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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)"

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 must be none too bright, otherwise they would've overthrown him) 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.


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 in the cultural associations of angelic appearances.


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 Axe-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.
  • 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 Xros Wars: 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, king of Latveria, holds a lock on this position in the Marvel Universe. However he is actually a decent ruler to his people, having overthrown the corrupt tyrant who previously ruled Latveria, and seems to genuinely believe him ruling the world would make it a better place.
    • The interdimensional entity Dormammu, who has less of a street cred than Darkseid, but is so ridiculously more powerful that he routinely beats up various cosmic entities through his own power, by far outranks all Marvel's known rulers of hell, and is worshipped as god in thousands of magical universes. His pleasant ambition is to slaughter and usurp all higher entities, conquer all life and afterlife, and turn all of existence into an eternal torture camp dedicated to his personal glory... He's essentially Marvel's most terrifying villain when you think about it, more akin to an Eldritch Abomination really, except being even more powerful... But then you remember that his head is on fire, and that he's usually severely downscaled to let anyone even have a shot at surviving.
    • Several Marvel villains fit this trope. Shuma-Gorath is an even more powerful demon than Dormammu, and all the Hel Lords those two are above are still this in their home turf, as is virtually any demon or evil Death God with their own realm. Doctor Doom qualifies for this trope, as does Loki and other arch-villains whenever they gain territory, or world domination as they often do for a time.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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. 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 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.
  • The Bog King in Strange Magic 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 had Thanos, the ruler of and most powerful being in the galaxy and the Big Bad of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. While his intentions are perhaps more noble than those of most characters who belong to this trope, he's still ultimately seen as a villain.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • RuGaard from E. E. Knight's Age of Fire series is a partial subversion of this trope. While he's an Evil Overlord, he's a dragon, carries a good approval rating from most of his underlings — even his personal slaves Rayg, Rhea and Fourfang, with him intervening to save them more than once — practices Equal-Opportunity Evil, shows most of the traits we'd expect of a fantasy hero, and oh, plans to subjugate all the hominids in the world. But it's all justified, you see, because not a single free hominid he's encountered has ever been vaguely nice to him.
    • Age of Fire has several other evil overlords — Thane Hammer (a feudal lord of northern Hypatia, who united his neighbors through force and murder), Gobold Fangbreaker (king of the Wheel of Fire dwarves, who rules with an iron fist and murdered the dragon protagonists' parents), and the Red Queen (ruler of Ghioz, who tries to conquer the whole world).
  • Animorphs. Two words: Visser Three. The first Visser One might also qualify, as things she does are undeniably ruthlessly evil, but they're more motivated by her military goals than an inherently malicious personality.
  • Anno Dracula by Kim Newman showed an Alternate History timeline where the Count Dracula survived the events of the novel and managed to take over the British Empire by turning Queen Victoria into his bride/puppet as the tyrannical Prince-Consort, he rules over England as an repressive police state where dissenters are executed without trial... Through impalement.
  • Ardavan of The Assassins of Tamurin is another Evil Overlord who is not the Big Bad. Indeed, The Chessmaster had it in for him had the heroine not killed him first.
  • The Red King in Baltimore is an Vampire Monarch who unleashes a campaign of terror upon the world after being woken from his slumber during World War I and by 1925 establishes the Red Kingdom, an empire that covers all of Eastern Europe and Asia, ruling over not just vampires but also witches, demons and evil human worshipers that commit random acts of cruelty in his name. Not even an alliance between Germany, USA, England, France and Italy can hope to win against the Red King.
  • The Black Company novels by Glen Cook has a Sorcerous Overlord collection, sometimes subverting this back and forth. The main Evil Overlord of the books is an Overlady. She's the wife of the former Evil Overlord, the Dominator, but after their time together as Sealed Evil in a Can she left and made sure he's kept in. Because he's too evil, too powerful and hey, it was only a political marriage. This gets twisted in more and more ways from there.
  • Giles becomes this in the Buffy tie-in serial novel The Lost Slayer after getting vamped. He's king of Sunnydale and some of the rest of southern California.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Although the Evil Overlord is usually both male and associated with black (hence, Dark Lord), C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe presented a female associated with whiteness, the White Witch, as Narnia's evil ruler. The Magician's Nephew revealed that she had been Empress of Charn and destroyed all the life in her original world rather than lose to her sister. And in The Silver Chair, the Lady of the Green Kirtle is queen of Underland and out to conquer Narnia. Human Evil Overlords include the Tisroc of Calormen in The Horse and his Boy and Caspian's Uncle Miraz in Prince Caspian.
  • Arawn the Death Lord of Annuvin from The Chronicles of Prydain. He actually started out in the series backstory as the right-hand man to the previous Dark Lord, Queen Achren, but deposed her. It is worth noting that Arawn subverts certain aspects of this trope. Rather than being an unfathomably powerful opponent, he is portrayed as a cunning trickster who corrupts mortals through illusion and deceit. In combat, he proves to actually be quite weak, relying on his army of Nigh-Invulnerable undead minions to protect him. And even they're just his elites that he can trust; his serious attempts to conquer Prydain have always relied on the armies of petty rulers who are supposed to be allied to the good guys but have turned traitor to do the heavy lifting.
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant:
    • Lord Foul. He wears black, has glowing red eyes, lives in Mordor, wants to destroy the world, is a master of The Plan and commands several armies of evil mutants- at least in the first trilogy. In the second trilogy, he has more or less obtained domination of the Land but sticks to the shadows, ruling it indirectly through his proxies the Clave. In the final quadrilogy, he's given up on rulership entirely and is just focused on destroying the Land outright.
    • The Gadhi from the same series, however, is a Deconstruction of the trope. He's a brutal tyrant, to be sure, but he and his family only hold their throne through an alliance with an Evil Sorcerer, and the Gaddhi is well aware that he needs to stay in said sorcerer's good graces or else he'll end up overlord of nothing. The end result is that he has very little actual power — even his own royal harem defer to Kasreyn first.
  • The Shadow Lord from Emily Rodda's series Deltora Quest.
  • Dis Acedia: most of the Edge Kings, the rulers of Dis, qualify (and fight each others to become the one sole overlord). The protagonist eventually becomes an anti-heroic one.
