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The Evil Prince

"A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair."

Aristocrats Are Evil. Ambition Is Evil too. So what could be worse than ambitious royalty?

Evil Prince Bob knows he's the stuff of which great kings are made. Unfortunately, while he is in line for the throne, there are a lot of lesser men in front of him. If only Prince Bob could...persuade them to get out of the way, then nothing would stand between him and the glorious reign he knows he is destined to have.

Usually the Evil Prince is not high in the line of succession, and his scheming arises from the fact that he won't inherit under current circumstances. But sometimes he is the eldest son and heir, and his only reason for giving his father a push into immortality is that he's too impatient to wait.

A common subtrope is to have the Evil Prince as the younger brother to the king, who tends to be his polar opposite. This usually means the king is too good-hearted to see his brother's true nature, with bad results for the children of the king once he is gone (Evil Princes tend to make Evil Uncles).

For some reason there are very few Evil Princesses. One explanation is that, perhaps because of the very strong influence of Fairy Tale (and Disney) heroines, princesses are good characters (though queens may be evil). Another explanation is that royal daughters are usually not in the line of succession and have nothing to gain by disposing of their rivals. The rare princess who does ascend to the throne in this way will invariably be an utter tyrant as a queen.

This trope is rooted in an underlying belief that certain persons are or are not meant to rule, particularly when the monarch is understood to hold the throne by the will of some higher power. King Bob, by circumventing the rightful sequence of succession, is an illegitimate ruler — he wasn't meant to have the throne — and thus he and his rule will be bad. The irony is that legitimate rulers are not automatically good: the firstborn son may be a Royal Brat; the King who believes he is descended from the gods may become a tyrant. On the other hand, the law of succession is a better system for determining the ruler than combat and/or murder — and a man who would literally kill for the throne is unlikely to rule with kindness.

This is at least Older Than Print, stretching back to Mordred and seen as recently as Stardust.

See also Aristocrats Are Evil, The Baroness, Evil Uncle, and Evil Chancellor. If an Evil Prince already has the throne and is trying to keep the rightful heirs off of it, see Regent for Life. Regardless of how thorough they are in killing off rivals, there's usually a Hidden Backup Prince with better credentials.

