Poke the Poodle
"I just insulted the macaroni and cheese recipe of a whale! What part of that is not evil?"
—Dr. Doofenshmirtz, Phineas and Ferb
Some people just aren't cut out for villainy. The Harmless Villain, those suffering from massive Badass Decay, those who want to be evil, but can't just get that pesky "no moral compass" part down, and sometimes heroes disguised as villains—God bless 'em—their idea of evil is harmless behavior like cheating at Solitaire, jaywalking, chewing gum in Singapore, pulling the "do not remove" tag off of your mattress, hiding your toothpaste, drinking the milk directly from the carton, and (gasp!) not wiping their feet before they come in your house, and (maybe) refusing to apologize for it afterwards. Mwahahaha!
So, here's to those villains who should consider a new career—specifically the moments when they really show how wanting for evil they are. They don't really have it in them to Kick the Dog, so they Poke the Poodle.
If a henchman is the one who can't maintain a minimum level on villainy, he's a Minion with an F In Evil.
If a character Kicks the Dog and Pokes Poodles, it just goes to show that Evil Is Petty. If the latter comes up in his list of offenses, it's Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking. When the Poodle Poking is used as a punishment, it's Cool and Unusual Punishment.
Compare Kick the Son of a Bitch, where a Kick the Dog moment seems to be perfectly justified to the audience, due to the Asshole Victim, and The Family for the Whole Family. Contrast A Lighter Shade of Grey. Closely related to What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?. No, it's not what they're calling it now.
Anime and Manga
- Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess accidentally gets classified as a Demon (Bureaucracies Are Evil Even In Heaven) and has to do evil acts to keep Keiichi healthy. Some of the things she comes up with are crossing the street when the crosswalk says to stop, and writing graffiti. In chalk. On a chalkboard.
- She also reads a book in a book store without paying for it. Luckily for Keiichi's health, it wasn't Borders. And although she's not trying to be evil, she's quite happy to let her younger sister attempt to murder her boyfriend with a chainsaw.
- Also Mara, even in her debut episode, where she knocks over some kid's ice cream cone, after which the kid and his friend kick her in the shin.
- One late Ranma ½ manga story and OAV story has an "Evil Oni" which gains power by possessing people and making them act on their most evil desires. Inevitably, however, these "evil deeds" turn out to be petty mischief, like doodling on Soun (Genma), attacking Ranma (Kuno—Ranma points out that this is his normal behavior) or attempting to peep on Akane in the bath (Ryoga). The Oni eventually possesses Yamato Nadeshiko Kasumi, whose idea of "evil" doesn't go much beyond cutting cloth dollies out of the sheets and ordering tons of expensive takeout food early in the morning.
- Many of Ranma's villains have their own Poke the Poodle moments - putting pantyhose over people's heads, stealing cute things and giving them French names, distributing test scores from a giant balloon...
- The Predacons Slapper, Gas Skunk and Darkscream in Transformers: Robots in Disguise attempt to gain energy for Megatron by stealing hundreds of flashlight batteries.
- Megatron was royally ticked by their stupidity (recurring trend) and was a inch away from roasting them. It resulted in a verbatim You Have Failed Me....
- The demon that looks like Chika from Miu's dream in the first episode of Ichigo Mashimaro Encore. She shies away from what would've been expected to be done in Hell, and the most she does in being "evil" was forcing Miu to do a one-person Boke and Tsukkomi Routine for her "punishment".
- Don't be fooled by the occasional act of altruism from the great demon, Prince Beelzebub. (one of the main characters from Sand Land, a one shot manga by Akira Toriyama.) Sure, he may help out the occasional human, and seem really really nice at times...sure he may be one of the main protagonists, and ultimately helps save the day...but he is seriously evil! Why, he went to bed without brushing his teeth...twice!
- The Straw Hats from One Piece, at least before the Enies Lobby Arc. Their one attempt at doing something bordering on dastardly is to steal the gold from the natives of Skypeia...after saving them from being destroyed by a deranged psychotic dictator and ending a 400 year old war between them. The kicker was that the natives actually intended to give them a relatively equal amount of gold as a gift, but the Straw Hats misinterpreted their gesture and "escaped" from their grateful hosts with the gold they'd "stolen."
- It should be noted that the Skypieans don't hold gold to have any notable value, the gold they were trying to steal was a few sacks worth of treasure from the belly of a giant snake, and that the gold the grateful Skypieans were about to give the crew was a massive pillar of gold that was probably at least three times the size of their ship.
- In episode 14 of Keroro Gunsou, Keroro decides he's had enough of being pushed around by Natsumi, which prompts him to go home, and with an evil glare in his eyes... track mud all over the hall floor.
- Some of Eva's more recent exploits in Mahou Sensei Negima fall into this. Ordering someone looking to be her apprentice to lick her feet (though it didnt happen), being ready to force said apprentice to go on a date with her if he lost a match to her—and when she lost before they could even fight, she just ordered him onto the date anyway. Everyone else acted like she was pure evil, but she let him out of it anyway.
- Note she only lets him off after doing things that possibly scar him for life.
- A pair of minor villains try to ruin the protagonists' puppet show in Karakuri Circus. Not only do they fail, the protagonists work the few attempts into the routine.
- Sonic X has Eggman. "It's okay to capture or threaten someone, but when someone actually gets hurt that's going too far!"
- Debatable, as this was his Big Damn Heroes moment, and he may have only been talking about hurting children.
- Needless to say this does not apply to the games.
- From Hitoshi Ariga's Rockman's Soccer 4-koma manga: Dr. Wily reprogrammed Roll to become his new evil soccer playing robot. The first thing she did to prove her evilness was to deliberately mix up garbage bags with burnable and non-burnable waste!
- Bleach has Lilinette Gingerback. Not only do she and Stark not really want to be in the big 'final fight' against the shinigami, but she is a young and weak arrancar who quickly gets upset by her 'opponent' Ukitake's refusal to take her seriously. Persistent but ineffective, at least on her own...
