Dark Is Evil
"From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment."
Basically, darkness associated with evil, ugliness, and scary monsters. This is the reason for the naming of The Dark Side and why Evil Counterpart characters and certain Underground Monkeys often have 'dark' in front of their names. Like all Color-Coded for Your Convenience/Good Colors, Evil Colors examples, this is common, but not universal, and will vary from culture to culture.
The logic behind the trope is as follows: most humans fear the dark, because dangerous animals can see better in the dark than we can, and the dark can hide other dangers. Furthermore, the fact that it's so hard to see in darkness (well, for humans, anyways) has caused some of us to associate darkness with deception. Evil is associated with deception as well, so, from Star Wars to cowboy movies, a lot of bad guys wear black hats. If you want to be even more obvious about it, give the bad guy a name that has something to do with darkness.
If a character has darkness-based powers, see Casting a Shadow.
Stories where Dark Is Evil and Light Is Not Good are commonplace to show that the light can be just as foul as darkness.
Here are the Image Links.
Media in General
- Black is the favorite color of the Card-Carrying Villain, as it is believed to be the color of death.
- Vampires are commonly seen in black.
- Witches and Necromancers as well.
- While the Full Moon is a case of Light Is Not Good, one has to remember that werewolves only pop up during the night, which is the only time that the full moon will be present.
- Berserk: the Godhand are the Big Bads of the series. All of them are Black Demons.
- Dragon Ball: Turles, Goku's Evil Counterpart, wears all black and has much darker skin than Goku to match the armor.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: the homunculi all wear black and have dark hair.
- G Gundam's Devil Gundam was renamed "Dark Gundam" in an edited English dub.
- Hellsing: Alucard the vampire has darkness powers. He's also DRACULA himself.
- Highschool of the Dead: Koichi Shido wears black, complete with Scary Shiny Glasses and pale white skin.
- Black Butler. Sebastian isn't called the kuro shitsuji for nothing!
- Howl's Moving Castle: Howl's night-black bird-monster form is said to be wrecking his soul, even when he does have a good reason to fight.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: while the Book of Darkness herself is a textbook case of Dark Is Not Evil, the Darkness of the Book of Darkness is an Omnicidal Maniac Eldritch Abomination.
- Ditto with the Ruler of Darkness, Hayate's completely Evil Twin that was formed from the remnants of the Darkness of the Book of Darkness during the climax of the Battle of Aces video game.
- Mai-Otome: the main antagonists use dark-themed GEMs. Nina Wang has an Ultimate Black Diamond, which is said to be representative of her "extreme and mostly selfish" bonds with Sergay and Arika, which is the opposite of the selfless bond between Master and Otome exemplified by the original Pure White Diamond. Tomoe and the rest of the Valkyries use Cursed Obsidians of the Darkness, and Schwartz, named after the German word for black, is evil.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Johan Trinity pilots The Dark Based Eins Gundam.
- Onegai My Melody: the Big Bad is simply called "The Spirit of Dark Power", and anyone possessed by it will say the word "dark" as a Verbal Tic.
- One Piece: both men who have Dark-related Devil's Fruit powers, Blackbeard (Darkness ala Black Hole) and Gecko Moria (Shadows) are, indeed, not pleasant people.
- Pokémon: none of the main protagonists own Dark-type Pokemon. Finally subverted as Ash's egg hatches into a Scraggy (Dark/Fighting) in episode 17 of Best Wishes!.
- On the other hand, it is made clear that Poison-type Pokemon (the most "evil" type before Dark was introduced) aren't evil, even if they're sometimes forced to serve evil masters.
- Sailor Moon: The Dark Kingdom and the Black Moon Clan.
- Saint Seiya: The Black Saints.
- Hades and his Specters.
- Unlike Villain Protagonist Light Yagami, Misa Amane from Death Note fits this trope. So do most of the Shinigami, especially Ryuk.
- Darkseid (pronouned "dark side") in The DCU.
- In the Strontium Dog "Max Bubba" story, Bubba's Vikings all wear black armor. The (somewhat) more good Vikings that side with Johnny have rather paler armor and weapons.
