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They would love to have you for the feast.

"All baronets are bad; but was he worse than other baronets?"
Ruth, Ruddigore
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A lot of tropes have origins way back when media was still forming; this is one of them.

It might have been an early way to appeal to the masses, or just due to the way aristocrats tended to look down on the general public. But it was then and is now really popular to cast aristocrats as villains. A variety of Meaningful Titles exist—people with feudal titles are very commonly evil. Popular titles are Countnote , and Baron — two titles which are rarely seen on a good guy. (Oddly enough, a Countess has a better-than-even chance of being a decent woman.note ) And though it doesn't show up a great deal, you should break out in a cold sweat when you meet a Viscount. Unless it's Viscount Horatio Nelson. Interestingly, both counts and barons are fairly common titles among Continental Europeans, but rare among the English, which may suggest a regional bias in which aristocrats are cast as villains.

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Needless to say, Barons fare the worst in popular fiction, with one notable exception when used as a badass nickname. Maybe it's something to do with the old nickname "Sugar Baron", who makes his wealth off the labour of the poorest of the poor, and from slaves. (In the U.S. this became the "Robber Baron", the derogatory term for wealthy industrialists that made their money off the backs of immigrant labor.)

One major exception: Dukes are usually relatively nice. This may be because the title was awarded to those who rose to aristocracy as war leaders. Thus, the Duke has a "grass roots" feel to it, and a badass quality; as well, much like The Good Captain, military titles are generally for good guys, with the possible exceptions of Admiral and Major. Also, before the 18th and 19th centuries, Dukes were generally too high up the ladder of aristocracy to really have much contact with common people at all. Because of this, Dukes were not the nobles that were directly oppressing the common people, and so didn't receive quite the same stigma… especially since in some local cases, a Duke actually ran interference against a lower-ranking nobleman on behalf of the masses. Dukes (and especially Grand Dukes) can be evil if the Hero is a Royal. Often a Duke is scheming to take over the throne himself.

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Other titles generally have a more neutral feel to them — Earls tend to be good but quite elderly and senile, while it is rare to see a Marquess in anything other than a particularly faithful historical adaptation. Baronets were quite often villains in both Victorian Melodrama and Wodehousian comedy (not to mention the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Ruddigore), probably due to the fact that baronetcies could be more or less openly bought, indicating that the character is not only Nouveau Riche, but also ambitious and seeking to rise beyond his station (the worst social sin in Victorian Britain). Queens/Kings have an equal chance of being good, evil, or anywhere inbetween. And, of course, Everything's Better With Princesses (or is it?).

The title Sir is the best of the lot, being martial, unprepossessing, and upwardly mobile. Even actors like to be called Sir.

The title Lord is somewhat problematic as strictly speaking any British or Irish Peer (other than a Duke or Duchess) would be addressed as such. For instance a character named 'Lord Bloggs', might be the Earl of Bloggs, or the Marquess of Bloggs or so on. The title "Lord -" is also a favorite of a certain type of supernatural villain (Lords Vader and Voldemort, most famously), but are really a separate trope — normally not real aristocrats, and normally not powerful simply because of their titles.

The Prince will almost always be charming, even in the rare cases where that is not actually his name. However, there are two uses of the term. The Prince may be the son of a King, or it may be used to refer to any ruler or leader (re: Machiavelli). If an evil prince ever appears in fiction, be sure to check that it is not in fact the latter. And of course, the Evil Prince may be out to kill the good one.

If it's an Action-Adventure story, you can bet anyone with the title Lady will be a Lady of War.

If there's a Queen then she will be regal and respected or God Save Us from the Queen! Conversely, a Prince is much more likely to be The Wise Prince; compare Fisher King.

Don't even get us started on Emperors or Chancellors.

While East Asian and pre-Columbian noble titles are usually translated — Huangdi and Tlatoani are all simply Emperors, and treated as such — the Middle East has an aristocratic hierarchy of its own. Sheikhs and Sultans used to be romantic, but since the 1970s oil embargo they're almost universally bad news in fiction: typically depicted as corrupt, greedy, lecherous, fat, and smug. Emirs have roughly the same connotations, but the title is even more besmirched because of its use by terrorist leaders. Caliphs, however, are a rarity. This is mostly because the title, while extremely prestigious, was powerless on its own most of the time and is completely gone today, the only claimant being a raving terrorist. That being said, in the short period where the caliphs were relevant — the early Middle Ages — they can be seen in "Arabian Nights" Days stories. While these caliphs are usually benevolent, beware of Grand Viziers.

Squires tend to be Quintessential British Gentlemen. They are likely to be rather gruff but good natured under all that. They tend to either be a retired military officer, or a father obsessed with marrying off his daughters or with a wife with the same obsession.

Chiefs tend to be a leader of a tribal community, generally a barbarous one. They will likely be badass because their culture insists that Authority must equal asskicking and may even have gotten their job from Klingon Promotion. Alternatively they are chief of a tribe that has acculturated itself to mundane lifestyles. In that case, expect him to wax poetic about the Good Old Ways.

Several of these kinds of aristocrats together form a Decadent Court.

See also The Baroness and The Caligula. A young aristocrat may fall under Royal Brat.

Aristocrats are often willing to be polite and even with people of their own rank. Moral Myopia, however, often limits it to fellow aristocrats. Commoners are just out of luck — especially servants. If they're not actively in charge, expect them to be part of the Omniscient Council of Vagueness. A Regent for Life will pick any one of these titles, especially if they run the People's Republic of Tyranny. In that case, only when the Rightful King Returns will harmonious social order be restored to the realm.

In most cases, aristocrats are associated exclusively with monarchical and imperial societies. In actual fact, the word aristocrat comes from Athenian democracy. The word comes from the combination of "Arete" (Greek for "the best" or most virtuous) and "Kratos" (power). In other words "power of the best". It originally referred to the fact that leading members of Athenian families were supposed to be first in battle and represent the highest and best values of society. The "best men" (aristocrats) had the highest voting privileges and greatest power. So an aristocrat is not necessarily exclusive to monarchical and feudal nations. The Romans incidentally, after conquering Greece, used the word "optimate" or "boni" which meant the same thing in Latin (Best Men/Good Men), and as in the case of Athens, it was often the case that those who possessed the most wealth, prestige, and power were regarded as the best and good men. In England-France-USA, the word Aristocracy in the 18th and 19th Century, was often used in the original classical sense, to describe individuals and interests that restricted suffrage and voting rights.

For the modern version of this trope, see Corrupt Corporate Executive, and to a lesser extent, Nouveau Riche.

Very prone to Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, Screw the Rules, I Make Them!, and Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! Sometimes even prone to Screw the Money, I Have Rules!

Morally Ambiguous Doctorate is also related, insofar as the title of Doctor gives the Mad Scientist some implied legitimacy.

If there are any German or Dutch Evil Aristocrat in the fiction, The Von Trope Family might please us with the delight of their company.

For more information on the British title system, see Knight Fever. Not to be confused with The Aristocrats, a "stock joke" based on this premise.

This trope often goes hand in hand with Slobs vs. Snobs. See also, Eat the Rich and Kill the Poor.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Kings/Queens 
Anime and Manga
  • The Emperor of Darkness of Great Mazinger and Great King Vega from UFO Robo Grendizer. The latter conquered several planets after exterminating their whole native population.

Comic Books

  • Megalex: The noble class and the royal family.
  • Swordquest: King Tyrannus. One of his first acts as king was to order the deaths of two newborn infants simply because his Evil Sorcerer told him of a prophecy that they would eventually lead to his death.

Film — Live-Action

  • In Braveheart, the working class Scottish villagers get pitted against the snobbish, aristocratic Norman nobles led by King Edward.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: The clueless duo winds up in medieval times, and tries to save two Royal English Babes from their tyrannical father, who wants them to marry "Royal Ugly Dudes". Unfortunately, they barely make it out alive after meeting him, but Rufus manages to get the princesses out later.

Literature

  • In Johannes Cabal the Detective the main antagonist is Count Marechal, who is more or less the de-facto ruler of the fictional country of Ruritania (the Emperor dies shortly after the book starts and Marechal is technically ruling for the mind-addled young son of the Emperor). He's a hands-on type, a former cavalry man who dreams of conquest ans the brains to do something about it.
  • The Rifter: Played straight. The aristocracy are rapacious and repressive toward the common people; the one decent person among them that we meet, Joulen, has been away with the army in the north for years, and John reflects that the simple life had done him good. Lady Bousim, exiled in the north, turns out to be a very good friend to Laurie and Bill, although we are told that before, in the south, she had taken a series of lovers without caring that her husband would have them all executed.
  • Dune: Emperor Shaddam IV is only good in comparison to Baron Harkonnen. The Emperors throughout the series fall under this trope, even the Necessary Evil ones — God Emperor Leto made himself the most reviled being in history, distrusted and despised even by his closest supporters. Its even revealed in the prequels the Emperor had his elder brother and father murdered to secure his succession.
  • In The Iron Teeth web serial all the nobles are ruthless and immoral. For example, Vorscha used to work for a Lord but he decided that it was easier to put bounty on her head than to pay her mercenary company's wages.
  • In 1632, nobles tend to come off particularly poorly more often than not, especially in the first volume.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Plenty of people call themselves Kings or Queens (with varying degrees of legitimacy) and many of these people are hard to pin down morally. Still, we have a few shining examples such as Aerys II, a.k.a. The Mad King who was a sadistic nutso that ravaged the kingdom so badly and antagonized so many royal houses that he all but destroyed the future of the Targaryen dynasty. Joffrey I also gets special mention, being only slightly less bad than Aerys due to his relatively limited scope of influence at the time. Robert toes the line, but was more incompetent and oblivious than malicious or cruel (though he caused his share of the suffering by failing to do the right things when it mattered). Stannis has a reputation as an Evil Overlord, but shows Hidden Depths and goes through Character Development that mean he would probably make a good and progressive King. His younger brother Renly has a good image, but is a vain schemer who intended to kill Stannis and usurp the throne. On the flipside, the only real evil queen we've seen thus far is Cersei; Danaerys' enemies have given her this reputation as well, though it's (mostly) base slander. Historically there are other examples such as Visenya, who may have poisoned her stepson/nephew Aenys so her monstrous son Maegor the Cruel could succeed.
  • Spectral Shadows both plays this straight and subverts it, mainly in Serial 11. A lot of the Towns' Ruling Family are rotten, corrupt, or otherwise self-serving people. There are a few notable inversions though, namely Sir Jon and Miss Sonny, the King and Queen of Suburbia, respectively.
  • A College of Magics features the neighboring nations of Aravill and Galazon, which were once duchies in a long-ago kingdom that fell apart. Aravill now styles itself a kingdom, and the King and his family are quite nasty, while Galazon still styles itself a duchy, and the Duchess falls under the "Dukes are relatively nice" exception.

Live-Action TV

  • Blackadder: Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, or at least her Alternate History persona in the second series, is also very fond of ordering people's execution at the slightest whim. A Royal Brat taken to a sadistic extreme.
  • The Devil's Whore: Most of the Cavaliers are portrayed as this, especially Prince Rupert. An exception is Angelica's husband, a clearly good-hearted Royalist who is executed by Charles I at the end of the first episode for surrendering his manor to Parliamentary forces.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • King Uther, who concerns himself mostly with the nobility and royalty and looks down on peasants and servants as expendable.
    • There have also been a number of guest stars that invoked and subvert this trope. King Odin, King Caerleon and King Alined have been antagonistic, whilst King Godwyn, King Olaf and King Bayard have been anything from benevolent to neutral. As of the end of series 4, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are subversions. Queen Annis proves herself an ally to Camelot, whilst Queen Morgana (whenever she manages to seize the crown) is a definite case of God Save Us from the Queen!.
  • CSI: Subverted in an episode where a maid is found dead in the hotel room of a Saudi prince who's on a gambling trip in Las Vegas. CSI Riley Adams suspects that the prince killed the maid for refusing his advances, and thought that he'd be able to buy his way out of any trouble he got into. It turns out that the maid was killed by another maid who she caught trying to steal the jewelry the prince was keeping in his hotel room's safe. When he finds out that the maid was murdered for trying to protect his property, the prince donates an amount of money to the maid's family equal to what the jewelry was worth, as a way of expressing his condolences and gratitude.

