Darkness is associated with evil, ugliness, scary monsters, and super creeps. This is the reason for the naming of The Dark Side and why Evil Counterpart characters and certain Underground Monkeys often have 'dark' in front of their names. Like all Colour-Coded for Your Convenience/Good Colors, Evil Colors examples, this is common, but not universal, and will vary from culture to culture.
The logic behind the trope is as follows: most humans fear the dark, at least to some degree; our sight is the sense we depend on the most, and we cannot see well in darkness, therefore a lack of light makes us feel very vulnerable to danger.note Leopards, one kind of predator our ancestors had to deal with on the African plains, prefer to hunt on moonless nights so that they can sneak up on their prey. Humans that weren't afraid of the dark probably became leopard chow. Furthermore, the fact that it's so hard to see in darkness (well, for humans, anyways) has caused some of us to associate darkness with deception. Evil is associated with deception as well, so, from Star Wars to cowboy movies, a lot of bad guys wear black hats. If you want to be even more obvious about it, give the bad guy a name that has something to do with darkness.
If a character has darkness-based powers, see Casting a Shadow.
Stories where Dark Is Evil and Light Is Not Good are commonplace to show that the light can be just as foul as darkness.
Why Evil Is Not Well Lit, and why having the sun vanish is a bad sign. See also Light is Good, Bad Powers, Bad People, and Obviously Evil.
A Super Trope to Evil Wears Black.
Dark Is Not Evil is the inversion and the good counterpart of this trope. Another one is The Sacred Darkness, where Dark may or may not be evil, but is just as important as Light.
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Media in General
Black is the favorite color of the Card-Carrying Villain, as it is associated with the color of death in the western world.
Vampires, witches and necromancers are traditionally seen in black garb.
Ditto with the Ruler of Darkness, Hayate's completely Evil Twin that was formed from the remnants of the Darkness of the Book of Darkness during the climax of the Battle of Aces video game.
Mai-Otome: the main antagonists use dark-themed GEMs. Nina Wang has an Ultimate Black Diamond, which is said to be representative of her "extreme and mostly selfish" bonds with Sergay and Arika, which is the opposite of the selfless bond between Master and Otome exemplified by the original Pure White Diamond. Tomoe and the rest of the Valkyries use Cursed Obsidians of the Darkness, and Schwartz, named after the German word for black, is evil.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Darkness/Nightshroud twists these tropes for all they're worth. Since dark in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe is stated to be a form of raw potential that is moulded by human hearts, Darkness/Nightshroud is implied to be created from The Sacred Darkness specifically because humanity thinks that Dark Is Evil.
In Naruto, a cursebite that Orochimaru leaves on Sasuke during the Chunin exams is black, and the expanded marks when he wakes up are also black.
The Akatsuki members, for that matter, wear black garbs.
Magic: The Gathering: Black follows traditional "evil" aspects, like death, necromancy, demons, poison, plague, etc. However, the staff puts a lot of effort stating that Black itself isn't evil. It's just that 90% of the things associated with it are.
Marvel has Dormammu and Umar, rulers of the Dark Dimension. It's been implied that the Dark Dimension is something of a Fisher Kingdom, however, and millennia of Dormammu's rule has made it into the nasty place it is today.
Mother Gothel of Tangled dark hair, dark grey eyes, deep red dress and a black cloak (which is even more noticeable in contrast to Rapunzel, with her blonde locks, bright green eyes and bright purple dress). She's even shown blocking out the tower's natural light sources and snuffing out candles Rapunzel had lit during her Villain Song.
Likewise, some of Don Bluth's villains (at least those that don't go extravagant): Jenner is the only ostensibly black furred rat and wears purple clothes (though strangely other characters embody Dark Is Not Evil to a T), Sharptooth is of a very dark green/bluish hue and spends most of the movie in poorly lit conditions, the owls from Western Animation/Rock-A-Doodlewant to snuff out the Sun, Gnorga wears black and purple and has evil purple magic, Rasputin blatantly claims to use dark magic, et cetera. Even the Drej, beings made of pure light, have a very dark blue colour.
The Dark Side in Star Wars. Darth Vader wears a dark costume in the original trilogy and Darth Sideous wears a cloak so his face is in shadow. Word of God is that Luke wears a light costume and it gets progressively darker as he goes from innocence to accepting the dark side as something that exists and overcoming it as opposed to avoiding or destroying it. In the prequels, Anakin favors darker clothing than the rest of the Jedi Order, even before his turn to the Dark Side.
