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Dark Mistress

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A match made in Hell.

"Ursa, the only feeling you showed was for your vicious general. Your only wish: to rule at his side."
The Kryptonian Council, Superman II

Bob's a villain. He's an evil, cruel, sadistic bastard. But no matter how many puppies he kicks, nuns he throws into open wells, or orphans he starves to death, Bob always has a girlfriend. Funny, huh?

The villain's paramour is almost always defined in terms of her (it’s usually a her) relationship to the villain. The role she plays in the plot, however, depends a great deal on how her character is defined. She may be just as evil as he is and actually share his goals. She could be a ditz who doesn't really like evil things, but just isn't bright enough to realize she's in a relationship with a very bad person. In stories where the villain is allowed to be sympathetic on some levels (Grey-and-Gray Morality, Punch-Clock Villain, etc.), she might love him for his better qualities.

Depending on her skill set, she might actually be a valued member of the villain's criminal organization, in which she might overlap with The Baroness. If not, expect much grumbling from his underlings about why the boss even bothers to keep her around.

When her boyfriend is brought to justice or when the gang is being dismantled, this character runs a very high risk of being treated as an Accomplice by Inaction, regardless of her status in her boyfriend's entourage. And if her boyfriend is being targeted by a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for whatever reason, she will at best get turned in. However, if the boyfriend's eyes start wandering she may very well join the heroes in taking him down. In all other cases, she receives No Sympathy and is very unlikely to survive, even if she has children.

See Also: Perky Female Minion for a similar character (usually) without an explicit relationship and Unholy Matrimony for a couple that are each villains in their own right. A Lady Macbeth is generally older and goads her partner into committing evil acts. Sometimes subject to a High-Heel–Face Turn.

Compare The Mistress, Mafia Princess, Daddy's Little Villain. Contrasts Dating Catwoman when the love interest is on the opposite good/evil side, and Unholy Matrimony where the love interest is a full-blown villain in her own right and presented more as the villain's equal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Princess Charlotte from Berserk is head over heels in love with Griffith, who turns into the series Big Bad in an EPIC WAY. Yet she still remains in the dark about all of the horrific actions he has done as well as his true nature. While she's not a big plot device in the story, Charlotte is still of importance to Griffith—not so much as a love interest, but as a Meal Ticket to the throne of Midland. And holy shit, does the story break her.
  • C.C. in Code Geass is seen as this In-Universe. Her role is somewhat muddled by the fact that while she is directly behind Zero's actions, none of the Black Knights actually know what her real role is, and assume she's Zero's mistress. Zero doesn't care, but C.C. at least attempts to correct Tamaki about this, though he doesn't believe her. In reality, she doesn't really fit this trope, having a definite character and ulterior motives beyond helping Lelouch.
  • Misa Amane from Death Note would be a clearer example. Light definitely isn't a Hero. Then again its debatable whether or not she actually counts as his girlfriend.
  • Demon King Daimao: Played with. Fujiko Etou wants to be this to Akuto, as becoming the queen to the reigning Demon King is her sole ambition in life. However, Akuto is an Anti-Anti-Christ who despite being destined to be the Demon King only wants to use his powers for good.
  • One Piece: Depending on your subber or dub, Nico Robin is either explicitly or implied to be Crocodile's bedroom buddy. Considering she still acts similarly, and she seemed far from close with any of the Straw Hat crew (until the Enies Lobby arc, at least), it seems like it's more of an act she learned to put on without actually having any meaning.
  • Kanae from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Heavily deconstructed: her parents barely care about her and her mom cavorts with her fiance, it's clear that Akio is only engaged to her to gain control of Ohtori, she's shown as incredibly nervous about their relationship and her dealings with his very odd younger sister Anthy, she cracks BADLY once given enough prodding by Mikage and Mamiya, and ultimately it's implied that Akio and Anthy are slowly poisoning her.
  • Gyokumen Koushu from Saiyuki is the diabolical mistress of the human devouring Gyu-Maoh. Also posing as a main villain throughout the plot for attempts to revive him and bring him back to power.
  • Kriem is this for Jake Martinez in Tiger & Bunny. She believes in his cause (that is, NEXT supremacy) and has a power that allows her to help him actively. Bonus points for having a similar visual motif to Harley Quinn.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Harley Quinn is in an abusive relationship with the Joker. It's a connection she can never quite shake off even when Poison Ivy shows her she can be a supervillain without him, and Batman shows her she doesn't have to be a supervillain at all. In fact, it seems that whenever Harley isn't Joker's Dark Mistress, she's Ivy's. In the DC Animated Universe it's only after Joker dies that she's finally able to get out of it.
  • Captain America: The relationship between Mother Night and the Red Skull. The Skull being who he is, was horribly abusive to her even though she was completely loyal to him.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Shriek from Spidey's Rogues Gallery is this to her Axe-Crazy lover Carnage, even though she has more depth than the usual type.
  • Thanos: Thanos's love interest is the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, though she isn't a villain.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Golden Age series presents an example with "Captain Redbeard" who secretly serves as the public face of his wife Nifta's criminal organization, with him being knowingly set up to take the fall for her plans and actions while she—until they find themselves facing Wonder Woman—manages to seem like an innocent civilian unaware of her husband's activities despite being the mastermind and actively involved in carrying out her plots.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Big Heat, The Dragon's girlfriend starts out as the ditzy type, ignoring her boyfriend's vicious tendencies. Until he turns on her, that is.
  • Vulnavia in the Doctor Phibes movies. Although Phibes (Vincent Price) isn't really in love with her (he's pining for his dead wife), she clearly fills this role.
  • Cara Carozza from Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, but she isn't just a mistress for eponymous Dr. Mabuse; she's also his henchwoman, and resident vamp.
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: Good lord, where to begin with M's mistress Claire? She tries to seduce basically anyone in sight and is very clearly a sexual sadist (she proudly calls herself a whore), even torturing the female lead with electroshocks. Or as one reviewer described her, "Slutula, Princess Of The Night".
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra it's clear Destro wants or even sees The Baroness as this, but she's having none of it.
  • In Madhouse (1974), film star Paul Toombes (Vincent Price) plays a character named Dr. Death. Paul is annoyed when the producer insists on giving Dr. Death a pretty assistant, and even more annoyed at how unprofessional the actress (who happens to be sleeping with the producer) is.
  • Darth Vader wants Padmé Amidala to be this for him in Revenge of the Sith, but when she finally realises her husband has turned to the Dark Side, she makes it plain she's not keen on the idea of being his Empress (she fell in love with him while he was still Anakin Skywalker and she even attempts to turn him back to the Light Side). Vader doesn't take this well. Tragically, Vader actually deeply regrets harming her in a blind rage and is distraught when he is told she died because of him, apparently killing their unborn child too (though we know this isn't actually true).
  • Veronica Guerin. Despite his infidelity, his possible abuse (he threatens to hit her in one scene, though it's not clear if he has before), and the fact that he's a heroin dealer, drug baron's John Gilligan's wife is clearly quite content with him, as evidenced by the way she smiles as he beats up the titular reporter when she shows up at their house.