- Among the various differently colored forces in Green Lantern, there are several who tend to favor evil methods, such the Sinestro Corps, the Red Lantern Corps, and Agent Orange. However, the worst by far is the Black Lantern Corps, an army of Zombie Mooks who can all regenerate From a Single Cell. Their ultimate goal is The End of the World as We Know It, with "the world" in this case being every living thing in the entire universe. They are so evil that every other color, good and bad, teamed-up to stop them.
- Marvel has Dormammu and Umar, rulers of the Dark Dimension. It's been implied that the Dark Dimension is something of a Fisher Kingdom, however, and millennia of Dormammu's rule has made it into the nasty place it is today.
- Amatsu-Mikaboshi's true form is a mass of infinite darkness, specifically the Primordial Chaos kind that preceeded all of reality, and is an Omnicidal Maniac.
- Black Mamba.
- The Dark Side in Star Wars.
- Also from Star Wars, Darth Vader wears a dark costume in the original trilogy and Darth Sideous wears a cloak so his face is in shadow. Word of God is that Luke wears a light costume and it gets progressively darker as he goes from innocence to accepting the dark side as something that exists and overcoming it as opposed to avoiding or destroying it.
- Nosferatu has a pale villain, but he wears a dark coat and needs darkness to survive. It's from this film that all modern legends of vampires and daylight not going together stem. In the original novel, Dracula was able to walk around in human form in the daylight.
- The Cowboy Western genre tradition of having the bad guys wear the black hat was not as common as later writers would think. However, some certainly held to it, such as Once Upon a Time in the West and Shane, and you'd probably never imagine Lee Van Cleef without one.
- In Erik the Viking, Halfdan the Black got his nickname from being evil.
- Deconstructed sharply in Spike Lee's biopic of Malcolm X. In the prison library scene, Charles Dutton's character gives a monologue about the implicit association of darkness with evil and lightness with good in the English language, which has a profound effect on the man who would later name himself X.
- Actually, a lot of bigotry has historically been "justified" (in the minds of the bigots, at least) by applying this trope to black people. No wonder it has Unfortunate Implications.
- Surely, a group called the League of Shadows will do nothing but good deeds, right? Right...?
- Some Disney Villains have this:
- Pictured above is Chernabog. Appropriately enough, his name means "Black God".
- Queen Grimhilde initially has only a black cape, then she wears a totally black cloack in her old hag disguise. One of her potion's ingredient is also the black of night.
- Maleficent, who wears a black wardrobe and turns into a black dragon for her One-Winged Angel.
- Professor Ratigan has a black suit, which contrasts with Basil's brighter outfit.
- Jafar is dressed in black and red, the latter of which is another typically evil color.
- Scar from The Lion King. He has black Mane and dark skin.
- Hades from Hercules
- Judge Doom, the Big Bad from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, is totally dressed in black: black cape, black suit, black hat, and black cane.
- Frollo is an odd case, wearing all black, but otherwise representing Light Is Not Good.
- Darkness, a US-Spanish coproduction from 2002, plays this trope straight, if you couldn't guess from the title straight away.
- From Legend, the demonic villain Darkness.
- In How to Murder your Wife, Jack Lemmon's Italian bride stays up late watching American movies on TV and keeps asking "Which are the good guys, the white hats or the black hats?" I think that whatever she knows or doesn't know about America, that's one concept she would certainly have learned in Italy.
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
- And before him was his own master, Morgoth (which means "The Dark Enemy of the World"). Some of Tolkien's unpublished writings imply that dark is associated with evil because Morgoth's ultimate goal is to tear down the world until it is reduced to the original primordial void.
- Notably averted with Tolkien's Dark Elves, the Moriquendi. While "Dark Elf" has come to mean evil in nearly every subsequent High Fantasy, the Moriquendi are simply Elves that never went to Aman and never saw the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. They're just as good, if not better, than any other group of Elves and are even represented by one of the most popular Elves ever, Legolas.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel Blood Pact, the presence of the blood wolf causes the street lights to go out as it races by.
- In The Wheel of Time, the Big Bad is called the Dark One (there are also other names, but Dark One is the most common one) and the evil side, i.e. everyone and everything associated with the Dark One is referred to as Shadow. Human servants of the Shadow are called Darkfriends, one name for the creatures that command the universe's Orc-equivalents is Shadowmen, and...yeah, maybe you get the point by now.
- According to the movie adaptations of Chronicles of Narnia, the Pevensie children are divided in two categories: Peter and Lucy, who are fair haired, are the good kids compared to Edmund and Susan, who are dark-haired and fall to the dark side at least once (Edmund betrays his siblings to the Big Bad and Susan falls into disgrace later, when she refuses to believe in Narnia anymore and is left outside Heaven - aka Narnia).
- The Dark Faery court from Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. Although, this is possibly a subversion - they are more cruel than evil and need to be to survive. They are essencially emotional parasites, but Irial truly loved Niall and Leslie (although he was very cruel to them, using Leslie as an emotional conduit and stripping her of emotion and free wiil and allowing his servants and guards to both phsically and sexually abuse Niall), and although Gabriel comes into the 'abusing Niall' category, although only physical, he was NOT one of the fey who raped Niall - this is a common misunderstanding - and can be incredibly kind to his halfling children. Niall himself comes more under Dark Is Not Evil, although the injustices of the past push him more and more towards the moral grey area Iri and Gabe occupy.
- Prevalent in Madeleine L'Engle books, starting with A Wrinkle in Time, where the Black Thing covers the world of Camazotz and a similar one threatens to engulf the planet Earth. In later books, the Echthroi (repeatedly refered to as "the powers of darkness") also gain an association with a horrible sound and a disgusting smell.
- The Old Kingdom is an example of both Dark Is Evil and Dark Is Not Evil, as necromancers and the Sealed Evil in a Can that they represent are the main antagonists, but then again, the protagonists also use Free Magic (which tends to be pretty nasty) to fight it.
- In The Rape of the Lock, Umbriel (whose name means "Shadowy") goes to the Underworld (the pit of Ill-Humor) to bring up a bag of temper tantrums to create even more chaos.
- Both averted and played straight in Thud! Discworld Dwarfs, spending so much time underground, have a whole mythology around spirits of darkness, some of which are evil and some of which aren't - the Big Bad of the story is the Summoning Dark.
- The court that comes out during the dark of the moon in Wildwood Dancing.
- Mr. Hood and his "family" in The Thief of Always, though they don't seem dark at first...
- The Big Bad in the Gone (novel) series is sometimes called "The Darkness".
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", the high priest, having deduced the story of a demon is not All Just a Dream, says, "Mitra guard us against the powers of darkness!"
- In Warrior Cats, when villains die, they go to a forest of pure darkness.
- Also, most of the main villains have been dark brown tabby toms, for some reason. Even Thistleclaw, a gray and white cat, accidetally got described as dark brown a couple times. Once fans pointed this out, villains began to have different pelt colors: Sol and Mapleshade are torties and Dark Forest cat Snowtuft is white.
- Averted in Diana Henstell's New Morning Dragon, where the Devil insists on wearing white suits at all times.
- Glee, obviously, makes use of this, although with an interesting variation; every single male character who is an asshole wears black. The only exceptions are the jock bullies, who wear typical jock attire, and the occasional Anti-Hero. The (usually) unambiguously heroic Kurt Hummel does wear dark purple, but he does so less and less, so the Dark Is Not Evil factor probably decreased.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the outfits of many vamps take on this trope. Also, The Bringers, servants of the First Evil, all wear black robes.
- On Lexx, His Divine Shadow might as well wear a placard around his (black-clad) neck announcing that he is an Evil Overlord. Between the title, the black robe, and the decor of his planet-sized Evil Tower of Ominousness, it's pretty obvious.
- Lost: an extremely blatant example--Jacob wears white and the Man in Black/smoke monster wears black.
- In a TV movie on the making of the Vietnam Memorial in DC, people kept objecting to it because it's black and therefore bad and makes their sacrifice seem bad. A black army officer stands up and reminds him of his years of service and that if anyone makes another comment on how "black is bad" they are going to take it outside.
Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends
- In Zoroastrianism, the demon Ahriman is often associated with darkness.
- The drow ("dark elves") in Dungeons & Dragons, except Drizzt.
- Dark Elves and Dark Eldar from Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 respectively.
- The Ebon Dragon in Exalted. A fifty-mile-long dragon made of the shadows of everything, he's also the inventor and embodiment of the concept of being a treacherous, sadistic, needlessly cruel scheming asshole.
- Inverted in the beliefs of the Zykhee from VOR: The Maelstrom - being evolved from a nocturnal species, their culture believes that Dark Is Good and Light Is Evil.
- Magic: The Gathering: Black follows this quite faithfully. Although white is often oppressive and tyrannical, black is at least as bad.
- Kamigawa being the foremost rare exception.
- Black is also the color of entrepeneurs and businessmen - a not-so-subtle Take That against materialism?
- The opposite, in fact. It's intended to indicate that nothing is purely evil. See MaRo's article on it.
- The Queen of the Night in Mozart's opera Magic Flute.
- Bionicle plays this straight, but also subverts it: every character in the Matoran Universe has an inner balance of light and shadow. Those characters that tap into their dark side or are drained of their inner light turn evil as a result, gaining shadow-based powers and becoming darker in their coloration. At the same time, thanks to Color-Coded Elements, some element-based good guys also sport dark colors and a handful are almost completely black.
- Nintendo loves this trope.
- A few examples from the Super Mario Bros. series: dark enemies in Paper Mario are more evil and powerful, Bowser's Super Mario Bros 3 castle is located in Dark Land, Super Mario Sunshine's Shadow Mario is evil, etc., etc..
- Kirby Final Bosses Dark Matter, Dark Mind, and Dark Nebula. They're not related to each other.
- Well, Dark Mind seems to be the Mirror World's version of Dark Matter.
- Metroid Prime 2 and Dark Samus.
- Dark Link is an evil counterpart of Link in The Legend of Zelda.
- In the Japanese version of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, the first Big Bad is known as Darkness Dialga. The US version instead translated it as Primal Dialga. The Bad Future is also distinctly associated with darkness.
- Darkrai. Freaking Darkrai. Did I mention he tells you to go kill yourself?
- Also, "Dark", the English name of one of the 17 elements common to all Pokémon, was localized directly from "Evil", as the type is known in Japanese. This explains why many moves of the Dark-type involve doing immoral things like stealing or lying or having "bad thoughts". Though the type had relation to darkness even in the original games, such as Eevee evolving into Umbreon at night.
- Subverted in that not all of them are evil. Mightyena (a hyena/wolf mix) is very loyal to a skilled trainer and Absol is just plain misunderstood.
- Played straight for Hydreigon. Although (like all Pokémon) they can be loyal to skilled trainers, they are generally nasty creatures that savagely attack Anything That Moves and devour everything in sight with their three heads. Oh, and it's Ghetsis' signature Pokémon too.
- Kid Icarus generally follows this trope, perhaps Anviliciously.
- While it can be that Dark Is Not Evil in later games, the Dark Magic in Fire Emblem Jugdral and the people who use it, the Lopt Sect, are very evil, although in Thracia 776, you can recruit an ex-clergyman.
- The Dark Elves are the evil guys in ZanZarah, though there is an additional distinction between Darkness and Chaos and The Man Behind The Man is of the Light Is Not Good variety.
- Opoona follows this quite heavily, to the point that most people can't even enter true darkness without serious damage to their mind and body. Justified in that it's actually The Corruption, created by the ultimate Big Bad of the setting, though not the game itself.
- In the Jak and Daxter series, the titular character is an Anti-Hero with a Super-Powered Evil Side, but that's the extent of any Dark Is Not Evil overtones. The world's magical Psycho Serum is black and purple DARK Eco, Precursors corrupted by it become DARK Makers, Metal Heads literally live off of it, and the first game's Big Bads turned into Omnicidal Maniacs after being exposed to it for too long. Oh, and out of the five people who underwent the Dark Warrior Program, only Jak got out alive...because he's special. Not to mention the fact that both Jak and Daxter's dark alter-egos are Ax Crazy.
