. When it looks like Anna will die, he decides that he doesn't need her anymore.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph is warned about Turbo, a racer who game-jumped out of envy and got both his and the new game shut down. At the climax, it's revealed that Well-Intentioned Extremist King Candy is in fact Turbo who has a full-on Villainous Breakdown when Ralph starts being a Spanner in the Works.
- In the movie Ice Age, Diego is Evil All Along. He makes a Heel Face Turn however, and becomes a member of the crew in the sequels.
- In the Kim Possible movie So The Drama, the boy for whom Kim falls turns out to be evil. And a synthodrone as well.
- Mr. Sykes, Ernie & Bernie from Shark Tale.
- The Mayor of Dirt from Rango.
- Toy Story
- Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2.
- And Lotso from Toy Story 3.
- Igor's Know-Nothing Know-It-All mentor Dr. Glickenstein from Igor.
Films — Live-Action
- Indiana Jones
- Used in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which the guide at the beginning runs away with the treasure.
- Neither Professor Jones Sr. or Jr. smelled the Honey Trap in The Last Crusade. Was anyone else surprised?
- Also in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy's friend turns out to have lied about being good near the end of the movie, though it's kind of obvious even before he admits it. He's shown having left a trail of beacons for the Soviets to follow.
- In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Senator Palpatine turns out to be Darth Sidious, the head of the Sith. And he's been playing both the Republic and the Separatists, along with the Jedi, for complete schmucks. Of course this was not a surprise to anyone seeing as people knew he'll be the emperor.
- In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jen Yu / Yu Jiaolong had pretty much everyone fooled and feeling sympathetic. After all, in this day and age, who doesn't feel sorry for an aristocrat's daughter who dreams of a warrior's life, being forced into an Arranged Marriage? Then the movie gets deeper, and reveals the lengths she is going to in order to pursue her dream, learning martial arts from the notorious thief Jade Fox using a cursed sword and becoming a cold-blooded killer. Still somewhat sympathetic, but not as much.
- This is done as a Wham! Line in Evil Dead. (The 2013 remake, not the original.) In the first scene of the movie, a man is shown grabbing a teenage girl, then ties her up and douses her with gasoline, as she pleads for mercy through tears. Since this is a horror movie, it seems obvious who the villain is here... Until the girl's eyes gain Hellish Pupils, her voice turns inhuman, and the pleas turn to profanity-laced threats. Who's the monster here? Not the guy with the gasoline...
- In The Ring, Samara is set up as a Tragic Villain, and when Rachel recovers her body, it seems she might have a chance at redemption. No such luck; there is nothing redeemable about Samara, and she has no regrets whatsoever for her crimes. Rachel is only spared because she copied the tape, enabling Samara to widen the scope of her evil, and the only way her son can stay safe is for him to do so too. Of course, in retrospect, there were quite a few signs of this that Samara was darker than she appeared, but few could predict just how much of a monster she was.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed to be this in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, having been infiltrated by Hydra since its inception.
- Harry Potter
- Subverted: it appears that Snape was evil all along after he kills Dumbledore. But then it turns out that it was all part of Dumbledore's Gambit Roulette and Snape really was good.
- A more straight example: Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Ron's pet rat Scabbers, who turns out to be the one who betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort and concealed himself as a rat for 12 years, leaving his friend Sirus Black to receive the blame.
- There's also the matter of Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter. Even though it's not really Mad-Eye, but Ax Crazy Barty Crouch Jr. impersonating him, it's still an Evil All Along situation.
- Nicolae Carpathia in the Left Behind books, though nobody but the Tribulation Force and those who have once been in Nicolae's close circle of friends really know just how evil Nicolae is under the public persona he projected up to the midpoint of the Tribulation. After he is indwelt by Satan, Nicolae's façade slowly cracks and the public gets to see the true person underneath. Strangely, though, Jesus berated Nicolae in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, saying to him that You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good, which became a point of contention for some readers.
- In Jack Vance's The Gray Prince, the titular Prince was a childhood friend to heroine Schaine; and for most of the book she firmly keeps in mind that, whatever his present political views, he once saved her brother's life. And then it turns out he in fact hated their family to the point of deliberately allowing her brother to be horribly injured and only claimed credit for the deed later.
- Played with, though not exactly subverted, in Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker, as Denth the mercenary, who has been leading princess Vivenna in her quest to overthrow the government of T'Telir (under the pretense of following her orders), betrays her, murders her best friend, and tries to steal her Breath. She is surprised, but since he had quite literally been warning her the entire time that he could not be trusted, she felt kinda stupid, too. Best line: "Do you know what I hate most about being a mercenary, Princess? Fulfilling the stereotypes. Everyone assumes they can't trust you. The thing is, they really can't."
