Sinister Minister

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"God have mercy on her... God have mercy on me... but she will be mine or she will burn!"


Men of the cloth serve a plethora of roles in all branches of media, both modern and ancient. They may be wise counselors, corrupt bureaucrats or confused and bumbling but generally well-intentioned old duffers. But every once in a while, a preacher crops up who is intimidating, charismatic and completely devoid of morality. These archetypal villains typically serve as the Big Bad in their respective worlds, controlling vast hordes of starry-eyed True Believers or manipulating the inner workings of their Church. He is often a White Anglo Saxon Protestant clergyman, but there's nothing saying he can't not be a white Anglo-Saxon and there's definitely nothing saying he can't be a Catholic (especially if the setting is in the Middle Ages), and is clean-cut and perpetually smiling while delivering sermons that alternate between gentle reminders of the importance of virtue and scalding fire-and-brimstone rants commanding their followers to rise and smite heathens in the name of the Lord, amen.

The Sinister Minister is a one-man Corrupt Church (and it's usually a man in this role, though female examples are not unheard of) in that all power typically ends up resting firmly in his hands and his hands alone as opposed to being shared out within an organization. He seldom employs Sidekicks or advisors, preferring to rely instead on his own usually very devious brain for scheming while entrusting the main grunt work to the hordes of unwashed and sanctimonious Mooks who make up the bulk of his followers.

Usually well-educated and cultured, the Sinister Minister is nonetheless unspeakably evil and regularly engages in acts of sexual depravity (or perhaps not; many a Sinister Minister is Straight Edge) and, if not outright violence, threats and intimidation. The Sinister Minister usually keeps his own hands relatively clean until late in the game when his power base is secure and he can act with impunity.

The motivations of the Sinister Minister may be as simple as lust for power, though some are examples of the Church Militant and Knight Templar. A common motivation for the more religious among this trope's subjects is the Mission from God, which is often either a personal delusion on the part of the Minister or in reality a mission from a Satanic or otherwise Evil divine power. In the case of those simply out for their own gain, the Minister may be skeptical as to God's existence/power or harbor outright atheistic views.

Unmasking the Sinister Minister is a waste of time, as his followers will believe any lies and fabrications the Minister employs as a cover against the brave heroes attempting to reveal him for the monster he really is. This particular school of villainy usually meets its end violently, not through rhetoric.

The Corrupt Church tends to be rife with the likes of him, but the Saintly Church may also prove to have a few black sheep.

Not to be confused with high level government officials in Westminster-style governments—if they're a villain, they'd fall under Evil Chancellor.

If the villain is merely pretending to be a priest or nun, then that's Bad Habits. If at least one of the things that makes the minister "sinister" is that fact that he molests children, then you're dealing with a Pedophile Priest.

In terms of rank, the Authority Tropes arguably equal are Corrupt Corporate Executive, Irish Priest, Landlord, Preacher Man, Pedophile Priest, Schoolteachers, Sexy Priest and The Vicar. For the next step down, see Student Council President. For the next step up, see Dean Bitterman.

Also a song by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Contrast Good Shepherd, Badass Preacher.

No real life examples, please; tell your local police force, not us.

Examples of Sinister Minister include:

Anime and Manga

  • Father Cornello from Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Father Enrico Pucci from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a corrupt priest who works at a prison and uses his status and special ability to gain many of the guards and prisoners as followers. It is revealed later that he set up the protagonist, Jolyne, to get framed at the beginning of Part 6. His ultimate goal was to achieve the power of "Heaven" and create the vampire Dio's perfect universe "for the good of mankind".
  • Bishop and High Inquisitor Mozgus of Berserk is very much one of these.
  • Father Enrico Maxwell from Hellsing definitely qualifies, being both self-serving hypocrite and a ruthless Knight Templar. He thankfully never gets contact with regular churchgoers, though.
    • Alexander Anderson, a Knight Templar Up to Eleven, puts him down. That has to say something.
  • The Cardinal Rolo vi Britannia in Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally has shades of this. While the Geass Directorate/Cult was not explicitly religious in the original series, it was much more so in the manga, with Emperor Charles declaring a religious state at the climax. The Cardinal serves as the mouthpiece for the religion throughout, and plans to kill Nunnally, Charles, and Lelouch to become the Demon King.
  • Witch Hunter Robin first subverts and then defies. First the Inquistioner is more of a official than a minister and less 'sinister' than 'playing bad cop' to find poetential new hunters. Second is Father Juliano, Robin's foster father and grandfather tried to be this trope but raising Robin mellowed him out. She's actually harder on herself than he is on her. Instead of condemning her, he blesses her.
  • Ali Al-Saachez of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 adopts the identity of a Muslim imam in order to seduce children into his child army.

