Vile Villain, Saccharine Show
Okay, so you have a villain who is legitimately intimidating and frightening. Maybe they try to destroy all positive emotions, or maybe they turn people into twisted shambling abominations, or maybe they're plotting genocide. Point is, they're actually a fairly creepy villain. The irony is that they're stuck in a Sugar Bowl
As one could probably tell, this trope is about villains in normally lighthearted fiction that are so disturbing, or even terrifying, on some level that they kind of clash with the tone of the show/game/whatever. Because of this type of villain's ability to ruin the mood of the story they're in, this trope can overlap with Knight of Cerebus
or Complete Monster
. If a series has a lot of villains like this, then it's taking a ride on the Cerebus Rollercoaster
A major cause of Sugar Apocalypse
and Surprise Creepy
. Compare and contrast the Crapsaccharine World
, where it's not just the villain, but the entire world
that is rotten to the core.
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Anime & Manga
- Mon Colle Knights is cheerful and wacky and the enemies usually are the Terrible Trio. When they're not, there's Reda, with his bloodstained wings and a fondness for driving people to suicide and subjecting things to splooshy transformations. The english Gag Dub toned him down and edited some scenes.
- The usually light-hearted Pokémon anime (which normally has a goofy and incompetent Terrible Trio composing of two delinquents and a talking Meowth as the primary antagonists) has:
- The coldhearted Diabolical Mastermind, Giovanni, and the psychic Gym Leader with a split personality, Sabrina, in the Kanto Saga.
- The merciless Pokémon Hunter J, the Omnicidal Maniac Cyrus, and the abusive Jerk Ass trainer Paul in the Sinnoh Saga.
- The Iron Masked Marauder and Grings Kodai, in the 4th and 13th movies respectively.
- As of Best Wishes, the usually goofy, incompetent Terrible Trio isn't so goofy and incompetent anymore...
- The Episode N arc brings us Ghetsis, Colress, and Team Plasma. Whenever they show up, expect the mood to drop dramatically and the battles to get more intense.
- Pokémon Origins (because it's a faithful retelling of the Pokemon Red and Blue games) discards this trope outright with Team Rocket, in a stark contrast to their depiction in the anime. Just like the games, they actually kill Pokémon, and they're shown conducting horrible experiments on them, too. Giovanni's reasoning for doing all this? Because a Pokemon-based society is a business, and Pokemon are tools for business.
- The Big Bads of the Pretty Cure franchise are usually like this. One of them is an entity that existed before everything and wants to plunge everything into nothingness, another is a life-hating Eldritch Abomination that turns every planet he visits into sand dunes, yet another is a monster born out of humanity's collective negative emotions, etc etc... This is a series that is (supposedly) for little girls in elementary schoolyears.
- Fruits Basket is an adorable series about a cute high school girl who befriends a lot of pretty boys and the hijinks that ensue. Then we are introduced to Akito, who we learn has been committing various forms of physical and psychological abuse on various family members, and has no problem with doing the same to any "outsiders" who look like they're butting in. Later, Akito actually becomes sympathetic when her mother, Ren, is revealed to be even worse.
- Although it's about World War Two, Axis Powers Hetalia manages to be pretty goofy while focusing on the general incompetence of the nations. While there is fighting, it's portrayed as comical punches and cartoonish damage. In the movie Paint it, White!, we are introduced to invading aliens called the Pictonians. The Pictonians quickly conquer nearly all of Earth, transform most of humanity into their species, and abduct them as slaves. Everything the nations do to fight them fails, and they very nearly lose at the end, when all of them but Italy are turned into Pictonians. While screaming.
- Despite Tenchi Muyo GXP being a lighthearted adventure comedy Tarant Shunk still tries to behave as a real and scary Ruthless Modern Pirate. It doesn't help him much. Though arguably Tenchiverse is usually so lighthearted precisely because most of its important characters are Eldritch Abominations on vacation. There's really no credible threat to them possible, which is why they're engaged in those comedic shenanigans just to kill the time.
- Parodied in Steph Cherrywell's Widgey Q Butterfluff, with Lord Meanskull and his Hench-Witches.
- Les Légendaires is a seemingly kid-friendly comic book, involving a world where everyone has been turned into children following a magical accident. The characters are typically comical (though they do have moments of Bad Ass), and the universe even more. But let's have a look at the main villains:
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is a fun and adventurous series with a cast of funny and lovable characters. The main villains are the Decepticon Justice Division, a group of homicidal and sadistic extremists who torture and murder anyone who so much as questions Megatron's ideology. Their leader Tarn is the most vile of all, manipulating and using others to feed his addiction to transforming at the same time he's torturing people. They're the only villains who are played straight, and don't have any Freudian Excuse or heroic endgoals to justify or explain their horrific actions.
