Evil Sounds Deep

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"The pitch of my voice is digitally lowered to make it sound more sinister!" [1]

An easy way to tell if someone is evil is that their voice is much deeper than a normal character, often artificially so. If someone undergoes a Face Heel Turn, then along with their Evil Makeover their voice will either drop a few octaves, get put through a voice modulator or be combined with another voice speaking in a much deeper tone of voice. If an Anti-Hero decides to move a few notches down the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, then he will start talking in a deeper, more serious tone of voice. Male characters almost always get an unapproachable, commanding cadence. Villainesses usually get a sultry, suggestive one, unless they're supposed to be in command or actually scary in which case their cadence will be dismissive and forbidding.

A deep voice makes the character sound strong and competent, so it is a common trait for major villains that the audience is supposed to fear and respect. Consequently, such villains will usually speak in baritone register, more rarely in bass ragister.

Common inversion is an unnaturally high, cold voice, especially laugh. Some characters with an Evil Laugh do high-pitched cackling, or be a Giggling Villain, instead of the deeper, traditional one. These are usually a more unnatural and degenerate kind of evil. Taken further, anyone speaking the Voice of the Legion is incredibly dangerous.

May be justified if the evil character becomes a huge One-Winged Angel with longer vocal chords, since that would make their voice deeper.

Has nothing to do with Fauxlosophic Narration or Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.

Examples of Evil Sounds Deep include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Anyone voiced by Norio Wakamoto.
  • Lucy in Elfen Lied has a much deeper voice than her "good" personality, Nyu.
  • Gauron, the main bad guy from the first season of Full Metal Panic!! has the deepest voice of all characters in the show. This is somewhat subverted in Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, where new villainous character Leonard Testarossa has a voice almost as soft and gentle as a girl's -- though it's still deeper than that of his sister, who is naturally one of the good guys...
  • SHABURANIGUDO! Especially in Japanese, the Dark Lord's voice is so artificially low as to be comical.
  • Alucard from Hellsing is technically a good guy, but monstrous enough to freak out undead super-Nazis, and speaks in Joji Nakata's ultra-deep drawl.
  • Lelouch of Code Geass who is sort of like a "flamboyant, possibly evil Batman" canonically has a voice changing device in his Zero costume which deepens his voice when he's wearing it.
  • Wei in the Darker than Black dub; also, particularly in the dub, Hei seems to do the Anti-Hero route also, speaking in a deeper voice when being BK-201 than when being the friendly and harmless Li. Averted though with Mao who has a very deep voice but is a nice guy. And a cat.
  • Vicious of Cowboy Bebop. Norio Wakamoto is famous for these kinds of roles.
    • In the same series this trope is inverted in Jet Black's deep voice
  • In Blood Plus, Flamboyant Gay chiropteran Nathan Mahler changed his voice to a demonic rumble whenever he wanted to sound threatening. Even the Dragon-in-Chief Amshel will back down when this happens, because Nathan is far more powerful and dangerous than he seems. Good thing he's not actually evil.
  • Gao Gai Gar has Pasdar and Palparepa.
  • Xanxus from Katekyo Hitman Reborn has a much deeper voice than most of the good guys in the show - though most noticeably, much deeper than Tsuna (who is voiced by a girl).
  • Marik Ishtar's shadow self in Yu-Gi-Oh. His normal self's voice is actually higher-pitched than a normal man. There's also Bakura, who, on top of being deep-voiced, is British, which increases his evilness.
    • When Marik pretends to be a protagonist and after his Heel Face Turn, his voice gets higher and softer.
    • Bakura both plays it straight and subverts it in the original Japanese. His Super-Powered Evil Side has a deeper voice than his normal self, but he was voiced by a woman, so his voice is considerably high and effeminate.
    • During season zero, even Yugi's spirit partner (the pharaoh) could easily be interpreted as evil, or at least a Sociopathic Hero. Even this early on when his voice was rather soft, it was still deeper than Yugi's.
  • Nakago from Fushigi Yuugi. Yui's voice changes from sweet and sunny to rough and dramatic when she undergoes a Face Heel Turn.
  • Ryuk of Death Note has a rather deep voice in both Japanese and the English dub. While he does have more standards than the soft-spoken Villain Protagonist Light, he is still rather evil, given his method for relieving boredom. Perhaps averted by L, who has a deeper voice than Light and is the Hero Antagonist.
    • Light Yagami actually plays this trope straight. When he is having his Kira-ish inner monologues, his voice tone gets deeper.
  • Several of the villains in Naruto have displayed this trait and changes in tone to indicate shifts in character.
    • The Kyuubi plays this trope straight: it's completely malevolent and has a very deep, very gravelly voice.
    • On introduction, Sasori has a deep and gravelly voice, but switches to a lighter voice later on. Rather than indicating an improvement in the character, this precedes the true horror of his abilities.
    • Kakuzu plays this trope straight; he's a Psycho for Hire and speaks with a deep and steady voice.
    • The most significant occurrence is that of Tobi. While in his initial persona, he speaks in a light, childish voice and his actions match. However, when he is acting as Madara, his voice deepens and matures as well as his actions (he even has a completely different voice actors for each).
    • Itachi Uchiha also has a deep voice. Subverted in that he is actually Good All Along.
  • In One Piece, the character Rob Lucci could at first only "speak" through his high-pitched pigeon Hattori. However, when he is unveiled as the immensely powerful evil leader in CP9's plot to capture Nico Robin, his 'real' voice is revealed to be much, much deeper. Interestingly, this was not done through the use of any synthesizers - the same seiyuu performed both parts.
  • Show Hayami, who voices notable villains like Muraki Kazukaka in Yami no Matsuei and Sousuke Aizen in Bleach.
  • Giovanni of Pokémon has a very deep, echoing voice every time he appears on a television or computer screen in the earlier episodes. This appears to be the result of computer editing. However, even when he appears in person, his voice is still quite deep.
  • Soul Eater's Medusa, being a Consummate Liar, has a pleasant, normally-pitched voice when she's pretending to be on the good side, and a deep, throaty voice when she's being her violent self. It's particularly alarming when coming out of the borrowed child's body later in the series.
  • Used in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood with the Greed/Ling relationship. Greed isn't necessarily evil, but he is given a very deep voice on the show. In contrast, his human host, Ling has a fairly soft voice.
  • Type-Moon loves this trope, or to be more specific, Joji Nakata. An interesting example is seen in Archer; his voice is much deeper than Shirou's, even though they're the same person. Proof that your moral alignment directly influences your tone!
  • In the first The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, Kyon uses the term "clear soprano" to describe Ryoko Asakura's voice. Later on that day, she tries to kill him rather violently...because she got bored.
  • In Yami no Matsuei, Muraki's voice is very deep. In the dub, however, he sounds like Riff Raff.
  • The English dub of Dragon Ball Z does this with Frieza (portrayed then by Linda Young). Each time he transforms his voice is artificially deepened. At first it was just digital pitch-lowering with the 2nd form, but his 3rd form is more of a Voice of the Legion deal. The 4th form, in a subversion, brings it back to normal - high-pitched.
    • The dub of Kai takes this a step further in a brilliant move: by having Frieza's voice recast (now played by Chris Ayres), having a high voice at the start and gradually getting deeper with each transformation - without the use of artificial pitch altering. By the time Frieza reaches form 3, Chris is using his natural voice and considering that form 3 Frieza looks like a fish demon, it makes him sound like the devil he truly is.
    • Cell gets a bit of this too in the English dub. His voice starts out as a sort of hissing rasp, and then grows deeper and more cultured as he gets more powerful. But it drops to downright Satanic levels when Cell gets ready to do something truly evil, like killing Piccolo.
  • Akira Touya in Hikaru no Go doesn't fit in the "evil" category (he's just The Rival to Hikaru with a tendency to look down on him), but he has a serious, introspective deep voice mode.
  • In Bleach, most of the main villains like Aizen have deep voices.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • According to Deadpool of Marvel Comics, Genius Cripple MODOK makes Terrence Stamp sound like Michael Jackson.
  • It's often mentioned how deep the voice of the Gollywog is in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. His balloons are typeset with a heavy bold. He's supposedly made of very dense non-baryonic matter. One of his best moves is causing an earthquake with a loud bellow. One more example of repurposing his very racist characterization and design into happy coincidences and heroic traits.


