[[quoteright:314:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/red_skull_cover_9486.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:314:"When it comes to bad, the Red Skull is in a class all by himself."]]

->''His eyes, unfathomably empty, devoid of all compassion... all humanity... No one has eyes like that... no one! All these months I've lived in a fool's paradise, refusing to believe his claim to be the real Red Skull, refusing to believe that my greatest enemy had found a way to cheat death... but he has. The Red Skull lives... God help us all.''
-->-- '''ComicBook/CaptainAmerica'''

The ArchEnemy of ComicBook/CaptainAmerica and one of the oldest villains in comics, and widely regarded as one of the most despicable. Right-hand man of UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler in the Franchise/MarvelUniverse, ComicBook/{{HYDRA}} brought him BackFromTheDead to plague the world once again. There have been at least three major versions of the Skull. George Maxon, the first Red Skull first appeared in ''"Captain America Comics''" #1 (March, 1941). The most (in)famous Red Skull, Johann Schmidt, first appeared in ''"Captain America Comics''" #7 (October, 1941). The third Red Skull, Albert Malik first appeared in ''"Captain America Comics''" #61 (March, 1947). Malik was established as the Communist Red Skull in ''"Young Men''" #24 (December, 1953). Schmidt was revived in ''"Tales of Suspense''" #79 (July, 1966).

The established origin of the better known Skull is relatively complex. He was born as Johann Schmidt in a small German village, probably sometime in the [[TheEdwardianEra 1910s]]. The Skull's mother Martha died giving birth to him, causing his drunken lout of a father to [[OffingTheOffspring try and drown him]], saying that the infant had murdered his wife. A doctor managed to prevent him from killing his newborn son, but the angry father went on to commit suicide. Growing up alone, the rise of the Nazis backdropping his life, young Schmidt eventually found himself living a hard life on the streets. All while nursing a growing anger and frustration towards the rest of the world. As an older teen, Schmidt managed to get a job as a bellhop for a major hotel frequented by UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler. Schmidt was present for one occasion when Hitler was angrily berating the head of UsefulNotes/TheGestapo (or just some random German officer) for letting a spy escape, and screamed at the man that he could make even the bellhop into a better Nazi than him. [[GoneHorriblyRight He did]].

Hitler, who seemed to recognize much of himself in the frustrated, resentful, unsuccessful yet obviously talented young man, became a sort of EvilMentor and father figure to him, encouraging him to educate himself and grooming him for a powerful position in the Nazi state. (According to one version, to be his own successor.) Subordinate only to Hitler himself, the young, brilliant and ruthless Schmidt was placed in charge of foreign espionage and terrorist activities, playing a key role in Nazi victories in Europe and spreading fear (his red skull mask was intended to be a symbol of terror while Hitler could remain the popular leader in a national version of GoodCopBadCop). He eventually moved onto the United States as WorldWarII continued and sabotaged the top secret Project Rebirth by assassinating Prof. Erskine. Preparing for the inevitable war against Germany, the Americans decided to create their own GoodCounterpart to the Red Skull's evil, the sole successful Super Soldier serum test subject, Steve Rogers, and trained him to become ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, the man who was to become Schmidt's ArchEnemy.

However, as the war dragged on the Skull started to see that Germany was not going to win, and [[KnowWhenToFoldEm instead made plans to escape]] and build a new power base elsewhere to [[TheRemnant continue the struggle]]. In the meantime he assigned rival Nazi Baron Heinrich Zemo to a secret mission to assassinate Captain America, hoping the two would kill each other off. In the event, Zemo was defeated and Roger's sidekick ComicBook/BuckyBarnes was (seemingly) killed, but not before Captain America tracked the Skull to his secret bunker and engaged him in battle. Cap won and apparently killed the Skull, but in reality he was merely placed in SuspendedAnimation, a fate that Cap would shortly suffer too after his battle with Zemo.

Captain America was revived by ComicBook/TheAvengers, but not long after their enemies [=HYDRA=] discovered the Skull and revived him too. The Skull allied with them for as long as they were useful but secretly he was biding his time until he could steal the Cosmic Cube from [=AIM=], the science division of [=HYDRA=], the Cube being an ArtifactOfDoom that bestowed upon the user RealityWarping and [[PhysicalGod godhood]]. He once again battled Captain America and was once again defeated, but subsequently managed to establish himself as a major and continuous threat to the world, with access to considerable resources.

The Red Skull subsequently engaged in numerous more terrorist and mass murder schemes to wreak havoc across the world and kill Captain America, even managing to make himself Secretary of Defence disguised as one [[SignificantAnagram Dell Rusk]], plus more attempts to possess a Cosmic Cube, before finally being assassinated by the Winter Soldier, a [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashed, insane]] and very-much alive Bucky Barnes, but used a weakened Cube to transfer his mind into a Russian general named Lukin, the man who had him killed. Sharing his body, the Skull forced Lukin to go along with his schemes to manipulate the superhero Comicbook/CivilWar so as to get one of his puppet politicians elected as President, and later tried to [[GrandTheftMe transfer his mind]] into Captain America's unborn child, before it was murdered by an increasingly rebellious Sin ([[DaddysLittleVillain his daughter]]). He later allied with ComicBook/NormanOsborn following his [[Comicbook/DarkReign rise to power]] and finally managed to take over the body of Captain America himself, but after wreaking further damage was expelled and killed, this time for good.

[[ComicbookDeath This being a comic book]], the Red Skull seemingly returned in the pages of ''Comicbook/UncannyAvengers'' during the Comicbook/MarvelNOW relaunch. [[spoiler: This was then revealed to be a clone of the original that was frozen back during World War 2]].

The Red Skull appeared in the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse as a villainous {{Chessmaster}}, [[StupidJetpackHitler Nazi super-scientist]], and the founder of HYDRA in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger''. The MCU version is a CompositeCharacter of the comic book Red Skull, Baron Strucker (the founder of HYDRA in the comics) and Baron Zemo (the StupidJetpackHitler elements), although both Strucker and Zemo later appeared in the MCU in their own right. It amused many fans that HugoWeaving was cast to play yet another [[Film/TheMatrix powerful enemy named "Schmidt"]] with an appropriately and enjoyably [[LargeHam OTT performance]].

!!Media
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* ''ComicBook/CaptainAmerica''
* ''ComicBook/TheInvaders''
* ''ComicBook/CaptainAmericaCorps''
* ''ComicBook/CaptainAmericaWinterSoldier''
* ''ComicBook/UncannyAvengers''
** ''{{ComicBook/Axis}}''

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Anime ]]

* ''Anime/MarvelDiskWarsTheAvengers'' (portrayed by Motomu Kiyokawa)

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/CaptainAmerica1990'' (portrayed by Scott Paulin)
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse (portrayed by Creator/HugoWeaving)
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger''
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' (Posthumous Photographs/Video only)

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelSuperHeroes'' (portrayed by Paul Kligman)
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends'' (portrayed by Creator/PeterCullen)
* ''WesternAnimation/XMen'' (portrayed by Cedric Smith)
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'' (portrayed by Creator/DavidWarner)
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSuperheroSquadShow'' (portrayed by Creator/MarkHamill)
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' (portrayed by Creator/SteveBlum)
* ''WesternAnimation/AvengersAssemble'' (portrayed by Creator/LiamOBrien)
* ''WesternAnimation/HulkAndTheAgentsOfSMASH'' (portrayed by Creator/LiamOBrien)
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerbMissionMarvel'' (portrayed by Creator/LiamOBrien)

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/CaptainAmericaAndTheAvengers''
* ''VideoGame/CaptainAmericaSuperSoldier'' (portrayed by Keith Ferguson)
* ''VideoGame/MarvelAvengersAlliance''
* ''VideoGame/MarvelHeroes'' (portrayed by Creator/LiamOBrien)
* ''VideoGame/LEGOMarvelSuperHeroes'' (portrayed by Creator/SteveBlum)
* ''VideoGame/MarvelFutureFight''

----
!!Exhibits examples of:

* AbsurdlyCoolCity: New York City, Reichsfuehrer Red Skull's seat of power in the AlternateUniverse where the Nazis conquered the world. It looks like a mixture of real New York, Nazi Berlin and the original Film/{{Metropolis}}, only more modern with features like giant telescreens and futuristic airships.
* AbusiveParents: His mother died in childbirth, and his alcoholic father tried to ''drown'' him for it. His mother's doctor rescued him, but he just got put in an orphanage and things just went downhill from there....
** It really says something when ''Hitler'' [[EvilMentor is a better father figure]].
** He's an absolutely horrible parent to his own daughter, as well (perhaps even to a point where [[EvenEvilHasStandards his own father would be sickened]]). When she was born he originally planned on killing her, ''because she wasn't a boy.'' His first words upon seeing her were literally, "A daughter? Kill It!". And he would have if it wasn't for Mother Night convincing him to let her live. [[FateWorseThanDeath She's probably wishing that Mother Night didn't save her, considering what Red Skull does to her]]...
* TheAce: In most versions, basically Hitler if he was a larger-than-life James Bond villain, only more so. In other words, a brilliant politician, orator, military leader, etc, who has read at least one book on almost every arcane topic [[PhotographicMemory and recalls them word for word]], speaks several languages and is personally charming and charismatic, [[FauxAffablyEvil at least when he wants to be]] -- PLUS a world-class soldier, martial artist and dead shot who can offer ComicBook/CaptainAmerica at least a reasonably fair match hand to hand.
* ActionSurvivor: As a child and young man. Survived a brutal childhood in the streets in a country ravaged by revolution, anarchy and economic chaos.
* AdaptationPersonalityChange: In the more recent ''Captain America'' movie, the Red Skull character is not a Nazi true believer, but a purely power-hungry villain who even betrays Germany as part of his dastardly plot. There's no indication that he's personally close to Hitler, either.
* AdventurerArchaeologist: Spends some adventures hunting valuable ancient treasures (which, this being a comic book setting, frequently have [[ArchaeologicalArmsRace real magical properties]]). And sometimes just quests for rare historical treasures and memorabilia (usually Nazi-themed) simply for their historical value.
* AffablyEvil: On a good day, he is the Nazi version of a WickedCultured OfficerAndAGentleman.
** FauxAffablyEvil: Though in [[DependingOnTheWriter many stories]], this is merely a front.
* AlikeAndAntitheticalAdversaries: To CaptainAmerica, obviously. Cap is the symbol of America and leads a team of Allied/NATO heroes, while the Skull is the symbol of Nazi Germany and leads a multinational team of fascist villains.
* AllElectionsAreSeriousBusiness: In Marvel, the 2008 elections were about to be won by a populist third-party candidate whose campaign was secretly financed by Red Skull.
* AllMythsAreTrue: ''Every'' Nazi-themed conspiracy theory about supertechnology, occult magic, secret societies, Odessa, Hitler clones, etc is true in the Marvelverse, and most of them are run directly or indirectly by Red Skull.
* AllThereInTheManual: The various official novels, handbooks, factsheets, encyclopedias, etc give additional details on his background, and sometimes significantly expand on it.
* AlternateUniverseReedRichardsIsAwesome: A major motivation for Red Skull's villainy is to bring this about, and [[VillainWorld when his plans succeed]], he usually does. One such AlternateUniverse had giant flatscreens and modern computers ... in the 1960s.
* AlwaysWithYou: An unusual example, since it's ''Hitler'' who promises the Skull this. And it's true, too: he remains in his dreams and gives him guidance and new hope when he suffers his rare bouts of hopelessness and despair, almost like a sort of SpiritAdvisor.
* AnarchyIsChaos: The late 1980s Red Skull, who went insane after one of [[EvilutionaryBiologist Arnim Zola's]] experiments, turned his back on fascism and became a murderous nihilistic anarchist in the very worst sense of the trope.
* AppealToNature: The way he justifies most of his ideology, from support of the traditional family to racism to [[EvilVegetarian vegetarianism]].
* ArchEnemy: One of the oldest in comics.
* ArmiesAreEvil: Ultimately subverted. Red Skull is often supported by more or less rogue military elements, and sort of a villainous MilitarySuperhero himself -- except that he never held an actual military commission, but is an officer of the [[StateSec Schutzstaffel]], and historically frequently at odds with the ''actual'' German Army establishment. By contrast, Captain America (who usually wears much less "military" uniforms) ''is'' an officer of the US Army.
* ArtDeco: His custom-built bases tend to go with the "Nazi chic" style, i.e., this mixed with some Classicism.
* ArtifactOfDoom: Cosmic Cubes, in his hands anyway.
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: When he is not depicted in some [[HellBentForLeather bizarre leather faux-uniform]], the Skull wears a [[http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/5/50532/1376360-reich33.jpg pre-1938]] [[http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gUjB03VW8jc/Ti8KTzwD3ZI/AAAAAAAABQA/lUQFweiUsqI/s1600/339978-87437-red-skull_super.jpg black Allgemeine-SS uniform]] (single shoulder board) with SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) collar insignia and an Iron Cross. Leaving aside the fact Iron Cross was not reinstated before 1939, regardless of what he may have accomplished, but there is no reason the second most dangerous man in the Reich's administration should have such a junior rank. He also often has an Honor Chevron for the Old Guard ''and'' a Golden Party Badge, even though his backstory usually has him joining the party ''after'' Hitler assumed power, which would make him ineligible for these "honors".
** While much of the above is spot on, Hitler sometimes did hand out the chevrons and Golden Badge to late-enlisting but exceptionally worthy followers. In that particular case, RealityIsUnrealistic.
** ShadowArchetype: He's the Nazi counterpart of Captain America, and has the rank to fit.
** A corollary explanation might be that the Skull simply liked the uniform and decorations, and [[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem was so powerful in Hitler's inner circle]] that he could browbeat or kill anyone trying to lecture him on decorum.
** Similarly, his uniform in the film contains a mixture of insignia reserved for commissioned officers and insignia reserved for non-commissioned officers. There's a good chance that he simply didn't care that his uniform was incorrect.
* AsLongAsThereIsOneMan: A villainous example. Paraphrasing his dialogue, as long as he and others like him keep fighting, the flame of Nazism will shine in the darkness of democracy, and not be extinguished, no matter how many of them the US forces kill.
* AtLeastIAdmitIt: He doesn't consider himself evil (at least not [[DependingOnTheWriter most of the time]]), but he ''is'' unafraid of admitting himself to be a racialist and Nazi. Works to his advantage ([[BullyingADragon or maybe not]]) when he very effectively deconstructs ComicBook/{{Magneto}}'s air of moral superiority by pointing out [[NotSoDifferent how similar]] they are in many ways.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: By circa 1942, he was one of the most powerful men in the Third Reich, being a sort of plenipotentiary agent-at-large for Hitler as well as [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveConnections the omnipotent dictator's best friend]]. Also one of the few Axis agents who could credibly take on Allied heroes like ComicBook/CaptainAmerica hand to hand.
** AsskickingEqualsAuthority: His efficiency as an espionage agent and special forces commander was at least part of the reason Hitler was impressed with him and kept promoting him.
* AvengingTheVillain: One of the Skull's major motivations is to succeed where Hitler failed and avenge his fallen mentor. He wants to take revenge on the Allies who killed Hitler and Nazi Germany, but even more to rebuild it, to show that his Fuehrer was right and that his ideals triumphed in the end.
* AxCrazy: [[DependingOnTheWriter Some versions]], definitely. Others are less hysteric, but no less [[NoSympathy ruthless]] for it.
* BackFromTheDead: Played horrifyingly straight, see the quote above.
* BadBoss: He frequently kills all but his most loyal or competent underlings--and sometimes even them--either [[YouHaveFailedMe for failure]] or for [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness outliving their usefulness]], but just as often ForTheEvulz. He once killed his ''accountant'', for pete's sake, because "she was a bad accountant". And he usually uses his "Dust of Death" poison, one of the most agonising and horrible weapons in his arsenal, when he feels like doing the deed. [[MyMasterRightOrWrong Bizarrely]], he can still count on the fervent loyalty of most of his followers.
* BadPresent: Similarly to Captain America, Red Skull is a FishOutOfTemporalWater who grew up roughly a hundred years ago. The present seems like a pure nightmare to him, and absolute proof that the Nazis were right: This is what they fought to save the world from.
** Subverted in ''Uncanny Avengers'', where he thinks the present is ''a lot like'' his own formative period in Weimar Germany. Given [[CrapsackWorld what this period was like]], however, this is hardly a compliment.
* BadassArmy: His handpicked multinational force of elite troops from the Axis countries during the war.
* BadassBookworm: Like the real Hitler, obsessively studies everything from military history to engineering, in order to make up for his lack of formal education.
* BadassInANiceSuit: When the Skull isn't wearing his Nazi swag, he typically dresses in stylish, well-tailored suits.
* BadassLongcoat: Occasionally when shown in real (or [[CustomUniform semi-real]]) German uniforms. Also, in civvies, the clone Skull in ''Uncanny Avengers'' seems to like these.
* BadassNormal: Though he may be a thoroughly despicable human being, there is no doubt that the Red Skull is BadAss. He is a highly skilled fighter capable of regularly holding his own against ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, one of the best martial artists in the world. He is an expert marksman and a brilliant and imaginative strategist, and like a true MagnificentBastard is unafraid to put himself in harm's way or use himself as his own best chess piece to see his plans come to fruition. He is considered one of the deadliest threats to mankind in a world that has to put up with regular {{Alien Invasion}}s, {{Eldritch Abomination}}s, power-mad superhumans and all manner of catastrophes, and he consistently demonstrates why he has that reputation.
* BastardUnderstudy: To Hitler.
* TheBeautifulElite: On a global scale. He thinks the white race is this, as all other peoples are ugly in varying degrees. Though there are exceptions; one woman he fell in love with was half-Asian, for example.
** Applies to some extent to the Skull himself (who is actually quite handsome under the grotesque mask) and many of his close associates.
* BecauseYouWereNiceToMe: After being treated to indifference at best and abuse at worst from more or less ''[[FriendlessBackground everyone]]'' for most of his life, friendless loner and HeroWorshipper Johann Schmidt was overwhelmed when ''[[GloriousLeader the freaking Fuehrer himself]]'' not merely deigned to notice him, but thought him a man of worth and personally invited him to join the Nazis. He's been fanatically loyal to Hitler (and after the war, his memory) ever since.
* BeingEvilSucks: Being a ''Nazi'' in the 21st century sucks, when you care enough about the ideology to be [[DeliberateValuesDissonance horrified]] by all the third-world immigration, affirmative action, homosexuality, etc. If he wanted to, he could just be a rich crime lord and live happily off the money his syndicates make; as it is, ironically it's his very devotion to Nazism that keeps him unhappy.
** Doubly emphasized when he's dumped in an AlternateUniverse where things are a lot like in the main comic, but he's a poor German nobody without connections and Captain America is the US President. He tries to convert his fellow Germans to Nazism, spending all his spare time holding [[SoapboxSquare impassioned speeches]] at a street corner. [[AloneInACrowd No one cares.]]
* BelievingTheirOwnLies: ''Thinks'' this applies to Captain America. It being so glaringly ''obvious'' that liberalism and anti-racism are irrational, anti-scientific and untrue ideologies, this is the only possible explanation for why an intelligent man like Cap keeps championing them.
** Some writers take this approach to the Skull himself, as well.
* BerserkButton: Insulting Hitler. In one comic, Captain America called Hitler a coward and boasted of how the Allies had destroyed Germany and the Nazi ideals forever, which produced a near meltdown on the Skull's part:
-->'''Red Skull''': No! ''No!'' Those are ''lies,'' do you hear?? '' '''[[VillainousBreakdown ALL LIES!!]]''' ''
* BetrayalInsurance: Stemming from his [[HumansAreBastards very dark]] view of humanity, he is especially good at this, and often structures his plans so that even betrayal by a close ally will not doom them to failure. A triple betrayal (by three independently acting conspirators) did manage to sabotage his bid to game the US Presidential elections, however. Though even then it was arguably a close call.
* BewareTheSuperman: As befits a Nazi, Red Skull wants to control all possible threats against humanity. He doesn't like superheroes, and ''hates'' [[FantasticRacism super-powered mutants]], who usurp humanity's destiny. He also wants to destroy ComicBook/SubMariner and his empire of nonhumans, who often threaten and invade human countries.
* BigBad: One of '''the''' major supervillain threats on a planet drowning in them, and one of the most despicably evil.
* BiggerBad: The man behind Baron von Strucker, Baron Zemo, HYDRA and most of Marvel's assorted Nazi-themed and ex-Nazi villains.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: In the early stories, Captain America is Good and the Red Skull is Evil. Full stop.
** BlackAndGrayMorality: In more recent, [[DarkerAndEdgier darker]] and more cynical stories, Cap is still Good and the Skull is still Evil, but the US government Cap works for can be involved in some [[GovernmentConspiracy rather shady business]], and run by [[PresidentEvil rather nasty]] people.
** GreyAndGrayMorality: And in some recent, more complex stories, Cap is still Good and the Skull is Evil, but the Skull is written as a sort-of "realistic" Nazi who gets to present an occasional sympathetic point along with his bigotry and racism so the audience can view him as a human being, too. (For example, pointing at the flaws of American capitalism, such as the villainy and greed of Too-Big-To-Fail banks and their billion-dollar bailouts -- An actual historical Nazi talking point, which goes to show that [[HitlerAteSugar even a broken clock is right twice a day.]]) He's still a ''' ''very'' ''' dark shade of gray, though: just enough safe of pure one-dimensional cosmic jet-black to make him a more effective villain than a complete cardboard cutout would be.
* BlackShirt: Started out like one of these, before he became TheDragon, and finally the EvilOverlord himself.
* BornWinner: Played with. For the first two decades or so of his life, Johann Schmidt seemed to be the epitome of a born ''loser'' ... but it turned out he was really a rare genius who had simply gone unrecognized and been afforded no opportunity to develop to his full potential. Once he was given just one chance to prove himself, his rise to the top was meteoric. So, he was in fact a big-time winner of the genetic lottery -- just not the [[StreetUrchin socio-economic]] one.
* BrainsEvilBrawnGood: He's not weak by human standards, but certainly as compared to the general Marvel superheroes. He also leads a relatively small underground organization which roughly ''everyone'' else hates (including the superpowers), so he has to be vigilant and smart to stay ahead. Similarly, while his nemesis Cap isn't stupid, he tends to rely more on muscle to solve problems.
* BreakoutVillain: The original [[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] Red Skull was intended as a single-issue villain, a native-born American Nazi spy who died in the first story he appeared in. However, the character was popular enough to return, and in the [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] revamp of the ''Captain America'' title, he got his more familiar backstory (as recounted above) and his status as Cap's ArchNemesis. The first Skull was then [[ActuallyADoombot retconned as an agent]] of the real one.
* BreakingLecture: Delivers a number of them to his enemies (especially Captain America) over the years, of varying quality. Usually about how rotten and corrupt the American democratic system is. One that seems somewhat influenced by the "Occupy" movement was offered in the early ''Uncanny Avengers'' run:
-->'''Skull''':You imagine that if you fight hard enough, one day you will wrest control from the ''bankers'' who ''own'' you and return this nation to its ''former glory.''
-->But in reality ''this'' is, and will remain, your America. An uneducated population fixated on competition, material wealth and voyeurism. Violent ''monsters'' doused in antibiotics to offset their diet of sugary sweet drink and mounds of carcinogenic cow flesh! '''This is what you fight for!'''
* BrokenAce: An evil genius who [[FromNobodyToNightmare rose from the literal gutter]] to become first a Nazi hierarch and then a full-blown supervillain. Red Skull is both [[CulturedBadass literate]] and [[BadassNormal hard as nails]], and an [[DarkMessiah inspiring leader]] for millions of neo-fascists ... But his [[DarkAndTroubledPast childhood in the streets]] and [[ShellShockedVeteran traumatic war experiences]] have left him deeply scarred in more than one sense.
* BroughtDownToNormal: After the Cube Cult caper, he was mysteriously stripped of most of his memories and forced to live as an anonymous nobody in a nightmarish cyberpunk world. He reverted to his old pattern of life as a downtrodden menial laborer, until memories of Hitler began to reemerge in his dreams and guided him back to his real life.
* BrutalHonesty: When in the philosophical mood, can expound on the grimness of existence with positively [[NietzscheWannabe Schopenhauerian]] gloom.
* TheBully: Terrorizes and often kills his own subordinates ForTheEvulz, routinely; savagely beat and sadistically abused his girlfriend, one of his most devoted followers; big fan of RevengeByProxy; tends to laugh like a lunatic when causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
