Evil Is Cool

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Darth Vader Dual-Wielding chainsaw lightsabers. "If he got any more awesome he'd explode."

There is a reason actors fight for the chance to play the bad guy. The lines are great, the costumes are great, the songs are spectacular, the villains often look much sexier than the heroes, and they don't have to spend the whole shoot pretending they are nicer than anyone they've ever met.

Plus, there are all those wonderful toys!

Why is all that true? Why does the bad guy get all the cool stuff? Because you don't have a story unless you have conflict. The bad guy in most cases is the conflict: The Villain Makes the Plot. The more interesting the bad guy, the more interesting the story. It really is that simple.

Plus, there are all those marvelous toys! Wait. Already said that.

Compare Good Is Boring. Contrast This Is Your Brain on Evil and Being Evil Sucks. See also Balance Between Good and Evil. Ignore Good Feels Good, those traitors don't know what they're talking about. And those wonderful... Ahhh, forget it. One of the main reasons Love to Hate exists, among others. Dark Is Not Evil, Noble Demons, and some Anti Heroes (especially Nineties Anti-Heroes) harness the coolness of evil without the actual evil. Oh, and not to be confused with Evil Is Deathly Cold -- that's a different kind of cool entirely.

Examples of Evil Is Cool include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam. They have the fancy uniforms and scary Cyber Cyclops, and gained huge legions of fans in Japan and everywhere. Ali al-Saachez is incredibly popular with the fans, despite being a Complete Monster. Why? Well, for the girls, there's his rugged good looks, and for the guys? Put simply, Ali is horribly evil...and he's made of awesome.
  • Played straight in X 1999, where the main villain turns from rather dorky to very cool.
  • Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Movie, where Kaiba (the Anti-Hero) says to Yami (The Hero) during their duel "You're pathetic! No one cares about you! I'm the only reason people watch Yu-Gi-Oh!. Me, Seto Kaiba! I have all the cool gadgets, I have all the best outfits, and I have the most powerful monsters. Nobody would be watching this movie right now if it weren't for me. So just this once I deserve to win."
  • Inverted in Pokémon: Jessie, James, and Meowth can't do anything evil right, but are highly useful when they're working with Ash.
    • Played straight in "Training Daze", in the Japanese version, at least, where it is shown that Jessie and James were actually pretty cool.
    • And as of the Unova saga, they now have new black costumes, gliders, jet packs, a bunch of spy gadgets, and effectively kick ass.
  • Light Yagami from Death Note clearly fits.
    • As do most of the other villains, especially Mello and Ryuk.
    • The author himself was shocked that so many people seemed to love evil characters such as Light. He probably decided to have Light lose and die at the end simply because so many people wanted a character he purposely made evil to win.
    • That outcome was almost certainly planned from the start. However, they probably made Light's epic crash and burn ending even harsher than originally conceived to drive home what they really thought of their "hero".
  • Examples in Code Geass.
    • Lelouch/Zero, of course. Although not truly evil like, say, his father (see below), his motives are definitely questionable.
    • Charles zi Britannia, who's voiced by none other than Norio Wakamoto.
    • Britannia as a whole. A ton of fans tend not to see all the nazism and casual mass murder because of all the pretty uniforms and badass mecha!
  • In the Bad Future of Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi's students capture Takane D. Goodman and her posse, and (painlessly) Mind Probe them to know where Negi is imprisoned. This leads to the following exchange:

Asuna: Don't we look like the bad-guys here?
Haruna: Bad-guys are cool!

  • Sir Crocodile of One Piece pulls this off almost too well. By all intents and purposes, he is the prime example of a Complete Monster, with a list of atrocities that can fill a book. However, he commits his evil acts while dressed like a blinged-out mafia don, complete with a ring on almost every finger and a pimpin' green fur coat. Not only that, but he controls an organization made up of Crazy Awesome Badasses, owns a casino, trots around with a scantily-clad hot chick as his #2, keeps incredibly dangerous predators as pets, and is also made of and can control sand, and he has a hook for a hand. That's just darn cool. But he's such a bastard...
    • You can't one up a bastard-8 foot plus tall-knight-marine-Godfather-insanely choking-likely rapist-pirate who kills people by touching them named Crocodile...unless you are a silent-8 foot plus tall-gangster-pirate-superstrong-hetero-ninja who is also a sword named DAZ BONES. He's like Raven from Tekken, only bigger, stronger, a pirate, has no need for weapons, and has the greatest name ever hands down. His loss, or, actually, both of their losses, lost the strawhats fans.
    • Hell, all of the villains are incredibly awesome in their own singular ways. (Except maybe the World Nobles. They're about as "cool" as Those Wacky Nazis, which is the whole point.) Though the best way to put it is...

Y, Ruler of Time: on One Piece's villains How is it possible that these guys are so awesome I want to root against the Straw Hats?!

"I always found those justice-defending heroes in manga and on tv to be so stupid... the villains were always so much cooler."