Comic Books

  • Bishop Antony Lilliman in V for Vendetta was a child molester, as well as a cheerleader for the fascist regime.
  • All Father D'Aronique, and sundry other clergy of the Grail conspiracy from Preacher. Apparently entirely sincere in his beliefs. Most of the Grail personnel who appear are Knight Templars though.
    • While Jesse Custer is used as the page image, he is not, in fact, this trope, and is more of a Badass Preacher.
  • Deacon Blackfire, a Batman villain who debuts in the four-issue miniseries Batman: The Cult, is a power-crazed charismatic con artist and cult leader skilled in manipulation and brainwashing, owing both to his unnaturally long lifespan and actual mind-control powers.
    • Minor villain Malochia, a profit of doom who believes he is the one chosen to "cleanse" the Earth of wickedness in preparation for the apocalypse. In his second appearance, it is revealed his father (his first victim) was an actual minister, and was just as rotten.
  • Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark from Sin City, the most nefarious member of the city's Corrupt Church and just one member of the series resident powerful Big Screwed-Up Family.
  • The Reverend William Stryker, an X-Men villain. He and his Corrupt Church believe that mutants are demons from Hell, and has an army of mercenaries to carry out his will. He first appeared in the graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, and became a recurring villain after the success of the movies, as X2 was loosely based on said graphic novel (though Stryker was a rather generic military general instead of a reverend).
    • Another example is Reverend Craig, a church leader in a small Scottish hamlet who is introduced leading a mob with Torches and Pitchforks after Rahyne Sinclair (A mutant) to "burn the Devil out of her" (read: murder her) to fulfill God's will. In a later story, he's pulling the same shit on another mutant girl, prompting a now adult Rahyne to confront him. She denounces him as a hypocrite and bully who cares nothing for the outside world because he can rule here with impunity. She then speculates that when he decided to "save" her mother, a woman accused of loose morals and possibly prostitution, that he may have in fact sired Rahyne.
    • You know it's easier to just say that if there's a priest in X-Men who is not Nightcrawler, chances are he's going to be evil. An apparent byproduct of Chris Claremont's own antipathy toward religion.
    • Perhaps the one aversion in X-Men is a preacher in Denver whose wife became infected with a brood egg but regained her free will. He was always sympathetic to the mutant cause, but we haven't heard from them in awhile.
  • The Deacon from Astro City is the undisputed boss of all organized crime throughout the city (though he's just a mobster who adopted the "deacon" name for color). This is balanced by his greatest enemy, the Confessor, not only also being religiously themed, but actually being a real priest.
  • In Dead Irons, Devin Irons is the utter personification of this trope. This false priest is so reprehensible that he makes Buffy's Caleb look like a wannabe sinister minister sissy. Not only did he sell the souls of his own four children, turning them into the vicious unholy beasts they are today, for the power to control men's minds; he planned to create an even larger sacrifice to gain immortality from the Plague Bringer Demon by forcing the death of 99 innocent "willing" victims. However, he needed his rogue children to complete the pact. So what does he do? He uses the dark arts to resurrect his own wife, now a mockery of life in the guise of a flesh eating ghoul, as a method of pulling the Iron children's heart strings and luring them back to his cursed town. Did I also mention he was responsible for the death of the hero's father figure, Jonas Keegan, after he came to confront the twisted preacher for tying his son to a statue, bloody and beaten, with the word "sinner" painted onto his chest?
  • A couple of chapters of Nightmares and Fairy Tales feature a group of nuns that are anything but holy. They keep a pet demon in the attic of their convent and as for what they feed it? Let's just say that the local adoption rate of orphaned babies has been slipping since they showed up.
  • Paulustus Jehustus II, the Pope of Rome and one of the five leaders of Evil, Inc in the Swedish comic James Hund, an Affectionate Parody of thrillers and detective stories. He is obviously meant to be a No Celebrities Were Harmed Historical Villain Upgrade version of Pope John Paul II, given that he was born in Poland as plain old Pavel Kalinka. It is not certain whether the Catholic Church is a Corrupt Church in the comic's Verse, but given that one of the founders of the non-evil origins of Evil, Inc. was a rather slimy-looking Pope during the Viking Ages, it probably is.
  • Cardinal Trebaldi from Le Scorpion.
  • An inmate called "Preacher" in Hard Time: 50 to Life was imprisoned for setting fire to an abortion clinic while there were people inside. He continues to be a pyromaniac in prison by pouring out the gasoline he occasionally puts in his mop bucket on a kneeling penitent and lighting the poor bastard up.
  • Hack Slash gave us Father Wrath, a serial-killing undead ghoul who was a fire-and-brimstone homophobe that hid his cross-dressing homosexual urges from his congregation in his mortal life. When he tried to make out with his assistant, said assistant stove in his head with a huge crucifix. He is resurrected by an Ax Crazy catholic schoolgirl who uses him to kill all the young partygoers at Spring Break. He is later dispatched, but his assistant takes up the cause.
  • Cousin Franz, and Pater Filucius (even with a Meaningful Name - "Filou" is French for "crook") from the stories by Wilhelm Busch.
  • One the new characters created during the Bloodlines Crisis Crossover event in The DCU was Cardinal Sin; a disillusioned priest who gained superpowers and became a villain after being bitten by an alien space parasite. He has no reappeared since the original event.