Video Games

  • Donkey Kong: King K. Rool.
  • Dragon Age: Ferelden's history included the evil King Arland, whose reign was so despotic that even the politically neutral Grey Wardens took up arms against him. Subverted with King Behren (should you choose to support him for King in Orzammar). He's a corrupt, manipulative, and despotic ruler who was rejected by his own father, but he's also a champion of social justice who intends to introduce much-needed reforms to their ancient caste system and their self-destructive isolationist policies. Compare to his opponent, Lord Harrowmont, a kind and honorable man who rules through compromise, but who is also a staunch traditionalist who is unlikely to make much progress against the major social and economic problems the dwarfs face.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ganondorf is known as "King of Thieves" or "the Great King of Evil" in some installments, and serves as the franchise's main antagonist and villain.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Queen Brahne Raza Alexandros XVI has no remorse stealing other people's powers and using them to commit multiple genocides.
  • In Disco Elysium, the old kings of Revachol were decadent, inbred, and insane, and their antics eventually became too much for the country, which errupted into a Communist revolution. The legend on the horseback monument that can be found the middle of Martinaise actually reads:
    "I am Filippe III, the Squanderer, the Greatest of the Filippian Kings of Revachol; Son of Filippe II, the Opulent; Father of Filippe IV, the Insane."

Webcomics

  • Glorianna: Queen Idonta rose to the throne via murder, and kidnaps women from other tribes for nefarious purposes.

Web Original

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Queen Adevia is a war-mongering, ambitious monarch who stops at nothing to defeat her enemies and expand her kingdom.

Western Animation

  • ReBoot: Some of the viruses. Megabyte's title is the "King of Control", Hexadecimal's is the "Queen of Chaos" and Daemon's is the "Monarch of Order".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Ozai is the king of the Fire Nation. He and the last two generations of Fire Lords were all pretty evil, but the next Fire Lord is a nice guy. His daughter Azula is no less evil than him, and probably quite a bit more crazy.
  • The Legend of Korra has the Earth Queen Hou-Ting. Compared to the Earth King in the last season, she is an uptight, demanding tyrant. She also uses the Dai Li to forcefully conscript air benders(i.e:kidnap) for her army.

    Dukes/Duchesses 
Anime and Manga
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: Duke Otho von Braunschweig nukes two million innocent people. Before that he is the type of man to treat his people like cattle, rather than human beings.

Comic Books

  • Wonder Woman: The Duke of Deception is a cruel Martian nobleman who traditionally acted as Ares' Starscream.

Fanfiction

  • The Tainted Grimoire: Duke Reighlard is described as merciless and he is trying to gain control of St. Galleria and the vast natural resources at their disposal so he can achieve dominance.

Film — Animation

  • Frozen: Downplayed; the Duke of Weasel Town (WESELTON!) is very greedy, planning to exploit the riches of Arendelle and willing to use assassination as a means to an end. However, his concerns are genuine (after all, he is trapped by an endless winter and they are at risk of freezing to death), and when he sees Prince Hans despairing over the "loss of Anna" (though he's really faking it), he shows genuine sympathy.
  • In Rock-A-Doodle, there is the Grand Duke of Owls, who wants to stop Chanticleer the rooster from crowing to create The Night That Never Ends.

Film — Live-Action

Literature

  • Nightfall (Series): The Duchess is a sadistic vampire who happily feeds humans to her sub lover while simultaneously drinking his blood.
  • Dune:
    • Duke Leto Atreides is one of the "good" examples, as mentioned above - Practically Messianic Archetype, And his son is a Messianic Archetype of sorts.
    • In the prequel novels, so was Paulus Atreides, Paul's grandfather for whom he was named and who taught Leto everything he knows. Archduke Armand Ecaz is also not a bad guy.
  • Westmark: The king of Regia's Evil Chancellor is a duke.
  • Stravaganza: Duke Niccolo di Chimici series is the main villain of the first three books. On the other hand, the Duchessa of Bellezza is good.
  • The 13 Clocks: The Duke has killed time, so that his thirteen clocks do not move, and sets Impossible Tasks to the princes who want to marry his niece. Finally he reveals that she is not his real niece but a princess he kidnapped and intends to marry; he let the princes try their luck because he was under a curse.
  • Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom: The Duc de Blangis and his companions are guilty of almost anything you can think of, and some things you probably can't.
  • Dukes in P. G. Wodehouse's work tend to be people you have to be on your guard against; the overbearing Duke of Dunstable from the Blandings stories is a good example.
  • Discworld:
    • Wyrd Sisters: Duke Felmet murdered of King Verence I and is scarily insane. Compared to his Duchess, however, he's a downright warm and fuzzy guy.
    • Mort: The Duke of Sto Helit murdered his brother, the kind, and made fair to do the same to his niece. However, his title is inherited by the much more upright Mort and, ultimately, his daughter Susan.
    • Jingo: Notable subversion: Samuel Vimes becomes Duke of Ankh. He's unmistakeably Lawful Good and, for that matter, absolutely hates his title.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: The Duchess. She may be a subversion though, as she's mostly just a Mood-Swinger and is almost unsettlingly nice when in a good mood. (Alice figured it might have only been the large amount of pepper in the kitchen that gave her such a bad mood the first time they met.)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda has Prince Michael, the Duke of Strelsau, as the main antagonist. Michael falls firmly into the Bastard Bastard category (his parents were technically married, but since his mother was a commoner, he is only a prince because people are too polite to rub his face in it), and his duchy (which is ruled from the capital, no less) was a creation of his father's hoping that being the second-most powerful noble in the kingdom would soothe his anger at being passed over for the throne in favor of his younger half-brother Rudolf (it didn't)
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Lord Peter's older brother, the Duke of Denver, is a bit dense but not a bad sort (his wife the Duchess is a terror, though). And Lord Peter becomes Duke when his brother dies of a heart attack while the estate is burning down. He doesn't like it at all, but he'll do his duty.
  • In Malediction Trilogy troll aristocrat Duke d'Angouleme and his mother Dowager Duchess. He's a Sadist and a Manipulative Bastard, and he treats humans and mixed-blood trolls with utter contempt. In addition, he is rumoured to have killed his own wife and he plots to overthrow the royal troll family. She is not much better and after all, it was she who brought him up.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Duke Venalitor from the Grey Knights novel Hammer of Daemons is definitely evil. Most notably he's a follower of Khorne, the god of bloodshed and slaughter.

Live-Action TV

Music

  • David Bowie L: The Thin White Duke, a cold hearted cocaine addict with a taste for fascism, spends time "throwing darts in lovers' eyes" according to the title track of Station to Station.
  • Evillious Chronicles: There are numerous examples, among them Banica Conchita, a cannibalistic duke; Sateriasis Venomania, a lecherous Smug Snake duke; Prim Marlon, an Evil Matriarch queen who uses her children as pawns in her schemes and basially caused the entire Story of Evil to happen in her pursuit of vengeance; and Margarita Blankenheim, a marchioness who murders her entire town after her marriage begins to fail. Princess Riliane Lucifen D'Autriche was an example but was later deposed, which ironically coincided with her reforming herself.

Radio

  • Torchwood: The Duchess from the radio play Golden Age. Whimsical and old-fashioned, so much so that she was ready to kill thousands to keep things the way they were in 1924, having taken the end of the British empire and India's independence very, very badly.

Tabletop Games

  • BattleTech: Both Grand Duke George Hasek-Davion and Duke Frederick Steiner each schemed in the 3020s to take over their nation's thrones. On the flipside, there is Grand Duke Morgan Kell, one of the major Big Good characters of the universe, and leader of the loyal opposition.

Theatre

  • Richard III was the Duke of Gloucester before becoming king. Whether his evilness was Truth in Television or a product of Shakespeare is left for the reader to decide.
  • Rigoletto: The incorrigibly lecherous Duke of Mantua also has the habit of executing people who complain too much about his seducing their wives/sisters/daughters. Being an Italian city state, this particular Duke was probably a royal Duke and ruler of the state — he certainly has the power of a monarch (in the original play, he was actually a king, but this was changed because Italy had recently attained a king of the whole nation, and an evil king was felt to be too politically sensitive).
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: After his Heel–Face Turn, Count De Guiche is named Duke de Grammont, and he claims to have not committed any villainy (but then, he could be lying or having Self-Serving Memory).
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Violet Beauregarde isn't evil, but she is a Hate Sink: a Spoiled Brat Shameless Self-Promoter who with her father's help has parlayed her non-talent of gum-chewing into a Hollywood career. In a Boastful Rap, she proclaims herself to be "The Double Bubble Duchess" and her father calls her "royalty of the highest order". Fittingly, when she meets her comeuppance — a transformation into a giant blueberry — in the Wonka Factory, the Oompa-Loompas' mocking Crowd Song gives her the Embarrassing Nickname "Juicy!"

Video Games

  • Dishonored 2 introduces Duke Luca Abele of Serkonos. He forces his people to work themselves to death in the silver mines, and is the money behind the Evil Sorceress who wants to take over the Empire.
  • Duke Nukem: The titular character is nominally the good guy, though you still probably wouldn't want to meet him.
  • Vagrant Story: Duke Bardorba. Probably an evil cultist, but he doesn't live for very long. It's implied that he and his son, Sydney, orchestrated the destruction of Lea Monde to permanently drive the power of the Dark from the world, and thus keep it from the Cardinal's power-hungry hands —even if it meant Sydney's death and the sacrifice of everyone in the Cult of M?nkamp. Which would make him somewhat of a Neutral Good Magnificent Bastard.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn presents Vice-Minister Lekain, Duke of Gaddos who is a monster. Some of Lekain's crimes include causing a massacre, regicide, false imprisonment, rebellion, slave dealing, and extortion of two foreign nations through threats of massacring their peoples via arcane magic.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Duke Farthington Roenall. To be fair, his trafficking in slaves, smuggling gems, and hiring pirates don't make him any worse than most nobles in Amn, but orchestrating an assault on the De'Arnise Keep to kill Lord De'Arnise, then attempting to force De'Arnise's only daughter into a marriage with Roenall's son so the Roenalls can claim the De'Arnise wealth and lands does push it a little.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: The three Dukes of Ivalice, of which Dukes Gerrith Barrington of Riovanes and Bestrald Larg of Gallionne are downright evil, and the remaining Duke Druksmald Goltanna is only a notch or two above them. The war of succession between Duke Larg and Duke Goltanna for the throne of Ivalice is known as the War of the Lions, serves as the backdrop for much of the game, and creates enough bloodshed to precipitate the Big Bad's true plot.
  • American McGee's Alice: The Duchess serves as a boss fight. She tries to eat Alice, no less. She makes a Heel–Face Turn in the sequel and becomes Alice's ally, but as stated in one source she becomes so annoying that Alice actually prefers the way she was before.
  • Terraria: Duke Fishorn is half fish, half pigron, all mean. So mean, many consider him to be the hardest boss in the game!
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Duke Albarea is introduced by levying excessive taxes on his subjects, and making life difficult for them until they agree to pay up. In the following chapter, he arrests the son of one of his political rivals on trumped up charges (which his own son was an eyewitness to the fact that Machias couldn't have done it, which is why the Duke put Jusis under house arrest to prevent him from testifying) for purposes of blackmail. Duke Cayenne is introduced by launching a coup, backed by Albarea and two Marquises. The complete listing of adult nobles in the first two games of the series outside the royal family who are not jackasses is: Viscount Arseid, Baron and Baroness Schwarzer, and Lord Rufus Albarea (Duke Helmut's elder son).

