Evil is Cool


"Why do the Decepticons always get the good shit?!"

There is a reason actors fight for the chance to play the bad guy. The lines are great, the costumes are awesome, the songs are spectacular, the villains often look much sexier than the heroes, and they don't have to spend the whole shoot pretending they are nicer than anyone they've ever met.

Plus, there are all those wonderful toys!

Why is all that true? Why does the bad guy get all the cool stuff? The more interesting the bad guy, the more interesting the story. It really is that simple. You don't have a story unless you have conflict. The bad guy in most cases is the conflict.

Plus, there are all those marvelous toys... Wait, we already said that.

Compare Good is Boring. Contrast This Is Your Brain on Evil, Being Evil Sucks (which deglamorize it), and Hate Sink (characters who deliberately lack any cool/redeeming traits). See also Balance Between Good and Evil. Those wonderful... Ahhh, forget it. The reason Love to Hate exists. Dark is Not Evil, Noble Demons, and some types of Anti Heroes are able to harness the coolness of evil without the actual evil. Compare the subtrope Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster when criminals are consciously portrayed as cool by the work itself. Compare Draco in Leather Pants when the coolness of the evil (among other things) makes fans think the baddie should be a good guy. Compare also Fame Through Infamy when being infamous is seen as as cool as being famous.


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  • The Canadian Sleeman Breweries recently launched a new ad campaign playing up the bootlegging activities of the company's founder John Sleeman. It also plays up George Sleeman, whose business was threatened by prohibitionists who'd managed to get anti-liquor laws passed in his hometown, after which he ran for mayor himself and repealed the prohibition laws.
  • Jaguar's ad featuring Jag-driving Evil Brits, with the tagline "It's Good to Be Bad."

    Anime & Manga 
  • JesuOtaku presents Top 20 Most Deliciously Evil Anime Villains.
  • The Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam. They have the fancy uniforms and scary Cyber Cyclops, and gained huge legions of fans in Japan and everywhere.
  • Played straight in X1999, where the main villain turns from rather dorky to very cool.
  • Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Movie, where Kaiba (the Anti-Hero) says to Yami (The Hero) during their duel "You're pathetic! No one cares about you! I'm the only reason people watch Yu-Gi-Oh!. Me, Seto Kaiba! I have all the cool gadgets, I have all the best outfits, and I have the most powerful monsters. Nobody would be watching this movie right now if it weren't for me. So just this once I deserve to win."
  • Inverted in Pokémon: Jessie, James, and Meowth can't do anything evil right, but are highly useful when they're working with Ash. Still doesn't stop half the fan base rooting for them however.
    • Played straight in "Training Daze", in the Japanese version, at least, where it is shown that Jessie and James were actually pretty cool.
    • And as of the Unova saga, they now have new black costumes, gliders, jet packs, a bunch of spy gadgets, and effectively kick ass.
    • Some of the villains in the movies also qualify - especially the ones from Takeshi Shudo's earlier movies, which tend to be both badass and justifiably sympathetic and relatable. Examples include Mewtwo (especially in the Japanese version due to much of its character being Lost in Translation) and Entei.
  • Light Yagami from Death Note clearly fits.
    • As do most of the other villains, especially Mello and Ryuk.
    • The author himself was shocked that so many people seemed to love evil characters such as Light. He probably decided to have Light lose and die at the end simply because so many people wanted a character he purposely made more evil to win.
    • That outcome was almost certainly 'planned from the start'. However, they probably made Light's epic crash and burn ending even harsher than originally conceived to drive home what they really thought of their "hero". Ironically, the last scene of the manga tries to soften the blow by showing a cult commemorating his deeds.
  • Examples in Code Geass.
    • Lelouch/Zero. Although not truly evil like, say, his father (see below), his methods are definitely questionable.
    • Charles zi Britannia, who's voiced by none other than Norio Wakamoto.
    • Britannia as a whole. A ton of fans tend not to see all the nazism and casual mass murder because of all the pretty uniforms and badass mecha!
  • In the Bad Future of Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi's students capture Takane D. Goodman and her posse, and (painlessly) Mind Probe them to know where Negi is imprisoned. This leads to the following exchange:
    Asuna: Don't we look like the bad-guys here?
    Haruna: Bad-guys are cool!
  • Black Lagoon runs largely on this.
  • Sir Crocodile of One Piece pulls this off almost too well. A list of atrocities can fill a book. However, he commits his evil acts while dressed like a blinged-out mafia don, complete with a ring on almost every finger and a pimpin' green fur coat. Not only that, but he controls an organization made up of Crazy Awesome badasses, owns a casino, trots around with a scantily-clad hot chick as his #2, keeps incredibly dangerous predators as pets, and is also made of and can control sand, and he has a hook for a hand. That's just darn cool. But he's such a bastard...
    • You can't one up a bastard-8 foot plus tall-knight-marine-Godfather-insanely choking-likely rapist-pirate who kills people by touching them named Crocodile...unless you are a silent-8 foot plus tall-gangster-pirate-superstrong-hetero-ninja who is also a sword named DAZ BONES. He's like Raven from Tekken, only bigger, stronger, a pirate, has no need for weapons, and has the greatest name ever hands down. His loss, or, actually, both of their losses, lost the strawhats fans.
    • All of the villains are incredibly awesome in their own singular ways. Though the best way to put it is...
      Y: Ruler of Time: on One Piece's villains How is it possible that these guys are so awesome I want to root against the Straw Hats?!
      • Well, not quite all of the villians. Oda does manage to occasionally introduce a villain that's so thoroughly unlikable that they're obviously meant just to be hated until they receive an immensely satisfying asskicking from the heroes. One notable example is Bellamy - before he returns post-Timeskip - , who's an imbecilic bully with a fairly dumb-looking power that he obviously isn't using to even close to its fullest extent who goes down like a bitch the instant Luffy decides it's worth the effort to bother fighting him. Another are the Celestial Dragons, a bunch of inbred spoiled brats whose impossibly self-centered behavior is only tolerated by anyone because they were born into nobility and thus have the Admirals at their beck and call. American audiences would throw Spandam into this category, but since he apparently enjoys some popularity among Japanese audiences, he seems to manage to employ Evil is Cool for them.
  • Negishi from Detroit Metal City is hated for his music, and generally considered to be a spineless douche by virtually anyone...until he becomes Krauser II in Detroit Metal City, a Death Metal band. And once there, he embodies this trope.
  • It says something about Bleach that the bad guys tend to be more popular than the good guys. Just look at how Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez and Ulquiorra Cifer scored higher on the popularity polls than Ichigo Kurosaki's Five-Man Band and their allies. However, the inverse is also true: for the longest time, Kaname Tosen was the least-liked of the thirteen captains, due to a vast majority of the fandom perceiving him as an insufferable, justice-spouting hypocrite, a view that was actually disproven by this time (he's more along the lines of a Well-Intentioned Extremist), but he remains as the second most maligned of the thirteen captains. Furthermore, Sosuke Aizen is, by far and large, the most hated of all enemies, due to being a combination of the Generic Doomsday Villain, Villain Sue, absurd Spotlight-Stealing Squad, and the embodiment of Gambit Roulette all at once.
    • Also inverted with the Xcution /Full-Bringers, who are insufferable sneaks who are objectively weaker than the previous enemies and have overall less interesting powers.
      • Played straight with the Vandenreich Quincies who have pretty much dominated all of Soul Society with their powers, while looking awesome in their Quincy outfits. Especially their leader, Yhwach, who has managed to kill Yamamoto that makes the latter look like a complete amateur.
  • Naruto:
    • The Akatsuki. Every member of it falls under this trope.
    • A surprising number of people have become fans of Sasuke after he stabbed through Karin to kill Danzo. This trope is probably the reason.
    • Two words: Madara. Uchiha.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando, the handsome and charismatic time-stopping vampire, with enough quotes to fit a book. The World Is Just Awesome.
  • Played with in 20th Century Boys.
    "I always found those justice-defending heroes in manga and on tv to be so stupid... the villains were always so much cooler."
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 has many notable characters from Garmillas, including Elk Domel, who is introduced in the series during his Curb-Stomp Battle against the Comet Empire; and Wolf Frakken, captain of a subspace submarine.
  • Izaya of Durarara!!.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has two crowning examples of this:
  • All of the major Dragon Ball villains fall into this with Freeza and Cell being the kings of it. Vegeta also qualifies as per being one of the most popular characters. Also an in-universe example when he makes a Face–Heel Turn to get his badassery back.
    • Among the movie villains, Broly. Turles and Cooler have their share of fans as well.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater, anyone?
  • Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index, before his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Cobra, Midnight, Jellal, and Erza Knightwalker from Fairy Tail
  • Lyrical Nanoha both uses and averts this. Fate, the Wolkenritter, and most of the Numbers were cool, but Precia and Quattro were unlikably evil, and Jail is something of a Base-Breaking Character.
    • The Hückebein is Force are an aversion. The power they have looks like it would push them into this trope, but fans thought they were TOO powerful and didn't have any traits to make them interesting. Funnily enough, they're actually one of the few that are traditionally, well, evil.
  • Lordgenome from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. On the one hand, he is a ruthless tyrant and Anti-Villain who doesn't care if his daughters live or die...on the other hand, he has rugged good looks and a cool-looking and powerful Humongous Mecha, and he can fight Mini-Mecha with zero weaponry whatsoever; by which we mean his bare hands, and almost tank a Big Bang-level attack with a scaled-up version of his mech.
  • Lordgenome owes much to his spiritual antecedent - Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the most famous and memorable villains in anime. His voice is cool, he's a Sharp-Dressed Man, his Scary Shiny Glasses and Finger Tenting are iconic, he's so much of a Magnificent Bastard that he manipulates the Big Bad committee and comes dangerously close to achieving his own personal victory, and his backstory and the explanation for his personality even make him a little sympathetic.
  • The Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. He has tons of copycat supporters, and in one episode, Motoko visits a chat room devoted to discussing how cool and rebellious the participants think he is.
  • Femto a.k.a. Griffith in demon mode from Berserk. He is, considered by most of the fanbase, the most despised villain for what he has done over the course of the story (and particularly for doing one very heinous deed to a lovable character). Surely, his actions are unforgivable!... But DAMMIT! Why does he have to look so friggin' awesome in that quasi- evil costume (since he's technically naked)?! And dude - he has the power to bend reality at his will! How awesome can you get??
  • Kotomine Kirei from Fate/Zero Badass Normal priest, with bullet-proof vestments, extreme skill in Baji quan and insanely accurate and deadly knife skills. Also Gilgamesh, King of Heroes, with a largest sense of entitlement/ego. And they team up.
  • Berg Katse from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has his fans. The messed-up childhood and cool new toy nearly every episode probably have something to do with it, even with the silly ears.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica gives us Kyoko Sakura, a badass Ax-Crazy Blood Knight Fiery Redhead whose callous and selfish personality contrasts sharply with the four other main girls introduced up to that point. In short, while the series' main villains are mostly a somewhat passive manipulative cat-rabbit thing and some mindless Eldritch Abominations, Kyoko is the first weapon-wielding Magical Girl to show an evil streak. To elaborate: when she first introduces herself to the two protagonists (at the time), she uses her very cool chain-spear-whip weapon to utterly trounce one of them around in, as the English dub calls it, "a bona fide fight to the death, for reals", all while giving a big "The Reason You Suck" Speech to them and munching on a taiyaki. Then we find out about her Dark and Troubled Past that shows her depth as a character, and she gets better. Much, much better.
  • Just about everyone in Hellsing, but Alucard and Alexander Anderson particularly stand out the most out of the lot.
  • YuYu Hakusho, Younger Toguro. Compare with villains before, he's only power being Hulking Out might seem lame at a glance, but he gets so much power from sheer brute strength that he can render flashy techniques utterly useless (and the fights with him are still damn cool to watch), and has force extremely powerful youkai into working for him without even fighting at full strength.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Alexander the Great is an Evil Brit, has a cool design, and gives the heroes quite a fight. It helps that, like fan favorite Yami Bakura, he's someone's Superpowered Evil Side. He also gets to perform Grand Theft Me on his descendent, Alex Brisbane.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • The Armored and Female Titan. For those into that kind of thing, the Female Titan might also fall into Evil Is Sexy.
    • Kenny Ackerman for his antipersonnel 3D maneuvering gear skills and overall Clint Eastwood-like appearance, though he's not entirely without some hammy qualities.
  • In-Universe, Panda from Shirokuma Cafe once showed up dressed wearing a Darth Vader mask and cape because he thinks bad guys are cool. Unfortunately, Panda doesn't really understand how to be evil or cool.

