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Evil Colonialist

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"They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much."
Marlow, Heart of Darkness
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This is an imperialist or colonialist man who has just come to take advantage of the natives with a friendly smile and a rifle on his shoulder. He only cares about winning a quick buck at everyone else's expense and exploiting the poor natives since he is convinced his race/culture is superior. Since he is either rich and powerful or in the middle of nowhere where nobody can hear your screams, he becomes the king of the place. He is likely to be Chased by Angry Natives either when declaring such dominion or somewhere else along the line.

The character, usually a white one, was originally depicted as Western European (usually from Britain, Spain, France or Germany) but people from Eagleland joined the group later. If this is the case, expect some White Man's Burden excuse for his actions (which usually consists of taking over a place, exploiting the natives and the land, then leaving the place as an economic waste after the natives get fed up and kick him out). Two places you stand a good chance of seeing a non-white version of this trope are Chinese and Korean (both north and south, but mostly north) depictions of the Japanese, especially during the years of Japanese imperialism. Chinese communists may also be portrayed this way in western films about Tibet.

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It's fairly common in works from Africa, India, Ireland, Latin America and China since those are places where Imperialism hit hardest. It's also a stereotypical Soviet villain. In more fantastical settings, there's often overlap between this trope and the Galactic Conquerer.

An evil version of the Gentleman Adventurer. The racial opposite is Mighty Whitey and the ideological one is Dirty Communists. Will likely be good friends with the Egomaniac Hunter (who may serve as The Dragon), if he isn't one himself in his spare time. Subtrope of Foreign Ruling Class.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • "Francisco Xavier" from Samurai Champloo, who claims to be a descendant of the original Xavier, the Navarrese (Basque) monk who brought Christianity to Japan (and other parts of Asia, especially within the Portuguese Empire). His constant condescension and firearms that are impressive by today's standards mark him as a Western-style villain... until it's revealed that he's actually a Japanese guy who was taking advantage of the Christian underground for his own profit.
  • Leonard Apollo from Eyeshield 21, all the way. His racism is just so... incredible but compared with Mr.Don, he's nothing.

    Audio Play 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio Destination Nerva, Lord Jack became this to the Drelloran, to the point that they turned back to their old warlike ways and created an elaborate alien virus for the sole purpose of destroying Earth after Lord Jack and his men stole their ship and virtually destroyed the Drellorans' existing civilisation.

    Comic Books 
  • Quite a number of Tintin villains are European (usually British) exploiters in China, India and the Middle East, including:
    • Colonel Sponz exploits the president of San Theodoros making the entire county a puppet of Borduria. The last time Tintin visited San Theodoros in the 1930's they were on the verge of war with a neighboring nation under the interest of a foreign oil company while an arms dealer was selling arms to both sides.
    • Pretty much every policeman or government official associated with the Shanghai International Settlement in ''The Blue Lotus" is represented as corrupt and racist. Though the only real bad guy is the (fictional) chief of police, Dawson; the rank-and-file policemen are mostly presented more as punch-clock villains.
  • The real villain of the African arc in Hitman is Martindale, a racist American arms dealer who is propping up a bloodthirsty dictator for business purposes while selling him overpriced and shoddy weapons.

