Eviler Than Thou

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"It's not just about power, it's also about how far you're willing to debase yourself before feeling bad. I ripped off my own living flesh so that I wouldn't have to admit weakness. You're strictly little league compared to that. That right there? That's the difference between bonafide true Evil with a capital "E" and your whiny "evil, but for a good cause," crap. One gets to be the butch, and one gets to be the bitch -- Bitch."

In the Big Bad business, There Can Be Only One, and it had better not be you when I'm Eviler than Thou.

Two Villains are rivals, each wreaking havoc in their own special way. For instance, one is direct and violent, while the other is a cowardly but clever schemer. Or one is selfish and the other is a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Each one has the potential to be the one and only Big Bad. The poor Heroes are caught in the middle between two completely different threats, and have to be flexible enough to stop both.

As the two villains plot, their Evil Plans will begin to collide and interfere with each other. If they meet, they will have the same reaction every time: the other villain is a disgrace to villainy's good name (or bad name, or...well, you know what we mean). The sneaky one thinks the violent one is a dumb brute, while the violent one thinks the sneaky one is pathetic. They may team up against the heroes for a while (each planning to double-cross the other), but usually they go for each other's throats, and the cross-fire threatens to destroy the world.

Whichever villain wins will rub it in with a cackling "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how the other villain is deficient. "People think you're scary, but deep down you're just a dumb thug." Or, "All your plotting and scheming has come to nothing when facing a real man who just fights." This is usually the end of the less horrible one. If they survive, they will often be so shocked at what the other one is planning that they team up with the heroes in an Enemy Mine. "I always thought I was doing right - this guy is just a selfish monster!" Or, "I only wanted to steal money, but his mad utopian schemes could doom the world!" This doesn't mean they reform, though.

Often, the heroes (and the writers) will ponder at length which villain is worse morally, with An Aesop. Usually, the moral is about avoiding either of two extremes (for instance, pragmatic heroes dealing with a selfish villain and a fanatic villain).

Some villains collide, but some stories just have their contrasting plots pass each other by. Or one of the villains may be more of a comic-relief distraction from the more threatening one, which does not necessarily mean that the comic relief one is less evil.

Anti Heroes (Type IV or V) and Anti Villains generally have another villain around who is eviler. Contrast Arson, Murder, and Admiration, Holier Than Thou, More Hero Than Thou and A Lighter Shade of Grey. The villain claiming to be Eviler than Thou is showing that sometimes it's not true that Even Evil Has Standards, while the villain they're claiming to be worse than (if it's true and the other villain proudly agrees) may be a straight example of Even Evil Has Standards.