Comic Books

  • The Joker, in most incarnations. It doesn't matter whether he's a giggling, goofy clown prince of crime (e.g. the 60's Batman television series), a mass-murdering sociopathic Monster Clown (e.g. The Dark Knight Saga), or a seemingly impossible mixture of the two (e.g. Batman the Animated Series), he will inevitably overshadow every other character, have all the best lines, and, while Batman will always have the best toys (he's the goddamn Batman, after all), the Joker will find the most creative and spectacular ways to use the tools at his disposal. No matter what he does or who he does it to, he will make you laugh, because of the simple fact that he's just that good.
    • Discussed in an issue of Batman: Black and White, a short-story anthology. In this story, Batman and the Joker are actors playing their comic book roles as if they were roles in a movie. The Joker brings up the fact that Batman always gets to make a big, dramatic, splash-panel entrances, complaining that he never gets to look that good. Batman then points out that the Joker always gets the best lines, while he just has generic crime-fighting hero lines.
    • Ahem, Harley Quinn; in fact, she is often much cooler when she's evil than she is when she's an Anti Hero.
    • Batman in general is a magnet for this. When your main character is a traumatized billionaire dressed as a bat and you have villains drawing your attention far away from that, it really says something.

Le Tueur: I have a confession to make: I only like the Batman because he has the best villains!

  • In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom practically owns this trope. He's a science genius who wears a cloak and a suit of armour, rules his own country, and lives in a castle. And refers to himself in the third person! DOOM insists on it!
  • Monsieur Choc, the main villain in the Tif et Tondu Belgian comic book series. He is considered so cool that he is the reason the series became popular in the first place, and the recent re-releases deliberately put him as the focus on the covers of the stories chosen.
  • The titular character of Lucifer is a horrible, destructive person, but (likely in reference to Paradise Lost below) is incredibly awesome all the same.
  • Daredevil villain Bullseye; even if he's a Psycho for Hire, he still has enough style that it's gained him many fans.
  • Played with in Sin City. The pure evil characters are usually pretty ugly and often cowardly, or just plain creepy. Some of the good guys, however, are at the extreme end of anti-herodom. The most popular tend to be Marv, Dwight, and Miho, who would normally be considered bad guys in any other work. They are also damn cool.

