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"My dear girl, don't flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you?"

"...he betrayed them... HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!"
Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This describes a person, who may be a Manipulative Bastard, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Alpha Bitch, etc. who gets close to you and pretends to be your ally, friend, lover, etc. Basically, they earn your trust, and when you least expect it, they betray you and reveal they've merely been playing you this whole time. Another variation on this is that the manipulative character may find himself Becoming the Mask, developing real feelings for the person he betrayed. Sometimes, the betrayer may turn out to be someone you've known pretty much your whole life.

If a character with a Friendless Background finally finds a person who appears to believe in him or her, and then that person turns out to be a False Friend, it's almost certain that the character will then have crossed the Despair Event Horizon.

The Mole is perhaps the best-known practitioner of this brand of betrayal.

Closely related to Was It All a Lie? and I Just Want to Have Friends. Can lead to an Et Tu, Brute? situation. If the False Friend turns out to be the guy behind everything, he's a Big Bad Friend. Contrast True Companions.

Not to be confused with the term in linguistics for words in two languages which look similar but do not mean the same thing. ("Embarazada? But… I trusted you!")

Examples of False Friend include:

Anime and Manga

  • Elfen Lied: During Lucy's childhood, she made friends with another girl who promised to keep the fact that Lucy was taking care of a puppy a secret from a group of boys who frequently bullied her. Eventually, the boys found out about the puppy and beat it to death in front of Lucy while making her watch. It turns out the girl Lucy made friends with had deliberately told the boys about the puppy, and while she's pretending to cry about it and feel bad about what she did, we see her smile through her crocodile-tears. Lucy then snaps forever and kills her along with the bullies.
  • Sae to Momo in Peach Girl for the first couple of volumes before the two genuinely become friends.
    • And Sae gets a taste of her own medicine when she falls for Ryo, who's just as manipulative as her. The betrayal part comes into play when he sets Sae up to do a porn video without her knowledge. Thankfully, Momo saves her.
  • Gankutsuou: In the beginning The Count seems to like Albert when in reality he only views him as a tool for his revenge. However, as time goes on, he finds himself developing real feelings for Albert which cause him lots of angst and heartbreak, but ultimately save him in the end.
    • Also, Peppo to Albert. Though she/he (?) eventually develops actual feelings for him.
  • In Naruto Kabuto usually presents himself as this harmless, bumbling oaf with Nerd Glasses, but is in fact the subordinate of the Big Bad Orochimaru, and Naruto seems clearly angry and upset when he realizes this because he had originally believed Kabuto was on their side since he helped them by giving them information and the like.
    • Shiranami to Hotaru in the Six-Tailed Beast arc.
    • Also, Yashamaru, Gaara's uncle. At first, Gaara thought that he was the only one that cared about him. Yashamaru taught Gaara about physical pain, emotional pain and love; concepts Gaara was completely unaware of in his childhood. He was commanded by the Fourth Kazekage to assassinate Gaara, but was given the choice in deciding whether he wanted to proceed or not. Yashamaru willingly accepted the command in order to avenge his older sister's premature death. The assassination attempt, however, ended in a desperate suicide mission and ultimately failed. Before he died, he told Gaara that no one had ever really loved him, not even him. This left Gaara even more of an emotional wreck than he already was, and even more so since Yashamaru's last words to him were "This is it. Please die." Of course, it's revealed much later that he truly did it under the orders of the Forth Kazekage (Rasa aka Gaara's dad) as part of a Secret Test of Character, and that he had objected to such a move but ultimately had no choice.
    • In the second Shippuden movie Shinnou turns out to be one for Amaru. Amaru is quite shocked, but separates the person who taught her medicine and served as an inspiration to save lives and the person who is the Big Bad.
  • Bleach: Aizen does this when stabbing Hinamori while hugging and praising her, as well as betraying everyone in Soul Society (who adored him) after revealing the fact that he has always been against them.
  • The first time you properly see Izaya Orihara in the Durarara anime, he spends most of the episode having a suicidal and unstable girl named Rio, that he pretended to sympathize with and be friends with online, kidnapped and then orchestrating her rescue, only to hold poor Rio 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 Rio's despair reaches its peak and decides to jump anyway. Luckily for her, Celty was a little more worried about her safety and saves her.
  • Hot Gimmick: Azusa does this to Hatsumi, making her fall in love with him before trying to have his friends gang rape her out of revenge.
  • Light Yagami of Death Note is quite fond of this trope. The most notable victims of his manipulations are Misa Amane and Kiyomi Takada. Each woman was incredibly in love with him, but Light, as with all of his allies, found them disposable.
    • L counts as that towards Light and Misa, probably. "So now I've gained yet another friend..."
