They are the despised, the hated, the guys who would sell out anybody for some cash of whatever motive that drives them. Love, Sex, Drugs, Money, Power and Dominion… these are the things that have motivated some of the biggest movie and TV betrayals. Naturally there are hundreds of candidates, and compiling this list meant we had to leave some seriously shady traitors out. Top 10 Movie Traitors:
1. Lando Calrissian – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Lando tops the list on what may be the greatest betrayal ever. Billy Dee Williams sells out old buddy Han and imperial refugees Leia, Chewbacca and the droids in the famous ‘dining-hall sting’ on Cloud City in episode 5 of Lucas’s epic saga. The reward? Vader promises that the empire will leave Calrissian’s lucrative mining operation alone, then reneges on the deal like the dirty rotten Sith rat he is.
2. Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica
Technically this wasn’t a movie, but seeing as there was a Battlestar Galactica movie, we’ll take this one into consideration. Baltar was motivated by greed and entered into conspiracy with the Cylons. Initially through sexual infatuation with the gorgeous ‘Number Six’ (played by Tricia Helfer). His betrayal probably had the biggest effect on mankind compared to any other traitor on this list, bringing down devastating destruction on his own people, nearly wiping our humanity. But lets face it, would you betray mankind for the stunningly beautiful ‘Number six’?
3. Cypher – The Matrix (1999)
Sick of living in the brutal, post-apocalyptic “real world” Cypher has a hankering to be re-inserted into the fake universe of the mind created by the evil machine overlords to keep us all subdued. When Cypher pulls the plug on the VR-immersed Nebuchadnezzar crew, he wonders if he’ll actually be able to turn out Keanu Reeve’s lights, since prophecies say that it’s impossible. As it turns out, it is – Cypher didn’t do a thorough enough job on Tank, who peremptorily wakes up and fries the skunk.
4. Carter Burke – Aliens (1986)
Ripley and company had him fingered for a smooth-talking shyster almost from the start – after all, he works for The Company. But none of them quite suspect his true motives – it was he who ordered the colonists to investigate the derelict spaceship that housed the xenomorph eggs in the hopes that living specimens could be found. Realising he is rumbled, Burke locks the besieged group in the room where aliens are attacking. For this grim betrayal, Burke is promptly despatched by a Giger nasty at the next airlock.
5. Fredo Corleone – The Godfather Part II (1974)
Clearly pissed at being treated as the muppet of the Corleone family, Fredo makes some very bad choices when he decides to betray Michael and switch his allegiance to gangster Hyman Roth. Sadly, Fredo can’t hold his drink and spills crucial secrets that let Mike know he’s the big traitor in the clan. When Michael confronts him, Fredo chooses to flee – bad move.
6. Peter Pettigrew – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
It’s always the squirrelly (or in this case, ratty), misunderstood types, isn’t it? Pettigrew is your classic cowed character. Someone should have spotted that he was dangerous when his animal form was revealed as a rat, but he still managed to pull off framing Sirius for 13 murders and having him slung into Azkaban prison. Wormtail is strangled by his own artificial hand in the Malfoy’s cellar after a brief moment of mercy for Harry (he resisted killing him as he owed a life debt to Harry). Harry and Ron try to save him but the hand is too strong.
7. Elsa Schneider – Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)
We all saw her as the Austrian ice queen and art professor villain, but did we suspect the massive betrayal that came in the holy grail chamber? Her striking beauty and clear sexual interest blind Indy and his Father to her true intent – to get hold of the Holy Grail for both her own ends and the good of the Nazis. She eventually dies when she greedily tries to take the Grail out of its temple, causing the place to collapse. In her attempt to flee, she falls into a huge chasm, never to be seen again.
8. Saruman – The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)
He’s the respected leader of Gandalf’s wizard order, so you can forgive Gandalf for thinking that Saruman might be able to intercede in the fight against Sauron. Sadly, Saruman has long been corrupted, convinced that he can spearhead a new age and driven to created an improved race of orcs known as the Uruk-hai, while destroying the local forests to forge weapons of war. In the movies he meets his end by an arrow and wormtongues knife in the back, while in the books he still gets to destroy Hobbiton.
9. Colonel Hans Landa – Inglourious Basterds (2009)
A traitor for the good? He may be one of the most evil men to have lived, but him switching sides and allowing the killing of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi elite party can be seen as one of the greatest betrayals ever (if you are on the side of the Nazi’s). Despite several loyalty awards within the SS, Landa is not a true believer in Nazi ideology; he admits he has no personal animosity toward Jews, and that he is simply very accomplished at hunting them and therefore does what is asked of him. By the end of the film, he opportunistically switches sides and assists the Basterds in assassinating Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party elite inside a movie theater. Landa even manages to negotiate a deal including a house on Nantucket Island.
10. Captain Dudley Smith – L.A. Confidential (1997)
The sudden reveal of Captain Smith as a man cruel and cunning enough to shoot one of his own men when he gets too close to the truth is one of the more stunning reveals in this classic film. That said, Smith isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue – he encourages men like Bud White and Ed Exley to routinely break the law if it’ll bring wrongdoers to justice. In the movie’s big final shoot-out, he’s gunned down by Exley. What goes around, comes around, Dud…