- Kingdom Hearts mostly plays this trope straight, in that The Heartless are the manifestations of the darkness in capured hearts. It's subverted when Riku reverses his Face Heel Turn, though: it ends up still causing him pain, but it also does a service in the fight for good.
- Alan Wake. Deary me, Alan Wake.
- The Fatal Frame series of games almost always involve some failed ritual releasing an evil, corrupting presence known simply as the "Malice" or the "Dark".
- While Ragna from BlazBlue follows the opposite of this trope, the Black Beast responsible for the Crapsack World and the source of Ragna's power embodies it. In Jubei's own words, it was "evil, the likes of which the world has never seen".
- In the sequel, it is revealed that Hazama/Terumi Yuuki is this as well by virtue of his nice, black suit. Mu-12, who calls people by expository titles, refer to Hazama as "The True Evil", indicating that he is even worse than the Black Beast itself. (Those who have played the story up until that point probably gloss over this as a Late Arrival Spoiler, though, because they've already seen what Hazama is capable of first hand.)
- In Minecraft, enemies spawn in any dark areas (whereas non-enemy animals spawn on grass in the light).
- Shadow the Hedgehog. Subverted in that he's more of an Anti-Hero (most of the time).
- In Warriors of Might and Magic, you can't learn Dark spells, and the few swords imbued with the dark element aren't really strong. Furthermore, Skeletons, Ghouls, Undeads, Wraiths, and Demons have the Dark Element with them.
- The RPG series notes that Dark magic isn't evil as such - it is how you use it that is important - but it includes spells whose casting can be called evil no matter the circumstances (sacrificing a hireling for a temporary advantage!) and is associated with the Path of Dark, a religion/philosophy that nigh-universally seems to attract cruel people that want to do bad deeds.
- The first Fable has this in spades, with dark clothing giving you evil points and bright clothing giving you good points and evil characters morphing to have darker features. The sequels ease up on it, but it's still present.
- The Darkspawn of Dragon Age. The Taint that created them originated from the corrupted Golden City in the Fade, now known as the Black City. Subverted slightly in Awakening with the appearance of intelligent Darkspawn, but even then, the more antagonistic faction of the awakened Darkspawn wear black armor.
- The Final Fantasy series uses this along with its sister trope.
- Final Fantasy II has the Emperor of Hell, though the emperor of Heaven isn't any better.
- Final Fantasy III gives us the Cloud of Darkness.
- Golbez is a Black Knight who serves as the main antagonist in IV. Not really. He's Brainwashed and Crazy and under the control of the true Big Bad, who plays this trope straight.
- This deserves further clarification—the original IV equates dark-elemental abilities with The Dark Side, even having the dark-elemental protagonist's "Spirit" score drop as he levels up and becomes more hardened. As part of the plotline, he's eventually required to give up his powers and Restart At Level One with light-elemental abilities. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years goes a more balanced route—having been unable to completely purge his dark side, the hero is ultimately forced to accept and control it. Dissidia Final Fantasy takes this all the way to Dark Is Not Evil.
- Exdeath has The Power of the Void.
- In Final Fantasy VI, God!Kefka qualifies. Though depicted as an angel, he has purple skin, and underneath the angel wings are a pair of demonic wings.
- Sephiroth. He wears black and has a black wing.
- Also, in Dissidia Final Fantasy, he has dark-based moves, such as Shadow Flare and Octaslash.
- League of Legends: Morgana is a fallen angel, in contrast with her sister, Kayle.
- Katarina wears black. She makes no secret of the fact that she's a villain, and even enjoys it.
- Nocturne. He'd give Pokémon Mystery Dungeon's Darkrai a serious run for his money.
- Viegar may or may not be a Harmless Villain, but he certainly fits the bill, due to use of Darkness spells and the wearing of Purple and Black.
- Malzahar, like Exdeath of Final Fantasy V, uses a variation of the Void.
- While Swain doens't wear any dark colors, he does turn into a Demonic Crow.
