Tom the Dark Lord

"The Lord of all Evil: Tom."
RiffTrax on the Trope Namer

Generally played for laughs, Tom the Dark Lord is when a character that's evil doesn't have a particularly evil-sounding name. In fact, this could effectively be used as Nightmare Fuel if you have the character human. Tom the Dark Lord sometimes goes hand in hand with Embarrassing First Name, but not always. Bonus points if it manages to be meaningful or ironic. Contrast with Names to Run Away from Really Fast, which is about evil people with Obviously Evil names. See also Fluffy the Terrible, which is about vicious animals and beasts with cutesy names. Compare Special Person, Normal Name. Not to be confused with Ron the Death Eater, although that can lead to this in fan works.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Adam, known by his more feared nickname "the Millenium Earl" in D.Gray-Man.
  • One of the deadliest villains in Ranma ˝, a sadistic young man capable of transforming into a monster whose component parts include a yeti and an ox, had the unfortunate name of Pantyhose Taro. Getting that name changed is his primary motivation (his village's traditions prevent him from just doing it himself). While he feels that anything would be better, he fancies the name "Awesome Taro".
  • Many villains from Dragon Ball have funny Punny Names, mostly after food.
    • The American fans know the villain who destroyed Planet Vegeta as Frieza. It's not this trope, unless you know that's just his name in the English dub. In the Japanese dub, he's mainly known as "Freeza" or "Freezer" (the latter also in the German). It still sounds evil, but the meaning of his name is just laughable.
    • The strongest villain of the manga is Buu, named after the phrase Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. (Bibidi and Babidi are two related characters)
  • Attack on Titan has an infamous Serial Killer and Jack the Ripper Expy, that terrorized the capitol for years and slit the throats of over 100 members of the Military Police Brigade. The name of this fearsome monster, responsible for so much bloodshed? His name is Kenny. Though his title "Kenny the Ripper" is usually more effective in inspiring dread.
  • One Piece gives us one of Emperor Kaido's three top henchmen, the Calamities, a man so destructive his nickname is "The Drought" for how he destroys whole lands, and who has the highest bounty in the series so far at one billion berries. His name? Jack.
  • In Code Geass, the Big Bad of the show was The Emperor of Britannia. His name was never mentioned in the first season, but we had met plenty of his children, who had cool & exotic names, mostly derived from French, Latin, & German. Then the second season rolled around, and in the second episode, we finally found the Emperor's name: the very normal Charles.

    Comic Books 
  • In the original V for Vendetta comics, Adam Susan definitely counts.
  • Willy Pete, from Empowered. Until you find out that he goes by that name because it's another name for white phosphorus. If he's close enough to explain it to you, you're dead already no matter what he's saying, considering his whole body burns hotter than the sun, and he's one of the most terrifying and sadistic supervillains ever to blight the face of the earth.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has a few examples: Cedric, Thomas Vandom, Mark Zibosky, Jonathan Ludmoore, Edward Folkner, Tecla Ibsen, and Takeda (first name unknown). Justified for most of them, as they're humans from Earth and not trying to conquer the world ( Thomas Vandom and Mark Zibosky don't even know about magic, respectively being Will's father who is trying to make a quick buck and an extorsionist who got on the Guardians bad side), but Cedric is a Shapeshifting snake man, and Ludmoore comes from another world.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic comic's 6th issue, the leader of the Nightmare forces identifies himself as Shadowfright. This doesn't stop his subordinate from calling him by what's apparently his real name: Larry.
  • The Runaways once fought a vicious, evil vampire named Topher.
  • Spider-Man has fought several villains with normal sounding names. Norman Osborn and his son Harry, Eddie Brock, aka Venom, and Maxwell Dillon, aka Electro.
  • According to Superman in a comic set in the Batman Beyond universe, "Zod" is a common Kryptonian name, likening it to "Bob". Bruce Wayne retorted villains are villains, no matter what their names are.
  • Given its penchant for blacker than black humor, it's not surprising that Judge Dredd has a lot of these: A Zombie Apocalypse triggering undead necromancer named "Soppi Walters" (though he prefers "Sabbat the Necromagus"); a psychotic serial killer named "Philip Janet Maybe", and an undead demonic deathbringer who calls himself Judge Death but is in fact named Sidney.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog evil warlock Naugus turns out to be going by his last name. His first name is Walter, which wouldn't be too bad if not for the fact that the heroes and other villains also found out that his sister affectionately calls him Wally. Now everyone refers to him as Wally just because they know it pisses him off.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Francis from Deadpool. He's so ashamed of the name he changed it to Ajax and calling him Francis is one of Wade's preferred methods of annoying him.