  • Harry Powell the preacher/serial killer from The Night of the Hunter might just be the trope codifier
  • In The Lawnmower Man, the priest who regularly beats Job with a rod. His brother confronts him, calling him a "pious asshole".
  • The villainous Bishop of Aquila from the film Ladyhawke, who put a demonic curse upon Etienne and Isabeau because he wanted the latter for himself and was denied.
  • Not to mention the Bishop of Hereford from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, who accused Robin's father of being a devil worshipper and is actually a devil worshipper himself.
  • To some extent, There Will Be Blood's Eli Sunday.
  • Reverend Kane from Poltergeist II. At least he claims to have been one when he was alive.
  • Father Lucci in The Seventh Sign.
  • Reverend Crane, father of the main protagonist of Sleepy Hollow.
    • Also on a smaller scale, the priest of the town who had sex with the Villainess. Who can blame him?
  • The terrifying Asa Hawks from John Huston's Wise Blood, (based on Flannery O'Connor's novel, see Literature below). Worth mentioning here because Harry Dean Stanton's wonderfully creepy portrayal of the character comes across as more villainous than in the book.
  • The Reverend Fred Sultan in The Great White Hype. Sort of a No Celebrities Were Harmed mashup of the Reverend Al Sharpton and Don King.
  • Played mildly in Oh, God! with money-grubbing televangelist Rev. Willie Williams.
  • Jonah in Drive Angry.
  • Pastor Abin Cooper of the Five Points Trinity Church in Red State.
  • The priest in Goodnight, God Bless. He begins his killing spree by knifing a woman and shooting a group of young children, all in broad daylight.
  • Jeremiah Ketchum (and kill 'em) from The Amityville Horror remake. He tortured to death Native Americans on the land where the house stands, apparently just For the Evulz, and his monstrous spirit (along with those of his victims) continue to haunt the area.
  • Preacherman, a member of the Carnival of Killers from Slashers.
  • Father Jonas from Prom Night IV: Deliver us from Evil.
  • Zachary Malius from Happy Hell Night.
  • Zig-zagged with Thanos' henchman Ebon Maw from Avengers: Infinity War. He at least acts like one as he preaches to victims of Thanos' atrocities that it's all for a greater purpose. While Maw is a cruel sadist, evident by his dialogue while interrogating Dr. Strange, it's never outright stated that he doesn't truly believe Thanos is the savior he claims he is.


