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Evil Overlord

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Drop the "Your Highness" stuff, we're all friends here. You may address me as "Dark Lord."
"I am power unlike any you have known: absolute, infinite, and unrelenting. You have no choice but to prepare for a long dark future as my subjects—and my slaves."
Darkseid, Superman: The Animated Series, "Apokolips... Now! (Part 2)"
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The archetypal High Fantasy villain, often the Big Bad.

He usually lurks in an intimidating fortress in a near-uninhabitable landscape, plotting to Take Over the World (if he doesn't already rule it or has already taken over parts of it), with hordes upon hordes of beastlike warriors (who may be none too bright) at his beck and call.

There are other, more bureaucratic versions of this character that fall under the "Lawful Evil" heading. What separates an Evil Overlord from those is a near-total absence of politics. No senate recognizes his authority, no Pope elected him, he seldom has need for Royal Blood or a line of succession. He may even be immortal and expects to rule forever. He thinks nothing of resorting to terror, mind control, and/or selective breeding to corrupt and control his armies. The dark realm exists solely to conquer his neighbors' domains, and military service is non-negotiable. (Are you good with numbers? Tough titties.) He is, quite simply, a force of evil.

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This character is often deployed as a Satanic Archetype and associated with eternal darkness, fire and brimstone, and Ominous Opera Capes. For this and other reasons, they are generally male, because no woman would be a cruel tyrant who screws up her own realm. Unless she's a queen, that is. Appearance-wise, these characters are usually straight expies of Sauron, clad head to toe in imposing, spiked armor of black iron, or wizened necromancers clad in black robes and deathly pallor. Their origins can vary, but they're most commonly a mortal sorcerer, tyrant or sorcerous tyrant turned terrible and inhuman by their arts, a demon or evil deity of some kind, or a living accumulation of the evil of the world.

There are a few, more interesting exceptions: C. S. Lewis's White Witch was draped in white, symbolic of joylessness, decay, and endless winter, and his Lady of the Green Kirtle was green, symbolic of snakes and venom. Some works also portray these characters as beautiful and radiant, in a subversion of both this trope's usual appearance and of the cultural associations of angelic appearances.

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Odds are the Overlord probably wants to establish, or already rules, The Empire. In fact, The Emperor often courts aspects of this trope anyway, and a single character is likely to be both. If he isn't officially titled "Emperor" (and sometimes even when he is) he will instead adopt a grandiose title that openly declares exactly which side he's on, most often "Dark Lord" or "Demon King". What, exactly, he plans to do when he rules the world isn't always clear, but it's never anything good — slavery, misery and toil are the best fates waiting for heroes who fail to thwart him.

In battle, the Evil Overlord can be a variety of things, but he is generally the most powerful of his forces. He can be (and is quite often) a physical warrior decked in armor and usually fighting on the frontlines. Some overlords, however, rely more on magical power and may be frail and weak in battle, but world-bendingly powerful when they have time to scheme and prepare. Others just tend to hang behind the action.

A particularly ambitious Overlord often declares himself a god, and starts a Religion of Evil with him as its heart. In cases where an Overlord actually is a god, he is expanding his empire to attain more worshipers. Heroes will have a difficult time dealing with a godly overlord, as he cannot be fully killed, and often must be sealed away for another generation to deal with.

Compare with The Caligula, an Ax-Crazy and highly unstable ruler which sometimes overlaps with the Evil Overlord. The difference is that while they are both villains, the Caligula enjoys royal background (which is possibly the only reason why anyone puts up with them) and is likely to be just a plain terrible and ineffective ruler, whereas the EO doesn't have to be either.

See also: Overlord Jr., Tin Tyrant (often overlaps) Diabolical Mastermind (the real-world equivalent), and Galactic Conqueror/Dimension Lord (this trope In Space!). Namesake for the Evil Overlord List. For the most common interpretation of these characters in Japanese media, see Maou the Demon King.

