This villain comes across as really imposing. And he probably (but not necessarily) has real power to back it up. However, he's really nerdy underneath.
He's hiding it, or trying to hide it, behind a tough fašade. So it's a big surprise when he's revealed for the nerd he is. This surprise can come to other characters, the audience or both.
The classical fašade to hide behind is a literal helmet. But it can be something else.
Note that being a nerd does not
equal being a wimp. However, the villain might exploit such stereotypes and pull a Wounded Gazelle Gambit
or similar after his nerdy side has been revealed, even if he actually is a Badass
See also Cool Helmet
. Contrast Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
. Compare and
contrast Evil Is Sexy
. Can be the same kind of dissonance as Villains Out Shopping
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Films — Animation
- The Incredibles: Syndrome starts out as a superhero fanboy, then ascends to supervillain after being (sort of) rejected by his idol. Syndrome is more of an inversion — Evil in a Nerds' Helmet. He is clearly a Psychopathic Manchild with a serious Lack of Empathy who even murders children without batting an eyelid, and there is little to indicate that, beneath it all, he was all that much different when he was a kid (eg. he doesn't seem to notice or care when one of his stunts nearly causes a train crash). Most important and scarily, though, Syndrome thinks he is the hero, when he actually just a very, very bad case of Heroism Addict and is willing to kill dozens of heroes and endanger thousands of lives because he is a Glory Hound.
- Vector from Despicable Me.
Films — Live-Action
- Dark Helmet in Spaceballs. The surprise comes to the audience only, since his staff already knew him (and was used to pretending they don't know he's playing with dolls).
- Ogre in the Revenge of the Nerds series is revealed to be this at the end of the second movie. Then, at the end of the third film, Stan (who led the Jerk Jock fraternity in the first film) does a Face-Heel Turn and reveals that he is a closet nerd, too, dropping the evil scheme he was bullied into trying.
- In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, the "technology kid" acts tough but other characters can see it's rehearsed and frankly, kind of pitiful.
- Transformers Cybertron: The textstory "Force of Habit" had Hardtop, top Decepticon sniper, and comic book collector. He collects comics from Earth and other organic planets. While he insists on calling them Graphic Novels, he's quite open about his habits, and quite particular about not letting them get damaged. At the end of the story, all the Cons are marooned on a planet waiting for rescue, Hardtop lets all of the other Decepticons read his comics, but continues to insist that they be careful with them.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer season six, the trio desperately tried to be this trope. Sometimes they pulled it off for a little while in the eyes of various characters, but never the audience. Well, Warren came close, insofar as he was the only one who was actually evil, being a genuine Manipulative Bastard who Does Not Like Women and actually kills one of the hero characters whilst putting Buffy in the hospital, even though that earned him a painful death. Though since he Came Back Wrong in the sequel comics, he's even worse than before. Unfortunately for him, he's still a Smug Snake Big Bad Wannabe, and the fact that he's a total bastard makes him far less likeable, but not much scarier.
- Arcane, revealed to be Clyde Randolph in the Dollhouse episode "The Attic".
- Luke Rattigan from the Doctor Who episodes "The Sontaran Stratagem" and "The Poison Sky" is a self-proclaimed Teen Genius who considers himself smarter than everyone else... but he's actually just a pathetic douchebag. Until his Heroic Sacrifice, that is.
- General Tarquin in The Order of the Stick. The surprise came to the readers as well as the characters. Despite being a ruthless tyrant and Chessmaster, he's also just as drama-obsessed as his do-gooder, Cloudcuckoolander son Elan. Given the nature of the world they live in, that only makes him more dangerous.
- Dark Smoke Puncher from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. After seeing how his parents practically disowned his older brother for pursuing a medical degree, DSP took on a wannabe-gangsta persona to hide his intelligence and interest in robotics.
- Krakow Brings us Kia's father. An intimidating man in a red cloak with glowing red eyes and horns. Under the hood, he's a standard businessman and Bumbling Dad with glasses, and horns.
- Homestuck: Both Vriska Serket and Eridan Ampora are dedicated FLARPers — though in Alternia, mutually advantageous teammwork in Fatal Live Action Roleplaying leads to the both of them racking up a pretty impressive death count.