Aristocrats Are Evil

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"All baronets are bad; but was he worse than other baronets?"

A lot of tropes have origins way back when media was still forming; this is one of them.

It might have been an early way to appeal to the masses, or just due to the way aristocrats tended to look down on the general public. But it was then and is now really popular to cast aristocrats as villains. A variety of Meaningful Titles exist - people with feudal titles are very commonly evil. Popular titles are Count,[1] and Baron -- two titles which are rarely seen on a good guy. (Oddly enough, a Countess has a better-than-even chance of being a decent woman.) And though it doesn't show up a great deal, you should break out in a cold sweat when you meet a Viscount. Unless it's Viscount Horatio Nelson.

Needless to say, Barons fare the worst in popular fiction, with one notable exception when used as a badass nickname.

One major exception: Dukes are usually relatively nice. This may be due to the fact the title was awarded to those who rose to aristocracy as war leaders. Thus, the Duke has a "grass roots" feel to it, and a Badass quality; as well, much like The Good Captain, military titles are generally for good guys. Dukes (and especially Grand Dukes) can be evil if the Hero is a Royal. Often a Duke is scheming to take over the throne himself.

Other titles generally have a more neutral feel to them - Earls tend to be good but quite elderly and senile, while it is rare to see a Marquess in anything other than a particularly faithful historical adaptation. Baronets were quite often villains in both Victorian Melodrama and Wodehousian comedy (not to mention the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta quoted above). Queens/Kings may be either good or evil. And, of course, Everything's Better with Princesses (or is it?).

The title Lord is somewhat problematic as strictly speaking any British or Irish Peer (other than a Duke or Duchess) would be addressed as such. For instance a character named 'Lord Bloggs', might be the Earl of Bloggs, or the Marquess of Bloggs or so on. The title 'Lord -' is also a favorite of a certain type of supernatural villain (Lords Vader and Voldemort, most famously), but are really a separate trope - normally not real aristocrats, and normally not powerful simply because of their titles.

The Prince will almost always be charming, even in the rare cases where that is not actually his name. However, there are two uses of the term. The Prince may be the son of a King, or it may be used to refer to any ruler or leader (re: Machiavelli). If an evil prince ever appears in fiction, be sure to check that it is not in fact the latter. And of course, the Evil Prince may be out to kill the good one.

Several of these kind of aristocrats together form a Deadly Decadent Court.

If it's an Action Adventure story, you can bet anyone with the title Lady will be a Lady of War.

The title Sir is the best of the lot, being martial, unprepossessing, and upwardly mobile. Even actors like to be called Sir.

If there's a High Queen, then God Save Us From the Queen. They may be nice enough people Behind The Queenly Mask. Conversely, a Prince is much more likely to be The Wise Prince; compare Fisher King.

Don't even get us started on Emperors, Chancellors, and Grand Viziers.

Aristocrats are often willing to be polite and even with people of their own rank. Moral Myopia, however, often limits it to fellow aristocrats. Commoners are just out of luck -- especially servants.

If they're not actively in charge, expect them to be part of the Omniscient Council of Vagueness. A Regent for Life will pick any one of these titles, especially if they run the People's Republic of Tyranny. In that case, only when the Rightful King Returns will restore harmonious social order to the realm.

See also The Baroness. A young aristocrat may fall under Royal Brat.

For the modern version of this trope, see Corrupt Corporate Executive, and to a lesser extent, Nouveau Riche.

Very prone to Screw the Rules, I Have Money, Screw the Rules, I Make Them, and Screw the Rules, I Have Connections.

For more information on the British title system, see Knight Fever. Not to be confused with The Aristocrats, a "stock joke" based on this premise.


Examples of Aristocrats Are Evil include:

Kings/Queens[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Emperor of Darkness of Great Mazinger and King Vega from UFO Robo Grendizer. The latter conquered several planets after exterminating the whole population.
  • Emperor Zu Zambojil and the whole aristocratic class in Voltes V.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • The noble class and the royal family in Megalex.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Braveheart, the working class Scottish villagers get pitted against the snobbish, aristocratic Norman nobles led by King Edward, who is portrayed as a Complete Monster.

Literature[edit | hide]

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, or at least her Alternate History persona in the second Blackadder series, was also very fond of ordering people's execution at the slightest whim. To call her "evil" may be a little strong, however. She was more of a Royal Brat taken to a slightly sadistic extreme.
  • Most of the Cavaliers in the English Civil War drama The Devil's Whore are portrayed as this, especially Prince Rupert. An exception is Angelica's husband, a clearly good-hearted Royalist who is executed by Charles I at the end of the first episode for surrendering his manor to Parliamentary forces.
  • Can be said of King Uther in Merlin, who concerns himself mostly with the nobility and royalty and looks down on peasants and servants as expendable.
    • There have also been a number of guest stars that Invoked Trope and Subverted Trope this trope. King Odin, King Caerleon and King Alined have been antagonistic, whilst King Godwyn, King Olaf and King Bayard have been anything from benevolent to neutral. As of the end of series 4, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are subversions. Queen Annis proves herself an ally to Camelot, whilst Queen Morgana (whenever she manages to seize the crown) is a definite case of God Save Us From the Queen.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Bowser from Super Mario Bros.
    • The series had other such characters, some more important than others: King Goomba/Goomboss, King Kaliente, etc.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Queen Adevia is a war-mongering, ambitious monarch who stops at nothing to defeat her enemies and expand her kingdom.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Some of the viruses from Re Boot. Megabyte's title is the "King of Control", Hexadecimal's is the "Queen of Chaos" and Daemon's is the "Monarch of Order".
  • Fire Lord Ozai is the king of the Fire Nation. He and the last two generations of Fire Lords were all pretty evil, but the next Fire Lord is a nice guy. His daughter Azula is no less evil than him, and probably quite a bit more crazy.


