Eunuchs Are Evil

"Why is it no one ever trusts the eunuch?"

So you've got a villain and you've got to give him a Red Right Hand, and your protagonist is the manliest of men. So, why not make your villain a Foil and remove his male organ? Especially prevalent in fantasy, the Evil Eunuch is simultaneously creepy and effeminate (and often snakelike too), which makes him an obvious baddie — think Sissy Villain meets Virgin Shaming.

Eunuchs tend to be Evil Chancellor types, in keeping with the myriad historical records of ruthless and power-hungry eunuchs in societies like the Ottoman and Chinese empires. These empires employed many eunuchs in key court positions under the assumption that since they couldn't have children, they'd have no reason to try to accumulate power for their families and would thus be more inclined to focus on the good of the empire. This...didn't always work.

If a villain like this has supernatural powers, it could overlap with Virgin Power and Disability Superpower. Compare Evil Albino, Evil Cripple, and Depraved Dwarf. Oh, and this trope has nothing to do with Unix outside of puns.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 

    Film 
  • Dragon Inn and its sequels/remakes New Dragon Inn and Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate featured evil eunuchs.
  • Evil Eunuchs are a Hong Kong cinematic tradition, as seen in Butterfly Sword and A Touch of Zen. If the movie has a fantasy bent, expect the eunuch to be some flavor of Evil Sorcerer.
  • Amber Sweet's psychologically-neutered valets from Repo! The Genetic Opera. They still have male genitalia and are traditionally masculine-looking beefcakes, but have had their sex drives obliterated to the point of incapability.
  • Heroic Trio plays on the Chinese myth of eunuchs being evil, mystical beings.
  • Jonah King from Drive Angry was literally emasculated before the film begins, and he heads a Satanic cult. The heroes spend the whole movie calling him "Dickless."
  • The villain in Orgazmo is blasted with the orgazmo ray so many times in the "climax" of the film that he returns in the epilogue for a Sequel Hook, proclaiming himself to be a eunuch and thus immune to Orgazmo's weapon (just like the villainious character they created in the movie-within-a-movie to bump off Orgazmo's character).
  • Possibly averted in Curse of the Golden Flower, where the court eunuchs and servants side with the Empress and the coup against the Big Bad.
  • 14 Blades features a particularly powerful Court Eunuch, Jia, as one half of a Big Bad Duumvirate. Until the other half decides he has outlived his usefulness, that is.
  • In The Lone Ranger, Latham Cole is hinted to have become a eunuch during the Civil War.
  • Inverted with Bob Paulson from Fight Club, who lost his testicles to cancer stemming from steroid abuse. Despite being duped into joining Fight Club and Project Mayhem, Bob is probably the nicest character in the whole movie, and he repeatedly demonstrates that he has plenty of figurative "balls."
  • Kull the Conqueror: Subverted by the royal eunuch, who seems set up to full an Evil Chancellor role in alliance with the two main bad guys in the Decadent Court, but he apparently remains ignorant of their (and later Akivasha's) schemes. His most morally ambiguous act is to insist to Kull that his kingdom retains the ancient laws permitting slavery.

    Literature 
  • Varys, the eunuch spymaster from A Song of Ice and Fire, has traits of this, but it's unclear if he's really evil. While he'll gladly stab anyone in the back, he tells Ned that he'll do anything to keep the realm relatively stable, as the last thing he wants is a repeat of the last war and all its casualties. However he does try to destabilized the realms, as its part of his plan to bring Aegon VI Targaryen to power.
    • Possibly inverted by Theon Greyjoy who is a jerk with his manhood intact, but manages to become more sympathetic after a Trauma Conga Line which is heavily implied to have involved emasculation.
  • In The Belgariad, the Deadly Decadent Court of Nyissa is staffed by eunuchs, most of whom are backstabbing poisoners as a matter of course. Subverted in the Mallorean sequel series by the former Chief Eunuch Sadi, an Anti-Hero who joins the protagonists and eventually helps save the world. Also, while most of the senior eunuchs are highly corrupt, their being made eunuchs in the first place was for reasons of necessity - when your country has been ruled by a succession of girls who spend pretty much their entire adult lives in a state of chemically-induced nymphomania for five thousand years, you have to do something to ensure that the civil service will be able to focus on getting their work done instead of servicing the queen.
  • The Elenium features the Elder God Azash, a God of Evil whom the Younger Gods castrated in order to reduce his power.
  • Not quite a eunuch, but Darken Rahl from The Sword of Truth series is implied to have a serious scarred, nearly burnt-off penis. But it's damn close.
    • Considering the amount of lovers he took, the damage was largely cosmetical.
  • In the first chapter of The Years of Rice and Salt, a boy from Africa named Kyu is Made a Slave and castrated before he's sold to an aristocrat in China. He eventually becomes one of the high ranking eunuch officials in the Imperial City. He isn't out-and-out evil, but is definitely a Creepy Child, Ax-Crazy, and possesses some Dissonant Serenity over the people he kills.
  • Evil Eunuchs have been a staple villain in China for centuries—the trouble started in the Latter Han period, where the Emperor would end up in a power struggle between his relatives and the imperial court, and the eunuchs who served him would be trusted with state secrets. (Romance of the Three Kingdoms chronicles such a power struggle that sees Dong Zhuo rise to power.)
  • Inversion. In The Emperor's Winding Sheet by Jill Paton Walsh the most admirable character was a Byzantine Eunuch.
  • Another inversion. In The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin(and sequels), The Hero is a nineteenth century Ottoman Eunuch who solves crimes.
  • This is a given in the world of the Judge Dee novels; 'The necessary but horribly dangerous source of evil in every palace!' And yet he clearly feels a certain respect for the Chief Eunuch in Necklace and Calabash. It's mutual.
  • The Alexandrian palace cabal in the Masters of Rome series.
  • Narses is an antivillain in the Belisarius Series. While a traitor and an assassin he is not particularly sadistic and has some claims to being an Only Sane Man. Interestingly he is not shown as effeminate; he is certainly more traditionally manly then the Vile One except in the strictly biological sense that the later has slave-girls as his favorite entertainment, while residing in his mobile palace so far to the rear of the battlefield as not to be in any danger. An entertainment which Narses is incapable of should he have been inclined to stoop to it.
  • Narses is a good-guy and the protagonist's mentor in Gillian Bradshaw's The Bearkeeper's Daughter. He himself says, 'When men curse eunuchs they make an exception for me.'
  • Mary Renault's The Persian Boy is a definite subversion. The narrator and protagonist is Bagoas, who was forcibly castrated at a young age and became the lover of both King Darius of III of Persia and, later, Alexander the Great. From the outside he might seem like a scheming eunuch, but because we see everything from his perspective and are privy to his train of thought, he becomes a very sympathetic character.
    • Renault took his story right out of the history books. To complicate matters, King Darius had had a Grand Vizier also called Bagoas, who was this trope to the hilt.
  • Inverted with Sazed in the Mistborn series, who is probably the nicest character among all the main characters of the series, and then he becomes the new god of the setting and saves it from total annihilation.
  • Played with in Everworld; Hel's harem-city is guarded by eunuchs, but one of them purposefully slips Jalil a hint that Galahad's sword could hurt her, which helps them escape.
  • Somewhat subverted by Count Hasimir Fenring in Dune, he's a scheming member of the imperial court who may have poisoned Emperor Shaddam's father. But when ordered to kill Paul he refuses ( Turns out, he's a failed attempt at a Kwisatz Haderach due to a genetic defect that made him sterile.)
  • Shukeli from The Scarlet Citadel was stated to have lost all normal desires, and only have cruelty in their place.
  • In The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry, there is a conspiracy of eunuchs to manipulate the course of Chinese history.
  • Played straight in Gore Vidal's Julian, set at the court of Julian the Apostate.
  • In The Smiling, Proud Wanderer by Louis Cha, Dongfang Bubai, Yue Buqun, and Lin Pingzhiall become eunuchs at varying points in the story to learn martial arts manuals. Dongfang Bubai practiced Sunflower Manual, which is actually a sister manual to the Evil-Repelling Sword Buqun and Pingzhi both learn. Both manuals give their practioners nearly invincible speed. Zig-Zagged considering most of the characters who try to learn these manuals are already villainous like Yue Buqun and his rival Zuo Lengshan but played straight by Lin Pingzhi who underwent increasing Sanity Slippage after learning it to the point of murdering the only woman who loved and supported him.
  • Played straight with the necromancer Korbal Broach in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, who's castration has made him obsessed with procreating by creating creatures out of stolen souls and dead flesh.
  • Dennis Wheatley's "The Euncoh of Stamboul." Given that Wheatley's villains are often disabled, ugly or otherwise malformed, one knows who the villain is before one even reads the first sentence.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Varys could be described this way, although that's not how he sees it even if he not entirely benevolent. He even lampshades it when Eddard is leery of the water he offers, asking with exasperation, "Why is it no one ever trusts the eunuch?" In later seasons, through Adaptational Heroism (he doesn't employ mutilate slave children as spies and doesn't carry out a pair of assassinations to throw the realm into political chaos) he's established firmly in one of the heroic factions.
    • Averted by Theon who suffers an involuntary penectomy only after showing remorse for some of his evil acts.
  • The Villain of the Week of one episode of Alcatraz was a serial poisoner who had lost his testicles when a bully threw a firecracker at him.
  • The Carver, one of the primary antagonists in Nip/Tuck was revealed as this as a plot twist and part of his character motivation.
  • Averted in Magnificent Century, where the eunuchs in the Royal Harem and are more like Gay Best Friends to the women there. Of special note is Sümbul, who becomes the closest and most reliable confidant of Hürrem Sultan, one of Suleyman's wives.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons: Oriental Adventures book had a Prestige Class based entirely around this trope called the Eunuch Warlock. Being evil is a requirement.
  • The Eaters of the Lotus from Feng Shui, an entire cabal of evil eunuch sorcerers.
  • Evil eunuchs (sorcerous and otherwise) also show up with some frequency in Martial Arts adventures in Hong Kong Action Theatre.

    Mythology and Religion 

    Theatre 
  • While it's nearly impossible to figure out what they're really thinking, Koby and Loby probably count as this in The Visit, since it was those two who decided it would be hilarious to set a vicious panther on the town of Guellen.
  • In Parsifal, the Big Bad Klingsor is implied to have castrated himself in a failed attempt to prove himself worthy of being a Grail Knight.

    Video Games 
  • Near the Thief's ending of Quest for Glory II, the hero must sneak past several eunuchs to get into the palace at Raseir - while not explicitly stated to be evil, they're Mooks of the very evil dictator who you're trying to overthrow, and if they see you it's game over. In the Mage's or Fighter's ending, there is one eunuch that can spot you, and you need to take him out before reinforcements arrive.
  • Suwonkas from Utawarerumono not only a VERY creepy Sissy Villain of the highest order, he also thanks the amazon to whom he was all Yandere for chopping his balls off, because they freed him from "the curse of masculinity." He does gets an in-universe Alas, Poor Villain from the woman that he went Yandere level Love Makes You Crazy for, though.
  • Salazar from Resident Evil 4.
  • The MMORPG Age Of Wushu has recently announced a faction of these called "The Rootless Clan". There's also The Sunflower Manual, a Harder Than Hard Prestige Class based on this archetype, which requires an absolutely absurd number of player kills to level up. In-universe the former were inspired by the latter.
  • Interestingly played with in China - The Forbidden City: While investigating a murder case that only ends with more murders, the player interacts with a great deal of Eunuchs (who are normal servants in the city). Since most are obedient, quiet and merely more then NP Cs, two are a important part of the plot and - of course - in on the murder plot. Though them being evil is less contributed to them being Eunuchs as them being able to move freely around the city.
  • It's offhandedly mentioned that Excellus in Fire Emblem Awakening is an eunuch. His behavior makes it rather obvious. He's also easily the biggest slimeball in the game, making even Gangrel look pleasant.

    Web Original 
  • One theory on Cracked proposes that Darth Vader of Star Wars fame lost his genitals in the same lava pit that destroyed his limbs on Mustafar. According to this theory, The Emperor wanted to recruit Luke to The Dark Side not just as another Sith apprentice, but also as a viable source of sperm for a Super Breeding Program. (If you're wondering how a eunuch could also be a Basso Profundo, Vader actually used an artificial voicebox, since his throat had been burned too. Moreover, even if he hadn't needed his vocal cords replaced, he'd already gone through puberty by that point, so losing his balls wouldn't have changed his voice from Hayden Christensen back to Jake Lloyd.)

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EunuchsAreEvil