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Evil Genius
aka: The Evil Genius

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Spinnerette: Dr. Universe, wait! At least tell me something! You were a respected scientist, your work on the Cherenkovkirby Reactor was going to benefit all of mankind! Why would you turn into a supervillain? WHY?!
Dr. Universe: I read an Ayn Rand novel.

The Evil Genius is obviously intelligent, and is the one building the Wave Motion Gun or shipping the nukes into the country or resurrecting the Lost Superweapon or what have you. This character is usually the one that will demonstrate how to use a particular MacGuffin. They're usually a Mad Scientist, a military tactician, a specialist in a particular field (such as computers or electronics), or has ties to The Government (or a combination), so they're in the best position to deliver the goodies to the Evil Overlord. In medieval fantasy settings, this role is often played by an evil strategist, rogue/spymaster, or a dark wizard (provided they aren't also the Big Bad). The Evil Genius is the most likely person to be the Big Bad because they are the brains behind the Evil Plan.

Although they tend to be the most intelligent, that intelligence usually never translates into political savvy, business acumen or leadership ability all of which rely more on street smarts, people skills and charisma than just technical knowledge. As a result, the evil genius is usually never the top dog. But he's still closer to the top than most.


Just like his Good Counterpart in the Five-Man Band (which is The Smart Guy), this character is very frequently described as physically unimposing.

Prone to being Bad Boss'd when the ridiculously circuitous plan inevitably fails or if they are no longer needed and viewed as a liability. Whether this leads to a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal (and by proxy a Heel–Face Turn) is another matter.

An Evil Genius who is also the Big Bad will frequently be The Chessmaster and/or a Manipulative Bastard, maybe even to the point of magnificence. They can also show up as members of a Quirky Miniboss Squad, but then are usually made significantly less effective by virtue of their quirkiness. They often are also Morally Ambiguous Doctorate. Some even qualify as Four Eyes, Zero Soul.

Not to be confused with the Diabolical Mastermind simulation game Evil Genius, nor the books by Catherine Jinks, which involve a Academy of Evil aimed at creating these.



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     Anime and Manga 

     Comic Books 
  • In Superman comics, Lex Luthor was originally this trope with shades of Big Bad. Post-Crisis the roles were inverted: Luthor was a Big Bad with shades of Evil Genius. He also has some other Evil Geniuses on his payroll.
    • The Intergang mob had Dabney Donovan as their Evil Genius.
    • The Cyborg Superman builds all of the technology used by the Sinestro Corps, including the Manhunter robots who recharge yellow rings and the space station they used as a base.
  • Captain Marvel a.k.a. SHAZAM's enemy Dr Sivana is another early textbook example of this. He's the guy in the picture above. When he's in teams, he finds himself here.
  • Captain America foe Red Skull is often depicted this way.
  • Spider-Man has described Doctor Octopus as one, and seeing as Ock is a brilliant engineer and inventor, he fits, although unlike most, whenever he's part of a group, he's usually the one in charge.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles baddie Baxter Stockman can be viewed as a kind-of failed evil genius in most versions.
  • Darth Maladi from Star Wars: Legacy is both a Sith alchemist and the head of Sith Intelligence. She's generally portrayed as one of the most cunning Sith characters in the comic, but seems to enjoy her schemes and experiments more for their own sake than from the hope of doing anything constructive with them.
    • Also Vul Isen as he is believed to be a scientist. He never accepts anything without a proof.
  • In All Fall Down, IQ is VERY bitter about not being one of these anymore.
  • Batman has The Riddler, who provides to the biggest mental challenge out of his Rogues Gallery.
  • Wonder Woman foe Doctor Cyber was a Mad Scientist Diabolical Mastermind, and all around evil intellectual set on world domination pre-Crisis. Her threat and intelligence level took a major hit Post-Crisis.
  • Zodon from PS238 is a five-year old version of this. His metahuman super-intelligence has given him an adult vocabulary (not to mention sense of cynicism), an encyclopedic knowledge of American law and an ability to build a doom laser out of some tinfoil and scaffolding, though on many levels he's still a five-year-old mentally.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. He discovered and implemented the Horcrux system himself. Though he does carry the Villain Ball occasionally.
    • Barty Crouch Jr. is a better example. He replaces a teacher, kills his father, and lures Harry away from potential protectors, and no one realizes until nearly the last moment what he's up to.
  • Professor Moriarty, the Arch-Enemy of Sherlock Holmes, is described by Holmes himself as "a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker." Moriarty uses his brilliant mind to run his criminal organization,and, unlike many other evil geniuses, he is clearly the boss.
  • In The Elenium, by David Eddings, Krager is this to Annias and Martel. Annias himself is this to Azash.
  • Among the villains in Eddings' The Redemption of Althalus we have Argan, a Smug Snake and Sinister Minister who does most of Daeva's talking for him, and has a distinctive rivalry with Ghend.
  • In The Witcher, we have Vilgefortz. He is easily the most smart and powerful wizard in the North, and he let it get into his head.
  • Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire, an educated, smart, and calculating dwarf sort of qualifies. However, he wasn't really an ally of House Lannister and he was enemies with Tywin. He embodies this trope in his own organization, in which he is also the Big Bad. He isn't really that evil though.
  • The Artemis Fowl series is full of these, which makes sense, since the protagonist himself is a Teen Genius, and that requires antagonists to match. We have Artemis himself in book 1 (in his status as Villain Protagonist), Opal Koboi in book 2, Jon Spiro in book 3, Opal Koboi again in book 4, Minerva in book 5, Opal Koboi AGAIN in book 6. Turnball Root in book 7, and Opal yet AGAIN in book 8.
  • Transformers: TransTech Shockwave, master of Playing with Syringes, is a self-proclaimed "morally ambiguous" genius.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe gives us Bevel Lemelisk, chief designer of the Death Star, although the actual designers were superintelligent alien children whose planet was being held hostage.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Lucia's the one with the magical know-how for the evil beasts and teleportation spells and other magic to power Gothon's army.
  • Several members of the Forsaken in The Wheel of Time, including Ishamael (specializes in philosophy, theology, and metaphysics), Graendal (specializes in personal manipulation) and Demandred (specializes in millitary strategy).
  • The main character of Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain is a Mad Scientist who comes up with both most of the technology and most of the plans her team uses.
  • In Agatha Christie's story "The Face of Helen", the villain is a brilliant chemist who specialized in poison gas during World War I, and attempts to murder the object of his unrequited love with an elaborate death trap involving a glass sphere full of gas and a Glass-Shattering Sound.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Iskaral Pust's competence is the only reason Shadowthrone keeps him around. His results reinforce this decision: if something needs to be done, Pust will somehow manage to do it, obstacles notwithstanding. He even manages to become The Magus of High House Shadow, personally appointed to the task by Shadowthrone himself, by merit alone.

