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Card-Carrying Villain

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A scene from Checkerboard Nightmare's concept for a new comic book.

"I killed a man named 'Smith' with a bottle because I am an evil human being. ...Isn't that enough?"
The first killer, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Appealing to my better nature? I'm a villain! Here is My Card! "Eve L. Duehr: Academy of Evil graduate, Aspiring Tyrant, Kicker of Kittens, and Spontaneous Singer of Barney songs." I crossed the Moral Event Horizon while still in grade school and have never once looked back. And you think you can talk me out of my evil deeds? I shall laugh at your feeble attempts to stop me like so, Ahahahahahahahahaa!

Villains like this may be greedy, violent, comical, etc. but most importantly, they are Evil. It's in the job description. They refer to themselves as Evil, with a capital "E". Stretch it out to "Eeeeeevil" for emphasis. (They may even pronounce the "I" with emphasized shortness. Ee-vill. Like the froo-it of the dev-ill.) Terminal cases even require their minions to call them "Your Evilness". In fact, calling them evil, vile, ruthless, or any generally negative epithet will backfire and be received by these villainous types as the kindest of compliments.


The Card-Carrying Villain demands to be respected and feared and on top of the heap over everyone else because Evil Is Cool and Good Is Dumb.

Thus, they are expected to Kick the Dog and never Pet the Dog. They will shun anything saccharine, and if they acted differently, they'd lose their Evil ranking. Especially ironic if the reason they fell was because they wanted freedom from constraints on their actions. Whatever action they as a good guy wanted to do is considered "bad", so they have to do other bad things as well now. After a while, they usually forget about whatever goal it was that turned them Evil in the first place. a very odd way, they're very much The Fettered; since their actions are bound by the expectation of Evil.

There are, in general, three spheres of Card Carrying Villainy. A lot of villains combine one or more, though:

  1. Control — the Villain wants to rule; be it a gang, a city, a state, the country, the world, or a similar goal, and have everyone else below them obey their every whim. Sometimes goes so far as thinking of themselves as being of a superior race, a perfect being, or even a god, and therefore entitled to it.
  2. Corruption — the Villain wants to turn other people Evil, and often To Create a Playground for Evil. Give in to The Dark Side!
  3. Destruction — the Villain wants to destroy and kill for its own sake. Taken to the extreme, the first and second spheres may recognize that this includes them as well, so this often results in Evil Versus Oblivion or Eviler Than Thou if the villain teams up with the heroes so they can Take Over the World at a later date. (You can't take over the world if it's not there!)

A Black Cloak, a low-ranking Terrible Trio, an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, or someone who's succumbed to The Dark Side is usually most likely to identify themselves this way.

A subversion is for these folks to not actually be cruel, greedy, or unnecessarily violent, but just doing their jobs. A Noble Demon is a Card-Carrying Villain who talks the talk, but has a tendency to hold back or even help from time to time.

While the trope can result in an entertaining villain, he can also be cheesy or shallow. 80s kid's shows made a lot of these, where the villain referred to themselves as evil. Writers apparently believed that the children watching wouldn't be able to define the bad guy unless he was blowing up cities or poisoning lakes For the Evulz. It also reveals a condescending belief that children are unable to understand that evil people usually don't consider themselves evil. Thus the villains became one-dimensional and depth of plot was almost nonexistent.

In comedy situations/shows, this fate is usually averted, as it's a humorous thing (and thus right in place). It can also be used with a darker twist — showing a person so beyond redemption, so beyond what we call usual morality, that he is literally impossible to argue and reason with. This trope is also difficult (but not impossible) to pull off convincingly in a more serious, dramatic work or just live action in general. Most people in Real Life simply aren't that evil or conceited enough (or stupid enough) to proclaim themselves as such in any way. Not overtly, at least.

On the other hand, there are still dramatic situations where characters are that evil even in serious situations — certain kinds of world-destroyers, the excessively vengeful, and full-on psychopaths. It is easier to pull this seriously with a villain who acts like this in private but pretends to be something else in public, but even if not, it can work if the character is a total psycho. Demonic entities also have full access to this trope. In the final stage, you have a villain who insists on justifying their actions because "it's what villains are supposed to do"; see Contractual Genre Blindness. In dramatic situations, the hero may try to induce a Heel–Face Turn and tell them they have a choice. They choose to keep being evil.