- Then there's Overlord who's motivation doesn't even have the perceived nobility. His goals and reasons boil down to "Killing is fun". He goes about murdering and maiming in one issue after we find out his backstory.
- Just like in the TV show, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) has some surprisingly creepy villains. The most notable case is probably the return of Chrysalis, Queen of the Changelings, who typically looks quite a bit more grotesque in the comic's art style than she did in the show.
- Getting Back on Your Hooves is a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic that strongly goes for Original Flavour with the original series. The Big Bad, Checker Monarch is based off real life Sociopaths. This was intentional on the part of the writer to emulate how the TV series has disproportionately dark major villains.
- Moonstuck is a story about a pony on the moon meeting lots of friends and going on silly adventures that you shouldn't take seriously. It's villains are a usurping, tyrannical regent who fully intended to kill Woona and her friends, Woona's Enemy Without that delivers multiple Curb Stomp Battles and vicious Breaking Speeches, and Discord, who is just as nasty as his canon self with none of the comedy, often falling into full-blown Eldritch Abomination territory.
- A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate is yet another My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic example. It maintains the Original Flavour of the show very well, but Ruinate is a rather horrifying Eldritch Abomination who intends to turn Equestria into a Crapsack World before destroying it, and even manages to temporarily destroy Twilight Sparkle's soul. Also, his heralds, who know perfectly well his final goal and serve him anyway, are willing to do terrible things in his name.
Films — Animation
- Were Back A Dinosaurs Story is a cutesy film about dinosaurs being sent to our time to make children happy. Nothing scary about that at all. Well, except for the creepy old scientist Professor Screweyes, who runs a Circus of Fear, has children sign a contract in their own blood, and is eaten by birds at the end of the film.
- The Disney Animated Canon has a disturbingly/wonderfully high occurrence of this trope:
- The Evil Queen (Grimhilde) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, while most of the film is very cutesy and whimsical, she takes her pursuit to preserve her narcissistic self image to dark extremes. She ordered her Huntsman to assassinate Snow White and bring her heart as proof of the deed. When he failed, she took matters into her own hands, becoming a frightening looking hag who conducted a poisonous apple that would've put her into a deep sleep. Her response was that her caretakers, the dwarfs would've buried her alive, not knowing the truth.
- Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. The story was very lighthearted till she showed up and sentenced baby Aurora to death for a petty reason, though it is more likely it for the hell of it. All the heroes could do was stall for time, which only worked because her minions thought babies stayed the same age, but once she sends her raven, Aurora is soon ensnared by her powers and is put into a deep sleep by a spindle created by Maleficent. She captures the one prince that could undo the spell and have him wait for a hundred years so Aurora would go mad from the sight of an aged and broken man, implying that even with the counter-curse to her death sentence, she could twist it to something worse. And since she is so high in the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and by high, she is easily a Reality Warper who was so beyond the heroes in power, that the fairies had to cheat along the way in order to even do her in. She also turns into a scary dragon with power to match that almost manages to defeat the prince, "almost" meaning the fairies had to intervene in order to even land a deathblow.
- The Disney version of Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is, for all intents and purposes, a medieval stand-in for Hitler. The movie was already more adult than is normally thought of for Disney, but it was still shocking. More disturbingly, Frollo is one of the most realistic Disney villains ever produced, and he doesn't have an iota of comedic qualities. There's a reason why many see him as the darkest villain the company has ever made.
- The Princess and the Frog gives us Dr. Facilier, a voodoo witch doctor willing to sacrifice all of New Orleans to pay off his debts to dark voodoo entities. Although he gets in on the light, jazzy theme of the movie with a cool Villain Song, it's still clear that he's selfish, relentless and bad to the bone. That he murders the comic relief in cold blood on screen cements this. And then there's his Family-Unfriendly Death...
- The Coachman from Pinocchio, who runs an amusement park that magically turns young boys who use the attractions into donkeys. The ones that lose their voices are then sold to salt mines and circuses, and the ones who can still talk... well, they're put in cages, and we don't know what happens to them after that. It seems that none of them are ever human or see their homes again, though. And he gets away with it, too! Which is unique, considering every other villain falls to the hero. It is also implied that from his Nightmare Face that he isn't completely human. This may be because of his choice of targets: Bad boys who should be at school, making him some karmic bogeyman.
- Though the Coachman is far worse, Stromboli is pretty bad too. Both his and the Coachman's actions can be Nightmare Fuel.
- Oliver & Company is a very lighthearted movie, featuring talking cats and dogs. However, the storyline is a loose Setting Update of Oliver Twist, and its human villain Sykes — the counterpart of the novel's Bill Sykes — is a Loan Shark played utterly straight. There's nothing cool, funny, sympathetic, or even hammy about him. He's just a cold-blooded thug who wants his money now and doesn't care what he has to do to get it.
- Jafar in Aladdin has shades of this. Because the movie was an action-packed zany comedy, animator Andreas Deja decided to keep Jafar very subtle in contrast. (This can be seen in the art style. Nearly everything else in Agrabah has soft, rounded lines, while Jafar has several sharp angles.)
- Mulan is the story of a girl who goes into the army to save her father's life. While the movie is comedic much of time (and has a non-threatening dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy and a cute little cricket), the Big Bad Shan-yu is implied to kill vast numbers of people. The aftermath of his handiwork makes a Mood Whiplash from a song about getting a girl to seeing the most straightforward example of War Is Hell in a Disney movie. The scene with the destroyed village also has a subtle implication that the Infant Immortality was averted with the appearance of a doll without its owner.
- Professor Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective spends most of the film as the epitome of the Faux Affably Evil, Evil Is Hammy villain (this is helped by being voiced by Vincent Price, who is very obviously really enjoying himself), so it's easy to forget that he kidnaps frightened children and has no qualms about threatening them or getting them killed — a throwaway line in his Villain Song refers to "those widows and orphans you drowned". Then his temper gets pushed that little bit too far, and... Holy Shit.
- One Hundredand One Dalmatians has Cruella DeVil — for all her campy vampiness, her basic goal is still to kill and skin a bunch of puppies to make them into fur coats.
- Scar, from The Lion King. Simply put, he gets the honor of committing the first onscreen murder in a Disney film.
- Mother Gothel from Tangled, much like Claude Frollo, is an especially disturbing villain because her actions to keep Rapunzel so frightened of the outside world that she never leaves her tower are extremely reminiscent of real-life Abusive Parents emotionally manipulating and belittling their children to ensure that they'll never leave their care. She takes it even further later on in the film when she deceives Rapunzel into believing that the love of her life betrayed her, then mortally wounds him in front of Rapunzel's eyes when the former doesn't stick.
- Wreck-It Ralph has the Walking Spoiler that is King Candy/Turbo. He becomes even more vile during his Villainous Breakdown in the climax, and more vile still after getting assimilated by a Cybug. The worst part of all this? He's ruling over a saccharine world, making him a villain who seems saccharine at first but just gets viler and viler!
- "Beauty and the Beast" has Gaston. While he starts out as a fairly comedic foil for Belle, as the movie goes on, he turns into one of the most realistic depictions of a possessive abuser ever shown in a kids' movie. By the time he's having Belle's father committed under false pretenses, leading a mob bent on murder to the castle, and stabbing the Beast immediately after the Beast saves his life, he's become one of Disney's most menacing villains.
- In a (semi) Live-Action example, Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film initially seems like a classical family movie until we meet him. We discover that not only is he responsible for all the bad things that happen in the movie, but he's also the same psychopathic murderous toon who killed Eddie Valiant's brother long ago and he was planning the genocide of his own species to profit him.
- Toy Story is a lighthearted series where the main conflict is usually within the heroes as opposed to external. Villains tend to be either Obliviously Evil or relatively harmless. Until Toy Story 3, that is, where we meet Lotso, a sadistic teddy bear overlord of a day care center who subjects new toys to being broken by toddlers, tortures, brainwashes, imprisons, and attempts to murder the heroes, and eventually leaves them to die in an incinerator AFTER THEY SAVE HIS LIFE!
- Hopper in A Bugs Life is a ruthless tyrant who delights in the fear he instills in the ants, and was fully prepared to publically execute their queen to keep them compliant. He even admits to his minions that they don't even need the food the ants provide, implying his actions are motivated purely by sadism.
- Charles Muntz in Up is a delusional and sociopathic murderer who kills anyone who he even thinks threatens his discovery.
- Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland has the Nightmare King suddenly show up in a world that was just plain Sugar Bowl till then, ruling over a section of Slumberland known as Nightmareland, the place where nightmares come from.
- Osmosis Jones: For the most part, this is a lighthearted parody of Salt and Pepper cop movies with copious amounts of Toilet Humour for the kids all set inside the human body. Enter Thrax. He's portrayed as a mix between a supervillain and an international terrorist who travels between human hosts (which in the context of the movie are self-sufficient city/nations for countless micro-organisms) and destroys them, for no other reason than fame (if he can kill a human in less than 48 hours he'll get a chapter in every major medical text). Also, the slightest touch from his claw is enough to kill other microbes in a spectacular and horrible fashion, burning them from the inside out until they finally explode. Then, just to ratchet up the Nightmare Fuel even further, at one point he counts out his previous victims; the one he's most proud of is "a child who didn't wash her hands like she was told."
- Kung Fu Panda 2 has Lord Shen, an evil peacock tyrant who is bent on destroying kung fu with heavy artillery, terrorized many innocent pigs and bunnies with his army of wolves, and he almost pushed the entire panda species (which includes Po) to the point of extinction! All of this is enough to make Tai Lung, the snow leopard villain of the first Kung Fu Panda film look like a scaredy-cat. When Shen's right hand and the leader of the wolves objects to him opening fire on his own soldiers to get at the heroes, Shen responds with a dagger to his back, making it the first time in a Dreamworks movie a villain actually offs someone onscreen.
- The Brave Little Toaster is a cute musical film about talking electrical appliances, but then we meet the Junkyard Magnet...
- The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie
- SpongeBob SquarePants is a lighthearted series with an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Then The Movie comes out, where we're introduced to Dennis, a somewhat comedic but still surprisingly terrifying hitman hired to kill SpongeBob and Patrick using sharp spiked boots. Also, Plankton turns out to be Not-So-Harmless Villain, framing Mr. Krabs for stealing Neptune's crown and getting him frozen, then later coming back in anticipation of seeing Mr. Krabs get burned to death. If that's not passing the Moral Event Horizon, brainwashing and enslaving all of Bikini Bottom certainly qualifies, especially since it's implied that the fish that were wearing the bucket helmets were awake and conscious while under control!
- Also in the movie, there's the cyclops diver, who captures sea creatures and painfully kills them using the heat of a bright lamp, then sells the dried-out remains as knick-knacks (although whether or not he knows the fish are sapient and screaming is left as an exercise to the viewer).
- Despicable Me has Miss Hattie and Mr. Perkins. Although Big Bad Wannabe Vector ended up getting some punishment of some sort, these two both manage to get away with everything!
- Brave gives us a sweet mother-daughter bonding story...with a villain, Mor'du, that happens to be a red-eyed, twelve-foot-tall bear with a taste for human flesh. As well as plenty of scenes that could have come right out of a horror movies, such as Mor'du watching a young Merida in the forest, Merida going into a castle and having Mor'du sneak up behind her after she's learned his gruesome origin story, and the end fight, where absolutely nothing hurts him except a bear of similar size and a multiton rock.
- Madagascar 3 follows a parade of colorful animals, some escaped form the New York zoo, others part of a circus. The villain, Chantelle DuBois, ostensibly an animal control officer, is out to murder the protagonist by any means necessary. Even after the escaped lion in question is safely contained in the zoo, she still tries to kill him (and an innocent sea lion!) and steal his corpse so she can add it to her collection of trophies.
- FernGully takes place in a forest filled with fairies and wildlife and copious amounts of scenery porn. The main villian is Hexxus, the spirit of destruction who first takes the form of a smoke monster and later looks like a demon straight from hell.
- The Iron Giant starts off looking basically like a funny, cute Wish Fulfillment story about a lonely young boy who befriends a giant alien robot while dodging a bumbling, ineffectual government agent... until said agent locks him in a shed and threatens to take him away from his mother if he doesn't tell him what he wants to know. Oh, and then chloroforms him.
- Cats Don't Dance has the Ambiguously Human Darla and Max, who try to drown a group of animals in a soundstage and God knows how many Hollywood workers.
- Ice Age is one of the forerunners of the family-friendly CGI comedies. Its villain is Soto, a sabertooth tiger who wants to murder a human baby.
- Rise Of The Guardians is an animated adventure film focusing on a team of Santa Claus, The Sandman, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost that protects children. The villain is Pitch, the living embodiment of childrens' nightmares, who commands an army of monstrous shadows and murders one of the core team members in cold blood (he gets better) and in the finale is willing to kill an innocent child in order to boost his power.
- Coraline is an animated fantasy film about the titular heroine who wishes her busy parents would pay more attention to her and is ,for the most part, pretty lighthearted. The main villain is the Other Mother, AKA the Beldam, a villainous creature who lures children to the Other World with false gifts and love to feed on their Life Force. She assumes a more monstorus form as her plan unravels and its heavily implied that Coraline is the latest in a long line of victims and possibly the first to escape her clutches.
