->'''Mistress Leevil:''' Is it evil?\\
'''Weggie Rudlin:''' Oh, absolutely.\\
'''Mistress Leevil:''' I hope so, Weggie, for your sake. [calmly wipes off blood splatter from her face] 'Cause if it's not evil then you know what's gonna happen. And by "happen", I mean you'll be killed or at least seriously injured. So just, you know, just make sure it's evil.

Bad guys have a lot of problems keeping a NebulousEvilOrganisation running. There's [[{{Mooks}} High turnover]] due to heroic raids, [[SurroundedByIdiots lack of professionalism]] in the EvilMinions, and motivating the surviving personnel. This last one is especially difficult because just as EvilCannotComprehendGood, it also can't understand positive reinforcement.

When a minion or even their NumberTwo (TheDragon) performs well, they won't so much praise their effort or reward their good results as warn them "do not [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness outlive your usefulness]]". Kind of hard to go to work with a smile with ''[[VillainOverride that]]'' [[CyanidePill hanging over your head]].

Another demotivator is the BigBad's reaction when their minion(s) lose to the hero. Assuming they don't shoot the fellow then and there (which is, again, not exactly good for morale no matter ''what'' [[MachiavelliWasWrong Machiavelli said]]) they will likely yell ''"YouHaveFailedMe!"'' and use their AgonyBeam on the poor sap. After the poor minion is done screaming his guts out (hopefully not literally) their boss will say ''"Do not fail me again! For I shall not show you such mercy a second time."'' Whether they actually follow through depends on how dark the show is. In animation, even TeamRocket or the QuirkyMinibossSquad will get off with minimal verbal abuse, but others... not so much.

The Villainous Demotivator can be any threat that a BigBad or TheDragon makes towards a lower ranking minion that they will be hurt or killed if they fail to perform their job. Assuming their skills will always be needed in his plots (and thus he would need to take the trouble of finding a replacement if he kills the [[EvilMinions Evil Minion]]), this [[IControlMyMinionsThrough makes sense as a negative motivational tool]], and a nice little KickTheDog that can fuel a MistreatmentInducedBetrayal or a MookFaceTurn. Other instances of this trope can happen without the villain ever meaning to demotivate their minions. He might [[EvenEvilHasStandards do something so vile it reminds them of their ethics]], or [[EvenEvilHasLovedOnes admit his plan will kill one of their loved ones]].

May come back to haunt him as [[IronicEcho an explanation]] why a minion won't GiveMeASword. Often results in ScrewThisImOuttaHere or TheDogBitesBack.



* In ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', Lordgenome treats his QuirkyMinibossSquad in this manner. Most blatantly, when Adiane withdraws from a battle with the heroes to avoid harming Lordgenome's [[RebelliousPrincess own daughter]], he scolds her because said daughter had been abandoned - and when Adiane remarks that she was never TOLD that, he responds with even more threats. In fact, the only one of the Miniboss Squad who doesn't seem to be effected by this is Guame, who is assumed to be Lordgenome's NonhumanSidekick from [[spoiler:his time as a Spiral Warrior. Guame was Lordgenome's Boota!]]
* We don't ''see'' him threaten them, but [[MadBomber Kimblee]] of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' seems to have taken this approach with his [[EliteMooks chimeras]]. In fact, one of them claims there's no point in the heroes showing them mercy because of this. [[spoiler:Doing so anyway works out rather well, since another of these chimeras is eventually responsible for Kimblee's death.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Bone}}'', the Lord of Locusts says this to the Hooded One.
* In ''ComicBook/BlackPanther: the Man Without Fear'', BigBad Vlad the Impaler tries to avert this, treating his minions fairly and giving even the ones that betray him a second chance (just the one, mind -- if they betray him again, their ass is toast). It works pretty well for a while, but after Black Panther's interference with his business starts getting on his nerves, his patience for [[YouHaveFailedMe failure]] grows markedly shorter, hinting at his eventual VillainousBreakdown.
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'': When the [[EvilCounterpart Dark Judges]] took over Deadworld and [[OmnicidalManiac declared all life illegal]], their idea of building morale among the mortal Judges was to incinerate, rip apart, or melt anyone who didn't assist in executing the population, only to kill their more agreeable minions when they had no more use for them.

* ''Franchise/StarWars''
** In ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', Vader tells a subordinate, "I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am." This from a guy prone to to crushing windpipes for minor irritation.
** In ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', Darth Vader says, "[[ILied I am altering the deal.]] Pray I don't alter it any further." According to the DVD commentary, it's implied it'll just keeping getting worse and worse if Lando continues working under him.
** In ''Film/ANewHope'', we get the aforementioned windpipe-crushing.
-->'''Motti:''' [[FlatEarthAtheist Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader.]] Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fortress- ''(Vader [[PsychicStrangle curls his fingers and Motti abruptly stops talking]])''
-->'''Vader:''' I find your lack of faith disturbing.

