Nebulous Evil Organisation
"You really don't know anything about us! Ha! It's so amusing, because we're on the other side thinking 'Oh, the MI6, the CIA, they're looking over our shoulders, they're listening to our conversations', and the truth is
you don't even know we exist!"
Appearing most often in less realistic spy/action fiction, the Nebulous Evil Organisation is the natural enemy of Heroes "R" Us
Often led by a Diabolical Mastermind
, and sometimes developed enough to have its own bureaucracy,
It is a vast, deep-pocketed machine
with one apparent goal: The proliferation of evil across the globe, maybe with some personal profit on the side.
Like The Syndicate
, it has a hand in every conceivable kind of nefarious dealing, from murder to grand robbery to bad traffic. However, its criminal activities have some grand goal, almost always World Domination
or The End of the World as We Know It
- which is, by sheer coincidence, nebulous enough that nearly any anti-good act can be shoehorned into it. Price-fixing
of consumer goods? Fits. Killing political leaders? Fits. Blowing up buildings?
Fits. Stealing the gold from Fort Knox? Fits. Attacking the heroes for no stated reason at all? Definitely
fits. Expect vast armies of mooks
, a secret underground lair
, immense amounts of advanced technology and a clever name
See also Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy
, which the operations extend beyond one single organization.
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Anime and Manga
- Team Rocket in the anime. Though some of its individual members do have concrete goals in mind (usually some sort of money-making scheme), but the organization as a whole, particularly its management, falls under this.
- Team Magma/Aqua and Team Galactic also can be classified as this, but those organizations have shifted from the more Syndicate-like criminal organization that Team Rocket was to outright Well Intentioned Extremism.
- The views of Team Galactic might fit more as Utopia Justifies the Means with the leadership sometimes bordering on Omnicidal Maniac.
- Team Plasma are a band of Well Intentioned Extremists whose leader, N, seeks to separate Pokémon from humans, but the true mastermind Ghetsis, plans on using the organization so that he can take control of the region.
- Giant Robo's Big Fire, an evil organisation who's only goal is absolute world domination! "Together, allegiance or death! Big Fire!"
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Kosmo Entelecha, enemies of Nagi's group in the past. It wouldn't be quite so nebulous if it weren't Jack Rakan doing all of the explaining. Whenever he goes into the backstory of anything roughly half of it consists of "and then other stuff happened."
- Liar Game's Liar Game Tournament Office. A shady organization out to make a profit, they manage to secure 100 million yen (about US$1.5 million) for each of the participants in the first round...that's US$1.9 trillion.
- Claymore: The Organization. Yes, yes; they are the ones sending out hunters to kill the Yoma, but they also are the ones behind the Yoma.
- And the whole reason for it all is to create Awakened Beings to use as weapons in a giant, unseen war far away from the island the story takes place on. The entire island is just one big laboratory and testing ground.
- The Cutey Honey franchise has Panther Claw, with innumerable guys in spiffy cat masks and cool hats and all manner of typically-female monsters. The original series gave us their goal early on as "the rest of the world doesn't deserve cool stuff, only us!" Different incarnations are different, though: In Cutey Honey The Live, Panther Claw was about making lots and lots of money through outlandishly evil means (sometimes Crazy Awesome, sometimes Nightmare Fuel, but always with a way to directly profit from the plot of the week.
- Tentai Senshi Sunred features Florsheim, an evil organization of monsters bent on world domination. Step 1: Take out local hero Sunred. Dozens if not hundreds of fights later, Florsheim remains winless. At one point another such group, the Devil Eye Army, tries to take over Florsheim's turf. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle; Florsheim isn't weak, Sunred is just too damn strong.
