"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, mwhahahahahahahahahaa!"
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. So...in 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:
- 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.
- Corruption — the Villain wants to turn other people Evil, and often To Create a Playground for Evil. Give in to The Dark Side!
- 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 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, they 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 works that are aimed at older audiences and/or use Grey-and-Gray Morality for their other villains, a Card-Carrying Villain has a good chance of ending up as a Base-Breaking Character or even The Scrappy.
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.
The Smug Snake is one of the more likely villainous types to openly revel in their harmful actions, which tends to highlight the fact that they are not nearly as intelligent as their inflated ego leads them to believe they are.
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 occasionally 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 embraces 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: A character gains immense power, usually via Black Magic, and undergoes a Sanity Slippage because they enjoy their newfound powers too much, regardless of morality or lack thereof. If the character wasn't a Card-Carrying Villain before, they are now.
- 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.
- Noble Demon: A villain who makes no bones about that fact, but will generally do less dog-kicking.
- Above Good and Evil: When a villain dismisses morality as a meaningless concept.
- Being Evil Sucks: When a villain becomes ashamed of their evil actions and leaves the dark side.
- I Am a Monster: Where the character laments rather than embraces how bad they are.
- Knight Templar: A villain who views themselves as good. They can still be a Card-Carrying Villain if they embrace the evil persona others hold them to.
- Moral Myopia: Where the villain decries the evil acts of others while ignoring or rationalizing their own.
- Obliviously Evil: When a villain believes that they aren't doing anything wrong.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Who doesn't take any particular glee in being evil, instead looking at it as just their job.
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.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Live-Action TV
- Professional Wrestling
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Web Original
- Western 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Beyond Tomorrow: Lord Komatsu, the Big Bad of the second arc fits this to a T. When his daughter Arina demands to know how he could possibly cause harm to someone as pure as Hanyuu, his word-for-word response is:
"Because I'm evil. Duh."
- Calvin & Hobbes: The Series: Dr. Brainstorm is a Harmless Villain who gleefully follows several cliche Mad Scientist tropes.
- Code Prime:
- When C.C. calls Megatron "a monster, a demon, and the Devil incarnate" after she witnesses his Dark Geass, Megatron simply asks her if she is only realizing this now.
- Knight of Ten Luciano Bradley happily tells Cliffjumper that he joined the Britannian military so he can take people's lives, to which Cliffjumper says that at least Luciano is among the few Britannians who freely admit to being a murderous psychopath.
- Crowns of the Kingdom has all the Disney villains, who frequently bicker with each other because of it.
- Daughters Of The Wicked Witch: Fairy Tristan openly admits to being a terrible person, cheerfully agreeing with Mordred's assertion that she's a monster. In fact, she proudly claims to be the greatest monster.
- A Diplomatic Visit: The fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, features Rabia, once he showed his true colors to Stygian, in this role. He's extremely upfront about being evil and wanting to plunge the world into eternal darkness so his people can freely wreak havoc.
- Fate/Harem Antics:
- Avenger constantly says she is a witch who wants to see the world burn.
- Gunner constantly says she is a demon and a tyrant.
- Feralnette AU: Lila is perfectly happy to team up with Hawkmoth in hopes of breaking Marinette's spirit, all because Marinette stood up to her and tried calling her out on her Blatant Lies. The amount of pride and glee she takes in her cruelty ultimately bites her hard when she's hit by Lady Clarity's power, exposing her inner self in the form of a phantom. Said phantom cheerfully brags about helping 'Hawkie' to everyone present, revealing her true nature.
- Guys Being Dudes: 2 out of 3 members of the Team GO Rocket trio regularly refer to themselves as "evil", say they got into the business to crush people's dreams, and that sort of thing.
- Harry Potter and the Evil Summer Vacation: The villains and villain wannabes have a magazine called Evil Monthly. Hermione mentions having read an article in it about the conference Harry had mistakenly attended that summer and when he asked her what she was doing with it, she replies "I'm sure you know that both my parents are dentists."
