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Gratuitous Nazis

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Heil Dino-Führer!

"We've learned this week that Hitler shows up in the darndest places."

So you have a story you want to write, but there's just one problem. Your villains just aren't villainous enough. You want villains that are threatening, intimidating, and just reeking of evil, but you can't come up with anything. Here's an idea: throw some Nazis in there!

What's that you say? Your work doesn't take place during World War II? No problem! If you want them showing up during the Battle of Gettysburg, just have some jump in a time machine! The reason they don't show up in the history books early is because a bunch of Allied time travelers dragged them back to the 20th century before they could change anything. Or you could just skip the whole backstory altogether! They're Nazis - everyone knows they're bad guys!

Fair warning though, sudden use of Nazis may have your audience invoking both Godwin's Law and Chandler's Law. They may also accuse you of pandering, as they didn't need to see swastikas to know the villains were evil.

Sometimes used for Historical Hilarity (of the Adolf Hitlarious variety), particularly if a character utterly fails at history. But be careful... many audiences don't find Nazis funny at all.

Note that this trope is about actual Nazis that are shoehorned into something that has nothing to do with World War II or Nazi Germany. If a character is in a Nazi-like uniform, but is not actually wearing a real Nazi uniform, it's Putting on the Reich. If a Nazi-like organization exists, but isn't the Nazi Party, it's A Nazi by Any Other Name. This trope also doesn't apply to non-World War II settings that one would expect to find Nazis, such as a secret Argentinian hideout. Inversely, it does apply to a World War II setting where one wouldn't expect to see Nazis, such as the Battle of Midway.

Compare Gratuitous Ninja (ninjas in a work that's not about ninjas), Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!, (Humongous Mecha in a work that's not about giant robots), and Everything's Deader with Zombies (zombies in a work not about zombies or The Undead); they can overlap in Nazi Zombies. Contrast No Swastikas (Nazis are removed from a work about them) and Non-Nazi Swastika (where unrelated things may look Nazi). For gratuitous comparisons to Nazism in debates, see Godwin's Law. noreallife