Examples of Eviler Than Thou include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Mayuri Kurotsuchi VS Szayel-Aporro Granz in Bleach, though it is less an "Eviler Than Thou" moment so much as "More Crazy Prepared Than Thou".
  • Magic Knight Rayearth II has the girls fending off three invading nations that are all plotting against each other.
  • Done all the time in Inuyasha. Naraku is constantly employing lesser villains to help him out and ultimately they die, sometimes due to his direct influence. Seemingly subverted when Naraku is absorbed and seemingly killed by Moryumaru, but later on we find out Naraku let Moryumaru absorb him so he (Naraku) could absorb Moryumaru from the inside-out, proving anew Naraku is Eviler than Thou.
    • Furthermore the plot of the second movie, Naraku is killed during the opening credits, but it turns out it's a ploy to lure the film's main villain out of hiding so Naraku can kill her and steal her powers, and thus he returns at the climax alive and well.
  • El Hazard the Magnificent World: Jinnai joins the heroes at the last possible moment due to an Enemy Mine situation—whereas the Phantom Tribe want to destroy the world, he wants to save the world so that he still has a chance of ruling it someday.
  • In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, the mercenary Black Beauty Sisters agree to work for both Gackto and Michel so that they can gain powerful humanoid forms. Both times, they plot against their superiors as soon as they get enough power (although in the second season of the anime, their betrayal comes out of a Heel Face Turn rather than greed, as opposed to the manga). They're quickly found out both times before they can do anything. Gackto is nice enough just to turn them back into fish. Michel, however, absorbs their souls in the anime; he has a much worse punishment in the manga.
  • The duel between Yami Bakura and Yami Marik in Yu-Gi-Oh. Marik wants the three Egyptian God Cards for his own purposes, but Bakura is after the Millennium Items for his own purposes, and Marik has the Millennium Rod. They try to work together, but when Marik's evil alter-ego takes over his body, Bakura teams up with Marik's good half to defeat his evil half with the rod as his reward. Unfortunately for Bakura, Yami Marik turns out to be Eviler Than Thou.
    • For that season anyway. Turns out later on that Yami Bakura was Eviler than everyone, it just took about "another two hundred bloody episodes" before he got his chance to show it ...or, as the case would be, even remembered it.
    • A minor example in the first season would be Maximillion Pegasus and Bandit Keith Howard. Pegasus is the Big Bad of the season, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Gentleman Snarker, and Squishy Wizard who desires to resurrect his wife via Black Magic. Keith's a thug who infiltrated the tournament and beats people up to take their Star Chips and advance to the finals; his goal is to defeat Pegasus, who once beat him in an exhibition match. The two never directly clash, with Keith being beaten by Joey in the semi-finals, but he certainly makes for an excellent Foil to Pegasus, with his Smug Snakery highlighting Pegasus' Magnificent Bastardry.
    • And then Pegasus ends up on the receiving end of this trope after he's defeated by Yugi, as Bakura tracks him down, defeats him in a quick mental duel, and takes his Millennium Eye.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh GX has Yubel vs Amon. Considering this is the first time in the franchise since the above Bakura vs Marik example that two villains turned on each other, it's a great Crowning Moment of Awesome - the gimmick of the two, the Sacred Beasts vs Exodia, doesn't hurt either. Yubel turns out to be Eviler than Amon, but we find out during the duel Amon is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believes Utopia Justifies the Means, so perhaps he isn't really evil...
  • Goes along with the Sorting Algorithm of Evil in Kinnikuman and its sequel Kinnikuman Nisei / Ultimate Muscle. At first, there's the Zangyaku/Brutal Choujin, who have no shame in fighting dirty. Of course, they don't kill unless they absolutely have to. Then we get the Akuma/Demon Choujin, who fight to kill but have a strong sense of friendship and morals. Then we get the Perfect Choujin, who feel they can do whatever they want provided their "rules" such as "Never lose, use weapons, or show emotion" don't forbid it. Then we now have the Jikan/Time Choujin, who don't even care if they mess up history to achieve their nefarious goals.
  • Lone Wolf and Cub has Abe-no-Kaii making a pretty good try at this trope, what with his willingness to poison a whole river just to kill Itto, or leaves poisoned spikes on the ground to kill Itto, not to mention his tendency to drink urine for no particular reason. Culminates in his accidentally flooding all of Edo, probably killing thousands. The regular evil, Retsudo Yagyu, eventually sets him up for suicide after Kaii betrays Yagyu.
  • The current battle between the newly-reincarnated Griffith and Emperor Ganishka in Berserk qualifies as this.
  • Black Lagoon: caps off its Hansel and Gretel arc with a confrontation between insane child-mercenary Hansel and charismatic mafia queen Balalaika. Balalaika uses snipers to effortlessly fell the psychopath and then delivers a crushing Hannibal Lecture to him as he bleeds to death on the floor in front of her.
  • Baccano!! finishes off the Flying Pussyfoot incident with a train-top show-off between the Ax Crazy Psycho for Hire Ladd Russo and the Ax Crazy Awesome Sociopathic Hero Claire Stanfield. In this case it's not so much Eviler than Thou as Crazier Than Thou.
    • In addition, in the DVD bonus episodes, Ladd and Claire both separately have Crazier-Than-Thou showdowns with Talkative Loon Graham Spector.
      • And then Claire gets into a Crazier-Than-Thou match with Psychopathic Manchild Christopher Shouldered in the Light Novels. (For those wondering, by the way: nobody is crazier than Claire.)
  • The epic match between Ryo Mashiba vs. Ryuuhei Sawamura in Hajime no Ippo. They even let off lines like "If Mashiba is a demon, then Sawamura is the devil himself". Naturally, the match involves lots of brutal cheating on both sides. In the match however, Mashiba practically loses the veneer of humanity he had and proceeds to lay down a savage beating on Sawamura, gloating over the fact that his bloodlust is back and that he silenced his own fandom with his cruel actions. Mashiba gets disqualified for it, making Sawamura the winner, but technically Mashiba was the better boxer.
  • Madara and Kabuto spent most of the Fourth Ninja War Arc competing for the Big Bad position of Naruto. Madara was presented as the traditional Big Bad and had far more influence over the story than Kabuto, but Kabuto had a trump card over him, along with the Story-Breaker Power of Edo Tensei. Now, however, the conflict seems resolved: Kabuto has lost his trump card over Tobi and must end Edo Tensei in order to free himself from Izanami, so he has been bumped down to Tobi's Evil Genius.
  • This isn't really touched by the actual villains in Death Note, but in the manga, Rem really starts to see the Knight Templar's good points when a Corrupt Corporate Executive obtains his Artifact of Doom.
  • Many have tried to manipulate Johan Liebert for their own means. Johan, who is widely considered to be the poster boy for the Complete Monster trope, shows these people that Evil Is Not a Toy. He follows along with them to achieve his own plans but as soon as they have served their purpose, he disposes of them without a second thought.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The X-Men comic book and movies contrast William Stryker, a bigoted clergyman who thinks mutants are animals, with Magneto, a mutant supremacist who thinks mutants should enslave humans (or separate themselves from humans, or just kill the humans; Magneto's opinions on what to do with normal humans vary from time to time and writer to writer, and that's not even getting into his periodic Heel Face Turns). The parallels with white supremacists and minority racists are very much open.
    • It's a textbook abused-becomes-the-abuser Aesop with Magneto, as he's a Holocaust survivor. The Red Skull once even said that they weren't that different.
    • In The Movie Stryker is a General Ripper, which temporarily leads to an Enemy Mine situation for the two mutant factions.
  • In the Tintin book Flight 714, the Big Bad and an eccentric billionaire argue under the influence of a Truth Serum about who's the most ruthless of them.
  • In the recent Green Lantern storyline "Rage of the Red Lanterns", the Red Lantern Corps pulls this on the Sinestro Corps by interrupting the Sinestro Corps battle with the GLs to free Sinestro and slaughtering both sides.
  • In the Spider-Man story Goblins at the Gate the Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley) thinks he's manipulating the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) to free him from prison and help him defeat Spider-Man, before he executes a takeover of Osborn's business empire. Turns out Osborn knew Kingsley was trying to use him and was just playing along to find out if Kingsley really had any blackmail material on him- and has managed to take over all of Kingsley's business empire instead. How was he able to carry it off so quickly? Easy:

Norman: I'm Norman Osborn.

    • Fellow Spider-Man villain Mr. Negative feels no one can approach him when it comes to evil or good, because he is both in equally ridiculous proportion. He subscribes to a philosophy that because his alter ego Mr. Li is as kind as a saint, this makes his evil as Mr. Negative all the more despicable, and vice versa. In being both, he is greater than any who is but one.
  • As proved by Alexander Luthor's fate at the end of Infinite Crisis, no matter what cosmic scale genocide or Crisis a DCU villain has carried out, the most dangerous villain is still a psychopath in a purple suit. Cross him at your peril.
  • While responding to fan mail in his Dark Reign tie-in, Venom said:

Venom: I know I'm not the nicest guy on the Earth, but try to compare me with the rest of my team. Daken has to kill four people per day to count it as good, Bullseye once killed a kitty that got struck on a tree just to prove he can, Norman Osborn seduced his son's girlfriend, and Ares is fricking GOD OF WAR. Next to them I'm looking like Tom Hanks.

  • Whole point of Resurrection from Star Wars Tales #9 - Sith cultists clone Darth Maul to make him fight Darth Vader, because they believe Vader has too much good inside him to be Palpatine's apprentice. This could be a Secret Test of Character, schemed by Palpatine to find out if Vader is evil enough as well.
  • In the Teen Titans storyline "The Judas Contract", Slade quickly realized that his own Dragon Terra was far more evil and dangerous than him. His plan to bring down the Titans from within went off without a hitch thanks to her prowess, but immediately fell apart the moment she got pissed off at him.
  • Relatively early on in Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog, Mammoth Mogul proved himself eviler than Enerjak (who was more or less the Big Bad of the Knuckles spin-off) by using the Sword of Acorns to steal his powers, reducing him to a frail old man, all while giving him "The Reason You Suck" Speech.

