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Arson, Murder, and Admiration

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Fantasy: He's possessed!
Horror: He's insane!
Adventure: He's my kind of guy!
—Referring to Captain Ahab in The Pagemaster

When two villainous (or at least, Token Evil) characters fight, the less evil one will rail about how Even Evil Has Standards, they've crossed the Moral Event Horizon and what they've done is unforgivable... and it was a nice touch to put lasers on the carnivorous hamsters' heads.

Mostly a comedy trope, this shows up as an inversion of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking with one villain complimenting another on how elaborate their Death Trap, Evil Scheme, Villainous Monologue, Evil Laugh, Villain Song, or they themselves are. Compare Berate and Switch.

It won't stop them from fighting it out, but credit where credit is due.

A subtrope to Villain Cred, the general respect a villain gets for their evil deeds from other villains. If it's a Villain Team-Up, the Card Carrying Villains will often compliment their allies/rivals for their evilness. Compare Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving. Compare In Love with Your Carnage when a villain falls in love with a hero due to the hero's violence. Contrast Insult Backfire. If a hero or other non-villain (or even some villain types such as the Well-Intentioned Extremist) is on the receiving end, this becomes Your Approval Fills Me with Shame or just Baddie Flattery. Compare and contrast The One Thing I Don't Hate About You, where the hero admits he admires one thing about a villain he otherwise despises.


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    Comic Books 
  • Black Moon Chronicles:
    • When captured by Ghorgor in the first book, Pilou plays a trick on him, teleporting his swords back to himself whenever Ghorgor tries to look at them. Ghorgor is so enraged by this that he... takes Pilou and Wismerhill into his warband.
    • Wismerhill is very amused when mage Shamballeau kills 20 of his soldiers in an explosion, going from initial rage to happily adopting him as part of his own growing band.
  • While Whirl in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye is on the side of the heroes...sort of...he gets a shot at this during the Holiday Special. A Doorstop Baby the Lost Light picks up is revealed to be a fake; instead of a true Cybertronian protoform, it's a vicious swarm of scraplets. Whirl, who had risked his life for the fake child, mentions that they "manipulate[d] me into putting my life at risk by feigning kinship...all just so they could live to kill again." He is incredibly proud of them for this. The scraplets do seem to appreciate it on some level, at least; they turn out to be Androcles' Lion in the final showdown with Getaway.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Addams Family Values has the following exchange between Morticia and Debbie:
    Morticia: You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that.
  • The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult:
    Drebin (undercover as a gangster, to the Big Bad's mother): Mrs Dillon, your son is a ruthless, sadistic, cold-blooded animal. You must be very proud of him.
    Muriel Dillon: I am.
  • Jabba and Boussh in Return of the Jedi after the latter threatens the former into giving him more money:
    Jabba: "Hohoho! This bounty hunter is my kind of scum! Fearless and inventive!"
  • Ishmael's father in Kingpin. The father tells Ishmael that he knows about the boozing, the gambling, and the partying... and how Ishmael got the lead character Roy to turn away from all that.
  • Flesh+Blood (1985). After Steven's wife is kidnapped by mercenaries, he and his father go to the mercenaries' former commander Hawkwood. Steven bullies him into helping get her back by threatening the woman Hawkwood is caring for. As Steven has been portrayed up till now as rather bookish and ineffectual, his father laughs and notes with approval, "You're as ruthless as I am!" Steven just replies grimly, "When I have to be."
  • The Shawshank Redemption has Red's narration describing Tommy Williams as a young hoodlum who was a "Young punk, Mr. Rock and Roll, cocky as hell" right before noting "We liked him immediately".
  • Played with in Rush Hour, in which the chief pretends to be doing this ("Two officers were shot — one man lost a pinkie; you destroyed half a block; you lost lots of evidence; what you did was dangerous and completely against policy; and not only that... you did a good job"), but he's actually using it to convince Carter to accept his new assignment, which he regards as an insult to the entire LAPD.

  • In Dragon Bones someone mentions that Fenwick, the protagonist's father, would just have killed the king and be done with it. Oreg (who is an immortal slave, and had Fenwick as master before he was inherited by Ward) comments that this was one of his rather likeable traits. (The king is a jerk, Fenwick was an abusive husband and father, and probably treated Oreg horribly).
  • Dexter greatly admires the artistic merits of the Ice Truck Killer's scenes. In the second book, he also admits to respecting the skill of turning people into "yodeling potatoes".
  • In Discworld book Mort a dying Evil Vizier takes this trope up to eleven: he compliments the emperor for killing him.
  • Harry Dresden's magic adviser, Bob the Skull: whenever Harry appears to be acting more like Bob's Blue-and-Orange Morality, paranoia, and perversion, Bob semi-sarcastically cheers him on. Harry is rarely amused.
  • In the Lensman series, the Boskone culture being based on survival of the fittest, it's pretty much a Running Gag for a superior to praise the efforts of his Bastard Understudy to supplant him (while of course pointing out why an attempt to do so would be dangerous for his health).
  • In Shadow's Claim, an Immortals After Dark novel by Kresley Cole, Sabine says to Salem, "You're lucky I like you, you prince-gouging, foul-mouthed sylphic man-slut. Ah, yes, I like these things about you indeed."

