Gaming's most heartbreaking betrayals

Kain Highwind (Final Fantasy IV)

OK…maybe a character named ‘Kain’ should have been a giveaway that this guy has some dirty laundry to air. And maybe after the first back-stabbing, we should not have been too surprised about the second… and the third. But, hey, it’s not as if anyone has lived on this earth without trying to impress a girl…or being mind controlled by magic. Happens all the time.

For all the aforementioned stabbing of backs, Kain is a very honor-bound individual and close friend of Cecil. Sure, he might be in competition with Cecil for the affections of Rosa, but the young Dragoon officer wants to stop the villainous Golbez’s plot to ‘depopulate’ the Earth just as much as anyone. Problem is, Golbez’s mind control constantly causes Kain to turn on his comrades. This is made doubly sad by the fact Golbez is being manipulated by Zemus, an even bigger baddie. Poor Kain is a puppet of a puppet!

For all that, however, the saddest thing about his betrayals is they are wholly uncreative. The instant Cecil obtains the crystal from Fabul, Kain steals it. He then manipulates Cecil’s party into retrieving another crystal… so Golbez can steal it. He then informs Cecil’s party about the ‘Dark Crystals’ in the underworld…and then steals them. Mix it up, yeesh!

After all of this, after Kain is freed from mind control for the hundredth time, he finds it within himself to commit yet one more betrayal of his own volition: he ditches Cecil and Rosa’s wedding during the game’s lengthy ending. We suppose the lesson is, just because someone is being mind-controlled doesn’t mean they’re not a douchebag.

Iris/Erim (Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinestrals/ Curse of the Sinistrals)

Though an ancillary character throughout Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, Iris is nonetheless a constant companion in Maxim’s party. Even though being a constant source of encouragement and guidance was enough, Iris goes above and beyond the call of duty when she takes a laser to the chest to protect a child prince.

She attributes her miraculous survival to the enchanted amulet she wears as a priestess, but the actual reason is far more devious - she is the Sinistral of Death. It will take more than that to… kill her?

Where the other Sinistrals were content to just try to bring about the apocalypse head-on, Iris took a far more cunning route. As Maxim’s party defeated the other Sinistrals one by one, Iris learned from the mistakes of both her compatriots and her human counterparts. She even seems to take pity on some of the poor souls, which makes her inevitable betrayal all the more shocking.

Just as Maxim’s party almost finds a way onto Doom Island, just as it starts to look like they might be able to win against the insurmountable odds, Iris, or rather Erim,  makes her move. When Erim decides to strike, she does so without hesitation or mercy, leaving her former ‘comrades’ demoralized, disadvantaged and utterly shocked. For her betrayal’s effectiveness, it might have been ripped from the pages of The Art of War itself.

Wheatley (Portal 2)

‘Cheerful, nervous, and just slightly silly’ these are the best ways to describe this little AI ball that knocked on the door to our stasis chamber one fateful day. Just as fearful of GLaDOS and eager to escape the Aperture labs as any thinking being should be, Wheatley soon became an irreplaceable and sympathetic companion, a constant source of amusement and –on occasion- a useful ally. Had it not been for Wheatley’s advice, Chell might never have thought to disable GLaDOS’ trump cards of turrets and neurotoxins. At first, replacing GlaDOS’ AI core with Wheatley’s seemed a perfectly natural and sane thing to do.

But then it all went so horribly wrong. Our best friend since the companion cube changed when he was installed into GLaDOS’ mainframe. As if he had suffered a sudden onset of schizophrenia, Wheatley became suspicious, paranoid, even vindictive. Like a high school pal who’s fallen on hard times, Wheatley soon found himself addicted to the hardest drug of all: Science.

The true knife in the gut is the fact it was our fault. Now free of her mainframe, GLaDOS, while still sarcastic and pushy, is less mean and bitter. It seems the issue was with the mainframe itself, not with the AI. So by installing Wheatley into the aperture mainframe, we became the unwitting purveyors of his corruption.

And that makes us have sad faces.

May 17, 2011

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  • torre-sims - October 3, 2011 8:37 p.m.

    as far as GTA:SA is concerned i was more shocked by ryder's betrayal then big smoke's which i saw coming a thousand yards away.
  • Sinsational - May 19, 2011 12:14 p.m.

    @Boomaga: Yeah, but at least you were able to experience that. The reason why I'm so pissed about it is that I KNOW it would have blind-sided me completely, and I would have loved the game more for it. I mean, every other game on here is at least 3-4+ years old, but Portal 2 JUST came out. I love the franchise dearly, but I just haven't had the cash to pick up the game yet, so to have such an awesome moment ruined for me feels like an even greater betrayal from the GR staff. The best way I can put it is this: Having someone tell you that Aerith gets killed by Sephiroth RIGHT BEFORE you yourself are there in the game. You cannot begin to fathom the amount of nerdrage I witnessed because of that.
  • Genericpenisjoketista - May 19, 2011 3:35 a.m.