    Comic Books 
  • The Joker, in most incarnations. It doesn't matter whether he's a giggling, goofy clown prince of crime (e.g. the 60's Batman television series), a mass-murdering sociopathic Monster Clown (e.g. The Dark Knight), or a seemingly impossible mixture of the two (e.g. Batman: The Animated Series), he will inevitably overshadow every other character, have all the best lines, and, while Batman will always have the best toys (he's the goddamn Batman, after all), the Joker will find the most creative and spectacular ways to use the tools at his disposal. No matter what he does or who he does it to, he will make you laugh, because of the simple fact that he's just that good.
    • Discussed in an issue of Batman: Black and White, a short-story anthology. In this story, Batman and the Joker are actors playing their comic book roles as if they were roles in a movie. The Joker brings up the fact that Batman always gets to make a big, dramatic, splash-panel entrances, complaining that he never gets to look that good. Batman then points out that the Joker always gets the best lines, while he just has generic crime-fighting hero lines.
    • Batman in general is a magnet for this. When your main character is a traumatized billionaire dressed as a bat and you have villains drawing your attention far away from that, it really says something.
      Le Tueur: I have a confession to make: I only like the Batman because he has the best villains!
  • In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom practically owns this trope. He's a science genius (and a wizard) who wears a cloak and a suit of armor, rules his own country, and lives in a castle. And refers to himself in the third person! DOOM insists on it!
  • Archangel from the X-Men. He's the Super-Powered Evil Side of Angel, whose power is... flight and decent (not great) healing. Archangel has metal retractable wings which are dipped in poison and can be launched. Said wings are also razor sharp. Also, Archangel just looks cool. Needless to say, a lot of fans prefer Archangel.
  • Monsieur Choc, the main villain in the Tif et Tondu Belgian comic book series. He is considered so cool that he is the reason the series became popular in the first place, and the recent re-releases deliberately put him as the focus on the covers of the stories chosen.
  • The titular character of Lucifer is a horrible, destructive person, but (likely in reference to Paradise Lost below) is incredibly awesome all the same.
  • Daredevil villain Bullseye; even if he's a Psycho for Hire, he still has enough style that it's gained him many fans.
  • Played with in Sin City. The pure evil characters are usually pretty ugly and often cowardly, or just plain creepy. Some of the good guys, however, are at the extreme end of anti-herodom. The most popular tend to be Marv, Dwight, and Miho, who would normally be considered bad guys in any other work. They are also damn cool.
  • Superman's Arch-Enemy Lex Luthor, up there with The Joker as one of comics' most iconic villains. He is bar none, the smartest human in the DC Universe, and one of the most magnificent of bastards. He also gets a lot of Rooting for the Empire because he, a Villain with Good Publicity who worked hard to get to his station, goes up against Superman, a hero with better publicity than he who is loved by all just because of his alien heritage.
  • One arc in The Sandman features a convention of Serial Killers who think of themselves as this (they pick impressive-sounding names for themselves and think of themselves as Übermensch), but as the reader sees more of them their combination of petty delusions of grandeur, personal insecurities, copying of their predecessors and occasional stark-raving-madness becomes more obvious. This is ultimately confirmed when the eponymous Morpheus gives them all a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech, tells them that "Until now, you have all sustained fantasies in which you are the maltreated heroes of your own stories. Comforting daydreams in which, ultimately, you are shown to be in the right" and then uses his power as lord of dreams (and thus fantasies as well,) to strip them of their self-deception so that "you shall know, at all times, and forever, exactly what you are. And you shall know just how LITTLE that means."
  • Bronies seem to really like the idea of Rarity going evil in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) given all the fanart Nightmare Moon II has gotten.
  • Darkseid. He's a badass that can go to head to head with Superman, and on occasions has beaten him. But he's also a Chessmaster that rules over an entire planet and can come up with schemes that leave the universe trembling before he even bothers to get off his throne.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: Old!Loki, evil dick though they may be, is definitely considered cool. The fact that in their first full outing they successfully manipulated history itself and got away with it might be a factor.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: While they are a group of truly evil monsters who given half the chance would (and could) murder the entire cast, the Decepticon Justice Division count. And their leader Tarn in particular. It helps that most of them, Tarn in particular, just look badass.

    Fan Works 
  • Almost any villain in The Lion King Adventures would have to qualify. Hago, Scar, Death, Interceptor, Shocker, Nyoka, Virusi, and many more...
  • Princess Jody's Legion of Doom-type organization "Injustice Unit Patrol Squad" in Super Milestone Wars.
  • In The Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth, this gets deconstructed with the subject "Evil Is as Evil Does 101", taught by Sauron himself, to teach that Evil is more than calling yourself evil because it's cool and dark and edgy. Like causing a river of blood, at least.
  • Child of the Storm has Lucius Malfoy. The guy's as evil as they come, but he's also A Man Of Wealth And Taste, an even bigger Magnificent Bastard than Nick Fury himself, he's pragmatic, ruthless and proves that, despite the fact that he actually needs his Classy Cane to walk after Nick Fury destroyed his knee the night after the attack on Godric's Hollow, he is personally very dangerous by killing Baron Von Strucker. And it's recently been revealed that he's been manipulating everyone, good guys and bad. At the start, he managed to weld together an impromptu alliance of some Death Eaters and HYDRA, along with Gravemoss. Now, he's the undisputed Master of HYDRA with vast financial resources after inheriting or being granted control over a significant number of Death Eaters accounts, much of which is being invested by the Goblins on the London Stock Exchange, and he has command of the Winter Soldier. He's evil, but he's got style.
  • In The Fire of Futures Past, Bonnie (Experiment 149)'s response to being the villain of Nani's story is just the third word of this trope. She likes the idea of being the bad guy so much that she impatiently gets Nani to skip to the climax.