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrow. In "My Name Is Oliver Queen", Oliver suggests they negotiate with Ra's al Ghul by capturing his Arch-Enemy Damien Darhk (the Big Bad in the next season, but they didn't know that at the time) and handing him over to Ra's.
    Malcolm Merlyn: That is remarkably ruthless and cold-blooded. I approve.
  • Blackadder II features one after Blackadder blackmails the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells who "drowns babies at their christening and eats them in the vestry afterwards" by arranging some very compromising paintings.
    Bishop: You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church?
  • One episode of Community has the women of the group discover that Abed has been charting their menstrual cycles, solely by observing which days of the month his Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies seemed to annoy them the most.
    Annie: (looking over Abed's calculations) Abed, this is so intrusive — and so accurate!
  • Dexter again (this time only the TV show) admits, at least at first, that he admires Trinity for his success in maintaining the life he's led. Downplayed in that Dexter still has every intention of killing him, but not before he can learn how to do the same with his own life.
  • In Leverage, after Nate cons his dad into a situation where the Irish mob puts a contract out on him:
    "You're more ruthless than me, crueler than me. Maybe you are better than me. I'm proud of you son."
  • A milder variation in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Series Finale, "All Good Things...". The Enterprise and a Romulan ship are facing a temporal anomaly in the Neutral Zone when Picard recommends to the Romulan commander Tomalak that they pursue a joint investigation rather than "stare at each other from across the Neutral Zone".
    Tomalak: Has the Federation approved this suggestion?
    Picard: No, they have not.
    Tomalak: I like it already.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "The Magnificent Ferengi," Quark creates a team to rescue his mother from the Dominion. The only actually competent member is Leck, a true nutcase merc. After the adventure (which actually includes killing their own hostage) Leck sums it up:
    Leck: This is the sloppiest, most amateurish operation I've ever seen... If you ever do something like this again, count me in.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Abaddon congratulates a handful of demons on being "violent, power-hungry opportunists" although she finds fault with their reliance on deals and choice of meat suits.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Used occasionally, such as when, after being betrayed by his tag-team partner Christian in a Battle Royal for the Intercontinental title (around 2003, perhaps?), Chris Jericho called him out... to congratulate him, and tell him he would have done the exact same thing if he'd thought of it. Then they hug. Awww.