- In Freezing, once Atia is told that the third years are no longer allowed to try to brutally beat the snot out of the main character, she still can't leave Satellizer alone, so she resorts to pettiness. Which is actually kind of hilarious seeing how seriously she still treats the whole matter. In the manga, Atia tries to get Satellizer sick with booze (which someone else ends up drinking), while in the anime, she has her go on stage in a see-through costume.
- The Evil Organization Florsheim in Tentai Senshi Sunred once kidnapped a boy!... Well, all right, he volunteered. And they made him dinner, played video games with him, let him go in time for his cram school, walked him over there, and promised him he could come over and play again whenever they liked... But he was still late for his cram school. By, like, five minutes! Bwa ha ha ha ha!
- Their most eeeeevil minion, Usacots, once tormented our noble hero by... Cutting the water to his apartment. On a really warm day! And they bought all the tasty soft drinks from the nearby vending machine, forcing Sunred to buy bean soup!
- Wendy Marvell from Fairy Tail is so cute that she literally cannot scare anyone on her own, despite being a Dragon Slayer. Gajeel has to do the scaring for her.
- Shia in Pita-Ten is a demon sent to Earth to train (or retrain according to the manga) to be evil. Evil things she does include poking Kotarou with her magic rod so lightly it's more of a massage. She ends up even living with Misha, an angel, and does all her cooking and cleaning. In the manga Nya points out that her selfless behavior ultimately made her the perfect demon because she made everyone fall in love with her, then she died making everyone sad.
- At the beginning of Cardcaptor Sakura, Kero warns Sakura that if the Clow Cards aren't kept in the book, they'll come to life and do evil. Sakura's idea of what they'll do include not doing homework, staying up late, and bending flowers.
- Ika Musume tries to be evil at one point in the second season, including: buying shrimp chips, puuting a bottle in the can recylclables, putting mayonaise on someone's curry, and dumping shaved ice on Chizuru's head. Chizuru responds to these crimes by...taking her out shopping, having lunch with her, and trying to be her friend. She succeeds.
- Ika-chan eventually manages to piss Chizuru off by commenting that "she acts almost human."
- Italy Romano of Axis Powers Hetalia is strongly implied to get his bad attitude from being the personification of parts of Italian culture which include the Mafia. His idea of a terrible revenge on Germany is to hold up a fake moustache level with Germany's face and laugh at him, which backfires when Germany points out that from where he's standing it looks like Romano has the moustache.
- Ultimate Spider-Man's second protagonist Miles Morales is captured by The Ringer. Unfortunately, that's about as much as The Ringer could possibly do to him.
The Ringer captures Spider-Man in his rings
The Ringer: Come on!! Come on!!!
The Ringer sends out an explosive torrent of rings at Spider-Man
Spider-Man: I can't!
The Ringer's rings flail around and bounce harmlessly off Spider-Man
Spider-Man: I really can't!! Hello!!
- In The DCU, Dr. Light was at first able to defeat the Justice League single-handed, but after a period of Badass Decay this became his M.O.... until the Retcon.
- One elseworld story in "Bizarro World comics" described a scenario where the Justice League of America had defeated all serious villains and criminals, and the few remaining villains committed such acts of villainy as jaywalking, harming people with passive smoking, and spoiling the end of movies. Each was given an evil monologue thought bubble, to really rub it in ("Mua- ha- ha, no-one shall stop us minorly interfering with the vital traffic flow of Metropolis").
- In Ultimate Spider-Man Spidey mentions that one of his reoccurring villains, Shocker, has among other things held up an Annie Anne's Pretzel stand.
- When no one was looking, Lex Luthor took forty cakes. He took 40 cakes. That's as many as four tens. And that's terrible.
- Apparently it's a true story, stealing them from a bake sale in retaliation for a school not letting him enter a fission-powered toaster in a Science Fair.
- Sometimes, when he thinks he should be a tougher leader, Nightwing tries to ape his mentor Batman's style by trying to act like a Drill Sergeant Nasty. He's very, very bad at it (pretending to act dickish towards his friends once made him cry), which explains why he's the most widely-befriended hero in the entire DC universe, while practically no one outside of Gotham likes Batman.
- There was also the ill-advised period where he made a Face Heel Turn and became Renegade, and even Deathstroke was embarrassed/
- In the X-Men fanfic Mutatis Mutandis by Artemis's Liege, wealthy, beautiful Jean-Paul rejects the invitation of membership to the Hellfire Club, who are a group of wealthy, beautiful male mutants. Offended by this slight, the Hellfire Club warns Jean-Paul that he's hanging out with the wrong people and tell him both he and his group of friends will regret it. And then they retaliate by putting a red shirt in the washing machine with his friend Victor's white clothes.
- From Repo Man:
Layla: C'mon, Duke, let's commit those crimes.
Duke: Yeah! Let's get sushi... and... not pay!
- In Spider-Man 3, when Peter Parker has fused with the alien symbiont, his descent into evil starts with pushing his hair over his forehead, strutting around like a jackass on the street, and refusing to pay rent until his landlord fixes something. He eventually graduates to emotionally manipulating his ex-girlfriend.
- Evil Superman in Superman III was really more of a superhuman Jerkass: straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which is something they've been trying to do for years), tearing a hole in an oil rig and blowing out the Olympic Torch.
- "Just some routine mischief..." Peter Cook as George Spiggott, the Devil Incarnate in Bedazzled, largely works by this trope, his evils consisting of petty acts of unpleasantness: scratching LP records, smashing crockery, ripping the last pages out of Agatha Christie mysteries, causing shopping bags to split, tinkering with parking meters...oh, and sinking oil tankers.
- In the final act of 12 Monkeys, it is revealed that the horrifyingly evil plot of ecoterrorists that call themselves The Army of the Twelve Monkeys actually amounts to releasing some animals from a zoo.
- Jackie Chan's New Police Story has a flashback at the end where his young sidekick's past is revealed. His broke father robbed a convenience store of food to feed him and got knocked over by a vehicle during his hasty escape, dying instantly.