Fan Works


  • Darth fucking Vader.
  • The Matrix has an obvious example of this trope: Agent Smith. Hugo Weaving in general apparently loves playing awesome bad guys. Take a look at V for Vendetta and Red Skull Even more so, Megatron (see below).
  • Cesare. There's a reason that so many other characters - usually nicer ones - look like him.
  • Almost every Disney villain imaginable turns out to be cooler and much more lovable and funny than the protagonist. Having really awesome Villain Songs probably helps.
  • "The Black Cauldron" may have not been a smash hit, but the Horned King is by far the most redeemable part of the movie, being subtle, yet terrifying and can get scarier when excited.
  • And who could forget the sexy, singing smog cloud that was Hexxus in Fern Gully (voiced by Tim Curry, no less)?
    • Really, any villain played or voiced by Tim Curry will shine so much that it can be almost dangerous in how awesome they turn out. Screw the protagonists, let's throw them in a death trap so we can hear the bad guy do that evil laugh again!
    • Legend thrives on this. People may complain that Tom Cruise isn't wearing pants and there's glitter on everything, but those horrifically cheesy lines the Lord of Darkness provides? Priceless.
  • Subverted in Spider-Man 3: when he's possessed by the symbiote and 'evil', Peter Parker thinks he's this, but is still noticeably geeky and clueless—he's just now arrogant and obnoxious as well (but he does become the most supernaturally smooth tango dancer since Gomez Addams). Furthermore, the symbiote eventually merges with Eddie Brock, who is noticeably slimy, unctuous, and creepy.
    • Played perfectly straight by Spider-Man 2, though. Doctor Octopus is made of win.
    • In terms of Spider-Man movie characters, Venom would have been the epitome of this trope if he hadn't been killed off so quickly.
    • Norman Osborn was kind of cooler as a business scientist than as the Green Goblin, though, apart from a few aerial acrobatic moments and maybe his first murder...and he was coolest while talking to himself and wigging out.
  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda, all the way. He's also one of the most sympathetic characters in the film.
  • Darryl Revok of Scanners. Bad, bad dude. Pow. Michael Ironside pretty much always invokes this trope, even when playing a nominally good guy.
  • Applies to various evil monsters in the Godzilla movies, especially the Godzilla Final Wars version of Gigan that gets Chainsaw Good hands for the final battle. Also applies to Godzilla himself in the films where he is evil.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Queen Jadis in her bright attire out-cools almost all of her opponents on the battlefield, possible because actress Tilda Swinton is inherently cool in all her roles. In Prince Caspian, nasty uncle Miraz has some of the best lines (although it's hard to beat Edmund), the best beard (not counting Aslan's), and probably the genuinely best set of armour.
    • Miraz was less cool in the book, but the all-dialogue scene in the Howe with the hag and the werewolf was one of its most memorable bits, mostly due to the werewolf's creepy bragging. Of course, it ranks up there with Aslan growing delicious grapes for everyone and the duel.
  • Blood Feast is a great example of this. Fuad Ramses is the only good character in the whole movie.
  • The 1985 film Fright Night has Jerry Dandridge.
  • The independent horror/comedy film Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon has the coolest new killer who looks up to Jason and Freddy, who lets a crew document his future reign of terror. Leslie Vernon is not only charming, witty, and genuinely friendly; before beginning his legacy, while in a library, he says, "Paradise Lost? Found it!" while grabbing John Milton's Paradise Lost. And he keeps turtles as pets and then tells the young woman interviewing him that he only kept pets that he could eat. His mask is amazing as well.
  • Avatar. Colonel. Miles. Motherfucking. Quaritch. Works out to stay strong on a planet with weaker gravity, commands a platoon of tough ex-armed forces mercenaries, rocks a customized mecha with a freakin' dragon painted on the gun barrel and a huge-ass combat knife, holds his breath, kicks down a door and steps into toxic air simply to pursue a traitor with his assault rifle, sports scary as hell scars on one side of his face, and rides to battle in the Dragon Gunship while sipping fine Arabica Roast coffee. That he possesses the courage and determination to keep fighting no matter the odds merely adds to his Colonel Badass bona fides.
  • The Lord of the Rings films bring a perfect examples of this.
    • While the men of Gondor are just a bunch of unshaven men wearing plate mail, Sauron has not just his orcs and trolls, but the soldiers of Rhûn, spearmen with remotely creative looking armor and warchants that sound like the Haka, and the Haradim, who ride mumakil, which are essentially the ninety foot tall war elephants that Hannibal had wet dreams about. Their impact onto the frontlines of a charge from the Riders of Rohan (which had routed an orc army of dramatically superior size) was a moment where even the orchestra abandoned the forces of order as the Haradim rampaged through the helpless Riders until driven off by the Strong as They Need to Be protagonists.
    • Plus, Sauron's armour is ridiculously cool looking. Spikes everywhere, a huge, crownlike helmet that looks like a horse's skull, and the whole thing has a faint and delicate poison ivy motif etched into it.
    • Also, just as applicable, Saruman. Of course, it helps being played and voiced by Christopher Lee.
    • For a giant eyeball, Sauron is quite cool-looking himself. And then, of course, there's the Nazgul.
    • Even though he was a minor bad guy, the Uruk-Hai captain that popped up at the end of the first flick was also cool as hell. He's one of the few characters that gets to smack Aragorn around a little, does a really cool Captain America (comics)-like shield throw, and has the audacity to shove Aragorn's sword into his gut the rest of the way with utter contempt and defiance.
    • Then, of course, we have the Balrog, who is probably the Boba Fett of the movies series: he's a One-Scene Wonder that takes out a major hero for the remainder of a movie and is one of the more memorable characters.
  • Keyser Soze of The Usual Suspects is clearly a monstrously evil man if even half of the things said about him are true, but his coolness in doing them is indisputable, particularly given the famous twist ending has made him a by-word for the Diabolical Mastermind.
  • Hannibal Lecter—is there a character more evil, or more cool? And he was only in The Silence of the Lambs for a total of eighteen minutes of screen time, a record for the least amount any (leading) actor has had in a movie that resulted in an Oscar win.
  • Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds.
  • For a very dark example, Col. Koobus from District 9. He's undeniably a Colonel Badass in every respect (though also a mass-murdering Complete Monster, which, of course, hasn't stopped a Misaimed Fandom bordering on Draco In Leather Pantsing).
  • The Joker from The Dark Knight Saga is both incredibly evil and highly admired by audiences. His skill in committing crimes, his witty commentary on a variety of subjects, his clever assessments of how people are going to react, his darkly comedic approach, his willingness to laugh at everything, including being beaten up by vigilantes (who he would rather see kill him if it means proving that the potential for brutality is within them), and his overall highly unconventional approach to villainy probably has something to do with this.
  • Completely subverted with Roman and Minnie Castevet in Rosemarys Baby - the tackiest Satanists ever.
  • Hans Gruber. That is all.
    • His brother Simon also qualifies.
  • Gabriel from Constantine. Also, the Devil and Balthazar.
  • The Decepticons of the Transformers, as they usually are in most Transformers series. Case in point: the Autobots are limited by their desire to make Earth their second home, and must take on friendly appearances and altmodes to blend in with civilians. The Decepticons, on the other hand, have no such limitation. Therefore, they take on the forms of tanks, F-22s, and satellites, or, in the case of Megatron and Shockwave, simply reject reformatting their original forms. Additionally, they have access to numerous weapons, ranging from Transformer-sized fighter jets to a giant mechanical worm that serves as a war beast. Even the humans are aware of this, as Epps, at one point, asks to no one in particular "How come the Decepticons get all the good shit!?"
    • Megatron (as mentioned above) is possibly the best example of this among the 'Cons themselves, especially in the first movie where he's at his most Ax Crazy and Badass, and is easily the most interesting and entertaining of the robots in the movie, despite getting less screen time than the humans or Autobots. Oh, and he's voiced by Hugo Weaving (see above).
  • The cultists in The Babysitter, and even more so in the sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen. Yeah, Cole and Phoebe are great characters and the viewers love them, but the bad guys and gals are just so entertaining that you're almost sorry they have to lose in the end. Laughably Evil almost to a fault, they actually provide some of the best lines in the film.