  • The title character from The Monk is quite possibly the Trope Maker. Ambrosio's Start of Darkness was to break his vow of chastity with a woman who disguised herself as a monk. He later spirals into kidnapping, rape, incest, murder, and selling his soul.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame's sexually frustrated Archdeacon, Claude Frollo. He is, however, less evil than just lustful, confused and militant.
    • The Disney version of Hunchback turns Frollo into a pure, remorseless villain with few, if any, redeeming traits. However, in this version, he is not a priest, just a judge; nonetheless, he is still depicted as extremely religious. Since a few characters refer to him as "minister," the trope still applies literally.
      • In the Disney version, the original character was actually split in two. Instead of a conflicted, tragic Anti-Villain of an antagonist, we get two separate characters: The good Archdeacon of Notre Dame, who takes care of poor Quasimodo, while Frollo becomes the Archdeacon's evil brother, a much less ambiguous corrupt judge.
        • That's not new to the Disney film. Almost every other version of the film has turned Claude Frollo into a nice guy while using his brother Jean (a minor character and reported wastrel from the book) as the villain. Disney actually deserves some credit for keeping Claude as the villain; even if they did alter his job description they still kept him very religious. In the other adaptations, only good!Claude is religious, while bad!Jean is just a worthless psycho.
          • Since the Hays Code specifically forbade the use of this trope, in some cases this was a necessity.
      • His title is "Minister of Justice," a government position, making him actually closer to an Evil Vizier or President Evil and explaining why people call him "Minister Frollo."
      • Given the official title of the french minister of justice in the middle ages, this makes him a literal Evil Chancellor
  • The title character of Elmer Gantry, although he's portrayed more as merely slick and self-deluded than as "pure evil."
  • Annias in The Elenium by David & Leigh Eddings' is a high-ranking clergyman who loudly proclaims his virtue while using bribes, threats, and outright murder in his attempt to seize the throne of the Archprelate (AKA the Pope). Later, it turns out that he's actually working for an ancient, evil god, too.
  • Reverend Sunlight Gardner, who runs an Orphanage of Fear in Stephen King's The Talisman.
  • The Cardinal in The Three Musketeers.
    • He's an antagonist because he is the prime minister of France, so probably more an Evil Chancellor than a pure example of this trope. There is one scene that exposes the rivalry between the Musketeers and the Cardinal's church bureaucrats, but otherwise his clerical aspects are irrelevant.
  • The priest in the novel Chocolat.
  • Corrupt churchmen occur in most versions of the Robin Hood legend.
  • Arguably, the Reverend Dr Syn, a "mild mannered clergyman from Kent", also known as the vicious criminal "the Scarecrow", and the feared pirate Captain Clegg.
    • The Hammer Horror version plays him as a good-guy, but calls him "Blyss" as Walt Disney had the rights to the name "Syn".
  • Vorbis from the Discworld book Small Gods. Unlike some examples, though, Vorbis believes with absolute certainty that all the bad things he does to advance the church and himself are necessary according to his twisted conception of the religion. A character in the book mentions this trope, expecting that Vorbis maintains his austere image just to hide a life of luxury and indulgence, but he doesn't. It is implied that this makes him worse than a common variety corrupt priest, as Vorbis's crimes are driven by something stronger and more constant than self-interest.
  • The 'helpful' clergyman of the John Dickson Carr mystery Hags Nook.
  • The Evil Jesuit Father Rodin in Eugene Sue's THE WANDERING JEW—and to a lesser extent his rival Father d'Aigrigny—is a magnificently drawn example of this. The Jesuits here are a Corrupt Order rather than a Corrupt Church.