- Ali G of Da Ali G Show tries to act like a gangster, but his acts of hooliganism amount to flipping off cops (below the door) and street racing (at the speed limit).
- Crowley, the angel who "did not fall so much as saunter vaguely downwards" from the novel Good Omens gets thought of as doing this by his demonic companions. His evil deeds include tying up all of the phone lines in Central London at lunchtime for forty-five minutes, wiping the contact list from a girl's cell phone, inventing game shows, and designing the M25. He justifies them with the reasoning that putting hundreds of people in a state of mind in which they're more likely to sour others' moods too is more efficient than one-on-one temptation, and really, he's right. His tactics increased the general level of unpleasantness in London, probably damning a few souls in the process and making the damnation of at least a few hundred thousand people in the future a tiny bit easier; him Poking The Poodle caused others to Kick The Dog.
- The Gollarks (from the planet Zog) in the Murderous Maths series of children's books once present an evil plan to blow up the world... oh, and also to tip over all the world's wastepaper baskets. Accompanied by the sound effect 'STOFF!'.
- In Esther Friesner's Demon Blues, the hero is a college kid who for various reasons (like trying to rescue his roommate and impress his succubus girlfriend) is looking to acquire demonic magical power, which can only be earned through acts of evil. So he spends much of the book hunting for evil to do that won't, you know, hurt anybody...
- In Beverly Cleary's Ramona the Brave, six-year-old Ramona Quimby becomes frustrated, announces she's going to say a bad word, and screams it three times in a row: guts, guts, guts! Naturally, her family finds it hilarious.
- Styx Hades in Thursday Next: The Eyre Affair is a parody of this type of character. Though both he and his brother Acheron have Names to Run Away From Really Fast, Acheron is a self-confessed Complete Monster and Styx spends his time doing things like calling people to look at the used car they're selling and never showing up, stealing ballpoints, and scratching LPs in record stores. Thursday and her colleagues are not impressed.
- Prince Rupert in Searching for Dragons had to do an evil act or get thrown out of the Men's Auxiliary to the Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers' Travelling, Drinking, and Debating Society. So he decided, while regent, to abandon his nephew the crown prince in the Enchanted Forest (it was actually the nephew's idea; he was hoping to have an adventure). But Rupert couldn't find anywhere that he felt sure the boy wouldn't really come to any harm.
- This is Doctor Hix's usual modus operandi in Unseen Academicals. As Unseen University's token necromancer, he's expected to be at least a bit evil, but this generally involves activities like making inappropriate or tasteless remarks and subjecting people to community theatre.
- In Animorphs, resident alien Ax thinks that juvenile delinquents pull harmless pranks, such as rearranging the shelf stock. Needless to say, when he poses as one, Hilarity Ensues.
Ax: There. I have now shamelessly destroyed the symmetry of this shelf, undoing hours of labor by underpaid store employees. If you could see me, you would be frightened.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" books, protagonist Bertie Wooster is often forced to commit minor acts of villainy, such as sneering at a cow-creamer.
- The Idiot. Gavrila Ardalionovich Ivolgin.
With his passionate desire to distinguish himself, he was sometimes ready for a most reckless leap; but when it came to the point of making the reckless leap, our hero always proved too clever to venture upon it. This was killing him. He might even have ventured, on occasion, upon an extremely base deed, so long as he achieved at least something of what he dreamed; but, as if on purpose, when it reached the limit, he always proved too honest for an extremely base deed. (On a small base deed, however, he was always ready to agree.) [...] Upon entering Epanchin's service, he immediately said to himself: "If I am to be mean, then I shall be mean to the end, so long as I win out"--and--he was almost never mean to the end.
Live Action TV
- In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody episode Lip Synchin' in the Rain, Maddie gets turned down for the role of Sharpay because she's "too nice"; she tries to defend her ability to be mean with, "Sometimes, when I give sandwiches to the poor, I don't cut off the crusts!"
- When Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets her Vengeance Demon powers back, she isn't very good at the whole vengeance thing at first. (Turning someone French instead of into a literal frog, for example.) Then she starts turning people into demon worms and tears out people's hearts. She does try to fix it though...
- Also, Willow pretending to be Vampire Willow.
- In an episode of The Golden Girls, the women are in the mood to celebrate. Rose decides that they should cut loose and be a little wild. Her idea of wild involved eating Chinese and using forks.
- The "Spanish Inquisition" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus is full of this: they tie a woman to "the rack" (a dish rack), poke her with soft cushions, and force her to sit in the Comfy Chair. They just didn't have the props to do real tortures.
- The "Non-Illegal Robbery" sketch involves a stereotypical mafia gang planning 'heists' that aren't illegal at all, like going into a jewellery shop and buying a gold watch. One of the gang members complains this is a rotten outfit "because we never break the bloody law!" and suggests they do something slightly illegal like parking on a yellow line or getting a dog to follow them into the store.
- In one episode of Due South, Fraser, attempting to get himself arrested while pursuing a criminal, could hardly bring himself to shoplift a box of Milk Duds. Even with Huey and Louie standing right there to arrest him, urging him to get on with it. Louie eventually had to plant the candy on him in disgust.
- The Kids in The Hall sketch "In The Pit of Ultimate Darkness". Watch it here
- Subverted in one episode when manservant Hecubus proves to be better at evil than his master.
- In an episode of Bones Booth convinces Brennan that she needs to do something "bad" once in a while, so he gets her to Dine And Dash with him - but as they run out he puts money on the table to pay for their food (unseen by Brennan).
- In an episode of Tales from the Darkside, a woman finds herself unintentionally saint-ified, and tries to "sin" in order to become normal. Her sins include stealing her daughter's clothes, swatting flies, worshiping Buddha and a celebrity, saying "God damn it" and trying to seduce a priest.