Film[edit | hide]

Nathan: (deep) So Rotti thinks he can take Shilo from me.
Shilo: Dad?
Nathan: (normal) Nothing, Shilo, nothing. Go to bed.

  • Dana's voice when possessed by Zuul in Ghostbusters. "There is no Dana. There is only Zuul."
  • Demon-possessed Regan in The Exorcist has a very loud, deep bellow, like getting yelled at by a truck horn.
    • Brad Dourif's character in Exorcist III. "It's the smiles that keep us going, don't you think?"
  • Lifeforce: The male vampire at the end.
  • Played with in Up. The otherwise intimidating dog Alpha has an incredibly high and squeaky voice that causes the other dogs to laugh at him; apparently his voice box malfunctions sometimes, but when it's adjusted it does sound quite deep. Naturally, it breaks down again when he's defeated.
  • The Lord of the Rings combines this with Voice of the Legion when Galadriel gets drunk on the Ring's power.
    • Also, Saruman. Hell, any character played by Christopher Lee. Especially Lord Summerisle.
    • Sauron himself too, as can be discerned from what little he actually speaks. "There is no life in the void. Only... death."
    • Don't forget the Mouth of Sauron from the extended edition. A deep voice that sounds like dead worms.
    • The Witch King also has a rather deep voice.
    • So do the various Uruk-hai.
  • Played with in Burn After Reading, when Brad Pitt's character attempts to act menacing by narrowing his eyes and lowering his voice. Unfortunately, he keeps forgetting and reverting back to his normal speech. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Osmosis Jones, Thrax's voice is done by Laurence Fishburne.
  • Subverted by Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; for most of the movie, he sounds like, well, Christopher Lloyd, but when he reveals his true self, his voice could crack glass.
  • Subverted in the Underworld film series where Kevin Grevioux's character is a Lycan named Raze with an unnaturally deep voice. He is brutish and violent, but he is not an inherently evil character. In the Rise of the Lycans prequel, he is decidedly a positive character. Even more jarring is that this is Grevioux's actual voice.
  • In the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Frollo is given a deep baritone by the late great Tony Jay.
  • In the Transformers movies, instead of Frank Welker's screechy, gravelly delivery as Megatron, we get a deep, growly performance by Hugo Weaving. The sequel also gives us The Fallen and Sentinel Prime.
  • Alan Rickman has plenty of nice, sweet characters in his filmography, but thanks to his very deep voice it's his nastier characters people tend to remember. Namely, Judge Turpin, Hans Gruber, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • D-War. The evil dragon's human Dragon (no pun intended) is the best example (check it out at 7:12 here).
  • Mr. Shadow, being more or less evil incarnate, has the requisite very deep voice.
  • The Ripper in My Soul to Take.
  • German voice - actor Tilo Schmitz everytime he dubs a villain, usually tall and big, thanks to his deep, sonorous, basso voice.
  • Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men speaks with a grizzly, low voice, which essentially acts as a death rattle considering his character.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Inverted with Voldemort, who is described as having a high, cold voice.
    • Inverted again with Snape, who has a deep, ominous voice; it doesn't really help either that he's portrayed by Alan Rickman in the films.
      • Since Snape is intended to appear evil or at least dark and brooding right up to the end, it's played straight more than inverted.
    • Oh-so-inverted with Umbridge.
  • In The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft, Wilbur Whateley spoke with a frighteningly low voice. Justified in that he grew more than twice as fast as any other child, and reached a height of seven feet (among other things). The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society "radio play" of the story electronically pitched the actor's voice to Goa'uld levels.
    • The narrator does mention that Wilbur sounded like his voice-producing organs were somehow different from a normal human's - which, naturally, they were.
  • In Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Cronal, unseen by his troops or his enemy, called himself Lord Shadowspawn and had his wheezy old man voice amplified and made deep. Luke thinks of it more than once as a "faux-Vader" voice.
  • Death from the Discworld is definitely a subversion; he's not nearly as bad as he looks or sounds.
  • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures have an antagonist called Sabbath, who, due to not-exactly-evil motives and frequent Enemy Mine situations, is about as non-evil as you can get when you perform Meatgrinder Surgery and continually try to screw up The Multiverse. His voice, described as a "low rumble" and a "resonant bass", gives him villain points, though. Extra villain points for the fact it functions as a mild, mundane version of Charm Person. It probably goes along with the Stout Strength and "hands like hams".
  • When the High Seekers in the Emberverse really want to intimidate, they'll let loose a deep voice that borders on the aural equivalent of Alien Geometries.
