Historical Rap Sheet

"The League of Shadows has been a check against human corruption for thousands of years. We sacked Rome, loaded trade ships with plague rats, burned London to the ground. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence, we return to restore the balance."

The crimes of the villain(s) date back long before our grandfathers were born. Historical events that hurt many people are attributed to a single organization or person, usually more than one. Even if there isn't technically a law against causing earthquakes or eruptions, the events are used to show how dangerous the criminal is by placing wars, economic struggles, assassinations, and other pivotal events in their past. Stock Unsolved Mysteries are particularly useful for this.

These crimes can be committed by a group, like the Ancient Conspiracy, or a single person, like We Didn't Start the Führer. Those tropes cover the actual villains, this trope is about the "crimes". Therefore, it can involve Reminiscing About Your Victims.

Note that this doesn't necessarily have to apply to a villain: i.e. an Idiot Hero Reality Warper or Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds could've caused a natural disaster through clumsiness.

Subtrope of Historical In-Joke, and essentially the evil twin of Been There, Shaped History. Compare Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, Julius Beethoven da Vinci and Historical Villain Upgrade. Often a form of List of Transgressions or Offstage Villainy.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Superman Family #165 we learn that Superman's dog Krypto accidentally caused the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. You can read it here.
  • Immortal criminal Vandal Savage from The DCU claims to have been many historical figures including Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Blackbeard and Jack the Ripper. He was also an advisor to many famous conquering, and may have either been Julius Caesar or participated in Caesar's murder, depending on which version of the story you believe.
  • Batman villain KGBeast, a Soviet super-assassin, has been described by the CIA as a participant in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Castle of Cagliostro, the Cagliostro family's centuries-old counterfeiting operation caused the collapse of the Bourbon dynasty, financed Napoleon and brought about the Wall Street Crash.
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp shows that the villain Merlock was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis and the destruction of Pompeii.
    Genie: Mount Vesuvius would never have blown its top if Merlock hadn't blown his!

     Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In The Pariah by Graham Masterton the death of the Toltecs, the atrocities of Caligula, the Black Death and the Salem witch trials are all attributed to the demonic antagonist.
  • For Love of Evil: Satan engineered the Black Plague by tricking Gaia. He later regretted how far it went, and the experience taught him his responsibility as the Incarnation of Evil. Inverted later as he tricks Chronos into averting the holocaust and World War II as a favor to YHWH, though this costs him his friendship with subsequent Incarnations of Time, who till then were the only ones friendly to him.
  • Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon short story "Unnatural Causes". A team of alien Krundai are responsible for many harmful acts in Earth's history, including: starting riots, wars and revolutions, causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, assassinations, promoting drug use and the Holocaust. Their ultimate aim is to cause humanity to destroy itself so they can feast on our bodies.
  • A Running Gag in Good Omens involves Crowley, the demon who was responsible for the original Temptation in the Garden of Eden, frequently receiving the congratulations of Hell whenever they notice something like the Spanish Inquisition has popped up in the human world. They inevitably leap to the conclusion that Crowley was responsible for getting it started. He frequently protests to the sympathetic Angel Aziraphale that he had nothing to do with it whatsoever: the human race thought of new ideas to be beastly to each other all on their own.
    "Neither claimed any responsibility for Milton Keynes, but both reported it as a success."
  • Croup and Vandemar have one in Neverwhere that isn't particularly specific but apparently includes assassinating kings, heroes and gods.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the start of season two of Utopia, it is revealed that The Network is behind the assassinations of Aldo Moro, Mino Pecorelli, Richard Sykes, Airey Neave and the bombing of TWA Flight 841.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. In "Wolf in the Fold" it is discovered that Redjac is a noncorporeal lifeform which has been a serial killer on several planets, including Earth where it was Jack the Ripper as well as a few other unnamed killers (in China in 1952 and Kiev in 1974).
  • In the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, the Master attributes an invented historical rap sheet to the Doctor while recruiting Chang Lee. The Doctor himself has been responsible for inspiring the Great Fire of Rome and starting the Great Fire of London (both accidents) as well as bringing about the destruction of Pompeii (by stopping it and then triggering it again as a crossing of the Godzilla Threshold), among other historical encounters.
  • The X-Files: According to the Day in the Limelight episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", the CSM was personally responsible for the assassinations of JFK and MLK, and made sure that the Buffalo Bills never won the Super Bowl.
  • Supernatural:
    • The demon lord and Torture Technician Alastair implies that he had a hand in the concentration camps, noting how he hasn't been on Earth since "Poland, '43".
    • In "No Exit", the ghost that Sam, Dean, and Jo are hunting turns out to be H. H. Holmes.
    • The Horsemen War claims that he has been responsible for most of the conflicts throughout human history, specifically citing both World Wars, the Middle East, and the Sudan for the past century.
  • Babylon 5: Sebastian, a Vorlon "inquisitor"-slash-Torture Technician sent to test the resolve of Delenn and Sheridan mentions that he was abducted back in the Victorian age... and it's revealed at the end that he was Jack the Ripper.
  • Bewitched: Bumbling Aunt Clara causes the Northeast Blackout of 1965 when she tries to use magic on some candles.
  • Quantum Leap: In one of the show's Kisses with History, Sam causes the Northeast Blackout of 1965 during an attempt to leap home.
  • Grimm: One of the Grimm diaries reveals that the burning of Rome was accidental, caused by Emperor Nero sending an Excandesco to burn the homes of the Christians.
  • Timecop: Ian Pascoe is said to have caused the Chernobyl, Titanic, and Hindenburg disasters, but we don't see it in the show outside of historical records.
  • Blackadder Back & Forth had Baldrick kill all the dinosaurs with his dirty underwear.
  • During a Time Travel trip, Professor Bobo from Mystery Science Theater 3000 burnt down Ancient Rome when he accidentally knocked over a candle trying to steal a cheese wheel.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Anya was responsible for the 1905 Bloody Sunday Massacre in St Petersburg, which was a precursor to the Russian Revolution.
    • In "Once More, With Feeling", Sweet sings "Something's cooking, I'm at the griddle/I gave Nero his very first fiddle!"
  • Millennium: In "Maranatha", the bad guy is introduced when he causes the Chernobyl disaster before the episode flashes to the present.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • In Everyman HYBRID, HABIT, a malevolent entity who possesses people, claims to have a very long historical rap sheet including the likes of Josef Mengele and Jack the Ripper. This leads to some Fridge Horror when you start wondering just how many of them were actually good people who had been forced to watch as their own bodies committed horrible crimes. Knowing HABIT, that may have even been the entire purpose of the crimes.
  • Hardly Working: Over the course of the show, the Phantom of the Office has taken responsibility for the Black Plague, the extinction of the dodo bird, and most shockingly, the death of Jesus Christ.
  • The Time... Guys: Doc assassinated Julius Caesar, and it's heavily implied that he was the one who convinced John Wilkes Booth to kill Abraham Lincoln.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • A rare anti-heroic example: One tale has the Foundation putting Hitler into power to eliminate a disease that mysteriously only effects Jews, homosexuals, and Slavs.
    • One SCP is heavily implied to be the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • In an early episode it's revealed that once every few millennia fairies have to be evil for 24 hours. During Wanda's stint she killed the dinosaurs.
    • Through sheer ignorance rather than malevolence, Cosmo burned down Pompeii, sunk Atlantis nine times, and turned Xanadu into Pittsburgh.
    • Binky apparently brought The Black Death to Europe because he thought it was a band.
  • In Yoohoo and Friends, Father Time was responsible for starting the Salem Witch Trials after trying to help three women carrying heavy buckets of water... by enchanting brooms to carry them. Thankfully he managed to save their skins shortly afterwards.
  • The Simpsons:
  • One episode of Xiaolin Showdown has Dojo turn evil for a day (apparently it happens naturally once every couple thousand years). Master Fung mentions in passing that the last time around was the last time anybody ever heard of Atlantis. (This is contradicted in a later episode, where the cast visits the abandoned city.)
  • In Futurama it was the Big Brain that killed the dinosaurs.
  • A Freeze-Frame Bonus in Gravity Falls has Bill Cipher suggest he may have had something to do with JFK's assassination. Then again, this is Bill we're talking about.
  • On American Dad!, when Roger is about to get hit by a bus and his life flashes before his eyes, it's shown that he apparently caused the Exxon Valdez disaster.

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