Evil Is Petty

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Joker: I’ve been paying this smoothie kid to keep writing "Bang" on all his orders.
Harley: Oh, my God, that's the guy Bane wants to blow up.
Joker: Oh! That's fantastic. You know, everyone remembers me for the big crimes, the murders, the cripplings, but it's the little ones that keep me going.

The tendency of "evil" including not just major acts of villain, and attempts to take over/destroy the world, but also generally being a malicious utter dick. Some examples include:

  • Being rude.
  • Securing a high reward for your actions, and then forcibly shaking down your "customers" for even more afterwards.
  • Not aiding people who are injured, homeless, or otherwise down on their luck.
  • Using racist or sexist slurs.
  • Jaywalking.

This is when you have a villain that slaughters a village, bombs a country, rapes the president... And then he picks a pocket, spits on an old lady, sticks a kick-me sign on a police officer, takes someone's parking space, and cuts in line at a fast food place. He's not just evil on a large scale, he's evil on all the tiny little details of everyday life he might experience in any possible situation. Bonus points if his reasons for villainy to such an extent are equally as petty. After all, if you are destroying the world because your childhood sweetheart dumped you, sabotaging all Valentine Day celebrations in the county and not tipping waitresses because your ex worked as one isn't really that farfetched.

In video game settings with a Karma Meter, this means that being classified as Evil requires not just being uncaring towards people, but going out of your way to be nasty in any circumstances. This is an unfortunate side effect of there being an in-game benefit from reaching particular levels of evil. When maxing out your Karma Meter gives you a Stat Boost, you're strongly encouraged to do every little act of evil you can to get there as quickly as possible.

An opposite trope is Affably Evil, in which a villain genuinely behaves in a very pleasant, friendly, and/or downright honorable manner. Compare Disproportionate Retribution, where many a case is generated by the villain's pettiness.

See Also: For the Evulz (where the character does evil because it's evil), Punch Clock Villain (where being evil is just a job), and Poke the Poodle (for when the character isn't particularly evil).

Note that while this trope is mostly used in comedy, Complete Monster villains can have also this trait.

Examples of Evil Is Petty include:

Anime and Manga

  • K from Karakuridouji Ultimo has no problem with killing five billion people, because it means he won't have to wait in lines as much.
    • This is only appropriate, as Vice, the karakuridouji he's partnered with, is supposed to represent the "Ultimate Evil"- namely, incompetence- (in contrast to Ultimo's "Ultimate Good"). Despite the fact that this would in theory make Vice and Ultimo equally matched, in reality, Vice is just as ineffective as his master - it's the other Evil douji, who aren't limited by being the "Ultimate", that you have to watch out for.
  • Roberto from Monster. Johan destroys lives like some kind of freakish artistry, but is always unfailingly polite. Roberto kills people, commits acts of vandalism and works as Johan's enforcer while at the same time being sexist, creepy, petty and rude.
  • In Durarara!!, Izaya first shows how far he'll go to troll people by kidnapping a suicidal girl named Rio Kamichika to "prove" that, since she was scared, she's not really suicidally depressed and is just being a whiny Emo Teen (and then he invites her to prove him wrong by showing her a ledge to jump off of and dangling her from it). His second act of vile depravity? Breaking someone's cellphone.
  • Inukami!: As if killing Kaoru and beating down the inukami weren't enough, Jesei stoops to reading Yohko's diary aloud.
  • In the first series of Fullmetal Alchemist, Dante takes over people's bodies and has thousands of people die to make the Philosopher's Stone for her to use so she can live longer, manipulating the Homunculi by lying that she will make them human. She wants to take over Rose's body next so she can screw Ed, the 15/16 year old son of her former lover (and possibly husband) Hohenheim. She's very abusive towards her Homunculi servants, and is killed by Gluttony after she lobotomized him so he wouldn't think about anything besides eating.
  • Ren Sohma from Fruits Basket is a Complete Monster selfish bitch who ruins the life of her daughter Akito aka the God of the Zodiac and thus those of everyone surrounding said person... purely because she was deathly jealous and envious of said daughter because her father, Akira, adored her. Considering the horrifying consequences, Ren comes off not just as evil, but as repulsively self-centered and vain. Not to mention pathetic.
  • Although how evil she is is a bit debatable, Crea, the leader of the evil organization Jackal in Ratman ordered the titular hero (who is her underling) to cut the power to a restaurant because the waitress was rude and her food was late.

Crea: If I had a bomb, I would have blown that place up!
Shuto: You've said that five times already.

