This is when you have a villain that slaughters a village, bombs a country, murders the president... And then he picks a pocket, trips an old lady, sticks a kick-me sign on a police officer, takes someone's parking space, and cuts in line at a fast food place.
He's not just evil on a large scale; he's evil on all the tiny little details of everyday life he might experience in any possible situation.
In video game settings with a Karma Meter, this means that being classified as Evil requires not just being uncaring towards people, but going out of your way to be nasty in any circumstances. This is an unfortunate side effect of there being an in-game benefit from reaching particular levels of evil. When maxing out your Karma Meter gives you a Stat Boost, you're strongly encouraged to do every little act of evil you can to get there as quickly as possible.
Poke the Poodle is when this is all the villain does - they don't do anything overwhelmingly evil, but frequently behave like a dick to maintain their Villain Cred. See also Harmless Villain.
An opposite trope is Affably Evil, in which a villain genuinely behaves in a very pleasant, friendly, and/or downright honorable manner. The Magnificent Bastard is well advised to avoid this trope; magnificence and pettiness do not mix.
See Also: For the Evulz, Card-Carrying Villain.
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Anime and Manga
K from Karakuridouji Ultimo has no problem with killing five billion people, because it means he won't have to wait in lines as much.
Roberto from Monster. Johan destroys lives like some kind of freakish artistry, but is always unfailingly polite.Roberto kills people, commits acts of vandalism, and works as Johan's enforcer, while at the same time being sexist, creepy, petty, and rude.
In Durarara!!, Izaya first shows how far he'll go to troll people by kidnapping a suicidal girl named Rio Kamichika to "prove" that, since she was scared, she's not really suicidally depressed and is just being a whiny Emo Teen (and then he invites her to prove him wrong by showing her a ledge to jump off of and dangling her from it). His second act of vile depravity? Breaking someone's cellphone.
Inukami: As if killing Kaoru and beating down the Inukami weren't enough, Jesei stoops to reading Yohko's diary aloud.
Ren Sohma from Fruits Basket is a selfish bitch who ruins the life of her daughter, Akito, aka the God of the Zodiac, and thus those of everyone surrounding said person...purely because she was deathly jealous and envious of said daughter because her father, Akira, adored her. Considering the horrifying consequences, Ren comes off as not just evil, but repulsively self-centered, vain, and pathetic.
Later in the manga, Ren finds out that Akito has a box, which a maid had fixed up to comfort Akito after Akira's death (Akito had been told that her father's soul was in it). Ren first sends Rin to steal the box for her, misleading Rin into thinking that she'll tell how to break the Zodiac Curse if she does this, and leading to Rin being attacked and imprisoned by Akito (which Ren feels absolutely no remorse over), and then going to steal the box herself, threatening Akito at knifepoint. All of this for a box, and her justification simply being that everything of Akira's is her's by right. She gets a lovely dose of karma, when Akito hands the box over, only to reveal that it was completely empty the entire time. Akito and Ren had been at each other's throats over an ordinary, empty box.
Although how evil she is is a bit debatable, Crea, the leader of the evil organization Jackal in Ratman, ordered the titular hero (who is her underling) to cut the power to a restaurant because the waitress was rude and her food was late.
Crea: If I had a bomb, I would have blown that place up!
Shuto: You've said that five times already.
Although he was The Dreaded and Shrouded in Myth in backstory, Madara Uchiha is striking in several aspects once he makes an appearance in Naruto; he is strikingly powerful, bordering on Only The Author Can Save Them Now...and yet, as a person beneath all that power and status, he's actually repulsive in a rather pathetic way. Madara is phenomenally self-centered and egotistical for a legend whose claim to fame is being Always Second Best to his rival Hashirama Senju, the 1st Hokage in Konoha's history; he reveals in a flashback that he was responsible for the poor diplomatic relations between Konoha and the Hidden Stone village when he sabotaged peace talks he was supposed to oversee purely to spite Hashirama's plan of making peace between the five great nations. He then dips into sexism during his posturing to try and intimidate the Kages, looking down on Tsunade for being a woman and repeatedly underestimating what she's capable of. When you realize the Assimilation Plot Naruto is racing to thwart was cooked up by a spiteful, sexist warmonger out of no greater ambitions than as an ego trip, it allows Madara to rather spectacularly avert Evil Is Cool.
It says a lot that even the nine-tailed fox, a self-proclaimed "living mass of malevolence", finds Madara to be too much of a douchebag to tolerate. Enough that he's willing to unconditionally help the protagonist defeat him.
Edo Tensei Hashirama is more sympathetic and believes that Madara is still lashing out in grief over his brother Izuna's death.
Muruta Azrael of Gundam SEED, who commits genocide because he was slapped around once as a kid. He's also a misogynistic prick who seems to get off on belittling his subordinates.
This is, quite often, the reasoning behind The Joker's less horrifying crimes. In a way, it just makes the Joker seem even worse as he truly sees no difference between throwing cream pies, robbing a museum, and brutal, torturous mass-murder. To him, it's all just part of the joke.
The Kingpin dives headfirst into this in the Born Again arc, sacrificing his calmness and methodical approach (the factors that made him such an intimidating and effective villain in the first place) for his vendetta against Daredevil.
