"Composition-wise, this cover is actually more interesting than the ones we're used to seeing. We actually have something that catches the reader's attention, with the menacing villain holding the symbols of the heroes by knives."Box art or advertisement that features the villain's head "watching" the hero. This trope is related to Floating Head Syndrome, though the latter is not typically viewed as fondly. For when a villain is overlooking a scene in-story, see I Have the High Ground.
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Anime and Manga
- A promotional poster◊ for the Mahou Sensei Negima! OVA Mō Hitotsu no Sekai (Another World) shows Negi and Asuna posing in front with Fate Averruncus overlooking. What makes this example unusual is that Fate's head and line of sight is turned slightly to the side to show his effectively apathetic nature (rather than diabolic or megalomaniacal).
- Early promotional material for Digimon Tamers had Impmon, intended at the time to be the Big Bad (a direction later changed) in this fashion, except he was underneath the Tamers rather than above.
- One of the Pokémon promotional items from Burger King was a card that showed Mewtwo looking down at our heroes, complete with an Evil Laugh. (Card is marked as number one,◊ apologies for the quality.)
- One particular DVD cover◊ for Saint Seiya Omega portrays Dragon Ryuhou, of all characters, as this, if the Slasher Smile he seems to be sporting is anything to go by. Anyone who's seen or at least read about the series knows this is far from the truth.
- Marvel Comics has been known to do this: for starters, the one-shot Daredevil villain The Surgeon General and Spider-Man villain Jackal.
- Combined with Floating Head Syndrome in the artwork for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's early short story, "Reign of the Super-Man." (As a side note, the "Super-Man" here—a bald villain—inspired Superman foes the "Ultra-Humanite" and Lex Luthor.)
Films — Animated
Many posters and video boxes for Western animated films have these, especially if they are from The '90s. Sometimes, the villain looks like they are trying to grab the main characters or the MacGuffin.
- Plenty of Disney movies, including Snow White, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin: The Return of Jafar.
- By the same vein, so does Affectionate Parody Enchanted.
- Used to great effect on The Hunchback of Notre Dame's poster.◊ A video cover◊ practically shoehorns it in, to the point of Frollo being almost shunted off the top of the cover.
- One of Beauty and the Beast's original posters used the Beast as the overlooker, making it a case of Covers Always Lie since he's not the villain, or at least tried to project that appearance to anyone who's not familiar with the classic story.
- One of the posters for The Great Mouse Detective had one of these.◊
- The first poster and video cover for The Little Mermaid has Ursula and King Triton as the overlookers. Ursula is the main villain, while Triton is more of an Anti-Hero who gets better.
- And since it was a clear case of Follow the Leader, the non-Disney effort The Swan Princess did this◊ with Rothbart.
- On the video box art for FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Hexxus is seen in the background trying to grab the main characters.
- The poster for All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 has Red attempting to grab Gabriel's Horn.
- The film posters for 1986's Transformers: The Movie had Unicron (both his planet form and his robotic head) prominently in the background behind the main cast. Funnily enough, since Unicron is the size of a planet, for once this skewed perspective is actually proportionally correct.
- * The American cover of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron's DVD case features the Colonel's ethereal head looking over his shoulder at the heroes with hatred in his eyes
- The box art for Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has Joker's (green-tinted) head doing this.
- The film poster/VHS cover of Tom and Jerry: The Movie features Tom chasing Jerry (which only happens for a few minutes in-film) while the face of the villainous fat lady watches them with utter rage in cloud-form (much as the Beast did in the aforementioned Beauty and the Beast poster).
- A variation on the cover of Filmation's animated movie Happily Ever After. Snow White and the Dwarfelles are front and center, with the Shadow Man glaring malevolently at them from behind a tree. This is a case of Covers Always Lie, as the character in question is actually Snow White's very-harmless, mute Stalker With a Crush (actually the prince under an enchantment), and the film's actual villain is nowhere to be seen on the cover.
- One of the posters for the Hanna-Barbera feature film Heidi's Song features two of them.
- The film poster/video/DVD cover◊ of Hey Arnold!: The Movie.
- Eris towers in the background of the Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas poster, looming over the heroes.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls has Sunset Shimmer's eyes appearing in the mirror above human versions of the main cast.
- On the cover of Dark Fury, Chillingsworth's head is watching over Riddick.
- Heavy Metal 2000: Most of the covers featuring the villain Tyler will have him shown this way above Stripperiffic heroine Julie. In one it's his face in the clouds, in another it's just his eyes, and in another one he's fully armored.
Films — Live-Action
- Many a Star Wars poster has Darth Vader doing this; in fact, the series may well have originated the trope.
- The original (Episode IV: A New Hope) has a giantnote translucent blue Darth Vader head in the background. He doesn't appear to actually be looking at the heroes, more sorta past them, but to be fair it's hard to tell with the mask.