* StarWarsExpandedUniverse
** We find out exactly ''what'' the Emperor does to people who displease him, and it's no idle threat. He had [[Literature/TheCallistaTrilogy Bevel Lemelisk]], one of the original designers of the Death Star, killed horribly, resurrected in a clone body, and killed again each time he screwed up after that (for a total of '''6'''), always ensuring that each clone remembers the experience of the last death. Horribly as in:
*** Eaten by piranha beetles, and then the clone was shown the remains.
*** Blown out an airlock
*** Lowered inch by inch into a vat of molten copper ("It was what the smelter used that day.")
*** Chained in a drive tube while the engine was slowly powered up
*** Among others. When the New Republic finally got a hold of him and sentenced him to death, his request to the firing squad was that they "do it right this time."
** Beautifully subverted in the third StarWarsExpandedUniverse novel, ''[[Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy The Last Command]]''. Grand Admiral Thrawn confronts the officer who failed to stop Luke Skywalker from escaping, and the poor sap expects a Vader-style execution like the ones quoted above. Indeed, an officer who'd failed in the same thing and then tried to pass the blame had been killed, so everyone believes this one is out of luck. Instead, Thrawn ''promotes'' him, praising his creative attempt even though it failed.
-->''[Pellaeon] stood there beside the newly minted lieutenant, feeling the stunned awe pervading the bridge as he watched Thrawn leave. Yesterday, the ''Chimaera'''s crew had trusted and respected the Grand Admiral. After today, they would be ready to die for him.''
** Darth Vader shows up several times in the novel ''Literature/DeathStar''; partly for this trope, partly to help ferret out actual saboteurs and discourage potential ones.
* In ''[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour 1984]]'', anyone who spoke out against or betrayed The Party and Big Brother had a tendency to disappear without a trace, [[{{Unperson}} along with all evidence that they ever existed in the first place]]. One of the reasons for Winston Smith's rebellion is that he's one of the Party employees responsible for deleting the records, so he doesn't have the same ability to turn a blind eye as an average member of the population.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': Voldemort is about as much fun to work for as Darth Vader or [[Literature/{{Animorphs}} Visser Three]]. He [[EvilCannotComprehendGood has no understanding]] [[LackOfEmpathy of compassion]] and makes it no secret that most of his followers are expendable (PsychoSupporter Bellatrix is a rare exception). [[EvilWillFail It's because of this]] that [[spoiler:the Malfoys give him misinformation that Harry is dead, which leads to his downfall.]]
* Played for laughs in ''Literature/GoodOmens'', when Crowley decides to keep a number of potted plants. Every so often, he would go over to the group of potted plants, notice that one was not as big or as green as its fellows, and deliberately pick up that one specimen, leave the room with it, and return with an empty pot, which he would then display for the other plants as an example. Needless to say, his indoor garden boasted the largest and greenest plants around.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': Monroe. He keeps losing good commanding officers. His habit of killing anyone (including families) who might have possibly betrayed him tends to leave people... uncomfortable. And dead. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E8TiesThatBind Episode 8]] had him getting rid of Colonel John Faber. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E13TheSongRemainsTheSame Episode 13]] had Tom and Julia Neville packing up and running for it to avoid being killed off by Monroe. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E14TheNightTheLightsWentOutInGeorgia Episode 14]] had Monroe kill off a captain who worked for Tom Neville out of paranoia. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E17TheLongestDay Episode 17]] had Monroe kill off Captain Jeremy Baker because he thought the guy tried to assassinate him... [[spoiler: only to find out later that he killed the wrong person]]. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E19ChildrenOfMen Episode 19]] and the [[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower first season finale]] results in [[spoiler:Tom Neville successfully becoming the new head of the Monroe Republic because he made an ExploitedTrope out of this]].
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'': Pretty much every single officer in the MirrorUniverse.
** In the main universe, the Dominion have a fine line in this. While it at least makes a kind of twisted sense with the Vorta and Jem'hadar, who are pretty much programmed on a genetic level to view the Founders as gods, the Vorta and Founders then go on to apply this to Damar and the Cardassians, who are well aware the Founders are just shape-shifting aliens. Weyoun, in particular, manages to [[MistreatmentInducedBetrayal shoot himself in the foot]] quite impressively by sacrificing half a million Cardassians to tie up the Klingons, then berating and threatening Damar when he isn't particularly happy about this.
* A RunningGag with Major Neuheim in ''Main/PrivateSchultz''.
** "You should look upon yourselves as sewerage being recycled in the national interest. Naturally I want you to put your hearts and souls into this work for your country."
** "I am most concerned for the welfare of your men...out of the way you swine!"
** After Schultz returns from his spy mission to England. "How dare you come back alive!"