  • Although he was The Dreaded and Shrouded in Myth in backstory, Madara Uchiha is striking in several aspects once he makes an appearance in Naruto; he is strikingly powerful, bordering on Only the Author Can Save Them Now...and yet as a person beneath all that power and status he's actually repulsive in a rather pathetic way. Madara is phenomenally self-centered and egotistical for a legend whose claim to fame was being Always Second Best to his rival Hashirama Senju, the 1st Hokage in Konoha's history; he reveals in a flashback that he was responsible for the poor diplomatic relations between Konoha and the Hidden Stone village when he sabotaged peace talks he was supposed to oversee purely to spite Hashirama's plan of making peace between the five great nations. He then dips into sexism during his posturing to try and intimidate the Kages, looking down on Tsunade for being a woman and repeatedly underestimating what she's capable of. When you realize the Assimilation Plot Naruto is racing to thwart was cooked up by a spiteful, sexist warmonger out of no greater ambitions than as an ego trip, it allows Madara to rather spectacularly avert Evil Is Cool.

Comic Books

  • This is quite often the reasoning behind the Joker's less horrifying crimes. In a way, it just it makes Joker seem like even more of a Complete Monster as he truly sees no difference between throwing cream pies, robbing a museum, and brutal, torturous mass-murder. To him, it's all just part of the joke.
  • Kingpin dives headfirst into this in the Born Again arc, sacrificing his calmness and methodical approach (the factors that made him such an intimidating and effective villain in the first place) for his vendetta against Daredevil.
  • Janus Valker, from Rat-Man can't stay good for a single minute. It's not just killing people out of boredom, ruling a shadow corporative agency and hunting his heroic nemesi. He likes to cripple laboratory assistants, ruin careers for very slight (or imaginary) reason and starve homeplants. On purpose. Now, the comic's hero has an obsessive compulsion to kill cats and cripple noisy children, but still...
  • Sleeze, the New God in charge of porn is the embodiment of this trope. Darkseid banished Sleeze from Apokolips because he thought a god of porn was too petty to play any part in his schemes to conquer reality. It says something when Darkseid thinks you are too petty. The Lord of Apokolips usually plays this trope straight- examples include forcing his minions to murder their pets, murdering (or trying to murder) relatives of his enemies for foiling his Evil Schemes, executing his minions for speaking out of turn, and setting free his slaves....and putting them in charge of the next batch, just so the hero can watch them become as cruel as the old slave drivers.
    • Sleeze really does take the cake when it comes to pettiness though; he had total mental control over Superman, and instead of forcing him to do any number of terrible atrocities against the human race, he made him star in a porno.
      • With another man's wife, just because he can and to see the poor guy's reaction.
      • Of course, admittedly, the adult film industry is an incredibly profitable endeavor...
  • Lex Luthor has many moments where he indulges himself in petty acts of evil and cruelty. Especially if it involves women. He once frequented a diner for a week so he could court a particular waitress. Then he offered her a life of fame and luxury if she would be his lover. But he drove away in his limo before she could make a decision, leaving her to ponder opportunites lost. Just something to amuse himself with. He also once strangled his female martial arts instructor, just because she knocked him down during a sparring session. Post-crisis Luthor is basically depicted as a petulant asshole who holds grudges against anyone who even slightly challenges his authority.
    • He also frequently addresses Clark Kent as "Mr. Lois Lane", and openly puts the moves on Lois and/or makes disparaging comments about Clark's masculinity right in front of them, just to be an irritating dick to two people whom he dislikes.
    • He once stole forty cakes from the school bake sale in his youth because the school administration wouldn't let him enter a fission-powered toaster in the science fair.
    • Taken to new lows in Action Comics. Luthor gives up omnipotence and the chance to give everyone in the universe eternal bliss—all because one of the conditions of keeping that power is that he can't do anything negative with that power such as, say, destroying Superman. To Luthor, godhood is meaningless if he can't use it to crush his greatest foe.
    • His entire grudge against Superman is proof of his pettiness. He's all but admitted that the only reason he hates Supes with such a passion is that Superman is the first person he met that is both more powerful than he is and completely unwilling to bend to his will. The fact that he's the world's greatest hero and has inspired others to defy Luthor only galls him more. Supes has called him out on this complete waste of his potential multiple times to no avail.
    • He once framed Bruce Wayne for murder when Bruce cut all ties between Wayne Enterprises and the US Government in protest of Luthor becoming president.
  • Doctor Doom may act exactly like a Magnificent Bastard of an Evil Overlord with delusions of grandeur, and adhere to the appropriate conventions of nobility and respectability to go with it, but it doesn't change the fact that in the end he's still an arrogant prick who's spent half his life obsessively trying to kill his old college pal Reed Richards for being smarter than he is, and whose attempts to Take Over the World, overthrow governments, and gain supreme powers are all motivated by the desire to prove that he's smarter than Reed and rub it in his face. He's basically a Spoiled Brat who wants the chance to yell "nyah nyah nyah nyah!" at the object of his jealousy.
  • Replace "Doctor Doom" and "Reed Richards" with "Loki" and "Thor" (and "being smarter than him" with "possibly being more favored as a son") and you get the basis for 95% of all the trouble Loki's ever caused. And Loki stoops so low as to pick on a fish for fun.
  • In the infamous Spider-Man arc "One More Day," Mephisto makes a deal with Spider-Man to erase his and Mary Jane's marriage from the time-line in exchange for Aunt May's life. He doesn't even want Spider-Man's soul, since that would be a Heroic Sacrifice, nor does he have any sort of complex Evil Plan in the works—he[1] literally just doesn't like the fact that Peter and Mary Jane are happy together.
    • Mephisto was just as petty when he went after Silver Surfer back in the day. He didn't attack him because of some master plan or because Surfer had done something to him. He just couldn't stand the Surfer's noblity. For a hell lord, Mephisto is pretty petty.
    • Mephisto also tricked a hapless bartender into agreeing to become his personal living immortal inkwell because the guy had the balls to ask for a tip. This after he spent the night talking about all of the various irons he has in the fire that lead to Fear Itself among other things.
  • Norman Osborn started off with a plan to take over the criminal underworld of New York by killing Spider-Man and gaining a rep. By his second appearance, he was in it just to kill Spidey but even that changed. For the next forty years, he existed for the sole purpose of screwing with Peter, going so far as to orchestrate the Clone Saga to mess with his head. If he committed that much effort into taking over the world, he probably would have become a major Marvel villain much earlier than Dark Reign.
  • Eddie Brock/Venom of Spider-Man fame is another example. His reasons for wanting to kill Spider-Man vary by medium (usually involving losing his job), but they're ALL extremely petty.
  • Red Skull has some pretty grand and horrifying ambitions, but he always takes the time to stop and be a total dick to his most loyal followers just for the hell of it. It all comes down to the fact that Red Skull hates just about everything in existence. If he can't cause widespread misery with plans that threaten the world and beyond, he'll happily settle for petty acts of cruelty like eating food in front of starving children.
  • Professor Zoom, unable to kill Barry Allen before he becomes The Flash because it would cause a paradox instead abuses time travel to make his rival's childhood miserable. House burn down? Zoom did it! Future best friend is murdered before you even met him? Zoom! Door left open so the dog got out and killed by a car? Zoom!