  • This has notoriously been the biggest problem with John Milton's Paradise Lost. Satan is, in fact, so much more interesting to read about than God or Christ (except when the latter gets into His chariot) that William Blake thought Milton was "of the Devil's party without knowing it." The immense Misaimed Fandom hasn't helped. Even though what looked like was going to be an awesome battle scene over Earth turned into Satan running away after realizing that he's not cool anymore, which the sneering angels already knew, and the rest of the story after that shows him being humiliated worse until he wins with Eve and the narrative loses interest in him, for the most part. He's still falling the whole time. But who gets past the first couple of books, anyway?
  • Claudius the God is the story of Emperor Claudius, portrayed as a basically decent and honorable man thrust unwillingly into a position of ultimate power. I, Claudius chronicles the reigns of Augustus (and his wife Livia), Tiberius, and Caligula. Guess which one is the most fun read? In case you need a hint: one chapter of Claudius the God is devoted to the protagonist's visit to the doctor.
  • Defied in the Tortall Universe. Kel is disappointed that Blayce is not some grand wizard, and instead, just a short and ugly wimp. His muscle isn't too impressive either.
  • Subverted in The Screwtape Letters. Devils are bureaucratic, cranky, selfish killjoys who actively try and reduce the pleasure sinning gives people.
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories averts and references this. The villains are the enemies of all stories - therefore, they despise anything that looks interesting or impressive. The Big Bad, Katham-Shud, even turns into a dramatic Eldritch Abomination One-Winged Angel form for all of a second just to contrast this trope to his weaselly, unimpressive self.
  • Stephen King reportedly hates this idea, and his later works try to send the message that "evil is pathetic". This is probably why the villains from his The Dark Tower series suffered severe Villain Decay in the last book.
  • Lestat. Vampires are always cool, Lestat even more so.
  • The (extremely fangirled) White-Haired Pretty Boy Pollution in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens is VERY MUCH Evil Is Cool. And hot.
    • And Crowley
    • All of the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse fall under this trope, as the parts featuring one or all of them are easily the coolest and most awesome parts of the book.
  • Although you wouldn't know it from reading the actual book, where he is hideous, disgusting, and creepy, Dracula us essentially responsible for the entire western world's vampire obsession.
  • Lord Voldemort He's one of the most powerful and cunning characters in the series and has a kickass army of Dark wizards and various sinister creatures at his disposal.
  • Dante's The Divine Comedy is split up into three poems, detailing the narrator's journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Guess which one is the best known? Similarly, while everyone knows about the Seven Deadly Sins, not too many people are familiar with the Seven Cardinal Virtues (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Meekness, Temperance, Brotherly Love, and Diligence).
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, Murtagh does a Face Heel Turn and get his strength boosted to many times his original level by being taught "secret magic" by Galbatorix. He is considered an Ensemble Darkhorse by many, especially in comparison to Eragon.
  • Among the Redwall fandom, the Exclusively Evil vermin tend to be more well-liked than the Always Lawful Good woodlanders.
  • Although determining who is "evil" in A Song of Ice and Fire can get quite difficult, there are some characters who simply exude cool. Tywin Lannister, especially when he puts on his golden lion battle armour, his son Jaime, the Faceless Men, the White Walkers, both Cleganes, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, Varys "the Spider", Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and Kevan Lannister