Webcomics

  • Little Worlds: "The Duke" is neither noble nor kind.
  • Glorianna: Duke Ludwig is not only generally unpleasant, he's also an alien in disguise.

Web Original

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Duke Koschei Dravaris is very much evil, constantly plotting behind the scenes to discredit the Grand Alliance and even leads his superior Belial to an ambush. The four demonic dukes and duchesses are ambitious and ruthless each in their own way, willing to fight among themselves but also against the other races whom they see as lesser beings.

Western Animation

    Marquesses/Marchionesses (Marquis) 
Anime and Manga
  • Great Mazinger: Marquis Janus. A Two-Faced witch, conniving, manipulative and treacherous. In one of the manga versions she tore a girl in half to get back at The Hero Tetsuya for an earlier humiliation.
  • Slayers: Marchioness Gioconda of Sayers REVOLUTION is a mid-season villainess dabbling in creating and selling prototype magical weapons. One of her wares, a Zanaffar Armor, goes out of control and devours her, turning into the season's ultimate villain, Beast Zanaffar.

Comic Books

  • Mark Millar's the Marquis of Death was most definitely a bad guy, though he seemed to have given the title to himself and wasn't a proper aristocrat.
  • Tintin: The Marquis di Gorgonzola (aka Rastapopoulos) is arguably the series' Big Bad. Whether or not he is a real Marquis is less clear.

Film

  • Brotherhood of the Wolf: In a subversion, the Marquis is just about the only aristocrat who isn't evil, and in fact borders on the heroic. It doesn't save him from the guillotine, though.

Literature

  • Montmorency: The Marquess of Rosseley is one of the nicest characters in the series, looking after a man he doesn't know at the request of his brother, being an excellent parent, and uniting with the other main characters in their cause.
  • A Tale of Two Cities: The Marquis is a classic example of the evil marquis. His carriage runs a child down and not only does he give the grieving family a single coin as compensation, but also is more worried about the health of the horse who trampled him than the boy himself.
  • Ninety-Three: The Marquis de Lantenac is a Magnificent Bastard Knight Templar for the royalists, who has whole villages slaughtered as well as giving one of his troops a medal for heroism — then immediately having him executed.
  • Scaramouche: The Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr is a ruthless, manipulative killer.
  • Neverwhere: Marquis de Carabas. A good guy, and a scheming Magnificent Bastard. Though technically, he's not even really an aristocrat, as he is said to have taken his title from "a lie in a fairy tale". He's also only technically a good guy. More on the 'helping the heroes because there's a lot in it for him' side.
  • The Fifth Elephant makes references to a "Marquis of Fantailler", who got into a lot of fights (mostly by way of being called the Marquis of Fantailler), and felt this entitled him to write a book. This book was called "The Noble Art of Fisticuffs" and was mostly a list of places where people weren't allowed to hit him. Whether he was particularly good or bad is never brought up, but it's implied that he was kind of an idiot because, as Vimes notes when Carrot tries to fight according to Marquis of Fantailler rules against an opponent who would have to back off a bit to qualify as dangerous, it only works when both people think so.

    This is of course a parody of the real life 9th Marquess of Queensberry, whose name was given to rules for boxing codified in the 1860's, i.e. the Marquess of Queensberry rules. The real life Marquess was the father of Lord Alfred Douglas ('Bosie'), outspoken (or reckless, considering the times and who his father was) lover of Oscar Wilde. Angered by his son's relationship with Wilde, he was central to the trial and prison sentence which led to Wilde's early death. If you're a fan of Oscar Wilde, it makes this Marquess pretty evil.
  • Carrera's Legions: The Marchioness of Amnesty Interplanetary (as in Amnesty International), as part of a future UN that's become a true world government, and over the centuries became a Feudal Future government. The original Marquis of Amnestynote  and the two marchionesses who have been shown to hold the title prior to Captain Wallenstein being made Marchioness of Amnesty in The Lotus Eaters resemble the stereotypical depiction of the Marquis de Sade.

Theatre

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Poke the Poodle / Evil Is Petty: In Act I Scene I, a marquis explains the reason because the band of young Marquises always get late to the theater:
    A Marquis (seeing that the hall is half empty):: What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers!
    Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!—Oh, fie!
    Fie!

Video Games

  • Sid Meier's Pirates! has the infamous Marquis de Montalban, who imprisons your entire family.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has Marquis Elmdor, who initially looks good but turns out to be very, very evil.
  • Marquis de Singe in Tales of Monkey Island is a crazy French doctor who was kicked out of the court for his insane experiments. He wants to become immortal, even if it kills everyone else.
  • Endless Legend: The Broken Lords story line has Marquis Suluzzo who encourages his people to continue on draining Dust from other living beings, and part of the story line quest involves taking him out.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and its prequel Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, this goes all over the place.
    • On one end of the spectrum, Marquess Darin of Laus and his son and successor Erik are both backstabbing sellouts who betray the Lycian League, and the unnamed Marquess of Araphen is a racist Jerkass who refuses to help Lyn due to her half-Sacean heritage.
    • In the middle, Marquess Helman of Santaruz was willing to participate in the rebellion, but grew cold feet and dies helping Eliwood. Marquess Hausen of Caelin was a racist Jerkass who disowned his daughter after she eloped with a Sacean nomad, but he changed his mind after he learned he was a grandfather and sought to meet his daughter's family on better terms.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, Marquess Elbert of Pherae and his son and successor Eliwood, and Marquess Uther of Ostia and his brother and successor Hector are all heroes through and through.

Webcomics

    Counts/Countesses 
Anime and Manga
  • Gilgamesh: Countess Kageyama Hiroko of Werdenberg is supposed to be a good guy, but comes off as an Evil Matriarch.
  • from Vampire Hunter DL Count Magnus Lee, obviously inspired by Dracula (and Christopher Lee). Also, the vampires in this world are called Nobles or Aristocrats.

Comic Books

  • Marvel Universe:
    • Count Nefaria is a supervillain and crime lord.
    • Doctor Doom, as the ruler of Latveria, is technically a count.
  • The DCU: Count Vertigo, a supervillain

Comic Strips

Fanfiction

  • Count Mott in Points of Familiarity, Surrogate of Zero, and Unfamiliar. In the former two, he manipulates Siesta into becoming one of his mistresses, and forces himself on her in Points. In Surrogate, Guiche all but says outright that Mott has a taste for rape, and throws orgies for other nobles as a way of securing influence.

Film

  • History of the World Part I: Count De Monet quite literally walks all over poor people and slaps servants around if they address him as the Count De Money. More small-minded and petty than outright evil, but also a typical aristocrat in pre-Revolutionary France, so probably more in the bad column.
  • A Knight's Tale: Count Adhemar (played to vile perfection by Rufus Sewell) oozes smarmy malevolence. The movie does subvert this trope with Prince Edward though — he's a good guy through and through.
  • The Most Dangerous Game: Count Zaroff — in a change from the short story, where he's a general — is a reclusive madman who hunts human beings like animals.
  • Watch on the Rhine: Count Teck is an utter weasel who's willing to betray a La Résistance leader to the Germans.
  • Once Bitten: The Countess. Actually, if you ignore the fact that she was a vampire temptress willing to convert a young teenager against his will, she and her coven are actually pretty nice as far as vampires go.
  • James Bond: In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Ernst Stavro Blofeld poses as a Fake Aristocrat and renames himself "Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp" by having his earlobes surgically removed to back-up his phony claim to the title. Once 007 is in Piz Gloria, he learns that Blofeld secretly plans to contaminate and ultimately sterilize the world's food supply using biological warfare, carried by his brainwashed Angels of Death. Blofeld claimed he would not carry out his plan if all his past crimes were pardoned and he is recognized as the current Count de Bleauchamp.
  • Smiles of a Summer Night: Count Malcolm is a thoroughly unsympathetic character.

Literature

  • Dune:
    • Count Glossu Rabban, the Baron Harkonnen's nephew, and vassal/subordinate somehow (titles don't seem to have any connection to rank in Dune). A violent brute who was a tyrannical governor to Arrakis when it was in quasi-fief to House Harkonnen and much feared and hated by the population, and even more so when the Harkonnens took it back from House Atreides and his uncle ordered him to squeeze as much spice out of the planet as possible.
    • Viscount Hundro Moritani in the prequels. As much, if not more, of a bastard than Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (see below). Most of his subjects take after him. His ambassador shoots a rival at a state dinner. He orders the bombing of civilian targets despite the declaration of Kanli, a war limited to military targets. He has his rival's son and daughter kidnapped and publicly executed. When another House condemns these actions, he orders the assault on their planet to steal their most holy relic. An ally of the viscount's assassinated the rival's second daughter at her wedding to Duke Leto Atreides (the ally was himself a Duke, by the way). He gets what's coming to him, though.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Count Hannibal Lecter VIII - you heard me, this count eats people. His title is only added in the books, however.
  • Discworld has Count de Magpyr and his family, who are most definitely evil.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:
    • The title character is a greatly wronged, yet scheming and vengeful Magnificent Bastard.
    • The worst of his enemies is the Count de Morcerf, who was born to a working class family and worked his way up to the aristocracy by ruthlessness and treachery. He's not evil because he's an aristocrat; he's an aristocrat because he's evil.
  • The Death Of The Necromancer: Count Rive Montesq and Count Macob.
    • Montesq orchestrated the execution of Nicholas Valiarde's godfather Edouard Viller, a scholar and inventor of mechanical devices able to store magical spells, on false charges of necromancy. Interestingly, the main protagonist Nicholas Valiarde himself is a nobleman (and distantly related to the current Queen) but he is from a noble family that was disgraced due to treason perpetrated by one of its members some generations before; Nicholas lives under a variety of pseudonyms as he has become a conman and a thief in his quest for revenge on Montesq.
    • Count Macob is a cold and vicious undead necromancer, who during his lifetime became infamous for gory human sacrifices and curse spells. Even after his execution and decapitation he still clung to life, as it were.
  • Young Bond: Count Ugo Carifex from Blood Fever, who plans to drive Europe into another World War and become its shadow ruler.
  • Överenskommelser: Carl-Jan Rosenschiöld. He's a serial abuser of women, who rapes and nearly kills protagonist Beatrice on their wedding night. We later find out that he has killed one previous wife and driven another previous wife into suicide.
  • The Peshawar Lancers: Count Ignatieff, who is secretly a member of a cult of devil-worshiping cannibals.
  • Lucifer's Star: Subverted by Cassius Mass, as he's known as Colonel-Count Cassius Mass and "The Fire Count" and is arguably the only non-evil aristocrat in the Archduchy of Crius. He also, notably, was born to his title but earned an identical rank for his wartime service.
  • The Red Vixen Adventures: Countess Highglider, the Big Bad. The protagonists, House Darktail, are minor nobles in vassalage to her, some years before the series her son married Sallivera Darktail and proved to be horribly abusive to her, getting locked up in an insane asylum after gouging her eye out. The Countess blamed the Darktails and started sabotaging their district's infrastructure and hiring pirates to raid their shipping routes. Subverted when the country's ruling Council of Countesses strips Highglider of her title and awards it to Salli's mother.

