Arson, Murder, and Admiration
When two villainous (or at least, Token Evil
) characters fight, the less evil one
will rail about how Even Evil Has Standards
, they've crossed the Moral Event Horizon
and what they've done is unforgivable...
and it was a nice touch to put lasers
on the carnivorous hamsters'
Mostly a comedy trope, this shows up as an inversion of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
with one villain complimenting another on how elaborate
their Death Trap
, Evil Scheme
, Villainous Monologue
, Evil Laugh
, Villain Song
, or they themselves are.
It won't stop them from fighting it out, but credit where credit is due.
A subtrope to Villain Cred
, the general respect a villain gets for their evil deeds from other villains. If it's a Villain Team-Up
, the Card Carrying Villains
will often compliment their allies/rivals for their evilness. Compare Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving
. Compare In Love with Your Carnage
when a villain falls in love with a hero due to the hero's violence. Contrast Insult Backfire
. If a hero or other non-villain is on the receiving end, this becomes Your Approval Fills Me with Shame
or just Baddie Flattery
. Compare and contrast The One Thing I Don't Hate About You
, where the hero admits he admires one
thing about a villain he otherwise despises.
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- Morticia in The Addams Family films lives this trope.
- In the first movie, Morticia compliments the man stretching her on the rack (who is sweating over the evil deed) as "having done this before". She also believes that she and the female antagonist could have been good friends were it not for the current unpleasantness.
- The second film has the following exchanges between Morticia and Debbie:
You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that. But please, may we see him? [later] Morticia:
You have gone too far. You have married Fester, you have destroyed his spirit, you have taken him from us. All that I could forgive. But Debbie... Debbie:
What? Morticia: ... pastels?
- The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult:
(undercover as a gangster, to the Big Bad
's mother): Mrs Dillon, your son is a ruthless, sadistic, cold-blooded animal. You must be very proud of him.
Muriel Dillon: I am.
- This little bit in The Pagemaster, when the books talk about Captain Ahab.
- Jabba and Boussh in Return of the Jedi after the latter threatens the former into giving him more money:
This bounty hunter is my kind of scum! Fearless and inventive!"
- Ishmael's father in Kingpin. The father tells Ishmael that he knows about the boozing, the gambling, and the partying...and how Ishmael got the lead character Roy to turn away from all that.
- From Robin Hood, after Prince John learns of the latest hit that his subjects have come up with against him and that both the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Hiss have somehow managed to learn the lyrics (and that the former had been singing it on his tax collecting sprees as of late): "They'll be singing a different tune! Double the taxes! Triple the taxes! SQUEEZE EVERY LAST DROP out of those insolent... musical peasants." Note that he sounded slightly amused when he got to the word "musical".
- Flesh And Blood (1985). After Steven's wife is kidnapped by mercenaries, he and his father go to the mercenaries' former commander Hawkwood. Steven bullies him into helping get her back by threatening the woman Hawkwood is caring for. As Steven has been portrayed up till now as rather bookish and ineffectual, his father laughs and notes with approval, "You're as ruthless as I am!" Steven just replies grimly, "When I have to be."
- Dexter greatly admires the artistic merits of the Ice Truck Killer's scenes. In the second book, he also admits to respecting the spoke of turning people into "yodeling potatoes".
- In Discworld book Mort a dying Evil Vizier takes this trope up to eleven: he compliments the emperor for killing him.
- Harry Dresden's magic adviser, Bob the Skull: whenever Harry appears to be acting more like Bob's Blue and Orange Morality, paranoia, and perversion, Bob semi-sarcastically cheers him on. Harry is rarely amused.
Live Action TV
- Dexter again (this time only the TV show) admits, at least at first, that he admires Trinity for his success in maintaining the life he's led. Downplayed in that Dexter still has every intention of KILLING him, but not before he can learn how to do the same with his own life.