Contrast with Sheltered Aristocrat, The Wise Prince and Knight in Shining Armor.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next steps down are The Good Chancellor, Evil Chancellor, Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. The next steps up are The Caligula, The Good King, God Save Us from the Queen!, The High Queen, She Is the King, and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • From Dragon Ball Z, we have Vegeta, who is nicknamed the Dark Prince, specifically after his Face-Heel Turn.
    • He played the trope more straight during his first confrontation with Goku.
  • Tsukuyomi from Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara Dream Saga refuses to allow Amaterasu to awaken because her current incarnation, his sister, would quash his pollution-and-repression-happy regime in an instant. Actually, she'd do a lot more than that.
  • Most all of the princes in Code Geass are manipulative mass murderers raised by the Holy Britannian Empire's Darwinistic ideals to scheme and fight against each other for the throne... with the exception of the mellow 1st Prince Odysseus, AKA Prince Valium. Schneizel is the prince that tries to overthrow his father and take the throne. Lelouch is the one that succeeds, though he did it for revenge rather than the throne. And to save the world, but that's besides the point. And he did take the throne afterwards, but that was completely unrelated.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam has Prince Gihren Zabi, who acts as the Evil Chancellor and The Starscream to his father, Sovereign Degwin Sodo Zabi. Cutting his father off from all genuine power, Gihren takes the reins of the state, before finally annihilating Degwin with a Wave Motion Gun when the latter hopes to make peace with The Federation.
    • Gihren's sister Kycilia is one of the rare Evil Princesses in fiction. A ruthless military commander who acts as The Starscream to Gihren, Kycilia and her brother go back and forth on the coup d'etat attempts before she finally blows him away in revenge for her father.
  • Ukyo from Samurai 7 kills the emperor, who he is a clone of in order to inherit the throne sooner, although it's implied he is the last remaining clone of the Emperor (who is hooked up to a life support system), so he probably wouldn't have had to wait that long. He also caused his adoptive father's demotion in order to take his place.
    • He wasn't the last possible heir. He found some of the others and made them act as body doubles. He was the only one to ever be publicly acknowledged as heir instead of being executed as unsuitable, however.
  • Almost everyone in Adarushan no Hanayome assumes main character Alexid to be one of these. He's called the "Black Demon" for his apparent savagery in battle, he consistently wears dark clothing, and his mother was a commoner. Even his mentor, who raised him, believed Alexid harbored resentment towards his older brother the king and harbored ambitions to take the throne. This culminated in his mentor trying to kill him. The truth is the complete opposite. Alexid truly loves his brother and is actually terrified by the prospect of taking over the throne since he doesn't have the same knack for ruling a country.
  • The Five Star Stories has FEMC GL IIII Amaterasu dis Greens OOE Ikaruga, better known as Sarion. While he's a pretty minor character, he still fits this trope as a glove. Ax-Crazy? Check. Made himself an orphan just For the Evulz? Check. Gleefully permitted his underlings to rape and pillage their own nation during his rebellion? Check. Rebelled after his royal cousin the protagonist commuted his death sentence (due to aforementioned orphaning) to life imprisonment because a lowly fatima was made a princess and placed higher than him in a succession? A tick mark the size of a Float Temple.
    • And for the kicker he's still one of AKD's premiere knights, commanding a sizable detachment of the Royal Guard, First Easter Mirage Corps Green Left Wing, consisting of heroic sociopaths just like him. In fact, his current princely title was given him after that story with the rebellion. He's just that useful.
  • Xanxus of Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. Subverted because he's adopted so he couldn't be the next boss of the Vongola after all. And also Belphegor. His brother Rasiel is supposed to be the next king. Belphegor killed him because of this. In the Future Arc Rasiel shows up alive and reveals that he is just as evil, that he was also planning to assassinate Belphegor and that they tried their plans on the same day.
  • Crown Prince Sincline from Golion, whom himself is a halfbread spawn of a human and whatever creature Daibazaal is.
  • Rare Female Example: Joei from The Twelve Kingdoms, younger sister to the deceased Queen Joukaku and aspirant to the Kei throne, who tries to usurp it from the rightful heir Youko.
  • Dilandau sits on a throne in a scene or two in Escaflowne, but he is not actually a prince. He is a noble, being Allen's sister and all, but he doesn't know that.
  • Believed to be the case in-universe in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. The Valerians fear that their (supposedly) evil twin princes will usurp the throne someday, and this is implied to be part of the reason that said twins are "punished" as horribly as they are.