  • In the Horus Heresy series from the Warhammer 40,000, First Captain Ezekyle Abbaddon of the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus is described as being a big man with an incredibly low voice, even for an Astartes. In the "present day" of the franchise, he has since became Abaddon the Despoiler, Warmaster of the Black Legion. As such, he is the closest thing the Chaos Space Marines have to a cohesive leader.
  • Emperor Jagang is described to have a "deep, grating voice". Averted with Darken Rahl, who has a "clear, almost liquid" voice... and a trope fitting right hand man.
  • Ma'el Koth from The Acts of Caine is usually described as rumbling.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Stargate Verse has the Goa'uld and the Wraith. The Asgard have a vocal effect, too (toned down in later seasons) but it's a lot friendlier-sounding than the ones used by the baddies. The Goa'uld, in fact, do this on purpose to sound more intimidating, and can turn it off at will when they want to blend in or just be more personable. By the end of the series, Ba'al almost always drops the voice effect when he's talking to the heroes.
    • Ra in Stargate sounds a lot like Xerxes, bordering on Voice of the Legion territory.
    • The Tok'ra are the same species as the Goa'uld, so they can turn it off if they want to as well - however, they rarely do, in order to make it clear who's talking.
    • Three times this has been used by humans for subterfuge: Daniel used a voice modulator on Jacob Carter's cargo ship to record sentences in Goa'uld, which would then be broadcasted in a deeper voice Daniel and Carter both used a voice modulator during a training exercise when one pretended to be a Tok'ra and the other one a Goa'uld; Vala used an alien voice modulating device shaped like a glowing pendant in order to pretend to be the Goa'uld Qetesh. In both of the latter cases, a member of SG-1 would get annoyed at the voice and ask to turn it off.
  • In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Dai Shi has an artificially deepened voice even in human form. (It gets deeper still when he's in his armored form.)
    • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Trent's stint as the evil White Drago Ranger is accompanied by an artificially deepened voice. When an accident turns him back to normal, so is his voice.
    • In Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Hunter and Blake got pitched down before their reveal as Rangers and stayed with their normal voices through their Heel Face Turn and Brainwashed and Crazy stints.
    • And the Page Quoter, Koragg, also has his voice deepened.
  • In Smallville, the Phantom Zone criminal that borrowed Clark's DNA and made a clone body out of it (becoming the show's incarnation of Bizarro [2]) has a deeper voice than the real Clark, though it's not always obvious, and can be turned off at will, apparently (he impersonated Clark for some time with the viewers and other characters unaware.)
    • In Season 8 Lex pulls this off courtesy of a respirator, complete with Vader Breath. His protege Tess Mercer isn't as extreme an example, but she has the lowest voice of any of the girls in the cast.
  • On Knight Rider, Michael Knight's Evil Twin Garthe Knight had a noticeably deeper voice than Michael (as well as a goatee, of course.)
    • KITT's Evil Twin KARR also has deeper voice than KITT does.
  • In Doctor Who, several villains have deep voices. The Beast and Sutekh, both voiced by Gabriel Woolf, have deep voices to represent their ancient, primal evil. Meanwhile in the new series, the Dalek Emperor from "Parting of the Ways" and both Supreme Daleks seen so far have deep voices to denote their supremacy. The Cybermen have had either high or deep voices, depending on when the episode was made, and the Sycorax chief from "The Christmas Invasion" has a low, rough voice.
    • Interestingly played with the Cult of Skaro - Dalek Sec has a higher pitched voice than any of his followers, but as it turns out, he is also slightly less evil than your average Dalek - not that it's saying all that much.
    • Subverted with some of the Dalek Supremes in the classic series and the Big Finish stories - their voices tended to be higher than the average Dalek's, making them sound even more unstable and highly-strung than the norm.
    • The Black Guardian, voiced by Valentine Dyall, who, in life, could've challenged Brian Blessed in a booming voice contest.
    • From new series 6, we have The Silence and House.
  • Inverted in Kings: Corrupt Corporate Executive William Cross has a high, thin voice. Evil is relative in a Deadly Decadent Court, but he seems to be the only one (still alive, anyway) who wants war.
  • Played for Laughs in an All That sketch called Bridget's Slumber Party; the goth girl Claudia who has supernatural powers would often talk in a demonic voice especially if she was angry. Also in the Poetry with Claudia short which had her read poetry to children, she would alternate the lines of the rhymes to sound creepy - at the end she would scare the kids by saying the final line in a demonic voice.
  • Lampshaded in Angel when Holtz tries to convince Westley that he's trying to protect Connor.