- In Leverage, after Nate cons his dad into a situation where the Irish mob puts a contract out on him:
"You're more ruthless than me, crueler than me. Maybe you are better than me. I'm proud of you son."
- Blackadder II features one after Blackadder blackmails the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells who "drowns babies at their christening and eats them in the vestry afterwards" by arranging some very compromising paintings.
Bishop: You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church?
- A milder variation in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Series Finale, "All Good Things...". The Enterprise and a Romulan ship are facing a temporal anomaly in the Neutral Zone, when Picard recommends to the Romulan commander Tomalak that they pursue a joint investigation rather than "stare at each other from across the Neutral Zone".
Tomalak: Has the Federation approved this suggestion?
Picard: No, they have not.
Tomalak: I like it already.
- In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Abaddon congratulates a handful of demons on being "violent, power-hungry opportunists" although she finds fault with their reliance on deals and choice of meat suits.
- Used occasionally, such as when, after being betrayed by his tag-team partner Christian in a Battle Royal for the Intercontinental title (around 2003, perhaps?), Chris Jericho called him out...to congratulate him, and tell him he would have done the exact same thing if he'd thought of it. Then they hug. Awww.
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Etna uses Villain Protagonist Laharl as bait to get what she wants from Big Bad Wannabe Maderas, without either of them knowing. After Laharl finds out what Etna's intentions were, does he get angry at her for using him? ...no, he compliments her on how devious she is and promotes her to his right hand demon.
- Due to their lack of any actual morality, some Asurans in Guild Wars come off as somewhat evil. In one case the actions of the Asuran Tekks has instigated a war between two aboriginal frog-tribes. Her rival, Giriff, comments he would be impressed if he thought she'd done it on purpose.
- On the prison planet of Belsavis in Star Wars: The Old Republic, it turns out that the Republic was conducting experiments on alien prisoners by forcing them to fight one another and comparing the performance of each species. If you are playing an Imperial character, you can overhear the following conversation between two NPC scientists on the Imperial side.
Imperial Scientist #1: These experiments the Republic's been conducting—xenophobia, genocidal conditioning...I can hardly believe it.
Imperial Scientist #2: I know. It's ghastly, unethical...
Imperial Scientist #1: You know I had this same idea years ago.
Imperial Scientist #2: You—wait, what?
Imperial Scientist #1: Yes. I didn't have the backing or the resources to pursue it, but the hypotheses were there. Never imagined the Republic would beat me to it. Didn't think they had it in them.
- In Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, the Mandalorians as a whole regarding Revan. Revan thoroughly trashed them in the Mandalorian Wars, but far from being sore they have instead placed Revan on a pedestal. Canderous in particular describes Revan's use of expert tactics, and ferocity on the battlefield, and even Revan's defeat of Mandalore the Ultimate in tones of admiration. By Mandalorian values, Revan was the ultimate Worthy Opponent, and to face Revan in battle was the ultimate honor win or lose. And where pretty much everyone else is upset when finding out the PC is an amnesiac Darth Revan, Canderous instead becomes the Mandalorian version of The Knights Who Say Squee.
- In World of Warcraft, when you complete a quest in Ashenvale, Durak says this:
Durak: Tainting the Forest's Heart? How ruthless...an utterly vicious blow...I adore the idea!
- In X Men Mutant Academy, Professor Xavier has this to say about Gambit.
Professor Xavier: Your training has shown you to be unpredictable, unconventional, insolent and... An X-Man.
- 8-Bit Theater has Evil Princess Sara be "this close" to being proud of Garland after he got a villain upgrade with dark colored Speech Bubble. He's still a nice, Harmless, Affably Evil Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain though, which explains the almost.
- Inverted in Looking for Group, where Richard is criticized on not being evil enough. But then it was from a Kangaroo Court set up by The Legions of Hell...
- The Order of the Stick:
- Jenny, who met with and got a heavy crush on Belkar.
- Tarquin, to Roy after the latter caused major structural damage to the gladiator games arena. Roy is somewhat bewildered.
