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Unsexy Sadist
This character thinks or behaves in ways that would have made him a Romanticized Abuser if the author had been on his side and built his narrative on Rule of Cool or Rule of Sexy. However, the narrative is not on his side. His position in it is built on the Rule of Creepy instead. Maybe combined with Rule of Funny or Rule of Scary. In either case: He is the same kind of sadist as a Bastard Boyfriend or Bastard Girlfriend, or at least he would like to be. Unlike them, however, he is the inversion of sexy. He is an Unsexy Sadist!

Being unsexy doesn't necessarily mean unattractive. A handsome person can be unpleasantly creepy, just like a physically ugly person can be portrayed as sexy in a weird kind of way. Yet, a character in this role is very likely to also be extremely unattractive. Often in a nerdy or gross kind of way.

At best he's a harmless person with unfulfilled dreams of From Nobody to Nightmare. At worst he's a Wrong Genre Savvy perpetrator of crimes that will never ignite Stockholm Syndrome or anything else he might have hoped for. He is likely to fill the role of Straw Loser. If the author tries to explain him psychologically, it will often be in the form of a Freudian Excuse or diagnosis. In older works, the latter is often "sexual sadism," sending a message that Bondage Is Bad and often failing to make a distinction between play and abuse. In modern works, it's usually something else — averting Bondage Is Bad by making a distinction between abuse and consensual sadomasochism. Sexual sadism is still likely to come into it, although in combination with The Sociopath or other trope that makes a similarly unhealthy mix. If he wears glasses, he's an aversion of Bespectacled Bastard Boyfriend.

While this character can be female, he's almost always male. In the same way as the trope can be used to play or avert Bondage Is Bad, it can be used to play or avert The Unfair Sex: On the one hand, it portrays men as destructive creeps, but on the other hand it can be used to show the difference between this kind of man and all other men, making the regular man look great in comparison — and maybe give him a chance to be heroic.

Note that this character isn't necessarily a villain — he may have the ethics and self-control to keep his desires in check. In either case, he comes across as a very small person with a total lack of greatness. Finally, please note that this trope has two criteria, and both need to be filled for a character to be an example. Simply being unattractive doesn't qualify as unsexy, and simply being a jerk or having violent tendencies doesn't qualify as sadist.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In the Sandman album Brief Lives, one ancient guy remembers Marquis de Sade this way. The narrator uses this in part of portraying the character as Really 700 Years Old. First, he describes how the character is thinking about a movie he saw last night, a horror movie featuring De Sade as an athletic Romanticized Abuser villain. Then he describes the character remembering the real De Sade he used to know, a frail and obese little man who wrote obsessively about acts he never dared to perform.

Film
  • In the film Death And The Maiden, the main character is somewhat unstable because she was tortured and raped in prison, and discovers at the end that her rapist was a meek little man who really loved his work, because he at last had the chance to be with any woman he wanted without having to beg her.
  • In Spaceballs, Dark Helmet, a failed Evil Overlord. has a scene where he drifts into this trope while he plays with his dolls, acting out a scenario where the heroine falls in love with him because he has kidnapped her and realizes how exquisitely evil he is. He really doesn't want his subordinates to know that he does this.

Literature
  • ''Screw The Roses, Send Me The Thornes" contains a illustrated list of dominant and submissive archetypes to stay the hell away from. Most of the dominants on that list fit this trope, especially the self-proclaimed "True Master."
  • In Slave Jade, the villain is a wannabe BDSM dominant who fails to understand the difference between how sadomasochism works in fiction and in real life. Ironically, his victim is a beautiful submissive masochist who was even in love with him at first - his dreams of being her "Master" would have come true for him if he had just known how to handle it. Instead, she ends up shooting him, getting him locked up in jail, and then moves on to find herself a master who knows what the hell he's doing.
  • Both villains of the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are this trope personified. As they abuse women sexually, they try really hard to construct themselves as manly or powerful, and they both fail miserably at that. The original title of the novel in question is "Men Who Hate Women", a line that is used in the story: Mikael Blomkvist, the male hero, is shocked to learn about the horrible crimes the villain has done. Lisbeth Salander, the female hero, dismisses the whole thing as the villain simply being "one of those men who hate women".

Live-Action TV

Video Games


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