    Fanfiction 

    Film — Animated 
  • Hideously caricatured imperialists cannibalize China in Soviet animator Yuri Merkulov's paper stop-motion film of 1925, China in Flames.
  • John Ratcliffe in Pocahontas was a real guy who got a Historical Villain Upgrade courtesy of Disney. The real Ratcliffe was more of a chump than a villain and was ultimately tortured to death by the Powhatan tribe. By contrast, the movie portrays him as a comically repugnant, gold-obsessed warmonger who gets sent back to be punished in England at the end of the movie.
  • The arrogant Clayton in Disney's Tarzan is this trope combined with an Egomaniac Hunter, and played by BRIAN BLESSED, no less.
  • In Frozen II, Anna and Elsa learn that their paternal grandfather, King Runeard, was one of these. He mistrusted the Northuldra people because he feared their traditions. So he launched a plan to make them dependent on Arendelle through ecological sabotage, which he claimed was a peaceful gift that would enhance the land. When the Northuldra leader voiced his suspicions, Runeard murdered him in cold blood. From there, he manipulated the people of Arendelle into believing that the Northuldra had attacked him. Anna eventually realizes that the only way to atone for her ancestor's misdeeds and free the people of the Enchanted Forest is to destroy the dam Runeard built, even if it also means destroying her own kingdom. Fortunately, the spirits of nature respect Anna's courage in making this sacrifice, and Arendelle is spared, allowing the two groups to interact freely and peaceably once again.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Leon Rom from The Legend of Tarzan seeks to bring a massive Belgian army into the Congo to rule it.
  • Andy Osnard from The Tailor of Panama is a British MI6 agent sent to Panama to recruit agents to gather intelligence and protect British trade interests through the canal. However, Andy has his own agenda and, after he discovers Harry's past, sees the perfect opportunity to recruit a new agent and extort money from the British government. In the end, he ends up fomenting a revolution that threatens to destabilise all of Panama.
  • Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, who actually started out as an idealist but has been driven mad by the jungles of Vietnam.
  • Many characters in The Milagro Beanfield War, but especially Kyril Montana, played by Christopher Walken.
  • Chinese martial arts movies set between the late 1800s and mid 1900s often have Evil Brit versions of this (see for instance The Legend of Drunken Master and Ip Man 2). Depending on the date of the setting, the Japanese will play this role instead of or in addition to the Europeans, such as in Ip Man.
  • The title character in His Majesty O'Keefe, played by Burt Lancaster, is one of these, an American sea captain who cheats and cons and gets himself named king of the island of Yap in his zeal to take over the island's copra trade. He's a little bit nicer than the usual example of the trope, being opposed to slavery and racism, but he still seems to view it as his sovereign right to take what he wants from the island, whether the natives want to go along or not. He eventually is shown the error of his ways...and becomes a Mighty Whitey instead.
  • Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot of The Man Who Would Be King, who plan to use their British military training and a supply of smuggled arms to take over the tribes of Kafiristan (now a part of Afghanistan).
  • Colonel Bockner of the Imperial German Schutztruppe in the 1985 version of King Solomon's Mines.
  • The human-hunting Van Pelt in Jumanji. In the animated series, his counterpart is the German hunter Herr Von Richter.
  • The South Pacific slave trader Ben Pease in Nate and Hayes, and, to a lesser extent, the German navy personnel who employ him in order to use slave labor to establish island coaling stations for their navy.
  • The British military officers who orchestrate a fictional occupation of Mongolia in the Russian Civil War setting of Vselovod E. Pudovkin's 1928 Soviet propaganda film Storm Over Asia. They attempt to consolidate their hold on the country by proclaiming the film's fur-trapper protagonist as the direct heir of Genghis Khan and establishing a puppet monarchy.
  • The sadistic and genocidal Italian fascist occupiers of 1920s-30s Libya in Lion of the Desert.
  • The British are portrayed as behaving like this during the Boer War in the 1941 Nazi propaganda film Ohm Kruger. While in Real Life considerable controversy was stirred up by the British treatment of Boer civilians during this war, it doesn't take a genius to detect the bitter irony of a Nazi propaganda film attacking a foreign enemy for putting people in concentration camps.