Dukes/Duchesses[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Duke Leto Atreides from Dune, as mentioned above - Practically The Messiah.
    • And his son is a Messianic Archetype of sorts.
    • In the prequel novels, so was Paulus Atreides, Paul's grandfather for whom he was named and who taught Leto everything he knows. Archduke Armand Ecaz is also not a bad guy.
  • In the Westmark trilogy, the king of Regia's Evil Chancellor is a duke.
  • Duke Niccolo di Chimici in the Stravaganza series is the main villain of the first three books. On the other hand, the Duchessa of Bellezza is good.
  • The Duke in James Thurber's The 13 Clocks has killed time, so that his thirteen clocks do not move, and sets Impossible Tasks to the princes who want to marry his nieces. Finally he reveals that she is not his real niece but a princess he kidnapped and intends to marry; he let the princes try their luck because he was under a curse.
  • The Duc de Blangis and his companions in The 120 Days of Sodom are guilty of almost anything you can think of, and some things you probably can't.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The Thin White Duke, a coldhearted cocaine addict with a taste for fascism, spends time "throwing darts in lovers' eyes" according to the title track of Station to Station.
  • The protagonist of the Vocaloid song "The Madness of Duke Venomania" is a lecherous Smug Snake who made a Deal with the Devil so that he could force all women to love him.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • The Duchess from the Torchwood radio play Golden Age. Whimsical and old-fashioned, so much so that she was ready to kill thousands to keep things the way they were in 1924, having taken the end of the British empire and India's independence very, very badly.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Another evil example: in the BattleTech Universe, both Grand Duke George Hasek-Davion and Duke Frederick Steiner each schemed in the 3020s to take over their nation's thrones.
  • Duke Venalitor from the Warhammer 40,000 Grey Knights novel Hammer of Daemons is definitely evil. Being a follower of Khorne, it came with the territory.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Richard III was the Duke of Gloucester before becoming king. Whether his evilness was Truth in Television or a product of Shakespeare is left for the reader to decide.
  • The incorrigibly lecherous Duke of Mantua in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto also had the habit of executing people who complained too much about his seducing their wives/sisters/daughters.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: After his Heel Face Turn, Count De Guiche is named Duke de Grammont, and he claims to have not committed any villainy (but then, he could be lying or having Self-Serving Memory).

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Duke Nukem is nominally the good guy, though you still probably wouldn't want to meet him.
  • Duke Bardorba from Vagrant Story. Probably an evil cultist, but he doesn't live for very long.
    • It is implied that he and his son, Sydney, orchestrated the destruction of Lea Monde to permanently drive the power of the Dark from the world, and thus keep it from the Cardinal's power-hungry hands --even if it meant Sydney's death and the sacrifice of everyone in the Cult of M?nkamp. Which would make him somewhat of a Neutral Good Magnificent Bastard.
  • Duke Farthington Roenall of Baldurs Gate II. To be fair, his trafficking in slaves, smuggling gems, and hiring pirates don't make him any worse than most nobles in Amn, but orchestrating an assault on the De'Arnise Keep to kill Lord De'Arnise, then attempting to force De'Arnise's only daughter into a marriage with Roenall's son so the Roenalls can claim the De'Arnise wealth and lands does push it a little.
  • The three Dukes of Ivalice in Final Fantasy Tactics, of which Dukes Gerrith Barrington of Riovanes and Bestrald Larg of Gallionne are downright evil, and the remaining Duke Druksmald Goltanna is only a notch or two above them. The war of succession between Duke Larg and Duke Goltanna for the throne of Ivalice is known as the War of the Lions, serves as the backdrop for much of the game, and creates enough bloodshed to precipitate the Big Bad's true plot.
  • Skyheed in Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier. He turns out to be the Big Bad.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • "The Duke" from the webcomic Little Worlds is neither noble nor kind.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Duke Koschei Dravaris is very much evil, constantly plotting behind the scenes to discredit the Grand Alliance and even leads his superior Belial to an ambush. The four demonic dukes and duchesses are ambitious and ruthless each in their own way, willing to fight among themselves but also against the other races whom they see as lesser beings.