- Subverted by Evil Dick (a supposed Evil Twin of the main character) on 3rd Rock from the Sun. When asked why, as an evil character, he doesn't do things like leave the seat up, he says "I'm evil, not inconsiderate. There's a difference."
- The worst thing the Glee kids could think of doing to earn badass reputations was to cause a disturbance in the library by performing "You Can't Touch This" and dancing on the tables. It fails miserably, of course. They didn't even piss off the library lady; she thought they were 'very cute' and wanted them to perform for her church.
- In iCarly, Freddie's plan for purposely getting detention is to steal the teacher's stapler.
- A sketch on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show featured two boys who would try to pull a ding-dong-ditch style of prank, but screw it up each time. Examples include shoveling snow off a walk and running off when the person goes to get their pay, paying a movie clerk for tickets then running away when he turns to get them, or paying a prostitute up front and running when she goes into the bathroom to change and prepare.
- Better Off Ted: Lem and Phil's way of snubbing people they're angry with is to bring them coffee and a bagel for a few weeks, then mysteriously stop. Their "victims" generally don't even notice.
- In the Firefly episode "Trash," Jayne helps Simon and River hide out, and when River keeps poking fun at him he gets fed up and tells them with a sneer that "I was gonna leave you a deck of cards." He then waves said deck about and seals the door. That villain!
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Young, Dumb and Ugly" is about this kind of person. "We got a reputation 'round these parts / we only leave a ten percent tip / sometimes we don't return our shopping carts / stay out of our way and don't ya give us no lip".
- Nerd Core rapper MC Frontalot also has a song on the topic called "Crime Spree", with lyrics like "I'm the #1 menace for miles around, with the littering, the loitering, the mattress tags, all the piratated mp3s I grabs"
- The German band Knorkator has a Song called Böse (Evil). A small part of the lyrics: "On December first / I open all the doors on the Advent calendar / I want to whisper in front of other people / I want to crinkle paper in the cinema". Notable detail: The whole song is sung in a really evil tone.
- Of course it is. It's sung in German.
- ...and very obviously a "Rammstein" spoof.
- Older Than They Think (though see also Gilbert and Sullivan reference, below): Eartha Kitt's song "I Want to Be Evil" reaches such depths of demonicness as, um, "And in the theater, I want to change my seat, just so I can step on everybody's feet".
- In the Standin' Tall tape Gratitude, Rabbit is more of a curmudgeon than a villain, but his first song reads a bit like this trope... like he's proud of being unlikable, but mostly all he's guilty of is ingratitude. Sing it with a sneer: "I never say thank you; I never intend. Nobody likes me, but who needs a friend?"
- Norwegian band Sideburn Satan has a song called I Wanna Be Evil. It contains lyrical gems such as "I wanna be evil / I wanna speak English in reverse / I wanna be evil / I wanna nick your purse".
- Rik Mayall's rendition of the Elvis number Trouble:
"I don't wipe my bottom / when I go to the loo
I'm rude to policemen / I pick my nose too
So watch out you squares / I'm an angry young man
I once showed my willy to PRIN-CESS ANNE..."
- In the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the protagonist of Ruddigore is compelled to commit a daily crime by a family curse. He claims such evil acts as filing a false income tax return, disinheriting his unborn son, and forging his own will. This is not to the liking of the ghosts/portraits of his ancestors, who enforce the curse.
- Cyrano De Bergerac: with a little touch of Aristocrats Are Evil / Evil Is Petty: In Act I Scene I, a Marquis explains the reason because the band of young Marquises always get late to the theater:
A Marquis (seeing that the hall is half empty):: What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers!
Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!—Oh, fie!
- Poking the poodle is a go-to method for Dungeons & Dragons players who want to enter a prestige class that requires the character in question being evil. Acts like bullying and petty theft are used because they let the player demonstrate their evilness (and petition for an alignment change) without being so evil that it begins to effect the plot.
- Planescape due to its nature had to deal with Character Alignment closer. In the end, a planar character's actions are defined more by the faction philosophy than by alignment—they can have much the same attitude, but expressed differently and maybe stronger or weaker. So you'll end up with Chaotic Evil Bleakers working for charity together with Neutral Good Bleakers... though probably they tend to insult people who bother them and so on.
- Characters trying to become dark side classes (like Darkside Marauder) in the Star Wars RPG: Saga Edition often resort to quick acts of minor evil, euphemistically called Jawa-Kicking (after the comment in the core rulebook that describes darksiders of a certain degree to be "so evil, they would kick a Jawa just because they can") to rack up Dark Side points for use in powers.
- Path of Enlightenment followers in Vampire: The Masquerade are twisted creatures who live by precepts completely alien to humans, often treating death lightly and in some cases glorifying murder, soul-drinking and Vicissitude-aided "customizations". The problem here is that most players are but human, and as such their understanding of inhuman morality tends to be ...flawed. This leads to things like a Path Of Typhon follower simply selling drugs to everyone or a Path Of Blood follower just drinking vampire blood once in a while.
- Disgaea demons are textbook examples of this trope.
- Laharl's villainous schemes involve such wonderfully evil deeds as raining pepper on the heads of humans or giving them addictive video games so they won't be able to sleep.
- Axel the Dark Hero does stuff such as Ding-Dong-Ditching, prank phone calls, and nabbing Adell's siblings (and giving them candy), yet he becomes upset when Taro falls into the river.
- Maritsu Evil Academy has rules such as "Lick the inside lid of your yogurt", "run in the halls", and other petty villainy.
- However, when demons go bad, they really go bad. Overlord Zenon is basically an Eldritch Abomination in human form and only differentiates between people based on whether they declare themselves enemies or not. Both are enemies and must die, but the former will be killed first.
- And even worse is when Zenon takes over Adell's body in the worst ending, and he eats his adopted siblings. Complete with crunching noises.
- And the Fake Zenon feeding on consciousness and memories of humans.
- Makai Kingdom is likewise. Most of the so-called overlords are simply idiots at worst (except Seedle, who attempted to rape Salome before she killed him in retaliation and was burned for killing him. Then they both became Overlords and he thinks this was not enough and tries to kill her).
