The Slime Ball is a character who has the most slippery slimy personality imaginable. Usually motivated by petty personal gain, the Slimeball is always trying to manipulate events around him in his favour and the people around him into viewing him in a favourable light. A defining characteristic of the Slimeball is a lack of class or sophistication. While some Slimeballs erronously believe the opposite is true, there are an equal number who accept their crass nature. Above all and whether he consciously knows it or not, all of the Slimeball's actions are ultimately taken out of self-interest.
The Slimeball can appear under the guise of friendliness and the desire to help others, however depending on the story he can also be the Card-Carrying Villain with no attempt to conceal the fact. Sometimes the Slimeball is an Obstructive Bureaucrat introduced to harass the protagonists - his slimy nature will often be confirmed by some subtle attempt to manipulate the protagonists into doing what he wants them to.
The Slimeball's motivations and actions are usually directed towards the goal of personal gain, often monetary or of a sexual nature. While a Slimeball can also be a Magnificent Bastard villain or a Smug Snake, not every Slimeball has such grandiose ambitions, some preferring to simply make quick easy money or to influence others to like and trust them. The Slimeball who only harbors petty ambitions is almost always a Small Name, Big Ego type and a Dirty Coward. When his ambitions are sexual, he is usually a Casanova Wannabe. In many romantic comedies, the romantic rival for the protagonist will usually end up being recognized as the Slimeball by the end of the film. The Slimeball may also be a Miles Gloriosus, using tall tales of alleged courage and adventure as an attempt to be charismatic. The most common reaction from a protagonist after dealing with the Slimeball is the intense desire to take a shower.
Because most female antagonists are portrayed as either attractive or tough and aggressive, the instances of female Slimeballs are extremely rare.
- Burke from Aliens is the embodiment of this trope.
- The school guidance counselor in Pump Up the Volume make the enormous effort to convince students that he is looking out for their interests while really being the school principal's lackey, assisting her in expelling all the undesirables. The film's protagonist "Hard Harry" even describes him as "slime" on his pirate radio signal for so deeply betraying the students who came to him for help.
- Jack Vincennes from L.A. Confidential starts out as a complete Slime Ball, arresting people set up by his equally slimy associate, the tabloid owner Sid Hutchens, so that he can look like a hero cop while Hutchens gets prime gossip material. Jack manages to wash the slime off and become a real cop when his shady operation backfires and gets a young man killed.
- Grima Wormtongue as portrayed by Brad Dourif in the film adaptation of Lord of the Rings. He's slimy to the core, subtly influencing King Theoden against his own kingdom. Even his appearance is disgustingly greasy.
- Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty in the 1962 adaptation of Lolita oozes slime from every pore.
- In one sense, the titular character of Citizen Kane is revealed to be something of a slimeball by his best friend after Kane's failed election campaign, who observes that: "you just want to persuade people that you love 'em so much that they oughta love you back!".
- Danny Reed in Holiday Inn. A theatrical agent, he views everything and everyone around him in terms of profit and benefit -- his, foremost, with everyone else's as a minor afterthought -- when he thinks of them at all. It's obvious why Ted Hanover remains friends with him -- Danny's self-interest helps carry along his own schemes. But why Protagonist Jim Hardy, a decent guy who's been sideswiped by Danny a few times, puts up with him is a mystery.
Live Action TV
- In Deadwood, you can practically see the trail of slime behind E.B. Farnum as he skulks around town, engaging one poorly thought-out scheme after another.
- Likewise, Cy Tolliver appears to be coated in a sickly layer of slime.
- DCI Keats from Ashes to Ashes is an example of the Obstructive Bureaucrat version and is completely covered in slime throughout his tenure on the show, at least until the end when the gloves come off and he reveals his Complete Monster nature. None of this is surprising anyway, as it is all but stated directly that he's really Satan.
