"Smiling poison and suspicious craft."—Skek Sil as described in The Dark Crystal source book
The Smug Snake is a type of character (usually cast as a villain) who tends to treat friends and enemies alike with equal disdain. They almost constantly speak in a sarcastic tone and punctuate most of their sentences with a smirk. Where they aspire to be a formidable and awe-inspiring adversary they often end up just being a Big Bad Wannabe, failing in the face of more cunning villains or ending up as their servants, in which case they'll generally be The Starscream. Others that fall under this trope are simply in it to bug the good guys and take advantage of their moral insecurity.
A key character trait common to Smug Snakes is overconfidence. The Smug Snake is usually too arrogant to be rattled. Most often, they will think themselves to be the Magnificent Bastard. While they may believe that they have the situation under control (whether they do so through Blackmail, coercion, or simply being in a position of authority), there will usually be a hole in that plan that they failed to consider. Perhaps they underestimated their opponents' abilities and claimed themselves unbeatable, or maybe they made a really stupid mistake along the way. Once that realization hits, expect the Snake to lose their cool right before everything starts falling apart for them. They are not necessarily entirely incompetent or ineffectual, however, and may succeed with at least part of their goals, but they are still lacking that charm and grace that the Magnificent Bastard possesses. Often a Know-Nothing Know-It-All as well, to inspire added bile, though still enough to take the 'sympathetic' out of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain (the best of them are Insufferable Geniuses heavy on the former and light on the latter). If a Smug Snake considers himself a Magnificent Bastard, then he is a villainous Small Name, Big Ego.
Most of the time, a writer will purposely introduce a Smug Snake as a target for audience hate by making them Kick the Dog or bend the rules to get their way and come out smelling like a rose. Basically, this is a villain that's made to be hated and the audience will enjoy hating. This, like all other tropes, can backfire if misused. If the writer still tries to foist the character as a Magnificent Bastard when their previous actions have proven otherwise, the audience will likely stop enjoying to hate the character, and instead genuinely hate them as much as they would The Scrappy or the Creator's Pet. Evolving a Smug Snake into a true Magnificent Bastard could be doable, in theory, but shouldn't be attempted lightly, and has only been pulled off successfully in fiction a few times. Ever.
When the Smug Snake meets the Mary Sue trope, then you have a Villain Sue. Like the Complete Monster, though for different reasons, the Smug Snake will rarely be a Draco in Leather Pants (though it is possible, especially if the character is physically attractive—the Trope Namer could himself be an example).
Contrast Worthy Opponent and Magnificent Bastard, who inspire respect and/or admiration from their opponents/the audience, and Awesome Ego, whose brash cockiness is part of his or her charm. See also Smug Super. Not to be confused with the player character of Metal Gear, the criminal from The Simpsons, or the principal of Degrassi. When one of these guys is turned into an advertising icon, they can become a Spokes Sue.
No real life examples, please; calling someone a Smug Snake in real life is just not necessary.
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