  • As always, Discworld provides examples.
    • The Evil Lord Harry Dread from The Last Hero parodies many tropes of the Evil Overlord: He got started with a Shed of Evil, hires guards so stupid they have trouble remembering their names, and ends up briefly allying with the Silver Horde, but then betrays them because, hey, Harry's the bad guy, it's what he does. Also, he hires his guards to be stupid so that the heroes can escape from his dungeons, and leaves chests full of armour and weapons about his Lairs because that's how the game is played. The heroes, in return, refrain from killing Harry out of hand and don't look too hard for the inevitable secret escape routes. Both he and the Silver Horde are rather unhappy about this new generation of heroes and villains who make an effort to be competent and thorough at their respective alignments. Heroes who actually capture and kill villains, villains who actually rule with an iron fist, etc.
    • Lord Vetinari from the same series has all the trappings of an Evil Overlord, except that he happens to be a Reasonable Authority Figure who is pragmatic enough to know that evil doesn't pay. His only act of public villainy was having all mime artists tortured to death via scorpion pit. That only made him more popular.
  • The Divine Comedy: Despotic kings are so common in the world that Solomon is justly be said to be the wisest man alive for managing to maintain monarchy and morality in one man. For a few examples:
    • As part of his sick mockery of the Heavenly Lord, the Devil takes the title of Emperor of Hell to signify his leadership of the Fallen Angels and his role in causing each suffering. Instead of a castle, he has the darkest pit in the universe; instead of towers, his "castle" surrounded by chained giants; and instead of moats, his home is guarded by ten ditches filled with the soul of every liar in history.
    • In Purgatorio XX, three kings named Charles (Charles I, Charles II, and Charles of Valois) are prophesied to become richer in evil than any before them for crimes such as the murder of St. Thomas, the exploitation of Florence, the enslavement of Valois' own daughter. Yet all these horrors pale in comparison to what Hugh Capet sees King Phillip IV committing. For corrupting the papacy to meet his own political ends, Philip earns the title of "New Pilate" in accordance with his attack on the Body of Christ.
  • Paul Atreides of Dune Messiah is somewhat of a deconstruction/subversion of the trope. He is worshiped as a god by his Fremen legions whose jihad has spread their religion across the universe at the expense of billions of people, the once Proud Warrior Race is now rich and corrupt, and in comparison the Shaddam IV who he overthrew seems like a saint. However, none of this was Paul's intention. A group of overzealous Fremen started the religion and jihad and after 12 years it escalated to the point of Paul being a figurehead without any power to stop it, leading to the irony of being a powerful emperor who commands his subjects yet a powerless god who can't stop his worshipers. He also still manages to be the hero of the story because almost all of his enemies want to overthrow him for their own selfish purposes rather than stop the jihad. Paul was on top of this to begin with mostly because as enough of a prophet to see the big war is coming (back in the first book), he tried to somewhat limit the inevitable destruction by taking control.
  • Gone: Caine Soren aspires to be one, but is deposed soon into book one. In book four, he succeeds.
  • Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. He was deposed before the start of the series and only eventually regains Overlord status, operating more as a terrorist and cult leader for much of the books, but people still recognize him as one, including his followers using the term Dark Lord. He ends up coming back and basically taking over the Wizarding World of Britain. Of course, just declaring himself Lord in front of the entire wizarding community would be too blatant, so he still operates as The Man Behind the Man with the corrupted Minister of Magic as his puppet. Gellert Grindewald was one, before he was defeated by Albus Dumbledore.
  • Galbatorix in the The Inheritance Cycle was a fallen Dragon Rider who rose up against the others and destroyed his order, now rules as the King of Alagaesia by right of conquest.
  • Capricorn from The Inkworld Trilogy is a cookie-cutter example of this trope. He's also something of a capricious ganglord punk. Depends what you take from it.
  • Used frequently in John Carter of Mars. In the first three books alone we get several distinct flavors of this one- Tal Hajus, Matai Shang, Issus and Salensus Oll.
  • Several flavors of this (both played straight and subverted or deconstructed) appear in the Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • In the setting's prehistory, the Jaghut were a race of precursors who were immensely powerful, nigh-immortal mages, but generally peaceful hermits. The exceptions to this rule were Jaghut Tyrants, who used their vast powers to enslave other races and rule as god-kings. The Tyrants caused such damage that another race of precursors, the T'lan Imass, swore an eternal oath to wipe out the Jaghut to prevent any more tyrants arising. Though Tyrants are referenced many times throughout the series, the only one who is named is Raest.
    • Kallor, the High King, was the ruler of one of the first human empires, and his rule was so brutal and oppressive that his own subjects colony-dropped a god on him to try and get rid of him. Didn't work. Finally, he destroyed his own empire to prevent the rest of the pantheon from taking it away from him, and for his troubles got cursed to live forever but to never ascend to godhood himself and to ultimately fail at everything he attempts. He's still around at the time of the main series, and still calls himself the High King, though it's been centuries since he actually ruled anything.
    • The Pannion Seer is God-Emperor of the theocratic empire called the Pannion Domin, which is essentially an attempt to create Mordor on an industrial scale. The Domin is viciously aggressive, works its citizens brutally and keeps a horde of peasants starved into madness and cannibalism to supplement its regular army. It's noted that the Domin is entirely dead in its core regions and alive only at the fringes, and therefore it must expand constantly. The Seer actually seems to encourage this, as if inflicting suffering on his people is actually more important than running a functional nation. He's also one of the last surviving Jaghut in a human disguise, making him a Jaghut Tyrant.
    • Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of the Thousand Deaths, is a deconstruction. He never wanted to be an evil overlord, and he does try to rule well, but his powers come from a cursed sword that brings him back whenever he dies but wears away at his sanity and induces Body Horror every time. As he becomes progressively insane Rhulad becomes progressively brutal and paranoid, and then finally reaches a point where he's so out of it he can't rule at all, leaving his Evil Chancellor and the Secret Police to actually carry out his tyrannical regime in his name.
    • The city-state of Darujhistan was once ruled by a succession of powerful Sorcerous Overlords called the Tyrant Kings, who made it the capital of a continent-spanning empire. The present Darujhistan threw out the last Tyrant long ago, and is now the closest thing the setting has to a republic. Orb, Scepter, Throne reveals that the Tyrant Kings were actually one Tyrant King who hopped from body to body, and in that novel he comes back for another try.
