Callous Demonstration Of Power
A character commits evil acts, not for fun, and not out of cruelty, but simply to make a point about how powerful they are.


(permanent link) added: 2012-05-30 15:28:11 sponsor: MarkThis edited by: sgtpendulum (last reply: 2014-09-04 17:49:15)

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This is the sort of person who will commit extreme atrocities, not because it's funny and it amused them, and not out of cruelty nor genuine enjoyment of the activity itself. No, their depravity is much colder and much less human: they do what they do simply to show and underline and emphasize that they can, and that nobody is able to stop them from doing it. Typical of the Bad Boss and Villain Demotivator, and related to You Have Failed Me. When this trope happens, in universe, the character is trying to prove how much power they have, and may (or may not) be pointlessly villanous in the process.

Compare with Kick the Dog, which is when the creator wants us, the audience, to know that the character is evil, and has them prove it by a pointless act of evilness. Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment: don't add any Real Life examples older than WWII.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In Bleach, the reason behind most everything Aizen did, besides sadism and ambition.
Comic Books Film
  • In Hobo With a Shotgun, it's actually the villain's policy to do horrible stuff to scare the populace.
  • In Mulan the film's villain, Shan-Yu, invades China because he saw the building of the Great Wall as a challenge to his strength.
  • In Star Wars A New Hope the destruction of Alderaan was said by Grand Moff Tarkin to be have been done to "...demonstrate the full power of this station." He tells Princess Leia that he intends to "...test this station's destructive power on your home planet of Alderaan." and when she tells him that the Rebel base is on Dantooine, he decides to blow up Alderaan anyway because "Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration." The overall reason he did it was because with the dissolution of the Imperial Senate, "The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station." From a Doylist perspective. From a Watsonian perspective, it was a case of Kick the Dog and establishing how much of a threat the first Death Star was, at least within the context of that film.
Literature
  • Voldemort gave Peter Pettigrew his booby trapped silver hand of awesome as a demonstration of power, largely. A lot of the stuff he does is motivated by either reassuring himself (and the world) of how powerful he is, when it isn't motivated by just enjoying seeing others suffer.
  • Loyso Pondokhva, the most powerful (traditional) mage known to have existed in the Labyrinths of Echo series, nearly destroyed the world because he could (he hated most of the Normal People living in it) and because of a small chance to grow even more powerful by doing so.
  • 1984, the Party is a lot more sociopathic than it realistically needs to be because they want to show everyone who's boss, and are willing to go really out of their way to do so.
Video Games
  • An NPC in Quest 64 makes a remark about how King Beigis of Brannoch burned down a town for no reason other than to test his strength.
Other
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