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Straight Edge Evil
"Whether you like it or not you are all part of my crusade! And I will fill the void with straight edge!"

A sister trope or sub-trope of Pure Is Not Good, this is when a villain lives a temperate and orderly lifestyle, free of drugs, tobacco, alcohol, illicit sex and other such vices. Such a villain will probably be Lawful Evil and keep to a schedule, complete with moderate exercise. Maybe you can trip them up by exploiting their dependence on a schedule, but that's a maybe. You're dealing with someone who truly understands moderation, and happens to be evil.

This could be a conscious choice, to keep their mind clear and free from distraction and addiction; it could also just be their natural temperament (making them a good contrast to a Hot-Blooded hero or any passionate protagonist).

Often a trait of a Knight Templar. See also Villainous Valour, Evil Virtues, Churchgoing Villain, and Family Values Villain. Compare Smug Straight Edge and Even Evil Has Standards.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and manga 

    Comic books 
  • Depending on the Writer: The Joker. Though not Lawful Evil by any means, he generally just doesn't care about things like drugs or drinking, and occasionally considers sex (or romance in general) a distraction.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac hates drugs and sex. He HATES them.
    Johnny: "[When I tried to tell her I wasn't going to rape her] I said 'lady, I wouldn't rape you with a ten foot pole.' But now that I think about it, if I had to do it... I'd use that pole."

    Film 
  • Thunderball: Vargas, The Dragon of Big Bad Emilio Largo.
    Largo: Vargas does not drink. Does not smoke. Does not make love. What does Vargas do?
  • Frank Lucas in American Gangster refuses to live the ostentatious lifestyle of his peers. Justified, in that this helps him avoid police attention. In fact, the one time when he lives up to the gangster stereotype, wearing a flashy fur coat that his wife got him, ultimately leads to Ritchie noticing him and his subsequent downfall.
  • Doyle Lonegan from The Sting. Either celibate or Ambiguously Gay, a sober country-club-member banking gentleman whose only vice is poker ...and he cheats. Also, his real money comes from his numbers racket, and he won't hesitate to murder anyone who cons him out of a single payment from a single runner on a single day of it.
  • Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter, he usually kills the women he finds sexually attractive
  • Dr. Raymond Cocteau from Demolition Man. As the mastermind for the city of San Angeles, he has placed bans on the consumption of sugar, meat, smoking, physical sex (without a license), and even swearing. The only person at complete odds with him is Edgar Friendly. Even Simon Phoenix, the Ax-Crazy psychotic criminal Cocteau tries to manipulate into murdering Friendly, gets irritated by Cocteau's beliefs, describing him as "an evil Mr. Rogers.".
  • Angela of Sleepaway Camp becomes this by the second film in the series, as a result of failed attempts to cure "her" after "she" went on a rampage due to being bullied at camp. It has to do with "her" learning to hate "bad campers", but somehow not realising that the worst kind of camper is one who murders the other campers....
  • Zigzagged in American History X. While Derek initially dislikes drugs for their association with minorities and his self-righteous belief that drug use is somehow beneath the dignity of his race, it's his dislike of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang for its (perceived) hypocrisy and involvement with drugs that starts him on the path to his Heel-Face Turn.
    • Amusingly, while real Nazis heavily restricted smoking and other vices, the military infamously handed amphetamines out like candy (to the point where the drug's most common euphemism was "Tanker's Chocolate") during World War II and Hitler himself was frequently doped up to his eyeballs on meth and other drugs courtesy of his candyman physician.
      • During this time, it generally wasn't known how bad amphetamines were. Keep in mind, people were just then learning that cigerettes were unhealthy. And Hitler didn't use drugs for recreational purposes, they were medically perscribed to him. A far better example of a drug-friendly Nazi would be Hermann Goering, who was once perscribed morphine to treat an injury, but then kept using it for recreation until the end of his life.
  • Demonstrated through the criminal trio in the 1992 thriller One False Move. In one of their hideouts Ray and Fantasia make out while snorting coke stolen from gangsters the trio recently murdered. The third robber, Pluto, just watches them in silent disgust.
  • In Conspiracy, Nazi official Eichmann is a very composed man who doesn't indulge in the foods or cigars prepared for the attendants at the villa and is reluctant to drink on duty until Heydrich orders him to.

    Literature 
  • Most mystery stories have this; the villain would be fairly obvious otherwise.
  • Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. For that matter, the corruption in the ministry (which Umbridge embodies) can be considered this, when they put order and peace over good and justice.
  • Mal'akh of The Lost Symbol overcame a lifetime of drugs and debauchery with the intent of making himself the perfect sacrifice to complete a ritual that he believes will turn him into a god.
  • Several Dean Koontz villains fit this to a T, the better to conceal their true monstrous nature and seem normal and orderly to the world. When darkness falls and the possibility of being caught is null, however, all bets are off for what they will do.
    • The sadistic and arbitrary serial killer in Dean Koontz's Intensity always keeps his word, has a well-ordered and scrubbed clean house, and even paid for his purchases made at a gas-station after killing the attendant...because he is a killer, not a thief.
  • Vorbis from Small Gods. An ascetic religious man who truly believes in his holy war. Vetinari may also be an example, though he's a benevolent dictator rather than a straight villain. (Benevolent in the sense of the Inquisition, mind.)
  • Ian Mc Donald's The Broken Land had a villain who drank lots of herbal tea.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse Of Chalion, libertine Dondo dy Jironal sets out to become influential with Teidez, the heir to the throne, via alcohol, carousing, and so on. When Dondo dies, his brother Martou, the Big Bad, has some trouble dealing with Teidez, due in part to Martou's Straight Edge tendencies.
  • Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock. He's revolted by sex and the idea of opening himself up to another person, and similarly scared of the loss of control involved with drugs and alcohol. Sharply contrasted with the drunken, Really Gets Around hedonist Ida Arnold.
  • San Khay of Matthew Swift, who lives a fiercely regimented lifestyle, exercises hard, always eats healthily, and never partakes in smoking or drugs.
  • Karla from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is said to have quite ascetic tastes, the only pleasure he indulges being his fondness for chain-smoking Camel cigarettes.
  • Ivy Starnes in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand liked this trope. Lampshaded by Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead.
  • Two primary villains in A Song of Ice and Fire stand out for this:
    • Roose Bolton has a serious obsession with staying healthy. He eats prunes to help his regularity and drinks hippocras (rather than wine or ale), which was thought at one time to be medicinal. He receives regular leechings, to the point he's sometimes called the Leech Lord. He's also a cold-blooded murderer, rapist, torturer and traitor.
    • Tywin Lannister is characterized by his cold perfection, which is part of why (besides the family's massive wealth) he's joked to shit gold. He's the totally ruthless patriarch of one of Westeros' most powerful families, and will do anything to protect the interests of his family/the realm. possibly subverted to an extent in that the circumstances of his death suggest he may have regularly visited prostitutes
  • General Sarov, the Renegade Russian villain from the third Alex Rider book, permits himself one vice - a small cup of coffee per day.
  • According to their founding document, The Way Of The Light, the Children of the Light in The Wheel of Time are supposed to be Straight Edge. Since they've long since become a military order, this is enforced on duty but many Whitecloaks are less devoted on their own time. They've also long since become dangerous Knights Templar who nominally serve the Light but usually are pretty despicable people one way or another.
  • The eponymous organization in COLD is religious criminal group that wants to get rid of the crime and drugs in the United States, but it also wants replace its current democratic government with their own fascist one.

    Live action TV 
  • Dexter, of, well, Dexter. Although the main reason he engages in clean living is due to the Code of Harry: It's his way of avoiding drawing attention to himself, his way of hiding in plain sight.
    • Trinity also qualifies, since he's not shown engaging in any "vices" other than domestic abuse and serial murder.
  • The Mayor from Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn't drink and gets extremely cross with people who swear (even if they are demons). He also gently turns down the advances from his Tyke Bomb, making her a surrogate daughter instead. His idea of fun time is going out for frozen yogurt. And he wants to kill the entire town to become an immortal snake demon.
  • Granny Goodness on Smallville. Makes for a sharp contrast with Desaad.
  • Gus on Breaking Bad is always well-mannered and professional, has a cordial relationship with local law enforcement, and owns a chain of chicken restaurants and the largest methamphetamine operation in the Southwest. He has no vices and seems to spend all the money earned from his criminal empire on nothing except growth of the business. He also expresses a particular disgust for junkies. Then later on it turns out his mission is to get revenge on the cartel that murdered his best friend (wrath) and humiliated him (pride). Instead of simply killing the man responsible for his friend's death, he has him suffer instead (sloth) and this eventually leads to Gus's death.
  • Servalan from Blake's 7 certainly has a taste for the finer things in life but has a horror of moral decadence and goes to great lengths to clean up the Wretched Hive of Freedom City.
  • Arnold Rothstein from Boardwalk Empire is a ruthless gangster who doesn't drink (he prefers milk) or smoke, and is faithful to his wife (or at least we don't see him cheat; he does not claim himself to be faithful, only discreet).
  • Roose Bolton, in Game of Thrones, refuses alcohol twice, saying that it "dulls the senses". Although he is not nearly as creepy in the show as in the books, it is still quite apparent that he's a cold-blooded monster, who advocates the flaying of prisoners, and who later goes on to betray his king, stabbing him in the heart at a wedding.