- The Phantom Menace has it with Darth Maul.
- Attack of the Clones plays with this. Count Dooku is nowhere to be seen, but his henchman Jango Fett is on the lower right.
- Revenge of the Sith shows a faint image of Darth Vader with the helmet on.
- The Force Awakens continues this tradition with Kylo Ren, though depending on the poster, he's either staring to the left away from the heroes, or right at the center.
- Rogue One continues the tradition with a spectral image of Darth Vader behind the heroes, as though breathing down Jyn's neck.
- The Star Trek films:
- The poster to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country shows the very large, very angry eye of General Chang glaring down at the Enterprise-A from the background.
- The poster of Star Trek: First Contact does this in a pretty interesting manner. Data and Picard are wary of an approaching army of Borg drones underneath them, but the Borg Queen, the film's Big Bad, is hovering over them both.
- The poster of Star Trek: Insurrection features the Enterprise-E flying towards the giant face of the movie's main villain (who actually has a rather minor role in the film, considering how prominently he's shown on the poster).
- One poster◊ for the 2009 Star Trek film does this with Nero. Oddly, most of the posters and DVD covers for the 2009 film do this with Kirk; one could be forgiven for assuming that Christopher Pine plays the villain (although that film's Kirk is arguably an Anti-Hero).
- 28 Days Later has a poster with just the eyes of an Infected hanging in the sky over a silhouetted Jim.
- Fright Night (1985) uses a variation◊: villain as an evil cloud. This is repeated with Fright Night Part 2.
- The poster of Fright Night (2011) is a straight example, although Jerry does kinda merge into the whole sky around the lower side.
- This◊ movie poster for Inglourious Basterds.
- The original poster for Child's Play.
- The film adaptation of No Country for Old Men portrays Anton Chigurh this way. The effect is actually very creepy, especially since this is one story where, justice and logic be darned, The Bad Guy Wins.
- The 2002◊ adaption of The Time Machine.
- The poster for The Haunting of Molly Hartley does this with Joseph, who is revealed in the last ten minutes to be part of a Satanic cult.
- The poster for The Untouchables has a giant Al Capone in shades, smoking a cigar and smirking over the Untouchables.
- The Poster for the film Lion of the Desert, about the life of Libyan anti-colonial rebel Omar Mukhtar, depicts Benito Mussolini glowering over his troops and tanks as they clash with the rebels, with central villain General Rodolfo Graziani in the foreground.◊
- And also with the zombie nazis flick Horrors of War, which does this◊ with Adolf Hitler and his zombie hordes.
- The posters for Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection do this with Michael Myers' Black Eyes of Evil looming over the frightened-looking protagonists.
- Some posters for Captain America: The First Avenger have Red Skull's eyes looming over Cap.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: The eponymous Big Bad as seen here.◊
- After the "I ♥ NY" -posters for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan were taken down due to complaints from New York Tourism Committee, they were replaced with a poster of Jason looming over the city.◊
- Arachnophobia is a fairly subtle example. Take a good look at the moon on the poster/cover.
- On the posters of John Carpenter's Vampires, vampire lord Jan Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
- The poster of the first Blade film show the vampire antagonist Deacon Frost ominously watching over the Daywalker Blade in a blood-red background.
- The Alzheimer's Case: The hitman Ledda is portrayed this way on the movie posters, with the cops in the foreground.
- Zig-zagged in Gone Girl. Amy's eyes are seen at the top of the poster, but it looks like a simple case of Floating Head Syndrome. In fact, this is a subtle clue of who the true villain of the movie is...
- Some versions of the poster for The Passage depict Captain von Berkow looming behind the main characters looking through binoculars.
- The Dark Side of the Moon: The poster only shows the bad guy's Hellish Pupils overlooking the moon.
- The poster for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie shows the eyes of Ivan Ooze looming over the heroes.
- Hero and the Terror: The poster shows Simon Moon's eyes menacingly hovering over a stern-looking Chuck Norris packing heat.
- The Devil's Advocate: An alternate theatrical poster shows the Devil looming over the protagonist and his wife.
- War with the Evil Power Master.◊
- Two covers of Bride of the Rat God show the Rat God looking menacingly over Christine, who holds her fur wrap around her in terror.
- The original paperback cover for Return of the Living Dead had a giant disembodied zombie head and hands looming behind a woman in a black void, seemingly about to grab her.
- In Heroes, the Season 1 graphic novel collection has 2 different front covers, both of which feature Sylar's head looming over the main cast of Heroes.
- On the cover for the Season 2 DVD, the main cast of Heroes stands in the foreground at Times Square while Sylar's head grins down at them from an overhead billboard.