Films — Live
- Sarris from Galaxy Quest. It's a lighthearted Actor Role Confusion comedy with endearingly innocent aliens and the cast of a Star Trek Expy... and the villain is a sadistic, genocidal maniac, not above murdering underlings who fail him, who takes a specific glee in forcing Jason to Break the Cutie by explaining the nature of their "historical documents" to a culture that has no concept of fiction. And he looks creepy, too.
- The 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz, unlike the book, portrays the Land of Oz as a Sugar Bowl, but the Wicked Witch remains being just as mean (If not meaner) than her literary counterpart.
- And In Oz: The Great and Powerful, there is Evanora, The Wicked Witch of the East, who manipulates her formerly good sister Theodora, turning her into the Wicked Witch of the West.
- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl, has the sudden intrusion of a Horde of Alien Locusts into an outer space sequence that until then is mostly whimsical.
- Redwall; it seems like a happy fluffy world full of cuddly talking animals. Then you meet the villains, who get their own Complete Monster page.
- Tove Jansson's The Moomins take place in Moominvalley which is, at least at a very quick glance, somewhat of a saccharine world in the early novels and some of the adaptations. Then we are introduced to the Groke who, especially in her earliest appearances, is truly horrifying.
- Even though Seinfeld is not exactly a cheerful show (it's actually quite cynical), Joey "Crazy Joe" Devola still adds a surprising dash of darkness to it. If Elaine continued dating him past the episode "The Opera", he probably would have been a full-fledged Token Evil Teammate.
- An in-universe example appears on Star Trek: Voyager with the Show Within a Show The Adventures of Flotter, a series of fantasy holonovels for children. One of the title adventures involves a character called the Ogre of Fire, who shows-up, vaporizes the main character in front of the child's eyes, and then torches the setting to the ground.
- Whoever designed The Adventures of Flotter was very twisted; some of the characters talked to Naomi Wildman (a child) about the ways he and his friends could kill Neelix. Right in front of him.
- Yogoshimacritein - The true Big Bad in Engine Sentai Go-onger. Not only is he more evil than his son, but he's also a very Bad Boss, killing off his two minions once they double-cross him to help the Go-Ongers. He also has access to a device that deletes people from existence.
- Kamen Rider Fourze—a High School version of Kamen Rider penned by the same guy who made Gurren Lagann—seems cheerful, right? Wrong. The monsters, known as Zodiarts, are actually fellow students—many of them having lots of psychological issues—alongside the teachers who actively are giving them the means to become evil. In fact, it has the most amount of monsters out of all the Kamen Rider Series with a total of at least eight that are trying to kill teenagers.
- The Aquabats! Super Show! is a surreal children's show that runs on pure silly camp. Then in the season finale Space Monster M shows up murders superheroes before the team's very eyes, devastates a city, and vows to destroy the earth.
- Malcolm in the Middle has Grandma Ida. While she is Played for Laughs, there's no denying that she's probably the most evil character on the show.
- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is notably Lighter and Softer than the series it spun off from. The Big Bad, however, is Jafar, bastard son of the Sultan of Agrabah, Evil Sorceror, and all around monster. Every episode has him doing something despicable: torture, murder, attempted murder, manipulation, and turning his lover into his serpent staff. He also has a particularly dark backstory that features his equally horrible father attempting to drown him when he was a child among other things.
- Thunderbirds has the Hood, who regularly causes disasters that could potentially kill hundreds or thousands of people, just to force International Rescue into action so that he can try to copy their technology.
- Most Neopets villains are Laughably Evil, but plot villains tend to be really EVIL.
- That Guy with the Glasses
- Reflets d'Acide is a fantasy Affectionate Parody of Heroic Fantasy, with heroes arguing with each others led by a Lovable Coward for a mission they don't clearly know themselves what it consist into. Most characters are either comically incompetent or Deadpan Snarkers. Then you get Alia-Aenor and Belial. The former is a Faux Affably Evil Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who enjoys killing people with a mass-murder necromantic spell; the latter is a Knight of Cerebus and a Demonlord with no comical quirk, Abusive Parent tendencies and tendencies to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
- Cracked presents: 7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes.
- While Flander's Company, being a show about a Company providing supervillains, tends to have some amount of violence, it's usually played as black comedy, and the first antagonists (introduced in season 2) were more comical than serious... until the finale, where Carla Burnelle almost annihilates the protagonists. Then come season 3, and we get Aegis, a group of overpowered Knight Templars Hero Antagonists who want to wipe out supervillains from Earth (despite supervillains being harmless Punch Clock Villains in this universe). They actually killed 75 of them, and it was not played for laughs.