    Films — Animation 
  • Almost every Disney villain imaginable turns out to be cooler and much more lovable and funny than the protagonist. Having really awesome Villain Songs probably helps.
    • Hades from Hercules. Roger Ebert even said Hades brought, "something of the same verbal inventiveness that Robin Williams brought to Aladdin." In addition, he's such a fast talker he got The Fates, Megara, and Hercules himself to obey his whims, all while being a Card-Carrying Villain in the whole process.
    • Honest John and his sidekick, Gideon, from Pinocchio have one of the coolest songs in Disney history: "Hi Diddle Dee Dee".
    • Who was your favorite character from Fantasia? If you responded anything but Chernabog, the towering demon on the mountain from the end of the movie, your pants are now on fire.
    • Jafar from Aladdin and Iago before his Heel–Face Turn, one of the funniest characters in both the films and the tv series.
    • Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove is arguably the most entertaining character (with the possible exception of Kronk) in the movie in her own right, completely setting aside the issue of the protagonist being less than likable. And if her initial Villain Song, "Snuff Out The Light" had ended up in the film, she would've been bumped up even further. In-universe, this trope itself was lampshaded by Kronk's Shoulder Devil, who promised to lead Kronk "down the path that rocks!"
    • Scar from The Lion King. He's a regicidal, fratricidal bastard, and yet none of us can shake off just how much we love Jeremy Irons. Aside from that, he has to be among the Disney villain whose plans reach fruition the fastest (halfway through). For most villains, even in general, they have to wait till the third act to get their dark rewards. He keeps them longest, too, leaving aside folks like Maleficent, who wasn't looking to gain anything as such. Plus, he has one of the best Villain Songs ever.
    • And, if you consider them to be truly evil, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed take this trope Up to Eleven. They have a dark, sinster design, look very badass (even if they aren't much), provide great comic relief, create good chemistry, and take down the villian themselves. Oh, and Shenzi is quite popular among furries. Interestingly, the 1995 TV series tones them down to Loveable Rogue territory, as if the creators realized how they were being received.
    • Zira continues his legacy in The Lion King II, with her relatively more intense Villain Song.
    • Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
    • Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. No one overshadows-their-respective-protagonist like Gaston!
    • And what about Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty? Probably the most obvious Disney Villain example! Why because she can summon lightning and a valley of thorns when angry, yet is subtle enough to hypnotize Aurora into touching a spindle of her own creation, captures the prince before he can save the girl and oh can turn into a dragon that causes everyone to go "Oh Crap".
    • The villain of The Princess and the Frog breathes this trope. Dr. Facilier (voiced by Keith David) is a nasty piece of work: powerful, scheming, persuasive, stylish, charismatic, and he has an awesome Villain Song. Now this is following tradition!
    • Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame fits, too, and he has not one, but TWO heroes to overshadow. It helps that he has probably the most audacious and amazing villain song ever, and that neither hero is really interesting enough to stand up to a character with as many layers as Frollo. And then there's Tony Jay's voice. Frollo seems like an attempt to subvert this trope, though. Instead of being a Card-Carrying Villain, he is a self-righteous, genocidal Knight Templar. Instead of being some wisecracking Evil Sorcerer (like a LOT of their villains are) or some macho hunter (like Gaston and McLeach are), he is a skinny, old, prudish, religious judge. One cannot help but wonder if they saw people root for Scar and the hyenas, thought "wow, they rooted for some power-hungry dictator who murdered his own brother? Let's give them a villain they couldn't POSSIBLY root for!", and created Frollo...but upon witnessing the Misaimed Fandom, gave up and created Hades.
    • Appropriately enough, considering his contribution on the quotes page, Vincent Price as Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective. They even wrote a Villain Song just for him, and he said it was some of the most fun he ever had making a movie.
    • In The Jungle Book, there's the suavely spoken, Affably Evil, badass tiger Shere Khan.
    • The Black Cauldron may have not been a smash hit, but the Horned King is by far the most redeemable part of the movie, being subtle, yet terrifying and can get scarier when excited.
    • Home on the Range may not be Disney's most well-received film, but Alameda Slim is a popular character due to his hilarious and catchy Villain Song.
    • Heck, this trope is the whole reason animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston wrote their book The Disney Villain, which covers the creation and thought process behind the Disney foes from Peg Leg Pete up to Jafar. Over 50 of the Renaissance era Disney animators actually asked them to make the book, and decided "Sure, why not?"
  • The sexy, singing smog cloud that was Hexxus in FernGully: The Last Rainforest (voiced by Tim Curry, no less)
    • Really, any villain played or voiced by Tim Curry will shine so much that it can be almost dangerous in how awesome they turn out. Screw the protagonists, let's throw them in a death trap so we can hear the bad guy do that evil laugh again!
  • Sharptooth from The Land Before Time. Despite killing Littlefoot's mother, there is no doubt he is this, and probably the coolest Tyranosaurus ever to appear in an animated film.
  • In Rango, this is pretty much the reason behind Rattlesnake Jake's popularity. The Rule of Cool runs very high for him; he's a black hat rattlesnake western outlaw modeled after Angel Eyes, he weaves words of hellfire and damnation into his speech (which is provided by Bill Nighy), and has a Gatling gun grafted onto his tail. He's Creepy Awesome and Crazy Awesome all rolled into one!
  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda, all the way. He's also one of the most sympathetic characters in the film.
    • And Lord Shen from the sequel, as well. Never before has a peacock of all things been this badass.
    • Their respective voice actors have a lot to do with it.
  • Pitch Black from Rise of the Guardians. He's extremely creepy, he has a sympathetic motivation for his actions, and he has an army of literal nightmares.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars
  • Frank from Once Upon a Time in the West fits very well to the trope. Its combination of badass, Professional Killer, Deadpan Snarker and his suit practically makes him a cool villain.
  • Arguably the point of mob films like The Godfather, Scarface (1983) and GoodFellas.
  • The Matrix has an obvious example of this trope: Agent Smith. Hugo Weaving in general apparently loves playing awesome bad guys. Take a look at V and Red Skull Even more so, Megatron (see below).
  • Cesare. There's a reason that so many other characters - usually nicer ones - look like him.
  • Clu from TRON: Legacy. He has really nice vehicles, some great headgear, pretty badass Elite Mooks, and a faceless Dual Wielding dragon that happens to be a Brainwashed and Crazy Tron, and not just a random grunt. All covered in orange or red Tron Lines.
    • Clu's aforementioned Dragon, Rinzler. He has a cool outfit and mad fighting skills, and his being Tron himself not only makes him cooler, but also makes his Heel–Face Turn and subsequent Heroic Sacrifice that much more poignant.
  • Legend (1985) thrives on this. People may complain that Tom Cruise isn't wearing pants and there's glitter on everything, but those horrifically cheesy lines the Lord of Darkness provides? Priceless.
  • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn fits this trope well. He was at coolest while talking to himself and wigging out. Being played by Willem Dafoe also helps out.
  • Spider-Man 2: Played perfectly straight. Doctor Octopus is made of win.
  • Spider-Man 3:
    • Subverted in a way when Peter Parker is possessed by the symbiote. He thinks he becomes this, but he is still noticeably our favorite geeky and clueless hero— he's just now arrogant and out of control. Though eventually he realizes that the symboiote is corrupting him and gets rid of the symbiote suit before more harm can be done. Furthermore, the symbiote eventually merges with Eddie Brock, who is noticeably slimy, unctuous, and creepy.
    • Harry Osborn gets this treatment in the 3rd film. Calmly rubbing a break up in your best friend's face is so wrong, but boy did Harry make it look cool. Especially while he is enjoying a pie. Plus this guy went through some of the worse beatings in the film and STILL survived most of them.
  • Darryl Revok of Scanners. Bad, bad dude. Pow. Michael Ironside always invokes this trope, whether its either Darkseid or Richter, even when playing a nominally good guy.
  • Applies to various evil monsters in the Godzilla movies, especially the Godzilla Final Wars version of Gigan that gets chainsaw hands for the final battle. Also applies to Godzilla himself in the films where he is evil.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Queen Jadis in her bright attire out-cools almost all of her opponents on the battlefield, possible because actress Tilda Swinton is inherently cool in all her roles.
    • In Prince Caspian, nasty uncle Miraz has some of the best lines (although it's hard to beat Edmund), the best beard (not counting Aslan's), and probably the genuinely best set of armour. Miraz was less cool in the book, but the all-dialogue scene in the Howe with the hag and the werewolf was one of its most memorable bits, mostly due to the werewolf's creepy bragging. It ranks up there with Aslan growing delicious grapes for everyone and the duel.
  • Blood Feast is a great example of this. Fuad Ramses is the only good character in the whole movie.
  • The independent horror/comedy film Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon has the coolest new killer who looks up to Jason and Freddy, who lets a crew document his future reign of terror. Leslie Vernon is not only charming, witty, and genuinely friendly; before beginning his legacy, while in a library, he says, "Paradise Lost? Found it!" while grabbing John Milton's Paradise Lost. And he keeps turtles as pets and then tells the young woman interviewing him that he only kept pets that he could eat. His mask is amazing as well.
  • Avatar. Colonel. Miles. Motherfucking. Quaritch. Works out to stay strong on a planet with weaker gravity, commands a platoon of tough ex-armed forces mercenaries, rocks a customized mecha with a freakin' dragon painted on the gun barrel and a huge-ass combat knife, holds his breath, kicks down a door and steps into toxic air simply to pursue a traitor with his assault rifle, sports scary scars on one side of his face, and rides to battle in the Dragon Gunship while sipping fine Arabica Roast coffee. That he possesses the courage and determination to keep fighting no matter the odds merely adds to his Colonel Badass bona fides.
  • The Lord of the Rings films bring a perfect examples of this.
    • While the men of Gondor are just a bunch of unshaven men wearing plate mail, Sauron has not just his orcs and trolls, but the soldiers of Rhûn, spearmen with remotely creative looking armor and warchants that sound like the Haka, and the Haradim, who ride Mûmakil, which are essentially the ninety foot tall war elephants that Hannibal had wet dreams about. Their impact onto the frontlines of a charge from the Riders of Rohan (which had routed an orc army of dramatically superior size) was a moment where even the orchestra abandoned the forces of order as the Haradim rampaged through the helpless Riders until driven off by the Strong as They Need to Be protagonists.
    • Plus, Sauron's armour is ridiculously cool looking. Spikes everywhere, a huge, crownlike helmet that looks like a horse's skull, and the whole thing has a faint and delicate poison ivy motif etched into it.
    • Also, just as applicable, Saruman. It helps being played and voiced by Christopher Lee.
    • For a giant eyeball, Sauron is quite cool-looking himself. And then there's the Nazgûl.
    • Even though he was a minor bad guy, the Uruk-hai captain that popped up at the end of the first flick was also cool. He's one of the few characters that gets to smack Aragorn around a little, does a really cool Captain America-like shield throw, and has the audacity to shove Aragorn's sword into his gut the rest of the way with utter contempt and defiance.
    • The Balrog, who is probably the Boba Fett of the movies series: he's a One-Scene Wonder that takes out a major hero for the remainder of a movie and is one of the more memorable characters.
    • Smaug, ALL THE WAY, in the second Hobbit film. He's brought down kingdoms single-handedly, and he's voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Keyser Soze of The Usual Suspects is clearly a monstrously evil man if even half of the things said about him are true, but his coolness in doing them is indisputable, particularly given the famous twist ending has made him a by-word for the Diabolical Mastermind.
