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"Like many cruel and evil women, Morgan le Fay knew men's weaknesses and discounted their strengths. And she knew also that most improbable actions may be successful so long as they are undertaken boldly and without hesitation, for men believe beyond proof to the contrary that blood is thicker than water and that a beautiful woman cannot be evil."
— On Morgan(a) La Fey, Arthurian Legend

Though embodied through a variety of different mediums, these magnificent masterminds are no less captivating than those expressed by specific forms.

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Asian Animation

  • BoBoiBoy: Captain Kaizo, the Legendary Space Rebel, makes his debut by swiftly neutralising the mighty Ejo Jo in minutes, when it previously took Team BoBoiBoy four episodes. Kaizo dispatches his younger brother Fang to retrieve the power bands, and inclines to punish him severely when he disobeys by befriending their Kid Hero wielders instead. Using his swordsmanship, energy powers and sharp wit, he outmatches the heroes twice, fighting with a smirk and a stylised fashion. Their strongest attacks bruise him, but he remains standing while the heroes collapse from exhaustion. Satisfied with their battle, he deems them worthy of their powers and invites them to join his team on their mission to protect power spheres from abuse. Despite understanding his good intentions, Team BoBoiBoy refuses his offer due to his violent ways.
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  • Cubix: Robots for Everyone: Kilobot is the most effective robot Dr. K ever invented, and establishes himself as the most dangerous, competent villain in the series. Using his power to absorb the EPUs of any robot, Kilobot regularly ambushes and drains robots of their powers and appearances, using their forms to surprise opponents with new moves or to flat-out bypass security measures in disguise. Overseeing Dr. K's schemes and coming the closest to ensuring their success, Kilobot's growing intelligence clashes with his disenfranchisement at Dr. K's abusive nature until Kilobot finally decides to betray his master. Manipulating Dr. K into developing an army of Zombots with technology Kilobot cleverly obtained on his own accord, Kilobot takes control of the Zombots himself and declares his intention to Take Over the World, nearly succeeding after he apparently destroys both Cubix and Maximix with his sheer power.
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Myth/Religion

    Examples 
  • Akan-Ashanti folklore: Anansi the spider, desiring all stories, is given a price by the sky god. Using his wits and advice from his wife Aso, Anansi captures the great python Onini by tricking him into measuring himself on a branch before tying him there. He then tricks the Mmoboro hornets into a gourd by making them think it's raining, traps the leopard Osebo in a cleverly dug pit and finally traps the spirit Mmoatia with the use of a sticky, 'disrespectful' doll and yams, offering them all up to the Sky God Nyame to claim the stories for himself.
  • Arthurian Legend: Morgan(a) La Fey serves as the most persistent and well-known adversary to King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Once depicted as a benevolent healer in the court, later portrayals turn her into the cunning, manipulative, and dangerous person well-known in popular culture. Always scheming to find some way to ruin the two, one of Morgan's more famous plans involved using the feud of two brothers, sending out a fake damsel to convince Arthur to duel as one of their champions, and planting fake scabbard to give her lover the best chance at slaying Arthur. She's not above using her spells or lying to escape certain capture either. Oftentimes, she approached victory only to have unforeseen circumstances thwart her such as Nimue removing the poison from a token of "atonement" or Iseult spilling the drinking horn that should have exposed Guinevere's infidelity instead. Eventually reconciling with Arthur and being there when he's taken to Avalon, Morgan La Fey nonetheless imprinted herself as one of the most famous examples of an Evil Sorceress in medieval literature.
  • Aztec Mythology: In one version of the myth Tezcatlipoca is a Trickster God and the brother of Quetzalcoatl. Conspiring with Huitzilopochtli and Tlacahuepan to overthrow his brother to usher in a new era for the gods overshadowed by his reign to be venerated, Tezcatlipoca infiltrates the ailing Quetzalcoatl's palace and tricks him into drinking a "medicine" that rejuvenates him until he continues to force him to drink the rest, after which Quetzalcoatl goes on a drunken spree of self-humiliation, exiling and then killing himself to be reborn. Successfully supplanting his brother's peaceful reign, he introduced the Aztec people to war and human sacrifice, granting them his boon in exchange, protecting slaves from abuse by striking down anyone who dared to hurt them. Finally, he set aside his rivalry with his brother to dismember the monster Tlaltcuhtli, creating the Fifth Sun from her remains.
  • Egyptian Mythology: The goddess Isis, in one story, desires the true name of Ra to gain power over him and enhance her authority. Knowing only Ra's essence can harm him, she slowly collects his sweat and mixes it with a snake she creates, arranging for it to bite Ra and nearly kill him. Isis then tries to heal Ra, tricking him into giving his true name so she may heal him entirely, allowing her to hold ultimate authority over the other gods.
  • Norse Mythology: Utgard-Loki is the Jotunn ruler of Utgard castle. A clever deceiver and trickster, Utgard-Loki disguises himself as a sleepy Jotunn named Skrymir to disguise his warning to Thor that he won't tolerate arrogance in his castle. When Thor, Loki, and two other travelers arrive at Utgard, he humiliates them with seemingly impossible challenges hidden by illusions, such as having Loki enter an eating contest with wildfire itself and having Thor wrestle against old age itself taking the form of a frail old lady. Treating the travelers with hospitality despite them losing, Utgard-Loki reveals the truth behind the contests to Thor, and warns him that he will further trick him with deception and illusion should Thor return for vengeance.
  • Pacific Mythology: Trickster demigod Maui of Polynesian and Hawaiian myth is a famed hero and rascal known for his cleverness and daring. Extinguishing all fires to lure the goddess of fire into showing him how to create it, Maui delivered the secrets unto mankind, as well as tricking the sun itself so he could lasso it and force it to creep across the sky and lengthen the day. Using his own cleverness to entrap great fish, Maui carved them apart to create the great islands of the sea, later defeating a mighty eel after his mother Hina with his wits and power. Maui is even said to meet his end attempting to grant the secrets of immortality to mankind.