Fan Works

  • The Council in Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, kills the entire audience of the Cooking Duel after their team of Madara and Sasuke loses to Ronan. Ronan, while not intended as evil, also counts, as he's willing to kill people over the most minor reasons, such a shopkeeper who tries to stop him from shoplifting merchandise, a gay man who likes his penis, and several Big Beautiful Women for being fat.
  • Draco Malfoy's brand of evil being rooted in pettiness (see below in Film and Literature) is Lampshaded in A Very Potter Musical. In that, Draco, although annoying, certainly isn't deserving of the sheer amount of scorn heaped on him by the other students.


  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there is a Running Gag of Draco being a kleptomaniac, just to inconvenience his rival.
    • It should be noted that Draco is only petty evil — when he's allowed to join the bad guys, it turns out that for all his talk he doesn't have it in him to kill someone.
  • In the 1967 movie Bedazzled, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the devil's petty pranks are a Running Gag. We see him at scratching new albums and putting them back on the shelf at a record store; we see him send out a pigeon to do its "doo-dahs" on a passerby.

Stanley: Your pranks are so miserable.

  • In the remake too. Elizabeth Hurley's devil liked to give people parking fines, tell high school kids not to bother with their studies because they were boring and swap medication for tic tacs. A little more severe when you think of the consequences. Also, cock-blocking Brendan Fraser every chance she got.


