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"I was a fool. I had been deceived that I had been working for a greater good. I was in fact an unknowing tool of a greater evil."
Shunjinko's biography, Mortal Kombat Deception

Not only does an Unwitting Pawn fail to stop the bad guy, but he actually furthers the villain's plan in the process. This is the kind of person that the Magnificent Bastard and Batman Gambit depend on. The Manipulative Bastard will take great delight in using them and then deconstructing their naivete and blind faith as they gloat. Not surprisingly, they also have a tendency to die ironically after inadvertently helping the villain.

These guys are not always being manipulated by the villain; sometimes they blunder their way into helping him of their own accord. Not that the villain's going to examine his gift horse for cavities...

The Wide-Eyed Idealist often becomes this, but sometimes the Knight Templar and Well-Intentioned Extremist can fall into this too. When the main character does this, and then has to fix it, it's Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.

Sometimes the unwitting pawn is deserving of his fate. They may be a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Evil Buisnessman, or someone else who has achieved great success through questionable means. Sometimes, he owes his success to someone he screwed over. They will often fall victim to blackmail or the reminder of what could happen "if the truth should get out...". Sometimes, the pawn is allowed to remain a figurehead to keep up appearances while his strings are pulled behind the scenes. This often happens to Corrupt Politicians as well who come to realize that they probably had a lot of help to realize their ambitions and get to the top.

Compare Out-Gambitted, Unwitting Instigator of Doom, My God, What Have I Done?. Contrast the Spanner in the Works, who just as ignorantly harms these schemes.

Tend to be played by The Chessmaster, logically enough.

Many examples are intrinsic spoilers

Examples of Unwitting Pawn include:

Anime and Manga[]

  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Kimblee masses the Drachman army to attack Amestris from the north, in order to cause enough bloodshed to complete Father's giant Transmutation Circle. All the Drachmans are defeated except for the General, who calls Kimblee out. Kimblee then coolly states that he didn't care which side lost as long as lots of people died. The general is then hit by one last shot from the Amestrians, to add death to insult and injury.
    • Hohenheim's backstory reveals that the Emperor of Xerxes also fit this bill. Father lured him into creating a nation-wide transmutation circle, claiming it would grant the Emperor immortality. Instead, Father used it to give immortality to himself and Hohenheim, at the price of the entire nation.
    • The upper echelon of Central's military were suckered into following the same scheme with similar promises.
    • In the 2003 anime version, the homunculi manipulate alchemists into trying to create the Philosopher's Stone so that their leader Dante can use it for her own immortality; it happened to Scar's brother and a young man named Lujon. Dante also falsely promises to make the homunculi human if they succeed, and steals the body of her alchemy disciple Lyra for her own use.
  • Played with in Bleach, where Magnificent Bastard Aizen is unable to manipulate Ichigo directly, so it is revealed that instead he manipulates almost EVERYONE ELSE in the story (including everyone Ichigo has fought, as well as his prospect Love Interest Orihime) as this since before the story started so Ichigo will do what he wants. He was able to this because he knew about Ichigo since BEFORE HE WAS BORN. The only proof of this is the words of the man who will brag about how uber and invincible he is even as manifestation of his fighting spirit is falling apart... But the last arc proves that Aizen wasn't lying: almost 20 years ago he witnessed how Ichigo's mother Masaki, then a Quincy Action Girl, was bitten by a Hollow that Aizen and Co. artificially created, and contaminated by it onwards in a way that only Ichigo's dad Isshin could counteract with the help of Urahara...
  • Peach Girl: Toji and most of the Spear Carriers in the first arc, and Gigoro in the second. Of special note is Gigoro's actions in "The Destruction of Pure Love"; he starts to realize that Sae's account of Momo isn't entirely accurate, so he tries to get Momo's side of the story... by chasing her through the warehouse district, not saying anything less stalker-y than "I need to talk to you."
  • Makoto Isshiki in RahXephon. He takes down Tokyo Jupiter, but all he achieves by doing so is enabling the Mulians to invade the outside world en masse. It's Personal...
  • Lavinia Reberth of Soukou no Strain is a Fan Girl of epic proportions, who'd do anything to get some of Sara's attention. Dress up as a Playboy Bunny? Failed. Ambush her in the shower? Got the wrong girl. Steal her most precious possession? Dropped it in a garbage dump, which ended up with Sara's true identity revealed to the whole crew, the Libertad kicked out of port before it could complete repairs, and one of their teammates dead. Oops.
  • In the anime of Chrono Crusade, nearly everything that the main characters do seem to play right into Aion's hands. In the end, even though almost all of the main cast die, they only seem to stop him temporarily.
  • Poor Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass. Being an emotional, impulsive, and naive mix of Death Seeker and Wide-Eyed Idealist in a series full of Chessmasters and Manipulative Bastards is definitely his perdition. On the other hand, his supernaturally effective combat abilities and tendency to run head first into dangerous situations without telling anybody means he's derailed almost as many schemes as he's aided.
    • Same for the Order of the Black Knights, which was first manipulated by Lelouch before becoming Schneizel's pawns. Lelouch actually is the hero who is trying to save the world. He has a lot of bad luck and some questionable methods, but the Black Knights generally benefited from his actions, manipulation aside. Schneizel, not so much. He has decent luck, if not good, and his methods are not questionable - they're definitely not good for the human race as a whole.
  • In Death Note, nearly everybody falls victim to this trope at some point, Chessmasters included. Misa is the only major character who does not, and that's likely because she's not really the type to act independently.
    • Oh, she was definitely a Unwitting Pawn at least once. Light once suckered the entire rest of the cast except for L himself, who managed to set up a Thanatos Gambit to counter his death, which he managed to anticipate before it happened. The anime makes it very clear in the end that L was the true winner after all.
    • Double Subverted by Rem, who kills L for Light in order to save Misa from being arrested. She figures out exactly what Light is trying to get her to do, how he's getting her to do it, and what will happen if she doesn't (she dies)... And she does it anyway.
  • In One Piece, Whitebeard was a target for this. The World Government wanted to kill him and his whole crew with a barricade killzone trap and execute Ace, the son of the Pirate King once they are stuck as a warning to all Pirates and cement their power. However, Whitebeard, while he still dies, manages to re-ignite the Golden Age of Pirates, and most of his crew and allies survive. Also, technically Ace was saved, but still dies anyways. However, in the end, he, and technically the WG, is still fooled by the true mastermind and main cause of the war, Blackbeard. His plan was that he knew Whitebeard would risk anything to save a single of his crew, and the WG would do anything to take him down. While everyone is focusing on Marine HQ, Blackbeard slips into Impel Down, recruits the strongest prisoners of Level Six, which contains some of the worst criminals in the history of the world, sails back, kills Whitebeard, steals Whitebeard's destructive powers for his own means, and then makes a clean escape. Even worse, the WG's pride makes it that they will not acknowledge his success, and cover it up, meaning he can plan even more things unharrased.
  • Poor Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. From being manipulated and forced by Gendo Ikari against his will to being forced to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Another interpretation is that everyone, their grandmother and their grandmother's yappy dog fall under this trope in that series. We have SEELE, a secret organization of Chessmasters planning to combine everyone's souls into one consciousness against their will to save humanity from extinction. Then we have Gendo Ikari, who is supposedly the Yes-Man of SEELE but is really using them for his own goals. As the commander, everyone at NERV is his puppet and he arranged for his son to be molded into the personification of this trope years in advance. Even the angels themselves fall under this category. The whole series ended with a Gambit Pileup that ended with Rei being the true mastermind and Shinji becoming a god! At least I think it did. Another popular interpretation is that everyone is a Unwitting Pawn for Yui Ikari.
  • In Naruto, it turns out Sasuke was the Unwitting Pawn of both Itachi and Madara. No wonder he developed Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • In Berserk Skull Knight attempts to kill Big Bad Griffith with a mystical attack. Next Volume Griffith uses the attack to unleash hell on earth.
  • Who in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle isn't playing into Fei Wong Reed's plans, again? Kurogane might be the least manipulated of the group, but he's not exactly immune, either.
  • Maka ends up one of these in Soul Eater, when convinced by Medusa that the witch truly cares about her child (a reaction very heavily hinted to be down to her relationship with her father). She is used to defeat Arachne, which in turn gives Medusa's soul a new body to inhabit, while demonstrating to the witch that Maka has sufficient power to be a serious threat to witches. Medusa then tries, but fails, to kill Maka due to the timely appearance of Chekhov's Gunman. Needless to say the Manipulative Bastard will be making another attempt.
  • Treize Khushrenada is such a Magnificent Bastard he turns essentially the ENTIRE CAST of Gundam Wing into Unwitting Pawns.
  • Hak-Yoon ends up being one to his girlfriend Mi-Mi. She manipulated him by pretending to like him, then had him and his gang try to rape her maid and film it in front of two of said maid's best friends, all because she was jealous that the maid had gotten the boy she was really in love with. . . and when said plan fell through, abandoned him to his fate and told him he was nothing more than a pawn for her revenge. He isn't too happy about this.
  • Alice of Code Geass Nightmare of Nunnally, desperate to save Nunnally, accepts help from Anya and proceeds to Kamine Island. It turns out that Anya was possessed by Empress Marianne, who needed Nunnally to complete her and Charles' Assimilation Plot. Thankfully, Alice telling Nunnally that she values her as an individual derails the plan.
  • Poor Homura, so you wanted to save your friend from certain death using your Faust powered wish? Well you did technically save her by making it so as long she is not saved, the timeline repeat itself. Unfortunately, you also helped Kyuubey create what is the ultimate power source based on people suffering since Madoka is not only a juicy power source but since with every cycle Homura becomes more cynical, her suffering only gives even more power with each interval. And she can do nothing to get out of the loop.. Good thing Madoka turned out to be one HELL of a Spanner in the Works, though.
  • So many in Monster as the series' Big Bad, Johan the Magnificent Bastard, plays everyone like a fiddle in order to get what he wants. At one point, he has a town of "pawns" as he moves them to the point where they all start massacring each other.
  • Near the end of the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Sho assumes that everybody in Duel Academy were the pawns of Kagemaru, the season's Big Bad.
  • Gundam Seed: Everyone--but especially Patrick Zala and Muruta Azrael--serve as Unwitting Pawns to series' Big Bad Rau Le Creuset. In Gundam Seed Destiny, Shinn Asuka is the Unwitting Pawn of Chairman Durdandal.
  • In GoLion, Prince Sincline shows his Manipulative Bastard chops via first bringing a prisoner Princess Amue to the bridge of his spaceship, then letting alert the heroes about his plans... since that's exactly what he wants, as he has a Death Trap involving a comet for the titular robot and its pilots. Not even a Big Damn Heroes from Amue's brother Prince Alor can fully change this, and poor Amue suffers a breakdown when Sincline gloats about it. Ironically, later Amue becomes one Hell of a Spanner in the Works for him....
    • More or less the same takes place in Lion Voltron, with Prince Lotor pulling exactly the same trick on Princess Romelle.
  • Fruits Basket has Ren Sohma trying to use her niece Isuzu alias Rin in her schemes against her own daughter Akito. Namely, she tricks the desperate girl into stealing Akito's precious box in exchange for info to break the curse. Boy, does poor Rin pay for it. And then BOY, do Ren's plans eventually blow up on her very face.
    • Even more so, the protagonist Tohru Honda was supposed to be this. It's eventually revealed that Tohru was allowed to work in Shigure's home because Ren and Akito had made a massive bet. Up until then anyone who found out about the Hereditary Curse was given Laser-Guided Amnesia about it, but they agreed on letting one person keep their memories to see if they'd be able to reach for the Zodiacs and sway them away from their God, Akito herself. Ren was betting on Tohru managing to do it, while Akito was sure she would not. This worked VERY differently from what was expected: Tohru managed to reach even for Akito herself, thwarting both parts' plans.
  • Shiho Kobayakawa from Private Actress has once in a while been hired by people who want to trick her into being a part of their own plans. It never fails to upset her - and lead her to fight back.

