Reminiscing About Your Victims
A character, (usually a villain) fondly recalls someone they killed, raped, etc.


(permanent link) added: 2011-11-07 14:58:50 sponsor: TheWanderer (last reply: 2012-08-09 12:24:21)

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Do you have a brother? I shot a man once who looked like you. In Kiev. In... '93, I think. I'm sure you heard about it. The Spetznaz team that tried to sell a warhead? Nobody ever saw them again. [Breaks into slightly psychotic laughter] That was a good winter for me!
--Michael Weston from Burn Notice deliberately plays up his Shrouded in Myth/Psycho for Hire image.

A character fondly recalls a particular victim or event, usually in a way that would be cute if it weren't for the fact that they committed some heinous act of evil while doing so. Generally done for one of several reasons:

1. Because the person they're thinking about was a Worthy Opponent. ("What a fight I had with him before I killed him. I'd never felt that alive before!")

2. To taunt and hurt the hero by teasing them about doing that to a loved one. ("You should have been there for the fun I had with your mother. Oh what a night that was! She screamed so prettily before the end...")

3. They fell a particular attachment or fondness for a particular victim, such as a Villainous Crush, respect, the person reminiscing has a touch of Lima Syndrome, etc.

If you want to establish a character as creepy, or show his credentials as say, a dog kicking Serial Killer, this is an excellent way to do so.

Would You Like to Hear How They Died? and the Post Rape Taunt are common elements. Usually a good sign that someone is Ax-Crazy.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Tiger & Bunny three criminals sharing a jail cell swap stories of their misdeeds, one of them remarking that he loves kidnapping, because you can get a bunch of money and then kill the kid afterwards. They immediately then get incinerated by Lunatic.

Comics
  • A typically creepy issue of Swamp Thing has a Serial Killer who calls himself the Bogeyman and remembers his victims by number...and their eyes. Every time he hears a number, the panel shows a disembodied pair of eyes and his description of same.

Fan Fiction
  • Harry Potter fanfic Aspirations has Bellatrix LeStrange remembering she used to pleasure herself in Azkaban with the memory of breaking her father's skull with a crowbar.

Film
  • In Rob Roy when Rob and Cunningham finally meet face to face, Cunningham teases Rob about raping Rob's wife. "Your wife was far sweeter forced than many are willing."
  • In Gangs of New York, Bill Cutting considers Priest Vallon a Worthy Opponent and does an Antagonist in Mourning type of celebration of their fight every year.
  • Hannibal Lecter seemed to really enjoy that memory of the census worker that he ate with fava beans and Chianti.
  • The Joker does the Would You Like to Hear How They Died? version in The Dark Knight.
    Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the ... little emotions. In ... you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?
  • In The Princess Bride, while talking with Buttercup, the Man in Black tells her how Westley pleaded for his life before he killed him. Here it's used in a more respectful way, since the Man in Black hints at being moved by Westley's sincerity and devotion.
  • Con Air: About midway through the film, convicted serial killer Garland Greene strikes up a conversation with Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage), during which, he happily recounts how he once killed a girl, then drove through three states, while wearing her head as a hat.

Literature
  • In the first book of The Sword of Truth series, the Big Bad is remembering a girl he took to his bed, and how she laughed at his scars. Since it happens during a situation when he must smile to another, he shifts to recalling what he has done to her in response.
  • In King Solomon's Mines (where Allan Quartermain got his start) the Zulu warrior Umslopagaas says that he wouldn't mind meeting and talking to some of the people he had killed in battle. In this case it isn't to show that Umslopogaas is evil but that though he is a Blood Knight he is also an honorable Proud Warrior Race Guy who respects a Worthy Opponent.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampire Count and Countess Magpyr reminisce about their honeymoon:
    Countess: And we met such lovely people. Do you remember Mr and Mrs Harker?
    Count: Very fondly. I recall they lasted nearly all week.
  • In Hannibal, Mason Verger reminisces about a Christian camp he attended and his fellow campers, some of them disadvantaged youth who "would do anything for a candy bar." He molested them, to be more specific, and this is meant to mark him out as an Asshole Victim of Hannibal Lecter's and later of his sister Margot's.
  • In Two Princesses of Bamarre, the dragon Vollys treats her prisoners as 'guests' before eating them, letting them live longer with a system of giving and taking away pieces of treasure from her hoard for entertaining her. She reminisces about several of her previous victims fondly, talking about them like they were old friends and mourning the fact that she got bored and killed them. In return, the protagonist Addie later regrets having to kill her to escape.

Live Action TV
  • In the above quote, Michael Weston is actually using this trope (and probably playing up the image Russians have of him as the CIA's version of the Boogeyman) to speed along an interrogation.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite fond of discussing and reminiscing about the Slayers that he has killed.
  • Parodied and subverted in Veronica Mars.
    Veronica: I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
    Dean: Oh, how'd that go?
    Veronica: ...It was kind of a let down.
  • The Kids in the Hall, naturally, play this for laughs with a group of friends gathered to memorialize their dead buddy. Turns out they killed him, of course.
    "It really makes you think about the fragility of life."
    "Not really. Remember how he struggled at the end?"
  • Subverted in The X-Files episode "Paper Hearts", where the villain of the week tries to convince Mulder that it was he who kidnapped and murdered his little sister by describing her last moments. Mulder eventually calls bullshit and is right: the bad guy wasn't Samantha's kidnapper, just a jerkass.

Music
  • Kamelot's song The Zodiac is inspired by the Zodiac Killer, and in the lyrics he reminisces about breaking the neck of a woman.

Video Games

Web Video
  • In There Will Be Brawl, Kirby particularly enjoys taunting Luigi with his murder of Daisy: "I can only imagine how you must of felt...when I ate your princess, I wore her head like a hat and danced through the streets..." Fitting because he is directly inspired by Hannibal Lecter, he enjoys messing with Luigi, and doing just that was most of his point in instigating the series.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure Abridged has J. Geil go on about this while bragging about killing Polnareff's sister.
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