Faux Affably Evil / Literature


  • In Across the Universe, this fits Luther. He hides the joy he takes in inciting unrest among the already unhappy population of Godspeed and love of rape with a pleasant public demeanor. One rather creepy scene has Amy (who Luther had been stalking and trying to rape) bump into him in public. She's in disguise and he doesn't recognize her, so he nicely asks her if she'd like to come see a protest being set up. The instant he figures out who she is, he begins to act terrifyingly predator-like around her.
  • Blood Meridian: Judge Holden is a pleasant and extremely learned man who never fails to entertain his comrades. His comrades are a mercenary army that does ethnic cleansing (specifically of Indians) for hire, and even among this band of murderous psychopaths, the judge's atrocities eclipse them all; he is a mass murderer and a pedophile motivated by nothing but the infliction of pain, and he's probably a Humanoid Abomination to boot.
  • BlueBeard: The title character seems like a charming young gentleman... than we discover he is a Serial Killer.
  • From the Chroniclesof Narnia: The White Witch, Jadis, demonstrates a personality like this in both The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew. In the former, she ensnares Edmund with food and drink and promises of power. She is far subtler in the latter, however, with words so honeyed you could hardly believe so "fierce" a person had said them. Her affability and feigned concern for Digory's mother nearly succeeds in persuading him to disobey Aslan, but her genuine lack of concern for anyone that isn't useful to her trashes the whole thing.
  • Alex, the Villain Protagonist of A Clockwork Orange, is a Wicked Cultured young sociopath who'd gladly mug your grandfather or rape your wife but wouldn't dream of being impolite... that is, with the exception of certain situations. Regardless, he's more than happy to make pleasant conversation while he beats the elderly into near-death or rapes ten-year-olds, assuming the dog doesn't try to bite back.
    Alex: [rips the book out of mug victim's hands] Excellent, really first-class. But what is this here? What is this filthy slovo? I blush to look at this word. You disappoint me, brother, you do really.
    Victim: But— but— but...
  • Uriah Heep may well be literature's most triumphant example of this trope. Even as he openly hints his scheming to the main character, he constantly put on a fawning, "'umble" air.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, Sang-drax treats Haplo like an old friend, and it's made clear he does it just to mess with him rather than out of any feelings of genuine affection. He's also shown to be capable of sounding positively cheery when describing the Fate Worse Than Death his people have planned for the whole universe. Genuinely thwart his plans, though, and he gets very nasty very quickly.
  • Jack the Ripper in Alex Grecian's The Devil's Workshop, who thinks that he's doing his victims a kind of favor, and sometimes expresses concerns about their comfort or state of mind.
  • Discworld:
    • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampire Count de Magpyr actually thinks he's being Affably Evil, or Above Good and Evil, or not evil at all. He's just being "reasonable" while dominating, destroying and enslaving others, and acts with apparent politeness. His mind-controlling powers can make people actually believe he is that nice, even when he's talking about blood-sucking arrangements. His family is similar, except for Lacrimosa, who's a sadistic teenager with no patience for being "nice".
    • Carcer in Night Watch is an unrepentant serial killer who will gleefully deny all responsibility for his crimes with a charismatic grin, and then casually stab you between the ribs before you can argue.
    • Mr. Teatime can be this way. Especially in the Sky1 Hogfather TV film.
  • In Bram's Stoker Dracula and most of its adaptions, the Count gives a polite and inviting first impression, if somewhat unsettling. The guest usually dismisses the last part under cultural/foreign differences.
    Dracula: Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will. Go safely and leave something of the happiness you bring.
  • In Dragon Bones, high king Jakoven. Acts all nice while reminding people that he knows where their family lives, and how terrible it was if anything happened to them.
  • The Dresden Files
    • Nicodemus is a 2000 year-old human who made a pact with a Fallen Angel to essentially inflict as much misery and pain on the world as he could; in his own words, he believes in Armageddon as less of an event and more of a mindset, one that he wants to share with the world. He is also incredibly polite and friendly and civil, even while he's got you tied up and offering you a choice between recruiting you for his organization or getting your throat cut. The affable demeanor hides a genocidal monster and doesn't waver even when he's getting ready to unleash a deadly plague across a country or while his minions are kidnapping and torturing a twelve-year-old girl.
    • Even more so Duke Ortega of the Red Court. Nicodemus is polite whenever he has no reason not to be, generous when it costs him nothing, and appreciates the "artistry" of a classical painter and a serial killer on equal terms. Ortega is a pure barbarian who has spent his unlife carefully learning to pretend to have ethics, manners, and reasons for his actions beyond the basic infliction or avoidance of pain for those times the fiction proves useful.
    • Virtually everyone in the Winter Court who's not too savage to have a conversation with has this going on.
  • In Fool, a Perspective Flip retelling of King Lear, Edmund starts the play as a fairly open Jerk Ass, but partway through he has an offscreen epiphany that his attempts to be a Manipulative Bastard Chessmaster would probably be more successful if most people weren't repulsed by him and his company, leading to the page quote where he discusses this trope with the book's protagonist.