Near the end of Grant Morrison's run on the pre-reboot Batman's books, Oberson Sexton AKA: The Joker playing hero shows Doctor Hurt why he's pathetic with a line of dominoes and an Ironic Echo of what hurt said to him.


Fanfic[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • In The Rocketeer, Mob boss Eddie Valentine turns on his partner, actor Neville Sinclair, the moment he learns the latter's scheme is to turn the rocket-pack over to the Nazis. "I might not make an honest buck, but I'm one hundred percent American!" (In real life, some American Mafia dons actually used their personal ties in Sicily and Italy to help out the Allied invasion—which might have been patriotism or might simply have been a case of "enemy of my enemy" thinking, as Mussolini was really hard on La Cosa Nostra, viewing it as a rival to his power.)
    • Another real life example, during WWII the US government asked the Mafia for help in order to uncover Nazi spies, or preventing them from sabotaging the production of ships which were necessary to keep up the support for Great Britain.
  • A major plot element in The Ninth Gate is that two very rich and rather nasty people—a Satanist and a guy who just wants the power—are both after a book believed capable of summoning the devil. Ultimately this leads to an epic scene in which the latter crashes the former's black mass, kills her in plain sight of the other cultists, and gives a rant basically saying "You Satanists are amateurs, only I understand the true power of this book" while they flee in terror.

Balkan: Look around, what do you see? A bunch of buffoons in fancy dress. You think the Prince of Darkness would deign to manifest himself before the likes of you? He never has and he never will!

  • The "black" Predators in Predators are bigger, nastier and somehow even uglier than the classic green Preds. Instead of hunting humans on their own turf, they kidnap human warriors to hunt them on a "game preserve" planet, in between torturing the classic ones they've captured.
  • In The Dark Knight Saga, The Joker constantly berates small-time crooks mobsters for being petty and shallow enough to care only about profit while ignoring loftier ideals of Evil:

You and your kind, all you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them!