Holtz: You don't believe me?
Westley: Hm, not sure, could be the low scary voice that's giving me trouble.

  • Supernatural's Castiel is an interesting example. Ambiguously played straight in the first and second episode he appeared in, as we didn't know whether the angels are on the Winchesters' side or not. Averted later, when it is revealed that, unlike the other angels, he doesn't want the world to be destroyed and genuinely cares about Dean and Sam. With his sacrifice in 4x22, he ultimately became a part of the family.
    • Also, it is revealed that his vessel, Jimmy, has a much higher voice.
    • Definitively inverted in the Season 6 finale. When Castiel becomes a not-so-nice god, he loses the Batman voice. It's fantastically creepy.
  • Although his evilness is debatable, Scorpius from Farscape is tall, imposing, vicious, wears all black and speaks...quite a few octaves higher than everyone else. He is definitely a Badass though.
    • However, when upset, his voice drops to demonic levels.
    • The pitch of his voice is sort of a gauge on his emotions. When his voice is high and Sebacean/Humanesque, he is his usual five-steps ahead of you, eloquent Magnificent Bastard, tightly-controlled self. When things start to go wrong, he starts to slip into his Scarran side and his voice drops about four octaves and picks up some teeth. Discussed in this interview, around 3:20, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldUqV6gceeM.
  • The drug dealer who may have ordered Becket's mother's murder in season three of Castle has a deep, scary voice.
  • On Heroes, Sylar's voice gets very deep and starts to echo a bit when he's about to do something evil.
  • On Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister is played by Charles Dance, and has a Badass Baritone voice that makes him sound twice as serious and menacing as he would be otherwise. See here.
  • Red John from The Mentalist is a subversion of this trope in that even when his voice is seemingly manipulated, he still has an odd, higher sounding voice.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Nick Cave.
  • Inversion: When Tom Waits wants to be creepy, he usually goes for a higher voice. Compare "Hold On" with "In the Coliseum".
  • DMX's Damien songs occasionally fall in to this, especially when Damien reveals his evil nature-- "You sold me your soul when you didn't say 'no.' Just let a human with dark skin go? Well Give me what you owe!" If you listen closely, in the first song, Damien's voice even sometimes has a deep reverb to it.
  • Lupe Fiasco does this occasionally as well, such as the intros to the songs Little Weapon and Put You On Game. In The Coolest', the last seven words of "The ones that had deadbeat daddies, and well-to-do mommas, But not well enough to keep 'em from us..." are spoken with a second, deeper voice behind his own.
  • Played straight with the original incarnation of the Psychopathic Records supergroup Dark Lotus, where the darkest lyrics were delivered by deep, gravelly voiced rapper Marz. The rest of the label averts it:
    • Insane Clown Posse: Shaggy 2 Dope, who has a scratchier, higher voice than Violent J, is usually the one to perform the "evil" parts of any given song. He's also more vicious in their wrestling matches. In fact, the fact that his voice ISN'T a stereotypical deep, booming bass makes him just that bit more intimidating.
    • Twiztid: Neither Monoxide nor Madrox has a particularly deep voice.
    • ABK, who has a prominent lisp.
  • Inversion: the predominant vocal style in Death Metal consists of a low, menacing and almost completely incomprehensible growling, while in Black Metal, mid- to high-pitched shrieking and screaming tend to be used. The inversion becomes apparent when you learn of the violence (church burnings, murders and one particularly infamous suicide) that was part and parcel of the Black Metal scene around the time of its inception. Additionally, the death metal growl as a style is much-derided in many circles, pejoratively referred to as "Cookie Monster vocals".
  • Rammstein's Till Lindemann is made of this trope.
  • Front Line Assembly's Bill Leeb averts, subverts, plays straight, and twists this trope every which way thanks to his near-obsessive vocoder use, dropping his voice to a guttural growl, and just as quickly rising to a high-pitched windy tone.
  • Frontman Milan Fras of Slovenian group Laibach.
  • Eminem does this in the song "My Darling", where his separate identity (Slim Shady) is heard in a deep, demonic voice.
  • Weird Al Yankovic in the song Your Horoscope For Today when he gets to Sagittarius.

All your friends are laughing behind your back. KILL THEM.

  • Dimmu Borgir's song "The Sacrilegious Scorn" has Satan appearing as a beautiful woman, who turns out to have a deep voice as she performs a spoken-word rendition of one verse.


Opera[edit | hide]