    Professional wrestling 
  • Notably, CM Punk won his third World Heavyweight Title this way (the first two were as a Face), and was announced, at his own insistence, as "The only straight-edged World Heavyweight Champion" in WWE. This was his gimmick in Ring of Honor as well, complete with saying that Straight-Edge makes him drug-free, alcohol-free and better than you, even feuding with wrestlers over their past drug issues, and his breakout moment in ROH lore was a promo against Raven revolving their... differences on intoxicants.note 
  • Triple H is a lesser known example. He's not as overt, and he is not Smug Straight Edge, he's just a self admitted evil man who happens to not do drugs (or at least, not anymore).
  • Pepper Parks and Cherry Bomb of CZW are an example by way of technicality, since they actually go much further than straight edge. Had CM Punk stuck around they likely would be trying to remove Pepsi from his life or calling him a fornicator for losing his virginity before marriage. Since Punk did not stick around they settled for Mountain Dew loving Kavorka Man Greg Excellent.

    Theatre 
  • Plays were somewhat disreputable during William Shakespeare's day, so the more "straight edge" citizens of England, particularly the Puritans, were outspoken critics and wanted them outlawed. For obvious reasons, Shakespeare hated these buzzkills and liked to make them villains.
    • Malvolio from Twelfth Night is a Puritan and hates all forms of fun. The heroes enjoy taunting him with their drinking, singing and revelry.
    • The "precise" (Jacobean for "puritanical") Angelo in Measure for Measure is another example; his first action as regent of Vienna is to resurrect a law that makes extramarital sex a capital offense, and when he issues a Scarpia Ultimatum to the sister of a man condemned under this law, it's because he finds her virtue a turn-on (she's a novice in a convent).
    • Shakespeare also invokes this trope in dialogue when he has the title character in Julius Caesar remark that he prefers "men...that are fat, / Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights," and that Cassius is clearly untrustworthy because he "loves no plays" and "hears no music."

    Video games 
  • This is the party line of Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas, which officially forbids alcohol, chems, and general "profligacy." Subverted in the case of the high-ranking Aurelius of Phoenix, whose office contains items like beer, lingerie, and "strange meat", though they they might be confiscated goods.
  • Andrew Ryan from BioShock, despite living in and forming a society based on rewriting one's DNA (and subsequently going insane), is not a Splicer and may have never used ADAM in his life. The same goes for Sofia Lamb of Bioshock 2. It seems the only Gene Tonic that Ryan possibly used was the one that makes people look younger.
  • In Fable II, there is both a Karma Meter for Good/Evil and Purity/Corruption. It is theoretically possible to be both Evil and Pure. Evil and Pure characters will resemble vampires with pale skin and red eyes. Their character type is the Fanatic and the townspeople will be afraid but attracted to you if you are evil/pure, and do fun things such as spout off a line about how 'you should just die', then immediately follow it up by asking you to marry them. In contrast, a good/corrupt character is liked by everyone, but has a harder time causing townsfolk to fall in love with them or take them seriously. The meter for Purity/Corruption thereof could be seen as a sliding scale of Lawful/Chaotic at the same time.

    Western animation 
  • Rikki Kixx is a straight-edge rocker in Metalocalypse. As it turns out, he is unable to indulge in alcohol or drugs for a variety of legal, professional and health reasons, and is promoting sobriety solely to deny people the joy that he himself can no longer feel.


Spikes of VillainyEvil TropesStart of Darkness
State SecVillainsStraw Hypocrite
Stop Worshipping MeAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Straight Gay
Straight EdgeThis Is Your Index on DrugsToad Licking
Soul Saving CrusaderThe Only Righteous Index of FanaticsStraw Feminist

alternative title(s): Villainous Clean Living
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