    • The Malazan Empire's founder Kellanved and current ruler Laseen are both subversions. Kellanved was a mage first and emperor second who saw ruling as being a stepping stone to other, more esoteric forms of power which he acquired when he ascended to become the god Shadowthrone while Laseen is perceived as villainous by many of the protagonists but is genuinely trying to do what is best for her empire and isn't that much worse than any other rulers in the setting.
  • Maoyu averts this trope, and revolves around the deconstruction and reconstruction of the high fantasy world setting. The "Maou" (demon king) is actually a Cute Bookworm who is in no way evil (or male), and secretly allies with the destined "Yuusha" (hero) to stop the war between humans and monsters via economical and political means.
  • Parodied in Something M.Y.T.H. Inc., in which the common people of Possiltom think Skeeve is an example of this trope because he consorts with (friendly and likeable) demons, keeps a (goofy pet) dragon, and has (out of dire necessity) raised their taxes.
  • In the New Jedi Order, the absolute ruler of the Yuuzhan Vong actually has "Supreme Overlord" as his main title. It turns out he's just a mindless shell Onimi uses to act as his public face.
  • Big Brother from 1984 is very much the idea of the Evil Overlord regardless of whether there's an actual human being behind it or not, or whether or not that person is the "original" if they do exist. However, Big Brother could possibly be a deconstruction, since he does not establish absolute rule through simple displays of power, but surgical manipulation of information and brainwashing his subjects to love him and consider serving the state their only goal in life.
  • The usurper Waldo in One for the Morning Glory: he conquered the kingdom of Overhill and personally murdered two infant members of the royal family when it was massacred; turned Overhill into a wasteland; and set out to conquer the next kingdom with evil magic, undead, and goblin allies.
  • The Reynard Cycle: The setting of this series was once ruled by one called Stormbringer, the Demon King. The plot of the first book revolves around the recovery of a living gem that he wore in his iron crown.
  • Brandon Sanderson plays with this one in all his works:
    • Wyrn in Elantris is a straight example (so far as the audience can tell- his only onscreen appearance is a cameo).
    • His Mistborn: The Original Trilogy deconstructs the idea of the Evil Overlord pretty nicely; the Dark Lord in the first novel really wasn't that bad of a guy, and was only as evil as he was thanks to being psychically tormented by an evil god. Also, the entire second novel revolves around what happens when you kill the person holding an entire empire together.
    • Susebron the God-King in Warbreaker is built up as a terrible, possibly insane Evil Overlord but is actually a very nice (and very naive) guy who is controlled by his Well-Intentioned Extremist priests and his Not-So-Harmless Villain secretary.
    • From the same book's backstory, Kalad was a legendary Awakener and warlord who was responsible for a cataclysmic conflict called the Manywar that was only ended thanks to the efforts of Peacegiver. Except, that's not quite true- Kalad and Peacegiver were the same man. Kalad became sickened by what he'd unleashed, made peace, hid his undead army away, and abdicated his throne. He currently wanders the world calling himself Vasher, trying to keep anyone else from making the mistakes he did- while safeguarding his Artifact of Doom, Nightblood, from the wrong hands.
    • In The Stormlight Archive The Alethi people are known around the world to be deadly warriors and brutal conquerors, and in his youth Dalinar Kholin helped his brother beat the rest of their kingdom into submission, and now seems to be taking the throne from his Nephew. We see his point of view and know that he really is just doing his best to bring everyone together in the face of The True Desolation, but he frequently notes that the other nations of the world justifiably sees him as a dangerous, conquering warlord and he has to spend a great deal of time proving he really is just trying to help.
  • Belial from The Salvation War: Armageddon. Interesting subversion: He's not the guy in charge, in fact he's a nobody in Old Nick's court. So much so that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah were considered highly amusing party tricks — and he's just there as the court jester. Turns out, however, that they're not quite "party tricks" after all...
  • Lord Sparr in The Secrets of Droon. At least until he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • In Liliana Bodoc's The Saga of the Borderlands, Misaianes the Son of Death is a good example. He is actually The Eternal Hatred that has taken physical form, which makes it literally an Eldritch Abomination. He has started a war that has lasted more than 500 years, and after seizing almost the entire continent of The Ancient Lands, he rules, along with a small elite of magicians and nobles, over millions of slaves who in many cases cannot even possess a name. And now he intends to extend his domain to The Fertile Lands ...
  • Dayless the Conqueror in Shadow of the Conqueror, after defeating the aristocracy, became the sociopathic ruler of the Dawn Empire, setting out to complete his conquests with armies equipped with the Magitek that he created. He was eventually overthrown by The Alliance after making enemies of nearly the entire world, has since realized the error of his ways, lives with crippling guilt, and is desperately trying to make up for it.
  • The Shahnameh has Zahhak, who might be considered the prototypical example of this trope: A former human who was tempted into evil by the God of Evil Ahriman, becoming a cursed demonic tyrant whose reign lasts for a thousand years. He also has The Chosen One in the form of Freydun who is destined to head a rebellion and seal him within a volcano till the end of time.
  • The Shannara series is littered with them:
    • Brona, an undead lord who manipulates various races at various times in his bid for Global Domination.
    • The Ildatch, a sentient book of pure evil that served as The Man Behind the Man (or the sentient object behind the man) for Brona, being destroyed some three generations after him.
    • The Dagda Mor and his eventual heir, Tael Riverine, who lord over an Evil Dimension of creatures sealed away long ago who merely seek freedom, though freedom entails overrunning the world with monsters.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Like many tropes that the series uses, it's usually deconstructed. An infamously cruel king (or someone who merely has that reputation, deserved or not) is likely to end up with no allies or will even see his once-faithful bannermen rise up against him when he kicks one puppy too many. They also generally lack the sorcerous powers typically associated with a proper evil overlord, though some of the worst members of the Targaryan dynasty certainly had dragons and a form of Greek Fire to back their attempts at despotism or tyranny up with.
