Historical Rap Sheet
A fictional character was responsible for historical crimes or disasters.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-06-23 11:33:25 sponsor: Nemmington edited by: StarSword (last reply: 2014-05-09 17:07:38)

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The crimes of the villain(s) date back long before our grandfathers were born. Historical events that hurt many people are attributed to a single organization or person, usually more than one. Even if there isn't technically a law against causing earthquakes or eruptions, the events are used to show how dangerous the criminal is by placing wars, economic struggles, assassinations, and other pivotal events in their past.

These crimes can be committed by a group, like the Ancient Conspiracy, or a single person, like We Didn't Start The Führer. Those tropes cover the actual villains, this trope is about the "crimes".

Note that this doesn't necessarily have to apply to a villain: i.e. an Idiot Hero Reality Warper could've caused a natural disaster through clumsiness.

Essentially the evil twin of The Gump. Compare Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, Julius Beethoven Da Vinci and Historical Villain Upgrade. Subtrope to Been There, Shaped History and often a form of List of Transgressions. Often an example of Offstage Villainy.

Examples

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     Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman Family #165 we learn that Superman's dog Krypto accidentally caused the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. You can read it here.
  • Immortal criminal Vandal Savage from The DCU claims to have been many historical figures including Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Blackbeard and Jack the Ripper. He was also an advisor to many famous conquering, and may have either been Julius Caesar or participated in Caesar's murder, depending on which version of the story you believe.

    Fan Works 
  • Day of the Barney Trilogy has Barney responsible for, among others, the extinction of the dinosaurs, Caligula's depravity, the Black Death, the rise of Hitler and betraying Anne Frank.
  • Reimagined Enterprise repurposes several real-world wars of the 1990s as the Eugenics Wars. For example, Khan Noonien Singh's people were the real reason the UN sent a military expedition into Somalia in 1992.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Castle of Cagliostro, the Cagliostro family's centuries-old counterfeiting operation caused the collapse of the Bourbon dynasty, financed Napoleon and brought about the Wall Street Crash.
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp shows that the villain Merlock was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

     Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In The Pariah by Graham Masterton the death of the Toltecs, the atrocities of Caligula, the Black Death and the Salem witch trials are all attributed to the demonic antagonist.
  • Incarnations of Immortality: Satan engineered the Black Plague by tricking Gaia. He later regretted how far it went, and the experience taught him his responsibility as the Incarnation of Evil. Inverted later as he tricks Chronos into averting the holocaust and World War II as a favor to YHWH though this costs him his friendship with subsequent Incarnations of Time who till then were the only ones friendly to him.
  • Spider Robinson's Callahans Crosstime Saloon short story "Unnatural Causes". A team of alien Krundai are responsible for many harmful acts in Earth's history, including: starting riots, wars and revolutions, causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, assassinations, promoting drug use and the Holocaust. Their ultimate aim is to cause humanity to destroy itself so they can feast on our bodies.
  • A Running Gag in Good Omens involves Crowley, the demon who was responsible for the original Temptation in the Garden of Eden, frequently receiving the congratulations of Hell whenever they notice something like the Spanish Inquisition has popped up in the human world. They inevitably leap to the conclusion that Crowley was responsible for getting it started. He frequently protests to the sympathetic Angel Aziraphale that he had nothing to do with it whatsoever: the human race thought of new ideas to be beastly to each other all on their own.

     Live-Action TV 

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Old World of Darkness averted this in one specific instance. Anything else was free to be a vampire/werewolf/mage plot, but the Holocaust was required to remain a purely human atrocity.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • In Everyman HYBRID, HABIT claims that Josef Mengele was one of his possessed victims.
  • Hardly Working: Over the course of the show, the Phantom of the Office has taken responsibility for the Black Plague, the extinction of the dodo bird, and most shockingly, the death of Jesus Christ.

     Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • In an early episode it's revealed that once every few millennia fairies have to be evil for 24 hours. During Wanda's stint she killed the dinosaurs.
    • Though not villainous in intent, Cosmo accidentally sank Atlantis and destroyed Pompeii.
  • In Yoohoo And Friends, Father Time was responsible for starting the Salem Witch Trials after trying to help three women carrying heavy buckets of water... by enchanting brooms to carry them. Thankfully he managed to save their skins shortly afterwards.
  • The Simpsons: Charles Montgomery Burns has done many atrocities during his long life, including such monstrosities as being the one who made Amelia Earhart disappear, collaborating with the Nazis, and stealing a Trillion Dollar Bill that would have helped fund reparations on Europe after World War II (and thus made the French hate America from then on).

Indices: Alternate History Tropes, Crime and Punishment Tropes, Historical In-Joke, Speculative Fiction Tropes

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