  • Hannibal Lecter—is there a character more evil, or more cool?
  • Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. Despite being a Nazi officer, his intelligence, smooth and confident demeanor, and being a polyglot serve to make him probably the biggest Ensemble Darkhorse in the movie.
  • Col. Koobus from District 9. He's undeniably a Colonel Badass in every respect (though also a mass-murderer, which hasn't stopped a Misaimed Fandom bordering on Draco In Leather Pantsing).
  • The Skeksis from The Dark Crystal are perhaps the most entertaining characters in the film due to their ruthlessness, especially skekSil the Chamberlain. He holds off the terrifying Garthim sicced on the protagonists through his own will, and singlehandedly topples an enormous stone arch with one hand.
  • The Dark Knight Saga:
  • Subverted with Roman and Minnie Castevet in Rosemary's Baby - the tackiest Satanists ever.
  • Gabriel from Constantine. Also, the Devil and Balthazar.
  • The Decepticons of the Transformers Film Series, as they usually are in most Transformers series. Case in point: the Autobots are limited by their desire to make Earth their second home, and must take on friendly appearances and altmodes to blend in with civilians. The Decepticons, on the other hand, have no such limitation. Therefore, they take on the forms of tanks, F-22s, and satellites, or, in the case of Megatron and Shockwave, simply reject reformatting their original forms. Additionally, they have access to numerous weapons, ranging from Transformer-sized fighter jets to a giant mechanical worm that serves as a war beast. Even the humans are aware of this, as Epps, at one point, asks to no one in particular "How come the Decepticons get all the good shit!?"
    • Megatron (as mentioned above) is possibly the best example of this among the 'Cons themselves, especially in the first movie where he's at his most Ax-Crazy and badass, and is easily the most interesting and entertaining of the robots in the movie, despite getting less screen time than the humans or Autobots. Oh, and he's voiced by Hugo Weaving (see above).
  • While Cats & Dogs gets flak from cat lovers for making all felines villainous, it does redeem itself a bit with this trope, with Mr Tinkles and his henchmen often claiming more amusing personalities and gags than the heroic dogs.
  • Labyrinth; the bad guy is David Bowie and he has Adorable Evil Minions; need anything more be said?
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
  • Man of Steel: Zod and his minions sport some pretty badass ships, armor and weapons, that's for damn sure.
  • Vincent from Collateral dresses himself in some badass threads, is dangerously efficient as his job (case in point), has a fairly extensive knowledge of jazz, and is pretty friggin' handsome.
  • Terminator runs on this with the titular machines, so much so that the one played by Arnold Schwarzenegger got promoted to be a good guy in the second movie.
  • Predator, the titular villain proved to be far more remembered than the movie's heroes thanks to it be a badass that can Curb-Stomp Battle Arnold Schwarzenegger in a fist fight in addition to its cool weapons.
  • The Hellfire Club from X-Men: First Class. What else did you expect with villains that seem to have just stepped out of a Bond movie?
  • In-universe for Ra One: video-game designer Shekar creates a game with an unstoppable cool, evil, and undefeatable villain for his villain-fanboy son. It turns out the kid should have been careful what he wished for...
  • In-universe in Pacific Rim, where evil Kaiju are coming out of the ocean to kill humanity. The scientist Newt loves Kaiju, has tattoos of them on his arms, and even wants to see one up close some day. He's viewed by the others as a freak bordering on The Quisling. On one hand, 2500 ton giants with wings and knife-heads and acidic saliva and tentacle tails. On the other hand, murderous monsters. And eventually, he gets his wish. Twice.
  • Gazelle from Kingsman: The Secret Service, the badass double amputee with Absurdly Sharp Blades for legs and enough skill to vertically bisect a Kingsman before he knew what hit him.
  • Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron, even more so than usual. Many found him a worthy successor to Loki, even more as Ultron actually fights the heroes by himself, is eight feet tall and sounds like a mixture of an ultra-snarky Tony Stark and Handsome Jack.
  • In-universe with the Indominus Rex of Jurassic World. This Mix And Match Critter mutant dinosaur was created by Masrani geneticists to replace good ol' Rexy as the biggest, baddest super-predator mascot of the park.Too bad she's also a psychopathic killing machine.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Alias: Julian Sark is the epitome of this trope. He's young and attractive, he frequently wears expensive, elegant suits, and his dry sense of humour produces numerous amusing quips. Sark even sports stylish sunglasses to enhance his villainous awesomeness.
  • In Family Matters, Extraverted Nerd Steve Urkel's formula based off the "cool gene" transformed him into Stefan Urkél, who was suave but amoral. However, this was subverted in Stefan's next appearance, where Steve revealed that he'd accidentally involved the "evil gene" in the formula; from then on, Stefan was both cool and nice.
  • For some reason, evil, batshit insane, brain-stealing villain Sylar from Heroes is a lot cooler than sane, geeky Sylar. Apparently, evil wears contacts. Ditching the specs (and also acquiring stubble) seems to be mandatory for characters taking a walk on the dark side.
    • The ruthless Adam Monroe scores much higher on the coolness factor than either Hiro Nakamura or Peter Petrelli, the two heroes that he interacts with.
  • Buffy/Angel:
    • Spike, who, before he was turned into a vampire, was laughed at and wrote "poncy poetry", whereas when he was sired, he became all bad ass. (His actor, James Marsters, has since made this his specialty, as the rest of this page shows.)
    • Evil Angel is about seven times cooler than Good Angel. It probably has to do with the lack of brooding. Evil Angel is funny. He also gets several times smarter when he goes evil, which was lampshaded in the episode Awakening.
    • In an alternate universe, Xander and Willow got rid of their geeky sides after vampirization, instead opting for black leather and a smooth demeanour.
    • Faith thought this for a while, mostly as a resultof her living conditions improving (going from living in a roach motel that could be and was attacked by vampires, to a giant studio apartment that had all the furnishings and luxury items one could want), until she saw what she had become and attempts suicide by Angel, then Buffy.
    • Consider Wesley from Angel: glasses on — the scholar and gentleman of the group. His attempts to be baddass are laughable. Glasses off — beds Lilah, keeps a woman tied up in his closet, breaks rogue Slayers out of jail, and tortures junkies for information.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks, especially in the revived series. They might look goofy at a glance, but they are a Higher-Tech Species and a single one them can take own dozens of armed humans with ease, and that's without bringing in their bigger weapons.
    • Contrast Patrick Troughton as the playful and impish Second Doctor, and as the frilly-shirted, pleather-covered, exotic and sleazy Diabolical Mastermind Salamander in "Enemy of the World". Similarly, contrast Tom Baker as the childish and manic Fourth Doctor, and as the dominating, darkly charismatic and sadomasochistic Evil Twin Meglos. Both of the Doctor roles are Adorkable. Both of the villain roles ooze a staggering of coolness that you would not see in the Doctor performances.
    • The Master, in all his incarnations.
    • Also Davros.
    • All three of the villain characters played by Peter Miles - Dr Lawrence, Professor Whitaker, and especially Nyder. And all in different ways - Dr Lawrence is Evil Is Hammy, Nyder is Creepy Monotone, and Whitaker is pretty much exactly between the two.
    • Brother Lassar. He's played by Anthony Head. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Captain John Hart of Torchwood. Kills someone and then says, totally bored, "Thirsty now". Casually admits he killed someone, apologises for the mess, clears a bar of all he considers ugly, and orders one shot of every drink in the bar. Then drinks what appears to be a bottle of Vodka. In one go. With no noticeable side effects. Comes out with regular quips. The only person who really gets the better of him is Gwen Cooper. It helps the same actor played Spike in Buffy, and there is a definite similarity between the two.
  • Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, possibly the only political satire character ever to have been likened to Darth Vader.
  • Ba'al from Stargate SG-1. He's the one System Lord who wasn't handed an Idiot Ball, and, as a result, causes all sorts of unexpected trouble for SG-1. True, he also usually wears some really nice clothes that seem to be specially tailored. He's also one of the more fun, hammy Goa'uld, partly due to his pride and being a bit of a Deadpan Snarker with a really good plan.
  • The villains in Batman were always more colorful than Batman and Robin. No wonder so many established actors were willing to play them!
  • Mark Sheppard plays delightfully evil characters in Firefly, Supernatural, Leverage and White Collar, among others, that seem to come out on top and have lots of fun while doing so. From his shiny shoes to his amazingly charismatic voice, he effortlessly manages to outshine and out-cool the regulars on the show.
  • "Chaos", a rival computer hacker on Leverage seems to genuinely believe this and adopts it as his personal philosophy.
  • Supernatural: Castiel seems to get more bad ass and confident as he turns to the dark side in Season 6.
    • Also, lots and lots of the smarter villains. Including a season-seven appearance by an aging James Marsters, playing an apparently immortal witch capable of treating our god-killing heroes like gnats. Many of the coolest ones get Enemy Mine situations (like Crowley) or turn out to be fairly decent, or at least relatable, like Patrick the Gambler.
  • Scorpius from Farscape is this, right down to the leather clothes.
  • This is why Tubbs and Edward and Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen are the most remembered characters: they're easily the most fucked up.
  • Smallville:
  • Just in general, on many reality TV shows, the villains are much more memorable and recognizable than the heroes are.
  • True Blood:
    • Russell motherf*cking Edgington. Especially aided by Denis O'Hare's performance.
    • His husband Talbot could count as well, although he's not quite as evil.
    • Maryann kind of broke the base on whether she was this trope, or just plain tedious.
    • Lilith. Even in-universe.
  • Generally averted in Criminal Minds, where the various killers usually come across as rather pathetic as soon as they're not in a position of power, (they are usually trying to fulfil some fantasy or make themselves feel better about some perceived deficiency in themselves,) and the whole focus of the show is on The Profiler team proving themselves intellectually superior to the killers by outsmarting and catching them. The only exceptions to this tend to be killers like the Boston Reaper, who gives off this vibe due to his extremely high level of competence and his apparent lack of any fantasy-fulfilment (he just kills because he's an evil sadist who enjoys tormenting his victims and being notorious).
  • Once Upon a Time: Brings us Rumplestiltskin, Regina and Captain Hook.
    • Averted with most of the other villains though. Cora was too relentlessly monstrous, Greg and Tamara were just boring (and clearly pawns), and Peter Pan was just a selfish dick.
    • Maleficent. Her dragon-fire burned so hot that it reduced an entire forest to nothing but blackened branches - and left a single tree still burning for "half a lifetime", as Rumplestiltskin puts it. She was also powerful enough to put a sleeping curse on all of Storybrooke in mere seconds without breaking a single sweat. The good guys really have their work cut out for them this time.
  • Power Rangers; the good guys are cool and all, but let's be honest, the Monsters are the real stars; creativity in these things is the key that's made the show so popular.
  • Mike, Gus, and Walt from Breaking Bad are undeniably villains, but they're so brilliant and badass that it's hard not to admire them.
    • For an even clearer example, Walt is far cooler when he adopts his Heisenberg persona than he is when he's being himself.
  • Any good Super Sentai villain should embody this. Prime example is Shinkenger's Big Bad Dokokou. He's taken on the titular heroes more than once and flattened them. He manages to reduce an apparent Dragon-in-Chief Akomaru to Big Bad Wanabee when he appears.
  • House of Anubis:
    • Rufus Zeno, being genuinely manipulative, savvy, and insane, just enough to be well liked by fans.
    • The Sinner versions of the Sibuna members were liked partially for this reason. They were confident, manipulative, cruel...and very entertaining to watch even as they did horrible things.

