A villain who seems glad to see you, comments on your nice outfit, and how you're better at heroism lately than you used to be. They may even salute your proficiency in battle. The disturbing thing is they don't seem sarcastic about it at all.
This creepy politeness is usually just a tactic to throw off the hero and/or show off how the villain is a looney. Terms of Endangerment are often involved. Occasionally the villain is genuinely attracted to the hero (which could be especially prevalent if the hero and the villain are of opposite genders), or has some other reason to relate to them. Villains who believe Enemies Equals Greatness often feel the need to talk their opponents up, as in their mind it only raises their own credibility to have such a foe.
Subtrope of Villain Respect. Contrast to Affably Evil, where the villain is not necessarily trying to annoy or flatter the hero, but rather that's genuinely what they're like to most people and Opponent Instruction. See also Your Approval Fills Me with Shame when the flattery actually manages to rile up the hero. It may be used in a Arson, Murder, and Admiration kind of way, though true examples of that are between villains.
- Doctor Muraki of Descendants of Darkness does this mostly to jerk Tsuzuki's chain.
- Freeza from Dragon Ball Z was not only very polite and formal (calling even his renegade henchman who has killed just about every member of his fleet "Mr. Vegeta"), but couple this with his voice (which, in Japan, used mostly female modifiers and gender articles as well as the voice of a male seiyuu VERY famous for mad and evil roles, and was voiced by a female in North America and by a quite deep baritone male in Latin America) makes him a very creepy villain indeed.
- Joker from Read or Die was always polite and formal, never losing his cool once even when he was held hostage. Then again, he had so many proverbial cards up his sleeve that his confidence was legitimate.
- One Piece
- Foxy the Silver Fox complimented Luffy's new afro-headed look.
- When Luffy faces off against all three admirals in Marineford, Admiral Akainu says: "If nothing else, I praise your tenacity."
- Also Blackbeard to Luffy both before and after they knew who each other were. He encourages Luffy after a humiliating beating by some bullying pirates, understanding his motives and his dreams. Later in Impel Down, when he is introduced to Luffy as Blackbeard, the man that killed one of his True Companions and beat up Luffy's brother to turn him in for the title of Warlord of the Sea, he still encourages Luffy and remarks on how strong he's become.
- Claymore has the character Priscilla who is unfailingly polite and apologetic even when things are not even really her fault. That is until she Awakens and becomes her Superpowered Evil Side.
- Gin Ichimaru from Bleach and his treatment of "Hinamori-chan", whom he taunts gently yet sarcastically to make her (and others) believe he's a criminal and a traitor. Turns out he *was* a betrayer, but not quite as the others imagined. He even takes time to talk to Rukia, on her way to be executed, and give her the hope that he might save her on a whim... and then just go and say he was kidding, dashing her last bits of hope before Ichigo fights his way in the execution fields and *does* save her.
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the Upper Rank 3 demon, Akaza, respects the Flame Hashira's, Kyojuro Rengoku, strength in doing reasonably well against him, but these compliments are carried with sneering and disappointment over how a human, no matter how strong, can never be a real match against powerful demons such as himself. When Akaza faces Tanjiro in the Infinity Castle he repeats the same compliments he had to Rengoku and now directs them at Tanjiro, backtracking on his previous dismissal of Tanjiro as being weak and worthless, that only enrages Tanjiro as he sees Akaza's half-handed compliments as insults, especially in disrespect of Rengoku's memory as Akaza only compliments him to be disappointed over his death, this coming from Rengoku's own killer.
- Jail Scaglietti during the last episodes of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who, when faced with defeat at the hands of a very angry Fate on Super Mode, breathlessly called Fate and her powers as magnificent. Fate responded by smacking him into the wall hard using the side of her BFS.
- In Hunter × Hunter the Chimera Ant King expresses admiration for Netero's incredible martial arts prowess and speed even though the latter's attacks can't really hurt him.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio Brando (pictured above) applauds Polnareff for avenging his sister and for surviving up to that point.