  • Sakurako Sanjou of Hana Yori Dango, who in all continuities (manga, anime, drama) befriends Tsukushi Makino and looks like a kind, shy, cutesy type... at least up until she has Tsukushi drugged, takes pictures of her unconscious in compromising positions and distributes them freely among the school, leading to her assault by other students. This is revealedto be her master plan for seducing/revenging herself upon Domyoji, Tsukushi's Slap Slap Kiss-y love interest, which also involved her spending a fortune on plastic surgery, dropping out of school in the past, and hiring professional goons to assault various characters (not only Tsukushi). The reason for all of this is that ever since she was in kindergarten, Domyoji bullied her and called her ugly. She does eventually get some much-needed Character Development, however, and becomes more of a Good Is Not Nice Jerk with a Heart of Gold case.
  • Even before he had his horrifying Face-Heel Turn, Griffith of Berserk was not a nice guy. A good example of this is how he treats Princess Charlotte, who's genuinely in love with him, as a Meal Ticket while still pretending to be in love with her.
    • The only person he was remotely honest with was Guts. He has a catastrophic breakdown when Guts leaves the Hawks due to wanting to stand on even ground with him and feeling that he was unable to as his subordinate.
  • Kyouko Mogami of Skip Beat initially followed her childhood friend Shou to Tokyo to help him to get into a music career. Although Shou didn't help her at all and even mistreated her, Kyouko still believed that all her efforts (doing several part-time jobs, paying for his training, being his de-facto unpaid maid) would be eventually repaid with love and gratitude. (Not to mention, Sho's parents were considering to make her the heiress of the family business instead of Sho.) Until she learns, from the mouth of Shou himself, that he has no feelings towards her, and the only reason he asked her to come with him was because he knew she would act as his personal maid for nothing. So she snaps, decides tnot to take it anymore, and makes the resolve to get revenge on him by trying to become as famous as him.
  • Otome's "friends" Natsumi, Minami and Kumi do this to her in School Days. Otome is betrayed by them twice: they first videotape her having sex with Makoto, the guy she likes, and show the tape to the whole school, and then they have sex with him behind her back. And they do this for no reason at all.
  • Uzuki to Yuki in Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru. As he himself tells Yuki in episode 2 "You're a nuisance. I hate your goody two-shoes, know-it-all act. I'm not your friend. I felt bad for you, so I thought I'd try being nice, but you misunderstood. No one needs you." But its refreshingly subverted when its revealed Uzuki was just deeply hurting from being abandoned by his parents and lashed out at others. He and Yuki become friends again after Yuki gets rid of the demon that was possessing Uzuki and feeding on his negative emotions.
    • And in episode 12 Kanata, Yuki's best friend, does this when he reveals to Yuki that he is actually the Big Bad Reiga.
  • Code Geass: 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 or so we think, he admitted to Rolo that he was just using him, actually hated him, and had tried to kill him on several oneoccasions. Nevertheless, without being asked or influenced by Lelouch's Geass, Rolo sacrificed himself to protect Lelouch, since he believed that even when Lelouch lied to him, his own love for Lelouch was sincere.
    • And Empress Marianne, Lelouch's mother, whom he looked up to and adored is revealed to actually be quite the Magnificent Bitch.
  • Akio of Revolutionary Girl Utena is a Casanova to the extreme and does this to a lot of people, most notably to Utena.
    • Another example is when Nanami walks in on her beloved brother Touga making out with a member of her old gang, Keiko, and overhears him say he never loved her to begin with, and her ex-friend claims she has no connection to her anymore either.
    • Touga is actually very good at this, and his other victim aside of Nanami is Saionji. Yes, Saionji was a total Jerkass, but not even he deserved Touga's horrible treatment.
  • In the yaoi manga Under Grant Hotel an inmate named Norman is in love with Swordfish, who is in love with Sen, but pretended to be in love/friends with Sen so he could get closer to Swordfish. He tried to persuade Swordfish to kill Sen but that didn't work. So, on one occasion when there was a scuffle going on he tried to get Sen out of the way by stabbing him with a pencil but accidentally ends up stabbing his inmate Walter instead who was trying to protect Sen in the hope of getting protection from Swordfish. When he finds this out, Norman holds a knife to Walter's neck telling him, "If you don't want to die, don't butt in again Walter!"
  • In Sakura Gari Sakurako passes herself off as a kind-hearted Nice Girl to Masataka (who genuinely starts falling for her, despite also struggling with a rising attraction to her brother / his boss Souma). Unfortunately for him, she's a scary and throughly broken Yandere who actually hates him and is incredibly possessive of Souma because he killed her mother (or better said, was forced to)
  • Lancia of Katekyo Hitman Reborn is a young Mafia boss who took Mukuro Rokudo in as a child. However he was betrayed and brainwashed by Mukuro's Evil Eye, which forced him to kill his entire family.
  • Kuro from One Piece does this to Kaya as part a lengthy scheme to gain her trust so he can claim her fortune and retire from piracy. When Kaya finds out his true nature, he freely admits that he hated having to act the kindly butler to her.
    • It is again used by the CP 9 as they act friendly, become well-loved members of Water 7, befriend many members of Dock 1, including Paulie, but when they reveal themselves, they also reveal that they never had any attachment to the city or to the people inside it. Paulie can't believe it at first, and even asks his traitorous good friend Rob Lucci:

