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Eviler than Thou

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We don't expect Thanos is interested in any of your deals, Mephisto.

Jax: I'll never forgive you, Joker.
The Joker: Which of my crimes has your panties twisted?
Jax: Making Kano seem like less of a monster.

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In the Big Bad business, There Can Be Only One, and it had better not be you when I'm Eviler Than Thou.

Two villains are rivals, each wreaking havoc in their own special way. For instance, one is direct and violent, while the other is a cowardly but clever schemer, or one is selfish and the other is a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Each one has the potential to be the one and only Big Bad. The poor Heroes are caught in the middle between two completely different threats, and have to be flexible enough to stop both.

As the two villains plot, their Evil Plans will begin to collide and interfere with each other. If they meet, they will have the same reaction every time: the other villain is a disgrace to villainy's good name (or bad name, or... you know what we mean). The sneaky one thinks the violent one is a dumb brute, while the violent one thinks the sneaky one is pathetic. They may team up against the heroes for a while (each planning to double-cross the other), but usually they go for each other's throats, and the cross-fire threatens to destroy the world.

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Whichever villain wins will rub it in with a cackling "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how the other villain is deficient. "People think you're scary, but deep down you're just a dumb thug." Or, "All your plotting and scheming has come to nothing when facing a real man who just fights." This is usually the end of the less horrible one. If they survive, they will often be so shocked at what the other one is planning that they team up with the heroes in an Enemy Mine. "I always thought I was doing right — this guy is just a selfish monster!" Or, "I only wanted to steal money, but his mad utopian schemes could doom the world!" They may or may not reform.

Often, the heroes (and the writers) will ponder at length which villain is worse morally, with An Aesop. Usually, the moral is about avoiding either of two extremes (for instance, pragmatic heroes dealing with a selfish villain and a fanatic villain).

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Note that the victorious one doesn't necessarily have to be the more strictly evil of the two, just the more dangerous. It's entirely possible for the loser to be more twisted while simultaneously being weaker or otherwise less of a threat, and by extension less able to implement their evil as effectively.

Some villains collide, but some stories just have their contrasting plots pass each other by. Or one of the villains may be more of a comic-relief distraction from the more threatening one, which does not necessarily mean that the comic relief one is less evil.

See also Evil Versus Evil. May be part of an Evil Versus Oblivion or The Good, the Bad, and the Evil conflict. Anti Heroes (Unscrupulous or Nominal) and Anti Villains generally have another villain around who is eviler. Contrast Arson, Murder, and Admiration, Holier Than Thou, Lesser of Two Evils, More Hero than Thou, A Lighter Shade of Grey. The villain claiming to be Eviler than Thou is showing that sometimes it's not true that Even Evil Has Standards, while the villain they're claiming to be worse than (if it's true and the other villain proudly agrees) may be a straight example of Even Evil Has Standards. Also one of the defining traits of a Stupid Evil character (who is usually too idiotic or shortsighted to realize that they may have to work with someone again down the line and that betraying them tends to make this impossible); this is where the phrase "don't shit where you eat" tends to show up a lot, as villains with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder borne of this trope tend to have difficulty finding people who will work with them and will have to contend with a lot of other villains who want to kick their asses. In extreme cases it may lead to Body-Count Competition particularly between public enemies and serial killers who will treat the number of their victims as proportional to their criminal status.

Compare Make Way for the New Villains, when the bigger, eviler threat is a newly introduced character, and Hijacked by Ganon, when an older Big Bad usurps a newer one. See also Do Wrong, Right.


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    Films — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys: The gang may be feared criminals, but they're principled and have lines they won't cross. Professor Marmalade, the true Big Bad, is willing to rob charity money meant for schools, hospitals and orphanages, and is willing to attempt murder to get away with it.
  • In The Batman vs. Dracula, the titular Dracula proves just how much he outclasses any threat previously seen in Gotham when he enslaves Joker and Penguin, the two most dangerous criminals the city has to offer. First, he hypnotized Penguin into becoming his human servant and turned Joker into another vampire minion.
  • Despicable Me: After his first run in with Gru, Vector's entire life becomes dedicated to showing that he's a better villain than him.
  • Megamind: The title character, a Card Carrying Punch-Clock Villain who acts more out of showmanship than any real malice, is horrified when he finds out that Titan/Hal turned out to be a villain who enjoys wreaking real havoc out of pure spite.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Adagio Dazzle is essentially an even more jerkass version of the first film's Sunset Shimmer, only with far more threatening abilities and a diabolical mindset thrown into the mix. She even goes so far as to tell the Heel-Face Turned Sunset herself that the Dazzlings will succeed where she failed and further mocks her by saying that no-one will remember her actions when they're done with CHS. Fittingly enough, it's Sunset Shimmer who ultimately provides the winning edge the Rainbooms need to win.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Johann Schmidt betrays a delegation of Those Wacky Nazis when they come to see his work (having reassigned him to the Alps for his transformation), revealing that one of the cities he plans to bomb in his attempt to gain power with his Asgardian weapons was Berlin. You know the guy is evil when he becomes worse by taking off the Reich.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • In The Dark Knight, The Joker constantly berates small-time crooks and mobsters for being petty and shallow enough to care only about profit while ignoring loftier ideals of Evil:
      Joker: You and your kind, all you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them!
    • The Dark Knight Rises: John Daggett hires Bane to help him in his schemes to take control of Wayne Enterprises, and realizes all too late that Bane was the one who was using him all along. Bane is also implied to have actually been too evil and extreme for Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows themselves.
      Daggett: You're pure evil!
      Bane: I'm necessary evil. (snaps Daggett's neck)
  • In Hellraiser: Bloodline, Pinhead berates his demon ally Angelique for trying to win John Merchant over through seduction. He thinks it takes too long and wouldn't be as much fun as torturing John and his loved ones until they give in.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie: Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa free Ivan Ooze from his prison, expecting him to be willing to work for them. Instead, Ivan imprisons them in a snowglobe and usurps their minions and operations.
  • MonsterVerse: One of the main things separating the MonsterVerse incarnation of King Ghidorah from previous iterations is that this version is nobody's minion, and everyone who attempts to subjugate or manipulate him quickly finds that Evil Is Not a Toy with him.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Eco-Terrorist Alan Jonah and his partner-in-crime Emma Russell awaken Ghidorah under the assumptions that they can control him using the ORCA and that doing so will help restore Earth's ecosphere. Ghidorah quickly proves that he's the one Titan who should never have been awakened — the ORCA fails to have any effect on him except to make him insensate with a murderous need to kill the device and anyone near it, and he takes things completely out of the eco-terrorists' control when he simultaneously awakens and takes control of all the dormant Titans by himself. When Emma realizes Ghidorah has no intention of restoring natural order but will instead create a human-eradicating extinction event, she's horrified to the point of a Heel–Face Turn.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: It's revealed that Apex Cybernetics are using Ghidorah's surviving skull's telepathy as the control for Mechagodzilla, a Humongous Mecha which they've designed to be as powerful as Godzilla, for their megalomaniacal plan to enslave or exterminate the Titans in the name of Muggle Power. If you thought this was an insanely idiotic move on Apex's part, you'd be right, since the moment Mechagodzilla gains Hollow Earth energy as a lasting power source, Ghidorah's subconsciousness hijacks the Mecha and it promptly kills Apex's chiefs and destroys their base while leaving Apex's plan in ruins.
  • A major plot element in The Ninth Gate is that two very rich and rather nasty people — a Satanist and a guy who just wants the power — are both after a book believed capable of summoning the devil. Ultimately this leads to an epic scene in which the latter crashes the former's black mass, kills her in plain sight of the other cultists, and gives a rant saying "You Satanists are amateurs, only I understand the true power of this book" while they flee in terror.
    Balkan: Look around, what do you see? A bunch of buffoons in fancy dress. You think the Prince of Darkness would deign to manifest himself before the likes of you? He never has and he never will!
  • The "black" Predators in Predators are bigger, nastier and somehow even uglier than the classic green Preds. Instead of hunting humans on their own turf, they kidnap human warriors to hunt them on a "game preserve" planet, in between torturing the classic ones they've captured.
  • In Akira Kurosawa's Ran, the Setting Update of King Lear, Lady Kaeda plays the same role that Edmund plays in the play, but she is even more evil than Edmund, as it turns out that the daimyo in the role of Lear destroyed her entire family when she was little, and she's been in it for revenge for decades.
  • In The Rocketeer, Mob boss Eddie Valentine turns on his partner, actor Neville Sinclair, the moment he learns the latter's scheme is to turn the rocket-pack over to the Nazis. "I might not make an honest buck, but I'm one hundred percent American!"note 
  • In Stargate: Continuum, the other Goa'uld System Lords are appalled at Ba'al's choice of a pragmatic strategy for the invasion of Earth by framing it as the start of a benevolent new alliance for the Tau'ri/humans. His consort Qetesh assassinates him for this and orders the fleet to get back to their traditional way of doing things: obliterate every human on the planet with an orbital bombardment.
  • Star Wars:

    Music 
  • GWAR. In many songs and albums the band find themselves in rivalry with other forces of evil, including among others the devil and a tyrannical theocratic giant robot named Cardinal Syn, who are incompatible with their philosophy of mindless destruction.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • When Victor Quiñonez arrived in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling from IWA Japan, he formed the Puerto Rican Army, who proved eviler than former invaders, the W*ING Alliance, who ended up allying with the FMW roster against him.
  • The brothers of destruction pull this on Kaientai, who were specifically out that night to prove they were the most evil beings in the WWF.
  • James Mitchell pulled this on Raven in TNA, going so far as to steal The Gathering (CM Punk and Julio Dinero]] from him.
  • The meaning of "El Rudo de Los Rudos", though despite the claime, Axel Cruz is a friendly guy.
  • In WWC, former top threat to the promotion Ray González has this pulled on him by the Maestro, after he becomes the manager of La Artilleria Pesada and has them lay out all of the WWC except for Carly, forcing an enemy mine situation between them.
  • Molly Holly had pulled this on Gail Kim, who had shifted from a baby face to Tweener after it was revealed she was really only out for herself on Monday Night Raw by basically promising to beat up Kim as many times as necessary until she agreed to serve Holly.
  • Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes pull this in Chikara on UltraMantis Black and his Order Of The Neo Solar Temple, purposefully calling out Mantis upon revealing himself, beating down his group and anyone else around who was at arm's length, taking Mantis's followers and his resources for getting more.
  • Crazy Stalker with a Crush Mickie James has this pulled on her by Edge, when he and Lita decide they are going to take out Trish Stratus, whom Mickie had been feuding with for half of her then WWE career. Soon, Lita even had won Mickie's title belt.
  • El Poder Supremo pulled this on The Broncos, La Revolición Dominicana and their valets (with Rico Suave personally power bombing Black Rose in favor of Lady Demonique and Sexy Juliette) and allied with WWC's invaders from NWS and New Empire. Hans von Doering then proved himself an eviler foreigner when he laid out Bronco #3 and covered him with the German flag.
  • Black Rose has been the target of this a lot. She turned on La Amazona out of envy for the IWA belt but would be blindsided and supplanted by Lady Demonique. Amazona herself would set out to prove she could be even worse than Black Rose after Genesis won the belt. La Rosa Negra was the top threat to the PWS Bombshells thanks to Vinny Vice but then was upstaged by Strength In Numbers.
  • SIN also pulled this on Jennifer Cruz, who had been abandoned by her cousin, Amber Rodriguez, for the group.
  • Sheik Abdul Bashir's motivation in TNA was to give people the "evil Arab terrorist" he's tired of getting accused of being. So Sheik runs afoul of Samoa Joe, who drags him back stage, chains him up and tortures him with unwilling suspension, a tribal knife and a kendo stick before warning Bashir to never get in the way of his "Nation Of Violence" again.
  • 3MB have this pulled on them when they set an ambush for Triple H only to be jumped by The Shield. When they decide to call out the Shield they are instead confronted by Brock Lesnar.
  • In 2012, DJ Hyde pulled it on everyone directly involved in the Combat Zone or under its ownership, including WSU, with the possible exception of CZW's All Devouring Blackhole Loan Sharks, The Front, who themselves pulled this on Drew Gulak's Campaign For A Better Combat Zone.
  • After Kazuchika Okada joined and eventually became centerpiece, though not leader, of New Japan's resident evil Power Stable, Chaos, he's had this pulled on him twice. First by another power stable called Suzukigun after two of its members, Minoru Suzuki and Taichi, ganged up on him and then again when Chaos bailed on him in the face of AJ Styles and Bullet Club.
  • Montel Vontavious Porter originally returned to TNA as an investor who was tired of owners abusing wrestlers who needed the work and the fans who wanted to see a better product. He took over from Dixie Carter and all was well, until he saw LA Clipper's owner Donald Sterling lose his basketball team and realized being in charge of wrestling relations might not be enough to secure his position in the company. This lead to him becoming Drunk with Power, which lead to him, Kenny King and Bobby Lashley beating up Dixie Carter's nephew while basically asking her to do something about it.
  • In 2015, not long before the temporary closure March, Joe Bravo and The Gentlemen's Club did this to Director Of Wrestling Operations Savio Vega, who was basically a face by default anyway, as well as Americas Champion Mr. 450, who was quickly becoming a face by default. Around the same time, La Rabia, a group who were also faces by default who were "feuding" with Vega and "La Corporation" were beaten for the Trios Title belts by three members of the original Los Rabiosos, who had called them out as "fakes". Legio would then attack Rabiosos leader Mr. Big and ultimately defeat the group for the belts with their new member Vassago and take their manager Glenda Lee while The Gentlemen's Club would find their Television Champion Hiram Tua laid out after he walked into an ambush set by Superestrella Ash, who was leading a new group called La Verdadera Revolución(a Take That! towards WWC's Revolución). Evil aint a happy family here.
  • CM Punk ultimately proved to be this to Wade Barrett, usurping control of The Nexus from the latter within one week. Once Punk was fully healed from his skull fracture and ready to return to action, all it took was one vulnerable moment in Barrett's leadership for Punk to undermine him and kick him out of the group and to Smack Down, where Barrett would form the Corre in an attempt at revenge. The reality is that while Barrett was talented and charismatic, he was still a rookie, while Punk was a three-time world champion who managed to oust another major star of similar standing to Cena out of the WWE entirely, and almost entirely on his own. Barrett never stood a chance against that level of ruthlessness and experience.

    Tabletop Games 
  • An ongoing contest between various factions in the Crapsack World that is Warhammer 40,000.
    • Fabius Bile, who may have accomplished the highly impressive task of being eviler than the Chaos Gods. As he puts it, "The Dark Gods and their slaves have nothing more to offer me now, but I have far more to offer them." In fact, he was once taken prisoner by the Dark Eldar, but they were so impressed by his own sadistic genius that they shared some of their knowledge with him and let him go.
    • Abaddon also seems to enjoy showing off just how much of a nice guy he isn't, by doing things like destroying a ship because its captain pissed him off and killing a slave for looking at him. It's like he had the Villain Ball welded to his armour.
    • Certain factions of Tyranids and Orks, two of the greatest threats to the galaxy, are currently duking it out as one of the hive fleets got diverted by an Inquisitor straight into one of the largest and fightiest Ork empires in the galaxy. When the conflict is finally over, the surviving force will be stronger than ever; the Tyranids will have absorbed the Orks' biomass and will make more resources, or the Orks will have been empowered by the conflict enough to go on a near-unstoppable rampage. Either way one goes on a rampage throughout the galaxy.
    • In one short story, a Chaos Daemon possesses a Dark Eldar Reaver. The Daemon tells his host that he will use his body to cause great harm and suffering. The Dark Eldar's response?
      "Good."
  • There's also the epic, eternal Blood War between baatezu (Lawful Evil) and tanar'ri (Chaotic Evil) in Dungeons & Dragons over which of them best exhibits capital "E" evil. The yugoloths (Neutral Evil) milk this for all it's worth. This has gone on to the point that the critters on the Good side of the table sit back and watch instead of doing anything active to combat it. The idea was born largely in the Planescape setting, which used the Blood War to overtly demonstrate how the setting was more concerned about Law versus Chaos than Good versus Evil.
    • Some supplements imply that without the Blood War, the devils and demons would be able to present a unified front against the forces of good, which would be a Very Bad Thing. This was more explicit in older editions, particularly in the Greyhawk setting, as the ancient god of destruction Tharizdun actually had once united the fiends untold eons ago, requiring all the gods of Good and Neutrality (and their followers) to team up for survival.
      • In fairness, that's often presented as the point of the Blood War. Asmodeus, the first/greatest baatezu, was originally a celestial, who was essentially made to fall with a following by the celestial powers that be exactly in order to rival and combat the tanar'ri. Or so he sometimes claims.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition downplays the Demon/Devil rivalry in favor of the God/Primordial rivalry, but since devils are fallen angels who overthrew their god, and demons are corrupted primordials, a semblance of it still exists. The contrasts between the two are further magnified, though, with demons being the violent destroyers of existence and devils being the clever schemers out to corrupt people.
      • The Blood War is referenced in Manual of the Planes: it's been put on hold, not stopped. The devils want to make sure that it's at a time of their choosing. On the other side of the Material Plane, each demon lord would gleefully shred devils by the score, but the first one to make a move will return (if he returns) to find his layer has been divided among his rivals, who took advantage of his back being turned. An attack on certain Abyssal sites, such as Twelvetrees, by devils (or PCs pretending to be devils) could light the tinder before you can say "Fireball".
    • Another 4e example would be the battle between the God of War, Bane, and the God of Savagery, Gruumsh. Bane is a strict, disciplined soldier who believes in The Spartan Way, while Gruumsh is the living embodiment of unbridled Unstoppable Rage. Gruumsh wants Bane's title. The kicker is that the other gods, even the good ones, recognize that Bane is truly the more evil(he plans on getting rid of that nasty little free will problem, and sponsor Gruumsh against him, figuring that if nothing else, they'd keep each other occupied.
  • In Exalted, the setting faces three kinds of cosmic danger: The Fair Folk, who want to assimilate the world into the sea of primal chaos that spawned it; the demonic Yozis, who want to conquer and rule the world (Which, in all fairness, they created); and the Neverborn, who want to unmake the world into perfect nothingness. The three forces haven't clashed significantly (In fact, the Fair Folk and the Neverborn worked together once) in the history of the setting, but considering their single-minded focus and the fact that in a few years any of them will have the power to accomplish their objectives, a big showdown is inevitable.

    Theatre 
  • A humorous example of this trope occurs in the play and film Arsenic and Old Lace, where the "good" murderers, the Brewster sisters, are contrasted with the bad murderer, their Ax-Crazy nephew Jonathan. After losing an argument with his lackey about which has the highest body count, Jonathan replies with, "Well, that can easily be taken care of," and prepares to kill again immediately.
  • Older Than Steam: This goes at least as far back as King Lear by William Shakespeare, which contrasts Lear's two spoiled daughters with Gloucester's embittered bastard son Edmund. They eventually team up, all planning to double-cross each other — but Edmund, who has had to struggle for everything, turns out to be smarter and meaner.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has 2-4. Two actors use increasingly more evil means to one-up each other, with innocents being collateral damage. Until the more evil one gets his rival killed.
    • Also, Redd White might be thouroughly and almost easily beaten by two clean lawyers, but he could keep any corrupt person, even ministers, at bay through his blackmail.
  • Fate/stay night loves this trope. Firstly, there's Caster getting shown up by Gilgamesh (who serves Kotomine) in Fate, followed later by the plot of Unlimited Blade Works, with Caster trying (and failing) to out-evil Kotomine, who is himself out-competed by Gilgamesh (though mostly because of a self-caused Villain Ball moment). Finally, in Heaven's Feel, Kotomine, Zouken and Dark Sakura end up in a three-way villain free-for-all after Gilgamesh and Caster are defeated by Dark Sakura, with Zouken partially controlling Sakura before he is all but killed by Kotomine and later finished off by Dark Sakura. Dark Sakura also all but kills Kotomine in the process, but as the True Ending reveals, he is still left as the last standing and his plan is again the one that Shirou has to thwart.
    • No matter what, however, Shinji is always on the losing side of villain showdowns. Always.

    Webcomics 
  • In Adventurers!, Khrima and Eternion got into this a lot, dueling for the role of Final Boss. While Khrima had been around longer, Eternion was the eviler of the two, and Khrima was quite annoyed by the other's attempt to capitalize on that and force him into an Enemy Mine with the heroes. Ultimately, the trope is subverted, as the heroes defeat Eternion and then fight Khrima.
  • During the "Love Potion PART 2" arc of Sluggy Freelance, Yandere assassin Oasis comes into conflict with demon possessed Gwynn. The demon K'Z'K proves eviler.
    • When Riff first meets Diabolical Mastermind Minion Master, they face off in a 'Madder Scientist Than Thou', until he bribes Bun-bun to show he's Eviler.
      Riff: He doubted my scienceness!
  • The Order of the Stick
  • In Nodwick (Yeagar's pupils arc) Count Repugsive was kicked out of his own castle by "someone more evil".
  • Ja Wangnan from Tower of God invokes, lampshades and discusses this trope when he gets Viole to help him fight Kim Lurker.
    "Somebody once told me that the one who beats down the bad guy is not the good guy, but an even worse guy. And you, you're the worst guy in this Tower, aren't you? So why don't you punish that pathetically evil with me. Then I'll give you this."
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: The match between Raichi and U13 Vegeta has Raichi repeatedly try to mindgame Vegeta with the massacre of the Saiyans in his universe, only to be stunned when Vegeta not only doesn't care, he enjoys the chance to slaughter them all as Raichi's ghosts.
  • 8-Bit Theater: The Dark Elves had the national anthem of Elfland: And Screw You Too, which included the line We are a race of total bastards. Then the elven population Thief hails from usurped them, banished them underground, and stole their national anthem. Tells you something about the elves in this comic.
    "There's a line in the song about it. It goes... 'We are a race of total bastards.'" — Thief

    Web Original 
  • Michelle Clore and Terrence in KateModern. One is a high-ranking member of an evil secret society, the other a psychopathic loan shark.
  • LifesBlood Labs, the evil corporation from LG15: the resistance, along with the good old Order of Dederah, the Ancient Conspiracy from lonelygirl15 who don't take kindly to their new rivals. LBL don't exactly do anything to endear themselves to the Order either, as Sarah notes:
    Sarah: They're so bad that they're stealing from the bad guys! That's like taking candy from a baby. Who is totally evil!
  • Garrelf and Beardbeard of Dorf Quest both get declared the ultimate villains of the plot when things hit the fan and they end up on opposite sides.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History:
  • Episode 44 of Ask That Guy with the Glasses has Ask That Guy attempting to disturb Bennett the Sage. The end result is Ask That Guy huddled in the corner in the fetal position as Sage rapes him.

    Web Video 

 
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