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? 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. 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. 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, 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 HeelFace 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.
Surprisingly, however, sometimes a Card Carrying Villain usually 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.
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.
- Noble Demon: Who is a villain and 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 be this if they are played 100% seriously and take their love for evil to an extreme level.
- I Am a Monster: Where the character laments rather than embraces how bad they are.
- Knight Templar: A villain who completely believes that they are good. They can still be a Card-Carrying Villain if they embrace the evil persona others hold them to.
- Above Good and Evil: When a villain dismisses morality as a meaningless concept.
- Moral Myopia: Where the villain decries the evil acts of others while ignoring or rationalizing their own.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Who doesn't take any particular glee in being evil, instead looking at it as just their job.
- Being Evil Sucks: When a villain becomes ashamed of their evil actions and leaves the dark side.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Live-Action TV
- Professional Wrestling
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- 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.
- 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:
- Flash Gordon's enemy Ming the Merciless. With a title like that, you know he's a bad guy.
- Lord Komatsu, the Big Bad of the second arc of the InuYasha Continuation Fic Beyond Tomorrow, 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."
- Indus from Team LVDR is a dark example. Hes a faunus trafficker, and he enjoyed every second of it.
- Most villains from The Calvinverse, really.
- Crowns of the Kingdom has all the Disney villains, who frequently bicker with each other because of it.
- In Harry Potter and the Evil Summer Vacation, villains and villain wannabes had a magazine called Evil Monthly. Hermione mentioned 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 replied "I'm sure you know that both my parents are dentists."
- Justified in Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy. 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.
- 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".
- In The Lion King Adventures, when Nala tells Timon and Pumbaa that they are evil, Timon replys "Who cares? Evil makes the world go round".
- In Mass Effect Human Revolution, Jules Leng almmost gleefully admits to rape when Adam confronts him.
- Titan from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic. He introduces himself as Emperor of Chaos and Nightmares, but most of the time does nothing besides gloat on his throne.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen of All Oni, Jade, after her FaceHeel Turn, openly identifies as being evil, as does practically every other villainous character.
- 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 Celesia from Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure.
- 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.
- 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...
- The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
- Roman's Empire: It's 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.
- At one point in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: One Cartoonist's Dream, DIO calls himself "bottomless evil personified." Then there's the villains' epilogue...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Really, it's 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. Like Gundham, he's not as evil as he'd like to think he is, and is a consenting victim to his killer for similar reasons. He masterminded his own murder 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 and set everyone else free.