Marquesses/Marchionesses (Marquis)[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Marquis Janus from Great Mazinger. A Two-Faced witch, conniving, manipulative and treacherous. In one of the manga versions she tore one girl in two halves only for getting back on The Hero Tetsuya for one earlier humilliation.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Mark Millar's Villain Sue the Marquis of Death was most definitely a bad guy, though he seemed to have given the title to himself and wasn't a proper aristocrat.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Marquis from A Tale of Two Cities is a classic example of the evil marquis. His carriage runs a child down and not only does he give the grieving family a single coin as compensation, but also is more worried about the health of the horse who trampled him than the boy himself.
  • The Marquis de Lantenac from Victor Hugo's Ninety-Three is a Magnificent Bastard Knight Templar for the royalists, who has whole villages slaughtered as well as giving one of his troops a medal for heroism -- then immediately having him executed.
  • The Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr in Scaramouche is a ruthless, manipulative killer.
  • Marquis de Carabas from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. A good guy, and a scheming Magnificent Bastard. Though technically, he's not even really an aristocrat, as he is said to have taken his title from "a lie in a fairy tale". He's also only technically a good guy. More on the 'helping the heroes because there's a lot in it for him' side.
  • The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett makes references to a "Marquis of Fantailler", who got into a lot of fights (mostly by way of being called the Marquis of Fantailler), and felt this entitled him to write a book. This book was called "The Noble Art of Fisticuffs" and was mostly a list of places where people weren't allowed to hit him. Whether he was particularly good or bad is never brought up, but it's implied that he was kind of an idiot because, as Vimes notes when Carrot tries to fight according to Marquis of Fantailler rules against an opponent who would have to back off a bit to qualify as dangerous, it only works when both people think so.
    • This is of course a parody of the real life 9th Marquess of Queensberry, whose name was given to rules for boxing codified in the 1860's, i.e. the Marquess of Queensberry rules. The real life Marquess was the father of Lord Alfred Douglas ('Bosie'), outspoken (or reckless, considering the times and who his father was) lover of Oscar Wilde. Angered by his son's relationship with Wilde, he was central to the trial and prison sentence which led to Wilde's early death. If you're a fan of Oscar Wilde, it makes this Marquess pretty evil.
  • From the Carreras Legions series, the Marchioness of Amnesty (as in Amnesty International), as part of a future UN that's become a true world government, and over the centuries became a Feudal Future government. The original Marquis of Amnesty[2] and the two marchionesses who have been shown to hold the title prior to Captain Wallenstein being made Marchioness of Amnesty in The Lotus Eaters resemble the stereotypical depiction of the Marquis de Sade.

Theater[edit | hide]

A Marquis (seeing that the hall is half empty):: What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers!
Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!—Oh, fie!
Fie!

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Sid Meier's Pirates! has the infamous Marquis de Montalban, who imprisons your entire family.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has Marquis Elmdor, who initially looks good but turns out to be very, very evil.
  • Marquis de Singe in Tales of Monkey Island is a crazy French doctor who was kicked out of the court for his insane experiments. He wants to become immortal, even if it kills everyone else.


Counts/Countesses[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Count Dooku from the prequel Star Wars trilogy - Oh so very evil. And oh so very Christopher Lee to boot.
  • Count Tyrone Rugen from The Princess Bride - Evil and Creepy.
  • Count De Monet from History of the World Part One. (Quite literally) walks all over poor people and slaps servants around if they address him as the Count De Money. More small-minded and petty than outright evil, but also a typical aristocrat in pre-Revolutionary France, so probably more in the bad column.
  • Count Adhemar from A Knight's Tale (played to vile perfection by Rufus Sewell) oozes smarmy malevolence. The movie does subvert this trope with Prince Edward though - he's a good guy through and through.
  • Count Zaroff in the 1932 film of The Most Dangerous Game. A change from the short story, where he's a General.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Count Dracula - Errm... Evil.
    • Vlad the Impaler, on whom Dracula was based, was actually a "voievod" or "domn" (meaning "lord" or "ruler"). Romanians didn't have the title of "prince" until World War I, and then it was just because a foreign house of noble kin came to rule. The "voievod" was initially a military title, sort of like the Duke—in the beginning, the ruler was actually ruling only during times of war, the rest of the time, he was just a simple nobleman. Things had changed by the time Vlad the Impaler came to rule, though. "Count" was a title more commonly used by the neighbouring Hungarian Empire, where Bram Stoker got most of his information from.
      • Whatever translation that one puts on Vlad the Impaler's rank...it was considerably higher than Count. Or, to put it another way...calling him "Count Dracula" would have all but guaranteed your impalement.
  • Another vampire: Carmilla, Countess of Karnstein, from Sheridan Le Fanu's novella.
  • Count Hannibal Lecter VIII - You heard me, this count eats people. His title is only added in the books, however.
  • Discworld also had Count de Magpyr and his family, who are most definitely evil.
    • Averted by his frequently late uncle, Count Bela de Magpyr, a jolly sportsman and civic-minded vampire with a strict code of conduct who always gives mortals more than a fighting chance.
  • Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - evil.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - from the book by Alexandre Dumas and the anime Gankutsuou - a greatly wronged, yet scheming and vengeful Magnificent Bastard.
  • Count Rive Montesq and Count Macob in Martha Well's novel The Death of the Necromancer - evil.
    • Montesq orchestrated the execution of Nicholas Valiarde's godfather Edouard Viller, a scholar and inventor of mechanical devices able to store magical spells, on false charges of necromancy. Interestingly, the main protagonist Nicholas Valiarde himself is a nobleman (and distantly related to the current Queen) but he is from a noble family that was disgraced due to treason perpetrated by one of its members some generations before; Nicholas lives under a variety of pseudonyms as he has become a conman and a thief in his quest for revenge on Montesq.
    • Count Macob is a cold and vicious undead necromancer, who during his lifetime became infamous for gory human sacrifices and curse spells. Even after his execution and decapitation he still clung to life, as it were.
  • Count Ugo Carifex from the Young Bond novel Blood Fever.
  • Viscount Hundro Moritani in the Dune prequels. As much, if not more, of a bastard than Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (see below). Most of his subjects take after him. His ambassador shoots a rival at a state dinner. He orders the bombing of civilian targets despite the declaration of Kanli, a war limited to military targets. He has his rival's son and daughter kidnapped and publicly executed. When another House condemns these actions, he orders the assault on their planet to steal their most holy relic. An ally of the viscount's assassinated the rival's second daughter at her wedding to Duke Leto Atreides (the ally was himself a Duke, by the way). He gets what's coming to him, though.
  • Counts in Vorkosigan Saga vary. Most of them are presented as fairly normal politicians though the worst of them grind down on their fiefdoms tyranically.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Count Baltar from the original Battlestar Galactica Classic - Betrayed the entire human race.
    • Count Iblis. "Iblis" is actually the Arabic name for the devil.
  • Countess Marguerite Isobel Theroux from Smallville - Evil witch.
  • Count von Count from Sesame Street - Good or benign, depending on how generous you are. Despite some numerical obsessions, he is a really decent fellow. The constant counting might get on one's nerves. It might also put you off math forever.
  • Averted by Count Blah from Greg the Bunny, who is actually a pretty nice guy. Especially considering he's a vampire and all.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