  • Scarpia in Tosca is a baritone, but lately, often sung by bass-baritones. He's an evil son of a bitch who wants to kill the tenor and rape the soprano.
    • The rare case of this trope in Puccini's operas. His other low-voiced characters, like Colline in La Boheme, Timur in Turandot and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly are nice, or at least sympathetic, like Michele in Il Tabarro and Rance in La Fanciulla del West. And Gianni Schicchi is a Loveable Rogue.
  • Claggart in Billy Budd is a super-low bass. One of the most satanic characters ever.
  • Richard Wagner often fell into this. His heroes, such as Siegfried and Parsifal, would be Heldentenors. Villains such as Hagen were often basses or bass-baritones.
    • On the other hand, Landgraf Hermann, Henry the Fowler, Hans Sachs, Gurnemanz, and Titurel are all basses or bass-baritones as well.
    • Ring Baddies are mostly deep. Alberich is a bass-baritone, Hagen, Hunding and Fafner are basses (Fafner as a dragon in Siegfried has his deep bass amplified by megaphone), Fricka is a mezzo-soprano. However, Mime is a character tenor, but Mime is a fun villain.
  • Subverted by Mozart, who wrote mostly for basses as opposed to tenors.
    • Completely inverted in The Magic Flute, when the villain is an EXTREMELY high soprano, and the low bass is the good guy.
  • Gian-Carlo Menotti's The Consul features as its antagonist a secret police agent, who is a bass-baritone. Has a creepy Villain Song to boot.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan weren't usually kind to tenors, portraying many of them as idiots or jerks. However, they had bass-baritone Richard Temple, who had a talent for macabre roles, creating such sinister bass roles as The Mikado of Japan, the Pirate King, and the ghost Sir Roderick.
  • Ask Samuel Ramey, famed for his portrayals of Mephisto in different adaptations of Faust.
  • Also, Eric Halfvarson, a famous Wagner bass. The man even looks like a psychopath, and plays mostly... psychopaths. (But he's nice in real life.)
  • The Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo. 90-years-old, blind, and he sings the other bass, King Philip, literally off the stage. On the other hand, the baritone Rodrigo is the nicest and purest character ever to happen in a Verdi's opera.
  • Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress - see "Samuel Ramey" above.
  • Subverted in Khovanshchina: Dosifey, the bass, is a good, wise priest.
  • Osmin in Abduction from the Seraglio is a very low bass, but he's a funny and human villain.
  • Iago in Othello is a baritone - sometimes sung by bass-baritones.
  • Subversion: the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto is a tenor, and a heartless whoremonger. The bass, Sparafucile, is an assassin, but he's honourable and almost sympathetic.
  • In Nabucco, the bass is a Good Priest, the soprano, Abigaille, is the baddie.
  • The Hidden Ba(da)ss: you know, there's that boring old bass guy, Ferrando, in Il Trovatore. He sings that long aria in the beginning that you sleep through. Then, in the current London production, Ferrando becomes Luna's bad spirit instead of the old buddy... being bald and having a Villain Scar.
  • Well, the Commendatore isn't a friendly guy either. Don't invite him for supper.
    • On that note, Don Giovanni himself counts, depending on whether he's cast as a bass or lyric baritone.
  • From The Tales of Hoffmann, there are four characters: Lindorf, Coppelius, Dr. Miracle, and Dapertutto. They are all played by the same bass-baritone, and are, quite literally, the incarnations of evil.
  • This was taken one step further in Baroque Opera, wherein any character anywhere within the actual male voice range -i.e. not meant to be played by a castrato- is INVARIABLY evil. Yes, even tenors.
    • There's a good tenor guy Bajazet in Handel's Tamerlano. Still, no bass in any Baroque opera could ever be good.
  • Regina is all over the place with this one. The title role, greedy and morally bankrupt, was initially supposed to be a mezzo-soprano, but ended up a soprano. Her husband, Horace, and servant, Addie, are a bass and contralto respectively, but are good guys, as are Birdie and Zan, who are sopranos. Ben and Oscar, also greedy, are both baritones, and their son Leo, a much less endearing version of The Ditz, is a tenor.
  • Bartolo was cast as a bass by Paisiello, Rossini and Mozart.
  • The title role in Boris Godunov is something of a Villain Protagonist, and is a bass (though is occasionally sung by baritones). Interesting in that he's a bit of an Anti-Villain.
  • Der Freischütz gives us one straight-play and three subversions. Kaspar, the main antagonist, is a basso, but so are the kindly old hermit and Kuno, the protagonist's Mentor and father-in-law-to-be. Samiel is a speaking role, but generally high-pitched.
  • In general, contralto roles in opera are somewhat limited, sometimes described as being "witches, bitches, and breeches".
  • In oratorios, however (basically operas without sets or costumes and meant for church), the parts of God and Jesus were often sung by basses.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Opera Musical theater in general; heroes tend to be sopranos and tenors, while villains are altos and basses.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney are an alto and a bass-baritone respectively. They are the protagonists, but also evil. The wicked Judge Turpin is a bass.
    • Also subverted via the two villainous tenors, Pirelli and the Beadle. Then there's Anthony, who has been played by both baritones and tenors.
  • Officer Lockstock from Urinetown is a bass. Cladwell, too.
  • As is Ciaphas from Jesus Christ Superstar. A deep bass at that.
    • However, Annas is tenor who sings in falsetto.
  • Leon Czolgosz, while arguably the most sympathetic of the Assassins, is the only bass among them—possible subversion. The Proprietor is also a bass, and certainly a wee bit sinister himself.
    • Booth, Hinckley, Byck, and Guiteau are all baritones, however (though Guiteau is sometimes played by tenors)
  • Claude Frollo from both the film and stage version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a bass-baritone.
  • Les Misérables: Valjean, Marius, and Enjolras are tenors; Javert and Thenardier are baritones.
    • May be a subversion, as Enjolras has been played by baritones many times, and Marius's song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" is more in the baritone register.
    • Also subverted in the female characters: Fantine and Eponine are both contraltos, or at least mezzo-sopranos. Cosette is a soprano, but she's usually played less sympathetically than the others.
  • Nathan Wallace in Repo the Genetic Opera gets a deep, gravelly voice when he is the Repo Man.
    • Rotti Largo and Graverobber are both baritones, but Luigi and Pavi are tenors.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • The cyclops Gargarensis in Age of Mythology has a guttural voice.
  • Somewhat subverted in Guilty Gear. Potemkin has the voice of a TI 83 running a voice module at quarter speed, and the extremely threatening looks to go with it ; he's also one of the nicest and most polite characters in the series.
  • The Imperium units in Dark Reign.
  • Inverted in Final Fantasy VI with Kefka and his trademark Evil Laugh. Seymour, on the other hand, plays this straight with his commanding bass voice, which becomes distorted when he transforms into Seymour Natus or Seymour Flux.
