The Master

The Master: I like it when you use my name.
The Doctor: You chose it... psychiatrist's field day.

Beware of any character whose name is simply "The Master." They're often in charge of things (duh) but most often these things include a reclusive mansion in the middle of nowhere, or a castle, or a laboratory, or all three! If they don't rule in the periphery of civilization like an old-school noble, they may rule right under our noses in civilized society. Whatever they're up to, expect them to have a big mustache, a great dining hall, and any number of Evil Plans.

Note that characters who have a name to go with "Master" are exempted from this—for example, Master So-and-So who teaches martial arts. Often a student will simply refer to their teacher as "Master," but that's also an exemption.

See also Names to Run Away from Really Fast, Spell My Name with a "The", Just the First Citizen.

Authority Equals Asskicking is usually in effect.

Not to be confused with the Paul Thomas Anderson film, or with the TV show Master Ninja (also known simply as The Master)


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Code Geass: Lelouch has a theme called "THE MASTER" for his most ominous, overlordly, badass scenes.
  • Maison Ikkoku: The bartender at the ChaChaMaru is known as "Master." Suppose this may double as Everyone Calls Him Barkeep, but he DOES fit with the big mustache and the great dining hall. As for evil plans, well, he has a crush on his boozy redhead slacker alcoholic waitress and eventually marries her, so he's got that going for him. "Master" is actually what Japanese people call bartenders in general; you can see it in a few other series, like Kimagure Orange Road.
  • Inachika Akitani from The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer tends to end his introductions with "Also known as, The Master."
  • Caesar Clown of One Piece bears the nickname "Master" (also written in English in the original Japanese edition), often just shortened to "M". He's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Mad Scientist that you just Love to Hate...

    Comic Books 

    Computer Science 
  • The Master Theorem, for deducting the computation time of divide-and-conquer algorithms.