- In Tales from the Pit, Mark Rosewater receives hate-mail from an angry Magic player who accuses him of having "sytematically destroyed everything that was awesome about Magic" immediately before asking how to get a job in R&D.
- In the world of Girl Genius, Sparks will often fall into this, both protagonists and antagonists. When you're a genetically predetermined genius mad scientist, apparently you're prone to it. Classic example seen here.
- Inverted on Red vs. Blue: while Sarge is glad that O'Malley is killing all the Blues, he can't stand the thought that he now has a higher body count.
- Likewise in Teen Girl Squad.
Tompkins: Aw, come on prinicpal [sic] Strong Bad, I only stole one Sega tape.
Strong Bad: That's just it, Tompkins. You could have stolen upwards of one Sega tape.
- In Noob, Gaea discovers that the leader of the top guild of an enemy faction has a tax on all the faction's guilds. She initially acts shocked, but ends up calling the guy a genius due to the fact it's actually the kind of thing she'd do if she could. She still has a personal reason to be shocked since she just recently pulled a Heel Face Turn, she's one of the most greedy fiction characters out there, and she was made master of guild that happens to be very late in its payments.
- On Not Always Right, [a customer service representative goes wild on a racist caller on a recorded line. Naturally, the representative gets reported to management, who writes him up for rudeness to the customer... and then says this.
Hey, on a more personal note – good job! Don’t EVER do it again, but good job. All the managers have listened to it, and we were all rolling with laughter – we couldn’t believe that you stood up to him like you did. Just... you know; don’t do it again.” *wink*
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The pirate leader Hondo Ohnaka is informed that several of his men betrayed him.
Hondo: Traitors! Scum! I am so proud.
- Not just that, he unhesitatingly welcomes the traitors back into his crew when he convinces them to turn against their new masters.
- In the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Shredder and Krang would occasionally compliment each other's evilness (when they weren't getting on each other's nerves). Other villains also got some praise for their evil plans from time to time.
Shredder: Then you shall have the robot. I vow it!
Krang: Cross your heart and hope to die?
Shredder: What heart?
Krang: Shredder, you're my kind of guy!
- In Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time, Evil Overlord-wannabe turned Dragon Dr. Drakken complains that Shego has very poor villain form by refusing to gloat over her victory.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Lucius is woken up in the middle of the night:
Lucius: Someone is causing misery? At this hour? How productive!
- During the ReBoot episode "Identity Crisis", after Sirus had stolen a file containing the PIDs for a sector under Megabyte's control:
What you did was slimy, contemptible and downright distasteful. I loved it!
- It must be in the code, because Megabyte's "sister" (it's complicated) Hexadecimal once woke up to find herself imprisoned, damaged, in BONDAGE, and literally used as a power supply. By Megabyte. Her literal response was to have a psychotic expression on her unique face and bellow out "WHO DID THIS TO ME!? IIIII (changes her mask-face to a smile) like it!"
- Frequently occurs on Rocky and Bullwinkle in scenes involving Boris and Natasha, given their bad is good philosophy on life. Often Natasha would say something to the effect of "Boris, you sneaky, no-good, rotten scoundrel! You're my kind of guy!"
- On The Venture Bros., when Dr. Richard Impossible becomes evil—well, more evil than he had been up to that point—he exploits his former brother-in-law's Johnny Storm-like ability to burst into flames as a Power Source for his Manhattan office building. Unlike Johnny Storm, however, the victim has no ability to control his powers, and is in constant agony whenever he's conscious. Baron Ünderbheit praises this as the most evil thing he's ever seen.
- Averted in Rick and Morty when our Rick finds a machine created by the evil Rick of another dimension that tortures Morties to maintain a stealth field around his fortress. Our Rick says this is a bad thing to do, but is actually more hung-up with how poor the design is, as opposed to the grudging admiration he certainly would have had if Evil!Rick had used Rick's design (which he insists was only done on paper as a hypothetical).