  • This is a key part of the appeal of Gangsta Rappers such as Eazy-E, The Notorious B.I.G., Kool G Rap, Ice-T and N.W.A..
  • No mere mortal can resist.. the evil of.. The Thriller!
  • Jace Everett's Bad Things. There's a reason it was used as the theme song for True Blood.
  • In the same vein as John Milton, "Please allow me to introduce myself/I'm a man of wealth and taste..."
  • The majority of all black and Death Metal rejoices in evil, be it Satanism, genocidal misanthropy, National Socialism, the violent kind of Odin-worship, or any other flavour of evil.
    • Often subverted in the lyrical content, however. A lot of black metal is individualistic in the Nietzsche Wannabe tradition, while death metal tends towards either nihilism or more traditional "punk ethics". In these cases, the Evil Is Cool aesthetics are intended to be provocative and anti-social, rather than to be taken at face value. It's much less a rejoicing in actual evil as it is simply an embracing of this trope at an aesthetic level. Lyricists are aware that people, and they themselves, find villains, darkness, and horror to be interesting. As bands like Cannibal Corpse have said, very few extreme metal bands take their own lyrics seriously, and those who do are usually rather unstable. As Black Sabbath also stated, they're intended to be viewed much in the same light as horror films. A lot of bands simply use their music as a Villain-Based Franchise.
  • Without a doubt, the coolest song in The Decemberists' Rock Opera The Hazards of Love is The Rake's Song, which happens to be a man casually telling the story of how he nonchalantly murdered all his children.
  • Powerman 5000's "Super Villain" song. That is all.
  • Dr. Steel. Many fans like him not for the music, but for the incredibly cool Steampunk Villain getup.
  • There's this line from Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young":
    They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
    Some say it's better but I say it ain't
    I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
    The sinners are much more fun
    • As Joel himself points out, however, this is a subversion, as neither this nor the rest of what the singer says seems to be very convincing to Virginia.
  • Theory Of A Deadman has the song "Villain":
    Everybody wants to be like me
  • "In the Flesh", "Run Like Hell", and "Waiting for the Worms" from The Wall by Pink Floyd are all about the main character hallucinating about being a Neo-Nazi. They are also some of the best songs on the album.
    • The film version takes it further, with "In the Flesh" being an orchestral reprise at a Neo-Nazi rally, "Run Like Hell" showing the Neo-Nazis attacking various minorities, and "Waiting for the Worms" featuring an animated sequence with goose-stepping hammers.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • It was this concept that led WCW to temporarily take the crown as the #1 wrestling promotion in the world with the New World Order. Although the nWo was comprised of heels, the charisma of its top members like Hogan and the Outsiders, combined with some innovative marketing (this announcement has been paid for by the New World Order), attracted many fans to their side.
  • Many professional wrestlers profess to enjoying playing a heel far more than playing a face. For some of them, this can bleed through into their performances, such that a wrestler who undergoes a Heel–Face Turn actually loses popularity due to his lackluster performances afterwards. There's a reason a lot of professional wrestlers and wrestling fans tend to think Good is Boring. Faces tend to fall into being good role-models or, because Good Is Dumb, lose any skills they had as a heel and end up with no real personality. Heel Face Turns often result in promos that don't consist of anything more than saying, "I respect my opponents," "I want to prove that I'm the best," etc., as opposed to being able to take advantage of their creative mic skills. This is probably why many of the most popular wrestlers of the last twenty years have been tweeners or even heels, as opposed to faces.
  • A good heel turn can also save someone's career and end up making them a star after a disastrous or boring face run. See The Rock, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Santino Marella for prime examples of this in the past decade.
  • An interesting phenomena is when, through excellence in performance, an interesting persona, and good mic skills, a supposed Heel wins over the crowd and becomes a fan-favorite Heel.
    • When Kurt Angle first joined the WWE, he was considered to be a yet another "real" fighter who had not yet paid his dues as a Jobber. However, his ring skills were incredibly impressive, and his two gold medals (1996, Atlanta Olympics, and 1995, World Championships) weren't fake. Even more impressively, he won one of them while having a broken neck. And then, something miraculous happened. During a Monday Night Raw episode, the crowd started chanting "You Suck, You Suck" along with Angle's wrestling music. His reaction not only clarified his persona, but it also created the most loved heel in the history of wrestling.
    • The Rock had little or choice in the matter. The level of his creative and imaginative speeches won over the crowd almost against his will. One example of many, many, many classic Rock moments here.
    • CM Punk doesn't like you but everyone likes him due to his rebellious and frank attitude about WWE. He often gets cheered even when he expressly disparages against the audience because no one disagrees with his claim that he's the "Best in the World".
    • While putting heels against each other in matches often leads to disaster (Big E Langston vs Jack Swagger wrestled a good match and still got shat on by the crowd, for example compared to their more positively received bouts with not even that popular of a baby face Alberto Del Rio) The Wyatt Family vs The Shield was a match everyone wanted to see, even as the Shield continued to get booed after beating faces, though they eventually became baby faces themselves as it went on.
  • MsChif was perceived this way in IWA Mid-South, to the point she could work take the slowest, most obvious approach against the otherwise beloved Daizee Haze and still have audible crowd support.
  • Bullet Club with Machine Gun Karl Anderson at the helm and The Young Bucks in the back. Especially after AJ Styles became a member of the group.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chaos epitomizes this trope in Warhammer 40,000. Then again, so does the Imperium...
    • Also, Kharn the Betrayer. Seriously, what a great guy!
    • From the spinoff Dawn of War computer games: Eliphas the Inheritor is universally considered one of the top five characters, as is Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter. Mainly because Eliphas is almost painfully badass and Gorgutz is awesomely insane.
  • Magic: The Gathering reintroduced the Phyrexians, who want to corrupt and assimilate the entire multiverse. Naturally, half the fan base takes their side. 51%, at last count, in fact.
    • They eventually won the popularity contest and took over the world which they were fighting for.
  • Exalted: Infernals are widely considered to be way more awesome than Solars. The Solar charmset is generally viewed as kind of bland (the overriding theme is "I am really good at this" with a few paragraphs for each Charm describing what they are good at and how that is expressed), while Infernals do things like turning a glass of water into a tentacle or undergoing mitosis. Solars have an ascension path of "Solars with higher Essence", while Infernals can forge themselves into new Primordials. Abyssals, the other equivalent of Solars, on the other hand, are much less popular due to flaws in their Charmset and limited support for character paths other than "angsty penitent" or "kill the world and piss on the ashes".
    • The Ebon Dragon is seen as this as a portion of the fandom, even the point of his character is the opposite.
  • For Iron Kingdoms players, much of the appeal of the evil factions is how cool their models look.
  • The Imperium in Strike Legion has this going for it by being an Expy of the Imperium of Man, but they go MANY extra miles, possessing armies that include Godzilla type monsters, MANY forms of super soldiers even deadlier than its Space Marines, and MonsterClowns that include lightsaber wielding Expys of The Joker.