  • Irma in Bulldog Drummond is probably this, although she doesn't seem to actually do anything except lounge about on the villain's sofa being glamorous. Irma does more things in the later books, and in the fifth, The Female Of The Species, she becomes the Big Bad in her own right.
  • In Harry Potter, Bellatrix Lestrange is the lover of the Big Bad Voldemort. Bellatrix actually has a husband named Rodolphus, but they married out of Blue Blood tradition rather than love, and Rodolphus is mentioned only briefly in the books and Adapted Out of the movies. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reveals that Voldemort and Bellatrix had a daughter named Delphini Riddle.
  • Left Behind: When Hattie Durham is introduced to Big Bad Carpathia, she's extremely enamored of him. She kind of sours on him when he has her put in a women's prison after she gets pregnant (with his child).
  • Armida in the Nightfall (Series) is the Big Bad's lover, and is just as evil as him, if not more so.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Falia Flowers falls for Euron Greyjoy and seems to share some of his sadism, using her position with Euron to get revenge on her father, stepmother and half-sisters, who she claims treated her like dirt for being an illegitimate child. In The Winds of Winter excerpt, she turns out to be a subversion. While she wants to be Euron's salt wife note , she learns the hard way that Euron cares nothing for her: once he gets her pregnant, he cuts her tongue out and ties her to the Silence's prow to die.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Harmony in Buffy the Vampire Slayer took a turn as this after becoming a vampire, dating Spike. She was pretty much The Load to his group, and she eventually broke up with him for treating her as an annoying nuisance but got back together with him several times. Her attempts to go solo as a villain were feeble enough that she eventually got an office job instead.
  • In Doctor Who, Lucy Saxon is an unusual example. She's not just The Master's companion and girlfriend; she's his wife. She insists that she's to stand by him for better or for worse at first, even though he's evil. Later, their relationship becomes more empty. Eventually it becomes clear that the Master doesn't care about her, and even becomes emotionally, physically, and even (it is strongly implied) sexually abusive. By the end, she's well past blind, doe-eyed admiration. In fact, sometimes it seems she loathes him for how he's broken her spirit. So it's not surprising when she fatally shoots him, while giving a vacant look.
  • Heroes featured Danko's mistress, who didn't seem to know he was a villain but broke it off with him when she found out what a complete psycho he is.
  • In Game of Thrones, Ramsay Snow has several girlfriends, but his favourite is Myranda, a kennelmaster's daughter at the Dreadfort who he grew up around. She is just as much as a sadistic psycho as he is; she gleefully helps him torture people and accompanies him while he hunts down girls he gets bored with. She actually persuaded him to kill one girl because she was jealous of her. She even hoped that Ramsay would marry her someday, which Sansa Stark mocks her for because she's lowborn and offers him no lands or titles. When she finds out he's intending to marry Sansa, she's not happy, but Ramsay tells her to quit whining because he finds it boring and she knows what happens to girls who bore him. Myranda herself never seems that intimidated though - Ramsay states that she was one of the few people who was never afraid of him - and they continue their relationship. After she's killed, Ramsay actually seems a bit upset about it...then orders her body be fed to the dogs so as not to waste good meat, indicating she wasn't really as important to him as she thought.
  • Gender Flipped on Merlin (2008), in which Morgana was calling the shots, and Agravaine was her thoroughly whipped gofer.
  • Queenmaker: Ji-yeon. She was Do-hee's assistant who eventually takes her job (head of PR for Eunsung Group) because Ji-yeon doesn't have a drop of conscience—Do-hee quit after she learned that Jae-min raped a woman, who then killed herself. Ji-yeon becomes Jae-min's mistress and partner in evil, going so far as to cover up the evidence showing that actually, the woman Jae-min raped didn't commit suicide, but instead was murdered by Jae-min.
  • In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Kore is this to Crassus, the Big Bad of Season 3. She herself is not evil and serves as a Morality Pet to Crassus, who genuinely loves her and treats her as an equal, actually seeming to prefer her to his wife (making Kore a near-literal example). This doesn't work out so well for her in the end, though.