Theatre[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the four demonic Dreadlords/ladies of Yamato hold the rank of count/countess, and they are very cruel and ambitious while serving their masters' needs. Counts Belial and Antigonus of Maar Sul are a bit of a mixed bag, though: on the one hand they are very ruthless in politics and tend to use people for their own ends, but they also have a code of honour.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560 - 1614), the "Blood Countess," was said by her enemies to have tortured and murdered many young women, 600 according to one witness. Legend has it she bathed in their blood to retain her youth. How much of that was true though is up for debate.


Earls/Countesses[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • D Gray Man's Millennium Earl. Yeah, funny thing about that...
  • Earl Lloyd Asplund of Code Geass is a genius mech designer and a fan of pudding, and whilst vocal and carefree to the point of rudeness is personable in public.
  • The whole Earldom of Phantomhive is evil Earl, including the protagonist Ciel Phantomhive of Black Butler.

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Earl Fengbald, also of Memory Sorrow and Thorn, was a total ass. He tortured his own people by boiling them alive when they couldn't make him enough money. He also led the army of the Evil King against the good guys. Also Earl Aspitis Preves (who was promoted from Count) was also quite a villain
  • Example of the 'old and senile' version: the Earl of Lenda from David Eddings' The Elenium—though the senility is more a combination of Obfuscating Stupidity and a kindly grandfather.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: William Hamleigh is (briefly) an earl. He's also a brutal, ignorant man who rapes and pillages with nary a second thought.


Barons/Baronesses[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Baron Ashura of Mazinger Z- Half man, Half woman, All evil.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Baron Bedlam from The DCU - Supervillain
  • Baron Blitzkrieg from The DCU - Nazi Supervillain
  • Baron Blood from the Marvel Universe - Vampire Nazi supervillain!
  • Baron Mordo from the Marvel Universe - Occasional supervillain, full-time Evil Sorcerer.
  • Baron Von Strucker from the Marvel Universe - Nazi Supervillain and Leader of the global terrorist group, Hydra.
  • Baron Zemo from the Marvel Universe - A Legacy Character supervillain, although the most recent Zemo has reformed.
  • Baron Karza from the Marvel Universe - Nemesis of the Micronauts as well as being an expy from the toyline of that same name. Given that the title baron is at the low end of the hierarchy, one has to wonder why Karza didn't promote himself when he gained control of the Microverse. It should be noted that in the toyline, Karza was but one of several characters (along with Force Commander) below an underboss called Red Hawk and an Emperor called Magus.

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune - Evil; contrast his rival, Duke Leto Atreides.
  • Baron and Baroness von Uberwald - Angua's parents and morally myopic werewolves in the Discworld novels. Their son and Angua's brother, Wolfgang von Uberwald was truly evil though.
  • Baron Harparin in The Elenium trilogy by David Eddings—evil. Allies himself to the evil churchman and the evil prince, and is a noted pederast besides.
  • In Vorkosigan Saga, all of the barons of Jackson's Whole are evil: the worst is Complete Monster Baron Ryoval, who is in the sexual slavery business and is an enthusiastic practitioner of Cold-Blooded Torture, employing a number of technicians to aid his hobby; his brother, Baron Fell, is a notorious arms dealer specializing in biological weapons, and Baron Bharaputra has a genetics clinic specializing in a procedure for the wealthy but aged, in which a young clone of them is produced, and then the clone's brain is ripped out and the original person's implanted instead).
    • House Arqua by comparison is almost respectable. They are certainly amoral in a properly Jacksonian way but they specialized in the fairly normal trade of running a port, the seemy but not precisely evil activity of knowledge brokering and the reasonably honest trade of hostage negotiation(helped by all the contacts made in less honest dealings of course).
  • Baron Bela Stoke from Mithgar- very evil. Think "expy of Vlad the Impaler if Vlad was also a shapeshifting necromancer" evil.
  • Baron High Ridge in Honor Harrington is a downplayed version. He is not evil in the normal sense but he is corrupt and selfish and allows an unnecessary war to break out through his incompetence and his obsession in maintaining his leadership of a fairly mundane cabal of politicians.
  • Baron Front de Boeuf in Ivanhoe is one of the nastiest characters there. Aside from being brave he has no redeeming qualities.
  • The only good baron in Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle is the title character and he is mostly a Living MacGuffin. In general barons spend their time feuding and robbing peaceful travelers(the term "Robber Baron" originally meant "baron who is a robber", not "capitalist" and was very much Truth in Television ). Otto's father at least has the redeeming traits of loving his wife and son.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • "The Baron" (no real name given) is a recurring enemy in the Dutch Bassie And Adriaan - television series (although it's unknown if he actually is a baron or simply gave himself this title because he considers himself to be a criminal mastermind)
  • Baron Wasteland, a V.I.L.E. villain in Carmen Sandiego