  • Several of the British colonialists in Gandhi (1982) are depicted this way, mostly by drawing upon real historical examples, such as the infamous Amritsar Massacre of 1919. Perpetrator General Reginald Dyer is depicted as utterly uncomprehending of the moral consequences of his actions when put before a tribunal because of them.
  • Independent film Amigo (2010), one of the very few fictional works about the Philippine-American War, has this in the form of warmongering Colonel Hardacre (played by Chris Cooper). His subordinates also display this to varying degrees, although many of them are portrayed more sympathetically.
  • Another Philippine-American War example in the American generals in the Biopic Heneral Luna (2015). Ironically, they're not as destructive to the Filipino Revolutionaries' cause as the revolutionary leaders themselves.
  • Black and White in Color: Pretty much all the white people in Fort Coulais. They have nothing but contempt for the locals and treat them as subhuman. When they go off to attack the German outpost they make the natives carry them in litters. Later, they kidnap natives and enslave them into their little army.
  • Indochine: None of the colonists in French Indochina come off well, but the ones trapping Vietnamese peasants into slavery are the worst.
  • White Shadows in the South Seas: Evil white colonialists exploit the natives of Polynesia, befouling their islands with grubby trading posts, pushing the natives into making highly dangerous dives for pearls, and cheating them by giving them worthless trinkets in return for said priceless pearls.
    "But the white man, in his greedy trek across the planet, cast his withering shadow over these islands....and the business of 'civilizing' them to his interests began...."
  • Embrace of the Serpent: We don't actually see any, unless the crazed monk raising a little compound of religious zealots counts. But their damage is everywhere. In one scene Manduca stumbles across a little rubber farm with buckets collecting the sap from the rubber trees—and a little graveyard. Then a slave who is missing an arm comes dashing into the grove to collect the rubber sap.
  • The Pagan: Slater is the standard-issue white racist and ruthless exploiter of the natives. He takes advantage of Henry's naivete to get his coconuts for free. He later gives Henry some disingenuous advice to "borrow money from the bank" to stock his store. Slater owns the bank. He forecloses.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: Ragnarok: The film reveals that, contrary to the information presented in the previous Thor films, our hero's father was a Galactic Conquerer who established the Asgardian empire through bloody colonialism. His long-lost older sister, Hela, Goddess of Death, is eager to continue this part of Odin's legacy and overtaking even more realms. Thus, the villains of Thor's past films, previously criticized as some of the flattest villains in the franchise, are reframed as trying to avenge the wrongs Asgard committed against them and their people.
    • Black Panther: Ulysses Klaue is a charismatic but cruel thief who pillages Wakanda's prized natural resource of Vibranium, justifying it by saying that the Wakandan "savages" don't deserve to have it. He even likens the country to his own personal El Dorado, the city of untold riches in many a colonizer's dreams. However, Klaue is not the film's main villain, and the movie comes down a lot harder not on the colonizers themselves, but on the complicity of those who did nothing about colonization and continue to benefit from its unjust legacy. T'Challa completes his character arc when he calls out all of the previous Black Panthers for not using their power to help anyone besides Wakanda, and vows to correct this by revealing Wakanda's true nature as a technological powerhouse to the world.
    • Captain Marvel: The Amnesiac Heroine eventually learns that she's been tricked into being one of these. The "villains" she's been hunting down are actually desperate refugees whose only crimes were resisting the Kree empire's expansion. She's rightly horrified when she learns the whole truth, and opts to atone for her actions by becoming their protector as they search for a new planet to call home.
  • White Hunter Black Heart: John Wilson may not be Uganda to colonize the land, but he is definitely there to exploit the country and natives; intending to shoot an elephant and his movie (in that order) and then depart. By the end of the film, he may have changed is attitude.