Janus Valker from Rat-Mancan't stay good for a single minute. It's not just killing people out of boredom, ruling a shadow corporative agency, and hunting his heroic nemesis. He likes to cripple laboratory assistants, ruin careers for very slight (or imaginary) reasons, and starve homeplants. On purpose. Now, the comic's hero has an obsessive compulsion to kill cats and cripple noisy children, but still...
Sleeze, the New God in charge of porn, is the embodiment of this trope. Darkseid banished Sleeze from Apokolips because he thought a god of porn was too petty to play any part in his schemes to conquer reality. It says something when Darkseid thinks you are too petty. The Lord of Apokolips usually plays this trope straight - examples include forcing his minions to murder their pets, murdering (or trying to murder) relatives of his enemies for foiling his Evil Schemes, executing his minions for speaking out of turn, and setting free his slaves...and putting them in charge of the next batch, just so the hero can watch them become as cruel as the old slave drivers. Sleeze really does take the cake when it comes to pettiness though; he had total mental control over Superman, and instead of forcing him to do any number of terrible atrocities against the human race, he made him star in a porno, with another man's wife, just because he can and to see the poor guy's reaction.
Lex Luthor has many moments where he indulges himself in petty acts of evil and cruelty. Especially if it involves women.
He once frequented a diner for a week so he could court a particular waitress. Then he offered her a life of fame and luxury if she would be his lover. But he drove away in his limo before she could make a decision, leaving her to ponder opportunities lost. Just something to amuse himself with.
He also once strangled his female martial arts instructor, just because she knocked him down during a sparring session. It was also a case of him being able to rub his superiority in the face of Superman (who'd just been killed fighting Doomsday), as now he could freely commit crimes on a whim without having to worry about Supes making him pay for it. Post-crisis Luthor is depicted as a petulant asshole who holds grudges against anyone who even slightly challenges his authority.
He also frequently addresses Clark Kent as "Mr. Lois Lane" and openly puts the moves on Lois and/or makes disparaging comments about Clark's masculinity right in front of them, just to be an irritating dick to two people whom he dislikes.
Taken to new lows in Action Comics. Luthor gives up omnipotence and the chance to give everyone in the universe eternal bliss — all because one of the conditions of keeping that power is that he can't do anything negative with that power such as, say, destroying Superman. To Luthor, godhood is meaningless if he can't use it to crush his greatest foe.
His entire grudge against Superman is proof of his pettiness. He's all but admitted that the only reason he hates Supes with such a passion is that Superman is the first person he met that is both more powerful than he is and completely unwilling to bend to his will. The fact that he's the world's greatest hero and has inspired others to defy Luthor only galls him more. Supes has called him out on this complete waste of his potential multiple times to no avail.
He once framed Bruce Wayne for murder when Bruce cut all ties between Wayne Enterprises and the US Government in protest of Luthor becoming president.
In 52, he turned off the superpowers of several superheroes he created while they were in mid-flight, killing them and causing lots of collateral damage, when he found out the process that gave them superpowers wouldn't work on him.
And he once stole forty cakes from the school bake sale in his youth because the school administration wouldn't let him enter a fission powered toaster in the science fair!
Adaptations of Luthor, particularly in animated settings like the DC Animated Universe, also tend to involve this. Though it must be noted that the page quote comes not from Luthor, but from The Flash whilst currently switching bodies with Luthor and trying (ineptly) to disguise himself as Luthor.
In the infamous Spider Man arc "One More Day", Mephisto makes a deal with Spider-Man to erase his and Mary Jane's marriage from the time-line in exchange for Aunt May's life. He doesn't even want Spider-Man's soul, since that would be a Heroic Sacrifice, nor does he have any sort of complex Evil Plan in the works—he just doesn't like the fact that Peter and Mary Jane are happy together. Mephisto was just as petty when he went after Silver Surfer back in the day. He didn't attack him because of some master plan or because Surfer had done something to him. He just couldn't stand the Surfer's nobility. For a hell lord, Mephisto is pretty petty. He also tricked a hapless bartender into agreeing to become his personal living immortal inkwell because the guy had the balls to ask for a tip. This after he spent the night talking about all of the various irons he has in the fire that lead to Fear Itself among other things.
Norman Osborn started off with a plan to take over the criminal underworld of New York by killing Spider Man and gaining a rep. By his second appearance, he was in it just to kill Spidey, but even that changed. For the next forty years, he existed for the sole purpose of screwing with Peter, going so far as to orchestrate the Clone Saga to mess with his head. If he committed that much effort into taking over the world, he probably would have become a major Marvel villain much earlier than Dark Reign.
Eddie Brock/Venom of Spider Man fame is another example. His reasons for wanting to kill Spider Man vary by medium (usually involving losing his job), but they're ALL extremely petty. This is enhanced by the symbiot who has its own extremely petty reasons for hating Peter. He rejected it (this puts an alien intelligence somewhere on the level of a jealous ex-girlfriend).
Red Skull has some pretty grand and horrifying ambitions, but he always takes the time to stop and be a total dick to his most loyal followers just for the hell of it. It all comes down to the fact that Red Skull hates everything in existence. If he can't cause widespread misery with plans that threaten the world and beyond, he'll happily settle for petty acts of cruelty, like eating food in front of starving children.