  • The Agents in The Matrix have very generic names, including Agent Smith, the Big Bad of the series.
  • Freddy Krueger, a demon who can enter and kill people in their dreams, from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (which makes sense, given that he used to be human).
  • The Friday the 13th films (mostly) feature an undead killer named Jason Voorhees (though like Freddy above, he used to be human... probably).
  • Halloween, with Michael Myers.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, where the evil kung fu master changes his name from 'Master Pain' to 'Betty'.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights: "Mervin? Your name's 'Mervin?'"
  • Mr. Tinkles in Cats & Dogs.
  • Fright Night (1985) features a terrifying vampire named Jerry.
  • In Hocus Pocus, the names of the Sanderson Witches are Winifred, Mary, and Sarah.
  • In V for Vendetta, the Big Bad's surname was changed from "Susan" to "Sutler" to, among other reasons, avert this.
  • Kill Bill has Bill himself as the Big Bad.
  • The Sith from Star Wars have some very Obviously Evil names like "Maul", "Sidious", "Tyrannus", and "Vader". They take these names upon becoming Sith, and their original names aren't always quite as frightening. Darth Sideous and Darth Vader were originally named Sheev and Anakin respecively, which are relatively ordinary names for the Star Wars universe.
    • Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives its main Dark Side user the relatively innocuous name of Kylo Ren. His birth name, Ben Solo, is even more this trope.
  • The warlord that Max runs afoul of in Mad Max: Fury Road is called Immortan Joe and his real name is Joseph Moore (which is as about as common of a name as you can get). Doesn't stop him from being one of the most brutal and nastiest villains in the franchise (and that is saying something).
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The dreaded, immortal, lovelorn, tentacle-faced, murderous lord of the ocean's dead is named Davy Jones. In real-life mythology, the name's etymology is unknown- it may be a corruption of "the Devil Jonah", or derived from a Welsh sea god called Dewi. In-universe, it just happens to be his name. For another example, Davy's sadistic bo'sun is named Jimmy Legs. And the fourth movie brings in Blackbeard, real name Edward Teach.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Trope Namer is Voldemort, whose real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle. He hates his real name, because it sounds boring and it's his Muggle father's name, so Dumbledore naturally makes a point of always calling him Tom.
    • A few Death Eaters have normal-sounding names, like Peter Pettigrew (although everyone calls him "Wormtail"), Barty Crouch Jr., and Evan Rosier.
  • The trio of trolls in The Hobbit are named Bert, Bill, and Tom.
  • From Discworld: Dr. John Hix, Unseen University's head of totally-not-necromancy, whose real name is actually Hicks. However, he's not really a threat, as his acts of evil fall squarely into Poke the Poodle territory by university statute.
  • Randall Flagg from The Stand and The Dark Tower books by Stephen King. Even better, that's not even his real name. His real name is Walter Padick, and has been known as Walter o' Dim in the past. Real intimidating.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan has the evil Lord of the Vampaneze, revealed at the end of book 9 to be Steve Leonard. Justified in that book 1, where Steve first appears, was written and published before the rest of the series was planned, and also in that he is usually referred to as Steve Leopard, which is slightly more badass.
    • Desmond Tiny, often called Mr Tiny.
  • The Empire of the East contains a partial example: the Emperor of All the East is a rather ordinary-looking man named John. It's a partial example because his surname is the rather ominous-sounding "Ominor."
  • In Good Omens the eleven-year-old Anti Christ is named Adam. Although that is mostly because he managed to slip under the radar due to a little mixup - the kid whom the forces of Heaven and Hell thought was the Anti Christ ended up named "Warlock" thanks to some very persuasive satanic nuns.
    • The nun who named Adam was forced to invoke this troupe, since she was really trying to give him either a 'satanic' name or an American name (long story), but she was only giving suggestions to the father. After the father vetoed her original ideas, she then suggested Adam.