  • If you see anyone's early inner monologue in an Honorverse novel include the phrase "that bitch," or a variant in reference to Lady Harrington, rest assured they're the villain, and will probably die in some bloody fashion before you reach the back page.
    • The same thing is true of most other Weber novels. The heroes generally don't use profanity, even inside their heads.
  • Harry Potter
    • While the Big Bad and his minions are busy torturing, murdering, and attempting world domination, Dolores Umbridge is slowly usurping power at Hogwarts, making students in detention write lines with a pen that carves whatever they write into their hand, discriminating against non-humans and Muggle-borns, and just being an arrogant and irritating Jerkass in general. While the Death Eaters use Unforgivable Curses left and right, Umbridge merely threatens people with them. The thing with Umbridge is that her acts are closer to real life level of villainy, while the REAL villains are exceedingly over-the-top, dog-kicking in their evil ways. After all she is destroying a legitimate institution, torturing people, instituting a policial states, and, in the final book, being The Quisling, all for reasons that amount to ordinary bigotry and wanting to be the one in charge, a portrait of evilness that has a lot of parallels to actual dictators. But because she is contrasted with the Omnicidal Maniac Death Eaters, she comes around as petty on both motivations and actions, which ironically makes her even easier to hate than they are.
    • Draco Malfoy is a fairly petty villain as well - his motivation is snobism, racism and jealousy, and his misdeeds are mostly limited to insulting others, using his family connections to get whatever he wants, and abusing his power as a prefect. That is, until Book 6, when he gets in way over his head and learns the hard way that Evil Is Not a Toy.
    • Before Voldemort became a genocidal Evil Overlord, his evil acts were at first limited to things like petty theft and bullying. He then moved on to unleashing Slytherin's monster and framing Hagrid for the ensuing death, and of course, things only went downhill from there. One of his pettier and most evil acts? Cursing the position of teacher for Defense Against Dark Arts, so teachers cannot last more than one year on that position and usually came out worse than when they accepted it, just because Dumbledore ejected him for that position.
  • A rare example NOT played for laughs in C.S. Lewis's The Space Trilogy with Satan, of all people. Inhabiting a human body, he attempts to re-create the fall of mankind with the newborn humanoids on Venus. He's forbidden to harm Ransom, the protagonist, unless Ransom attacks first, so while the Eve equivalent is sleeping he spends his time doing such petty things as killing small animals and tearing up the turf, even resorting to childishly tormenting Ransom ("Ransom!" "What?" "Nothing." ... "Ransom!"). Ransom is quite disturbed by this, finding it more troubling than he would a clever, charismatic Satan. He comes to realize that Satan considers all virtues, including cleverness and taste, to be means to an end and discards them when they do not serve his purposes. He has no pride, and cares about nothing other than making things worse for others.
    • Lewis' logic of the pettiness of evil is further explained in The Screwtape Letters. It's complex, but the reasoning is actually fairly sound.
  • Skewered in Good Omens. Crowley's M.O. is perpetuating petty evil. Other demons will spend all their time trying to corrupt a politician or cause a priest to lose his faith. Crowley sets up telemarketing networks and causes traffic jams. Other demons accomplish one great act of evil. Crowley accomplishes a hundred thousand petty acts of evil, thus in the aggregate causing more evil than the other demons. Not that the other demons see it his way...
  • Don Juan in Moliere's play of the same title engages in some of this apart from his traditional womanizing. He stiffs his tailor of payment, and in what has been judged a Moral Event Horizon crossing since the play was written, shows his evil atheist credentials by telling an old beggar that he will only give him money if the beggar blasphemes against God.
  • Redwall's thoroughly spoiled Emperor Ublaz slaughters entire tribes and puts in ridiculous amounts of effort to get hold of a pink pearl crown, expressing no interest whatever in the other plunder taken from the raid or in anything else he could gain from it.
  • In The Sum of All Fears, Elizabeth Elliot goes to considerable effort to attempt to sabotage Ryan's career and marriage because he took offense to her bad manners in Clear and Present Danger. This takes up considerably more of the story than the ostensible main plot (The terrorists with the nuclear warhead), and mainly serves to explain why Ryan can't get the President to listen to him when the bomb goes off. The film version cuts Elliot out of the script and creates a totally different (and much more sensible) reason for the President to distrust Ryan, which improves it considerably.