- Yami from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. As explained over various chapters (including here), they have their hands in everything from weapon sales to the military to governmental influence, and enough funds to potentially be a self-sustaining nation. Their intention is to preserve and promote the "Satsu-jinken" (killing fist) style of martial arts, a goal they've pursued since their initial formation after World War II because several martial arts masters died during that war. Additionally, the group is known by several names worldwide, including "L'Obscurite" in France, with "Yami" being its Japanese name (both words mean "darkness" in their respective languages). The organization is divided into two factions, one side consisting of weapons specialists and the other side focusing on empty-hand martial arts. At the very top of Yami's structure is the "One Shadow Nine Fists" group, which consists of Yami's ten strongest empty-hand martial artists; the eponymous "One Shadow" is the most powerful being in the entire organization.
- While Yami as a whole espouses the killing-fist philosophy (with their members serving chiefly as assassins-for-hire), the One Shadow Nine Fists leadership core is made up of members who are the most skilled at teaching disciples, as opposed to simply being the best at fighting; in fact, on one occasion it's noted that if the latter condition was the only criterion for membership into the Nine Fists, there would be too much infighting and Yami would destroy itself.
- Interestingly, very few characters in Yami are actually amoral persons: because the "good-teacher" attribute is mandatory to qualify for the One Shadow Nine Fists, several of the ten martial artists in the group come across as being not so much evil as simply being dedicated to their philosophy—once the reader gets to know their personalities—and in fact a number of them still have certain moral guidelines that they will not violate, chief among them the silent agreement with Ryozanpaku that a master should never interfere with his/her student's battles with another student and should never interrupt or intervene in a fight between two masters.
- Lupin III (Green Jacket) has "Scorpian" from "Is Lupin Burning... ?!". The Scorpian Clan doesn't have any specific goals aside from the death of Lupin. On the other hand, all the characters aside from Zenigata seem to know they should be stopped.
- Medical Mechanica in FLCL are the Bigger Bad of the series, and the viewer is only given tiny scraps of information about them. Their front is a business creating "medical machines" (which also double as Killer Robots,) but they also apparently plan to iron out all free thought on Earth with a giant clothing iron, and they've captured legendary Space Pirate Atomsk for some unknown reason.
- Variable Geo: The Jahana Groupnote pulls strings and steers events at the VG tournament from behind-the-scenes. They lure unsuspecting entrants to become unwitting test subjects, and manipulate Satomi by having Damian offer to cover her brother's medical expenses in exchange for her participation at the tournament. Then subjects her to the cyber drive project and field test her abilities in unsanctioned matches - all for the sake of creating the ideal host body for Miranda.
- Marvel Comics has several: HYDRA, AIM, U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., S.I.L.E.N.T., R.A.I.D., the Secret Empire, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine, and the Hand being only a few. Many of these began as branches of HYDRA: Advanced Idea Mechanics, for example, was their original research & development team before they decided to become independent. Apparently HYDRA's motto ("cut off one head and two will take its place") applies to their branches. It gets so bad that one issue of Secret Warriors reveals that even S.H.I.E.L.D. was a HYDRA splinter organ, something not even Nick Fury himself found out until it was too late (to wit, this was early in Dark Reign when they had been shut down). Mark Waid's Daredevil depicts HYDRA, AIM, the Secret Empire, Black Spectre, and Agence Byzantine as the five cartels that essentially control the global criminal underworld — and are constantly fighting each other for dominance. For a supernatural flavor, the comic series Nightstalkers had Hydra's Department of Occult Armaments (DOA).
- The DCU, in turn, has the H.I.V.E, SKULL, Scorpio, Shadowspire, KOBRA, and the 100 (later the 1000). The most recent version of the Society (formerly the Secret Society of Super Villains) qualifies; the original was a Legion of Doom.
- Astro City has Pyramid, a recurring worldwide organization with an Egyptian theme.
- Sin City has the Colonel's Guild which mostly trains/supplies assassins but is also revealed to have Black Market offerings and be in league with mob-boss Herr Walenquist.
- Parodied with S.O.N.I.C.X from Archie's Sonic X comic. They try to come off as a scheming, evil organisation but they're really just some guys who don't like Sonic. As things go on they come off as complete idiots.
- Jet Dream has CIPHER, whose symbol is a zero, making it perhaps the most generic organization of its kind.
