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Evil Overlooker

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"Composition-wise, this cover is actually more interesting than the ones we're used to seeing. We actually have something that catches the reader's attention, with the menacing villain holding the symbols of the heroes by knives."

Box art or advertisement that features the villain's head "watching" the hero. Many posters and video boxes for Western animated films feature this trope, especially if they are from The '90s, though in recent history, this trope has seem something of a comeback. Sometimes, the villain looks like they are trying to grab the main characters or the MacGuffin.

This trope is related to Floating Head Syndrome, though the latter is not typically viewed as fondly. For when a villain is overlooking a scene in-story, see I Have the High Ground.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: Inverted. Impmon, intended at the time to be the Big Bad (a direction later changed), is underneath the Tamers rather than above in his early promotional material.
  • The Volume 9 cover of the Hunter × Hunter manga shows the eyes of Chrollo Lucifier, drawn in an eerily realistic art-style, overlooking our four protagonists.
  • Tweeny Witches: Grande, the Big Bad, overlooks the Magical Girl Squad on the DVD cover for volume 7 of the Japanese release.
  • My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising: In the poster, Nine's head looms over the group shot of Class 1-A, while his minions look off to the side. Also looking sinister on top is Hawks, whose involvement with the villains is unmentioned in the film proper.

    Asian Animation 
  • An official poster for Season 8 of Happy Heroes features a red-eyed Huo Haha (the season's Arc Villain) in the background, visible above the Supermen and Big M. (who, incidentally, is the show's overall villain).

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 28 Days Later: The film has a poster with just the eyes of an Infected hanging in the sky over a silhouetted Jim.
  • The Alzheimer's Case: The hitman Ledda is portrayed this way on the movie posters, with the cops in the foreground.
  • Arachnophobia: This film is a fairly subtle example. Take a good look at the moon on the poster/cover.
  • Batman Forever: Inverted. The villains are actually towards the bottom of the poster while Batman looms above them.
  • Blade: The poster of the first film show the vampire antagonist Deacon Frost ominously watching over the Daywalker Blade in a blood-red background.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Some posters have Red Skull's eyes looming over Cap.
  • Child's Play: The original poster.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon: The poster only shows the bad guy's Hellish Pupils overlooking the moon.
  • Death Train: Subverted. The cover makes it seem like Patrick Stewart is the villain overlooking Pierce Brosnan, but he's actually the latter's Spymaster and unambiguously on the side of the good guys. The real villain is a Renegade Russian played by Christopher Lee.
  • The Devil's Advocate: An alternate theatrical poster shows the Devil looming over the protagonist and his wife.
  • Enchanted has Queen Narissa overlooking the heroes. And during the climax, she gets Scaled Up, so the dragon on the poster is also her.
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: After the "I ♥ NY" -posters for were taken down due to complaints from New York Tourism Committee, they were replaced with a poster of Jason looming over the city.
  • Fright Night (1985): The villain as an evil cloud.
  • Fright Night (2011): The poster, although Jerry does kinda merge into the whole sky around the lower side.
  • Fright Night Part 2: The film follows the prequel.
  • Gone Girl: Zigzagged. Amy's eyes are seen at the top of the poster, but it looks like a simple case of Floating Head Syndrome. In fact, this is a subtle clue of who the true villain of the movie is.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later: Michael Myers' Black Eyes of Evil looming over the frightened-looking protagonists.
  • Halloween: Resurrection: Michael Myers' Black Eyes of Evil looming over the frightened-looking protagonists.
  • The Haunting of Molly Hartley: The poster does this with Joseph, who is revealed in the last ten minutes to be part of a Satanic cult.
  • Hero and the Terror: The poster shows Simon Moon's eyes menacingly hovering over a stern-looking Chuck Norris packing heat.
  • Horrors of War: The poster does this with Adolf Hitler and his zombie hordes.
  • Inglourious Basterds: This movie poster.
  • John Carpenter's Vampires: On the posters, the vampire lord Jan Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
  • Lion Of The Desert: The Poster for the film, about the life of Libyan anti-colonial rebel Omar Mukhtar, depicts Benito Mussolini glowering over his troops and tanks as they clash with the rebels, with the central villain General Rodolfo Graziani in the foreground.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie: The poster shows the eyes of Ivan Ooze looming over the heroes.
  • New Jack City: The three heroic police officers are downright minuscule compared to the sinister-looking Nino Brown looming over them in a badass pose.
  • No Country for Old Men: The film adaptation portrays Anton Chigurh this way. The effect is actually very creepy, especially since this is one story where justice and logic be darned, The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The Passage: Some versions of the poster depict Captain von Berkow looming behind the main characters looking through binoculars.
  • Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th: Parodied. The killer is shown above the other characters on the cover, but his expression is too goofy to be anything close to threatening.
  • One of the posters released with the second trailer of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) has a large Robotnik grinning evilly and looming behind a running Sonic.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The poster shows the very large, very angry eye of General Chang glaring down at the Enterprise-A from the background.
    • Star Trek: First Contact: The poster does this in a pretty interesting manner. Data and Picard are wary of an approaching army of Borg drones underneath them, but the Borg Queen, the film's Big Bad, is hovering over them both.
    • Star Trek: Insurrection: The poster features the Enterprise-E flying towards the giant face of the movie's main villain (who actually has a rather minor role in the film, considering how prominently he's shown on the poster).
    • Star Trek (2009): One poster does this with Nero. Oddly, most of the posters and DVD covers for the 2009 film do this with Kirk; one could be forgiven for assuming that Christopher Pine plays the villain (although that film's Kirk is arguably an Anti-Hero).
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: A giantnote  translucent blue Darth Vader head in the background. He doesn't appear to actually be looking at the heroes, more sorta past them, but to be fair it's hard to tell with the mask.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader stares at the center, sometimes slightly off center with a lightsaber in hand. Emperor Palpatine appears in some posters along with the Imperial Fleet which are flying towards the center. In some posters, Boba Fett replaces Palpatine and stares at the center.
    • Return of the Jedi: Darth Vader's mask is in the background.
    • The Phantom Menace: Darth Maul.
    • Attack of the Clones: Played with. Count Dooku is nowhere to be seen, but his henchman Jango Fett is on the lower right.
    • Revenge of the Sith: A faint image of Darth Vader with the helmet on.
    • The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren, though depending on the poster, he's either staring to the left away from the heroes or right at the center.
    • Rogue One: A spectral image of Darth Vader behind the heroes, as though breathing down Jyn's neck.
    • The Last Jedi: Inverted. The hooded head overlooking the others in many promotional materials is Luke Skywalker.
    • Solo: Subverted. No major villain is prominent on most posters.
    • The Rise of Skywalker: The poster released at D23 2019 shows Rey and Kylo Ren duel, with the ominous, spectral visage of Emperor Palpatine looking on. Another poster shows Kylo Ren staring on.
  • Street Fighter: Inverted Trope. The hero, Colonel Guile, is towering over the villain, M. Bison, who is Milking the Giant Cow.

  • Return of the Living Dead: The original paperback cover has a giant disembodied zombie head and hands looming behind a woman in a black void, seemingly about to grab her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Every DVD case has Angelus looking over Angel's shoulder.
  • House: Inverted. Season One box set features the main cast looking down at you in a circle with a surgical light over all of their heads as if you were a patient.



    Video Games 
  • The box art for Advance Wars 2 shows the Orange Star Commanders (main heroes) in the foreground, the Black Hole Commanders (bad guys) behind them looming over them, and a giant Big Bad behind and above them.
  • Banjo-Kazooie's box art features Gruntilda overlooking Banjo and attempting to grab him.
  • The Wii version of A Boy and His Blob has the main villain boss watching.
  • Killzone has this trope for the box art of 1, 2, and Mercenary having a Helghast soldier on the front. The Helghast have become so iconic (and, ironically, popular) that the series has them taking up most of the marketing for the game.
  • Some of the Kirby games have this, like Kirby's Epic Yarn.
  • The box art for King's Quest III features the villain Manannan doing a crystal ball version of this.
  • The box art for King's Quest VII 1.0 (for DOS 5/Windows 3.1) features Malicia looking down over a tornado sucking in Rosella and Valanice. Version 2.0 (for Windows 95) has different box art.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The cover of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney features both the Judge and Edgeworth as possible examples (though the Judge is hardly what you'd call evil, and even Edgeworth isn't much of a villain after Case 2).
    • The games as a whole feature this with the artwork unlocked after beating each case. This can, in fact spoil, who the guilty party is for people who haven't played the games before.note 
    • Usually, the main promotional artwork piece for each entry (the ones that show all the game's major recurring characters) will usually have the game's main prosecutor in this role. The one from Justice For All, for example, has both Franziska von Karma and Miles Edgeworth showing up as this, but only the former is actually facing towards the foreground because Edgeworth is a definite good guy here.
    • The main piece of promotional artwork for Trials and Tribulations shows Godot in this role.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney plays with this. Klavier is the nicest prosecutor the series has had so far and thus is not featured in this role in the game's promotional piece. His brother Kristoph, on the other hand...
    • Dual Destinies continues the trend by portraying Simon Blackquill in this way. Though like Edgeworth before him, he turns out to be much less villainous than he seems.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has Prosecutor Nahyuta Sadhmadhi keeping the tradition alive. And like Edgeworth and Blackquill, he is revealed to not be villainous at the end.

    Web Comics 
  • Klonoa: Dream Crusaders: Inverted. On the comic's cover page, Klonoa, the hero, and Noctis Sol, the Living MacGuffin, are the overlookers, while Chipple, Guntz, and Nightmare Klonoa, who are antagonistsnote  are front and center.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Madballs: The VHS cover of "Escape from Orb" shows the main villain Wolf Breath as a giant face menacingly watching over the Madballs.


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