Obviously Evil

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Finn: I can't shake this weird feeling about Ricardio. I think he's... a villain!
Jake: Why? Is it because his face is so foldy and dramatic?
Adventure Time, "Ricardio the Heart Guy"

A lot of fiction out there has a tendency to employ incredibly black and white perspectives to the characters and their actions. Due to the belief that its target demographic (usually children or dumbasses) can't understand subtler shades of evil, many works of fiction create a stark contrast between the heroes and villains. When this happens, the creators will bring in their Obviously Evil® Design Team. (Of course, another reason obvious villains are used in some fiction is simply because everyone loves a badass villain.)

If a work of fiction indulges in Obviously Evil®, every villain will be a Card-Carrying Villain, usually Colour-Coded for Your Convenience in shades of black and red. There won't be any Well Intentioned Extremists, Knights Templar or pretty much anyone that doesn't accept and accentuate their evilness. If you see anybody that might seem to be a shade of grey on the side of the villains, it will usually basically be a hero with a slight bit of behavior modification to work with the villains (and an inevitable Heel–Face Turn coming up during Sweeps). If the villainous group is a governing body, it will always be an Evil Empire with a 0% Approval Rating. There aren't any Punch Clock minions that just accepted the job because it's work, but instead Always Chaotic Evil Faceless Goons that act like miniature versions of the main villain and provide no guilt whatsoever when they get killed by the truckload. The Dragon will always be The Starscream and never have any ulterior motive beyond a lust for more power. There will never be any Worthy Opponents or Tragic Villains or any kind of antagonist presented sympathetically as this doesn't accentuate the author's need to make the bad guys ALL bad.

The goals of the villains and their organization are always incredibly eeeeeevil, with one of five purposes: world domination, world destruction, corruption, genocide, or antagonizing the heroes. Nobody on the side of evil will ever Pet the Dog (except maybe the none-too-subtle Heel–Face Turn candidate). Even their imagery is blatantly made as a contrast to the heroes, with lots of skulls, Spikes of Villainy, and other assorted things. Imagine a villain whose entire body is made of Red Right Hands, stitched together with thread made from the skin of dead puppies and you're beginning to get the idea.

Fiction that relies on this is almost always Anvilicious to a fault, being the most extreme example of Black and White Morality. If the writers don't like X, they can just have someone Obviously Evil doing X.

Note that it's possible to have Obviously Evil figures in a normally more subtle setting; frequently, the justification is that the character is so far gone into his Card Carrying Villainy (or some brutal variation of Blue and Orange Morality) that he doesn't care what other people think of him.

This trope actually has two aspects:

The first is Obviously Evil Behavior, where the villains act in extremely vicious and unnecessarily cruel fashion to heighten their evilness may overlap with Stupid Evil. Extremely common in fan fiction were authors use this as a shortcut to establish the "Bad Guy" of the fic and often happens to the author's least favorite character. Prone to Rape as Drama. See Kick the Dog.

The second is Obviously Evil Appearance where the villain merely appears evil. Unlike behavior, the appearance tropes are just stereotypes that have been drilled into our head over the years and as such make for prime subversion fodder when they appear on heroes and anti-heroes. (After all, who would expect Skeletor's skull-faced mug up there to appear on a good guy.) Even when they appear on certain types of villains they can still be used for the subversion aspect as people who have grown up on "Spikey-armor = Irredeemable" can still get thrown for a loop when it appears on a character presented sympathetically. If the villain of the series is a Knight Templar of Villain with Good Publicity then having a hero with an "obviously evil appearance" can create an interesting commentary on the nature of good and evil as the "Evil" looking hero battles the "Heroic" looking villain. See Dark Is Not Evil.

Compare Black and White Morality, Black and Gray Morality, and Villainous Fashion Sense. Not to be confused with Devil in Plain Sight or Obliviously Evil, though the former can overlap. Contrast Dark Is Not Evil, Grey and Grey Morality, and Morality Kitchen Sink. If the revelation that this guy turns out to be evil is treated as a baffling twist, that's Obvious Judas.