- While most monsters in the Monster Hunter series are feral animals that don't abide by human morality, darker colored monsters tend to be very aggressive and dangerous. And of course, the rare few that are knowingly malevolent and destructive are also colored this way. A few standouts include:
- Black Diablos. Take a female Diablos, an already ridiculously aggressive species of wyvern, and crank her aggression Up to Eleven. The result is a terrifying, brutal demon of a monster who's an active threat to just about anything in her vicinity. According to the lore, the coloration and aggression are cased by a rush of hormones during the species' mating season.
- Savage Deviljho, which are deadlier version of the already ridiculously dangerous Deviljho, and are wreathed in an aura of dark draconic energy.
- Dire Miralis, a humongous Elder Dragon that looks as if it was sculpted from dark volcanic rock, and is practically the apocalypse in the form of a dragon.
- Gore Magala, a Xenomorph-looking dragon that is the source of a disease that causes monsters to turn into rabid berserkers.
- Fatalis, a wicked and cruel Elder Dragon that is defined by its powerful hatred of humans. It comes in three different flavors, with the black Fatalis being known for destroying an entire kingdom in a single day and melting hunters alive by pressing its heated chest onto them, and using their bodies as armor.
- The Beast Legion: the villain Dragos and his Shadow Nexus embody darkness.
- Bird Boy: the villain stole all the light in the world.
- In Impure Blood, the Mooks wear black armor. (And are killing people and have already destroyed one town.)
- It's still up in the air where Sinfest falls in regards to this—devils aren't always evil, but the capital-D devil definitely is, and his influence is highly corruptive. (Then again, Light Is Not Good is in effect as well—the most moral characters are the ones who seek some form of balance.)
- In The Adventures of Shan Shan, the monster, except for its Glowing Eyes of Doom, is pitch black.
- In Soul Symphony, the villain Tom Mustaine is always seen wearing a black shirt, black wristbands, and sunglasses. But that may just be because he's a Metalhead.
- The main villain from Samurai Jack, Aku, is essentially a giant shadow demon, and things under his control are often artistically depicted as being wrangled by black veins. There's another element to his darkness as well, with robot enemies having black thick oil instead of blood, and his effect on the corrupting effect on the world is a pollution of it in some cases.
- Both subverted and played straight with Raven from Teen Titans. She's not evil, but she is part demon, and that's the side of the family her powers come from. This means she has to maintain incredibly strict self-control, especially while using said powers, lest she lose control of them or, worse, unleash her Super-Powered Evil Side.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is the first clue Jet (synonym for "black") is not such a good guy.
- In Allegro Non Troppo 1, all the animals are brightly colored and cartoony, except for those jerk-face apes with red eyes and black sclera who wreck the planet as they become human but remain vicious animals on the inside. Averted in the beginning with the black proto-blob, unless evolving out of human trash counts as evil.
- Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic played this very straight, being a jet black Mad God who usurped Princess Celestia and plunged the world into eternal night. While her true self, Princess Luna, isn't evil, Word of God confirms that the rest of Equestria is still afraid of her partly because of her actions as Nightmare Moon and partly because they still believe in this trope.
- In The Superhero Squad Show episode featuring Chthon (represented as a grey, wrinkled, vaguely demonic man with claws, pointy teeth, and glowing eyes)...
Iron Man: So, what's your prognosis, Doctor?
- The color black is seen as the color of death in some countries.
- These associations became omnipresent in western countries, but elsewhere, white is the colour of death instead. Red has historically also been associated with death; whether it counts as "dark" or not depends.
- Time Magazine darkened O.J. Simpson's face when they put his mugshot on the front cover, leading to a lot of criticism from anti-racist commentators.
- Light is vital for plants. Over time, darkness will kill them.
- Some uniforms from Nazi Germany were black. Especially a certain type of uniform worn by the SS has ingrained into our collective consciousness the image of the creepy Nazi officer who is dressed in pitch black.
- Black holes, reality-bending cosmic horrors and sinkholes in space-time. Nothing can escape their destructive might, not even light (which is why they're dark).
- Since they constantly suck light, though, they tend to be always very bright, hence Light Is Not Good as well.
- The terrorist organization Islamic State flies a black flag, and their fighters are most commonly filmed in their propaganda and execution videos wearing all black clothing from head to toe.
- Black Butler, duh