  • In E. E. "Doc" Smith's Triplanetary, the human characters are menaced by an Abusive Precursor who introduces himself as "Roger". That's not his real name (it's Gharlane), but still it's oddly funny to have the crew of the Boise stumble across him on a random planet and go "Oh Crap!, it's Roger!".
  • In Animorphs the second Yeerk who controls Jake's brother, and who turns out to be a dangerous Big Bad Wannabe in the final novels, is only ever referred to as "Tom," the name of his host.
    • Even more in line with this is Taylor, who actually prefers using her host's name (a sign that she and the real Taylor have an unusual relationship). Her title, at least when we first meet her, is Sub-Visser Fifty-one.
  • In Muddle Earth the villain, described as being the most evil man there ever was, is called Dr. Cuddles. He's also a pink teddy bear, which explains the name.
  • Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez has Tammy, the seventeen-year-old planning to unleash the Old Gods on the universe. She insists that her minion (she only has one) refer to her as "Mistress Lillith."
  • In the Twilight Illustrated Guide, Alistair's back story involves his father making a deal with the demon Asteroth. Ashteroth, however, was actually a vampire, not a demon, and his real name was George. He just likes to mess with people, apparently. Also, a lot of the villains have relatively normal names, like James, the Big Bad of the first novel.
  • In Lovely Assistant by Geoph Essex, there's the sinister man who Jenny calls the "Ice Cream Psycho" (for internal monologue reasons). Turns out his name is...Lawrence. There's also the leader of the racist skinheads who Jenny encounters in the park: Barry. Jenny mercilessly teases him about it once she gains the upper hand.
  • One of the gang leaders in Goldfinger has the name "Billy Ring". He's also got quite a nightmarish appearance. James Bond notes that "he had never seen anyone who was less of a 'Billy'."
  • The Adventures of Tom Rynosseros: The villainous characters, like Bolo May and Dewi Dammo, tend to have fairly innocuous names.
  • Septimus Heap has this several times. In the first book, The Hunter, a Scarily Competent Tracker who hunts fugitives and doesn't stop 'till they're dead, is named Gerald. He considers this an Embarrassing First Name and doesn't like people knowing about it.
    • The Big Bad of Darke is named Merrin Meredith.

    Live Action TV 
  • A minor villain from the third season of Lexx had the name Fifi. It's worth mentioning that this villain is male.
  • From the Buffyverse:
    • Angel and Spike, whose real names are respectively Liam and William.
    • Angel's sire forgot her real name a long time ago, but unlike Angel or Spike, the alias she currently uses isn't particularly intimidating: Darla.
    • Adam, the Big Bad of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fourth season, also counts.
    • There's also demon antagonist "Skip" in Angel.
  • John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis played this trope with the Wraith whether they wanted it or not, which gave us such villains (or in one case, an Anti-Villain) as Steve, Michael, Bob, Todd and Kenny.
  • BOB, also known as "Killer BOB", the demonic Big Bad of Twin Peaks.
  • Sherlock has Jim, perhaps better known by his (more intimidating) surname "Moriarty".
  • Another Holmes adaptation, Elementary, revealed Moriarty to be a woman named Jamie, who lived under the alias Irene Adler.
  • The Goodies. In "The Lost Island of Munga" the Goodies meet a Diabolical Mastermind of previous acquaintance.
    "Who am I? I [Dramatic Pause] am the Napoleon of Wickness. The Most Naughty Man in the World! Master of Disguises (Sussex University). Arch Rascal, Prince of Mischief. You many know me as... [henchman plays Ominous Pipe Organ] Nasty Person!"
  • Meg, Tom, and Ruby in Supernatural are the only demons shown that don't have demonic-sounding names. In Meg's case, at least, it's not her real name.
  • In Doctor Who the leader of the Zygon extremists, alien shapeshifters who wish to reveal themselves openly to the humans, is named Bonnie. Most of the extremists are from the Zygon generation born after they settled on Earth, explaining her ordinary human name.
  • Kilgrave from Jessica Jones has Kevin Thompson as his real name.
  • On Wynonna Earp, the leader of the revenants is a guy named Bobo.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Radio 
  • In Dial M For Pizza, a sinister fortune teller introduces himself to two hapless travellers:
    Fortune teller: Me? Why, they call me "Doctor Terror".
    Baz: How strange!
    Fortune teller: Especially as my real name is Ernie Thompson.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • The most significant villain in Final Fantasy X is named Seymour. The name's not treated as embarrassing in the story, it's not a completely plain name even if it is in use in real life, and it's not an ironically cute name. But it probably still fits this trope.
