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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.

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 and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The original cover of The Ultimate Evil features Shendu overlooking through flames Valerie Payne.
  • The cover of Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox shows Gaara overlooking Naruto.
  • Some promotional artworks for Mega Man Unlimited have Bass doing this (looking away from the heroes in one case). One has him near the bottom instead, with the 9 Robot Masters looming above everyone. Unsurprisingly, neither of them are the actual main villains, Dr. Wily is.

    Films — Animated 
Many posters and video boxes for Western animated films have these, especially if they are from The '90s. Sometimes, the villain looks like they are trying to grab the main characters or the MacGuffin.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Many a Star Wars poster has Darth Vader doing this; in fact, the series may well have originated the trope.
    • The original (Episode IV: A New Hope) has 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 Phantom Menace has it with Darth Maul.
    • Attack of the Clones plays with this. Count Dooku is nowhere to be seen, but his henchman Jango Fett is on the lower right.
    • Revenge of the Sith shows a faint image of Darth Vader with the helmet on.
    • The Force Awakens continues this tradition with 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 continues the tradition with a spectral image of Darth Vader behind the heroes, as though breathing down Jyn's neck.
    • Inverted in The Last Jedi, where the hooded head overlooking the others in many promotional materials is Luke Skywalker.
  • The Star Trek films:
    • The poster to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country shows the very large, very angry eye of General Chang glaring down at the Enterprise-A from the background.
    • The poster of Star Trek: First Contact 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.
    • The poster of Star Trek: Insurrection 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).
    • One poster for Star Trek (2009) 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).
  • 28 Days Later has a poster with just the eyes of an Infected hanging in the sky over a silhouetted Jim.
  • Fright Night (1985) uses a variation: villain as an evil cloud. This is repeated with Fright Night Part 2.
  • The poster of Fright Night (2011) is a straight example, although Jerry does kinda merge into the whole sky around the lower side.
  • This movie poster for Inglourious Basterds.
  • The original poster for Child's Play.
  • The film adaptation of No Country for Old Men 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 2002 adaption of The Time Machine.
  • The poster for The Haunting of Molly Hartley does this with Joseph, who is revealed in the last ten minutes to be part of a Satanic cult.
  • The poster for The Untouchables has a giant Al Capone in shades, smoking a cigar and smirking over the Untouchables.
  • The Poster for the film Lion of the Desert, 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 central villain General Rodolfo Graziani in the foreground.
  • And also with the zombie nazis flick Horrors of War, which does this with Adolf Hitler and his zombie hordes.
  • The posters for Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection do this with Michael Myers' Black Eyes of Evil looming over the frightened-looking protagonists.
  • Some posters for Captain America: The First Avenger have Red Skull's eyes looming over Cap.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The eponymous Big Bad as seen here.
  • After the "I ♥ NY" -posters for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan were taken down due to complaints from New York Tourism Committee, they were replaced with a poster of Jason looming over the city.
  • Arachnophobia is a fairly subtle example. Take a good look at the moon on the poster/cover.
  • On the posters of John Carpenter's Vampires, vampire lord Jan Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
  • The poster of the first Blade film show the vampire antagonist Deacon Frost ominously watching over the Daywalker Blade in a blood-red background.
  • The Alzheimer's Case: The hitman Ledda is portrayed this way on the movie posters, with the cops in the foreground.
  • Zig-zagged in Gone Girl. 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...
  • Some versions of the poster for The Passage depict Captain von Berkow looming behind the main characters looking through binoculars.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon: The poster only shows the bad guy's Hellish Pupils overlooking the moon.
  • The poster for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie shows the eyes of Ivan Ooze looming over the heroes.
  • Hero and the Terror: The poster shows Simon Moon's eyes menacingly hovering over a stern-looking Chuck Norris packing heat.
  • The Devil's Advocate: An alternate theatrical poster shows the Devil looming over the protagonist and his wife.
  • 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.
  • Warlock III: The End of Innocence: The poster shows the Warlock at the top staring intently at the viewer with a Kubrick Stare, as he holds the protagonists in his cupped hands.
  • New Jack City: The three heroic police officers are downright miniscule compared to the sinister-looking Nino Brown looming over them in a badass pose.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Heroes, the Season 1 graphic novel collection has 2 different front covers, both of which feature Sylar's head looming over the main cast of Heroes.
    • On the cover for the Season 2 DVD, the main cast of Heroes stands in the foreground at Times Square while Sylar's head grins down at them from an overhead billboard.
  • The Troll King is doing this on the DVD cover for The 10th Kingdom — which is a subversion, as he is neither the real BigBad of the miniseries nor even impinges very much on the plot, particularly since he only briefly menaces the heroes in Parts 1 and 2. (He's actually much more of The Rival for the Big Bad.) This might be a borderline case of Billing Displacement, since while Dianne Wiest is greatly respected and a well-known actress, Ed O'Neill is probably more popular. Or it could be a bit of canny advertising to misdirect the audience.
  • Every Angel DVD case has Angelus looking over Angel's shoulder.
  • An inversion: Upon opening it, the House: 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.
  • Storm of the Century: Some covers show Andre Linoge ominously hovering over the small town he is menacing throughout the miniseries.
  • The Prisoner (2009): An indirect example, with the top half of the poster being occupied by a menacing close-up of 2's eyes stacked on top an image of 6 with Rover rising behind him, posed to suggest he is facing insurmountable odds.


  • Downplayed in Street Fighter II - M. Bison's floating head is rather small and easy to overlook.
  • The Beast watches Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa on the backglass of Krull.


    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • A widely circulated fan poster of Red vs. Blue Season 3 features the head of Big Bad O'Malley doing some Evil Overlooking of the main cast. A similar fan poster of Season 4 featured the Alien in a similar position, although it was revealed rather early in the season that the Alien was actually not the new villain (it was still O'Malley).
  • This Filk Song for The Frollo Show features Wilford Brimley as an Evil Overlooker in a fairly crowded shot. He's flanked by Batiatus and Marco Antonio Regil (although by the time Wilford becomes the true Big Bad, Marco has teamed up with Frollo to stop him).

  • The third Penny Arcade book, The Warsun Prophecies, has Tycho's eyes looming over Gabe.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The interior art for The Venture Bros. Season Two DVD features the Monarch looming over portraits of the main characters.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: the poster for Season One depicts the Gaang down the front, with Zuko looming over them evilly. This is also shown prominently in one of the last episodes "The Ember Island Players", when the in-universe poster showing the Show Within a Show is pretty much exactly the same as the poster for Season one.
    • Also the poster for Season 3, which has Ozai looming behind Aang in the Avatar State.
    • The SDCC poster for The Legend of Korra featured Amon looming over Korra, Mako, and Bolin..
  • The cover of the Codename: Kids Next Door TV Movie Operation: Z.E.R.O. features Grandfather looking down on the KND, who as the cover implies are standing between him and the world.
  • The VHS cover of the Madballs episode "Escape from Orb" shows the main villain Wolf Breath as a giant face menacingly watching over the Madballs.
  • The title sequence of Butt-Ugly Martians ends with Emperor Bog looming over the show's heroes.