  • Harahpin gives us Korganest, who is pretty polite when he converses with his victims, which makes it all the more terrifying when he suddenly raises his weapon and strikes.
  • In Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort exhibits this trait a few times, mostly in Goblet of Fire when he makes some terrible "hand" puns to Wormtail during a related task. From what the reader sees of his younger days, he was even more of this trope before his sanity was completely gone.
    • Dolores Umbridge is worse at this than Voldemort, and possibly more hated to boot. She makes Hogwarts into a dictatorship in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but her office is decorated with gambolling pictures of kittens, and she wears knitted sweaters and bows in her hair. This is magnified by the fact that while Voldemort does his terrible deeds towards an end with some sort of magnificence, and was prepared to embrace his pure-blood enemies as allies if they turned, Umbridge merely gets off on her ability to make people suffer.
    • Lucius Malfoy is also an example. His tone is almost always even and coolly polite, but his words tend to range from mildly to extremely insulting to whoever he's talking to.
  • In Exile's Duology (Heralds of Valdemar), Lord Orthallen straddles this, most vividly seen (or not, rather) when he was acting as Selenay's confidant.
  • President Snow of The Hunger Games. He speaks to Katniss in a polite manner while threatening to have her and her loved ones killed if she makes a mistake.
  • The In Death series: A number of the murderers in the series are very much this. Sure, they will act like they're so nice and polite, but that is just an act. A number of them are The Sociopath, which might explain it.
  • The Gentleman With the Thistledown Hair, from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The scene where he's so happily, enthusiastically telling Steven Black how many people he's had to kill in order to try and restore his true name to him makes him seem like a big, friendly, amoral murder-puppy.
  • Kings Of The Wyld: Kallorek "the Orc," Saga's old bookie, acts like a friendly and eccentric landowner. But he reacts violently to any insult, real or imagined, casually breaks his word on both major and minor deals, and has a monopoly on all booking west of the Heartwyld that lets him take fully half of anything any mercenary bands make.
  • Nicolae Carpathia, The Antichrist from Left Behind, initially seems to be the humblest, most empathetic Son of Satan you'd ever meet, and comes across as a Well-Intentioned Extremist at worst. However, this is all entirely an act; in truth he's a completely self-centered sociopath and a two-dimensional thug. The movie version of Nicolae actually appears to be more genuinely Affably Evil, although still a ruthless megalomaniac.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Man in Shadow is casual and affable at all times, even when threatening to rape the person he's talking to. By the way, said person was already a victim of rape and he might have known this.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Shadowthone can be rather friendly, when he's not yelling in exasperation or giving deadpan sarcastic commentary, though the patina is thin and he can go from calm and threatening to shrieking mad in seconds.
    • Clip tries for this during the events of Reaper's Gale while travelling with Silchas Ruin's group, chatting affably about non-consequential things, affecting politeness and pretending not to notice the stealth insults he throws around. At the same time, Clip does not even try to hide that he's an assassin and drops the act as soon as there's no one he can rile up with it anymore.
  • General Zaroff from The Most Dangerous Game actually starts off as genuinely Affably Evil, but he quickly slides into Faux Affably Evil. When the protagonist Rainsford arrives at his home, he lets him dine with him, complements him on his book, shows respect for a fellow big game hunter, and reveals he has turned to hunting humans. He forces Rainsford to be his next prey, and still acts polite the whole time.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: In the original book, Erik explains how he pulled the Practical Joke on Carlotta with his Ventriloquism and then he casually uses it to prank Raoul and the Daroga in the Torture Cellar.
  • In the Redwall series, Ferahgo the Assassin is this. As the narration puts it, he "smiles a lot, but he never jokes".
  • Roderick Whittle, aka Jack the Ripper, from Richard Laymon's Savage, has this as a Mask of Sanity.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Samuel Blunt of Wonderful Sausage is described as a "fat and jolly butcher". Said "fat and jolly butcher" kills people and grinds them into sausage to serve to his customers. There is nothing truly jolly about him.
  • The Supreme Custodian in Septimus Heap has mannerisms and charisma, but readily throws people he dislikes into jail and is otherwise a pretty nasty person.
  • The Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Henry "Hank" Jellicoe, despite having elements of Affably Evil, might actually be this. Cross Roads reveals that he is at least a He-Man Woman Hater and at most a Straw Misogynist. He treated his wife Louise like she was just a servant and didn't care if she overheard his conversations on the illegal dealings he made. She managed to escape him, and he has never been able to find her. He very much wants to kill her for having the nerve to leave him years and years ago!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Roose Bolton is always polite and soft-spoken, and has a rather amusingly dry sense of humor when in company — to the point that most nobles who don't know him that well assume he's the Affably Evil man he appears to be. Smallfolk learn better very quickly. He's a cold-blooded sadist who can casually threaten to cut off a child servant's tongue for talking too much, who can calmly discuss tortures or rapes he's performed, and who allows his son to rape and torture as much as he wants, as well. Just so long as it doesn't interfere with his plans.