Comic Books[]

  • Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan and to a lesser degree all the other main characters become suckers for Ozymandias.
  • In the Green Lantern story Sinestro Corps War, the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps turn out to be these after Sinestro reveals that he (Sinestro) won the war by making the Guardians override their own principles and disable the "no killing" function on the Lantern rings.
  • The Knights of the Old Republic comic writer love these. Usually one or more of the main characters, but often the villain.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Mina Mongoose was this to Ixis Naugus — he used her musical protests against NICOLE as a conduit for his magic, inflaming the public's distrust of NICOLE into paranoia and hatred, beginning a series of events that leads to Naugus being appointed king of New Mobotropolis.


  • In the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era, Krogan Overlord Tikrog Kurvok unknowingly becomes a pawn in his advisor Halak Marr's plot to start the Krogan Rebellions and turn the krogan into a Master Race.
  • Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations Vol. 3:
    • Kusanagi, the Kerberos Smash is this to Goro, the latter exploits his desire to get revenge on Gentoku Himuro by masquerading as Kamen Rider G7 Icarus XYZ in the representative battle. Defied in chapter 119 as Kusanagi actually knew all along what Goro was planning.
    • Two of the three warring leaders - Hokuto's Prime Minister Tajimi and Seito's Prime Minister Mido, as well as Gentoku were actually this to the story's Bigger Bad, Kaguya Kozuki. Once she shows up, their role became less significant: while Tajimi is still imprisoned while Hokuto is still under Seito's occupation. Gentoku is already killed by Kusanagi in chapter 118, Kaguya outright states that Gentoku was nothing more but a worthless puppet. Kaguya then kills Mido in chapter 119.


  • In Equilibrium, John Preston turns over the entire leadership of La Résistance for a chance to see the Big Bad face to face and assassinate him. Except DuPont knew about this plan all along and arrested Preston as well. DuPont would have succeeded, except he took the time to gloat before killing Preston, triggering Preston's Unstoppable Rage.
  • Everyone in the Saw movies is like this. The entire franchise is one giant incomprehensible Gambit Roulette, and all the characters are constantly walking right into Jigsaw's plans.
    • Though inverted because, even though we the viewer are Genre Savvy, Jigsaw genuinely wants the suckers to live, he doesn't expect them to make the wrong choice and die but he wants them to make the right choice and live, therefore he doesn't do Xanatos Gambits - or just ones that fail. His successors and helpers, however, do seem to want everyone to die, and expect them to do dumb things - which they do. All the time. One can only assume that in universes in which things like Saw and all such are set, no-one watches thriller/horror movies, because the only Genre Savvy character is often the killer.
  • Star Wars:
    • Mace Windu dies in an attempt first to arrest and then just kill Chancellor Palpatine, which is not only unsuccessful, but also provides Palpatine with ammunition for his claims that the Jedi are revolting against the Republic SHOT FIRST. In a double irony, he also ends up making The Chosen One who...he himself had doubts in already, to switch his allegiance to the man he attempted to "assassinate".
    • In Attack of the Clones, Jar Jar Binks's only two lines of dialogue put him square in this category. (If only he had also followed the 'ironic death' part of the trope...)
    • Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace when Palpatine manipulates her into calling for Valorum's resignation.
    • In fact, everyone in the prequels not named "Palpatine" is this.
  • In The Dark Knight, most characters involved in the Joker's plots played right into his hands when they thought they were about to stop him. Even Batman, who had never faced a criminal like him before, is his pawn throughout.
  • Tom Ludlow in Street Kings
  • Subverted in Collateral Damage: The protagonist very nearly succeeds in helping the terrorists' Evil Plan come to fruition, but luckily becomes wise to his true situation just in time to foil it.
  • Subverted in Blade II. The Evil Overlord's Affably Evil daughter mocks the eponymous protagonist for agreeing to a meeting with his enemies to easily, but quickly shuts her trap when its revealed he was prepared to kill them all with a LOT of carry-on explosives at the first sign of treachery. Later in the movie, when The Mole reveals himself and gloats at the heroes' gullibility, Blade corrects him by stating that he knew of his duplicity from the beginning, a fact he illustrates in explosive fashion.
  • Christopher Nolan's first film, Following has two levels of Unwitting Pawns. A house burglar and a blonde femme fatale sucker a floundering writer into framing himself for the burglar's murder charge. Then we learn that the burglar is actually working for a gangster who the blonde is blackmailing, and he was setting the writer up for her murder.
  • In White Noise, once John begins experimenting with EVP (a way of listening to/seeing spirits in the beyond) on his own, he starts receiving messages from his late wife, believing them ways to save people. They're really trick visions sent by three very, very malicious spirits so that they can follow him and break into the realm of the living through the door he's opened up. And Anna's constant insistence that he 'Go now!'? Those were visions of when he arrived at the final location the messages showed him, where she was trying to warn him to get away and save himself. "Exactly as planned" indeed.
  • In Wanted, the main character is played especially with the charms of the hot chick. Who is played herself, along with everyone in the order. At the end, some of her "colleagues" decide going into business for themselves isn't such a bad idea, but she has the... balls to set things right.
  • Everything that Morpheus does in The Matrix, since The One, The Prophecy, The Oracle are all further systems of control of the humans by the AI's.
  • In Twice Upon a Time, Synonimess Botch tricks our heroes Ralph and Mumford into bringing him the mainspring from the Cosmic Clock, giving him control over time and the chance to cover the land of Din in nightmare bombs as part of his plot to trap the Rushers in waking nightmares.
  • In Total Recall, Quade is his own unwitting pawn. He had his own memory wiped as part of his cover to infiltrate La Résistance and identify its leader.


  • In the words of the fake Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth Harry Potter book,

  Decent people are so easy to manipulate.

  • Ginny Weasley in Chamber of Secrets, though she eventually became suspicious and tried unsuccessfully to destroy the diary.
    • Harry Potter himself in Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort tricks him into going to the Department of Mysteries. Especially notable given that he told Snape (who at this point he believed loyal to Dumbledore) that he'd had a vision of Sirius in danger there, and still rushes in to do the Dark Lord's dirty work for him.
    • This hits Harry hard in books 4 and 5. Given how badly these stories ended for everyone, the best thing Harry could have done was nothing.
    • Ultimately, almost every major character in the series is revealed to be one to some extent, pawns for Dumbledore and Voldemort, both of whose decades long game of wits to destroy the other is revealed to be what the whole series revolves around. Even Harry himself is a piece in the game. Snape on the other hand once was a pawn for Voldemort, but after a huge screw-up he became a willing pawn for Dumbledore.
  • Everyone except Iago from Othello.
  • In Stephen Marley's book Spirit Mirror, Chia Black Dragon tries very hard to dodge Nyak's Xanatos Gambit by taking a third option. She fails, and ends up releasing Nyak from his can. Then in the next book, Mortal Mask, she does it again.
  • When Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Star Wars Expanded Universe is involved, characters become suckers by being so afraid that they play right into his hands through their caution, the best example being that when they need a certain device from one of two locations, they leak info that they will go to one, therefore showing him they are actually going to the other.
  • In the Wheel of Time series:
    • The entire point of Elaida is to further the plans of the Forsaken by either doing what a servant says or just being an idiot.
    • The entire Whitecloak movement.
  • Although Ian Irvine has one in every single book, the conclusion to the Well of Echoes series deserves special mention for the sheer scale of it. The main character attempts to stop the Magnificent Bastard from using the most powerful magic in the world to take over said world by destroying the power sources of all magic, thus preventing anybody from using it. Except it turns out that the magic the Magnificent Bastard was using was the only one powered by something else, and what she had actually done was destroyed any and every chance the heroes had of stopping him. Whoops.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson. Lord Foul is a Chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard extraordinaire, and his plan to destroy the Land involves not just conquering everything, but continually engineering situations where the protagonists become Unwitting Pawns. Thomas Covenant is saddled with the role of Unwitting Pawn for the entire duration of the first and second trilogies, knowing that Lord Foul's plan hinges on the destructive and harmful actions he takes, but helpless to do otherwise because there are no good alternatives.
  • Most of the Blood Angels in James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 novels Deus Encarmine and Deus Sanguinius. Sachiel in particular; Inquisitor Stele thinks how easy he is to manipulate, and when he realizes at last the corruption, Stele kills him, declares the loyal Blood Angels did it, and starts a battle.
  • In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, this role is amply filled by King Elias. From the start, Evil Sorcerer Pryrates tricks and manipulates him via promises: first, to communicate with his dead wife, and later, to grant him Immortality, all while turning him into a vessel for the return of the Big Bad Storm King.
    • Ironically enough, Pryrates is an even bigger Sucker. The Storm King manipulated him with the promise that Pryrates would be the "first among men" when The Storm King returned. And he was the die.
    • The entire cast of protagonists are suckers, by the classic definition, as the most basic element of the Storm King's Xanatos Gambit is to trick them into bringing him the Three Swords. It works perfectly.
  • Vimes. Oh, dear, poor Vimes. Thud comes to mind, in which the entire quest he undertakes has been engineered by the very politicians whom he thinks he's going to stop, to give them an excuse to make peace with each other, which is what Vimes wanted all along, except that he's been their unwitting pawn...