  • Fleming, Lord of the Demons from Shadows of the Damned.
  • Metroid: A giant, purple carnivorous space dragon who can shoot fire, fly through space and regenerate his body after incredible injuries. His name? Ridley. Probably a Shout-Out to Ridley Scott, as Alien was clearly an influence on the Metroid series.
  • In the Mass Effect series, The Illusive Man - the leader of the pro-human rogue paramilitary group Cerberus and part of the Big Bad Ensemble with Harbinger in Mass Effect 3 - never has his name revealed in-game. However, if you read the tie in comics, it's revealed that his name is actually Jack Harper. And his Fan Nickname is Tim.
  • Heroic example: Kirby's Epic Yarn has a Warrior Prince who goes along with Kirby to trounce all the monsters on the planet. His name? Prince Fluff.
  • A less heroic Kirby example is in Super Star, where the final boss is named Mark. While this fits in that he was just another harmless puffball until he manipulated his way to ultimate power, it's still a bit hard to take seriously, so the localization changed it to Marx. This has been carried to Kirby Mass Attack pinball mini game, which the official name translation for him is Marx even in Japanese version.
  • The final boss of Street Fighter IV is named Seth. Like Seymour above, it's a religious reference that sounds exotic in Japan, but to English speakers it just sounds silly (especially compared to "Akuma", "Sagat", or "M. Bison"). Helping somewhat is that it's also a reference to Promoted Fanboy Seth Killian.
  • Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2.
  • Dokapon Kingdom has Overlord Rico, but he fits right in with the ridiculous nature of the world.
  • Golden Sun:
    • The recurring evil mastermind of the series is named Alex. Like Seymour above, it's not really commented on, and it's justified in that he comes from Imil, where relatively plain Western names are the standard. More outlandish villains have more outlandish names, making Alex a distinct contrast.
    • Subverted in Dark Dawn when Alex uses the alias "Arcanus". Not only does it match the Tarot Theme Naming of his new allies, it also upstages them, fitting Alex's self-important personality and new powers. And returns to being played straight when he finally reveals his identity, to the shock of all present. Except for Kraden, who had figured it out already.
  • The pirate chief in Dungeon Raiders is called the "Giant Parrot Who Goes 'Qweek'!" Lampshaded when the main character commented "Yup, it's a stupid name, but don't let that fool you. He's very dangerous!" And again when he added that once he rescued his friends "After that, we'll see. But we could get together and decide to change the stupid names of the bosses."
  • A lot of Bosses in the Final Fight series have pretty average names, such as Abigail in the first game, Freddie and Philippe in the second, Dave and Drake in the third, and Hugo in Revenge.
  • Deus Ex has as its main enemy.... a guy called Bob.
  • The Pig King of MOTHER 3 makes Giygas look tame in comparison, orchestrating the horrific Chimera projects that turns peaceful animals into deranged cyborgs, conquering your hometown and corrupting the residents into greedy, selfish people, and ultimately deciding to destroy the world for laughs. King Porky also qualifies in the previous game he appeared in.
  • The Yoshi's Island series almost seems to be making a trend out of this for the boss names, with all the villains having names more suited to a school or workplace than the dark side. Some examples include Roger (the potted ghost), Raphael (the raven), Gilbert (the gooey boss in world 1), Hector, Sal and (in New Island) Fred.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas Caesar, the leader of the brutal slave army Caesar's Legion, self-proclaimed Son of Mars was born Edward Sallow, and the man even he was afraid of: the Malpais Legate, or the Burned Man was originally a Mormon named Joshua Graham.
  • The boss of the Holy MacGuffin Quest in Kingdom of Loathing is the mighty Ed the Undying. When asked about this he says that he was never big on fancy titles.
  • In the Pokémon games, the leader of the Nebulous Evil Organization usually has a cool name; Team Rocket has Giovanni, Team Galactic has Cyrus, Team Plasma has Ghetsis, and Team Flare has Lysandre. Team Magma and Team Aqua, however? Maxie and Archie, respectively.
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories a legendary Overlord is named Zenon. While it might sound impressive in Japanese or English it is a fairly common name in Polish.