* CameBackWrong: When he was resurrected/cloned by Arnim Zola for the first time, in the late 1980s. This version became anarchistic and psychotic, to the point that he [[NeverLiveItDown renounced Nazism]] in favor of totally egotistical generic villainy. Subverted, in that he ultimately recovered and became a moderately sane and [[NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist idealistic]] villain again.
* CapitalismIsBad: Because it engenders [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney corruption,]] [[{{Greed}} greed]], [[BreadAndCircuses materialism,]] [[HumansAreMorons stupidity]] and "evil" generally. Also, it's wasteful; imagine how much good the government could do with the money people waste on [[ConspicuousConsumption the latest iPhone]]. As Red Skull would remind you, Nazism is short for National ''Socialism'', which prefers the common good over private greed. ([[ShownTheirWork A real Nazi slogan!]])
** This is those versions of Skull which ''are'' real Nazis; the writers who make him a [[ForTheEvulz pure nihilist]] sometimes shunt him straight into the CorruptCorporateExecutive role.
* CaptainPatriotic: For the Nazis, as befits the evil counterpart of Captain America.
* CardCarryingVillain: In the most [[AnVilicious Anvilicious]] version of his backstory, he joined the Nazis for the thrill of killing and refers to himself as the "Prince of Villainy".
* CatchPhrase: He often ends his speeches and addresses with a [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain "Heil Hitler!"]] in remembrance of the Fuehrer and to emphasize that he is faithfully carrying on his mentor's work.
* CelibateEccentricGenius: Throughout his long career, he has only been involved with two or three women, and then only briefly and mostly offscreen. When he is depicted as showing interest in a woman, it's usually intellectual and platonic rather than romantic.
* TheChessmaster:
** In the [[InherentInTheSystem internal politics]] of Nazi Germany, much like Albert Speer he used his personal access to the Fuehrer to build up his own power base and discredit his rivals or play them off against each other. He started out as a fairly low-ranking special intelligence operative, but by 1941 or so he was arguably the second most powerful man in Europe, and kept this position throughout the rest of the war.
** In later years he usually can't do this much politicking, for obvious reasons, but some of his conspiracies can be incredibly Byzantine. One which almost succeeded involved tanking the American economy through financial manipulations, usurping one of the national political parties and using a false Captain America to keep the superheroes in line.
* ChestOfMedals: When he wears a real dress uniform. Usually, however, he doesn't bother with the decorations, except maybe a lone Iron Cross.
* ChildrenForcedToKill: In one recent, DarkerAndEdgier rewrite of his backstory. Averted in most versions, where he suffers all kinds of abuse as a child but does ''not'' fight back.
* CityNoir: His backstory shows [[{{Oktoberfest}} Munich]], of all places, like this. Arguably justified, in that it's Munich during the hyperinflation/Great Depression, when ''all'' major German cities were pretty dystopian.
* ClassicVillain: He mostly represents Ambition, Wrath and pure Hatred.
* CloningBlues: He spent quite a while between the late 1980s and the early 2000s inhabiting a cloned body of ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, albeit with a "red skull" disfigurement for most of that time.
** The Red Skull has returned in '' ComicBook/UncannyAvengers '' thanks to Arnim Zola having cloned him.
* ColonelBadass: His official rank is never stated, but when he wears a semi-real German uniform, it's often that of a Standartenfuehrer (SS colonel).
* ColorCharacter
* CombatMedic: As part of his general competence, he knows more than a bit of military medicine.
* CombatPragmatist: The guy who, unlike the heroes, will bring a gun to the fight. Growing up in the streets taught him the folly of fighting "fair".
* CommieNazis: The 1950s depiction of the Skull joined the Soviets after World War II to continue the fight against American capitalism. This was later [[RetCon rewritten]] as a psywar ploy by the KGB, using an impostor.
* ComplexityAddiction: Like most Silver Age supervillains, the Skull suffered heavily from this.
* ComplimentBackfire: When he praised [[ComicBook/Agent13 Sharon Carter]] for her competence and sincerity. By all appearances his admiration was quite genuine, too; the problem was that he said she was ''[[GodwinsLaw like a Nazi]]'' in her bravery and dedication. [[DeliberateValuesDissonance From his POV]], this is a real compliment, but she [[YourApprovalFillsMeWithShame didn't take it that way]].
* CompositeCharacter: The movieverse Skull is a hybrid of the comicverse Skull, Baron Von Strucker (the founder of HYDRA), Baron Zemo (the Nazi superscientist), and the obscure villain Master Man (the Nazi agent who got boosted with a variant of Captain America's SuperSerum).
* ContemplativeBoss: Whether watching dawn's early light or the lesser lights of the city at night.
* TheCorrupter: There are several stories which show how the Skull successfully converts decent, more or less ordinary people to his brand of fascism, simply by being a dismayingly charismatic and persuasive speaker. Conversely, he can also be very effective at demoralizing heroic characters when he turns his rhetorical machinery in that direction.
* CountryMouse: A child of peasants, but as a starving orphan, ended up in the Big City. And in the literal gutters, to boot.
* CrapsackWorld: The Skull himself thinks the present-day world of [[PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad affirmative action and homosexual rights]] ''is'' one; most of his enemies think the [[RepressiveButEfficient totalitarian Nazi empire]] he wants to remake it into ''will be'' one.
* CrazyPrepared: He can [[XanatosSpeedChess think on his feet]] when he has to, but prefers to plan for every eventuality if that is an option.
* CriminalMindGames: Usually subverted, however, in that they're ''not'' just compulsive show-off moves, but playing up the type in order to manipulate other actors.
* CulturedBadass: At least some versions, familiar with art, literature, music and philosophy. Made more impressive by the fact that he grew up poor and uncultured and did not even finish school. It's implied he learned a lot of this from Hitler, who was also an autodidact and famously thought of himself as a philosopher and artist.
* CunningLikeAFox: Especially young Johann Schmidt, who also looks vaguely fox-like with his red hair and pale, thin face.
* CunningLinguist: Despite never having any formal education beyond elementary school (at most), the Skull speaks at least three languages in addition to his native German: Russian, Hebrew and English. In English at least he can also fake dialects convincingly, from Harlem Ebonics to Old Stock Yankee.
* DaddysLittleVillain: His daughter, Synthia. [[OffingTheOffspring He contemplated killing the baby]] [[DisproportionateRetribution for not being a boy]], but she grew up into the kind of hateful Nazi maniac a father could be proud of. [[WellDoneSonGuy He still ignored her,]] but it's the effort that counts.
* DarkActionGirl: His daughter, who (at least when written by Creator/EdBrubaker) is ''more'' violent and evil than Red Skull himself.
** [[FauxActionGirl Faux Dark Action Girl]]: But if she ever stops posturing and actually ''fights'' anyone (except maybe some nameless {{Mooks}}), she loses every single time. Usually quickly, too.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: The young Johann Schmidt grew up as a homeless orphan in [[CrapSackWorld Weimar Germany]], and survived off odd jobs, begging and petty crime. Apart from insecurity, he also suffered horrible abuse from criminals and Communists; even the original [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] origin story showed him being savagely beaten by a street gang as a small boy, and later versions have only gotten progressively [[DarkerAndEdgier more]] violent and disturbing.
* DarkMessiah: There's an Aryan brotherhood gang called "The Skulls" and they worship the Skull as the second coming. Oddly enough the gang and their leader are mainly Wolverine villains. You could also say Crossbones sees the Skull this way.
** Despite his propensity for [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness sudden lay-offs]], many of the Skull's ex-Nazi or neo-Nazi henchmen seem to adopt an almost fanatical loyalty and trust toward him.
* DarkerAndEdgier:
** J M De Matteis's Red Skull was largely true to his origins in relatively family-friendly [[Creator/StanLee Stan Lee-esque]] supervillainy through most of his run, but in the last story arc he wasn't just evil but [[AxeCrazy totally insane]]. Probably justified, however, as by then Skull was in his 80s and seemed to be suffering from acute senile dementia.
** Somewhere in the darkening of comics in the 1980s, Mark Gruenwald apparently figured Red Skull wasn't evil enough if he was "just" a Nazi villain. So then he started writing him as a sadist and wife-beater as well.
* DarkestHour: For him, the downfall of Germany in 1945.
* DarwinistDesire: In the official novel. Generally averted in the comics.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of hammy supervillains in general, and fictional Nazis in particular.
** Even the original [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] origin story gave a surprisingly sympathetic and to some extent [[FairForItsDay "realistic"]] explanation for why a non-psychopath would want to be a Nazi supervillain, and why he would likely be a LargeHam if he became one.
** Many early stories nevertheless portrayed him as a more or less generic ranting villain, [[CardCarryingVillain who knew he was evil]]. But later writers [[DependingOnTheWriter (or at least some of them)]] realized that such villainy is unrealistic, so instead they tend to give him a coherent Nazi worldview. The result makes him ''more'' terrifying, since the best stories really manage to show how he can be a genocidal Nazi and still be morally upright [[DeliberateValuesDissonance by the standards of his own culture]].
* DefiantToTheEnd: The first time he died, in the ruins of Berlin in 1945, his last words expressed his conviction that Nazis of future times would finish what he and Hitler started.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: If the rest of the page doesn't tell, well... One recent example had him platonically admiring the captured [[CuteWitch Scarlet Witch's]] bravery and beauty before coolly dismissing her as [[FantasticRacism Not Even Human]].
* DemocracyIsBad: He believes that since the ApatheticCitizens only vote for whoever TV tells them to, anyway, it will inevitably be ruled by [[SleazyPolitician corrupt demagogues]] and the [[CorruptCorporateExecutive greedy plutocrats]] who bribe them.
* DemolitionsExpert: Part of his general special forces training initially, but expanded over the years. In some stories at least his expertise extends to nuclear bombs.
* DependingOnTheWriter:
** Sometimes the Skull is a devout and fanatical Nazi true believer, almost a kind of TautologicalTemplar who at least ''believes'' himself to be a WellIntentionedExtremist. In this mode he has a genuine and fervent admiration for Hitler, will rant and rave about his Führer's great vision, rage at the [[DemocracyIsBad decadent, democratic West]] for "murdering" such a great visionary, and express his disgust for the [[ApatheticCitizens faithless and conceited masses]] of today who have no ideals like the Nazis once did.
** At other times, he is a [[TheBully cruel]], [[ItsAllAboutMe selfish]], power-hungry bastard who is [[ForTheEvulz evil for the Hell of it]] and who joined the Nazis to be able [[{{Sadist}} to torment and oppress people]]. Instead of admiring Hitler, he is shown as [[TheStarscream actively planning to move against him]] and [[DragonAscendant take his place as leader of the Third Reich.]]
* DespairEventHorizon: His entire childhood was one. More recently, when he was caught in the [[IronicHell metaphysical nightmare]] of living as a poor German man in modern, multicultural Berlin and seeing everything he and Hitler tried to prevent come true.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: By the time the Nazis came into power, he had a regular (if menial) job and was able to support himself. However, he was still depressed, both with the meaninglessness of his own life and the [[ExtremeDoormat sad fate]] of Germany under the Republic. Then the Nazis showed the country [[VillainWithGoodPublicity a new hopeful vision of a better future for everyone]], and Hitler (whom he met by chance, at least in most stories) invited him to join them and help make a difference. He did, having finally found his GoalInLife.
* {{Determinator}}: Heroic willpower alone has saved his life on many occasions. And despite a near century of failure and the combined hostility of most of the rest of the world, he keeps fighting for the Nazi dream.
* DeterminedDefeatist: Although his optimism in face of tall odds is legendary, sometimes the sheer weight of the world's enmity and the magnitude of his defeats causes him to doubt his chances. Even then, however, he will usually carry on every step of the way.
* DiabolicalMastermind: To ComicBook/LexLuthor standards.
* DidNotGetTheGirl: At one point where he was poor and powerless, he fell in love with a pretty half-Japanese girl. By all appearances the affection was completely mutual, and it seemed a rather storybookish romance. However, it turned out the girl was Jewish on her father's side, which triggered a [[VillainousBreakdown psychotic episode]] on the Skull's part. Predictably, it ended in tragedy.
** It eventually turned out to be AllJustADream, anyway, but that doesn't lessen the emotional impact ''very'' much.
* DemonicPossession: As a result of his meddling with Xavier's brain [[spoiler:he is possessed by ComicBook/{{Onslaught}}]].
* DisappointedInYou: In a delirious nightmare, when he was at the end of his strength, Hitler appeared to him and told him that he had ''failed'' him and the Nazi dream. It was probably the closest he has come to a total breakdown.
* DisproportionateRetribution: When he noticed a black man seducing a (white) female SHIELD agent, the Skull took time off from his general villainy to kidnap them both and lecture them on the evils of miscegenation.
* DoWrongRight: With several of his associates, notably Sin. As a [[ShellShockedVeteran hardened soldier]] and [[PatrioticFervor Nazi fanatic]], he's perfectly prepared to use [[ViolenceReallyIsTheAnswer extreme force]] to achieve his ends, but only when necessary. He does ''not'' encourage StupidEvil.
* DomesticAbuser: The villainess Mother Night is a truly terrible human being... but read [[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks the stories]] where she and the Skull were an item, and cringe. It was one of the most hideously abusive relationships in comics; the Skull beat her savagely, yelled and screamed at her for no reason, humiliated her in front of his subordinates, and refused to let her kill herself (which she requested because she thought, if he was beating her so much, [[LoveMartyr clearly she is failing him somehow]]) because "you'd like that, wouldn't you?", whereupon he promised to ''beat her some more''.
* DoomedHometown: Munich, and more generally Germany itself, which had all its major cities burned down and destroyed by the Allies in World War II.
* TheDragon: For Hitler during World War II.
** DragonInChief: Especially in newer comics, where it's not "PC" to include Hitler anymore, the Skull takes the lead role.
* TheDreaded: Just mentioning his name is a good way to end villain deals, and you'll have to look pretty damn hard if you want to find someone who would willingly work with him. He's not just feared- though he is greatly, greatly feared-; he is almost universally ''despised'' amongst both heroes ''and'' villains. Any character who actually ''likes'' him or what he stands for is likely either seriously delusional or an vile, hideous bastard themselves.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Supposedly, the young, poor Johann Schmidt dreamed of a man with a calm, deep voice who would show him his true purpose in the world. Years later, he came to remember the dream after he met Hitler.
* DrivenToVillainy: In the original version of his backstory, young Johann Schmidt never did anything seriously evil before he became Red Skull; his worst crime was stealing food when he was starving. However, he was brutally treated by nearly everyone else, and got NoSympathy from the law. The one group that gave him any help or respect as a human being was the Nazis, and hence he joined them and came to think of them as the good guys. It's strongly implied that if someone genuinely good had cared about him before that, he wouldn't have turned out the way he did. Even as Red Skull, he was initially unwilling to kill, though war and hatred has since [[ItGetsEasier desensitized]] him to it.
** Needless to say, this doesn't apply at all to those versions where he was ''born'' a CardCarryingVillain like a minor Antichrist.
* DrunkOnTheDarkSide: When Arnim Zola "improved" him with SuperSerum, he went insane afterwards, denounced fascism in favor of anarchy and became an AxeCrazy megalomaniac (as in, even more than before). It took him some time to recover.
* DystopiaJustifiesTheMeans: His ideal world varies between a violent PoliceState and a lawless, chaotic hellhole; in either case he believes that the strong should brutalize the weak, commits mass murder on a regular basis, and demands absolute power which he wants to use primarily to oppress and torture people, not simply power for its own sake. And he enjoys it, every minute of it.
** The occasions he has had the Cosmic Cube have given him nigh-omnipotent power; he once used it to hold an apple in front of a starving crowd, [[EvilIsPetty just so he could deny them it]]! Oh, and shortly after, he ate it in front of a starving ''baby''.
** On the other hand, [[DependingOnTheWriter some versions]] are relatively nicer. In one early incarnation, he wanted to unite the world under an ultra-totalitarian Nazi government in order to [[ReedRichardsIsUseless stop Reed Richards from being useless]] and propel the Marvel Earth into the SpaceOpera setting which thanks to its SuperScience it has every potential to be. Of course, he then intended to ''use'' the world-changing supertech to [[GalacticConqueror take over the galaxy]] and remake the Marvelverse into a sort of [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Imperium of Man]], so he was still power-mad, but not as pointlessly sadistic, and certainly more of a [[VisionaryVillain visionary]].
* EatTheRich: He ''hates'' the wealthy elites who run the world, both for ideological reasons (the Nazis despised plutocracy and "decadent" upper classes) and because he used to be poor and starving himself.