  • The Master and Margarita: One of the eponymous characters from M. Bulgakov's novel — though this Master is not a villain, but one of the most good and kind-hearted characters in the book. He was a writer, but after his book was banned, he went out of his mind, and started to call himself "the Master" (an important note: in Russian "master" means not "lord", but something like "maestro"). He was actually given the name by his lover (that would be Margarita) who was devoted to him and his novel. His real name is never revealed, but it's implied that his skill is so great that Master is the more fitting name anyway.
    • Despite not being a villain, he's still pretty scary in his own way, when you consider that the devil himself comes to Earth just to find him, and he seems to be channeling the consciousness of a biblical figure who's been dead for 2,000 years...
  • In The Master of the World by Jules Verne, the titular character is the inventor/pilot of the speedboat/submarine/automobile/aircraft called "The Terror" (it was 1904, folks).
  • One of the titles of Gerridon from the Chronicles of the Kencyrath is "The Master of Knorth", usually shortened to just "the Master".
  • The villain from Garth Nix's story "Hope Chest" is called The Master. He's a Hitler-like character in an alternate America.
  • A "stale beer with a martini olive" Spy Fiction series by William Garner featured a British intelligence chief who was referred to and occasionally addressed only as the Master. The main character had been one of his agents before the series began, and sometimes wound up reluctantly working for him again.
  • The Strain has an ancient evil vampire simply called The Master.
    • That's revealed to be a pseudonym, and his true name is Sariel/Ozaryel, and implicitly he's the Angel of Death.
  • The race of aliens in The Tripods are called the Masters. Guess what they're like.
  • Superman: Last Son of Krypton pits the Man of Steel, and Lex Luthor, against a tyrant named The Master, who is determined to wrest the rule of the entire galaxy away from the Guardians of Oa.
  • The Master of Laketown in The Hobbit, though he's by no means an evil mastermind; more of a cowardly Obstructive Bureaucrat.
  • Subverted in Marc Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: the tittle yankee was styled The Boss by the whole Britain.
  • In The Sisters Grimm, the leader of the Scarlet Hand and Big Bad gets the title The Master.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The recurring villain and the Doctor's Evil Counterpart, THE MASTER! Going by this name so amused the Master that even when he went incognito he often chose a paper-thin-disguise alias based on its sound or meaning (Mister Magister, Professor Thascales, Col. Masters, Missy, etc.). On the rare occasions anyone's asked what he's the master of, his response has been that he's "the master of all matter" or simply "The Master of All." By the same token, the Doctor is "a doctor of many things" or "The Doctor of Everything" plus a couple of less-used versions referring to time-travel. It's been suggested that the Master's name comes from his degree at the Time Lord Academy. Bear in mind that a master's degree is just one step below a doctorate—this might explain the enmity between the Doctor and the Master! In "A Good Man Goes to War" it's hinted that the word 'doctor' (which means 'person of knowledge' or 'healer') comes from the Doctor himself. So it would be fitting for the word 'Master' (which means 'controller' and 'man of knowledge') to come from him as well.
    • On at least three occasions in the Second Doctor's run, the Doctor is told that "The Master" wants to see him (on one occasion it's the Great Intelligence, on another it's the Master of the Land of Fiction, and on the other it's Professor Maxtible). In each case he reacts with alarm. Since the Master proper hadn't been invented then, his misgivings can only be down to his knowledge of this trope (in-universe, in the character's debut story, "Terror of the Autons", a Time Lord informs that the Doctor that the Master has taken to referring to himself by that title; though the Doctor knew the character before this, he is apparently unaware of the change in his moniker). After the Master proper had already been established, the Fifth Doctor, while playing cricket, was informed he played as well as "the Master", and got progressively more nervous until the other man clarified that he was talking about "the other Doctor" — W. G. Grace.
    • Other Doctor Who Masters:
      • The Master is a pseudonym that the Great Intelligence is going by in "The Abominable Snowman".
      • "The Master of the Land of Fiction" from The Mind Robber, who was usually called the Master for short. He wasn't a villain, though. However, he was controlled by a computer called the MASTER Brain.
  • The season 1 villain for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a vampire ancient enough to have outgrown human features, who wanted to open the Hellmouth and bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Occasionally, fanfics will make both Masters the same guy, with the explanation that the Doctor Who villain gave vampirism a shot in his pursuit of immortality. Sadly, there appears to be no team-ups or fights between the two because they would be too confusing (although theoretically, the confusion could be averted by referring to the Doctor Who Master by one of many aliases like "Harold Saxon").
    • He shows up again in Season 8.
  • The Master is the name of the Sealed Evil in a Can of Power Rangers Mystic Force.
  • The Master of Lonsdale College in the Inspector Morse episode "Death is Now My Neighbour" is a very nasty piece of work.
  • In Midsomer Murders, Death in Disguise the Master is actually a very nice guy who wants to look after people and help them.
  • Aversion: Even though Lee Van Cleef was "The Bad", his titular character in the TV series The Master (a.k.a. Master Ninja to MST3K fans) was a good guy.
  • In Bones the Serial Killer Gormogon apparently preferred to be called The Master, though admittedly the only people who did so were his apprentices.
  • In Legend of the Seeker, the male confessor son of Darken Rahl in the final episode of season 1 was referred to as The Master.
    • This seems to be a side effect of confessor powers, as female confessors are usually referred to as "Mistress" by those they've confessed.
  • On Red Dwarf, the Master is the title given to the monster from Terrorform. It's revealed to be a representation of Rimmer's self-loathing, and attempts to torture him with a hot poker.

  • In the world of the metal band GWAR, "The Master" is a giant pair of buttocks.
  • The Rammstein song "Der Meister" (The Master) is about the apocalypse.

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    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Fansadox #37 has the titular psycho tattooed on his back the word 'Master' in Japanese (or so he says), and he likes (read: forces girls he rapes) to be called this. This becomes a plot point when the girls escape, they find the sheriff and demand the supposed rapist-slash-sadist show his back. Turns out he wasn't the psycho, but the sheriff himself. Prime example of Bondage Is Bad.
  • In Dark Dream Chronicle, Slendy is referred to as "the Master" except by a few Rebels.
  • Averted entirely by the Magistra of Hilarious In Hindsight Suburban Senshi. (The Magistra being the feminine Latin word for Master) This was brought up exactly once in RP where someone compared her name to that of the Master and the fact that she is a Time Lady. It was quickly pointed out that the Master was male and dead and that her name came from Magistra Magi (despite not being one) because she was the first spell casting time lord and wanted to reference that. (Which match previous and later statements made by her player)

    Western Animation 
  • In Road Rovers, The Rovers' boss is called The Master, but he was originally known as Professor William F. Shepherd.

    Real Life 
  • Subverted by the not-at-all evil and thoroughly fabulous NoŽl Coward, nicknamed "The Master."
  • The Enigma machine theft involved "an unnamed buyer in India, referred to as 'The Master.'"
  • Josef Stalin was referred to by his underlings (but not to his face) as Vozhd. This translates roughly to boss, chief, or master.
  • Anyone who claims to be a member of the "Master Race" is clearly worth keeping an eye on.