  • Most of the villains in the Resident Evil games qualify: Albert Wesker, William Berkin, Alexia Ashford, Derek C. Simmons, Carla Radames, etc. All justified, however, on accounts that they were each ordinary business people (apart from Carla, who was actually created through cloning) prior to their mutations.

     Visual Novels 
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2 has a character claiming to be a demon lord of destruction. His name? Tanaka- one of the most common names in Japan, and essentially the equivalent of 'Dark Lord Bob'.
  • In ClockUp's Maggot Baits, the biggest, meanest, supernatural "witch" (yes, include the quotation marks) in the game...her name is Sandy. And her rude, hedonistic partner's name is Isabel. The rest of the "witches" names (either Heroic or True Neutral) are Carol, Gloria, Wilma, Alison, Carla, Edna, Irene, and Jane Doe. Well, all the witches are named after famous hurricanes because of their incredible destructive power, so they still are Meaningful Names.

    Web Comics 
  • From Looking for Group, there is a character whose titles include "Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead, King of the Dance, Mistress of Magma and mayor of a little (undead) village up the coast." The character's name? Richard. This is constantly mocked in the comic. The protagonist Cale is fond of referring to him as Dick just to get on his nerves.
  • El Goonish Shive gives us an alternate reality Evil Overlord version of one of the protagonists. All hail Lord Tedd! And then there's the maniac with a god complex, Damien.
  • In Sluggy Freelance we have "Chaz," an unstoppable sword also known as the Unholy Evil Death Bringer, forged in the most insidious of flame by the blacksmith known only as... Bob.
  • Exterminatus Now gives us the Conspirator, Greater Daemon of the Patterner...Kevin.
    Jamilla: Wait, Kevin?
    Kevin: "Kevin" is not my real name, since that is unpronounceable in your feeble mortal tongue. If you were able to pronounce it, the skies themselves would shatter!
    Morth: Actually, it is his real name.
    Kevin: Oh, just tell everybody, why don't you?
  • Bob is one of the major villains of the sprite comic Bob and George. He's also a fiery supervillain known as Napalm, but most people refer to him as "Bob" even when he's manifesting his "Napalm" superpowers.
  • The Emperor of the Souballo Empire's name is "Brian" in Our Little Adventure.
  • The (most frequently appearing) super-powered, evil trickster of the Mountain Time universe is Dave.
  • True Villains features a sinister No-Nonsense Nemesis sorcerer who shows up out of nowhere to punch a hole through Sebastian's soul, face Xaneth in magical battle, and even return from Hell as a giant demon bent on vengeance. His name? Dove.
  • In Grrl Power, we learn after his defeat and incarceration that Vehemence's actual given name is Kevin. The author mentions he specifically chose it as a non-threatening name for an extremely dangerous villain.
  • Narbonic gives us the Dave Conspiracy, a secret society controlling much of the world, made up of everyone named Dave.

    Web Original 
  • Doctor Horrible. His Secret Identity is that of an awkward nerd named Billy. Of course, his villainous nickname and its accompanying catchphrase ("I've got a PhD in Horribleness") are intentionally Narmy as well.
  • In New Vindicators, the main villain of the Laputa arc in the European story, Laputa-Prime, is really named Elizabeth, but often addressed by a very cutesy-sounding nickname, Little Lizzie.
  • Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared:
    • The villain of the second video is a talking clock with control over the flow of time who uses his power to rot the puppets alive for questioning him. Word of God is that his name is Tony.
    • Shrignold in the third video doesn't qualify, but Malcolm, the god he serves, does.
    • In the fourth video, the puppets are trapped in a deteriorating virtual world where there is nothing to do but open three doors over and over again by a sentient computer. Word of God is that the computer's name is Collin.
  • No Evil: The ostensibly human Charles, who seems to be behind the return of the Black Tezcatlipoca.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The main villains of The Blood Gulch Chronicles are named O'Malley, Gary, and Reggie. Though O'Malley and Gary aren't their actual names, which are the somewhat more sinister-sounding Omega and Gamma.
    • The Director of Project Freelancer, the main villain ultimately behind basically every problem in the series is named Leonard Church. Along with his right-hand man Aiden Price.
    • One of the main villains of the Chorus Trilogy is simply named Felix. (The other goes by the name of his armor instead of using a proper name.) Their boss, the Chairman of Charon Industries, is named Malcom Hargrove.

    Western Animation 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TomTheDarkLord