Theater[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Amnesia the Dark Descent has Baron Alexander, who is definitely a Complete Monster, but the why of it might gain him sympathy points with the right people - as revealed in a handful of Notes, he's simply trying to get back home.
  • Baron Praxis: Lawful Evil.
  • The eponymous character in the Interactive Fiction game The Baron - Evil incarnation of the protagonist's incestuous desire for his daughter.
  • World of Warcraft features a boss named Baron Rivendare, who appears in the dungeons Stratholme and Naxxramas. Before he was raised into a Death Knight, he was a wealthy land owner who fell under the sway of the lich Kel'Thuzad and helped him structure the Cult of the Damned.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Gilles de Rais, Baron of Retz (1404-1440) - Gives Elizabeth Bathory a run for her money as the most evil person to grace this page. His hobbies included molesting dozens of children, murdering them, playing with their intestines, and dismembering them. This guy was the stuff nightmares are made of.
  • Baron Ungern von Sternberg (a warlord from the Russian Civil War), evil racist dictator, occultist, and bat fuck insane to boot.


Baronets/Baronetesses[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White, who is absolutely evil and has the disfiguring scar to prove it. The novel also gives us the Manipulative Bastard Count Fosco, who is presented as essentially Don Corleone for 19th century England.
  • In the early Deryni timeline, Manfred Colquhoun Festil Tarquin Mac Innis, Baron of Marlor, is trouble. He's part of the corrupt council, and with his colleagues launches a coup against King Javan Haldane. That third name of his doesn't bode well.
  • Spoofed in PG Wodehouse's short humor piece "The Baronet's Redemption", wherein one Sir Jasper Murgleshaw, at heart a philanthropist, feels obliged to kidnap, rob and poison people simply because he's a baronet. Then it's discovered that he has no legal claim to the title, and he promptly becomes a Sunday School teacher.
  • Averted—unless you're a hardcore French Revolutionary—by Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet, a.k.a. The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • As alluded to in the page quote, the baronets of Ruddigore are a family cursed to commit at least one evil action daily or die in agony and basically serve to parody the Dastardly Whiplash trope.


Generic Lords and Ladies[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Lord Cordlow aka Robert Angier from The Prestige.
  • Don Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro is the one good nobleman who stands up for the common people against the greedy, oppressive aristocrats in colonial California.
  • Lord Henry Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes, who attempts to seize control of the British Empire.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series Michael is sent by his father, a baron, to capture a woman suspected of killing an improtant noble's brother. Early in his search for the woman he learns that if she's killed the port town she governs will go to this brother, and thus be part of Lord Dorian's territory, meaning Dorian won't have to pay any taxes there, and Dorian ships a lot. Also, his father was aware of all of this. Michael is less than pleased.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Angel fears this trope when she realizes that Freckles's relatives are aristocrats.

"A Lord-man!" she groaned despairingly. "A Lord-man! Bet my hoecake's scorched! Here I've gone and pledged my word to Freckles I'd find him some decent relatives, that he could be proud of, and now there isn't a chance out of a dozen that he'll have to be ashamed of them after all. It's too mean!"

  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Leslie blames a woman's behavior on aping nobility, but Douglas corrects that only some of them are like that.

"I don't pity him half so much as I do her," he answered. "What must a woman have suffered or been through, to warp, twist, and harden her like that?"
"Society life," answered Leslie, "as it is lived by people of wealth who are aping royalty and the titled classes."
"A branch of them—possibly," conceded Douglas. "I know some titled and wealthy people who would be dumbfounded over that woman's ideas."

  • Lord Ruthven, of course, the titular character from The Vampyre.
  • The Vor class of Barrayar had a reputation for being colorfully brutal and obsessed with Family Honor. They were however brave enough to lead a revolt against invaders.
    • The Cetagandans have two noble orders the Ghems, and the Haut. The Ghems were fairly typical, being militaristic and conventionally ambitious and Not So Different from the Vor of Barrayar. The Haut were kind of odd, being a combination of chessmasters and Mad Scientists and Mad Artists.
  • Nobility in Honor Harrington is mixed but in general no better or worse then other authority figures. Grayson's are an admirable Proud Warrior Race but some are distasteful religious fanatics. Manticorans have a mixed breed, some of them brave naval officers or wise statesmen, others corrupt politicions, and one a rather erratic sociopath. Manticore has a British style limited aristocracy and while they can be snobs they do not grind down to much on the commoners. The worst thing they did was when one cabal used a cease-fire to establish it's power while delaying negotiations so that they could avoid calling an election. In this case they thought of it as normal political manipulation and were basically to incompetent to realize that they were risking a war. To multiply their incompetence they even downsized the navy. Fortunately they were made up for by a number of reasonably decent nobles.
    • They are however many surprisingly blackmailable Manticoran aristocrats and a mole is able to stalemate the House of Lords by the whisper of the vast hoard of information she has. Which does not make them evil precisely, but it does mean that some of them have something to hide and enough cowardice to let that manipulate them against their countries interest.
    • At the same time they are as likely as anyone to be found on the front lines either fighting well, or if they can't do that, getting blown up to prove a point. Pavel Young(one of the series' most distasteful villains) of course is an exception and not only is he a miserable person he does not even have the grace to get killed in a gentlemanly way.
  • In Belisarius Series there are a number of aristocrats some of whom are sadistic to the point of stupidity and others of whom are attractive enough. As this is the Middle Ages no one is to squeemish about ruthless behavior.
    • Neither aristocrats nor commoners are particularly gentle though not all of them are precisely cruel. But the villain is a demon robot from the future. Making normal earthly class and tribal rivalries petty.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Lord Marmaduke Ffogg and his sister, Lady Penelope Peasoup, Special Guest Villains in a Batman three-parter.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Lord Dycedarg Beoulve is a real piece of work. He slowly fed poison to his father to kill him without suspicion and take hold of the Beoulve estate, orchestrated the kidnapping of Marquis Elmdore with Corpse Brigade commander Gustav to use as a bargaining chip, orders Gaffgarion to kill Ramza in cold blood, sets up a plot with Duke VLarg to kill the Princess, murdered Larg to gain his power as regent, gave his soul to the Lucavi Adrammelech, and killed Zalbaag. He's far from successful in the end, but he's arguably the most monstrous character in the game.
  • Subverted by Medi Evil 2's Lord Palethorn. He's a working class cockney who tried to buy his way into high society.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Lord Michael Byron Carruthers of Lonelygirl15 is evil, selfish and creepy.