     Live Action TV 
  • Gotham: Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot has a tendency to outsmart his enemies, as, eventually, does Edward “The Riddler” Nygma.
    • Jeremiah Valeska, at the age of twenty-one, has already been a highly successful engineer for at least four years, is an expert at making extremely difficult-to-disarm explosives, and is a formidable enough chessmaster that he has outsmarted both the Penguin and the Riddler at various points. Considering who he's going to become, this is hardly surprising. Like in the comics, the last episode of the series shows that the only one truly capable of stopping his plans through intelligence, rather than a mixture of intelligence and a generous amount of luck, is Batman.
  • Game of Thrones: Even by the high standards of Westeros' top schemers, Tywin is regarded as The Ace. Littlefinger, Varys and Olenna Tyrell all have high respect for his intelligence and ruthlessness. His son Tyrion even allows that "father has a good mind for strategy"
  • Most incarnations of Power Rangers and Super Sentai have one of these among the villains, with responsibilities commonly including mass-producing Mooks and the Monster of the Week, making monsters grow, and generally being the one who knows the most about the finer points of the magic/technology of the season. In Power Rangers, the first and probably the most iconic among fans was Finster from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the series' first monster maker.
  • Ryoma Sengoku from Kamen Rider Gaim is an amoral scientist and the creator of the Sengoku Driver. Ryoma gladly sacrifices human lives For Science! and doesn't even care one bit that humanity could potentially go extinct. Another unique trait of his is that he completely loses it whenever one of his inventions is placed in a bad light.
  • Smallville had plenty of Evil Geniuses, with Lionel Luthor, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Winslow "The Toyman" Schott running around. One interesting example was Tess Mercer, who started out as a villain, but eventually pulled a Heel–Face Turn. She became one of two Smart Guys on the heroic side, but still in traditionally evil areas, being The Chessmaster, a Manipulative Bastard, and The Cracker to Emil Hamilton's Medic and Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Giller from Legend of the Seeker is both Mad Scientist and Evil Sorcerer; the two most typical archtypes that fall under this trope.
  • Elizabeth from Wicked Science becomes a genius and she uses her new intelligence as a way to try to get money, fame and Toby's affections. The evil part is that she has little morals when it comes to use her inventions, including using a teleporter to sneak in Toby's laboratory so her goon can destroy/steal/sabotage whatever Toby is creating in the episode, or trapping him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop so he accepts the new universe in which he's trapped, where they are a couple and his friends hate him.
  • Depending on whether you see them as Antiheroes or Antivillains, Hardison of Leverage Consulting & Associates is either The Smart Guy or Evil Genius. His Evil Counterpart, Colin "Chaos" Mason is a non-ambiguous example being an Insufferable Genius and Jerkass extraordinaire who seems to view committing crimes as a way to stroke his own ego, and constantly betrays his own allies.
  • Revenge: If you go by Alternate Character Interpretation, Mason Treadwell seems to take this role later in the first season, although he isn't fully aware of his role in Emily's scheming.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel:
    • Pretty much all of the big bads both the Scoobies and Angel Investigations go up against - though definitely except Glory. Much straighter variations though are Warren Mears and Angelus. While both are Manipulative Bastards Warren is a more straight-up Mad Scientist, while Angelus is The Chessmaster.
    • Toru especially - he builds a device capable of projecting a hologram, a giant Mecha-Dawn, and a device capable of casting a spell worldwide to Depower the Slayers.
  • Breaking Bad is a Deconstruction of this in a more realistic setting.
  • The campy 60's Batman series had lots of villains who were Canon Foreigners but one of the few who was entertaining enough to make return appearances was the Evil Genius Egghead, played by Vincent Price (who often commented publically how much he enjoyed playing the role).
  • Doctor Who: Davros, creator of the Daleks. Though crippled with only one working arm, he created the most dangerous life form the universe has ever seen and set them on a path of genocide against all other forms of life in existence. His intellect is so great that the Daleks often will refuse to kill him, despite him being an "inferior" creature by their doctrine, simply because his intelligence is too useful to them. Even the Doctor readily admits Davros' genius, and he is not one inclined to praise other's mental capabilities (at least not without stating how much smarter he is). As for why he's doing any of this? If the Daleks win, and all life is wiped out save for them... it would be his hand that set it all in motion. He would be the one who killed the universe.
    Davros: That power would set me above the gods! And through the Daleks, I shall have that power!