Nosferatu has a pale villain, but he wears a dark coat and needs darkness to survive. It's from this film that all modern legends of vampires and daylight not going together stem. In the original novel, Dracula was able to walk around in human form in the daylight.
Deconstructed sharply in Spike Lee's biopic of Malcolm X. In the prison library scene, Charles Dutton's character gives a monologue about the implicit association of darkness with evil and lightness with good in the English language, which has a profound effect on the man who would later name himself X.
The Dark Knight Saga: Surely, a group called the League of Shadows will do nothing but good deeds, right? Right...?
Darkness, a US-Spanish coproduction from 2002, plays this trope straight, if you couldn't guess from the title straight away.
From Legend, the demonic villain Darkness is a personification of the concept and wants to extinguish all life so he can subsist in the dead icebound world.
In "How to Murder your Wife", Jack Lemmon's Italian bride stays up late watching American movies on TV and keeps asking "Which are the good guys, the white hats or the black hats?" I think that whatever she knows or doesn't know about America, that's one concept she would certainly have learned in Italy.
In Rise of the Guardians, Pitch Black is the main villain (he's also known as the Boogeyman and the Nightmare King. He is basically the living essence of fear, and has dark grey skin, black hair, and black nightmare sand.
Dark Creatures or "Demons" (as explained in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) consists of any creature that can use magic and mainly uses said magic for malicious intent. Dementors are the most promenent members in the books.
And before him was his own master, Morgoth (which means "The Dark Enemy of the World"). Some of Tolkien's unpublished writings imply that dark is associated with evil because Morgoth's ultimate goal is to tear down the world until it is reduced to the original primordial void.
Averted with Tolkien's Dark Elves, the Moriquendi. While "Dark Elf" has come to mean evil in nearly every subsequent High Fantasy, the Moriquendi are simply Elves that never went to Aman and never saw the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. They're just as good, if not better, than any other group of Elves and are even represented by one of the most popular Elves ever, Legolas.
In The Wheel of Time, the Big Bad is called the Dark One (there are also other names, but Dark One is the most common one) and the evil side, i.e. everyone and everything associated with the Dark One is referred to as Shadow. Human servants of the Shadow are called Darkfriends, one name for the creatures that command the universe's Orc-equivalents is Shadowmen, and...yeah, maybe you get the point by now.
The Dark Faery court from Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. Although, this is possibly a subversion - they are more cruel than evil and need to be to survive. They are essencially emotional parasites, but Irial truly loved Niall and Leslie (although he was very cruel to them, using Leslie as an emotional conduit and stripping her of emotion and free wiil and allowing his servants and guards to both phsically and sexually abuse Niall), and although Gabriel comes into the 'abusing Niall' category, although only physical, he was NOT one of the fey who raped Niall - this is a common misunderstanding - and can be incredibly kind to his halfling children. Niall himself comes more under Dark Is Not Evil, although the injustices of the past push him more and more towards the moral grey area Iri and Gabe occupy.
Prevalent in Madeleine L'Engle books, starting with A Wrinkle in Time, where the Black Thing covers the world of Camazotz and threatens the planet Earth. In later books, the Echthroi (repeatedly refered to as "the powers of darkness") also gain an association with a horrible sound and a disgusting smell.
The Old Kingdom series is an example of both Dark Is Evil and Dark Is Not Evil, as necromancers and the Sealed Evil in a Can that they represent are the main antagonists, but then again, the protagonists also use Free Magic (which tends to be pretty nasty) to fight it.
In The Rape of the Lock, Umbriel (whose name means "Shadowy") goes to the Underworld (the pit of Ill-Humor) to bring up a bag of temper tantrums to create even more chaos.
In Warrior Cats, when villains die, they go to a forest of pure darkness.
Also, most of the main villains have been dark brown tabby toms, for some reason. Even Thistleclaw, a gray and white cat, accidetally got described as dark brown a couple times. Once fans pointed this out, villains began to have different pelt colors: Sol and Mapleshade are torties and Dark Forest cat Snowtuft is white.
Averted in Diana Henstell's NEW MORNING DRAGON, where the Devil insists on wearing white suits at all times.
In The Quest of the Unaligned, Darkness is one of the two "supra-elements", surrounding and infusing the four elemental magics. The dark aspect of each mage's power tempts him or her to abuse it, and must be mastered with training and meditation. On top of that, it is possible to become a hoshek, a mage aligned with Darkness itself. This grants access to all four elements, but With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the outfits of many vamps take on this trope. Also, The Bringers, servants of the First Evil, all wear black robes.
On Lexx, His Divine Shadow might as well wear a placard around his (black-clad) neck announcing that he is an Evil Overlord. Between the title, the black robe, and the decor of his planet-sized Evil Tower of Ominousness, it's pretty obvious.
LOST: an extremely blatant example—Jacob wears white and the Man in Black/smoke monsterwears black.
In a TV movie on the making of the Vietnam Memorial in DC, people kept objecting to it because it's black and therefore bad and makes their sacrifice seem bad. A black army officer stands up and reminds him of his years of service and that if anyone makes another comment on how "black is bad" they are going to take it outside.
In Babylon 5, the Psi Cops wear all-black uniforms, the Nightwatch wear black armbands, and the Shadows' ships are blacker than the darkest night. Londo's costume also subtly darkens as he becomes more involved with the forces of chaos.
Morgana Pendragon in Merlin started dressing like Bellatrix Lestrange in season four. In season five she strays from the Bellatrix look, but continues to wear black from head to toe.
Agravaine wears black.
Uther Pendragon is usually dressed in dark clothing as well.
In Zoroastrianism, the demon Ahriman is often associated with darkness.
The Bible describes Hell as the "outer darkness" in Matthew 8:12. However, this is largely both a mixture of mistranslations and Sadly Mythtaken. The words used for "hell" in the NT, "Gehenna" and "Sheol" ("Hades" in greek) referto a neutral, non evil underworld where all souls will wait until the end of all things foretold in the apocalypses of Daniel and John, in the case of sheol. Gehenna is just a dump where garbage and dead bodies are burned. The closest description to a wicked punishing "hell" the Bible gives is a river of fire and sulfur which hades/sheol will be thrown into, along with all those judged unworthy to leave it and live in the world to come.
The Black Legion of traitor Space Marines belonged to the Primarch Horus, and was the first to follow him in his fall.
The Ebon Dragon in Exalted. A fifty-mile-long dragon made of the shadows of everything, he's also the inventor and embodiment of the concept of being a treacherous, sadistic, needlessly cruelscheming asshole. In his case, Dark is so evil that it even predates the codified concept of Evil (which in Exalted is best described as 'acting like the Ebon Dragon'). Before becoming the Ebon Dragon, he existed as an entity referred to as the Dragon's Shadow.
Inverted in the beliefs of the Zykhee from VOR The Maelstrom - being evolved from a nocturnal species, their culture believes that Dark Is Good and Light Is Evil.
Vampire: The Masquerade gives us the Lasombra, the clan that leads the Sabbat and has the unique Discipline of Obtenebration. Not only is the darkness most often wielded by wicked people, but it's implied to be wicked itself - the clan's founder, a right bastard himself, is said to have merged with the Abyss that powers Obtenebration, and things can occasionally be called out of it that serve as twisted mirrors of a vampire's sense of morality.
BIONICLE plays this straight, but also subverts it: every character in the Matoran Universe has an inner balance of light and shadow. Those characters that tap into their dark side or are drained of their inner light turn evil as a result, gaining shadow-based powers and becoming darker in their coloration. At the same time, thanks to Color-Coded Elements, some element-based good guys also sport dark colors and a handful are almost completely black.
Darkrai. Freaking Darkrai. Did I mention he tells you to go kill yourself?
Also, "Dark", the English name of one of the 18 elements common to all Pokémon, was localized directly from "Evil", as the type is known in Japanese. This explains why many moves of the Dark-type involve doing immoral things like stealing or lying or having "bad thoughts". Though the type had relation to darkness even in the original games, such as Eevee evolving into Umbreon at night.
It's frequently subverted, though, as every species of Dark type Pokemon is shown to be capable of being good natured, contrary to what their Pokedex entries may imply. They do, however, often require more effort to max out their happiness then some other species of Pokemon.
Opoona follows this quite heavily, to the point that most people can't even enter true darkness without serious damage to their mind and body. Justified in that it's actually The Corruption, created by the ultimate Big Bad of the setting, though not the game itself.
All of the Prime Evils and Lesser Evils of Diablo are this. They are all full of evil and that is just a topping.
In the sequel, it is revealed that Hazama / Terumi Yuuki is this as well by virtue of his nice, black suit. Mu-12, who calls people by expository titles, refer to Hazama as "The True Evil", indicating that he is even worse than the Black Beast itself. (Those who have played the story up until that point probably gloss over this as a Late-Arrival Spoiler, though, because they've already seen what Hazama is capable offirst hand.)
In Minecraft, enemies spawn in any dark areas (whereas non-enemy animals spawn on grass in the light).
In Warriors of Might and Magic, you can't learn Dark spells, and the few swords imbued with the dark element aren't really strong. Furthermore, Skeletons, Ghouls, Undeads, Wraiths, and Demons have the Dark Element with them.
The RPG series notes that Dark magic isn't evil as such - it is how you use it that is important - but it includes spells whose casting can be called evil no matter the circumstances (sacrificing a hireling for a temporary advantage!) and is associated with the Path of Dark, a religion/philosophy that nigh-universally seems to attract cruel people that want to do bad deeds.
The Half-Life 2 mod Black Snow takes things to extremes: light, warm areas keep out the thing that's chasing you around the research center. It turns out that the thing is a predatory strain of fungus that can thrive in any environment but well-lit ones.
The Darkspawn of Dragon Age. The Taint that created them originated from the corrupted Golden City in the Fade, now known as the Black City. Subverted slightly in Awakening with the appearance of intelligent Darkspawn, but even then, the more antagonistic faction of the awakened Darkspawn wear black armor.
This deserves further clarification—the original IV equates dark-elemental abilities with The Dark Side, even having the dark-elemental protagonist's "Spirit" score drop as he levels up and becomes more hardened. As part of the plotline, he's eventually required to give up his powers and Level Drain with light-elemental abilities. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years goes a more balanced route—having been unable to completely purge his dark side, the hero is ultimately forced to accept and control it. Dissidia: Final Fantasy takes this all the way to Dark Is Not Evil.
The Hel element in Boktai is always evil. Period. While it can be used for good, it's implied to be much weaker (since it is the power of hatred), and there is the constant chance that it will corrupt it's user for good which only gets higher each and every time it's used.
Sabata: The dark gives me power... but it hurts me... eats away at my soul...
It's still up in the air where Sinfest falls in regards to this—devils aren't always evil, but the capital-D devil definitely is, and his influence is highly corruptive. (Then again, Light Is Not Good is in effect as well—the most moral characters are the ones who seek some form of balance.)
The main villain from Samurai Jack, Aku, is essentially a giant shadow demon, and things under his control are often artistically depicted as being wrangled by black veins. There's another element to his darkness as well, with robot enemies having black thick oil instead of blood, and his effect on the corrupting effect on the world is a pollution of it in some cases.
Aku takes it to the logical extreme in that he is essentially dark and evil itselfincarnate. This actually serves as a weakness for him: He's completely incapable of doing anything remotely good, to the point that it makes him predictable and even bites him in the behind when doing good would have benefited him more yet he couldn't help but be evil.
Both subverted and played straight with Raven from Teen Titans. She's not evil, but she is part demon, and that's the side of the family her powers come from. This means she has to maintain incredibly strict self-control, especially while using said powers, lest she lose control of them or, worse, unleash her Superpowered Evil Side.
In Allegro Non Troppo 1, all the animals are brightly colored and cartoony, except for those jerk-face apes with red eyes and black sclera who wreck the planet as they become human but remain vicious animals on the inside. Averted in the beginning with the black proto-blob, unless evolving out of human trash counts as evil.
Nightmare Moon from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic played this very straight, being a jet black Mad God who usurped Princess Celestia and plunged the world into eternal night. While her true self, Princess Luna, isn't evil, Word of God confirms that the rest of Equestria is still afraid of her partly because of her actions as Nightmare Moon and partly because they still believe in this trope. King Sombra takes this trope even further. He is described as having a "heart as black as night" and was able to subjugate an entire empire on his own with dark magic.
In The Super Hero Squad Show episode featuring Chthon (a grey, wrinkled, vaguely demonic man with claws, pointy teeth, and glowing eyes)...
Iron Man: So, what's your prognosis, Doctor?
[Doctor Strange sizes up Chthon, who is cackling and rubbing his hands]