 Paulie: ...I thought...!! I REALLY THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!!!

Rob Lucci: Only you thought that.

  • When Riff from Count Cain has his confusing Face Heel Turn and "dies," it is revealed that Riff, the manservant personality was never actually real, and that Riffael the owner of the body, is, in fact, a Complete Monster. This is Cain's manservant by the way, the only one who can "see his scars, make his tea, and tie his shoelaces."
  • Haruko turns out to have been playing her friend from the start in School Mermaid as part of a horrific Batman Gambit.
  • This trope is combined with a brutal subversion of the Romantic Two-Girl Friendship / Schoolgirl Lesbians tropes in the first chapter/episode of Highschool of the Dead. The schoolgirls Toshimi Niki and Misuzu Ichijou try to escape together whyile swearing they won't be apart... but when Toshimi is caught by "them", desperately grabs on Misuzu's hand and begs her for help, Misuzu kicks Toshimi away to save herself and leaves her to be Eaten Alive. Karma immediately slaps Misuzu across the face via having her caught and zombiefied right afterwards.
  • Sara to Yuuri in Kyo Kara Maoh. However, Sara does save Yuuri after betraying him and they become friends again, subverting the trope.
  • Master of Martial Hearts: The final episode of the OVA defines the trope with Natsume, Mio and Haruki being this to poor Aya
  • In Natsu e no Tobira, Lind turns out to be this. When he and the boys find out that Marion is Sara's lover, he plans to reveal this to Sara's husband (the Count of Cluny) to have Marion expelled from school, all because of envy. In fact, in the anime one of the reasons why Jacques violently explodes on him towards the end is because Claude (who had reluctantly helped Lind to locate the Count) told him about Lind's plans before his suicide, so he (Jacques) really doesn't want such a Manipulative Bastard to get near Ledania, aka the girl they both love..