* ElitesAreMoreGlamorous: For a Nazi fanatic, Waffen-SS, of course.
* EmpoweredBadassNormal: When he occasionally makes use of supertech such as the Cosmic Cube.
* EnemyMine: In one story, he allied with Captain America against the [[XtremeKoolLetterz Kübe Kult]], a band of punkish modern neo-Nazis who had somehow obtained a [[ArtifactOfDoom Cosmic Cube]]. Made worse by the fact that the Cube was actually haunted by [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot the insane ghost of a genetically-engineered psychic clone of Adolph Hitler]], who planned to use its god-like powers to rewrite reality into a horrible, fetishistic mock-Nazi cyberpunk dystopia. Both Cap and the Skull agreed that they disliked this possible future ''more'' than each other.
* EqualOpportunityEvil: Played with (and subject to considerable [[DependingOnTheWriter authorial flip-flopping]]). Though the Skull, being a Nazi, holds very politically incorrect views on the matter of race, he is also [[PragmaticVillainy pragmatic]] about working with people from other backgrounds. For example, in the Civil Rights riots of the 1970s he cooperated with Black militants to bring down the US government, though this was a somewhat extreme case. More commonly, his top officers and agents are shown to include women, Chinese and other non-whites among their ranks, and he seems to hold no bias against them, so long as they agree with his fascist politics.
** Which is either a case of ShownTheirWork or (more probably) AccidentallyAccurate on part of the writers, since while the real-life Nazis are (rightly) known for extreme racism today, they had no trouble working with [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amin_al-Husseini Arabs]], [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Legion Indians]], Japanese and other non-whites, because they disliked liberalism ''more'' than other races and viewed right-wing non-Europeans as allies against their [[DirtyCommies common]] [[EagleLand enemies]]. [[RealityIsUnrealistic In fact, there were even whole divisions of non-white SS troops during the war.]]
* EvenEvilHasStandards: No, not him. But most major villains of the Marvel Universe are too disgusted by the Skull to willingly work with him. It doesn't help his case that two of Marvel's heavy hitters, Doctor Doom and ComicBook/{{Magneto}}, are a half-Romani and a Jewish holocaust survivor, respectively. In a crossover, he mutually refuses to work with SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker, not so much for ethical standards as "[[MadArtist artistic]]" ones. The Joker glories in psychological torture and poetic death - he finds ''far'' more value in compelling [[Film/TheDarkKnight a good man to kill a child]], or [[Film/{{Batman}} an entire major American city to abandon basic hygiene]], than he does mass (even ''millions-strong'') graves full of indiscriminate victims. So to the Joker, Skull is a talentless hack, and to the Skull, Joker is a useless lunatic. [[http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/batcap8.jpg Also, while the Joker might be a criminal lunatic, he's also an American criminal lunatic]].
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: He doesn't understand why would a "superior being" like Captain America associate himself with "trash" like [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain racial minorities and gay people]].
* EvilCounterpart: To Cap, obviously. Actually, if you want to get technical, Cap is the GoodCounterpart to ''him'', because he was created to be the Skull's opposite number.
** ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'' takes this even further by having him be the original test subject for the Super Soldier Serum. He rivals Captain America not only ideologically, but ''physically'' as well.
* EvilGenius: In so many words in the ''Marvel Handbook.'' The same goes on to call his brilliance comparable only to that of Napoleon. And that's merely his political and military acumen, before going into more [[SuperScience comic-bookly]] territory...
* EvilGloating: Red Skull has had many opportunities [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim to kill Captain America]], especially every time that he has had the power of the Cosmic Cube. Each time he has allowed Captain America to live so that Skull could torment him with being helpless or attempt to bring Captain America to the dark side (all the while gloating), thus giving Captain America the opportunity to turn the tables on Red Skull (like knock the Cube out of his hand).
* EvilIsPetty: However, this is initially averted in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|of Comic Books}} WorldWarII period stories with the Skull being professional enough to hear about at least one scheme failing by shrugging and moving on to new business.
* EvilMentor: His was [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Hitler]].
* EvilRedHead: Back when he had his original body.
** Technically ''now'', too.
* EvilVegetarian: Though not dogmatic about it. Seemingly yet another way in which he imitates Hitler.
* EvilVersusEvil: The Skull has an ongoing on-and-off feud with DoctorDoom, and has bashed heads with ComicBook/{{Magneto}} more than once. (Most memorably in ''Captain America'' #367.)
* EvilVirtues: Varies with the writing, but generally speaking, the Skull is portrayed as an {{Expy}} of Hitler, albeit usually an [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade exaggerated]] one. He accordingly shares most of his "good" traits, such as [[XanatosSpeedChess resourcefulness]], [[KnightTemplar utter conviction]], [[VillainousValor physical bravery]] and [[{{Determinator}} iron willpower]].
* EvilerThanThou: When suffering from bad writing during TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks. In one such story, he called himself the "God of Madness" and the "Beating Heart of Evil," among other similar self-styled titles, while competing with other villains over who was the most evil of all. Otherwise usually averted, since he [[DeliberateValuesDissonance sees himself and the Nazis as the good guys]], [[WhatIsEvil and the heroes as evil]].
* ExpansionPackPast: Like with Captain America (and often in the same stories), writers often want to make up new World War II adventures for him.
* TheExtremistWasRight: An in-universe example. Many of the Skull's American allies are right-wingers or formerly respectable conservatives who would've crusaded (and, in the case of some longer-lived ones, did crusade) against the Nazis in World War II. However, with [[PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad the state America is now in]], many of them have come to feel that [[JumpingOffTheslipperySlope the Nazis actually had a point]], so now they work with him. Of course, this is strictly from their point of view, which is very much a minority perspective; mainstream opinion still very clearly does ''not'' approve of his politics, or theirs.
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: [[LampShading Invoked]] by Captain America, who [[BadassBoast proclaims]] to the Skull that he'll always fail in the end -- because ''he'', Cap, will ''never let him'' win.
* FairPlayVillain: Sometimes, particularly in Silver Age stories. Usually averted, however, since, being an [[NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist ideological fanatic]], he is more concerned with achieving his goals than with playing games with the heroes for its own sake.
* FamilyValuesVillain: Stretching the definition, perhaps, but his views on sexual deviants might qualify him. As a conservative German who grew up in the early 20th century, it's probably unsurprising that he should be hostile to homosexuality and miscegenation. More radically, he also contemptuously dismisses [[PluckyGirl Rogue]] as a "whore" because of her unmarried relationship with Magneto.
* FantasticRacism: His clone in ComicBook/UncannyAvengers starts a campaign to wipe out mutants.
* FatalFlaw: In older stories, roughly the same ones as most [[TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] supervillains: overconfidence, excessive wrath, etc. But his most fatal flaw is his adherence to Nazi ideology, which can sometimes overrule even his legendary PragmaticVillainy. Hard as it might be to believe, some of his major schemes have actually failed because [[PrinciplesZealot he wouldn't compromise on his principles]].
* TheFatalist: Like Hitler, he believes in hard predestination, i.e., everything has already been decided before time. Also like Hitler, however, he [[{{Determinator}} keeps fighting]] to the bitter end, regardless of what fate appears to have decreed.
* FateWorseThanDeath: An IronicHell which forced him to re-live his horrible life before he met Hitler over and over, only taken UpToEleven in a [[CityNoir nightmarish modern urban setting]].
** Later took revenge on Cap by doing something similar to him, and forcing him to relive his traumatic war memories.
* FemaleMisogynist: Sin, who thinks [[ComicBook/Agent13 Sharon Carter]], of all people, is despicably weak and feminine. Her thoughts when Sharon is grieving over her fiancé's death:
-->Sin feels no empathy at all for Carter's anguish and loss. She despises her as a weakling who sucks up sympathy from gullible men. She is glad to be the agent of even more pain for her.
* FemalesAreMoreInnocent: Generally, the Skull does ''not'' believe this to be the case. Whether he is any nicer to women than to men varies with the writing; generally he's at least prepared to [[WouldHitAGirl hit back]] without compunctions when a female is shooting at him.
** Also averted entirely with [[DarkActionGirl Sin]], who is essentially psychotic in many/most appearances.
* FictionalPoliticalParty: Did what no real-life politician for the last 200 or so years has managed and created a viable American third party, the right-wing populist Third Wing Party. Possibly inspired by the real (though tiny) paleocon Third Position Party, which has since mutated into the right-wing (and even tinier) American Freedom Party.
* FightingForAHomeland: He and his remaining Nazi expatriates, who no longer have one. A few times they have even tried to liberate [[{{Ruritania}} Latveria]] from the rule of Doctor Doom to make it a homeland for dispossessed fascists.
* FirstTimeInTheSun: A dramatic example when he attended a big Nazi rally soon after he joined them. For the first time in his life, he was [[ThePowerOfFriendship part of something bigger]] and working together with others for [[ObliviouslyEvil something better]]. And as he stood in the massed ranks and listened to Hitler's speech with the others, the sun shone down on them. Though of course, the whole thing is a rather eerie ''subversion'' of the trope, as the reader knows it's a ''[[VillainWithGoodPublicity bad]]'' movement he's joined.
* FishOutOfTemporalWater: Nazi born in the early 1900s, now in the 21st century. Depending on which version, after "dying" in World War II, he was in suspended animations into the 1960s, the 1980s or just recently, giving him varying degrees of drastic change to cope with. In general, he likes the scientific progress, but hates the social changes; effectively, from his point of view the future suffers badly from the LowCultureHighTech syndrome.
* FlingALightIntoTheFuture: A villainous example. At the end of World War II, when it was becoming apparent that Germany would lose, the Skull sequestered equipment and funds and helped a number of devoted young Nazi officers escape the downfall, so they could keep the Nazi cause alive and fight another day.
* ForWantOfANail:
** Aside from his father trying to drown him, the night he met Hitler he claims he was contemplating suicide, and may have gone through with it had he not been granted the opportunity.
** While it isn't mentioned very often, the Communist Red Skull killed ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} agents John and Mary Parker, otherwise known as the father and mother of Franchise/SpiderMan. If he hadn't, Peter would not have had to live with his Aunt and Uncle Ben and possibly would have never become a superhero.
** The original Red Skull supposedly received a report on the early ComicBook/{{Magneto}} when he was a prisoner of the Nazis, noting his apparently supernatural abilities (then much weaker than in later times). He took it seriously enough to have the matter investigated further, but for various reasons failed to act on it. If he had, the power dynamics of the Marvel mutant community (and of supervillains more generally) would look noticeably different.
* ForYourOwnGood: He believes the masses are incapable of self-government, and any attempt at democracy will simply lead to behind-the-scenes rule by [[CorruptCorporateExecutive wealthy oligarchs]]. Thus they must be governed firmly by a "good" dictator, who can keep the monied powers in check.
* FreudianExcuse: Like much else with the Skull, whether he has one varies, as DependingOnTheWriter.
** The original origin story was essentially a somewhat exaggerated version of Adolf Hitler's real-life biography before World War I. It showed the young Johann Schmidt as a struggling orphan who worked menial jobs and sometimes committed crimes against property to survive; other authors (for example, Creator/MarkWaid) elaborated on this. In this version, Schmidt suffered abuse from the police and other criminals, but was not himself violent or insane; however, his experiences gave him a [[TheCynic very bleak]] view of the world, and engendered [[RageAgainstTheLegalSystem massive resentment]] on his part against [[DemocracyIsBad the system]]. He joined the Nazis because he genuinely thought they'd make Germany and the world a better place, and not least because [[EvilMentor Hitler]] was the first person ever to believe in him and treat him as a man of worth.
** Meanwhile, some later writers apparently thought this made him too sympathetic, and wrote different versions where he was ''born'' AxeCrazy and a lunatic SerialKiller long before he met Hitler.
* FriendlessBackground: He never had a friend before he met Hitler.
* FromBadToWorse: As of Uncanny Avengers, the Red Skull now has Psychic powers at the same level as [[ComicBook/XMen Xavier]].
* FromNobodyToNightmare: From poor orphan and school-leaver to second in command of Nazi Europe.
* FrontlineGeneral: Some of his World War II adventures have shades of this. Justified, in that the Red Skull persona (much like his fellow SuperSoldier Cap's public presentation, with his eccentric costume and style) was largely an exercise in propaganda, and part of his image was leading from the front. It probably doesn't hurt that he's actually very good at small-unit leadership and tactics, either, though he might be even more useful in other ways behind his desk.
* TheGadfly: He is sufficiently insightful to draw out many heroes' (and villains') core beliefs, proceeding to identify and point out the flaws, inconsistencies and hypocrisies in them with disconcerting perceptiveness and clarity. Notably, in one story arc he very effectively deconstructs [[WellIntentionedExtremist Magneto's]] NobleDemon image, exposing him as the violent supervillain he really(?) is. (Whether he was being entirely fair to the Master of Magnetism or not, Magneto's [[VillainousBreakdown reaction]] shows that his snark certainly hit rather CloseToHome.)
* GadgeteerGenius: What superintelligent villain with military background would ''not'' be expected to be able to jury-rig atomic piles, reprogram rockets and figure out how [[ComicBook/DoctorDoom that braggart Doom's]] weird devices work?
* GalacticConqueror: One of his motives for his villainy is to bring about mankind's expansion to the stars, and so ensure the survival of his species for the millennia to come. (Both by securing new resources for man and by pre-emptively destroying the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens expansionist aliens]] who often attack the Marvelverse Earth.) In an AlternateUniverse where he succeeded in unifying the planet under his rule, he made the Marvel humans [[AlternateUniverseReedRichardsIsAwesome start using their comic-book supertech intelligently]], and now governs an emergent interstellar empire.
* GeniusBruiser: Genius who has worked [[TrainingFromHell very hard]] at ''becoming'' a bruiser.
* GenocideBackfire: The Allies tried to kill all the leading fascists and Nazis who wouldn't cooperate with them after World War II to ensure their ideology wouldn't survive, but Red Skull and some of his most trusted followers escaped.
** Later fell victim to this himself, when ComicBook/{{Magneto}} went after him.
* GermanicEfficiency: Though like some versions of the stereotype, sometimes hampered by ComplexityAddiction.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: The Nazis ain't exactly kids' stuff, [[http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lopbpi4uCg1qmavteo1_1280.png and yet the Skull got to appear in]] ''ComicBook/MiniMarvels''.
* {{Ghostapo}}: In ''Comicbook/FearItself'' he had a group of Nazi occultists perform the dark ritual that ultimately led to the events of that story in an effort to turn the tide of the war. Unfortunately for him, it worked- 65 years later. He had a couple of other experiences with the dark arts later on, but you can see why he prefers [[MadScientist Mad Science]] to get results.
* GoalInLife: Depending on the in-universe period, several. [[VisionaryVillain None of them is small, exactly.]]
** Before and during World War II, to serve the Nazi dream and give Germany security and victory.
** After the war, to rebuild Nazi Germany, greater and better than before, on a global scale, in order to vindicate his mentor's memory and bring about [[DeliberateValuesDissonance utopia]] for humanity.
** Once this is done, to take Man to the stars and inaugurate a bold new future of endless promise and expansion, far beyond any terrestrial limits.
** ... And as a side order, to [[EvilIsPetty get even with Captain America and friends.]]
* AGodAmI: Has had tendencies of this, especially with his incarnation in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger''.
** In the comics, Red Skull will make a AGodAmI speech pretty much every time he gains possession of the Cosmic Cube, which is like half of all his appearances in the comics.
* GoodIsOldFashioned: Played with in an interesting way. The Skull believes liberalism is moribund, since its [[ValuesDissonance degeneracy and permissiveness]] are really just the last dying stages of a terminally decadent culture. Thus, what is called social progress nowadays (increased third-world immigration, anti-racism, public homosexuality, etc) is actually ''regression'' towards the prehistorical state of non-culture. True progress, meanwhile, is represented by a "scientific" worldview: namely, authoritarian technocracy, of which Nazism is a subset.
