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Card Carrying Villain / Literature

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  • O'Brien, the villain (of many) in 1984, gives a Breaking Lecture to Winston, where he extols the virtues of a world of fear, torment, and treachery. Big Brother and the Inner Party are all about Dystopia Justifies the Means.
  • Armageddon Force: Dr. Edgar Malbarn describes himself as "sick, deranged, sadistic, and insane", and loves every second of it. He also admits that he Loves the Sound of Screaming.
  • Artemis of Artemis Fowl is a half-example. He freely admits he's a devious, manipulative kidnapper and plays to that expectation. However, it's implied that he's making himself out to be evil in order to bury his own guilt on the kidnapping scheme. It's one of the last money-making options available to him, his father's missing (presumed dead by everyone but him) in northern Russia, his mother's teetering on the edge of insanity, and he's only twelve, so he's gotta do what he's gotta do.
  • Partially subverted in the Babylon 5 Expanded Universe trilogy The Passing of the Techno-Mages with Galen, whose original high ideals for the Technomage order are shattered when he finds out that Technomages are products of Shadow technology. As such, he starts to believe himself to be inherently evil, incapable of good. Turning into a Person of Mass Destruction doesn't help. He later changes his mind.
    • On the other hand, several other Technomages definitely fit the trope. Razeel willingly chooses to serve the Shadows for an unknown reason. Circe's motivation for betrayal is pure desire for power.
  • Various characters in Andrew Vachss' Burke books, including the Anti Villain Protagonist himself, identify themselves as "thieves". How evil these characters are actually varies from person to person.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Korn from Catch-22 takes positive delight in describing how odious and reprehensible his plans are.
    Colonel Korn (to Yossarian): I really do admire you a bit. You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it.
  • When you're almost the Creator's Evil Twin and your most common name is Lord Foul the Despiser, it's pretty safe to assume that you aren't an Anti-Villain. Word of God elaborates further- Foul doesn't really see himself as evil, since he feels that he is so far above all other living things that their moral standards don't apply to him. However, he is deeply flattered when other people call him evil.
  • Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange happily rapes, murders, and beats as he pleases. Why? Because, as he freely admits, he just prefers to be evil.
  • A rare case of this trope being played both seriously and non-Narmfully is the Hunter of C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy. Living in a world where the human mind can unconsciously shape reality, he has made an absolute monster of himself in a bid to deliberately invoke the trope of the invulnerable evil overlord.
    • Beyond that, he's getting his immortality through a pact with an entity that's the unholy lovechild of Satan and Cthulhu - if he ever stopped being knowingly and extremely evil, it would withdraw its end of the bargain, killing him.
  • Author Drew Karpyshyn plays this painfully straight with his interpretation of the Sith in his Darth Bane series of Star Wars spinoffs. Every Sith always intends to stab every single one of the rest of them in the back, and knows it—and knows that the others know it, too, and that they know that they know. They don't just casually accept this, they consider it bad not to do this, since that would mean that the offender is not truly devoted to The Dark Side.
  • Invoked by Sinistrad of The Death Gate Cycle as a form of Obfuscating Stupidity. He is legitimately evil and power hungry, but played up the "stereotypically evil villain" role (including the very act of changing his name to "Sinistrad" in the first place) so that his fellow wizards would dismiss him as a harmless eccentric (coupled with marrying an idealistic young wizardess who was infatuated with him in order to make it seem like he really wasn't so bad under his sinister exterior). This directly lead to the other wizards deciding he was no threat, allowing him to blackmail his way to their leader before the majority caught on to what was happening.
  • Subverted in the Discworld novels with Lord Vetinari, who cheerfully classifies himself as one of "the bad people", but is actually a force for good, or at least stability. A sort of Card Carrying Anti-Villain.
    Greenyham: You can't do that!
    Vetinari: Can I not? I'm a tyrant. It's what we do.
    • Greenyham has been calling Vetinari a tyrant through most of the book, on the grounds that Vetinari runs the government. (Vetinari probably is a tyrant in the original Greek sense of the word: a guy who bosses the polis.) It's a Take That! to libertarian propaganda.
    • Note that he also classifies everyone as "bad people". But some of them are on opposite sides.
    • Lady Felmut, in Wyrd Sisters. Granny Weatherwax tries to Mind Rape her by "showing her her True Self" - and it doesn't work, because she's already well aware she's a villain, and she's proud of it.
    • Also somewhat subverted with Dr. Hix (né Hicks), head of UU's Department of Post-Mortem Communication. Because necromancy is a so-called evil curriculum, he wears the skull ring and forces himself (if apologetically) to take an Evil stance on things, simply because it goes with his job description.
      • Mostly this involves minor evil actions such as making tasteless comments or giving people tickets to his community theater group.
    • Done something with by Abrim, The Grand Vizier in Sourcery. He points out that the evil things he does are expected of him. But he doesn't apologize for doing them, like Dr. Hix, or do them for the greater good, like Vetinari. Probably closest to lampshaded.
    • The Last Hero gives us Evil Harry Dread, a Dark Lord from Cohen the Barbarian's age, who, like Cohen, has become disgruntled with how the world's become. When he tips off the gods on Cohen's quest to deliver fire in the form of a high-explosive, he justifies it by saying, "Well, I AM Evil." He seems to treat being Evil like a career, doing things that are expected of villains, and at the same time purposely making the usual mistakes- stupid guards, easily escapable jails, uniforms that can be used to go undercover with- and feels deeply hurt when today's do-gooders BLOCK OFF his escape tunnel to subvert Exit Villain Stage Left.
    • Then there's the Thieves Guild, who are required to carry cards. Vetinari gave the Guild a license to thieve provided that they keep track of unlicensed thieves and steal only the allowed amount. Nowadays it's not uncommon to find your missing property replaced with a receipt.
    • In the fourth Science of Discworld book, Vetinari gets strongarmed into pressing the Big Red Button to turn on the wizards' newest ill-advised invention, even though he suspects it's a very bad idea. But he reassures himself on the basis that, apparently, it would at least be a pretty evil thing to do:
    If indeed it's me who blows up the known world, then it might just be good for my image anyway.
  • The original Dragonlance villains dress in black armor with horns, practice slavery and human sacrifice, and are generally about as evil as they could be if they tried. However, the main point making them an example is that they knowingly and self-admittedly serve an evil god.
  • Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling. The Big Bad who's turned Portland into a feudal dictatorship uses the Eye of Sauron on his flag. One of the protagonists comments how stupid this is, as it would make more sense to use the Stars & Stripes to give himself legitimacy. When his colleague points out that "Hey, it's cool to be bad!", he responds "What's the point of letting people know you're evil enough to backstab them at the first suitable opportunity?"
  • The poster-boy for Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, started out as one of these ("They die like flies! And I am the God of Destruction!"), before turning into something closer to a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • According to The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, someone aware of their own evil is easier to save from damnation than a Knight Templar or Well-Intentioned Extremist. If you know you're evil, you can be converted to good. If you think you're good, it's harder.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The main antagonists call themselves "Death Eaters" with Voldemort proclaiming himself to be the "Dark Lord". While they believe they are doing the right thing, some of them also openly and proudly gloat about all the morally reprehensible things they have done throughout their lives.
    • Godelot, a historical personage and author of Magick Most Evile, reveled in his villainy (although a passage quoted in Half-Blood Prince indicates that even he would not dare go into the field of Horcruxes).
  • In A Harvest of War we have the Thyll cousins:
    • Rhona Thyll is a self-described terrorist, though in more words than that.
    • Guinevere Thyll, after raging when she's called a criminal, acquiesces without a second thought when that is ammended to "evil".
  • In Immortals After Dark, this is frequently seen. There's even a Queen of Evil whose primary power is to control anybody or anything evil. Two major characters are concerned by this because they are perfectly aware that they're evil.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality series, Satan seems to be the Corrupter. And, he is very good at his job — to evoke the latent evil in souls. Interestingly, in For Love of Evil, we find he is a good man and according to Archangel Gabriel he is one of the most effective Incarnations because he has not become Drunk with Power.
    • In the same book, Satan himself says he was impressed with Zane, but protocol required him to depart in an angry huff.
  • In The Year 2050 Americas Religious Civil War: President Osama bin Muhammad is very much this. In the very first chapter, when meeting departing President Jackson two hours before his inauguration, he feels the need to gloat about all the ways he's going to destroy America and all the infidels he will kill.
  • In Death: some of the bad guys reach this level in the series. Casto from Immortal In Death admits that he is a selfish man. Reanna Otts in Rapture In Death cheerfully describes herself as a sociopath and completely agrees with that diagnosis!
  • Set in The Kane Chronicles is officially known as a God of Evil, so he has no qualms about being a villain .
    Set: You figure that out all by yourself? The god of evil is evil?
  • The Nome King from L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz stories is a sadistic old bastich who enjoys being angry because it makes everyone around him miserable.
  • One gets the impression that Pryrates, Evil Sorcerer and The Dragon to the Big Bad of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, has a list of Villain tropes in his pocket and is working his way through it as the story goes on. Kick the Dog, check. Torture Cellar, check. Sell your king's soul for power, check. All we need is the Evil Gloating...oh, there he goes.