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Manager turned wrestler turned manager "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan, while perhaps not thinking of himself as "evil", is insufferable on anything he believes to be correct and almost completely immoral. In WCW it turned out he didn't approve of the new World order though but true to the trope, was the only one to suggest Hulk Hogan might be a part of it, though he had been critical of Hogan since the AWA. Another irony is that Heenan had to drop out of school as a child due to a lack of money got his first managerial role after carrying wrestler bags to support his family. His loud mouth "Brain" persona may have been a front.
  • Lightning Hernandez was described as "an evil genius" on the Dominican Republic television program "International Wrestling" and was implied to be directing all the bad wrestlers and managers(but then, Jack Veneno was implied to be behind all the tecnicos).
  • When Samoa Joe was Ring of Honor's World Champion he was always preceded by "The Evil Genius" when his music hit. This was a bit of a misnomer though, as Joe won the belt well after his Heel–Face Turn had set in, and even when Joe was hired by Christopher Daniels's evil Power Stable The Prophecy and a part of Steve Corino's money grubbing Group Joe was the Token Good Teammate because he followed the code. On the other hand, Daniels and Corino themselves qualified well for this trope, as they often employed shady code defying strategies to win matches well after their own face turns.
  • In the remnants of the National Wrestling Alliance, "The Mastermind" Dave DuPont is an expy of Heenan, shifting between wrestler and manager.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Yawgmoth is this and the Big Bad, but in New Phyrexia, with its five-color theme, Jin-Gitaxis, the blue praetor, takes this role.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Fabius Bile, former Apothecary of the Emperor's Children. Unlike most examples, he's very much imposing, being seven feet tall and wearing Power Armor, makes the Training from Hell and surgical procedures to make Chaos Space Marines even more restrictive, and has even declared that the four gods of Chaos have nothing left to offer him.

     Video Games 
  • Murzhor in Hero's Realm. He's got a bit of Masterof Illusion to boot.
  • Dr. Elvin Atombender from the Impossible Mission games is a genius computer programmer and former university professor. Although he has been unstable his whole life, he officially became criminally insane when a power failure caused the deletion of an artificial intelligence program that he had nearly finished. The player must stop him from hacking into the defense networks of the world's superpowers and starting a nuclear holocaust.
  • Dr. Vu in the SimCity and The Sims series.
  • Lunar: The Silver Star has Taben, who creates a mechanical army for the Vile Tribe and Magic Emperor.
  • Strider has Herzog Schlange in Strider 2 and Professor Schlange in the HD Strider remake. Both are (mad) geniuses in charge of building the bizarre mechanical monsters and weapons used by the Grandmaster's army. In the latter's case, he's charged over the Grandmaster's entire research complex, and seems to be only below Juroung in terms of ranks. Though this didn't save him from being offed in the end.
    • The Grandmaster himself has shades of this, though he leans more toward genetic engineering instead of robotics, in his quest to create a new race to which replace "the sons of old gods" and rule Earth as a true God.
  • Dr. Kimaira in Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, notably because he's a Mad Scientist who creates wooden automatons with hidden machine-guns in medieval Japan.
  • Crow from Nefarious, who doubles as the playable Villain Protagonist.
  • Though most of Umbrella's scientists in Resident Evil counted as this, the most developed and well-known of them all was William Birkin. Not only was he one of the few scientists to not be completely unstable and insane, as he managed to have a (relatively) normal family life with a wife and child, but he was also responsible for creating both the T and G viruses which drove the entire plot up to Resident Evil 4. Albert Wesker's also pretty darned intelligent too, though his skills are more of the Chess Master / Magnificent Bastard variety rather than lab worknote .
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has Julien du Casse playing this role for the Templars, serving as the Order's main supplier of weaponry and ammunition.
  • Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog.