Tropes invoked in the establishment of this style include:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comedy 

    Fan Works 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness in Liō: everyone who's evil has bad teeth. It's almost a Red Right Hand, except there's nothing in-setting to explain why they would all have bad teeth and why "good" (sorta) characters all have nice teeth.

    Pinballs 
  • In Popeye Saves the Earth, this is invoked by the names of Bluto's polluting companies — Earth Pavers, Never Green Logging, Blutonium Waste, and Spill Oil Co.

    Podcasts 
  • Dice Funk: The headmaster of the Pickman Academy is so shady that the players wonder aloud if he will turn out to be the final boss somewhere down the road.

    Theatre 
  • Starship:
    Bug: You're evil!
    Pincer: No duh!
  • William Shakespeare wasn't immune to this trope. In Twelfth Night, the major villain is a lying, deceitful servant named Malvolio—that's Mal, as in "malicious" or "malpractice," from the Latin "mala" for evil—volio.
  • This is an extremely common trope in nineteenth century melodrama, which birthed many of the examples on this list—that genre was among the first to introduce the mustache-twirling villain who loudly declares his plans to steal, lie, cheat, commit crimes, and generally be a total Jerkass.
  • The titular character in Moliere's Tartuffe is clearly a con artist and form of Sinister Minister, preaching about sacrifice while indulging in all sorts of debauchery. In this case it's an Invoked Trope, as it's plain as day to everyone who meets Tartuffe except the family patriarch and that patriarch's mother, who are the only people who have any influence in the matter.

    Visual Novels 
  • Josef Capek in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. However, he turns out to be more sympathetic than he appears. He's simply not entirely sane anymore and hasn't been sleeping for months. ...Somehow.
  • FromFate/stay night, Zouken Matou. He looks like some sort of deformed little troll man and has jetblack eyes. Plus he manages to talk in a sinister fashion all the time - despite not having any audible clues - even before you realize that he is not the world's friendliest, cheeriest grandfather. The rest of the cast averts (Casternote ) and subverts (Berserkernote , Ridernote ) this though. The novel also makes it blatantly obvious that Kirei Kotomine is up to no good. Word of God even confirms this trope was what they were going for when they made him.
  • Ace Attorney has Manfred von Karma, a terrifying guy with a booming voice, who even Miles "Demon Persecutor" Edgeworth considers ruthless. It's quickly made clear that he is not above forging evidence and using underhand tactics to get what he wants (like hiding incriminating evidence, and tasering Phoenix and Maya to steal the evidence they'd acquired), and values a flawless record over putting the truly guilty in prison. It probably doesn't come as a surprise to many when it's revealed that he was the one who killed Gregory Edgeworth, for proving he used false evidence and thus putting a mark on his perfect record.
  • In Justice for All, the second case opens with a voice-over accusing a man named Dr. Turner Grey of a murder. When the players meet Grey, he's tense, irritable, and downright nasty; his name implies a moral gray area; he makes a big deal about how innocent he is; and other characters relate stories of an incident in which many patients died under his care. When he becomes the victim in the case, it's plain as day that he really was behind a great many deaths. Except he's not—Grey was actually totally innocent of the incident wherein the patients died. While he might be slightly to blame for putting a young, inexperienced nurse in charge of distributing those patients' medicines, he certainly didn't kill anyone. It's eventually revealed that Grey was getting dangerously close to learning the truth about the fatal incident, prompting the nurse in question to disguise herself as her own twin sister and kill him.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, Pheonix and Maya meet Furio Tigre. Who looks like Phoenix, except his skin is pure orange and he has scars over one eye and much spikier hair. Guess who the murderer was...
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, Dio is so repugnant that the reveal that he's actually a terrorist who has planted bombs all over the warehouse is... actually very surprising since it's so unsurprising.
  • Despite the fact that Hatoful Boyfriend displays everyone as birds (not counting the few second pseudo-human visual of their human appearance), it's easy to tell that Doctor Shuu is not a good guy. Not because everybody tells the player over and over that he is evil. But Shuu is a partridge bird, definitely a lot more on the chubby side than the rest of the cast.

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