- Hellsister Trilogy: Justified. Satan Girl is Kara Zor-El's duplicate, her dark side's embodiment. Evil, unfettered desires and impulses is literally everything she is made of, so it's perfectly reasonable for her delighting in doing evil things or killing and destroying just because she can.
- Ask Ernst Stavro Blofeld's Blofeld calls himself "a soulless murderous monster" without a trace of irony.
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality's Voldemort is one, which is Justified because Voldemort was actually a purposefully over-the-top alias Tom Riddle created as a disposable first draft of his future Evil Overlord persona. He overestimated Wizarding Britain's defences by far and almost took over the world as Voldemort by accident before he cut back on his attacks.
- Jimmy's Visit With Dr. Franklin: Ebon, After Jimmy rightfully calls Ebon a monster he replies with "I know".
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: One Cartoonist's Dream: At one point, DIO calls himself "bottomless evil personified."
- Knowledge is Power:
- The Weasleys and Dumbledore, whose motivations are shallow at best and completely unexplored at worst.
- Voldemort and the Death Eaters take this to a ludicrous extreme by actually Scoring Points based on how many captives they torture.
- legolas by laura features orcs who refer to themselves as "us all the bad guys".
- Limpet AU: Even after everything, Vader still sees himself as an evil Sith Lord, and at one point mentions his intentions to take down the Jedi and the New Republic and re-establish the Empire if ever the opportunity arises. At least, so he claims. While trying to deny the fact that he is, in fact, spoiling his grandchildren and — to his own disgust — gone soft.
- The Lion King Adventures: When Nala tells Timon and Pumbaa that they are evil, Timon replies "Who cares? Evil makes the world go round".
- Mass Effect: Human Revolution: Jules Leng almost gleefully admits to rape when Adam confronts him.
- My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: Titan introduces himself as Emperor of Chaos and Nightmares, but most of the time does nothing besides gloat on his throne.
- The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
- Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: All of the villains know they're evil and revel in it. Special mention goes to Evil Rin, if her name is anything to go by...
- Pony POV Series:
- Diamond Tiara becomes a dead serious and depressing example after being Driven to Madness and turned into a Nightmare by Discord. The serious part comes from the fact she is convinced she was made to be a monster that causes misery and pain, and that's all she can ever hope to be, so she doesn't anymore.
- Discord is another example. He outright calls himself a 'sadistic hedonist' and has no delusions about the fact he's an evil monster, but in his case, the reason he's this trope is it's easier to justify his actions if he's completely evil and cannot be anything else. IE, he shouldn't feel bad for his misdeeds because he can't be anything else, so why should he? It's shown that the idea he might have any good in him and is thus redeemable scares him to death to the point being reminded of his Split Personality Dissy, who was a genuinely good person and loved their mother Shady is almost certain to trigger a Freak Out.
- There is also Chrysalis, who at one point states that she's "much worse than a devil". Decidedly not played for laughs: Chrysalis is this trope because she's a Sociopath and Social Darwinist who genuinely believes her sociopathy is completely natural. This backfires when the Elements give her a heart and she becomes capable of caring about how awful her actions were.
- Hydia and her clan from G1 exist in this universe and still have this trope, but it's played a bit more seriously this time around due the series knack for Adaptational Badass, though not to the point of total Cerebus Retcon. However, one dead serious example in their family is Lilith, the First Witch, who presumably inspired their entire worldview because she's Made of Evil by this point and has enough might to destroy the entire world if she had the chance. In fact, her evil is so black that her power being sucked into the Alicorn Amulet is what corrupted it into the Artifact of Doom it is now.
- Queen of All Oni: Jade, after her Face–Heel Turn, openly identifies as being evil, as does practically every other villainous character.
- Roman's Empire is a story about organized crime, so most of the main characters won't deny that they're not good people. However, two examples stand out.
- Roman Torchwick is proud to be a mobster and even states his aspirations to become the top mob boss in Vale. He doesn't even hide the fact that he's a bad guy. In fact, he'll be proud of it.