  You can't bribe Sam Vimes, but why bother when you can just pull the wool over his eyes?

  • The Dale Brown book Act of War has many characters play into National Security Adviser Robert Chamberlain's hands.
    • Shadow Command sees US President Joseph Gardner playing right into the hands of Russian President Leonid Zevitin. The former's egoistic desperation to control the Chaotic Good protagonists leads him to steadily feed information that should have stayed classified. Fortunately for Gardner, he does not end up outliving his usefulness.
  • In the original Foundation trilogy, everybody except for The Mule. And even he doesn't actually succeed in the end. Even the Second Foundation themselves are just pawns in a larger game.
  • In several works by Stephen King, Randall Flagg, aka the man in black, sets forth plans of conquest almost completely dependent on the efforts of Unwitting Pawns.
  • Poor Mark and Courtney. Every time they try to help out Bobby and his friends, they usually just end up playing into Saint Dane's hands.
  • In Flora's Dare, Flora is sent off by Lord Axacaya to Bilskinir House to recover Georgiana Segunda's Diario so as to determine how to free the Loliga. Little does she suspect that the his primary reason for sending her was to confirm his suspicions that she's the last Hadraada, and thus have her killed.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund is the White Witch's Unwitting Pawn.
  • In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cats Cradle, Angela and Newt Hoenikker are suckered by agents of the American and Russian governments, respectively.
  • At the end of Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, Katniss learns that she was central to an enormous plot that no one let her in on.
  • In the Mistborn trilogy, everyone is Unwitting Pawn for Ruin and its plan for complete...ruin. And in true Xanatos spirit, that's not even the end of it it, since Preservation made a Unwitting Pawn out of Ruin by making humans in ITS plan for offing Ruin. DANG. For the record, "everyone" includes the Big Bad and the Chessmaster. No mind goes unscrewed.
  • In Hunger, the second book of the Gone series, the Gaiaphage does this to Caine and Lana. Caine thinks he's messing with the nuclear power plant for revenge and power, and Lana thinks she's actually trying to destroy the Gaiaphage. It may also be doing this to Brittney in book 3. Drake is corrupt enough that he actually works for it willingly.
  • Kronos does this to everyone in Percy Jackson and The Olympians. Furthermore, especially in the second book of the new series, The Heroes of Olympus, many characters, among which the Big Bad herself, state that Percy will be Gaia's pawn, and that he'll bring about the destruction of the gods.
  • King James in Harald, who makes war on his father's allies on the advice of his Evil Chancellor, who is in the pay of the real Big Bad.
  • Ravenpaw in Warrior Cats. His knowledge of Tigerclaw's murderous tendancies was known by Tigerclaw and he made it seem like Ravenpaw was The Mole. Then Ravenpaw faked his death to escape Tigeclaw, getting a major obstacle out of Tigerclaw's way. Luckily for Ravenpaw, his friend was a Spanner in the Works.
  • In The Coffee Trader by David Liss, Miguel Lienzo discovers he is the unwitting pawn of Alonzo Alferonda rather than Geertuid all along.
  • Spartacus Kilroy in the first Erec Rex book. He thinks he's just trying to help the sick King Piter get better. He doesn't realize that the coffee he's giving the king actually contains the poison keeping him ill.
  • In The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin, Hurin ends up as one after he is released by Morgoth. Driven mad by 28 years of Mind Rape he ends up unwittingly leading the enemy to the Hidden City of Gondolin, causes a civil war and the ultimate destruction of the last free tribe of Men, and sets events in motion that lead to the fall of the largest kingdom of Elves, all in an attempt to avenge his families deaths . He only stops when Melian tells him that he's not helping anyone, and effectively acting as a tool of Morgoth's malice. Then he kills himself.
  • In Death: William from Rapture In Death doesn't even know that his wife, Reanna The Sociopath, has manipulated him in more ways than one to help her commit murder.
  • Under the advice of his dead wife's spirit and Big Good Kil'jaeden, the old orc shaman Ner'zhul in the Warcraft novel Rise of the Horde convinces his people to put away their differences and prepare to defend themselves against the Draenei. Except his wife's ghost was an illusion, Kil'jaeden is The Devil and this book is the Start of Darkness of the orcs that explains how they became the Always Chaotic Evil horde of the first two games. Oops.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, EVERYONE is this to Petyr Baelish. He hired an assassin to kill Brandon Stark, knowing that Catelyn would blame the Lannisters. By doing this, he provoked Catelyn into sending Ned to King's Landing where he was killed, which got the North to take arms against the king. This started an entire war for the Seven Kingdoms. That's just in the first book. And he's not even nearly done.
  • In Fred, Alice and Aunty Lou, a Robert Westall short story in his anthology Break of Dark, author Peter Wingfield plays into the hands of vengeful ghosts; giving them a conduit to the real world and the energy of his dislike for his old school-mate, Roger.

Live Action TV[]

