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Affably Evil

"Homer, on your way out, if you wanna kill somebody, it would help me a lot."
Hank Scorpio, as commandos storm his elaborate underground base, The Simpsons

Usually, villains have a personality or manner that underscores how evil they are. They may kick puppies for giggles, be particularly insensitive, or might just be too unknowable to be anything but evil.

Then there are villains who are Affably Evil. There is absolutely nothing separating them from being normal, polite people except for the fact that they want to Take Over the World or use human souls to power their Artifact of Doom. They're not the Stepford Smiler — their affability is a genuine part of their personality, not a mask. If they have underlings, expect them to be a Benevolent Boss. In one way, they're the opposite of an Anti-Hero. They may Pet the Dog on occasion, but won't hesitate to kick it with steel-toed boots the next second if it helps them accomplish their Evil Plan. They may well be a Villain with Good Publicity because, after all, being evil doesn't mean you have to be anti-social.

This villain will invite the hero out to tea, offer him a favorite dish, talk friendly, try to appeal to the hero's better nature, and convince the heroes that the villain's plan isn't worth getting involved in. Of course, if the hero still won't change their mind, the villain will remind them that they are, after all, still a villain. It may or may not involve a Death Trap, depending on how nice the villain really is when crossed. Of course, inviting the hero's mom out to tea might send a stronger message. The friendliness of said villains can serve to humanize these guys.

Usually a Wicked Cultured, charismatic Magnificent Bastard. He is sometimes comedic or a Well-Intentioned Extremist who really believes that they are right. Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor is not true for them, and their affability even makes them easy to "compliment" with an Insult Backfire. Captives of an affably evil villain won't be kept in dungeons, but in a Gilded Cage.

Please note, in the event an Affably Evil villain does undergo a Villainous Breakdown, the very traits that make them so pleasant often serve to make their breakdown extremely creepy or outright scary. A kind, friendly man suddenly going into a psychotic rage is made all the more scary by the simple fact that he was previously so nice and kind. If they keep their inviting personality while going Ax-Crazy, they may cross into Faux Affably Evil territory. It's like a Beware the Nice Ones moment taken extremely Up to Eleven.

Compare:
  • Anti-Villain: A villainous character that is morally in a grey area, often overlaps with this trope.
  • Friendly Enemy: When the main villain of the work is legitimately friends with the protagonist.
  • A Hero To His Hometown can sometimes be seen as this by other characters in-story, even if they're not actually a villain.
  • Laughably Evil: A villain that makes you laugh.
  • Noble Demon: A villain with standards and never goes the extra mile to be truly monstrous.
  • Punch Clock Villain, who, depending on what their villainous duties are, may not be exactly evil — they simply have a job to do, and their employer just happens to be evil. Of course, if that job involves something like slaughtering innocent children, their apathetic detachment makes them not much better.
  • Villains Out Shopping for Affably Evil behavior in otherwise normal villains. Often a trait of a Card-Carrying Villain, especially in the more ironic portrayals.
  • Villain with Good Publicity. This trope may be the reason why he is so popular with common people.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A non-villainous type (although Affably Evil villains may occasionally qualify as this).
  • Obliviously Evil: A villain that doesn't realize that he or she is a villain. It should probably be obvious as to why this trope applies to this type of character.

Contrast:
  • Faux Affably Evil, which is a villain who adopts an affable demeanor that isn't genuine, basically mocking Affably Evil. They'll chat pleasantly with their victims while engaging in Cold-Blooded Torture, or hum cheerfully to themselves while setting an orphanage on fire. Unlike Affably Evil characters, they're genuinely mean, and often do things For the Evulz, but it might not be obvious just by talking to them.
  • Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, where the character hides a more sinister side behind a nice facade — unlike them, Affably Evil characters are genuinely nice.
  • Harmless Villain, when the villain is not necessarily affable, just no one to be scared of.
  • Good Is Not Soft, where a hero is genuinely nice but ruthless to their enemies. Essentially the good version of this trope which could be interpreted as "(very) affably Anti Heroic".
  • Complete Monster: The most heinous characters played seriously with no redeeming or altruistic qualities. He or she is 0% nice.

Good Is Not Nice is the Inverted Trope, and such good guys are particularly good at giving the Affably Evil a proverbial punch in the nose. I'm Not Hungry is often dealing with this villain. A villain will sometimes engage in Too Funny to Be Evil to achieve this effect. No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine is a subtrope in many instances.


Examples


24 Hour Party PeopleExtraversion TropesAlpha Bitch
Subverted InnocenceMore than Meets the EyeAmnesiac Resonance
God Is EvilHidden EvilBitch in Sheep's Clothing
Adaptational VillainyEvil TropesAllergic to Evil
    Index with a Heart of GoldAloof Ally
Draco in Leather PantsSliding Scale of Character AppreciationFaux Affably Evil
Adorable Evil MinionsVillainsAfrican Terrorists
Adaptation DisplacementOlder Than SteamAll That Glitters
    A Polite IndexAll-Loving Hero
'The Reason You Suck" SpeechOverdosed TropesAverted Trope
Hitman with a HeartSliding Scale of Antagonist VilenessWild Card
Adolf HitlariousNo One Respects the Spanish InquisitionBeware the Silly Ones
    Anti-VillainByronic Hero
Evil Stole My FaithAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Dark Is Evil
An AesopJustForFun/Tropes of LegendAll There in the Manual
Buffy the Vampire SlayerImageSource/Live-Action TVCrowd Song

alternative title(s): Nice Is Not Good; Evil Is Not Mean; Evil Is Nice
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