— Carl von Linné a.k.a. Carolus Linnaeus, Systema Naturaenote Also the Epigraph of the Jurassic Park book
Reptiles Are Abhorrent refers to the association between reptiles and villainy. This trope manifests itself in several basic ways. The simplest is to have reptiles that are consistently villainous. In animal stories, villains might be anthropomorphic versions of Real Life reptiles, while the heroes are cute mammals and birds. In Speculative Fiction, they might be fantastic beings such as Lizard Folk, Snake People or Reptilian aliens.
Even when the bad guys are not actual reptiles, they may have some sort of reptilian theme. Perhaps they are an Animal-Themed Superbeing with reptile-related powers. The villain might have reptilian pets and/or exhibit a special empathy with reptiles. They may even be able to turn into giant snakes. Even if they have no special powers related to reptiles, they might use reptile related Animal Motifs and/or Theme Naming. The trope even turns up, if only by metaphor, in non-fiction; saying that someone is a "snake," "lizard," or "cold blooded" is enough to get across that you're dealing with a nasty character.
This trope is not applied with equal frequency and intensity to all reptiles. Snakes, crocodiles, and large lizards tend to be the reptiles most associated with villains. Meanwhile, turtles and small lizards like geckos and frilled lizards are seen as cute and harmless, and are less likely to be associated with villainy. Dinosaurs are also often exempt from this trope; whether they're good or evil usually depends ontheir diet. Stereotypically reptilian features such as fangs, claws, tails, visible scales, and slit pupils may distinguish villainous reptiles from friendly ones, as does the use of poison.
Amphibians often are portrayed this way too. Toads in particular have become heavily correlated with abhorrence due to their poisonous secretions, association with witches, and the myth that touching one will give you warts. However, there are many favorable depictions of frogs in fiction.
This is not a character trope. It is a pattern only visible when looking at an entire cast of characters. Merely having a few bad reptiles among a majority of good reptiles does not invoke this trope. When the only reptilian character in a work or the majority of the reptile-themed characters are bad guys, this trope is in play. This trope does not require that reptiles be Always Chaotic Evil — there may be a few token good reptilians within a race of mostly evil reptiles as an example of My Species Doth Protest Too Much.
Sometimes the trope in invoked in-universe. Characters may assume that reptiles are more likely to be evil, whether or not it's justified. In these cases you may have Reptiles Are Abhorrent crossed with Fantastic Racism.
If the expectation of reptiles being evil is set up and then overturned by the majority of such characters, the trope is being subverted. See PlayingWith.Reptiles Are Abhorrent.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent is fairly consistent, but it's far from omnipresent, so do not list aversions. Do not list subversions unless they actually invoke this trope.
See also What Measure Is a Non-Cute?, Never Smile at a Crocodile, Scaled Up, and Fangs Are Evil. Compare Cats Are Mean and You Dirty Rat. Contrast with Turtle Power and Everything's Better with Dinosaurs. This is also closely related to Good Animals, Evil Animals.
The anime Queen's Blade has a snake doing nasty things to one of the main characters.
In the Kero Kero Chime anime, the snakes and hebizoku (snake tribe) are introduced as villains counter to the frogs and kaeruzoku (frog tribe). This is subverted, though, in that the snakes and hebizoku are near-universally good people, and the hostility between the remaining kaeruzoku and hebizoku is entirely the result of a misunderstanding.
In Martian Successor Nadesico, the Earth government refers to its enemies in the war as "Jovian Lizards" because of this trope, even though they only send Mecha-Mooks into battle so most people don't actually know what they look like. In fact, they're actually humans.
The first set of baddies in Getter Robo was the evil Dinosaur Empire, who were, well... dinosaurs.
The Pokémon anime features several, but the most prominent is the Ekans (later Arbok) owned by Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Jessie of Team Rocket. And later she comes into ownership of a Seviper, yet another snake Pokémon. Generally, all the fierce and threatening-looking reptile Pokémon take an antagonistic portrayal, whereas the cute ones tend to be on the good side, and if they have vicious-looking evolutions, they don't evolve. The main character currently has an adorable charming Snivy, but his rival has a mean-looking Servine (its evolution).
Also strangely averted at the same time as the anime establishes very early on that Ekans is actually a pretty nice Pokemon, it's just his trainer that's a villain. Still counts since they're still technically villains but an interesting twist.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime includes a set of Reptile monsters, but their only major appearance was in GX while being used by Professor Viper. Ganzley, Corrupt Corporate Executive and Big Bad of The Big Five uses a Reptile deck that focusses on locking down his opponent's cards. Dinosaurs, however, appear on both sides.
While the main characters of Keroro Gunsou are mostly alien frogs, there is an antagonistic enemy race of humanoid cobras known as Vipers.
Orochimaru from Naruto is very snake-like himself, with slit pupil eyes, a very long (read: creepy) tongue, ability to stretch his neck and other body parts like Mr. Fantastic, and uses a round of snake-based jutsu. In fact, he is no longer really so much a human as a body-snatcher. His true form is a giant white snake made up of lots of little snakes. Apparently, years of evilutionary biology will turn you into a bizarre snake-demon. His replacement Kabuto, who has integrated bits of Orochimaru's genes into himself takes this up a notch with blatantly reptilian features, nictating eyelids, and a giant snake "familiar" that appears to be his tail.
Averted by Anko, who also uses snakes in her jutsu, but is one of the good guys. Of course, the fact that she's one of Orochimaru's former test subjects and was taught by him for a number of years might have something to do with it as well.
One Piece has the animal-themed Seven Warlords of the Sea, which usually play as villains. You have Sir Crocodile, Gecko Moria, and Boa Hancock, who is a horrible person but at least is very kind to the protagonist.
Eyeshield 21 has the Zokugaku Chameleons, with their linebacker, Habishira, having long arms like a chameleon's tongue. The much tougher, Affably Evil Hakushuu Dinosaurs are another example.
It isn't quite clear how Hayate the Combat Butler feels about this trope. Machina's alternate form (seems to be) a giant snake, and his first acts include nearly killing the main character and acting like an all-around bad guy. But as of Ch. 255-ish, he starts being more than friendly with the heroes, even (jokingly?) asking Maria to marry him for her (and Sakuya's) hamburger-making skills.
The early Sonic the Hedgehog manga plays this trope almost as straight as that show. In a school of who knows how many students, all of the students are good, aside from the school bullies; Anton the Lizard and his cohort (Mad/Matt, his pet/brother, no-one's actually sure).
When the Legion of Super-Heroes comic began rebooting the characters as more alien and/or more racially diverse, they redesigned Projectra as coming from a race of sentient snakes, making her a rare heroic example in comics. She does state that she has run into prejudice before, and this is given as the reason she appears to strangers initially in a 'normal' appearance. (She was later mutated into a slightly more humanoid form and slipped into a mild Heroic BSOD due to horror at her appearance.)
Green Lantern Isamot Kol the alien space cop lizard-man is a good guy, but Ophidian the Orange Entity, the living embodiment of temptation and selfishness, takes the form of a giant snake.
Kobra is a terrorist cult who uses a snake motif for their criminal activities. They later appeared as a cult in Batman Beyond. In their most notorious story, from "Batman Beyond", a few of them transformed themselves into snake people with the help of Splicer technology and... dinosaur DNA... And then they were going to throw a "Thermal Bomb" down a volcano (!?) to raise the temperature of the world (they are "cold blooded"), Kill All Humans, and take over the planet. Yeah.
The Checkmate arc plays with this trope. After the Rooks take out a major Kobra base they find a large nest of baby snake people. The Rooks decide to raise them.
Killer Croc, one of Batman's most brutal enemies depending on who's writing for him, is a man with a bizarre skin condition that gives him the appearance and toughness of a crocodile. He has Crocodile-like habits in Batman: The Animated Series as well. Although there's at least one continuity where he gets to go off and live in peace with Swamp Thing. Croc also sometimes appoints himself protector of sewer-dwelling homeless and runaways.