Western Animation[edit | hide]


Other and Multiple Types[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • In One Piece, the World Nobles, also known as the Celestial Dragons (Tenryuubito in Japanese), are the descendants of the Kings of twenty different kingdoms who later created the World Government. Unfortunately, the World Government is heavily corrupt, and not surprisingly, the World Nobles think they can do whatever the hell they like because they have "the blood of this world's creators", and by that definition, they are practically divine by nature. They even have slaves who they continuously mistreat, and put collar bombs around their necks. For that matter, they are allowed to take any person of the street to become their slave or another spouse. If you offend them in any way, an Admiral will be sent to deal with you.
    • Not so much as think they can do whatever they want, they actually can do whatever they want.
    • Recent flashbacks show us the nobility of Luffy's homeland, Goa Kingdom. They routinely sent out all their trash out of the city and let it pile up to the point that it became a small town unto itself, the Grey Terminal. When an inspection team with Celestial Dragons was scheduled to arrive, the nobles arranged to have the trash heap burned to the ground, people and all, in order to appeal to the Dragons. On top of this, they seemed incapable of understanding why a protagonist who discovered this was distraught.
    • Significantly earlier, there was Wapol, who had all doctors who did not work for him murdered so he could charge ridiculous sums of money for medical treatment, and beat up small children (which would have possibly sparked an international incident) simply because they were in his way.
  • The Code Geass provide two examples:
    • The most prominent is the Britannian Empire, entirely managed by nobility and aristocracy of various levels. That may be cause or consequence of the practice of racism and social darwinism in the Britannian Empire, this is not only evidenced in the nobility truly believing that they are superior due to their blood but also lead to the discrimination and oppression of the numbers (people of countries conquered by Britannia) who are forced to live in ghettoes.
    • And the other example are the eunuchs of the Chinese Federation, who are corrupt aristocrats who see the people of the Chinese Federation as ants and are willing to sacrifice all of them just for their personal gain.
  • Where to start in Black Butler? Pretty much all the nobles (which is a lot, considering that the entire series is filled with them) are reeeally messed up - Ciel included. And despite the Gaussian Girl memories shown of Ciel's parents, it's pretty obvious that they had... problems. (Most notably his father, who shows that he definitely isn't quite as nice as was believed before.)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam F 91 features an uprising by the aristocratic Ronah family, who attempt to establish an empire in space called "Cosmo Babylonia" because they believe firmly that humanity should be ruled by the upper class. The family actually both plays the trope straight and averts it: "Iron Mask" Carozzo believes that humanity needs to be purged from Earth altogether. His father-in-law Meitzer Ronah is the one ordering the invasion, but is unaware of this plan, and at the very least seems to be a good family man who genuinely has the best intentions. Also, Carozzo's wife and daughter both believe in equality among human beings, and are major factors in the eventual downfall of Cosmo Babylonia.
  • In fact, most of the second Universal Century in Gundam is spent with Evil Aristocrats as the enemy. Crossbone Gundam reveals that the Ronah family was sponsored heavily by the Jupiter Empire, who had similar ideals and wanted to soften up the Federation in preparation for their own attack on the Earth Sphere. Even after they are defeated, some members of the Jovian aristocracy head to Earth and start up the Zanscare Empire in Victory Gundam as yet another attempt to establish aristocratic rule (this time blended with Newtype supremacy).
  • Berserk: Counts, barons, queens, kings, lords, emperors, what have you. No matter the title, they all tend to have ill-intent for their fellow man (or are at least big jerks). If that's not enough, just wait until they turn into Apostles...
    • There are a couple exceptions in the manga: not counting Serpico (who was not really born a noble) or Farnese (whose Heel Face Turn coincided with her abandoning her renouncing her status), Roderick is pretty nice, while Laban and Owen actually give a crap about protecting commoners.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam has the entire Zabi family, including Sovereign Degwin, Prince Gihren, Prince Dozle, Princess Kycilia, and Prince Garma.

Comedy[edit | hide]

  • The Aristocrats joke plays on this trope, the disgustingly squicky performance being triumphantly named "The Aristocrats."