    • Stannis Baratheon seems like this at first glance. He is ruthless and fearsome and his ascension to the throne is seen as a sign of the Apocalypse (because he lacks charisma and is a Principles Zealot), lives in the exotic Island fortress of Dragonstone (which he never wanted and suspects his appointment to its lordship is tantamount to exile), consorts with criminals and mercenaries (his vassals don't have enough manpower), has an Evil Sorcerer in his service (who believes he is The Messiah of her faith), murders his brother with dark magic (they were trying to usurp rule and intended to kill Stannis), and is driven to be king by any means (even though he doesn't want to but its his duty to do so and by the law he should technically be King, though because most of the Seven Kingdoms doesn't believe his "nephew" is really illegitimate he is seen as an Evil Uncle). He is even called a "Dark Lord" at Joffrey's wedding.
    • And then there are characters who are this trope even at second glance. Meet Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy, the pirate king. Raised in a culture that glorifies rape and piracy, who worship a nigh-Cthulhu, and they either distrust, despise, or outright fear him. Went into exile after raping (or seducing) his sister-in-law, and proceeded to sail around the world pillaging and picking up various warlocks and barbarians. Has a posh for black. Suspected of murdering his brother Balon so he could take the Seastone Chair, even though Balon wanted his daughter to succeed him. And his current plan is to wake a dragon and conquer all of Westeros. There are even theories he is in league with the Others, planning to bring down the Wall and become their ruler.
    • Roose Bolton. Rules a terrifying fortress in the Grim Up North? Check. Tortures and abuses his subjects? Check. Makes and betrays allies when doing so may benefit him? Check. Makes pink a highly intimidating colour just by the association with rumours of torture (black is too easy). Check. Is Stupid Evil enough to incite rebellions or make enemies of just lords? Uh... well... no, actually. His son, Ramsay Bolton, on the other hand.....
    • Joffrey Baratheon subverts this, as though he is technically King he is really just The Caligula and incapable of really running the Seven Kingdoms. His grandfather on both sides Lord Tywin Lannister, the Dragon-in-Chief of the Lannister regime may be seen as this. He's the scary head of House Lannister, one of the most powerful families in Westeros, and is a ruthless and powerful commander who even has his own Villain Song "The Rains of Castamere", on how he wiped out a family that rebelled against the Lannisters.
      • Tywin's daughter Queen Cersei tries to emulate him after her youngest brother kills Tywin. Cersei is certainly cruel and tyrannical, however she is clearly not as effective as Tywin, her paranoia, grasping obsession with power, and fears of losing her children dominate proceedings, along with eroding her mental stability, and leaving the Lannister regime unstable.
    • Aerys II, very much The Caligula. He began decent enough, if vain, eccentric, and sleazy, but over time became more paranoid and cruel. Eventually he delighted in burning people alive, even murdering one of his most powerful Lords, Rickard Stark, and strangling their oldest son Brandon while they were Forced to Watch. However, he serves as a Deconstruction, as his cruelty and Stupid Evil actions led to a huge rebellion against him, with very few powerful figures willing to help him. His constant unpleasantness towards his former Hypercompetent Sidekick Tywin Lannister leads to them becoming The Starscream and turning against him when Robert's Rebellion begins winning. Out of spite, Aerys decided to set off wildfire beneath King's Landing, killing Tywin, his troops, and half a million people, leading to a Bodyguard Betrayal from Jaime Lannister, who killed him and saved the city.
    • Historically, more then two centuries before the books begin, was Maegor the Cruel. He killed two of his nephews to help his usurpation of the Iron Throne after his brother Aenys' death, murdered some of his wives, and forced one of his nieces to marry him. He has a reputation as the cruelest King to ever sit the Iron Throne because of his numerous atrocities in his war against the Faith. However, his cruelty eventually led to the Seven Kingdoms uniting behind Aenys' last son, and Maegor died mysteriously on the Iron Throne, though many believe he killed himself.
    • When the Seven Kingdoms were Seven Kingdoms, there was Harren "the Black" of House Hoare, King of the Rivers and Isles. His grandfather was a King of the Iron Islands who conquered the Riverlands. Harren was notorious for his cruelty and brutality, and was the most feared of the Kings in Westeros of his time. He spent most of his reign trying to built the biggest castle in Westeros, Harrenhal, draining his Kingdom of wealth and resources, and having quite probably thousands work themselves to death in the process. Harren was so hated that, when Aegon The Conqueror began his conquest of the Riverlands, the River Lords (including the Lords Bracken and Blackwood) quickly joined Aegon, who then unleashed his dragon on Harrenhal, ending House Hoare. Let's underscore that: the chronically and systemically divided Riverlanders actually pulled together for once in their history to welcome an outside faction to use nukes against House Hoare.
  • The Space Trilogy: From Perelandra on, the Bent One is referred to as the Dark Lord of Earth. He rules not by force, but through turning the hearts of men away from their original devotion to Maleldil and towards self-love so extreme it becomes hatred. With the armies of invisible eldila serving him, the minds of Earth must be extremely dedicated to avoid being dominated by the armies of the Black Archon.
  • Randall Flagg in Stephen King's The Stand. Following civilization's downfall, Flagg emerges as the dictator of Las Vegas where people flock under him and he keeps them in line through fear. Flagg is also the ultimate evil, a demon in the shape of a man whose presence brings calamity wherever he goes. It should be no surprise that King based him on Sauron.
  • Khan, along with the rest of the superhumans in Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars carve out their empires in unstable regions like the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa. Khan's empire is the largest, encompassing much of Asia. At first he tries to be benevolent, and succeeds. Over time as the battles against the other superhumans and Gary Seven takes more time, attention and resources, he has to come down harder and harder on any trouble until eventually he's just another despot.
  • Completely subverted in Jacqueline Carey's duology The Sundering which is told from the viewpoint of the Evil Overlord. Although he suffers from chronically bad press it turns out that he and his subjects just want to be left alone and it is the god of the Elves who is trying to throw down.
  • Darken Rahl and Emperor Jagang in The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Rahl is more archetypal since his minions know he's evil but still follow him out of loyalty, while Jagang and his empire think they're right.