Roleplay

  • Ruby Quest: The creepy, perpetually-grinning fox named Red is one of the few survivors in the Metal Glen when Ruby and Tom awake and an eccentric ally to them before he's later found dead. As logs show, Red was actually the chief diagnostician of the Metal Glen who offered the "cure" for blindness to begin with—before realizing before anyone else it had horrible, mutative effects on the subjects and even the staff. With all his attempts to escape the cure failing and realizing the entire Metal Glen has fallen victim to the whims of a hideous pagan god, Red, even driven to insanity, retains enough cleverness that he orchestrates a way to kill himself without the cure bringing him back, utterly destroying his body and cheating the eldritch god out of his body—all while Ruby and Tom never suspect a thing.

Scripts and Screenplays

    Examples 
  • Justice League: Mortal (George Miller's unproduced script): Maxwell Lord is a billionaire industrialist with aims of world domination. Born Jonah Wilkes, Maxwell was the Sole Survivor of the OMAC Project that gave him psychic powers as a child. Feeling the superhero community turned a blind-eye to his years of torment, Maxwell took it upon himself to help usher humanity into the next stage of evolution. With the help of Talia al Ghul, he hacked into Batman's satellite Brother Eye and stole the contingency plans he had made against Earth's superheroes. Maxwell went to work using nanomachines to gradually incapacitate Earth's heroes: ranging from blinding Green Lantern to giving Aquaman a chronic fear of water. When confronted, Maxwell mind controls Superman into attacking Wonder Woman by making him think she killed Lois Lane. Although eventually killed by Batman, Maxwell had transferred his consciousness to Brother Eye and turned millions of people into OMACs. He had been using his chain of fast-food restaurants to infect his customers with nanobots, which allowed him to take Barry Allen as his new host. Relying mostly on his wits to take out the world's greatest heroes, Maxwell Lord proved to be more than match for the Justice League.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion's "Episode 24: The Final Messenger" (Akio Satsukawa's Original draft): The original version of Kaworu Nagisa is not the pawn of SEELE his animated incarnation wound up being. An erudite Angel disguised as a human being, Kaworu infiltrates NERV as a friendly Evangelion pilot, winning over the organization's staff with sheer charisma. Bonding with Shinji Ikari, Kaworu suddenly rebukes him after implying romantic interest, preparing Shinji for his use in Kaworu's ultimate goal. Exposing his angelic nature and approaching Terminal Dogma, Kaworu reveals his true intent is to die in a demonstration of his free will against his natural angelic drive to destroy humanity, forcing Shinji to kill him to save the world and dying proving only he would determine his own fate.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Unproduced script by David O. Russell:
    • Atoq Navarro is as dastardly clever as his original counterpart. In truth the mastermind behind the search for Omagua, having tricked Nathan Drake and his master Gabriel Roman into guiding him to the treasure, Navarro frequently stays one step ahead of everyone with his knowledge of Isla Occulta and his enemies. Upon finding the Omagua statue, Navarro betrays Roman by tricking him into getting infected by the statue’s virus, revealing that he plans to sell the statue as a weapon in order to get revenge for the deaths of his Incan ancestors.
    • Sir Francis Drake is the ancestor of Nathan Drake, a dashing adventurer who’s been stealing treasure and accomplishing daring feats since he was 16. Stealing fellow adventurer Alvarado’s map to Omagua by tracking down and killing its holder, Drake got the Queen’s permission to set out for the treasure, even preventing a mutiny amongst his crew by calmly threatening to blow up the entire ship. Faking his death after his ships were sunk by the Cursed in order to search for the Omagua treasure himself, upon finding that the treasure contains a ravaging virus, Drake commits suicide so that he won’t succumb to the disease’s effects, while leaving behind a treasure for his beloved Isabella Cruz’s eventual child.
    • Francesca “Frank” Torres is a museum curator who leaves an impression despite her short appearance. Discovering her old partners Nathan and Sully breaking into her museum to find info on Omagua’s location, Frank has them both knocked out, with Nathan placed under a guillotine and Sully held at gunpoint. Threatening to kill the two should they not reveal why they’ve broken in, Frank tricks Nathan into revealing his motives by dropping the blade, only for it all to be an elaborate magic trick, a plan developed by herself and an enraged Elena to get back at him. Later guiding the gang to the Omagua treasure map, Frank ends up selling Nathan and Elena out to Roman, having been working with him from the start.
  • Watchmen (Sam Hamm's unproduced screenplay): Adrian Veidt is the World's Smartest Man and was once the technical genius behind the Watchmen. After the government outlawed all superheroes, Veidt left to pursue more humanitarian efforts and used his vast knowledge to create Veidt Industries. When he began to fear that the presence of Dr. Manhattan was hastening the onset of World War III, Veidt decided to save the future by any means necessary. He secretly recruited former military scientists to create a tachyon-chamber that allowed him to look into the past and planned to assassinate Jon before he ever became Dr. Manhattan. Veidt infected Jon's loved ones with cancer to force him to abandon the Earth and murdered the Comedian when he uncovered his plans. He distracted his former teammates by framing Rorschach for the murder of his informant Moloch, and fended off him and Nite Owl when they broke into his Antarctic base. While Veidt was eventually killed by Dr. Manhattan, he realized that Veidt was right and changed the timeline by preventing himself from gaining superpowers in the first place.