Live-Action TV

  • Smallville: Countess Marguerite Isobel Theroux is an evil witch.

Theatre

Video Games

  • Primal: Count Raum. Every other wraith aristocrat was evil, but he's the only one with a given title.
  • Eternal Sonata: Count Waltz, despite being only sixteen years old and looking even younger, is a ruthless tyrant with aspirations of world domination. His domain of Forte is large enough that Waltz borders on Royal Brat despite his title, nevertheless Waltz is truly evil.
  • Battalion Wars: Countess Ingrid, Kaiser Vlad's air commander, shows no mercy, delights in violence, and summons the Iron Legion.
  • Killer Instinct: Count von Sabrewulf is no more evil than most... well, until he transforms into a werewolf. Given his uncontrollable condition though, he would arguably be considered more desperate and crazy for a cure than downright malevolent, as his reluctancy to use all his strength ends up demonstrating to himself once the second game rolls around.

Webcomics

Web Original

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the four demonic Dreadlords/ladies of Yamato hold the rank of count/countess, and they are very cruel and ambitious while serving their masters' needs. Counts Belial and Antigonus of Maar Sul are a bit of a mixed bag, though: on the one hand they are very ruthless in politics and tend to use people for their own ends, but they also have a code of honour.

Western Animation

    Earls/Countesses 
Anime and Manga
  • D.Gray-Man's Millennium Earl. Yeah, funny thing about that...
  • Code Geass: Earl Lloyd Asplund is a genius mech designer and a fan of pudding, and whilst vocal and carefree to the point of rudeness is personable in public.
  • Black Butler: The whole Earldom of Phantomhive is evil Earl, including the protagonist Ciel Phantomhive.

Literature

  • The Dalemark Quartet: All of the earls in South Dalemark are evil, oppressing their people. Although the earls of the North are better, Earl Keril of Hannart and the Countess of Aberath also get up to some rather shady dealings.
  • The Elenium: The Earl of Lenda is an example of the "old and senile" version — though the senility is more a combination of Obfuscating Stupidity and a kindly grandfather.
  • Memory, Sorrow and Thorn: Earl Fengbald is a total ass. He tortures his own people by boiling them alive when they can't make him enough money, and leads the army of the Evil King against the good guys.
  • The Pillars of the Earth: William Hamleigh is (briefly) an earl. He's also a brutal, ignorant man who rapes and pillages with nary a second thought.
  • In A Scholar of Magics, the Earl of Bridgewater is the seemingly helpful authority figure who turns out to have been behind the whole thing.

Video Games

  • Dragon Age has several Arls (the equivalent of an Earl). Dragon Age: Origins features the machinations of Arl Rendon Howe, who - among his other sterling achievements - arranges the brutal murder of his best friend/liege lord and his entire noble household, then lays claim to his lands.
    • Though not yet Arl himself, another upstanding citizen is Bann Vaughan, son and heir to the Arl of Denerim, who kidnaps an elven bridal party with the intent of raping the women.
    • Averted with many of the other Arls and aristocrats, however. Arl Eamon is a great guy who will stand and fight with you against the Darkspawn, and most of the other nobles of the Bannorn are genuinely trying to act in the best interests of their people.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Earl Jakben of Imbel initially seems like just a cowardly burglary victim, but poke around his manor a bit and you'll discover that he's really quite evil and a centuries old vampire.

    Barons/Baronesses 
Anime and Manga
  • In Black Butler, we have Baron Kelvin, a madman who runs a circus that kidnaps and tortures children, and is obsessed with beauty which causes him to craze over the above-mentioned Ciel Phantomhive.

Comic Books

  • The DCU has several supervillains who style themselves a barons, including Baron Bedlam, Baron Blitzkrieg, Baron Tyrano (an Evil Cripple who wishes transplant his brain into the body of Green Lantern)
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Baron Blood is a vampire Nazi supervillain.
    • Baron Karza, memesis of the Micronauts (and their IDW incarnation as well as being from the toyline of the same name. Given that the title baron is at the low end of the hierarchy, one has to wonder why Karza didn't promote himself when he gained control of the Microverse. It should be noted that in the toyline, Karza was but one of several characters (along with Force Commander) below an underboss called Red Falcon and an Emperor called Magus.

      His IDW counterpart, however, originally started out as a mercenary for hire, and got hired by the Emperor of Microspace (the equivalent to the aforementioned Magus) to defend him from a revolt; this put him on the path to becoming Minister of Defense. Eventually, after he killed Red Falcon (the Emperor's son) and put the Emperor himself into cryostasis, at which point, the mysterious Entropy Storm was beginning to destroy Microspace; he, at this point a Well-Intentioned Extremist, disagreed with his Ministry of Science counterpart Baron Daegon (equivalent to Force Commander) on how to deal with the Entropy Storm, and both then started leading factions in a civil war; when he ventured into the Entropy Storm himself, he lost his mind and spent years within the storm, realizing that Microspace was in fact inside the body of Micronus Prime, and began getting in contact with villains outside Microspace, specifically Miles Mayhem and the Dire Wraiths to utilize Ore-13, which he thought could help stop the Entropy Storm. Ultimately, things came to a head during the events of Revolution, where he absorbed the power of Ore-13 enhanced Wraiths via his "Enerchange" ability, turning himself into a giant fusion monster, and it took the efforts of multiple characters to bring him down; ejected back into Microspace, he began plotting to conquer Earth and save Microspace again, leading into the Wrath of Karza miniseries, where his efforts again failed and saw him stranded in Illinois.
    • Baron von Strucker, a Nazi supervillain and the leader of the global terrorist group Hydra.
    • Baron Zemo, a Legacy Character supervillain.
    • Doctor Strange: Baron Mord, an occasional supervillain and full-time Evil Sorcerer.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Lord Greldinard, the Baron of Moork, serves as The Dragon for Haazheel Thorn and initially leads the armies of the Black Moon.
  • Marvel Star Wars: Baron Orman Tagge, who's a Corrupt Corporate Executive to boot. Granted, he isn't that evil, but he is scheming, haughty, and Empire-aligned. Compare and contrast his brothers, the twisted Doctor Silas Tagge and the conflicted but honorable General Ulric Tagge. The latter inherits the baronship after Orman's presumed death.

Fanfiction

  • Jericho: Jericho discusses this trope on his way to meet the Baron of Sleepy Oaks: So, a baron, eh? Ten Equestrian Bits says that he's evil — all barons are. It’s the rule. This is then oddly subverted by the Baron of Sleepy Oaks himself, who appears to just be another victim of the Government Conspiracy. Make no mistake, he's a cowardly, elitist jerk, but he is at least trying to do the best for his "peasants".
  • Silver Blood has the Baron Zolton, who is actually Giovanni. His mother, who earned the title in the first place, has been implied to have been even worse.

Film

  • Ever After: Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, a Wicked Stepmother
  • Live and Let Die: Baron Samedi, who is clearly evil in this version, although whether he is truly an incarnation of the real Baron Samedi or simply just another henchman of Mr. Big who knows a lot of convincing parlor tricks is uncertain.

Literature

  • Dune: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is a profoundly evil character, in contrast his rival, Duke Leto Atreides.
  • Discworld: Baron and Baroness von Uberwald, Angua's parents and morally myopic werewolves. Their son and Angua's brother, Wolfgang von Uberwald, is evil through and through, and almost certainly murdered his other sister.
  • The Elenium:: Baron Harparin allies himself to the evil churchman and the evil prince, and is a noted pederast besides.
  • In Vorkosigan Saga, all of the barons of Jackson's Whole are evil: the worst is Baron Ryoval, who is in the sexual slavery business and is an enthusiastic practitioner of Cold-Blooded Torture, employing a number of technicians to aid his hobby; his brother, Baron Fell, is a notorious arms dealer specializing in biological weapons; and Baron Bharaputra has a genetics clinic specializing in a procedure for the wealthy but aged, in which a young clone of them is produced, and then the clone's brain is ripped out and the original person's implanted instead). However, Jacksonian barons aren't really aristocrats: they are at best unscrupulous plutocrats and at worst, mob kingpins. The hat of Jackson's Whole is "capitalism gone very, very bad".
  • Mithgar': Baron Bela Stoke is very'' evil. Think "expy of Vlad the Impaler if Vlad was also a shapeshifting necromancer" evil.
  • 1066 and All That: While both good kings and bad kings are recognized, all barons in history are wicked, with the sole exception of Simon de Montfort.
  • Baron Karl Heironymus Frederick von Munchausen is one of the few non-evil barons out there, helping out European powers maintain order around the world. Also appears in several film adaptions; technically he was a real person as well, but the real Baron Munchausen wasn't fond of the way Rudolph Raspe got him nicknamed "The Baron of Lies".
  • In The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Friedrich von Schoenvorts, the German lieutenant in command of the U-Boat, is also a baron. He commits war crimes and is a Bad Boss to his crew (whipping them for minor offenses). Author Burroughs uses him as an example of what Bowen Tyler describes as being "the Kaiser Breed," expressing contempt for German nobility.
  • Harry Potter: The Bloody Baron is a subversion; he isn't a bad sort, even though everyone in the school is afraid of him. (Blame his appearance, which is due to how he died, trying to court Helena Ravenclaw, only to get angry when she rejected him, then stabbing her to death, and being overcome with remorse later, stabbing himself out of grief.)
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: Baron Maupertuis, the Big Bad of Death Cloud, is an Evil Cripple, who is driven by a fanatical hatred of England and who plans to murder hundreds of thousands of British troops.
  • Dove Keeper: Baron Gilles de Rais, a real-life aristocratic serial killer.
  • Twig: The major appearance of the Baron of Richmond is when a spy in the Baron's country's military comes with a warning that the army they're fighting have primordial monsters, and reminds him that in the event of primordials standing orders are to immediately escalate to overwhelming firepower. The Baron slices out the spy's eye and berates him for being too weak to fight the primordials himself. The Baron's personal city, Warrick, is an outwardly picturesque town where the firstborn child is taken from every family, turned into monsters programmed to kill anyone who disturbs the town's peace, and then given back, with orders to the families to take care of the monsters or be given to the Baron's sisters.

Live-Action TV

  • Bassie & Adriaan: "The Baron" (no real name given) is a recurring enemy, although it's unknown if he actually is a baron or simply gave himself this title because he considers himself to be a criminal mastermind.
  • Oliver's Travels: Baron Kite, the Corrupt Corporate Executive behind the conspiracy.
  • Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego: Baron Wasteland, a V.I.L.E. villain.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: The initial antagonists are a dance team known as Team Baron, with their leader Kaito being able to transform into Kamen Rider Baron. This is a subversion though, as they are not truly evil, nor true nobility. Kaito just chose the name in reflection of his desire to live like a noble, but, with baron being the lowest in terms of titles, still give him the motivation to climb further.

Religion

  • In Haitian Voodoo, Baron Samedi is the Loa (or god) of death. (He also has many other incarnations with that title, including Baron Cimetière, Baron La Croix, and Baron Kriminel.) Seeing as he's supposedly one of the most powerful and wisest of the Loa, it's unclear why he's "only" a Baron or even why he needs a title at all. While most myths about him don't truly depict him as evil, they do tend to depict him as a trickster, who is noted for disruption, obscenity, and debauchery, often at the expense of mortals.