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Elric Saga, Stormbringer compares himself to Elric immediately after killing and devouring Elric's soul. "Farewell friend. I was a thousand times more evil than thou." Despite Elric being an anti-hero, having destroyed his homeland and most everyone in it, partnering with entities of chaos, conveniently falling 'in love' with every major female character in The Multiverse and generally being an amoral prick should constitute him evil enough for comparison. Possibly the Trope Namer?
    • Stormbringer is eviler than Elric though - Stormbringer is basically a demon forged into the shape of a sword, and has often been a corrupting influence on Elric.
  • The novel and play Les Misérables contrasts the selfish thief Thenardier with the fanatic Inspector Javert, Javert representing the dark side of law, Thenardier criminality and chaos.
  • The early Harry Potter books contrast the all-consuming evil of Voldemort with the petty, selfish bullying of Draco Malfoy. In later books the misguided and corrupt Ministry of Magic, personified especially by Dolores Umbridge, takes over as secondary villain.
  • Harry Potter contrasts the 1940s-era Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a Knight Templar who believed Wizards should oppress Muggles for the Muggles' "own good") with the series's perennial antagonist Lord Voldemort (a deranged terrorist who thinks Muggles should just be killed). At the end, its a guy who thought he was doing the right thing (Who felt remorse later in life and spent his entire prison sentence wondering if he was right or not), versus someone who's just in it for power and the Evluz. Three guesses who wins.
    • However, when the two meet, Grindelwald is an old, powerless man who has been in prison for almost sixty years, pondering whether he was doing the right thing. Grindelwald in his prime could conceivably have been a match for Voldemort in terms of power and wickedness.
  • In Tigana, two wizards from different foreign lands have each conquered nearly half of the land where the story is set. One is simply a sadistic bully. The other has more redeeming qualities, but causes his subjects even more misery by crushing an entire province to avenge his son's death there. Not merely crushing; he seeks to obliterate all memory that it has ever existed, and renamed it after its most hated rival.
  • Animorphs had Visser Three and Visser One. Visser One was in charge, but Visser Three did the micromanagement and was who the heroes dealt with most often. Nevertheless, on more than one occasion, they had to stop Visser Three from getting promoted, because his tactics would have been worse.
    • And they were. In the arc leading up to Visser One's death and Visser Three's promotion, especially in Visser, Esplin proves himself to be far and away eviler than Edriss. Stupider, but definitely eviler.
  • In the Chaotic Evil versus Lawful Evil showdown, may we present Psycho for Hire John Dread and Corrupt Corporate Executive Felix Jongleur from Tad Williams' Otherland? Fight, boys!
  • The sixth book of the Incarnations of Immortality series is told from the point of view of the villain of the previous books. Twice, he ends up having to battle other villains for the job of being Satan. Oddly enough, he wins, at least in part, because he isn't as evil as they are - he has friends who are willing to help him, while his rivals don't.
  • Recurring theme in the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. In the first book, Complete Monster Kord is contrasted with Well-Intentioned Extremist Fidelias. It is even explicitly spelled out in one dialogue, where someone concludes that the latter is more dangerous than the former.
  • Mordeth in The Wheel of Time series compared to the Dark One.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Harry has several possible Big Bads who want the pleasure of either killing him or having him join them: Cold blooded fallen angels, Well-Intentioned Extremist/Lawful Stupid other wizards, devious vampires, and secret societies. Thus far the fallen angels are probably in the lead, but given that the Black Council has barely acted overtly at this point it seems the likely favorite.
    • Especially as it's been implied that there may be some Denarians in the Black Council.
  • While William Walker and Doctor Alice Hong from S.M. Stirling's Island in The Sea of Time trilogy are not exactly rivals they do have a conversation about this. Walker argues that while Hong tortures people in an extraordinarily sadistic fashion compared to the normal methods of killing he employs, he is far more evil than she is because of the sheer volume of people he kills. While Hong and her priestesses have tortured hundreds of people to death Walker's armies have slaughtered tens of thousands of people in his campaigns of conquest. Hong concedes that Walker is right.
    • Whats most amusing is that this instance of "Eviler than Thou" is actually Walker giving Hong a peptalk. She is feeling a little down what with being a horrible monster who castrates people without anesthetics and gets off on it. He gives her a speech about how he is ten thousand times worse than her and feels nothing because he is an Ubermensch, and that she should be too. She feels a little better after this hilariously twisted exchange.
    • Marching Through Georgia, the first installment of Stirling's Drakaverse series, has the sadistic, slaveholding Draka face off against Nazi Germany, whom the Draka see both as a strategic threat and as barbarians for murdering people in concentration camps rather than putting them to good use. The book gives many readers the uneasy feeling of wanting the Nazis to win once the Draka philosophy is outlined.
  • Friday the 13 th: Hell Lake contrasts two serial killers, one based on Richard Ramirez and the other based on Ted Bundy.
  • In The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, Panoply's only hope is to defeat an evil super intelligent AI is to enlist another super intelligent AI who is merely bad, insane and bent on vengeance ..maybe.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Degrassi, in its third and fourth seasons, contrasted Jay (a sociopathic criminal mastermind) with Rick (an unstable maniac who beat his girlfriend). When their schemes collided, Jay turned out to be Eviler than Thou—but Rick got more dangerous as Jay backed him into a corner. The sixth season has contrasted Drake (a violent gang leader) with Peter (a sleazy operator who was born to blackmail and frame people). So far, their schemes have not collided.
  • Bennet and Sylar were villains in the first season of Heroes, Sylar being a sociopathic power cannibal, and Bennet a "for the greater good" kidnapping Government Conspiracy-employed Magnificent Bastard. Sylar eventually proved the greater threat thanks to the former's Start of Darkness and Morality Pet daughter.
    • Linderman and Sylar could be considered the two driving villains of the show's first season. Linderman being The Faceless Anti-Villain, wanting to do "good"; and Sylar the ever present Implacable Man. They never meet or intersect, but Linderman's plot for world renewal hinged on Sylar (or two other people) exploding in New York. His reasons for being so sure this would happen were sketchy.
    • On the other hand, Sylar was given a sympathetic Start of Darkness episode, too, in which we got to meet him as the gentle and nerdy Gabriel Gray before Chandra Suresh put all that talk about an Evolutionary Imperative into his head. In another episode, we got to meet Gabriel's neurotic mother. And even Sylar was horrified at the idea of becoming an Exploding Man and wiping out millions of lives. As evil villains go, he's not completely without redeeming qualities. The third season of Heroes will show if he comes out Eviler than Thou when pitted against other homicidal superpowered villains, or if he effects a Heel Face Turn.
      • Of course, Sylar's doubts about destroying New York last for about ten minutes before he's out pursuing exploding powers, laughing as Peter is about to explode, and preventing Hiro from stopping the Exploding Peter. I don't think we can really think of Sylar as being all that sympathetic.
    • And now, Season Three has brought us Arthur Petrelli, whose plan seems pretty much certain to literally blow up the world... and who has effortlessly defeated most of the other villains on the show. It's gotten to the point where a villain has defeated at least as many evildoers as the actual heroes!
    • It would seem that Sylar has won the Eviler than Thou contest. Arthur Petrelli lost due to a bad case of bullet to the brain, courtesy of Sylar.
    • The second part of Season Three has Sylar (still a super-powered egomaniac following his own whims) versus Danko (a non-powered, highly disciplined government agent acting on orders from the President). Sylar turns out to eviller this time too. We should perhaps just accept that you cannot out-evil Sylar...
    • New Big Bad Samuel seems to be giving him a run for his money, though...
  • In Doctor Who, the Master teams up with an evil alien in all five stories of Season Eight. With two exceptions, he proves himself Eviler Than They. The exceptions: he agrees to help the Doctor destroy Axos in The Claws of Axos, and he gets completely owned by Azal in The Daemons.
    • In "The Five Doctors" the Master teams up with the Cybermen, whose intentions to kill him later are clear to the audience from the beginning of the partnership. They never get a chance to, though, as he leads them directly into a death trap. Ironically, in this example the Master is actually on the Doctor's side, until he finally gets sick of the fact that none of the Doctors - not exactly without just cause - refuse to believe him.
    • In "The End of Time", Rassilon proves to be even more evil than the Master. Heck, Rassilon turned out to be responsible for driving the Master towards villainy, as part of a plan to escape the Time War and achieve godhood.
  • Has happened more than once in Power Rangers.
  • The vampires Angelus and Spike during the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angelus, the more sadistic of the two, tried to drag the world into Hell, but was defeated when Spike and Buffy teamed up against him. Ironically, Angelus and Spike both underwent a Heel Face Turn (although at different times) from Buffy's arch-enemy to Buffy's ally and even lover. Both were karmically "punished" by regaining their souls (and thus their conscience and ability to feel guilt), and both underwent a sort of Karmic Death: Angel was swallowed by the demon Acathla and spent centuries in hell, while Spike became the show's Anti-Villain Butt Monkey, suffering numerous humiliations and beatdowns and (worst of all) Badass Decay. (In fact, he was the original trope namer for that last one.)
  • Stargate SG-1 has the Goa'uld System Lords who are all completely evil, but will often fight against each other for territory or other things.
    • It was implied for a while that Yu might not be as bad as the others, but that never seemed to go anywhere.
      • It wasn't that Yu was less bad, he was just getting old and senile, and was easier to manipulate, so the Tok'ra used it to their advantage. That, and Yu actually had the most to gain by helping Earth. Notably he was the only System Lord remaining from the time of Anubis's banishment for instance, and the only current one to refuse his assent to readmit him - even for the price of removing the Tau'ri and potentially angering the others. Plus he was much less megalomaniacal, not desiring galactic conquest and not particularly interested in events outside his area of the galaxy, which included Earth.