- In Kill la Kill, when Ryuko and Senketsu first encounter Ragyo Kiryuin, she comments on how she didn’t expect Senketsu to be so beautiful (note that Senketsu is an article of living clothing, and Ragyo is both the head of a fashion empire and worshipper of beings like Senketsu). She later adopts a similar attitude to Ryuko upon realizing that she is her daughter, and a human infused with Life Fibers, often commenting that what she's doing is beneath her and that it's a pity to have to kill somebody who has such a thorough bond with Life Fibers.
- Rebuild World: A Noble Demon black ops operative, Erde, compliments Akira for the maneuver that let Akira deliver the blast that kills him, just before apologizing to the two men he led to their deaths as his Last Words.
- The Joker occasionally does this to Batman.
Joker: I see one of our stars approaching the red carpet! And he's in black, always chic. But here come the fashion disasters. (The rest of the Justice League arrives) I'm surprised their mommies let them out of the house looking like that.
Riddler: (while sitting in the Batmobile) Nice car. I think this is the first time I've been inside it conscious.Batman: Don't touch anything.
- This was one of the most memorable traits of the Jack Nicholson Joker.
"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
- Also, "Nice outfit!" (before he became The Joker).
- The Riddler will occasionally indulge in this.
- This was one of the most memorable traits of the Jack Nicholson Joker.
- Lex Luthor in most media. Funnily enough, rarely to Superman himself. He hates Big Blue.
- Rotorstorm's "Wreckers, combine!" joke from The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers got a laugh out of Overlord, a 'bot so evil and powerful he makes grizzled veterans go "Oh, Crap!". Then Rotorstorm gets his brains blown out.
- Darkseid compliments his estranged son Orion's savagery and prowess almost every time they meet.
- Back when Lightspeed (formerly of Power Pack) and Karolina Dean (of the Runaways) were on opposing teams (Lightspeed was one of several former teen superheroes hired to shut the Runaways down), they ended up complimenting each other instead of fighting. Years later, they ended up dating.
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, in a way all three of Ghidorah's heads at varying points — the regenerated Ichi/Eldest Brother, the shed skin clone MaNi/Elder Brother, and San's Evil Doppelgänger San-2/Youngest Brother — compliment Monster X (specifically the Vivienne Graham half) on how ferocious and beautiful a creature she's grown into and on her brutality. This is because Ghidorah wants Vivienne to become something like them.
- In Child of the Storm, Baron Zemo is prone to genuinely complimenting his opponents, as with T'Challa, whose speed he is impressed by and whose improvements to his style he compliments in their rematch.
- In the Harry Potter fic I Don't Want To Die Voldemort is impressed by Harry's power, evasive skills, and the death traps he had laid out for him:
Voldemort: You have impressed me, and I assure you that is hard to do. That pit full of water and sharks was a nice touch.
- In Hivefled, the Grand Highblood takes the time to tell Gamzee how impressive the latter's escape attempt was.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, Heather butters up Cody in an attempt to gain his cooperation for her underhanded scheme without having to meet his price of protecting Gwen.
- In Chosen to Destroy, the First Evil compliments Willow on "acting like a crack whore to get rid of the blame" of her practicing black magic.
- The Mountain and the Wolf: All the time from the Wolf whenever he's speaking to someone he thinks is worth his while (otherwise it's insults and put-downs). Unfortunately, the kind of deeds he thinks are worth complimenting are the kinds of thing the heroes aren't proud of:
- After learning Tyrion once killed a man with a shield, the Wolf only refers to him as "Shield-slayer", even to other people. Other feats the Wolf deems worthy of praise and respect include going into a room containing a pair of dragons and unchaining them (Tyrion asked to be punched in the face if ever he had another idea like that), killing his own father with a crossbow, and drinking hard enough to match the Wolf (a man who, for reference, once needed eight barrels of mead to fall down drunk). He end up favorably comparing Tyrion (Lannister) to Tyrion (the best swordsman Warhammer's high elves have ever produced).
- Daenerys burns down King's Landing, though it wasn't (entirely) her fault and she goes into a Heroic BSoD over it. The Wolf, naturally, applauds her starting her iron-fisted rule by melting half a city and has all manner of suggestions for how to keep up the momentum, starting with the public execution by torture of the Lannister soldiers. His heavy-handed approval is such that it gets her to pardon the Lannister soldiers en masse.