    Literature 
  • Rizal tackles this in his famous novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, where he brings up the ways the Spanish government and church abuse and exploit the Filipinos. Notable in that it helped influenced the Philippine revolution.
  • Kurtz from Heart of Darkness—actually all the agents of the Belgians in the Congo, who are engaged in unspeakable cruelty and violence in the process of harvesting rubber from the jungle. Kurtz takes it Up to Eleven when he goes mad and starts putting heads on spikes and such.
  • The racist, drunken, Egomaniac Hunter Míster Danger from Doña Barbara. While Bárbara, the main villain of the book, has a Freudian Excuse for her actions, he enjoys his horrible acts just because he's bored. By the end of the book, when he realizes that now he Can't Get Away with Nuthin', he just flees away from the place.
  • Basil Fotherington-Thomas in Kim Newman's Alternate History novella Teddy Bears' Picnic, where he has become his world's equivalent of Colonel Kurtz.
  • While George Orwell's 1934 novel Burmese Days is intended to be a round condemnation of the whole institution of British colonialism (in this case in Burma), most of the imperialists are depicted as more arrogant, indolent or imbecilic rather than evil. The one unambiguously horrid example is the timber company manager (and very Politically Incorrect Villain) Ellis, whose every utterance is a string of vile racial slurs directed at the Burmese, and who is so consumed by hatred of them that he unceasingly expresses his desire for the opportunity to torture/slaughter them all.
  • Deconstructed in Things Fall Apart. The book depicts the Igbo and several African tribes like them slowly having their unique cultures replaced by the encroaching European Christian colonists. Many colonists look down upon the unconverted Igbo, viewing them as savages. However it's shown that the Igbo have just as many flaws as the Christian settlers and a great many tribespeople who convert do so willingly, unable to stomach the Igbo lifestyle anymore. The Tragic Hero, Okonkwo, refuses to accept that most colonists are simply flawed humans following their beliefs like the Igbo and also refuses to accept that the Igbo have any flaws. In the end, it becomes clear to Okonkwo that the Igbo culture he's been so obsessed with is gone and the people have moved on. Unable to comprehend or accept the changing world, he quietly goes home and hangs himself.
  • Played with in Malê Rising. The story is set in an alternate Africa with conservative and reformist ideologies taking root just before European colonization. As a result, the European colonial empires had a more nuanced view of the continent and responded accordingly, from sending good-natured officers to hiring greedy concessionaires. The African peoples themselves became influenced with the outside world in turn, with some of them creating their own empires and becoming colonial masters themselves.
  • One of the main themes in The God Eaters. The story is set in a world where the Eskarans, a major power, have conquered many nations, slowly destroying their culture and imposing Eskaran religious doctrines.
  • H.G. Wells' original novel The War of the Worlds is a thinly veiled takedown of British imperialism, in which the Martians are the imperialists and humans are the less technologically advanced natives that the imperialists kill and oppress. Notably, the Martians are destroyed by Earth-borne diseases, just as how British colonialists in Africa and Asia and the like fell victim to diseases like malaria.
    And before we judge them [the Martians] too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished Bison and the Dodo, but upon its own "inferior" races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
  • Also from HG Wells: the titular doctor in The Island of Doctor Moreau acts as this to his Beast Folk creations. He sets himself up as their lawgiver, educator, and parent, while treating them as servants, making them live in ramshackle villages outside his mansion, and punishing them if they do wrong.
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun has an American set himself up as god on a South Pacific island and promise the natives medical aid... under the pretext of which he's harvesting their organs for black market trade in Japan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who humans often play this role.
    • In "The Mutants", an episode intended as a critique of Apartheid, the Marshal oppresses the natives of Solos, hunting them down, and intends to change the atmosphere of the planet so it is breathable to humans but not the Solonians.
    • "Kinda" downplays this with the human explorers being over-confident, misguided, exploitative, and finally raving nuts, but not premeditatedly evil.
    • "Planet of the Ood" shows that the humans have enslaved the Ood by placing a force field round the Hive Mind.
  • The original point of Earth: Final Conflict was to show what it's like to be on the receiving end of a White Man's Burden scenario. The Taelons — and Da'an in particular — genuinely believe they can elevate mankind, and that they've conquered us for our own good. Naturally humanity doesn't see it that way. Later seasons forgot about this and made the Taelons just outright evil.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder has an Infernal Duke nicknamed "The Vicious Guest" who is the patron of colonists and explorers, and whose sacred animal, symbolic of his attitudes, is a parasitic cuckoo bird.
  • A major theme of Rocket Age is the damage Earthlings have been doing to the other planets and peoples of the solar system. The Nazis and their Italian Allies might be the most obvious with their death camps, but it is undeniable that every super power and even independent group is doing the same to some degree.
  • Magic: The Gathering's Ixalan set is based on Mesoamerica and the age of piracy, so naturally there's a Spanish Conquistador analogue, the Legion of Dusk. Which happen to be hyper-religious greedy vampires and the least sympathetic of the set's factions.