- Goodwin and Simonson's "Manhunter" arc that appeared in Detective Comics during 1973-1974 had The Council, whose goals were "take over the world" and "develop immortality so that we're around to enjoy it for a long, long time".
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, according to the Lemony Narrator, there is a secret organization known as the Echelon, which controls all of Equestria behind the scenes, and was created by Celestia herself. Of course, at this point, it's been established that most of her theories were made through Insane Troll Logic and blatant disregards for common sense, so this claim is questionable.
- According to her, the organization is responsible for creating a parade out of nowhere to distract a young Rainbow Dash from anti-Celestia public speeches and deliberately setting up the friendship problems of the show's episodes through their socioeconomic power to build the mane six's friendship, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the organization's existence.
- James Bond:
- SPECTRE - the SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. In the novels, this role was mostly filled by the real-life Soviet organization SMERSH note , but SPECTRE showed up late in the series. Probably the ur-example.
- Slated to appear in the upcoming Bond film, if the title — Spectre — is anything to go by.
- QUANTUM has this role in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Though, they're supposed to be SMERSH from the books.
- Spies, a silent film that that comes off like someone took a time machine to 1928 to make a James Bond flick, has the Haghi Bank. Haghi has a big bank right in the middle of town, but it's really an evil spy group, which appears to be spying for profit.
- M.A.R.S. from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And Cobra itself in the sequel.
- Captain America (1990): The Red Skull's secret cabal of Corrupt Corporate Executives, General Rippers, and leaders of The Syndicate. It has secretly run the world since The Fifties, and bumps off anyone who gets in its way (including both Kennedys and King).
- The Umbrella Corporation from the Resident Evil movies seem to do little more than make Super Soldier zombies for no apparent reason... even After the End.
- The Ten Rings in Iron Man is an evil organization whose exact goals and workings are never really explained. According to how they are described, their business is just, well, about anything evil that allows them to harness power or money. Iron Man 3 reveals they're a front for AIM, who is trying to control both sides of the The War on Terror, but the All Hail The King short film claims that they stole the name from an Ancient Conspiracy, and unknown to everyone it's still active.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals that HYDRA, thought to be disbanded in WWII, has been hiding within SHIELD and manipulating world events for decades, with the intention of getting people to hand over power and give up free will voluntarily.
- Theseus's company, Spencer Industries, exists as this in Adam R. Brown's science fiction series, Alterien.
- Oberon's company, NGT (New Genesis Technologies), starts looking like this after it becomes a global corporation.
- Sol 3 United later fills this role. It is the corporation of the Alteriens Oberon and Helena created.
- In the 1990s, The Hardy Boys introduced "The Assassins," a group of Terrorists Without a Cause with hundreds of mooks and elaborate bases and cloning technology, whose activities tend to enter Bond territory - for instance, the plot to use nuclear bombs to blow up the Ring of Fire volcanoes, reshaping the layout of the Earth's crust.
- The Dresden Files: The Black Council. So far very little is known about it, but it's certainly organised, evil, and particularly nebulous since there's little direct evidence of its existence yet.
- Mark Walden's H.I.V.E. Series: "G.L.O.V.E."' from books 9-15. A council of the leading supervillains controlled by the sinister 'Number One'.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events : Though nothing is explicitly stated, heavily implies that the mysterious letters "VFD" refer to the name of an organization that split down the middle into a Hero Secret Service of firefighters and one of these, dedicated in particular to arson. Count Olaf appears to be the group's enforcer, and later on, we meet the leaders...
- In the Replica series, the evil organization known as "The Organization" is constantly trying to capture Amy so they can breed a master race.
- The Shop in Stephen King's Firestarter seems to fall under this category. One of their goals is to create a drug that will turn humans into weapons, and when two of their test subjects have a child together, they are willing to chase them to the ends of the earth to capture her and use her for their own ends. They are so widespread that they have spies in every single town the protagonists flee to. It seems that they have infiltrated every branch of government and they are completely above the law.