- Jon kills a Norscan berserker devoted to Khorne. The Wolf shows up in person to congratulate Jon on his prowess, grant him the dead man's arms and armor and his head, suggesting Jon start collecting the heads of his enemies.
- He sincerely admires Varys for showing no fear of death by dragonfire. The fact that it was in response to Varys trying to poison Daenerys appears to be a secondary consideration.
- He finds it hard to believe Davos could be a knight due to his seafaring ability. When the times comes for a sea battle he agrees to obey Davos' orders (although the battle doesn't happen since the Wolf is secretly behind it, he refers to Davos' skill as one reason not to fight).
- In the Star Wars Rebels fanfic Patron of the Art of War, Thrawn pays a number of compliments to Sabine about her skills as an artist. This only serves to creep her out.
- From Robin Hood (1973) there's a bit of this in the style of Arson, Murder, and Admiration, after Prince John learns of the latest hit that his subjects have come up with against him and that both the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Hiss have somehow managed to learn the lyrics (and that the former had been singing it on his tax collecting sprees as of late): "They'll be singing a different tune! Double the taxes! Triple the taxes! SQUEEZE EVERY LAST DROP out of those insolent... musical peasants." Note that he sounds slightly amused when he gets to the word "musical".
- From The Incredibles:
"You, sir, truly are "Mr. Incredible". Y'know, I was right to idolize you, I-I always knew you were tough, but tricking the probe by hiding under the bones of another super?! Oh, MAN! I'm still geeking out about it!"
- This makes sense, as Syndrome had considered Mr. Incredible his idol until he got chastised for trying to be a hero without any powers.
- The Argentinian dub changed the storyline so it takes place in Argentina in a parallel Earth. There, Syndrome had the personality of a sterotypical Argentinian TV host (such as Marley or Marcelo Tinelli).
- The Joker in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm upon being confronted by the titular Phantasm, expresses admiration for the latter's abilities.
Joker: Gotta hand it to you, nice scheme. Costume's a bit theatrical, but hey, who am I to talk?
- Star Wars:
- In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader admires Luke's new lightsaber and compliments his Jedi skills. Then again, Luke is his son.
"Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well."
- In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren compliments Poe Dameron on standing up to the First Order's more mundane torture before ripping into his mind with the Force.
Kylo Ren: I'm impressed. No one's been able to get out of you what you did with the map.
- In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader admires Luke's new lightsaber and compliments his Jedi skills. Then again, Luke is his son.
- In the original screenplay of Kill Bill, excised character Yukie Yubari comments on how pretty The Bride is and asks her if she thinks the same of Yukie... then she pulls out the uzi. In the definitive screenplay, Gogo Yubari compliments The Bride on her fame as she goes down the stairs, meteor hammer in hand.
- One of the common traits of most James Bond villains. Bond parodies such as Get Smart, Austin Powers and Isidoro also have villains acting in such a way.
- Sort of happens in The Princess Bride. Inigo and the man in black have a duel, and they're both very complimentary of each other the whole time. Neither is a "baddie" however; circumstances being what they are, they must fight!
- In Kick-Ass, as the Big Bad prepares to deliver a killing blow to Hit Girl, he admits that he wishes she'd been his kid, instead of the Red Mist.
- In Die Hard, Hans Gruber compliments Mr. Takagi, while holding him hostage.
Hans Gruber: Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there.
- In The Shadow, Shiwan Khan compliments Lamont Cranton's tie when they first meet and asks where he bought it. Lamont tells him it's from Brooks Brothers. When they meet again, Shiwan has ditched his traditional warlord outfit and is wearing a fine suit and tie. He tells Lamont that he got them at Brooks Brothers.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: When Will Turner first crosses swords with Jack Sparrow, Jack comments, "You know what you're doing, I'll give you that. Excellent form. But how's your footwork?"