  • Exemplified by the character Dagri'Lon in the Skyrim mod Interesting NPCs.
  • Played straight in Neverwinter Nights (and expansion Hordes Of the Underdark) with Paladin/Blackguard Aribeth.
  • Both the Final Boss and the Bonus Boss in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door get white text in black balloons, which is the visual expression of this trope.
  • When GLaDOS's Morality Core is destroyed in Portal, her voice drops from a tinny, childish drone to a low, seductive tone.
    • Her voice also has a tendency to drop in tone at the end of some lines throughout the game to denote that she doesn't exactly have your best intentions in mind...
    • At the end of Portal 2, Wheatley greets you with a more or less cheery "Well, well, well. Welcome..." followed by considerably darker and deeper "to MY LAIR!"
  • CABAL in the Command & Conquer: Tiberium series.
  • In Soulcalibur IV, Tira has Split Personality Disorder. Her Jolly side has a disturbingly pure and innocent voice, but once her Gloomy side comes out, her voice becomes deeper and raspier.
    • Nightmare plays this trope completely straight in the third and fourth games, with a digitally altered, deepened inhuman voice.
  • Tales of the Abyss: Asch has a much deeper voice than Luke, reflecting his Anti-Hero tendencies.
  • Played straight and inverted in Thief: The Dark Project. Constantine's already deep voice deepens when he reveals his true identity. Viktoria's voice, on the other hand, rises in pitch slightly.
  • Inverted in Thief II: The Metal Age. Karras has a high, nasal voice.
  • World of Warcraft: Death Knights have slightly altered voicesets compared to anyone else with the same race but different class. The original Death Knight hero in Warcraft 3 and other evil heroes also have deep voices.
    • ...except for the female gnome Death Knights, whose altered voicesets just makes them sound like they recorded their lines while sitting in a tin can. And Undead Death Knights whose voice gets actually higher, which makes them sound more insane.
    • Also, in Warcraft III the Anti-Hero demon hunters have a high voice, but when they activate their Super-Powered Evil Side, their voice becomes a deep bass.
    • Let's put the list up: Ogres, demons (except for imps... and succubi, for obvious reasons), most undead creatures (especially the Lich King), black dragons, Kalecgos-when-mind-controlled-and-forced-to-attack-you, and good grief I could go on for HOURS. Warcraft BREATHES this trope. It's like some kind of drug to the voice actors.
      • Succubi count too; they're alto, which is female this-trope.
    • Averted, however, in that Thrall and Varian (both voiced by Metzen himself~) along with a good number of protagonistic chars have pretty deep voices as well. Meanwhile, look at, say, Kael'thas. And no, being a blood elf doesn't justify the lack of trope, as one of the blood elves in MGT has at least a deeper voice by comparison: "I! AM! A GOD!!" Kael's was definitely especially high even by standards of his race, but not high enough to register the shrill creepy opposite-end of this trope either.
    • Grom Hellscream changed from having a scratchy, high-pitched voice in Warcraft II, to a deep, gravelly one in Warcraft III.
  • Played with in most games based off Warhammer 40,000: The voices of loyalist Space Marines are almost as deep as their Chaos counterparts. Then again, this is Warhammer 40,000, where everyone is evil sooner or later.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots goes with the "normal voice combined with another voice" variation for the Beauty And Beast Corps.
  • Inverted in Myst IV: Revelation, where the good guys Achenar, Atrus, your spirit guide have low tenors or baritones, whereas the bad guys, that is to say Sirrus, are nearly countertenors but not squeaky or unpleasant to hear. This is, of course, leaving out Yeesha, who is neither bad nor deep-voiced, but also prepubescent and female, excusing her soprano tones.
  • In the Sam and Max Freelance Police episode What's New, Beelzebub?, all the demons who impersonate other characters have artificially deepened voices when they break character.
  • The voice of the Dungeon Keeper's advisor. Conversely, if the in-game vocal "taunts" are to be any guide, the Keepers themselves almost sound like they're on helium.
  • Mass Effect: Sovereign has a very deep, ominous timbre, with all the flanging one might expect from a synthetic being. At high enough volumes, it almost feels like it's rattling your teeth.
    • Harbringer follows in his footsteps in Mass Effect 2. The main difference between the their voices is that Sovereign sounds detached, uncaring, which is pretty much what you'd expect from an ancient sentient starship that considers "organic life nothing but a genetic mutation." Harbinger, on the other hand? There's actual emotion there. You can tell that Harbinger actually has emotion. HATE. There's just more malevolence in that voice, not to mention the way it says "THIS HURTS YOU, SHEPARD."
    • The Shadow Broker has a ridiculously deep voice as well, even without vocal modulation.
    • The unnamed Reaper you speak to in Mass Effect 3 also has an incredibly deep voice. You can actually see the air shimmering when it speaks!
    • Reapers, period. Especially their foghorn-like battlecry.
  • In Persona 4, most of the Shadows speak with a Voice of the Legion involving the victim's actual voice layered over a deeper echo of it. Naoto's shadow is an exception though, it's layered with a higher-pitched voice.
    • Teddie's shadow is also an interesting meta case, its voice has a reverb effect to it, but otherwise is much deeper than the normal character's speech, sounding like a completely different person entirely. However, both roles are done by the same voice actor.
  • Stephan Weyte has gone between subverting this and playing it straight; among his other roles in video games are three that he used the same deep, gravelly voice for - one good (Greil in Fire Emblem), one neutral (Captain Claw in, well, Claw), and one evil (Caleb in Blood).
  • In Tekken, when Devil Jin (manga) talks, his voice is much lower than the normal Jin Kazama's. And in Tekken 6, though it's subtler, regular Jin (manga) has a slightly lower-sounding voice as well.
  • Both of the villains in Kingdom Hearts have deep bass voices, especially Xemnas. It helps that most of the Big Bads are different incarnations of the same deep-voiced man. Also inverted in that the guy voiced by Christopher Lee is an Anti-Hero.
  • In Iji, Tor's voice basically sounds like Darth Vader with laryngitis. This was so prevalent, the game's creator had to explain what he was saying in his speedrun videos. Subverted, he's really a good guy inside.
  • Ace Attorney brings us Manfred von Karma's OBJECTION!s.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's: The Battle of Aces, Nanoha's Evil Twin Material-S has a deeper version of her voice.
  • The Zuul from Sword of the Stars have an impressively guttural voice.
  • Fallout 2: Frank Horrigan has one of the deepest voices in video games. Justified, he's a huge super mutant.
  • The Transcendent One from Planescape: Torment has a terrifically deep voice.
  • Inverted in Fable I with Jack of Blades having a creepy, high-pitched voice. Played straight in The Lost Chapters expansion, where his voice has been artificially lowered to a more demonic tone.