Not to be confused with the video game Overlord and its sequels, nor the novel series Overlord (although they both feature one of these guys as the protagonist).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Big Bad Kaiyanwang note  from 3×3 Eyes is the God-Emperor of the Sanzhiyan Humkara, the Triclops, and ruled with an iron fist over his subjects, enslaving thousands of demons and monsters to serve him as slaves. He also routinely performed a ritual to absorb the power and souls of his own subjects, when not brainwashing or executing anyone daring to oppose his ultimate plan of gathering all the souls of the planet into one original Light and proceed forth in the cosmo, looking for a new planet to inhabit. During Trinetra, it's revealed that Benares originally was the Evil Dragon God who gained sentience after devouring Triclops for three days. He then assumed human form, mastered magic and became the undisputed (but revered) ruler of the creatures of darkness before being sealed for 4000 years by his Deceptive Disciple and released by Kaiyanwang to be his Wu.
  • King Fritz in Attack on Titan. He started out as a ruthless warlord who would Rape, Pillage, and Burn every other tribe he came across, but after inadvertently causing his slave Ymir to become the Founding Titan, he forced her to become his concubine while using her power to terrorize the rest of the world and create an empire. After Ymir died saving his life, he forced their daughters to cannibalize their own mother to ensure the power of the Titans lived on.
  • Emperor Ganishka of Kushan in Berserk. He kidnaps Queen Charlotte and creates a demonic army by dropping pregnant women into an Eldritch Abomination, after which their corrupted children rip themselves out of their mothers' wombs and devour them. Playing this trope straight is probably the only reason that Berserk isn't a complete deconstruction of Heroic Fantasy.
  • Bleach: Both Big Bads operate under this formula as well:
    • Sosuke Aizen is a narcissistic sociopath, who manipulates and betrays everyone who trusts him, and doesn't hesitate to leave even his closest associates nearly dead on the floor. He overthrew Baraggan for control of Las Noches, where he led his army of Arrancars versus the Soul Society. Aizen controls his men with a hand of cold authority and intimidation. Despite the fact that the Espada weren't particularly fond of each other, they were all kept in line by Aizen's tremendous power. He isn't above toying and sadistically playing with his subordinates for his own amusement, as he let Tosen cut off Grimmjow's arm for fun. He is careless of his men's lives, and coldly cuts down Harribel when Starrk lost against Kyoraku, convincing Aizen that the Espada were nothing more than a failed experiment. He desired to usurp the Soul King and become the undisputed ruler of the Cosmos.
    • Yhwach, is The Emperor of the Vandenreich, a hyper-militant Quincy organization. He is a brutal, intolerant autocrat primarily interested in causing as much discord, conflict, and death as possible for the sake of fueling his life-span with the souls of all who are killed. He's completely willing to encourage his Sternritters to engage in team killing and mistreating their subordinates whenever they feel like it. He himself is also a truly horrifying authority figure whom Yamamoto claims has absolutely no compassion towards those in his service. Yamamoto's claims would later prove to be greatly founded. Yhwach resides within the Schatten Bereich (the Shadow Realm), the location of the Vandenreich (both the city and the organization), but he generally resides within Silbern, an ice palace. As a bonus, when he makes his debut, he'd already conquered Hueco Mundo on the side. His desire is to kill the Soul King, which serves as the linchpin of the three worlds. Once he kills him, he decides to absorb him into himself, and recreates the Royal Palace into a new realm for the Quincy, which in the center lies a fortress called Wahrelt. He then eventually decides he no longer has any use for his remaining Sternritter and uses Auswählen on them before setting out to bring ruin to existence.
  • Lelouch and Schneizel from Code Geass R2 are fighting for this position in the final arc; Lelouch as the Emperor of Britannia and Schneizel with his nuked armed fortress Damocles. Slightly subverted in that Lelouch appears to be one but pulls a Milliardo Peacecraft maneuver like in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing by dying a villain but uniting the world against him and behind Zero, while Schneizel acts all nice when it's been indicated he's the real deal. Having a father who promoted Social Darwinism means they may need something more to overshoot him...or not.
  • Maou from The Devil Is a Part-Timer! was the demon king until Emilia defeated him. After fleeing to Earth, he's trying to regain his throne and Take Over the World by climbing the career ladder at MgRonalds.
  • Light Yagami or Kira more or less becomes this in the second half of Death Note.
  • Various Digimon villains, including most of the Adventure bad guys and the Digimon Kaiser.
  • Digimon Fusion: Bagramon tops this for all villains in the Digimon franchise, by conquering all of the digital world, as well as nearly conquering Earth as well.
  • Many of the Big Bads from the Dragon Ball series fall into this category, including Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army, Great Demon King Piccolo, and Freeza. Great Demon Piccolo's title is the most fitting for his trope and he literally wants to turn the world into a Villain World because it's For the Evulz.
  • The Black King in Drifters plays with this trope: in one hand, he looks pretty sinister due to his name and wearing a face-concealing hood and leads an Anti-Human Alliance that seeks revenge on humanity as a whole. On the other hand, he is a Benevolent Boss that is adored by his monster followers and uses his ability to heal on injured. His end goal is to create a thriving civilization for the monster races, but he still serves as the Big Bad for the entire series, nonetheless.
  • Il Palazzo from Excel Saga is a notable parody as well a deconstruction. When his dark side takes over him, he's a frighteningly capable Evil Overlord.
  • The Maoh King in Genma Wars governs a post-apocalyptic Earth with iron fist, subjugating humans with his demonic armies. He is a notoriously despicable due to his favorite pastime being abducting human females to forcefully produce heirs, which he discards if they fail to live up to his high expectations and start the whole process all over again.
  • Goblin Slayer: Every decade an Demon Lord raises from the pits of Hell to destroy the cities of Man and overthrow the Gods. They represent an cyclical existential threat to the setting but here is the twist: the Demon Lord is an Villain of Another Story since Goblin Slayer and his associates are too focused in exterminating goblins to focus on him, as such, its the job of other adventurers to handle the Demon Lord and his generals.
  • Inuyasha subverts the trope. Naraku does take over a castle but that's because he wants control over the people who serve the young lord whose body he's possessed. He kills everyone in the castle soon enough and focuses on building up enemies and destroying the bonds between people at every opportunity. He has absolutely no interest in taking over the world, however. He simply wants to twist all bonds.
  • Claw from Kimba the White Lion.
  • Queen Esmerelda of Magical Witch Punie-chan is the queen of the supposed Mary Suetopia Magical Land. She's also an massively evil being who issues slave labor for public transportation, ruthlessly dispatches with protesters and gained her position via slander and mudslinging against the previous rulers. The main character Punie is a Magical Girl Evil Overlord in training.
  • The protagonist Aur from Maou no Hajimekata is one (a Villain Protagonist to be exact). The setting gives a reason for why Aur decided to become a Demon Lord (revenge on humanity after an unspecified betrayal), however it does not make him sympathetic, as he still goes on to commit many evil and extremely devilish deeds.
  • Gakuto/Gackto/Gaito (and those are just the official spellings) from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch.
  • Moo from Monster Rancher. By the time the series starts, he has already conquered most of the continent with his generals ruling their respective sections. He also has a floating fortress which is helpful since it makes him hard to track and he could be anywhere.
  • One Piece has Kaido "of the Beasts", who lords over battalions of underlings and territories under his command purely for his combat ability.
    • Though most of the "Four Emperors", whom Kaido belongs to, could be considered such, with the exception of Shanks and formerly Whitebeard. All of them are extremely powerful pirates with a massive amount of islands under their dominions and a lot of soldiers and resources available.
  • Overlord has the main character. Although at first he isn't this trope, he is getting there as the novels go on. By the time of Volume 9, he has officially become one.
  • Marder from Panzer World Galient displays most of traits, but he's a subversion: he wears black, he dwells in a huge fortress-city from which he deploys his troops, he's conquered huge chunks of planet Arst and is trying to tave over the whole world... however, he doesn't care about Arst at all. He only wants to seize the planet's resources and weaponry to achieve his true goals.
  • Emperor Beld and Wagnard from Record of Lodoss War.
  • Talpa/Arago from Ronin Warriors is a powerful armored warrior from the Netherworld who came to medieval Japan to conquer the mortal world, resides in a giant demonic castle in the sky and controls armies of mooks, warlock spirits and four loyal generals. Season 2 reveals two more villainous inhabitants of the Netherworld who had similar plans to Talpa, namely Saranbo and Kenbukyou (the latter was actually The Rival to Talpa and, surprisingly enough, a Noble Demon ).
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has Sosai X and Berg Katse.note  Katse wants to rule the world; X starts out that way, but midway through switches to wanting to destroy it. Katse goes for purple and a pointy-eared cowl and once fought Gatchaman to a standstill, while X is a blue flame with glowing eyes ensconced in a secret base in the Himalayas.
  • Great Demon King Chestra from Violinist of Hameln. You can guess this from his title, really. Though Violinist of Hameln is an action/comedy series that parodies a lot of shonen and fantasy tropes, this particular trope is played straight.
  • Judai Yuki of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX fits almost all of this trope's requirements (up to and including Spikes of Villainy) during his time as Haounote , a merciless tyrant obsessed with the completion of a powerful card and with the elimination of all evil in the world — even if he must use heinous methods in order to do so. Brron, Mad King of Dark World, whom Judai displaced, counts as well.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V:
    • Reiji Akaba uses a deck themed after demonic kings. Surprisingly, unlike other rival characters focusing on a single ace monster, Reiji doesn't focus on a single king. His Extra Deck is 100% full of overlords, while his Main Deck has at least three different overlords, which makes a total of 19 different overlords. At the end of the series, three of them can be referred to as "super overlords", being extremely powerful and they are almost invincible when they are together.
    • Haouryuunote Zarc is a giant dragon who opposes humanity and leads his own legion of servants to give humanity their desire for violent duels by destroying them.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Doctor Doom, is probably the closest you could get to the classic depiction in a modern setting. He's the ruler of Latveria, and while his official title shifts between "dictator" and "absolute monarch", he is consistently an autocrat. Unlike most Evil Overlords, he isn't oppressive to his people, he actually makes it a point to maintain the prosperity of his subjects but due to his personal issues he likes to keep them isolated from the outside world and in a near-medieval Ruritanic state. He is also a Mad Scientist who wears Powered Armor, and a surprisingly powerful sorcerer who wants to Take Over the World, because he genuinely believes that the world would be a more peaceful place under his rule (he has looked into a number of alternate universes, and the one he saw where Victor Von Doom had succeeded in conquering the whole world was a total utopia)
    • Eldritch Abomination Dimension Lord Dormammu seeks to conquer every realm there is so he can impose his will on all life and afterlife. He is also worshipped by lots and lots of beings (many of them are magical ones, mind you) across all reality, and most of them are happy to act as his foot soldiers
    • Mephisto, the Marvel Universe's primary Satanic Archetype also fits the bill. Bonus points for his home dimension being a classic Fire and Brimstone Hell.
    • The X-Men villain Apocalypse takes this role in the Bad Future ruled by him and the Alternate History Age of Apocalypse timeline, where he conquered North America and divided the world among himself and his generals. Given his Social Darwinist beliefs, he rules his domains as dog-eat-dog hellholes where only those he considers strong enough are allowed to live.
    • Loki takes on this role sometimes, but it doesn't usually last long.
    • Incredible Hulk's evil alternate self Maestro in Future Imperfect who ruled as a brutal despot in a post-apocalyptic society with an iron fist and lives off as a hedonist that surrounds himself with concubines. He is still a dangerous foe, since he has Banner's intellect, the Hulk's strength augmented several times and absolutely no moral inhibitions.
    • Kang the Conqueror is notable for ruling various worlds like this across all of time. He is also partly responsible for the afromentioned Apocalypse turning out like he did.
    • Zig-Zagged with Thanos. Unlike Darkseid (his primary inspiration), Thanos isn't interested in ruling or conquering worlds, specially under his creator Jim Starlim. However, he has been depicted as a straight example in recent years since Infinity.
  • Arawn seems like a textbook example at first a fell being clad in dark armor and known by many colorful names such as Lord of the Burning Lands, King of the Underworld and God of Wrath, to name a few. However, he turns out to be a pretty tragic figure with a sad backstory, as he tells the readers.
  • Birthright desconstructs this trope with God-King Lore (if his name wasn't indication): he is an extremely powerful, horrifying magic user that has managed to enslave the fantasy realm of Terrenos for ages with his unrelenting power and endless hordes. Fighting against this kind of foe has proven to be a fruitless endavour for any hero, who either chooses to flee to other worlds or submit to his rule to stop the war. It turns out that Lore himself might not be pure evil either, since he is also tired of fighting endlessly and just wants to restore peace to everything, though it remains to be seen what kind of "peace" he desires.
  • A standard type of of foe for Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. Major evil overlords included Thulsa Doom and Kulan Gath.
  • The Darkness: While the current wielder is a Noble Demon mobster, the most competent and power-hungry Darkness users from the past managed to achieve this status, such as Lord Cardinale in Medieval Spawn/Witchblade, who ruled from his fortress in the Pyrenees over a kingdom that stretched from Flanders to the south of Spain in 1175 AD, his army being composed of dark creatures and even his own Hot Consort was a female Darkling he created magically.
  • Lord Void of Dreamkeepers. Seriously, look at his name.
  • The Adversary in Fables is the illusive leader of the Empire responsible for exiling the titular fables. He is revealed to be none other than Pinocchio's father Gepetto.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • In the "Judge Child" arc, Murd the Oppressor is an alien tyrant-sorcerer who rules over the planet Necros. She regularly has enemies fed to her giant toad Sagbelly.
    • Judge Death tends to be like this whenever he gets into a position of power. As Chief Judge of his own world, he was basically a lich-like Tin Tyrant who mercilessly butchered the entire living population. During "Necropolis", his first act after taking over Mega-City One was to put the entire city under penalty of death after closing the gates, even regularly mocking the citizenry by having the Sisters of Death providing "news updates" on the mass killings taking place day and night. In the "Dark Justice" arc, he's ruling over the ice moon Dominion from a palace of evil with his undead servants, then on Thanatopia, a Cult Colony of the Death cult. They even gave him a cape to match.
  • Lady Death in the Avatar Press continuity has fought against these kind of foes such as Sagos and the Death Queen, both of whom had an army of undead and demons at their back and call and ruled over their own portion in the Labyrinth. Played with in their cases, since they were both omnicidal maniacs who sought to destroy all life in the realm, but for different reasons: Sagos wanted to offer all life in the Labyrinth as a sacrifice to dark spirits so he could rule his own dark domain in the afterlife, while the Death Queen just wanted to destroy everything in revenge for the abuse and torture she endured as Marion at the hands of the demons.
  • The mummified, sinister King Yod of Megalex
  • Nemesis the Warlock had Torquemada, the iron-fisted supreme leader of the Termight Empire — Earth controlled by an absolute xenophobes out to exterminate all alien life on the galaxy — and he served as Arch-Enemy to the title protagonist.
  • Lord Golgotha in Reborn is the demonic-looking ruler of the Dark Lands, a section of the afterlife where all the evil and damned are sentenced to upon death. He has designs of conquering the realm of Adystria (where the good and noble are sent) as well as the living world.
  • Dracula in Requiem Vampire Knight fits this trope like a red spiky glove, not only being the king of all vampires, but also of an entire hell-like dimension that makes Mordor look like daycare park and he dresses the part, being clad all the time in a draconic red armor. His 0% Approval Rating aspect is desconstructed when it gets every faction in the setting conspiring to overthrow him — the only reason they haven't succeeded yet is because every single one of them has their own agenda and struggle among themselves as much as against their enemy.
  • Several of Savage Dragon arch-enemies were this type of villain: the aptly named Overlord and his successors, Darklord, Cyberface and Mr. Glumm to name a few, though the original Overlord was more like a criminal lord instead of an actual dark lord. And then there is the fact that Dragon himself used to be one as Emperor Kurr, since he was a power-mad despot that aimed to conquer Earth before being betrayed by his kin and had his memory wiped out.
  • Spider-Man: Solus from Spider-Verse is the god-like ruler of Earth-001 and patriarch of an immortal clan that sustains themselves on totems.
  • One of the more common types of foe in The Warlord. Deimos was the most dangerous and most persistent.

    Comic Strips 
  • Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon, and the associated serials and TV shows, is one of the iconic sci-fi examples of this trope. George Lucas even cited him as one of the major inspirations for Emperor Palpatine.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Horned King in Disney's The Black Cauldron may be the most archetypical example of this trope in animated film, although all things considered, he was mostly a physically intimidating Orcus on His Throne without much actual prowess, who was quite unceremoniously defeated by The Power of Friendship.
  • Ben Yussuf in El Cid: The Legend. He might not be supernatural, but he does look Obviously Evil with his completely dark robes and disfigured face, and threatens both Christians and Muslims by conquering them through force.
  • Hades in Hercules. He's the evil ruler of the Underworld, but has a desire to overthrow his brother Zeus and take over Mount Olympus. Even the Underworld looks quite gloomy, which gives the viewer an idea of what his rule over Olympus and the mortals would look like. It says a lot that when two of his deceased subjects touch his toga imploringly, he responds by blasting them with his fire, shutting them abruptly and burning their hopes of ever escaping his rule. It's even lampshaded by the Muses below:
    Muses: He ruled the underworld... but thought the dead were dull and uncouth. He was as mean as he was ruthless... and that's the gospel truth... he had a plan to SHAKE things up... and that's the gospel truth!
  • Mandrake in Epic (2013) who wants to overthrow the Leafmen and take over the forest.
  • Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2 is a genocidal maniac who desires to expand his rule from Gongmen City to the rest of China and eradicate kung fu while he's at it.
  • Lord Business in The LEGO Movie, who presides over a practically defined Dystopia as President Business, but is so theatrical with his outfit, his infinitely tall tower with his Think Tank, Kragle and hundreds of minions he's virtually melodramatic.
  • Played with Megamind. He literally refers to himself as an "Evil Overlord", but his acts are limited to stealing money that he doesn't need, and minor vandalism.
  • Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. She dwells in a rundown castle perched atop a jagged mountain formation, oversees an unidentified land of darkness, commands an army of goblin-like minions, refers to herself as "the Mistress of All Evil," calls upon the powers of Hell during the climax, etc.
  • Strange Magic: The Bog King, who rules over the Dark Forest and its goblins denizens. He physically manhandles his own subjects and despises love so much that he attacks the fairy kingdom over them making a love potion. Except he's correct that a love potion is a terrible idea and ends up falling in love with Marianne.
  • Blackwolf in Wizards. He takes over an ruined radioactive wasteland after being exiled by his brother when he tried to take power following their mother's death, and proceeds to turn the mutant inhabitants into his personal invading army, consciously emulate Adolf Hitler using old projection tapes to inspire his soldiers (and demoralize his victims) and adopts an ideal of mutant supremacy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Despite being a nigh-unkillable maniac with insane powers and what Bruce Banner called "the biggest army in the universe" at his command, Thanos is a subversion as he doesn't actually want to rule anything, he is just going around the galaxy, invading planets and committing genocide as the biggest terrorist ever.
  • The Dark Lord in Bright was a renegade elf that tried to take over the world 2,000 years ago and it took an alliance of nine races to take him down. He serves as Greater-Scope Villain of the setting, since the reason why orcs face so much discrimination was because many of their ancestors sided with him and the story's villains are seeking to bring him back to life.
  • The Lord Marshal of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick. The supreme ruler of a tyrannical death cult / conquering civilization of superhuman warriors, his goal is to subjugate and destroy every world in the cosmos and lead them to a promised land of darkness they call the Underverse, which he has visited in his pilgrimage. Outright supernatural himself, and he's got the look down pat.
  • Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian (1982). While he doesn't rule a country of his own, he has enough power to threaten kings with his deadly cult and styles himself as a prophet that will "cleanse" the world.
  • Khalar Zym in Conan the Barbarian (2011) qualifies even though he has no magical powers of his own. He aspires to gain control over the dead and has raised such massive forces that he is The Dreaded among the Hyborian peoples.
  • DC Extended Universe: Darkseid makes his first live action film appearance in Zack Snyder's Justice League. He spearheaded an invasion of Earth in the distant past, and in present-day he can be seen among his court on the aptly named Apokolips, surrounded by hundreds of Parademon soldiers and dominating them by his sheer height, massive presence and Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Gods of Egypt: Set becomes this trope after usurping his brother Osiris and ruling over Egypt with iron fist, enslaving the populace, demanding they pillage riches in order to secure their afterlives and commanding legions of demons and demigods to enforce his will.
  • Balem Abrasax in Jupiter Ascending is this trope combined with a Corrupt Corporate Executive, since he is the King of Universe due to his status as an Entitled and head of the Abrasax Industries, an inter-galactic company responsible for harvesting billions of planets of life in order to gain immortality. Even though Balem has no powers as he is technically just like any human, he is over 10,000 years old and has reptilian aliens as minions to do his bidding.
  • Vortigern in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: dresses in all black? Check. Draws magic from dark entities? Check. Is a tyrant that usurped the rightful king? Check. He also turns into a demonic knight that makes him look like this trope even more when he sacrifices a loved one to his dark masters.
  • Krull: The Beast. An alien overlord who invades the titular planet seeking to marry Lyssa so they could have a child that would rule over the galaxy.
  • Kull the Conqueror has a female example with Akivasha, the demonic queen of the Acheron Empire from ancient times when demons walked the earth. She is resurrected by a couple of corrupt nobles to seduce Kull in hopes of overthrowing him, but they soon find out that Evil Is Not a Toy, and she proceeds to usurp the throne from him and turns said conspirators in her lackeys.
  • The Lord of Darkness in Ridley Scott's Legend (1985) fits this to a T, being the embodiment of evil with an army of goblins to do his bidding, and wishes to plunge the world in darkness forever.
  • Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road governs the Citadel with iron fist and is revered as a divine ruler by his followers who will lead them into Valhalla upon a glorious death.
  • The Mummy Trilogy/The Scorpion King:
    • Emperor Huang in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was a ruthless Chinese warlord who forged his empire over the corpses of countless victims and was cursed with mummification in his attempt to become immortal. Its explicitly said that he will crush freedom everywhere and slaughter without mercy to impose order upon the world.
    • Every Big Bad in The Scorpion King series qualifies for this trope: Memnon, Sargon, Tallus, Drazen and Nebserek are all power-thirsty and ambitious warlords that for one reason or the other got to Mathayus' bad side over the course of the series.
  • In Queen of the Damned, vampire Queen Akasha's reign over Ancient Egypt with her consort King Enkil is inferred to have been insanely tyrannical. Marius notes that she nearly drank the world dry to satiate her bloodlust and she shows several visions to Lestat of random massacres of her subjects. Later on she feeds on hundreds of people and declares the resulting graveyard her new kingdom to a disturbed Lestat. In the climax she announces to the other Ancients that she wants to return the world to the way things were and reduce humanity to cattle.
  • Solomon Kane has Malachi who also doubles as Sorcerous Overlord, leads an evil army of corrupted minions to ravage the countryside from his castle, which he usurped from the hero's family.
  • Star Wars:
    • Emperor Palpatine (as opposed to his alter ego Senator/Chancellor Palpatine, a Villain with Good Publicity), is a Dark Lord of the Sith who doubles as ruler of a galactic empire, and well versed in manipulating The Dark Side.
    • Most other Sith Lords in the universe with a position of command of some sort fit this trope as well, notably Darth Vader and Count Dooku (two of Palpatine's apprentices). In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we have Darth Revan, Darth Nihilus, Darth Malak, Darth Krayt, and many, many others.
    • Downplayed with Supreme Leader Snoke in the sequel trilogy. While he is a Dark Side user, he is not a Sith Lord like Palpatine and his predecessors and is more of a military junta leader than an Emperor. Yet, he managed to reorganize the Imperial remnants into the First Order which he controls as its sinister Glorious Leader. He is later succeeded by his apprentice Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.
  • 300: Persian King Xerxes is portrayed as this, becoming the evil God-Emperor of an invading empire trying to bring the "freedom-loving Greeks" to bow down to him. The Immortals are outright stated to have served the "dark will" of Persian Kings for centuries. He rules his subjects through the lash and his divine power, and the fact that half of his warriors are monsters and dark sorcerors leaves no doubt about how evil his empire is.
  • Troy portrays Agammenon as an ambitious and power hungry tyrant with an hegemony over most of Greece and seeks to annex the titular kingdom into his domain, eventually using Helen's eloping with Paris as an excuse to forcibly conquer Troy. This version of him is particularly a mustache-twirling kind of villain, an exaggeration of his original version who despite being far from a saint, was nowhere near as evil.
  • Warriors of Virtue has Komodo, an insane warlord in the mystical world of Tao that has been ruining its ecosystem in search for immortality. The sequel has Dogon, who usurped the realm's rightful queen and has been ruling Tao with iron fist.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The titular villain ruled as a god-king over Ancient Egypt and aspires to rule over mankind as he did centuries ago.

    Gamebooks 
  • The Lone Wolf gamebook series features this trope extensively with the Darklords of Helgedad, an entire faction of dark, demonic beings out to dominate the Magnamund in the name of their god Naar and convert it into a Death World. The greatest of them is the Archlord, who holds the absolute authority over the other Darklords and serves as Naar's champion. All Darklords are supernatural evils with each of them having their armies at beck and call and they can only be harmed by the titular hero's magic sword. Even other villains that aren't Darklords themselves qualify for this trope such as Autarch Sejanus, an immortal vampire lord that rules his domain with iron fist in the name of evil. Hell, his title autarch is already enough indicative.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Master from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is considered the closest thing vampires have to a king, being older and more powerful than any vampire in existence. He is even more of this trope in the "Wishverse" universe, where he took over Sunnydale and ruled it as his personal domain.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master (at his most successful) and Davros whenever the Daleks actually listen to him. In ''The Magicians Apprentice'' Colony Sarff even refers to him as Dark Lord of Skaro.
    • The Dalek Emperor also plays this role. In "The Parting of the Ways" they even believe themselves to be a God.
    • Rassilon, one of the founders of Time Lord civilisation, seems to have become this in many of his portrayals. In "Zagreus" it is revealed he prevented other races from evolving so they could never prove a threat to the Time Lords. In "The End of Time" he is willing to destroy the Universe to ensure the Time Lord's survival.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn:
    • Lord Amancio Malvado is a cross between this trope and Diabolical Mastermind. In one hand, he leads a Mexican cartel, but on the other hand, he is also a supernatural evil, top dog of the vampire hierarchy and leader of the aptly named Nine Lords of Night. Hell, his name "malvado" means "evil" in Spanish, making him an almost literal example of a "Lord Evil".
    • Season 3 introduces Amaru, the queen of the hell-like dimension of Xibalba and also a much greater evil than Malvado (who fled from her world along with his siblings because they were treated as slaves by her) and she wishes to take over the Earth with her demonic minions.
  • Game of Thrones descontructs the trope much like its literary counterpart.
    • Roose Bolton after becoming the new Warden of the North is a practical flavor of this trope, realizing that the North needs to be controlled with more than just fear and terror. With that said, he still belongs to a family with an ill-reputation for torture and flaying, which became even more negative with the way Roose attained his position. His son Ramsay becomes one too after murdering Roose and taking his place, but unfortunately he lacks his father's foresight and restraint and turns into a sadistic and brutal tyrant who is unable to secure genuine peace or actual allies, except with two noble houses and only because they have enemies in common. His lack of care for his own men comes to bite him in the ass when he wastes so many of his forces against Jon Snow in a needlessly cruel tactic that he is practically defenseless when the Knights of the Vale arrive to turn the battle against Ramsay.
    • Tywin Lannister only resorts to Kick the Dog and Disproportionate Retribution to ensure that his family name is respected and feared (unless the target happens to be Tyrion). He's also completely aware of his limitations, noting that his family is deeply mired in debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos and they need a firm marital alliance with the Tyrells to meet their obligations. He's downright reverential to the Iron Bank, calling it "a temple", so he's not going to consider bribing them or getting in their bad books; that's way more foresight than most overlords ever show.
    • The series features a played straight (or possibly reconstructed) example in the form of the Night King, the one leading the White Walkers and a legendary figure thought to have been destroyed ages ago, just biding his time for Winter to arrive so he can unleash a night that never ends. He is more of a force of nature than a person and serves as Greater-Scope Villain, outweighing any corrupt nobleman or monarch in the setting, but he stays in the background most of the time.
    • King Maegor Targaryen was big, violent, and always wore armor. Much like his descendant Aerys, he too drove the entire realm against him because of his unfettered cruelty, especially in putting down the Faith Militant's resistance.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess: Depressingly common place in both shows with the same setting, with the latter's opening stating that warlords were Xena's enemies:
    • The Sovereign is Hercules' Evil Twin from the Strange World that grew up to be a warlord rather than a hero like his prime counterpart.
    • Bacchus, the god of debauchery, wine and hedonism is reimagined as an evil and demonic fallen being served by vampire minions and also plotted to take over the world. He has been a recurring foe to both Hercules and Xena.
    • Vlad of Dacia in "Darkness Visible" was a one-shot villain, though he qualifies for this trope in so many ways: immortal and inhuman? Check. Dresses in all black? Check. Lives in a haunted castle in the middle of a cursed frozen land? Double check.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O has this as the core of its plot. This is due to the fact that The Hero of the show, Sougo Tokiwa, wants to become the greatest king ever known, resulting in him becoming the demon king known as Oma Zi-O fifty years later, the Overlord of Time. The story now becomes about if Sougo can actually avert this future while still becoming "the kindest and most beloved Overlord in history."
  • Krypton: The Voice of Rao is the theocratic dictator of the title planet, keeping them under an oppressive yoke that forbids them from exploring the stars and putting the society in Medieval Stasis. He qualifies as a Light Is Not Good example of this trope, since he dresses in bright gold and presents himself as a divine being, though he is certainly creepy and evil. He gets even worse when he is possessed by Brainiac, the series' actual Big Bad. By the end of Season 1, he has been over thrown by General Zod, who now rules Kandor like a military dictator instead of a theocratic one.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Darken Rahl is probably the straightest example in modern day television. A brutal, sociopathic genocidal Evil Sorcerer who controls the D'Haran empire and was prophesied to be defeated by the next Chosen One of his world.
  • Lexx features this duo:
    • His Divine Shadow ruled over a theocracy of 20,000 worlds with an iron fist for millenia. All for the purpose of using humans to defeat themselves by reducing them to willing slaves and livestock. He has infinite resources, plenty of soldiers, immortal assassins and one vampire executioner to do his bidding.
    • The Isembard Prince rules over the Fire planet, which is some kind of afterlife for the sinful dead from both Dark and Light Universes, making him essentially a Satanic Archetype. Like the Divine Shadow, he is also immortal, though his origins are a complete mystery even to the Prince himself. All he knows is that he is evil, he likes to destroy good things and exists only to make others suffer forever.
  • Penny Dreadful has the Master, a mysterious vampire considered the most powerful and evil of them all who has hundreds of familiars and vampires at his beck and call and serves as Greater-Scope Villain for most of the series. He is revealed to be none other than Dracula himself disguised as Dr. Alexander Sweet.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Lord Zedd of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is introduced as this. Even after his slide into has-been territory, it was still a very real, very frightening moment when he appeared in the Command Center after capturing Kimberly and forcing the Rangers to pilot his evil zords. His subsequent hand-to-hand fight with Tommy later confirmed his status in this category.
    • Lord Zedd is topped by Dark Specter, from Power Rangers in Space. Dark Specter looks like a building sized devil and has command over all the evil factions introduced in the franchise at that point, including Lord Zedd's group. His forces are so vast, that he could realistically conquer the entire universe with them, were it not for a combination between a treacherous general and the mentor performing a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Emperor Gruum of the Troobian Empire from Power Rangers S.P.D.. He commands a massive army of Mecha-Mooks, looks like a skeletal demon and is known to destroy entire planets.
    • Power Rangers (Super) Megaforce has Emperor Mavro, who commands a large spacefaring empire known as the Armada and, though his son Vrak, several other factions, such as the Warstar Insectoids and the Toxic Mutants. Not much is known about Mavro, since he doesn't appear that much and when he does, he mostly sits on his throne.
  • Super Sentai has tons of these.
  • The Scrubs episode "My Princess" parodies this, where Dr. Cox tells his 4-year-old son Jack a fairy tale starring his colleagues from Sacred Heart Hospital in the various archetypes. The irritable Dean of Medicine Dr. Kelso becomes the Dark Lord Oslek, an Affably Evil overlord of the land. He has a cowed, hunchbacked assistant (Ted) and punishes all those who enter his forbidden forest.
  • The Goa'uld of Stargate SG-1 are an entire race of this with an accompanying god complex. However, only the highest ranking ones (the so-called 'System Lords') have enough territory and forces to back the claim up, with the rest of the lesser Goa'uld serving one or another of the System Lords and usually plotting their downfall. They collectively control most of the Milky Way Galaxy at the start of the series, but are deeply fractioned and fighting each other more often than outside threats.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Khan Noonien Singh once ruled a quarter of Earth back in the day. He was even called "The best of Tyrants" in some circles.
  • An example from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would be the Founders, a cabal of scientists who use genetically-engineered troops and designer viruses to keep their subjects in line. The Founders, renowned for their xenophobia, were later unmasked as hermits who reside on a featureless, arid border planet. Since the Founders were persecuted throughout history, they made it a rule never to venture from home (unless on a reconnaissance or sabotage mission). When the Cardassians and Romulans managed to locate their planet and destroy it, it turned out that they had vacated without leaving any trace.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Obsolete Man" has the Chancellor, and later his replacement.
  • Ultra Series
  • VR Troopers has Grimlord, "Master of the Virtual Reality!"

    Music 
  • The subject of "Tyrant" by Judas Priest.
  • Within Temptation's song "A Gothic Christmas" has Rudolph changing his name to "Ragnagord" and becoming the evil overlord of caribou.
  • GWAR counts as this as well, along with their enemies Cardinal Syn and the Master.
  • King Akron in The Emerald Sword Saga is referred outright as a "Dark Lord", governs from a dark and sinister domain and leads an army of demons to conquer Angalord.
  • Zargothrax the Chaos Wizard from the parody Power Metal Rock Opera Gloryhammer leads an army of Unicorns in album 1, and army of evil alien deathknights in albums 2 (Space 1992) and 3 (Legends of Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Being a classic High Fantasy setting, The Chronicles of Aeres has its share of evil overlords, including the Sauron-esque Witch Lord Olhogim, who has twice tried to conquer Aeres with his armies of orcs and goblins, and the Skeksis-like Vulgraks of Astreas.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had multiple examples over its history:
    • Forgotten Realms: Bane, the god of tyranny, is the clearest example, and his church works with mortal overlords here and there, including Manshoon with his Black Network. The conqueror Yamun Khahan, a pastiche of Genghis Khan (rumours about him are quoted almost verbatim, and the other names are used as is). He is more of a subversion, however: a ravenous warlord bent on conquering the known world through endless war, yet turning westward was a change of course forced on him in the Thayvian campaign's dead end, and he was a Benevolent Boss adored by his people (not unlike the real-world Khan).
    • Greyhawk: Vecna was an nigh-almighty lich who actually ascended to godhood, and Iuz is a tyrannical demigod who rules over a Social Darwinist empire.
    • Ravenloft is built upon this trope: Darklords are the cursed and evil rulers of the Land of Mists, each one of them governing over one particular region. They are powerful forces of darkness with great influence, coming in many diverse forms and shapes (some are proactive leaders of mighty armies and others are subtle schemers who act behind the scenes) and there are dozens of them for the PCs to fight against (seriously, just check their character page and see how long the list is). Here is the twist: every single darklord is plagued by a curse that varies from individual to individual to frustrate their greatest desires, as this was intentionally designed by the Dark Powers to punish them, making these Evil Overlords all tormented and damned beings that live in a hell of their own making.
  • Exalted:
    • The Deathlords, leaders of the Abyssal Exalted and servants of the Neverborn, are terrible and powerful tyrants of the dead who are not out to conquer the world so much as to kill everything that lives and destroy everything that's not alive, consigning all of existence to Oblivion. The closest fit to the traditional archetype of this trope is the First and Forsaken Lion, the mightiest of the Deathlords, who is permanently sealed inside his armor and broods within a mighty citadel as he amasses a vast army of monsters and the dead.
    • The Infernal Exalted must play this trope to the fullest, since it's their way of working off Torment. This also has a Dark Is Not Evil aspect, as Acts of Villainy aren't actually inherently evil (the one drafted by Kimbery, for example, asks that you give your opponents Cruel Mercy... but doesn't actually have provisions for making it so that living is a Fate Worse than Death).
  • Magic: The Gathering: Yawgmoth was a mortal physician of immortal sadism and evil, who brought about the fall of his own civilization and spent some time ruining others before becoming the eternal god and king of the biomechanical hell-dimension of Phyrexia. He spent thousands of years plotting to return to his homeworld, subjugate it, and reshape it to match his twisted vision, and even after his death the impact and scars of his attempted conquest weight Dominaria to the modern day.
  • Rifts is rife with these kind of villains, like the Spurgloth of Atlantis, the tyrannical pharaoh Ramah Set of the Phoenix Empire and any Vampire Intelligence of the Vampire Kingdoms, but the most prominent example is Karl Prosak of the Coalition States, which used to be a republic with him as President Evil before he decided to just crown himself as emperor. He straights up admires Adolf Hitler and bases much of his government style on him, though without repeating his mistakes.
  • Warhammer: Malekith, Witch-King of Naggaroth, initially wanted to become king of Ulthuan and the High Elves before failing, being horrifically burned and retreating to the New World where he would establish the Dark Elves and Naggaroth. In the modern day, Malekith is a megalomaniacal tyrant constantly clad in black enameled armor that he can't survive without, ruling over a society of slavers, sadists and sorcerers where his word is unquestioned law, and dreams of returning to Ulthuan, crushing the High Elves under his feet and becoming the unquestioned ruler of all the elves.

    Web Animation 
  • Discord from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic parody PONY.MOV destroys Ponyville and proclaims himself their god.
  • Salem from Volume 4 of RWBY is the true mastermind behind the Grimm (and all other evil acts). Very little is known about them, besides being the biggest threat around, and her "pets" serve as the foot-soldiers for her operations. Qrow hinted that Salem is connected to an ancient evil, one that helped build Remnant itself.
    • Volume 6 finally dropped some information: namely that Salem was once human, but was cursed with Complete Immortality after royally pissing off the Gods via tricking one into reviving her dead lover, Ozma (aka Ozpin's former incarnation). When she used that same immortality to unite humanity against them, all this accomplished was the Gods purging the world of humanity, and in a bid to finally end her life, she jumped into the pools of Grimm.... but that didn't work. Ozpin was eventually revived to try and unite humanity according to the Gods' wishes, but this put him at odds with Salem, kick-starting their nigh-eternal battle.
  • Dreamscape: The Master of the Dammed is the Evil Overlord of the Unworld.
    • Averted with the Overlord of Evil, despite his name. He has a few Mooks under his belt and a god complex, but he has no empire to speak of.

    Web Comics 
  • Sparklelord in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Also, Ronald McDonald. Yes, the hamburger selling clown. It's more awesome than it sounds.
  • The Director of Darkness from Apricot Cookie(s)! is this, controlling the Dark Dimension and the legions of monsters inside, although he tends to act less like an overlord and more like an office executive.
  • Lord Dragos from The Beast Legion is the perfect example of tyrannical Evil despot who rules the land with an iron fist.
  • Dark Wings has Veslin, the mysterious leader of The Empire. Believed to be an evil dragon, but she might be anything, even a whole group of people. All we really know is that there's something powerful and intelligent driving the Veslians.
  • Lord Tedd in El Goonish Shive, but his self-proclaimed "voluntary servant" (it's not entirely clear what position she holds, but it's important) thinks he's a good guy under "corrupting influence".
  • Stanley the Plaid/Stanley the Tool of Erfworld is described as an Evil Overlord by Parson because of his use of generic evil creatures and because he has united everybody else into an alliance against him. Stanley is highly offended by this, believing himself to be divinely favored. A divine artifact backs him up on this point. Or not, since croakamancer Wanda Firebaugh has one too, and apparently so does Charlie of Charlescomm.
  • Baron Klaus Wulfenbach of Girl Genius is something of a subversion. For one thing, he doesn't want to be Overlord — he's there mainly to stop less reasonable mad scientists who ran rampant laying waste to everything. For another, he's not actually an evil ruler — the main rules of his empire boil down to 'don't start fights' and 'turn over all Sealed Evil in a Can for proper disposal'. However, he's ruthless in dealing with anyone (or anything) that threatens the stability of his domain, and he's willing to employ at least one homicidal psychopath (Bangladesh DuPree). Although his willingness to use DuPree is entirely based on the fact that she can be relied on to do the least pleasant jobs Klaus requires without hesitation, and keeping her around means that she's one less problem he has to deal with.
    • It says something about his empire that their motto is "Don't Make Me Come Over There". Part threat, part Badass Boast, if you break his rules, he will come over there, and he will make you regret it.
    • It also says something that less than three years after he freezes himself and Mechanicsburg in time his rule is viewed almost universally as a lost Golden Age.
  • The Order of the Stick has fun with this.
    • Xykon is in many ways a parody of the Evil Overlord stereotype, though he's as genuinely evil as any other. It might be better to say that Xykon started out as a parody Evil Overlord, but it gradually became apparent that goofy as he can be, when you get down to it he's the real deal and every bit as dangerous as you'd expect an Evil Overlord to be.
    • General Tarquin is one of the Men behind the Dragon to the Empress of Blood. He's found his chances of survival are improved by acting as a mercenary commander for other Evil Overlord wannabes rather than sitting on the throne himself, but he still runs the show along with his snakefolk cleric friend and, it turns out, the other four members of his old adventuring party. He's also (convincingly) so Affably Evil that it is approaching Draco in Leather Pants levels of sympathy among a portion of the fandom. Others, it seems, like him less with every strip.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Lord Horribus, at least during the "That Which Redeems" arc. Oddly enough, Horribus is really only second-in-command of the demon armies. The actual Demon King spends the entire Demonic Invasion on the toilet.
    • In the "Holiday Wars" storyline, Bun-bun realizes he can become overlord of the holidays and Take Over the World by becoming the Anthropomorphic Personification of all the holidays. (Being the embodiment of Halloween gives the right "dark" flavour among what would otherwise be mostly cheerful portfolios.)
  • Terra: Northazul Kalar, Sovereign of the Asurian Empire. Leader of a powerful empire with his own personal army in addition to the official one, dressed all in black armor with fur trim, is known to have ordered at least one political purge, et cetera.
  • Zebra Girl: Tool, who rules Sam' home dimension with a maniacal iron fist.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, various evil overlords have appeared in the three ages, for example Arawn Losstarot and Distreyd Thanadar XII.
  • Whateley Universe: The supervillain Gizmatic, the King of Karedonia. Which he conquered and then enlarged.
  • Agamemnon Tiberius Vacuum: The titular Inarguable Eternal Leader of the glorious and superior Planet 3.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: The Sunflower Emperor in the Mirror Multiverse. The Mysterious Somebody had a similar role in the prime multiverse, as the PPC's former ruler.
  • Wormtooth Nation: Baron O'Brien is set up to look like one, but it's later subverted: he's just trying to hold the dying city together. Not that he's a nice guy, but he's far from evil. This makes since, since he was based on the character of Oberon from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • The Nostalgia Chick gets called a dictator by her Sex Bot, gives Disney villains helpful advice and enjoys playing in God's domain just a bit too much.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic, The Other Guy is dressed as Palpatine in one review, and tells Critic that he's the dark shadowy overlord that controls him, "just like in real life".
  • Diamanda Hagan: Diamanda actually admits to being this, having minions who she regularly orders to execute themselves.
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers: Umbra was an Evil Overlord in his Ransei days. Since then, he's grown to regret that phase of his life.
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: Evil emperors are discussed in the video on The Empire, where Red outlines their most common varieties and how they tend to affect the characters of their empires and the role they play in the story.
    • The major variants of villainous rulers include the more hands-off types, like Sauron and Palpatine, who leave their minions to run the show while they pursue their own agendas and whose supernatural control over their empires is equally likely to free their thralls as to cause the whole thing to collapse under its own weight once the emperor dies; the indolent Caligulas more interested in pursuing their passing whims than governing and who are often little more than figureheads, whose defeat won't likely impact the empire much at all; the maniacal tyrants a la Joffrey, who rule through fear and kill people left and right for any and no reason, but who luckily almost inevitably have rebellions brewing against them that the heroes can join forces with; and the treacherous usurpers like Scar and Zant, who stole the throne from the rightful ruler and are likely awful monarchs themselves but who conveniently tend to come with legitimate heirs hanging around somewhere in order to sidestep the question of what happens to the Empire after the Emperor dies.
    • Evil empresses tend to come in one of two specific types — the (sometimes literal) ice queen, cold and unfeeling and generally either a harsh but fair ruler or a heartless tyrant, and the fiery-tempered seductress in skimpy clothing, who will be gleefully sadistic, probably associated with slavery in some form and likely to try to force a hero into being her consort. Either type is also likely to be Daddy's Little Villain.
  • Freetrick Freebolg, Ultimate Fiend of The Kingdoms of Evil, is supposed to be one, but is rather reluctant, having been raised by one of his kingdoms greatest enemies, the Rationalist Union. He considers the whole schtick pants-on-head stupid. His first act as Dark Overlord of Skrea? To immediately abdicate, only to be informed that, as God-Emperor of Evil, he's stuck with the job for life, however long that may be. He spends the rest of the story trying to teach his court to not be Stupid Evil, and his efforts are met with either apalled silence or outright accusations of insanity. He is apparently the Prophesied King who will destroy the meanings of both Good and Evil, leaving all nations to rework their systems of morality. The problem is getting there so he can go home and finish college.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Earl of Lemongrab appears to be a parody of this trope. He's definitely a tyrannical overlord, but he isn't actually evil. Rather, he's really really stupid, mean, and obnoxious. While his intentions are good and he harbors no malice towards anyone, he does succeed in sending everyone in the kingdom to the dungeon for their whole lives. He comes across as a stupid teenager who was given a position of power that he really should never have had in the first place.
    • Ice King is another example of the show playing with this trope. He has pretty much every trait of your standard Evil Wizard Overlord: spiky headgear, rules over his own kingdom, is obsessed with kidnapping princesses, and has powers usually associated with evil... so of course his actual personality is as far from the trope as you can get. Evil is pushing it, for starters, and even before his Freudian Excuse was revealed he was mostly a pathetic, crazy old man and often didn't even start the fights that the heroes would have with him. After a few seasons of Character Development he isn't even really a villain anymore, almost being the Token Evil Teammate to the heroes.
  • Angel's Friends: Cassidy and Kubral are two warlords that are the tyrannical leaders of Diabolic Army, and the ones who started the Eternal War, which kickstarted the events of the show and the conflict between Angels and Devils 300 years ago. The war was stopped by VETO, a trade intended to keep peace between two sides of war. Cassidy and Kubral were against it, so they decided to kidnap Angelie, Raf's mother who has the powers of an Eternal, to prevent her from ending wars. They are also responsible for turning Reina into Big Bad.
  • Maximus I.Q. of Atomic Betty, who actually calls himself "Supreme Evil Overlord of the Galaxy". He also combines it very firmly with Cats Are Mean. Appropriately, he's a parody of Ming the Merciless from the Comic Strips folder above.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra
    • Fire Lord Ozai. Ozai's grandfather, Sozin, started the trend of Fire Lords being Evil Overlords. Then Zuko broke it when he interrupted Azula's coronation before she could continue the trend. Cue Awesome Moment of Crowning.
    • The sequel series has Earth Queen Hou-Ting, the tyrannical ruler of the Earth Kingdom. Book 4 has Kuvira, who creates her own Earth Empire and plans on conquering the Earth Kingdom by force.
      • Deconstructed, at least partially, in the case of Kuvira, the Earth Kingdom fell into disorder and anarchy due to a political assassination, and the only way to restore order was through the use of military force. Several heroic characters support Kuvira's mission, and she succeeds in pacifying the chaotic Earth Kingdom, the problem is that she doesn't stop there ...
  • The Ben 10 franchise has good ol' Vilgax, the series' first Big Bad. As the show has more of a Rogues Gallery approach than all evil coming from one guy, he's got plenty of competition:
    • Milleous, aka "Lord Emperor Milleous, Light of the Incursion Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Keeper of the Conquest Ray, all beings tremble-" (that's the farthest anyone's ever gotten when trying to say the title.) At first the Incursions were played for comedy, but have recently come in force to become the series' new Big Bad.
    • His daughter counts too. Attea is all grown up, Took a Level in Badass, was (provisionally) forgiven for her original betrayal, and is The Heavy. So, we add to the list "General Attea, Princess, Scion and Teen Supreme of the deathless Incursion Empire, Highest Commander of the celebrated Calaveras Legion..." and so on.
    • Adwaita rules the magical realm of Ledgerdomain with an iron fist. I Know Your True Name is in effect, so the Alpha Rune with the true name of magic itself makes him practically a god. Recurring villainess Charmcaster sought to free her world from him, actually departed on friendly terms with the heroes, and went back. Next time we see Ledgerdomain, it's still under the control of an ironfisted dictator — namely, Charmcaster. The next round with her sees a few thousand people die... like the heroes. They get better, as she realizes sacrificing a world to revive her beloved father was going too far, but she was last seen still in complete control over Ledgerdomain.
    • One of Ben's transformations is this. Turns out any small part of an Ectonurite contains his consciousness — including the Omnitrix sample. Ghostfreak breaks free of the Omnitrix, restores himself, and proves to have been the evil overlord of his own world who sought to be the evil overlord of everything. He even manages to take over Vilgax's homeworld... for one episode, anyway, but damn if that wasn't impressive.
    • Ghostfreak recently tried teaming up with the former Evil Overlord of his own solar system. However, the vampire-like Lord Transyl was last seen imprisoned floating in space with a nice view of the sun, so it's safe to assume he won't become a regular part of the rogues' gallery.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack. The guy is the one-and-only ruler of the Bad Future Jack is stuck in and is literally Made of Evil.
    Aku: I tore open a portal in time, and flung him into the future — where my evil is law! Now, the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku!
  • Spiderman Unlimited has the High Evolutionary, the authoritarian lord of the Counter-Earth that has enslaved humanity beneath the boots of his Bestials minions. He also looks the part with his spikes and long cape.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! has Skeleton King, an undead space tyrant bent on destroying worlds with the intent of unsealing Dark Ones, and has an army called "Formless" to make it happen. Skeleton King plots to destroy the universe starting with the planet Shuggazoom and his enemies, the Hyperforce.
  • Trigon the Terrible from Teen Titans. Being the ruler of a Hell-like who sought to conquer everything that exists qualifies.
  • Mumm-Ra in Thunder Cats and ThunderCats (2011) is an demonic mummy that inhabits a sinister pyramid and is said to be the source of all evil in the Third Earth. As such he cannot ever be destroyed due to his body being restored As Long as There Is Evil. While he doesn't command armies, he has a few pawns in the Mutants of Plun-Darr and the other villains of the week that agree to work with him.
  • VBirds has King He:Lin, the tyrannical ruler of Planet V who exiled the title characters to Earth as punishment for refusing to partake in his energy-harvesting Dance Farms.
  • Lord Darkar of Winx Club has a castle, plenty of minions, and is very powerful, though he never controls anything beyond his fortress.

Statler: You know what I would do if I were an Evil Overlord?
Waldorf: Oh? What's that?
Statler: Quit. They always try to rule over everything. Would you want to rule this world?
Waldorf: Nah. It's more fun to make fun of it!
Both: Doh-ho-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

 
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Alternative Title(s): The Dark Lord, Dark Lord, Dark Overlord, Demon King

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Ziltoid the Omniscient

Ziltoid travels to Earth in search of "your universe's ultimate cup of coffee". A cup of coffee is delivered to him and he is promptly appalled by its taste, declaring it "fetid", and summons the Ziltoidian warlords to attack Earth, facing the full might of Earth's army.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

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Main / EvilOverlord

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