- Scorpia in the Alex Rider series (standing for Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence and Assassination) has secret bases and employees from all over the world, allowing them to operate almost everywhere, from anywhere.
- "The Organisation Which I Represent" is... probably this is the Mediochre Q Seth Series. They're so nebulous it's hard to tell.
- Nightrise from The Power of Five.
- In R. A. Lafferty's "About a Secret Crocodile", the Secret Crocodile and its many subordinate organizations control, well, just about everything, in a conspiratorial hierarchy which takes all the allegations of Secret Masters Up to Eleven. The only likely threat to it is another secret society which has no name except "Good Guys and Good Gals", which comprises all the good guys and good gals of the world.
- The Stormlight Archive is fairly thick with conspiracies, with the result that several High Fantasy versions of this exist therein, including the Diagram, the Sons of Honor, the Skybreakers, and the Ghostbloods. The first three all have a fairly Knight Templar-ish slant, to various degrees (the Diagram's leader Taravangian follows a convoluted plot to become ruler of the world because he believes it's the only way to save humanity; the Sons of Honor want to bring about the apocalypse so that the Heralds of the Almighty will come back, and the Skybreakers seek to brutally enforce their own idiosyncratic ideas of justice, including executing all Surgebinders), and it's still uncertain what the Ghostbloods want, except that they have agents all over the world and are more than willing to lie, cheat, steal, extort, and kill in service to their goals.
Live Action Television
- KAOS of Get Smart.
- THRUSH (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), from The Man From UNCLE.
- The Syndicate on The X-Files meet in various rooms in New York City (and London in the movie) instead of a central base (though they have a lot of secret sinister research labs).
- Chrysalis from The Invisible Man TV series. They were so nebulous that one of the Agency's main goals towards them was figuring out exactly what their goal was.
- Chuck semi-regularly faces off against the mysterious organization known as FULCRUM. It turns out that FULCRUM is only part of The Ring, whoever they are. Season 4's Big Bad, this time called Volkoff Industries. At least this time it seems to be a private rather than governmental actor.
- This trope appears, sometimes to the point of stretching credulity, on two of the latter J.J. Abrams shows:
- The Alliance of Twelve (which includes SD-6) from Alias. Also the Covenant, Prophet Five, K-Directorate, the Triad, The Man, and probably several others.
- Fringe: The Pattern (or rather, ZFT (Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie, which translates to Destruction through Technological Progress), massing civilian collateral damage in an effort to wage war with a parallel universe).
- The Company from Prison Break.
- Wolfram and Hart from Angel. While at first they just appeared to be an evil lawyers company with ties to the demonic underworld, it was soon revealed the company was the personification of evil on Earth. Oh, and possibly every other dimension (in slightly different forms) as well. In a twist, Wolfram and Hart doesn't just cause evil—-they actually get their power from it, specifically "man's inhumanity to man."
- Every Showa Era Kamen Rider series had a massive organization with worldwide influence and little evidence of what they really wanted to accomplish (other than the fact that it required a lot of death and destruction.) Namely:
- Shocker from Kamen Rider. In Kamen Rider: The First, the organization's name is short for the Sacred Hegemony Of Cycle Kindred Evolutional Realm. After their first major defeat at the hand of the Double Riders, the organization was reformed into Gel-Shocker.
- Destron in Kamen Rider V3.
- Government Of Darkness, often shortened to simply GOD, from Kamen Rider X.
- Geddon and later the Garanda Empire from Kamen Rider Amazon.
- Black Satan, later replaced by Delza Army, from Kamen Rider Stronger.
- Shocker is once again reformed in the form of Neo-Shocker in Kamen Rider Skyrider.
- Dogma Kingdom in the first half of Kamen Rider Super-1, later replaced by Jin Dogma for the second half.
- Gorgom in Kamen Rider Black.
- Shocker reformed twice more as Dai-Shocker and then Super Shocker in Kamen Rider Decade, and returns in Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Superhero Taisen.