- Pitch (2009): At the end, Belial thanks Jim for playing his part and offers to help him switch sides, complimenting his imagination and saying it'd be nice to see him "put it to better use."
- Conan the Barbarian (2011): Khalar Zym is impressed when young Conan attacks him openly and cuts his face trying to free his father. He lets Conan live as a result, if only for tormenting Conan's father by trying to free him from a death trap. Later too he compliments Conan when they meet again on facing him and Marique all by himself, saying he admires courage even when it's foolish.
- Regularly played straight in The Charlie Parker Series - while the bad guys do indulge in this from time to time, it's even more common to be inverted, and hear Parker himself try it on his enemies.
- In the Godzilla vs. Kong official novelization, Apex Cybernetics CEO Walter Simmons says he's a huge fan of Bernie's Mad Truth podcasts (which by the way are very anti-Apex), revealing that Bernie's chemtrail conspiracy theories ironically gave Simmons new product ideas.
- Played with in the climax of The Name of the Rose: Jorge praises William of Baskerville for uncovering the secret book he'd worked so hard to conceal, remarking "what a magnificent librarian you would have been." However, Adso notes that his tone sounds at once admiring and regretful, and it soon becomes clear why: Jorge has poisoned the book so as to prevent its secrets from being revealed to the public, and he's playing Graceful Loser in an attempt to get William to drop his guard and start reading. Fortunately, William is wearing gloves.
- The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the White Queen remarks on how compact and economical Kyousuke's "fairy spring"/portal was, compared to her minions' more wasteful version of the same. One of the reasons she antagonizes him specifically is because watching him achieve the impossible amuses her.
- In Victoria, protagonist John Rumford is unhappy to receive this treatment from Nazi Nobleman von Braun, since he disagrees profoundly with the latter's politics and Nietzschean philosophy.
- Weyoun, and for that matter any Vorta, will always try to do this to get on your good side. Captain Sisko will have none of it, though.
Weyoun: How delightful. You feel comfortable enough around me to make jokes. I'm so pleased to see our relationship evolving beyond the stale adversarial stage.Sisko: No it's not. But before you twist that into a compliment, let me be blunt. I don't like the Dominion, I don't like what it stands for, and I don't like you. So let's dispense with the hollow pleasantries and stick to business.
- Supernatural: It doesn't make Azazel anything less than a Complete Monster, but he lists the reasons to Sam's face why he's personally hoping Sam will be the last of his Special Children standing and help him start the Apocalypse:
"You're tough, you're smart, you're well-trained—thanks to your daddy. Sam...Sammy...you're my favorite."
- Played with by Kilgrave in Jessica Jones (2015). He thinks he's in love with her, and compliments her fairly consistently... when he isn't trying (usually successfully) to control her mind and make her hurt herself or others, control everyone around her just to get under her skin and make her take him back, or just generally be horrifically creepy.
- Time After Time: H. G. is clearly unhappy to learn that Mad Scientist Dr. Munroe took his inspiration from Wells' work (specifically A Modern Utopia) and tried to "improve" humans by altering their DNA with a serum that actually turns them into homicidal maniacs, complimenting him profusely for his great insights. Munroe in turn inspired Dr. Moreau.
- Goenitz from The King of Fighters '96 uses a quite formal speech when addressing people and even had a "pet name" for the hero (Kusanagi-sinner-san). Also, one of his winning poses involves him bowing politely at the screen as if he was a performer being cheered on for an encore by his fans.
- The Legend of Zelda:
Ganon: "I didn't think anybody could defeat my pawn Agahnim. You have my congratulations."
- In the French version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, this was a distinctive trait of Agahnim, and, to a lesser extent, Ganon. No other title has ever displayed a villain that polite.
- In stark contrast to his Faux Affably Evil Dragon Ghirahim, Demise in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword praises Link and Groose's courage and strength. He remarks that they are very different from the cowardly humans of the past who hid behind their goddess Hylia. He's the single most affable villain in any game regardless of translation, but lets his malice slip once being defeated. Literally; malice becomes a physical substance that can infest and corrupt the land and architecture of Hyrule and is implied to be how monsters are created. In particular, it leads to the birth of Ganondorf.