  • Genericpenisjoketista - May 19, 2011 3:34 a.m.

    Here's a twist: what about Eddie's betrayal of Ophelia in Brutal Legend? Though you play as Eddie, I felt genuinely sorry for Ophelia as everyone, including herself, was tricked into believing that she was a tear-drinker. She became a total bitch until the very end of the game when she's redeemed, but during that transitional moment, Eddie and Lita's betrayal of Ophelia was a rough one. Although we all knew it coming from the start, what about Flynn's deception in Drake's Uncharted 2? Also, Big Smoke's betrayal was... fair enough, I suppose, but the worst GTA betrayal (in my opinion) was Dimitri Rascalov's. He went from a sympathetic character to someone that I genuinely wanted to murder in an instant. Although it's happened before, it's not often that I feel such animosity towards a game character. Dimitri was, in all senses of the word, a dick.
  • sdavala - May 19, 2011 12:58 a.m.

    WHat cheesed me off was when that lion guy from wing commander 2 or something betrayed you.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - May 18, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    I always had high paragon points in Mass Effect, so I've always been able to save Wrex. However, I'm starting to understand why everyone thinks that Williams is a bitch.
  • GayforGilbert - May 18, 2011 11:11 p.m.

    Zevran didn't betray me in my playthrough. Not sure how it would come to that, actually.
  • Rinaldvonizeburn - May 18, 2011 7:58 p.m.

  • Boomaga - May 18, 2011 6:18 p.m.

    Tee Hee. I'm coming from the opposite of the folks who are whining that there weren't MORE spoiler warnings. At the beginning of the article I said to myself, "Wheatley better be in this goddamn article!" Sure, I was betrayed by Atlas in Bioshock, and countless times by Kain in FF4 and even by The Boss, but you didn't feel so much from her until after MGS3 was over. But Wheatley, when Wheatley turned against me and changed such a happy, carefree moment into something so much darker and sinister, I just sat their dumbfounded as I stared blankly at the screen. I couldn't believe what just happened, that my bumbling little British robot buddy would so readily turn against me. I haven't felt betrayal in a game like that ever before. It also wasn't the only time I sat dumbfounded in awe at an event that had just transpired in Portal 2, but I won't spoil the rest.
  • Sinsational - May 18, 2011 5:03 p.m.

    Fuck! You know, I understand you put the spoiler tag in the beginning and it's my own god damn fault for reading, but come on! Portal 2 JUST came out! I mean, what the fuck?! Not even a, "Hey, this has some recently released video games in the mix, so be warned." God damn it, man. Thanks-a-fucking-lot, GR! .....
  • SteelerPsycho - May 18, 2011 4:59 p.m.

    Dude.....Master Li in Jade Empire?!?! That was some harsh betrayal right there.
  • slimjim441 - May 18, 2011 4:35 p.m.

  • bedelicious - May 18, 2011 4:33 p.m.

    For me, the biggest betrayal ever was :SPOILERS: Atlas in Bioshock. I knew he will, but it hurt nonetheless, I liked him. Pretty much the same goes to Wheatley.
  • QWERTYCommander - May 18, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    GLaDOS's scream sounds like Ke$ha. Also, I didn't feel bad at Wheatley's betrayal because "I caused it", I felt bad because I was just starting to like him.
  • jackthemenace - May 18, 2011 3:22 p.m.

    Luckily, I was never betrayed by either Urdnot Wrex, or Zevran. But man, Bioware do seem to REALLY like betrayals. Oh? And GLaDOS bit? No matter how many times I watch that video, it STILL sounds like someone trying to smother T-Pain.
  • rob619 - May 18, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Missed a certain one. Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater. Eva betrays Snake at the end, uses him to steal the philosphers legacy, as she was an agent for China. I doubt anybody saw that one coming!!
  • minimaxi - May 18, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    you should've added another spoiler warning before Portal 2 :( oh well need to play it soon, but asian psn is still down *sad face*
  • philipshaw - May 18, 2011 11:48 a.m.

    Great feature and I'm still pissed at Big Smoke for his betrayal only because he was my fav character in the game before that happened
  • EvilNinjaSquibidyflop - May 18, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    PORTAL 2 SPOILERS!!!! Please put a damn warning in next time?
  • lozarian - May 18, 2011 10:56 a.m.

    One of the worst betrayals I can think of is grumpos matavastros from Anachronox. He's just a grumbly old granddad, and always was one of my favourite characters in one of my favourite games, and his betrayal genuinely surprised me.

Showing 1-20 of 54 comments

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