  • The Shakespearean characters every actor wants to play are his most notorious villains, Iago of Othello, and the eponymous Magnificent Bastard of Richard III. Similarly, every actress wants to be Lady Macbeth, his greatest villainess. The roguish buffoon Falstaff was so popular that Shakespeare gave him his own spin-off comedy in which he is the protagonist. (By royal command, no less - Queen Elizabeth turned out to be one of Falstaff's admirers.)
  • Similarly, the really cool characters in opera are not the tenor good guys, but the jealous/mad/pervert baritones and the creepy basses who sing low notes of Doom. Who would ever prefer the nice, boring tenor Don Ottavio to the Magnificent Bastard Don Giovanni? Or, in Der Freischütz, prefer the utterly bland Max to the ribaldly malevolent Kaspar?
  • And one of the greatest soprano roles in the entire repertoire is the evil Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, despite having only two solo arias — they're both complete show-stoppers, especially "Der Hölle Rache köcht in meinem Herzen" ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart").
  • Despite the fact that The Phantom of the Opera is an obsessive, controlling, homicidal, textbook 'bad boyfriend', he is inevitably the one the audience roots for. You'll have to scour through hundreds of Phantom/Christine Shipping Fan Fics to find one Raoul/Christine, and it's better than even money that actors would rather play the Phantom. Why? Raoul is a largely ineffective ponce; Erik drops chandeliers on people. Plus, in the case of the musical, he gets all of the cool songs and a stylish black cape.
  • Cats has Macavity.
  • Christopher Marlowe was good at writing this type of character; the best-known example is Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus, but Tamburlaine of the play of the same name and Barabas of The Jew of Malta also qualify. Oh, and the evil ghost Machiavelli.
  • Mr Doolittle of My Fair Lady is an amoral drunkard, but for all his faults, "With a little bit of luck" is so charming, we can't help but think this guy cool.
  • The entire point of the Villains Tonight! stage show on the Disney Cruise Line, featuring Hades, Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, Yzma, Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil, and Dr. Facilier all together in one show!
  • In Pokémon Live!, Giovanni, Team Rocket, and even the Rocket Grunts completely steal the show.