- Salazar in Resident Evil 4 is rude and snarky for most of his screentime, until you finally impress him enough to start saying things like "I fear I have not paid my respects to your impressive and stubborn will. Mr. Kennedy: WELCOME!"
- In Mega Man X, Sigma comments on X's fighting potential repeatedly throughout the final battles.
"Impressive! You're every bit the Hunter I was!"
- He's especially obsessive about this in the Maverick Hunter X PSP remake:
"I see a new clarity in your eyes. It looks like you might actually be able to face me.""Impressive, X! Looks like you really do have the potential I had seen in you!""Magnificent X! And to think you've been classified as a B-class Hunter!""I should've known you could do it, X..."
- In Final Fantasy XIII Orphan delivers a pretty epic example by outright praising the strength of humanity which makes them the perfect tools to circumvent the Fal'Cies' own hardwired limitations.
Orphan: Have you ever paused to consider our reason for making l'Cie of men? We fal'Cie are crafted for a single purpose, and granted finite power to that end. With men it is not so. Men, dream, aspire, and through indomitable force of will achieve the impossible. Your power is beyond measure. We take l'Cie that we might wield such strength. Through you, we obtain freedom from our bondage.
- In Wild ARMs 3, Big Bad Seigfried respects and envy Maya's power, which, he says, surpasses Demon's. However, that doesn't stop him from using her powers against her, and he obliterates her later on when she tries to solo him. But in the end, Maya got the last laugh.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, if the Warden chooses to duel Loghain to decide the fate of Ferelden, the old general will comment that "a man is made by the quality of his enemies," which was a saying of his old friend Maric. He then wonders if that's more of a compliment to him or to you.
- In Dragon Age II, if Hawke proves him/herself to be upright and respectful in his/her dealings with the Arishok, the Arishok during his attempted takeover of Kirkwall will address him/her as "Basalit-an" — meaning he thinks of Hawke as a person rather than a thing which is standard operating procedure when dealing with anyone outside of the Qun — and then condemn the nobles as "bas" (things). He respects Hawke enough to offer to settle things with a duel.
- In one of the missions in Spandex Force this middle-aged dude in a homemade costume showed up and started expressing excessive admiration for the main character, claiming that he was a teenage boy and wanted to be their sidekick. This turned out to be a ludicrous and badly-planned attempt to learn their secret identity by a minor villain called the Crossdresser. (When he later claimed he was "the man of a thousand faces," the main character quipped "And they all look the same!")
- In the fourth-gen Pokemon games, Cyrus compliments the player's kindness and compassion after they defeat him at the Galactic Headquarters. Cyrus had, just prior to this battle, denounced kindness and compassion as useless displays of weakness. It's hard to tell if his compliment is sincere or backhanded.
- The primal Susano in Final Fantasy XIV will salute your resiliancy if you survive his Signature Attack.
- Captain Furrante from Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will find something nice to say about the Watcher on their first meeting, showing great respect for whatever impressive things the Watcher did in the first game. He's a Manipulative Bastard trying to convince the Watcher to do his dirty work, and will pay better if the Watcher has enough insight to call him out on it.
- In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the Big Bad is rather complimentary toward Miriam when they meet before their final battle. She's grateful to Miriam for her unwitting assistance and compliments her for figuring out her Evil Plan and driving her into a corner.
- In Killer7, just before a duel of former collaborators Dan Smith and Curtis Blackburn:
Curtis: Danny boy, look at you. You've changed considerably. Into a badass, if I may.Dan: Yeah, and you've changed a lot too. Into an old man.
- In Double Homework, both in public and in private, Dennis refers to the protagonist as “buddy ol’ pal.” It fools no one.
- The Order of the Stick: Tarquin, to Roy after the latter caused major structural damage to the gladiator games arena. Roy is somewhat bewildered.
- Sleepless Domain: "Goops" seems to be impressed by Cassidy's anger and defiance, and cryptically claims that they might have even gotten along if Cassidy wasn't "one of hers". Of course, this doesn't stop her from killing Cassidy in the end.