  • The Internet story Tales of Lokaria has the Black Master: a man who has lived nearly a thousand years and rules over much of the known world. And there's his hidden Mind Rape powers. His castle is constantly upgraded with the latest technology. He then purposefully leaves openings to let rebels and heroes in to kill them. He does have a 0% Approval Rating, but his Legion of Terror is very well trained and loyal. And he's kinder than the elfin Kingdom, led by Tidal, despite what people say. He also is extremely cunning.
    • His team is as follows. His Dragon, Dracon (no less!) is an ancient half-elf who is immortal and extremely powerful, and his best friend. The Dark Chick was mind-raped into submission. The Brute (the Mook Captain) is entirely loyal and very intelligent. The Mad Scientist has yet to be introduced, but can produce technology to warp reality and use magic.
  • The Tapestry features Prusias, the demonic ruler of Blys (formerly known as Europe). He plays the trope to a T, viciously punishing any insults, trying to Take Over the World, living in splendor while subjects suffer in poverty, and at one point holding a woman's daughter hostage to force her to become his concubine.
    • Astaroth is a subversion. While he effectively rules the world, he mostly delegates that to the four demon kings (of which Prusias is one), and doesn't do any ruling at all once the demon kings lose faith in him. It turns out that his true ambition is partly this trope: he wants to rule the world as its Creator and doesn't give a damn about its residents: when he realizes his dream is impossible because the Book of Thoth won't let an Eldritch Abomination like him create life, he decides to kill everybody by feeding them to his creators, the Starving Gods, and making a new universe out of the leftovers that he can rule over.
  • Tigana has two of these; the Peninsula of the Palm, the novel's setting, was invaded a generation before the plot proper begins by two rival foreign sorcerers who proceeded to conquer it and then divide it between them. King Brandin of the Western Palm isn't really that unpleasant in person, being an Affably Evil and Wicked Cultured Visionary Villain, but he has an unfortunate penchant for incredibly Disproportionate Retribution against his enemies. Lord Alberico of the Eastern Palm, on the other hand, is little more than a sadistic thug with magic powers and a big army.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Dark Lord, one of whom exists for every Tour trying to destroy everything. However, they can be defeated fairly easily by Tourists near the finale. There are no Dark Ladies, for it seems the Management finds them less sinister.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Gothon tried to avert this trope (because his dad was evil) but his single-minded focus on his Evil Plan turned him into one.
  • The Big Bad in the Tygrine Cat series is the Suzerain of the Sa Mau, occasionally referred to as the Cat Lord. He leads a dynasty of cats who exemplify their species' predatory instincts, with the goal of taking over the world by wiping out the rival Abyssinia Tygrine dynasty, guardians of the souls of every cat on Earth. He also wishes to punish every cat who benefits from interaction with humans in some way. He resides in an underground palace and has powerful occult abilities.
  • Villains by Necessity:
    • Archmage Mizzamir certainly qualifies. An ageless elven warlock hiding away in his tower stronghold working to impede and halt the progress of the warriors trying to save the world, watching with distant unseen eyes, having conquered the world and molding it to his image after winning the final battle between Good and Evil a hundred and fifty years ago. The twist is that Mizzamir was actually on the side of good, and his attempts to mold the world to his wishes involves slowly turning it into a sugarbowl where evil-doers have no choice but to be Good. The group of heroes are actually a band of villains trying to undermine a Virtuous Overlord.
    • Although he's long dead and gone by the time of the book, the Dark King was clearly this. Few details are given, but he'd waged war on the forces of Good, with his armies capturing the last elven city plus many human ones until his defeat by the Six Heroes.
  • Lord Dyrr from War of the Spider Queen is the evil ruler of House Dyrr. Oh, and he's also an undead wizard. Note that he is merely The Dragon, not the Big Bad.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Shadow, the mysterious ruler of Faerie (aside from small areas that are still free), whose rule is marked by people in terror, incredibly harsh punishments for minor offenses, creating monsters for use against enemies and a desire for world (then eventually interdimensional) domination.

    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 a brutal, sociopathic conqueror intent on world domination, who it even turns out is a servant of the Keeper, the god which wants to destroy all life. He rules the D'Haran Empire and is also the main antagonist in the first season.
  • 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!"

  • 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 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Battleborn: Lothar Rendain has this trope written all over him: he belongs to a race of space-vampires (even though some don't like being called that), looks positively sinister due to his angular features, red eyes and Red and Black and Evil All Over color scheme, a reputation for cruelty, being The Dreaded and came into power by usurping the rightful Empress of the Jennerit Imperium. He subverts this trope due to lamenting being viewed as evil by others, since he wants to spare the Imperium from being destroyed by the Valresi at any costs — including becoming The Quisling for them and assist them in destroying the rest of the universe.
  • Castlevania: Dracula. "Dark Lord" is his official title, and after he's killed off for good in 1999, said title is still up for grabs. Nobody's actually succeeded in taking it proper. Or wanted to, for that matter, in one case — Soma Cruz from Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow, being Drac's reincarnation, came close accidentally, and he had to fight to not turn evil (and actually does in the bad ending). Dmitrii Blinov nearly became the Dark Lord intentionally in Dawn of Sorrow. Nearly.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow:
    • The titular Lords of Shadow are three malevolent supernatural beings that have plunged the world into darkness. They are Cornell, the Dark Lord of the Lycans; Carmilla, the Dark Queen of the Vampires; and the Necromancer Lord of the Dead. Its revealed that they are the pure evil halves of the Brotherhood of Light's founders who ascended to Heaven after triumphing over Satan.
    • Dracula takes their place and rules as the new "Prince of Darkness" following their downfall years afterwards. Turns that he isn't so bad as his presence keeps even worse evils like Satan and Zobek from terrorizing humanity. And by the time of Lords of Shadow 2, he has turned into a heroic figure again, subverting this trope entirely.
  • Emperor Draygon in Crystalis uses science and magic combined to assemble an army so he can take over the world.
  • City of Heroes:
    • In City of Villains, Lord Recluse is king. Well more like dictator, but he has all the features — a distinct group of henchmen, Redshirt Army, island domains that vary between Vice City and urbanised Mordor.
    • Downplayed with Emperor Cole from Praetorian Earth, who is a more well-intentioned version of this trope, since he rules his "utopia" with iron fist in the name of "the greater good" and he really dislikes being called "tyrant" by his enemies. Also turns out defeating him makes things worse, since he was keeping an even greater threat at bay, leaving his Earth vulnerable.