Lokiprior to his Heroic Sacrifice and susequent reincarnation is the self-described God of Mischief. He has the same lofty ambitions of any other typical Evil Overlord — conquer everything, kill the hero, etc. — but his hobbies include torturing helpless fish for fun. Loki's reasons for his mischief are also rather petty: they are all rooted in his inferiority complex due to his Frost Giant heritage, lack of martial prowess (relatively speaking) in a society of warrior gods, and his conflicting feelings of hate and love towards his foster brother Thor.
In one Sherman's Lagoon arc, Megan becomes victim of identity theft. Even worse, the thief is buying things she wanted but never had the chance or reason to buy. Megan comments that the thief knows her personally, and is buying those things to upset her, and Sherman wonders aloud if they know anyone that mean and petty. Not to mention bored. Cut to Hawthorn the hermit crab's hole, where Hawthorn has a picture of Megan crossed out.
In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni, Jade's entire motivation, other than amassing enough wealth to live a life of comfort, is to prove that she's "better" than her family. On top of that, she's also apparently spending her free time tormenting her Jerkass classmate Drew.
Daolon Wong also qualifies: even depowered and arrested, he still gloats about how his spell has ensured that the Chan family's future is ruined.
When El Toro costs him Kuro's mask, Hak Foo takes his as payment. Jade actually points out how petty this is, but does admit that they are evil.
The Council in Naruto Veangance Revelaitons kills the entire audience of the Cooking Duel after their team of Madara and Sasuke loses to Ronan. Ronan himself, while not intended as evil, also counts, as he's willing to kill people over the most minor reasons, such a shopkeeper who tries to stop him from shoplifting merchandise, a gay man who likes his penis, and several women for being fat.
This tends to crop up in fanfictions that go way overboard in trying to "prove" the evil nature of a character. For example, Harry Potter fanfictions that make Dumbledore full-on manipulative treat every single thing he does, no matter how insignificant or meaningless it was in the books, as something done purely to spite or upset Harry.
No Country for Old Men has Anton Chigurh, who is willing to kill a gas station attendant for trying to make small talk with him.
In the Harry Potter movies, Draco was made into a kleptomaniac.
In the film adaptation of Order of the Phoenix, among the various things she did in the books, Umbridge forces the students to conform to various old-fashioned rules for behavior (among other things, two students are forcibly separated from kissing and a later rule states that students of opposite genders must remain set distances apart at all times).
In the 1967 movie Bedazzled 1967, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the devil's petty pranks are a Running Gag. We see him at scratching new albums and putting them back on the shelf at a record store and send out a pigeon to do its "doo-dahs" on a passerby.
Stanley:Your pranks are so miserable.
In the remake too. Elizabeth Hurley's devil liked to give people parking fines, tell high school kids not to bother with their studies because they were boring, and swap medication for tic tacs. A little more severe when you think of the consequences. Also, cock-blocking Brendan Fraser every chance she got.
In End Of Days, pretty much anything the Devil does that's not connected to his main goal falls into this.
When you find out who the devil is in the movie Devil, you really have to ask yourself why did she bother to steal that guy's wallet earlier?
Octopussy villain Kamal Khan is introduced to the audience not as the head of an illicit empire, or as a willing accomplice to a mad Soviet General who is going to murder thousands of innocent people. Instead, he's cheating at backgammon.
A big part of Adrian Killian aka The Mandarin's villainy in Iron Man 3 is nothing but payback for Tony Stark blowing him off at a New Year's party.
Hugo Drax, the Big Bad of the James Bond novel Moonraker,screws himself over with his trope. The entire reason M brings James Bond into contact with Drax in the first place is because... Sir Hugo Drax cheats at cards.
In the Erevis Cale trilogy of Forgotten Realms novels, the ultimate plan of the Big BadEvil Albino Vhostym the Sojourner, in pursuit of which he commits such atrocities as destroying whole cities, slaughtering thousands and torturing to death dozens of angels? To create the "Crown of Fire", an artificially started and prolonged solar eclipse, so he can walk upon a beach like a normal being one time before he dies. In case this doesn't sound petty enough, one should be aware that not only is Vhostym an incredibly powerful (Archmage-level) Wizard/Psion, meaning he has a wide variety of far less evil methods of doing this (including body-snatching others to experience the world through their senses and shapechanging into non-albino forms so he isn't burnt/blinded by the son), he's also lived for millennia and so has had dozens of opportunities to do during natural solar eclipses. Cale himself calls Vhostym on this at the trilogy's end; Vhostym simply retorts that it "wouldn't be as satisfying" to do things that way, and besides, he is strong enough to do it his way, so he will do things his way.
If you see anyone's early inner monologue in an Honor Harrington novel include the phrase "that bitch" or a variant thereof in reference to Lady Harrington, rest assured they're the villain and will probably die in some bloody fashion before you reach the back page. The same thing is true of most other Weber novels. The heroes generally don't use profanity, even inside their heads.
6 years is a pretty long time to hate Harry to the point where he mainly targeted him and his friends for bullying because Harry rejected his offer of friendship.
Before Voldemort became a genocidal Evil Overlord, his evil acts were at first limited to things like petty theft and bullying. He then moved on to unleashing Slytherin's monster and framing Hagrid for the ensuing deaths, and things only went downhill from there.