Later depictions of him have him behaving much more beast-like than before (he has grown a freakin' tail), due to a virus injected in him by Hush; now he's often engaging in cannibalism.
This is lampshaded in a backup story in Legends of the Dark Knight, where he realizes that as he's becoming stronger and tougher the more animalistic he gets, he's also losing his humanity. He kidnaps a scientist to try and reverse the changes, but when she reveals that there is no way, he loses what little self control he had left and eats her.
Copperhead is another Batman villain who started out with a special suit that gave him snake-like flexibility and was later mutated into an actual snake-man. The snakeman version (with a silly snake-hat) appeared as a reoccurring enemy of the Justice League and a similar character was a one-off villain in Batman Beyond.
Turtle Man is a rare example of a mean turtle. He's "the Slowest Man Alive" and is a minor enemy of The Flash. He was originally a joke villain, but later became a credible threat when he gained the power to drain speed from other objects, including the Flash himself. (He's still pretty silly, though.)
The tommy-gun-toting alien alligator-men from the planet Punkus who fought Captain Marvel as part of the Monster Society of Evil. No, seriously.
Sobek the crocodile man from 52, who turns out to be the vessel of an Eldritch Abomination that hails from Apokolips that embodies famine.
In Spider-Man, Curt Connors's experiment to help people with missing limbs, like himself, caused him to transform into The Lizard, a monstrous reptile who detests all "warm-blooded" life (though it probably goes without saying that he doesn't like spiders either). In the well-loved '90s cartoon, he looked a great deal like a giant, very anthropomorphic Anole.
Komodo, who might count as a Distaff Counterpart of The Lizard, manages to be an exception. She was Connors's lab assistant and stole some of the formula that turned Connors into the Lizard, perfected it (for herself, anyways) and used it to grow new legs. Even though the use of said legs requires she stay in her reptile form, she's still able to change back and forth (though being human means her legs go away), and in reptile form she suffers no desire to Kill All Humans.
The latest revamp of Connors gives him the ability to activate the "lizard brain" of humans , encouraging them to act like reptiles. Apparently lizards are really sexually aggressive and mindlessly violent towards their own kind. Who knew?
The Serpent Society is a whole brigade of snake-themed villains - some actually reptilian, others who just like the fashion statement - who are intertwined with the ancient evil artifact of eldritch reptile gods, the Serpent Crown.
ElfQuest has Winnowill lovingly referred to as the 'Black Snake'. Rayek gets called this a few times as well.
Disney Animated Canon Examples
The Rescuers features an association of Rescue Aid mice, a friendly cat who sings about keeping faith, an extremely helpful dragonfly, and a good turtle — but the alligators are the only mean animals in the movie. Huh.
The Rescuers Down Under feature a Punch Clock Villain Goanna who still liked to terrorize smaller animals, as well as a bunch of man-eating crocodiles. The frilled lizard (one of the cute species) is a good guy, however.
Tellingly, none of the mean reptiles in either of the movies talk. And the crocodilians of both films seem to be rather useful at being the method of a Karmic Death...
Kaa in The Jungle Book is another funny villain. In the book, Kaa was one of the main mentors for Mowgli. In the Disney adaptation, he was transformed into a villain. note There's a whole chapter in the seminal Doorstopper, The Illusion of Life in which the authors go on and on about how they struggled to make both Kaa and Sir Hiss "cute" so that they wouldn't scare the women in the audience.
Fantasia has "Dance of the Hours", in which the ballet-dancing hippopotami, pachyderms and ostriches are interrupted by caped alligators. The alligators' leader is a romantic swashbuckler type, but the rest of them seem to be lechers.
The main characters in The Wuzzles were all obvious, easily identifiable Mix-and-Match Critters. Background characters were less-obvious mixes. But the thing is only the antagonists, Croc, Brat and Flizzard, sported any recognizably reptilian features. And aside from that, your guess is as good as ours what they were meant to be hybrids of. (Many fansites hold that they are, respectively, "half-crocodile/frog/lizard, half-dragon". Strange, given that all other Wuzzles were combinations of real animals.)
The Emperor's New Groove: Main villain Yzma uses her fair share of decorative snake motifs. Also, one of her Mooks was transformed into a lizard.
In Alligator, cute baby gator Raymond is flushed into Chicago's sewers and starts chowing down on pet corpses spiked with experimental growth hormone; so he isn't really mean, just hungry. Notable for being among the first of many, many Jaws rip-offs — and for being one of the best.
In the excellently titled Ssssssss, the Mad Scientist in the movie didn't mind snakes. As a matter of fact, he turned people into snakes for fun. The people in question didn't share his enthusiasm.
They aren't reptiles, but while we're on the subject of horror movies that assume we think crawling, scaly, swamp-dwelling animals are inherently scary: Frogs. Yes, Frogs. (And the frogs in question aren't the poisonous or gigantic variety, either.) Funny thing is, the frogs themselves don't do anything. They just stand around being ominous. All of the mayhem and murder is done by alligators, moccasins, snapping turtles, and anoles (the last lock a guy in a greenhouse and cause a chemical reaction that asphyxiates the guy with vapors).
In his original appearance, Godzilla was portrayed as a walking nuclear explosion, destroying everything in his path. In subsequent movies, however, he was depicted in a grayer light, and became a hero at times.
And in a case of Humans Are Stupid, Primeval stars SUV-sized "Serial killer" Gustav, whose large kill record is largely due to idiot fishermen and similarly idiot photographers and big-game hunters. However, it's at least more factually accurate than Lake Placid.
Reptilicus is a giant, man-eating lizard-dragon-thing.
Kill Bill's villain team, the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad, all had codenames (ostensibly) based on lethally venomous snakes.note Although Cottonmouths, Copperheads and Sidewinders are indeed members of the family Viperidae, the Black Mamba is part of the family Elapidae, which also contains Cobras, Taipans and Coral snakes, while the California Mountain Snake (better known as the California Kingsnake) is a harmless Colubrid that is best known for its penchant for eating vipers. The main character was given the name of the most deadly snake of them all, the black mamba, though she renounces the name and the team when she decides to go straight.
Zathura (which is JumanjiIN SPACE!) gives us the villainous Zorgons, reptilian aliens who are attracted to heat sources.
The original Star Wars films have very few reptilian sentients. Most of them are in the Cantina on Mos Eisley. The only exception is Bossk, a rather vicious Trandoshan bounty hunter. General Grievous was a Kaleesh, a reptilian species that are in war with the Huk, a mantid-like species. The Huk were the Invaders, and Grievous was very noble back then. The prequels have some other reptilian species, but none in a prominent role.
"I'm addressing, of course, the vicious, bigoted pattern of lizard-hate in the culture, and in the media. The Phantom Menace doesn't just contain one species-ist character, it slurs the entire reptilian phylum."
Played on in Enemy Mine, where humans are at war with a hated species of reptilian-like people called "Dracs."
In a "making of" documentary for The Film of the BookEragon, one of the people in charge of designing Saphira said, "We decided first of all, to make Saphira the dragon more likable, so we made her look more like a lioness instead of a reptile."
In The Dark Crystal, the evil Skeksis look like lizards with some of the most repellent traits of vultures added for good measure. Their good-guy counterparts, the Mystics, have downplayed reptilian features and much more fur, giving them a softer and cuddlier appearance.
A Cold War-era instructional film warned of the dangers of Hostile Intelligence Services (HISS), portrayed as an animated Smug Snake with a Lzherusskie accent.
Although clearly scaleless and unrelated to any real-world organism, the monsters from the Tremors films and series (or just their tongues) are frequently described as resembling reptiles of one sort or another.
Live and Let Die: Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga uses snakes to kill adversaries, either releasing one into their hotel room, or using one in an elaborate voodoo ceremony (pulled from a coffin full of snakes). Then there's his crocodile farm/heroin processing center.
Rattlesnake Jake and the corrupt Tortoise John in Rango.