Card-Carrying Villains are particularly likely to commit atrocities out of a sincere desire to cause harm. Expect them to have relations with the dark and/or have evil powers. Also expect plenty of petty behavior. When it goes to their head, they might even start to develop a Devil Complex.

Surprisingly, a Card-Carrying Villain occastionally has one "redeeming" quality as far as villains go: They're honest. They will not hide the fact that they're the villainous scumbag, they will not deceive you that they were worthy of some sympathy by being a misguided Well-Intentioned Extremist, that's just hypocritical. This may make them more obvious targets for the heroes to gun down, but they will not hide behind sweet talks (unless it's meant to showcase a Faux Affably Evil personality), and sometimes lies would hurt more than a blatant assault. They are also not self-righteous at all.

Of course the alternative is true: it can be their single most despicable quality. Even a Well-Intentioned Extremist can make a good point once in a while despite their immoral deeds. A Card-Carrying Villain on the other hand, is fully aware that they're scum and openly embrace it.

Not to be confused with My Card, where the villain emphasizes their evilness in this trope, My Card actually deals with a business card (and is not always for villains). For people who fight using cards, see Death Dealer. Oh, and this is also not to be confused with the villains in Yu-Gi-Oh!, as everybody seems to carry cards in that series.

Subtrope of Obviously Evil. Super-Trope to Chaos Is Evil. Dastardly Whiplash is a specific subtrope from comic melodrama. Many if not most examples of Ron the Death Eater are also this.


  • The Barnum: A Con Man who openly and unashamedly takes pride in their sleazy ways.
  • Card-Carrying Jerkass: A character with a similar attitude towards being mean and nasty to others, but isn't necessarily evil. The two tropes can often overlap, however.
  • Noble Demon: A villain who makes no bones about that fact, but will generally do less dog-kicking.
  • Complete Monster: A villain who is pure evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. A Card-Carrying Villain can easily be this if their actions are Played for Drama and emphasize their love of evil by being particularly terrible.
  • Hate Sink: A villain who is intended to be hated by the audience. While a lot of Card-Carrying Villains are too goofy to truly hate, making a Hate Sink openly gloat about their evil nature is a good way to invoke disgust from viewers.


Compare and Contrast:

  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: A character who embraces becoming a literal monster, such as a vampire or werewolf. These can be of any alignment, but an evil Fully-Embraced Fiend can also be a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: A character eventually becomes a villain after being labelled as one, having lost all hope in changing others' opinion of them. They know they are a villain and embrace the image, but they do so out of bitterness at being misunderstood, not pride.

See also Always Chaotic Evil, Bad is Good and Good is Bad, Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Evil, Villain Ball and Eviler Than Thou.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In BoBoiBoy, Adu Du, his henchmen, and his family acknowledge that they are evil and take pride in calling themselves evil, as some other villains tend to do as well.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert
    • Catbert is the "Evil Director of Human Resources". That's right, he's got the word "evil" in his job title. And he lives up to it with glee:
      Dilbert: My boss is preventing me from transferring to a great job.
      Catbert: That's outrageous! There shouldn't be any great jobs in this company.
    • Equally evil example:
      Alice: How many of your policies are formulated for the sole purpose of gratifying your sadistic tendencies?
      Catbert: All of them. Some are just more noticeable.
    • Phil The Prince of Insufficient Light.
  • Flash Gordon's enemy Ming the Merciless. With a title like that, you know he's a bad guy.

    Fan Works 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Satan is often depicted in this manner. In the Bible at least, he comes off more like a Knight Templar. Orthodox Christianity states that it is because he envies and hates them, trying to paint them in the worst light vis-a-vis God.
  • While not official to Christianity, The Screwtape Letters (written by C. S. Lewis) depicts Hell's demons as a mix of this and Corrupt Corporate Executive. Their business deals with humanity's damnation.
  • In Zurvanism, a heretical branch of Zoroastrianism, this is what Ahriman has to say after being born:
    "It is not that I cannot create anything good, but that I will not."
    • He pretty much chose to be evil by default, out of the blue.