- The Ferengi in Star Trek the Next Generation and Star Trek Deep Space Nine are a Planet of Hats of Slimeballs, always trying to suck up to anyone who they think they can profit from. It's always raining on their home planet Ferenginar, thus the planet itself is always muddy and wet - making it a literal giant ball of slime.
- An episode of Babylon 5 introduces us to the very rare female Slimeball in the form of the station's first political officer, Julie Musante. She even tries to seduce Sheridan to influence him.
- And nobody can forget Alfred Bester, the biggest Slimeball of the series, who tries to convince all of the protagonists that he's on their side, that they should welcome him with open arms, and that he loves working with them. It also happens that he is a Magnificent Bastard and Complete Monster at the same time, committing a whole parade of unspeakable atrocities behind the scenes throughout the series.
- Satan himself may be the trope codifier as his role in the Christian religion is to tempt humanity and convince us that we should be on his side.
- Captain Raems T. Quirk of the fifth installment of theSpace Quest series begins as the standard figurative Slimeball before becoming a literal one due to a mutating virus.
- Fallout 3 has Ronald Laren, who is an complete and utter slimeball, trying to get into the pants of his painfully naive neighbor.
- Likewise, Fallout: New Vegas features Benny, the leader of the Chairmen gang of New Vegas. He is the Smug Snake first and foremost, but what makes him truly slimy is that as a female protagonist, you can seduce and sleep with him towards the end of the game, and this is AFTER he shot and buried you at the beginning! Benny is so enthusiastic about getting laid that only once does he consider that you might be trying to get close to him to take revenge, and all it takes is your assurance to the contrary to persuade him otherwise.
- Schlock Mercenary got General Hugo Xinchub, formerly Well-Intentioned Extremist - even Xinchub himself admits he's slimy:
Dublin Captain: With all due respect, General, you come across as very, very slimy when you say things that way.
Xinchub: My critics forget that slime is a defensive lubricant. Slimy creatures are difficult to catch.
- Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy is composed of 100% slime right down to the core.
- Iona Yakir joined the Bolsheviks in 1917, when they weren't underground anymore. He was very polite and even servile around Josef Stalin, while at the same time being best pals with the followers of Leon Trotsky (like Tukhachevsky), and this was probably not due to being very peaceful, seeing how he participated in seizure of power in Bessarabia (later was kicked out by Romanian army) and Red Terror (purportedly exterminated 50% of male Don Cossacks, though numbers are not confirmed). When Stalin began The Purge of Trotsky's team in 1937, it quickly turned out that Yakir's behavior wasn't fooling anyone.
- One of his last and rather famous contortions? Early 1937, Bukharin and Rykov lost, and a special commission of Party decides what to do with two errant members of Central Committee. The Red Terror meatgrinder doen't cut that high yet, Trotsky himself is still very much alive. The proposals are: "oust them from the Party, court-martial and shoot" (Ezhov), "oust from the Party, put on trial, but no execution" (Postyshev), "oust from the Party, don't put on trial" (Stalin). Yakir among the others voted for the former, and even argued in favour of this variant. But votes are split, the first round is a draw. Stalin proposes: "send the case back to NKVD (for further investigation)". This one goes through unanimously (except for Bukharin and Rykov themselves). After which, Yakir the Two Faced turns around, and… Bukharin's wife later said that according to wives of Yakir and a few other Party bosses, he manfully refused to drown the comrades and abstained, which is as close as anyone would come to support, right? The source of this "insider information" was very reliable: Yakir himself. Then it just so "happened" that while Bukharin was eventually arrested and executed, he still outlived Yakir.
- This sliminess also earned him an unique "distinction" — when he wrote to Stalin from prison ("I will die with words of love for you, the party, and the country..."), his letter got decorated with following comments:
Stalin: "Rascal and prostitute"
Voroshilov: "A perfectly accurate definition"
Kaganovich: "The only punishment for the scoundrel, riffraff and whore is death penalty"