  • Doctor Who: Companions have unwittingly aided the villains before. In fact, the revived series sees the Doctor himself doing it. Examples of this include:
    • "The Long Game", in which the Ninth Doctor leaves Satellite Five after defeating the Monster of the Week, without bothering to help guide humanity back onto a "proper" path. By the time he returns 100 years later in "Bad Wolf", things have actually gotten worse, since he was playing into the hands or, more accurately, plungers of The Man Behind the Man.
    • The Christmas Invasion, in which the Tenth Doctor manages to cause the downfall of Harriet Jones by whispering "six little words" in her assistant's ear. It was stated during the Ninth Doctor's reign that she would be the "architect of Britain's Golden Age", but the power vacuum left in her wake seemingly allowed The Master to gain power and eventually become Prime Minister. This indicates that the 10th Doctor did change history in The Christmas Invasion, and worse, he changed a time line he had previously talked about in glowing colors. There was supposedly a deleted scene explaining the entire concept. Russell T. Davies, the writer of the episodes and then-Show Runner, mentioned this in his Doctor Who Magazine column as an idea he'd had, and that as far as he was concerned it was the case - but also said he had never scripted it, let alone shot it.
      • This was somewhat alluded to in The Sound of Drums, where Vivien Rook tells Lucy Saxon that her husband first became "real" (and subsequently launched the Archangel network) around the time of Harriet Jones' fall. How much of it can be attributed to the actions of either the Master or Tenth Doctor, however, is unknown. He does seem to blame himself for the Master's return by the End of Time, as when Wilfred Mott tries to console the Doctor by saying it wasn't his fault, he sadly replied, "Isn't it?"
        • This may just be part of his character; the Doctor boasts a lot, but isn't always as correct as he thinks he is.
      • Britain as a whole served as the Sucker, or maybe just Too Dumb to Live. The Doctor's six words ("Don't you think she looks tired?") were only to the Prime Minister's assistant, the one person she should have been able to count on to defend her. Harriet Jones, to all appearances, was as popular and successful as Churchill and had just saved London from invading aliens. The next day, Parliament ousts her in a vote of no confidence because she's "tired". Is it any surprise who they put into power next? They got what they deserved.
        • It was very compressed, but apart from the speed, isn't entirely unlikely. And it could be that her frantic worry about what he had said didn't help her side of things.
        • It should be noted that The Doctor, like all Time Lords, is telepathic, and while not as skilled at it as The Master has the potential for mind control and planting false memories and perceptions in people. I always thought it was implied that he did that to Jones' assistant.
    • The Daleks are admittedly pretty good at suckering the Doctor. In "Victory of the Daleks", the Daleks use the Doctor's hatred of the Daleks and love of Earth to not only create five retro-style Daleks (a net gain of two), but also for once, survive the events of the episode.
    • In The Doctor's Wife it is revealed that the Doctor has been being manipulated for a very long time by The TARDIS, who was waiting for a time lord crazy enough to try and steal her so she could see the universe. The Doctor protested that he chose her because someone had left the door unlocked. The TARDIS, briefly able to speak, replied that of course "someone" had.
  • Dollhouse: Paul Ballard gets suckered into finding a way into the Dollhouse to rescue Caroline, thereby distracting all the security measures, while Alpha puts his actual plan into play and cheerfully sacrifices Ballard to DeWitt's not-so-tender mercies.
    • And at the end of season two, it's revealed that Boyd Langton is secretly the head of Rossum and has been manipulating everyone at the Dollhouse all along.
  • Juken Sentai Gekiranger: At the end of the series, Evil Overlord Rio goes down with a Villainous BSOD when he finds out that his entire life has been masterminded by Manipulative Bastard Long.
  • Though she was fairly bad to begin with, Kai Winn in the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine certainly seems to fulfill this role to Gul Dukat's Chessmaster.
  • A lot of Suckers have come and gone in Survivor, but the biggest of them all would probably be Erik Reichenbach from Micronesia. In what many considered to be the dumbest move in the show's history, Erik gives away his Individual Immunity and is promptly voted off by the conniving female alliance, after being conned in a transparent ploy for redemption.
    • The recent season of Survivor was full of Unwitting Pawns. Most of Foa-Foa and practically every member of Galu except Brett and possibly Kelly and Monica fell into this trope. Knowing that Kelly was just brilliantly blindsided, Monica saw the writing on the wall and just decided to antagonize Russell in the end, and that Brett was fully aware that he couldn't have won because he lost the final immunity challenge. Is it any wonder Russell did so well, what with all the suckers who were practically lining up for the slaughter? (Genre Savvy players would have voted him out way sooner... or dragged his arrogant ass to the end and made him take all the nasty shots from the angry jury like Natalie did).
    • Russell pulls this off again in Heroes vs. Villains, this time using Tyson to break up what should have been a foolproof plan to get either himself or Parvati out of the game by tricking him into switching his vote to Parvati, which broke up the even distribution of votes that Boston Rob's alliance would have used to get either Russell or Parvati out depending on who Russell used his Hidden Immunity Idol on. Instead, Russell uses it on Parvati, who now has four votes to Russell's two... and Tyson's three. That's right, Tyson not only screwed up Rob's plan but ended up getting himself voted out of the game. Ouch.
  • Bradford in season 2 of The Apprentice did the same, waiving his exemption, and was immediately fired by Donald Trump, SOLELY because he was an idiot. This is a rare example of someone becoming the victim of their own Batman Gambit. Bradford wanted rid of the terribly ineffective team leader, Ivana, but knew that he wouldn't be brought back into the boardroom since he had immunity; therefore he surrendered it, so that she'd bring him back. Unfortunately, he didn't consider what the other possible outcome of that decision might be...
  • In Twenty Four, everyone takes turns being the Unwitting Pawn, up to and including Jack Bauer. Somehow even the Big Bad will end up a sucker either in his own scheme or be Out-Gambitted by the good guys. It's not a good idea to play Jack Bauer for a sucker though, 'cause that will only make him mad.
  • Much like 24, almost everyone in Heroes has taken a turn as a Unwitting Pawn.
  • The entire cast of Angel in season four. They spend a whole whack of time chasing down Jasmine, hoping to free the world from her version of lovey-dovey mind-control. At the end, their victory is entirely spoiled when evil law firm Wolfram and Hart contact them saying how happy they are that they've averted instant world peace. Nearly everything they had done in the past seasons had led to Jasmine's rise to power to begin with. Ironically, in the next season, the entire Wolfram and Hart becomes a sucker when Angel fools its higher-ups into thinking he is corrupted. And for giving him the means to do it, as a reward.
  • In Lexx, captain Stanley Tweedle's backstory, in which he was supposed to deliver what amounted to blueprints for the emperor's superweapon to the rebel forces, and instead ended up providing the emperor with the codes to deactivate the rebel's planetary defenses.
  • Lost
    • Poor John Locke is now the king of this trope. In the course of the last seasons he has been a pawn used by a supernatural being who apparently planned Locke's whole ordeal, his reputation as someone "special" and then his final sacrifice so that he could take John's form and ultimately kill his own enemy, Jacob. The sheer number of episodes in which this Gambit Roulette at his expense has unfolded makes him something of a Unwitting Pawn Marathon Man. Also, Ben manipulated him into blowing up the submarine.
    • He also kept juggling Idiot Balls, Villain Balls and Conflict Balls all throughout the series, while every single flashback has portrayed him as a gullible loser. It's a testament to Terry O'Quinn's acting that, in spite of that, he has consistently been one of the most interesting, popular and badass characters of the show.
    • For a devilish Manipulative Bastard and a supposedly wise ageless man, Ben and Richard too came across as total dupes; Locke, Ben and Richard, the Three Stooges?
  • Both Sam and Dean Winchester on Supernatural have played right into the villains' hands, making the apocalypse possible. Grief-stricken Dean's Deal with the Devil leads to him going to hell where he finally gives in to the offer to torture others to spare himself, breaking the first seal holding back Lucifer. Similarly screwed in the head, Sam is seduced to the The Dark Side by Ruby just enough to get him to kill Lilith, which they all expected to prevent the last seal from being shattered; in reality, she was the last seal. What neat little bookends, guys.
  • Nick Hanway in The Thick of It. The spin doctor is convinced that the appointment of a new Prime Minister will also require a new chief spin doctor, but he seriously underestimates Malcolm Tucker...
  • Any Given Star Trek crew will become this at one point or another
  • In the 1998 Merlin series, both multiple characters (Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere) end up as Mab's suckers at one point or another.
  • The "rich and powerful" marks Nate Ford mentions during the opening credits for Leverage are usually these. At some point along the way, their Mooks will often fall to this trope or Elliot, whichever one hits first.
  • Averted in Kamen Rider OOO, if it was played straight, Eiji would have just been used by Ankh as a means of farming Cell Medals. IF it was played straight that is... Instead, Ankh explains why he needs him, which was not a good move on his part, as it leads to Eiji refusing to transform when Ankh needed him to in episode two, and in the next episode, the tables turn and Ankh is forced to do what Eiji says or else he will throw away his Transformation Trinket.
  • In the fourth season finale of Chuck, it's revealed that every major plot point that has happened since the pilot has been part of a bigger scheme, with Chuck and possibly everyone involved with those major plot points as the unwitting pawns. Whose pawns, exactly, and in what game, has yet to be revealed.
  • Mulder and Scully. It's pretty much their job description.

Tabletop Games[]


Video Games[]