Films - Animated

  • The Disney Animated Canon:
    • In Hercules the Big Bad Hades is unable to defeat his enemy Hercules because he is unaware of his weakness. So he instructs Megara to get close to Hercules and they both end up falling in love. However, before she can tell Hercules the truth Hades ends up telling Hercules about how Meg was working for him all along in the most cruel manner possible.
    • Dor-15 is one of these to Bowler Hat Guy in Meet the Robinsons. It may seem like a friendship at first, but there are hints that they’re in fact in an abusive relationship. It’s eventually revealed that Dor-15 was planning to discard Bowler Hat Guy when she had more or less already taken over the world, and basically murder him. Bowler Hat Guy himself lampshades it when he discovers what her true intentions were.
    • Gothel in Tangled tried to make Rapunzel believe that Flynn was this, that he was only after the crown and never caring for her. She nearly succeeded, until Rapunzel remembered her true heritage and realized that Gothel had kidnapped her and Flynn was going to be executed.
    • In Frozen, there's one of Anna's prospect love interests, Prince Hans.

Films — Live-Action

  • The Mask. Intrepid Reporter Peggy Brandt, who pretends to be Stanley Ipkiss' friend so she can get the $50,000 bounty for betraying him to Dorian Tyrell. When Tyrell prepares to kill Ipkiss she says "You Said You Wouldn't Hurt Him" to Tyrell, who replies "I Lied".
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Elsa Schneider is ordered to seduce both Jones to steal the Grail but ends up falling in love with Indiana.
  • The Truman Show. Truman's "best friend" since childhood (who is really an actor) at one point appears to truly be listening to Truman's plight and confusion, almost seeming to really want to help his buddy understand the crap that's going on with his life. However, he allows himself to be instrumental in the biggest Mind Screw the studio pulls on Truman in bringing his "father" back from the grave. He later leads the hunt to capture Truman once he starts escaping.
    • Though there is a good scene when he clearly struggles with the lines that the producer is feeding him through his ear piece. He visibly chokes a little when he's instructed to reaffirm his best friend status and that he would never lie to him.
      • Though that could be just good acting.
    • There are deleted scenes that indicate that Marlon/Louis does in fact feel guilty about what he's doing to Truman, and the (actual, real-life) actor said that the character has a drug addiction from the stress.
  • In Black Swan, Nina sees Lily as one of these, but the truth is anyone's guess.
  • In Broken Arrow, Vic Deakins reveals that even before he began his plan he regarded Riley Hale as a coward without guts and despised him. Deakins seems to be this way with everyone.
  • Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious in Star Wars to just about anyone.
  • Loki for most of the first Thor film. Thor thinks of his brother as one of his few defenders left in Asgard's court when in reality, Loki is the Big Bad trying to get Thor killed so the line of succession falls to the God of Mischief.


  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: O'Brien tricks Winston and Julia into thinking he's their friend and gets him to trust them, especially as far as identifying himself as a member of the Inner Party but is really a member of La Résistance. He then leads the raid to capture the protagonists, brings them to the Ministry of Love and oversees their torture and brainwashing.
  • In one of the Southern Vampire Mysteries novels, it's revealed that Bill was ordered by his queen to seduce Sookie, as part of a plan to use her telepathy for whatever it is a vampire queen needs a telepath for.
  • Herald Myste had this pulled on her as a child three times by guys using her to get close to her best friend (the most attractive girl in the neighborhood). Prince Karathanelan tricks Selenay into wedding him, but doesn't survive the "betrayal" part.
  • Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew inHarry Potter. When news broke out of Voldemort hunting Lily and James Potter, Wormtail was chosen to be their Secret-Keeper only to betray the Potters to Voldemort. When Sirius Black tracked him down in revenge over this, Wormtail shouted that Sirius had been the one to sell out the Potters, caused an explosion that killed a dozen innocent people, and faked his death before escaping, pinning the murders of himself, the Potters, and all the other people on Sirius.
    • Let's not forget Tom Riddle doing this to Ginny and, to a lesser extent, Professor Slughorn.
  • The 39 Clues: Ian Kabra pretended to like Amy so he and his sister could steal the clue from right under Amy and Dan's noses.... Only... it isn't quite that simple.
  • In The Traitor Game, Micheal comes to believe that Francis has spent their entire friendship laughing about their games with his friends. The consequences are nothing short of disastrous.
  • The fox and the cat in The Adventures of Pinocchio, upon discovering Pinocchio has several gold pieces, proceed to mooch off of him, try to rob and hang him, and later swindle him, all while pretending to be his friends. Unlike the Disney version, however, they do get their comeuppance in the end, and when they beg for Pinocchio to help them, he shows no forgiveness.

