Wicked Cultured

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
"I can't believe what that clown is doing to Leoncavallo! And they call me a murderer!"
Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons

It's not that Evil Is Cool. Rather, this is more like "Evil is Intellectual." Evil is smart, wicked, sarcastic with a biting sense of humor. Evil is smooth and eloquent, if not outright suave. Evil dresses well, has a polysyllabic lexicon, quotes Shakespeare, sips fine wine, listens to Beethoven and Brahms, and in general is shown to be cultured if not necessarily civilized. This can apply to any villain, Anti-Villain, or associated character types.

May overlap with Dumb Is Good, but it doesn't have to. The hero of the story can easily be a more rugged intellectual, or he reads/writes poetry, which is almost never perceived as an "evil" form of culture. Closely related to the Magnificent Bastard, whose sheer tactical and strategic brilliance often sets him inside the trappings of Wicked Cultured. May overlap with Faux Affably Evil when the villain combines charming manners with vicious behavior.

When Aristocrats Are Evil, they almost always follow this trope; when enough of them do, you get Deadly Decadent Court. They are likely to practice Brains and Bondage without any trace of Safe, Sane, and Consensual.

Compare the less sinister Villains Out Shopping, Villainous Fashion Sense, Evil Is Stylish, and Man of Wealth and Taste. The exact opposite of this is a Gentleman and a Scholar (unless he is Affably Evil).

Don't confuse with Sophisticated As Hell.

No Real Life Examples, Please.

Examples of Wicked Cultured include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In between various dog-kicking acts (and occasionally burning them) and sending his Ax Crazy minions after the heroes, Dio Brando of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure enjoys literature, music, and classic art.
  • Monster: Johan Liebert, the title character, is always perfectly dressed, well-spoken, blends in perfectly with high society and is a smart intellectual.
  • The Major from Hellsing is a textbook example: he dresses immaculately, always ready for A Glass of Chianti, is well-read, refined, eloquent, frighteningly intelligent, but... He's totally, batshit insane and has "EVIL" written on him in two-foot letters. In blood.
  • Creed from Black Cat is definitely shown to be one of the more "cultured" characters in the series. He appears to be the only character in the series that bothers taking a bath (which is filled with rose petals, no less), dresses in sleek, black leather, drinks A Glass of Chianti (with a rose in it), speaks in a much more formal manner, plays the organ well, is skilled with large scale oil painting, carving gold statues, etc.
  • M'Quve from Mobile Suit Gundam is a ruthless Smug Snake under the orders of Princess Kycilia Zabi, whom he's fiercely devoted to. He's also an extremely cultured, polite, soft-spoken man who adores art and souvenirs. His last thoughts as he died in battle were of both his Princess and an old porcelain vase that he wanted to offer to her as a gift.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: "Madame, your laugh lacks elegance."
  • Crocodile from One Piece. Drinks wine while the Straw Hats are imprisoned (in addition to a No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine scene with Vivi), names his criminal organization after Renaissance architecture, and dresses in a fashion akin to a mafia ringleader.
  • Black Butler's Sebastian Michaelis is the perfect butler: he can cook the finest cuisine from any country, perform beautifully on the violin, and recite quotes from virtually any body of literature. Oh, by the way, he's a demon.
    • Since this is from manga and anime, to be clear: drag-your-soul-to-Hell demon, not "generic supernatural creature" demon.
  • Aizen of Bleach uses very long words, even longer plans and as a scientist is second only to Urahara (which continuously annoys him, and somewhat justified too, as Urahara plays a vital role in his defeat).
  • Solf J. Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist has got this down pat. Immaculate white suit? Check. Nice, calming voice? Check. An interest in the alchemical arts, as well as a seeming passion for music? Chack. Oh, and did we forget to mention that he's a psychopath who has made it his life's work to blow up anything and everything for the heck of it? And he can turn people into living bombs?
  • Izaya Orihara from Durarara!! wears fur-lined coats, speaks Russian, reads Oscar Wilde and throws around psychology terms like "misattribution of arousal". He's also Japan's biggest Troll.
  • Proist, the eventual Big Bad of the 2005 Gaiking series. She has a thing for Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony—spoken of its 2nd movement: “While the culture of the Earth is barbaric, this song by that composer Dvorak is magnificent.” When things get serious, she acknowledges that this movement is no longer adequately suited to the moment, and starts up the more dramatic 4th movement. Her personal Eldritch Abomination is even named after the composer himself. Also, she arranges meetings with rebellious subordinates during teatime, and coolly responds to having a reckless (and unexpected) guest draw a sword on her by asking him how many sugars he wants in his tea.
  • Invoked by Yahiro Saiga of Special A. He's not actually that bad, but with his love of opera, fine clothing and dining he certainly looks like an example.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Top of The Flash's Rogues Gallery is an incredible genius who is, among other things, a wine connoisseur. This has made him a pariah among the other, more blue-collar Rogues.
    • The Fiddler, as well, was a classically trained violinist and musical virtuoso who sometimes claimed he was Doing It for the Art.
      • This was Lampshaded once when Deadshot asked him why, if he was classically trained and had a genuine Strad violin, why he called himself the Fiddler, like "...an inbred hick".
    • Weather Wizard also fancies himself something of an intellectual.
    • Let's not forget the Shade. A Victorian era gentleman who has stopped aging thanks to his darkness superpowers, he is droll, well-dressed, cultivates roses, and enjoys fine art and food. Though he basically only did crime because he was Bored With Immortality, and eventually did a Heel Face Turn.
  • In many Legion of Super-Heroes continuities, Brainiac 5's unfathomable intelligence causes him to start out as an Insufferable Genius, then slowly becoming more and more sinister.
  • Doctor Doom had five Rembrandts. Then he had one burned because he didn't like it.
  • V is basically a Villain Protagonist with a good cause, and he applies this trope to himself, quoting the line, "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste," from the Rolling Stones's "Sympathy for the Devil." He plays the piano, writes his own songs, grows roses, has an enormous vocabulary (most of it starting with "V")...
    • He has a reason - his art collection is 'rescued' from the Culture Police, and his over-eloquent theatrics are meant to be a contrast to the bland and menacing fascist government.
    • In the novelization of V for Vendetta, Creedy has shades of this.
  • Vandal Savage is an astute intellectual who is thousands of years old. He also hunts down his descendants so he can eat them.
  • The Penguin, one of Batman's major villains is usually portrayed as being this. As is Ra's al Ghul and the Scarecrow.
    • The Penguin character was deconstructed in Batman Returns, where he's revealed to be the grotesquely inbred sire of a wealthy family who dumped him in the river and left him for dead when he was still a baby. Although obviously intelligent and certainly no stranger to fine clothes, this version of the Penguin is quite vulgar, with thuggish manners and distasteful sexual appetites. The character is also portrayed in this manner in the Arkham City video game.
  • Sin City: Manute speaks in a very polite and eloquent manner. He seems to have little regard for hookers and "the dregs of Sin City". When Dwight implies Manute's only serving the Big Bad because she slept with him (her usual MO), Manute finds the suggestion vulgar and insulting. Mere sex is no reason to follow anyone.
  • Magneto in Ultimate X-Men. Despite his disdain for humanity, he has his minions steal all of the greatest works of art that they can before he begins a scheme intended to wipe out the entire human race, reasoning that humanity's only worthwhile creations (to paraphrase his terminology) deserve better than to be destroyed with their makers.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lecter typifies this trope like no other; a cultured and refined genius as well as a homicidal cannibal. Some of his more cultured actions include his charcoal drawings of Florence that he uses to decorate his cell (done from memory), killing and eating an untalented flautist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to improve its sound, and listening to Bach's "Goldberg Variations" while removing a man's face. His conversations are rife with references to classical works from Shakespeare to Marcus Aurelius, and much more.
    • Wine lovers note that his "nice Chianti" is a surprisingly rustic choice for such a sophisticate.
      • Attentive film goers and wine lovers also note that he mentions "a nice Chianti", complete with a mispronunciation of the name, right around the time he is mocking Agent Starling's rustic roots. Hannibal may be such a sophisticate that drinking a Chianti might be on par with "being a coal miner" and "smelling of a lamp" and thus saying he drank one facetiously.
  • The X-Men films:
    • Magneto
    • Sebastian Shaw in the opening of X-Men: First Class. He assures a terrified boy (who would grow up to be Magneto) that he doesn't share the ridiculous Nazi prejudice against Jews. The boy doesn't seem to be reassured. Later in the scene, the camera shifts, and we see that Shaw's office includes a torture chamber...
  • The Pin in the neo-noir film Brick. Something of a subversion, as outside of his basement office, he's clearly quite shy and eager to be liked.
  • The Godfather.
  • Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Classical education, dontcha know.
  • Sardo Numspa in The Golden Child.
  • Evil in Time Bandits, who is sort of like Satan.
  • Roman Castevet in Rosemary's Baby.
  • Alex of A Clockwork Orange - the only thing he loves more than rape and "the old ultra-violence" is Beethoven's music.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Cutler Beckett, in contrast to the monstrous Hector Barbossa and Davy Jones, presents himself as a cultured villain, sipping tea aboard his ship before going into battle.
    • In the first movie, Barbossa himself affects this in contrast to his crew, when he asks Elizabeth not to use long words, but then responds to her demand that they leave with "I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means 'no'."
    • Davy Jones also happens to be a passionate musician, venting his centuries of anger and bitterness and lamenting the betrayal of his "lost" love by playing his steam-blowing pipe organ at regular intervals.
    • Blackbeard doesn't seem to be one, despite being played by Ian Mc Shane.
  • The Merovingian from The Matrix. He owns a restaurant, an S&M fetishist nightclub, lives in a grand mansion, and has a beautiful wife. His manner is that of a smug Frenchman and he effortlessly rebuffs the heroes upon their first encounter.
    • As he points out during their first meeting, even swears in French sound beautiful to someone who doesn't understand the language.
  • Sigfried in the Get Smart movie fits this very well (whereas the original in the TV show was Affably Evil). He is essentially The Mean Brit as a Bond villain and is paradoxically, calm and cultured while being Chaotic Evil. This is particularly apparent at the end when he is in his car listening to and conducting the same music being played by an orchestra in which he has placed a bomb which will kill the president and everyone else inside.
  • Rotti Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera has a love for Italian culture, dressing in suits from Milan and even hosting his own opera.
  • Casanova Frankenstein, in Mystery Men, who is so smart and sophisticated that Captain Amazing asks him how to pluralize words while they are bantering.

