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Punch Clock Villain

There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.

Like a mercenary, but with none of the sociopathy.

These are characters who have no real grudge against the heroes, but are simply doing a job they're getting paid for. After hours, they're totally personable Joes who go hang out like anyone else. Most Punch Clock Villains are not even particularly mean.

Used to be an odd device but has become increasingly frequent due to the popularity of superhero parody, where minions are portrayed as sympathetic employees for unreasonable bosses. In addition, nearly all anime featuring a comedic villain usually has these, who are frequently cute characters.

Conversely if played seriously, the emotional detachment that the Punch Clock Villain displays when he or she knowingly contributes to various atrocities can be chilling, and audiences may see them as a monster. Depending on the nature of the story this trope can make a villain either more relatable to an audience or more hateful. If they're employed in a violent capacity, they may be an Apologetic Attacker or insist that it's Nothing Personal.

Many Punch Clock Villains may execute a Heel-Face Turn at the very, VERY end of the film.

If they'd rather Pet the Dog, they might be a Minion with an F in Evil; if they got into evil because the superhero team fired them for misbehavior, they may be a Hero with an F in Good. People using this trope as an excuse for their crimes are Just Following Orders; real-world examples should go there.

Related to Villains Out Shopping and Good All Along. Compare Obstructive Bureaucrat. The opposite of Visionary Villain and Psycho for Hire. For the Anti-Hero version, see Punch Clock Hero. Not at all related to villains who love their clocks, or to villains who punch their clock.


Example subpages


Punch Clock HeroHired GunsSociopathic Soldier
Our Phlebotinum ChildThis Index Is ExpendableRed Shirt
Public ExposureAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Pure Is Not Good
Poke the PoodleAnti-VillainSympathetic Criminal
Reluctant PsychoSliding Scale of Antagonist VilenessAffably Evil
In-UniverseImageSource/WebcomicsRhetorical Question Blunder
The Psycho RangersVillainsHalf-Hearted Henchman
Player MooksMooksReplacement Mooks

alternative title(s): Punch Clock Villains
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