Theatre

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: All the Gascon Cadets are Barons that indulge in killing any Baron who is not Of the People trying to join them, and their ideal is to be a Sociopathic Hero.
  • Tosca: Baron Scarpia, the chief of Roman police and villain of the story. Not only he is a venal, cruel and evil man, it is also heavily implied that he is a sexual sadist who apparently does not care much for consent.
  • British Pantomime: A stock character is Baron Hardup. He'll be an impoverished noble of some sort, but whether he is good or evil or, more importantly for panto, competent or incompetent, will vary depending on the actor playing him and the jokes the cast want to perform that year. Sometimes he is a caricature of the friendly but broke gentry of recent years (usually if there is a female villainess to outmaneuver him) and sometimes he'll be the robber baron of medieval history (and he'll probably resemble a sitting politician of some sort if that is the case) out to bilk the hero and heroine out of their inheritance or steal their home. In Cinderella adaptations he is consistently a benign but ineffectual figure whenever he is present in that troupe's cast, but in Mother Goose or Jack and the Beanstalk he'll probably be the greedy grasper to whom Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is frequently compared.

Video Games

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent has Baron Alexander, but the why of it might gain him sympathy points with the right people - as revealed in a handful of Notes, he's simply trying to get back home.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 feature the Baron class, an enemy exclusive Heavily Armored class that can use all physical weapons and most magic. Oddly, while most Baron classed characters are corrupt nobles or royalty, few have the title of "Baron" in the story.
  • Jak II: Renegade: Baron Praxis. Although not actually a baron, as he is the tyrant ruler of a City State after he overthrew his predecessor and tried to kill said predecessor's son. He establishes himself by having kidnapped and tortured Jak by injecting him with dark eco for several years in a Super Soldier experiment, all by the end of the game's prologue.
  • The Baron : The eponymous character is an incarnation of the protagonist's incestuous desire for his daughter.
  • World of Warcraft features a boss named Baron Rivendare, who appears in the dungeons Stratholme and Naxxramas. Before he was raised into a Death Knight, he was a wealthy land owner who fell under the sway of the lich Kel'Thuzad and helped him structure the Cult of the Damned.
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening has the Baroness, an Orlesian noblewoman who demanded tribute from her peasants in the form of their children. When they got fed up and torched her house, she cast a spell that dragged them all into death with her.
  • Clonk: In one of the standard melee scenarios, "the Castle", a team of players control a group of peasants in a village at the bottom of a mountain, while a single player controls the evil Baron Horx in a castle at the top.
  • Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within has Barons Friedrich von Glower and Garr von Zell; the latter is a murderous madman, and the former made him a murderous madman and plans to do the same to Gabriel.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: The Bloody Baron. While not necessarily an evil man, he is callous and indifferent to the plight of the peasantry and allows his cadre of thugs to bully, harrass, and outright rape and torture peasants living in his demesne.

Webcomics

  • Girl Genius: Played With in the person of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. He is a brutal tyrant who obtained his empire on no other legal principle than having the biggest army, and is apparently willing to kill his best friend's daughter for being a threat to his kingdom's stability, but in a textbook example of The Extremist Was Right, he also managed to maintain the rule of law over most of Europe for almost two decades and keep the common folk of his lands largely protected. He also provided his lands with a wide variety of communication and public works services, and kept at bay the Other. Finally, he does genuinely appear to love his son and apparently greatly misses his wife. Two and a half years after the Baron is incapacitated, his reign is described as "seeming like some lost Golden Age".
  • In Knights of Buena Vista, Weselton of Frozen is made a baron instead of a duke due to this trope.

Western Animation

  • G.I. Joe: The Baroness, a Cobra operative. Her title is apparently genuine, not just a codename she picked out for herself.
  • The Angry Beavers: Norbert once had a supervillain persona as Baron Bad Beaver. In a later episode, the Baron has a Heel–Face Turn into Baron Once Bad Now Good Beaver, only to make a Face–Heel Turn into Baron Once Bad Then Good Then Bad Again Beaver.
  • Danger Mouse: Baron Greenback is the usual villain Danger Mouse faces off against.
  • Batman: The Animated Series "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" features a would-be crime boss named Baron Wacklaw Jozek; he's really more selfish than evil, but he's an associate of Wormwood, a criminal whom Batman needs to catch, leading the hero to track Jozek down and question him (rather harshly), making Jozek pretty upset. Jozek later hires Wormwood to steal Batman's cape and cowl. Or so it seems. Jozak actually left town to go to Europe after the confrontation with Batman, and Wormwood had been dealing with Batman himself, in disguise, using the strategy named after him.

    Baronets/Baronetesses 

Literature

  • The Woman in White: Sir Percival Glyde, who is absolutely evil and has the disfiguring scar to prove it. The novel also gives us the Manipulative Bastard Count Fosco, who is presented as essentially Don Corleone for 19th century England.
  • Deryni: In the early timeline, Manfred Colquhoun Festil Tarquin MacInnis, Baron of Marlor, is trouble. He's part of the corrupt council, and with his colleagues launches a coup against King Javan Haldane. That third name of his doesn't bode well.
  • P. G. Wodehouse: Spoofed in the short humor piece "The Baronet's Redemption", wherein one Sir Jasper Murgleshaw, at heart a philanthropist, feels obliged to kidnap, rob and poison people simply because he's a baronet. Then it's discovered that he has no legal claim to the title, and he promptly becomes a Sunday School teacher.

Live-Action TV

  • Mission: Impossible: In "The Devils", the IMF stop a British baronet who involves foreign and domestic officials in Satanic rituals and human sacrifice for blackmail purposes.

Theatre

  • In Ruddigore, baronets of Ruddigore bear a hereditary curse to commit at least one evil action daily or die in agony and basically serve to parody the Dastardly Whiplash trope.

    Generic Lords and Ladies 
Anime and Manga
  • In Wolf's Rain, Lord Darcia has some sympathetic traits to begin with, but after his comatose lover Hamona is killed he turns increasingly evil. His adversary Lady Jagara is pretty evil to begin with, though.

Comic Books

  • Tomahawk: The British spy Lord Shilling is the arch-enemy of the titular Revolutionary War hero.
  • Raptors: The vampires hail from Spanish nobility and all of them, both the Molinas and Y Cera's minions, are depraved monsters.
  • Robin Series: Sir Edmund Dorrance, Bane's father and the first contender for Big Bad of the series, is a disenfranchised British noble whose criminal actions have lost him any favor he once had due to his status.

Film — Live-Action

  • Zorro: Don Diego de la Vega, a.k.a Zorro, is the one good nobleman who stands up for the common people against the greedy, oppressive aristocrats in colonial California.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009): Lord Henry Blackwood, who attempts to seize control of the British Empire.
  • Terry-Thomas almost always played a "Lord", "Sir" or high-ranking military officer who was also a rogue and scoundrel.

Literature

  • Knight and Rogue Series: In the first book, Michael is sent by his father, a baron, to capture a woman suspected of killing an important noble's brother. Early in his search for the woman he learns that if she's killed the port town she governs will go to this brother, and thus be part of Lord Dorian's territory, meaning Dorian won't have to pay any taxes there, and Dorian ships a lot. Also, his father was aware of all of this. Michael is less than pleased.
  • Freckles: Angel fears this trope when she realizes that Freckles's relatives are aristocrats.
    "A Lord-man!" she groaned despairingly. "A Lord-man! Bet my hoecake's scorched! Here I've gone and pledged my word to Freckles I'd find him some decent relatives, that he could be proud of, and now there isn't a chance out of a dozen that he'll have to be ashamed of them after all. It's too mean!"
  • Michael O'Halloran: Leslie blames a woman's behavior on aping nobility, but Douglas corrects that only some of them are like that.
    "I don't pity him half so much as I do her," he answered. "What must a woman have suffered or been through, to warp, twist, and harden her like that?"
    "Society life," answered Leslie, "as it is lived by people of wealth who are aping royalty and the titled classes."
    "A branch of them — possibly," conceded Douglas. "I know some titled and wealthy people who would be dumbfounded over that woman's ideas."
  • Murder at Colefax Manor: Lord Colefax. He commits and orders numerous murders, plans to bomb a Cornish city, and runs a hedonistic death cult.
  • Discworld:
    • Played with in the form or the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Ventinari. He's willing to use such tactics as assassinations, blackmail, and vague threats, Ventinari will often self identify as an evil tyrant who can do whatever he wants and only limits himself because it is intelligent to do so. Looking back at his reign, however, seems to say he honestly cares for his fellow man, as a whole if not individually, and tends to only screw over people who would game the system for their own benefit. He's been instrumental in putting people like Moist Von Lipwig, Samuel Vimes, and William De Worde in positions of power where they can actively interfere with the various evil schemes that start off in the city.
    • Discworld is full of all kinds of Lords and Ladies, including evil ones; the antagonist of The Truth is Lord de Worde (who's also the protagonist's father) Many of them are good, however, like Lady Sybil, or merely bumbling. Also from Discworld, The Lords and Ladies is a local name for The Fair Folk, and Discworld elves are not good at all.

Live-Action TV

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Lord Dycedarg Beoulve is a real piece of work. He slowly fed poison to his father to kill him without suspicion and take hold of the Beoulve estate, orchestrated the kidnapping of Marquis Elmdore with Corpse Brigade commander Gustav to use as a bargaining chip, orders Gaffgarion to kill Ramza in cold blood, sets up a plot with Duke Larg to kill the Princess, murdered Larg to gain his power as regent, gave his soul to the Lucavi Adrammelech, and killed Zalbaag. He's far from successful in the end, but he's arguably the most monstrous character in the game.
  • MediEvil 2: Subverted with Lord Palethorn. He's a working class cockney who tried to buy his way into high society.
  • Tsukumogami, being set towards the end of the Heian Period, is lousy with corrupt, inept and selfish nobles. The only one who actually gets a TITLE to his name, though, is the Shogun - who turns out to be a fairly OK dude who means well even if things don't always work out as planned.

Webcomics

  • Web Video/lonelygirl15: Lord Michael Byron Carruthers is evil, selfish and creepy.
  • Glorianna: The scheming Lord Vasgor and the decadent Lord Claughmoore both qualify.

    Other and Multiple Types 
Anime and Manga
  • One Piece: Aristocrats are mostly villains:
    • The World Nobles, also known as the Celestial Dragons (Tenryuubito in Japanese), are the descendants of the Kings of twenty different kingdoms who later created the World Government. Unfortunately, the World Government is heavily corrupt, and not surprisingly, the World Nobles can do whatever the hell they like because they have "the blood of this world's creators", and by that definition, they are practically divine by nature. They even have slaves who they continuously mistreat, and put collar bombs around their necks. For that matter, they are allowed to take any person of the street to become their slave or another spouse. This all going on despite the fact that slavery has been outlawed for centuries by this point and the Marines are even sent to recapture any of the Celestial Dragons' slaves that run away with none of them shown to have any problem with this. If you offend them in any way, an Admiral will be sent to deal with you. Interestingly, World Nobles has an in-universe title of Saint, which, in Real Life, is considered sacred and higher than any noble title. The fact that they're utter assholes and yet are considered "sacred" notes at how screwed up the populace is.
    • The leaders of the World Government are the Five Elder Stars, the highest ranking Celestial Dragons, who are willing to go full-on scorched earth on entire islands, and put a massive bounty on an eight year old child's head for the mere "crime" of being able to read a certain language, solely to protect some Ancient Conspiracy concerning the World Government's founding.
    • The nobility of Goa Kingdom routinely sent out all their trash out of the city and let it pile up to the point that it became a small town unto itself, the Grey Terminal, a zone where even the people who lived there were seen as trash. When an inspection team with Celestial Dragons was scheduled to arrive, the nobles arranged to have the trash heap burned to the ground, people and all, in order to appeal to the Dragons. On top of this, they seemed incapable of understanding why a protagonist, who was a White Sheep among the nobles, who discovered this was horrified.
    • Wapol had all doctors who did not work for him murdered so he could charge ridiculous sums of money for medical treatment, and beat up small children (which would have possibly sparked an international incident) simply because they were in his way.
    • Averted by the royal families of Alabasta, Fishman Island, Dressrosa, and Wapol's father, who were all highly benevolent to their people.
    • Donquixote Doflamingo, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, used to be a World Noble because his father gave up the title to live as a commoner. But due to the atrocious acts of the World Nobles, many of the lower class, most of whom were previous victims, wasted no time in tracking them down to dole out retribution to them even though the Donquixote family was one of the more benevolent nobles, save for Doflamingo himself who was always a bad seed due to the toxic enviroment he was influenced by. Doflamingo tried to get his title back after killing his father but the other nobles considered his family traitors and refused him. He had to make due as a pirate, practically bribe his way into becoming a Warlord and taking over Dressrosa which his family originally ruled before moving to the "holy land" of Marjoies with the other World Nobles. While he puts on an act of being a benevolent king to the public (which started with him framing the former king to make him look like a bad guy), behind the scenes, Doflamingo uses his kingdom as a front for faux Devil Fruit operation for one of the Four Emperors.
    • The Vinsmoke family of Germa Kingdom, headed by Vinsmoke Judge. Apart from doing some decidedly unethical genetic experiments, Judge firmly believes his family's status makes them superior to other people (and makes sure his children share this belief), being horrified when he learns one of his sons stooped so low as to cook for other people.
  • In Black Clover, there is a 95% chance all nobles - including the slob of a king - are massive douchebags who absolutely abhor citizens of lower ranks and treat them as dirt. If a child happened to be conceived through a mistress not part of nobility, chances are even the half-noble child will be ostracized by the nobles and lead a pathetic life of abuse and mistreatment. God help them if the blue-blooded child happens to be inept at magic, which is another ticket to be looked down upon by the rest of the family. And no matter how many heroic deeds a commoner Magic Knight (like Asta or Yuno) has done, the nobles will STILL treat such people like dirt.
  • Code Geass provides two examples:
    • The Britannian Empire, entirely managed by nobility and aristocracy of various levels. That may be cause or consequence of the practice of racism and social darwinism in the Britannian Empire, this is not only evidenced in the nobility truly believing that they are superior due to their blood but also lead to the discrimination and oppression of the numbers (people of countries conquered by Britannia) who are forced to live in ghettoes.
    • The eunuchs of the Chinese Federation are corrupt aristocrats who see the people of the Chinese Federation as ants and are willing to sacrifice all of them just for their personal gain.
  • Where to start in Black Butler? Pretty much all the nobles (which is a lot, considering that the entire series is filled with them) are reeeally messed up - Ciel included. And despite the Gaussian Girl memories shown of Ciel's parents, it's pretty obvious that they had... problems. (Most notably his father, who shows that he definitely isn't quite as nice as was believed before.)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam F91 features an uprising by the aristocratic Ronah family, who attempt to establish an empire in space called "Cosmo Babylonia" because they believe firmly that humanity should be ruled by the upper class. The family actually both plays the trope straight and averts it: "Iron Mask" Carozzo believes that humanity needs to be purged from Earth altogether. His father-in-law Meitzer Ronah is the one ordering the invasion, but is unaware of this plan, and at the very least seems to be a good family man who genuinely has the best intentions. Also, Carozzo's wife and daughter both believe in equality among human beings, and are major factors in the eventual downfall of Cosmo Babylonia.
  • Gundam: Most of the second Universal Century is spent with Evil Aristocrats as the enemy. Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam reveals that the Ronah family was sponsored heavily by the Jupiter Empire, who had similar ideals and wanted to soften up the Federation in preparation for their own attack on the Earth Sphere. Even after they are defeated, some members of the Jovian aristocracy head to Earth and start up the Zanscare Empire in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam as yet another attempt to establish aristocratic rule (this time blended with Newtype supremacy).
  • Berserk: Counts, barons, queens, kings, lords, emperors, what have you. No matter the title, they all tend to have ill-intent for their fellow man (or are at least big jerks). If that's not enough, just wait until they turn into Apostles... there are a couple exceptions in the manga: not counting Serpico (who was not really born a noble) or Farnese (whose Heel–Face Turn coincided with her abandoning her status), Roderick is pretty nice, Princess Charlotte is a Princess Classic, while Laban and Owen actually give a crap about protecting commoners.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam has the Zabi family, including Sovereign Degwin, Prince Gihren, Prince Dozle, Princess Kycilia, and Prince Garma.
  • Crest of the Stars has Baron Febdash, who rules a very tiny and pretty much worthless star system but is on something of a power trip, surrounding himself with beautiful women as his servants and locking up his human father out of shame. Pretty much nobody bats an eye when he's executed for getting in Lafiel's way, not even his own family. He is, however, the exception in this series: many of the characters are Abh nobility, including the leads (who are a Count and a Viscountess/Imperial Princess, respectively), and most are depicted as either good or at least neutral. It helps that the Abh take the concept of noblesse oblige really damned seriously, and Imperial Law comes down harshly on any noble who fails to fulfill their duties.
  • In Sword Princess Altina pretty much all the aristocrats are evil, or heavily compromised. Most of them are noted to see looking down on commoners as benign an activity as sampling fine wine, that is until the commoners get angry and take up arms. In addition, they are under the delusion that excessive conspicuous consumption would "make the citizens proud." Regis points out that in the capital full of nobles, that may be true, but in the outskirts and near the borders where commoners struggle very hard just to get enough to eat (never mind having to worry about enemy armies), this only serves to breed resentment. Altina very wisely listens to his council.
  • Endride: There are a lot of evil aristocrats of different flavours. It's generally agreed that Delzaine was a fairly bad king (and an usurper to boot) as far as the common folk were impacted, but he held the kingdom together, and so the Ignauts wanted to reason with him first rather than violently depose him. When he dies suddenly, society begins to collapse and the wicked petty lords start raiding villages and hoarding wealth and resources. The trope is averted, however, with Demetrio, the idealistic Rebel Leader who is noble-born, and some of the lords that the Ignauts reportedly managed to recruit to their cause.
  • Vampire Knight: Played straight with Ichijou's grandfather, averted with the rest of the main aristocrats cast (Aidou, Ichijou, Kain etc).
  • In Goddess Creation System the first household Xiaxi enters is that of the Wang Pu family, generals who serve under the king. The first thing we see them do is have the frivolous brother simply take the protagonist away from where she was working, give her to his brother as a practical joke and then that brother has her executed and used as fertilizer because the joke offended him. She then restarts the mission keenly aware of how horrible these people are, though their better sides tend to get more emphasis later. Surprisingly, after she finishes up here and tricks her way into the imperial household she finds them to be actually rather nice people, if perhaps arrogant and not nearly as simple as they appear. Though the seemingly nice uncle turns out to be The Caligula after assassinating the king and usurping the throne.
  • Candy Candy: Played straight and averted; twins Eliza and Neal Leagan play it straight, being spoiled brats who constantly try to ruin Candy's life For the Evulz and Eliza in particular is a textbook example of Rich Bitch. Their mother and Madame Elroy are downplayed examples, both being stuck-up and a bit elitist and the latter having spoiled her children excessively. Averted by the Brown brothers, Terry Grandchester, Albert, Mr. Leagan and Candy herself after she's adopted by the Ardleys.

Comedy

  • The Aristocrats joke plays on this trope, the disgustingly squicky performance being triumphantly named "the Aristocrats".

Comic Books

  • Ultimate Fantastic Four: Victor Van Damme. He acts like an aristocrat, certainly, and has ancestry going back to Vlad the Impaler, which he can recite from memory, which makes him technically one by breeding. He's also an incredibly self-centered bastard who is determined to conquer the world out of his own egotism.
  • Star Wars Legends: Satal and Alema Keto in Tales of the Jedi are two bored nobles from the Empress Teta system that decide to dabble in Dark Side sorcery and end up forming the Krath, terrorizing their homeworld and even throwing their lot with Exar Kun to ignite a war with the Jedi Order. Among their most horrific crimes was freezing people in carbonite for their sick pleasure, including their own family.

Fanfiction

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: It's common fanfiction to portray the nobility as corrupt at best and outright evil at worst — although nobility, notably, is never shown or mentioned in the show itself; royalty exists, but it's mostly quite benevolent.
    • In The Assassination of Twilight Sparkle, Prince Blueblood arranges for the titular event, believing that he's more deserving of becoming an alicorn since he has Celestia's blood. Other nobles join in because Twilight's vision of Equestria included things like no xenophobia.
    • In A Brief History of Equestria, up until the post-Warming generation, the unicorn nobility all so petty and corrupt that all they care about is their own power, at the expense of their commoners and the other tribes. Is it any wonder that Princess Platinum dedicated her life (and death) to systematically removing their power?
    • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Luna's refusal to be a fully assertive ruler (for fear of becoming a tyrant) has allowed the Night Court to become hopelessly corrupt. Even the nicest members scheme for position and power, and can be petty and cruel when crossed — Night Light actually delays relief funds to Ponyville and tries to block Trixie's ascension through the Court's ranks in order to punish her for his daughter becoming a fugitive (which really was more Twilight's own fault than Trixie's).
    • Rites of Ascension shows several nobles contributing to the breakdown of Equestria by both overtaxing their own citizens and taking more power from Celestia, who in turn has been trying a long game to work against this, as part of being The Chessmaster.
  • My Mirror, Sword and Shield: With the exceptions of Euphemia, Nunnally, Gino and Anya, there's nothing nice to say about the Britannian aristocracy. In the case of Lelouch's first Royal Guard, made of aristocratic second sons, they are actively incompetent. In the case of the Knights of Round and the conspirators who had Marianne assassinated, are actively malicious. Despite Emperor Lelouch's selfish reasons for it, everyone agrees that dissolving the aristocracy helped in the long run.

Film — Animated

Film — Live-Action

  • Orphans of the Storm is a fictional story set during The French Revolution that features the French aristocracy running over peasant children with their carriages, kidnapping women off the streets for raping, and literally bathing in wine while the masses go hungry.
  • Bollywood: Practically every movie has some sort of evil maharajah, sheikh or count as the antagonist. There is the added bonus of them often being an evil Christian.
  • Taken features a lecherous and corrupt sheikh.
  • Rob Roy: The Marquess of Montrose is the film's main antagonist, but the Duke of Argyll is a Reasonable Authority Figure, who goes out of his way to help Rob.
  • The Seven Samurai: The writer said he was motivated in part by desire to atone for what his Samurai ancestors had done to the people of Japan. That of course means that he was an aristocrat who was not personally evil. Lampshaded in the same movie when one of the seven of humble birth gives an angry speech about the behavior of Samurai.
  • In Utu, the British Colonel Kilgore who massacred the Maori protagonist's tribe is a Lord.
  • In 31, the owners of Murder-World are depicted as looking like French aristocrats.
  • James Bond: The Big Bad of Octopussy, Kamal Khan is an exiled Afghan prince living in India, but is in cahoots with General Orlov, who wants to trigger a nuclear war in Western Europe. To finance their Evil Plan, the duo hatch a scheme to generate funds by stealing jewelry from the Kremlin's state armoury and selling them on the black market, while replacing them with fakes. Using Octopussy's circus troupe as a cover, they then plan to smuggle a bomb into a US military base in West Germany and detonate it, hoping that NATO would be disbanded and that this would enable the Warsaw Pact to invade and conquer Western Europe without fear of retaliation. In turn, Kamal Khan, who is getting paid from the sale of the jewelry, hopes to kill Octopussy in the process and take over her organization afterwards.
  • In Jupiter Ascending, galactic society operates on so vast a scale that the lives of entire planets are nothing but trade goods to the "Entitled", who themselves are Time Abysses thanks to a Longevity Treatment produced by harvesting billions upon billions of people for Human Resources in a regime of Industrialized Evil.
    Kalique: You cannot know right now what it will be like when you're offered wealth beyond your imagining; when you can choose to remain young, beautiful; or when you can have the power to change the lives of your family for the better... and all you have to do is close your eyes.

Literature

  • Nightfall (Series): Prince Vladimir is the Big Bad Wicked Cultured Manipulative Bastard.
  • In Chronicles of the Kencyrath the system in the Kencyr is evil, even if not all the aristocrats really are. Jame, and her twin brother Torisen to a lesser extent, are both frequently disgusted by the behavior of their own Highborn caste.
  • Jane Austen:
    • Persuasion: Basically the entire point of the story.
      Captain Wentworth, with five-and-twenty thousand pounds, and as high in his profession as merit and activity could place him, was no longer nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, who had not had principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him, and who could give his daughter at present but a small part of the share of ten thousand pounds which must be hers hereafter.
    • In Northanger Abbey, the narrator comments on how Mrs. Morland knew so little of lords and baronets that she did not warn Catherine against the danger of them.
  • Fuente Ovejuna: Older Than Steam: the "Comendador" (a military/minor noble Spanish title}. He's so evil that his people kill him for kidnapping the town magistrate's daughter and violating her right before her wedding (this act made him cross the Moral Event Horizon to a point of no return), then each villager takes the blame to protect the killer.
  • Dangerous Liaisons: The Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, a pair of licentious Magnificent Bastards who take great pleasure in screwing others over (in every possible sense of the term). Amoral at the very least.
  • House of the Scorpion: Matt, while he is not privileged in any way because of his status as a clone in the society, is referred to as an aristocrat (a dirty word in the society he is in) because of where he came from, and because he can play the piano.
  • The Secret Texts by Holly Lisle has the Sabirs and their rivaling house. Anwyn, Andrew, and Crispin Sabir, in particular, are nasty, nasty individuals, including the brutal murder of one of their own guards while raping one of the daughters of their rivals. You know, until Crispin hits woobie status with the realization that the love of his life is dead, his brother is a traitorous snake, and the only woman he can ever love is his daughter.
  • Sharpe: With a few exceptions, most aristocrats Richard Sharpe spends any time with tend to suck.
  • Dragonwyck: The patroon system of 18th century New York is portrayed as very unjust. At the head of this is Affably Evil Nicholas Van Ryn, patroon (naturally) of Dragonwyck. However, the rest of the aristocracy is portrayed as mostly mean, unjust, thoughtless, or at least clueless.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The lighteyes have gotten a little power-mad over the centuries, which tends to drown out the ones who actually are honorable.
  • Conan the Barbarian is absolutely rife with these kind of characters going with the theme of "civilized men" being hardly any better than the Barbarian Hero. Some prominent examples are Shah Amurath, King Numedidis of Aquilonia and the conspirators in "The Phoenix on the Sword" and The Hour of the Dragon who are nobles working to overthrow Conan after he is crowned king of Aquilonia. Female aristocrats like Countess Albiona, Princess Yasmela or Queen Taramis tend to avert this, though that is not to say all of them are good like Salome. Even then, its very rare to find in the series good noblemen.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Practically every aristocrat (and no shortage of the common-but-rich) in the world of the series is a spoiled, myopic monster who lives in luxury to put Versailles to shame, while the cities they rule over are dystopian affairs with enormous poor populations. Only three noble characters are portrayed sympathetically.
    • Particularly monstrous is the so-called Amusement War in the demi-city of Salon Corbeau, a sort of living chess game played for galleries of rich merchants and nobles using impoverished and desperate peasants who volunteer in exchange for a pittance of money and room and board. Whenever a "piece" is captured, he or she is subjected to whatever ghastly punishments the players desire — torture, beatings, stoning, rape, anything short of killing them deliberately — and none of the aristocrats see anything wrong about this.
    • There's also mention of a noblewoman who Gentled (reduced to mindless husks wholly devoid of their own volition who have to be prodded to eat, excrete, or move) kittens so her sons could torture them with knives, because they were bored.
  • The Talisman: Most aristocrats in the Territories are either evil or cowed into submission. The worst is Morgan of Orris and those working directly for him.
  • Almost all literary vampires of the 19th century were aristocrats, as demonstrated by the already mentioned Lord Ruthven of John Polidori's The Vampyre, Sir Francis Varney of Varney the Vampire, Countess Carmilla Karnstein, and Count Dracula. This trope has a modern successor — after the privileges of the nobility have been abolished and the elites are now comprised of a wealthy burgeois upper-class, vampires now tend to be filthy rich rather than aristocratic. Both tropes play on the symbolic connection between literal blood-sucking and the parasitic way of life of an (assumed) real-life idle class which does not by support itself by its own efforts, but by exploiting other people.
  • Trail of Glory: The United States does not have titled aristocracy given the setting, but many plantation owners with slaves in the antebellum south demonstrate just about all the features related to this trope.
  • Village Tales: Averted and subverted.
    • Dukes: Charles, the Duke of Taunton in the series – former Majorly Awesome Int Corps officer, Fellow of All Souls, military historian, and universal Cool Uncle – is on the side of the angels (whether the angels are always on his side is another matter). So in his way is his ducal cousin (many times over, ever since the two titles originated in bastards who were the children of two Stuart mistresses who were cousins to one another) and neighbor, Christopher ("Kit"), Duke of Trowbridge & Warminster, who’s Nice But Dim.
      On a rough equivalent, there’s Charles Taunton's Heterosexual Life-Partner His Highness the Nawab of Hubli, who was the Duke's vice-captain on the Eton 1st XI, Oxford Authentics, and OUCC: just as cunning, rather grander, and quite as much firmly on the side of good. (And equally impatient in getting good done.)

      The Tauntons and Trowbridges got their dukedoms through their ancestors' being Stuart bastards, but the first dukes were, if not heroic ones, at least decent. (The second Duke of Taunton, though, called In-Universe "Henry the Trimmer," was a Bastard Bastard in character though himself legitimate.
    • Marquesses: Rory, Marquess of Badenoch in the series, is a tall, gruff, stern, old-fashioned, and very formal Highland aristocrat, Calvinist in temperament but Anglican by Jacobite inheritance, whose family has never quite got over reverting to the marquessate from a dukedom. He’s still a Good Man, though.
      Equally, the Marquess of Breckland & Swaffham (whose son is the same-sex civil partner of the Duke of Trowbridge’s heir Lord Corsham, and who is himself nowadays in the same relation to Kit Trowbridge), is a thoroughly decent chap. Although much less cricket-obsessed than the Trowbridges and the Tauntons.
    • Earls and Countesses: Brigadier the Earl of Maynooth – Robin – is a devil-may-care Anglo-Irish nobleman … at first glance. He's not part of the UK military mission to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe for nothing, though, and definitely a White Hat. Even Though Ginger.
      The Earl and Countess of Freuchie are charming young Scots. Flora, Dowager Countess of Freuchie, could give her counterpart at Downton points, and win in a walk.
    • Barons: Hugo, Baron Mallerstang and Swarthfell, is an elderly but sharp Impoverished Patrician pushing a hundred in years. And a very good man, who has borne up under captivity (and a bayonet to the balls) on the Burma Railway, his wife's death, and the deaths in action of his two sons, who followed him into the Royal Artillery.
      The baronage being the rank of life peers, the major character the Hon. Gwen (first Evans, then, the Hon. Mrs Maguire) has a father who was made a life peer, as The Baron Evans of Pont-y-Clun and Aintree, for Services to the Turf (and Gwen runs the local racing stud); and that formidable, if pleasant, scholar, Professor Millicent Lacy, is The Baroness Lacy, so created in recognition of her academic work. (The series to date seems, and is so regarded In-Universe, to be giving her a good chance of becoming Duchess of Taunton, mind you.)
    • Baronets: Sir Thomas Douty averts the stock tropes applied to baronets (although Lady Douty was described, when alive, by the Duke, as the sort of woman whose do-gooding gave good works a bad name). He’s a mild little man – less so now that he's a widower (wonder why) – who is the third baronet and formerly Something In the City; nowadays, he quite usefully assists the Duke in such community projects as restoring the steam railway, recreating as a community trust the real ale brewery, and redoing the Victorian canal: and without, as the Duke would, spending like a drunken sailor.
      As of Evensong and The Day Thou Gavest, a new character is also a baronet (and a former cavalry officer, with an MC), though he no longer claims the titles and honors: one of the new curates in the expanding benefice, the Revd. Gilbert Bohun.
    • They are all simply people nowadays, whatever the old Barons Mallerstang or the second Duke of Taunton may have been like; and, according to the Duke of Taunton, who very much isn't, rather simple people, too:
      The Duke, reflecting, as they all descend on him for a family funeral in Evensong: … the wider Family were piling out of their various conveyances: the most backwoods of peers, the most rustic of gentry, the living arguments in favour of House of Lords reform and, frankly, of a Marxist revolution: kind, bumbling, decent, red-faced, and mostly as stupid as so many owls.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle books play with this somewhat. Ambrose Jakis is the son of a rich baron and uses his birth and wealth as an excuse to be a colossal douchebag to everyone and especially Kvothe. On the other hand, Willem and Simmon are both sons of minor nobility and Kvothe's best friends, while Count Threpe is a Cool Old Guy who occasionally helps Kvothe and serves as a patron to a number of musicians and entertainers.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Played fairly straight in Reynard the Fox, which features Duke Nobel and Count Bricemer as Reynard's enemies (and the Countess Persephone as the exception.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire brings us "great lords" and "bannermen", who can be absolutely horrifying. Some examples: Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Randyll Tarly, Walder Frey, the Boltons in general. Of course there can be good Lords, Edmure Tully, Wyman Manderly and the Starks. There are Lords by courtesy, such as Lord Varys the Master of Whisperers, a very morally ambiguous figure.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Aristocrats are an aversion, often coming across as Reasonable Authority Figures. The ones in the Time of Isolation and during the reigns of previous emperors were often bloodthirsty folks though.
  • 1632: Aristocrats or at least aristocracy tends to come off as evil at first but more complications come later. Even in the first volume Gustavus Adolphus is generally good. A good example appears in The Kremlin Games, when the Grantvillers are shocked to find out that the cash-rich Russian high nobility are actually neutral or slightly in favor of abolishing serfdom, and the big supporters of the institution are commoner landowners and petty nobles whose only assets are land and the serfs needed to gather resources from said lands. A Russian Prince even laughs at the simplistic American belief in this trope.
  • Belisarius Series: Aristocrats are neither worse nor better then others. There is criticism of it as a system however and the main bad guy, the Malwa is devoted to an ideology of inherited power, and usually has not the balancing virtues of aristocrats from other empires.
  • Vampire Academy: There are notable exceptions, but the royals tend to be selfish and spoiled. Non-royal Moroi and dhampirs tend to suffer at their hands.
  • Rachel Griffin: In The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, Rachel notices that many Knights of Walpurgis come from noble families with dicey reputations.
  • The Prince is an equal-level offender against aristocracy as a whole (which is a given, considering it's widely considered to be satire). According to chapter 9, nobles are mainly interested in maintaining their position and oppressing those underneath them to keep the status quo, whereas the common people mainly want not to be oppressed by the nobles. It also warns that a prince can never maintain the support of the noble class by acting honourably and just.
  • In A Pearl for My Mistress, it's averted with Eleanor. Despite being an "Honourable Miss", she is the sweetest cinnamon roll around. Played straight with... pretty much everyone else.
  • In Lucifer's Star virtually every single member of the Archduchy of Crius's Feudal Future is one manner of scumbag or another. This ranges from their Gihren Zabi-EXPY leader Prince Germanicus to the Serial Killer Baron Octavian Plantagenet. This is explained to be mostly due to the combination of Deadly Decadent Court intrigue and their own Social Darwinist policies. Notably, everyone outside the Archduchy considers them to be Card-Carrying Villain types since (at least on paper) egalitarianism is the rule in the galaxy.
  • Discworld: Vimes holds to this belief (he makes exceptions for individual aristocrats, but he's still discomfited at becoming one). It's suggested that this is the reason why his distaste for vampires seems more genuine than his distaste for everyone else — vampires almost always have at least a symbolic connection to this trope (being bloodsuckers and all), and very often are literally this as well.
  • Eurico the Presbyter: Aristocrats from both sides of the war are portrayed as generally evil: the emirs, sheikhs and walis on the Arab side get this treatment by default, but not even the Christians are exempt from this: King Roderic is a rapist and a murderer, while Count Julian, Sisebuto and Ebas are traitors that throw their own countrymen under the bus to avenge personal slights or advance their own power. Granted, not all of them are bad like Hemergarda (who is the hero's love interest) and her brother Pelagius (who serves as the Big Good), but they are more like the exception than the rule.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In Eisenhorn: Xenos, House Glaw is an ancient noble family with considerable wealth and political influence over the subsector. They're also covert Chaos worshippers and the ringleaders of a vast conspiracy that's trying to acquire a Tome of Eldritch Lore for sinister purposes.
  • In Shadow Of The Conqueror, before the Dawn Empire, Hamahra was ruled by an aristocracy evil enough to murder Daylen's entire family after he started a revolution against them.

Live-Action TV

  • Andromeda: One episode involves the somewhat backwards planet called Ne'Holland. When the Andromeda gets to the system, they find the royal ship full of dead bodies, including the dying King Florin, who has been the target of a coup by the Ne'Holland aristocracy, spearheaded by Archduke Constantine. Florin's son Erik survives, being an Unexpected Successor since one of his two older brothers was supposed to inherit the throne. Dylan quickly finds out that Florin was cut from the same cloth as Constantine. Constantine plans to have Erik assassinated and rule in his stead and is not above using human shields to get his way. The other nobles are behind Constantine. In the end, Tyr, who pretended to ally with Constantine, kills all the nobles, and Dylan's influence convinces Erik to turn Ne'Holland into a democracy (by promising any soldier who lays down his arms a piece of the land former owned by the nobles).
  • In Battlestar Galactica (1978):
    • Anyone with the title Sire is a lesser evil: Sire Uri (ambitious and officious), Siress Bellaby (greedy and lustful, Sire Bogan (manipulative).
    • Averted with Adama, who is from a long noble line, but has no noble title mentioned. Also averted with the Lord of Atila, and his noble family.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Vampires of Venice", the House of Calvierri, led by Signora Rosanna, are secretly aliens who are forcibly converting young women into more of their kind and plot to sink Venice so they can live there.
  • Game of Thrones: Averted by Hizdahr zo Loraq, though Daenerys tends to view him through this lens because all Meereenese nobles used to own slaves.
  • Ressha Sentai ToQger : Almost all of the leaders of the Evil Army Shadow Line are modeled and named after European aristocracy. Their names are Emperor of Darkness Z, Baron Nero, Madame Noir, Count Nair and Marchioness Mork.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Downplayed in "Once More Unto the Breach", which mentions that Kor, a Klingon nobleman related to the Klingon royal family, was known to blacklist commoners who tried to become officers in the Klingon Defense Force. General Martok made it Up Through the Ranks despite this, and hates Kor because of it.

Tabletop Games

  • Exalted: The entire Scarlet Dynasty is profoundly corrupt, continually scheming and backstabbing one another for the sake of power, wealth, and prestige. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Furthermore, the Scarlet Empress set things up this way deliberately, to ensure that her empire could never function without her.
  • Mutant Chronicles is all over this trope.
    • Mishima is the worst offender, following a particularly harsh brand of Tokugawa-style bushido. Intrigue, assassination and constant competition are everyday occurences, and commoner lives are cheap. Mishima is not particularly afflicted by The Corruption, but the Big Bad doesn't really it need to be, things being what they are.
    • Bauhaus nobility are better, since they are raised with a strong sense of noblesse obligé and Bauhaus has some measure of social mobility. There are always exceptions, though. Erwin Stahler and Max Steiner's former commanding officer are prime examples.
    • Imperial nobility are better still, but much given to Honor Before Reason, and will gladly kill each other and drive their clansmen into meat grinder battles over slights hundreds of years old. Again, there are exceptions, and some Imperial nobles sign on with the Big Bad.
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy has a somewhat indirect version of this in Nobility magic. It's a minor path of magic, but it nonetheless features quite horrifying spells, if you think of the implications. This magic in general features spells that seem to define Nobility as a question of appearances. At no point is nobility of heart mentioned. Examples include:
    • Perfume, a spell which, when cast at a sufficiently high level, induces a state of fascination with the caster in people who can smell the perfume generated by the spell, making them more susceptible to their words.
    • Win Hearts, a spell that makes the target an image of "intoxicating sensuality" to anyone with a compatible sexuality who fails their save against it.
    • Finally, this magic's ultimate spell is King of The World. Anyone who happens to fail its save in the affected area will revere the caster as a perfect being, and try to satisfy them, as long as they stay within the area of effect of the spell. They do not get a saving throw again, unless they leave. However, if someone succeeds at that saving throw, they will have to do it again if they leave and re-enter.
  • Warhammer: Despite all about being a land of chivalry and honour, Bretonnia is a land where the nobility have effectively unlimited authority over their dominions and can treat peasants however they want — usually awfully. Peasants are legally prohibited from owning wealth or leaving their lord's land, and are effectively their liege's property; lords routinely mass-conscript hordes of peasants to use as Cannon Fodder and to soak up arrows and enemy charges; in some dukedoms, peasants are subjected to a 90% tax rate on all the crops they own, leading to mass starvation and poverty while nobles are ludicrously wealthy; in others, simply touching a knight's warhorse is punished with on-the-spot execution; and one obscure kingly decree states that legally speaking, every male of a certain age must shout "Griffon fingers!" to the sky while saluting it on the evening of a full moon (though only one of the counties actually enforces this law, the rest of the nobility are sane enough to pretend that it doesn't exist). Bretonnia is a Deconstructive Parody of Arthurian England and the Chivalric Romance.

Video Games

  • Super Mario Bros. has had roughly fourteen evil kings, two evil queens, one evil baron, three evil counts, and an evil major — among various others.
  • Boktai: Lunar Knights has two evil viscounts (most likely twins to boot), an Ax-Crazy human-hunting Margrave, an evil scientist baron, and an earl who became a Necessarily Evil duke. Interestingly enough, in the earl's case, his ascension to dukehood was the capper of his career as an earl, bagging vampire hunters and Guild gunslingers alike and instilling fear in said opposition from all that rep.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Nobles aren't really evil, but they are nearly useless, expensive, demanding, obnoxious, oppressive to other dwarfs, and generally hated (and often killed) by the players. In other words, they provide a good example of the origin of this trope.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood features the Real Life evil Pazzi family, as well as Rodrigo Borgia. It also adds the rest of the Borgia family, as well as fictional Silvestro "The Noble" Sabbatini who engaged in human trafficking.
  • Embric of Wulfhammer's Castle has several nobles, some good, some bad, some minor characters not worth talking about. The Duchess of Elstwhere is a perfectly nice and helpful aristocrat, despite her childhood, even willing to milk a cow as part of relieving the fears of the peasants. Her uncle, meanwhile, Bad King Greyghast the Terrible, well, managed to get himself called Bad King Greyghast the Terrible. And Duke Theremin is basically a bit of an entitled snot.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, the aristocracy of Gallia is comprised of nothing but evil assholes, including its mostly noble officers and the prime minister. The only exception is Princess Cordelia. The protagonists of Valkyria Chronicles II do include a few heroic aristocrats, but the antagonists are Gallian rebels led by racist reactionary nobles.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, in one of the most cynical portrayals of nobility in the series, has the Senate of Begnion. Almost in it's entirety. While the above-mentioned Vice-Minister Lekain is one of the more particulary monstrous ones, pretty much every one of them with very few exceptions (and one who is just stupid) are corrupt, racist, sleazy, and haughty to the core, overly obsessed with hierarchy and in RD invading the war-torn country of Daein, displacing its residents and placing them under oppressive rule, and causing Micaiah, one of The Heroes of RD, who now has a burning hatred of all of Begnion's allies (which of course includes their commander, AKA Ike), and her friend Sothe to form The Dawn Brigade, setting the entire story and yet another war in motion; so bad is their behavior that they're some of the few people Ike truly despises, and made him grow somewhat wary of nobility (especially because they tend to treat him like dirt due to being a very low-class foreign mercenary), and for all their insistence on everyone giving Empress Sanaki the utmost respect in PoR, they expel her from her duties when she refuses to listen to them anymore in the sequel.
  • Vampyr: The Ascalon Club is an aristocratic vampire council whose chairman Lord Redgrave also doubles as Earl of Bristol. Subverted with William Marshal who also was an ancient vampire that held the tile of Earl, but is more of an Hero with Bad Publicity. And then there is the Red Queen, the game's true Big Bad.

Webcomics

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The throne of the Asian-themed Azure City is threatened by an evil scheming aristocrat with the title of Daimyo, named Kubota who makes a deal with a (minor) devil in exchange for aid in assassinating the rightful heir Hinjo after he's ascended to the throne just in time to have a war to defend the city fall into his lap and makes several attempts while the battered fleet that evacuated the city seeks to find a safe harbor.
    • The previous lord of the city kept all of the backstabbing, ninja-assassin-happy aristocracy from killing him by pretending to be senile so that they instead played an elaborate game to attempt to influence the old man into ruling in their favor.
  • Winters In Lavelle: The King and Blue Princes aren't well liked. Ashton, unfortunately, happens to share the biggest identifying traits of Princes (almost inhumanly bright blue eyes). They've haunted the poor kid his whole life — his mother was even shown calling him a monster in a flashback, back when he looked to be around ten years old. And of course, nowadays, if any of the Retainers of Wistar — a group aiming to overthrow the king and assassinate the Princes along the way — see him wandering around...
  • Homestuck: The literally Blue Blooded high-caste trolls are more violent than the lower classes, and most known historical aristocrats have been villainous, from the Pirate Marquise Spinneret Mindfang to E%patriate Darkleer to the Grand Highblood to Orphaner Dualscar and finally Her Imperious Condescension, a space-traveling tyrant also known as the Baroness, aka Betty Crocker. Their descendants either play this straight or subvert it, though the Condesce's descendant, Feferi, totally inverts it by being one of the nicest members of the cast.
  • In Girl Genius most aristocrats are Mad Scientists with an emphasis on madness.
  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: Although Sick himself Used to Be a Sweet Kid, the poverty-ridden rebels targeted him solely for being the son of Pain and Yamai Solitude, the aristocratic tyrants of Throne.

Web Original

  • The Salvation War: Hell's hierarchy included Barons, Counts, Dukes and Grand Dukes topped by His Infernal Majesty Satan. All of them evil, of course, although prone to a Heel–Face Turn if the circumstances press.
  • Tales from My D&D Campaign: Averted. One of the party members is a Marquis, the two kings of humanity are Reasonable Authority Figures, and The Duke Of Newland is a badass who responded to a call for surrender from the evil Kua-Toa by jumping off the wall of his fort onto the enemy herald.

Alternative Title(s): Evil Aristocracy

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