Live-Action TV

  • In Oz Schillinger arranges for Chris Keller to meet Tobias Beecher, Schillinger's former sex slave, with the intent of gaining his trust and seducing him. A mutual attraction instantly forms between them, and the two eventually exchange confessions of love. Unfortunately for Beecher he finds out that the man he fell in love with was working with his arch enemy all along (and informs him that he never loved him right before breaking Beecher's arms and legs). Keller clearly enjoys the beating, but is briefly seen experiencing a moment of regret when he returns to his empty cell and eventually realizes that he has fallen in love with Beecher.
  • Morgana, with Uther and Arthur, since the beginning of Merlin season 3.
  • Columbo admits to doing this (once) at the end of one of the ABC TV movies.
  • A heroic example in Robin Hood was Marian, who cultivates a "friendship" of sorts with Guy of Gisborne so that she can pass on information to Robin. She even goes so far as to pull off a perfectly executed Decoy Damsel ploy, which Guy falls for hook, line and sinker. Of course, Guy was something of a False Friend himself considering he seems more than ready to have Marian punished if she disobeys him, and when he learns that she's in love with Robin Hood, he stabs her to death.
  • HG from Warehouse 13 does this using the other agents to get an artifact so she could destroy the world though she does somewhat become the mask, getting talked down from doing this when her friend tells her to shoot her instead of being a coward and killing her with the rest of the world.

Myka: If I am wrong, then kill me. Do it! Kill me now! I mean, we're all gonna die anyway right, so what's the difference? So shoot me! Shoot me now. Kill me. But not like this. Not like a coward. I want you to look me in the eyes and. Take. My. Life.

  • The Eleventh Doctor started out as one to Clara Oswald in Series 7 of the post-2005 Doctor Who, wanting to keep her close so he could figure out why he kept meeting her across time/space. It became difficult for him as he genuinely started to like Clara as a person but he managed to abandon it after "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" after getting confirmation that, whatever led to him meeting her many times, Clara was innocent of it and just an ordinary human girl. It also allowed him to develop an attachment to Clara beyond just friendship.




 Second Marquis: Faugh!. . .Another Gascon!

First Marquis: Ay, but the cold, supple Gascon—that is the stuff success is made of!

Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.

    • The poets who frequent Raguenaus company claim to love Raguenau’s poetry, but they only want to leech him off.
    • Cyrano defies this trope with all his will, as lampshaded in Act II Scene VII:

 People (crowding round Cyrano):

My friend!. . .my friend. . .

Cyrano: Meseems that yesterday

I had not all these friends!

Le Bret (delighted): Success!

A young Marquis (hurrying up with his hands held out): My friend,

Didst thou but know. . .

Cyrano: Thou!. . .Marry!. . .thou!. . .Pray when

Did we herd swine together, you and I!


