open/close all folders
JaegerThe German word of Hunter. Often used for a badass character.
Anime And Manga
YueA word meaning a 'tragic accident' or 'lethal occurence'. Though, this name is given to children who died either before birth or shortly thereafter. Still some parents don't quite get it. It's more widely known to be the Chinese name for "moon."
Anime and Manga
- Angel Sanctuary's Katou's seldom mentioned first name is Yue, given by his father, because he was not his child, but the result of his mother's betrayal. It didn't finish him off after birth, but in the course of the series he gets killed - or most often kills himself - four times total.
- Yue from Cardcaptor Sakura counts as well, since as the Judge he had the power to strip away the memories and emotions of everyone Sakura knew and loved. Sakura certainly seemed intimidated by him, though that may also have been due to his appearance and emotionless facade.
- Yue's name in CCS is actually meant to be Chinese and carries the meaning of 'moon', not the above mentioned meanings (it's a symbolism going back to his creator—Clow Reed's symbol was the Moon). Could still be sort of playing with this meaning, though.
- Yue Ayase from Mahou Sensei Negima! averts the majority of this trope, despite all signs that she might.
JafarFrom the Arabic Ja`far, meaning, of all things, "brook." Probably gained its notoriety from Ja'far ibn Yahya al-Barmaki, about whom read below.
- Jafar, the evil vizier in Aladdin.
- The original Jafar, the one they were all named after, was Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, who was of all things a pious warrior and a cousin/companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Yep.
- Ja'far ibn Abi Talib's great-umpty-great nephew, Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq, was the Sixth Imam of Shi'a Islamnote (being a descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Prophet's daughter Fatima) and one of the founders of Islamic jurisprudence. As indicated by his laqab (nickname), he was noted for being upright, honest, trustworthy, and not in the least bit interested in actually ruling (despite claiming to be the legitimate leader of the Muslims).
- Ja'far ibn Yahya al-Barmaki, aka the Grand Vizier Jafar, was a Persian nobleman and the Grand Vizier (i.e. Prime Minister) of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid. He was executed under suspicion of having an affair with the Caliph's sister Abbasa. He appears in the Arabian Nights as a sort of detective (in a tale often cited as the Ur-Example of the Detective Story), but his patronage of learning—specifically the revival of Greek and Persian science and the encouragement of the paper industry, recently arrived from China—may have led to a reputation as a sorcerer: hence the villainous connotations.
- It wasn't exactly "having an affair with Abbasa." Harun al-Rashid basically told Ja'far and Abbasa to get married but not to sleep together. He then flipped out when they disobeyed him. (And whether this story is true is quite debatable; his family were likely just executed for having too much power and therefore being a threat to the caliph's power.)
- The fact that the Barmakids had only recently converted to Islam from Buddhism and were hugely tolerant of different religions (Ja'far's father regularly held gatherings of wise men from all religions at the court debating philosophy) also made various jealous people cast rumours of irreligion against them. They were usually accused of heresy rather than sorcery.
- Muslim Spain actually did have a vizier named Ja'far who usurped the throne in the Middle Ages.
GeistA common badass name. It translates as "ghost" or "spirit," but people/things named Ghost tend to be far less threatening... unless of course you've built up your tech tree.
Anime and Manga
- MD Geist
- Signum from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's can summon the Panzergeist (Armored Ghost).
- This is more commonly translated as "Tank Spirit", which is more accurate given the effect that it has.
- In the new .hack manga and video game series, ''.hack//Link'', one of the Big Bad's minions is thus named. It's interesting to note that within Schicksal all members other members are named after musical instruments in German, making Geist the Odd Name Out. This later proves to be a quite Meaningful Name when it's revealed that Geist is actually Saika's brother in the real world, as well as the person who sent a virus replica of Aura named Death Queen Aura into The World R:X.
- The remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari gives this as Francis' surname.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters, of course.
- Bloodrayne's' Gegengeistgruppe
- Geist in Asura Blade
- Maken X/Shao's Big Bad.
- John Raimi, alias Geist from the Gamecube title of the same name.
- The Geist Balrog in MapleStory is a more vicious version of the Crimson Balrog, and is an additional party quest boss.
- Geists are a kind of undead in World of Warcraft.
- Schwarzgeist(black ghost) in Einhänder.
- Sturmgeist in Medal of Honor: Frontline.
- Girl Genius has Geisterdamen ("ghost ladies").
Mal-The syllable mal- means "bad", "evil" in many Romance languages, being derived from Latin malus (with the same meaning). It also appears in many English words, as in malicious, malign, malevolent, malignant and (yes, these words exist) maleficent and malfeasant. Malefica particularly is Latin for "witch".
Anime and Manga
- Father Zachary Malius, Evil Albino Sinister Minister in the Slasher Movie Happy Hell Night.
- Mal Cobb from Inception.
- Maleagant (see below) is also the main villain in First Knight, under the name Malagant.