  • Pryrates from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a priest as well as the most cliched Evil Sorcerer one can imagine. He lives in a tower which no one dares to enter, he wears scarlet robes, has a shaved head, kills a puppy as one of his character introduction scenes and has such evil vibes that the hero notices him as a bad guy right away. And the King doesn't care at all.
  • Fray Emilio Bocanegra ("Black-Mouth") from the Spanish series of books The Adventures of Captain Alatriste is an evil member of The Spanish Inquisition. He represents The Church by himself, although he conspires with representatives of other organizations. Also appears in The Film of the Book.
  • As old as The Bible itself - 3rd John speaks of Diotrephes, a church head who was a malicious gossip and excommunicated members of his church for not adopting gnosticism.
    • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, the secretly demon-controlled Johannine Church uses Diotrephes' name as a bogeyman label. Chants of "Down with Diotrephes!" are a Berserk Button.
    • Also, Ciaphas, the guy who got Jesus executed was a high priest...
  • Safehold‍'‍s Church of God Awaiting has its Sinister Ministers, but the standout is its the Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn, whose crossings of the Moral Event Horizon include the brutal execution of a scapegoat Archbishop, having members of his order instigate a massacre against traders and merchants of the heretic nation of Charis, and having an allied prince and his sixteen year old heir assassinated when said Prince was about to surrender to the Charisian emperor, Cayleb. Making Clyntahn especially dangerous even after all that is he has himself utterly convinced that he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • And the fact that his religion explicitly states that good intentions based in religion justify any kind of extremism makes him even worse.
  • Subverted in the Illuminatus!-trilogy, where Padre Pederastia (a nickname, obviously) is a Camp Gay Roman Catholic priest who runs a Satanic sect in his spare time, and routinely steals the sacramental bread from his church to be used in the Satanic rituals. The sect is completely harmless, Padre himself doesn't even believe in God or Satan, and he is indeed one of the good guys.
  • In The Jehovah Contract, an evil televangelist with some kind of supernatural powers hires the narrator character to assassinate Jehovah.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House," Nabonidus, the Red Priest, "who was the real ruler of the city."
  • Most Church authorities in the His Dark Materials trilogy, notably Father MacPhail and Father Gomez.
  • The titular character from H.P. Lovecraft's short story The Evil Clergyman, a mysterious man with a decidedly Anglican attire who appears to have cast his soul into a matchbox-like object in an act of pre-suicidal sorcery, later attempting to completely usurp anyone that handles said object. The narrator manages to stop him, though not before having his appearance changed to an exact replica of the clergyman.
  • Reverend Habit Morgan from the Ender's Game book War of Gifts was a real Holier Than Thou piece of shit. He beat his son Zeck regularly and found fault and sin in everyone but himself. When Zeck got taken away by the International Fleet, the IF representative was accused of infringing on the church's freedom to worship as they pleased. The rep responded by tearing open Zeck's shirt to show the congregation his bloody and scarred back. While at battle school, Ender speculates that Zeck's mother divorced her husband now that Zeck was out of his reach.
  • A common figure in the writings of Flannery O'Connor:
    • In Wise Blood, Asa Hawks preaches the Gospel but doesn't believe any of it; he's only in it for the money. He even faked blinding himself with lye as a very public demonstration of his nonexistent faith.
  • Peter Mathews of Enigma Babylon One World Faith and Leon Fortunato of Carpathianism are Left Behind's examples of this trope.
  • Katherine Langrish's novel Dark Angels has Brother Thomas, an over-religious and abusive priest who is cruel to the boys at the abbey. He suffers a horrible fate in the end.
  • Eric Long from Friday the 13th: Church of the Divine Psychopath.