* GoodOldWays: Inconsistently portrayed, but the Skull often speaks and acts in slightly archaic ways. Sometimes he'll even lament how civility and culture have fallen by the wayside in this decadent age. Justified, for a man who's pushing a hundred.
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: Very, very evil, especially given that half the time he isn't actually smoking, because the cigarette actually contains his Dust of Death poison that he'll use on unsuspecting victims.
* GoneHorriblyRight: He was Hitler's attempt to show that he could create the ultimate Nazi Ubermensch. He was such a success that even Hitler started becoming scared of him.
* GrandTheftMe: He's taken over Captain America's body twice: once in the 1960's, and once more recently. He also spent some time sharing a body with his rival Aleksander Lukin, and in a spare robot body belonging to his underling, Arnim Zola.
* GratuitousGerman: Almost mandatory for a Nazi villain; in some older works, combined with FunetikAksent. Has gradually become less badly spelled over the years. Some versions, however, notably when written by De Matteis, use outright fake and ''invented'' German words.
* GrewASpine: As a boy and young man, he was robbed, bullied, kicked around and generally abused by the local criminals, the Communists, the police and ''[[JerkassWoobie everybody]]''. And submitted meekly to it all because of learned helplessness. By contrast, as Red Skull he will either laugh off any slight as harmlessly pathetic or, if it hits [[CloseToHome Too Close To Home]], exact [[DisproportionateRetribution terrible revenge]] on the responsible parties.
* GuiltFreeExterminationWar: Against the [[FantasticRacism Marvelverse mutants]].
* TheGunslinger: Red Skull is a marksman with many weapons, though it's his ability with pistols that stands out. Established all the way back in his original origin story in the 1960s.
* HandCannon: His heavy, customized Luger-like pistols, which depending on the story can be either traditional semi-automatics or more fantastic weapons like futuristic lasers.
* HangingJudge: In an AlternateUniverse where he was military governor of the occupied United States, he sentenced young technician [[ComicBook/SpiderMan Peter Parker]] to death by public hanging for his espionage activities on behalf of the [[LaResistance nationalist underground]].
** In another BadFuture, he sentenced and executed the [[ComicBook/{{Avengers}} Avengers]], seemingly in an IronicEcho of the Nuremberg Trials, where the top Nazis were sentenced and hanged by the Allies after World War II.
* HardWorkHardlyWorks: According to the Skull, in a story from the 1980's, his brutal training regime organized by Hitler lasted... weeks. Not years. Not months. ''Weeks.'' He went from a bellhop nobody to the most dangerous and competent man in the Reich in ''weeks'', despite having next to no formal education, being a human punching bag on the streets, and having worked nothing but the most menial jobs in between scraping by as a beggar and a thief (a bad one- again, his own words). He says he was thirty too, which would mean he literally just never learned anything until then, but subsequent materials say he was in his late teens, which is a bit of an improvement.
** Of course, the same story has him remembering both of his parents, including their faces and behaviour, [[InfallibleNarrator despite both of them being dead before he was a day old]], as well as what it was like to be pulled out of the womb- he says he has an amazing memory. These days, that's largely ignored. His superhuman powers of remembrance either completely justifies his amazing out-of-the-blue ability to learn anything, or suggests he was being less than honest about it.
** The ''Marvel Handbook'' writes that his initial training period lasted "months" rather than weeks, and even when it was done he wasn't immediately given huge power. He met Hitler in 1933 (or 1934, depending on the story), so by the time he faces Captain America in 1941, he's had some years of on-the-job training and promotions. It's still an unusually rapid rise through the ranks, but not quite as meteoric as the 1980s story suggested.
* HarmonyVersusDiscipline: Some of both. Human society requires order and control to function; at the same time, Man is not and can never be above Nature. The best solution is to attempt to alleviate nature's [[NatureIsNotNice cruelty]] through the power of the State, but without ever forgetting the fundamental rules of existence.
* HateSink: Designed to be this from the start. In Universe, the Red Skull is without question one of the most reviled, despised, detested, and flat out hated villains in the entire Marvel Universe, loathed by both heroes and villains alike. Put simply, when monsters like ''the Joker'' and even '''Carnage''' want nothing to do with you, you know you're a vile, irredeemable piece of trash.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: This is how the Skull views himself, and all of Nazism: They may have done some [[DirtyBusiness Bad Things]], but only because they tried to stop the much more villainous [[CorruptCorporateExecutive international bankers]] and [[DirtyCommies global Communists]] who are destroying the world, and got desperate enough to copy some of their methods. Incidentally, this is also pretty much what the real-life Nazis said to justify themselves.
* HeartbrokenBadass: A platonic example, since his great love was Nazi Germany.
* AHeroToHisHometown: Like Hitler himself, Red Skull used to be a VillainWithGoodPublicity in the fascist countries, and many/most Germans seem to have viewed him as a heroic defender against [[EagleLand American imperialism]] and the [[DirtyCommies Bolshevik hordes]]. (Whether he deserved any of it depends ''heavily'' on the writing.) Not so much nowadays, when there are even modern German liberals who hunt him because they hate the racialism and German nationalism he symbolizes.
* HeroKiller: The man who killed Captain America. Enough said.
* HeroWorshipper: Towards Hitler, massively. In all his secret lairs, expect to find plenty of portraits of the Fuehrer.
* HeroicAmbidexterity: What to do when a raging mutant cuts off your gun hand and leaves it to his FlyingBrick friend to pulp you? Whip out a [[HandCannon fantastic Luger]] in your ''other'' hand and take them down at point blanc!
* HeroicResolve: Or, well, villainous, but he certainly has willpower. Has experienced situations (buried under tons of rubble, trapped underwater, captured and tortured for long periods...) which would leave any normal person a ruined wreck, and not only survived, but kept going. He simply refuses to die until his work is finished.
* HiddenDepths: The guy you might first think is just a gimmicky Nazi thug is actually a [[ThePhilosopher sophisticated thinker]] and surprisingly [[CulturedBadass artistically minded]] soul. Doesn't make him [[WickedCultured any less of a Nazi]], though.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: After coming BackFromTheDead with the "perfect Aryan" face of his rival, Captain America, his first major scheme ended with him being disfigured with an actual "red skull" for a face after he inhaled his own "dust of death" while trying to kill Cap.
* HopeBringer: The darkest example imaginable. He brings hope to the persecuted and marginalized fascists and Nazis of the Marvelverse, and inspires them to continue the struggle against the overwhelming might of liberalism and democracy.
* HopelessWar: The Skull's struggle against liberalism. He believes he's still fighting for the Nazi ideals and keeping Hitler's dream alive, but the world only gets more liberal with each passing year. It seems nothing he does ultimately matters. Sometimes it causes him to [[VillainousBreakdown despair]].
* HorrifyingTheHorror: Has terrified much more superhuman enemies like Kang the Conqueror and Korvac, and even ComicBook/DoctorDoom on occasion.
* TheHorseshoeEffect: Though not all the way. He ''hates'' the DirtyCommies, naturally enough, but has more respect for them than for the [[StrawmanPolitical sanctimonious, hypocritical, totally dysfunctional and reality-denying liberals]] who run the irredeemably corrupt Western [[CapitalismIsBad usurocratic]] and [[DemocracyIsBad pluto-democratic]] system.
* HotBlooded: He ''wants'' to be cold and calculating, and can sometimes pull off a convincing impression of it, but the mask soon slips. In everything he does, he is actually ''extremely'' passionate.
* HumanoidAbomination: Briefly became either this or a PhysicalGod when he internalized the god-like powers of the Cosmic Cube.
* HumansAreBastards: After living out his childhood in the streets of chaotic interwar Germany, the Skull was already convinced of this. WorldWarII with its massive war crimes and atrocities on all sides really hammered home the point.
* HyperAwareness: In varying degrees, at least in some stories. In one, he demonstrates superior battlefield awareness to Captain America. Generally speaking, it's difficult to catch him off guard.
* HypnotizeThePrincess: Hires [[PsychoPsychologist Dr. Faustus]] to do it to Sharon Carter, so she'll [[spoiler: kill Captain America]] for him.
* IControlMyMinionsThrough: Most of his people, at least the ones working directly for him, are hardcore fascists who follow him out of genuine loyalty, often quite fanatical such. While often portrayed as a BadBoss, he can also display admirable loyalty and even kindness toward loyal subordinates.
** "Kindness" is a bit much, but there's certainly some mutual affection and respect between the Skull and at least some of his henchmen.
* IKnowKarate: Red Skull is a master of martial arts (and has specifically been mentioned to know several styles of karate). He still loses many of his unarmed battles, but that's because his opponent is frequently [[SuperWeight Captain America]].
* IShouldHaveBeenBetter: If he had been, maybe he would have been able to defeat Captain America and save fascist Europe. So now he pushes himself [[TrainingFromHell twice as hard]] to be the best of all.
* IcyBlueEyes: Though the mask makes them look red.
* IgnoredEpiphany: After being locked in that shelter for days (see KickTheSonOfABitch below), starving and alone in the dark, he finally resigned himself to his fate and for the first -and only- time in his life, he felt remorse for his life of villainy and privately conceded that he deserved this fate. He was rescued shortly after, regained his will to live after seeing Captain America and remembering how much he hated him... and after telling Cap as much, began ranting about how he would get revenge on Magneto for putting him in there (though, [[AlwaysABiggerFish tellingly]], he didn't put much effort into that particular scheme).
* IgnoredExpert: If Hitler had listened to his own strategic advice instead of that of the generals, Germany would've won the war. [[UnreliableNarrator Or so he says.]]
* ImprobableAimingSkills: Back when he was fresh out of training in the early 1930s, he shot the buttons off a man's jacket easily and single-handedly. His aim hasn't gotten any worse since.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Emphatically ''not'' in the conventional sense. But in a much more disturbing sense, true. Like Heinrich Himmler's ideal Waffen-SS soldiers, Red Skull is ''personally'' incorruptible: he leads a Spartan life, spends his spare time in training and study to become an even better Nazi, is NotDistractedByTheSexy and doesn't care about money, fame or the fact that most of the world hates him. His one desire and purpose in life is to serve the Nazi ideal and bring about the [[FalseUtopia perfect world]] Hitler dreamed of, and in his own way he's ''totally unselfish'' about it.
** Though as with much else, this [[DependingOnTheWriter varies with the writing]]. Notably, in the [[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks '90s Dark Age]] his [[CloningBlues insane clone]] was just a cackling villain with no ideals whatever who spent much of his time [[EvilIsPetty selling drugs and beating up random people]].
* InnocenceLost: In his backstory. Thanks to [[DarkAndTroubledPast his background]], he was convinced from a ''very'' early age that the world isn't a nice place. However, in most versions he wasn't ''himself'' prepared to kill or hurt people; in at least one he was initially unwilling to kill even ''after'' he became the Red Skull. His descent into overt villainy was gradual, going from propery crimes in his youth (when older criminals exploited him as a pickpocket and burglar) to violence for the [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans "greater good"]] in the service of Nazism, and [[ShellShockedVeteran the experience of total war]] shattered most of what few illusions he still had.
* TheInquisitorGeneral: His role in the Nazi war effort when he wasn't doing hands-on intelligence work. As Hitler's personal representative and plenipotentiary, he was a sort of roving inspector-general for the whole German security-military-industrial complex.
* InspirationalInsult: Has been on the receiving end of it a few times (from Hitler; he wouldn't tolerate them from anyone else), and can also dish them out quite liberally when training minions or trading barbs with allies.
* ItGetsEasier: In one elaboration on his backstory, he ''failed'' to shoot an enemy during one of his early assignments for the Nazis because, despite everything, he still couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. [[UnderStatement After the war, he doesn't have this problem any more.]]
* ItIsBeyondSaving: Varies with the writing, and perhaps also with the Skull's moods. Generally speaking, he believes "the West" can still be "saved" and reformed -- by [[PuttingOnTheReich adopting National Socialism]], of course. In some stories, however, he hates [[DemocracyIsBad the System]], the [[CorruptPolitician corrupt politicos]] and the [[ApatheticCitizens sheeple]] who never raise a word of protest bad enough that he just wants to watch it all crash and burn.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Skull really couldn't care less about anyone that isn't him.
* ItSucksToBeTheChosenOne: And not just if you're the chosen one of ''good'' ... Arguably, Red Skull has suffered ''even more'' tragic and traumatic events than his GoodCounterpart Cap, which is no mean feat; see other entries on this page. It's rather harder to feel sorry for him, though, since he also [[PayEvilUntoEvil inflicts them]] on others.
* JerkJock: An [[AxCrazy extreme]] example when he went insane after his mind was moved into a clone of Captain America. See below.
* {{Jerkass}}: The Skull is a terrorist, mass murderer and would-be world conqueror; but quite apart from that, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking he is a jerk in the little things too]]. He bullies his subordinates, was violently and sadistically abusive to his girlfriend, and once sank into a depression that he got out of when Crossbones cheered him up by reminding him of all the ''evil'' things he had done in his life.
* JokerImmunity: Unlike the Joker, it's infuriating, considering what he is.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: After World War II, the Nazi underground forces generally viewed him as Hitler's legitimate successor, and he assumed largely dictatorial authority over them. However, he never claimed any particularly grand or grandiose titles; his followers usually addressed him as "Excellency" (the appropriate style for a high-ranking civil servant in older German), or even just "Herr Skull."
* KickTheSonOfABitch: Magneto once kidnapped the Skull and locked him in an abandoned fallout shelter, telling him that death would be too good for him and that he wanted the Skull to wish that Magneto ''had'' killed him after the coming ordeal. The shelter was completely empty except for some jugs of water, which Magneto advised the Skull to conserve, and had no light source. So for weeks, the Skull was locked in a dark room with concrete walls, slowly starving to death. He raged, pounded on the walls, tried in vain to reach the exit high above him, sobbed, and eventually began hallucinating. By the time he was found by Crossbones, Mother Night, and Machinesmith, he was utterly broken and wished to die.
* LackOfEmpathy: '''THE''' biggest example in the MarvelUniverse.
* LargeHam: Hugo Weaving clearly had fun playing him in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger''.
** After stealing Xavier's psychic powers, Skull could simply make people do things without a word. But where is the fun in that?
* LastOfHisKind: One of the very few original Nazi leaders who still survive, and possibly the only one who still keeps the flame of the ideology burning. In one comic, he reminisces about the old days when he and the Fuehrer dreamed together of remaking the future. Then, back to the present:
-->'''Red Skull''': But now, he is dead! Only the Red Skull still remains to fulfill the Nazi dream!
* TheLeader: Mainly the first and fourth type, though he has shades of all. At least some writers seem to deliberately base his style of leadership on that of the real-life Hitler, which was also a lot like this.
* LegacyCharacter: There have been four Red Skulls. Technically, Johan Schmidt is actually the second; the original Red Skull was a Nazi spy who was retconned into being one of Schmidt's agents. The third was a DirtyCommunist, and the fourth is the Skull's own daughter.
** It's actually rather complicated in publishing terms, since the first three versions were originally intended to be the same character, and only a series of {{Retcon}} stories have created the distinctions between them.
* LethallyStupid: Sin, throughout the [[Creator/EdBrubaker Brubaker]] ''Captain America'' run. Almost ''everything'' that goes wrong with the Skull's plans in this period is due to her gleefully juggling the VillainBall and the IdiotBall, and she causes a lot of unrelated havoc besides. Arguably, this arc ''justifies'' everything bad he's been saying about her.
* LightIsNotGood: Averted with the Skull himself, who [[ObviouslyEvil looks properly like a villain]] with his skull mask. But in at least some versions of his backstory, it's played straight to disturbing effect with the Nazis when he joins them. With their smart uniforms, rallies, patriotic songs and general spirit of optimism and hope in a [[TheGreatDepression chaotic and depressing]] Germany, they come across as [[VillainWithGoodPublicity sympathetic and attractive]] -- certainly to young Johann Schmidt, but to some extent to the readers, too. The point is to show some bit of ''why'' real-life Germans voted Nazi, and it works disturbingly well with good writing.