- Mallory "Mal" Knox, one of the Natural Born Killers.
- Maleficent, natch. Oddly, in this version, she is originally a good fairy, but is named Maleficent even as a child. Her parents probably really hated her when she named her.
- Carlos Malfeitor (Portuguese for "evildoer") from Witchboard.
- The Malfoy family from Harry Potter. This one is actually only indirectly derived from Latin; thanks to Rowling's obsession with French/Old French wordplay (cf. the names Voldemort and Lestrange), the name is rough Old French for "bad faith" (modern French would have something else).
- With first names like 'Draco', 'Lucius', 'Narcissa', you know that these are not nice people.
- Ivanhoe has a lot of these. The Templar Preceptor Albert de Malvoisin ("bad neighbor"), for one.
- Maladicta, coffee-addicted vampire and Sweet Polly Oliver from Monstrous Regiment.
- Matron Malice from the Dark Elf Trilogy.
- The Demonata - Malice.
- Maleagant, a villain from Arthurian legend, introduced by Chrétien de Troyes.
- Gualterio Malatesta, an assassin and villain from the Captain Alatriste series.
- The eponymous character in Les Chants de Maldoror.
- Wizard-Emperor Maldor from Beyonders.
- Firefly: Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, who if not an Anti-Hero is certainly flawed. River even Lampshades that interpretation of his name.
- The Malus from the Doctor Who story "The Awakening", which is an alien sentient WMD that causes and derives power from Hate Plagues.
- The villain of the MMO Wizard 101 is named Malistaire.
- Malekith, the Witch-King of the Dark Elves from Warhammer Fantasy.
- Earlier we have Malekith the Accursed, the Dark Elf who seeks the Casket of Ancient Winters in the Walt Simonson run of Marvel's Thor comics back in the 80's.
- Exalted: Malfeas the Demon City, a sentient Hell.
- Malbolge, a layer of Hell in Dungeons & Dragons.
- Warhammer 40,000 has Malcador the Sigilite, supposed progenitor of the Grey Knights.
- Malum, desert-wandering antihero from BIONICLE.
- Bishop Malveaux from Zork Nemesis.
- Special mention to Dr. Malcolm Betruger, the villainous Mad Scientist responsible for the demon invasion in Doom 3. Not just "mal" in the name but Bilingual Bonus as "Betrüger" is German for "deceiver" or "swindler," not to mention sounding a lot like "betrayer," which he does to you early on.
- And then in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, Betruger transforms into a powerful demon known as the Maledict.
- Malus from Castlevania 64.
- Malus, the final colossus in Shadow of the Colossus. The other colossi have much more harmless-sounding Latin titles.
- There's also Dreadlord Mal'Ganis from the Warcraft universe.
- There are a few more, like Malas, Malakk etc. However, the trope is also often subverted, most notably with Malfurion Stormrage, who is one of the good guys.
- Malin Keshar from Battle for Wesnoth. And the necromancers / liches from the Mal- line.
- And there's Malpercio from the Baten Kaitos series. Origins reveals it is a subversion, "Malpercio" is just the name of a random hill.
- Knights of the Old Republic: Darth Malak.
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Malladus. Hoo boy.
- Malicia, the Wicked Witch, and Dr. Mort Cadaver from King's Quest VII.
- RuneScape: Mother Mallum, the ancient, evil Slug Queen that gets squashed by a pillar!
- Malroth, the True Final Boss of Dragon Quest II.
- Malia Gedde from Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.
- Lord Malagar from Kingdom Rush Frontiers.
- Malamar from Pokémon X and Y, which is pretty much a kid-friendly version of a mind flayer.
- From the same game, there's Malva, who is a member of Team Flare and threatens to kill the player character (who is a child).
- Malefor, the Big Bad of The Legend of Spyro.
- Blardax Maldrear, the evil ruler of the Styx empire in the Amiga game Banshee.
- El Tigre features a gigantic monster named El Mal Verde (The Green Evil).
- The DCAU Superman series had Superman free a trapped Phantom Zone Kryptonian named Mala. Any Spanish speaking viewer knew immediately where the episode was going.
- In Total Drama, Mike's evil split personality is named Mal.
- The witch Maleficent, the villain of Sleeping Beauty from 1959. As one of the most (maybe the most) distinguished Disney villains, she also appeared in the Kingdom Hearts video game series.
- The Season 1 finale of Steven Universe gives us Malachite, a fusion of Lapis Lazuli and Jasper, bound together by The Power of Hate.
- Malaclypse the Younger note , one of the writer of Principia Discordia. You don't want to mess with someone named 'Mal-apocalypse' who wrote a book of 'discord'.
Necro-A prefix for words having to do with death or being dead, derived from the Greek word nekros.
- Nekron, the big bad of Blackest Night, who raises Superheroes from the dead to fight their loved ones.
Live Action TV
Tod / totThe German words for "death" and "dead" are "Tod" and "tot" respectively (long vowel). People with names that look or sound like it tend to be scary.