  • Polly Peachum in The Threepenny Opera. Interestingly, she's the main character and spends much of the play (and the novel) wondering how she got into this situation. It's essentially Marxist commentary on the inability of young women to realize they can live independently of men, and to realize that there's other ways of being financially secure than (a) a criminal life or (b) a life as a sex object. (Later on in the play, Lucy is a straighter example of the trope. She's replaced by Fanny in the novel.)

    Video Games 
  • Sarevok in Baldur's Gate has Tamoko, who shows up as the penultimate battle in the game. She can be talked out of it, but canonically she dies during the fight.
  • A very rare gender-flipped version of the trope is seen in Final Fantasy VIII: Seifer's entire goal in life is to be a sorceress' Knight (protector/henchman/plaything). He ends up being lured in by the villainess almost instantly, being reduced to her lackey for the rest of the plot. Whether or not there's a sexual element to it is left unexplored. Said sorceress is also his foster mother. Or so it seems.
  • Bioshock Infinite: Lady Comstock, at first. She took on a new philosophy based on Comstock's religion, where sins are basically raw divinity and must be tempered into virtues. Despite her insane husband planning a campaign of city-razing. It took a while, but eventually the hypocrisy got to her and she called her husband out; BIG mistake.
  • Borderlands 2 has Nisha, the girlfriend of Handsome Jack and a tyrant who rules Lynchwood with an iron fist.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Radiant Dawn, Almedha is revealed as the Dark Mistress to the deceased Big Bad of Path of Radiance, Ashnard. Fits perfectly in that they were never married, though really she wasn't "together" with him long, as after their child was born and she lost her powers, he claimed to hold that child hostage to keep her contained, despite the fact that he dumped the child as an orphan long ago. Her son's identity factors heavily into the plot.
    • Princess Ishtar of Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776. As the fiancee of the evil Prince Julius, she fights the protagonists despite a case of My Lover Right or Wrong and partially knowing Julius, despite caring for her in his yandere ways, is using her.
  • Both Overlord games play this trope very straight, with the evil player character getting the chance to actually choose between several mistresses who pledge themselves to you, ranging from relatively normal women with inexplicable crushes on you, to extremely narcissistic yet beautiful women who enjoy the power and attention.
  • Excella Gionne, from Resident Evil 5. The CEO of a major multinational corporation, she is a valid threat in her own right and overlaps with The Baroness. Unfortunately for her, she made the mistake of attaching herself to Wesker and believes that they will rule the world together. The moment she's no longer useful to him, he deals with her in his usual fashion.
  • Tales of the Abyss plays this straight in one case and subverts it in another. The straight example is a teenage version in the game's backstory, where the original Ion had Arietta. She was utterly devoted to him, even though he was a Nietzsche Wannabe with a complete Lack of Empathy. The subversion is in the main game, where it seems like Legretta is this (specifically the Lady Macbeth kind, since she truly believes in her love's ideals and does whatever she can to further them) but Van Grants is Oblivious to Love.
    • More to the point, Legretta only loves Van Grants Because Destiny Says So. The Score determined she would fall in love with him; she knows this (and also that he's incapable of loving her back), and hates that she has no control over whom she loves.