    Comicbooks 
  • It's explained in his Back Story that Darkseid was second in line for the throne of Apokolips behind his older brother. With help from Desaad, he killed his older brother and usurped both the Omega Force and the role of crown prince.
    • Likewise Marvel's Thanos, whom is an Expy of Darkseid, was the eldest son to the planet Titan's leader and was banished for his crimes. Years later he would return to devastate Titan and rule it with an iron fist until he was defeated by Earth's heroes during his first encounter with the cosmic cube.
  • Aquaman's half-brother Orm (alias Ocean Master), who is constantly out to usurp his place as King of Atlantis.
  • Mickey Mouse and the World to Come has Nikolai of Illustania, who took charge of the kingdom when his father became old and ill and decided to ruin the pristine landscape with industry as well as assist international criminal the Rhyming Man in a scheme to change the face of the globe.
  • Bron from Scion began this way before killing his father and becoming king himself.
  • According to two 1940s comic stories, Queen Grimhilde had one of these for a brother.
  • In Teen Titans, Blackfire is first in line to inherit the position as Queen, but the fact that she was born without the superpowers that are common on her planet make her seem weak, so her younger sister Starfire becomes first in line. This does not sit well with Blackfire, who then sells her into slavery to get rid of her.
  • The Yellow Bastard from Sin City fits this trope and then some. As the son of a sadistic United States Senator and heir to the most powerful (and evil) family in Basin City, Roark Junior has carte blanche to do whatever the hell he feels like with impunity — including preying on children.
  • The Fantastic Four found out to their horror that Prince Zorba, the hereditary ruler of Latveria they restored to the throne after deposing Doctor Doom, was this when Von Doom showed them the tyrannical devastation he was inflicting on the country. In cooperation with Doom, the Four helped depose Zorba, but were forced to leave Doom in power.
  • Comicbook/Loki is prince by adoption of Asgard and technically prince by birth of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. He has enough clout with the Frost Giants to at least use them as Mooks from time to time and regularly schemes to overthrow his adopted father Odin, take over Asgard and kill his foster brother The Mighty Thor somewhere along the way.
  • Like Loki, Vulcan from the X-Men books is a common-born brought into a royal family. Instead of being adopted, as Loki was, Vulcan exploits a loophole on Shi'ar law to marry into the Shi'ar royal family through marriage to Deathbird. He wastes no time in wasting his new father-in-law and taking his crown.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Prince Yu from Curse of the Golden Flower.
  • Prince Leopold from The Illusionist, who is based on Prince Rudolph of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Prince Rudolph committed a murder-suicide in his hunting lodge; his body was found with a number of bullets in it indicating that there was a palace cover-up and that The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much. Given that, after his death, Franz Ferdinand became heir, things might have turned out better had Rudolph gained the throne.
  • Louis Mazzini, (eventually) Duke of Chalfont, the cheerfully amoral 'hero' of Kind Hearts and Coronets.
  • Commodus, from Gladiator, though he had something of an excuse—his father, rather than passing on emperorship to him, as had become commonplace (at least in the world of the movie—in Imperial Rome, it was relatively common for an Emperor to choose an adoptive heir as opposed to a blood one; look at Julius, Augustus and Marcus Aurelius himself), was going to give it to Maximus, who in turn was going to use it to put power back into the hands of the Senate and restore the Republic.
  • RoboCop (1987) makes a modern-day Evil Prince out of the Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Lord Rathbone from Shanghai Knights.
  • The Madness Of King George portrays George III's son, The Prince of Wales, in this manner. Whether or not it's Truth in Television is debatable.
  • Prince Nuada in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He has the sympathetic aspect of fighting for his realm's survival, but his tactics are so extreme that everybody argues against him.
  • Prince Nizam from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time although he's never called by this title, since the audience could confuse him with the good guy.
  • Stardust has a bunch of evil princes; most notably Septimus.
  • Subverted in Thor. Loki shows all signs of being the evil prince, who wants his brother and father out of the way so that he can have the throne except for one thing..... he doesn't want the throne. He never intended for Thor to be banished to Earth or for Odin to fall into the Odinsleep, but they did and the throne just dropped into his hands.
    Loki: I never wanted the throne! I only ever wanted to be your equal!
    • Played much straighter in Thor: The Dark World, where Loki disposes of Odin through unknown means and impersonates him in order to usurp the throne.
  • Otwani in Sheena. He is a modern example as the film is set in then present day Africa. He has his brother Jabalani assassinated so he can become king.
  • Prince Humperdink from The Princess Bride.
  • Prince Einon from Dragonheart grows up to be an evil tyrant. It pains his mentor, Bowen, but he must finally accept, that despite his teachings, the kid was always a rotten little punk.

    Literature 
  • Wang Sau-Leian in Chung Kuo has to wait for his father and three older brothers to die before ascending the throne - but why wait?
  • Tortall Universe
    • While technically a duke, Roger from Song of the Lioness enacts numerous Evil Plans to get rid of his young cousin so that Roger can be first in line to the throne again. He tries everything from Mystical Plague to Animal Assassin to a Reality Changing Miniature. And when he comes back from the not-quite-dead, he's a straight-up Omnicidal Maniac.
    • Extremely rare female example in Daughter of the Lioness; Princess Imajane, the regent for the three-year-old king, arranges to send a magical storm to kill his majesty and become queen. Her husband doesn't object, but he's mostly following her lead. Surprisingly, it works. For a while.
    • A minor example in Provost's Dog. Prince Baird is a Jerkass and willing participant in the plot against his brother, but he's really a pawn of Lord Halleburn and wouldn't have come up with the idea on his own.
  • Prince John, from the most widely accepted modern version of the Robin Hood stories (and, according to some, in Real Life, although the latter has been hotly contested among reputable historians on both sides). (Please see the Discussion Page for further details.)
  • Several of these in the Deryni works:
    • Prince Festil Furstán of Torenth was a younger son who didn't like being landless, so he gathered other landless younger sons, borrowed some troops from his father and conquered neighbouring Gwynedd in 822.
    • Then-Prince Wencit Furstán deposed his nephew King Aldred (with the help of Aldred's wife Charissa of Tolan) and took the throne of Furstán for himself.
    • Prince Conall Blaine Cluim Uthyr Haldane is the eldest son of Prince Nigel Haldane and terminally jealous of his cousin King Kelson and Kelson's foster brother Dhugal, Earl of Transha. He takes secret instruction in using the Haldane powers, which are only supposed to wielded by the reigning monarch. He puts merasha in Dhugal's flask while traveling on a quest for Camber's relics. He seduces the woman Kelson wants to marry. He attacks his father and leaves him in an arcane coma. He ultimately challenges his cousin to a duel arcane at his treason trial. By the way, his second name was also that of a Festillic king; coincidence? Maybe not.
    • Mahael and Teymuraz Furstán are this (as well as being evil uncles) to Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride. One or both of them are widely suspected of suspected of disposing of Liam's elder brother Alroy previously.
  • All the princes in Stardust (except possibly Primus), but especially Prince Septimus. Moreover, their father was himself an example of The Evil Prince made good, as were a number of other monarchs before him (it was a family tradition). Primus, while clearly ambitious, appears not to be evil (to stop Septimus, Primus bribes a soothsayer to lead his brother on a wild goose chase; to stop Primus, Septimus tries to poison him).
    • In the book, each of the three princes that survive their father (including Primus) had killed one of their brothers; Septimus had killed two. Before the book ends, Septimus had killed a third and was quite peeved that someone had Primus killed first as he now had to avenge his dead brother instead of kill him.
      • In the book, the father is quite peeved at the inadequacy of this generation: his father had been, properly, down to one son by the time of his death. He says as much in the movie as well and helps arrange for Septimus to off another one before he dies.
  • C. S. Lewis's Narnia: Prince Rabadash in The Horse and his Boy; Miraz from Prince Caspian killed his brother, stole the throne, and plotted to kill his nephew as soon as his own son and heir was born.
  • In Tolkien's The Silmarillion we have Ar-Pharazôn, last King of Númenor, who usurped the throne by the less usual method of marrying the rightful heiress and then forcibly reducing her role to that of his consort. There's also the example of Maeglin, the nephew of King Turgon of Gondolin, who betrays the city to Morgoth partially to gain rulership over it, but mostly because he wants to marry his cousin. That she already has a husband and son doesn't stop him — he just plans to off them first.
  • Although based on Macbeth, given that he's the brother of the king he murders, Duke Felmet of the Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters likely counts.
    • This also seems to be played with in the novel Men at Arms where the evil aristocrats try to place Captain Carrot (the legitimate heir) on the throne with Edward d'Eath and other members of the Assassins' Guild as Poisonous Friends.
    • The Duke of Sto Helit in Mort. Cousin to King Olerve of Sto Lat, he's gone from fifth to second in line before he appears, and becomes next in line shortly afterwards. Described in the Discworld Companion as "quite capable of killing all who stood between himself and the throne, or even between himself and the drinks cabinet."
  • Several Princes vying for Oberon's throne in The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. Describing the exact intentions of the Nine would spoil most of the intrigue, but be prepared that some "evil" guys will be redeemed and some "good" ones will reveal themselves evil to the core.