Lampshaded in the film version of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man, where Rod Steiger's character crushes a garter snake with a rock and feeds it to his dog. When another character asks why he did it, noting that garter snakes are harmless and good to have around, he angrily responds, "It ain't no good to anyone, it's a damn snake!"
Komodo uses totally natural wild animals as big scary villains. Although the komodos are very much on the big side, and not just one, but all of them.
There's a subplot in Hard Ticket to Hawaii about a snake that is contaminated with toxins from cancer-infested rats. It kills two honeymooners after escaping its box, and later it finds its way to the home of one of the main characters and tries to attack her after it comes out of a toilet. It ends up killing one of the two main bad guys, and it is then shot point blank with a rocket launcher.
Redwall. While the mammals are split between being good or evil, every single reptile and amphibian is a bad guy. In the first book, a snake is given a demon's name (which it likes to chant for some reason) and likened to a giant, intelligent, evil dragon/monster. In one of the later books, a desert-dwelling character keeps a pet sand lizard; "Get 'em when they're young and they're good likkle critters." This was lampshaded hilariously by Something Awful, though it was in response more to the mustelids all being evil.
Ranger Rick, of all places, used this trope off and on:
Uncomfortably applied in one issue. There was a short story in which Rick and his gang help an Ocelot in the Everglades and are menaced by an alligator, who was explicitly described as a villain. This was jarring considering it was the only time an animal filled the antagonistic role; usually Humans Are Bastards (they staunchly used the Humans Are Misguided subtrope). Even worse? The very next issue Rick and co. head back to Florida to help... alligators.
Ranger Rick magazine also had a series of nonfiction books about animals and of those, one of the most beloved is The Unhuggables. It did all it could to discredit this trope (though it's telling that snakes get their own chapter to themselves) as well as Carnivores Are Mean and (as you could probably guess from the so-close-to-being-the-Trope Namer-title) What Measure Is a Non-Cute?.
Rudyard Kipling's stories invoke the trope only when applied to venomous snakes and crocodiles.
In "Kaa's Hunting", the "poison people" are self-absorbed. The mad cobra in "The King's Ankus" seems somewhat insane, claiming that a jewelled inanimate object is "death" (and it turns out he's also outlived his poison), but turns out to be right.
The villagers first introduced in Tiger-Tiger! keep a holy village cobra which is content with being fed and doesn't bother anyone.
Likewise, in "The Undertakers", the chief villain is a vain old crocodile called the Muggernote although mugger/magar/makara is an actual word for a crocodile species in South Asia, who boasts of having attacked human women and children (but is less than thrilled to be reminded that a woman once drove him away by shooting at him).
How animals are portrayed - "good", "evil", "brave", "cowardly" - does to a large extent depend on the individual story and who the animals interact with; thus "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" to a large extent reflects the irrepressible fear of snakes that Kipling describes as a typically "white" trait in a scene in Kim where the Kim and the lama come upon a venomous snake and the lama stops Kim from trying to kill it.
In the first Animorphs book, Jake morphs a green anole lizard to spy on his assistant principal. He loses control of the morph and eats a spider, and the horror of the experience scares him off reptile morphs in general, as he only morphs two more reptiles throughout the next three years, both cases where he pretty much had no other choice.
In general reptiles are not used as morphs by any of the team the way mammals are. Aside from the book where everyone morphs dinosaurs, reptile morphs are very rarely used, and even when they are, they're always snakes.
A snake is the mascot of Slytherin House, which was never an "evil" house, but has a bad reputation due to the many Death Eaters who were sorted there in their school days. The snake is used as an evil motif by the Death Eaters. The ability to speak Parseltongue (snake language) is said to be associated with Dark magic, worsening the snake's reputation even further.
There was also the basilisk, a huge snake that Harry fights at the end of the second book. It was Slytherin's pet back in the day, and he kept it hidden in the chamber in hope that his heir would release it and use it to drive Muggle-born wizards out of the school.
However, the actual boa constrictor in the first book seems genuinely pleasant and just wants to go to Brazil, where his particular species comes from.
This trope becomes Reptiles Are Stupid in Foster's Spellsinger series, in which reptiles are the only air-breathing vertebrates that aren't intelligent tool-users. Except for the turtles and dragons, which get an exemption on grounds of popular appeal.
Played with in the novel Chester Cricket's Home, a sequel to A Cricket In Times Square. One of the residents of Chester's meadow, a water snake named Walter, realizes that many humans find him horrifying, a fact that he takes an inordinate amount of pride in. However, Walter is actually quite friendly and funny, if a bit of a wise guy at times.
You would expect it to be averted in the Astrosaurs series, given all the characters are reptiles. It's actually played straight (along with Predators Are Mean) as the heroes look more humanoid or mammal-like while the villains have much more pronounced reptilian traits.
Subverted by David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. While the civilization most attuned to and appreciative of snakes, the Nyissans, are usually portrayed as a rather sinister, corrupt, and amoral people, eventually the chief eunuch Sadi becomes a rather amusing hero, and he brings his pet snake Zith, an intelligent, extremely lethal but extremely affectionate and endearing snake with almost cat-like habits. The only member of the party who doesn't take a shine to her is Silk, whose snake-phobia is more comical than rational. Zith's habit of curling up and sleeping in the bosom of Silk's love interest does not help this. Nor does how Silk finds out...
Gator Gumbo: The main character is an old alligator that can no longer catch prey. The other animals taunt him over this. In the end, he makes a batch of gumbo. The other animals refuse to help but want some. So they get get close enough and he sweeps them into the pot, cooks, and eats them. It probably qualifies as a Family-Unfriendly Aesop as well — Don't be a jerk and never underestimate old people or they will destroy you!
Similar to the Disney's Aladdin example, the Queen of Underland in The Silver Chair turns into a giant snake when she finally runs out of subtler options for killing the heroes. Prince Rillian is glad of this, because it meant he wouldn't have to kill a woman.
A children's book called Brewsters Courage practically bent over backwards to subvert this trope. Brewster is a young black footed ferret who hears a Zyedco band play and decides to move to the bayou. His two closest friends end up being an alligator and a cottonmouth snake, while most of the mammals he meets are pretty nasty to him with the exception of one otter and a mastiff.
Debora Chester's Alien Chronicles series has the Viis, who resemble giant frilled lizards. They're a despotic race that has enslaved various mammalian races, with the only other reptilian species being their allies instead. When the mammalian races leave to find a utopia, not even their Viis underclass allies go with them, and what becomes of the turtle-people is never said. The web page for the series even invokes this trope.
In Clive Barker's Abarat series, despite the archipelago of Abarat being home to a host of wildly different creatures, Finnegan Hob is out to kill all dragons, even young ones, because one of them killed his bride. All dragons appearing on-page are unsympathetic (and ugly), while Hob is depicted sympathetically, and none of the other characters have a problem with him wanting to commit genocide of a sentient species. This unnuanced portrayal of dragons is rare in modern fantasy.
In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series, a pair of WWII destroyers slip sideways into a timeline where dinosaurs were never wiped out and humans never evolved. Instead two other intelligent races did, one mammalian, one reptilian. Guess who the bad guys are?
In his Pellucidar series, Edgar Rice Burroughs created two reptilian species: the Snake People Horibs who are villains right out of central casting, and the more nuanced Mahars who are telepathic, parthenogenic pterosaurs who start out ruling Pellucidar but are overthrown by the human hero. It later turned out that the Mahars — who are deaf and communicate entirely by telepathy — were unaware that humans were sapient.
Both used and inverted in Chess With A Dragon. On the one hand, the galaxy is populated by many dinosaur-derived alien races, any of which would be content to experiment on, enslave, and/or eat humans. On the other, mammalian races are an extremely rare fluke in this novel, hence most civilized species insist that Mammals Are Abhorrent.