  • Alice Evanson in Evil Plan. As the number two to supervillain Dr. Kinesis, their relationship seemed pretty platonic until he literally took her home to meet the parents.
  • In The Dreamer, Betsy Loring is Gen. Howe's mistress.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, Gizmatic's wife, the mother of Jobe Wilkins. Whenever Jobe meets a particularly ditzy girl, he may tell her she reminds him of his mother.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Averted by Azula. She may be a brilliant chessmaster and a highly skilled Manipulative Bitch, but she is too unfamiliar with everyday social skills to form a relationship. The one guy who could have been closer to her was driven away by her loud declaration of We Can Rule Together.
    • Played with in the relationship between Zuko and Mai. He's former main antagonist (on the cusp of a Heel–Face Turn), and she's the Dark Action Girl who came along on the villainous ride because she was bored and had nothing else to do. In the end, though, she is one of the few positive things Zuko has to turn his back on when he leaves the Fire Nation. They even share a cheesy scene where they both agree how they hate just about everything...except each other.
  • Although prominent in many Batman comics today, it was in Batman: The Animated Series that Harley Quinn was introduced as Joker's girlfriend/henchman in an abusive relationship.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers has a Gender Flipped example, sort of—female Mad Scientist Dr. Blight, whose seems to be positively flirting with her computerized Dragon, MAL, in many episodes. (They often call each other "MAL baby" and "Doctor Dearest"...)
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Anti-Cosmo has Anti-Wanda. It's a slight variation, as the two are explicitly married.
  • On Gargoyles, Fox starts out as this to Xanatos, but their relationship quickly evolves into more of an Unholy Matrimony. Their love for each other (and eventually their new baby, Alexander) is a major aspect of their eventual Heel Face Half Turn into an Anti-Villain couple.
  • In Harley Quinn (2019) the theme continues with Harley breaking free of the Joker and going solo, a process with a lot of hiccups and ups and downs.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • The Red Lotus is led by Zaheer, while P'Li is his girlfriend. The two clearly care about each other, especially since her death was enough to eliminate his last earthly tether and activate his ability to fly.
    • Gender Flipped in the final season: Kuvira is the Big Bad, while Bataar Jr. is her fiancé and devoted second-in-command.
  • Perhaps meant to be parodied on Phineas and Ferb, where Mad Scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz tries to get a girlfriend, but it never works out, even when he once met a girl as evil as he is. He's also divorced with a child, though his ex-wife apparently never found out what he did for a living.
  • In Spongebob Squarepants, Plankton has a computerized wife named Karen, who serves primarily as a voice of sense he never listens to.
  • The Venture Bros.: Dr. Girlfriend. She was previously Trope Namer for good reason: her character is a keen exploration and Deconstruction. She is introduced as The Monarch's girlfriend, but it's quickly clear that she's also his Hypercompetent Sidekick. Other savvy villains question why she's playing second-fiddle when she's fit to be a supervillain in her own right. The answers to that question are discovered as the show progresses and her character develops.
    • In a series of flashbacks, before she met The Monarch, it is shown that she had a go at being her own supervillain as Lady Au Pair (with her Murderous Moppets). She wasn't confident or happy in the role, which lead her to joining Phantom Limb as Queen Etherea, which is where she met The Monarch.
    • At one point during Season 2, Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch break up, and she reunites with her Old Flame, Phantom Limb, who has her don the Queen Etherea persona again. We see how ineffectual The Monarch is without her beside him as the voice of reason. Dr. Girlfriend doesn't fare much better either, as Phantom Limb reminds her why she left him in the first place: Limb is a tedious Upper-Class Twit who simply wishes to have her prance around his mansion in skimpy outfits, as opposed to The Monarch, who treasures her intelligence and is enthralled by her "heat incarnate". With The Monarch, she is second-in-command; with Phantom Limb, she serves drinks to house guests.
    • At the end of Season 2 she returns to The Monarch and the two are joined in Unholy Matrimony. She also stands against Psycho Ex Phantom Limb after he reveals himself as The Usurper in The Guild. This raises her Villain Cred and erases any doubt that she is equal to The Monarch. She also takes a new name: Dr. Mrs. The Monarch.
    • In later seasons, her competence is rewarded when she becomes a councilwoman of the Guild of Calamitous Intent. Meanwhile, The Monarch loses his wealth (and with it most of his Wonderful Toys). Even though later The Monarch becomes a level 10 Guild Villain, the absolute highest rank that any supervillain could normally get, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch still outclasses him in power and villainy, but never dominates or disrespects him for it, but is in fact happy when he works hard enough to improve own his standing in the Guild. Theirs might be the healthiest relationship in the show.

Alternative Title(s): Bad Guy Girlfriend, Doctor Von Girlfriend, Doctor Girlfriend