- The Troll King is doing this on the DVD cover for The 10th Kingdom — which is a subversion, as he is neither the real BigBad of the miniseries nor even impinges very much on the plot, particularly since he only briefly menaces the heroes in Parts 1 and 2. (He's actually much more of The Rival for the Big Bad.) This might be a borderline case of Billing Displacement, since while Dianne Wiest is greatly respected and a well-known actress, Ed O'Neill is probably more popular. Or it could be a bit of canny advertising to misdirect the audience.
- Every Angel DVD case has Angelus looking over Angel's shoulder.
- An inversion: Upon opening it, the House: Season One box set features the main cast looking down at you in a circle with a surgical light over all of their heads, as if you were a patient.
- Storm of the Century: Some covers show Andre Linoge ominously hovering over the small town he is menacing throughout the miniseries.
- The poster for BIONICLE's 2004 Toa Metru set-line◊ showed a Vahki enforcer robot watching over the assembled Toa Metru heroes. Its prototype teaser pic◊ meanwhile showed a mysterious shadowy figure, later revealed to be a prototype for the toy of Krekka, a character who would have been far less suited for such a role.
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai has Cell doing this with a Magnificent Bastard smirk on his face.
- Knights of the Old Republic has Malak glaring down at Bastila. The sequel does the same with Nihilus.
- The first Fire Emblem features the Big Bad watching Marth and his army. The third game, which contains a remake and direct sequel to the first, has the Big Bad in both forms. The Binding Blade has both Zephiel and Idenn/Idoun's head in the background (although only Idenn/Idoun is really looking). Gaiden has... someone's head on its cover.
- The third game's box art is pretty much reused for Shadow Dragon's. point of sale.◊
- Gaiden's box art onlooker is the human form of Duma... as learned 25 years later in the remake, Shadows of Valentia.
- One of the unlockable backgrounds in Metal Slug Anthology has Morden looming over Marco, Tarma, Eri, and Fio.
- Ace Attorney:
- The cover◊ of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney features both the Judge and Edgeworth as possible examples (though the Judge is hardly what you'd call evil, and even Edgeworth isn't much of a villain after Case 2).
- The games as a whole feature this with the artwork unlocked after beating each case. This can in fact spoil who the guilty party is for people who haven't played the games before.note
- Usually, the main promotional artwork piece for each entry (the ones that show all the game's major recurring characters) will usually have the game's main prosecutor in this role. The one◊ from Justice For All, for example, has both Franziska von Karma and Miles Edgeworth showing up as this, but only the former is actually facing towards the foreground because Edgeworth is a definite good guy here.
- The main piece of promotional artwork◊ for Trials and Tribulations shows Godot in this role.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney plays with this. Klavier is the nicest prosecutor the series has had so far and thus is not featured in this role in the game's promotional piece◊. His brother Kristoph, on the other hand...
- Dual Destinies continues the trend◊ by portraying Simon Blackquill in this way. Though like Edgeworth before him, he turns out to be much less villainous than he seems.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has Prosecutor Nahyuta Sadhmadhi keeping the tradition◊ alive. And like Edgeworth and Blackquill, he is revealed to not be villainous at the end.
- The Complete Works rereleases for Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6 feature this.
- The box art◊ for Little Big Adventure 2 contains a cloud, shaped like Dark Monk, looking menacingly over Twinsun.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Mega Drive version does this on the cover, with Robotnik slamming a "2" into the ground.
- SHODAN does this on the box for System Shock 2. Now, The Reveal is no longer surprising.
- Mass Effect has Saren's eyes looming over Shepard.
- The box art for King's Quest III features the villain Manannan doing a crystal ball version of this.
- The box art for King's Quest VII 1.0 (for DOS 5/Windows 3.1) features Malicia looking down over a tornado sucking in Rosella and Valanice. Version 2.0 (for Windows 95) has different box art.
- Done on the cover of the Transformers Animated video game, with Megatron looking on from the background.
- The American box art of Shining Force II (which has little to do with the actual game) has this.
- Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny arguably does this... The "arguably" coming from whether you see God of War's Kratos as an Anti-Hero or a Villain Protagonist.
- Killzone has this trope for the box art of 1, 2, and Mercenary having a Helghast soldier on the front. The Helghast have become so iconic (and, ironically, popular) that the series has them taking up most of the marketing for the game.
- The box art for Sacrifice features Charnel ominously looking down on the Player Character, Eldred, holding a Manalith in his long clawlike fingers. Easily the evilest of the game's five gods, he's notably not the Big Bad of the game.
- Cackletta for Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, then the Shroobs in the sequel.