- Violet Kincaid, Roman's mentor, is a shamelessly cruel woman. She's a subtler example than Roman, but it's clear that she is proud of her villainy and never even tries to paint herself as victim or a good guy.
- Team LVDR: Indus is a dark example. He's a faunus trafficker, and he enjoys every second of it.
- Territory Wars has Gail Kim come into Ring of Honor to "save" it but later announces her real plan to oppress everyone who works for it as a dictator after hiring the International Home Wrecking Crew and Anti-Diva Army to help her in this task (though her "minions" are merely punch clock villains). Madusa also becomes one, with shades of The Social Darwinist. Winter, who usually does have this gimmick, instead is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who truly does want to save the company, though still isn't a face. Kane is a face despite possibly playing it the straightest.
- HTF The Stranger, a Happy Tree Friends fanfic, has the Mad Scientist Big Bad scam innocent people into trapping them in a virtual reality where he has total control, forcing them to die over and over. He openly admits to the protagonist that he is Sick and Wrong, but all he wanted was to fulfill his dream of playing God, and he doesn't believe he brought any harm to his captives since their memories are frequently reset.
- The Zero Context Series: The Brotherhood's top brass are card-carriers by and large, being antagonists for antagonism's sake.
- The organization's leader-by-proxy, Missy Coco, sees nothing wrong with blasting sailor fuku-adorned people just for kicks. When Callista was contemplating what to do with Bahija for stalking her, Missy advocated straight-up killing her. Her outlook is justified, given that she's a clone of Callista's darker traits with little in the way of morality to balance it out.
- Bahija herself is a former intergalactic warlord named Acutus, who is entirely unapologetic for committing mass murder in the name of conquest, being a complete nymphomaniac, and forcing people to serve her against their will. It is implied that at the height of her power there were few lines she wasn't willing to cross. When called out on her behavior, she just smiles and daydreams about Callista.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kingdom Adventure: Dagger routinely refers to Zordock as "Your Evilness", and Zordock doesn't mind that title: if he did, Zordock would've certainly used his Agony Beam magic on Dagger for calling him that!
- Spitting Image's song "I've Never Met A Nice South African" — written during The Apartheid Era — features a chorus of Amoral Afrikaners who gleefully boast about how rotten they are. When they bring up Breyten Breytenbach, who was imprisoned for opposing apartheid and who spent the rest of his time in Paris until apartheid ended, they concede: "Yes, he's quite a nice South African/ And he's hardly ever killed anyone/ And he's not smelly at all!/ That's why we put him in prison."
- Tales of the Tinkerdee: Taminella refers to herself as "The Witchiest Witch of them all!" and seems proud to have no scruples.
- 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.
- That Gosh Darn Hippie Show: As opposed to the character he’s parodying, who seems mostly oblivious to how his actions affects other people, Anthony is all too aware of the terror he induces in others and just enjoys being evil for the sake of it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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"...
- Carl from Llamas with Hats. He admits to being a "dangerous sociopath with a long history of violence". When his roommate Paul tells him that his meat dragon looks terrifying, he responds with "Thank you".
Paul: All you do is kill people, Carl!
Carl: That's like saying all Mozart did was write songs.
- 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 emotionally. 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. The Chibi version of Roman Torchwick is similarly proud of his villainous ways, and boasts about his skills as a criminal to Neo on various occasions.
- Terrible Writing Advice: JP portrays himself as one. In "Traditional vs. Self-Publishing", when Inner Critic tries to explain to him what justified text alignment is, JP confuses it with the alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons and replies "Well, I'm really somewhere between Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Evil on the alignment chart".
- The Auditor from Madness Combat seems to be fully aware of his role as the Big Bad, as his chat handle is BIGBADAUD999.
- In this GoAnimate video, after Boris gives Caillou white torture, he calls him a psychopath. Boris agrees, and goes on to admit to being a serial killer, a child abuser, and a criminal mastermind.