* LivingLegend: Already during World War II, when he was a famous and highly decorated Nazi general, but more so in later decades. In-story, he has become the archetypical image of Nazism in much the same way as Captain America has become that of liberalism.
* LonersAreFreaks: In his original backstory, young Johann Schmidt was not crazy, but very much awkward, unsociable and deeply unhappy. Some rewrites take this UpToEleven, by making him ''literally'' AxeCrazy as well.
* LowerClassLout: Was this once, has since worked ''very hard'' not to stay this way.
* MadScientist: More like mad engineer, and even this is pushing it for most interpretations. But even if he doesn't ''do'' much mad science himself, Red Skull is an enthusiast for science and technology who often ''sponsors'' bona fide mad scientists like [[EvilutionaryBiologist Arnim Zola]]. In an AlternateUniverse where the Nazis survived World War II and he succeeded Hitler as Fuehrer, ComicBook/DoctorDoom was one of his science advisors.
* MadeOfIron: Due to supreme willpower. He suffers damage like an ordinary BadassNormal, but can cope exceedingly well with even highly debilitating pain. Once, when he had his hand cut off, he was able to continue directing a battle within seconds, even as he had the wound bandaged.
* MagneticHero: We would rather say, charismatic villain, but his team dynamic works like this. The other members of his MultinationalTeam are all strong, powerful and often arrogant figures who would like to lead their own show, but all submit to the Skull and agree that his leadership is the force that united them originally and keeps them together. His dismayingly persuasive oratory has been shown to be very effective in converting friendly-leaning neutrals, as well.
* MakesUsEven: He has saved Captain America's life a couple of times -- Not for any altruistic reason, of course, but out of necessity. Cap has also saved his. ''Neither'' of them likes being beholden to the other the littlest bit, so this usually follows in short order.
* ManOfWealthAndTaste: In some appearances, though usually when he seeks to influence others who might be impressed by such displays. Privately, he's still [[WickedCultured intellectual]], but rather more frugal and unaffected.
* ManchurianAgent: Brubaker's Red Skull makes heavy use of these.
* MasterOfDisguise: The list of people he's successfully impersonated to run his schemes must be a yard long at this point. And that's not counting the times he's just [[GrandTheftMe used other folks' bodies]].
* MasterRace: Played straight in varying degrees. Like the real Hitler, he believes the white (and especially, the Nordic) race(s) superior, but can also sometimes admire other cultures (usually East Asian ones). He has also been shown many times to work well together with people from diverse backgrounds, including non-whites, so either he isn't totally fanatic about it, or serious PragmaticVillainy is in play.
* MegaCorp: The Kronas Corporation, which got big and powerful enough to buy out [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed Roxxon Oil]] and become a serious power in the American economy.
* MenAreBetterThanWomen: For a European man born in the years before World War I, this is hardly avoidable. His general views on women are [[StayInTheKitchen old-fashioned]] at best, and some depictions make him a rampant misogynist. But he's also been shown to respect and admire capable and competent women like [[ComicBook/Agent13 Sharon Carter]].
* MightMakesRight: An interesting treatment, arguably a subversion for a villain. The Skull believes this is how the world works, but he doesn't think it's ''right'' in the moral sense that it has to.
* MildlyMilitary: Strictly speaking, Red Skull is part of StateSec (i.e., the SS) and the Nazi Party rather than the German military proper. How military he is varies a lot with the writing; some versions wear impeccable uniforms, show at least some trappings of chivalry and behave like any competent [[KnightTemplar and ruthless]] Nazi general would, while others are written as party hacks, lunatics or just [[GenericDoomsdayVillain generic supervillains]].
* MilitarySuperhero: A villainous example, as befits Captain America's evil counterpart.
* MisanthropeSupreme: On a bad day.
* MoleInCharge: In one story, he tried to take over the US by launching a third-party populist candidature for the Presidency. In another, he ''actually became'' the US Secretary of Defense under a false identity.
* MookHorrorShow: After inhabiting the Captain America clone, he liked to indulge in "training sessions" that were basically this. He would hire five mooks from ComicBook/{{Taskmaster}}, have them dress like Captain America, and fight them. They thought it was just a sparring match. He was out to kill them. When they started to realize this, you really felt sorry for them.
-->'''Mook Number Four''': N-no-- '''wait''' a minute, Mister! The boss said all you wanted was '''sparring partners!''' He didn't say nothin' about--
-->'''Red Skull''': About '''killing''' you? Strictly an '''oversight''' on his part, I assure you! ''(decapitates him with his replica shield)''
* MoralGuardians: Funds the Watchdogs, an American militia of fundamentalists and superpatriots who crusade against "indecency, immorality, and sexual perversion" in all their manifold expressions. Also personally expresses contempt for promiscuous women, homosexuals, miscegenationists and others he considers sexually immoral. Justified, in that he was born early in the 20th century and retains the morality of the [[ValuesDissonance good, old times.]]
* MoralMyopia: Generally he cares very little about people outside his moral in-group, the exact composition of which, however, varies with the writing. In some portrayals he looks down even on East European peoples like Poles, while in others he considers them exemplary Aryans and respects the Chinese and Japanese, too. (The two racial groups he pretty much consistently despises are Jews and black Africans.) His standards aren't purely racial, either; for example, he views even white [[LowerClassLout bums, hooligans and welfare queens]] as distinctly inferior people.
* MotiveDecay: While Nazism is the Skull's main defining character trait, just as devotion to liberalism and democracy is Captain America's, sometimes he's written simply as a generic EvilOverlord without ideology or beliefs. Notably, in the late 80s he was usually portrayed as a textbook StrawNihilist, supposedly because he'd suddenly come to think that ''fascism was old-fashioned''. In this particular case, though, there were [[NoSwastikas external factors]] involved, and the Skull in question was actually [[ActuallyADoombot a clone]] on PsychoSerum, so at least there's some excuse.
* MugglePower: Like many X-Men villains, the Skull considers the superhuman mutants of the Marvel world an existential threat to humanity's survival. Naturally, his solution is to [[GuiltFreeExterminationWar strike back first...]]
* MultinationalTeam: The Skull used to lead one of elite agents from different (mostly Axis) countries who had banded together to fight for fascism against capitalism and Communism. (After World War II, they remained fascist bitter-enders and became known as the Exiles.) Known members include:
** [[NaziNobleman Marshal Gruning]], German.
** [[YellowPeril General Ching]], Chinese.
** [[OliveGarden Signore Baldini]], Italian.
** [[EvilCripple Prince Cadavus]], unknown nationality.
** [[HighClassGlass "Ironhand" Hauptmann]], Bavarian.
** [[RenegadeRussian Colonel Krushki]], ex-Czarist Russian.
* MultipleChoicePast: Caused mainly by multiple [[RetCon retcons]] over the years:
** The original background story by Creator/StanLee, somewhat based on the historical Hitler's real background, had him as a poor orphan, menial worker and sometime thief without family of friends, a miserable loner who failed at everything he tried and grew ever more angry with both himself and the system. This version was totally despondent and plodded along in life from day to day, until one day (and quite by chance) he met Hitler, who recognized his potential and invited him into the Nazi hierarchy.
** Later writers then largely adhered to this story, but put in various embellishments. For example, when J. M. De Matteis retold the Skull's origin story, he added a lot of DarkerAndEdgier material to the effect that he was really a psychotic SerialKiller long before he met Hitler.
** Then there is the recent miniseries by Greg Pak, which changes the story around a lot by making the young Johann Schmidt a member of the Communist underground and a hired killer.
* MurderInc: The 1950s (i.e., [[CommieNazis Commie-Nazi]]) Red Skull formed a crime syndicate which was explicitly intended to be a bigger and better version of Murder, Inc., running murder, terror, sabotage and subversion in America [[DirtyCommies "for the Reds."]]
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: Varies with the writing. In many stories, he wants to "save" Germany, and often even America, from miscegenation and political correctness because from his twisted perspective, he apparently genuinely cares about the people (no matter how crazy he thinks their politics are, or even how much they hate ''him'' personally). On the other hand, some versions hate the corrupt system and the GullibleLemmings who enable it so much that they just want to burn it all down.
** And some writers just make him a generic villain who is evil for the money.
* MyDeathIsOnlyTheBeginning: So the [[spoiler:Red Onslaught]] may rise, the Red Skull must die!
* NatureIsNotNice: The natural conclusion to be drawn from an [[TheSocialDarwinist evolutionary]] view of the world. All life is struggle, between individuals to some degree, but more importantly between races and species, and [[Literature/TheKillingStar wimps don't become top dogs]]. That's why war between [[FantasticRacism humans and mutants]] is inevitable, for example. Whether he ''likes'' this view of nature varies with the writing; some versions glory in it, some lament it, and some are philosophically Stoic about it.
* NebulousCriminalConspiracy: HYDRA is one by itself, but comprises only one of several similar organizations (and countless smaller crime syndicates, terrorist groups, rogue states, militias, etc) which together constitute Red Skull's underground network. How much of it he actively runs varies over time (and with the writing), but he's certainly well-connected in these circles.
* NecessarilyEvil: Those versions where he recognizes his deeds are evil (and doesn't [[ForTheEvulz glory]] in the fact).
* NervesOfSteel: When your hand is cut off by a rampaging mutant, do you a) scream with pain for minutes and bleed to death, or b) scream with pain briefly, then apply a torniquet and continue barking orders to your followers?
* NeverBeHurtAgain: Part of the reason he joined the Nazis. When at his nicest, he doesn't ''just'' want revenge on the corrupt institutions -- though he wants that, too -- but seriously believes that Nazism will make life better for everyone, so others won't have to suffer like he did [[DeliberateValuesDissomance under the oppression of capitalism and democracy.]] At other times, he's written as a power-hungry ControlFreak who was so deeply scarred by his experiences of helplessness, chaos and poverty that he just wants order, safety and control at any price.
* NeverLiveItDown: In one period, roughly coinciding with the[[TheDarkAgeOfComicBooks "Dark Age"]] of comics, an insane clone of the Skull renounced Nazism in favor of [[StrawNihilist faux nihilism]] and generic egotistic and sadistic villainy. Out of universe, this was apparently because Marvel's editors felt [[NoSwastikas Nazism was too risqué for comics]] -- Which is sort of ironic given the [[DarkerAndEdgier decidedly family-unfriendly]] plots of this time, and how they compare to the dastardly schemes of the devotedly Nazi but otherwise rather [[PokeThePoodle PG-rated]] Silver Age Red Skull. The Skull has since recovered, and carried on with the fanatical Nazism he has demonstrated over most of his career, but to this day many (both fans and in-universe) still think he's just a narcissistic nihilist because of this.
* NewEraSpeech: Several, for example to the Kronas security forces in the ''Death of Captain America'' story.
* NewTechnologyIsEvil: Played with. For example, he has an immense contempt for television, but not because it's bad as such; in fact, he was amazed with it when it was new. The reason he hates it is his disappointment with the way people are ''using'' this fantastic technology: namely, to broadcast garbage and make the ApatheticCitizens even more apathetic, instead of trying to enlighten the masses.
* NoGuyWantsAnAmazon: Subverted; he sometimes rails at [[ValuesDissonance the unfeminine women of today]] and lectures on how they ought to [[StayInTheKitchen know their place]], but the women he's shown to admire and be attracted to frequently tend to be [[ActionGirl Action Girls]] like Sharon Carter.
* NoNonsenseNemesis: Sometimes, depending on the writing.
* NoSocialSkills: Had none in his youth, when he was both uncultured and painfully shy. Has since worked ''hard'' to avert this, and by sheer effort seems to have obtained a [[TheSocialExpert significant]] degree of success.
* NoSwastikas: Usually averted in the comics, but the movie played it straight; instead of a Nazi, their Skull was made an operative of [[NebulousEvilOrganization HYDRA]].
* NonActionGuy: As a boy, he was too weak to defend himself from the older, stronger criminals who preyed on him, and instead learned to flee and hide when he could and ''endure'' when he couldn't. After he joined the Nazis, worked ''[[TookALevelInBadass very hard]]'' to avert this so he'd never be weak and vulnerable again, and is now one of Marvel's premier villainous [[BadassNormal Badass Normals]].
* NotLikeOtherGirls: Sharon Carter, as he sees it. He has interacted with her enough, in various settings, to recognize that she's intelligent, capable and brave, [[MenAreBetterThanWomen which most women aren't]], and appears honestly impressed, even admiring her in some stories.
* NotSoDifferent: A subtle example when he sometimes rails at Captain America for being an unrealistic dreamer with his mind trapped in the past. This from the guy who keeps ranting about Hitler's great vision and trying to rebuild Nazi Germany in the 2010s...
* NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist: Of the second type. ''Believes'' himself to be a real WellIntentionedExtremist ... But the [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans great purpose]] he's fighting for is National Socialism, also known as ''Nazism.''
* NumberTwo: To Hitler, before he became Number One after the war.
* OffscreenVillainDarkMatter: [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] as the Skull is not only having access to hidden Nazi caches, but also frequently running organizations like HYDRA and various factions of AIM from whom he takes resources.
* OlderThanTheyLook: Depending on which version of the backstory you go by, he was born either in 1889 or 1914, so either way he's over a hundred by now. Various species of [[AppliedPhlebotinum technobabble]] keep him in shape -- much as is also the case with his roughly equivalently old archnemesis, Cap. However, even in a perfect twentyish body, he feels [[FishOutOfTemporalWater very alienated]] from the modern world, with all its [[ValuesDissonance decadence and insanity]].
* OneManArmy: Doesn't show it off very often, since as a high-ranking officer he rarely does the super-agent stuff himself anymore. But when he does, it's time for the {{Mook}} SHIELD agents (and etc) to be ''very'' afraid.
* OneWingedAngel: When Magneto kills the second Red Skull, ComicBook/{{Onslaught}} is reborn due to the Skull possessing Charles Xavier's brain.
* OnlySaneMan: ''Thinks'' he is this (or nearly, at any rate) as a survivor of better times in an age of [[PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad universal madness]].
* OrderReborn: A villainous example. The Exiles were essentially the reconstituted Waffen-SS.
* OrderVersusChaos: Ultimately, order. The Skull ''creates'' chaos in order to bring down what he sees as [[EagleLand corrupt, plutocratic America]], but this chaos is only a means towards the end of a [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans new, better and more orderly society]]. Subordinates who cannot grasp this (such as [[ForTheEvulz Viper]]) are shown to the door in short order.
* OurFounder: In an AlternateUniverse where he ruled America, he replaced the Statue of Liberty with an even larger statue of Hitler.
* PatrioticFervor: Willing to die for Fascist Europe, and leads a MultinationalTeam of fascists and Nazis fighting for their countries against the Allies.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: And make sure it's paid with interest, too.
* ThePhilosopher: Often alludes to various philosophers the real-life Nazis liked, like Spengler and Nietzsche. Surprisingly, and amusingly, the [[PokeThePoodle Disney-villainous]] Silver Age version often does it ''better'' than many [[WordSaladPhilosophy more pretentious]] modern writers manage.
* PhotographicMemory: Whether it is truly eidetic or not, his memory is extraordinary; for example, he has been shown to recall conversations verbatim decades after they took place. This is yet another way he mirrors the real-life Hitler, who often embarrassed his minions by quoting their own words from months or years previously back at them when they failed to adhere to them.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Aside from the fact that he's a friggin' ''Nazi'', he's also pretty sexist, though he has expressed a certain level of respect for certain supervillainesses like Madame Hydra, and Syn when she grew up. Doesn't make up for his treatment of Mother Night, though, which was outright and frequent physical abuse, and he loved every minute of it too.
** This is surprisingly averted in the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse. The prequel comic to the first ''Captain America'' movie establishes that the Skull finds Hitler's racism to be stupid, as he believes {{Ubermensch}}es can only be created by the SuperSerum, and would likely be a new race unto themselves. Thus, he dismisses the idea that blonde, blue-eyed Europeans are genetically superior to everyone else as quackery.
** The comics Skull also denied the Holocaust, and seemed to actually believe it when he said it was all just lies and frame-up.
* ThePowerOfFriendship: Arguably, darkly subverted. When the Cosmic Cube caught the Skull in a nightmarish [[LotusEaterMachine mind prison]], it was his devotion to Hitler that finally brought him back to real life.
* PragmaticHero: The way he views himself, when not written as a CardCarryingVillain.