- The Dresden Files: Martin in Changes turns out to be a Red Court infiltrator. Subverted in the end, as it turns out he performed a Heel Face Turn long ago and his apparent betrayal of the heroes was actually part of a Batman Gambit to wipe out the entire freaking Red Court with their own curse. Only Harry knows the truth.
- In Treasure Island, Long John Silver at first seems like a friendly and helpful fellow, hired to be the cook for the expedition. It isn't found out until later that he is one of Captain Flint's original pirate crew, and possibly the only man Flint himself ever feared. The same goes for his men, and some are even more evil than he is, such as Israel Hands; Jim tries to help the injured Hands (who was hurt after he and the other pirates foolishly fought amongst each other), only for the pirate to turn on Jim and try to kill him.
- True Blood tends to do this a lot, especially with their Big Bad of the season. As it turned out, Rene Lenier was just hiding behind his nice exterior while being a bloodthirsty sexist murderer, and in a more extreme example, Maryann Forrester who turned out to be a freaking homicidal Maenad. Season three followed suit with the Faux Affably Evil King Russel Edgington who quickly turns into a genocidal maniac, and season four arguably averts it by giving it's Big Bad Marnie a bit of a Face Heel Turn. Or rather, it shows her Start of Darkness.
- Played somewhat straight with Rev. Newlin (Jr.); although it was clear from the beginning on he was more than just another bigot, few viewers were expecting him to turn into a full-fledged villain who imprisons the protagonists and wants to burn another character to death. Given, no-one was expecting him to become a vampire!
- What about the fairies?
- Boyd Langdon in Dollhouse. Turns out he was secretly the Big Bad all along and running a ridiculously complex Evil Plan with Echo and co. at the center. And he seemed like such a nice guy. Although he wasn't completely evil. He was more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist in the end.
- Cassidy in Veronica Mars: He starts by raping Veronica lying about it but he becomes truly evil in Season 2. He kills a bus full of his classmates, a witness could turn him in, and 3 people on a plane. This wasn't revealed until the finale but yes he was evil.
- On Game of Thrones, it's difficult to find anyone truly wearing a white hat, but many characters believed to be A Lighter Shade of Grey turned out to be blacker than most:
- Petyr Baelish, aka "Littlefinger". For a while, most assumed he was on the side of Good, being an owner of brothels a forgivable crime among the sadistic murderers and rapists among the main cast. Eventually, however, he proved a Chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard on nobody's side but his own, using whatever means necessary - no matter how immoral or cruel - to gain the information needed to influence anyone, be them friends, rivals, allies, or enemies. The concept of loyalty was unknown to him, which makes his final defeat (which was possible due to loyalty between siblings) ironic and karmic.
- The High Sparrow seemed at first to be somewhat benevolent; after all, Cersi was clearly the greater evil, and could a clergyman who opposes - and punishes her with public humiliation - be that bad? Well, yes, as his extremism clearly ended up going too far. An unforgiving perfectionist to a fault, he quickly became the embodiment of "taking it to far", his form of justice only begetting more injustice.
- Walder Frey. Sure, guy was a pervert and a Dirty Old Man, but he seemed harmless, most famous for not joining Robert's rebellion until he was certain of its success. He was at least loyal to his allies and liege. Then came the Red Wedding... In hindsight, the revelation that he was a double-crossing fiend was actually easy to predict.
- In Episode 7 of WandaVision, nosey neighbor Agnes is actually revealed to be Agatha Harkness, a witch out to steal Wanda's power for herself.
- Several times in Dickensian parody Bleak Expectations, the person helping Pip Bin with his latest scheme, such as the engineer who Pip employed to build a sewage system under London, is blatantly his evil nemesis Mr Gently Benevolent (in that case planning to dig out the capital, float it across the Channel with hot air balloons and sell it to the French).
- In Dead or Alive: Dimensions Genra is revealed to be a manipulative and power-hungry man, willing to do anything to get revenge for playing second-fiddle to the main branch of the clan. and that his loyalty and honer is just a facade to hide it.
- Fire Emblem
- In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, this happens to Lyon. Of course, everyone knows he's being devoured by the demon king, but that doesn't stop the main characters from believing he's still good.
- Lyon is an interesting case where he actually invokes this trope to get Ephraim motivated to kill him so that he could die before the Demon King brings about the end of the world. He claims that all of their time they spent together as children he was pumping the siblings for information for the invasion of their kingdom just to make Ephraim angry enough to actually kill him.
- Also, Orson appears to be evil all along too, but unlike Lyon, you can actually play him as a character. Later he appears as a boss.
- In Another Code for the DS, Ashley's father's old coworker was evil all along, having killed Ashley's mother and stuff.
- Eternal Darkness: At the start of Lindsey's chapter, a friendly patron by the name of Paul Augustine leads him to the Cambodian temple where Mantorok is entombed. Then it turns out that Augustine was actually Pious using an illusion spell.