  • The novel The Prisoner of Zenda has an interesting example in the character of Black Michael, who plots to capture and kill his half-brother, the legitimate heir and take the throne for himself. Uniquely, he is much more popular than their true heir, suggested to be their father's favorite and doesn't come across as that evil outside of this plan.
  • Prince Serg of Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor was sufficiently nasty that his father was forced to kill him rather than let him succeed to the throne.
    • A subplot in A Civil Campaign deals with this on a lesser scale. Richars Vorrutyer had done everything up to and including possible murder to insure his cousin Count Pierre died without issue and left him the heir apparent. He thought Pierre's younger sister Donna using an old rule to secure a three month stay on his confirmation and heading offplanet before the late Count was in the ground was of no consequence...and was rather put out when Pierre's younger brother Dono returned to Barrayar to claim said seat by right of blood.
    • Toyed with in the unrelated novel The Curse of Chalion. A bare bones description of Royse Teidez slaughtering the sacred menagerie that was keeping the worst effects of the titular curse on Roya Orico's health at bay would seem to fit this trope perfectly, but the boy honestly thought he was eliminating the uncanny source of his older half-brother's illness. The Evil Chancellor's Even More Evil brother, who put Teidez up to it, apparently knew better and was probably trying to supplant his elder brother by replacing the chancellor's puppet monarch with his own. But he dies before his plan can come to fruition.
  • Kalide from The Legendsong Saga. He’s particularly annoyed given that a) his brother is mad and b) the position of Holder (or mermod) is assigned by the soulweavers not inherited anyway. Coralyn's plots revolve mainly around bypassing these obstacles to put her preferred (and controllable) son on the throne.
  • Conphas, the crown prince of the Nansur Empire in Second Apocalypse, is like that.
  • Prince Regal, from Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy fits this quite well. He's born the third son of the king. After Fitz appears and Prince Chivalry (the eldest) steps down, he bides his time for a while before sending Verity (the middle Prince) off on a suicidal mission (and sends some Mooks to make sure he doesn't return), and finally offs the king right after being confirmed as the King-in-Waiting.
  • The Prelude to Dune novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson ( if one acknowledges that they exist) have two examples:
    1. Shaddam Corrino IV poisons his father, Elrood IX, to get the throne.
    2. Glossu "Beast" Rabban kills his father Abulurd. Abulurd tells him: "You couldn't kill your own father. You are not such a beast." Glossu kills him and responds: "From now on you may call me Beast."
    • In the original Dune novel, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is one part this to two parts Bastard Understudy.
  • Prince Lycheas, Bastard Bastard cousin of Queen Ehlana in the David Eddings Elenium trilogy, assumes the throne as Prince Regent while Ehlana is magically incapacitated. He's little more than a puppet of Sinister Minister Annias though, who is himself being jerked around by Martel and Azash.
    • And in the Malloreon, it's revealed how the succession works in Ctholl Murgos: The eldest surviving prince is the heir, and his first royal act is to order the execution of all others. So, all princes are evil, and only the most clever one wins. For example, The Drasnian bastard child.
      • This was actually the rule in the Real Life Ottoman Empire, and was fine with the populace for several generations until the early death of a sultan resulted in the execution of several child princes. This was a bit much for Turkish sensibilities and after that reign sultans locked their brothers up instead. This proved convenient when the current ruler succumbed without providing an heir.
  • Redwall has both Evil Princes and Evil Princesses. In Mossflower Tsarmina Greeneyes usurps the throne from her brother (displaying ultimate ignorance of point #3 in the Evil Overlord List), and in Marlfox various members of the seven offspring of the titular villainous royal family are constantly attempting to backstab their siblings and mother. Then there's Kurda, another female example, and her brother Bladd in Triss, Pitru in High Rhulain, Klitch in Salamandastron and possibly Veil in The Outcast Of Redwall... though his father, Swartt, is a lord not a king.
  • One for the Morning Glory Part of the backstory. The kingdom of Overhill was independent because a king had sent his brother packing to an unsettled corner of the kingdom, and he had declared it an independent kingdom.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, part of Salvandor Sondar's Back Story; he killed his uncle to gain his place and still resents how much his uncle was loved.
  • Dagnarus of the The Sovereign Stone trilogy was second in line for the throne. He didn't hate his father or try to take the throne away from him, but he did both for his elder brother, Helmos.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, when the Space Marine Priad is told that a queen was murdered, his immediate suspect is the new king. The Inquisitor, who told him, tells him that he is no detective.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Luc apparently thought he was going to be the king of Andor, despite it only ever having Queens. Luckily, he mysteriously disappeared before this could happen.
