History's Crime Wave

History's Crime Wave is when historical criminals are used in a work of fiction. This may involve Historical Villain Upgrade. The villains don't have to be on Earth; they just have to be historical, though this can also extend to mythological villains.

See also Jury of the Damned and Army of the Ages.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • Leading Comics #3 has the Seven Soldiers of Victory working against Dr Doome (not Victor) who has used a time machine to summon up the Time Tyrants, Alexander the Great, Emperor Nero, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.
  • The Trope Namer is in All-Star Comics #38 where the Justice Society of America investigate Gotham City murders claimed to be performed by historical villains. Though they turn out to be the disguises of an insane wax museum guard, he succeeds in killing every member in the issue except Wonder Woman, who has to use the purple ray to bring them back to life. The villains are Nero, Goliath, Captain Kidd, Cesare Borgia, Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.
  • The Captain Marvel villain Ibac could be considered a type of this trope. Lucifer gave a crook the ability to turn into Ibac, with the powers of Ivan the Terrible, Borgia, Attila the Hun and Caligula. This doesn't explain how he gains enormous strength and durability.
  • In one The Mighty Thor comic he goes to the demon Mephisto's realm and encounters a group of villains.
  • One version of the Lethal Legion, fought by the Avengers West Coast, was made by the Demon Satannish ressurecting four dead criminals and giving them powers. They were
    • Axe of Violence - A demonically-enhanced Lizzie Borden with an axe replacing one hand.
    • Coldsteel - A demonically enhanced Josef Stalin now an 8 ft. giant with superhuman strength.
    • Cyana - A demonically enhanced Lucrezia Borgia with poisoned claws.
    • Zyklon - A demonically enhanced Heinrich Himmler who can belch deadly gas fumes from his mouth.
  • In a way Vandal Savage as he has been many historical characters, like Caesar, Genghis Khan and Jack the Ripper.
  • Inverted in Supreme; as a boy, Supreme was a member of the League of Infinity, which is comprised of heroes from history (some folkloric, some real, some made up by the comic). Uh, and they're all teenagers. Its eclectic membership includes Kid Achilles, a young Wild Bill Hickok, famed strategist Chu-Ko Liang, Mata Hari, mad scientist Wilhelm Reich, Aladdin, mutant caveman Giganthro, Witch Wench, the Germanic swordsman Siegfried, and team leader Zayla "Future Girl" Zarn.
  • Legion of Super Heroes: In Adventure Comics #314, a villain called Alaktor recruits history's three greatest villains (Nero, John Dillinger and Adolf Hitler) to take on the Legion.
  • In All-Select Comics #7, the sorcerer Terdu summons a group of villains from the past, whom he dubs the 'Men of Evil', to battle Captain America and Bucky. The Men of Evil were Captain Kidd, Jack the Ripper, Frank and Jesse James, Literature/Bluebeard, Gyp-the-Blood, and three gangsters (names unrevealed) who had died in the electric chair decades earlier.
  • There is a comic by the Finnish comic artist Petri Hiltunen where a man brings a supply of weaponry to a group of outlaws who turn out to be the immortal revenants of various historical villains. Their leader plans to kill the man instead of paying, but the man tells him that's not going to work because he is Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus, and thus also immortal. As the man is leaving, one of the revenants runs up to his leader to inform him that the man was lying. How does he know? Because ''he'' is Judas Iscariot.

Film
  • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - The fictional Kahmenrah forms an "Axis of Evil" with Ivan the Terrible, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Al Capone, while also rejecting Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch.
  • A Tome of Eldritch Lore brings Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Albert Fish, the Zodiac Killer, and Jack the Ripper (or, more aptly, Jill the Ripper) back to life in The Butchers.

Literature
  • Possibly the oldest example is in The Odyssey as Odysseus goes to the Underworld and sees mythological villains being punished for their crimes, like the trickster Sisyphus, the husband-murdering daughters of Danaë, and the cannibalistic Tantalus.
  • The Divine Comedy has a much larger number in the Inferno section, some known to us only through the poem. Oddly, it also includes some scattered mythological villains, like Antaeus.
  • Return to Groosham Grange has the waxworks of Hitler, a French Revolutionary and others brought to life from Madame Tussaud.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: The Original Series has an odd In-Universe example when the Excalbians create duplicates of various criminals who are "historical monsters" from the perspective of the Enterprise crew, with Genghis Khan the only real-world historical "villain," and set them against a group of Historical Heroes, of whom the only real-world counterpart is Abe Lincoln.
    • Another episode offers an Inversion in which another bunch of aliens create psychic images of the Earps and Doc Hollkiday, popularly remembered as the heroes of the OK Corral gunfight, and put Kirk and his landing party in the roles of the "villainous" Clantons and McLowrys.
  • In the Lois and Clark episode "That Old Gang of Mine", Mad Scientist Emil Hamilton creates clones of Al Capone, John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde to demonstrate that evil is not In the Blood. It doesn't work out that way. (There was a comic book storyline at around the same time that may have been the inspiration, but it used fictional gangsters.)

Western Animation