Video Games

  • There's an odd version of this in the Phoenix Wright series. Dahlia Hawthorne tricks Phoenix into thinking she's in love with him, just so she can get a piece of evidence back that incriminates her for a previous murder. She tries to kill him when it doesn't work. It's somewhat subverted when Dahlia has her sister impersonate her for a while, and her sister actually does fall in love with Phoenix.
    • Kristoph Gavin became Phoenix's "friend" only to closely monitor his activities after Kristoph got him disbarred, and ends up framing him for a murder. Phoenix was aware of this, however.
  • After dominating a player in Team Fortress 2, one of the Spy's Bond One Liners is "I never really was on your side."
  • A variation occurs in Specter's ending in Twisted Metal Black- The man of her dreams has been forced to marry her by way of some brain surgery, but he's still able to tell her ""
  • The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, before defecting, was Snake's mentor and one of his closest friends. She celebrates her Face Heel Turn by beating him up and stealing his rescued hostage.
    • Subverted and played straight, however, as The Boss was really a Fake Defector sent in by the U.S. government to play the False Friend to Big Bad Colonel Volgin.
  • In Uncharted 2, Harry Flynn did this to Nathan Drake at the end of the Museum mission, causing poor Drake to rot in prison for 3 months.
  • Shin Megami Tensei V has the demon Lahmu. On the outside, he’s a wonderful friend that will make Sahori’s life fantastic, especially since she’s being bullied and is feeling depressed about it. But on the inside, he’s a murderous and manipulative monster that is threatening to kill everyone in Tokyo. And the more Sahori interacts with Lahmu, the more evil she gets.
  • Magical Diary: Damien. That bastard.
    • If you get his good ending, it turns into Becoming the Mask .... maybe. If you believe anything he says by that point!
      • If you've ground White magic enough to have gotten the spell Empathy, you can use it on him when you next talk to him. He's telling the truth about how he feels now.
  • In Dragon Age II, it's possible for Hawke to do this to Fenris when he finally confronts his former master Danarius by handing Fenris back to him. This will push him over the Despair Event Horizon so much that he'll simply submit without a fight. This act is considered a Moral Event Horizon by the other companions save for Anders, who hates Fenris.
  • Touhou: Mystic Square features the fire and ice magicians Yuki and Mai as a Dual Boss. If you defeat Mai first, Yuki will be furious and crank up the heat. But if you defeat Yuki first, Mai will smugly declare that her comrade was nothing more than "dead weight" dragging her down (though ironically Mai's regarded as the easier of the two). Mai's Leitmotif is appropriately named "Treacherous Maiden ~ Judas Kiss."


  • Megatokyo. Miho did this to Piro some time before the start of the series.
  • The Dreamland Chronicles: here
  • In Order of the Stick, Nale drives Elan to the Despair Event Horizon by telling him that Haley is this trope, taking advantage of incriminating evidence and Haley's inability to defend herself to gloat about Haley's supposed betrayal of Elan's friends and Elan's stupidity in not seeing that she was Evil All Along. Elan is briefly convinced and goes into a murderous fury, telling Haley that he hates her, before Haley finally manages to spit it out.
    • Nale also uses a suggestion spell to make Elan angrier, hence the uncharacteristic murderous fury.
  • In Bravely Default II, Helio turns out to be one to Gladys. Gladys thought Helio was a wonderful man who was helping those who were accused of being fairies, but it turned out Helio was using her from the beginning.
  • In Girl Genius, Tarvek and Gil's childhood friendship was real. Sadly, circumstances separated them and they both became convinced that the other was a False Friend due to some more unfortunate circumstances. They are currently Fire-Forged Friends / Vitriolic Best Buds.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Ferron befriends Refan during the Great War but does so only for two reasons: to avenge his lover who died by Refan's hand and to use Refan to get rid of The Dragon who had also wronged him (hoping that the two weaken each other enough in battle so that he can finish both of them off).

Western Animation

  • Terra in Teen Titans, though sympathetically so.
    • She's much, much nastier in the comics, as Terra was not a lost girl brainwashed by Slade. She was a pure psychopath that Slade was almost scared of. (You read that right). Worse is that she was also Slade's underage girlfriend. What makes it especially hilarious is that at no point in the lead-up of the comic arc does she ever really pretend that she doesn't dislike nearly everyone on the team nor isn't lying constantly to them, so the Titans, in retrospect, were Too Dumb to Live.
    • Malchior is this to Raven in the "Spellbound" episode.
    • And Starfire's sister Blackfire, who pretended to care for her sister while framing her for the crimes she committed so Starfire would get taken to jail instead. Starfire eventually finds out the truth and engages her in battle which leads to Blackfire rightfully getting captured by the police.
  • Plankton in SpongeBob SquarePants‍'‍s "F.U.N." episode.