Live-Action TV

  • Carnivale‍'‍s Brother Justin Crowe is a super-powered and incestuously-inclined example of this trope who turns out to be not only the living embodiment of evil as the Avatar of Darkness but the fabled Usher of Destruction.
  • Distilled to its most utterly villainous and despicable essence in the person of Caleb from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a psychotic misogynist and serial killer who used his sermons to lure impressionable young women to him and then brutally murder them. This was before he became The Dragon for the Ultimate Evil in the universe, who granted him super-strength and an army and tasked him with massacring the Slayer Potentials and the Watchers. He took to his mission with sadistic glee, reciting twisted prayers and Biblical references as he casually broke arms, snapped necks, and put out eyes. Caleb was, bar none, the single vilest villain in Buffy canon, even surpassing Angelus himself in depravity and pure hatred.
    • He also qualifies as a Sexy Priest. No, that doesn't make him less disturbing.
    • His voice and mannerisms are also a direct reference to Robert Mitchum's character from The Night of the Hunter—who is actually even spookier than Caleb.
    • Joss Whedon defended himself by pointing out that the Church had kicked Caleb out.
    • And for those who would doubt the above statement about Caleb being worse than Angelus, bear in mind that Angelus is a vampire. He doesn't have a soul—Caleb has no such excuse for his evil.
  • To a lesser degree and outside Christianity, Baber, the conservative ex-imam from Little Mosque on the Prairie.
    • Although the Archdeacon, played by Colin Mochrie, fits the trope a bit more closely.
    • And of course, Thorne.
  • The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells in Blackadder II.
    • In the first series, Blackadder himself becomes Archbishop of Canterbury in "The Archbishop", while a friar is part of Blackadder's Legion of Doom in "The Black Seal".
  • The warmongering, terrorist Reverend Steve Newland of True Blood.
  • There's one episode of Midsomer Murders where the murderer is the local priest, responsible for three murders. The reason for this is that (unbeknownst to his wife and the rest of the village) he'd had a kid some twenty years earlier with an unmarried woman, and said kid had died (in order to join a "club", the members made him stand tiptoe on a chair with a noose around his neck while they went off for a smoke). When one of the victims thought he was dying, he confessed to the priest, who decapitated one, burned another alive, and arrowed the last through the back. Quite a normal Backstory for a resident of Midsomer County.
    • Oh, come on, if there's a priest you've got about 50% odds of it being the priest. And there are a *lot* of priests.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds had a priest who killed people using drug-laced holy water in his exorcisms.
  • On Lost, a prison chaplain refused to absolve Richard for accidentally killing a doctor, in blatant violation of Church doctrine. Richard was about to be hanged, and apparently someone wanted him softened up and scared to be sent to the New World as a slave.
  • Kai Winn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who becomes leader of a Saintly Church purely in pursuit of personal power, and somehow fools everyone except the main characters. Initially she believes that everything that goes right for her is proof she's doing the Prophets' will, and everything that goes wrong is a test, but later she decides that if the Prophets don't agree with her they're wrong, and turns to the Pah-Wraiths, the Bajoran equivalent of demons.
  • Edward Teague on Smallville was a Well-Intentioned Extremist and former Amoral Attorney who became a Catholic priest to protect a MacGuffin at St. Christopher's church following the death of his wife Genevieve and son, Jason. Formerly a firm believer in the cult of The Traveller, he turns on Clark after the revelation that he is unwilling to kill Arch Enemy Lex Luthor, and tries to put them both out of his misery. One could argue that he's an Anti-Hero, but no matter how you slice it, he's very sinister, and given the religious overtones of almost every action he takes, it ain't just an act.
  • Jonas from the Alphas episode "A Short Time In Paradise." Somewhat subverted as he didn't really want to kill his congregation... it just happened because of his ability. Then he tries to burn them all in an attempt to destroy the Darkness within. Rosen stops him.
  • Haven's Reverend Driscoll is the town's leading agitator for Fantastic Racism against the "Troubled". Apparently believing them to be cursed, he's been working to establish enough influence for he and his followers to one day wipe the Troubled out.
  • The Canon on the medieval planet in Stargate SG-1 made use of creative interpretations of The Bible, the fear engendered by the Goa'uld System Lord Sokar's raids for hosts, and a lightning-summoning ring in order to maintain control over his village. When SG-1 arrived, he accused Teal'c of consorting with demons.
  • The High Sparrow (as he is called) in Game of Thrones could be considered the embodiment of religious zealotry. Running his faith with a Machiavellian iron fist and holier-than-thou attitude, he is given power by Cersei which he uses to ruin and punish nobles for any real or imagined sin he assumes they have committed, all dependent on his own biased opinion. While it is rather karmic to see this happen to Cersei herself, many citizens become victims of Disproportionate Retribution (and many innocents die) before he finally does himself in with his own carelessness and overconfidence.



  • The Genesis song (and video) "Jesus He Knows Me" is about a televangelist who enjoys a decadent, corrupt lifestyle funded by the contributions of his viewers.
  • "Holy Roller Novocaine" by the Kings of Leon (and possibly about the Followill brothers' grandfather) is sung from the point of view of a itinerant preacher trying to seduce a woman he meets on his travels.
  • Iron Maiden have "Holy Smoke", which lambasts sinister ministers - "Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke, Plenty bad preachers for the Devil to stoke" - written in response to the very public falls from grace of several anti-heavy-metal (and nearly everything else) televangelists. It alludes to several in a No Celebrities Were Harmed way - "Jimmy The Reptile" for Jimmy Swaggart, "The TV Queen" probably referring to Tammy Faye Bakker.
  • Apocalyptica's "I'm Not Jesus" is about a kid confessing to having been sexually abused by a priest/minister/or some such figure.
  • Falconer's Enter The Glade describes a corrupt evangelist who uses his supposed connection to the divine to enrich himself at his followers' expense.
  • The priest mentioned in a few songs from Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime is one of these; he is a corrupt televangelist who sleeps with nuns.
  • Ozzy Osbourne's "Miracle Man", a Take That toward Real Life Sinister Minister, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, with whom Ozzy had a feud in the eighties.
  • The album cover for the band Sorcerer's album The Lament of the Innocent features a Sinister Minister.