- A promotional poster for Super Mario Galaxy shows Mario and one of the Lumas flying through space while being watched by Bowser, Bowser Jr., as well as every single boss encountered in the game (specifically Dino Piranha (but not his fiery form), King Kaliente, Bugaboom, Megaleg, Kamella, Tarantox, Topmaniac, Major Burrows, Kingfin, Bouldergeist, and Baron Brr).
- This is also true with one promotional artwork for Super Mario Bros. 3.
- The box art for the Overlord games often feature the Evil Overlord posing menacingly in the background while the Minions take the forefront.
- Some of the Kirby games have this, like Kirby's Epic Yarn.
- Banjo-Kazooie's box art features Gruntilda overlooking Banjo and attempting to grab him.
- The Wii version of A Boy and His Blob has the main villain boss watching.
- The covers for all of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series games show the main characters being watched by evil-looking Pokémon with glowing red eyes and are almost completely covered in shadow.
- Notably, the cover of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity has Hydreigon looming over the main characters. In a rather ingenious move by the creators, the significance of this ends up changing completely once you actually play the game and find out that he's not only the Big Good and one of major driving forces behind the plot, but also ends up becoming a part of the team. The fact that he's not portrayed in an overtly evil fashion like the Pokémon on the covers of the previous games (he just looks evil, but isn't acting evil) may have clued some players on it, though.
- The box art for Advance Wars 2 shows the Orange Star Commanders (main heroes) in the foreground, the Black Hole Commanders (bad guys) behind them looming over them, and a giant Big Bad behind and above them.
- The X-Men Legends games have Magneto and Apocalypse, respectively.
- While the original box art avoided this, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica X's American box art features Wesker in the background (The European cover instead featured a close-up of Claire's face).
- Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy's title screen has the Oracle overlooking the main cast.◊
- Professor Layton examples:
- The cover of the first Valkyria Chronicles has Selvaria Bles doing this.
- World Heroes 2◊ for the Famicom (not to be confused with the official game) has Mario overlooking the rest of the cast. (Apart from Mai Shiranui and Lawrence Blood, who aren't on the cover.) Yes, apparently Mario's the Villain Protagonist in a game which has Bowser and M. Bison as playable characters.
- Speaking of Bison, he's posed like this on the Champion Edition arcade cabinet. This is an homage to General Washizaki from Riki-Oh, one of Bison's main influences.◊
- One poster for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, also used for the cover in certain versions, has Ganondorf doing a variation on this, in that his back is turned toward the viewer but he is also looking over his shoulder.
- In the box art of the 3DS rerelease of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Moon becomes this.
- The Western box art for Metroid: Zero Mission has a red, distinctive silhouette of Ridley overlooking Samus as she lands on Planet Zebes.
- The cover of Maniac Mansion has Dr. Fred's face sporting a Slasher Smile visible in the sky behind the mansion. Subverted in that Dr. Fred turns out to be just a brainwashed pawn of The Man Behind the Man.
- A picture for Shin Megami Tensei II has the Archangel Gabriel holding Aleph in a case of Pietŕ Plagiarism, with the Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael, and Archangel Uriel, the Big Bad Triumvirate of the first two thirds of the game, as the overlookers.
- Sigma, in the final shot◊ of the intro to Mega Man X4.
- Mr. X in the Japanese cover art◊ for Streets of Rage 2.
- The cover for the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII features this, with Dhoulmagus sinisterly overlooking the good guys (and a couple of Slimes), who are charging headlong into battle.
- A widely circulated fan poster of Red vs. Blue Season 3 features the head of Big Bad O'Malley doing some Evil Overlooking of the main cast. A similar fan poster of Season 4 featured the Alien in a similar position, although it was revealed rather early in the season that the Alien was actually not the new villain (it was still O'Malley).
- This Filk Song for The Frollo Show features Wilford Brimley as an Evil Overlooker in a fairly crowded shot. He's flanked by Batiatus and Marco Antonio Regil (although by the time Wilford becomes the true Big Bad, Marco has teamed up with Frollo to stop him).
- The third Penny Arcade book, The Warsun Prophecies, has Tycho's eyes looming over Gabe.
- The image that plays the role of the official poster for the web-movie Noob: La Quęte Légendaire has the antagonist's eyes and forehead over a smaller scale line-up of the protagonists.
- The interior art for The Venture Bros. Season Two DVD features the Monarch looming over portraits of the main characters.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: the poster for Season One depicts the Gaang down the front, with Zuko looming over them evilly. This is also shown prominently in one of the last episodes "The Ember Island Players", when the in-universe poster showing the Show Within a Show is pretty much exactly the same as the poster for Season one.
- The cover of Operation Z.E.R.O features Grandfather looking down on the KND, who as the cover implies are standing between him and the world.
- The VHS cover of the Madballs episode "Escape from Orb" shows the main villain Wolf Breath as a giant face menacingly watching over the Madballs.