Betrayal is a relatively common plot device in films. It’s relatable, it’s emotionally moving, and it serves as a good way to up the stakes of the story. Whether it’s a lower-stakes personal betrayal or one of the heroes renouncing the side of good, it happens in a great number of films.
The betrayal is all the more cutting when it comes from the character’s best friend, or another character they are seemingly close to. Playing on people’s sympathies for the loss of a friend, this can create some of the most bitter interpersonal relationships in fiction, and as such can be found in a number of films.
10 James Bond Was Close Partners With Alec Trevelyan
Despite his unsociable job and natural reservedness, James Bond has had a number of close friends. Introduced in GoldenEye, Alec Trevelyan—006—was one of these. A fellow agent who worked with Bond on a number of missions, the two were close friends in addition to working well together.
Trevelyan faked his own death, leaving Bond riddled with guilt, only to reappear later attempting to cause a global crisis with a mass theft and EMP blast in London. The battle between the two is deeply personal, leaving Trevelyan as one of the most popular Bond villains.
9 Charles Xavier Was Like A Brother To Erik Lehnsherr
The complex relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr is one of the central emotional points of the X-Men film franchise. Both mutants are dedicated to protecting their kind, their vastly different messages and methods lead them into inevitable conflict, but they are often forced to make common cause with each other.
As hinted at in numerous films, and depicted in X-Men: First Class, the two were best friends in their youth, incredibly close. Lehnsherr betrayed Xavier several times over the course of the movies, in both timelines, with two of the most significant being in First Class and Days of Future Past.
8 Letty Ortiz Was Also Dominic Toretto’s Lover
Betrayal by a loved one is one of the few things that can hurt as much as the betrayal of a close friend. In Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast and Furious franchise, Letty Ortiz gets to experience both in the form of Dominic Toretto’s temporary betrayal.
Although the two have numerous friends, it is each other they’re closest to even without their romantic relationship. When Dom was forced to side with the hacker Cipher against his team, there wasn’t a member who wasn’t devastated. Letty, however, clearly took it the worst.
7 Optimus Prime & Megatron Were Once Friends
In nearly every continuity of Transformers, there are no greater foes than Optimus Prime and Megatron, the leaders of the Autobots and the Decepticons respectively. Some continuities keep their relationship as simply nemeses, but others give them a deeper turn.
In the Transformers films, the two were revealed to have had a deeper relationship in the past—well before the events of even the first film. Prior to their fight in The Last Knight, Megatron insisted that they were like brothers once. Optimus Prime agreed, only emphasizing ‘once’ before attacking Megatron.
6 Cole Was Betrayed By Melanie In The Sequel
In the deliberately campy horror movie The Babysitter, Cole’s next-door neighbor, Melanie, proved to be the only person on his side once his babysitter, Bee, and her friends began to hunt him down for a blood ritual. Although her help was limited, she provided Cole with emotional support and called the police.
In the sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, the script was flipped. This time, Melanie led a cult in hunting Cole, whilst a resurrected and repentant Bee helped him. Throughout the film, it was clear that Cole was devastated by the betrayal.
5 Gandalf Went To Saruman As A Friend
The handful of true wizards—angels called the Maia—in The Lord of the Rings were all close. Two of the most prominent, Gandalf the Grey and Saruman the White, clearly once had a meaningful friendship—glimpsed briefly during The Hobbit trilogy.
Despite some alarming behavior from Saruman, Gandalf still clearly considered him a friend, and went to him during the events of The Fellowship of the Ring to give him information and to ask for aid. When there, he found Saruman in an alliance with Sauron, and was subdued after a brief wizard duel.
4 Tony Stark Faced A Very Heroic Betrayal
Rare in film is a betrayal where one hero betrays another, and both remain sympathetic. Yet, in Captain America: Civil War, that is what happened to Tony Stark. After Tony and Steve Rogers buried the hatchet to go after Zemo, Tony learned two bits of information: that Bucky Barnes killed his parents, and that Steve knew and protected him anyway.
Having spent a whole trilogy seeing the friendship between Steve and Bucky, viewers could understand Steve’s actions. Tony, however, saw it as a clear betrayal from one of his best friends in the Avengers—before justifying Steve’s decision by trying to murder Bucky.
3 Jack Sparrow Was Mutinied By His Own First Mate
Thanks to the questionable morals of pirates, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filled with betrayal, often several times in a single movie, and often between people who genuinely liked one another. One of the most significant betrayals actually took place before any of the films—when Jack Sparrow lost the Black Pearl.
Although the first film has little more than animosity between Jack and Barbossa, later films—particularly At World’s End—reveal a complex and long-seated friendship or former friendship between the two. As such, Barbossa taking Jack’s ship and stranding him to die on an island is a fairly significant blow.
2 Albus Dumbledore & Gellert Grindelwald Planned To Take Over The World
In the Harry Potter films, Albus Dumbledore was one of the most highly-renowned wizards in the world, with one of his notable achievements being the downfall of the dark and megalomaniacal wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
It was a major revelation both in-universe and out-of-universe that the two were actually best friends for a time in their youth, and that Dumbledore agreed with Grindelwald’s world-conquering aims. In an unusual twist, Dumbledore was villainous at the time of the betrayal, but Grindelwald was still the one who began hostilities by attacking Dumbledore’s brother.
1 Obi-Wan Kenobi Faced The Worst Betrayal
One of the most significant betrayals in cinema history is Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the Sith in Star Wars. Although Anakin betrayed thousands during Revenge of the Sith, leading to the deaths of most Jedi and the institution of a Galactic Empire, the main emotional thrust of the betrayal was placed upon his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Having trained Anakin from childhood, and with the two as close as brothers, Obi-Wan’s horrified reactions made up much of the film’s third act—to the extent of wishing to duel the Emperor rather than his friend. When the two fought, it was one of the most emotional and furious fights in the entire franchise.
NEXT: Game Of Thrones: 10 Biggest Betrayals Of The Series, Ranked