Invoked in-universe with Snape. Harry and Ron are convinced that Snape is evil because...he's mean to Harry (and to a lesser extent, Gryffindors in general) all the time. It's not until Book 6 (out of 7) that he actually does something outright evil. Of course, it later turns out he did it for altruistic reasons, completely subverting this trope.
A rare example NOT played for laughs in C.S. Lewis's The Space Trilogy with Satan, of all people. Inhabiting a human body, he attempts to re-create the fall of mankind with the newborn humanoids on Venus. He's forbidden to harm Ransom, the protagonist, unless Ransom attacks first, so while the Eve equivalent is sleeping, he spends his time doing such petty things as killing small animals and tearing up the turf, even resorting to childishly tormenting Ransom ("Ransom!" "What?" "Nothing." ... "Ransom!"). Ransom is quite disturbed by this, finding it more troubling than he would a clever, charismatic Satan. He comes to realize that Satan considers all virtues, including cleverness and taste, to be a means to an end and discards them when they do not serve his purposes. He has no pride and cares about nothing other than making things worse for others.
Lewis' logic of the pettiness of evil is further explained in The Screwtape Letters. It's complex, but the reasoning is actually fairly sound.
Skewered in Good Omens. Crowley's M.O. is perpetuating petty evil. Other demons will spend all their time trying to corrupt a politician or cause a priest to lose his faith. Crowley sets up telemarketing networks and causes traffic jams. Other demons accomplish one great act of evil. Crowley accomplishes a hundred thousand petty acts of evil, thus, in the aggregate, causing more evil than the other demons. Not that the other demons see it his way...
Don Juan in Moliere's play of the same title engages in some of this apart from his traditional womanizing. He stiffs his tailor of payment, and in what has been judged a Moral Event Horizon crossing since the play was written, shows his evil atheist credentials by telling an old beggar that he will only give him money if the beggar blasphemes against God.
Redwall's thoroughly spoiled Emperor Ublaz slaughters entire tribes and puts in ridiculous amounts of effort to get hold of a pink pearl crown, expressing no interest whatsoever in the other plunder taken from the raid or in anything else he could gain from it.
In The Sum of All Fears, Elizabeth Elliot goes to considerable effort to attempt to sabotage Ryan's career and marriage because he took offense to her bad manners in Clear And Present Danger. This takes up considerably more of the story than the ostensible main plot (the terrorists with the nuclear warhead) and mainly serves to explain why Ryan can't get the President to listen to him when the bomb goes off. The film version cuts Elliot out of the script and creates a different (and much more sensible) reason for the President to distrust Ryan, which improves it considerably.
The Lord of the Rings: This is the reason for Sauron’s fall: a great, proud creature would have used the Ring to try to conquer Middle Earth (only to be Out Gambitted by Sauron), but after the Ring escapes from human Isildur (to whom it betrayed), it's only used by hobbits and his petty conception of evil: Déagol is murdered before he can do something with it. Sméagol uses it to torment his relatives and decides to hide for millennia in the heart of a mountain. Bilbo uses the Ring to escape from his obnoxious relatives and neighbors, Frodo falls the last minute and reclaims it exactly when the ring cannot help him, and Sam's dreams of conquest are so petty (an army of enslaved gardeners?) that even he finds it ridiculous and laughs. Sauron never got any chance to reclaim his ring with those losers.
In the first book of the House Of Night series, Aphrodite's various crimes, which convince Zoey she has to be "taken down" for, include having oral sex with her boyfriend in the hallway (granted the boyfriend clearly was trying to get her away from him, but the fact that she was trying to have unconsentual sex was glossed over in favor of the fact that having oral sex at all is skanky and degrading), generally being self-centered and catty, tricking Zoey into drinking wine with Fledgling blood in it via lying by omission, and not showing concern after having seizure-like visions of disasters.
Trapped On Draconica: Zarracka's undying hatred for Daniar is based on her younger sister forcing her to play 'goblin queen' when they were children. Subverted. Their mother died giving birth to Daniar so Zarracka blames her for it. Double Subverted. She hates Daniar because their mother favored Zarracka herself and so Daniar stole the limelight away from her. There is little she won't do to make said sister suffer.
Many of the Forsaken are like this is The Wheel of Time, devoting as much time to payback for slights real or percieved as they do to world domination, and even then are too selfish to work together well. Moridin, the head Forsaken, really finds the rest of them rather tiresome (being a more philosophical kind of bad guy) and is in general much more courteous to his Arch-EnemyRand than he is to his own allies as a result. The Forsaken Demandred is something of a deconstruction; he was driven to evil almost entirely by his envy of Lews Therin Telamon, but it's made plane just how much he's let jealousy and hate eat up his life and he's ultimately played more for fear and tragedy than scorn.
Live Action TV
Many fans felt that the Master beating his wife in Doctor Who was an example of this. He killed a huge percentage of the Earth's population, the president of the US, and enslaved the last pathetic remnants of humanity from the end of time to do his bidding. But only seeing him beat his wife would let us realize just how evil he is!
It did justify her shooting him at the end, though.
It also may have been an attempt to prevent him from getting the Draco in Leather Pants treatment in spite of all of the above crimes. By all accounts, it didn't take.
Linkara in History of Power Rangers pointed this out about Rita Repulsa, who, in between moments of actual villainy and plots to take over the world, tends to use her evil sorcery just to ruin the Rangers' day, citing an instance where she sent a team of putties down to ruin a model of a parade float Kimberly was making, "Just to make Kimberly feel bad."