- In the Nintendo DS version of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, you get a new Raposa to join the gang, named Sock. You find him in a town where he doesn't live, and he goes with you to find his real home. Well, you're supposed to believe that. Near the end of the game Sock asks for a valuable item, gets it from Jowee, and throws it away. He then appears to be Wilfre all along. It also goes for Mari a bit, although she just thought she would help everyone by it (she worked with Wilfre).
- In Pokémon Colosseum, the mayor of Phenac city is actually the head of Cipher. In Pokémon XD, the same goes for Mr. Verich.
- In Pokémon Ranger an old man you help, named Gordon, is actually the head if the Go-Rock squad. In Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, a teacher in the ranger school, Mr. Kincaid, actually works for an evil organisation Team Dim Sun. Also The organisation Altru and their leader Blake Hall are evil, while you don't know that till the end of the game.
- In the first two Professor Layton games, the antagonist Don Paolo disguises himself as other people. He's disguised as Inspector Chelmey in The Curious Village and as Flora in Pandora's box.
- The mysterious wizard who occasionally helps you out in Final Fantasy Adventure is eventually revealed as Julius, who's been using you the entire time to get his hands on the girl and her Mana Pendant. Retconned out in the Sword of Mana remake.
- In her BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger story mode, Noel is accompanied by a mild-mannered pacifist intelligence officer named "Hazama." If you've seen trailers for Continuum Shift, you'll recognize him as Terumi, the Complete Monster behind the events of Calamity Trigger. What did he want from Noel? To Mind Rape her to take Nu-13's place as a living weapon of mass destruction.
- Played with in Knights of the Old Republic, when it turns out that YOU, THE PLAYER are Darth Revan, former Big Bad of the setting, bud didn't know it thanks to Laser-Guided Amnesia from the Jedi Council, leading to an Inverse of Criminal Amnesiac if you decide to return to The Dark Side.
- Maria in Silent Hill 2. To add insult to injury, you spend a lot of her "good guy" time trying to keep her alive.
- In Paladin's Quest, the student who goes with you to the forbidden tower on the academy grounds and goads you into accidentally freeing Dal Gren at the very beginning of the game is revealed at the end of it to be the Big Bad Evil Overlord Zaygos in disguise.
- Kingdom Hearts: Ansem, the researcher who was studying The Heartless whose reports the player has been running all across the worlds to find. Turns out, he's the Big Bad and The Man Behind the Man. And both directly and indirectly responsible for everything that's been going wrong in the worlds for the past ten years or so! In a subversion, it turns out that the guy we were calling "Ansem" was actually the Heartless of the guy who stole Ansem's name. The real Ansem is more of an Anti-Hero.
- In Bomberman 64, Sirius presents himself as Bomberman's ally and even aids him in reaching Altair's fortress and battling its guardians only so that he could steal the Omni Cube from Altair and use its power to conquer the universe. When his plan succeeds, he thanks Bomberman by putting "Destroy Planet Bomber" first on his list of things to do.
- We also have Marx from Kirby Super Star & Ultra.
- The Soda Poppers from Sam and Max Freelance Police want revenge in season 2 of the game series.
- In OFF, The Batter intended to destroy the world all along.
- LeChuck in Tales of Monkey Island. From the moment that Guybrush Threepwood inadvertently turns him into a human who acts like a Harmless Villain and helps out on Guybrush and Elaine from Chapter 2 up to Chapter 4 (all the while wearing his charming belt buckle), then kills Guybrush in a clever ambush as soon as our hero cures everyone of the Pox of LeChuck; Elaine sees that "with or without all that voodoo, [LeChuck is] still nothing but an evil sack of scumm".
- In the alternate timeline of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, it's revealed that Stacey was the Big Bad all along. As soon as the reveal occurs her personality jumps straight from Girl Next Door to cruel and sadistic Baroness.
- Baten Kaitos
- Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean does a very unusual form of this. You know Kalas, the main character? He's actually been working for The Man Behind the Man this whole time.
- Origins does a more standard version: Quaestor Verus is far worse than Lord Baelheit could ever be...
- The Assassin's Creed II "Lost Archives" DLC reveals that Lucy had switched to the Templar's side before the first game's beginning. She even allowed Subject 16 to die from the bleeding effect when he discovered her betrayal. Everything she did throughout the games was a ploy she and Vidic devised to use Desmond to obtain the Apple of Eden. It would have worked too, if Juno hadn't programmed the Apple to force Desmond to kill Lucy. She's a particularly unusual example in that she gets killed before getting a chance to reveal her evil side.
- In BioShock (series), this is part of the main plot twist that occurs about 2/3rds of the way through the game. ( Turns out Atlas, your main ally and Mission Control, was criminal mastermind Frank Fontaine all along.)