Film[edit | hide]

  • Practically every Bollywood movie has some sort of evil Maharajah, Sheikh or Count as the antagonist. There is the added bonus of them often being an evil Christian.
  • Taken features a lecherous and corrupt Sheikh.
  • Sir Miles Axlerod from Cars 2.
  • Princess Asa from Black Sunday

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Chronicles of the Kencyrath the system in the Kencyr is evil, even if not all the aristocrats really are. Jame, and her twin brother Torisen to a lesser extent, are both frequently disgusted by the behavior of their own Highborn caste.
  • Basically the entire point of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

Captain Wentworth, with five-and-twenty thousand pounds, and as high in his profession as merit and activity could place him, was no longer nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, who had not had principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him, and who could give his daughter at present but a small part of the share of ten thousand pounds which must be hers hereafter.

  • Older Than Steam: The "Comendador" (a military/minor noble Spanish title) from Lope de Vega's Fuente Ovejuna. He was so evil that his people killed him for kidnapping the town magistrate's daughter and violating her right before her wedding (this act made him cross the Moral Event Horizon to a point of no return), then each villager takes the blame to protect the killer.
  • The Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons—a pair of licentious Magnificent Bastards who take great pleasure in screwing others over (in every possible sense of the term). Amoral at the very least.
  • House of the Scorpion: Matt, while he is not privileged in any way because of his status as a clone in the society, is referred to as an aristocrat (a dirty word in the society he is in) because of where he came from, and because he can play the piano.
  • The Secret Texts by Holly Lisle has the Sabirs and their rivaling house. Anwyn, Andrew, and Crispin Sabir, in particular, are nasty, nasty individuals, including the brutal murder of one of their own guards while raping one of the daughters of their rivals. You know, until Crispin hits woobie status with the realization that the love of his life is dead, his brother is a traitorous snake, and the only woman he can ever love is his daughter.
  • With a few exceptions, most aristocrats Richard Sharpe spends any time with tend to suck.
  • The patroon system of 18th century New York is portrayed as very unjust in Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton. At the head of this is Affably Evil Nicholas Van Ryn, patroon (naturally) of Dragonwyck. However, the rest of the aristocracy is portrayed as mostly mean, unjust, thoughtless, or at least clueless.
  • The lighteyes of The Stormlight Archive have gotten a little power-mad over the centuries, which tends to drown out the ones who actually are honorable.
  • Several conspirators in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story in "The Phoenix on the Sword".
  • Practically every aristocrat (and no shortage of the common-but-rich) in the world of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence series is a spoiled, myopic monster who lives in luxury to put Versailles to shame, while the cities they rule over are dystopian affairs with enormous poor populations. Only three noble characters are portrayed sympathetically. Particularly monstrous is the so-called Amusement War in the demi-city of Salon Corbeau, a sort of living chess game played for galleries of rich merchants and nobles using impoverished and desperate peasants who volunteer in exchange for a pittance of money and room and board. Whenever a "piece" is captured, he or she is subjected to whatever ghastly punishments the players desire- torture, beatings, stoning, rape, anything short of killing them deliberately - and none of the aristocrats see anything wrong about this.
    • There's also mention of a noblewoman who Gentled (reduced to mindless husks wholly devoid of their own volition who have to be prodded to eat, excrete, or move) kittens so her sons could torture them with knives, because they were bored.
  • Most of The Talisman's aristocrats in the Territories are either evil or cowed into submission. The worst is Morgan of Orris and those working directly for him.
  • Almost all literary Vampires of the 19th century were aristocrats, as demonstrated by the already mentioned Lord Ruthven of John Polidori's The Vampyre, Sir Francis Varney of Varney the Vampire, Countess Carmilla Karnstein and Count Dracula. This trope has a modern successor—after the privileges of the nobility have been abolished and the elites are now comprised of a wealthy burgeois upper-class, vampires now tend to be filthy rich rather than aristocratic. Both tropes play on the symbolic connection between literal blood-sucking and the parasitic way of life of an (assumed) real-life idle class which does not by support itself by its own efforts, but by exploiting other people.
  • The United States in Trail of Glory does not have titled aristocracy given the setting, but many plantation owners with slaves in the antebellum south demonstrate just about all the features related to this trope.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle books play with this somewhat. Ambrose Jakis is the son of a rich baron and uses his birth and wealth as an excuse to be a colossal douchebag to everyone and especially Kvothe. On the other hand, Willem and Simmon are both sons of minor nobility and Kvothe's best friends, while Count Threpe is a Cool Old Guy who occasionally helps Kvothe and serves as a patron to a number of musicians and entertainers.
  • The Low Fantasy novel Gerfalcon by Leslie Barringer subverts this as rank isn't noticeably indicative of goodness or evil; there are two Complete Monster counts (one's actually a Mood Swinger who seems more-or-less reasonable most of the year, but then....) and one Evil Uncle count, but also some good and plenty of neutral counts. The hero starts out waiting to be given the title of baron when he turns eighteen, but becomes a viscount before he can claim his barony ... and within a year is himself a count. His cousin, a viscount, lazy and thoughtless but good-natured, was one of the few people at his uncle's castle who showed him any friendship. Also, one of the kindest men in the story is a baron throughout.


Meta[edit | hide]

  • Avoid viziers. Always. You're rarely safe with royal advisors of any title, but really avoid viziers.
  • Sheikhs used to be romantic, but since the 1970s oil embargo they're almost universally bad news in fiction: typically depicted as corrupt, greedy, lecherous, fat, and smug.

MMORPGs[edit | hide]

  • Trade Prince Maldy in the goblin starting zone in World of Warcraft Cataclysm is shaping up to be quite the scumbag.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The entire Scarlet Dynasty in Exalted is profoundly corrupt, continually scheming and backstabbing one another for the sake of power, wealth, and prestige. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Furthermore, the Scarlet Empress set things up this way deliberately, to ensure that her empire could never function without her.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Mario series has roughly 14 evil kings, 2 evil queens, 1 evil baron, 3 evil counts, and an evil major among various others.
  • Ragou and Cumore from Tales of Vesperia definitely fall under this trope.
  • Lunar Knights has two evil viscounts (most likely twins to boot), an Ax Crazy human-hunting Margrave, an evil scientist baron, and an earl who became a Necessarily Evil duke. Interestingly enough, in the earl's case, his ascension to dukehood was the capper of his career as an earl, bagging vampire hunters and Guild gunslingers alike and instilling fear in said opposition from all that rep.
  • Nobles in Dwarf Fortress aren't really evil, but they are nearly useless, expensive, demanding, obnoxious, oppressive to other dwarfs, and generally hated (and often killed) by the players. In other words, they provide a good example of the origin of this trope.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood features the Real Life evil Pazzi family, as well as Rodrigo Borgia. It also adds the rest of the Borgia family, as well as fictional Silvestro "The Noble" Sabbatini who engaged in human trafficking.
  • Embric of Wulfhammers Castle has several nobles, some good, some bad, some minor characters not worth talking about. The Duchess of Elstwhere is a perfectly nice and helpful aristocrat, despite her childhood, even willing to milk a cow as part of relieving the fears of the peasants. Her uncle, meanwhile, Bad King Greyghast the Terrible, well, managed to get himself called Bad King Greyghast the Terrible. And Duke Theremin is basically a bit of an entitled snot.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The throne of Order of the Stick's Asian-themed Azure City is threatened by an evil scheming aristocrat with the title of Daimyo, named Kubota who makes a deal with a (minor) devil in exchange for aid in assassinating the rightful heir Hinjo after he's ascended to the throne just in time to have a war to defend the city fall into his lap and makes several attempts while the battered fleet that evacuated the city seeks to find a safe harbor.
    • The previous lord of the city kept all of the backstabbing, ninja-assassin-happy aristocracy from killing him by pretending to be senile so that they instead played an elaborate game to attempt to influence the old man into ruling in their favor.
  • The King and Blue Princes of Winters in Lavelle aren't well liked. Ashton, unfortunately, happens to share the biggest identifying traits of Princes (almost inhumanly bright blue eyes). They've haunted the poor kid his whole life- his mother was even shown calling him a monster in a flashback, back when he looked to be around ten years old. And of course, nowadays, if any of the Retainers of Wistar- a group aiming to overthrow the king and assassinate the Princes along the way- see him wandering around...
  • The high-blooded trolls of Homestuck are more violent than the lower classes, with most having some shade of literally blue blood, and historically several Aristocrats have been villainous, from Marquise Spinneret Mindfang to E%patriate Darkleer to The Grand Highblood to Orphaner Dualscar and finally Her Imperious Condescension, a space-traveling tyrant also known as The Baroness, aka Betty Crocker. Their descendants either play this straight or subvert it, though the Condesce's descendant, Feferi, totally inverts it by being one of the nicest members of the cast.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Hell's hierarchy in The Salvation War included Barons, Counts, Dukes and Grand Dukes topped by His Infernal Majesty Satan. All of them evil, of course, although prone to a Heel Face Turn if the circumstances press.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A common belief among the Russian Old Believer population in the early 1700's was the Tsar Peter "the Great" I was none other than the Antichrist; mostly for his church reforms (schism), but he did a lot of other unpopular moves.
    • After that, Russian monarchs usually were supported by the peasant general populace as antagonists of the nobles, because nobles ran export oriented slave-driver economy [3] created by Peter I, while choking it was in the Emperors' best interests. E.g. Paul I was killed for trying, and the conspirators were afraid that unless they do it quickly, soldiers of the garrison will discover the ongoing coup, and slaughter them, raising without command [4] to protect the Tsar - his strange policies on lesser issues didn't matter.
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, when the concepts of democracy and liberalism were beginning to catch on in the United States and Europe, the aristocratic families of Europe were, for the most part, opposed to liberalism because it meant giving the common people a say in government, and if that was allowed, then they would no longer have absolute power.
  • The very existence of aristocracy is based on oligopoly of violence. The concept of nobility is the elite of violence—be they knights, samurai, sipahis, rajputs, narts or savaran—that is, elite soldiers who are stronger than the oppressed masses and are able to subjugate them and live off their work. The alternative for aristocracy is usually either plutocracy (domination of elite of economy), theocracy (rule by the clergy), or Anarchy Is Chaos.
    • Every state is based on an oligopoly of violence. More to the point, no one can help their ancestry and it is not unknown for any given aristocrat to be harmless or even useful in the present. What is closer to making this Truth in Television is that aristocracies tend to reflect conquests or robberies in the past. In other words aristocrats are hardly automatically evil but a good many of their ancestors were.
  • A lot of the problem that created the abuses of aristocracy in the past stemmed from combining proprietary, familial, political, military, and ceremonial authority in the same persons causing them to be Drunk with Power. Later when the ceremonial aspect was emphasized more and other aspects downgraded the ugly side grew less. In other words a queen whose portrait is on your wall is better then a queen who can cut off your head.
  1. in Britain, they're guaranteed to be foreign, since the equivalent local rank is "Earl"
  2. who basically bought the title and position with gold from Terra Nova, paid by Carrera's ancestor to buy arms to fight the proto-United Earth forces
  3. much like in American South, except serfs were everyone but nobles and townies
  4. officers were nobles, of course