Live Action TV

  • In Family Matters, Extroverted Nerd Steve Urkel's formula based off the "cool gene" transformed him into Stefan Urkél, who was suave but amoral. However, this was subverted in Stefan's next appearance, where Steve revealed that he'd accidentally involved the "evil gene" in the formula; from then on, Stefan was both cool and nice.
  • For some reason, evil, batshit insane, brain-stealing villain Sylar from Heroes is a lot cooler than sane, geeky Sylar. Apparently, evil wears contacts. Ditching the specs (and also acquiring stubble) seems to be mandatory for characters taking a walk on the dark side. Consider Wesley from Angel: glasses on—the scholar and gentleman of the group. His attempts to be baddass are laughable. Glasses off—beds Lilah, keeps a woman tied up in his closet, breaks rogue Slayers out of jail, and tortures junkies for information.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:
    • Spike, who, before he was turned into a vampire, was laughed at and wrote "poncy poetry", whereas when he was sired, he became all bad ass. (His actor, James Marsters, has since made this his specialty, as the rest of this page shows.)
    • Evil Angel is about seven times cooler than Good Angel. It probably has to do with the lack of brooding. Evil Angel is funny. He also gets several times smarter when he goes evil, which was lampshaded in the episode Awakening.
    • In an alternate universe, Xander and Willow got rid of their geeky sides after vampirization, instead opting for black leather and a smooth demeanour.
    • Faith thought this for a while, until she saw what a Complete Monster she had become and attempts suicide by Angel, then Buffy.
  • The Master of Doctor Who, in all his incarnations.
    • Same with the Daleks.
    • Also Davros.
    • Brother Lassar. He's played by Anthony Head. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • While many villains in Game of Thrones clearly do not fit, many other morally degenerate ones do. Daenerys Targaryen has always been cool, but degenerating into a merciless Knight Templar, has only made her ten times more awesome.
  • Captain John Hart of Torchwood. Kills someone and then says, totally bored, "Thirsty now". Casually admits he killed someone, apologises for the mess, clears a bar of all he considers ugly, and orders one shot of every drink in the bar. Then drinks what appears to be an entire bottle of Vodka. In one go. With no noticeable side effects. Comes out with regular quips. The only person who really gets the better of him is Gwen Cooper. It helps the same actor played Spike in Buffy, and there is a definite similarity between the two.
  • Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, possibly the only political satire character ever to have been likened to Darth Vader.
  • Ba'al from Stargate SG-1. He's the one System Lord who wasn't handed an Idiot Ball, and, as a result, causes all sorts of unexpected trouble for SG-1. True, he also usually wears some really nice clothes that seem to be specially tailored. He's also one of the more fun, hammy Goa'uld, partly due to his pride and being a bit of a Deadpan Snarker with a really good plan.
  • Power Rangers; Lets be honest, the good guys are cool and all, but the monsters are the real stars; creativity in these things is the key that's made the show so popular.
  • The villains in Batman were always more colorful than Batman and Robin. No wonder so many established actors were willing to play them!
  • Mark Shepherd plays delightfully evil characters in Firefly, Supernatural, and Leverage that seem to come out on top and have lots of fun while doing so. From his shiny shoes to his amazingly charismatic voice, he effortlessly manages to outshine and out-cool the regulars on the show.
  • "Chaos", a rival computer hacker on Leverage seems to genuinely believe this and adopts it as his personal philosophy.
  • Supernatural: Castiel seems to get more bad ass and confident as he turns to the dark side in Season 6.
    • Also, lots and lots of the smarter villains. Including a season-seven appearance by an aging James Marsters, playing an apparently immortal witch capable of treating our god-killing heroes like gnats. Many of the coolest ones get Enemy Mine situations (like Crowley) or turn out to be fairly decent, or at least relatable, like Patrick the Gambler.
  • Scorpius from Farscape is this, right down to the leather clothes.
  • This is why Tubbs and Edward and Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen are the most remembered characters: they're easily the most fucked up.
  • Robbie Rotten from LazyTown. Yeah, he's Laughably Evil at best, but he steals the show half the time, and you can't help but laugh your butt off when he does. Just watch this number and try not to love it.
  • Smallville:
  • Just in general, on many reality TV shows, the villains are much more memorable and recognizable than the heroes are.
  • A series of ads for Jaguar automobiles, beginning around 2015, portrayed Jaguar as the car of movie villains played by Britishers, with the Catch Phrase "It's good to be bad."


Often subverted in the lyrical content, however. A lot of black metal is individualistic in the Nietzsche Wannabe tradition, while death metal tends towards either nihilism or more traditional "punk ethics". In these cases, the Evil Is Cool aesthetics are intended to be provocative and anti-social, rather than to be taken at face value. It's much less a rejoicing in actual evil as it is simply an embracing of this trope at an aesthetic level. Lyricists are aware that people, and they themselves, find villains, darkness, and horror to be interesting. As bands like Cannibal Corpse have said, very few extreme metal bands take their own lyrics seriously, and those who do are usually rather unstable. As Black Sabbath also stated, they're intended to be viewed much in the same light as horror films. A lot of bands simply use their music as a Villain Based Franchise.

  • Without a doubt, the coolest song in The Decemberists' Rock Opera The Hazards of Love is The Rake's Song, which happens to be a man casually telling the story of how he nonchalantly murdered all his children.
  • Powerman 5000's "Super Villain" song. That is all.
  • Dr. Steel. Many fans like him not for the music, but for the incredibly cool Steampunk Villain getup.

Professional Wrestling

  • It was this concept that led WCW to temporarily take the crown as the #1 wrestling promotion in the world with the New World Order. Although the nWo was comprised of heels, the charisma of its top members like Hogan and the Outsiders, combined with some innovative marketing (this announcement has been paid for by the New World Order), attracted many fans to their side.
  • Many professional wrestlers profess to enjoying playing a Heel far more than playing a Face. For some of them, this can bleed through into their performances, such that a wrestler who undergoes a Heel Face Turn actually loses popularity due to his lackluster performances afterwards. There's a reason a lot of professional wrestlers and wrestling fans tend to think Good Is Boring. Faces tend to fall into being good role-models or, because Good Is Dumb, lose any Genre Savvy skills they had as a heel and end up with no real personality. Heel Face Turns often result in promos that don't consist of anything more than saying, "I respect my opponents," "I want to prove that I'm the best," etc., as opposed to being able to take advantage of their creative mic skills. This is probably why many of the most popular wrestlers of the last twenty years have been tweeners or even heels, as opposed to faces.
  • A good heel turn can also pretty much save someone's career and end up making them a star after a disastrous or boring face run. See The Rock, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Santino Marella for prime examples of this in the past decade.
  • An interesting phenomena is when, through excellence in performance, an interesting persona, and good mic skills, a supposed Heel wins over the crowd and becomes a fan-favorite Heel.
    • When Kurt Angle first joined the WWE, he was considered to be a yet another "real" fighter who had not yet paid his dues as a Jobber. However, his ring skills were incredibly impressive, and his two gold medals (1996, Atlanta Olympics, and 1995, World Championships) weren't fake. Even more impressively, he won one of them while having a broken neck. And then, something miraculous happened. During a Monday Night Raw episode, the crowd started chanting "You Suck, You Suck" along with Angle's wrestling music. His reaction not only clarified his persona, but it also created the most loved heel in the history of wrestling.
    • The Rock had little or choice in the matter. The level of his creative and imaginative speeches won over the crowd almost against his will. One example of many, many, many classic Rock moments here.

Puppet Shows

Tabletop Games

  • Chaos epitomizes this trope in Warhammer 40,000. Then again, so does the Imperium...
    • Also, Kharn the Betrayer. Seriously, what a great guy!
    • From the spinoff Dawn of War computer games: Eliphas the Inheritor is universally considered one of the top five characters, as is Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter. Mainly because Eliphas is almost painfully badass and Gorgutz is awesomely insane.
  • Magic the Gathering reintroduced the Phyrexians, who want to corrupt and assimilate the entire multiverse. Naturally, half the fan base takes their side. 51%, at last count, in fact.
    • They eventually won the popularity contest and took over the world which they were fighting for.
  • Exalted: Infernals are widely considered to be way more awesome than Solars. The Solar charmset is generally viewed as kind of bland (the overriding theme is "I am really good at this" with a few paragraphs for each Charm describing what they are good at and how that is expressed), while Infernals do things like turning a glass of water into a tentacle or undergoing mitosis. Solars have an ascension path of "Solars with higher Essence", while Infernals can forge themselves into new Primordials. Abyssals, on the other hand, are much less popular due to flaws in their Charmset and limited support for character paths other than "angsty penitent" or "kill the world and piss on the ashes".


  • The Shakespearean characters every actor wants to play are his most notorious villains, Iago of Othello, and the eponymous Magnificent Bastard of Richard III. Similarly, every actress wants to be Lady Macbeth, his greatest villainess. The roguish buffoon Falstaff was so popular that Shakespeare gave him his own spin-off comedy in which he is the protagonist. (By royal command, no less - Queen Elizabeth turned out to be one of Falstaff's admirers.)
  • Similarly, the really cool characters in opera are not the tenor good guys, but the jealous/mad/pervert baritones and the creepy basses who sing low notes of Doom. Who would ever prefer the nice, boring tenor Don Ottavio to the Magnificent Bastard Don Giovanni? Or, in Der Freischütz, prefer the utterly bland Max to the ribaldly malevolent Kaspar?
  • And one of the greatest soprano roles in the entire repertoire is the evil Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, despite having only two solo arias—they're both complete show-stoppers, especially "Der Hölle Rache köcht in meinem Herzen" ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart").
  • Despite the fact that The Phantom of the Opera is an obsessive, controlling, homicidal, textbook 'bad boyfriend', he is inevitably the one the audience roots for. You'll have to scour through hundreds of Phantom/Christine Shipping Fan Fics to find one Raoul/Christine, and it's better than even money that actors would rather play the Phantom. Why? Raoul is a largely ineffective ponce; Erik drops chandeliers on people. Plus, in the case of the musical, he gets all of the cool songs and a stylish black cape.
  • Mr Doolittle of My Fair Lady is an amoral drunkard, but for all his faults, "With a little bit of luck" is so charming, we can't help but think this guy cool.
  • The entire point of the Villains Tonight! stage show on the Disney Cruise Line, featuring Hades, Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, Yzma, Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil, and Dr. Facilier all together in one show!

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

  • On a more or less literal example, sites like Something Awful and Encyclopedia Dramatica took off on and later propagated the idea that e-baggery is hip and whoever feels empathy for others is not a true nerd.
  • Evil Flippy from Happy Tree Friends.
  • Mecha Sonic from Super Mario Bros Z is incredibly evil, yet incredibly Badass. Every time he appears in the story, he hands someone's ass over to them (Yoshi's brutal defeat in episode 3 and the utter massacre that was episode 6 come to mind). The series is already 8 episodes long and the most heroes managed to do was temporarily inconvenience him.
  • While calling him evil is a bit of a stretch, Strong Bad of Homestar Runner was originally intended to be a bumbling bad guy who always lost. He quickly became the most popular character on the website. His old introduction video actually said "you don't know it yet, but I'm the real reason you're here." From the first Strong Bad Email: "Do you use [your powers] for good, or for awesome?"
  • On web critic Phantom Strider's list of "Top 6 Worst Characters from The Simpsons" he feels the need to point out, over a scene with Mr. Burns, "NOT on this list; Mr. Burns is awesome." See it here.