  • Gordon Freeman and Adrian Shepherd in Half Life. We don't exactly know what the plan is but that G-Man keeps laughing at us.
  • In the original Guilty Gear, after you defeat the sub-boss, Testament, they reveal that this was all part of their plan, since they can now use their blood to awaken Justice.
  • The player character in Bioshock. However, this is justified, as the player character is being mind controlled by Atlas/Fontaine from the very beginning, so he had no control over his actions. At least, until Dr. Tennenbaum snaps him out of it.
  • Serge of Chrono Cross defines this trope. The guy can't go to the bathroom without furthering someone or something's plans. The fact that everyone's plans revolve around him trying to get out of someone else's gambit does not help.
    • Here's the short version: First, Lynx manipulates him into coming to Fort Dragonia so he can steal Serge's body and release the lock on the computer system FATE (which Lynx is a Wetware Body for). The Dragon Gods and Harle get him to kill FATE to release the seal on their power, then merge into their original Eldritch Abomination-ish form and start work on annihilating all human life. Except that all of this was planned by Balthasar, because only by awakening the Dragon Gods would it be possible to create the Chrono Cross, which is the only thing that can save Schala from Lavos's hold over her. Confused yet?
  • Practically everyone in the Chzo Mythos is a Unwitting Pawn in some way. Practically a testament to how incredibly good Chzo is at this Magnificent Bastard business.
  • There is sort of a subversion played on this in Spartan: Total Warrior The game, like the movie 300 which it shares many similarities to, consists of ridiculously epic One Against Billions battles and sweeping, one-button-per-5-victims decapitations like a living lawnmower, all while listening to the god of war Ares's evil laughter and bloodlusty encouragement ("Hahaha, kill and kill again!"). It appears blatantly obvious to anyone familiar with button-mashing spells and swordplay epics that he will turn out to be some sort of enemy in the future, and that his plan all along was to get you to kill every Roman and his mother, but it turns out that it's only half true; while Ares does indeed to turn out to be the Big Bad, your genocide on the Romans was merely a distraction so that your homeland of Sparta could be destroyed while you were away. We are treated to multiple more tropes during Ares's Hannibal Lecture, such as the fact that he is your father and Tiberias was merely a puppet. You technically did fulfill his plans for mass murder, but it was of both your enemies AND your friends.
  • The Global Defense Initiative (okay, mostly Boyle) in Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars walks right into Kane's Gambit Roulette, and their only hint that they were even hit by it is when the Scary Dogmatic Aliens arrive. The expansion pack then explains that Kane specifically planned for Boyle to be the only surviving GDI leader after the nuclear strike on the Philadelphia specifically because Boyle is easily predictable. If you play the Scrin campaign, even the Scary Dogmatic Aliens are suckers in Kane's roulette.
  • Diablo: This trope is played painfully straight when the player character gets possessed by Diablo. Downer Ending for sure.
    • Even more so Diablo 2: The entire game is the tale of how Marius gets manipulated by Bhaal into rescuing his soulstone from destruction at the hands of the player character, escaping the fate that his brothers suffered. Poor Marius dies in asylum cell as the horrible truth comes crashing down on him.
    • Diablo III: Diablo's unwitting pawns? Everyone. Except Adria, who wasn't unwitting, and may not have actually been a pawn.
  • Inuart in Drakengard. He submits to the Big Bad's mind control to become The Dragon, attains the power to sweep Furiae off her feet and defeat Caim, so finally she has to love him, right? Well, he forgot that the Big Bad's plan was to kill her, and predictably realizes this too late to do anything.
    • It gets worse in the lead-in to Ending Four, where, after the Gods die and he gets everything he wanted as a result... he decides, apropos of nothing, that it's up to Furiae and him to become the new gods and finish their plan to destroy and recreate the world. This entire route being something of a bizarre Mind Screw...It's not clear whether the giant flying man-eating babies are related to this, or just a consequence of the Gods being dead, although the game more implies the latter. Yes, really. Giant killer babies.
  • The Final Fantasy series. Multiple times.
    • Terra and her comrades fall for this hard when the Empire in Final Fantasy VI insists that it wants to commence peace talks. Granted, a few party members are suspicious enough to prepare a backup plan, but Terra, Locke, and General Leo swallow the plot hook-line-and-sinker and deliver a whole bunch of Espers for Kefka to turn into Magicite. Worse, this enables him to enter the Esper World and raise the Floating Continent, where the Three Goddesses are hidden away. It turns out that Emperor Gestahl was also a Unwitting Pawn: Kefka uses him and the Empire to get to the Goddesses, and then uses their power to kill him and take all of it for himself.
    • Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. One of the main points of his character is that Sephiroth can make Cloud do anything by manipulating him just the right way, and he makes sure Cloud knows it.
      • Sephiroth was also implied to be one throughout the whole game. No, not the fanon about him being used by Jenova. It was by Hojo. Hojo was implied to have set up all the events for Sephiroth to go berserk, and then was trying to aid him upon his return without Sephiroth knowing it, not simply because Sephiroth was his son, but also because Hojo wanted to see his (amoral) research blossom to full fruitition. The Novellas also implied that Hojo actually ended up possessing Sephiroth to give him more power after he was killed by AVALANCHE so he can bear witness to the final results of his creation, due to not being able to properly diffuse into the lifestream. What's worse, he doesn't stop there. He also ends up digitalizing his mind into the worldwide network and later possesses Weiss, making most of Deepground unwitting pawns as well for his final, final experiment, the revival of Omega, which was also implied to be concurrent with Sephiroth's revival and ascension.
    • Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. They get bounced like ping-pong balls back and forth between Yevon's plan to continue the spiral of death and Auron's plan to destroy it and free Spira. Final Fantasy X 2 seems to imply that Yuna, at least, never figured it out.
    • Almost everyone ends up this way in Final Fantasy Tactics after the dust has settled from the Gambit Pileup by the story's end. Except Delita. And Ramza..
    • Doesn't Ramza end up completing Delita's Batman Gambit?
      • Well, Ramza knew it but had no choice since the alternative would have been much worse...
    • Bartz is this, aside from being an Idiot Hero. He and his companions Head into the Great Forest of Moore, in order to stop Exdeath from taking what's sealed inside. Turns out he waited for them to get to that world's crystals... And destroy them. Wow.
      • Bartz and Krile go to seek Ghido for help after Exdeath is defeated and the worlds fuse together and at that point, an innocuous-looking splinter that Krile has enables Exdeath to return. Having overheard the converstion, he sets out to take control of the Void.
    • Oh Cecil. We love the guy, but he's got a bad history with traps. First he delivers a trapped ring to the village of Mist (which, is known as the "Bomb Ring" in some versions). Then later he's approached with a Hostage for Macguffin deal, and he hands over the macguffin (assumed at the time to be the last one Golbez needed) before seeing the hostage. Then he and his group have the door to the second-to-last Underworld crystal opened because of some disturbance inside, and end up giving Golbez a way in. And then, after failing to secure the (seven!) lost Crystals, they go and unseal the door to the last one, and trudge through the Scrappy Level both ways to bring it outside, only for Golbez to re-control Kain and take it at the last second. And if you include the crystal that he retrieved for Baron in the backstory, that makes him directly responsible for Golbez getting fully half of the Crystals. Sometimes, you wonder why Cecil keeps doing things, considering that the situation gets worse every time he gets close to a macguffin.
    • By the time Final Fantasy XIII rolls around, the main group is being told that they're Unwitting Pawns.
  • Radiata Stories. Jack does Lucian's job for him. All he has to do is provide the tools and the directions.
  • Non-FF Squaresoft example: Surlent from Treasure of the Rudra. Being fooled by a thief is one thing, being fooled about once every thirty minutes by the very forces of Creation is another. Although it quickly becomes clear that Surlent helping the game's Gambit Pileup along (and losing his body thrice in the process) is actually his destiny (by failing hard but consistently, he accidentally brings all of the Mac Guffins to the right people at the right time), it still occasionally starts looking like a case of Just Eat Gilligan.
  • Golden Sun I and II has Alex, who uses both parties in a massive Unwitting Pawn. While they fight amongst each other about lighting the lighthouses Alex twiddles his thumbs for when they finally do and cause the Golden Sun to rise and shine down massive power down on Mt. Aleph, where he happens to be waiting.
    • Only to discover that he himself was the Wise One's Unwitting Pawn in his plan: he knew lighting the lighthouses would allow someone to gain enough power from the Golden Sun to conquer the world, so when all but one of the gems required to light the lighthouses was removed from their chamber, the Wise One transferred just enough of that power (which was originally split evenly between the gems) from the remaining gem to Isaac without telling him, meaning that if the lighthouses were all lit, anyone who wanted the Golden Sun's power would not get enough of it to conquer the world.
      • And in Golden Sun Dark Dawn it's shown that he one-upped The Wise One, and is doing the same thing again. He's so good at this that in his very first appearence, he even says to the characters they're pawns, and they can't do anything about it. By the end of the game, it's clear that he's been using almost everyone of importance throughout the whole plot, including Those Two Bad Guys. And the player still doesn't have the slightest idea what his long-term goals are, as he remains The Unfought.
    • Gloriously subverted in Agatio's intro scene in The Lost Age, in which he flat-out tells Alex to his face that he knows he's being used, and just doesn't care as long as his goals get accomplished, too. Definitely Agatio's personal Crowning Moment of Awesome, since he's otherwise one of the flattest major characters in a series known for FlatCharacters.
  • The Metal Gear series:
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater shows Naked Snake being used by the United States government into achieving their goal of gaining Russia's portion of the Philosopher's Legacy. Portable Ops has Zero use Big Boss to defeat Gene and scare the Philosophers enough that Ocelot can gain control of their whereabouts and the American portion of the Philosophers' Legacy.
      • Portable Ops also implies that the main villain, Volgin, was himself an Unwitting Pawn to a deviously cunning strategist.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots retcons many of the events previously established in the franchise. It is explained that the events of the first two Metal Gear games involved Big Boss trying to create a place where individual liberty is guaranteed for everyone, instead of being a soldiers' haven. The Patriots have Solid Snake tear down both Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land to destroy Big Boss' dream of freedom. The first two Metal Gear Solid games are changed to have Solid Snake again being used by the Patriots and possibly Zero to defeat anyone who stood in their way. The Patriots by MGS4 (set in 2014) are now an AI system which was supposed to continue Zero's legacy by gaining control of all of mankind using the Sons of the Patriots (SOP) system. Snake is sent in to stop Revolver Ocelot from destroying the Patriots AI system. At the same time, Snake and his allies are used by Liquid Ocelot in his goal in destroying the Patriots AI systems, Liquid Ocelot pretending to plan to hijack the System using the AI named 'GW' and Snake and company countering it by using a virus to destroy the it, not knowing the virus as written by Naomi would destroy the remaining Patriot A Is as well; even if he didn't know about it or plan for it to happen, it certainly fit his goals. Somewhat averted in that his own post-Patriot vision was averted by Sunny Gurlukovich, who wrote the virus to destroy the Patriot A Is but preserve key parts of modern civilization, and then, Drebin implies that Ocelot's vision of a war-torn world would still be an inevitable likely outcome despite this, that or the UN becoming a neo-Patriots/Philosophers III group.)
    • Solid Snake was manipulated throughout the entire series. The most affecting part of the MGS4 ending might be Big Boss promising Snake that there is no one left to manipulate him anymore.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid's plan hinged on Snake discovering the card keys (Really, 3 keys in one). To manipulate Snake into doing this, Liquid masqueraded as one of Snake's few friends (Snake's support staff apparently figured out the location of his radio calls, but not until the big reveal), locked Snake in a cell with a dead hostage whom a master of disguise had been pretending to be (Snake even recognized that the hostage should not have been as decayed as he was), and left the control room for the card keys virtually unguarded even when Liquid had earlier encountered Snake outside the room. Snake didn't realize he was being duped until after he activated Metal Gear.
      • The sad thing is that, even if Liquid's plan didn't work or didn't even happen, Snake still would have been an unwitting pawn in either case: According to Liquid and his Pentagon spy, the real reason why Snake was sent over to Shadow Moses was to infect most of the people on the island, both the terrorists and most of the people involved in the REX project, so the Pentagon, and presumably the Patriots, would have recovered REX and the Genome Soldiers from the island without any risk of damage, even making absolute certain that FOXDIE was injected into Snake.
    • Arguably in the original Metal Gear, where Big Boss intentionally selected Snake as the agent to send false information back to NATO (and by proxy, The Patriots), not counting on Snake's hereditary ability to kick ass and take names.
      • If Peace Walker is anything to go by (and possibly Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots), Big Boss's misinformation doesn't even come close to the fact that the Patriots essentially manipulated Snake into trying to destroy Metal Gear and take Big Boss down as an insurance policy in case they failed to either bring him back into the fold or ruin/kill Big Boss the first time by one of their agents firing a nuke at the East Coast.