* PragmaticVillainy: He has one standard: pragmatism -- if you are killing people and breaking things on his dime, you'd ''better'' have something to show for it besides craters (even if it's just that he now ''owns'' those craters and they're full of gold or something). He notably kicked Viper out for wasting his money and resources on acts of terrorism with no strategic benefit, violence for its own sake.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Kane-Meyer Security, which tangentially becomes a GovernmentConspiracy when Senator Wright, the would-be PresidentEvil, persuades the administration to hire them for maintaining order in the wake of a Depression-related nationwide squall of riots and disorders. They're actually a neo-fascist legion trained and bankrolled by the Skull.
* ProfessionalKiller: The original (i.e., [[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]]) Red Skull is introduced as one, a German spy and assassin. The more familiar Skull also has shades of it, as a former intelligence operative with experience in wetwork and black operations.
* PsychoPrototype: In both ''Film/CaptainAmerica1990'' and ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', he is the first test subject for the SuperSerum that eventually creates Captain America.
* PsychicPowers: He now has this ability after using Xavier's brain in Uncanny Avengers.
* PsychopathicManchild: Type C with some Type B traits. Very few of his goals are [[PragmaticVillainy pragmatic]] like those of an evil politician or a CorruptCorporateExecutive should be, profit for him is [[ForTheEvulz a means to doing more evil]], not an end. From a certain point of view, since the moment he met [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler the Führer]], ''the Skull never grew up''.
** Which is even more chilling when one sees how well it matches his below-quoted RealLife counterparts from the [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany Reich]].
* PunishedForSympathy: In one story, when he was still a fresh Nazi (long before he became anyone powerful) he felt sorry for a Communist girl who was being harassed by Nazi militiamen. They noticed, and beat him up for it.
** In a more recent story, he tried to help a homeless dog as a child, for which he was punished by the manager of the orphanage he lived at.
* PutTheLaughterInSlaughter: While he is usually a serious and often pretty angry villain, when he is doing what he loves- [[UnwittingPawn outplaying his enemies]], [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder screwing over his minions and allies]], ColdBloodedTorture, mass murder- he'll at least be sporting a good SlasherSmile, and on occasion laugh like a maniac when he is doing something ''really'' evil.
* RacialRemnant: The Exiles, a Skull-led enterprise of unrepentant survivors of the Waffen-SS who secretly moved to an uncharted island to raise families and uphold a Nazi society in miniature.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: His men used to be immaculate Waffen-SS commandos, but since most of them are now long dead (and [[BreakingTheFourthWall comics editors want more toy-friendly supervillains]]) those who remain are more like this.
* RaisedByOrcs: Well, raised by Nazis (but only in ''Film/CaptainAmerica1990'').
* RealityIsUnrealistic: Although none of his creators, Joe Simon and France Herron, could have known in early 1941, and they imagined him as a purely fictional and cartoonish incarnation of evil, the Skull's espionage exploits match those of both [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Heydrich SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich]] and his close colleague [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Schellenberg SS-Brigadeführer Walther Schellenberg]], while his cruelty, sadism, ruthlessness [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and physical appearance]] match the lesser known [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirlewanger SS-Oberführer Oskar Dirlewanger]]. [[FreakierThanFiction It can be said the reality of the Reich surpassed the imagination of Marvel Comics writers]].
* {{Realpolitik}}: Like Hitler, the Skull has clearly set ideological goals in mind (roughly the sames ones as Hitler's, though usually more grandiose), but can be [[PragmaticVillainy very flexible]] about how to best serve those long-view goals in the short term. He has entered alliances with various unexpected partners over the years, from White Power militias to Arab terrorists -- Not because he necessarily endorses or approves of them, but because they share the same common enemies in the [[ConspiracyTheorist Globalist banker conspiracy]].
** How pragmatic is he? [[AndThatsTerrible He even allied with Captain America once against another neo-Nazi group.]]
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Many, of varying sophistication, usually addressed to Captain America. The generally recurring theme is that Cap's liberal ideals are either empirically wrong, flat-out ''[[WhatIsEvil evil]],'' or both.
* RecurringDreams: Of his traumatic failures, which continue to haunt him.
** When he was exiled to an IronicHell where he was stripped of his conscious memories, recurring dreams of Hitler and his struggle for the Nazi vision remained with him, and eventually brought back his full personality.
* RecruitedFromTheGutter: Almost; he wasn't ''quite'' in the literal gutter when Hitler recruited him (though he came from there), but his station was still very lowly.
* RedBaron: His real name is Johann Schmidt, but it's very rarely that anyone calls him anything other than the Red Skull.
* TheRemnant: Leads the hard core of fascist diehards who, in the Marvel universe, refused to surrender when Germany was destroyed. To them, the war never ended.
* RenaissanceMan: Historian, musician, martial artist, strategist, occultist, engineer, art-lover, master rhetorician...
* RepressiveButEfficient: His idea of utopia, [[DependingOnTheWriter at least on a good day]]. A high-tech, ultra-totalitarian civilization patterned on Nazi Germany, free of [[PoliticallyIncorrectVillain deviants and inferior races]]. Interestingly, one early comic suggested that he wanted to unify the world in order to end wars and use humanity's pooled resources to colonize space, thereby securing infinite ''Lebensraum'' for the race.
* RetroUniverse: The AlternateUniverse where the Skull took over, a [[RepressiveButEfficient high-tech dictatorship]] where it's reasonably nice to live if you fit in, [[TallPoppySyndrome but not if you don't.]] For example, there are maglev trains and flat screen TV, but people [[NiceHat still wear hats]].
* RightWingMilitiaFanatic: The Skull isn't one himself, but sometimes sponsors them because they share many of the same goals and ideals. For example, he bankrolled the Watchdogs, a Christian conservative militia who [[FamilyValuesVillain attacked pornography and immorality]].
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: When he got ahold (again!) of the Cosmic Cube back in the 1990s. This time, his first priority was revenge against America. In the nightmarish BadFuture which showed how it worked out, he made the US suffer everything the Allies did to Germany in World War II and starved the people, destroyed the cities, dynamited the monuments, put the military-age men in prison camps and had the superheroes executed like the Nazi leaders in the Nuremberg Trials.
* RobotMaster: While it isn't really his hat, the Skull has been shown occasionally to tinker with robots. For example, he once built an [[EvilKnockoff android replica]] of Bucky, and is said to have had a hand in the design of the original [[DoomsdayDevice Sleepers]].
* RomanticismVersusEnlightenment: Like the real-life Nazis, an odd mixture. Like the Nazis, he values order, appreciates modern technology and tends toward utilitarianism, but his ideals are largely nostalgic and "heroic" (in the Carlyle/Nietzsche sense, not as in "heroic" as opposed to "villainous").
* RousingSpeech: As a fascist villain, Red Skull naturally delivers a number of villainous ones. A recent example is from ''Uncanny Avengers'':
-->'''Red Skull''': All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing! ''We'' will do something -- right now! We will protect ourselves and take back our future!
* {{Sadist}}: Surprisingly, usually averted, as Red Skull leans more toward [[VisionaryVillain ideologically motivated]] villainy and its [[PragmaticVillainy coldly rational]] execution. However, some writers portray him like this, particularly when DarkerAndEdgier is in style.
** Also seems to be [[PsychoSupporter Sin's]] default characterization.
* ScaryDogmaticAliens: In ''Spider-Man: The Animated Series'', the Skull was sent by [[AGodAmI Beyonder]] to a planet of [[RubberForeheadAlien humanoid aliens]]. In a couple of years, he somehow [[GloriousLeader made himself dictator]] of one of its powerful nations and turned it into a [[PuttingOnTheReich carbon copy]] of Nazi Germany, making its citizens this.
* ScienceIsBad: Generally averted, as the Skull is not a true conservative or reactionary, but a Nazi, with the appropriate enthusiasm for science and technology as a means of improving human life. However, his views are sometimes ambivalent on specific technologies and lines of scientific inquiry.
* ShadesOfConflict: The Skull has obviously never been portrayed as a good guy, but just how repulsively evil he is varies a lot between [[DependingOnTheWriter different depictions]]. At his "nicest" he's basically just a Nazi general who believes in his cause and is prepared to do whatever it takes to win the war. This version is [[KnightTemplar fanatical and totally ruthless]], but not personally sadistic or murderous. On the other hand, some versions are ''nothing but'' sadistic and murderous and believe in no principles or ideals, Nazi or otherwise.
** Similarly, his enemies can be portrayed as [[KnightInShiningArmor all-American, "apple pie" crusaders]] or more cynical government agents. Or the writer can have him fight [[EvilVersusEvil the Commies or the evil mutants]] for a change.
* ShellShockedVeteran: It doesn't come across in the most exaggeratedly crazy versions, but many of the Skull's depictions display a lot of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: vivid memories and nightmares of traumatic episodes, avoidance symptoms, sudden outbursts of irrational anger... Probably caused ''both'' by his [[DarkAndTroubledPast horrible childhood]] and what he's been through since as a soldier.
* ShiningCity: New York, in the AlternateUniverse where it's his capital as Governor of America. It has lots of impressive Nazi monuments, architecture and high-tech conveniences, there's law and order, people dress like in the 1950s, and TheTrainsRunOnTime.
** However, Cap and the other heroes consider it a FalseUtopia, since it depends on [[FelonyMisdemeanor Draconian laws]] and is racially segregated.
* ShowBusiness: Ran a Hollywood studio in one story. Though [[FridgeLogic you'd expect a Nazi to feel kind of weird in Hollywood ...]]
* ShrinkingViolet: Young, socially awkward Johann Schmidt. ''Not'' the Red Skull, however.
* ShroudedInMyth: Between the hagiographic pro-Skull Nazi propaganda and the Allied hate propaganda against him, it's hard for in-story characters to sift out the truth about his career. (Much like with Hitler in real life.) Also applies meta-fictionally, with various writers giving him different backstories, motivations and general characteristics over the decades (and [[ArmedWithCanon retconning each other]]), throwing considerable confusion over many aspects of what he's "really" like and has "really" done.
* SinkTheLifeboats: Surprisingly, averted; when his wolfpack sink an Allied convoy, he orders the commodore to rescue the survivors. Possibly justified, since they might provide valuable intelligence.
* SkullForAHead: Used to be a mask, now is a deformity.
* SlidingScaleOfFreeWillVsFate: The Skull believes in fate, and, like Machiavelli, that one should try to work with it rather than against it. But if fate is ''wrong'' (as he sees it), he'll fight it [[ScrewDestiny every step of the way]] -- Even if he ''knows'' it's hopeless.
* SlobsVersusSnobs: Despite of (or maybe ''because'' of) his own poor background, Red Skull ''hates'' lower-class slobs almost as much as he does the [[UpperClassTwit wealthy elite]]. May be psychologically justified, in that he has worked ''[[HadToBeSharp very]] [[TrainingFromHell hard]]'' to better himself in spite of his humble origins, and is disgusted with people who won't even try.
* SmugSnake: Generally averted with the Skull himself, as his villainy is on too grand a scale. [[DarkChick Sin]] plays it very straight, however.
-->'''Sin''': Sorry, Sharon. Looks like you lose -- ''[[AlphaBitch Again ...]] ''
* SocialClimber: An interesting case, possibly even a subversion. Essentially, he is the darkest imaginable example of the Idealist type: he wants power in order to promote Hitler's Nazi vision as effectively as possible. To that end, he also engages in a fair amount of politicking and backstabbing, both in the pre-1945 Nazi hierarchy and later in other context, but he doesn't ''like'' it one bit, indeed thinking it sad he should have to resort to this among nominal allies.
** DependingOnTheWriter. In some stories he's just a generic power-hungry villain who plays the trope totally straight.
* TheSocialDarwinist: Either in boorish, brute-force terms or with relatively sophisticated philosophical justifications, depending on the story. Also averted or subverted in some versions, where he champions a more collectivist racialist ideology. Notably, in one comic he even called Social Darwinism "hogwash" in so many words.
* TheSocialExpert: When he wants to be. His characterization would indicate that he doesn't ''like'' social niceties, and doesn't bother with them when there's no need, but he ''can'' be both very perceptive and even charming in social interactions when he makes the effort. Presumably this is something he has learned by painful effort since becoming a Nazi power player, as the young Johann Schmidt had absolutely NoSocialSkills and was portrayed as a borderline autist in some stories.
* SocietyIsToBlame: A supervillain who might actually claim this and have a legitimate point, at least in [[DependingOnTheWriter most versions]] of his backstory. Young Johann Schmidt by all appearances wasn't particularly evil, much less psychotic; and as his subsequent career demonstrates, he's actually a highly intelligent, capable and often even ''[[NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist idealistic]]'' man. If he had grown up with caring parents, or even just in a moderately functional society, he might have been a successful ''benevolent'' politician or academic, or, given that he inhabits a comics shared universe, perhaps even some kind of superhero. Unfortunately, he spent his childhood and youth as a persecuted orphan in the [[CrapsackWorld economically and politically dysfunctional]] Weimar Republic. It seemed to him that only the Nazis could bring back any semblance of order and prosperity to society, and they were also the only group who treated him, personally, with any sympathy or respect, so he joined them and, as Hitler's personal friend, became their most devoted follower.
** Though Captain America defies the trope, with relation to the Skull's past, pointing out that while he's maybe had it tough, ''he'' is still responsible for his ''own'' choices.
** Also obviously averted in the DarkerAndEdgier De Matteis rewrite, where the Skull was [[AxeCrazy psychotic and murderous]] even as a ''[[CreepyChild baby]]''.
* TheSociopath: Definitely one.
* SoldierVsWarrior: Interestingly, Red Skull comes across as more of a soldier to Captain America's warrior, with his military uniforms, regimentation and devotion to the state, as against Cap's colorful costume, individualism and devotion to the abstract ideal of liberty.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Varies between sophisticated eloquence and quite vulgar language, sometimes in the same comic. Probably accidental, but fits the character's background as a former LowerClassLout who has acquired his cultured sophistication as an adult: When he's [[VillainousBreakdown thrown off balance,]] his old dockworker manners slip through.
* SpeciesLoyalty: For a Nazi, always.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: The correct spelling of his name is "Johann Schmidt" (two letters ''n'' in the first name, a ''c'' between the ''s'' and ''h'' in the second, ending with a ''d'' followed by a ''t''), both officially and according to all ordinary rules and standards of German orthography. For whatever reason, many people appear to find this extremely difficult to remember, including some official writers and proofreaders. Especially the variant "Johann Shmidt" (which looks quite ridiculous to native German-speakers) is fairly common.
* TheSpymaster: This was basically his job under the Third Reich.
* StartOfDarkness: The Red Skull miniseries by Greg Pak has shown most of how the Skull spent his childhood in Germany and how he began his path to ruthlessness.
* StayInTheKitchen: He was disappointed that his child was a daughter, because he desired a male heir who could carry on his crusade if he should die before he could complete it. But Synthia has proved herself enough by now to earn at least some grudging respect from him.
* StraightEdgeEvil: The Skull lives a very temperate and austere private life, avoiding alcohol, frivolous sex and other similar vices. (Occasional smoking seems to be the one exception.) He also submits to a grueling regimen of studies and physical training to preserve and improve body and mind. Justified by his Social Darwinist philosophy that personal worth depends on ability: He ''must'' "be all he can be" or become unworthy of his station.
* StrategyVersusTactics: Presents an aversion of the regular stereotype that Germans are good at operations but bad at grand strategy. Red Skull is good at both grand-scale, long-term strategic planning and tactical improvisation, but weak on the intermediate level of operations; this is where most of his schemes tend to fail. Interestingly, this is also how military professionals tend to judge Hitler's conduct of World War II, though this is probably pure coincidence.
* StrawNihilist: Some depictions, big time.
* StreetUrchin: His childhood and youth.
* SuperIntelligence: Not outright stated, but pretty much a [[RequiredSecondaryPowers requirement]] for explaining how an ex-street urchin could pick up [[CunningLinguist several foreign languages]] and learn how to [[SmartPeopleBuildRobots design and program autonomous military drones]] in a few years' time.