Professional Wrestling

  • ECW wrestling manager The Sinister Minister: It's his friggin' name!
    • The man behind this gimmick did much the same act in TNA as Minister/Father James Mitchell.
  • Brother Love, the stereotypical evil preacher and wrestling manager.
  • The Undertaker is like this, sometimes.

Tabletop Games

  • This is a common characterisation of the Rev Green from Cluedo.
  • High Cardinal Krozen from Eberron, senior cardinal of the Silver Flame and the most powerful individual in Thrane.
  • Reverend Ezekiah Grimme from Deadlands. A humanitarian to boot.
    • From the same game, there's Career Killers "Deacon" Jim Miller. Unlike the real Miller, who was called "Deacon" just because he attended church and didn't smoke or drink, this version is an actual Methodist deacon when he isn't out bushwhacking people for money.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Elesh Norn, Praetor of the white-aligned faction of New Phyrexia, leads her faction as Grand Cenobite (which is equivalent to the position of Pope) of the Religion of Evil called the Machine Orthodoxy.
  • Any cleric, inquisitor, or antipaladin in service to one of the setting's Religions of Evil is liable to be this in Pathfinder. Grundmoch from Legacy of Fire is an interesting example in that he's a Chaotic Evil troglodyte cleric of Rovagug, yet will actually ally with the PC's against the Adventure Path's greater antagonist, Zayifid.
  • There are a few monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game that suggest this, but the most obvious example would be Darkbishop Archfiend. Seriously, just from the look of him, that guy is Obviously Evil.


  • Zoser, the high priest in Aida, and his Mooks are slowly using arsenic to kill their pharaoh.
  • Henry VI has the Bishop of Winchester, later Cardinal of Winchester, who orders his half-brother's death in an attempt to secure the crown and is noted by all other characters to be a depraved and power-hungry man.
  • The Duchess Of Malfi by John Webster has The Cardinal, the Duchess' brother (Webster was more into plots than names, it seems). He conspires to have his sister killed and her kids murdered, partly in order to preserve the family honor and partly to get his hands on her wealth. He also pulls strings to have ill-gotten lands deeded to his married girlfriend.