        • Yu was seemingly not quite as bad as the rest even before the senility kicked in, though; he was a ruthless tyrant like every System Lord, but he still played things straight when negotiating with the Tau'ri despite their being "inferior" humans. And it was at least implied that he led the call for Anubis's original banishment in part because Anubis was too extreme even by System Lord standards. Also, Yu become noticeably more megalomaniacal after his senility set in; the first time he explicitly declared himself a god (despite having, unlike every other known Goa'uld, taken on the persona of a real historical figure instead of a god) was shortly after the viewers were informed that Yu was senile.
      • Before he appears on the show, Daniel does explain that during his time on Earth, Yu never took the role of an actual god. He was, especially by Goa'uld standards, a relatively positive figure in Earth history, as well.
    • And then there's Anubis. The guy who was supposedly way too evil even for the Goa'uld. The Goa'uld System Lords enslaved the galaxy and were extreme egomaniacs. Anubis was Dangerously Genre Savvy and his ultimate goal was to erase all life in the entire galaxy. And he was smart enough to trick Oma into letting him ascend. Furthermore, he made a lot of Goa'uld (including System Lords) work for him. And crushed the rest of them, including most of Yu's fleet.
    • Before Anubis, we had Sokar, who was really into that Satan thing.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "The Last Word" had a pair serial killers essentially in competition with one another. They were pretty much polar opposites - The Mill Creek Killer was handsome, suave, secretive, killed upper-class women during the day, and did... stuff to the bodies, while The Hollow Man was disheveled, not that pleasant, craved attention, and hunted prostitutes at night (shooting them from afar, so he didn't have to go near them).
  • An episode of Masters of Horror had two serial killers (one who picked up and murdered hitchhikers, and another who posed as a hitchhiker and killed anyone who picked him up) in competition with each other.
  • In Kamen Rider OOO, Kazari ultimately ends up being this to the other four Greeed, being the most ruthless and evil of them all. Ironically, Dr. Maki, a mere human, ultimately performs a One-Winged Angel transformation into a Greeed and proves himself to be eviler than Kazari by ripping out all his intact Cores and leaving him to die. In the backstory, the Original OOO turned out to be this to the Greeed.
  • Scorpius to Crais in Farscape. In fact, it is Scorpius's bullying of Crais that leads the latter to his Heel Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • An ongoing contest between all the factions in Warhammer 40,000. Except possibly the Orks, who mostly seem to be in it for the laughs.
    • And the Tau, who are trying to be better than everyone else and failing with depressing regularity.
      • The Tau being good guys is pretty much Common Knowledge at this point. At best, they aren't always genocidal, but the re-education, mass sterilization, and mind control aspects of their culture tend to get overlooked by people that aren't familiar with their lore. They just don't seem to work as well as antagonists, so the Expanded Universe tends to overlook them.
    • Special mention goes to Fabius Bile, who may have accomplished the highly impressive task of being eviler than the Chaos Gods. As he puts it, "The Dark Gods and their slaves have nothing more to offer me now, but I have far more to offer them."
    • Abaddon also seems to enjoy showing off just how much of a nice guy he isn't, by doing things like destroying an entire ship because its captain pissed him off and killing a slave for looking at him. It's like he had the Villain Ball welded to his armour.
      • Well duh, how else do you explain all the failures?
    • Tyranids and Orks, two of the greatest threats to the galaxy, are currently duking it out as one of the hive fleets got diverted by an Inquisitor... straight into one of the largest and fightiest Ork empires in the galaxy. Unfortunately for the rest of the known universe, when the conflict is finally over, the surviving force will be insanely powerful - the Tyranids will have absorbed the Orks' DNA and so will make new and more powerful creatures, and any surviving Orks will have been so strengthened by the fight that they will probably go on an unstoppable rampage through the galaxy. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • There's also the epic, eternal Blood War between baatezu (Lawful Evil) and tanar'ri (Chaotic Evil) in Dungeons & Dragons over which of them best exhibits capital "E" evil. Of course, the yugoloths (Neutral Evil) milk this for all it's worth. This has gone on to the point that the critters on the Good side of the table sit back and watch instead of doing anything active to combat it.
    • Of course, some supplements imply that without the Blood War, the devils and demons would be able to present a unified front against the forces of good, which would be a Very Bad Thing.
    • The 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons downplays the Demon/Devil rivalry in favor of the God/Primordial rivalry, but since devils are fallen angels who overthrew their god, and demons are corrupted primordials, a semblance of it still exists. The contrasts between the two are further magnified, though, with demons being the violent destroyers of existence and devils being the clever schemers out to corrupt people.
      • The Blood War is referenced in Manual of the Planes: it's been put on hold, not stopped. The devils want to make sure that it's at a time of their choosing. On the other side of the Material Plane, each demon lord would gleefully shred devils by the score, but the first one to make a move will return (if he returns) to find his layer has been divided among his rivals, who took advantage of his back being turned. Of course, an attack on certain Abyssal sites, such as Twelvetrees, by devils (or PCs pretending to be devils) could light the tinder before you can say "Fireball".
    • Another 4e example would be the battle between the God of War, Bane, and the God of Savagery, Gruumsh. Bane is a strict, disciplined soldier who believes in The Spartan Way, while Gruumsh is the living embodiment of unbridled Unstoppable Rage. Gruumsh want's Bane's title. The kicker is that the other gods, even the good ones, recognize that Bane is truly the more evil(he plans on getting rid of that nasty little free will problem, and sponsor Gruumsh against him, figuring that if nothing else, they'd keep each other occupied.
  • In Exalted, the setting faces three kinds of cosmic danger: The Fair Folk, who want to assimilate the world into the sea of primal chaos that spawned it; the demonic Yozis, who want to conquer and rule the world (Which, in all fairness, they created); and the Neverborn, who want to unmake the world into perfect nothingness. The three forces haven't clashed significantly (In fact, the Fair Folk and the Neverborn worked together once) in the history of the setting, but considering their single-minded focus and the fact that in a few years any of them will have the power to accomplish their objectives, a big showdown is inevitable.
    • Well...almost inevitable, considering that the non-evil (well, not-really-all-that-evil) Solars are likely to cause some hiccups.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: This goes at least as far back as King Lear by William Shakespeare, which contrasts Lear's two spoiled daughters with Gloucester's embittered bastard son Edmund. They eventually team up, all planning to double-cross each other—but Edmund, who has had to struggle for everything, turns out to be smarter and meaner.
  • In Akira Kurosawa's Ran, the Setting Update of King Lear, Lady Kaeda plays the same role, but is even more evil than Edmund, as it turns out that the daimyo in the role of Lear destroyed her entire family when she was little, and she's been in it for revenge for decades.
  • A humorous example of this trope occurs in the play and film Arsenic and Old Lace, where the "good" murderers, the Brewster sisters, are contrasted with the bad murderer, their Ax Crazy nephew Jonathan. After losing an argument with his lackey about which has the highest body count, Jonathan replies with, "Well, that can easily be taken care of," and prepares to kill again immediately.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In the Metal Gear universe, there's a conflict between the so-called "terrorists" with literally noble intentions, and the politicians with treacherous, manipulative intentions. Villains such as Big Boss, Liquid Snake/Ocelot, and Solidus Snake formed their own terrorist organizations to free the world's soldiers from the real villains, the manipulative politicians, particularly The Patriots (aka, the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo). This forces Solid Snake and his friends to form a third side to combat the threat of both sets of villains, so that they could save the world from the war of two ideologies.
    • For an extra layer, the Patriots themselves were originally created to combat an even older group of world controlling politicians.
  • BioShock (series) features a background conflict between the objectivist Knight Templar Andrew Ryan, who goes to great and terrible lengths in an attempt to preserve his utopia, and the scheming mobster Frank Fontaine, who's just trying to claw his way to the top in the name of money and power.
    • The sequel also shows that Ryan also faced opposition from collectivist cult leader and enemy of free will Sofia Lamb.
  • The villains of the Star Control series are the two races of Ur-Quan: The green Kzer-Za, who swept around one half of the galaxy enslaving every living thing. (with the ultimate intention of sealing them on their respective homeworlds in impenetrable bubbles. They would also allow relative freedom if your race agreed to serve them as battle thralls.) And the black Kohr-Ah, who swept around the galaxy killing every living thing. Once both met at the opposite end of the galaxy, they were both going to fight it out to decide whose approach is "better".
    • Even better yet, both approaches are supposed to be for your own good! The Ur-Quan were originally part of The Sentient Milieu, which accidentally stumbled upon the most evil species ever, the Dnyarri, telepaths so powerful that a single individual could utterly dominate the minds of an entire solar system. The Ur-Quan barely managed to free themselves from the Dnyarri's control by a fluke and destroy them after millennia of the most horrible abuse imaginable.
      • To clarify the "for your own good" statement: While both Ur-Quan are extremely paranoid after said horrible abuse, the Kzer-Za don't want to kill everything, deciding that universal enslavement was enough to ensure that nobody could ever enslave the Ur-Quan, or anyone else, again. (That sounds strange, but the Kzer-Za see themselves as fair masters and usually do not permit their subjects to harm each other. Compared to every other "bad guy" race in the game, and even some of your allies, they seemed downright beneficent. They remind me of my mother more than anything else.) The Kohr-Ah just have a few screws loose, and outright state that, since they believe in reincarnation, by killing every non-Ur-Quan race in the galaxy, they are doing them a favor by giving them a chance to be reborn as Ur-Quan.
        • A rare example when a mediocre villain invoked much more disgust and ire than the major one. I'm referring, of course, to the Druuge. Unlike the Ur-Quan who, despite their omnicidal/totalitarian tendencies, retained a strict code of honour and had thorough and near-commiserable motivation, the Druuge were nothing but greedy heartless dregs.
  • Not strictly evil, but in Dragon Age Origins, upon being told that the man before you is a veteran of many battles, you can reply as follows:

Warden Hundreds have died in my wake. You're just a statistic to me.

  • Kuja, Garland and Queen Brahne in Final Fantasy IX all come into conflict with each other over who gets to be the main villain. Brahne and Kuja work together until she betrays him and he kills her, and Kuja is Garland's servant until he overthrows him.
  • In World of Warcraft the forces of Illidan and The Burning Legion are in conflict in the Burning Crusade expansion. Indeed, a large part of Illidan's perceived Orcus on His Throne behavior can be attributed to the fact that his citadel is being besieged by Legion forces.
    • The Drakkari trolls are being invaded by Scourge forces in Wrath of the Lich King. This is especially notable in Drak'Tharon Keep, where players directly get in the middle of battle between the two factions.
    • Yogg-Saron and Arthas are theoretically in conflict, though it's not very clearly represented in game.
    • The Nerubians were driven from their homes by both the Scourge and Yogg-Saron's servants, and according to the guide are evil, cruel, and xenophobic. However, in their current state they aren't interesting in picking fights with anyone else and are perfectly willing to work with players.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy has three factions within the villains - those who want to rule the world, those who want to destroy it, and those who are doing their own thing and don't care about the other two factions. Though the heroes spend most of the time in the spotlight, we see hints of the various villains making plays for power against each other.
  • Team Aqua and Team Magma in Pokémon Emerald, Aqua wanting to flood the world and Magma wanting to expand the landscape.
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has this all over the place. The Big Bad orders Dario, the brute, and Dmitrii, the schemer, to compete for the position of Big Bad; Dario winds up dead and Dmitrii goes on to kill the Big Bad and become the Big Bad himself, albeit only briefly. Unless, of course, the hero does it first.
  • Halo: The Flood, led by the Gravemind, and the Covenant, led by the Prophet of Truth. in Halo 3, the heroes manage to stop Truth's plan to destroy the galaxy, which plays into the hands of Gravemind's plan to infect the galaxy.

Truth: I shall become a god!
Gravemind: You will be food.

  • Most games with a Karma Meter will end up with something like this if the player chooses the Evil end of the spectrum - for example, Knights of the Old Republic ends, if you choose to go Dark, with the Sith Lord Revan facing off against his old apprentice Malak, whereas KotOR 2 has the evil Sith Lord Jedi Exile (again, if you decide to go that way) fighting Darth Traya- formerly known as Kreia- in the ruins of the world she destroyed in the backstory to prove there's nothing more she can teach her.
    • Strangely, while it does have Dark and Light endings, The Force Unleashed plays this straight both ways. The Dark Side Starkiller ultimately proves eviler than Darth Vader, but then the Emperor ends up being eviler than them. Though ultimately, as the expanded What If Dark Side storyline is to be believed, Starkiller manages to one up the Emperor and Vader by corrupting Luke Skywalker, something that the other two never managed in the real timeline.
  • Fate Stay Night loves this trope. Firstly, there's Caster getting shown up by Gilgamesh (who serves Kotomine) in Fate, followed later by the plot of Unlimited Blade Works, with Caster trying (and failing) to out-evil Kotomine, who is himself out-competed by Gilgamesh (though mostly because of a self-caused Villain Ball moment). Finally, in Heaven's Feel, Kotomine, Zouken and Dark Sakura end up in a three-way villain free-for-all after Gilgamesh and Caster are defeated by Dark Sakura, with Zouken partially controlling Sakura before he is all but killed by Kotomine and later finished off by Dark Sakura. Dark Sakura also all but kills Kotomine in the process, but as the True Ending reveals, he is still left as the last standing and his plan is again the one that Shirou has to thwart.
    • No matter what, however, Shinji is always on the losing side of villain showdowns. Always.
  • In Okage: Shadow King, a good deal of the game is spent helping Evil King Stan beat up the Fake Evil Kings to reclaim his title.
  • Appears within the Dwarf Fortress fandom, as many of the players dream up greater and more monstrous ways to abuse the Dwarves, Goblins, Elves, cats, and pretty much everything else. One of the most well-known examples being a plan to drain an entire ocean in order to capture mermaids, simply because crafts made from their bones are very valuable.
  • In StarCraft II, this is one possible Alternate Character Interpretation for the relationship between the Overmind and the Fallen One (the other possibility being a case of Good All Along). Thus far we've only been given teases about it being a future plotline, but what is known is that the latter tried to use the former for his own ends, and the former pulled off a Thanatos Gambit to stop him.
  • In Mario Super Sluggers, Bowser and King K. Rool have absolutely terrible play chemistry when on the same team.
  • In God of War, we have Chaotic Evil Kratos against the Lawful Evil Jerkass Gods. Take your pick.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Exterminatus Now: Daemonically possessed toaster < Blasphemy.
  • In Adventurers!, Khrima and Eternion got into this a lot, dueling for the role of Final Boss. While Khrima had been around longer, Eternion was the eviler of the two, and Genre Savvy Khrima was quite annoyed by the other's attempt to capitalize on that and force him into an Enemy Mine with the heroes. Ultimately, the trope is subverted, as the heroes defeat Eternion and then fight Khrima.
  • During the "Love Potion PART 2" arc of Sluggy Freelance, Yandere assassin Oasis comes into conflict with demon possessed Gwynn. The demon K'Z'K proves eviler.
    • When Riff first meets Evil Mastermind Minion Master, they face off in a 'Madder Scientist Than Thou', until he bribes Bun-bun to show he's Eviler.

Riff: He doubted my scienceness!


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Michelle Clore and Terrence in Kate Modern. One is a high-ranking member of an evil secret society, the other a psychopathic loan shark.
  • LifesBlood Labs, the evil corporation from LG 15 The Resistance, along with the good old Order of Dederah, the Ancient Conspiracy from Lonelygirl15 who don't take kindly to their new rivals. LBL don't exactly do anything to endear themselves to the Order either, as Sarah notes:

Sarah: They're so bad that they're stealing from the bad guys! That's like taking candy from a baby. Who is totally evil!

  • Garrelf and Beardbeard of Dorf Quest both get declared the ultimate villains of the plot when things hit the fan and they end up on opposite sides.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has never been subtle about this. Its first season quickly introduced rivals Prince Zuko and Admiral Zhao. With Zhao's Karmic Death in the season finale and Zuko's cemented status as Not So Different Anti-Villain, it became a subject of great debate as to which Season 2 villain would prove the most threatening: Ozai's Dragon Princess Azula, or the Evil Chancellor Long Feng (most bets were against a Power Trio of teenaged girls). The two eventually teamed up in the second season finale, each and planning to double-cross the other, but the charismatic and sociopathic princess ended up the unequaled victor, which she made clear Breaking Speech style.
    • Although this is arguably a subversion, in that we've known who the string-puller has been the entire show, but he didn't get active until season 3, in which he tops them all by giving his daughter his old position. Not that he needs it anymore, as he's just declared himself absolute ruler of the world.
      • Well, it's not just that he has bigger motivations, it is that his plan is more grandiose: Ozai is going to be the absolute ruler of the world by burning all of the Earth Kingdom to the ground with a giant wave of fire. Next to that, capturing the Avatar or taking over the capitol looks like nothing.
      • Who's more evil between the father and his daughter is still up in the air, since Ozai's Moral Event Horizon act mentioned above was first suggested by Azula.
      • Well considering Ozai raised her that way, it really isn't all that surprising.
  • In Yin Yang Yo!, Carl the Evil Cockroach Wizard and his brother Herman get along just as badly as the two main protagonists. Carl retains magical abilities and makes use of planned out schemes, while Herman retains colossal strength (contrasts with his ant-like size) and prefers to use brute strength to achieve victory. Naturally, the two have worked together (albeit forcibly) on occasion to take on Yin and Yang, but their extreme dislike of being within two feet of each other always leads to their failure.
    • Played with with Carl and the Night Master - Carl helped the heroes defeat the Night Master, because he stole Carl's ideas.
  • This is done with a rare subtlety in Transformers: Beast Wars amongst the Predacons, with a nice contrast between Megatron and Tarantulas. Rather than fighting outright, the two do the best to bend the other to their own purposes. Don't think for a second that it's just between the two of them, though. Blackarachnia's also a major player, and other contenders come and go from the game over the course of the series, but that'd be telling.
    • Just in Beast Wars? Starscream and Megatron acted like this all the time in G1 (and any number of alternate continuities). In general, the Autobots always teamed up with Megatron after he'd inevitably been betrayed by Starscream, because Starscream's ambition was pretty much limitless.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, Venger and Tiamat were at each other's throats just as often as they fought the heroes.
  • Speaking of D&D, in Re Boot, Megabyte and Hexadecimal could basically be considered Lawful Evil and Chaotic Neutral. They were constantly trying to get one over on each other, and it was revealed near the end of the second season that they were, in fact, siblings. In the end, Megabyte got a Karmic Death Megabyte took over Mainframe, while Hexadecimal did a Heel Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice. A subversion occurs with Daemon, who is more powerful than both of them, yet not very evil at all and considers her apocalyptic goal to be "bringing peace to the net".
    • Of course, that result depends on whether or not you consider the ending of 'My two Bobs' to be canon. The ending of the season 4 finale is...a desperate cliffhanger at best in this regard. You KNOW that one is a fake, but just how fake, and who? Most people don't even count anything that happens after the third season since they've never seen it.
    • The original-flavored one's the fake; he's Megabyte in disguise. Season 4 does end on a desperate cliffhanger, but "My Two Bobs" ain't it—there's other episodes!
  • In Shadow Raiders, Blokk and Lamprey were constantly vying for power as the Beast Planet's sole Dragon, even though they served the same master both functioned as Big Bads. Blokk was overt and militaristic, Lamprey used subtle political manipulations to destroy target worlds from within. Eventually, Blokk was killed in battle and Lamprey may have survived the season 2 battle.
    • Of course being just parts of The Beast, they can just be replace.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation: Z.E.R.O., Grandfather's first act after getting his memories back is to banish Father for being too ineffectual and not evil enough.
  • Doubly subverted (but not a Double Subversion) in Invader Zim. Tak isn't Eviler than Zim, she's merely more competent (Tak at least tries to Hannibal Lecture him, but Zim just continues screaming), and Zim doesn't form an Enemy Mine with Dib because he's disgusted by her methods, but because she's stealing his job.
  • Kim Possible, "A Sitch in Time" had Dr. Drakken, Duff Killigan, and Monkey Fist team up with Shego against Team Possible. During the course of the movie, Shego betrayed the other villains by stealing the Time Monkey Idol for herself, took over the world, and made herself the supreme one. Bad girl.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo and Him end up in this kind of contest, attempting to show the Rowdyruff Boys who's the better father. In the end, the Boys decide they're both pathetic and go out to fight the Powerpuff Girls on their own.
    • Also, the girls were once defeated by an alien, who was using some of Mojo's ideas. When Mojo realized the alien was actually achieving everything he always wanted to, he went berserk, beat the tar out of him, and forced him to admit that he's more evil.
  • Total Drama World Tour gives us this little gem from Alejandro:

"Compared to me? Heather's a saint."

    • And Alejandro himself compared to Chris.
  • On Jimmy Two Shoes, this is the relationship every member of the Heinous family has with their offspring. When Lucius VI is unfrozen, the first thing he does is chastise Lucius VII for not making everyone miserable enough.
  • In the DCAU crossover episode between Superman the Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, Lex Luthor discovers that making a deal with The Joker, and then trying to betray the Monster Clown when the latter failed to kill Superman for him, is a very bad idea.[1]
    • Also in the DCAU, while Darkseid doesn't show up anywhere near as much as most other villains like Lex Luthor or Gorilla Grodd, when he does show up, there is no question as to the Big Bad is.
  • Turtles Forever. The 2003 Shredder is this when compared with his 1987 counterpart and Krang. At first, 1987 Shredder hoped they could form a Big Bad Duumvirate with him... then he discovered Ch'rell was murderously violent and Karai's involvement allowed him to take over the Technodrome, and all of 1987 Shredder/Krang's assets, upgrade them to his own means, and use them in a plan to destroy the entire Multiverse. The 2003 Shredder considers the '87 villains incompetent and worthless, and eventually has them imprisoned when he can't stand them any longer (except Bebop and Rocksteady, who he allows to serve him).
  • Filmations Ghostbusters has at least two episodes featuring Big Evil trying to usurp Prime Evil's status as the main Big Bad. The first episode even had Jessica commenting that Big Evil makes Prime Evil seem to be a good guy. Both episodes invoked the Enemy Mine trope by having Prime Evil teaming up with the heroes against Big Evil.
  • An episode of Family Guy featured Lois seducing Meg's boyfriend. After getting caught, Lois goes to apologize, but drops hints that she's better looking and if she really wanted him, she could have him. Meg responds with this type of speech.

Meg: You think this is about looks? We do things that you wouldn't be able to crawl back from. I'm talking about power tools. [rips out one of her own teeth] He hangs me from the shower with your old bras and we laugh at you. [throws the bloody tooth in Lois' face]

  • Doofenshmirtz goes through this twice in Phineas and Ferb, first when Agent P gets reassigned to the Regurgitator, making the OWCA drop Doofenshmirtz down to a "minor threat". He's extremely offended by this and decides to take care of it... only to realize how bad the Regurgitator really is, and starts working for him (hey, the job came with maternity leave). Of course, being as incompetent as he is, his incompetence actually defeats the Regurgitator, puts him in jail and his threat level goes back to normal.
  • In Potsworth and Company, one knows the villain who replaced the Big Bad is the eviler one when the heroes resort into tricking the Bigger Bad into firing him and rehiring the original Big Bad.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • In prison, serial killer Joel Rifkin once got into a fight with mass murderer Colin Ferguson. The brawl was apparently set off by this exchange:

Ferguson: "I wiped out six devils, and you only killed women."
Rifkin: "Yeah, but I had more victims."

  • When they shared adjoining cells, serial killers Edmund Kemper and Herbert Mullin (who were active in the same area, at around the same time) constantly bickered, argued, and belittled each other. As an article on Mullin put it:

"Both Mullin and Kemper viewed their own killing rampages as missions, and thought the other was a heathen. Mullin killed to save the world from earthquakes, and despised Kemper as a brutish sex maniac. In turn, Kemper said that Mullin "was just a cold-blooded killer... killing everyone he saw for no good reason." Kemper thought he was the one with the social statement, making a "demonstration to the authorities of Santa Cruz" by killing the young women society treasured the most. Together, the lumbering Kemper and diminutive Mullin must have looked like the Laurel and Hardy of multiple murder."

  1. It results in Joker taking Lex hostage, and then using a LexCorp developed bomber to attack Metropolis, specifically destroying buildings owned by Luthor. Which, as pointed out by Superman, apparently make up around half of all the buildings in Metropolis