Live-Action TV

  • Many fans felt that the Master beating his wife in Doctor Who was an example of this. He killed a huge percentage of the Earth's population, the president of the US, and enslaved the last pathetic remnants of humanity from the end of time to do his bidding. But only seeing him beat his wife would let us realize just how evil he is!
    • It did justify her shooting him at the end, though.
    • It also may have been an attempt to prevent him from getting the Draco in Leather Pants treatment in spite of all of the above crimes. By all accounts, it didn't take.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Linkara in History of Power Rangers pointed this out about Rita Repulsa, who, in between moments of actual villainy and plots to take over the world, tends to use her evil sorcery just to ruin the Rangers' day, citing an instance where she sent a team of putties down to ruin a model of a parade float Kimberly was making, just to make Kimberly feel bad. Though in fairness, it's part of a larger attempt to destroy the entire parade (which is to promote World Peace, something Rita doesn't want.) Kimberly is being targeted personally because she's a Ranger.
      • Although, there are other episodes where she doesn't even have that excuse. The episode where she creates the Grumble Bee and sics it on Billy after he's upset after getting a B on a test (a letdown for a super-genius perfectionist like him) is a good example.
      • Here's a thought that casts Rita's actions in a darker light: She's trying to destroy them psychologically by attacking their personal lives repeatedly. Most people would crack under that kind of pressure.
    • Lord Zedd was, at times, even worse. His motive (in the episode "Welcome to Venus Island") for kidnapping Trini's neighbor Hallie and using her as bait to lure the Rangers to Venus Island was because Trini had mocked the Putty Patrolers.
      • He was even worse when he appeared in Power Rangers: Dino Fury. Shortly after being restored to life, he used one of his old tricks, brainwashing one of the Rangers to turn him against the others; but why did he target Ollie for that? Because Ollie called him "Radiator Face".
  • When ever Satan drops by to check on Ezekiel Stone in Brimstone, he will engage in some petty prank of anonymous evil. Such as ticketing a legally parked car or loosening a salt shaker.
  • As season 5 of Supernatural goes on, more and more characters start to point out that, for all his wisdom and power, in trying to bring on the Apocalypse, Lucifer is being little more than a bratty child throwing a tantrum because he didn't get a second serve of ice cream. He doesn't listen.
    • Hell, many of the angels are just as petty, even when they're not technically evil. Zachariah goes to the trouble of making a fake Mary Winchester, just so he can make out with her to Squick Dean and Sam. He even proudly tells them, as he's doing it, that he's petty. Tellingly, Supernatural is one of the few places you can see an angel refer to someone as a milf.
  • This trope put a damper on the popularity of Silas from Kings. Killing political enemies and manipulating the press? Par for the course for the resident Magnificent Bastard. Publicly dropping a six-letter F-bomb on his own son? Not so much with the magnificent.
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick's Evil Twin has plans to take over the world by breeding his own slave army, but he also takes pleasure in asserting his dominance over the rest of the Solomon family in various ways, from forcing one of them to wear skirts, forbidding them from using the car, and changing all of their names to "Tommy". As the Big Giant Head put it: "He should be considered armed and extremely unpleasant."

Evil Dick: When coupons arrive in the mail, I get first dibs. I may open a box of cereal to get the prize, but I do not then have to eat the cereal. The bathroom has been stocked with two kinds of toilet paper; I, and I alone, get the quilted kind.