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • Played for laughs in Ask That Guy, where The Guy's voice will spontaneously drop a few octaves when he feels particularly evil.
  • Parodied in the French web series Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk, where all the evil guys have deep, low voices. Subverted since the friendly ogre travelling with the... hem... heroes also has a low voice, and the fiery demon living in the dungeon has a rather high, metallic voice. The series also provides good examples of Evil Laugh.
  • One of the signs that the AI O'Malley/Omega is possessing someone in Red vs. Blue is their voice suddenly going deep and random psychotic comments ("So you didn't threaten to cut off my head and give it to Church as a birthday present?")

Caboose: Fix the tank so I can talk to Sheila. And start killing everyone.
Tucker: You mean all the reds, right?
Caboose: Of course! For starters.

  • Played with in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog. Dr. Horrible does speak/sing a bit deeper and more harshly when he's in evil mode, but he's still a normal, non-creepy/cold tenor either way. Meanwhile, Captain Hammer is a baritone, and Penny is an alto.
  • Echo Chamber's Mr. Administrator.
  • Reflets d'Acide parodies this with the villainess Alia-Aenor, who is a giant black dragon with a very deep voice... in contrast with her human form, who has a little girl's voice.
  • In All Your Base videos, CATS is usually voiced by Microsoft Sam at his lowest pitch setting. Other characters usually get higher-pitched, and less robotic sounding voices.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Many characters voiced by Tony Jay are examples of both this and an Evil Brit: Megabyte, Frollo, Anubis (though not until he's merged with an evil avatar), Wraith, Lickboot, Baron Mordo, etc.
  • Scar in The Lion King; though Mufasa's voice is deeper, Scar's voice is much deeper than the main hero (and tenor), Simba.
  • Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
  • Shere Khan's one-line VillainSong.
  • Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, who's voiced by Keith David.
  • Darkseid's voice is very deep in both Superfriends and Justice League. His son Kalibak had a very raspy voice in the former but a very deep one in the latter, as well. It helps that this version of Kalibak is voiced by Michael Dorn. Then there's Despero...
    • Darkseid voice-actor Michael Ironside also did the voice of The Dark Knight Returns Batman in the Batman the Animated Series episode "Legends of the Dark Knight".
    • Not to mention Granny Goodness, who, being voiced by Ed Asner, has a voice deeper than any normal woman.
  • Transformers Generation 1 averted it with Megatron and Starscream both having very high, whiny voices. In The Movie, Unicron played it straight. Megatron in Beast Wars and Transformers Animated are another story, though. Animated also has Lugnut, but Starscream still has a high, scratchy voice despite being a bigger threat to more people than ever before.
    • The live-action movie played it straight by making Megatron's voice very deep as well as Barricade's. Movie Starscream is the first incarnation of 'Screamer to have a very deep voice as well - though ever so slightly higher than the others.
    • Its worth noting that the most noble of leaders, Optimus Prime, has a very deep voice (especially in the live-action movie).
      • When Hot Rod becomes Rodimus Prime his voice drops quite a bit, but this might be part of the whole 'becoming a man' Hero's Journey theme the movie has.
    • Beast Wars era Megatron, yeeessss...
    • Welker's performance as Megatron in Transformers Prime is nothing like his G1 voice, much deeper and subdued, and much more intimidating as a result.
    • Motormaster, one of Megatron's henchmen in G1, is frequently portrayed as having a hollow, bottomless pit sort of voice.
  • Killface, from Frisky Dingo, who is also electronically deepened.
  • Inverted in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, where Skeletor's voice gets rather shrieky, complete with cackling, after he loses his face. Played straight with Marzo, when being freed from his dwarfing curse.
    • Played straight in the Italian dub of the 2002 version, where Skeletor's voice sounds like a deep growl.
  • When Flippy from Happy Tree Friends is reminded of war and converts to his Super-Powered Evil Side, he gains this trait.
  • Batman the Animated Series used this not only for Batman (see the entry for "Film") but also for their version of Two-Face: Harvey Dent's voice was relatively high and lively, while his darker personality's voice was gravelly and deep.
  • Both subverted and played straight in G.I. Joe; Cobra Commander has a very high pitched, whiny voice, while The Dragon Destro has a suitably deep one and The Brute Zartan's is relatively normal, but with an electronic echo effect that makes it sound louder than it is.
    • Played straight in the live action movie, where the Doctor who later upgrades to the Commander pulls the deepest and most menacing voice he can do.
  • One of the differences between Darkwing Duck and his Evil Twin Negaduck is the latter's deeper voice.
  • In American Dad, it's revealed that Steve's obese friend Barry has to take mind altering medication. When Barry doesn't, he becomes malicious and gains the matching deeper and a Creepy Monotone voice.
    • His voice also takes on a british accent at the same time (again, for the creepy effect)
  • The Disney Animated Canon version of Beauty and the Beast almost subverts this one by giving its hero a growly, artificially-deepened voice as long as he's in Beast form and not. So why isn't it a subversion? Gaston's voice is still lower.
    • Also nearly subverted with Belle herself. She is a mezzo-soprano while her foils, the three Bimbettes, are breathy sopranos. They aren't evil, however—just air-headed fans of Gaston.
  • "THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE MYSTERONS."
  • Mumm-Ra of the Thundercats.