- Frau Totenkinder in Fables, who was every nameless evil witch from fairy tales, and in the story is mostly good but very sinister.
- Possibly inspired by Friedrich Rückert's Kindertotenlieder (Children's songs of the dead), some of which were set to music by Gustav Mahler.
- Otto Von Todt, the first vampire met in Requiem Vampire Knight.
- Mr. Tod, the fox in Beatrix Potter. (Though since "tod" is a traditional North English dialect word for "fox," that one may just be a coincidence.)
- Sweeney Todd, legendary London serial murderer.
- The Young Adult series Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. The title character is a teenager, in many ways a very ordinary young man, dealing with all the growing-up issues any boy his age does—-except he's also half-vampire.
- Tod Slaughter, an actor in the early-to-mid-twentieth century who specialized in Card Carrying Villains, including Sweeney. His real surname was "Slaughter", but he added the "Tod".
OthersRussian (and Slavic, in general) names seem to be frequently used in Western fiction for bad guys, probably due to the Überwald and Red Scare tropes. See also the Vlad examples under Conquerors
- Ra's Al-Ghul is Arabic for "The Demon's Head."
- Lobo. Even on earth, it conjures the idea of a rabid wolf, but on his planet, it translated into "He who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it."
- Why did his planet even need a word for that? How common can that actually be that they need a single word to describe it?
- Baldunkel from Blood, Laughter and Tears which is a combination of the name 'Baldur' meaning 'Prince' and the word 'Dunkel' meaning 'Dark' in German. Subverted by the fact that he's the techical Helpless Good Side of the body's inhabitants
- The Big Bad of the Seven Swords wuxia movie is named 风火连城 (Feng Huo Lian Cheng), which translates to "Wind and Fire All Over the City", or "city-razing firestorm"...so yeah.
- Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels is named after "doku", the Japanese word for "poison".
- In the film Sicario (which itself is a case of this trope, being a slang term for hitman), Big Bad Fausto Alarcon is nicknamed "El Verdugo", which stands for The Executioner.
- In Scottish, "Thrawn" means a combination of obstinacy, assertiveness, and more than a hint of willful perversity.
- A variation: Granny Weatherwax's name in certain dwarven dialects translates to "Go 'Round The Other Side Of The Mountain". She's also known in some tongues as "She Who Must Be Avoided".
- President's Vampire has the Unmanschensoldaten, never called by any other name and meaning literally "Inhuman Army", combining this trope with Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Hugo Panzer, from "Chuck vs. First Class".
- Guerrero, from the TV Show Human Target. Spanish for "warrior."
- In the Doctor Who story "Silver Nemesis", we have the murderous and power-hungry time travelling black magician Lady Peinforte, whose name is Old French for "strong punishment". It's also almost certainly a reference to "Peine Forte et Dure", a traditional English torture method in which a criminal defendant who refused to take part in their trial would be slowly crushed to death with rocks.
- "Mathias Cronqvist", anyone? You know, Dracula? Mind you, that's a real name, but "Cronqvist" certainly sounds intimidating.
- Mind you, it translates roughly as "crown-twig." Then again, if you get creative with it, you could interpret it as "a branch in the crown of a tree," which would imply that he's just better than you.
- Skeith from .hack. It means "shadow". And for added Run Away Now points, it carries the Boss Subtitle "The Terror of Death".
- In The Adventures Of Rad Gravity, Kakos' name vaguely hints at him being the true Big Bad. The final planet is named Telos, the Greek word for "end".
- Any of the Spanish-named monsters in Resident Evil 4: Del Lago, Garrador, Novistador, Regenerador, etc.
- Doku (see Count Dooku above), The Dragon in the Xbox reboot of Ninja Gaiden.
- Fort Schmerzen ("Pain") in Medal of Honor and Allied Assault.
- Kamikaze Kate from Misfile, evoking images of the Kamikaze suicide pilots from World War II and also has the hard "K" sound for bonus scariness.
- It also refers to a specific type of Japanese attack bomber, codenamed "Kate" by the Allies, that would be the type to commit kamikaze runs.
- Veled from Last Res0rt. It's Arameic for "Rose", which isn't terrifying in itself, but she sure is thorny.
- Adele Couteau, a volent doctor on a proboards RPG site called Eclipse 913.
- Worm has Moord Nag, whose name, translated from Afrikaans, means "Murder Night."
- Averted with the Thanda, a feared group of Indian supervillains who naturally use Hindi and Arabic words instead of English for their code names, whose titles translate to such terrifying titles as "Repeat," "Instant" and "Embassy."
- King Sombra in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Spanish for "shadow".
- One of Hitler's generals was called Manteuffel, a name broadly translating as Man-devil. This also comes into English as the name of the sinister country mansion in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca - Manderville. Mrs deWinter, you cannot say you were not warned.
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Translated from the original German, the name means "Iron Hewer".