Some characters just have a way of manipulating the situation. Sometimes it's in a big way, and other times, it's an intimate chess game between the characters as they pull together the pieces and threads that serve their interest.
While you might not think manipulation is a good thing, it is often essential to a plot of good television. It complicates situations, and when structured correctly can keep audiences interested over a season or seasons.
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Characters who do the manipulating can work on both sides of the good vs. evil divide and can often straddle it completely. Whatever their motivations are, the one thing they have in common is that they can play the long game, and often have fun doing it.
Here are 27 characters we'd consider masters of manipulation.
Madam Satan (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
The very best things happen in the shadows. Madam's Satan's goal is to deliver Sabrina to The Dark Lord and she accomplishes her task most expertly by manipulating Sabrina into performing perversions of miracles including an exorcism and restoring her blind friend's sight. While the audience is clued into Madam Satan's mission it's fun to watch the other characters attempt to figure out her deal.
Jane Chatwin (The Magicians)
Who's the woman who rebooted a timeline forty times to attempt to take down her brother? Jane Chatwin, of course. Yes, you read that right, this woman lived forty different lives, changing something about the universe each time to defeat "The Beast." That's dedication right there.
If you're a browncoat then this woman needs no introduction. She managed to fool Malcolm Reynold's not once, but twice! While the crew of Serenity turned the tables on her the second time, we can only imagine what else she's done in the past.
Carolyn Martens (Killing Eve)
Carolyn Martens is an enigma to Eve Polastri, but at the end of Killing Eve Season 2 Episode 8, "You're Mine," we got a glimpse at just how manipulative she can be when she set Villanelle up to kill Aaron Peel. While we don't always see all of Carolyn's cards, she has a long history in intelligence, so we can't imagine that was her first rodeo.
A (Pretty Little Liars)
"A" tormented The Liars for six seasons on Pretty Little Liars and was pretty good at getting to them wherever they went. The cyber-bully also put together a team of close friends and acquaintances that slowly bent and manipulated the liars into revealing secrets.
Number Six (Battlestar Galactica)
Gaius Baltar had either an angel or a devil on his shoulder depending on your perspective. The version of Number Six that appeared only to him had a way of using just the right words to manipulate him into serving the Cylon agenda.