In The Book of Night with Moon by Diane Duane, it is revealed that humans' association of reptiles with evil (in the Book of Genesis and elsewhere) is due to the lizard people choosing to align with the power of evil. Also, both feline mythology and cetacean mythology has Satan taking the form of a giant snake. The city of the sentient lizard people is a horrific World Half Empty which runs on systematic oppression and cannibalism. However, the victory of the heroes give the lizard people a chance to choose a better path, and the lizard Ith becomes a sympathetic character. By the second book, the lizard people are as moral and agreeable as any other species.
Robert E. Howard's stories of King Kull include the Serpent People, an ancient, pre-human species that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. They were evil, dying out, yet determined to retake the world for their species. Among their magical talents was the ability to cast a glamour that made them seem human to observers. The illusion was so good in one story that Kull himself doubted (for all of a minute) his own existence. After which he killed the imposter. Death broke the spell, revealing the truth.
Howard would continue the tradition in his Conan the Barbarian stories, which had the evil cult of Set, the Old Serpent, as a primary adversary for the Cimmerian. In the novel The Hour of the Dragon, the priests of Set keep giant snakes.
The Cimmerian recoiled, remembering tales he had heard — serpents were sacred to Set, god of Stygia, who men said was himself a serpent. Monsters such as this were kept in the temples of Set, and when they hungered, were allowed to crawl forth into the streets to take what prey they wished. Their ghastly feasts were considered a sacrifice to the scaly god.
In Lovecraft's writing, reptiles are a frequent source of horror, most notably in The Nameless City.
In Korney Chukovsky's children story Stolen Sun, a crocodile swallows the sun (just go with it) and it takes a bear to tear him apart and release it.
Villain.net plays with this one: upon encountering Chameleon, apprentice supervillain Jake Hunter presumes the reptilian shapeshifter to be a fellow evil-doer. He is quickly disabused of that notion. However, over the course of the first book, Chameleon shows himself to have a nasty edge, being perfectly willing to kill, and seeking revenge rather than justice.
Anytime a reptillian character shows up in one of Terry Brooks's books, you can expect raw evil (although Strabo is a noticeable exception). It's especially obvious with The Mwellrets, who are the only species in the Shannara universe that hasn't featured a heroic member. Indeed, one of them, Cree Bega, and his equally reptillian boss, The Morgawr, are the worst characters in series.
The Hoka series has two races of Reptilian Aliens that are presented as universally and unquestionably unpleasant.
This trope is discussed at some length in the Star Trek: Typhon Pact novel Seize the Fire. The book also plays with it when the reptilian Gorn show similar revulsion to mammals.
"Mammals. Why did it have to be mammals?"
Subverted, invoked, and reconstructed in Dreamsnake: Someone's violent phobia of snakes is what kicks off the Frontier Doctor heroine's troubles. And while she views her cobra and rattlesnake (which serve as her medical kit) as both pets and essential tools, not even she can find anything likable about the dangerous, ill-tempered, and downright ugly sand vipers.
Subverted in Andre Norton's Operation Time Search, when a young man from 20th Century America is flung back in time to the war between Atlantis and Mu, and is surprised, though he doesn't say it aloud, to find that his Murian hosts revere snakes. A nine-headed serpent motif is often used in jewelry — and the Emperor's crown.
Goblins in Artemis Fowl are a reptilian species of fairy. They're presented as extremely stupid and almost unversally prone to a criminal disposition. They are also the only fairy race with the ability to conjure fire.
Averted in Bernard Waber's Lyle the Crocodile series for children, which features a friendly anthropomorphic crocodile who stands on hind legs and lives with a human family.
Central to the conflict of Harry Harrison's West of Eden trilogy: humans find reptiles disgusting and frightening, and the Yilanč (intelligent descendants of mosasaurs) have an equally low opinion of "ustuzou" (mammals.) Each ends up seeing the other as vermin to be wiped out.
Sherlock Holmes can't stand snakes. The arch-villain Professor Moriarty and the 'worst man in London', blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton, are both compared to reptiles: Moriarty in the way he moves his head, Milverton because he gives Holmes the creeps. The only actual reptile in the series is the Indian swamp adder, which kills people.
In Andre Norton's Ordeal In Otherwhere, Charis finds a madwoman at the post where she is taken, who is obsessed with the horrible "snakes". She certainly was driven mad by contact with the reptilian Wyverns, but whether her horror caused or was caused by the contact is never even touched on.
Spirit Animals features the Great Beasts, fifteen Physical Gods with tremendous power over various aspects of reality. The only reptile, Gerathon The Serpent, is one of the two Great Beasts to turn evil. Additionally, a saltwater crocodile is the symbolic animal of the main villain and his crown features a serpent biting its tail.
Star Trek: Enterprise introduces the Xindi, a set of related (somehow) species who each have evolved from a different species and yet are all at least vaguely humanoid. There's the (dolphin-like) Aquatics, human-like Primates, human-like (if hairier) Arborials, ant-like and scary-looking Insectoids, lizard-like and also scary-looking Reptilians, and the extinct and presumably birdlike Avians. You win no prizes for guessing which two species remained villains.
DS9 also introduced the Jem'hadar, a scaly race of drug-addicted, genetically engineered Super Soldier fanatics who look like humanoid styracosaurs and worship a race of fascistic Shape Shifter space amoebas. And despite this, they're the nicest out of all the races created by the Founders.
Apart from a bare handful of Cardassians who thought My Species Doth Protest Too Much, the only exceptions were some background characters in the movies, revealing that The Federationdoes have turtle-people and lizard-people amongst its citizens; they just don't do anything. Maybe they need more sunlight?
Then again, the Gorn in question was being forced to fight Kirk the same way Kirk was. What's more, the previous attack on the Federation outpost was a result of the Federation accidentally and unknowingly violating Gorn space. This misunderstanding, more than anything, was the cause of the fighting in the first place, and Kirk eventually suggested that the Federation and the Gorn could negotiate a peaceful solution. According to the Expanded Universe, most of them are actually quite friendly, and over time the Gorn have become allies of The Federation. So, ultimately, a subversion.
V: The Sirians embody this trope, but more to the point, the show-makers rely on it working on the audience. When they first appear, they are disguised as humans, and the fact that they are actually reptiles hidden behind Latex Perfection is treated as a revelation just as horrifying as their attempt to enslave all of humanity.
Sesame Street intentionally avoids the trope, featuring friendly introductions to "scary" animals to assure the kids that they're not mean. There's a song about a friendly snake named Sammy. There is also one about an Alligator king and his seven sons; both song and alligators are pleasant.
Subverted with the Unas. When first introduced, the lizard-like Unas are unquestionably evil. This is because the only ones encountered are possessed by the Always Chaotic Evil Goa'uld (who are referred to as "snakes" by several characters, though they're closer to eels). Later, the team finds un-possessed Unas, who are initially somewhat primitive and feral, but later show capacity for honor and other virtues.
However, there was also the first Big Bad, Apophis, whose Jaffa wore snake-themed armour, and he himself wore golden snake armour. (Apophis was associated with snakes in Ancient Egypt, and as the premise was that the Goa'uld had inspired human religions by pretending to be gods.)
In the CSI: Miami episode "Identity," a sunbathing woman is killed and swallowed (but for some reason not digested) by a boa constrictor. Once again, this is more a case of Humans Are Bastards, as the snake had been illegally imported and died soon thereafter.
Blatantly invoked in a recent series, Fatal Attractions, during an episode about an animal hoarder who owned several Nile monitors and allowed them free reign of his apartment. The man died in his apartment and his body was discovered in a heavily decomposed state, with his pet lizards having fed upon the body. The show seemed to go out of its way to demonise the reptiles themselves (as well as the people who own them, painting them as egomaniacs who form no emotional bonds with their pets), with no shortage of re-enactments featuring close-up shots of plotting, shifty-eyed lizards filmed in a sinister monochrome. The show also hypothesised that the monitors deliberatedly envenomated their owner and waited around for him to die like Komodo Dragons, a hunting strategy which Komodo Dragons themselves are no longer believed to use, let alone Nile Monitors. It also perpetuated the myth that reptiles spread salmonella.note Reptiles are no more specifically prone to carrying salmonella than any other animal, and 95% of all reptile-related salmonella infections come from green iguanas and red-eared sliders, (both of which are species unsuited for but commonly kept by novices, and often in unsanitary housing conditions.) The show also neglected to mention the far more likely possibility that the man simply died and was scavenged upon by his starving pets.
