The latest episode of Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere,” quickly has become an infamous chapter in what already was an anguishing story full of betrayal and murder. Without spoiling the entire gut-punch of an ending, we can say that a big part of this episode hinges on a grievous double cross. In the wake of fandom uproar surrounding this notorious betrayal, here’s a look back at fifteen other famous fictional double crosses. These fifteen are memorable either for their surprising twists, for their overall executions, or for their places in the pantheon of genre fandom.
Please be warned that, since most of these double crosses involve plot twists, heavy spoilers lie ahead for all fifteen entries and the honorable mention!
As Palpatine’s plan comes together, the Clone army of the Republic is dispatched throughout the galaxy with their Jedi commanders. The newly elevated Emperor transmits Order 66 to the Clone leaders, and all the soldiers turn against their masters as one, felling nearly the entire Jedi Order in one coordinated attack.
14. Assassin’s Creed
Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad is a Syrian assassin working from the Assassins’ stronghold at Masayaf. He fights for redemption in his Order and eventually recovers the mystical Apple relic from the Templars. After returning it to his mentor, known as Al Mualim, he learns that his entire quest was a grand manipulation. Once he has the Apple in hand, Al Mualim attempts to sieze ultimate power and kill Altaïr.
Teyrn Loghain’s daughter Anora married King Cailan, the young ruler of Ferelden. Loghain had helped raise Cailan and was an ever present figure in the court. However, after Loghain learns that Cailan plans to leave Anora to marry the Empress of Orlais, he betrays Cailan in the critical Battle of Ostagar. Loghain pulls back his own troops and allows Cailin and the Grey Warden army to be overrun and slaughtered.
12. Portal 2
The daffy and affable Wheatley accompanies and guides Chell through her trials and tribulations after GLaDOS returns from seeming annihilation. They finally get the upper hand on the superior artificial intelligence, and Chell is able to swap GLaDOS’s personality module with Wheatley’s. The transfer backfires, and Wheatley, now power maddened, turns against his former ally and tries to kill both Chell and GLaDOS.
In order to defeat the demonic Beast in season 4, Wesley proposes that Angel willingly and temporarily give up his soul again to become the villainous vampire Angelus. After going through the transformation, Angelus escapes his imprisonment and chases Cordelia and Lilah through the Hyperion Hotel. The chase ends abruptly when Cordelia murders Lilah herself, revealing a darker agenda that would span the rest of the season.
A killer has been murdering former costumed heroes as part of some great and unknown plan. The knife twists when Rorschach and his teammates discover that their foe is Adrian Veidt, also known as Ozymandias, the greatest and most powerful of their mortal allies. Veidt successfully completes his master plan and punctuates it with the death of Rorschach at the hands of Doctor Manhattan.
The first season concludes with a climactic confrontation aboard a Cylon Basestar orbiting the legendary planet of Kobol. Boomer ferries a nuclear warhead onto the ship, where she traumatically learns that she is, herself, a Cylon sleeper agent. Upon returning to Galactica, she is greeted and congratulated by Commander Adama, whom she promptly betrays and shoots, yielding the series’s first season ending cliffhanger.
The wizard Gandalf travels to Isengard, where Saruman, the leader of his order, dwells. Gandalf seeks a meeting and counsel from his old cohort but instead finds that Saruman already has fallen to the side of darkness. Saruman imprisons Gandalf and sets his own evil schemes in motion in parallel to those of the dark lord Sauron.
DC Comics’ big storyline in the mid-2000s launched with Countdown to Infinite Crisis, a one-shot issue that had superhero Ted Kord (the Blue Beetle) investigating the theft of his massive wealth. Kord’s search takes him to Maxwell Lord, previously known as a businessman associate and occasional ally of hero groups like the Justice League International. He now admits that he has enacted a vast plot to bring down the hero community and shoots Kord dead.
Upon arriving in the underwater city of Rapture, Jack immediately encounters a revolutionary named Atlas. Atlas is struggling in the fallen utopia and partners with Jack to help both of them survive and escape. Jack eventually learns that Atlas in fact has been manipulating him and actually is Frank Fontaine, the game’s primary antagonist.
Nearly every Disney animated movie requires a traumatizing death, and this one comes alongside a horrible betrayal. Mufasa, king of the animals of Africa, rushes to rescue his son Simba from a stampeding wildebeest herd. He doesn’t realize that the stampede was engineered by his own brother, Scar, until Scar sabotages Mufasa’s attempt to climb to safety. Scar throws Mufasa down from a cliff to die in the stampede.
It might be hard to remember fandom’s reaction to the first season finale of 24, but if you transported yourself back to 2002, you’d see shock and furor to rival this week’s Game of Thrones uproar. Jack Bauer finally has rescued his wife and daughter, and everything seems to be heading toward a happy ending until Jack’s former mistress and ally Nina Myers is revealed as the mole within CTU. Nina’s betrayal goes deeper than politics as she summarily executes Teri Bauer in the final moments of episode twenty-four.
This one just might be the most trollingly spoiled plot twist of the past decade. Lord Voldemort tasks Draco Malfoy with killing Albus Dumbledore. Malfoy and a group of Death Eaters eventually trap Dumbledore atop a tower at Hogwarts, but he hesitates before casting the killing curse. During Malfoy’s hesitation, Severus Snape casts the spell himself, apparently both betraying and killing his old friend and ally and giving legions of Internet trolls the spoilery “Snape kills Dumbledore” slogan.
After escaping the Imperial blockade at Hoth and then evading capture in an asteroid field, Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City, the gas mining facility above the planet Bespin. There Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO meet Han’s old buddy, Lando Calrissian. Lando greets them warmly before revealing that he already has cut a deal with the Empire and turns them over to Darth Vader and Boba Fett.
William Shakespeare’s 1599 play includes what is perhaps the best known double cross in dramatic history. Inspired by Julius Caesar’s historical reign and fall, the play’s third act has Caesar lured to the Roman Senate, where a gang of conspirators within his government stabs him to death. As Caesar’s friend Marcus Brutus drives home the final knife, Caesar famously utters, “Et tu, Brute?” before falling dead. While based on a true assassination, the Shakespearean version is dramatized, landing it a deserving spot at the top of this list.
Honorable Mention: Game of Thrones
The Red Wedding from the third season (and the third book) definitely deserves a spot on this list as one of the most infuriating fictional betrayals of all time. Walder Frey’s luring and murder of the Starks surely will go down in history with infamy. This double cross is so recent that it’s hard to place it accurately on an “of all time” list, and that’s why it’s relegated as an honorable mention for now.
With so many awesome betrayals, it was hard to pick just fifteen for the list. What are some of your favorites? And please give a spoiler warning in the comments if you’re about to drop some plot twist knowledge!