    Video Games 
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: Edward Van Helgen's reaction to Guybrush shooting his banjo out of his hands with his own pistol to screw up their competition is thus: "Of all the low-down tricks! I've never even heard of something so low! I've completely misjudged you. You ARE a pirate, after all!"
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Etna uses Villain Protagonist Laharl as bait to get what she wants from Big Bad Wannabe Maderas, without either of them knowing. After Laharl finds out what Etna's intentions were, does he get angry at her for using him?, he compliments her on how devious she is and promotes her to his right-hand demon.
  • Due to their lack of any actual morality, some Asurans in Guild Wars come off as somewhat evil. In one case, the actions of the Asuran Tekks has instigated a war between two aboriginal frog-tribes. Her rival, Giriff, comments he would be impressed if he thought she'd done it on purpose.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • On the prison planet of Belsavis, it turns out that the Republic was conducting experiments on alien prisoners by forcing them to fight one another and comparing the performance of each species. If you are playing an Imperial character, you can overhear the following conversation between two NPC scientists on the Imperial side.
      Imperial Scientist #1: These experiments the Republic's been conducting — xenophobia, genocidal conditioning...I can hardly believe it.
      Imperial Scientist #2: I know. It's ghastly, unethical...
      Imperial Scientist #1: You know I had this same idea years ago.
      Imperial Scientist #2: You — wait, what?
      Imperial Scientist #1: Yes. I didn't have the backing or the resources to pursue it, but the hypotheses were there. Never imagined the Republic would beat me to it. Didn't think they had it in them.
    • Consular companion Tharan Cedrax makes a habit of it. He's nominally a pacifist, but his For Science! motivation and belief that knowledge is valuable in and of itself, means that while he doesn't necessarily approve of the damage some WMD, technology-based Artifact of Doom, or highly unethical research project will cause, he will approve of the cleverness it took to come up with it.
    • Some Mandalorians and the codex itself mention that they sided with the Empire at least partially to get opportunities to fight the Jedi. In Revan's absence, they'll settle for the rest of the Order, believing that the Jedi are the most powerful warriors in the galaxy. After all, what better way to gain prestige than to fight and defeat the same people who trained Revan or held onto some of Revan's teachings? note 
  • In Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, the Mandalorians as a whole regarding Revan. Revan thoroughly trashed them in the Mandalorian Wars — but far from being sore, they have instead placed Revan on a pedestal. Canderous in particular describes Revan's use of expert tactics, and ferocity on the battlefield, and even Revan's defeat of Mandalore the Ultimate in tones of admiration. By Mandalorian values, Revan was the ultimate Worthy Opponent, and to face Revan in battle was the ultimate honor win or lose. And where pretty much everyone else is upset when finding out the PC is an amnesiac Darth Revan, Canderous instead becomes the Mandalorian version of The Knights Who Say "Squee!".
  • In Mass Effect, virtually everyone you fight with who comes across Cerberus (including one or two of the people who work for them) expresses disgust at their nasty experiments, human-supremacist agenda, and resorting to the use of Reaper tech in the third game. On the other hand, they did build the Normandy SR-2, which has earned praise from certain characters for its superior engineering compared to the old Normandy. This includes Tali'Zorah, who comes from a species highly adept at technology, and Engineer Adams, who served on the old Normandy SR-1.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • When you complete a quest in Ashenvale, Durak says this:
      Durak: Tainting the Forest's Heart? How ruthless... an utterly vicious blow... I adore the idea!
    • In one of Prince Renathal's quotes for when you click on him enough:
      The Master hoarded anima, lied, threw me into the Maw!... All of that I respect, but setting the Jailer free? Oh, <tsk tsk> too far.
  • At the beginning of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Cackletta ambushes Mario, Luigi, and Bowser (who is involved in an Enemy Mine with the Bros). Bowser's mad at her, not because of her evil plan, but because said plan was cool.
    Bowser: You're the fiend who stole Peach's voice! How dare you pull off such a cool evil plan?

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Inverted on Red vs. Blue: while Sarge is glad that O'Malley is killing all the Blues, he can't stand the thought that he now has a higher body count.
  • In Teen Girl Squad.
    Tompkins: Aw, come on prinicpal [sic] Strong Bad, I only stole one Sega tape.
    Strong Bad: That's just it, Tompkins. You could have stolen upwards of one Sega tape.
  • In Noob, Gaea discovers that the leader of the top guild of an enemy faction has a tax on all of the faction's guilds. She initially acts shocked, but ends up calling the guy a genius due to the fact it's actually the kind of thing she'd do if she could. She still has a personal reason to be shocked since she just recently pulled a Heel Face Turn, she's one of the most greedy fiction characters out there, and she was made master of guild that happens to be very late in its payments.
  • On Not Always Right, a customer service representative goes wild on a racist caller on a recorded line. Naturally, the representative gets reported to management, who writes him up for rudeness to the customer... and then says this.
    Hey, on a more personal note -– good job! Don’t EVER do it again, but good job. All the managers have listened to it, and we were all rolling with laughter -– we couldn’t believe that you stood up to him like you did. Just... you know; don’t do it again.” *wink*