Western Animation

  • Kim Possible:
    • Shego lives for this Trope. For starters, her backstory reveals that she started as a hero but turned villain since evil is cooler. And then she does, in fact, become the coolest person in the show.
    • It's not surprising considering all the crap she puts up with.
    • Every time some sort of Applied Phlebotinum brings out goofy old Ron's Super-Powered Evil Side, he becomes so damn awesome at being evil that he actually scares Shego.
    • Senor Senior, Senior was just a bored billionaire until Ron gave him the idea that it would be really cool if his mansion were an actual supervillain lair.
    • Ron often parodies this trope when faced with Deadly Invention of the Week.

Ron: That would be so cool if it wasn't going to hurt us.

  • Mighty Max: the archvillain Skullmaster was voiced by Tim Curry. Luckily, for the rest of the cast, he only showed up in about 5 episodes. But in those episodes, well, he pretty much rules hell, and has demon and zombie armies at his command. Oh, and he can outsmart the Smart Guy and beat the Big Guy in a straight fight. Oh, and all of his convoluted plans succeed...except for the last one. Maybe.
  • The Big Bad of Teen Titans, Slade, is the most utterly Badass character in the show.
  • Megabyte from ReBoot. While fairly average throughout the first season, in subsequent seasons, he became increasingly hardcore, with impressive plans and still enough time to hand the heroes' asses to them in occasional fights.
  • You're watching Futurama, the show that does not advocate the cool crime of robbery!
  • On the Halloween Episode of The Fairly OddParents, every kid wanted to dress as the Jack O' Bots, four villains from Crash Nebula, since the bad guys' costumes were the coolest.
  • David Xanatos from Gargoyles, who manages to be both really cool and really fascinating.
  • Beast Wars:
    • Blackarachnia is very popular amongst the fanbase—like she says, she's hot, poisonous, and deadly. (Also, a Femme Fatale with the sort of body most fanboys only get to look at, that might also have something to do with it.)
    • Other popular Predacons include Megatron, Inferno, Tarantulas, Quickstrike, Rampage, and Waspinator.
    • The villains always have cooler names. The Autobots have "Optimus Prime", "Bumblebee", "Ironhide", "Ultra Magnus", "Trailbreaker", "Cliffjumper", "Bulkhead" and "Blurr", but how do they compare with Decepticons "Megatron", "Starscream", "Devastator", "Demolishor", "Frenzy", "Bonecrusher", "Barricade", "Blitzwing", "Shockwave", "Skullcruncher", and..."The Fallen"?
    • Megatron. In any incarnation. Also, G1 Megatron's Leonard Nimoy-voiced alter ego Galvatron and, as mentioned above, his Tyrannosaurus Rex (later dragon) Magnificent Bastard successor from Beast Wars, also called Megatron.
  • Care Bears: for some older fans, the main villains of the Nelvana series and movies are more entertaining than the Care Bears and Cousins.
  • The Dreamstone falls under similar territory. The fanbase largely favors Zordrak and the Urpneys over the cutesy residents of the Land Of The Dreams. Granted, for the Urpneys, it may be more a case of "Evil Is Funny".
  • Similar to Xanatos and Slade above, Tombstone and Green Goblin, the two main Big Bads of The Spectacular Spider-Man, are perhaps two of the most awesome characters in a series full of them.
  • Who was your favorite character from Fantasia? If you responded anything but Chernabog, the towering demon on the mountain from the end of the movie, your pants are now on fire. In this film, the director obviously saved the best for last.
  • Victor Veloci, the villain of the horrifically Anvilicious and poorly researched Dino Squad, is seen by many of the show's few viewers as the only interesting character.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender;
    • Her Majesty Princess Azula of the Fire Nation. Aside from being able to do all sorts of neat tricks with her blue fire and her ability to bend lightning, she's also the walking embodiment of Dangerously Genre Savvy (her actions in the Book Two finale are simultaneously Nightmare Fuel and a Crowning Moment of Awesome).
    • Zuko also managed to profit from this; considerably less since he's a) not that good at being evil and b) The Woobie even when he's evil, but it gave him a certain style and badass cred that seems to help draw in the fans. Especially in the beginning of the first season, when he was actually the villain.