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

Video Games

  • Pick a BioWare RPG, any BioWare RPG:
    • In Baldur's Gate pretty much the only way for the game to register you being evil is to randomly murder townspeople, though you can also choose to be unpleasant to everyone you meet. Most of the main- and Sidequests shift your reputation upwards, to the degree that the Super-Powered Evil Side you eventually gain is often used by evil players just for controlling unchecked alignment growth.
    • Similarly the large number of quests that shift up your Karma Meter in the first Neverwinter Nights mean that unless you go out of your way to threaten and murder people for no particular reason you automatically do a Heel Face Turn. Even a lot of actions that should be evil but aren't pointlessly so (like committing genocide on the Elk Tribe instead of negotiating peace) don't shift you down.
    • Despite the pretenses of being a deeper philosophical movement, with only a few exceptions the Way of the Closed Fist in Jade Empire in practice seems to amount to being a dick to everyone you meet, mugging peasants for insignificant amounts of silver, and generally ostracizing and ruining the lives of everyone around you for no other reason than because you can.
      • Exemplified by the fact that, once you have enough Dark Si... Closed Fist points, the game actually unlocks a context-sensitive move to KICK PUPPIES.
    • Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith in KOTOR are defined by this. The way their philosophy is written actually sounds reasonable - following your passions will lead to personal freedom. Taken to a reasonable level, this is putting the people/things you care about first. Taken to a realistically extremist level, this is being willing to protect the people/things you care about at the expense of anything else out there. Taken to Stupid Evil, this is killing people just because you don't like them, or just because you can. Guess which one BioWare picked?
      • Lampshaded, after a fashion, by a shopkeeper on Korriban who complains about how the local Sith students seem to equate "Sith" with "hooligan".
      • A long sidequest that at one point requires you to notify a father of the death of his son (who was mauled by a pack of space wolves), offers the option to refer to the unfortunate lad, as a chew toy. Truly a sign of pure evil. Although in Bioware's defense, it DOES offer the option to extort money from the poor man in exchange for his son's journal.
    • Mass Effect tends to be one of the better implementations of a Karma Meter, with Paragon and Renegade being more like Merciful vs. Ruthless than Good vs. Evil. However, to get all the Renegade points still requires some level of petty jerkiness such being highly xenophobic and pointlessly rude. Thankfully, the special options requiring Renegade points are more just pragmatic and Badass.
      • Stupid jellies.
        • Not to mention pointlessly killing enemies who've already surrendered, shaking people down for money, and helping carry out less than honorable tasks issued by morally ambiguous individuals.
    • Dragon Age doesn't have a Karma Meter and thus has no mechanical way of measuring your evil. Still, many of the 'evil' dialogue options (Morrigan, Sten, Shale approve, Wynne, Alistair, Leliana disapprove) are needlessly confrontational and petty.
      • Still a lot less anvilicious than most BioWare Role-Playing Games. There are a lot of petty Jerkass options, but there are also a fair number where you can commit atrocities in a sneaky way and still end up looking like a saint. For example, selling a child's soul for the power of blood magic. And in general, what your party members don't know won't hurt them.
    • In Dragon Age II, Silly!Hawke considers Meredith's command to slaughter mages who have surrendered unto him in the templar campaign of The Last Straw as being petty when s/he decides to spare them. Meredith angrily glares at Hawke while her men carry out Hawke's orders.
  • Fable I. There are very few evil sidequests, and several of the story quests give good points, so the only way to get evil points is random acts of cruelty, such as petty theft, random murder, and the game's Moral Event Horizon: beating your wife, which is viewed as ten times as evil as actually killing her. There are a (very) few story actions that are construed as evil, but you're railroaded into saving the world anyway.
    • Fable II is much better about this: the main story quests are neither good or evil, but you get the option of committing decidedly evil acts during at least one such quest. In addition, every sidequest either has an evil path from the beginning, or culminates in a choice between good and evil by the end of it. It's much, much easier to go full evil and never go back. Conversely, it's much harder to go full good and never go back.
  • Fallout 3 adopts a karma system gives more 'evil brownie points' for petty and obnoxious comments and actions, and yet the scale so easily slides good-ward that you can nuke an unsuspecting population and, if you don't pay attention, you'll be a saint before you realize! This is bizarre coming from a development company that has tended toward reputation over alignment-based systems, applied to a series that has never placed as much story or game emphasis on karma as on reputation, and in a genre that just doesn't support the polar alignment model.
    • The earlier Fallout games essentially invert this trope, as every little errand you can run for anyone gives good karma, even if you're paid to do it. Bad karma is usually only gained from the bad choices in large quests, or wanton slaughter.
    • Fallout: New Vegas puts little emphasis on karma, so the game mostly averts this.
  • Averted in InFamous, where while you have the option of being a dick and killing random people for the lulz, such actions don't give you evil points. Just like killing enemies won't give you good points. The good/evil axis is defined instead as selflessness vs. selfishness: are you going to turn off that valve and get more psychotropic gunk all over you, or are you going to make that random dude there do it for you? Since the whole game is a Secret Test of Character for Cole, however, being too selfish effectively makes you a Complete Monster by the end.
    • You actually do gain tiny amounts of evil karma for assaulting random pedestrians, but it's hardly enough to notice unless you really invest some time in it, and you can actually recover it by healing them afterward.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, you are advised against overly indulging in the Video Game Cruelty Potential.
  • With rare exceptions, "evil" in Forum Warz is almost exclusively petty, since there's not much you can do to people over the Internet. Most of your darker actions are things like directing people to Shock Sites or faking a terrorist threat.
  • Gig in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, who tries to encourage Revya to do pretty much anything that might be constructed as evil. This starts out with encouraging acts like mass murder and genocide, and when that fails, stuff like being rude to your companions, pickpocketing people and gluttony. One place it is averted, however, is in the Demon Path. Revya goes right on to using his/her powers for mass murder and wanton destruction and suddenly Gig isn't too fussed about the little stuff any more. Possibly because Revya very quickly makes Gig's evil look petty.
    • From Gig's standpoint, this is actually pretty logical. If he can't corrupt Revya enough to let him take the driver's seat through quick, monstrous evil. He'll have to hope that tempting him/her towards smaller, less obviously objectionable acts will be enough to eventually do the job. If Revya's gone Demon Path, Gig quickly realizes his evil wasn't nearly monstrous enough for Reyva.
  • Assassin's Creed II featured several villains who seemed mainly to be involved with the Knights Templar for political cover to be as mean as vicious and cruel as possible, though Vieri de' Pazzi and Marco Barbarigo stand out as the most overt examples; overall the Templar order seems to have devolved towards this by the time of the game's events (compared to its Assassin's Creed incarnation).
    • Rodrigo Borgia himself mentions to Ezio that he didn't need to execute Ezio's brothers Federico and Petruccio (their father was the star witness against a Borgia-backed conspiracy), but did it simply because he could.
  • In the Disgaea series it's generally accepted that, no matter what demons themselves actually tell you, most of them aren't really evil so much as they're just jackasses.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS has a habit of slinging petty insults at Chell for killing her in the first game, most of them being targeted at her weight and saying how she's a horrible person
  • In Crisis Core Chapter 3, Zack is about to run after Angeal and Genesis .. trips him.