    • Speaking of Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, other than the brief revelation that Coldman was the deviously cunning strategist that Gene alluded to in Portable Ops, it turns out that most of the game was manipulated by Paz Ortega Andrade, even the KGB agent Zadornov hiring Snake as a distraction to force Coldman to activate Peace Walker so he could hijack it and frame America with an attack on Cuba, and she wasn't even the one who pulled all the strings: Her employers, Cipher, had planned out the entire incident just to get Big Boss to rejoin the fold, and it is also heavily implied that they also ordered Paz to frame Big Boss and MSF with nuking the East Coast when Big Boss refused the offer. They also arranged for Kaz to briefly work with them, although it is also implied that they didn't tell him about the nuke plan.
    • The ending to Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty implies that Solid Snake and Otacon may have ended up being Unwitting Pawns of the Patriots all along.
    • Metal Gear Solid: the first game that comes to mind when you hear the words "unwitting pawn".
  • The hero from the Quest for Glory series has a terrible habit of playing right into the game's villain's hands, even though he manages to fix things in the end. In Quest for Glory 2, he gets mind-controlled into releasing the evil djinn Iblis by the game's Big Bad, then is almost trapped forever in Iblis' chamber. In Quest for Glory 3, in an attempt to bring peace between two tribes, he brings their leaders together in front of a third-party king. Then one of the leaders becomes possessed and kills the other, and is promptly killed by another person in the room, almost guaranteeing the war he was trying to stop. In Quest for Glory 4, he falls for a trick by the Big Bad from the second game, back for revenge. As a result, he ends up having to go through the motions to release a Cosmic Horror on the world. However, Elsa Von Spielburg is the Unwitting Pawn in Quest for Glory 5.
    • The hero being the hero, he couldn't very well save the world without putting it in danger first.
    • A little unfair to Elsa? The villain tries to manipulate her, but she's far from stupid and stops cooperating pretty soon. IIRC, she's even the first to suspect the right person.
  • In System Shock 2, this happens often enough through the game's plot that it's practically the player's full-time occupation. However, those who had played the first game, and knew who they were dealing with, walked into the Gambit with open arms.
  • Vagrant Story: In a very unusual example, Ashley Riot was a Unwitting Pawn for an Anti-Villain, who manipulated him into saving the world from the much more dangerous Knight Templar Guilderstern.
  • Fei Fong Wong of Xenogears. Not only was he a sucker for Solaris, the Wave Existence, his split personalities and his own prior incarnation, but even his friends manipulated him without reservations.
  • Virtually every single named character in the Xenosaga trilogy is a Unwitting Pawn. This is not an exaggeration.
  • The majority of the plot of Atelier Iris 3 concerns three quirky teenagers trying to find eight gemstones so they can open a book which will grant any wish, while helping the even-more-quirky townsfolk with their problems. What could go wrong? How about nearly causing The End of the World as We Know It because you were manipulated by an evil spirit from (almost) the very beginning into wasting the only wish you get?
  • After slaughtering his own people and eventually letting one of his closest friends die, Prince Arthas becomes a servant of the Lich King. He also becomes the new Lich King.
  • The main characters in Persona 3 spend a good portion of the game fighting a series of powerful bosses that appear once a month only to discover that Ikutsuki tricked them into doing so by doctoring video footage of Yukari's father so that he could summon Nyx. His plan fails when he forgets about the dog.
  • Persona 4: If the player doesn't choose to immediately kill him (and get the Bad Ending), Taro Namatame is revealed to be a Tragic Hero with genuinely good intentions misguided by Adachi, the Man Behind the Man. Later on he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment upon learning that the TV World was not the shelter he thought it was. But then it turns out there's an even BIGGER Man Behind the Man...
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Shanoa seeking out the three pieces of Dominus, a glyph that is to be used on a particular artifact that, according to Barlowe, will bring about the defeat of Dracula when destroyed. Only after meeting certain conditions that allow you to bypass the bad ending do you learn that said object actually resurrects Dracula, as Barlowe demonstrates after Shanoa refuses and defeats him in a boss battle.
    • That's not entirely accurate. The object in question is a vessel for Dracula's soul, sealed away long ago, and Dominus was actually made from Dracula's own power via research on the artifact by Barlowe. This partly subverts the trope in that Dominus is used not only to fulfill Dracula's resurrection (by Barlowe's hands), but also his slaying (by Shanoa's at endgame). In the end, Ecclesia did fulfill its purpose, but not in the way the player initially expects.
    • Leon Belmont and Sara Trantoul (and even Walter Bernhard) in Lament of Innocence. Our man Drac practically lives (unlives?) off of Unwitting Pawns. Trevor, Simon and Richter Belmont have also been pawns in his or Shaft's, in Richter's case plans for resurrection.
    • Celia Fortner in Dawn of Sorrow tried this on Soma, and depending on the ending, either succeeded or failed. The former ends up with Soma killing her anyway.
    • In Lords of Shadow Gabriel and Zobek are the Unwitting Pawns of Satan in his bid to obtain the power of the Mask of Shadows to overthrow Heaven.
  • The World Ends With You
    • Makoto wound up being one of these for Kitaniji, as the whole point of making the Red Skull Pins popular in the first week later comes back to haunt him in the last one when almost all of the Shibuya UG, citizens and Reapers included, gets Brainwashed and homicidal toward Neku and Beat.
    • The main characters themselves are pretty severe cases of this as well, especially Neku: Every single thing they did turned out to serve the sole purpose of helping Joshua fulfill his goal of erasing Shibuya. Although failing to defeat Kitaniji would result in Shibuya falling victim to an Assimilation Plot. This is one case in which the pawns don't have any choice but to go along with the scheme.
  • Ironically subverted by Raziel from the Legacy of Kain series. Throughout all three games, every character is constantly waving this in his face, telling him how he has no idea what his true purpose is, and that he's just been their "unwitting pawn" the whole time. In the end, their manipulations buy him time to figure out his actual destiny, which none of them had ever guessed, thus making all of the villains the suckers in their own Gambit Roulette.
  • Thrall and Sylvanas Windrunner from World of Warcraft are good examples. Thrall explicitly trusted Sylvanas, despite the fact that she was using the Horde for her own vengeance against the Lich King. In turn, she believed she had Varimathras firmly under her control, which is what he wanted her to think all along; the Nathrezim are a race of MagnificentBastards.
  • Speaking of which, the Warcraft franchise is full of these, really. Arthas thought he was fighting against the Scourge right up until they sucked out his soul and made him their champion. The entire Scarlet Crusade seems not to realize it's actually run by demons (those Magnificent Nathrezim again.) And the quests player characters keep getting have led fans to lament "How many times do I have to help the Lich King before I learn better?"
    • The game implies that Thrall doesn't really trust the Forsaken, apparently he flat out needs them because otherwise the Alliance is too much more powerful. (Without the Forsaken and the Blood Elves, the Horde would be entirely on Kalimdor [and then Outland and more recently Northrend] which is also home to two of the Alliance races and a noticeable number of human outposts, including Jaina Proudmoore's city of Theramore Isle.) The other Horde leaders never even mention Varimathras when planning. It's very likely that nobody trusted him at all except Sylvanas. And Arthas was savvy enough to realize he was probably selling his soul and just didn't realize it was to his enemy. After all, it DID give him the power to almost destroy the Scourge. The Scarlets? Morons.
    • Thrall is not fooled though by Neeru Fireblade, who remains only at Thrall's pleasure because he doesn't have enough information to move against the Burning Blade cult, all the while convinced that he has Thrall' outwitted.
    • Sintharia, Deathwing's only surviving consort, despises him and plots to make a new Twilight Dragonflight to take over Azeroth. It is implied that she's been manipulated by him all along, as in Cataclysm, he has reanimated her and uses her eggs to create Twilight Dragons to assist him in his plans.
  • BioWare loves this one to death:
    • In Baldurs Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, your whole party is this, killing off the other Bhaalspawn for Melissan's scheme to ascend to power.
    • Knights of the Old Republic, anyone? You're the ex-Sith Lord? Captured, mind-wiped by the Jedi Council, and with Bastila holding your leash. Jedi Truth on par with Obi-Wan and his "certain point of view."
      • Alhough not made by BioWare, the player character from the second game counts too.
    • The protagonist in Jade Empire. "Magnificent" indeed.
    • In Dragon Age Origins, the Dwarf Noble origin story has the player character's exile come about as a result of becoming an Unwitting Pawn in a particularly vicious piece of dwarven politics.
    • In Dragon Age II, Hawke becomes an Unwitting Pawn of Anders, a party member and prospective Love Interest in a scheme to start a war between the Templars and Mages. Since Dragon Age II is Darker and Edgier than other Bioware games, the scheme works regardless of Hawke's actions afterwards.
    • In Mass Effect, so many of them. Notably Saren Arterius and Matriarch Benezia for the Reapers and Shepard for The Illusive Man, though you can give him a massive 'screw you' by taking the paragon ending.
  • Happens to the player in several RuneScape quests.
  • The protagonist in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. And with the Gambit Pileup that's going on, it's at time hard to tell exactly whose plan.
    • Possibly also anyone who tried to use the Ankharan Sarcophagus to gain power.
  • The protagonist in almost every Touhou installment. Blatantly obvious in the later installments, where Reimu is used by Yukari to counter Kanako's influence.
  • Knuckles the Echidna, and to a much lesser extent, Shadow and Silver.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Throughout the first half of the game, Link ventures across Hyrule, gathering the three Spiritual Stones which will allow him access to the Master Sword and the Sacred Realm... only to allow Ganondorf to get in and grab the Triforce in the process!
    • Link has a tendency to fall victim to this trope. In The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, he accidently lifts the seal that keeps Ganon's power sealed, in Four Swords he releases Vaati from his prison by pulling out the titular sword, and in Oracle of Ages, he moves a sacred rock that is supposed to keep Veran from getting close to Nayru. Every time this trope happens, it's because Link is following the orders of Mission Control, who's supposed to be on your side but every damned time just ends up having you go help out the enemy.
  • Kingdom Hearts - Sora. Organization XIII urged him to destroy heartless so they could collect the hearts released, in order to build Kingdom Hearts. Kinda justified here...once he figures it out, he still has no choice but to continue slaying them.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Everything he does until the 13th floor is part of the Organization's plan to wipe his memory. It would have worked, too, if not for, well...
    • Also, The Heartless took advantages of both Maleficent and Organization XIII by playing on their darkest desires while pretending they were the mooks. Maleficent never figured it out but the Organization did, but kept playing the game for their own purposes.
    • Most of the cast of Birth by Sleep are thoroughly manipulated by Master Xehanort, Terra being the biggest sucker of them all, but Vanitas is at the top of BBS trickery list for playing Xehanort the Xanatos King just as he was being beaten over the head with Terra's Keyblade...By Terra's AnimatedArmor, no less. And all of this trickery was simply for the X-Blade . And during the game Terra gets suckered by Maleficent, Jumba, Hades, and Captain Hook. Genre Blindness doesn't begin to describe it.
  • Onaga's manipulation of Shujinko in Mortal Kombat Deception is actually the namer of the game.
  • In Mitadake High, you are either this or the Manipulative Bastard themselves
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Harry Whitehorse unwittingly falls into Alexei and Yeager's plot to cause tension in the guilds by helping cause the death of Belius, and by extension, his grandfather, the Don. Belius gets better, the Don does not.
  • Captain Gordon (Defender of Earth!), from Disgaea Hour of Darkness, thinks he is sent to defeat you in order to defend Earth, but soon discovers he's being played like a piano by his superiors and that his mission is merely a pretext for an invasion of the Netherworld.
    • Trumping that is General Carter, who himself was played like a fiddle by Archangel Vulcanus, who really wanted the Netherworld razed as part of his ploy to become a god. He (along with everyone else in the plot) was being used as a tool to fulfill Seraph Lamington and King Krichevskoy's combined Gambit, and had no idea how bad his own scheme fell into the puzzle until the curtain fell - on him. HARD.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd is revealed to have set up a five-year gambit to pit the USA and Russia against each other, so that he may lead the USA to the status as permanent ultimate world power, and be known worldwide as a "hero" for it. And he doesn't give two shits over how many millions of innocents get in his way. The man made all of the US, UK, & Russia into his Unwitting Pawns, including the player characters, one of whom (Roach) he kills after sending him to retrieve the evidence that would have exposed him as the mastermind behind the plot. Even though Price & Soap managed to kill him, it's not stated if Shepherd's plan has already succeeded. Hints suggest that it did.
  • Copy-X, and, to a lesser extent, Zero and his La Résistance allies in Mega Man Zero 3. Dr. Weil played them all for fools, orchestrating the new conflict between Neo Aradia and the La Résistance, which was just after an unofficial truce made by Zero and the Guardians. Zero goes off to fight Copy-X to stop the conflict, and when the latter tries to go One-Winged Angel, a booby-trap which Weil installed earlier on Copy-X, was activated, killing him. With Copy-X gone, Dr. Weil, the one next in power, is now the new dictator of Neo Arcadia. It was pointed out by Zero himself:

 ...It's all going according to his plans.

  • Prometheus and Pandora in Mega Man ZX Advent. At first, they backstabbed Albert and then fights Grey/Ashe. After s/he defeats them, suddenly their anguish, hatred, and despair are absorbed by Model Ws in the background and then they collapse. The real Albert then appears, stating that the body that everyone think by "Albert" is actually a decoy, and that those negative emotions are necessary to revive and activate the Model Ws.

 Albert: Just as I planned! Soon all of the Model Ws will begin to merge! I will become the ultimate Mega Man and the plan will be complete!

  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Starkiller/Galen Marek is shown to have been one when Vader reveals that everything up to that point had been planned by himself and Palpatine to have Stakiller assemble a proto-Rebellion. It didn't matter if his goal was to stay loyal to Vader and "distract" the Emperor, or if he thought he was fooling Vader and genuinely attempting to form a rebellion, his only purpose was to get them together in the same place at the same time. It only fails because Juno and PROXY are jointly the Spanner in the Works, one sacrificing himself to distract Vader as he's about to kill his apprentice and the other rescuing him after his fall. The ending also implies that Vader was also an Unwitting Pawn to Palpatine all along. He wanted to see if Starkiller had the potential to surpass Vader and become Palpatine's new apprentice.
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney's Klavier Gavin is the Unwitting Pawn for his brother Kristoph's Evil Plan to get Phoenix Wright disbarred. See Disproportionate Retribution. The game before that had Pearl Fey, who was manipulated into triggering the events of the final case by her mother, Morgan Fey.
  • General Morgahn during much of Guild Wars: Nightfall. Once he learns the truth about Varesh, however, he helps defeat her and joins the player character's team as an NPC. The PC also spends a fair bit of time being this during various schemes in Guild Wars: Prophecies.
  • This trope is subverted with Bowser in Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. He seemingly is tempted by Antasma and allows himself to be manipulated, only for Bowser to turn the tables and take the Dream Stone from him to teach Antasma a lesson.
  • Harry spends most of Silent Hill 1 being Dahlia's Sucker, but his unwavering love for his daughter is also what causes him to be the Spanner in the Works. Depending on which of the Multiple Endings you get, you can argue the same for the protagonists of the other games: passively taking directions from everyone and their dog at every turn, but fully capable of killing the local Eldritch Abomination when push comes to shove.
  • Starcraft Brood War was already a pretty confusing Gambit Pileup to begin with, but as if that wasn't enough, Kerrigan ends up convincing Aldaris that he's an Unwitting Pawn to the actual good guys. As a result he turns against them, actually becoming an Unwitting Pawn in the process. Every character who isn't directly opposed to her ends up being one of Kerrigan's UnwittingPawns as time goes on, with the exception of Samir Duran. He used her rise to power to speed up and hide his Protoss-Zerg Hybridization project. It can be said that the biggest Unwitting Pawn of all is Jim Raynor, who despite being one of the more heroic characters in the game, often ends up directly or indirectly helping villains, and in the grand scheme of things, is almost powerless. This tendency has unfortunately carried on into the next game. To his credit, he spends the Wings of Liberty campaign openly bemoaning the fact that he's probably either being openly played with, or just being set up to be used later. He spends nearly as much time trying to figure out how as he does trying not to have a bunch of Zerg chew his face off.
  • Warhammer40000 : Dawn of War ends with Gabriel destroying Maledictum, which turns out to be prison of Daemon of Khorne. Forces of Chaos used unknowing Gabriel as an Unwitting Pawn in their scheme to free the Daemon.
  • In Prototype Alex Mercer spends most of the game unknowingly aiding the plans of people who want him dead. First, he frees Elizabeth Greene, thinking she's just another victim. As it turns out, she's the Hive Queen behind the virus. Then, he tries to help his ex-girlfriend, Karen Parker, by providing her with biological materials from the infected. As it turns out Blackwatch has coerced her into working for them, and that genetic material Alex collected gets turned into a parasite which almost kills him. Then, Blackwatch Captain Cross tricks him into going to a location where they hit him with both Bloodtox and D-Codes. Finally, the Supreme Hunter consumes Cross, and uses that form to get Alex to kill off the Blackwatch leadership, and in an attempt to catch Alex off-guard so that the Hunter might eat him. Our Heroic Sociopath manages to overcome all this because he's a Badass, but he does come across as a bit of a gullible idiot.
    • Part of the reason is because the amnesiac Mercer, even though he's eating people left and right in order to understand what the hell is going on, is often in the dark about what the hell is going on. As the game progresses he knows he's probably being played, but due to a lack of options he has to play along anyways if he's going to have a hope of accomplishing anything. He even says it outright to Cross.

 Mercer: Why do I get the feeling I'm getting the short end of this deal?

  • The new leader of Team Plasma, N, is shown to be this in Pokemon Black and White when his father, Ghetsis, reveals that he was using N to make pokemon illegal for everyone but himself. What an asshole.
  • The Tribunal expansion of Morrowind gives us the power-maddened (literally) pseudo-god Almalexia. Centuries of wielding power that is unfit for mortals has left her more than a little crazy, and she has the protagonist carry out her increasingly insane orders (whether or not the character is aware that he's being manipulated is impossible to tell. Either way, it's a case of Plot Induced Stupidity). When she finally lays out her cards, she embarks on a long monologue about how nutty she is and how stupid you are, and there isn't even a Talk to the Fist option.
  • Vhailor in Planescape: Torment by the Practical Incarntion. And then, yourself fall for it, by the aptly-named Trias the Betrayer.
  • Dear lord, Zelenin from Strange Journey. Manipulative Bastard Mastema and The Three Wise Men play her like a fiddle all the game, playing on her insecurities and fears in a terribly blatant manner, which she always blissfully ignores, until either their plans come to fruition or she's been reduced to holy dust.
  • In the old FPS/RPG Strife you get hit with this in the bad ending, Blackbird, your Voice with an Internet Connection, is revealed to be the Entity and has been using you to free her.
  • Ace, or Gentarou Hongou from Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, ends up being used by Zero to mop up the other Corrupt Corporate Executives who ran the Nonary Game 9 years ago.
  • Last Scenario, in its grand quest to break RPG plots, couldn't possibly leave this one alone. However, unlike most of the tropes it targets, it's not Subverted- it's exaggerated. Not only is Hilbert doing exactly what the Kingdom wants him to do for the first half of the game, he was set up as a hero purely for this purpose. The entire Heroic Lineage spiel was lies, and in falling for it hook, line, and sinker, Hilbert was doing exactly what they wanted.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons Daggerdale it's revealed at the very end that your questgiver was The Starscream to the Big Bad Rezlus, and she had you kill Rezlus so she could take over the tower for herself.
  • In Fable 2, the protagonist spends his entire LIFE trying to stop the Big Bad Lucien from rebuilding an ancient tower of magical doom. Once Lucien is dead, Theresa, who guided him through this quest, reveals that she was just using Lucien to rebuild the spire and using you to defeat Lucien so she could claim the spire herself.
  • Happens to the player characters in The Elder Scrolls games way too often. Then again, the only manipulators who you can't get bloody revenge against in these games are the untouchable Daedric Princes, and they at least compensate you for your work with cool artifacts.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas the reason that you're told to try and keep President Kimball and General Oliver alive if you're working for Mr. House or Yes Man is that after the NCR gets the boot from Vegas their citizens will be quick to blame them for waging a costly and unpopular war while still capable of being on decent enough relations with Vegas to do trade.
  • Edge in Panzer Dragoon Saga spends the whole game being used by the Seekers, the Empire, and by Craymen, since he's the only dragon rider aside from Azel atop Atolm Dragon.
  • Patroklos Alexander from Soul Calibur V is the son of legendary Holy Warrior Sophitia Alexandria and has pledged himself to hunting the 'malfested' who slew her and kidnapped his elder sister. So he winds up killing the human enemies of Graf Dumas, an alias of what amounts to the grand-daddy of all malfested... the Azure Nightmare himself.
  • Dimentio does this to Mario and co. in Super Paper Mario:

 "Even if the count dies, the Chaos Heart won't disappear if I continue to control it! But I needed the power of the Pure Hearts to beat him. I couldn't do that on my own. So I had you do all the sweaty labor for me. And you even used your Pure Hearts to defeat Count Bleck! If they make greeting cards to thank people for helping with evil plans, I owe you one."

  • The Player Character is this in Dark Souls. No matter what you do, by beating the game you're just a pawn in an Ancient Conspiracy and Forever War regarding whether the Age of Fire should continue or end.
  • Tekken 3 has Heihachi Mishima using his grandson, Jin Kazama, as a pawn to attract and then capture Ogre, the one who apparently killed Jin's mother. After defeating Ogre, he had the young man gunned down and he delivered the fatal blow. He did NOT expect Jin to survive, awaken his Devil Gene and fight back, however.
    • In 6, Jin himself uses the Robot Girl Alisa Bosconovitch this way via letting her be captured by Lars Alexandersson and his rebel group so he can use the cameras installed in her to spy on them.
    • In 7, it seems that Claudio Serafino is looking to use Jin's Morality Pet Ling Xiaoyu as this. In his ending, he knocks her out and kidnaps her as a bait for Jin; in hers, she defeats him and he convinces her to help him out, not telling her his exact intentions...
  • Sahori from Shin Megami Tensei V is one of these. A certain demon plans to use her to take Lucifer's place as demon king, despite seemingly considering her to be his friend and helping her retaliate against her bullies. Specifically, he intends to combine with her so that he can regain his lost power. But there's another reason why he wants her at his side. He has a creepy, obsessive lust with her. Unfortunately for Lahmu, Sahori eventually figured out the truth, and she decided to turn on him. This leads to his death.

Visual Novels[]

  • Mary in Shikkoku no Sharnoth is obviously the pawn of multiple competing factions, but doesn't realize it fully until well into the story.
  • In Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, the Player Character is used like this by Tsubaki Kusunoki in his romantic route. She's furious when she finds out, and tearfully calls him out on it.

Web Animation[]

  • In the Strong Bad Email stupid stuff, Strong Bad makes a bet with Kevin Grumbles that he can make Homestar say something intelligent. In desperation, he tries saying something nonsensical ("I say there, Homestar...butt's twelve by pies?"); as it turns out, Homestar apparently made his own bet with Kevin Grumbles that he could make Strong Bad say something stupid, and Strong Bad just won it for him. The real kicker is that Kevin actually wanted Strong Bad to make Homestar say something stupid, but Strong Bad thought that too little challenge. Perhaps he should've asked an insultingly simple math question. He could have at least gotten Coulomb's law out of it. He also gets suckered in the game Strong Badia the Free. He spends the entire game trying to become the new king, only to find out that it was all a ploy by the King of Town to get Strong Bad stuck in the castle and the King in Strong Bad's position.

Web Comics[]

  • Order of the Stick
    • Miko Miyazaki leads the villains to Azure City and allows them to discover the location of Soon's Gate. She kills Lord Shojo, leaving the city more vulnerable to attack. Then she destroys Soon's gate when the villains are on the verge of losing, giving them a chance to escape certain death. And all the while, she believes that she's following the will of the (Lawful Good) gods. Although she was only being manipulated into the first one of these, the least important error really. The other two she she accomplished on her own.
    • Vaarsuvius has now turned into one, when s/he attacked Xykon with his newfound power, knocking him off his throne, exactly as the fiends who granted hir that power planned.
    • As it turns out, Xykon himself is this to Redcloak, who's been playing humble servant all these years in order to get Xykon to aid in completing the Plan (which, it seems, doesn't aid Xykon's own goals at all.
      • Subverted — while Xykon is unaware of the true nature of the ritual, he also doesn't trust Redcloak one bit. He had Tsukiko investigate it (if Redcloak hadn't killed her to silence her Xykon would have found out he was being played). Xykon also charmed the Monster in the Darkness to kill Redcloak if he ever tried to betray Xykon.
  • Sillice of Drowtales when Kalki tells her that the Nidraa'chal she's just fighting are just a diversion for the enemies that are currently most probably killing the Val'Sharess. Sillice then barges into the ravaged tower, confronts one of her sisters (the only one NOT included in this plot) and then gets accused of having killed all the guards in an attempt to overthrow her mother, and has to run away to exile with their mortal enemies. No one suspects the ones that are truly pulling the strings: Snadhya'rune, Sarv'swati and Zala'ess, who get off scot free and take control of the clan while pretending their mother is still alive.
  • Terezi of Homestuck is usually Awesome By Analysis, but she's recently fallen into this at the hands of Gamzee, who she has no idea turned evil.
    • Absolutely everyone to Doc Scratch. There's a reason he calls people who aren't omniscient "suckers." Which is taken beyond the impossible in [S] Cascade, where its revealed that he manipulated the entire main cast into creating the Green Sun. Note that the main cast has been doing everything in their power to destroy the thing. Scratch's last word, said to Gamzee, is even "S u c k e r s", a succinct summary of just how much he played everyone.
  • Nick in the "Surreptitious Machinations" arc of General Protection Fault. The entire plan hinges on him being isolated from his friends and building the "Project Velociraptor" to power Trudy's energy weapons, enabling her and C.R.U.D.E. to take over the world. He's also one of the only ones who still trusts Trudy, so the heroes have to try to convince him to see the truth.

Web Original[]

  • In The Normal Innocent Bystander's Survival Guide, point 17 is:

 "If the Evil Overlord offers you immortality, superpowers, or infinite wealth, and all you have to do is something that seems terribly trivial, don't. It's a trick. You will be used as a pawn in a larger game, and then crushed like a bug."


Western Animation[]

  • Challenge Of the Superfriends: In one of the more infamous plots from the series, the Legion of Doom collaborates with a group of Venusians to rework Earth's climate into something more tropical. To this end - in what may be the single most contrived Gambit Roulette in history - they enact a series of disasters, and the Superfriends play right into their hands when their attempts to stop them result in filling the atmosphere with steam, flooding the western hemisphere, and moving the Earth out of its orbit. Uh, oops?
  • Xanatos used to make suckers out of the Gargoyles many a time by turning their hatred of him to his advantage. Xanatos was then suckered by Thailog. At the episode's end he says I've created a monster.
  • In Transformers Armada, almost every major non-human character takes a turn being one of these, as would be expected when The Mole happens to be a Manipulative Bastard.
  • In season 4 of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both the turtles and the Well-Intentioned Extremist Agent Bishop are suckered royally by the Foot Mystics/Shredder's Heralds, resulting in the entire plot to season 5.
  • Danny from Danny Phantom becomes one of these almost every time he encounters Vlad Masters. Usually Vlad hints at what he's going to do right away, and Danny fails to understand and plays right into his hands anyway. Surprisingly, Valerie was an even bigger sucker than Danny--her entire ghost hunting 'career' was started by Vlad as part of a gambit and just became the gift that kept on giving for him and all his plans. She was NOT happy when she found out the truth.
  • Timmy from The Fairly Odd Parents is this sometimes, most noticably in "School's Out! The Musical", where he, along with Flappy Bob, are pawns in the pixie's Gambit Roulette. He also plays into Norm's hands in "Fairy Idol".
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Omi ends up playing right into Chase Young's hands in the second season, temporarly becoming his apprentice.
  • Kim Possible found herself in this position in So The Drama, when it was revealed that Erik was really a "synthodrone" working for Drakken. As Ron observed, "Drakken didn't win, he played you." An even more direct case was in the episode "Hidden Talents", where Drakken created fake messages from Wade (as well as sending a virus to the real Wade) to get Kim to bring him one of Dementor's inventions. He also attempted to do it a second time after he forgot to tell Kim to get the adaptor plug, but the second time didn't work as well due to Wade debugging his computer.
  • Harold in Total Drama Action, when choosing to listen to Courtney and Duncan of all people, in order to vote off Leshawna, his love interest.
  • Where Sinedd from Galactik Football goes, intergalactic conspiracy is sure to follow.
  • Scooby Doo in episode 16 of Scooby Doo Mystery Inc; Pericles used Scooby's need to save the town to further his own plan to find the Cursed Treasure of Crystal Cove.
  • In one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, a businessman builds a casino...themed after The Joker. Joker is understandably incensed, a breaks out of Arkham to punish this act of image-theft by blowing up the joint. As Batman discovers, the businessman had spent too much on his building, and gave it a Joker-theme so the Joker would do just that, and then cash in on the insurance.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Being simple and too soft for his own good, SpongeBob is mostly being the pawn to other villains; be it to Mr. Krabs or Plankton. Patrick is also not safe with this either.
    • Subverted and defied in "Perfect Chemistry", he collaborates with Sandy in order to construct a teleporter. Only to reveal at the end he was using her and SpongeBob so he can use it to steal the Krabby Patty formula, after Plankton hijacks Sandy's teleporter after completing it by trapping her and SpongeBob in a cage. Only for Plankton to end up stuck inside the bottle without the Krabby Patty formula, as it turns out Sandy is perfectly aware that Plankton was planning to use the teleporter to get to the formula. She outsmarts Plankton by teleporting the formula to her and SpongeBob beforehand and Plankton is left trapped inside the formula's bottle.

Real Life[]

  • Napoleon III, who got played by every second-rate power in Europe, and some overseas. He certainly WAS one to Bismarck, but that was because Bismarck was Bismarck rather than because Napoleon III was gullible. Indeed, he actually came out on top of most of his battles (Mexico and the war of 1870 were the exception, not the rule), and most of the time he was being "played" by said second-rate powers, it was largely because he grasped more or less what they were doing and sympathized enough to go through with it anyway (Italy 1859 is the most obvious example, but the Belgian revolution and the Crimean War came in close seconds). If anything, he fell victim to trying to be someone he wasn't and had the misfortune to run up against the most ruthless and skilled ruler in Europe in charge of the largest and best military on the continent.
  • Supposedly, the only relatively foolproof reason for letting yourself be recruited as a spy is to do it for the money. Any other motives (Freedom, Nationalism, the Workers' Revolution, whatever) expose you to being played as an unwitting double agent, mole, or agent provocateur by the people you oppose.
    • This is NOT a "useful idiot," which is when (usually overt) support for a third party's nominal, moderate, public goals is cynically manipulated by the latter to advance their more closely-held, radical and secret goals. The "idiot" part comes from them being The Quisling without realizing that's what they're doing. They claim to love their country/faction/family/4-H club, but their actions and words say otherwise — and they'd never believe you if you pointed it out.
  • ...You.
  • On the TV show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, a guest uttered a stream of swear words, which were bleeped out. The guest then informed the production team that they had just broadcast the Morse Code for "fuck"
  • Marshal Marmont, to Talleyrand. During Napoleon's 1814 campaign of Franc,e Talleyrand convinced Marmont to abandon Napoleon at a crucial momen,t surrendering his forces to the Allies and accelerating Napoleon's eventual defeat. But then, Talleyrand was among the first people to paint him as a traitor, with the rest of France following suit to the point were his name became a synonym for betrayal.