  • In Futurama, Morbo the Annihilator subverts this by having a deep voice and an expressed desire for destruction of all of humankind, but only works as a news anchor.
    • In the first episode, his voice was digitally lowered, but in the rest of the series, the voice actor simply lowered his voice to match.
    • Any similarity between Morbo, Horrible Gelatinous Blob, and Lrrr, RULER OF THE PLANET Omnicron-Persei 8 is just your imagination. So the voice actor insists.
  • Asajj Ventress from Star Wars: Clone Wars has a deep, gravely voice.
  • Dr. Claw, of course. (Unless the voice comes from excessive chain-smoking, and he just puts the echo on for effect...)
  • In the same vein as Dr. Claw, there's Dr. Robotnik in Sonic Sat AM. Easily the most intimidating incarnation of the character, his dramatically reverberating voice usually stayed at the level of a whisper (at least in the first season), but its menacingly low tones are among the most memorable aspects of the series.
  • Kim Possible: "Rufus In Show" Subverts this with the villainous Falsetto Jones who was caught in a "freak helium accident" that heighten his voice. Naturally he was hilarious, but too Genre Savvy to ever be used again.
  • In the early Popeye shorts, Bluto's voice was baritone. Especially notable if he were being played by Gus Wickie.
  • Inverted with the villainous HIM from The Powerpuff Girls, who possesses a creepy falsetto voice.
    • He does, but when he gets serious/angry/just wants to be extra dramatic, his voice goes from high-pitched to really deep and growly.
  • Makuta Teridax of the first two Bionicle films has a REALLY deep voice. Becomes a bit jarring when you realize the actor playing him secondarily plays the high-pitched Pewku.
  • Subverted in Gargoyles. Not only does Goliath have a deeper voice than the main antagonist, but he has the deepest voice in the entire primary cast. Played completely straight with Goliath's Evil Twin, Thailog.
  • Officer Shallowgrave on The Fairly OddParents. It's even Lampshaded by Cosmo.
  • Latanya Hippo from My Gym Partners a Monkey may not be evil but she does talk in a deep, scary demonic voice especially when she is angry.
  • Dark Danny.
    • Also briefly with Sam when Undergrowth brainwashes her. Not only is it deeper, it's seductive.
  • When Trigon, the main villain of the fourth season of Teen Titans, had to be even more evil and threatening than Slade, the creators decided that he also had to have an even deeper voice than Slade's already quite deep Creepy Monotone.
  • Inverted in the 1960's Spider-Man cartoon, where Peter Parker deepened his voice significantly every time he put on his Spidey mask.
  • Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas has quite the deep voice. Also played with the hero Jack Skellington, as he uses a deep voice both for his more creepy scenes and when he tries to be Santa.
  • Despite the fact that he's very small, Plankton of SpongeBob SquarePants has a very deep baritone voice.
  • Heihu, the demonic Big Bad of Shaolin Wuzang, despite the fact that he's possessing a woman's body.
  • Aku, nemesis of Samurai Jack. As his voice actor Mako once put it, "Evil comes from the belly."
  • In The Legend of Korra, evil is deeper than the bottom of the ocean. Given that Amon and his Lieutenant, are voiced by Steve Blum and Lance Henriksen. Which is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
  • Vandal Savage, Big Bad (or at least the founder of the group that collectively forms the Big Bad) of the first season of Young Justice has a very deep, growling voice.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003, the Shredder has a nice deep voice with a Japanese accent, which, while wearing his armor, sounds like it echoes robotically. Sh'Okanabo's voice in Fast Forward, of course, is surprisingly deeper than that of the Shredder. It even has an almost alien-like echo added to it (which is no surprise as Black Doom from Shadow the Hedgehog sounds exactly like him).
    • Darius Dun has a nice deep voice as well, complete with a british accent.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Any villainous character ever played by Christopher Lee. Thus automatically subverted whenever he plays a good guy, like Ansem in Kingdom Hearts II or Death in the two Discworld animated miniseries.
  • Inverted in The Adventures of Superman, in which Superman's transformation from Clark Kent to Superman would be signalled by his voice going deeper, often mid-sentence: "This looks like a job... for Superman!"
  • The voices of the Shadowmen in Broken Saints are distorted to make them deeper both to disguise the fact that we know two of them, and to of course, make them sound more menacing. This is doubly true for Lear Dunham, who has one level of distortion for his Shadowman scenes, and another for his mysterious presence in Kami's vision and Shandala's dreams.
  • Any character played by Shozo Iizuka, Ryuzaburo Ohtomo, and Norio Wakamoto.
  • Inverted with Thurl Ravenscroft. Despite his incredibly deep voice and macabre name, the roles he took were usually sympathetic.
    • One exception to this was his contributing to the Goblin-songs in the animated adaptation of The Hobbit.
  • Tim Curry's voice seems like this at times, but it isn't so much deep as it is a suave brand of tenor.
    • On that note, Tony Jay and Michael Wincott also deserve a spot.
  • Adolf Hitler had a very deep, rasping voice in private conversation. Averted elsewhere, as he used a high, piercing voice when making his grandiose speeches, because a high-pitched voice carries better.
  • Tony Todd has an unbelievably deep and gravelly voice.
  • Perennial The Three Stooges villain Kenneth MacDonald.
  • Any villain played by Clancy Brown. Inverted whenever he plays a good guy.
  1. This is a blue faced lie: it's done by playing the tape at half speed. There's nothing "Digital" about it at all.
  2. In classic Smallville Not Wearing Tights and Not Using the Zed Word fashion. "I'm you. Just a little more... bizarre."