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* The company in ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}''. The strip has gone so far as to at times portray Catbert actually trying to lower morale on purpose, apparently just ForTheEvulz.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} Commissars]] have a very Voltairian way of motivating their men. But surprisingly, in gameplay terms it tends to work. And there's never any shortage of troops, since one thing the Imperium has in abundance is manpower.
** Unless said men are from Catachan. The old Catachan list actually had a rule where Commissars had a chance of getting inconveniently shanked before the battle.
** Literature/CiaphasCain, '''[[FakeUltimateHero HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!]]''' refrains from this manner of motivation, citing a number of suspicious Commissarial demises. He prefers to lead his men by making them think he leads by example, and let the old human instinct for showing off take over. It has proven very effective. Of course, a large chunk of the readership (and a few characters in on the secret) think it's a big lie and he's a genuine hero. He ''does'' seem to "retreat" screaming, straight at the biggest and nastiest thing in the battle, a ''lot''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Over the course of ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'', SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker will send orders over the loudspeakers to his minions, telling them not to screw up or he'll have them (and sometimes, their loved ones) killed. Of course, The Joker says most of these while the mooks are trapped in a room with [[BadassNormal Batman]], [[MortonsFork so there's not much hope for them in the first place]].
* Late in ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking high ranking aliens]] are threatening their men into killing (or better, capturing) the titular "[[OneManArmy human anomaly]]", with lines such as:
-->"If you're more afraid of her than of ME, you're a traitor."
* Used humorously in the game ''The Operative: VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever''. TheDragon has put a notice to the henchmen outside a minefield, asking them to please avoid crossing it, as finding suitable replacement henchmen is hard and annoying. He then mentions that he will personally execute any henchman that crosses the minefield and somehow survives as an example to the others on not disobeying orders.
* Ishida Mitsunari in ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'' [[SycophanticServant is so used to blind loyalty]] that he assumes the same from everyone else, and is rather poor at employee relations as a result. One of his attempts at reaffirming his stance with an ally (Saika Magoichi) involves baring a blade in her face and threatening her with a hundred curses should she betray him. And he ''likes'' her.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'', [[spoiler:during his ritual to release Demise from his seal 999 years early, Ghirahim summons a horde of Bokoblins and sends them screaming after Link, making it painfully obvious that he doesn't care if they bleed on the Master Sword so long as they slow him down. And then he caps it off with this line:]]
--> ''"Don't fear him... fear my wrath if you fail me!!"''
* During ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland'', one of the Zombie Pirate [=LeChuck=]'s minions describes the series of motivational tools provided to the crew. The highlights include "Get back to work, or I'll beat you with your own legs!" and "Flogging the inner child". Or the provided audio-books, which can be "returned as often as desired; keep them all and live!"

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[MagnificentBastard Azula]] has this problem with keeping Ty Lee and Mai loyal. She initially pressures Ty Lee into leaving the circus by setting loose all the animals and ''setting her trapeze net on fire!'' Later on, when [[spoiler: Mai betrays her out of love for Zuko,]] it's explicitly because [[spoiler:Mai loves Zuko]] more than she fears her. Of course, at this point [[spoiler: Ty Lee]] ''also'' betrays her upon seeing Azula [[strike:threaten]] [[spoiler: Mai]] [[strike:with lifelong imprisonment]], winding up to put a bolt of lightning into [[spoiler: Mai]] for it. What gets worse is that this is how Azula treats people she ''likes''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Stormhawks}}'', this happened pretty much every episode one of Master Cyclonis' minions failed in their missions. She did eventually fire one of them, and does have ample {{Agony Beam}}s to use on the rest though.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Burns puts a ''literal'' VillainousDemotivator ("Don't Forget, You're Here Forever") in front of Homer's workstation. Turns into a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming when Homer selectively covers it with pictures of Maggie until what's left is "Do_i_t For___ Her".
* In the ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' episode "Ratilla's Curse," Ratar-O abuses his minions as badly as they in turn abuse the cats they've enslaved. This backfires spectacularly when [[MistreatmentInducedBetrayal his right-hand rat finally questions why he was treated better at Lion-O's hands than his own master's]] and not only deserts him in his time of need, but ''tosses Lion-O the Sword of Omens'' so he can take Ratar-O down.