- Happens practically Once Per Episode in the Dead Space series. Kendra in Dead Space, Diana and Marker-Nicole in Dead Space 2, Tyler in Dead Space Mobile, and Colonel Bartlett in Dead Space 2: Severed are all revealed to be secretly evil bastards after spending a large amount of time as your primary ally/Mission Control.
- Ys SEVEN plays around with a lot of JRPG tropes. One of the major plot twists is that the Big Bad of the game is actually, of all people, Tia, the flower girl who you meet early on and who seemingly takes the role of potential main love interest. Unlike, say Luna or Lufia, Tia was secretly evil from the start instead of being forced into a Face Heel Turn midway through the game.
- In Dead Island, Colonel Ryder White, the Mission Control that leads you through most of the game, turns out to be secretly evil (although this actually doesn't come as much of a surprise to most of the characters, due to their strong anti-authority attitude). He betrays your group near the end, steals the experimental cure for the zombie virus, and ends up being the final boss of the game. This is complicated even further in the single-player DLC where you actually play as Ryder White, and it's revealed he was never the Mission Control at all, and it was really Kevin (another supposed ally) who was impersonating Ryder the whole time over the radio, and who manipulated Ryder and the original 4 heroes into fighting each other.
- River City Girls, from the Kunio-Kun series; Misako and Kyoko seem to be, right from the start, on the Grey side of a Grey and Black Morality conflict, but at least they seem well-intentioned, tearing River City apart to save their boyfriends from some horrendous fate. As it turns out, however, Kunio and Riki barely even know them and were never kidnapped; the two girls are Stalkers With a Crush and at most, A Lighter Shade of Black. Although, if you manage to unlock the hidden ending, Kunio and Riki at least offer to take them to dinner.
- Cuphead: Chef Saltbaker turns out to be the main villain of the DLC. Posing as a friendly chef, he manipulates Cuphead, Mugman, and Ms. Chalice into gathering ingredients for the Wondertart. He then kidnaps one of them and intends to use the other two's heads as serving dishes. Having said that, he more or less becomes who he pretended to be in the epilogue of the game, where he sees the error of his ways after doing community service.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Sasha has always been working for HeretiCorp - not a literal guide, but subtly guiding the heroes to do what HeretiCorp wanted nonetheless. Do an archive binge and see the subtle clues that were there all along.
- In The Gamers Alliance, several seemingly heroic characters such as Cain, Desdemona, Mordecai and Vaetris end up having been evil all along during the Godslayer era.
- In Totally Spies!, Terrance and Dean first seem like Dean was evil all along. Then Dean turned out to be good all along. The same goes for the episode in which Tim Scam was introduced. It also applies for a lot of "villains of the day".
- In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Plankton pretends he's going to help SpongeBob to become more assertive. He actually wanted everyone away from the beach, which all the viewers already knew.
- In season two of Winx Club, the new teacher appears to be an evil impostor in the end.
- Alpha Teens On Machines has an interesting example of this trope. In the first season, industrialist Mr. Lee seems to be the team's mentor. In the second season, The Reveal is that he's been a Corrupt Corporate Executive and a Mad Scientist all along. He uses DNA samples from the Alpha Teens to create the Mu-Team, an evil, superpowered group of Psycho Rangers.)
- The Angry Cop from The Goode Family episode "Gerold's Way or The Highway".
- Vlad, the Russian teacher from Shuriken School was the main antagonist in the episode "Class Photo".
- Peppermint Larry from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack'.
- Cheif and Lok from Tak and the Power of Juju.
- In his first appearance on Kim Possible, Kim doesn't realize that Monkey Fist is a villain.
- In season 2 of Wakfu, Qilby appears to be a friendly mentor to Yugo. He's actually an insane Omnicidal Maniac scheming to claim the Eliacube so he can go back to draining entire worlds of their wakfu.
- In Shantae and the Seven Sirens, the heroine meets Armor Baron, a brother of her old foe Ammo Baron. Armor Baron insists he's more benevolent than his greedy industrialist brother, even offering to make "genie armor" for Shantae and Sky, so long as Shantae brings him the materials. However, it turns out Armor Baron is, if anything, even worse than his brother, as the "genie armor" turns out to be restraints that he uses to sell the pair to Squid Baron as "life-size" collectible action figures. He's also a Dirty Coward, and if Shantae confronts him later, he pays her off to avoid getting his clock cleaned.
- To the surprise of maybe 2% of the fandom, Lotor in Seasons 5 and 6 of Voltron: Legendary Defender was only ever pretending to be a good guy to gain Princess Allura's trust. Off to the side, he was still conducting unethical experiments and farming people.
- Pawtucket Pat is revealed as such in the Family Guy episode named after him. He didn't invent his own beer, he stole it from Native Americans. And then he killed them so they couldn't contradict that they made the beer instead of him. It's also implied he had an incestuous relationship with his sister that he never told his father about.