  • Chrono Trigger: Magus the Fiendlord fits this trope rather well: he has an ominous castle, leads an army of fiends and wages war on humanity. However, his motives make him more of an Anti-Hero, who does what he has to do in order to destroy Lavos and find his sister. He can even join the player's party later in the game.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The "Dark Lord" ending has you become this if you choose to let the first flame die after killing Gwyn. Note that this does not necessarily make you "evil," per se, depending on your interpretation of the lore and the Story Breadcrumbs, rather you simply choose to embrace the inevitable end of the Age of Fire and usher in the "Age of Man". At the end of the day, whether or not your character fits this trope depends on various points of view and interpretations, including your own.
    • Dark Souls III has the Lord of Hollows as a title that the player can assume if they fulfill certain story roles revolving around acquiring items called Dark Sigils. This Lord is a saviour for the Undead anointed by a church that preaches that the age of the gods has ended and that a new ruler should usurp control of the First Flame, giving the world into the hands of the undead as the true face of humanity. Like the prior game, whether this goal is good or bad is largely for the player to interpret.
    • The third game also has Pontiff Sulyvahn, who serves as High Priest for the Cathedral of the Deep that also rules the ruined land of Irithyl and Anor Londo. He also shares a few parallels with Sauron, since he corrupts his servants with cursed rings and his knights bear some semblance to the Nazgul.
  • Dark Watch: Lazarus Malkoth is a vampire king whose release from his prison leads to a undead curse being unleashed upon the Old West, causing zombies to emerge from wherever he passes. He turns the town of Deadfall into his own Mordoresque hideout, which is flowing with lava and teeming with The Legions of Hell.
  • Destiny and its sequel:
    • Oryx the Taken King is the divine ruler of the Hive, an evil race of pseudo-undead aliens and effectively an Eldritch Abomination of his own right only below the Darkness. He is so powerful that he doesn't even exist in this plane, but rather inhabits his own pocket dimension and the player spends most of the time fighting his duplicates before confronting him in his full power. His son Crota also qualifies having carved out his own personal kingdom on the moon.
    • Dominus Ghaul, the Big Bad in Destiny 2 is a relatively more mundane version of this trope, since he is just an mere warlord rather than a supernatural force like Oryx. Having usurped his own emperor and taken control of the Cabal, he launched an attack on Earth seeking to harness the Traveller's power for his own. For bonus points, he also wears a huge, scary armor (though its completely bright in his case) and his title translates to "Lord".
  • Laharl, Disgaea's resident Overlord — though the first half or so of the game consists of you making the role legit (he's been asleep for two years thanks to Etna poisoning him). Other overlords in the series include Baal and Priere.
    • Disgaea 2 has Overlord Zenon, the God of All Overlords. He has cast a deadly curse upon the land of Veldime, turning its human inhabitants into demons, which also allows him to drain away their conscious and memories to empower himself. Except the Zenon whom laid the curse is an impostor. The true Zenon is another story entirely...
  • Braccus Rex in Divinity: Original Sin was driven mad by the Dangerous Forbidden Technique of Source magic, and used his power to Take Over the World and inflict horrifying And I Must Scream torture on anyone who dared to defy him. He died long before the events of the first Original Sin game, but like Dracula, people keep reviving him for some reason.
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Archdemons serve this role for the setting at large, in theory. They are physical deities sleeping underground that once they are corrupted by the Taint, they become immortal dragon-like beings that command endless legions of Darkspawn to ravage the surface. With that said, the Archdemons are less driven by conquest and domination and more by wanton destruction and have very little in way of personality.
    • Corypheus in Dragon Age: Inquisition was an Ancient Darkspawn Magister that aspired to become the new God of this world, though unlike most examples of this trope who use force of arms and conquer their enemies with their armies, he used subterfuge and behind-the-scenes manipulation by having his minions sowing chaos from within his enemies to weaken them. He is still an very powerful foe individually that is nigh-impossible to destroy.
  • You are one of these in Dungeon Keeper.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • In Eiyuu X Maou; Villain Protagonist Felser has this ambition, and goes successfully fast-tracking on his way. The closer he gets to Total World Domination, the more it's revealed that his Motive Rants are right, and that the current leaders really do deserve to be overthrown and punished.
  • Caesar of of Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas rules an empire of slavers based upon The Roman Empire dedicated to restoring order to the wastelands through Rape, Pillage, and Burn and enslavement. However, he's surprisingly intelligent with a twisted sense of humor, as well as possessing a love of political/philosophical debates when the Courier chats with him.
    • Also in the same game, Mr. House shows several traits of one, whether or not you view him as evil — he rules over his people from an intimidating and impenetrable fortress, no one ever sees him in person, his will is carried out by a lone lieutenant and an army of replaceable minions, and he's planning to Take Over the World. He could be considered a Deconstruction of this trope, showing that one can be the "Overlord" part without necessarily being "evil."
    • The Player Character themselves can become one, assuming that they have evil-Karma and pick the Wild Card route. With an army of Mecha-Mooks at their command and their rivals in tatters, they are free to rule over the Mojave.
    • In the Nuka World DLC of Fallout 4, the player ends up as "Overboss" of the raider gangs of Nuka World after killing the old one. The player can lead their raider gangs on various raids on settlements on the Commonwealth and enslave the local populace like a typical raider boss.
  • Pagan Min in Far Cry 4 is a desconstruction of this trope: he is the self-styled king of Kyrat who took power by killing the rightful heir and turned the country into a narco-state with him claiming divine right to rule. Even though he is clearly not a good person, it's shown that he was not as bad as he used to, thanks to being in love with the protagonist's mother who had a positive influence on him. And later on, the protagonist's own allies are shown to not been any better than Min - in fact, they can turn even worse, showing that being a Evil Overlord doesn't automatically makes one the Big Bad.
  • Final Fantasy villains often fall into the Evil Overlord bin: but curiously, very seldom the actual Big Bad.
    • Quite possibly the best example is the Emperor from Final Fantasy II. He's a major military power throughout most of the game and when he dies, he becomes the freakin' ruler of hell. He also seeks to overthrow Chaos in Dissidia Final Fantasy. Quite possibly the only thing keeping him from being more popular is Final Fantasy II being the most overlooked game of the series.