    Video Games 
  • Arguably the point of games like Grand Theft Auto, Scarface: The World is Yours, and Evil Genius.
  • Jean Descole from the Professor Layton series was most likely created with this trope in mind. He is a Malevolent Masked Man who combines almost all the over the top clothing tropes and actually pulls it off. And his coolness goes Up to Eleven in the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva.
  • Used quite a bit the Devil May Cry series. Dante's enemies (primarily his Evil Counterpart, his brother Vergil) are pretty darn cool, but Dante still generally mops the floor with them with style.
  • Saints Row: Every chapter ends in an Eviler Than Thou Coup de Grâce. Almost everyone kisses the Protagonist's ass by complimenting his/her murderous psychosis. Arguably the coolest character in the series so far is unrepentant mass murderer Johnny Gat.
  • Also the point of Dungeon Keeper, where you are the Dark Lord who builds his eldritch underground kingdom and throws adventuring heroes in torture chambers. Remember: Evil is Good.
  • It is primarily for this reason that Knights of the Old Republic and similar games have an evil option. KOTOR is further helped in this regard, since Star Wars villains are generally among the most badass characters in all of fiction.
    • This is acknowledged in the second game, where the opening screen shows one of the various Sith Lords of the game. Go bad enough, and your character will replace them after you complete the game.
    • The King of KOTOR Kool himself - the psychotic, homicidal HK-47 assassin droid. "Definition: 'Love' is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope." He is far and away the single most beloved character by the meatbags playing the games, even though he's regarded as among the least useful in gameplay.
    • Both KOTOR games actually provide especially good foundations for this. In the first game, you're playing an amnesic Sith Lord, and if you decide to reclaim your former glory, characters will acknowledge you as such. And KOTOR II just takes it Up to Eleven. This time, you aren't technically on a mission to be the hero, so it's not even expected of you. In this game, you get to wear a black Badass Longcoat, teach your companions the way of the Dark Side, cut your way through small armies like a knife through butter, take out entire ambush teams of mercenaries with a single Force Storm, curbstomp Jedi Masters in a duel, steal their techniques, then suck up their power for yourself...and that's all before you get Force Crush, against which there is no defense! The Light Side path may have more plot exposition, but the Dark Side one is definitely the cooler one.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic also has a Dark Side path for this reason, even for the Republic side. Yes, you can pretty much do a Renegade Shepard run as a Republic Trooper, be an underworld thug as a Smuggler, and go full Anakin Skywalker Expy Knight Templar on the Jedi paths. If you do a dark side Imperial run, you're even more of a puppy-kicking, manipulative, brutal monster...but wow, you can certainly look cool doing it.
      • It's lampshaded in-game by Kira (a Jedi Knight companion) : "Have you seen what the Sith are wearing ? It's like every fashion designer in the galaxy went over to the dark side".
    • Also from Star Wars, Star Wars: Battlefront II has you playing as the 501st Legion in the "Rise of the Empire" story mode. Needless to say, after the Evil Empire rises and the 501st becomes evil, they're still awesome.
    • Another Star Wars example: TIE Fighter. Darth Vader is your wingman. That is all. note .
  • The Command & Conquer series always has fiendishly enjoyable Evil campaigns. Especially in Red Alert, the evil is served with a generous side of Large Ham. Starting in Tiberian Sun, Nod had much cooler outfits than GDI, and in Tiberium Wars, they had cooler looking vehicles. This is somewhat offset by the fact that Nod has a tendency to favor looks over practicality. GDI's ground vehicles tend to be better, and their soldiers actually look like soldiers, while Nod's look like a bunch of, abeit cool looking, KKK rejects.
    • Yuri's faction Red Alert 2, while its overpowered status has its usage in multiplayer frowned on, fans agree that its gimmicks make it fun to play as and many fans were disappointed that it didn't get its own campaign, so many of the mods to the game, in addition to balancing the faction, focus on giving it one.
  • Pick a Final Fantasy game, go ahead, pick one. To recount some of the more famous examples:
  • Do you see the cool, black, spiky barrier jacket of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha's Chrono? That's an artifact from his days as a villain in the original Nanoha mini-scenario included in the Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever fanbox.
  • The Helghast of Killzone, with their Jin-Roh inspired battle armor (the Custom Uniforms of which are extra-awesome), sympathetic back story, and a leader that gloriously feasts on ham. Every time a sequel is announced, the fanbase hopes they'll finally be able to play as them in single-player mode...and then they get stuck playing the painfully generic loud-mouthed American soldier guys of the ISA again, killing legions of people much cooler-looking than you.
  • Gig from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. He comes off as a threatening badass even though he's a Sealed Evil in a Can most of the game, along with having by far the funniest moments in it, though in an odd case of this trope he's on the hero's side.
  • Kotomine in Fate/stay night...well, he's cool enough that the fact he has a mullet ceases to matter. Possibly helped along by every scene contrasting him to Shirou. The other Big Bad, Zouken, is not cool. Or likable. Or, well, tolerable. You just kind of want him to hurry up and die already. Helped by the fact that Kotomine really knows how to talk; it's hard to be bored of his often long speeches. Most of his speeches have very little to do with him being evil or evil in general.
  • Looking back at Guilty Gear, many people were turned off by Ky Kiske because he's too much of a goody two shoes. Then, in BlazBlue, he's given an Expy in form of Jin Kisaragi, a twisted, erratic Jerk Ass whose unwholesome personality was nonetheless well-met by many fans.
    • There is the matter of Hazama, a.k.a. Yuuki Terumi, who's taken the role of the Big Bad of the series. He's an arrogant Troll who's even more abrasive and mean-spirited than Jin and has more or less fucked up the lives of everyone in the series, most of all, Noel, when he transforms her into Mu-12. Fans love him because he's funny, handsome, and a cool dresser.
    • Although over time, people somehow got sick of Terumi being constantly pushed to attention and looking too invincible nearing Boring Invincible Villain status. On the other hand, this title now goes into his partner Relius Clover, who's not as pushed to attention, but remains a Large Ham, composed, a cool dresser, rugged, and just as depraved as Hazama (or even more).
    • However Terumi becoming a separate playable character form Hazama made fans love him again, mostly due to the fact that he took Hazama's personality and threw any and all restraints aside. And then the fourth game boosted it even further when he kills the coolest good guy, Hakumen, and then reveals he's actually a literal god.
    • Nine and Izanami as of the fourth game got into this.
  • Id from Xenogears. Oh, what's that? You want a reason why? Ok, here's ONE.
  • Bowser, despite his Villain Decay and penchant for competitive sports over the years, is still a giant, spiky, fire-breathing turtle-dragon, and winning a one-on-one fight with him as a pudgy plumber will always be satisfying - and yet, he's still a powerful menace when he needs to be, especially in the main Mario platformers. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story seems to play to this, where the big bad spiky dude is the main character (even if he ultimately has to save the Mushroom Kingdom) and, rather than being merely a comedic Butt Monkey, he's shown as a Hot-Blooded Badass when he needs to be, and still gets plenty of hilarious scenes. Subsequent Mario & Luigi installments run with this trope and depict Bowser as a much smarter and more menacing villain than in previous RPG's, all while keeping him as the Laughably Evil Boisterous Bruiser fans know and love.
    • This was more-or-less acknowledged in the E3 trailer for Mario Party 10, which features a "Bowser Party" mode where one player controls Bowser and gets to wreak havoc on other players.
    • Fawful. Dimentio. Pretty much every villain in the franchise, to be honest. Cool technology and weapons? Check. Best lines in the series (especially Fawful)? Check. Look awesome? Also check. There's a reason many of the other bad guys end up being the Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • Nightmare in the Soul Series. His armor is damn cool, he carries a BFS as big as he is.
  • The reason Dr. Eggman is so popular is because of this trope. Seriously, he can make damn near whatever type of machine he wants for any situation and his various evil lairs tend to be among the best levels in the series, in addition to his various boss fights. His Affably Evil Large Ham tendencies also play a large role, in that despite being a villain, he is such a jovial and over the top guy that you can't help but love his antics. You can only imagine how elated fans were when Sega finally stopped shafting him in favor of whatever Monster of the Week he had unleashed and finally let him shine as a villain.
    • This trope may be partially the reason why Shadow started off as such an Ensemble Darkhorse as he has had nowhere near the good reception ever since his transition to Anti-Hero.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • On a more or less literal example, sites like Something Awful and Encyclopedia Dramatica took off on and later propagated the idea that e-baggery is hip and whoever feels empathy for others is not a true nerd.
  • Evil Flippy from Happy Tree Friends.
  • Mecha Sonic from Super Mario Bros. Z is incredibly evil, yet incredibly badass. Every time he appears in the story, he hands someone's ass over to them (Yoshi's brutal defeat in episode 3 and the utter massacre that was episode 6 come to mind). The series is already 8 episodes long and the most heroes managed to do was temporarily inconvenience him.
  • While calling him evil is a bit of a stretch, Strong Bad of Homestar Runner was originally intended to be a bumbling bad guy who always lost. He quickly became the most popular character on the website. His old introduction video actually said "you don't know it yet, but I'm the real reason you're here." From the first Strong Bad Email: "Do you use [your powers] for good, or for awesome?"
  • Arc villains in Atop the Fourth Wall, assuming they aren't set up to humorous, play this trope straight.
    • Mechakara is badass and outright menacing, nearly killing Linkara in both fights and proving unlike early villains, he's no joke.
    • Lord Vyce's badassery (with Linkara stating fighting him head on was impossible) and Badass Baritone earned him a lot of fans even if number of them agree that his story was longer than it needed to be.
  • Part of the love Team Four Star gets with their Abridged Series work is that any characters they work are just as awesome as canon incarnations. Special mention goes to Dragon Ball Z Abridged's Freeza, who despite being a lot funnier in their series, is still the Hero Killer he was in canon, and some of the humorous moments done actually make him an Adapational Badass as it has him laughing off a Bolt of Divine Retribution after daring God to strike him down.
  • Take a look at this very wiki. Villains have more tropes and usually longer entries in their works. An excellent example is Once Upon a Time, where the Evil Queen and the Dark One each have their own page and are the only ones who do in a show with Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Kakos Industries takes this concept and very well runs it for its money. In this world, being Evil and in the ranks with the named corporation, promises rare gourmet food, parties, orgies, and robot fights in between the average dose of torment the corporation might feel like dishing out for fun.
  • ''RWBY has Roman Torchwick and Cinder Fall. Roman for being a stylish, snarky, badass who can mange to look cool even while losing. Cinder for being mysterious and Creepy Awesome. Cinder's apparent boss, Salem, also qualifies, with a seriously cool design, and being voiced by Jen freaking Taylor.