    • This kind of succession seems to be standard in Seanchan. The Empress's children are expected to contend with each other, so only the fittest can inherit the throne. It's not clear whether the Empress herself is a target from this.
  • Prince Xizor from the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project qualifies. Whether "Prince" might just be the title given to him for being the head of Black Sun, he sits at the Emperor's feet and has a bitter rivalry with Darth Vader for Palpatine's favor.
    • Xizor was a prince to the Falleen, his own race, however the majority of his race, including his family, were accidentally killed by Vader. He secretly planned to murder the Emperor and Vader, though he suspected, and it was confirmed, that Palpatine was well aware of this and kept him around since he was useful and he felt that any of Xizor's plans would fail.
  • Prince Robert, the king's brother in "Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone", who kills his sister -for whom he has a creepy attraction- in order to lure his brother into a trap. In which he gets killed, but manages to reappear as undead by a fluke
  • Forgotten Realms: A Red Wizardess of Thay once magically disguised herself as the queen and seduced Azoun IV, evidently intending to give birth to this trope and seize the throne of Cormyr in a Succession Crisis. Subverted when her agents found out that Azoun had sown so many wild oats as a young man, their Evil Prince would have to get in line behind hundreds of older byblows.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • In the first trilogy, Prince Ancar of Hardorn arranged for his father's murder so that he could become king sooner. He went on to be a sadistic bastard, who tortured people for fun, drove his own country into ruin and then invaded his neighbors.
    • When Prince Thanel of Rethwellan finds out that he can't be crowned king of Valdemar without first being Chosen to become a Herald (which requires being a genuinely nice person), he tries to murder his wife, Queen Selenay, so he can become Regent for their daughter Elspeth.
  • Ranger's Apprentice - Halt is the older of a set of twins. His brother drove him from their native kingdom to take the throne for himself.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, evil and arrogant Viserys Targaryen fits this trope, if only because he believes himself the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms and behaves very much like one, despite not having a kingdom and being actively disliked by most if not all people who come into contact with him.
    • Joffrey Baratheon...isn't this. Yes, he's evil, and yes, he's a prince, but he wants Robert's approval. Though he's fairly dismissive of Robert after his death. By that point though, Joffrey's an evil king.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Prince Edmund, from the first series of Blackadder, tries very hard to be one but fails because he's so pathetically spineless. Prince Ludwig the Indestructible from the second series is also fairly comic, being a master of disguise with a silly accent and a long list of psychological problems. Oddly enough, he's a successful example. Arguably, the Blackadder of the third series would also count in so far as he ends up taking the place of George IV and presumably living out the rest of his life under that identity.
  • Lanny from Pair Of Kings; presumably a prince, because he was to have been king before Boomer and Brady came along.
  • Princess Eleanor of the short-lived British drama The Palace is an ultra rare female example. Within the (fictional, and unnamed) British Royal Family depicted on the show she is the older sister of the new King, Richard IV. She doesn't stooped to violence, but she clearly has no qualms about forcing her brother to abdicate through scandal and political crisis.
  • An episode of Space: 1999 had aliens kidnap Maya to extract her brain cells for their leader's bid for immortality. The prince was less than pleased about this, so he helped foil the king's plan before trying to become immortal himself.
  • That most luscious of Evil Princes Dirk Blackpool of the short lived Wizards And Warriors.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Horus, most favored son of the Emperor. Also the one responsible for plunging humanity into a galaxy-wide dark age run by an extreme Church Militant.
  • Being a classic Feudal Future setting, BattleTech naturally has its share of examples. The most obvious one in recent times would be another evil princess — Katherine Steiner-Davion, who first arranged for the assassination of her mother after her father had already died of a heart attack and then manipulated her way into taking over her parents' former entire realm while her elder brother was busy trying to deal with the Clan threat.
    • In the Dark Age Caleb Hasek-Sandoval-Davion, killed his father the First Prince Harrison Davion when he said he wouldn't be the heir of the throne, and immediately takes the title of First Prince of the Federated Suns. Its doesn't help that he is also a violent schizophrenic.

