Sure it Tastes Like Diabetes
. But wait, what's that aftertaste? Cyanide
Put simply: character behavior which looks or sounds sweet but is just as hurtful and cruel as a direct attack — perhaps more.
Characters such as Magnificent Bastard
, Devil in Plain Sight
, Enfant Terrible
, Deliberately Cute Child
, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
, and some Alpha Bitches
are all likely to pull off acts of Sugary Malice. A Wounded Gazelle Gambit
is in itself merely malicious, but the fake victim can make it sugary by for example gently "forgiving" the "abuser". As you might guess, Passive-Aggressive Kombat
is a very
A character who is Obliviously Evil
, Totalitarian Utilitarian
, Principles Zealot
, Well-Intentioned Extremist
or similar might also pull off this kind of behaviour — sometimes without even realizing that his actions are in fact malicious. Such characters might cheerfully murder innocents, figuring that they have a good reason for doing it — maybe that the good outweighs the bad
or even that their victims are better off dead
. Or they might play Black Comedy Rape
or Romanticized Abuse
in some misguided belief that it is okay... maybe inspired by a Marital Rape License
or a Scary Amoral Religion
. However, in any case, the characters must understand that their actions are abuse or murder or whatever it is they are doing, and still actively choose to do it, otherwise it's Obliviously Evil
, not Sugary Malice
Very likely to fall into Love to Hate
territory. Compare Faux Affably Evil
Anime and Manga
- In Sangatsu no Lion, Kyoko is telling the stories of Rei's upcoming opponents as if she actually cares. However, her real intent is to lead Rei to his downfall out of her own interests.
- From Oniisama e..., we have Fukiko. Holy CRAP, Fukiko. She is incredibly good at saying something in the sweetest voice and then totally turn it around: a great example is how, in the anime, she invites Aya to the Sorority club house, greets her politely... and then gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and bans her permanently from there.
- In God Bless America the big difference between Chloe and Roxy is that Chloe is open about being a jerk, while Roxy is sweet and sort of polite about her utterly depraved psychopathy. Especially when she's trying to sweettalk Frank into murdering people more or less at random.
- Never Let Me Go:
- Ruth has a bit of this, fueled by her fear of being left alone.
- Far worse, however, is the polite kindness that the system shows its victims while pushing them down into despair and death.
- The Camp Chippewah counselors in Addams Family Values actually seem to enjoy tormenting Wednesday, Pugsley, and the other "weird" kids like this. It's extra disturbing given that, from their perspective, their victims are Acceptable Targets. After all, the Addams kids (and the other outcasts) CHOOSE to be weird and not fit the mold of normal! (Yes, that apparently includes people born with funny names, that have a disability, or that are simply different ethnicities. They really should try harder to just fit in with the good, properly white and preppy kids!)
- In the film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge embodies sweetness and gentleness as a thin veneer over a sadistic desire for control — much like in the book. However, Imelda Staunton's Umbridge is a slightly different character — in the book, either Harry or the narrator finds Umbridge repulsive from the get-go, while in the film, Umbridge seems significantly more likeable and, well, grandmotherly. She's still terrible, but now more credible as someone who would rise to a high government office.
- In Dragon Bones, high king Jakoven, when talking to Garranon, about the first time they met manages to put a facade of pity and affection over a "I know where your family lives" threat. It makes it all even creepier.
- James H. Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon short story "Novice". Telzey's Aunt Halet cloaked her malicious intent behind a pleasant façade.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge tortures students — but she's very polite about it, in a grandmotherly way. And just look at all those cute little kittens!
- Two short Goosebumps stories veer into this territory. The first, "Please Don't Feed The Bears," is about a girl who gets dragged to a cutesy teddy bear theme park until she realizes that the workers actually are living teddy bears and try to turn her into one as well. The second, "A Holly Jolly Holiday," is about an evil video tape that turns people into the diabetes inducing Christmas-themed heroine Susie Snowflake.
- The Just William stories by Richmal Crompton had William's archenemy Hubert Lane who oozed a kind of offensive, oily, condesceding politeness.
- Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice is constantly delivering condescending put-downs and backhanded compliments drenched in a sugary, faux-pleasant tone. She uses it mainly on Jane Bennet, who is too genuinely sweet and naive to pick up on it, but she will also use it on Elizabeth Bennet (whom she otherwise displays less regard for) if the situation means she can't get away with more obvious nastiness. Elizabeth, who is a lot savvier than her sister, isn't fooled for a second.
- The Hunger Games: Effie Trinket's character in the first novel. She'd undergone some Character Development by the second one.
- Vidia from Disney Fairies has a Verbal Tic of referring to everyone terms like "darling" and "dear" despite being the meanest fairy.
- Everybody Loves Raymond. Marie often made insulting comments to Debra while pretending to give friendly advice...though Debra increasingly began employing it as well. However, when it came to her interactions with Ray, Debra delivered the malice sugar-free.
- In the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Gazebo in the Maze Affair", the villain's wife, Edith Partridge, initially appears to be a sweet, if not-entirely-there, old lady who is oblivious to her husband's evil. It soon becomes apparent that she's pulling many of the strings, and she tortures the heroes — and gives her husband instructions on how to torture them "properly" — without ever changing her sweet manner.
- Anna in the V (2009) remake is pretty much the poster child for this. So sweet and innocent. And of course she is of peace, always. Even when she incites civil unrest, has people tortured to death and generally plots the destruction of mankind. Especially when she does those things.
- Something of a signature move from Emily Gilmore. The first time Luke is over for dinner, he points out that he felt insulted all evening, even though Emily never actually said anything rude.
Luke: What is this feeling in my chest? This overwhelming rage mixed with weakness?
Lorelai: You've been Gilmore'd.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Near every thing Kai Winn says is in the gentlest way, but wrapped up in such smug, contemptuous and holier-than-thou attitude it's clear just how little she thinks of everyone around her. And sometimes even the "sugar" gets left out.
- In Person of Interest Root often comes across like this. Amy Acker has such a naturally sweet disposition that one forgets that the character is a murderous psychopath at times. She keeps up this disposition even as she is threatening someone with a hot iron or in a shootout with government agents.
- On Shadowhunters, when Isabelle lends Clary a rather low-cut dress to wear at a party, her comment to Clary has some of this:
You're lucky to have such a flat chest. I could never wear that without a bra!
- Two and a Half Men: Rose appears to be such a sweet well put together woman until she starts gluing Charlie's testicles to his thigh and murders him when she catches him cheating on her on their honeymoon.
- Fargo: Mike Milligan in Season 2 definitely qualifies. He never raises his voice and always seems to talk to people with a polite tone. However, he's still a vicious enforcer for the Kansas City Mafia and won't hesitate to kill those who get in his way.
- Arsenic and Old Lace centers on a certain pair of sweet old ladies who are inviting gentlemen over to drink homemade wine and then poisoning them. However, this is not done out of malice, but out of genuine mental illness much like one of their sons believes he is Teddy Roosevelt. Subverted with another one of their sons, who was a malicious murderer.
- In The King of Fighters XIII, the best example is Mature. She speaks softly and in a borderline flirty way to her upcoming rivals, and it's almost immediately followed by a very aggressive quip about her wanting to see them bathed in blood after she kills them.