    Western Animation 
  • This is the point of Eric Cartman from South Park, especially as The Coon from the "Coon & Friends" trilogy, although this is sometimes not the case.
    • Used in a subtle way in the episode "Freemium isn't Free." The episode has Stan addicted to a mobile game and eventually he summons the Devil for help in dealing with it. After a pretty good explanation, the Devil actually sees what Stan is addicted to and pretty much implies this trope in regards to temptation over the exploitation mechanics of the game.
    Satan: No, see, if something's addictive because it's fun, that's one thing. But this is just blatant Skinner box manipulation. Wait a minute. Who put this out?!
  • Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons. Helps that's he's quite affable and a nice boss.
  • Adventure Time:
  • Kim Possible:
    • Shego lives for this Trope. For starters, her backstory reveals that she started as a hero but turned villain since evil is cooler. And then she does, in fact, become the coolest person in the show.
    • It's not surprising considering all the crap she puts up with.
    • Every time some sort of Applied Phlebotinum brings out goofy old Ron's Superpowered Evil Side, he becomes so damn awesome at being evil (while still being kinda goofy) that he actually scares Shego.
    • Senor Senior, Senior was just a bored billionaire until Ron gave him the idea that it would be really cool if his mansion were an actual supervillain lair.
    • Ron often parodies this trope when faced with Deadly Invention of the Week.
    Ron: That would be so cool if it wasn't going to hurt us.
    • Not to mention the episodes where he becomes evil. When this happens, he is quite possibly the most badass character in the entire show.
  • Mighty Max: the archvillain Skullmaster was voiced by Tim Curry. Luckily, for the rest of the cast, he only showed up in about 5 episodes. But in those episodes, well, he rules hell, and has demon and zombie armies at his command. Oh, and he can outsmart the Smart Guy and beat the Big Guy in a straight fight. Oh, and all of his convoluted plans succeed...except for the last one. Maybe.
  • The Big Bad of Teen Titans, Slade, is the most utterly badass character in the show.
  • Megabyte from ReBoot. While fairly average throughout the first season, in subsequent seasons, he became increasingly hardcore, with impressive plans and still enough time to hand the heroes' asses to them in occasional fights. Being voiced by the late Tony Jay doesn't hurt, either.
  • Futurama:
    • You're watching it, right? The show that does not advocate the cool crime of robbery!
    • Bender is a guy who is loved in-universe and out, by everyone, despite being a hedonistic thief and sometimes a murderer. For example, in "Hell is Other Robots":
    Leela: Bender, we didn't mind we didn't mind your drinking, or your kleptomania, or your pornography ring.
    Zoidberg: In fact, that's why we loved you!
  • On the Halloween Episode of The Fairly Oddparents, every kid wanted to dress as the Jack O' Bots, four villains from Crash Nebula, since the bad guys' costumes were the coolest.
  • David Xanatos from Gargoyles, who manages to be both really cool and really fascinating.
    • Thailog. He actually outwits Xanatos, and any time he appears with another villain almost always has him pulling Eviler Than Thou on them.
  • Care Bears (1980s): For some older fans, the main villains of the Nelvana series and movies are more entertaining than the Care Bears and Cousins.
  • The Dreamstone falls under similar territory. The fanbase largely favors Zordrak and the Urpneys over the cutesy residents of the Land Of The Dreams. Granted, for the Urpneys, it may be more a case of "Evil Is Funny".
  • Similar to Xanatos and Slade above, Tombstone and Green Goblin, the two main Big Bads of The Spectacular Spider-Man, are perhaps two of the most awesome characters in a series full of them.
  • Victor Veloci, the villain of Dino Squad, is seen by many of the show's few viewers as the only interesting character.
  • The DC Animated Universe is chock-full of cool bad guys.
    • Darkseid is possibly the apex of villainous awesome. He's an Obviously Evil despotic tyrant, who rules over the hellish world of Apokolips. He's also incredibly strong, enough to fight Superman hand-to-hand, but intelligent enough to mind-control Superman, double-cross Brainiac, and be acknowledged as a living God by the very people he oppresses. Being voiced by Michael fucking Ironseid is really just the icing on the villainous cake.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender;
    • Her Majesty Princess Azula of the Fire Nation. Aside from being able to do all sorts of neat tricks with her blue fire and her ability to bend lightning, she's also the walking embodiment of savviness (her actions in the Book Two finale are simultaneously terrifying and a Crowning Moment of Awesome). The fact that she's only 14 only ups her coolness and terrifyingness.
    • Zuko also managed to profit from this; considerably less since he's a) not that good at being evil and b) The Woobie even when he's evil, but it gave him a certain style and badass cred that seems to help draw in the fans. Especially in the beginning of the first season, when he was actually the villain.
  • Amon from The Legend of Korra. He's voiced by Steve Blum and therefore has a deep voice that he uses in frightening threats, a cool and scary mask, doesn't flinch when fire blasts into the room he and his mooks are in (incapacitating them) and can resist the assault of a powerful rogue bloodbender, something only an equally powerful waterbender has been shown to do. Finally, he absolutely terrifies Korra. A guy who claims to be a non-bender manages to terrify the most powerful bender in the world. Just as she's starting to get her confidence back, he ambushes her and delivers a Breaking Speech so effective that she breaks down into tears afterwards. He achieved true Magnificent Bastard status in record time. It took only six episodes to achieve it and he's only had a major part in THREE!
    • His Mooks, the chi-blockers, also count. Not only do they look cool, but are also some of the most competent and dangerous mooks ever put into Western Animation. They're like an army of Elite Mooks. Two of them can put up a strong fight against two very powerful benders.
    • Varrick in the show's second season, surprisingly. At first appearing to be nothing more than a Cloud Cuckoolander, and a downright hilarious one at that, but The Reveal that he was a villain turned him into such a Magnificent Bastard that it made him even more appealing. Suffice it to say he was far more interesting to watch then the shows actual villains that season.
    • The Red Lotus from Book 3; criminals who all possess a form of bending that is impossible or unnatural under normal circumstances, their combined strength is enough to challenge even the most powerful fighters in the world:
    • Kuvira the Final Boss of the series also deserves mention as well since she became beloved in the fandom thanks to the trailer from Book 4 alone and the first episode of the season cemented her from then on. Admittedly she's easily the biggest Base-Breaking Character on this list (with some fans decrying her as an Invincible Villain Sue) for others in the fanbase she's still quite beloved for her numerous badass feats (hey when you can go toe to toe with the Avatar and win and your finishing move in the series is to attack the Heroes city with a giant mech you definitely deserve to be on this list).
  • As mentioned above under Film, the Decepticons in most Transformers franchises fall under this.
    • Of note is their leader, Megatron, in any incarnation. He's usually depicted as an imposing, badass, no-nonsense megalomaniacal leader who rivals (or surpasses) Optimus Prime in power, though his various incarnations emphasize some traits and downplay others. Though the original Megatron loses points for being a General Failure and for his alternate mode being a tiny handgun, he still has a ton of admiring fans, and has been depicted as more threatening (with more imposing altmodes) in later G1-based continuities.
    • Also, G1 Megatron's Leonard Nimoy-voiced alter ego Galvatron and, as mentioned above, his Tyrannosaurus rex (later dragon) Magnificent Bastard successor from Beast Wars, also called Megatron.
      • G1 Galvatron managed to amass a sizable in the Marvel Transformers comics by asserting himself as virtually unbeatable, his popularity leading to his Joker Immunity for most the comic's run, and the sheer number of things he survived arguably added to his appeal due to how unkillable it made him seem. All this in spite he was FAR more evil than his cartoon incarnation.
    • Shockwave, also across his various incarnations, is a coldly logical Mad Scientist who's able to, and in some cases willing to, throw down with Megatron and live.
    • Predaking from Transformers Prime is one of the most powerful Transformers in the series, period, and has an awesome black dragon for an alternate mode. The only thing that could beat him in a straight fight was Unicron.
    • SOUNDWAVE. He's been the most popular Decepticon since the first series. And it later gets taken Up to Eleven in Transformers Prime in terms of design. He's popular mostly because he's so powerful and savvy that he could take down Megatron in a one on one fight and win. However, he prefers to stay out of the line of fire and take care of the Decepticon missions from a safe distance so he'll have a higher chance of winning. To further this trait, he doesn't even do any dog kicking or have fun performing evil. It's just business.
    • Beast Wars:
      • Blackarachnia is very popular amongst the fanbase — like she says, she's hot, poisonous, and deadly. (Also, a Femme Fatale with the sort of body most fanboys only get to look at, that might also have something to do with it.)
      • Other popular Predacons include Megatron, Inferno, Tarantulas, Quickstrike, Rampage, and Waspinator.
    • The villains always have cooler names. The Autobots have "Optimus Prime", "Bumblebee", "Ironhide", "Ultra Magnus", "Trailbreaker", "Cliffjumper", "Bulkhead", "Wheeljack", "Smokescreen", and "Blurr", but how do they compare with Decepticons "Megatron", "Starscream", "Devastator", "Demolishor", "Frenzy", "Bonecrusher", "Barricade", "Blitzwing", "Shockwave", "Skullcruncher", "Ruination", "Predaking" and..."The Fallen"?
  • Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes is undoubtably the most popular character on the show. The sheer number of evil tropes that apply is staggering.
  • An in-universe example: in one episode of The Simpsons, Bart dismisses the entire genre of Christian rock because "everyone knows the best rock groups are affiliated with Satan."
  • My Little Pony Friendshipis Magic, any significant villain that appears at the start or end of a season:
  • Sonic SatAM gives us possibly the most evil incarnation of Robotnik ever, and also one of the most popular. Being voiced by Jim Cummings helps.

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