    Theater 
  • Many, many characters in William Shakespeare, but Claudius (Hamlet), Macbeth (Macbeth) and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard III) are the three most prominent. Don John from Much Ado About Nothing might count as well, although he's more interested in messing with the life of his brother than taking power (during the play — he's said to have rebelled before the play). About half of the examples in other media come from works that are, to a greater or lesser extent, based on these villains.
  • In Pippin, the title character rebels against his kingly father and kills him. He's not portrayed as evil, though his step-mother, who assists him in his rebellion, is; he just has misguided (not to mention anachronistic) notions of what a good king ought to do.

    Videogames 
  • Prince Luca Blight from Suikoden II fits this trope to a T. He is probably more evil than all of the other princes listed here combined. Yet he notably lacks one of the most common traits - he didn't kill his father. While he may eventually have wound up killing his dad, he certainly didn't seem to have any immediate plans to do so. All Luca did was slaughter the equivalent of his country's version of the Boyscouts/Army Cadets wholesale as an excuse to restart a pointless war, sadistically abused and murdered hordes of peasants along with a couple of major characters, traumatised a little girl into becoming the game's resident Cute Mute and generally acted like a complete Khorne-wannabe. It was Jowy, one of the game's protagonists, that had been planning to murder the king and usurp the throne from practically the beginning of the main plot proper - and succeeded. It adds another interesting dimension, though, that Luca knew about the plot from the beginning and was coaxing Jowy along (he knew Jowy drank some Antitoxin before poisoning himself for the blood-exchanging ritual with the king). That could've been a test of character and loyalty he gave Jowy.
  • The sociopathic villains of both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII, Seymour and Vayne both qualify (although they aren't exactly princes, they still are the inheritants of enormous power). Vayne even goes so far as to systematically assassinate his older siblings in the backstory. The implication was that they may have invoked this trope themselves as it's indicated Vayne demonstrated both his loyalty and ruthlessness by disposing of them when they sought to claim the throne. As an interesting twist with the trope being downplayed: it's heavily implied that all of Vayne's actions are aiming for Larsa, his younger brother, to inherit the throne, so that Larsa (and Archadia) are free from the Occuria and can control their own destiny. The goal he accomplishes. Whether he meant it to happen the way it did is still debated by fans.
  • Morgan Fey from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Destined to become village leader and usurped by her far more talented sister, she has plotted to kill every other member of her family and frame the rest for the murder, just so she or her daughter can become the new Master.
  • Ashnard from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Unusual in that he was only distantly related to the previous king; a lot of people had to die for him to take the throne.
    • Radiant Dawn explicitly shows him cutting down the king, although that was to break the curse Ashnard setup to kill everyone else before it killed him.
    • Continuing the tradition, Ashnard's long-lost son (who would probably be just as evil himself were it not for the Morality Pet and Victorious Childhood Friend aspect) has a direct hand in his defeat and death at the end of the game. Averted in that said son was part of the Good Guys and had no knowledge of being a part of a royal lineage at all.
  • Arthas of Warcraft fame. Even though he had lost his soul at the point when he stabbed his own father, he showed a great deal of evil and selfish tendencies throughout the campaign before.
    • To clarify, he is shown to be a genuinely good and noble prince (a Paladin no less), but then a little something called The Scourge ravages the kingdom. Over the course of his hunt for the Scourge leader Mal'ganis, he gradually develops Well-Intentioned Extremist Knight Templar tendencies, to the point that by the end he is willing to do just about anything if it means saving his people from undeath. He decides to accomplish that by wielding Frostmourne, an Empathic Weapon forged by the Lich King himself. In an ironic twist of fate, Arthas is the one who ends up leading the Scourge against his own former people, and does eventually become king... of the undead.
    King Terenas: What are you doing, my son?
  • Crusader Kings, by Paradox Interactive, encourages this type of behaviour, by virtue of the fact that you can inherit another kingdom.
  • Fable has this in Lady Grey, the Mayor of Bowerstone, who locked her sister in the Grey House basement and starved her to death in order to become Mayor. This actually forms a subplot in the expansion pack, The Lost Chapters.
  • The 'not so good' Prince Archibald in Heroes of Might and Magic II, who ascends to the throne through a series of ridiculous accidents.
    • In an interesting variation, none of those accidents hit his actual competitor for the throne; rather, they hit the ones responsible for deciding between the two.
  • Celdic in Tales of Graces. He kills his brother (the king) and repeatedly tries to kill his nephew, the next in line for the throne, though the whole thing backfires.
  • Cesare Borgia, Captain-General of the Papal Armies, is the de facto Prince to his father, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, having taken that spot by having his brother murdered and using his armies to conquer Italy, while privately conspiring towards sidelining his father. This doesn't succeed though, as the Assassin Order intends to push them both out, and the eventual regicide actually accelerates his own downfall.
    • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Sehzade Ahmet fills this role, trying to kidnap his nephew, depose his father, and in the long run, take away the people's freedom. His brother, Selim, isn't exactly a good person either,
  • Bhelen of Dragon Age: Origins arranges to have his older brother Trian killed and his other sibling (the PC, if they've chosen the Dwarf Noble Origin) blamed for the murder and exiled to the Deep Roads. He is also implied to have poisoned his father, blackmails half of the nobles into choosing him, uses false evidence to discredit his opponent (who was his father's choice for heir), and attempts to launch a coup if his bid for the throne fails. Interestingly, picking him as king is better for the dwarves in the short run as Bhelen imposes social reforms and opens Orzammar to human trade, which with some help from Ferelden leads to the darkspawn being pushed far back and several lost Thaigs recovered. He eventually dissolves the Deadly Decadent Court altogether and rules as a tyrant with support from the lower classes.
  • Morgeilen aka The Father from the King's Quest II Fan Remake.
  • Minor character Captain Juno of the Turtle Clan in Guild Wars is one of those rare female examples. She (allegedly) killed her own father to gain leadership of the Clan. She's not an outright evil character. In fact we learn most of this through quests involving her daughter, the Ritualist hero Xandra, from the Eye of the North expansion.
  • Subverted with Laharl from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. He wants to be the Evil Prince, but he's not quite as worthy of the "evil" descriptor as he wants to be.
  • One of the many people trying to murder you in Long Live the Queen is doing so in order to move up the order of succession. Of course, she's not actually out for the throne directly, but to put her husband and daughter onto the throne while she rules from the shadows.
  • Knights and Merchants plays with this trope regarding its Big Bad. While he displays most of traits, he actually is the heir to the trone; he actually goes as far as declaring war on his father.
  • Prince Cort from Legend of Legaia is the primary antagonist of said game. He gets possessed by a Rogue and his ambitions turn toward evil from there.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Princess Hilda is revealed to be the Big Bad, with Yuga merely serving as The Dragon. Subverted in the end, as she was only trying to restore her land after its own version of the Triforce had been destroyed, leaving it on the brink of doom. Ultimately, she never meant any harm in her actions. The same, however, could not be said of Yuga.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamers Alliance, Prince Geraden, the cousin of the current King Gerard Aurelac de Maar Sul, was kidnapped as a baby and ended up corrupted into an amoral, power-hungry warrior. He sees his younger cousin as a weak, easily manipulative fool who has in his view robbed him of his rightful throne and that it is his destiny to turn Maar Sul into a powerful, feared kingdom which it once was. Emira Adela al-Saif ends up killing her twin sister Razia in order to become the Sultana of Vanna.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , Prince Zuko subverts this trope entirely as even before his Dark and Troubled Past is revealed it is clear that he is loyal to a fault towards his father the Evil Overlord. It is only after two and a half seasons of Character Development, IOW when he makes a Heel-Face Turn and become the Sixth Ranger/The Atoner, that he seeks Ozai's overthrow.
    • Played straight with the current Fire Lord, Ozai, who killed his father (or had his wife kill him) and then usurped his older brother Iroh as heir. However, also averted, in that Ozai's daughter Princess Azula, is not only one of few Evil Princesses, she consistently proves herself loyal to her father at significant risk to her life and cheerfully passes up golden opportunities to usurp him. Whether she was acting out of actual affection, habitual/conditioned obedience, or simple disinterest in taking the throne herself yet is a matter of debate among fans.
      • At show's end, it is plain that Azula loves her father as much as her screwed-up mind is capable of loving anyone. Not only that, she gets the one reward every Bastard Understudy wants, the crown. She was to be crowned Fire Lord Azula, until Zuko came back to dish out some destiny-cooked justice on her. She could have had it all if her best friends betraying her didn't seriously shake her. However, the title and position of Fire Lord was summarily reduced to something between a hollow gesture and a bad joke by her father assuming the position of Phoenix King and going forth to remove the Earth Kingdom from the map and Azula knew it.
  • On Young Justice, Count Vertigo is this, despite having a different title. He attempts to steal the donor heart intended for his niece, the ten-year-old Queen Perdita, to gain the throne of Vlatava.
  • Randall becomes this in the Recess episode "Prince Randall"
  • Tritannus in Winx Club is one of the twin sons of King Neptune. He considers himself a far better candidate to be king than his brother Nereus. He's also a complete psycho and attempts to assassinate Nereus when Nereus is being named crown prince.
  • In Adventure Time the Fire King usurped the throne by killing his brother. His reaction when his nephews reminded him of this...
    Fire King: Oh yeah.
  • In Total Drama, Mal, Mike's evil alternate personality, fits this trope to the letter. He even has an evil spire!
    Manitoba Smith: Behold, the tower of Mal!
  • The Hair Bear Bunch audition for the roles of the bears in a filming of "Goldilocks And The Three Bears." The film's uppity star, Twinkles Sunshine, rewrites it to include an evil prince, a role that zookeeper Peevly winds up getting.


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alternative title(s): Evil Prince; The Evil Princess
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