- Tanaka from Persona 3 specialises in hilarious threats to the tune of, "If you ever betray my trust... I'll ring your doorbell at midnight."
- In The Curse of Monkey Island Guybrush is held captive on LeChuck's ship by the Dread Pirate Bloodnose (also known as Wally B. Feed), who drinks milk straight from the carton!
- Another example in Curse is when Murray the Demonic Skull attempts to frighten the gravekeeper into opening the crypt door:
Murray: I will hide your keys beneath the cushions of your upholstered furniture, and NEVERMORE will you be able to find socks that match!
Captain McGillicutty: Tell me the ritual words or you'll be sleeping with the fishes!
Chieftain Beluga: That's where I sleep anyway!
Captain McGillicutty: Tell me, or I'll send you to the bottom of the ocean!
Chieftain Beluga: Oh, that'd be great! I need to pick up a few things for dinner!
Captain McGillicutty: What are those ritual summoning words?!
Chieftain Beluga: You'll never get me to tell!
- It was implied the LeChuck Pox also drives the victims insane as well as Evil Pirate-y.
- Muggit, the Evil Twin of office assistant parody Cuppit, is just as cheerfully incompetent.
- Tatara Kogasa, the umbrella-Youkai of Touhou, only "attacks" people to surprise them; she doesn't mean any actual harm.
- Some fanworks do this to Touhou's straight-laced judge of the dead, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, and have her do "naughty" things on her day off like having a convenience store clerk make a lot of change, pushing the button of an alarm slightly (but not enough to set it off), and most egregiously, using sleight-of-hand to make Reimu think the judge put something into her donation box.
- The Three Mischievous Fairies perform such wicked tasks as getting people lost, stealing food, and planting a flag on the ruins of a house. Entirely justified, as fairies in Touhou are deeply stupid.
- In The Sims 3, Sims with the "evil" trait can dabble in this, doing things like taking evil showers, or using the coffee maker to make themselves an evil latte.
- You can also sabotage computers. However, given that if you do this at somebody's house, they kick you out the second you begin, nowhere near enough time to break their computer. So naturally, this means you can only sabotage your own computer. Muhaha.
- The worstest? "Donate money to undermine charity."
- "Evil" spells cast by warlocks in The Sims 2 are usually mildly annoying at worst. They do things like summon a swarm of bees or make a Sim vanish off your lot, but they don't cause much permanent harm to Sims.
- In the first Pokémon games (Red, Green, and Blue), one of the first towns the character visits has a police officer standing in front of a house. He explains that the house has been robbed, and that Team Rocket must be the culprits since only they could perpetrate such a "heinous" act. This is especially amusing when one considers how often the main characters commit this very act in many other video games.
- Deliberately invoked in The Argent Toureygrounds where Confessor Paletress is taking confessions from various races. They range from serious (the orc wondering about working with humans right after the human king declared open war) to the silly (the dwarf REALLY needs a drink, and the blood elf complaining about Helmet Hair!). But then the undead confessee arrives:
Undercity Champion: I punched a penguin on my way in here.
Argent Confessor Paletress: Oh, my. Do you feel remorseful, at least?
Undercity Champion: Nah, not really. I just wanted to see the look on your face.
Undercity Champion laughs.
Argent Confessor Paletress turns around and leaves the Confession Screen.
Undercity Champion waves at Argent Confessor Paletress and goes back to his seat.
- In the Fallout: New Vegas town of Primm is the Vikki and Vance Hotel and Casino, celebrating the life and death of a criminal duo who started their crime spree a few days before Bonnie and Clyde, without ever quite managing to reach the same level of notoriety. The casino tour guide will enthusiastically describe Vikki and Vance's multi-state campaign of shoplifting, stolen gas and bad checks, and speculate on the number of people Vance could have shot had he ever removed his gun from its packaging. Evidently the duo met their end after blundering into the middle of a police shootout with some actual bank robbers.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal throw its hat into the ring.
- White Mage from 8-bit Theater attempts a Face Heel Turn. The most monstrous deeds she can think of are kicking Red Mage in the shin and calling Fighter dumb. Eventually she became good again when Fighter tells her that she's even worse at evil than she is at good. What's double amusing is how badly Fighter takes it and Red Mage gets beaten up more, despite the hideous abuse they put each other through daily.
- Another example is the first antagonist Garland, who isn't much eviler than White Mage, much to the frustration of the (evil) princess he captured.
- Skin Horse: As shown in this strip, Sweetheart hasn't got the hang of rampaging yet.
- Incredibly, she is then threatened with expulsion from the Chimeric Anti-Defamation League because she's "giving all canine transgenics a bad name".
- Moustachio the Thinkonium is a member of the Machines Union. So when the Union goes on strike, so too is Moustachio obligated to stop working. However, Moustachio is A) bolted in place, B) very old and set in his ways, and C) quite personable, so his capacity to go on strike from his job as a receptionist and greeter is...limited.
Moustachio: Hello, Dr. Wilkin! You are not welcome! See, I am not doing my job! Have some undesirable popcorn!
- Fuzzy from Sam and Fuzzy once disobeyed a 'do not rock or tip vending machine' sign... By playing an electric guitar solo in front of it and then giving it a dollar.
- El Goonish Shive Sisters arc, Part VI: Scattered Pieces. Ellen (Elliot's magic-spawned Opposite Gender Clone) suffers a mental breakdown from the emotional trauma of her "birth" and believes that she's his Evil Twin, and tries to get him in trouble at school by doing various "evil" acts such as telling off an incompetent teacher, choosing inappropriate topics for a speech, threatening a bully and informing the principal that his toupee makes him look like Hitler. Her complete lack of success just makes her more miserable, and by the end of the day, she shows her true colors, risking her life to stop a rampaging monster.
- Adventurers!: Khrima, being a Big Bad With An F In Evil, has a lot of moments like this. He once claimed that helping an old lady cross the street was "leading her into a life of crime".