- Because of time travel hijinks, Shocker (established as the very same one from the original series) exists well into the next century in the 40th anniversary film Let's Go Kamen Riders. Shocker's the worst due to the Hijacked by Ganon factor. Evidently the Great Leader - one guy with many forms - is behind all those organizations, despite the differing and sometimes incompatible goals of the organizations that actually had goals.
- The latest one has to be Foundation X. This group seems to have an over-arching influence over the subsequent series, being the mysterious backers behind Kamen Rider Double's Museum and the Zodiarts, while researching Core Medals. We also don't know what they're after so far, because their largest appearance, Movie Wars Megamax, has the leader of the plot of the day turn out to be a rogue element; what Kannagi wants isn't necessarily what X wants.
- How I Met Your Mother: Barney Stinson works for the AltruCell Corporation, and later, Goliath National Bank. Throughout the series he makes references to the shady activities his employers are engaged in.
- Revenge: The Americon Initiative, the domestic terrorist group who the Graysons laundered money for (which they then framed David Clarke for). It seems to be trying to become the new Big Bad of the series.
- Person of Interest has HR (a ring of corrupt cops), Northern Lights (Well-Intentioned Extremist group who use the Machine to stop terrorist attacks) and now, Decima Technologies.
- Stargate SG-1: the rogue NID, and their bosses the Committee, both of whom eventually morph into the Trust. They want control of the Stargate program, but what they want to do with it is somewhat less clear; goals range from "protecting the Earth" to "exploiting alien technology for financial gain."
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has "Project Centipede", the main villains of the first season. Not much is known about them, except they're widespread, have access to technology beyond even SHIELD's reach, and are attempting to create Super Soldiers for their own benefit. They're eventually revealed to be a branch of HYDRA.
- Division, the villains of the first two seasons. They're supposed to be a U.S. government intelligence agency, but in practice they're in the business of carrying out assassinations and terrorist attacks for money, with a side of arms dealing, drug trafficking, and money laundering. In Season 2, their leader goes full Blofeld and hijacks a Kill Sat to blackmail the President.
- They're eventually replaced as the series' chief antagonists by the Invisible Hand, a particularly shadowy and mysterious group that's even more stereotypically Tuxedo and Martini: they use sci-fi gadgetry like Nanomachines and Latex Perfection masks and plot to replace world leaders with brainwashed body doubles.
- The Old World of Darkness had quite a few of these:
- Pentex, from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, was a faceless multinational holding company whose goals were to perpetuate chaos, spread pollution and devastation, and ultimately prepare the charred remains of the earth for their Cosmic Horror overlords.
- The Technocracy, from Mage: The Ascension, was a conglomerate of Mad Scientists, The Men in Black, and Corrupt Corporate Executives who actually were the secret world government in charge of everything. A bit of a variation in that they already feel they control everything, their main goals are to finally crush all remaining pockets of resistance to their control and to completely quash any lingering belief in the supernatural.
- Slightly subverted in own sourcebook, which had rules for Technocratic Player Characters, implied most of the conflict would come from their own superiors instead of their "Traditional" enemies. It also broke the trend by laying out goals, motivations, and concrete plans that were reasonable *if* you accepted their world view as valid.
- Also from Mage: The Ascension: the Nephandi, a group of corrupt and evil mages united mainly in their servitude to demonic beings. If it involves corruption, seduction or destruction, the Nephandi want a piece of it.
- A few of these exist in the New World of Darkness as well:
- Vampire: The Requiem has both Belial's Brood and VII. The Brood are demon-worshippers and anarchists who believe the Beast is a fragment of divine consciousness imprisoned by Humanity. The best way to get close to the Beast is to do awful, awful things — which often makes them a pain in the ass for other Kindred, as those awful things will draw attention to them. VII is even more nebulous — all anyone knows about them is they kill other vampires for some reason. Even attempts to crack into their heads via telepathy only turn up "VII" branded into their minds. There's even a whole book devoted to VII that offers up three different solutions for their origins, and several others are peppered throughout the line.