Amazing: Well, we've always been each other's greatest nemesises... nemesisi... nemesi... what's the plural on that?
Frankenstein: Nemeses.

  • Star Wars
    • Count Dooku, who notably uses a fencing grip on his lightstaber
    • His master Palpatine/Darth Sidious has shades of this as well—Ian McDiarmid, who played him, has said that Palpatine's only redeeming feature is that he is a patron of the arts, particularly weird alien operas.
  • Scanners: Darryl Revok has a really nice apartment with some modern art here and there.
  • Many, many James Bond villains have taste and class, often used to contrast against the somewhat less (though still quite) cultured secret agent:
  • To a degree, Khan from Star Trek: The Original Series, both in "Space Seed" and Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. In Star Trek II, however, he turns out to also have an Ax Crazy side.
    • General Chang from Star Trek VI The Voyage Home is definitely this. The man could barely get through a given day without gratuitous Shakespeare quoting; even when trying to smash the Enterprise.
      • You should hear him quoting Shakespeare in the Klingon original original Klingon!
  • Gordon Gekko in Wall Street wears trend-setting, custom-made clothes, collects art, and dates an interior decorator.
    • And has a state of the art cell phone that was used to good effect in the twenty-years-later trailer for Wall Street II.
      • The use of the phone in the beginning of Wall Street II could be considered an unplanned Brick Joke (get it, brick?)
  • Nearly every character portrayed by German actor Sky du Mont (e.g. Sandor Szavost in Stanley Kubrick's movie Eyes Wide Shut).
  • Klytus from the 1980 Flash Gordon manages this by speaking in the arch, refined tones of Peter Wyngarde, and holding a hankerchief to his face during an execution.
  • Subverted by Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, who believes himself to be well-educated and tasteful, but is in fact a thuggish moron.
  • Agent Stansfield in Leon/Léon: The Professional has a love of classical music and hard drugs.