- Kaz Valnor from The Gungan Council managed to bed Bethany Kismet with the nicest of words... until he revealed he was a Sith.
- Parodied to hell and back in Sgt. Frog Abridged with their version of Garuru complimenting everybody, but especially his brother Giroro and his supposedly Worthy Opponent Keroro. The former finds it unbearable, while the latter just finds it confusing.
- Also parodied in Hellsing Ultimate Abridged. Luke Valentine starts hyping up Alucard, with the intention of turning it around and proclaiming he's even stronger than Alucard is. Alucard responds thusly:
Alucard: Oh, you dirty bitch! Work the shaft!Luke: ...Excuse you?Alucard: Oh, I'm sorry, I like the dirty talk when someone's sucking my dick.
- In Batfink, Curly the Cannonball was excessively worshipful of Batfink, apparently due to Batfink being his hero before he turned into a two-bit villain.
- Danny Phantom: Vlad Plasmius often used this tactic in conjunction with a "Not So Different" Remark.
- Shego is known for doing this to Kim Possible (when she's not being condescending), and has a number of pet names for her. When Kim switches to a new outfit in the Post-Script Season, Shego compliments her on the new look.
- A version appears in Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade is in a toppling tree, which falls towards the (Dark-Warriored!) Ratso, who catches it. This ensues:
Jade: Nice catch.
Ratso: Thanks. Hey-!
Jade (jumps off tree and runs): Nyah-nyah.
- When Jackie's aggressive side, having been split off by the Yin Yang Talisman, is captured by the Enforcers, he spends his time joking around with them. The Enforcers find him hilarious, admit that he's good company and say that it's a shame they will probably have to get rid of him.
- In the DC Animated Universe, Darkseid always compliments his son Orion whenever they cross paths. In "Apokolips Now!" Darkseid expresses his fatherly pride in Orion's savagery and power. During their brief fight in "Twilight", Darkseid has this to say:
Darkseid: I'm glad growing up with Highfather hasn't made you soft or weak. You make an old man proud. But I won't let you or anyone else stand in my way.
- Then he breaks his son's spine with a crushing bearhug and leaves him to die on the exploding asteroid with a pithy "spare the rod".
- The Legend of Korra
- Amon compliments Mako of being the first to "Get the better of him" after Mako overcomes Amon's bloodbending enough to land a blow with his lightning-bending
- Ghazan is genuinely impressed with Bolin when he learns how to lavabend, commenting that he's a lot more powerful that he originally thought and that maybe in another life he could have helped him master it.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels is a noted lover of art and alien cultures, learning all he can about them so he can defeat them, then taking their most prized treasures and works of art as trophies. As such, he tends to give compliments to the rebels he meets/captures/interrogates if said rebels have skills he considers admirable.
- In Sym-Bionic Titan, while fighting the Mutraddi Xeexi, it manages to eat some of the fufu from Ilana's school food party. He/it compliments the taste.
- Teen Titans:
Aqualad: You sound more like a fanboy than a nemesis.
- On rare occasions, Slade does compliment his adversaries, such as Robin, but it is hard to tell when he is genuine or just trashing them.
- Taken to a disturbing extent with Control Freak in "For Real" — when questioning the replacement Titans where the originals were, the satirical nerdy villain went into a lengthy montage describing the characteristics of (and dressing as) each and every Titan. He later goes fanboy crazy over the Titans East, so much so that he can't resist teleporting himself in front of them after they just survived all his "tests" and attempts to blow up the city.
- Transformers: Animated: As the embodiment of Starscream's sycophantic tendencies, Sunstorm is always complimenting people, be it his enemies or allies. Sometimes it gets him into trouble, like spending too long admiring Omega Supreme and getting bashed out of the way. After watching Prowl's use of Stasis Cuffs, he later ambushes and takes him down with a similar move, thanking him for the brilliant idea. In "Five Servos of Doom" he tries to compliment Sentinel Prime's use of a bounty hunter to stop him, but has a mouthpiece slapped on.
- In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "Hogs and Kisses", Cavitus compliments Jason in order to gain access to all of the money in the Pig-O Bank Cruiser.