A season two episode about pet crocodiles seems to have a very black-and-white issue on the subject. Crocodiles are depicted as either mindless cold-blooded killers or as intelligent beloved pets. There is, sadly, no middle ground stating that crocodiles are intelligent predators that should NEVER be kept as pets because of how dangerous they are, but that we shouldn't go about mindlessly killing them just because they're predators.
Man-Eating Super Snake, a recent Animal Planet documentary, indulges in blatant fearmongering based on the possibility that the feral Burmese Pythons and African Rock Pythons in the Everglades will breed and produce hybrids with the size of the former and the purported aggression of the latter. Not only is this premise utterly sensationalistic and like something out of a SyFy channel original movie, but Burmese and Rock Pythons have already been hybridized in captivity; "Burmrocks", as they are known, are no larger or more aggressive than their Burmese or African parents. In fact, they're actually quite docile, a trait they inherit from their Burmese parents, exactly the opposite of Animal Planet's "Man-Eating Super Snake".
In the episode of The Muppet Show starring James Coco, Kermit's nephew Robin was too afraid of snakes to go to bed. Kermit tried to show him the better side of snakes by having him envision beautful dancing snakes. It works for Robin but the appearance of the snakes unnerves poor Kermit. Snakes are major predators of frogs...
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Mayor's Evil Plan involved him turning into a gigantic snakey demon. Several other demons, such as the baby-eating Lurconis of "Band Candy", also had a snake-like appearance.
Triple subverted in the Bad Feng Shui episode of The Haunting Hour which discusses this trope, and how it doesn't apply with Chinese folklore. However it ends up with a snakelike villain anyway. Until it's revealed he's more of a misguided Literal Genie, who thinks he's helping the protagonist.
This turns up quite a lot in Merlin. First there was a One Shot Villain with a magical shield that had three snakes which could slide out of the metal and poison people. Then there was Lamia, a Monster of the Week that changed from a young girl into a strange half-snake, half-octopus creature and whose presence could be felt by the sound of hissing. Then there's Morgana, who often wears a necklace in the shape of a snake, and has at least two magical snakes at her disposal: a strange multi-headed plant-like creature, and a tiny snake that tortures people.
An issue of New Scientist with a cover story about "Gaia's Evil Twin". The cover picture showed Gaia surrounded by "good nature"; green shoots, flowers, butterflies and doves, and Evil Gaia surrounded by "bad nature"; black roots, flies, carrion birds, and snakes. This did not reflect the actual story in any way.
The death metal band Nile get a lot of mileage out of this one, from serpents to crocodiles to the deliciously Lovecraftian "prehuman serpent volk" to TURNING INTO A SNAKE.
There's a Playground Song based upon a Shel Silverstein poem called "I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor", which exploits the fear of a snake being able to eat a person.
She splits herself wide open, to let the insects in
She leaves a trail of honey, to show me where she's been
She's got the blood of reptiles, just underneath her skin
Seeds of a thousand others, drip down from within
Many heavy metal bands ranging from Alice Cooper to Soundgarden to Symphony X use snakes as symbols of fear, and this translates to heavier music.
Paula Abdul: HE'S A COLD HEARTED SNAKE! Look into his eyes, he's been tellin' lies.
"Attacked by Snakes!" by The Aquabats!, where a hapless fellow finds his front lawn infested with thousands of angry snakes that are after him for some reason:
Attacked by snakes, by snakes So many snakes it would take a thousand rakes To contain the snakes after me I'd rather be burned at the stake than be Attacked by snakes!
Myth, Legend, and Religion
There's an old story (attributed to Aesop sometimes) about a woman (or a farmer) who finds a venomous snake shivering outside in the snow. It begs her to let it in so it does not freeze to death. She refuses, on the grounds that the snake will bite her and she'll die. The snake continues to plead, assuring her he will do no such thing, asking how he could possibly hurt the one who saved his life. So the kind hearted woman brings the snake in, and cuddles it to her breast by the fire. When the snake thaws out, it bites her anyway. As she lies dying, she asks the snake why he broke his word. The snake replies that it's just his nature; "Lady, you knew I was a snake when you let me in!"
This story survives even into the Old American South, starring kind-hearted Br'er Possum in place of the woman and Br'er Snake as himself. "You knowed I was a snake when you put me in yer pocket" . . .
It was a popular song in 1968, sung by the great Al Wilson.
In Norse Mythology the mighty Midgard Serpent, Jormugandr, is the mortal enemy of Thor and spawn of Loki. There's also Nidhoggr, the serpent who munches on Yggdrassil The World Tree's roots.
In Sumerian myth, the world is made from the body of the primordial dragon-goddess Tiamat after she is killed by her much more human-like divine children. Also, the Trickster serpent steals the secret of eternal life from Gilgamesh.
Most mythology surrounding Dragons in most Western and Middle-Eastern cultures uses this trope; in fact, the medieval Western dragon or wyrm, a poison-spewing, slimy, fire-breathing, and/or virgin-munching abomination that spreads death and destruction wherever it goes and must be killed by a brave hero or outwitted by a clever, pure-hearted maiden, might well be the ultimate incarnation of this trope. Though their depiction has evolved over time, most early Western and Middle-Eastern dragons are just giant snakes, with or without embellisments like wings and horns.
Islamic tradition has it that getting up to slay a snake is one of very few permissible reasons to interrupt one's prayers. It's even attributed heroic value; those who have slain snakes may earn entry into Paradise. The large number of venomous snakes in the Middle-East is an obvious source for the sentiment.
A snake persuaded Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. For this offense, Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, but the snake itself was cursed by God to "crawl on its belly, eating dust", and to forever be hated by mankind.
Satan is often called "old snake" or a "dragon". Christian art will always show the Archangel Michael, who supposedly cast Lucifer out of Heaven, as defeating the latter in the form of a dragon. Also, the dragon appearing in the Book of Revelation is usually interpreted as being him.
In the Apocrypha the fallen Archangel Ramiel(who's name in the Greek translations of the Apocrypha is refered to as Hades) is described as a snake and has a personality similar to the Leviathan of Job in that he rules over Pride(unlike the other snake Satan who rules over deceit).
In Hawaiian Mythology, Hi'iaka is asked to bring Lohia'u back to her sister, Pele. Among the many adventures along the way is a battle with giant monitor lizards. She defeats them using mana (spiritual energy roughly equivalent to chi) contained in the hem of her skirt.
One of the many monsters Yu the Great has to deal with to save China from its flood and other strife is Xiangliu, a multi-headed serpent.
The Weebls Stuff flash animation, Badger Badger Badger has its single moment of terror surrounding the snake, who does seem pretty harmless, really.
ARGH! Ack! It's a snake! A snake! Oh, no! It's a snake!
The Crocs in Pearls Before Swine; their usual (and futile) goal is to eat Zebra while speaking in ludicrous accents and displaying eye-popping stupidity. The youngest one seems to be the least dedicated.
Bally's Mata Hari pinball includes gratuitous images of snakes among the various espionage scenes.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts, whether in the WWF, WCW, or anywhere else, was generally portrayed as just as sleazy, slimy, and duplicitous as the reptiles he handled. He also loved to use his snakes to intimidate and/or humiliate his foes, and cleared the ring in at least one battle royal by letting loose an 8-foot boa constrictor and watching everybody scramble over the top rope trying to get away from it. (We'd love to know what the snake was thinking.)
In Magic: The Gathering snakes were originally depicted as nasty creatures with cards like Serpent Warrior, but more recently the Orochi were powerful and noble Proud Warrior Race Guys, if a bit hostile. However, Orochi are surely the least snake-like "snake men" ever illustrated: they have hair, breasts, four arms, two legs, and no tails, and their faces are mostly humanoid. Dragons have been in every alignment (including a genius dragon mad wizard scientist), but skew towards evil or violently, destructively instinct-driven. Reptiles may be simply animals, but aside from some Orochi there aren't many heroic reptiles, nor are many in White, the most community-driven, justice-oriented, or stereotypically "heroic" color.
One of the fictional series in Cartoon Action Hour, "Warriors of the Cosmos," has a evil snake-human in the form Serpentina, but that tabletop kisses the mouth of 1980s cartoons very hard.
The Champions superhero RPG had the ubiquitous VIPER criminal organization as well as reptile-themed villains. One was King Cobra (formerly Dr. Timothy Blank), a Mad Scientist who discovered the Coil Gene, which mutates humans into super-powered reptilian creatures. He was his own first subject. His goal is to turn every human in the world into reptiles... loyal to him, naturally. He's been a master villain in Champions for at least the last three editions of the game, probably longer.
In the Ani-Earth Animal Superheroes setting for Mutants & Masterminds, it is specifically stated that reptiles tend to be villains, with snakes as evil masterminds, lizards as mid-level bad guys and crocodilians as dumb mooks. Freedom City's Big Bad, Overshadow, becomes Cobrashadow.
In the Vampire: The Requiem sourcebook "Mythologies", one of the possibilities for the first vampire? The son (or daughter) of Eve, the First Woman... and The Serpent of Eden. The book includes several snake-based powers to apply to vampires to further imply that this might be true, including making snakes into default forms for the Protean discipline, it being easier to Ghoul snakes, and making vampires immune to snake venom (ordinarily, snake venoms — like most haemotoxins — work just fine on vampires).
In Dragon Dice, there exist the Swamp Stalkers, a race of war refugees and deserters who sought refuge in the setting's swamps and were there transformed by Death into a race of snake men with the power to mutate members of other species in order to increase their numbers.
Dungeons & Dragons features many, many cases over the editions. Just a few examples to start with:
The kobolds (as of 3rd Edition) are little, cowardly, yet malevolent lizard-people distantly related to dragons.
Similar to Warhammer below, the Lizard Folk of D&D play with this trope. They're often used as antagonists, but their default alignment is True Neutral (at least in 3rd Edition/3.5) and they really just want to be left alone.
The yuan-ti, probably the most iconic D&D race for this trope. They range from mostly-human people with a few snake features to mostly-snake people with a few human features, as well as several other heavily-mutated varieties. Their patron deity is Merrshaulk, a Chaotic Evil giant snake-monster that spends most of its time slumbering in its realm in the Abyss.
Played with example from the Lizardmen in Warhammer. On one hand, they're scary as hell, they're capable of realigning the landscape and don't care if there is anyone living on it (read: this is one of the reasons why the Dwarves are a Dying Race) and they commit shockingly brutal genocides. On the other hand, they're the foremost enemies of Chaos, the targets of their genocides are Always Chaotic Evil creatures like the Skaven, they're sided with Order rather than Destruction, and the reason for the continent shenanigans is the result of Blue and Orange Morality that says that the world must be reset to the way it was according to the Old One's plans. Word of God has said that Lizardmen default to Lawful Neutral, making them a rare example of Lizard Folk being good guys... Or rather, Good-ish guys.
The Zyglak in BIONICLE. There's also the Skakdi — a group of them (the Piraka) were collectively the Big Bad of the 2006 Story Arc, and one of their leaders (Nektann) briefly became The Dragon to overall series Big Bad Teridax during the 2010 arc. It is not uncommon for villains to get turned into snakes.
In the Beast Wars toys played the trope straight, usually. Dinosaurs, reptiles and arthropods where villainous Predacons. Interestingly fish, manta rays, sharks, and squid were Maximals. The main non-evil dinosaur was Dinobot, who abandoned the Predacons because he considered their leader incompetent, and ended up with the Maximals. He remained an only half-trusted anti-hero for much of the show, but got a Heroic Sacrifice towards the end.
Mortal Kombat: Let's hear it for Reptile! He's so abhorrent, he doesn't even need an actual name. However, he's actually a subversion as he's a severe case of a Woobie Anti Villain; his whole goal was to prevent his race from becoming extinct, but his masters constantly screw over his goal. Doesn't help that Reptile's attitude is more or less a mentally deteriorating Yes-Man. Aside of him, there's also Khameleon, whose goal is to pull Reptile out of that service and repopulate the race together.
The Donkey Kong Country has the apes saving their bananas from a gang of bullying crocodiles. Mind, the apes are also helped by a lot of other animals, including a friendly snake, so only the crocs really get this treatment.
In Donkey Kong 64, K. Lumsy is a Kremling (croc-like creature) that is locked up because he won't be mean and crush the "lovely little island, with lots of monkeys running around on it". He even (inadvertently) helps you move forward in the game.
Several characters of the Argonian race in The Elder Scrolls series are portrayed as villainous, despite really being no worse than the other playable races in general. They are long-standing victims of Fantastic Racism. This trope is also invoked to emphasize the average Tamrielic denizen's fear and hatred of the Akaviri snake-men/Tsaesci.
Despite the villains, the Hierarchy, being The Greys, Universe at War still manages to pull this. What skin is exposed on the mostly-armored Grunts is visibly scaly if you get a good look at it, and the Brutes are something between The Greys and some sort of humanoid predatory reptile.
The Reptilicus/Old Bryyonians in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, who'll attack you on sight. To be fair, though, the lore entries that you can scan on Bryyo imply that they were fairly nice guys at one point, but more or less turned "evil" after a schism broke out between the "primal" ways of magic and the "new ways" of science.
Subverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura; the lizard people in the game, the Bedokkan, are introduced as a barbaric, primitive people who have captured an elf; the most obvious solution is to kill them all. However, with a bit of negotiation, you find that the Bedokkan are a peaceful-ish tribe of indigenous people with a threatened homeland, albeit one that is made up of 9-foot tall magic lizards.
Star Fox 64, along with (ab)using several other Animal Stereotypes, plays this trope straight. One of the members of the evil rival group, Star Wolf, is a chameleon called "Leon". Not only that, but the boss characters for Corneria's secret path and Area 6 look reptilian in their avatars. That said, the majority of the bosses and Big Bad Andross are all apes of some variety. (According to the tie-in comic for the original Star Fox game that appeared in Nintendo Power, lizards are the native species of Venom and were enslaved by the evil Andross.)
In Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, the main Mooks are frilled lizards. In the second game, however, a frilled lizard is the cook for Bush Rescue, and responds to Ty's surprise at seeing him with "Not all lizards are bad, you know!"
Lizardman, who was once a Spartan warrior named Aeon Calcos, but was later taken in by the Fygul Cestemus cult (who also created the golem Astaroth) and turned into a reptile.
While Aeon reclaims his human memories, he makes efforts to not be seen during travels and only attacks those that may hold clues to Soul Edge (or if its related to Hephaestus, which triggers his primal rage). However, the corruption slowly eats away at his mind, erasing all human memories and leaving only a primal instinct and bloodlust, regressing to his Brainwashed and Crazy persona seen in the first Calibur. The Mook variety (all humans as well) seems to suffer the same ordeal, though they were never freed from the brainwashing to begin with. By the time of 4, they all are back to their murderous rampages.
X-Com: UFO Defense has the Snakemen aliens, who are best known for the Chrysallids that accompany them.
The Druids of the Fang in the Wailing Caverns dungeon. They are a group of formerly beneficent druids corrupted by the Nightmare which is a manifestation of the will of the Old Gods within the Emerald Dream. Their totem animal, which all of them could transform into during combat, was a Viper. This was in addition to their hench-animals Deviate Vipers, Deviate Raptors, Deviate Alligators, etc. Oh, and their leaders' names were Lord Pythas, Lord Serpentis, Lord Cobrahn, and Lady Anacondra. The expanded universe paints them in a slightly better light but none of this is seen in-game.