Though, in fairness, it's part of a larger attempt to destroy the entire parade (which is to promote World Peace, something Rita doesn't want). Kimberly is being targeted personally because she's a Ranger. Oh, and here's a thought that casts Rita's actions in a darker light: she's trying to destroy them psychologically by attacking their personal lives repeatedly. Most people would crack under that kind of pressure.
Whenever Satan drops by to check on Ezekiel Stone in Brimstone, he will engage in some petty prank of anonymous evil. Such as ticketing a legally parked car or loosening a salt shaker.
Interestingly enough, this does not stop him from being Affably Evil. Probably because he's played by John Glover, who performs even petty acts of evil with style and panache.
As season 5 of Supernatural goes on, more and more, characters start to point out that, for all his wisdom and power, in trying to bring on the Apocalypse, Lucifer is being little more than a bratty child throwing a tantrum because he didn't get a second serving of ice cream. He doesn't listen.
Many of the angels are just as petty, even when they're not technically evil. Zachariah goes to the trouble of making a fake Mary Winchester, just so he can make out with her to Squick Dean and Sam. He even proudly tells them, as he's doing it, that he's petty. Tellingly, Supernatural is one of the few places you can see an angel refer to someone as a milf.
On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick's Evil Twin has plans to take over the world by breeding his own slave army, but he also takes pleasure in asserting his dominance over the rest of the Solomon family in various ways, from forcing one of them to wear skirts, forbidding them from using the car, and changing all of their names to "Tommy". As the Big Giant Head put it: "He should be considered armed and extremely unpleasant."
Evil Dick: When coupons arrive in the mail, I get first dibs. I may open a box of cereal to get the prize, but I do not then have to eat the cereal. The bathroom has been stocked with two kinds of toilet paper; I, and I alone, get the quilted kind.
Though Regina from Once Upon a Time is a Magnificent Bitch most of the time, many viewers felt that spray-painting "tramp" on the side of Mary Margaret's car was a bit beneath her.
The crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation encountered a being Made of Evil, "Armus," a black oil slick that had been created by some other race when they purified themselves of evil. The thing isn't too bright or clever, and all it wants is to torment people for its own amusement, but in rather pedestrian ways like "make Data point guns at everyone." Everyone else refuses to give him the emotional hand-wringing he desires, which frustrates him to no end.
In Breaking Bad, one of Walter White's more irredeemable moments is, after blackmailing his former employer Bogdan into selling his business at a loss, taking the first dollar Bogdan made in America and using it to buy a drink from a vending machine.
The Following: Similar to Once Upon a Time above, Joe Carroll is a Magnificent Bastard. He has one of his followers however, target the book critics that gave his book (which came out after he was arrested no less) bad reviews. Hardy even comments on how this seems unusually petty of him, but Carroll comments that he isn't above being petty.
In Game of Thrones, after having spent three seasons racking up an impressive list of atrocities, The Caligula Joffrey Baratheon demonstrates that he's not above a bit of small-scale dickery by taking away his dwarf uncle Tyrion's stepladder at his wedding, making him embarrass himself by struggling to reach up to his much taller bride.
The mad science fantasies in Barenaked Ladies' "Some Fantastic" apply murder and brainwashing to solve minor problems or make romantic gestures.
A Marquis (seeing that the hall is half empty):: What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers! Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!—Oh, fie! Fie!
In Ruddigore, when Sir Despard must commit an evil act daily to appease his family curse, the only crime that his ghostly predecessors will give him a pass on is shooting a fox. For context, Victorian aristocrats would consider shooting it unsportmanlike, since that's what hounds are for.
In Baldur's Gate, the only way for the game to register you being evil is to randomly murder townspeople, though you can also choose to be unpleasant to everyone you meet. Most of the main- and side-quests shift your reputation upwards, to the degree that the Superpowered Evil Side you eventually gain is often used by evil players just for controlling unchecked alignment growth.
Similarly, the large number of quests that shift up your Karma Meter in the first Neverwinter Nights mean that unless you go out of your way to threaten and murder people for no particular reason, you automatically do a Heel Face Turn. Even a lot of actions that should be evil but aren't pointlessly so (like committing genocide on the Elk Tribe instead of negotiating peace) don't shift you down.
Despite the pretenses of being a deeper philosophical movement, with only a few exceptions, the Way of the Closed Fist in Jade Empire in practice seems to amount to being a dick to everyone you meet, mugging peasants for insignificant amounts of silver, and generally ostracizing and ruining the lives of everyone around you for no other reason than because you can.
A particularly egregious example is a situation where a mother asks you to help her daughter who is being sold into slavery. The choices are to save the daughter, to sell the daughter AND the mother to the slaver or to convince the daughter to show her individual strength by killing the slaver and thus "earn" her freedom. According to the stated philosophy of the Closed Fist, the third option is the closest to it, as the daughter has proved that she has the strength and will to survive by overcoming her would be captor. Yet, it is the cartoonishly evil option, selling both to the slaver, that earns the most Closed Fist points AND a Closed Fist martial arts move.
Exemplified by the fact that, once you have enough Dark Si...Closed Fist points, the game actually unlocks a context-sensitive move to KICK PUPPIES.
Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith in KOTOR are defined by this. The way their philosophy is written actually sounds reasonable - following your passions will lead to personal freedom. Taken to a reasonable level, this is putting the people/things you care about first. Taken to a realistically extremist level, this is being willing to protect the people/things you care about at the expense of anything else out there. Taken to Stupid Evil, this is killing people just because you don't like them, or just because you can. Guess which one BioWare picked?
Lampshaded, after a fashion, by a shopkeeper on Korriban, who complains about how the local Sith students seem to equate "Sith" with "hooligan".
A long sidequest that, at one point, requires you to notify a father of the death of his son (who was mauled by a pack of space wolves) offers the option to refer to the unfortunate lad as a chew toy. Truly a sign of pure evil. Although in Bioware's defense, it DOES offer the option to extort money from the poor man in exchange for his son's journal.
Mass Effect tends to be one of the better implementations of a Karma Meter, with Paragon and Renegade being more like Merciful vs. Ruthless than Good vs. Evil. However, to get all the Renegade points still requires some level of petty jerkiness such being highly xenophobic and pointlessly rude. Thankfully, the special options requiring Renegade points are more just pragmatic and Bad Ass.
Pointlessly killing enemies who've already surrendered, shaking people down for money, and helping carry out less than honorable tasks issued by morally ambiguous individuals.
Kai Leng, the series' biggest Smug Snake and immensely fun to hate, once sends his nemesis a gloating email. He even uses a deceptive email title to trick you into reading it.
General Oleg Petrovsky, of Cerberus, took Omega from Aria, has ruthlessly suppressed its citizenry, has a multistage plan to deal with Aria when she comes back, replaced her nightclub headquarters with a sophisticated tactical command hub... and threw out that couch she likes lounging around on. Certainly not the high point in his career.
Dragon Age: Origins doesn't have a Karma Meter and thus has no mechanical way of measuring your evil. Still, many of the 'evil' dialogue options (Morrigan, Sten, Shale approve, Wynne, Alistair, Leliana disapprove) are needlessly confrontational and petty.
Still a lot less anvilicious than most BioWareRole Playing Games. There are a lot of petty Jerkass options, but there are also a fair number where you can commit atrocities in a sneaky way and still end up looking like a saint. For example, selling a child's soul for the power of blood magic. And in general, what your party members don't know won't hurt them.
Bonus points for selling a child's soul for sex.
In Dragon Age II, a sillier version of Hawke considers Meredith's command to slaughter mages who have surrendered to him in the templar campaign of The Last Straw as being petty. When s/he decides to spare them, Meredith angrily glares at Hawke while her men carry out Hawke's orders.
Rather than talk their way through a situation, Angry!Hawke can choose to demonstrate that they have no love for the Qunari to the resident fanatic racist mob by flat out killing the hostage, leaving the resident Knight Templar shocked and impressed that you're actually as much of a jerk as him.
Fable I. There are very few evil sidequests, and several of the story quests give good points, so the only way to get evil points is random acts of cruelty, such as petty theft, random murder, and the game's Moral Event Horizon: beating your wife, which is viewed as ten times as evil as actually killing her. There are a (very) few story actions that are construed as evil, but you're railroaded into saving the world anyway.
Fable II is much better about this: the main story quests are neither good nor evil, but you get the option of committing decidedly evil acts during at least one such quest. In addition, every sidequest either has an evil path from the beginning or culminates in a choice between good and evil by the end of it. It's much,mucheasier to go full evil andnevergo back. Conversely, it's much harder to go full good and never go back.
Fallout 3 adopts a karma system that gives more 'evil brownie points' for petty and obnoxious comments and actions, and yet the scale so easily slides good-ward that you can nuke an unsuspecting population and, if you don't pay attention, you'll be a saint before you realize! This is bizarre coming from a development company that has tended toward reputation over alignment-based systems, applied to a series that has never placed as much story or game emphasis on karma as on reputation, and in a genre that just doesn't support the polar alignment model.
The earlier Fallout games essentially invert this trope, as every little errand you can run for anyone gives good karma, even if you're paid to do it. Bad karma is usually only gained from the bad choices in large quests or wanton slaughter.
In-story, we have Big Bad Caesar, a man who threatens to kill you if you bring up his defeat at Hoover Dam and throws a temper tantrum, complete with name calling, if you refuse to work for him. In Honest Hearts it's also revealed that he ordered New Canaan- a peaceful, prosperous, alturistic town- to be slaughtered and burned. He did this just to spite Joshua Graham, who was born there.
For the NCR, there's Colonel Cassandra Moore. If the player works with Ambassador Dennis Crocker to resolve the situation with the Kings peacefully as well as make a truce with the Brotherhood of Steel, Moore will not only get Crocker fired from his job but also go on a smear campaign that reduces the Courier's rep with the NCR.
Averted in In Famous, where, while you have the option of being a dick and killing random people for the lulz, such actions don't give you evil points. Just like killing enemies won't give you good points. The good/evil axis is defined instead as selflessness vs. selfishness: are you going to turn off that valve and get more psychotropic gunk all over you or are you going to make that random dude there do it for you?
You actually do gain tiny amounts of evil karma for assaulting random pedestrians, but it's hardly enough to notice unless you really invest some time in it, and you can actually recover it by healing them afterward.
With rare exceptions, "evil" in Forum Warz is almost exclusively petty, since there's not much you can do to people over the Internet. Most of your darker actions are things like directing people to Shock Sites or faking a terrorist threat.
Gig in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, who tries to encourage Revya to do anything that might be constructed as evil. This starts out with encouraging acts like mass murder and genocide, and, when that fails, stuff like being rude to your companions, pickpocketing people, and gluttony. One place it is averted, however, is in the Demon Path. Revya goes right on to using his/her powers for mass murder and wanton destruction, and suddenly, Gig isn't too fussed about the little stuff any more. Possibly because Revya very quickly makes Gig's evil look petty.
From Gig's standpoint, this is actually pretty logical. If he can't corrupt Revya enough to let him take the driver's seat through quick, monstrous evil. He'll have to hope that tempting him/her towards smaller, less obviously objectionable acts will be enough to eventually do the job. If Revya's gone Demon Path, Gig quickly realizes his evil wasn't nearly monstrous enough for Reyva.
Assassins Creed II featured several villains who seemed mainly to be involved with the Knights Templar for political cover who are as mean, vicious, and cruel as possible, though Vieri de' Pazzi and Marco Barbarigo stand out as the most overt examples; overall, the Templar order seems to have devolved towards this by the time of the game's events (compared to its Assassin's Creed incarnation).
Rodrigo Borgia himself mentions to Ezio that he didn't need to execute Ezio's brothers Federico and Petruccio (their father was the star witness against a Borgia-backed conspiracy), but did it simply because he could.
In Portal 2, GLaDOS has a habit of slinging petty insults at Chell for killing her in the first game, most of them being targeted at her weight and saying how she's a horrible person
In Crisis Core Chapter 3, Zack is about to run after Angeal and Genesis...trips him.
This is one of Alphonse's defining traits in Mac Guffins Curse. Among other things, he pressured the mayor into banning the performing arts, just so he could get revenge on one performer (the protagonist) for seducing his girlfriend. (Also, he paid someone to cut a school bus' brakes just because the bus cut him off in traffic, but that ties into a different aspect of his evil...)
Ultima IV makes the point that petty evils are just as significant as great evils. The millions of petty evils you're used to committing as an RPG protagonist (B&E, petty theft, occasional muggings and murders, running away before your allies do, etc...) are progress-hampering errors in a game where the goal is to become a paragon of self-denying and self-sacrificing virtue. Most evils you perform are, when weighed against the crimes of villains past, petty and basically meaningless - but any of them can stop you in your tracks until you atone for them.
The Virtues which became a staple of the series from then on were partly a response to real life criticisms that the previous Ultimas let you be as evil and petty as you liked without consequence. While this and future games would continue to allow you to be horribly petty up to causing a [[The End of the World as We Know It mass extinction event]] because you're bored, the series would no longer simply allow you to do it without consequence. Well, [[Jumping the Shark Ultima VIII anyway]].
In the Sims 3, Sims with the "Evil" trait can do things like steal candy from babies, troll internet forums, ask a genie for "world misery," and donate money to sabotage a charity.
And the protagonist team's Token Evil Teammate Belkar is just as bad. If he can't get away with pillage and mass murder, he'll happily settle for petty theft and random insults For the Evulz. Even as he begins to undergo some character development, Belkar seems determined to maintain an image of pettiness so others won't notice his mild alignment shift.
ThisStolen Pixels presents Lucien, Big Bad of Fable II, as this trope. Given he in-game kills your family and dog only because he can, he may be an example of the trope canonically as well (but since he's the villain, he has no Karma Meter).
The villains of Sonichu commit murder and attempt to destroy the town several times, but their entire goal is to prevent Chris from getting laid and post homoerotic art of the Sonichus online.
O'Malley the megalomaniacal AI from Red vs. Blue once launched into an evil rant when handling a $20 co-pay for his host's medical services.
O'Malley: Hah, huhaha you fool, and we want the twenty dollars up front!
O'Malley: And in cash...
Church: Oh whatever!
O'Malley: Ah you moron! If you'd used a credit card you could have gotten airline miles! Or at least a thirty day grace period with no interest. You fiscally irresponsible fools!
Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two Shoes. Some of his acts include stealing all the water in Miseryville for his pool, forcing his Yes Man to fetch him something, then complaining he did it wrong no matter how accurate he gets it, and other such acts.
In The Simpsons, Mr Burns blocks out the sun from the town, forcing everyone to use his power all the time. His desire to steal candy from a baby afterward is a sign that he's crossed the line. And a plot point, believe it or not.
Although he was doing it half for kicks and half to see if that idiom was true. For someone like Burns, it wasn't that easy (partially because babies have stronger grips than one might think, and Mr. Burns is very old and decrepit).
In Avatar The Last Airbender, almost every villain has been a small, petty, spiteful person to some extent or another. However, most of them are made no less and, in fact, are more dangerous because of it.
Ozai is a twisted psychopath who tried to set half the world on fire and mutilated his son for speaking out of turn and is jealous of his brother.
Azula's primary motivations are getting approval from daddy and destroying her brother because he was mummy's favourite.
Zhao has a personal rivalry with a teenager and a 12 year old that has driven him to hiring assassins at least once.
Played with in "Oil on Candace", after Dr. Doofenshmirtz fails one of his schemes while trying to impress his old teacher, she tells him that you can also be evil in little ways, but then complains that he can't even do that right.
