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Lean and Mean
Nothing burns calories quite like evil.

"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."
Caesar, Julius Caesar

Black robes not fitting properly? Just try being a little more evil! Kicking puppies is good exercise after all! And don't worry about those meals you skip while you're scheming to take over the kingdom. Yes, the combination of your new villainous lifestyle and the laws of narrative causality will make those annoying extra pounds vanish before you can say "Are they even feeding Yzma?"

Sometimes used for a Freud Was Right explanation, where the villain is nasty and vicious because she's so hungry. Very common among fashion-oriented shows to explain why the size 0 model is so cranky.

Also they can be the Thin in the Big, Thin, Short Trio when being an evil group to contrast with the fuller member and the squat member.

The reverse Villainous Glutton / Fat Bastard style is also relatively frequent (cf. Ursula, the Blob), but nowhere as lampshaded as the Lean and Mean look. Also contrast Large and in Charge. Particularly skinny or gangly-proportioned villains may qualify as Noodle People.

When the hero is stronger and/or dumber, this often leads to Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece: Post-Time Skip, the three Admirals are all tall and thin. On a side note, Aokiji doesn't quite fit the "Mean" part of this trope unlike his fellow Admirals (namely Akainu).
    • Wapol is normally a Fat Bastard, but his Extreme Omnivore powers allow him to swallow his excess bulk and become sinisterly slender. He actually describes this form as "lean and mean" in both the 4kids and FUNimation dubs.
    • This also applies for Van Augur and Laffitte of the Blackbeard Pirates.
    • Caesar Clown.
  • Hellsing's Rip Van Winkle is extremely tall and thin. For that matter, Alucard also counts.
  • Bleach: Nnoitra and Nanana are both very thin villains, even by the thin standards of the story's characters.
  • Eyeshield 21: Purposely invoked with Hiruma, who's supposed to resemble a devil. He's mean, but he's more an anti-hero than a villain.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino liked his women with a bit of meat on their bones, which was why the villainous Kycilia Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam was noticeably skinnier than the rest of the female cast.
  • Viper Snakely from Kimba the White Lion.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto is a fairly tall, lean man. Lean like a snake is more like it.
  • Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist, more so in the 2003 anime version. Incredibly slim and muscular with a form fitting body suit that really extenuates the slim physique. And "mean" rarely defines someone as it does him/her/it.

    Comic Books 
  • The demonic Violator from Spawn seesaws between this and Fat Bastard; as his alter-ego, Clown, he's an obese Depraved Dwarf with vaguely clown-paint like facial markings. As his true self, he's a spindly, emaciated, lanky-looking demon.
  • Most incarnations of Ragdoll in The DCU, but in The Batman it was taken to serious extremes; the Ragdoll is a tall, rail-thin thief and contortionist who is literally capable of fitting inside a top hat. Also, as he is often depicted as frail.
    Ragdoll: I weight seventy three pounds.
  • One of The Joker's many nicknames is "The Thin White Duke of Death."
  • The Batman villain Scarecrow is so thin that he was bullied as a child for his resemblance to Ichabod Crane.
    • The Joker is also almost always depicted as being very thin, but with a wiry strength that makes him a better physical fighter than his frame would suggest.
  • Many skinny aliens in Sillage turn out to be villains. Most notable of them is consul Atsukau, a corrupt politician and collector of lovers from different species, obsessed with the protagonist.
  • In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, it's mentioned several times how skinny Johnny is.
  • Mesmo Delivery: Sangrecco, a people smuggler/hitman/demon? In his spare time he's an Elvis Impersonator presumably of the king's earlier period.
  • Loki is probably the skinniest male in Asgard. He is also one of Thor's meanest villains. Mind you, it only holds when compared to Asgardians. When compared to most normal humans, he seems pretty toned.
    • Invoked by Big Eater Volstagg in Journey into Mystery, who explains his distrust of kid Loki by saying that, like his previous incarnation, he picks at his food.
  • Rake of the Bounty Hunters in Gen 13. 6'5", 135 lbs, he's called Rake because of the long, metal claws on his hands. He's also a sadistic killer who likes to carve people like pumpkins.
  • Judge Dredd: The mass-murdering Judge Death is a very skinny fellow, mostly because he's an undead spirit inhabiting a corpse. He's quite tall but only weighs around 67 kg. He's also surprisingly strong for his size, being able to throw boulders into the air with ease and lift people up as if they were nothing.

     Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort is often described as being tall and thin, with long, thin fingers. Snape is often described as thin, perhaps to invoke this trope, even though he is not evil per se. It's more implicit in the first five books, but definitely true of Draco Malfoy in Book 6 when he starts to visibly lose weight as a result of the stress of his assassination mission.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Villain Count Olaf is tall and thin, and said to have a hungry look in his eyes.
  • Several characters in Discworld have this aesthetic, even if they're not necessarily evil:
    • Lord Vetinari is a scheming Machiavellian dictator and is thin as a rail, voluntarily subsisting on nothing but bread and water. However, while he describes himself as evil, he is never an outright antagonist and is often on the heroes' side. Strangely, his (unnamed) appearance in the first book is as a Fat Bastard, and was generally considered to be his predecessor until Word of God confirmed they were the same character.
    • Granny Weatherwax, a manipulative Good Is Not Nice character in the same vein, is also tall, thin and wears black, though her slimness is not quite emphasized as much. It's more obvious contrasted with her fellow witch and lifelong friend, the short, plump, amicable Nanny Ogg.
    • Lacrimosa in Carpe Jugulum, who actually is evil, is the epitome of this, though, especially lampshaded in that she's mostly seen from the POV of Agnes Nitt, a large girl of roughly her own age...
  • Utilized, and oft-lampshaded, in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time novels, in that all skinny innkeepers that the protagonists come across in their journeys are invariably up to no good.
  • Timeline-191: Jake Featherston, the Hitler-esque Southern dictator of Harry Turtledove alternate history series, is described as whipcord-lean.
  • In Peter David's book Knight Life, Morgan le Fay has grown obese without the presence of Arthur or Merlin. But when Arthur suddenly appears in present day and decides to run for Mayor of New York, she not only becomes evil, but thin again.
  • David Eddings' Elenium has ascetic Primate Annias.
  • In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Father Hugh MacPhail's lean body and harsh exercise regimen underline his determination to destroy free will.
  • Dracula: Drac himself. For adding slimming power he could slip through the cracks of doors if necessary.
  • From Isaac Asimov's Foundation, part 2: The Mule, who poses as his own escaped jester, Magnifico.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: The titular character is described as being downright skeletal.
  • Ship Breaker: Most crew are pretty lean, but Richard Lopez, Archnemesis Dad and Combat Sadomasochist adds a naturally whippy build and an addict's decaying physique, for a truly ravaged appearance.
  • Professor James Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes is described as being very tall and thin and like a lizard. This is probably to make him an Evil Counterpart of Holmes, who is himself very tall and thin.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Vargo "the Crippler" Hoat, leader of the murderous Bloody Mummers, is described as a tall scarecrow of a man. Bronn, the badass sellsword, is said to have a lean, wolfish look to him.
  • In his appearance in Galaxy of Fear, the Dark Jedi Jerec is described as being painfully gaunt and on the verge of emaciation. In his later appearances, like the Dark Forces Saga, he's got more weight and muscle, perhaps because he knew he'd have to rely on the Force less and fight more, and bulked up.

