The Master: I like it when you use my name.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), or the similarly named trope Old Master.
The Doctor: You chose it... Psychiatrist's field day.
The Doctor: You chose it... Psychiatrist's field day.
open/close all folders
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...
- Averted in Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru - the Master of the citadel doesn't actually appear, as they're supposed to represent the player of the game on which the series is based, but they love all of the Sword Warriors dearly. The master does things for them like buy them books and sew swimsuits for them, and when their master gets sick, the Sword Warriors all worry and do things like make soup, and go out to find a special herb to make medicine from. It's all very hanamaru.
- The Alpha Flight villain later known as the Master of the World.
- Not the exact name, but The Leader has pretty much the same vibe.
- In the Batman Elseworlds story "The Master of the Future", a turn-of-the-century Batman battled the so-called "Master", Alexandre LeRoi(very likely inspired by the Jules Verne example in Literature below), who attempted to destroy the Gotham City World's Fair Exposition from his airship, via a solar cannon composed of an array of lenses that concentrated sunlight into a cohesive beam.
- In the late 1980s revival of The Shadow, the Shadow's agents frequently referred to him by this title.
- The Master Theorem, for deducting the computation time of divide-and-conquer algorithms.
Film — Animated
- The Brave Little Toaster: The owner of the titular character.
Film — Live-Action
- In Knocked Up, Martin can only get out of the dirty man challenge by explicitly referring to Jason as The Master.
- Barry Gordy's The Last Dragon: Sho'Nuff, The Shogun of Harlem insisted everyone call him "The Master".
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: A character called Master was one half of MasterBlaster in the film. He was played by Angelo Rossitto, co-founder of the Little People Society of America and star of Freaks.
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate: Th E mAsTeR wOuLd NoT aPpRoVe BeInG oVeRlOoKeD fRoM tHiS lIsT. nO, tHe MaStEr WoUlD nOt ApPrOve.
- The Master is about the rise of a Church of Happyology-style cult leader.
- TRON gives us a digital example in the Master Control Program (MCP).
- One of the titles of Gerridon from the Chronicles of the Kencyrath is "The Master of Knorth", usually shortened to just "the Master".
- Subverted in Marc Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: the title Yankee was styled The Boss by the British.
- 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 Master of Laketown in The Hobbit, though he's by no means an evil mastermind; more of a cowardly Obstructive Bureaucrat.
- The villain from Garth Nix's story "Hope Chest" is called the Master. He's a Hitler-like character in an alternate America.
- 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).
- In The Sisters Grimm, the leader of the Scarlet Hand and Big Bad gets the title "The Master".
- 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.
- 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 race of aliens in The Tripods are called the Masters. Guess what they're like.
- The Black Master, one of the earlier novellas in The Shadow Magazine, sometimes referred to the eponymous criminal mastermind as "The Master" before settling on "The Black Master".
Live Action TV
- In Bones the Serial Killer Gormogon apparently preferred to be called "The Master", though admittedly the only people who did so were his apprentices.
- 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.
- Doctor Who:
- The series' longest recurring solo villain and the Doctor's Evil Counterpart — who actively chose the title just as the Doctor did theirs, which tells you rather a lot about them as a person,
- Going by this name so amused the Master that even while incognito, they 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 they're the master of, the answer tends to be "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 their 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 Master's debut story, "Terror of the Autons", a Time Lord informs 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 of Lonsdale College in the Inspector Morse episode "Death is Now My Neighbour" is a very nasty piece of work.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Master is the name of the Sealed Evil in a Can of Power Rangers Mystic Force.
- 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.
- The main antagonist in The Strain is known as The Master.
- The Master (formerly Richard Grey) from Fallout.
- Paper Mario: The Bonus Boss and most powerful enemy in the original game, the head of a martial arts dojo, is known simply as The Master.
- Porky/Pokey from the MOTHER franchise likes to identify himself with the prefix of "Master".
- In Mega Man ZX Advent "Master" is given as the title to the members of the Sage Trinity. Two out of the three are evil.
- Megaman Legends 2 has "The Master", the last true human being there is, with everyone else in the world being robots or clones or robot clones. He's actually very benevolent. Unfortunately, he's also already dead, and most of his direct creations are much less benevolent than he was.
- In Assassin's Creed I, the leader of the assassins is named Al Mualim, literally 'The Master'. Turns out at the end of the game that he was just using you to give him undisputed control of the Piece of Eden, an ancient artifact capable of brainwashing the world.
- ActRaiser subverts convention. You are the Master and you're not at all evil.
- That is, in the Western version. In the Japanese version, the Master is known as God. Considering that you play as a powerful benevolent being watching human settlements from the skies to help them grow and protect them from evil, assisted by a little cherub angel, the name change isn't fooling anyone. Makes one wonder if the translators chose the term because it's a Nintendo-censorship-friendly synonym for "The Lord".
- From Battle Arena Toshinden 2 there's the Master who doesn't spell her name with a "the".
- The Master in Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon is a a Jerkass Old Master and also the game's Big Bad.
- The villain from Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles is known as simply "The Master".
- Ditto for Heart of Darkness.
- Street Fighter has a half example. In Japan the villain is named Vega. However, in america, he got a more famous name: Master Bison.
- And from another Capcom game we got Grandmaster Meioh, commonly simply referred to as The Grandmaster. Of note is that "Meioh" isn't his name but is simply another title meaning "Dark King" or "Lord of Darkness".
- The Master Hand from the Super Smash Bros. series. And, as of the Wii U and 3DS versions, Master Core.
- The Master is a major boss in Tales of Maj'Eyal.
- The Element Dolls refer to the Player Character as this in DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou.
- Kingdom Hearts χ introduces to the Kingdom Hearts franchise a character called "The Master of Masters," with no other name. Amongst his powers is the ability to see the future, which he uses to unknown ends. To clarify, he saw the Keyblade War coming, and not only did nothing to stop it, but he practically encouraged it to happen through his apprentices.
- The NES game Bionic Commando featured Master-D, leader of the now defunct BADDS, a villain born as a result of Executive Meddling. Before Nintendo censored it, he was Adolf Hitler, brought back from the dead by The Empire to help them finish a superweapon. Master-D probably felt at home, as The Empire was clearly Putting on the Reich. Fortunately, the player will have a chance to make Hit...Master-D's head explode in a very graphic scene for the SNES.
- Charby the Vampirate: The cruel and sadistic necromancer that brought back Mye and Hex as his zombie slaves was only known to them and referred to by them as The Master. His true name remains unknown but he is also known as the "Bear Witch".
- In Girl Genius The Master of Paris is an over two-hundred year old powerful spark who instills dread in most of the other players in the political sphere of Europa and can control everything including the very bricks in his city to use as weapons against his opponents or those who would defy him.
- In Dark Dream Chronicle, Slendy is referred to as "the Master" except by a few Rebels.
- 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.
- Averted entirely by the Magistra of 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.)
- In Road Rovers, The Rovers' boss is called The Master, but he was originally known as Professor William F. Shepherd.
- 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.