- Still, every few strips he would show after torching an entire town, so it does get confusing.
- Lil' E from Sinfest is the Devil's Loony Fan. He's Evil! His attempts to practice sins other than Sloth, though, are less than impressive. But he "contributes to the cultural demise of civilization".
"A good person would get up, get dressed, brush his teeth -- but not me. 'Cuz I'm EVIL! Mwa ha ha ha ha!"
- Misfile brings us Cassiel's brilliant scheme to ruin a wedding: "Revenge! Sub par snacks! Deal with my wrath!"
- Not to mention her grand plan to destroy Rumisiel...by splashing water on his crotch
- Let's not forget Princess Dewcup from Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. After she gets introduced to the thrill of evil, she eventually tries to find her way to the Drow to get taught how to be evil. En route, she gets a little explanation of what she's doing wrong. Not that she'll remember it.
Dewcup: Pardon me. I was told that poking and otherwise annoying huge, fearsome creatures was "bad".
(explains her goal)
Chimera: Gotcha. I see your problem. You have confused "bad" meaning "evil" with "bad" meaning "really stupid".
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja gives us Gordito, whose idea of intimidating someone who had sold out the Doc is to spill out his dishsoap.
Gordito: Oops. I just poured out alllll your dish detergent.
Dr. McNinja: I don't think he did that accidentally at all!
Manager: Okay, everyone, we control the world's information. Now it's time to turn evil. What's the plan?
Employee: Make boatloads of money?
Manager: We already do!
Employee: Set up a companywide CoD4: Modern Warfare tournament each week?
Manager: That's not evil!
- Robber Will from City of Reality suffers from most of his crimes ending up this way. Oh, he'll steal gold, and valuables... that are valuable to him. But while Reality does have a concept of their value, nothing he takes is the kind of thing the Realists consider important, so his thefts are, at most, an annoyance, and often as not the people'd just give him the stuff if they thought it'd make him happy. The one exception of real bad caused by Will's actions wasn't on purpose and was something he'd never do if given a choice.
- Catena has a literal example of poodle poking as a deliberate reference to this trope.
- Bug warns about consequences of a failed riot.
- Eerie Cuties in Chapter 6 has the spirit of the cursed mirror. Possessing Nina, the vampire kid feeding exclusively on chocolate was less than fortunate for it—the result was mostly limited to inane pranks.
Doppleganger: Hmm. My wickedness seems a tad less abominable than once it was.
- In Dinosaur Comics, Mirror-universe!T-rex swapped Utahraptor's toothpaste for a competing brand of toothpaste. (He also stomped on houses and ladies and made terrible puns.)
- In Penny Arcade, Tycho flipped off a box of kittens (as seen in the page image). Gabe's was slightly worse.
Gabe: I did punch a baby once...in anger. In my defense, the baby was being kind of a dick.
Tycho: Yeah, I don't know what that baby's problem was.
- The Strong Bad email "alternate universe" features 'Strong Badman', whose latest villainous scheme is renting a 'water included' apartment and leaving all the taps running, and stealing cable from his neighbors.
- Even though Strong Badman was building a Death Ray in his first appearance and seems to fight some genuine villains in Easter Eggs, most of them time he fights similarly ineffectual villains such as Grossman, Dry Ragamuffin, Hit-Enter-Too-Soon Man, and Damp Towel Man (!!!).
- Another recent Strong Bad email, "your edge", has Strong Bad's edgy shenanigans including not inflating a deflated basketball, throwing feathers at people ("You said it, The Cheat: Tar is prohibitively expensive!") and spreading mayonnaise all over the living room and waiting almost half-an-hour before cleaning it up. And playing "pretend we're grandmas baking".
- Strong Bad may be the king of this trope. In the email "rated", his idea of a depraved act is when the good guy in a movie steps on a rabbit and doesn't kill it - but later wishes he did.
- The good guy! That's messed up, man! You can't let kids watch that kind of thing!
- In 'More Armies', Strong Bad details his crack team of shady mercenaries: the On Point Kings to a potential recruit (the viewer). The only villainous act he can actual state about them is that their recruitment pamphlet was laid out in a pirated copy of Quark X Press. As the viewer leaves the stand, Strong Bad begs for another chance, going so far as to cry out "We're bad people!"
- Red vs. Blue. In order to beat some enemies, Caboose tries to make himself angry and say mean things. While this works (he slaughters everyone), his repertoire of hurtful comments are less than impressive, such as "I will eat your unhappiness!" and "Your brain is a mountain of hatred!" Though it is unclear if this is because he's too nice to be evil, or just too stupid.
Caboose: MY NAME IS MICHAEL J. CABOOSE, AND I HATE BABIES!!!
- What's more, the "evil" things he forces himself to think of before he goes into his unstoppable rage are incredibly strange, with milk, kittens, and chickens covered in spikes being among them.
Caboose: Your toast has been burnt... and no amount of scraping will remove the black parts!
- Marik Ishtar from Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series makes evil plans with this level of severity in the "Evil Council" videos. Said evil plans included pushing Yugi off a boat so his hair will get wet and he'll have to fix it up again, spamming Yugi's YouTube account, borrowing Yugi's Millennium Puzzle and not returning it for a few months and rearranging his sock drawer.
Marik: His whole world will be thrown into chaos! Sock related chaos!
- About half of the schemes pulled by Dr. Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb are examples of this trope. In one case, the Doctor actually had a scheme so ridiculous that the hero came to investigate, saw the entire plan... and thought it was so stupid that he turned around and left without even bothering to stop it! The villain spends the rest of the episode chasing the hero, popping into every place he tries to hide, and demanding, "Thwart me!"
"I just insulted the macaroni and cheese recipe of a whale! What part of that is not evil?!"