Toys

    Examples 
  • BIONICLE:
    • Axonn is a powerful warrior of the Order of Mata Nui who once conquered a vast swathe of the Matoran universe with his own two hands and brilliant mind before joining the Order out of a desire for higher purpose. Working with his close friend Brutaka in quelling villainous uprisings over the years, Axonn works against Brutaka when the latter betrays him, with Axonn uniting a group of Matoran into a resistance force against Brutaka and the Piraka. Successfully causing havoc throughout the Piraka ranks before beating Brutaka himself with quick thinking, Axonn later teams with Brutaka once more to unite entire islands of warlords with the Order to combat the rising threat of the Makuta and overcomes a mental trap and illusion set by Teridax himself, always showing himself to be an honorable, yet unflappable, force of power and will.
    • Brutaka was once a member of the Order of Mata Nui before growing disillusioned and striking out his own, manipulating the treacherous Piraka into hunting down the Mask of Life for him while plotting to betray them. Though taken down a peg when the Piraka betray him first and he is beaten by Axonn, Brutaka comes back better than ever, escaping the underwater prison of the Pit and taking time to foil one of Makuta Teridax's schemes out of sheer disgust at the latter's evil. Reenlisting with the Order, Brutaka forms the "Federation of Fear" by recruiting a bevy of villains to his side that he uses to pull off a daring mission while keeping them all in line and using their unique capabilities to succeed. After assisting Axonn in recruiting dangerous warlords to the side of the Order, Brutaka uses his connection to Antidermis to thwart an attempt to kill Teridax and doom the Matoran universe, instead helping partners in utilizing a less destructive method that ultimately plays a key role in undoing Teridax and saving the universe.
    • Toa Helryx was the very first Toa and the founder of the Order of Mata Nui, having grown ruthless and jaded towards the evils of the Matoran universe and seeking to create a secretive society expressly designed for dishing out extreme forms of justice to those undeserving of mercy. Via the Order and her own personal interference, Helryx has been behind a near-insurmountable number of events, from training and inspiring fellow Toa to creating the legendary prison "the Pit", all while striking key blows against growing villains to keep many at bay. Upon deciding to step out of the shadows, Helryx recruits evil beings galore to her cause yet keeps many under her thumb, turns Vezon into a stooge and sends him on a suicide mission, and decimates several Makuta strongholds with very little unforeseen circumstances. Though as shocked as the rest of the universe when Teridax attains godhood, Helryx takes advantage of imprisonment inside Teridax's mind to form a plan to kill the mad god even if it dooms the Matoran universe, and nearly succeeds in her plan before outside interference, proving once and for all that Helryx will do what she always has: "Whatever is necessary."
    • The Matoran Velika spends much of the story as apparently nothing but a notably clever bystander to the greater powers of the Makuta and Toa, however, upon Teridax's defeat, reveals himself to in fact be a power hungry Great Spirit in disguise. Having played several minor events to his will, Velika decides to make his move on the reformed Spherus Magna, striking out and killing several of the most powerful beings in the universe in brutal ways so he can instill fear in the populace from an unseen threat, then swoop in as their savior and attain power above all. Plotting to even play the Toa to his tune before ridding himself of them, Velika takes advantage of a large gathering of beings on his hit list to forego any greater plans and simply bomb their location in the hopes to wipe them all out in one fell swoop, promising to then move on and complete his domination while no one ever suspects himself as the true culprit.

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