Stansfield: You're a Mozart fan. I love him too. I looooove Mozart! He was Austrian, you know. But for this kind of work, (imitates playing the piano) he's a little bit light. So I tend to go for the heavier guys. Check out Brahms. He's good too. (proceeds to slaughter the family)

  • Col. Hans Landa of Inglourious Basterds is witty and articulate in at least four languages, often engages in philosophic debates with his quarries, and prides himself on having a deep understanding of the human psyche. One of the first things he does in the movie is massacre an entire family of Jewish people.
  • Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man. He plays the piano, lives in a castle, sings folk songs, is the go-to guy on local history, wears nice suits...

"A heathen, conceivably, but not - I hope - an unenlightened one.

  • In The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the Villain Protagonist is an award-winning concert organist, holds two degrees from prestigious European universities (including one in theology), and enjoys composing poetry and ballroom dancing to music supplied by the clockwork band he has built. He's utterly mad and spends the movie brutally murdering a whole bunch of innocent people.
  • In SWAT, the tipoff to the identity of The Mole is that, while the other officers take their leisure playing with their children or drinking beer and watching TV, he spends it drinking champagne in a restaurant with a sommelier.
  • Cobb from Following is well-dressed, witty, urbane, and philosophical about the fact that he's a career burglar.

Cobb: You take it away, to show them what they had.

  • Benedict, The Dragon in The Last Action Hero, is much more cultured than his mobster boss and frequently irritated by the latter's ignorance.
  • Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is portrayed as a fan of opera, listening to a phonograph of Schubert whilst torturing Holmes with a meat hook. Similarly, His Dragon, Moran, regrets not having the chance to see Don Giovanni in Paris.
    • Don't forget that he's also a well-known university professor with many friends in the British government. He also enjoys playing chess with a worthy adversary. Being in decent physical shape as well as a past boxing champion, while it doesn't make him cultured, does make him a well-rounded person.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Most Forsaken in the Wheel of Time books fit this trope perfectly. Not surprising, given that they are from a much more civilized time where they were among the highest ranked scholars and wizards in the world.
  • Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereuses. She's obviously the most cultured, clever and deepest character of the book (Valmont also counts, but he's her villain sidekick). Her choice to pursue a career in evilness was heavily influenced by the philosophers she read. She would probably protect intellectuals and free speech if she wasn't too occupied ruining other persons' lives.
    • Her modern, American, and underage counterpart in Cruel Intentions also fits this trope, but it's largely an act: she's a slut, and has a surprisingly filthy mouth.
  • Headmaster Maximilian Nero of H.I.V.E. fits this, believing that evil should always be intelligent in its design and stylish in its execution.
  • Left Behind seemed to be aiming for this with Nicholae Carpathia.
  • Vetinari, periodically. In particular, his hobby of reading the Discworld equivalent of classical music, because actual instruments are just too unrefined.
    • Though, really, he's an ascetic more than anything. Sure, he's well read and educated, but he dresses simply, subsists on bread and water, has no known vices (apart from an uncompromising attitude toward mimes—performing in the city is punishable by the scorpion pit—but most don't begrudge him that), takes no advantage of the perks and trapping of his office, spends essentially all his time making sure the city doesn't fall apart and planning Xanatos Gambits around the city's Guilds and international politics. Also, he's not so much evil as deeply pragmatic (although there is, admittedly, not much of a difference sometimes.)
    • Odd subversion in The Truth: Mr Tulip has a deep interest in art, and is able to discuss it at length. Apart from that, he's Dumb Muscle who'll use anything as a drug, and has a vocabulary reliant on the word "----ing". His partner Mr Pin is the smart one, but doesn't have the interest in culture.
    • Let us not forget the Dragon King of Arms in Feet of Clay. A vampire over five hundred years old, he was in charge of Ankh-Morpork's heraldry.
    • Also Lord Hong, who not only lives in a Deadly Decadent Court, but has mastered all the Orientalist arts of his culture. Nobody concentrates!
  • Yawgmoth from The Thran is a scientist and a physician, has a wide knowledge and learns very quickly. He's going to become the most dreaded Big Bad in Magic: The Gathering history.
  • Parodied in Neverwhere, in which Mr. Croup collects priceless Chinese porcelain to eat.
  • Patrick Bateman, the Villain Protagonist of American Psycho thinks he is, but then goes and describes Whitney Houston as "the most exciting and original black jazz voice of her generation." Then again, Bateman is supposed to be a vain, hollow fake.
  • Captain Nemo of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea conducted most of his discussions with Dr. Arronax in his fantastic library, decorated with the finest original and replica art, a catalog of priceless biological specimens, and of course his massive organ, on which he played music by the foremost composers. Only a borderline example, because Nemo isn't entirely a villain.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, when Torin fills Ragnor in on the ambitions and conflicts of the Naviagator Houses, he observes of one particularly ambitious and ruthless one:

a great patron of the arts -- all the great lords are.