- However, he does tend to wreak villainous havoc as an avoidable side-effect of his harmless schemes or by accident, on occasion
- Even his legitimately evil schemes are truly bizarre. Case in point: In one episode, upset that people have trouble remembering his bizarre name, he decides to make a giant aerosol spray can and carve his name into the ozone layer, thereby burning it permanently into the streets of the city. This plan failed, as his spray can had no CFCs in it.
- There's also his ancestor Jekyll Doofensmirtz in the episode "The Monster of Phineas-n-Ferbenstein", who after turning himself into a hulking monster went around pulling childish pranks.
- In one episode he mentioned his mentor Mad Scientist whose dream was to... Set fire to the sun!!! Even Dr. Doofenshmirtz admits it was kind of a dumb plan.
- The Amoeba Boys from The Powerpuff Girls do this a lot. In one episode, the evilest thing they could think of to do was to stand on the grass in front of a sign saying "Keep off the Grass". They also consider themselves master criminals when they steal an orange... only the Amoeba assigned to do the thievery couldn't go through with it. And the one time they actually "committed" a crime, they did it to save the girls from going to jail themselves.
- More specifically, it wasn't that the guy thought it was too terrible a crime, he plain just FORGOT to get the orange!!
- In the episode where they did steal an orange, they evolved to stealing all oranges in town, which drove everyone sick for the lack of vitamins.
- Standing on the grass was the greatest achievement of nearly any Powerpuff Girl villain ever. They got a cold which spread to an epidemic all across the town. If they hadn't thrown their fight against the girls, people would've died. After everyone was cured, the boys were released and assumed it was because they forgot to get the orange.
- And the girls' Spear Counterparts, who are more delinquent and rebellious than evil, spend their time doing graffiti and spitting at planes.
- More specifically, it wasn't that the guy thought it was too terrible a crime, he plain just FORGOT to get the orange!!
- In South Park, Butters's Harmless Villain character Professor Chaos attempts all sorts of genuine evil (like destroying the ozone layer or flooding the planet) but fails because he doesn't quite understand the scope of the task he is trying to undertake. However, there are some plots that are genuinely Poke the Poodle level of evil, like when he built a machine to suck out the creamy fillings of chocolate candies and replace it with stale mayonnaise. Or when he went into a restaurant and switched two meals and hoped it'd warrant appearing on the news.
- In a Mighty Mouse cartoon that takes place in the future, Pearl Pureheart switches brains with Harry the Heartless, and when trying to brag about her evil deeds, she says she kept an overdue library book.
- Timmy's father in Fairly Oddparents is once bitten by a scarab that contains all of Vicky's evil. Hilarity Ensues... at least until it abandons his body and possesses the Principal and almost gets into the President of the US.
- For example, one of the evil things he wanted to do was leaving less than fifteen percent as tip at Cake n Bacon.
- Don't forget when he tries to prove that he can be a suspect on "Where's Wanda".
- "I'M A BAAAAAAAD MAAAAAAAN"
- An early episode (originally one of the Oh Yeah! Cartoon shorts) had Cosmo turning evil for a day. He was rather bad at being bad, until Vicky advised him to blow up the Earth.
- In one U.S. Acres sketch in Garfield and Friends, Orson gets knocked out and dreams he's in a Bond parody. Roy Rooster is the villain, and while he's doing this trope, he turns to the audience ands says, "You can tell I am ze bad guy: I cheat at solitaire".
- SLIGHTLY averted in that the Moonraker novel has Bond investigating a Billionaire who cheats at cards. "Why does a billionaire cheat for pocket change?" Bond finds out why.
- Wade once thought the cops would arrest him for removing a couch's tag.
- Dave the Barbarian's idea of evil is taking not one, but two free samples from the Take-One tables. Of course, he feels so guilty after doing it that he buys twelve boxes of the stuff he sampled to make up for it. He did it because he was dating a girl who mostly evil, and rather than jump straight to the messy breakup, they decided to try compromising (the girl had to return a book to the library on time). Dave treats it as an act of evil when he's doing it because he's so not-evil that it might as well be, for all that he's going to be able to go through with it.
- One of the depraved acts of mayhem and destruction Stitch is programmed to perform is stealing everyone's left shoe. Though this may be more Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking, as he does plenty of more destructive acts.
- Don't forget backing up sewers and reversing street signs.
- A lot of Jumba's earlier experiments tend to be this, like the one made out of pudding.
- In My Little Pony: The Movie, the witch girls Reeka and Draggle tend to do things like this—for example, pulling off the wings of a fly. But then they make the Smooze.
- The eponymous Imp from the cartoon series The Imp claims as part of his litany of (not very) evil acts to have invented the world's most annoying ringtone.
- One episode of the Superfriends has the Legion of Doom going back in time to the dinosaur era to take diamonds out of rock. And here is Jabootu.net states Here Our ‘Heroes’ appear, again ignoring the fact that neither of the two miscreants is engaged in anything that could be considered illegal. "You’d better put those diamonds back where they belong," Apache Chief warns. Uh, under what controlling legal authority? Who’s to say the diamonds ‘belong’ there? Some guys due to show up seventy million years from now?
- At the end of the special Turtles Forever, after defeating the 2k3 Shredder and saving The Multiverse, his old-school counterpart attempts to scare his enemies, by claiming to have access to a Giggle Ray...before running off laughing maniacally...
- Of course, given what just happened with the multiverse destroying laser, it's possible he has the right idea.
- This was apparently before allowing his "sworn enemies" (the 1987 turtles) to join them on the ride home on the Technodrome.
- American Dad: In "Star Trek," Steve decides to become the Bad Boy of Children's Authors. He accomplishes this by such heinous tasks as running with scissors and refusing to eat his vegetables.
- The Justice League Unlimited episode "The Great Brain Robbery" has Flash ends up in Luthor's body. He spectacularly fails to live up to Luthor's reputation, and when asked why he didn't wash his hands comes up with "Because I'm evil!" and unsurprisingly fails to convince anybody. He also wound up having sex with Luthor's girlfriend Tala, which is technically rape, and while this could've been a serious What the Hell, Hero? moment, Flash went along with it mostly to avoid being discovered, and is apparently a much more generous lover than Luthor (no surprise there). Tala wasn't particularly upset when she learned of the deception, and is even disappointed when Lex gets back his body at the end.