    • Speaking of Ramsay Bolton... He can really turn the charm on when he wants to, in a rather folksy kind of way. However, unlike his dad, he can't sustain it for more than an evening, tops. His inner monster is all too easily brought to the surface for all to see at even a hint of potential fun.
    • Littlefinger sits uneasily between this and Affably Evil. He always has a joking, flippant attitude even around people he's about to backstab (which is anybody), and that does seem to be genuine to the extent that he acts the same way around those he (probably) isn't plotting against (at that moment). What makes him more Faux Affably Evil is that he seems to lack genuine emotion and empathy toward others; even when he's helping somebody, it seems to be more for the selfish reason of wanting to have them around for his own sake or for future benefits, rather than genuine concern for their well-being.
    • Both Cersei and Joffrey can turn the charm on to be very polite and civil at official functions when they really want to. However, Mother Dearest is rather better at long-terming it than her Bonny Baby Boy is; just see how much longer it took Sansa to work out that she was almost as rotten. Yet, both are cruel, vindictive Brats with impulse control issues and massive, easily bruised egos. He very much learned it from her.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • During Galaxy of Fear the Big Bad, in his first appearance outside of Villain Opening Scenes, is condescending, looks at an infected girl like she's a piece of meat, and does some quite heartless things. But for the most part he also radiates mocking friendliness, praises the resourcefulness of the heroes—even though that admiration turns to rage whenever they thwart him—and exits the book with an "Excuse me once again."
    • In Star Wars: Kenobi, Jabba the Hutt and his thugs. Jabba himself is an unseen presence in the story, but he maintains a townhouse in Mos Eisley to give the impression of a benevolent interest in city affairs. His accountant Mosep Binneed meets Orrin there and puts on an air of paternal concern as they go over Orrin's swelling debt and he makes thinly veiled threats of torture and death if it's not paid off.
  • Tortall Universe
    • The Big Bad of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Duke Roger. He plays up the What's Up, King Dude? angle by telling the pages to be informal with him and acts like a Cool Uncle to Jon... while plotting to kill him so Roger is first in line for the throne again. George calls him Alanna and Jon's "smilin' friend" and Alanna is suspicious of him for being too friendly.
    • Ozorne in Emperor Mage plays nice for much of the book, being very civilized and sometimes personable around the delegation from Tortall. While this is genuine around Daine because she helped his treasured birds, but every other character, even her monkey friend Zek? His true colors are without any warmth at all. Hints of this trope show in the next book, but they stop by the end.
    • Dolsa from Provost's Dog series tops them all. She'll gladly and civilly explain that she murdered dozens of people, tortured others, and is intent on murdering the king and queen all because the Crown had the gall to tax and license mages. Oh, and she'll brainwash anyone in her vicinity to think she is the most wonderful person ever because she thinks she is.
  • Aro, head of the Volturi from Twilight puts forth a very charming persona to hide how power hungry and ruthless he is.
  • Berys in Tales of Kolmar clearly enjoys himself when doing various terrible things, and at those times is usually rather cheerful and upbeat.
  • Vanity Fair has this in Sir Pitt Crawley of whom the narrator comments "he was fond of drink, of swearing, of joking with the farmers' daughters: he was never known to give away a shilling or to do a good action, but was of a pleasant, sly, laughing mood, and would cut his joke and drink his glass with a tenant and sell him up the next day; or have his laugh with the poacher he was transporting with equal good humour." Notably, the narrator explicitly comments that if the character was slightly more honest, he would be a very successful scoundrel, but instead, is simply too crooked to prosper.
  • The witches in The Witches. Overlapped with Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, they present themselves in a very ladylike fashion and disguised themselves as presentable in order to lure children. Of course the majority of the specie is hideous from inside out, hates children, and are overall morally repulsive.
  • High-end villains in the Zones of Thought series tend to be this.
    • Tomas Nau in A Deepness in the Sky fooled everyone, including remnants of the faction which he backstabbed and almost wiped out in cold blood, for decades with his nice guy act.
    • The old Flenser in A Fire Upon the Deep, besides being a Consummate Liar, was the sort of guy who becomes more friendly when he's about to put you through the experiments that earned him his name.
  • O'Brien in Nineteen Eighty-Four. He talks to Winston in a calm tone while torturing him.
  • If they're not Affably Evil, most Dean Koontz antagonists will be this.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien:
    • Sauron, more in The Silmarillion than in The Lord of the Rings, where he's mostly offscreen. Over and over again; the charming snake in the ear of anyone who listens. This is one of his most defining traits and that's why he is known The Deceiver. That is, until he loses that power or shows his real nature...
    • Smaug, in The Hobbit. Intelligent, articulate, wickedly charismatic, and a polite conversationalist. He has a fondness for riddle-games, and actually enjoys himself during conversation with Bilbo (initially). He's charismatic to the point that Bilbo is sorely tempted to take off the Ring and reveal himself, and even manages to make Bilbo doubt the intentions of Thorin. However it's also a very bad idea to piss him off, as Smaug proves downright terrifying when angered.
  • Gloriosa, from Our Lady Of The Nile actively uses her image as a harmless, model high-school girl and activist to get what she wants (which usually involves people getting hurt).

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