    • Koh the Face-Stealer was also kinda cool.
    • Don't forget the Dai Li!
    • And Fire Lord Ozai. Not the Magnificent Bastard his daughter is, though he sure seemed something like it until he completely lost his mind.
      • That's backwards. Azula may be a sadist, but she's not a Complete Monster; she goes a bit Ax Crazy when she goes mad, but it was the result of her two best friends betraying her. Ozai, meanwhile, approaches A God Am I levels of insanity when we finally get a good picture of him.
  • Amon from The Legend of Korra is already getting this rep. He's voiced by Steve Blum and therefore has a deep voice that he uses in frightening threats, a cool and scary mask, and doesn't even flinch when fire blasts into the room he and his mooks are in, incapacitating said mooks. Finally, he absolutely terrifies Korra. A completely normal non-bender manages to terrify the most powerful bender in the world. And just as she's starting to get her confidence back, he ambushes her and delivers a Hannibal Lecture so effective that she breaks down into tears afterwards.
    • Amon has achieved true Magnificent Bastard status in record time. It took only six episodes to achieve it and he's only had a major part in THREE!
  • Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes is undoubtably the most popular character on the show. The sheer number of evil tropes that apply is staggering.
  • An in-universe example: in one episode of The Simpsons, Bart dismisses the entire genre of Christian rock because "everyone knows the best rock groups are affiliated with Satan."
  • The Brain-Eating Meteor from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy; that guy has the coolest Villain Song ever, bar none
  • Rick and Morty: Well, there's Rick, of course, but it's rare to find a villain who isn't cool on this show. Some notable examples:
    • Fart, a foul-smelling, sentient cloud of gas who loves to sing, and has a great voice for doing so.
    • Snowball, Morty's dog who becomes a super-intelligent canine who hates humans (except Morty) after Rick's attempt to make him smarter works too well.
    • Shleemypants, a 4th-dimensional Humanoid Abomination with godlike powers and a Knight Templar, who's attitude and (foul) language is that of a hip-hop artist. He's a riot.
      • Even more so in a later episode where two members of his species have to interact on an assignment; they're as rude and vulgar to each other as they are to anyone else and their dialogue is just as hilarious.
    • Beth's Mytholog. Created via alien technology, it is a physical representation of the way Jerry perceives Beth, at least in his darkest nightmares. This is basically the Xenomorph queen with Beth's face. Not that Beth's far-more benevolent Mytholog created to fight it wasn't cool too.
  • King of the Hill has Hank's father, Cotton. He's a bigot, he was a terrible father, he has almost no morals... And he's a really fun character that makes you laugh your ass off.
  • The Netflix reboot of Carmen Sandiego lets you take your pick of villains. We have Tigress (The Rival to Carmen, Deadpan Snarker Cat Girl), Professor Gunnar Maelstrom (can give Emperor Palpatine competition for hammiest and coolest Evil Old Guy), Countess Cleo (manages to be a villainous and exotic-looking Ms. Fanservice without acting or dressing like a call girl) Paper Star (costume alone puts her on top, and she can turn paper into lethal weapons; probably inspired by Shego, but still adds a unique touch), and the Cleaners (the type of guys who are much scarier when they don't talk). Even Mime Bomb, who was obviously created to enforce the usual opinion of mimes, has a few awesome moments.
  • In-Universe example in the 2012 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; when Michelangelo sees the prototype for Kurai's new Elite Mook androids, he says, "That thing is awesome! In an... evil sorta way."
  • Ask anyone who was a kid in the 80s and they'll tell you Silverhawks was a show where you almost couldn't help Rooting for the Empire, as Monstar and his Mob were much more entertaining than the almost one-dimensional heroes. Seriously, The Dragon to the Big Bad was a guy who fought with a giant tuning fork, who couldn't love that? In fact, while Monstar was pretty much a clone of Mumm-Ra from Thundercats (the series was pretty much ThunderCats IN SPACE! produced by the same company) he was a very well-done adaptation of Mumm-Ra.
  • The Frost Miser and Heat Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus. Easy to forget that Mrs. Claus is the star here, these two Laughably Evil guys seriously steal the show with their squabbling and musical numbers. They're TOO MUCH!
  • Overlapping with Evil Is Sexy, Cousin Mel in Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Many critics have called the special mediocre at best, Mel being the Breakout Character that is its saving grace.

Real Life

  • As mentioned above, actors frequently mention that playing the villain is just more fun, not just for the cooler clothes and such, but from an acting standpoint in general. Heroes can be rather dull, simply doing the right thing because it's the right thing. That can be boring for an actor, but a villain usually has more layers. Is he mad with power? Does he have a Freudian Excuse? How did they get to where they are? There's usually more in a villainous character for an actor to sink his teeth into.
  • The Nazis may have been horrible, genocidal, and tyrannical, but at least they knew how to [dead link] dress, thanks to Hugo Boss. As P.J. O'Rourke once observed, people don't fantasize about being tied to a bed and molested by someone dressed like a liberal.
  • Many actors will tell you that playing the villain is a lot of fun. See The Villain Makes the Plot for the reasoning.
  • The Roman Catholic baptismal vows include one about rejecting the "glamour of evil". They recognized it.
  • A lot of kids on the Internet like tacking "evil", "dark", and "666" in their usernames. This is usually not cool, however.
  • Charles Manson is probably the most well-known of many, many killers and worse that have legions of adoring fans. He didn't even have to kill anyone himself, he was cool enough to have people do it for him.
  • Many in the West are fanboys of Glorious Mother Russia's military equipment. Such as a 500 ton flying machine designed to operate at 20' altitude and 250 mph.
  • While not exactly evil, many ferocious, predatory animals (such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and great white shark) are regarded as cool and Badass, thanks in part to the various movies and other works that depict them as threatening antagonists.
  • A little girl joins the Dark Side.
  • The reason why in airsoft, you have Chinese people dressing up as USMC, Americans dressing up as Spetsnaz, and Russians dressing up as PLA. Also, "evil" is highly subjective considering how each 3 factions have spotty records and human rights violations at one point or another.
  • Private Military Companies often fall under this trope, and Blackwater load-outs are fairly popular in airsoft.
  1. to be fair, he made a Heel Face Turn beforehand