* SuperSoldier: Basically, the Nazi version of Captain America. The original Red Skull has no ''overt'' superhuman powers (just CharlesAtlasSuperPower and TrainingFromHell), but some versions (including the movie adaptation) use something similar to Cap's SuperSerum.
* SuperheroTrophyShelf: Rather, super-''villain'' trophy shelf, but otherwise it fits. When depicted, usually doubles as ContinuityPorn by showcasing mementos from obscure adventures.
* SuperiorSuccessor: To Hitler, arguably, certainly a ''worthy'' successor in any case.
* StupidJetpackHitler: Turns out the Skull financed the research into a lot of sci-fi technology in the 1940s.
* SurvivorGuilt: The original Skull [[DeathIsCheap "died"]] in Berlin in 1945, shortly before Hitler's death. Thanks to [[AppliedPhlebotinum technobabble]], it turned out he was merely left in suspended animation for two decades. In at least one comic, he curses fate which left him alive and let the Fuehrer die.
* SympathyForTheDevil: Averted; despite his tragic origin story, Captain America [[QuitYourWhining cuts him no slack]]. Presumably justified, given his villainy.
* SympathyForTheHero: He can relate to many of Captain America's troubles, since in at least some ways the two of them are NotSoDifferent. Notably, both miss the good old days and [[FishOutOfTemporalWater feel out of place in the modern world.]]
* TakeOverTheWorld: His goal, and in one alternate universe, he succeeds.
* TakingUpTheMantle: He considers himself the executor of Hitler's legacy, who will fulfil the dead Fuehrer's dream.
* TakingYouWithMe: ''' ''Always.'' '''
* TautologicalTemplar: The Skull is at least [[DependingOnTheWriter usually]] a Nazi true believer, who thinks democracy is evil and [[ConspiracyTheorist a front for Jewish Power]], and Nazism the [[WindmillCrusader last best hope of humanity]]. In his own moral universe, he is fighting to save the world, and his hatred of Captain America and his other enemies comes in large part from his belief that ''[[ObliviouslyEvil he's trying to save them, too]]'' from the Capitalist-Bolshevik-Multicultural conspiracy. They ought to join him, but instead everyone hates him, even though he's only trying to do what's right. [[MartyrWithoutACause In some comics, he even views himself as a kind of martyr because of this.]]
* TheTeetotaler: Well, not quite, but almost. In his youth, depressed over the fate of Germany and his own failures, he would often get drunk to dull the pain. Since he sobered up, he never has anything stronger than an occasional glass of wine.
* TechnologicallyBlindElders: Averted; by now he's over a hundred, but like the real Hitler he remains a technology enthusiast and still keeps abreast of the latest tech.
* ThickerThanWater: To an extent. He [[UnderStatement doesn't really]] go very easy on [[DaddysLittleVillain Sin]], but then again, he doesn't on himself, either. He certainly puts up with more from her (both in the way of failure and insolence) than he would from pretty much anyone else.
* ThisIsSomethingHesGotToDoHimself: Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight. As he's typically the leader of his operations, he often stays out of the fights, but when ItsPersonal (for example, often when facing Captain America) he'll make an exception.
* ThoseWackyNazis: One of the most horrific examples in comic book history.
* TomTheDarkLord: The Red Skull's real name is Johann Schmidt, the German cognate of [[MrSmith John Smith]].
** In German it makes him sound like a bit of a country bumpkin -- Which is [[BilingualBonus precisely what his family were!]]
* TookALevelInBadass: The [[DeliberatevaluesDissonance heroic]] example of Hitler inspired young Johann Schmidt to get a grip on himself and make something out of his hitherto miserably failed life. He succeeded, and indeed, [[GoneHorriblyRight arguably surpassed]] his mentor, going from pathetic LowerClassLout to RenaissanceMan with CharlesAtlasSuperPower.
* TortureTechnician: His hobby, apparently. At least on one occasion he even had his own TortureCellar, which he said was for "recreation".
* TotalitarianUtilitarian: The "nicest" interpretation of the Skull. One of his stated motivations for his villainy is a wish to [[OneWorldOrder unify the world]], [[RepressiveButEfficient end wars, waste and inefficiency]] and instead use the freed-up resources to [[TheFinalFrontier colonize space]].
* ToughLove: His treatment of Sin; some of it shades over into outright abusive territory. He has a sort of FreudianExcuse for it, since he's always HadToBeSharp himself, and consequently resents "weakness" in all its forms. Also, he knows she'll be a target for everyone who hates ''him'' just by virtue of being his child, so better make sure she can defend herself if (or when) need be.
* TragicVillain: Usually averted, as he's written as too unsympathetic. ''Possibly'' qualifies in some comics, for example ''Captain America'' #14. There's never any question of him being anything but a Nazi, but his background is truly tragic. After a lifetime of [[FriendlessBackground loneliness and failure]] he met his one friend (Hitler), who helped him pull together and make something of his life. Then he came to believe in a cause, helped rebuild his country and became successful and respected. And then he lost everything again, and all he cared about was destroyed. Now his motivations are a mixture of trying to regain what he lost and taking revenge on the enemies who destroyed it.
** Perhaps most notably tragic in EarthX, where Captain America essentially eulogizes him to his mind-controlling successor. But then, all Earth X villains but the Celestials are tragic.
* TrainingFromHell: One Skull-centric story (originally in one of the last issues of ''Super-Villain Team-Up'') depicts some of his ordinary, everyday routine in between the world-conquests. He rises early in the morning, begins the day with a tough run of [[TrainingMontage calisthenics, gymnastics, target shooting and other training]]. When he's done, he turns to planning and studying. His thoughts: He must be tougher than all his myriad enemies, or else [[TheSocialDarwinist be found wanting by Nature]].
** Note that the training isn't sadistic or over-the-top, so much as simply [[BoringButPractical mind-numbingly boring and exhausting]] and the equivalent of a full-time job in terms of time spent. Keeping up with the superheroes requires ''effort'' when you don't have the benefit of [[ComicBook/CaptainAmerica super-serums]]...
* TheUbermensch: Nazi-style, too.
* UnderdogsNeverLose: Averted, and/or subverted. Like the real-life Nazis in World War II, Red Skull has only a fraction of the resources his enemies can bring to bear, which means he has to be a lot smarter and more audacious to keep up. Even so, with rare exceptions he still [[TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin usually loses]] in the end.
* UndyingLoyalty: To Hitler and Nazism, at least most versions. He has devoted his entire life to avenging Hitler's death and making his dream of a reborn Nazism come true.
* UngratefulBastard: He once claimed to have searched for years for the physician who pulled him out of the womb... so he could kill him for dragging him out of the darkness and into the light, and for saving him from his father's attempts to murder him.
* TheUnfettered: There are absolutely no limits in his evilness.
* UnholyMatrimony: When he was with Mother Night. Though Skull was always abusive to her, even if she was completely loyal to him.
** He also tried it briefly with Madame HYDRA/the Viper, but she turned out to be too crazy for ''him''.
* UnreliableNarrator: The Skull's own version of his life story includes the claim that he remembers every detail of his birth, knows in-depth what his parents were like despite never really meeting them (he claimed to "feel the hatred" of his father for him - yes, when he was just born) and some other stuff like being thirty years old when he committed his first murder and met Hitler, despite subsequent versions portraying him as a teenager, not to mention his claim of having completed his Red Skull training in weeks, whilst simultaneously being an uneducated failure at everything in life up to that point. Obviously a lot of these changes are {{Retcon}}, but it actually makes sense that they are different because if you read between the lines, the Skull could be taken as just a [[BlatantLies blatant liar,]] trying to make his transformation sound more remarkable than it was.
** There's also the point that the Skull who told this version of the story was ancient and [[SanitySlippage rather obviously senile]]. When he first related his origins to ComicBook/CaptainAmerica some forty years earlier, the tale was very similar in outline, but notably free of all the extravagant and shocking details.
** The recent miniseries ''Red Skull: Incarnate'' shows the [[RetCon actual truth]] to be different, but no less spectacular (Johann orchestrated his "chance" meeting with Hitler).
* VengeanceFeelsEmpty: When he used the Cosmic Cube to crush Captain America and the other superheroes.
* VicariouslyAmbitious: Varies with the writing. The main motivation for his villainy in most stories is honoring Hitler (or after World War II, his memory) and furthering [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans his great design]], for the good of all (or at least [[MoralMyopia the races that matter]]) but also to restore Hitler's good reputation. Whether he's also interested in power for himself for its own sake varies; he often is, as his experience of helplessness and societal chaos as a child has turned him into something of a ControlFreak, but even so it usually appears a distinctly secondary consideration.
* VillainByDefault: Even when written at his "nicest" he's an obvious villain, simply by virtue of being a Nazi patriot and Hitler admirer. Sort of tragic, in the sense that nothing in his background (at least in the original version) ''necessarily'' predisposed him to supervillainy; if it had been some group ''other'' than the Nazis that turned out to care about his life and give him new hope and purpose as a young loner, he might've been a Batman- or Captain America-like figure himself.
* VillainExitStageLeft: The Red Skull is really slippery when he is making his getaway, with escape routes carefully designed to discourage pursuit.
* VillainProtagonist: In the old (and obscure) ''Super-Villain Team-Up'' comic, there were a few Skull-centric stories. Also in occasional one-shots and stray issues of ''Captain America.''
* VillainRespect: Most versions can respect and even admire the competence and determination of the more worthy among the heroes he fights, though disagreeing with their ideals. Especially [[WorthyOpponent Captain America.]]
* VillainWorld: Some alternate universes show worlds where his schemes succeeded and he took over, one way or another. Usually they look [[PuttingOnTheReich a lot like Nazi Germany.]]
* VillainousBreakdown: When he was locked up in a shelter by ComicBook/{{Magneto}}.
* VillainousCrush: Only hinted at, but for a while he seemed to develop an attraction to Sharon Carter, Captain America's on-and-off girlfriend. It was a rather subtle thing, and more intellectual than physical, in that he admired her abilities and determination, as well as her belief in her ideals (however contrary to his own).
* VillainousFriendship: With Hitler.
* VillainousValour: It's a major plot point in many stories that the Skull and his minions are a relatively small and hugely outnumbered band of fighters hunted by all the most powerful nations and superheroes of the world. So he needs to pick his fights ''very'' carefully in order to win them, and to be smarter than his enemies because he can't match them in brute strength.
** A specific example is in the 1970s story arc where he was more or less out of funds altogether, and became essentially a lone-wolf terrorist -- approximately something like a (more) villainous version of V in ''VForVendetta''. ''Even then'' he managed to put up a credible fight against Captain America, SHIELD and the US government.
* VisionaryVillain: Wishes to remake the world, and when given leeway by sufficiently fantastic technology, the universe. On the more down-to-earth level, he seeks to establish a Nazi world state, [[RepressiveButEfficient high-tech and orderly]], with a place for everyone and everyone in his place (which, however, for some people means [[FinalSolution six feet under]]). When dreaming bigger, he aims for massive space colonization and outright [[CrystalSpiresAndTogas techno-utopia]].
* WatchingTroyBurn: Berlin in the spring of 1945, besieged by the Soviets and firebombed by the Americans and British.
* WeCanRebuildHim: Usually by courtesy of Arnim Zola, and before him, AIM. One version even had his mind transplanted into a clone of Captain America.
* WeCanRuleTogether: Not often, but on occasion. In one fairly recent story, Red Skull tried to persuade Captain America that they are really fighting for the same goals: to rid their countries of present-day corruption and decadence and restore their former glory. Specifically, he played on the fact that they both grew up before World War II, and so share a common viewpoint in seeing [[PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad a lot things]] in America having [[ValuesDissonance changed for the worse]] since the 1940s. While Cap might think Nazism is bad, isn't it still better than the [[CapitalismIsBad bankster capitalism]] and [[SoapBoxSadie lunatic identity politics]] of the 2010s? ''[[FaceHeelTurn It almost works]]'' -- Though a lot of that is due to Skull cheating and using MoreThanMindControl.
** In another story, a [[AGodAmI Cosmic Cube-powered]] Skull tried it with Sharon Carter, implying that he [[VillainousCrush wanted her by his side]] as he assumed the authority of GodEmperor of the local galaxies. Perhaps not wholly unexpectedly, Sharon wasn't all that interested; and to his credit, in this case the Skull accepted that and showed no inclination to [[HypnotizeThePrincess force her compliance]], as he easily could have with the Cube's powers.
* WeakButSkilled: Not weak by human standards, but when compared to superheroes like Captain America. Thanks to TrainingFromHell and martial arts mastery, he can still credibly fight low-tier super types hand to hand (though he usually still loses to Cap when the odds are even).
* WellDoneSonGuy: The one person whose approval he cares about (and indeed, eagerly seeks) is Hitler. Even decades after World War II, the highest praise he can give for anything goes along the lines, "The Fuehrer himself would have been proud!"
* WesternTerrorists: Of course, the Skull and his men [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters don't view themselves]] as this.
* WhatDoTheyFearEpisode: In one story, the Skull is in worse straits than usual; it appears that all his efforts to bring about the rebirth of Nazism have finally failed, and now he's DyingAlone. As he suffers, he has vivid and exaggerated nightmares of various real and imagined traumas, but the major one is a stern ghost of Hitler expressing his disappointment in the Skull, who has betrayed his trust and failed him and the Nazi dream.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In some issues of [[PeterDavid Peter David's.]] 90's Comicbook/IncredibleHulk run, the Red Skull had formed an alliance of criminals called the [[NebulousCriminalConspiracy New World Order]] in order to prevent infighting, perform negotiations, and foster cooperation. This group appeared in several Hulk issues and even tangled with X-Men villain Apocalypse! Of course, they haven't appeared or been mentioned since. Later Hulk stories made some vague mentions of the New World Order "collapsing," but we never saw how or why....
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: As a Nazi inhabiting a comics/scifi universe, he puts his own species first. Aliens, mutants and other such creatures are NotEvenHuman to him.
* WhatWouldXDo: What would the Fuehrer do?
* WhosLaughingNow: The much-abused street urchin became a legendary Nazi supervillain, and helped crush the corrupt capitalism and democracy that (he thinks) made things so horrible for his country in general and himself in particular after World War I. Especially true in the Nazi era, when both he and the movement he joined were powerful and respected.
* WickedCultured: His theme tune is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyFyAqLtHq8 Chopin's Funeral March.]] He used to play it whenever he dosed someone with his Dust of Death poisoned gas.
* WillNotTellALie: Played with. Generally speaking, he will lie as part of a disguise, or sometimes to misdirect enemies while executing a plan, but not [[VillainsNeverLie face-to-face concerning important personal matters]].
* WorkingClassHero: An extreme ''villainous'' example.
* WorldsBestWarrior: More like AlwaysSecondBest (to Cap, usually), but certainly in the top tier. Of course, this applies to their vaguely human-like weight class only; he doesn't stand much chance against the bigger Marvel powerhouses in a fair fight, unless he has access to special equipment.
* WouldHurtAChild: Tried to kill Bucky, Captain America's KidSidekick, in several stories. The ''ComicBook/UltimateMarvel'' version ''literally'' kills babies.
* WouldHitAGirl: DependingOnTheWriter, he either admires "strong women" or despises them. Either way, he's not inhibited in fighting them on equal terms.
* WouldNotShootACivilian: Once, long ago. Averted by the time of World War II, when all sides indiscriminately bombed and killed civilians. In one really old comic he is explicitly said to have killed "thousands" when he attacked New York with a stolen American superweapon, matching a moderate-sized bombing raid.
* WrittenByTheWinners: Naturally thinks this is true of all "Western" history. Also, a [[DramaticIrony hilarious meta-example]], since ''Red Skull himself'' is written by writers who despise everything he stands for, and [[HateSink write him accordingly]].
* YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre: Either played straight or very darkly subverted, depending on your point of view. The young Johann Schmidt was a miserable loner who had failed at everything he tried and felt completely worthless, to the point of considering suicide. But then he met Hitler, who saw in him a "man of worth" and persuaded him that the new Germany he was building needed men like him. It was the great turning point of his life.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: His futuristic Nazi utopia in the [[VillainWorld alternate history]] where the Nazis survived and he succeeded Hitler. Justified, since [[HitlerAteSugar the Nazis were environmentalists]], and airships pollute ''much'' less than conventional aircraft. Also, they're only used for regular transports where speed isn't essential; for urgent business they use [[CoolPlane scramjet airliners]].
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