    Theatre 
  • Brutus Jones in Eugene O'Neill's play The Emperor Jones is a rare dark-skinned example. He goes from stowaway to Emperor in two years, and puts on the "fuss and glory part" of being Emperor while ruthlessly robbing the natives of their wealth. He intends to flee by the time the natives are ready to overthrow him, which comes sooner than he expected.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: in part IV, Gilded Cages, the presence of the English in Singapore is depicted this way.

    Video Games 
  • Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom the "Magnificent Bastard" (self-proclaimed), from Jade Empire, otherwise known as "The Outlander". He washed up on the coast of the empire and attempts to "educate" the "backward" culture.
  • Caesar puts a post-apocalyptic spin on this trope in Fallout: New Vegas. Coming from the New California Republic (the setting's closest equivalent to a modern civilization), he settles among the primitive tribes east of the Colorado River and uses his superior education in military tactics, marksmanship, political science, and chemistry to conquer them and forge them into a personal army.
    • Invoked with the Sneering Imperialist perk, which gives you a damage bonus to tribals, raiders and other lowly characters as well as giving you some unique dialog options in the Honest Hearts DLC, most prominently the chance to get Joshua Graham to execute Salt-Upon-Wounds.
    Courier: Joshua, put a cap in General Gobbledigook here.
  • Several quests from World of Warcraft shows the Dwarven Explorer's league coming to occupied tauren land, dismissing the natives as stupid bullmen, and killing them so as excavate their land. Perhaps the most notable was in Bael Modan in the Barrens.
  • The Valuan Empire from Skies of Arcadia are clearly meant to be an amalgamated stand-in for the European powers during the Imperialist era, particularly taking after the Spanish Empire in naming conventions, imperialistic policies and reliance on foreign resources. The objective of the Valuans is to conquer all other lands (Nasr, Yafutoma and Ixa'Taka) and drain them for their resources and anything else of value. The situation in Ixa'Taka is perhaps the most striking example with the primitive natives being slaved by foreign invaders and forced to work in dangerous mines excavating for precious stones.
  • The Royal Deadfire Company and Vailian Trading Company in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire are seen as this by the Huana, though it's a bit more complicated than all that. Still, hard not to see where the Huana are coming from. Rautai's Royal Deadfire Company is an arm of the empire looking to "civilize" the Huana, erasing their culture entirely (though some low-caste Huana consider this a boon). The Vailian Trading Company openly wants to mine the Deadfire's resources for science and profit — some Vailians are Corrupt Corporate Executives making manipulative contracts and buying slaves, others are Honest Corporate Executives who happily share the profits with the native Huana.
  • A good number of villains in the Far Cry series are implied to fit the bill.
    • Hoyt Volker in 3 is a South African who runs slave trafficking on the Rook Islands, even providing backing for the local pirates.
    • Pagan Min in 4 is an Eurasian gangster who moved into Kyrat and profited off the raging civil war in order to gradually install himself as a brutal dictator. Ironically, having grown up in British-occupied Hong Kong, Min's upbringing is also the product of colonialism.
  • Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2 runs a megacorporation that wants to strip-mine the hell out of Pandora, and contemptuously dismisses its residents (who are technically also colonists, but probably multi-generational ones; Pandora's natives are long gone) as "bandits".
  • Captain Ozzik Sturn from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is the commanding officer of the Imperial Garrison on Kashyyyk. At the time the game takes place, the Imperials under his command are capturing the native Wookiees and using them as slave labor to build The Death Star. On his way to rescue Princess Leia, Starkiller visits Sturn’s private quarters, wherein he finds a Wookiee in a cage and a Gungan encased in carbonite.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in a Family Guy Flashback Twist where Peter becomes one for a group of Mexican mice.
  • The Family Guy parody listed above was surely a reference to a Looney Tunes classic where Daffy Duck plays this imperialist role to Speedy Gonzales and some other Mexican mice.
  • Love, Death & Robots: The short "Good Hunting" is set in an Alternate History version of 19th Century Qing Dynasty China where the British colonial governor is a power-hungry, depraved and insatiable Dirty Old Man. Even the "nicer" British characters are still condescending racists. The British are even responsible for the magic going away (the short omits a detail from the original story where they are explained as Flat Earth Atheists and the railroads they lay down across the country are disrupting chi leylines).
  • In one episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates, Captain Hook, in an attempt to attract sufficient "civilization" to Neverland (to ease his ongoing ennui as a man of culture exiled to a wilderness by his obsession with remaining there until Pan is killed), declares Neverland to be annexed to The British Empire and attempts to literally crown himself its viceroy. This is not particularly outrageous when you consider all the technical pirates, from Sir Francis Drake to "Rajah" Brooke of Sarawak, who were regarded as servants of the British crown and who on occasion personally annexed territories on its behalf. Of course Hook's heavily armed crew are on standby in the event of anyone raising objections to his decree.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "Red Man's Greed" by having the Native Americans take the place of the Europeans, stealing the land of the majority white South Park residents, and when they refuse to move, giving them disease-ridden blankets (with a 2% death rate!). Hell, even the title is a pun.
  • In Pachamama, the main villains are the conquistadores, which are rightfully portrayed as blood crazed, greedy maniacs.

Alternative Title(s): Evil Imperialist, Mister Danger

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