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Also called a Mentor Mole, a Treacherous Advisor character is the type the Heroes consult when they're digging up an Ancient Conspiracy, or something of the sort, and have hit a dead end. Surely he's in a position to be helpful? After all, he's the scholar/politician/military man/whatever, and just likely to have the information they need. Not to mention he can keep a secret.

Unfortunately, this trusted expert is secretly one of the bad guys. Sometimes he may actually be the Big Bad. What makes him different from your average Mole is the degree to which the heroes require his assistance — he's not a regular part of their team, but he's the only person who can give exactly the help needed.

The dead giveaway for this character type is accepting the heroes theories with a complete lack of skepticism. If it were anyone else, the first thing out of their mouth would be, "Why should I believe you?" If the character says "Have you told anyone else?" or "It's a good thing you came to me." be warned: they're either about to give The Reveal or planning on making some calls and starting a massive cover-up as soon as the hero leaves the room.

Another common trait of Treacherous Advisors is storing the Plot Coupons the heroes are fetching, revealing themselves once they have the last one. In these cases, a common giveaway is their seeming a little too interested in the Plot Coupons, more specifically in the act of actually taking them. A dead giveaway is if he doesn't let the hero look at the ones he's already collected. The hero will sometimes catch on as he's returning the last one, but never before then.

In a Tournament Arc, the Treacherous Advisor may be the one who helps the hero reach the finals because he (or his Big Bad boss) has a trap waiting in the final round.

This is generally a subversion of the more typical Mentors or Reasonable Authority Figure, whom the character seems to be until The Reveal.

On rare occasions, everyone of importance whose help the hero seeks is a mole; the hero's only real allies are the ones with no power or influence.

Not to be confused with the Evil Chancellor. Contrast Sarcastic Devotee. Despite its name, the Evil Mentor and this trope rarely overlap as the Evil Mentor will not try to hide its true nature.

WARNING: Examples can be major spoilers for a climactic reveal. Read ahead at your own risk.

Examples of Treacherous Advisor include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gil Graham in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Daitokouji-sensei, Judai's teacher and ally, was revealed to be The Mole, and then later The Mole for the good guys.
  • Kabuto in Naruto's Chuunin Exam Tournament Arc.
  • Colonel Urube Ishikawa in G Gundam.
  • Kirei Kotomine in Fate/stay night.
  • Words Worth: Both Tessio of the Shadow Tribe and Menza of the Light tribe, who are later revealed to be two halves of the same entity, who is pushing the tribes to remain in a constant state of war to keep the Words Worth Tablet prophecy from being fulfilled.
  • Big Bad Albert Maverick from Tiger and Bunny is this to Barnaby. He steers Barnaby to become a highly marketable (and easily-manipulated) corporate-sponsored Superhero who works tirelessly for the company and TV channel of which he is the CEO. Barnaby constantly looks to Maverick for guidance (and obviously considers him to be a Parental Substitute) for more than two-thirds of the series.

Comic Books

  • Haazen in Knights of the Old Republic. He manipulates Lucien Draay into doing some truly nasty things- including ordering the deaths of several of his colleagues apprentices and trying to kill his own- because that was supposed to prevent the return of the Sith. Turns out Haazen was Sith himself, and was aiming to both control the Jedi through Lucien and generally spit on the grave of Barrison Draay, Lucien's father and Haazen's one-time friend-turned-rival.
  • In Bookhunter, after the Library Police finally retrieve the stolen book, Agent Bay realizes that the stolen copy was actually another forgery--because the original book had already been stolen by the Chief of Library Security.
  • In Spider-Man, when NYPD criminologist Carlie Cooper discovers Officer Vin Gonzales is part of a conspiracy to frame Spidey, she goes straight to the precinct sergeant. He turns out to be deeper in it than Vin, and quite prepared to pin the whole thing on Vin and Carlie.
  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared is this to Siphon and the Pantheon. Mildly subverted in that he is legitimately looking out for IQ Squared's best interests.


  • The main antagonist in Prince of Persia the Sands of Time.
  • In Another 48 Hours, a Retcon makes Jack Cate's fellow officer and longtime friend Ben the Big Bad whom Reggie Hammond had robbed in the Backstory to the first film, and the one who has been feeding Jack misinformation all along.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Both Walter Donovan and Dr. Elsa Schneider would qualify.
  • Obadiah Stane from the Iron Man movie. Not a big secret to those who know his history from the comics, but in the film, he founded Stark Industries with Tony's dad and pretends to be Stark's friend and mentor, but when the film begins, he pays to have Tony killed while on a trip showing off some of his new weapons (they don't, because they weren't told who he was). Later, he ends up building his own armor suit. Which he powers with the power source he pulls out of Tony's chest. Which was all that was keeping him alive.
  • Lt. Neil Briggs (Hal Holbrook) in Magnum Force
  • Captain Corso in Titan A.E..
    • A rare example who goes to the trouble of searching out the not-yet-hero, convincing him to join their quest if only for a nicer place to live, inspiring him to believe in a cause other than his own self-interest or personal profit... and then revealing himself to have been working for the bad guys all along just for a big check? Why bother turning the cynical youth into a heroic idealist just to get him to lead you to what you want? Just offer the cynical youth a cut of the cash (and THEN betray him anyway if you don't feel like sharing).
      • Because he figured, possibly incorrectly, that Cale was an idealist who couldn't be bribed. And if he offered him money, Cale would start to be suspicious of his motivations. If he offered him money from the alien species that destroyed Earth Cale would likely try to kill him. If that failed, he'd knew off his own hands with horseradish to screw over the Drej.
  • Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) in Unbreakable.
  • Odin in Heavy Metal 2000.
  • The B-movies Full Contact (1992), Dragon Fire (1993) and Bloodfist 2050 (2005) all use exactly the same plot: a kickboxer who participates in the underground pit-fighting circuit in order to find the guy who has killed his brother. In each one, it turns out that the killer is the mentor who trained him.
  • The film version of Watchmen adds shades of this to the relationship between Dan and Adrian, due to the fact that unlike in the graphic novel, they're close, affectionate friends in this version.
  • Teddy Gammel in "Memento".


  • Leigh Teabing, the central villain (out of many candidates) in The Da Vinci Code.
  • Saruman in the The Lord of the Rings books (and especially in the movies). Grima Wormtongue also qualifies.
  • Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential.
  • Chauncy in The Dresden Files.
    • This is also a big part of how the Fallen operate: If you pick up one of the Blackened Denarii you get an ancient, superintelligent and ridiculously powerful Spirit Advisor who'd be happy to show you how to solve any problem you run into — until you're so dependent on its help that it can control you completely.
  • J.K. Rowling really likes this trope.
    • Professor Quirrel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
    • Tom Riddle aka Young Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
    • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when it looks like Lupin is one of these as well.
      • Although not canon, many fanfiction writers speculate that Peter was the one who planted suspicions of Remus's loyalty in Sirius's mind.
    • Alastor Moody (Barty Crouch, Jr. disguised as him, to be precise) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, whom Harry and co. frequently consult for help solving the mysteries.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince makes it look like Snape is one too, only to invert it on the seventh.
  • In Boris Akunin's Fiction, we have Ivan Panteleevich, leader of an elite Soviet sports club. Sergei Dronov, one of the superpowered protagonists, was discovered and saved by him early in the book, and has followed "the Sensei"'s advice ever since, leaving the life of crime and becoming a sports celebrity and a powerful businessman during the Perestroika. In the end, it turns out that the Sensei was working for the Government Conspiracy all along - and indeed is one of its leaders. What's more, Dronov remains loyal to him and is all too happy to join a secret superhero team for the conspiracy. To this we may add that, under the pseudonym of Alexander Aleksandrovich, he is also the father of another protagonist's daughter (becoming something of an advisor to him as well, though not nearly as trusted as in the first case), and brings that protagonist in as well, though he is more skeptical after being told the truth. Mind you, he's not necessarily evil, inasmuch as he seems to genuinely want to help Dronov and is mostly concerned with fighting off an alien conspiracy that runs counter to the government conspiracy.
  • In Winter Queen (an earlier Boris Akunin novel), there is Ivan Frantsevich Brilling.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms has several, including one who served Liu Bei but was tricked into serving Cao Cao; he refused to give meaningful advice from then on and kept his mouth shut when he saw through the ruse at Chi Bi. More importantly, it's the descendants of Sima Yi, Cao Cao's strategist, who ends up unifying the three kingdoms; one Cao son even gets murdered in broad daylight by the Sima clan.
  • In The Kingdoms of Evil: De Macabre for certain, and possibly everyone else in Skrea.

Live Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who episode "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", Sarah Jane Smith falls victim to this trope twice. First, the man she sees for help finding the villains' base turns out to be the one who helped them set it up. Then, after she escapes from him, she takes what she knows to the general who is coordinating the state of emergency, not knowing that, while she was away, he had also been revealed as a member of the conspiracy.
  • From Heroes: Claire has been hiding from her father the fact that she heals incredibly fast. She finally can't take the pressure anymore and decides to tell him... and he tells her he already knows, and asks her whom else she's told. Subsequently, every person she mentions has their memories of it wiped, and Claire herself is targeted for a wipe.
    • In somewhat ironic fairness, though, HRG was trying to protect Claire [and the others] by doing this.
  • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Gwendolyn Post (played by Serena Scott Thomas), the dark magician who poses as Faith's new Watcher, and "Doc" (played by Joel Grey), the strange old man/demon who helps out Dawn but is also working for the enemy.
  • Digger in John Doe
  • Harry Wolfe in Season 2, ep. 2 of Life On Mars.
  • Subverted in one episode of Stargate Atlantis: When visiting the ruins of a ship that had the crew both in stasis and believing that they were still flying the vessel in a virtual reality setting, the second in command apparently was planning to do something against her boss. However, its later revealed that the actual second in command was killed long before the events of the episode by a Wraith, and a Wraith (presumably the same one that killed her) was impersonating as her.
  • Merlin has Agravaine as a good example of this. Arthur's uncle and advisor, as well as The Mole. Merlin and the rest eventually figure him out, but Arthur takes the longest to quit trusting him.

Video Games

  • The Elder in Terranigma. Also Yomi or dark side Yomi.
  • From Assassin's Creed Al-Mualim is not only a Templar himself, but the Big Bad.
  • GLaDOS from Portal. "The Enrichment Center is required to remind you that you will be baked and then there will be cake."
  • In both Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid, the player-hero receives advice via radio much of which is revealed to come from each respective game's Big Bad.
  • Final Fantasy X can be considered the apotheosis of the concept. The party's initial quest is a voyage to seek aid in destroying the monster Sin; the ultimate end of this quest is the spirit of Lady Yunalesca — who, in The Reveal, turns out to be an insane nihilist who has been complicit with Sin's cycle of reincarnation since the beginning, having offered her own husband as the first Final Aeon (which would also make him the second Sin).And the Maesters of Yevon are being advised on how to defeat Sin by Maester Seymour, in The other Reveal, turns out to be an insane nihilist who is plotting to merge with Sin so he can destroy all life on Spira.
  • In the first Ratchet & Clank game, our heroes initially try to alert local superhero Captain Qwark to the Blargg threat, but discover that he's actually working with Chairman Drekk, who's offering him a substantial amount of money and fame for sponsoring their new homeworld.
  • Master Li in Jade Empire He is, in fact, the Big Bad, who uses the player character to unseat his brother, the assumed Big Bad, and usurps The Dragon's services as well. Said Dragon appears, until about a third of the way through the game, to be the Big Bad. Confused yet?
  • In the old C64 game Bard's Tale 2, the goal was to find the pieces of the Destiny Wand in order to defeat the big bad Lagoth Zanta. Every time you found a piece, you needed to get hints to the location of the next one by paying a character known as the sage. Once you assemble the wand, you discover that the sage was in fact Lagoth Zanta all along.
  • Persona 2 features a variation; in both games, the Time Count provides useful services — ones that can't be gotten anywhere else in Eternal Punishment. He turns out to actually be an avatar of Nyarlathotep, the Big Bad. Unlike most examples, it's not part of some overarching scheme — being a trickster and manipulator, he decided it'd be more fun this way, and arrogantly believed that even if he helped them, the heroes couldn't possibly defeat him.
    • In Persona3, it turns out that Shuji Ikutsuki was actually trying to summon Nyx and end the world since long before the game even began, and that serving as the mentor for SEES was his way of using them as a weapon to accomplish this task. Without his own Persona, he had no way of defeating the Full Moon Shadows who needed to die in order to free Nyx, so he found some people who could get the job done, and...
  • In Bioshock, your guide throughout most of the game, former revolutionary figurehead Atlas, turns out to be mobster Frank Fontaine, who was thought dead according to the back story. You're a genetically-altered and hypnotically-conditioned assassin created by Fontaine as part of his scheme to seize control of Rapture from Andrew Ryan, and Atlas's Catch Phrase "Would you kindly..." was actually the command phrase to make you obey his orders.
  • In Vexx, the player is given advice by an old mentor figure named Darby about finding the Wraithearts in order to eventually defeat the Big Bad. Of course, Darby actually IS the Big Bad, pulling a Xanatos Gambit.
  • Ultima VII plays with this a bit by linking it to a Chain of Deals. In order to contact the Time Lord, whose help is necessary to stop the Guardian from dominating Britannia, you need to get help from the Wisps - interdimensional information-brokers who, in exchange for the help, want you to acquire information for another client of theirs. The information in question is a notebook on the Guardian and his puppet church, the Fellowship, composed by one of the few Britannian scholars aware of the Guardian's existence. Turns out, their client is the Guardian, who, having found out what his opposition knows about him, then has him murdered.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the high-ranked Paladin Orson leads Prince Ephraim and his group into a direct trap, having betrayed his country since the enemy promised to revive his deceased wife.
    • In Radiant Dawn, Izuka combines this with Evil Chancellor and tricks naive Prince Pelleas into selling out his country to the greedy Begnion senators. Those same Senators, in turn, betray and attempt to murder their own Empress for passing policy they don't approve of. Except for Sephiran, her closest and most trusted advisor and guardian... who betrays her for a different reason.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Van, the main character's mentor and pseudo-father figure, aids the party and provides advice and counsel to the main character for the first third of the game. He then not only betrays the party and leaves them to die, but also turns out to be the Big Bad. He manages to rub even more salt in the wound by casually telling the main character that, in fact, Van created him to be nothing more than an inferior duplicate of one his minions, to be sacrificed as a pawn in his plot to destroy the world. Ouch. The fact that Van turns out to be more of a Necessarily Evil villain never alleviates the bitter sting of this personal betrayal.
  • Subversion in Super Robot Wars, especially on Mizal Touval, the Shura Advisor (because, he is not on the player's side all the time). He actually had plans on his own, that is to overthrow the Big Bad and usurp his power on his own. But he never got lucky in his endeavor, because: He either gets killed before he could pull the treachery off (Compact 3), or said Big Bad is dead first, and his successor killed him before he could do anything else (Original Generation Gaiden).
  • In Unreal 2: The Awakening, the main character's rather paternal commanding officer sends him on a Fetch Quest to assemble Plot Coupons, ostensibly under orders from The Federation to keep it out of the hands of the Always Chaotic Evil Skaarj. It turns out he just wants the assembled Artifact of Doom for himself to take over the universe.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, in the first case, the eponymous attorney is working under Kristoph Gavin, who serves as his co-counsel in this case. Kristoph turns out to be the murderer.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Barlowe teaching Shanoa how to use glyphs and such, so she can use the Dominus glyph to destroy an artifact that, when destroyed, will allegedly destroy Dracula. He keeps secret from her two things: that using Dominus will kill the user (you can even use it and die in regular gameplay, once you have all three parts), and that destroying said artifact, in actuality, will bring about the return of Dracula and his castle, which was his goal all along.

  Barlowe: How dare you... even forget... who raised you... you... STUPID DISCIPLE!

    • Zead of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness also qualifies as a Treacherous Advisor. At first, he is seen giving Hector helpful hints and advice in his quest to get revenge on Isaac for killing his wife. Naturally, St. Germain knows what Zead's true purpose is, thus why the two are enemies with one another as Germain himself tries to stop Hector from going after Isaac and therefore playing any more of his role in Zead's plans. Eventually, it is revealed that Zead was using Hector to find a perfect host for the resurrection of Dracula, and that, indeed, Zead was Death, The Dragon to Dracula himself, in disguise.
  • In System Shock 2, the voice of Dr. Janice Polito is played by very special guest star... SHODAN.
  • Princess Waltz features a really disturbing one, when the dizzy, cute, Harem Nanny April turns out to be stone cold evil... and doesn't change her mannerisms or expression!
    • Or not. Ending suggests she was good all along, and possibly the heroes strongest ally. She might have been lying, of course, she was certainly capable of that.
  • Your boss, Mr. Jones in Code Name: Viper is actually the guy behind the South American drug ring you've been commissioned to stop.
  • In Mantra, the plot of the game is that Saric (the player character) is supposed to retrieve the Mantras of fire, earth, water, air, and force to help out his master, the Ambassador, in his negotiations with the evil magician Balther. Late in the game, however, you find out that the Ambassador is actually Balther.
  • Subverted by Mr. Mach in Rockman.EXE 6, as he is not truly treacherous. After Rockman is lured into a trap by WWW (World Three) and kidnapped, several members decide to betray WWW and start up their own organization, taking Rockman with them. He then arranges a meeting with Netto to explain that he has actually been working for WWW in order to repay a favor from a higher-ranking member, his involvement in the near burning of the school during the first day, and that he helped kidnap Rockman before finding out about the traitors. Mr. Mach then tells Netto where Rockman might currently be, verbally beats himself up for being a hypocrite, and asks for forgiveness before leaving.
  • The original Mercenaries has Josef oust Sergei as leader of the Mafia near the end of the game; probably not all that surprising, since 1) this is The Mafiya we're talking about, 2) Sergei is an airheaded Ted Baxter, 3) Josef is ex-KGB, and 4) they foreshadow the hell out it by showing Josef having practically undisguised contempt for Sergei's bumbling and snotty attitude.
    • To be fair, Sergei tried to have the player character and Josef taken out by the North Koreans first, then Josef launched his coup (though given Josef's demmeanor, Sergei was living on borrowed time anyway).
  • In Bunny Must Die, Bunny, upon receiving her curse, meets up with a fat messenger of God (read: Dechronos) who offers to lead her to the Cave of the Seven Devils to remove said curse — and gets gored by a stag shortly upon their arrival. By the time she's slagged all the other devils and beaten Chelsea to a pulp, she finds him, fresh as a daisy, and he tells her that he set the plant to blow once she was near it. All of this just to give her a reason to get him all his power back.
  • King Lemele in The 7th Saga. Or, rather, the Big Bad Gorsia, who had already killed Lemele and was impersonating him when the game started.
  • Grumpos Matavastros in Anachronox.
  • Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
  • Tapir in Cocoron.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd, the main US Army commander, is The Chessmaster and ultimate Big Bad, having manipulated the massive invasion of Washington DC and the war between the US and Russia to demonstrate the US's military might as revenge for having 30,000 of his troops nuked in Call of Duty 4.
  • Kor in Jak II is the Metal Head Leader.
  • Sindri Myr to Chaos Lord Bale in Dawn of War, leading to one of the most Narm-filled moments outside of the Soulstorm expansion.
