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"The Lord of all Evil: Tom."
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
. 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.
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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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the original V for Vendetta comics, Adam Susan definitely counts. However, in the film, it sorta counts, but not quite because while he's still named Adam, his surname has been changed to make him Adam Sutler.
- 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.
- The other possible interpretation for his name is that it refers to his favorite hobby of raping people by shoving his flaming hot willy into their eye-sockets before eating them.
- 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.
Films — Animated
- In Hoodwinked, the main villain berates his Mook for having the unevil-sounding name of Keith.
Dolph, tie up the brat; Liesel, hold the book; Vincent, get the truck; and Keith... darn it, change your name, please. That's not scary and I'm embarrassed to say it. Boris, try that. Keith, ya know? "Oooh, Watch out for Keith
Films — Live-Action
- Harry Potter:
- The Trope Namer is Voldemort. His real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle. He hates it, in part because of this trope - though more accurately it's because it's not very interesting or unique, rather than not very evil. Also, it's his Muggle father's name. Of course, Dumbledore makes a point of always calling him Tom.
- A few Death Eaters have normal sounding names, like Evan Rosier. There is another who betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort and was named Peter, but everyone calls him Wormtail.
- 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.
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.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the second season's villain Spike, whose real name is William. There's also demon antagonist "Skip" in Angel. Angel himself was originally "Liam".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. His birth name, John, counts too.
- Dokapon Kingdom has Overlord Rico, but he fits right in with the ridiculous nature of the world.
- The recurring evil mastermind of the Golden Sun 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.
- 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."
- Pokémon Black and White contain an unintentional example via Mondegreen. The Ominous Latin Chanting in the Big Bad's battle music becomes DENNIS. DEEEEENNIS. DEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNIIIIS!
- 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 Ghestis, and Team Flare has Lysandre. Team Magma and Team Aqua, however? Maxie and Archie, respectively.
- 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.
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
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.
- 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.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- Dr Doofenschmirtz is often called Dr. Doof.
- Doof started an Evil League called the League Of Villainous Evildoers Maniacally United For Frightening Investment in Naughtiness. Or as it's better known, L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N.
- The League Of Villainous Evildoers (LOVE) featured in one episode of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. June also goes up against a Government Conspiracy called Humans for the Abolishment of Magic... HAM.
- Another recurring villain in the series is the Sandman, who prefers to go by his real name: Stephen. (But does not like to be called "Steve".)
- Yin Yang Yo has Carl the Evil Cockroach Wizard.
- In Dave the Barbarian, there is the Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy.
- Simon the gremlin from Trollz.
- In the third Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour, there is a male villain named "Shirley". Poof's anti-fairy counterpart hates being named Foop.
- The Super Hero Squad Show once had The Trapster appear. However due to his original villain name being 'Paste Pot Pete' he is mocked by MODOK and the Abomination for being named "Pete".
- In Tuff Puppy, when Larry took over D.O.O.M. he changed his name to Murray, which made everyone in T.U.F.F gasp in fear.
- In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, the main villain is a rodent-like alien named Dr. Hamsterviel, often mispronounced to sound like the not-very-threatening Hamsterwheel.
- Adventure Time has Marceline's father, Hunson Aberdeer. Neither are particularly common names, but it's oddly normal for a demonic, soul-sucking Humanoid Abomination who rules over a World Of Chaotic Evil. (It's also a bit odd for the setting, as most characters don't have "normal" surnames.)
- The TV Series of How to Train Your Dragon gives us Alvin the Treacherous. Also lampshaded in the show itself.
- In Regular Show Death's baby son is named Thomas.
- Gravity Falls has Bill Cipher, an eccentric demon who resembles the Eye of Providence (from the back of the US one-dollar bill) and who was summoned to invade Stan Pines' memories in the episode "Dreamscaperers". He's also described by the journals as the most dangerous being in Gravity Falls.
- David Xanathos of Gargoyles has a cool last name but a pretty common first one.
- Plankton from Sponge Bob Square Pants has the Embarrasing First Name of Sheldon, which is not particularly evil-sounding either.
- Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons, although he is rarely referred to simply as "Bob."