- Mage: The Awakening has the Seers of the Throne, mages who follow/worship the Exarchs, all-powerful mages who ascended to the Supernal Realms and screwed things up for everyone else in the Fallen World in the process. They believe that magic should only belong in the hands of the worthy ("worthy" meaning "those whose goals align with the Exarchs"), and work to encourage a generally crappy atmosphere in order to discourage uncontrolled Awakenings, mainly through anti-intellectualism, dogmatism, and paranoia.
- T.A.R.O.T. (replacing SPECTRE for legal reasons) in James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty's Secret.
- VIPER in the Champions universe.
- One of the characteristic themes of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Eberron:
- Project 0 has the Lancers
- This organization from MegaTokyo. Nothing nebulous about them. That's Sony, hence the PS2 thing.
- Hereti Corp from Sluggy Freelance lives and breathes this trope. They've been around for most of the strip's run, and we still have very little idea how they plan to take over the world, other than that it involves Oasis, a Dimensional Flux Agitator, and a chain of fast food restaurants.
- The Minion Master arc introduced an international collection of these organizations, the most significantly featured are NoFun Corporation and Crushtro. The Minion Master is as yet still too nebulous (and perhaps too incompetent) to be identified as evil.
- Winston Rowntree details the typical organisation's structure here, including such positions as "evil publicist" and "evil laundry service" as well as the Five-Bad Band.
- FINIS in Bandette. All we really know so far is that its leader is called Absinthe, because he once killed a bunch of people just to get a case of a really good one.
- Hexenringe has B.E.N.T., a mysterious organization supposedly created for good but being used for nefarious purposes.
- The Evil League of Evil in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, ruled by supposed Hellish Horse Bad Horse.
- TAROT, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. It also qualifies as an Ancient Conspiracy.
- An unknown number in the Whateley Universe, including The Brotherhood of the Bell, and the Thule Gemeinschaft.
- Cauldron from Worm, which has some vague, grand scheme to prevent the end of the world. Maybe. Regardless, said scheme involves manipulating politicians and government bureaus, kidnapping, assassinations, alternate universes, and supporting criminals whether they know it or not.
- MAD, from Inspector Gadget.
- F.E.A.R., of the 1960's Birdman cartoons.
- The Venture Bros.' Guild of Calamitous intent, in addition to being a Weird Trade Union. Also the original incarnation of S.P.H.I.N.X before they were destroyed by the OSI during the Pyramid Wars of 1987.
- G.I. Joe's Cobra and splinter group The Coil.
- V.E.N.O.M. from M.A.S.K.
- Darkwing Duck's F.O.W.L. Which stands for "Fiendish Organization for World Larceny," which is about as subtle as the Carmen Sandiego entry.
- Parodied in Spongebob Squarepants with E.V.I.L. a.k.a. "Every Villain is Lemons."
- Kim Possible: The Worldwide Evil Empire from one episode, implied to be involved in all sorts of evil from supervillainy to stealing candy from babies.
- Both the HIVE (which includes a supervillain training center, HIVE Academy) and the Brotherhood of Evil on Teen Titans count.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Foot Clan.
- S.C.U.M from James Bond Jr..
- M.A.V.O. (Monsters And Villains Organization) from The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.
- The Boondocks portrays Black Entertainment Television (or Black EVIL Television, as its board of directors calls it) as an evil organisation dedicated to destroying all African American people through their crappy programming, with a chief executive who maniacally demands that all shows be EVIL, and brutally executes any executives and producers who offer less.
- Phineas and Ferb has the League of Villainous Evildoers Maniacally United For Frightening Investments In Naughtiness. aka L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N.
- S.N.A.F.U. (Society of Nefarious and Felonious Undertakings) from The X's.
- Hell is often depicted as one of these. Anything that causes human suffering, The Devil is more than happy to throw his weight behind.
- To some, The SOCIETY.
- The ODESSA, organization of ex-SS members.