    Music 
  • David Bowie's late seventies persona, The Thin White Duke, although not being evil, per se was definitely a bit sharper edged than his other characters and more than a bit coke-fueled, therefore somewhat delusional. This incarnation of Bowie has been described as "an amoral zombie", "an emotionless Aryan superman", "a mad aristocrat" and by the man himself, "a nasty character indeed". As far as the lean side goes, his weight plummeted to less than ninety pounds, extremely underweight for a 5'10" frame.
  • Many punk rockers in the 1970s were regarded as this by the establishment.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer's Dark Elves fit the trope very well, being a people composed entirely of vicious heartless sadists and having the slender, lean physique common to all elves. The leanness doesn't cause the meanness here, however, as their High and Wood Elf cousins are just as thin.
    • The Mourngul monster (from Monstrous Arcanum) is a causal version, however. It's a giant-mouthed ever-hungry ghost creature with a stick-thin frame and a ragged tear curtailing it at the waist. Mournguls died an agonizing death from hunger (usually after a stretch of starvation-induced cannibalism) in the frozen wastes, and their dark, all-consuming but futile hunger is all that is left of them.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Eldar are half Lean and Mean, half Spikes of Villainy. It even extends to their vehicles.
  • The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons gave this option to characters with the Willing Deformity feats Tall and Gaunt. In this case, the Mean comes from the prerequisite of an Evil alignment, the assumption that people willing to fast themselves to half their natural weight or stretch themselves out on the rack probably have a few screws loose, and mostly the fact that the feats were introduced in the Book of Vile Darkness sourcebook.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Mario series: Waluigi from the games, much like how Wario is heavier than Mario in an evil sort of way, Waluigi takes Luigi's leanness and exaggerates it to properly despicable proportions.
  • Chzo Mythos: The Tall Man; more than seven feet tall, skeletal in build, but an awful lot stronger (and faster) than "he" looks...
  • Metroid: Ridley, Samus Aran's bony archnemesis.
  • Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid. Justified in that he's a psychic who floats using telekinesis rather than walking, causing his muscles to wither away to nothing.
  • Count Veger from the Jak and Daxter series is tall and skinny. And responsible for ruining Jak's life.
  • Battlefield Heroes: Arguably, the Nationals. Granted, it's Not exactly clear who started the war, but looking like the Nazis probably goes a long way in deciding which side they are.
  • The Spy from Team Fortress 2 is incredibly impolite (the Spy has banged the Scout's mom and loves to boast and troll the Scout about it, which could make you feel sorry for the biggest Jerk Ass in the game that Scout undeniably is) and very tall and slender, which his badass-in-a-nice-suit attire makes even more noticable. Furthermore, also alongside Scout and Sniper, he's the most prone to calling the Heavy "fatty" and "morbidly obese".
    • The Administrator, when she appears in the supplemental materials, is very thin, and seems to be totally amoral and have no emotions other than anger.
  • Both Mitsuhide and Mitsunari from Sengoku Basara are Ax-Crazy White Hair Black Hearts who are also tall and almost skeletal in appearance. In Mitsunari's case it's because he's too busy angsting to eat, while Mitsuhide is probably just that evil.
  • The liquid armour troopers from Syndicate (2012) are very lanky. It's particularly obvious when they spawn next to normal mooks.
  • Battle Realms: The entire faction of the Lotus clan. Everyone is tall, skinny, and gangly, this is because of the paths their clan follow, in which they have to endure painful rituals which cause their bodies to rot in order to master death.
  • Andrew Oikonny of Star Fox.
  • Validar of Fire Emblem Awakening. Evil sorcerer, cult leader, noodle person.
  • The Thin Men in X Com Enemy Unknown are quite lean, and in Classic and Impossible difficulties, they are notorious for their Rookie body count.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck's Jack Noir is very lean, and very mean.
  • Daddy-Long-Legs has Mr. Scapegrace, who is one of the thinnest characters seen so far and the creepiest.
  • Janice Jamison, the head of Magical Research in the Souballo Empire in Our Little Adventure.
  • Fructose Riboflavin in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! Most Nemesites seem pretty skinny, but Riboflavin is old and emaciated. Subverted when he disguises himself as a muscular human.
  • The alternate-universe psion Minmax in Goblins. A well-balanced diet presumably isn't much of priority for an Omnicidal Maniac Reality Warper.
  • Richard from Looking for Group is this, but it's because he's dead and therefore dried out/decomposed/missing organs/literally just skin-and-bones (and some green goop).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Hollywood ThinSkinny TropesMuscle Angst
Lack of EmpathyThe Jerk IndexMade Out to Be a Jerkass
Lantern Jaw of JusticePersonal Appearance TropesLeft-Handed Mirror
Lawful EvilEvil TropesLeonine Contract
It's All About MeImageSource/Animated FilmsReactive Continuous Scream
Large and in ChargeSublime RhymeLet's Meet the Meat
Leaking Can of EvilVillainsLegion of Doom

alternative title(s): Tall Thin And Evil
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