Throughout the game, players also encounter winged snakes called wind serpents. These serpents are almost always hostile to the player.
The most obviously evil wind serpent is the father of them all, Hakkar the Soulflayer. Hakkar is either an offspring of or manifestation of the will of the Old Gods and corrupted the entire jungle troll nation and damn near destroyed it completely. His hobbies included eating the souls and drinking the blood of those captured by his troll followers or, baring that, his followers themselves.
There're even more nasty snakes in the expanded universe.
The snake loa was never given the opportunity to do anything bad given what we see. The wind serpent loa is a rather nasty fellow, but not completely unjustified. He/she decides to spend his/her eternity as a now-incorporeal being torturing and murdering those who betrayed him over and over for shiggles. Then again, it does help you out, and they do sort of deserve it.
Trolls of all subraces in World of Warcraft are frequently shown to have deep connections to reptiles — subverting this trope, since trolls are no more inherently evil than other player-character races. Their racial mount is a small dinosaur, snakes are a common motif of troll architecture, and a troll vendor sells a variety of snake vanity pets. In Warcraft III, the troll Shadow Hunter hero unit summoned Serpent Wards. Trolls and tauren hold snakes to be somewhat sacred. For example, Arikara, the tauren avatar of vengeance, probably would have gone on to kill Magratha for being a complete backstabbing jerkass (the implication is she lies to you when she tells you who its target is).
Played mostly straight in the Crash Bandicoot series. While the human scientists were the scheming and callous baddies (invoking the Humans Are Bastards trope, as well), the mutated minions were the ones just doing the direct dirty work and nothing more... Komodo Joe (a Komodo Dragon) and Dingodile did nasty things too:
Komodo Joe was said to run an illegal Cubic Zirconia fraud business, and the concepts released by the Crash Twinsanity developers showed that he would cheat Crash and Cortex out of Power Crystals while they ended up driving around a course in a car with no brakes.
In the same game, Dingodile ends up hearing about the alleged treasure of the Evil Twins from Crash and Cortex, secretly follows them, makes base in the boiler rooms of the Academy of Evil, and ends up blasting Cortex out of said rooms when Cortex won't reveal where the treasure is to him (which is more a case of Cortex not understanding what he's asking for, anyway). He does appear in the handheld versions as a lackey of Cortex in Crash Of The Titans, but it does seem that Cortex trusts him a lot less.
In the Fire Emblem series the Divine Dragons are the only always friendly type of dragon and have the least prominent reptilian traits by far. They even have feathers and fur in some appearances. On the opposite end, the dinosaur/crocodile looking Earth Dragons and serpentine Mage Dragons have always been enemy characters thus far.
The enemy nation almost always make heavy use of Wyvern Riders. Playable Wyvern Riders often come from the enemy nation and later undergo a Heel-Face Turn
The World Ends with You gives us Anguis and Draco Cantus, Megumi Kitaniji's Noise forms — a giant snake and a five-headed dragon, respectively. Fitting, considering his Jerk Ass nature. (And, incidentally, his fondness for snakeskin suits.)
Played straight in the original Neverwinter Nights, in which the Big Bad turns out to be the queen of a race of lizardmen hiding in a glorified magical bomb shelter.
In Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, the Samarachans despise the yuan-ti, a race of snake-like beings. On several occasions, you end up having to fight yuan-ti. Subverted when you go to hunt down a yuan-ti and they turn out to be quite benevolent. You can create a yuan-ti for your party, and choose to make them not-evil.
Set up with a conflict between Lizardmen and a village in the main Neverwinter Nights 2 campaign, where the Lizardmen seem to be launching unprovoked attacks. Subverted when the Lizardmen turn out to be somewhat sympathetic, and ultimately can be convinced to from a truce and, later, ally against the Big Bad.
In Jeanne D Arc, the good guys are all mammalian (lions and dogs) while the only lizardmen units are lancers for the villains.
The Bangaa in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance are pretty cool guys, and have some incredibly Bad Ass job abilities. However, the NPC Bangaa in the game are almost all soldiers and jailers in the employ of the evil government.
In Final Fantasy XII Vaan's adoptive father figure Migelo is a Bangaa. But, then you have Ba'gam'nan's all-Bangaa hit-squad after you. Tellingly they are common enemies while the cuter tribes Viera, Moogle, and Nu mou are not. However, there are also a few friendly Bangaa NPCs outside of cities that will fight off enemies that are attacking you and will cast protective spells on your party as well, so Bangaa in general can play the trope straight and avert it at once.
Bangaas are the race best integrated within the humes, hence why they're so common in the game. Contrast with the Seeqs who also appear as enemies and are treated like second-rate citizens. Heck, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 makes the Bangaa look more like well behaved citizens (with the usual thug here or there) while most of the Seeq are portrayed as villains, robbers, and all round gluttons with little (if any) redeeming qualities.
The Lamiae are snake-women hybrids that routinely slay people and then raise the corpses to make an undead army.
The Mamool Ja are lizardmen who had once paid tribute to The Empire of Aht Urhgan, but have since tried to destroy it.
Poroggos are frogs that were able to walk due to magic, and actually were nice to the Tarutaru, thinking they were on good terms with the main races... too bad Windurst got scared of talking, magic-casting frogs and tried to kill them all. Now the Poroggos go around and hit adventurers with party-wiping magic.
Quadav are turtle beastmen who actually had a nice life and weren't very nasty. This all went to hell when Bastok started taking and destroying the Quadav's homes so that the Republic could get more resources. Now the Quadav attack anyone they see, defending their homes with extreme prejudice.
Final Fantasy XIV have the Amalj'aa, a race of huge and burly black lizardmen that worship the primal, Ifrit, and they feed their god more power by kidnapping people and bringing them to him so he can temper them, effectively making them mindless slaves. While few in number, there are a handful of Amalj'aa that are not worshippers of Ifrit and actively fight against their own kin that do worship Ifrit.
Any time Orochi shows up, and whatever form he takes, he's bound to be trouble. He seems to be attracted to Crisis Crossovers, as well. That's not to say that's all he shows up in...
Far more often than not, when they're not player-controlled, the Sakkra are usually quite ready to attack others, in the Master of Orion series. Not helped any by their tendency to have the "Repulsive" racial trait, which severely limits communication and gives a negative modifier to diplomatic relations. You can't live with them, and if you slacked off on building a big fleet you can't kill them.
In ContraRe Birth your enemies this time are the Neo Salamander Army trying to take over the Earth in the past and wipe out the Contra forces retroactively. But it isn't universal thanks to Plissken, one of the unlockable allies in your game who's a blue Salamander and is also Colonel Salamander, the leader of the entire army who changed his evil ways and joined Contra to do good, or for revenge.
Terumi Yuuki, from BlazBlue: His drive is called "Ouroboros" and for the most part, is a set of snake-like chains that are thrown around to drastically increase his mobility which is also capable of inducing Mind Rape. His finishing move involves summoning a giant snake to consume the opponent.
This game features an enemy group called the Snakes, based in Mercy Island. Unlike most enemy groups (which are at least humanoid), the Snakes are anthropomorphic snakes who worship a deity called Stheno and wish to reclaim Mercy Island for themselves. Arachnos ends up using them as a test for new Destined Ones to see if they really have what it takes to be a supervillain. They tend to view these Snakes more as pests than anything else...
...Until you get to Operative Grillo's story arc in Grandville. You know those low level Snakes you stomped on as a newbie? Snakes not only have a racial name (The S'lisur,) they're also descended from an Incarnate, which makes every single S'lisur partially an Incarnate. As in "Physical Embodiment of a God" incarnate. And that Incarnate is still alive. And she's PISSED that you've been killing her kids.