Web Comics

  • The Duh-mentors from Sluggy Freelance.
  • The reason for Lil' Evil's existence. At least, it used to be...
  • Xykon of the Order of the Stick positively revels in being evil. Sure, he's got his Evil Plan for World Domination. But he's never so busy being the Big Bad that he won't take time to kill his minions because they asked for a pay raise, or inflict pointless suffering on random innocents out of boredom. As is clearly spelled out in Start of Darkness, he thinks Even Evil Has Standards is for pussies. The author states that not only is he completely evil, but he's also "kind of a dick".
    • And the protagonist team's Token Evil Teammate Belkar is just as bad. If he can't get away with pillage and mass murder, he'll happily settle for petty theft and random insults For the Evulz. Even as he begins to undergo some character development Belkar seems determined to maintain an image of pettiness so others won't notice his mild alignment shift. (Though he notes this is for personal gain, not just for the appearance of pettiness. He thinks they either wouldn't believe him or would take advantage of his new outlook to start pressuring him into doing more heroic things, and he's probably right.)
  • This Stolen Pixels presents Lucien, Big Bad of Fable II, as this trope. Given he in-game kills your family and dog pretty much only because he can, he may be an example of the trope as well (but since he's the villain he has no Karma Meter).

Web Original

  • O'Malley the megalomaniacal AI from Red vs. Blue once launched into an evil rant when handling a $20 co-pay for his host's medical services.

O'Malley: Hah, huhaha you fool, and we want the twenty dollars up front!
Church: Fine!
O'Malley: And in cash...
Church: Oh whatever!
O'Malley: Ah you moron! If you'd used a credit card you could have gotten airline miles! Or at least a thirty day grace period with no interest. You fiscally irresponsible fools!

  • SCP Foundation:
    • This pretty much defines the motives of SCP-056 ("A Beautiful Person"). Sure it can kill people (and has, mostly folks who annoy it too much) but what truly gives it pleasure is making people feel inadequate and insecure. If you know someone who's an Attention Whore who seems to be doing their best to show they're better than you in every way, you know who SCP-056 is, but SCP-056 does it intentionally, using its shapeshifting ability to be a stronger, smarter, more competent, and more attractive version of everyone it meets, for no reason other than the fact that she can.
    • Also true for the Administrator (as in, the head honcho, the most powerful man in the world), assuming he exists at all and isn't a fiction created by the O5 Council. One story suggests he occasionally visits the Foundation break room in order to steal researchers' lunches, just to remind them he's in charge. Then again, one researcher claims the guy bought him lunch at least once. He's a Mysterious Backer who seems to relish the "mysterious" part.