  • In Okami, you wind up consulting High Priestess Rao for help fixing the cursed mess that is Sei-an City and the Ryoshima Coast. Too bad she'd been killed months earlier, and you turn out to have been dealing with Demon Lord Ninetails, who was responsible for a lot of it and had been trying to use you as a MacGuffin Delivery Service for the Fox Rods or, failing that, get you killed. It works pretty dang well, too, and only some very quick thinking and a Heroic Sacrifice on Queen Himiko's part allow Ammy to stop Ninetails.
  • In Psychonauts, Coach Oleander is the real Big Bad behind Doctor Loboto.
  • In Wario Land 3, Wario gets advice from a sealed away mysterious figure, who will apparently give him riches and power if released. But sadly for him, it turns out this figure is actually Rudy the Clown, an Evil Clown who conquered said pocket universe the game is set in, and transformed all the people into monsters.
  • In Sacrifice, Mithras, a blind prophet and benevolent advisor to the gods is revealed to be Eldritch Abomination Marduk in a cunning disguise.
  • In The Settlers 7 campaign, Princess Zoe is sent by her father to save the kingdom of Tandria from the evil Lord Wolverine who usurped the good King Balderus. She is assisted by a kind old barkeep who is actualy King Balderus in disguise. As added insult to injury, Wolverine usurped Balderus because he was a Tyrant and Balderus told Zoe that she was helping to free the people from Wolverine's evil rule.
  • Many of these in Alpha Protocol, but the gold medal goes to the entire staff of the eponymous agency. There's no mole; everyone was complicit in the decision to abandon and kill you in Saudi Arabia.
    • Well, actually, there was a mole. Said mole was a mole against the entire remaining staff and saved your life by declaring you rogue and thus forcing you to fight the agency and Halbech.
  • In Dark Star One, Robert give Kayron his father's eponymous ship and sends him on his quest. In the end, he turns out to be Kayron's father's killer.
  • In Asura's Wrath, the Golden Spider offers Asura cryptic advice several times in the game while he is in Naraku to aid him in his battle against the Deities. The Spider is actually the Bigger Bad behind the rise of the Gohma (and consequently the Deities' villainy as well) which was apparently a test of the Deities' worthiness to wield Mantra, and he's only aiding Asura because he wants to claim Mithra as his vessel.
  • Luigi has an offscreen adventure in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door where he collects the pieces of The Marvelous Compass to rescue Princess Eclair under Minister Crêpe's guidence. Minister Crêpe reveals himself to be an Evil Chancellor who set up the princess's kidnapping to make Luigi rebuild the compass for his own nefarious purposes.


  • Miranda West in The Wotch may qualify for this, given that she's keeping some very big secret from protagonist Anne and that she's willing to totally destroy the lives of a few people in order to make sure nobody interferes.
  • (Not gonna bother using spoiler tags since there's only one advisor-type character in the comic, but) Panthera has Reynder/Ari, who turns out to be Oosterhuis.
  • In Pibgorn, a succubus can see that our heroes still find him useful.
  • Nicodemus, the Big Bad of The Dreamland Chronicles got his start as one of these. Notably, he actually told his liege in advance that he would betray him, though he made it clear that he would only do so if his liege continued what Nicodemus considered to be a self-destructive policy. His liege didn't stop. Nicodemus was true to his word.

Western Animation

  • Longarm/Longarm Prime/Shockwave in Transformers Animated.
  • In Exo Squad, Barca plays this role in his attempts to get Halis to assassinate Simbacca.
  • In the Men in Black Animated Adaptation, Kay's first partner and mentor Alpha turned out to be a scheming bastard. When Kay refused to join him, Alpha shot him and left him for dead. It's no wonder Kay became an emotionless robot after that.