Stheno is named after one of Medusa's unpleasant sisters in Greek Mythology.
Played back and forth in the Everquest series. In the original, the reptilian Iksar are evil, but the amphibian Frogloks can be either good or evil. In Everquest II, the evil Frogloks have disappeared as a player character race, so they're now pure good, and the previously NPC Sarnak have become a PC Evil race... but the game also allows you to change from your starting alignment, so there are both good and evil Frogloks, Sarnak, and Iksar.
Age of Wonders has the Lizard Men and the Draconians. Both are portrayed as savage and believing in survival of the fittest, but their morality is neutral rather than evil.
While the Gorn in Star Trek doesn't play this Trope straight, the ones in Star Trek Online sure do, though it probably doesn't help that they've been conquered by the Klingons.
An interesting example is the iguana owned by acrobat/assassin/thief Eve in the little known Arcade fighting game The Outfoxies. He doesn't really do much that's abhorrent (or much at all other than serve as comic relief) and is in fact something of a Morality Pet for his owner, who is a thief and assassin willing to do anything to fund her lavish lifestyle, which makes him sort of abhorrent by proximity, unfortunately. He's absolutely adorable in her ending, though.
The krait in Guild Wars 2. They've got fans hating their guts from the previews. The fact that they nearly genocided the Actual Pacifistquaggannote Almost, as they discovered that the reason quaggan survived so long is that they have a universal Super-Powered Evil Side is just the start.
The Jazz Jackrabbit series all feature rabbits as the heroes and turtles and lizards as the villains.
Averted in Drol, where you rescue a pet lizard in the first stage and a pet crocodile in the second.
In Risk Of Rain The Lemurians are freaky Lizard Folk monsters who have quite a nasty bite. Oddly enough, in the monster log, the survivor observes them to be quite peaceful, sapient and even cultured, fond of music in particular. Seems like whatever's stirring up a frenzy in the planetary wildlife and making it attack you didn't spare absolutely anything.
Some of the hidden object searches in the Princess Isabella series involve removing all of the "evil" objects from a tainted location. They tend to consist mostly of snakes, toads and spiders.
The slithzerikai (or "sliths") in the Exile/Avernum series play with this in the very first game. When you are exiled to the underground realm, you're informed that one of the enemies that threatens the subterranean kingdom is this race of lizard-people, making it seem like the trope is in effect. However, later you find a town of sliths who do not follow the policies of the current leader, Sss-Thiss. It's Sss-Thiss who is responsible for the sliths turning warlike; before he came along, they were a peaceful people. In later games, the "darkling" sliths are a relative minority compared to the friendly ones; in fact, you can even make slith characters for your party.
Zigzagged in the Pokémon series. The snake species of Pokemon, Seviper and Arbok, are both less than pleasant, based on their Pokedex descriptions. They're also commonly used by the villains in the games. However, you can also catch and train them for yourself. Notably, there are also a variety of other reptilian species of Pokemon, which can be used either by you or your opponents.
In Terinu. The Galapados are gene-gineered reptile warriors designed to match humans for sheer agression.
Eerie Cuties has twin lizard boy bullies. And a nice girl Brooke Lynn who as a Melusine is sometimes considered scary by other students. She uses this intentionally on said bullies, but is mostly shy about it.
Played straight in Goblins by Takn, a sadistic kobold.
Played with in Prophecy Of The Circle: since the main story is told from the perspective of the (mammalian) tikedi race, their rival race of tekk is generally pictured as menacing, murderous beasts. But the tekk are as sapient as the tikedi, and the tikedi themselves are regularly organizing hunts for tekk. Furthermore, some of the chapters follow tekk characters showing them in a more sympathetic light.
The Global Guardians PBEM Universe has not one, not two, not three, but four serpent-themed villain groups: the Serpent Society, the Viper Squad, the Venom Brotherhood, and finally the Cthonians, an ancient race of Snake People who predate humanity and want to bring back the rule of the Old Ones.
TV Tropes refers to a certain type of villain as a Smug Snake. Not even this very wiki is immune to this trope!
Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars concerns an interplanetary war between the Toads and various mammalian species. In one episode, a guy named Al Negator tries to get a job on Bucky's ship. As he's a shifty-looking reptile, the crew is generally suspicious. But Captain Bucky O'Hare hires him on anyway, making a big point of mentioning how he trusted the gunner Deadeye Duck, despite him being a pirate with somewhat questionable morals (and a duck). So it looks like a "beauty is on the inside" or "different doesn't mean bad" kind of Aesop... until Al betrays them, steals classified info, and sabotages the ship! So is the message "if they look evil, they are evil"?
Usually played straight in Class of the Titans, except for the God of Harmony, who is a giant pink snake.
Played straight in the TaleSpin two-parter episode For Whom the Bell Klangs: the reptile Klang is trying to find a legendary superweapon and Take Over the World. To make him even more abhorrent, he is revealed to be, not a crocodile/alligator as he appears, but a giant snake. Shocking, considering that the rest of the population of the world are bipedal, anthropomorphic animals.
Anthro alligator Leatherhead is a villain in the first cartoon; all other versions of the canon play him much more sympathetically, but he does tend to have a nasty temper control problem that can make him a threat even to his friends.
And obviously, TMNT makes exceptions for certain "cute" reptiles, given the nature of its titular characters. Reptilian anthros are mostly good guys. The cartoon is a bit shakier about this as noted above. Then again, Leatherhead the alligator may be more a case of Carnivores Are Mean; not to get too graphic but a turtle's shell doesn't work so well against those jaws...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Two fused villains use a time scepter to transport the turtles in separate time periods for revenge. Leonardo is dropped in Miyamoto Usagi's universe and is attacked by two animal riders because of this trope. Leonardo himself invokes this trope when battling the ruthless Daimyo, Lord Hebi, a giant snake: "It's guys like you that give us honorable reptiles a bad name!"
Krang, disembodied warlord from Dimension X used to follow this trope, as shown in the first series episode "Invasion of the Krangezoids"; when Krang clones himself, his clones soon start to grow their own bodies, showing that Krang's species is that of some kind of dinosaur-like alien.
One episode of Justice League had The Flash attempt to stop the Heart of Darkness, a purple crystal that enclosed the vengeful spirits of an evil ancient race of snake people called the Ophidians who attempted to destroy humanity by possessing anyone who touched it. Also counts as Dark Is Evil as the Ophidians worshiped the moon and preferred the night over the light, which transfers over to the spirits' possession being broken through intense light and main attempt to destroy humanity by destroying the sun. Any herpetologist will tell you that since snakes are cold-blooded, they need warm environments to increase their metabolism as they can't regulate their own body heat. Cold environments like the sunless night would make them more sluggish.
Averted a lot in the Ben 10 franchise as a whole, as many of the alien forms Ben can assume (XLR8, Humongousaur, Terraspin and Chamalien being the most notable examples). Plus, the other reptilian aliens or characters who show up rarely are evil: Helen Wheel (who is half XLR8's species) is a heroine, Galapagus (who provided the sample for Terraspin) is a Nice Guy and Technical Pacifist, and the guy whose Chamalien's sample comes from was an Anti-Villain who attempted Suicide by Cop. The only real evil reptilian characters so far in the franchise were Serpent and Adwaita, the latter being clearly implied to be a maniac in an otherwise peaceful specie.
Discussed in one episode of Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness where one of the villains was a cobra named Fu-xi who was once a noble and brave warrior that defended others with his skills and fear-inducing venom. However, when he and his kind are persecuted by others out of fear and paranoia, he becomes hateful towards all "two-leggers" and tries to convince Viper (after saving her from some paranoid villagers who also attacked her for being a snake} to ally with him so they could take their revenge by infecting the valley with his enhanced venom and leave all non-snake kind in perpetual terror. Playing the Fake Defector, Viper leads Fu-xi along, pretending to be his apprentice until she is able to locate the venom and stop his plans from taking fruition. Afterwards, the once fearful village accepts her and treat her as a hero.