Video Games

  • The bishop from Final Fantasy Tactics.
  • The Pope of the church of Martel in Tales of Symphonia.
  • Wiseman of Baten Kaitos Origins.
  • Kotomine Kirei of Fate/stay night, whose appearance and voice actor practically screams 'sinister' despite being the overseer of the Grail War and Rin's guardian -- and sure enough, he ends up as the Big Bad of the first route, the one responsible for much of the grief in the second, as well as being the Final Boss in the third, even though in this route he is not as evil as the previous routes. In Fate/Zero, he also usurps several stronger villains and ends up as the Big Bad yet again.
  • Bishop Mandible of Loom.
  • The King of Fighters has the whirlwind-wielding Goenitz. "KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA? KOKO DESU KA?"
  • The preacher you chase through Evarai in Breath of Fire 2.
  • Bishop Stone/Stein in Xenogears.
  • In Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes, Mitsuhide Akechi poses as Tenkai, a monk who acts as the adviser to the cowardly and easily manipulated Hideaki. Even in his guise he barely hides his sadistic nature and is still as Obviously Evil as he was in previous games.
  • Grand Maestro Mohs in Tales of the Abyss.
  • There is often at least one in Fire Emblem games. One is the primary antagonist in Seisen No Keifu, another is the Anticlimax Boss of Thracia 776, one is a miniboss in Rekka no ken, and one is a primary antagonist in Sacred Stones.
    • The Tellius games (Gamecube & Wii) have the Begnion senators, who are also religious figures.
    • However, the series also has a tendency (at least since Fuuin no Tsurugi) for the highest-ranking religious figure in the game to be benevolent, and in a couple of games, playable.
  • Pastor Richards in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City VCPR radio station. He plans to build a giant statue for himself and his concubines, and needs your donations to do so.
  • Graham Jones in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. Dressed like a Southern Baptist televangelist, and sounds like one too. He also shares the Knight Templar fundamentalism qualities.
  • Girolamo Savonarola in Assassin's Creed II who not only is an extremist preacher like his real-life counterpart, but also is willing to use the Apple of Eden to subjugate Florence and spread his agenda. However he's portrayed more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist rather than pure evil like the Templars (who he technically opposes).
    • There's also Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI, and his son Cesare, a cardinal, both given a Historical Villain Upgrade (which isn't to say the real ones were good.)
  • The Archbishop Lazarus in Diablo.
  • Father Karras, the extremely hypocritical and self-centric founder and leader of the Mechanists, from Thief II : The Metal Age, is both a Sinister Minister and a Mad Scientist.
  • Sister (later Mother) Petrice from Dragon Age II is a total Smug Snake who outright admits to pulling a number of half-assed machinations to rile the people of Kirkwall up against the Qunari. She succeeds, but will only live to see it if you help her, which she...doesn't exactly encourage.
  • Sanctus from Devil May Cry 4.
  • The Reverend from The Witcher
  • In World of Warcraft, there was the Archbishop Benedictus, once the leader of the Church of the Holy Light, who turned traitor and sided with Deathwing.
  • Vincenzo Bianchi and Cardinal Genovese from the Ben Jordan games, both high-ranking Vatican officials.
  • Pick a member of the Begnion Senate in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance or Radiant Dawn. They're high-ranking members of the Begnion clergy, and they are at best corrupt, at worst, totally evil. Oliver and Lekain are probably the worst of them, with Lekain being behind almost every bad thing in the series.
  • Selene and Pope Zera from Grandia 2
  • Ghetsis from Pokémon Black and White
  • The Big Bad Far Cry 5 is Joseph Seed, an extremist preacher who leads a militaristic doomsday cult. Unlike most examples of this Trope, he is not a Non-Action Big Bad, having a toned, muscular] frame that makes him a physical match for the heroes.
  • The Luminen Sages in Bayonetta, specifically Father Baldur. Adding to the irony, the heroine and protagonist is a witch.
  • Father Prime from Messiah, although far more emphasis on the "sinister" part; while assumed to be the Big Bad at first, he's actually an Unwitting Pawn of the true villain.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, Deacon Blackfire makes his adaptation debut as the head of a cult comprised of Gotham's impoverished and unhoused; Batman confronts him in the Gotham's Most Wanted side mission "Lamb to the Slaughter".

Web Original


Not to be confused with the master of puppets
I'm the Plush Preacher, Father Felt, the Pastor of Muppets
I'm the Miniature Minister of Sinister stuff
The Priest made of ping pong balls, mischief and fluff


Western Animation

  • Brother Blood from Teen Titans (a cult leader) is the Big Bad of season 3. He's teaching supervillains how to take over the world. When he sees a potential new recruit he tries to seduce them by promising to make their wildest dreams come true. And when that doesn't work, it's time for Mind Control.
  • Depending on the Writer, Reverend Lovejoy on The Simpsons can range from a Straw Hypocrite to a mild example of this Trope. His sermons vary from, at best, dreary recitations of more opaque parts of the Old Testament, to the occasional "fire and brimstone" scaremongering about Hell — and very little of the love and joy that his surname suggests. He's been known to give sermons on the evils of gambling on bingo nights, and annoys Flanders in a petty manner, like having his dog do his "business" on Flanders' lawn. At his worst, he takes liberties with what The Bible says and actively burns books that oppose his idea of Christian teachings to thin out "competition", even trying to burn his own church down as an insurance scam. Worst of all, he's horribly intolerant of any other religions (except at least Judaism, as he was on good terms with Krusty's Rabbi father). He claims in one episode that a Jesuit priest at an interfaith social stole his jacket, only to prove he was no better by stealing the priest's umbrella.
    • Among the gravest examples of his transgressions: when Lisa converted to Buddhism, he called her "Marge Simpson's devil-daughter"; he got into a fist fight with a Catholic priest; told Marge he might as well "do a Voodoo dance" for Abe Simpson when he asked him to give him the last rites; and helped kidnap Bart to keep him from converting to Catholicism. Naturally, he blames this all on Ned Flanders, claiming Ned's complaining made him stop caring (though he adds, "Fortunately by that time it was the eighties, and no one noticed").
  1. Actually, this guy is the hero of the story, but the picture is just too cool not to use for this Trope.
  2. Which was followed by sequels like "When Nuns Go Bad" and "When Clowns Go Bad".