  • Captain Hook of Peter Pan is generally portrayed as cultured, and often something of an Anti-Villain. Peter, by contrast, is a feral tyrant, ruling by whim but setting strict rules for the Lost Boys. (In some adaptations this is taken farther: Peter is incapable of learning or memory, and murders the Lost Boys if they don't follow his rules.)
    • In Disney's otherwise very loosely adapted version, he speaks pleasantly to Wendy while switching to a prettier gold (with ruby ring!) hook to play the piano—looking quite dashing in a villainous way.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, the Emperor's Children, already artistically inclined, and their remembrancers, take a turn for the decadent after visiting a xenos temple. Only those who did not visit it seem to notice.
  • Several Dean Koontz villains are (or fancy themselves as) this.
  • The Phantom of the Opera. Despite being a homicidal maniac, he has decidedly highbrow hobbies. This is carried over to the Lloyd-Webber show, although his talents as a musician being somewhat lacking.
  • In Kim Newman's Swellhead, part of the Diogenes Club series, there's a heavy subversion; the villain is massively intelligent and knows pretty much everything, but a) his cultural leanings are decidedly cheesy (he likes Burt Bacharach, and has muzak versions of MOR songs playing in his Elaborate Underground Base) and b) he is actually defeated by his lack of knowledge of the younger generation's pop culture. Not "as a consequence of"; By. After failing to name the singer who had a hit with "I Should Be So Lucky", his head explodes. Or, if you prefer, goes pop.
  • O'Brien from George Orwell's 1984.
  • Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter. He's well dressed and well spoken, and he's also implied to be heavily involved in wizarding cultural affairs (on the board of Hogwarts, donates to St. Mungo's). And damn, is his pimp cane awesome or what?
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • example: Grand Admiral Thrawn. The guy collects art. Then he studies it, learns the loopholes in the creators' culture, uses them to steer them into the exact position he wants them, and systematically beats them until they surrender. The one time he was unable to gain insight through a culture's art, he was forced to utterly destroy them, although he still looks at their art and believes that he's finally starting to understand (this species, tellingly, was the Khaleesh - the most well-known of which is General Grievous). He's even able to acknowledge the artistry in his own assassination. Thrawn's Affably Imperial, of course, and in some depictions he's not strictly a bad guy, and always pragmatic.
    • A less morally ambiguous example is Smug Snake Prince Xizor. He's the head of the vast crime syndicate Black Sun, he sits at the Emperor's feet closer than anyone but Vader, co-owns and dines at the most exclusive restaurant on Coruscant, and in general is just fabulously wealthy and lets it show. There's mention that he forgave some debtor when presented with a thousand-year-old miniature tree, and he muses that values it more than rare gems and would not give it up even if he had to sell the rest of his finincial and criminal empire.
    • Trioculus. In addition to the pseudo-Latin name, he actually interrupts his pursuit of our heroes to go hunting.
    • Jerec of Dark Forces II is revealed to enjoy classical music from around the galaxy, even pieces written by noted traitors to the empire.
    • The Imperial war criminal Kardue'sai'Malloc (the horned alien in the Mos Eisley cantina) is an obsessive collector of music: not only does he own a treasure-trove of rare recordings, but he spent many years following some of the greatest musicians of the age in the hope of attending a performance, and only settled on Tatooine when the artist he'd been hoping to witness there was arrested and executed. Of course, after being captured by Boba Fett, Malloc ensures that his collection is donated to a museum.
  • Most/many of Anne Rice's vampires are this. Lestat, at least in the Interview with the Vampire film, twice puts blood in a glass and offers it to Louis, Armand loves his sparkly rings, Claudia is a well-read, impeccably dressed child who plays Mozart and Liszt. Marius takes this to slightly squicky levels, being a wealthy painter in Renaissance Venice who just happens to keep a sort of harem of pubescent boys. Gabrielle, while spending most of her immortality wandering around in jungles, was a marquise and the only literate member of her provincial noble pre-Revolutionary French noble family.
    • Rice even explores this through Lestat's voice in The Vampire Lestat, as he muses that it's not surprising Louis thought he was lying about his Blue Blood: Louis was a member of the American nouveau riche who put on what they imagined were aristocratic airs, while Lestat came from "a long line of Barons who threw chicken bones over their shoulders" and slept with their hunting dogs.
      • Rice has lots of fun with this. For all his sophistication, Lestat learned English from reading cheesy, low-brow pulp detective dime novels, and loves slang because of it. He describes his own way of speaking as Sam Spade-ish.
  • Not only is Villain Protagonist Artemis Fowl a Teen Genius Chessmaster, he's also a fan of fine cuisine, high literature and so on. He also writes music and has designed numerous famous buildings.
  • Hannibal Lecter is depicted as a highly intelligent and cultured man, with refined ("even rarefied", as the novel Hannibal puts it) tastes. He shops at exclusive high-end stores and wouldn't miss a good opera for the world.
    • He prefers to eat the rude.
  • Judge Holden is an erudite, patient, eloquent, philosophizing, multi-talented, poly-lingual, murdering, manipulative, megalomaniac pedophile.
  • In Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert Humbert is a well-educated, cultured professor of French poetry. He is also a pedophile who marries a woman planning to kill her so he can molest her 12-year-old daughter.
  • A few of Redwall's less barbaric villains; Tsarmina, Ublaz, Vilu Daskar, and Badrang come to mind.
  • Several characters from The Count of Monte Cristo, starting with the Count himself, who has impeccable taste and if not an outright villain, is a ruthless Well-Intentioned Extremist. There's also the bandit leader, Luigi Vampa, who is a polite, nice guy who reads Caesar's Commentaries for fun. He's also a strong believer in punctuality, and if a ransom is not paid on time, he will calmly stab the kidnappee to death or shoot them in the head. And there's also Benedetto, a young career criminal who has no trouble posing as a cultured aristocrat.
  • Parodied in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with the Vogons, who love writing poetry. And then reading it to their captives as a form of excruciating torture.
  • Count Dracula, being a Voivode and all, comes across as a fairly refined, rich old gentleman before he's revealed as a vampire.
  • Alex from A Clockwork Orange.
  • The robot Erasmus in Legends of Dune believes himself to be cultured, while at the same time performing inhumane experiments on his human slaves. Only one human has the guts to tell him that his music sucks and his attempts to be civil are not fooling anyone. While he initially enjoys these arguments, he eventually gets fed up and throws her baby from a high balcony.
  • In Night Watch, Zavulon (or Zabulon) always appears wearing a suit and rarely shows anger. However, he is a scheming bastard who would be considered an outright villain if not for this world's Grey and Gray Morality. His Dusk appearance, however, is that of a demon (the author even felt the need to mention his spiked penis). The Movie version shows him more as an anarchist wearing black leather and a bandana.
  • The Dresden Files' Nicodemus, the host and compatriot of a fallen angel, definitely qualifies. He's the scariest and evilest creature in a series full of scary, evil creatures who could squash him with their pinkies, but he does it with impeccable taste.
    • Gentleman Marcone comes off as this, but it will likely never be confirmed due to the fact that he's, well, Marcone.
  • Although he's pretty clearly a Complete Monster as well as a terrifying Body Horror (it's implied that he "Re Made" himself by choice), the gangster Mr. Motley of Perdido Street Station is definitely this. He's well informed about what's going on in the avant garde art scene and has this very Sophisticated As Hell way of speaking in which in a cultured voice and with Big Words, he talks about things like his philosophy on life and which of his rivals he plans to kill.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes insists that all of the incredibly successful criminals are well-rounded, usually in the aristocratic arts. His nemesis Professor Moriarty definitely fits the bill.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard Sequence series, Capa Barsavi of Camorr was once a literature professor...and one of his former students is a pirate captain, who loves to discuss classical literature when he can find someone who shares his interest.
  • Lynn Flewelling apparently is in love with them.. "Nightrunners" gives us first Lord Mardus. Gentleman, with high intellect and large interests, which are just as broad as the ones of one main character. Extraordinarily well mannered. Polite even to the prisoner he plans to bloodily sacrifice. Really, if you didn't know he aspires becoming the Avatar of a God of Destruction you'd really like him. Later Ulan (who starts out not really a villian but extremely pragmatic. And sadly if the main characters achieved their goal his clan would suffer, so Later it turns out that not only HE is responsible for the mess of Seregil's life, he also doesn't hesitate supporting rather nasty experiments just to prolong his life. ... and then we met Yakobin. Nice fellow. Has a good taste of tea. And dislikes beatin up his sleves more than neccessary - actually he is REALLY civilized and intelligent. Oh, have I mentioned he is an alchemist who creates child-like clones of you to brew some medicine of them and kills them when they wont fit your expectiations? Just to make you suffer the whole creation process once again?. The Tamír triad again gives us Nyrin. Court wizard. Soft spoken. Well mannered. Handsome. Apparently a good lover if you happen to be his mistress. Oh... and aspiring ruling from the shadows. And more or less directly responsible for countless assassinations of female members of the royal blood line.
  • Flashman villain John Charity Spring was on the Oxford don career path before getting booted out and seeking an alternate career in the slave trade. Spring is a brilliant classical scholar who constantly throws Gratuitous Latin tags into his conversation, but he's also a psychopath with a Hair-Trigger Temper. While there isn't a Good Is Dumb contrast (since Flashman is a Villain Protagonist), there is a contrast in intellect, since Flashman is Book Dumb and while he's an Omniglot when it comes to learning to speak living languages, he could never pick up Ancient Greek and Latin.
  • General Zaroff from The Most Dangerous Game is your typical aristocratic big game hunter, with an eloquent manner and a taste for the final things in life. He's also a depraved serial killer.
  • Scaramouche: The Marquis is an honorable, educated, well-read noble. He is also a ruthless killer.
  • Vlad the Impaler in Count and Countess. Cruel, sadistic, and ruthless in his quest to "free Christendom," he is nevertheless learned in the history of past civilizations and can refer back to Scripture off the top of his head. And he likes traditional Romanian dance.
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel has Machiavelli. Well-dressed, well-spoken in an absurd amount of languages, esteemed art collector...and Magnificent Bastard immortal in service to an evil god.
  • After concluding his Dead Person Impersonation in the first novel by forging a will from his impersonee leaving everything to himself, Villain Protagonist Tom Ripley of The Talented Mr. Ripley and other novels lives the good life in a French chateau, becoming a talented dabbler in art (both as an expert and as a painter), music, and fine cuisine. In between entertaining guests, he likes to amuse himself by carrying out odd jobs for gangsters, and once in a while (i.e. at least once per novel) kills the odd person who gets too close to exposing his past
  • Nazis in Wouk's The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Sometimes just when you start to like them they do a double take and shock you with how evil they really are. In fact they are a quite believable portrayal.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Jim Moriarty from BBC's Sherlock. He's never shown in anything less than a suit, except when he's Jim from IT, Richard Brook or just undercover, and he speaks very well, when he's not talking in sing-song. He's very contrasting, and the first impression the viewer gets is that he's silly. This is very quickly shown to be wrong, as his mood swings can be genuinely scary.
  • Jonathan from Advance Wars: Eternal War fits this trope perfectly.
  • Sort of Real Life, since it's reality TV, but Joe & Bill (a.k.a. Team Guido) from The Amazing Race. They were relatively old, gay, had lived all over Europe, spoke several European languages and were overall kind of prissy. Needless to say, the other teams did not like them. Although they did give reason to, most famously because one of them shoved somebody's mother and reduced the daughter to tears.
    • The "Cultured" part definitely applied to them (they were even the first team to wear matching outfits), but, in retrospect, they weren't really that "Wicked". It was mainly three teams who were complaining about them, and the things they were complaining about are now considered basic strategies that every team is expected to know. Meaning these days, Joe & Bill come of as innovators, while the other three teams appear to be whining about a team actually trying to win. The only really wicked thing Team Guido did was trying to block said three teams from getting on their plane, which led to the aforementioned shoving incident, somehow shoving a woman who was standing behind them.
  • Farscape: Scorpius, though he wasn't particularly attractive (not to a human audience, anyway). Quite apart from his well-cultivated manners and sideline interest in growing crystherium flowers, his time spent travelling the galaxy has given him an in-depth knowledge of many, many cultures; he's even managed to learn the complex and translator microbe-immune language of the Scarrans and the Diagnosans.
    • Not particularly attractive to a human audience? You don't get onto the internet often, do you?
      • Sikozu certainly has no problem with him.
  • Bester in Babylon 5 seems to fit this too.
    • In one appearance, he quotes A Christmas Carol to a guard who doesn't catch the reference, and in another he references The Cask of Amontillado. This may intersect with Small Reference Pools, however, as both are generally read in High Schools.
  • In Smallville, both Lionel and Lex Luthor are examples of this.
  • Benjamin Linus of Lost is an extremely polite and gracious host to his many captives, going so far as to feed one of them a beachside breakfast with a real knife and fork. He even plays Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in C-Sharp Minor" on his piano shortly before the Barracks are stormed by Charles Widmore's mercenary strike force... and before he is informed of their breaching of security and promptly reveals a shotgun hidden within his piano bench.
  • Used and also subverted by members of the Conspiracy on The X-Files:
    • Cancer Man/CGB Spender/Cigarette Smoking Man is something of a self-learned intellectual with an amazing capacity for reciting facts and quotations, but we find out in one episode ("Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man") that all he really wants to do is write airport novels about the lone rogue going up against massive conspiracies... it is made pretty clear that he has to tell the truth about what he knows, but the only way to do this without sacrificing everything is to frame it as bad fiction that gets rejected by publishers. So basically, CGB Spender is a ruthless villain with a facade of culture whose actual personal interests are a subversion of the archetype this trope describes.
  • On The IT Crowd, the German cannibal plays the cello beautifully.
  • Although Santos from the Argentinian series Los Simuladores is not evil, he is incredibly calm and cultured, and runs a shady business of pulling Batman and Xanatos Gambits with information gathered via "unorthodox" methods.
  • Lodz on Carnivale was erudite, charming, and persuasive. He was also remarkably evil and showed some signs of Nazi sympathies.
  • Angelus in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. A lot of older vampires in general, really. But...
    • Subverted with Spike, a punkish Mockney yob with a strong resemblance to who inspired Billy Idol. Then double-subverted when we meet him pre-vampire...as a "bloody awful" would-be poet of implicitly upper middle-class origin.
    • Played straight with most of the Wolfram and Hart villains. They're normally a bunch of attractive, human (although occasionally soulless) lawyers who play golf, (sometimes with the devil) go to fancy parties (and get butchered) and drink wine. They're usually played as a contrast with the rougher, lower-class heroes. In fact, when Lindsey leaves W&H, he immediately goes back to his roots in a poor, Southern family.
  • The Wire: Brother Mouzone is a Badass Bookworm who dresses in the traditional Nation of Islam suit and bowtie, and reads heavy and serious intellectual books and magazines between gang killings. Stringer Bell was desperately trying to climb out of the gutter and get to this trope, before he was killed by Mouzone and Omar Little. The police are stunned when they search his apartment and find an immaculate office that wouldn't look out of place on Wall Street.

McNulty: "Who the fuck was I chasing?"

  • Quite a few of the bad guys on the various Law and Order series.
  • Jim Profit of Profit, along with a quite hellish Freudian Excuse for his dislike of television.
  • Dexter.
  • Half of the killers on Columbo, which is why they all underestimate the rumpled, blue-collar detective.
  • In Cracker, Albie Kinsella (Robert Carlyle) resents how he thinks people view him as an uncultured and uneducated thug. He makes a point of this when he kills his second victim, a professor, who had dismissed him as such in public, when he recognises the music the professor was playing as Mozart and asked him if he was surprised he knew that (which he was). He both hates that people think of him as scum (in his mind) and blames them when he in turn acts like murdering scum. Unfortunately his first murder was a hotheaded attack on a shopkeeper over being ripped off by 4 pence. In other words he's a Deconstruction of the Trope, a working class killer who both shows signs of being cultured yet is at the same time is becoming every bad thing he thinks society views him as being.

Albie: Ya treat us like scum we start actin' like scum.

  • Colonel Montoya from Queen of Swords.
  • System Lord Ba'al from Stargate SG-1. Part of his ascendancy to Magnificent Bastardry was that he wasn't just a Large Ham; he could also churn out charm by the bucket and became almost an expert on human high culture. In one of the DVD movies, he forgoes the "Kneel Before Zod" speech and actually invites himself to lunch with the President in the Rose Garden at the White House! What a guy!
  • In an episode of Stargate Atlantis, the team goes to a planet whose leaders struck a deal with the Wraith. The Wraith who regularly visits the planet enjoys fine cuisine and wines, despite the fact that they provide no nourishment for him.
  • Marcus van Sciver is known throughout Detrot as a patron of the arts and a proponent for the city's cultural revival. At the same time, he's a vicious bloodsucking mastermind, whose goal is to overthrow the vampiric aristocracy. Being British helps. Hell, he manages to get Krista to sleep with him after killing her brother and forcibly turning her by telling a sob story about his late wife.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, several characters are trapped in a malfunctioning holodeck, surrounded by holographic gangsters from Picard's noir holonovel. The man in charge of gangsters is well-dressed and well-spoken. Crusher gets sick of it and asks why he insists on treating them well before shooting them. He replies that without civility, we may as well be animals.
    • Also, the self-aware Moriarty holodeck program. Seriously, the holodeck can create some really cultured foes.
  • Peter Stone, the Big Bad of seasons 5 and 6 of Degrassi the Next Generation. Executive Meddling had him do a Heel Face Turn in season 7, though. In the meantime, he filmed Manny stripping and sent it over the Internet; took some bikini pictures of Darcy and sent them over the Internet; and planted some weed in Sean's locker.
    • Please explain how the character is cultured. Not everyone watches that show, and everything you described in regards to their villainy is really quite low-class.
  • Spoofed on That Mitchell and Webb Look in the "Evil Genius" skit. A construction worker who's been paid to put in a Trap Door asks the evil genius to call him by his first name:

Evil Genius: Alas, I abhor informality.

  • This phenomenon is very common in Soap Operas. Many arch-villains have been featured in this way, including vaguely Italian mobsters Stefano DiMera from Days of Our Lives and Carlo Hesser from One Life to Live, Swedish-born drug smuggler and arms dealer James Stenbeck from As the World Turns and cut-throat businessman Roger Thorpe from Guiding Light. Such wickedly cultured hallmarks of these characters include the almost painfully stereotypical wearing of finely-tailored suits and the drinking of expensive cognac.
  • Some of the villains on Alias fall into this category. Sark is fond of Chateau Pétrus (one of the world's rarest and most expensive wines). Also, in one episode, the protagonists drug a bad guy's Cristal at a performance of the London Philharmonic (he goes there on the third Saturday of every month).
  • Xavier St. Cloud in 'Highlander. And Consone.
  • Most of the Lannisters from Game of Thrones fall somewhere between this and Faux Affably Evil. This being a world with a Deadly Decadent Court, it's not surprising.
    • Jamie Lannister implicitly takes pride in his beautiful golden armor being without a single dent. He also pushed a child out of a tower.
    • We first meet Tywin Lannister admonishing his son Jamie for his misinterpretation of the philosophical concepts of family honour... as he is skinning a stag.
    • Tyrion Lannister's status as a bad guy, but he's complicit in his brother's attempted murder of 10-year-old Bran and clearly well practiced in the art of lying, cheating, and bribing his way out of a tight spot. He is also able to design a special saddle for the crippled Bran, has excellent knowledge of the law, and is a voracious reader.
    • Cersei Lannister is able to match wits with Ned Stark during a subtext-laden conversation about Ned's education as oppposed to his brother's, and understands enough about the military realities of the North to lecture her son Joffrey on the impossibility of occupying the North directly. She's also plotting to kill the King.
    • Averted with Joffery, however. He's just Ax Crazy and clearly has no interest in culture.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Television (well, just barely), as "Gorgeous George" Wagner first started playing up the gimmick in the 1940s. Okay, so he was more of a Sissy Villain, but he did wear perfume and employ a butler, and entered rings to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.
  • Many British wrestlers, whether they're face or heel. Currently, Wade Barrett is playing it up.
  • Triple H, during his early years in WWE. He'll still lapse into it a bit on occasion, such as when he recently quoted H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Done in a subtle way with John Morrison when he was a heel: ostensibly a Hollywood "cool dude" with shades and long hair, but occasionally known to speak of his "palace of wisdom" (an image from the poetry of William Blake).
  • Cody Rhodes has been using this as his gimmick since 2010. It's really more of a "metrosexual" gimmick (perfect teeth and fingernails, etc.), but he's also known for his rather snobbish New England accent (despite being from Texas!) and occasional Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The eponymous character from Legacy of Kain.
  • A few of Agent 47's targets in Hitman fall under this heading, though they are particularly rare. The most obvious is Don Fernando Delgado, a drug baron who also produces several highly-regarded wines, plays the cello as a hobby, and collects rare butterflies.
  • President Shinra of Final Fantasy VII is seen listening to classical music while the Sector 7 Slums are destroyed. Also, Genesis of Crisis Core quotes incessantly from the play Loveless.
  • Ultimecia of Final Fantasy VIII has a definite sense of luxury and style, even if her fashion sense is a bit odd. Her castle has a large chandelier, a pipe organ, an impressive wine cellar, and an art gallery with pieces she either collected or painted herself.
  • Kuja of Final Fantasy IX, as evidenced by his ridiculously luxurious desert mansion decorated with pristine statuary and wall-to-wall stained-glass windows.
  • Similarly Wilhelm of Xenosaga.
    • Also Albedo.
  • Kane.
  • Dark Oppressors in Nexus War are supposed to be like this. It doesn't exactly get reflected well in their skillset, but the sort of players that get attracted to the game mean that it gets played straight anyway.
  • Doctor Killjoy of The Suffering takes great delight in reciting Shakespearean soliloquies.
  • Mr. X from Streets of Rage.
  • Mad artist Sander Cohen of BioShock (series) covers dead bodies (and sometimes living Splicers) in plaster and poses them as statues, chains poor Fitzpatrick to a piano rigged with dynamite and makes him play until he blows up, sends you on a quest to kill his fellow artists and take pictures of their corpses to add to his latest masterpiece, and in one spontaneous fit of rage sics multiple waves of Splicers on you to Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers".
    • Andrew Ryan too, with his pursuit of objectivist philosophy as an end unto itself, and his beliefs that all artists should be free to express their dreams without fear of censorship. Even his passion for Art Deco architecture is obvious in the appearance of Rapture, despite being built thirty years after Art Deco was all the rager.
  • General Viggo in Fur Fighters tries to come across like this, he succeeds right up until the end when he cracks.
  • The Gravemind from Halo always speaks in trochaic heptameter. He explained to Cortana in Human Weakness that he simply grew fond of poetry after he consumed enough poets from different races and cultures.
  • Played with in Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2. Archibald Grims, Smug Snake and card-carrying terrorist without a cause, invites his most cultured subordinate for a spot of tea. He takes this time to explain that he doesn't actually like tea, but he likes to drink red tea because it kind of looks like blood. Meanwhile, his subordinate notices that he's using a teabag, so he can't even get the "cultured" part right.
  • The Spy from Team Fortress 2 initially appears this way, especially in his Meet the Spy video. It kind of falls apart in-game, though, when he winds up shouting insults like a 12 year old and laughing until he snorts.
    • Heavy, meanwhile, definitely counts. He has a Ph.D in Russian Lit. and enjoys himself a nice Peach Bellini. This, in-between screaming at the top of his lungs, chewing through people with a giant mini-gun, and telling stories about choking an Engie with his own wrench as if it were some kind of bawdy anecdote.
    • Between bouts of administering "accidental" not-medicine and blowing up hearts For Science!, Medic's a violinist.
  • Ganondorf. One particular example would be in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, wherein he is playing the organ while awaiting Link's arrival at the castle to rescue Princess Zelda.
  • Mass Effect:
  • Batman: Arkham City: Subverted with this version of The Penguin - he's a thoroughly coarse and unpleasant individual, even if he'd like to think otherwise.
  • Also subverted with Chatterbox, the clown-faced Soho mob boss in the videogame version of The Warriors. He fancies himself a great artist (so much so that he kills anyone besides himself who tries to create anything resembling art in his neighborhood) - but he's grotesquely fat, foul-mouthed, cruel to his own men, and on the whole obnoxious and buffoonish.
  • Relius Clover in BlazBlue while being an utterly ruthless Complete Monster, conducts himself with extreme suave style, dresses very well, his hobby is watching opera shows, and the things he dislikes are just 'disorganized book shelves'. He doesn't use crude language while showing off just how deprived evil he is, as opposed to Hazama.
  • De Killer from Ace Attorney
  • Leon Powalski from Star Fox is a mix of both this and Ax Crazy.
  • Conrad Marburg, The Dragon in Alpha Protocol. One mission requires the protagonist to infiltrate his villa, which is decorated from floor to ceiling in neoclassic art and has classical music playing loudly in a number of the rooms.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Vampire: The Requiem, most Invictus vampires are presented this way, as are the Ordo Dracul and Clan Mekhet; of course, just how evil they are depends on the individual and one's point of view. In the previous edition, Clans Ventrue and Toreador were even more cultured, and the classier Lasombra and Tzmisice really reveled in the Wicked Cultured part.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Doc Scratch of Homestuck is perpetually dressed in a white tuxedo, lives in an art deco apartment in a mansion, speaks with perfect grammar and near-unflappable politeness, enjoys playing pranks and board games with children, and is an excellent host to his guests. He just so happens to also be The Dragon to an Eldritch Abomination, with the stated objective of bringing about the end of his universe so that his master may feed on reality's corpse.
    • He also kicked off the "Make her pay" subplot, which resulted in one person confined to a wheelchair, one dead, one blind, and one losing an arm and eye as well as being despised by everyone she ever liked.
  • Mordecai Heller from Lackadaisy can be considered this.
  • John Henry Hunter of Next Town Over is quite suave, wearing a fancy white suit, playing the violin, and generally serenading people with his smoothness. The Deliberately Monochrome flashbacks also indicate that he performed publicly before turning outlaw.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Both Dr. Diabolik and his daughter Jadis, in the Whateley Universe. Jadis Diabolik is only a high school sophomore, and already feared throughout Whateley Academy. She quotes Shakespeare and Yeats, and knows who is the finest butcher in all of New York City. However, do not make her mad at you.
  • In Tales of MU, Embries and The Man both qualify. The former has a gloriously-decorated office and snazzy attire, a silver tongue, and a tea set of which he is very fond. He is also an ancient dragon with a taste for human flesh. The Man is a demon who devours the hearts of virgins monthly to sustain himself and impregnated and abandoned the main character's mother twice. He wears a snazzy pinstriped suit and waxes philosophic (sometimes in High Draconic) when speaking with his daughter, however, and like Embries is a master of seduction.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • David Xanatos.
  • Stewie from Family Guy, some of the time.
    • Daggermouth
  • The Ultra-Humanite in Justice League donates money to public television, enjoys classical music, and once reprogrammed a childrens' toy to tell them the story of the Nutcracker. He's also a Mad Scientist albino gorilla.
    • Possibly Vandal Savage, as well. He's smart, but his level of culture is arguable; Wonder Woman certainly feels he's exactly as barbaric as the caveman he ultimately is.
      • "Hereafter" pretty much confirms it when Superman looks over his library. "Self-help books? You don't seem like the type."
        • To be fair, at that point Vandal had pretty much been by himself for a thousand years, so he was half crazy from boredom and guilt by the time Supes reached him.
  • In The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob and his brother Cecil Terwilliger. Not surprising, as the voice actors[1] portrayed the cultured (but not wicked) Crane brothers on Frasier.

Cecil: Perhaps a glass of Bordeaux? I have the '82 Chateau Latour and a rather indifferent Rauson-Segla.
Bob: I've been in prison, Cecil. I'll be happy just as long as it doesn't taste like orange drink fermented under a radiator.
Cecil: That would be the Latour, then.

  • All things considered, Beast Wars Megatron certainly fits the bill. From his aristocratic accent to his quoting Earth literature, one doesn't doubt that if it had been possible for him to sip a nice chilled glass of red, BW Megatron would have been. Perhaps while doing the Slouch of Villainy in his command-chair or soaking in his energon hot tub.
    • The fact that he bathes with a rubber ducky manages to reduce his cultured aura not one bit, impressively.
    • Also note the way he strokes his T-rex head arm while in his robot form, the same way James Bond villain Blofeld caresses his pet cat.
    • The Megatron in Transformers Animated was obviously inspired by his predecessor. He drinks oil out of a barrel crushed into the shape of a chalice.
  • The Grand Duke in Rock-A-Doodle is not just a evil owl who spits black magic and wears a dracula cape; he also enjoys embroidery and plays a demonic organ that controls the weather. Being voiced by the urbane Christopher Plummer helps.
  • Many Disney villains, including Jafar, Scar, Maleficent, Captain Hook and Lady Tremaine.
  • Phantom Limb from The Venture Brothers is a definite example, once called out for having sold out his villainous principles for high culture accoutrements such as dealing in stolen art instead of 'the old stuff'. (In the same episode, he laments how many of his fellow art thieves want to steal the Mona Lisa, for no other reason than it's a famous painting, and not because they appreciate it as art.)
  • Monkey from Dexter's Laboratory faced a villain (a super-smart ape) who was very cultured. He did a Heel Face Turn when Monkey convinced him to embrace his primate instincts.
    • Perhaps you are referring to SIMIAAAAAAAAN!
  • Megabyte from Re Boot, no question. His voice is Tony Jay, after all.
  • Played with in Exo Squad. Phaeton is highly articulate and literate enough to have a quote from Dante inscribed the entrance to his bunker. On the other hand, he is NOT a fan of art, which he (quite passionately) declares to be "a useless Terran pastime".
    • This leads to a hilarious moment where Exo Trooper Wolf Bronski, by no means cultured himself, is attempting to save paintings Phaeton has ordered destroyed. During the fights, he yells at the Neo Sapiens, calling them Philistines. Then he turns to the woman with him and asks "Hey, what's a Philistine?"
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Delightful Children From Down The Lane, some of the time.
  • Vlad Masters of Danny Phantom, invoked-his accent is very much cultured.
  • V.V. Argost, the primary antagonist of The Secret Saturdays, embodies this. Essentially a cross between Doctor Doom and Vincent Price, this should come as no surprise.
  1. Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce respectively