- An episode of Johnny Bravo sees Johnny possessed by a demon who makes him pull out one of the safety filters in the city's water treatment plant. While the demon is full aware that the multiple fail-safes and redundancies will ensure the tap water will be just as pure and drinkable as before, removing that one filter will give the water a "nasty, metallic aftertaste".
- The demon's previous attempts to do evil not only fit the trope but also backfire. His disrespect of the "Keep Off the Grass" revealed toxic waste buried under it; he increased the minimun height requirement to keep children from enjoying a ride, which saved the children.
- Bowler Hat Guy in Meet the Robinsons carries an enormous grudge against genius inventor Cornelius Robinson, which he has held since childhood, and hopes to destroy his success. He initially attempts to accomplish this by...throwing eggs and toilet paper at the Robinson Industries sign and yelling: "Robinson, you stink!" He would be a Harmless Villain, if he hadn't met a certain sentient bowler hat...
- In The Venture Brothers Sergeant Hatred makes a point of using only this kind of evil on Dr. Venture. It's eventually revealed that he's doing it because he despises The Monarch, a rival supervillain with a long-standing grudge against Dr. Venture, and is making things easier for the doctor as a passive-aggressive way of getting even with The Monarch.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes involves Jimmy believing he is evil after breaking Lucius' Priceless Ming Vase and proceeding to do evil things. The worst he ever comes up with is TPing a house.
- Dudley Do-Right had to infiltrate a gang. Since his record is spotless, he had to do numerous bad deeds. He tried to destroy a dam, but ended up "solving the town's irrigation problem". He burnt down a building... which turned out to have been condemned and scheduled for demolition anyway. Finally, he did something truly horrible: he ate peas with a knife.
- Danny Phantom had the Box Ghost. His idea of scary devices are the Mail Box of Misfortune and the Lunch Box of Terror. Needless to say, he's not taken seriously until he steals Pandora's Box.
- Let's not forget the League of Super Evil who make most other entries on this page look like Doctor Doom in comparison
- Similarly to the Spider-Man and Superman III examples under Movies, "cruel" Fluttershy (aka Flutterbitch) in the season 2 opener of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic gets up to such horrifying acts of sadism as...rudeness, tripping people, trampling the shrubbery, playing keepaway, touching things she's been told not to touch, and dropping a bucket of soapy water on Twilight Sparkle's head. She's acting like a Jerkass, true, but it can only be called "cruel" by comparison to Fluttershy's normal behaviour.
- An episode of Archer had the eponymous character become the pirate king to a group of pirates. He took whole-heartedly to the drinking and wenching, but not so much to the plundering. The one time they did invade a ship, he pointed out that small businesses are the life-blood of the economy and, in reality, captains like the one they were attacking have razor-thin profit margins.
- Used as an off-joke in Family Guy showing Pinhead (as in, the demonic Big Bad of the Hellraiser franchise) pulling the old "loosened salt shaker" joke on his date.
- TV Tropes has been the poodle on occasion. Once it was hacked so that most pages were turned into an offsite redirect. Now, anyone with a cursory knowledge of internet prankery would expect the redirect to go to one of numerous shock sites, or possibly a site that displayed embarrassing images or sounds to get people into trouble at work. But nope, this prankster redirected people to a YouTube video for a Muslim charity. Even a Rick Astley video would have been better evil. Oh, and the date this hack took place? September tenth. So close, yet so far.
- Anybody who pretends to be evil by tearing off the tag on their mattress, even though the only way that could be considered illegal is if the retailer were to remove it.
- Captain Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate, once captured a ship and boarded it, then apologetically asked for the passengers' hats. He explained that his own crew had got drunk the night before and thrown their own hats overboard. After receiving the hats, the pirates left the ship alone. This would happen occasionally: pirates would often pillage ships of menial supplies and such that they, as wanted criminals, couldn't easily obtain, and, if nobody started anything, they generally just left people unharmed. Blackbeard himself (or was it Henry Morgan) was known for stealing medical supplies and clothes and not hurting people during such raids. Blackbeard in particular is famous for attacking a ship, stealing nothing but medicines for syphilis and other STDs, and leaving.
- American gangs smuggle in weapons and drugs. The Black Cobra gang in Sweden... steals cakes. What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous??
- And then there's the French terrorist organisation Le Front de Libération des Nains de Jardins, "The Garden Gnome Liberation Front". They stole garden gnomes and left them in the forest. Their main claim to fame was to have "liberated" a Ronald McDonald once and really pissing off McDonald's in the process...
- Among the many (idiot) plots by the CIA to deal with Castro was an attempt to make his hair fall out (ridding him of his iconic beard).
- A plot was hatched against Hitler where they wanted to spike his food with estrogen so they could make his mustache fall off and his voice become squeaky so he would lose support despite the fact that this would never work anyway they paid his gardener to spray the gardens which Hitler ate from with estrogen. The gardener pocketed the money and dumped the estrogen down the drain.
- A member of the Japanese yakuza was arrested in Tokyo for trying to scalp tickets to a Hello Kitty theme park.
- Weaker forums trolls, since real life threats can lead to real life reprocussions, they usually tend to use juvenile insults, Insane Troll Logic and other Logical Fallacies to annoy people.
- After journalist Milo Yiannopoulos attempted to contact a particularly crazy interview subject she released his email and commanded her followers to harass him. They did so, largely by sending him gay porn. They didn't realize Yiannopoulos is a flaming "faggot", a fact that he openly and repeatedly states.
- In Japan, you're required to separate burnable, non-burnable and recyclable items for waste disposal.
- Presumably not if you have the 'Inappropriate but in a Good Way' reward? Or try it at the library. Take that, public services!
- PS This trope no longer applies if you manage to break Moustachio and activate his "Evil Mode".