    Puppet Shows 

  • The ironically named Mr. Gently Benevolent in the Dickens parody Bleak Expectations; "Every day, I take two evil pills and some naughtiness supplements". Also, the less ironically named Hardthrashers and their cousins, the Sternbeaters, Whackwallops, and Grimpunches.
  • Lord Darkness in ElvenQuest, an aspiring Evil Overlord who openly champions the Forces of Evil against the Forces of Good.
  • Slocum in Riders Radio Theater even has his own song "Someone's got to do it" that explains he's evil because somebody has to be, and he loves his job.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • While Simon is a moody but morally decent young man, his alter ego- the Dark Dragon- revels in being as openly, bombastically villainous as he can manage.
    • Daigo, as a result of being told all his life that he was 'evil' and 'wicked', has come to embrace the terms, and created his gang of outcasts specifically because he thought that society had given them no other option besides being evil.
  • Multiple organization and individuals in Discord Plays Stellaris don't bother justifying their nefarious actions with any kind of ideology and admit to being only out for power. The most prominent examples are Chancellor Ela Maxima, who confessed to having enjoyed organizing coups and the Evil Corp, which name tells you everything you need to know.

  • Thoroughly embraced by Floyd Mayweather Jr., who actively and gleefully seizes the black hat in the build-up to any of his big fights.
  • During the 80s, the Miami Hurricanes reveled in being the college football team America cheered against.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Gundham Tanaka, the Ultimate Animal Breeder, is a Chuunibyou to the extreme, loudly proclaiming himself to be an evil warlock who will one day use his peerless dark sorcery to conquer the world, and insisting that his four adorable hamsters are actually his terrifying evil minions. Underneath it all, though, he's actually a nice guy. While he does commit murder, he does it for selfless reasons (everybody was trapped in a funhouse with no food until a murder occurred), and while he does try to avoid getting caught (and would have very likely done so if not for a Spanner in the Works), he admits his guilt pretty much the moment suspicion falls on him. His victim was also his consenting opponent in a Duel to the Death, who recognized that he just wanted to save everyone from starvation and shared that desire, making it more of a Suicide Pact than an actual murder.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Kokichi Oma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader (or so he claims), claims to be the boss of a Nebulous Evil Organization with sights set on world domination (essentially the Bond movie villain to Gundham's fantasy anime villain). However, he's a self-admitted Consummate Liar and a massive Troll who screws with everybody pretty much 24/7, so everyone assumes this is just another one of his lies. Unlike Gundham, he actually is as depraved as he claims, getting pleasure from his classmates' suffering and had orchestrated, directly or indirectly, most of the deaths in the killing game. Despite this, he is shown to dislike being forced to participate in the game and controlled by the mastermind, which leads to him blackmailing another student into murdering him. He masterminded his own death with the goal of making it so utterly unsolvable that not even Monokuma would be able to figure it out, hoping that this would cause him to end the killing game prematurely. However, his status as a nefarious criminal organisation's leader is more of an exaggeration. He is the boss of an organization of sorts, but it's just him and his ten Mooks who go around in clown masks committing nonviolent petty crimes and pulling harmless pranks for the lulz, and have an explicit rule against killing. His actions in the game put what exactly he considers "harmless pranks" under question, though, especially considering that he pretends to rape Shuichi as a joke in his Love Hotel scene.

    Web Animation 
  • Grej: Darwinist has no problem with people calling him evil, and doesn't do much to hide it, even admitting to being the "Evilest motherfucker you'll ever meet"...
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Ridiculously Epic refers to himself as “evil” several times during “Ten Steps to Saving the World that Totally Won’t Work”, and has “evil” written across his skateboard during “The Most Epically Inspirational Sports Movie Ever”.
  • Mercury in RWBY, unlike the rest of the villains, is not personally invested in Salem's plans and has fun trying to crush the protagonists. When Emerald asks why he joined Salem, his response is that 'it was meant to be'. However, Tyrian deconstructs this, stating because Mercury grew up badly abused, he is now too afraid to walk away from his life of pain and violence.
  • The RWBY Chibi version of Cinder Fall is a complete 180 of her normal counterpart, using Evil Laughter, enjoying the idea of killing kittens and using copious amounts of Most Definitely Not a Villain.
  • Terrible Writing Advice: JP describes his own alignment as "somewhere between Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Evil".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Card Carrying Evil


No kidnappers here!

Zurg might be a shamelessly capital-E Evil galactic conqueror with a group of henchmen at his command, but neither he, nor his minions would simply kidnap politicians.

They're far too busy planning other, much more evil schemes!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotMeThisTime

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