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Evil Overlooker

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"I spy with my wicked eye, a bunch of losers!"
"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, although since The New '10s, this trope has seen something of a comeback. Sometimes, the villain looks like they are trying to grab the main characters or the MacGuffin. If the villain is actually this large, it probably overlaps with Tall Is Intimidating.

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 Dramatic High Perching.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.
    • A promotional poster for the Battle of Adventurers movie attempts this trope with Gulfmon, but it looks like Gulfmon is looking away from the characters because of where his eye is.
  • 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.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: The visual for the Egypt arc has DIO looming over the heroes as he is Face Framed in Shadow.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: The third visual features Yoshikage Kira in his Kosaku disguise watching the protagonists in Morioh.
    • Golden Wind: The visual for the second-half of the story has the team being observed by Diavolo's King Crimson while reaching for the Stand Arrow.
  • Sailor Moon Cosmos: Sailor Galaxia is looming above Princess Kakyu, the Sailor Starlights and Sailor Moon in the official poster.
  • On the cover of Sukeban Deka's OVA, Remi overlooks the scene
  • 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 
  • Happy Heroes: An official poster for Season 8 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 (1990): 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.
  • Descendants: The main boxart for Descendants 2 features Uma in the background overlooking the VKs.
  • 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.
  • Godzilla:
  • 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.
  • Kaamelott: Premier Volet: Has a Stacked Characters Poster for the home video release (the page's picture) with two columns of stacked heads of characters from the film. The head of Lancelot (the Big Bad) ominously dominates the right column (and is the biggest on it).
  • 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.
  • Lampshaded by the final poster for Scream (2022). Not only does Ghostface loom large over the entire cast, but the tagline is literally "The Killer is On This Poster". It's right, as Richie is right there towards the front of the cast, while Amber is on the left, towards the back.
  • 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).
    • The poster / cover art for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary What We Left Behind - Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine features Ira Steven Behr looking down at and holding the space station in his hands, despite him not being a villain but rather the main showrunner of the series and also one of two directors of the documentary.
  • 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, with the second Death Star behind him.
    • 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.
  • The Untouchables (1987): The poster has a giant Al Capone in Sinister Shades, smoking a cigar and smirking over the Untouchables.
  • Thor: The Dark World has Malekith in the upper left background, looking ominously.
  • 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.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: The eponymous Big Bad.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: One of the posters in colors (the page's picture) has a giant Darkseid head in the background behind the Justice League.

    Literature 
  • Bride of the Rat God: Two covers show the Rat God looking menacingly over Christine, who holds her fur wrap around her in terror.
  • 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.
  • Scary Stories For Young Foxes: Mr. Scratch is the shadowy fox lurking behind Mia and Uly. Every illustration of the character consciously invokes this trope, emphasizing the threat and power he demonstrates over every fox who crosses his path.

    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.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Morgoth's shadow leaning over the dying Trees of Valinor in the pilot, suggests he's admiring his handiwork.
  • Storm of the Century: Some covers show Andre Linoge ominously hovering over the small town he is menacing throughout the miniseries.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: The main poster for the post-series special "The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex" shows Evil Alex holding and overlooking a crystal ball with the real Alex trapped inside.

    Music 

    Pinball 

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE:
    • 2001 promos show an infected Kanohi Hau overlooking either the Toa or the island of Mata Nui. As the infected Hau represented the evil Makuta early on, this is meant to symbolize his hold over the island and The Corruption he spreads throughout it.
    • The poster for the 2004 Toa Metru set-line shows a Vahki enforcer robot watching over the assembled Toa Metru heroes. Its prototype teaser pic meanwhile shows a mysterious shadowy figure, later revealed to be a prototype for the toy of Krekka, a character who would have been far less suited for such a role.

    Video Games 

    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.
  • Galaxy Angel: The animated opening of the second installment, Moonlit Lovers, ends with an image of Nefuria overlooking the six Angels. It serves as a clue that she's going to be the game's true villain.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Zero: The Blu-ray cover has Shatter Squad at the bottom and Zero looming over them in the background.

    Webcomics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia:
    • The first poster for Season 2 has Sasha in the middle section looking down menacingly at Anne at the bottom.
    • On the official Season 2 poster, King Andrias is far back in the crowd in dark shadow, seeming to look sinisterly at Anne with interest, alluding to his true nature.
    • Downplayed in the season two title sequence, where Marcy holding the Music Box looms over Anne and Sasha, foreshadowing her role as the one who manipulated them and deliberately started the chain of events that led to girls ending up in Amphibia. However, her actions were borne out of desperation and Didn't Think This Through, as opposed to any actual malice towards her friends.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The original cartoon:
      • The poster for Book 1 depicts the Gaang down the front, with Zuko, the Starter Villain, looming over them evilly. This is also shown prominently in "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.
      • The poster for Book 3 has Ozai, the Big Bad, looming behind Aang in the Avatar State.
    • The Legend of Korra: The SDCC poster features Amon, the Big Bad for season 1, looming over Korra, Mako, and Bolin.
  • The DVD cover for The Legend of Vox Machina shows the titular Ragtag Bunch of Misfits under the gaze of the second Arc Villain, Thordak the Cinder King.
  • Hazbin Hotel: The second poster for Season 1 has Adam, the Big Bad of the first season, smiling over the cast.
  • Madballs: The VHS cover of "Escape from Orb" shows the main villain Wolf Breath as a giant face menacingly watching over the Madballs.
  • The Owl House: In the Season 2 poster, Emperor Belos is seen on a bridge watching Luz, Eda, and King as the three wander the Boiling Isles.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 1's title sequence ends with a giant Baron Draxum looming behind the turtles, as if to grab them. In Season 2, he replaced by Shredder.
  • Tangled: The Series: The poster for the final season has Rapunzel and Eugene swinging with the corrupted Cassandra watching them meanacingly.

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