     Visual Novels 


     Web Original 
  • Arby 'n' the Chief
    • Brian in Season 5, on account of being an OMN Administrator, though he's not really evil and he's only an antagonist because he's associated with Trent Donnovich.
    • Justin "SniperDeathAngel00" in Season 6 plays this more straight, being the creator of the Fragban hacks used by Chaos Theosis and the Underground Hackers.
    • Season 7 has Colin Hunt, the inventor of the Fragban 2.0 hacks.
  • Führer Katrina Seran from v2 of Open Blue was a strategist, Chess Master, and ship captain who became ruler of her country at the age of 20, possibly due to her own machinations.
  • Belial in The Salvation War is one of these, and is the one Baldrick who actually inflicts serious damage on the humans.
  • Doctor Steel. Naturally.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe has several. Doctor Simian, the Evil Mastermind, Brainchild, and Baron Malthus are the most notable examples.
  • In the Whateley Universe, there are lots of Mad Scientist types. The ones who work for other supervillains tend to be characters like Chessmaster or Nimbus. The two of them nearly destroyed Whateley Academy on Halloween.
  • Dr. Spectre from The Tyrannosaur Chronicles.
  • Tattletale fills this role in Worm, though it should be noted that she's not supersmart, instead her power makes her a master of the Sherlock Scan, which she uses to great effect in social, combat, and political situations.

     Western Animation 
  • Tarantulas of Beast Wars is this all over the place.
  • Darkwing Duck gives as Bushroot, a member of the Fearsome Five group.
  • Mandark from Dexter's Laboratory.
  • Exo Squad has a race of Evil Geniuses called Neo Megas.
  • Heloise on Jimmy Two-Shoes, whenever it suits her to work for Lucius.
  • Wraith in The Mighty Ducks, distinguished for mainly using magic when the Big Bad prefers technology.
  • As per usual, Doctor Octopus is a super villain who is also a brilliant engineer and inventor. He goes the extra mile by having "Evil Genius" printed on the side of his coffee mug in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Although he is subordinate to no one.
  • Alistair Smythe works as an evil genius for the Kingpin in Spider-Man: The Animated Series
  • Two examples from Teen Titans- Gizmo is the resident Gadgeteer Genius of the HIVE Five, though his utter lack of people skills keeps him from rising any higher, while the Brain pulls double duty as Evil Genius and Big Bad of the Brotherhood of Evil.
  • Cartman himself from South Park is this in "Scott Tenorman Must Die", where he tricked Scott Tenorman into eating his parents after calculating a painstaking amount of detail, up to Cartman's friends betraying him.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: Though he doesn't fit all of the character tropes, Jack Spicer (himself a self-proclaimed Evil Genius, with emphasis on self-proclaimed) calls Chase Young "the greatest Evil Genius in the world" and there's no denying that it's true. As for Jack himself - there's no denying that he is a genius, it's just whether or not he's actually, you know, evil.
  • In The Legend of Korra, both Varrick and Baatar Jr. (who's also The Dragon and Doctor Boyfriend) could be considered this for Kuvira's army, being Mad Scientists; when Varrick defects, Baatar takes the role full-time. Of course, it's more or less clear Baatar is much better than Varrick, a fact the latter is loathe to put up with.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, there is Rhona Edwin, who was the best student at the Tomorrow Academy before Tony Stark showed up. After becoming convinced that Tony has been cheating, she takes the entire school hostage and forces Tony into a sort of game show from hell to prove his intelligence.
  • Dr. Stinger from Super Duper Sumos is an interesting example because, while none of the other villains showed him any respect at all, he was really the only one on the villains' side who ever actually did anything.
  • Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. A Ditzy Genius to be sure, but like the title characters, he's nevertheless smart enough to invent anything in only a few hours, even to the point of flagrantly defying the laws of physics.
  • Brain in Pinky and the Brain'... kinda; despite attempting to Take Over the World every night, he's not really evil.
  • Kaeloo: Both Mr. Cat and Olaf fit this trope.

Alternative Title(s): The Evil Genius


Example of: