Dark Is Evil

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"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.

Why Evil Is Not Well Lit and having the sun vanish is a bad sign. See also Light Is Good, Bad Powers, Bad People, and Obviously Evil.

Dark Is Not Evil is the subversion and the good counterpart of this trope. Another subversion is The Sacred Darkness, where Dark may or may not be evil, but is just as important as Light.

Here are the Image Links.

Examples of Dark Is Evil include:

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.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books


  • 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.

Live-Action TV

  • 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.

Tabletop Games


  • 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.

Video Games

  • Nintendo loves this trope.
  • 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 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.
  • League of Legends: Morgana is a fallen angel, in contrast with her sister, Kayle.
  • 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.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • 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?
[Doctor Strange sizes up Chthon, who is cackling and rubbing his hands]
Doctor Strange: He's evil...?


Real Life

  • 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.
  1. Black Butler, duh