    • Golbez of Final Fantasy IV before being revealed to be Brainwashed and Crazy.
    • Exdeath of Final Fantasy V is another good example. He also has the distinction of being the most evil tree to ever appear in any form of media, and certainly the only one who is also the Big Bad.
    • Gestahl of Final Fantasy VI is an evil overlord, but sadly also The Unfought. Kefka is also an example, and is one of the few that actually is an Evil Overlord at the end of the game when you fight him.
    • Rufus Shinra and his father in Final Fantasy VII, since the ShinRa company essentially rules the world.
    • Ultimecia of Final Fantasy VIII rules all in the future. And she is a rare female example.
    • Borderline example, Maester Mika in Final Fantasy X, who is the Pope of a Religion of Evil. Effectively commits suicide near the end of the game.
    • Final Fantasy Adventure/Mystic Quest and its remake Sword of Mana has an overlord as a villain, they even blatantly name him "Dark Lord". He is not actually the Big Bad, to no one's surprise after years of similar storylines.
  • The Fire Emblem series likes this trope.
    • Rudolf of Fire Emblem Gaiden is the series Trope Maker, and lends his name to the archetype surrounding this trope. He is a militant emperor and a physically imposing Tin Tyrant with dreams of world domination. However, he is also an Unbuilt Trope for the series as a whole: his war was a Genghis Gambit to prepare Alm and Celica and make them powerful enough to kill the maddened Duma.
    • Hardin of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem is the series Trope Codifier, building off of Rudolf and having a unique class and powerful personal weapon.
    • Arvis in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is practically a textbook example, except he is a genuine Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • Zephiel in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, though he is ultimately not the Big Bad.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • King Desmond can be seen as a similar way, but he does not actually try to hinder the heroes. He in fact wants his favourite child to be the heir, not Zephiel. He is also rather unpopular and incompetent, unlike most examples of this trope.
      • Nergal is this to some extent, but not as much as others like Zephiel and Arvis.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Emperor Vigarde suddenly attacks the peaceful allied kingdom of Renais. He does not actually reveal himself to the heroes, only to the player appointing new generals who are just pawns in a greater plan by the Demon King, Lyon, and Riev. In another cliche, he is in fact not the Big Bad or even in control of his actions, since he has been dead for months prior to the game's introduction and was being animated by Lyon's magic.
    • Ashnard in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is definitely this, as he launches a bloody invasion of Crimea with the eventual endgame of turning Tellius into a Social Darwinist anarchy.
  • Golden Axe has Death Adder, the brutal warlord that conquered the kingdom and murdered several of the heroes' loved ones. In Beast Rider he gains a more armored look befitting this trope and actually goes transforms himself into a snake-like monster that he was named after.
  • Varesh Ossa in Guild Wars: Nightfall is a very good example, although unlike other cliched evil overlords, she is in fact control of her actions and knows fully well what she is doing.
  • In Imperium Nova, The Emperor of each galaxy is inevetibally labeled an evil overlord by his or her opponents. Whether or not the labeling is true is a matter of discussion.
  • The "Regime version" of Superman in Injustice: Gods Among Us presides over an totalitarian regime after being pushed over the edge by Metropolis' destruction. At first he started as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but by the end he is a straight-up villain, willing to kill anyone who even questions him like Billy Batson. In the sequel Injustice 2, he has been arrested and thrown into jail, but he can potentially upgrade himself into Multiversal Conqueror.
  • Autarch Scolar Visari in the Killzone series was the supreme leader and dictator of Helghast who is driven to wage a war of revenge against the Vektans and the ISA with many real-life and historical dictators serving as inspiration for him.
  • Gadflow in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the corrupt King of the Winter Fae who sends his immortal army, the Thuata Deohn, to genocide the human and elven races of Amalur.
  • In La Pucelle, Priere can become an Overlord if she kills too many demons in the Dark World, leading to a Non-Standard Game Over. Oddly enough, this is actually the canon ending. The remake incorporates this into the storyline, making it a requirement for the good ending.
  • Mordekaiser in League of Legends might qualify. It's unclear whether he really rules over a Dark Kingdom (not much is known about his exact position in the Shadow Isles' hierarchy), but he has the stereotypical looks of a Tin Tyrant.
    • With his rework, he's been firmly established as one. A brutal ruler in life, who slew and conquered to rejoin his Warrior Heaven, Mordekaiser was disappointed to arrive in a barren afterlife and resolved to carve a new kingdom out of it, though he also formed a mighty empire after being summoned back on Runeterra by unwitting necromancers. Nowadays, he's inactive in the world of the living but is hard at work creating a kingdom in the afterlife.
    • Swain, the ruler of Noxus, is more manipulative and sorcerous and less of an angry metal barrel covered in spikes, but given that Noxus is very much a Might Makes Right kind of country, probably also qualifies.
    • Parodied with Veigar, who wants to be an Evil Overlord, but by virtue of being an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, ends up actually making the lives of the people he's "oppressing" slightly better because he tends to kill other, more villainous villains in the process.
      Margaux: We humbly beg that you spare us and just, umm, you know...keep doing what you're doing...We'll just go home, and you keep doing your...reign of terror...thingy. Live and let terrorize, that's what I say.
  • The Legacy of Kain series features a couple:
    • Nemesis in Blood Omen 1 is a sadistic despot during Kain's time that used to be The Good King in his youth before being twisted and is on a conquering warpath poised to bring Nosgoth to its knees.
    • The titular character of the series zig-zaggs this trope: following Blood Omen 1, he rules over the realm of Nosgoth as a Vampire Monarch, but he does take breaks to save the world as Kain wants to purify the corruption of the world and make it a vampire utopia because vampires came first and the world rightfully belongs to them. He succeeds in getting it on the right track, but judging by Blood Omen 2, which results from the paradox he makes, there's a long way to go.
    • The Sarafan Lord in Blood Omen 2 on the other hand plays this trope straight, being a brutal ruler that overthrew Kain and for 200 years, has ruled over humans with iron fist and slaughtered any vampires he could find. Its revealed that the Sarafan Lord isn't even human, but a Hylden (a race of extra-dimensional demons that hates vampires) and a powerful malevolent force of its own right.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ganondorf/Ganon, King of Thieves and the King of Evil. His trying to and/or conquering of Hyrule drive the plot of several games. He succeeded twice, first in the original Zelda, and in a Bad Future orchestrated by Ganondorf, King of Thieves in Ocarina of Time. Although he was banished, in A Link to the Past he has become the ruler of the Dark World and is trying to take over the Light World as well. Even when he has gotten killed, his minions still wreack havoc in his name.
  • Zetta, Makai Kingdom's badass Freakin' Overlord of the Netherworld...until he blew it up. Damn you, Zetta! Damn you to...oh, wait.
    • Makai Kingdom reveals that Overlords are a dime a dozen in the Nippon Ichi 'verse, as anybody with enough mana can rule over their own collection of vassals and worlds.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis presents us with a humorous, Large Ham version: The "Flayvor of Evil".
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Shao Kahn is the ruler of Outworld, a demonic realm. Basically, his mission is to invade Earthrealm. He accomplished it without much trouble in MK3. (Huh. Guess we really do suck.) In every other game (or movie adaptation), he's been thwarted by the God of Thunder, Raiden, and his lackeys.
    • Shinnok, a fallen Elder God, lords over the Netherrealm. His lust for power is what caused his peers to exile him to the Netherrealm. There, he suffered constant torture until he overthrew Lucifer and became the new ruler. By the end of X, Shinnok has deposed (due to being reduced to a still-suffering head) and Liu Kang has taken over the vacant position with Kitana as his Hot Consort.
    • Subverted with Kotal Kahn in Mortal Kombat X. He becomes the new Emperor of Outworld after usurping it from the rightful heir Mileena after surviving under her and in spite of his sinister appearance and abilities involving Blood Magic, he isn't really interested in conquering other realms like his predecessor and is an Noble Demon Reasonable Authority Figure who manages to keep Outworld stable unlike Mileena. When he turns against the protagonists towards the story mode's end, he does so in an attempt to spare his world from being destroyed by Shinnok and essentially becomes an Anti-Villain.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: The King of Shadows seemingly fits this trope like a glove, since he is a being made of shadows (just like his title says) commanding an undead army to ravage the Sword Coast. Turns out its more complicated because he is actually a Tragic Monster not fighting for power or control, but because he was created to protect the empire he was guarding from all its enemies even centuries after its fall, partly because of him.
  • Every Dark Oppressor in Nexus Clash aspires to this. They have an elaborate skillset based on rewarding one's followers and punishing one's enemies and gain power in Stygia as they surround themselves with followers and allies. They inevitably have other Oppressors as rivals, though.
  • Oda Nobunaga in any Capcom game, including the Onimusha and Sengoku Basara series (and the latter's anime adaptation).
  • The main characters in the Overlord series are archetypical Evil Overlords who wields hordes of gremlin-like creatures known as Minions, have mistress(es) and generally look like Tin Tyrants with Glowing Eyes of Doom being the only visible part of the character. Overlord I lets you decide just how evil the Overlord can be, either a destructive tyrant to a leader beloved by the peasants. Although at the end it turns out that you're just a patsy for the real one.
  • Trials of Mana has your pick of three evil overlords: A despotic lizard man, a dark cleric, and the Mana series' analogue of Lucifer — all going to war. Just as the Mana Knight is picked from one of 6 characters, players have control over who gets to be the big boss villain. It also determines which of the three Final Dungeons opens up, too. (This encourages replays.)
  • Grigori Rasputin attempts to become this in Shadow Hearts: Covenant.
  • Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. series fits this to a T in almost every game (sometimes even ones where you're just Go-Karting with Bowser), from ominous castles/lairs, plans for world/universe domination, and infinite hordes of loyal minions.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein turns Heinrich I, the first king of Germany into this trope. He is a supernatural warlord that studied the black arts and attempted to conquer Medieval Europe, before being sealed away in a tomb by a mystic because he was too powerful to be killed.
  • Dark Warlord Zanshin from Throne of Darkness. The player's lord becomes one after taking his place.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament:
    • Ry'jin rules Ildria with an iron fist, heavily taxing his subjects and hunting down any remaining dragons for their DNA.
    • The Dragon Shards quest reveals that Ry'jin isn't the only despot in the setting. Elsium has it's own tyrant, Lord Nephron, who is conducting similar dragon DNA experiments to take over the world.
  • In Tyranny, has Kyros the Overlord. The player character is a Fatebinder who has risen to high rank in Kyros' armies. There may be a trace of Well-Intentioned Extremist in the Overlord, however; Kyros is said to have embarked on conquest after surveying various warring factions and deciding that "the world would be better" under a single, draconian, code of law.
  • Several examples from the Warcraft series:
    • Blackhand from Warcraft: Orcs and Humans is the warchief of the The Horde trying to conquer the human kingdom. He gets replaced by his second (and player character) Orgrim Doomhammer, who would prove to be a much bigger threat to the Alliance in 'Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.
    • Starting with Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, the Lich King becomes the next big threat after he successfully destroyed the kingdoms of Lordaeron and Quel'thalas with his army of the dead.
    • Azshara, once queen of the night elves, is now the empress of the naga, Snake People who want control over all the seas in the name of the Eldritch Abomination they serve.
    • NPC races Evil Overlords are some of the most common villains in World of Warcraft. Examples include Charlga Razorflank, Gorak Tul, Lei Shen, the Gorian Imperator, and every troll leader.
  • The title character of Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? mixes this trope with the Distressed Dude, being utterly helpless from abduction by heroes without the help of his God (the player character) and the creatures that inhabit his underground lair.
  • Yes, Your Grace: King Beyran. Thirteen years ago, he was a thief to whom King Eryk and Queen Aurelea promised their first-born daughter in marriage to get away with their lives. In the present day, he's showing up with an army, or more accurately, a group of refugees escaping a war-torn land that was mistaken for an army by Eryk's scouts. Beyran has actually cleaned up his act and is ready to discuss and alternative to the initial promise with Eryk. This makes him a subversion of the trope.

    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:
  • 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!


Video Example(s):

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


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 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilOverlord

Media sources:

Main / EvilOverlord