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Dr. Robotnik has this to say to travelling salesman Wes Weasely.
    Robotnik: Listen, Weasley, you are brash, arrogant, obnoxious, pushy, rude, and you dress funny. You're my kinda guy!
  • In The Batman, The Joker watches Dr. Harleen Quinzel's call-in talk show and has this to say about it:
    Joker: Pop psychology at its worst: her theories are unfounded, her professional manner's a joke, and her training — if ANY — is shoddy at best! [Beat] I LOVE this show! The girl's more screw-loose than me!
  • Bob's Burgers: At the end of "The Millie-Churian Candidate", Louise sounds like she's outraged that Henry Haber manipulated everyone in order to beat Jimmy Pesto Jr. in the election for class president, then ends her dressing-down by telling him, in an impressed tone, "You're going to be an amazing president."
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Nicole expresses genuine pride in Anais when she successfully pull a Chessmaster against her family so she can watch her show. Of course, she's scared too.
    Nicole: I feel really proud of her, yet really scared at the same time.
    Darwin: I wasn't looking at the fish. I was trying to guilt trip you into buying me the huge tank.
    Nicole: You were trying to emotionally blackmail me into buying you something?
    Richard: Well, looks like somebody's shown their true colors! (Nicole, Gumball, Richard and Anais nod) You really are...
    Nicole, Richard, Gumball, and Anais: A Watterson! (cue Group Hug)
  • In The Cuphead Show!, Cuphead nearly gets blown up by dynamite thanks to one of Bowlboy’s ill-thought-out pranks and has this to say:
    Cuphead: [outraged] You almost killed me! You are irresponsible, careless, and simply unhinged! [Beat as Cuphead falls to his knees and pleads happily] Be my new brother!
  • DuckTales (2017): Scrooge McDuck sums up his relationship with Huey, Dewey and Louie: "You kids are nothing but trouble. Curse me kilts have I missed trouble!"
  • In Futurama, Dwight and Cubert found a competing delivery company and drive Planet Express out of business in an attempt to impress and/or spite their respective parents. When their own business ends up in trouble after they take on more deliveries than they can actually carry out, they come running to their parents for help, prompting the following exchange:
    Prof. Farnsworth: Why did you boys do all this?
    Dwight: [sobbing] We just wanted you to be... proud of us...
    Hermes: Proud of you?! You ruined us with sleazy business practices and a complete disregard for human decency! {Beat} Of course we're proud of you!
    Prof. Farnsworth: Damn right we are.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The pirate leader Hondo Ohnaka is informed that several of his men betrayed him.
    Hondo: Traitors! Scum! I am so proud. Yet so betrayed.
  • Hondo invokes this again in the Star Wars Rebels episode "Brothers of the Broken Horn," when he learns Ezra's claim of being Lando Calrissian was a lie.
    Hondo: You lied to me? I knew I liked you!
    • Later in the season, Ezra more or less cons information from Hondo, promising him a finder's fee and then bluntly refusing to give it once he has what he wants. Hondo's response is pride in Ezra for learning so quickly.
    • Maul is highly amused when he finds out that Ezra once stole a Jedi holocron.
  • In the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Shredder and Krang would occasionally compliment each other's evilness (when they weren't getting on each other's nerves). Other villains also got some praise for their evil plans from time to time.
    Shredder: Then you shall have the robot. I vow it!
    Krang: Cross your heart and hope to die?
    Shredder: What heart?
    Krang: Shredder, you're my kind of guy!
  • In Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time, Evil Overlord-wannabe turned Dragon Dr. Drakken complains that Shego has very poor villain form by refusing to gloat over her victory.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Lucius is woken up in the middle of the night:
    Lucius: Someone is causing misery? At this hour? How productive!
  • During the ReBoot episode "Identity Crisis", after Sirus had stolen a file containing the PIDs for a sector under Megabyte's control:
    Megabyte: What you did was slimy, contemptible and downright distasteful. I loved it!
    • It must be in the code, because Megabyte's "sister" (it's complicated) Hexadecimal once woke up to find herself imprisoned, damaged, in BONDAGE, and literally used as a power supply. By Megabyte. Her literal response was to have a psychotic expression on her unique face and bellow out "WHO DID THIS TO ME!? IIIII (changes her mask-face to a smile) like it!"
  • Frequently occurs on Rocky and Bullwinkle in scenes involving Boris and Natasha, given their bad is good philosophy on life. Often Natasha would say something to the effect of "Boris, you sneaky, no-good, rotten scoundrel! You're my kind of guy!"
  • On The Venture Bros., when Dr. Richard Impossible becomes evil—well, more evil than he had been up to that point—he makes his Manhattan office building Powered by a Forsaken Child, that is the energy from his former brother-in-law's Johnny Storm-like ability to burst into flames. Unlike Johnny Storm, however, the victim has no ability to control his powers and is in constant agony whenever he's conscious. Phantom Limb praises this as the most evil thing he's ever seen.
  • Averted in Rick and Morty when our Rick finds a machine created by the evil Rick of another dimension that tortures Mortys to maintain a stealth field around his fortress. Our Rick says this is a bad thing to do, but is actually more hung-up with how poor the design is, as opposed to the grudging admiration he certainly would have had if Evil!Rick had used Rick's design (which he insists was only done on paper as a hypothetical).
  • At the beginning of an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Bugs Bunny questions Buster's moral character and wonders if he ever shows any consideration for others. Buster proceeds to try and tell him of some examples of where he shows his compassionate side. By the end, Bugs tells Buster, "I've seen enough! You're a rude, conniving, disrespectful little rabbit!" And then in a much lighter tone, Bugs adds, "You done me proud!"
  • Dick Dastardly puts words in the mouth of the narrator in the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Camouflage Hoparoo." The narrator calls Dick deadly, diabolical and despicable, after which Dick adds "You left out dashing and debonair!"
  • Total Drama: Heather has this to say about Duncan:
    Heather: He's evil, manipulative, sketchy, and completely unpredictable… I like the way he thinks!


Video Example(s):


Bile's response to Ahriman

Fabius Bile doesn't hold back when he says how ridiculous Ahriman's and Lucius' plan is to hijack the Imperium's holonet to broadcast their talk show. That doesn't stop Bile from loving the idea, though.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArsonMurderAndAdmiration

Media sources: