A bowler hat is a rounded felt hat commonly worn from the 1850s to the early
, especially in Victorian Britain
and The Wild West
. Bowler hats were once considered the national hat of England, and used to be associated with the upper-middle class there, especially with bankers, in the early half of the 20th century.
Nobody is sure why bowler hats can be associated with evil characters, since most of the time they show a character who is civilized. Irony
, perhaps? Some creators might also be aware that a bowler is actually a fairly functional helmet (it was originally designed to protect gamekeepers on horseback from low branches), so a character wearing one may be anticipating getting into a fight.
Compare and contrast Dashingly Dapper Derby
Compare Nice Hat
, Sharp-Dressed Man
, Badass in a Nice Suit
, Evil Brit
, Dastardly Whiplash
- Batman's foe The Riddler dons one most of the time.
- In The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, presented by Rob Zombie, sub-story Suzie-X, the characters Bobbie Wulfgang and the Moloko Boys are werewolves who speak, dress, and act as an homage to Alex and his droogs from A Clockwork Orange. Only three of them wear bowlers.
- The Fetchers in Keys to the Kingdom are dog-faced monsters who wear bowler hats.
- The bledlows [Unseen University porters] in Discworld are generally petty bullies who victimise the students and have secret contempt for the wizards. They are described as not just wearing bowler hats, but having heads designed to wear bowler hats.
- Not exactly dastardly, existing in the overlap between Punch Clock Villain and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, but Mr Boggis of the Thieves' Guild is usually portrayed wearing a bowler hat. In Thud!, he refuses to replace it with a helmet when acting as a Special Constable.
- In Snuff, the groundskeepers on the Ramkin estate wear leather bowlers as a form of protection and signification of their profession. They're not villainous, but pretty rough characters.
- Less "evil" and more "annoying and unpleasant", but the Verucca Gnome in Hogfather is described as wearing "the type of hat known in various parts of the multiverse as 'bowler', 'derby' or 'the one that makes you look a bit of a tit'."
- Like his movie counterpart, Oddjob in Goldfinger wears one with a leadlined brim, making it a lethal throwing weapon. Using it for that purpose however damages the felt around it, forcing him to always repair it afterwards.
- The Japanese heel manager Mr Fuji was rarely seen without his iconic bowler hat in the WWF.
- Mackie Messer in The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill; AKA Mack the Knife. May be the origin of this trope, and inspiration for A Clockwork Orange's Alex and his droogs, as Alex also carried a sword cane (really more of a knife cane.) Retained in the film starring Raul Julia, although his character also wears a seal fur top hat in some scenes.
- Sally Bowles in Cabaret by Christopher Isherwood. While Sally is not sinister, she lives in sinister times, is given to inebriated debauchery, seduces men for favors, has no moral compass, and she most admires her friend Elsie, who died young "from too much pills and liquor, but when I saw her laid out like a queen, she was the happiest corpse I'd ever seen." And "When I go, I'm going like Elsie." Suicidal Weltschmerz indeed. Also retained in the film.
- Itchy, Clover, Sawbuck, Eggs, Biscuits, and Cans of mobster gang The Felt from Homestuck each wear one.
- In the Bugs Bunny short "A Hare Grows in Manhattan", the leader of the gang of dogs is a bulldog wearing a bowler hat. There was another bullying bulldog in Looney Tunes cartoons named Spike, who also wore a bowler, who was teamed with Chester the Terrier.
- Another Bugs Bunny short "Bowery Bugs" features Steve Brodie, after the historic Brooklyn Bridge daredevil jumper, as a derby wearing thug who is always looking for an easy score between bouts of fearful superstition.
- In one of Tex Avery's MGM shorts,Bad Luck Blackie, there is a black cat who caused bad luck to anyone whose path he crossed, wore a bowler. Though his evilness could be debated, as he seemed to only cause bad luck to those who deserved it.
- Most of the members of Warren T. Rat's gang in An American Tail.