  • Don John in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing comes right out and says it. He's pissed that he can't rule because he's a bastard son, and will therefore do anything so long as it causes his brother grief: "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in / his grace, and it better fits my blood to be / disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob / love from any: in this, though I cannot be said to / be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied / but I am a plain-dealing villain." Played quite straight by Keanu Reeves in the 1993 film, the character has no purpose but to foil the good guys.
  • Satan in Paradise Lost revels in his own villainy, making no attempt to hide his contempt for God and his creations.
  • A Practical Guide To Evil is set in a world many Heroic Fantasy tropes are enforced by the universe's laws. Black and White Morality is an objective reality with individuals, species and nations that are clearly and Unapologetically Evil and Good.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost is this. He causes trouble just because he can, and loves seeing bad things happen to others.
  • Some of Redwall's villains clearly revel in this trope. Vilu Daskar, upon being praised by his crew for inventive sadism, modestly says "Oh, I do my best to be the worst." The trope gets even more obvious in Triss, when the villainous pirate crew does three song and dance numbers dedicated to their own gruesome behaviour. The irony here being that Grubbage, one of the singers of the second song ("'Tis nice to be a villain/wot all honest creatures fears/and terrorise the beasts for miles around"), does a Heel–Face Turn in a sadly very brief skimmed-over epilogue.
    • Cluny is of the more horrific examples, taking pride in being feared and called the Scourge and wishing to be seen as a Deathbringer. He does plenty of things that justify this reputation.
  • Gary Karkofsky is an odd example in The Rules of Supervillainy since most supervillains are rich glamorous criminals. What makes him odd is that other supervillains resent being called such and consider their labeling as such childish. Gary, by contrast, thinks its awesome.
  • Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Is pretty proud of the fact that he sets fires and kidnaps children for their fortune.
  • Most of the vampires of the Dread Empire of Shadow in The Shadowspawn are not merely Always Chaotic Evil, but self-aware about it. Adrienne and Michiko set the tune in their first scene together, casually discussing torture, murder and genocide over lunch in among the other girl-talk. All with a playful wink.
    "Aren't we awful?"
  • In Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter comes close to describing himself as evil:
    "You can't reduce me to a set of influences. You've given up good and evil for behaviorism...nothing is ever anybody's fault. Look at me, Officer Starling. Can you stand to say I'm evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?"
    "I think you've been destructive. For me it's the same thing."
    "Evil's just destructive? Then storms are evil, if it's that simple."
  • House Bolton in A Song of Ice and Fire. Their house arms features a flayed man due to their history of flaying their prisoners alive. They wear pink and red capes because ages ago they used to wear the skins before submitting to House Stark. Their castle is called the Dreadfort. Lord Roose Bolton and his heir Ramsay commit numerous atrocities and eventually betray their liege lords in a massacre that shocks the continent.
    • Interestingly, Ramsay and Roose are Deconstructions of this. Ramsay is so savage and brutal that everyone else in the North is wary of him, and is waiting for an opportunity to kill him as soon as possible. Roose, meanwhile, tries avoiding this status because he knows that gaining this reputation is an excellent way to end up dead. The backlash from the Red Wedding and Ramsay's various atrocities will probably do just that.
  • Dr. Impossible in Soon I Will Be Invincible is a Mad Scientist and he absolutely loves being the villain. Sure, he admits that it's a lonely life with no opportunity for a secret identity, but by God he's going to keep trying to take over the world and kill his arch-nemesis CoreFire. His plans often include deaths of millions or even billions, even though he personally doesn't actually kill anyone.
  • Khan is more than willing to, as he puts it, slit the worlds throat in Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars by destroying the ozone layer above whatever nation defies him. His only regret is that he has to be secretive about it.
  • Acheron Hades of the Thursday Next series wrote the book Degeneracy for pleasure and profit and extols the wonder of doing evil for its own sake. He also complains that profit "dilutes the taste of wickedness".
  • Every villain of a Wilbur Smith novel. They're so obviously evil that it's as if they all came from the same dog-kicking litter.
  • The Astronomer from the Wild Cards universe could have been created as an exercise to write a character as utterly evil as possible. He seeks to rule the world. He revels in murder, rape, corruption and both psychological and physical torture. He has no value system, no passions, no vision, no motivation other than his personal power and pleasure, and he never tries to explain or justify his acts in any way. His previous life is a blank book, and the reader never has any occasion to understand what made him what he is. He is so cold, ruthless, calculating and devoid of any sense of humour that we can't even merely categorize him as "crazy". He has no respect for neither his allies not his enemies, and will readily use, abuse and kill even his own allies. And to people he knows, he will casually admit all of the above, including sacrificing his own allies, while both scaring and manipulating them in such a way that they go on serving him while knowing they have every chance of being betrayed.