Lampshaded in the episode "Tree to Get Ready", where Dr. Doofensmirtz is planning to have trained pigeons crap on his "goody-two shoes brother" Roger, and admits the plan is "a truly petty act, brought on by my own mindless jealousy!"
There's also "Perry Lays an Egg" where Doofenshmirtz's latest scheme involved learning how to speak whale just so he could insult the one who stole away one of his ex-girlfriends. He had to chase Perry the Platypus down and demand Perry thwart his "evil" scheme.
In fact, this trope appears to be the Doctor's general operating guide. Almost all of his schemes revolve around him taking incredibly Disproportionate Retribution against whatever minor issue happens to be bugging him at the moment. This, like everything else in the show, is often lampshaded by Doof himself.
In "Hail Doofania!", after his brother got elected Mayor, he created a metropolis he called "Doofania", complete with its own original anthem, which included the line, "It's founded on spite!"
He also steals his neighbor's magazines from the mail, even though they're in Spanish. "You know, evil never rests." (He also speaks Spanish himself in a few episodes...)
On Invader Zim,Zim tends to fall into this a lot. Once, in an interview, Jhonen Vasquez commented that Zim wasn't really stupid; he just had a horrible sense of priorities—he took the episode "Megadoomer" as an example, where Zim gets a Humongous Mecha and immediately decides that "beating up Dib" is its best possible use (to the exclusion of taking any time to devise a practical power source for it).
In Batman The Animated Series, The Joker, at least for a majority of his first season appearances, is this. His plots amount to ruining Christmas for Batman and Gotham, ruining the mayor's son's birthday party, ruining a party in honor of Commissioner Gordon, attempting to patent something that legally cannot be patented, and then gassing the guy at the patent office who told him so...oh, and he obsessively stalks an average guy and his family and then forcibly recruits him into one of his plots, all because the guy cussed at him while driving. Which is part of what makes the character so scary - he doesn't differentiate between grandiloquent evil and petty evil. It's all equally relevant.
Eric Cartman can frequently be this even after his crossing the Moral Event Horizon with Scott Tenorman. When not causing mass murder, inciting riots, trying to start another Holocaust, giving Kyle AIDS, engaging in piracy, or manipulating Cthulu to do his bidding, etc, he will do things like stuffing toilet paper in a teacher's home and letting his friends take the blame.
On Histeria, J.P. Morgan is shown stealing candy from a child, then giving her a balloon in exchange, then popping the balloon as he cackles at his own evilness.
In Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, Robotnik commits petty crimes in his spare time when he's not trying to take over Mobius. For example, one of the ways he uses his new super powers in "Super Robotnik" is to steal candy from 4,822 babies.
Even more damning is Robotnik's Start of Darkness - he tried to kill a guy with a robotic snake because the girl Robotnik was in love with was in love with the guy instead! And when he started his conquest of Mobius, he was the first guy he locked up!
While it's more subtle, Robotnik's Sonic Sat Am counterpart has blatant shades of this too, he takes much pleasure in the fact his industries are polluting and destroying the planet, and rather actively belittles his minions (usually Snively) or gloats over his robotocized slaves.
In an episode of Dinosaucers, the Big Bad, Genghis Rex, decides to grab a phone book and prank call people because he is bored.
Invoked in Justice League Unlimited by the Flash, who is inhabiting Lex Luthor's body at the time and trying to avoid discovery. See the page quote above. (The Lex Luthor situation is different: he wants to provoke the heroes to rash behavior so the world will lose faith in them.)
The villains of Totally Spies! tend to be a pretty petty bunch. Candy Sweet from "The Black Widows" was turned down by the Honeybees cheerleading squad as a kid, so she kidnaps them and builds an army of robots that uses the Honeybees' moves to infiltrate an international cheerleading contest and slaughter the competition (quite literally) in the finals. Dr. Bittersweet from "Passion Patties" was kicked out of the Happy Girls for eating the cookies she was supposed to sell, so she tries to discredit them with super-addictive, super-fattening cookies. And so on.
Roger of American Dad is a self proclaimed sociopath and as such takes this tropes to its most extreme, victimising or destroying others either for some minor slight or sheer curiosity or boredom. He once convinced Steve he was adopted for stealing his cookie for example, and another point tried to blow up the Earth because Stan insulted him (which itself was provoked by Roger being his usual apathetic self). There is some slight jusification as his species are in fact Made of Evil, and if they don't let out their "bitchiness" on a frequent basis it takes the form of a poisonous bile that kills them. Since he has little to no problem with this behavior however, it still counts.
Him from The Powerpuff Girls is a huge example of this. If his powers alone in conjunction with his One-Winged Angel seen in speed demon are any indication, He could probably beat the girls handily if he really wanted to. However, for better or worse, he's more interested in inconveniencing them and just generally being a dick. Some of his plots have included sending the girls on a wild goose chase and giving them free candy so they get cavities.
On Adventure Time,Gunther is apparently the most evil being that Hunson Abadeer, the so-called Lord of Evil, has ever met. When he gains the power to take over Ooo in "Reign of Gunthers", all he does is force its citizens to provide him with an endless stream of glass objects for him to break. (Though his evil credentials are helped by his willingness to destroy sapient glass.)