Western Animation

  • Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes. Some of his acts include stealing all the water in Miseryville for his pool, forcing his Yes-Man to fetch him something, then complaining he did it wrong no matter how accurate he gets it, and other such acts.
  • In The Simpsons, Mr Burns blocks out the sun from the town forcing everyone to use his power all the time. His desire to steal candy from a baby afterward is a sign that he's crossed the line. And a plot point, believe it or not.
    • Although he was doing it half for kicks, and half to see if that idiom was true. For someone like Burns, it wasn't that easy.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, almost every villain has been a small, petty, spiteful person to some extent or another. However, most of them are made no less, and in fact, are more dangerous because of it.
    • Ozai is a twisted psychopath who tried to set half the world on fire, mutilated his son for speaking out of turn, and is jealous of his brother.
    • Azula's primary motivations are getting approval from daddy and destroying her brother because he was mummy's favourite.
    • Zhao has a personal rivalry with a teenager and a twelve-year-old that drove him to hiring assassins at least once.
  • Played with in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. In "Oil on Candace", after Dr. Doofenshmirtz fails one of his schemes while trying to impress his old teacher, she tells him that you can also be evil in little ways, but then complains that he can't even do that right.
    • Lampshaded in the episode "Tree to Get Ready", where Dr. Doofensmirtz is planning to have trained pigeons crap on his "goody-two shoes brother" Roger, and admits the plan is "a truly petty act, brought on by my own mindless jealousy!"
    • There's also "Perry Lays an Egg" where Doofenshmirtz's latest scheme involved learning how to speak whale just so he could insult the one who stole away one of his ex-girlfriends. He literally had to chase Perry the Platypus down and demand Perry thwart his "evil" scheme.
    • In fact, this trope appears to be the Doctor's general operating guide. Almost all of his schemes revolve around him taking incredibly Disproportionate Retribution against whatever minor issue happens to be bugging him at the moment. This, like everything else in the show, is often lampshaded by Doof himself.
    • In "Hail Doofania!", after his brother got elected Mayor, he created an entire metropolis he called "Doofania", complete with its own original anthem, which included the line, "It's founded on spite!"
    • He also steals his neighbor's magazines from the mail, even though they're in Spanish. "You know, evil never rests." (Of course, he also speaks Spanish himself in a few episodes...)
  • On Invader Zim, Zim tends to fall into this a lot. In an interview once Jhonen Vasquez commented that Zim wasn't really stupid, he just had a horrible sense of priorities—he took the episode "Megadoomer" as an example, where Zim gets a Humongous Mecha and immediately decides that "beating up Dib" is its best possible use (to the exclusion of taking any time to devise a practical power source for it).
  • In Batman: The Animated Series The Joker, at least for a majority of his first season appearances, is this. His plots amount to ruining Christmas for Batman and Gotham, ruining the mayor's son's birthday party and ruining a party in honour of Commissioner Gordon... oh and he roped in an average guy because the guy cussed at him while driving.
    • Which is part of what makes the character so scary - he doesn't differentiate between grandiloquent evil and petty evil. It's all equally relevant for him.
  • South Park: Eric Cartman can frequently be this even after his crossing the Moral Event Horizon with Scott Tenorman. When not causing mass murder, inciting riots, tying to start another Holocaust, giving Kyle AIDS, engaging in piracy, or manipulating Cthulu to his bidding etc., he will do stuff toilet paper in a teacher's home, letting his friends take the blame.
  • On Histeria! J.P. Morgan is shown stealing candy from a child, then giving her a balloon in exchange, then popping the balloon as he cackles at his own evilness.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik commits petty crimes in his spare time when he's not trying to take over Mobius. For example, he once stole candy from four thousand eight hundred twenty-two babies.
    • Even more damning is Robotnik's Start of Darkness - he tried to kill a guy with a robotic snake because the girl Robotnik was in love with was in love with the guy instead! And when he started his conquest of Mobius, he was the first guy he locked up!
  • In episode of Dinosaucers, the Big Bad, Genghis Rex, because he is bored decides to grab a phone guide and prank call people.
  • Invoked in Justice League Unlimited by the Flash, who is inhabiting Lex Luthor's body at the time and trying to avoid discovery. As he walks out of the bathroom...

Polaris: You gonna wash your hands?
Flash!Luthor: No! 'Cause I'm evil.

  • Reggie from the Rick and Morty episode "Childrick of Mort". A Jerkass God and deadbeat dad who let Rick believe he was the father of Gaea's children (whom Reggie was the true father of) he shows up at the end of the episode to beat Rick to a pulp simply to prove he could. His cockiness and overconfidence is what ultimately got him killed.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "The Ron Factor", the villain Gemini (Dr. Director's evil fraternal-twin brother) want to recruit Ron to gain the "Ron Factor", even though he has no idea what that is. He simply wants it because his sister wants it. It's implied the two have had a petty rivalry like this since they were siblings; even as an adult, Gemini constantly reminds her that he is four minutes older than she is.
  • This happens many times in DC Super Hero Girls, given the lighthearted nature of the show. For example, in one episode the Hero Girls are trying to find a replacement for Batgirl (long story) and Catwoman comes to apply - and quickly steals Jennifer’s paintbrush, Karen’s rinse set, and Zee’s paste jewelry - obviously she just wanted to humiliate them. Kara laughs at them for falling for such a ruse, only to discover that Catwoman also swiped the “S” on the front of her costume.
  • Catwoman does something similar in her first Harley Quinn appearance. When having lunch at a cafe with Harley and Poison Ivy, she steals Ivy's jacket and puts in on before Ivy even notices, just to prove she can.