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A bunch of Neo-Nazis are a throwaway, single-arc group of villains in Black Lagoon.
  • In episode 5 of FLCL, Naota's dad is suddenly dressed in a Nazi uniform during the pellet gun fight.
  • The Kekko Kamen OVA had Ms. Gestapoko, an insane Nazi dominatrix from the Auschwitz Academy and the first of Toenail of Satan's Punishing Teachers brought to defeat the eponymous heroine.
  • In The Mystical Laws, the Godom Empire's emblem is a tilted swastika on a red background to emphasize it's status as a fascist superpower, and the government is explicitly referred to as a "Nazi power" in several summaries, likely because Everything's Eviler with Nazis.
  • In Spriggan, a faction of Neo-Nazis seek out a Crystal Skull in order to use it power to sow chaos, which would allow the reestablishment of Nazi Germany. One of its members, Bo Brantze, was a ninja-trained fighter.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Dark Knight Returns after Batman breaks up the Mutant Gang a liquor store is being held up by a giant female Nazi named Bruno with swastikas over her otherwise-uncovered breasts who has two Nazi-like Mooks. Years later, she showed up in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder as a Mook of the Joker.
  • In Fantastic Four, the first Hate-Monger turned out to be Adolf 1963! Later Ret Conned into being a clone of Hitler, but he had the first Hitler's consciousness inside, as the original turned out to be a Body Surfer.
  • A variation in Hellboy, since Nazis (or rather, reactivated Nazis with Gnarly Weapons projects) are recurring foes: in Hollow Earth, a half rusted machine with a great big swastika is found miles underground, but has no real influence on the plot (since the subterranean dwellers are already hostile to the surface dwellers).
  • The parody comic Major Bummer features a villain in two issues called Tyrannosaurus Reich, a Nazi T-rex and the current page image. He even came from a dimension full of Nazi dinosaurs.
  • In Ninja High School, multiple characters (especially during the earlier stories) appear with Nazi-like uniforms to show how evil they are. Main character Jeremy also has a Nazi Superpowered Evil Side. It's largely thanks to Ben Dunn's Author Appeal for all things World War II, as other stuff from that time period (like heroes wearing G.I. gear) randomly pop up as well.
  • Preacher: Miss Oatlash, Odin Quincannon's Amoral Attorney, moonlights as a Nazi-themed dominatrix who worships Adolf Hitler, whom she maintains was a peace-loving individual who had absolutely nothing to do with anything that may or may not have happened in Germany in the 30s and 40s.
  • In Sin City bad guys sometimes have swastika tattoos, apparently identifying them as Nazis (even when they work for/with non-white bad guys).
  • The Big Bads of Superman: At Earth's End are twin clones of Hitler...for some reason.
  • In the Denser and Wackier 2017 run of Vampirella, in the post-apocalyptic future, the Third Reich just randomly pops up out of the ground again.
  • In Zombies en la Moneda, a story involves a group of chilean neo-Nazis, who appear, beat up one of the protagonists by mistaking him for a zombie... and then they themselves are mistaken for zombies, and killed by a group of soldiers.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Among the outlaws gathered by Hedley Lamarr to attack Rock Ridge at the end of Blazing Saddlesnote  is a group of Nazi soldiers. Who keep saluting with the wrong arm. Chalk it up to Rule of Funny. Remember, this is a movie where the horses sometimes have handlebars.
  • The Blues Brothers is about two blues musicians trying to save the orphanage they grew up in... and just happen to run into Nazis along the way.
    Elwood: Illinois Nazis.note 
    Jake: I hate Illinois Nazis.
  • Death Race 2000. One of the racers is Matilda the Hun, a Nazi who drives a car that resembles a World War II era V-1 flying bomb. She and her navigator wear German army uniforms, swastikas on their helmets and Nazi-style swastika armbands.
  • Hunk: As a result of his constant flitting through time, The Devil shows up at one point in the present day (i.e. 1987) dressed in an SS uniform: complete with a High-Class Glass to complete the image of a Nazi Nobleman.
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men has the infamous "Hitler Building" which is blown up during the final battle. It was so sudden and out of place, it earned a Big "WHAT?!" from Mike and the Bots.
  • Kamen Rider: The First and Kamen Rider: The Next subvert their Showa-era TV predecessors since Shocker is directly implied to be established by surviving Neo-Nazis. Shocker in the movies mean Sacred Hegemony Of Cycle Kindred Evolutionary Realm.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian has a deleted scene involving a Nazi Jewish suicide squad (as in, they kill themselves with swords).
  • Rat Race has a scene where the (Jewish) Pear family, on a road trip through Nevada, sees a sign for the Barbie Museum and decides to visit. It turns out to actually be the Klaus Barbie Museum, and it's staffed entirely by Neo-Nazis. This serves to set up an Overly Pre-Prepared Gag where Randy Pear (played by John Lovitz) gets mistaken for a very tasteless Hitler impersonator by a convention of WWII veterans.
  • The Spirit gives us The Octopus, who * has "theme" days. Some days he's dressed as a cowboy. Some days he looks like a samurai. And one day, when he has the Spirit tied up, it's Nazi day and he dresses himself, his assistant and his base up in a Nazi theme. The Octopus is played by Samuel L. Jackson, by the way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Barney Miller: When a graduate student builds an atomic bomb in his apartment Barney calls the feds, who send a bomb expert with a German accent who says it's a real atom bomb. He makes small talk with the man who built it. (paraphrased)
    Dr. Bauer: Imagine how different the world would be if we had the bomb first.
    Thayer: We did.
    Baur: Oh, yes. Of course. Now we did. Then we didn't.
  • Crisis on Earth-X, the Arrowverse four-way crossover for 2017, involves Nazi dopplegangers of the main characters invading from Earth-X, the one Earth in the multiverse where the Nazis won.
    Barry: Nazis?
    Everyone: I hate Nazis.
  • Danger 5: An Affectionate Parody of 1960's/1980's Spy Fiction, except for some reason they're fighting Adolf Hitler and the rest of the Third Reich decades after WW2 ended.
  • The Doctor Who story "Silver Nemesis" adds a bunch of neo-Nazis led by an elderly Third Reich fugitive (an overt No Celebrities Were Harmed for Martin Bormann) to a 1980s-set story which already has two other villainous factions, for no particular reason. This was the only 1963-89 Doctor Who story to feature actual Nazis, although a lot of stories feature evil alien cultures with a suspicious resemblance.
  • Glenn Beck imagines World War III will feature Muslims, Russians, Chinese, and Nazis all fighting to destroy the western way of life. Seriously.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In the Showa-era Kamen Rider TV series, it's heavily implied by Word of God that Shocker (and its successors) were created by Nazi officials after they escaped capture from the Allied Forces by the end of World War II.
    • Kamen Rider X has Starfish Hitlernote . as a Monster of the Week. He even comes with Nazi Mooks!
  • Red Dwarf: In The Teaser of "Stoke Me a Clipper", Ace Rimmer fights Nazis and wrestles an alligator on board a Nazi airplane. This is in a show set three million years into the future.
  • Saturday Night Live featured a skit in which a bunch of high-school dropouts discussed The American Civil War. Chris Farley's character seems to think that the Union had Nazis on their side.
    "Wham! Wham.. wham! And then this southern [man] plugged this Nazi guy in a headlock! And started pounding him! Bam! Bam bam bam bam!"
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Patterns of Force" uses a deliberately recreated Nazi party on an alien planet as antagonists. Our heroes spend the episode trying to find out how this came about.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In the two-part episode "The Killing Game", the Hirogen have seized Voyager and brainwashed the crew into thinking they are characters in their own holodeck games. Although there's mention of other eras being used, the major emphasis is on a holodeck program set in Nazi-occupied France.
  • Super Sentai
    • Similar to the Kamen Rider X example above, an episode of J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai features a Nazi-themed monster named Führer Crocodile as a Monster of the Week.
    • Also, several early Super Sentai Big Bads had the title "Führer", despite not being German or having any apparent connection to the National Socialist Party, such as the Black Cross Führer and Führer Hell Saturn, in case "Führer" wasn't enough indication that he's evil.note 
  • Similarly to both the examples from Kamen Rider and Super Sentai above, Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain featured a female criminal completing a ritual to be possessed by the ghost of a female Nazi officer sealed in a painting. Seriously.
  • The X-Files: In the episode "First-Person Shooter", a virtual-reality video game has one Nazi character in it, who just watches and never actually does anything.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • There have been several Heels who have taken on a Nazi theme, regardless of if they were German or not. This was probably done to make them appear more evil.
    • Fritz and Waldo Von Erich, the "Nazi Brothers" (no relation). Though the Nazi elements of the Von Erich would be fazed out in later years, leading to a gradual face turn.
    • El Nazi and La Nazi from CMLL, then came Furia Nazi later. La and Furia would become known as La Comandante and Furia Roja instead but Roja still kept a swastika on his mask.
    • Matilda the Hun of GLOW
    • While dying her hair blonde could simply be written of as delinquency, wrestling with a swastika painted on her forehead pushed Zenjo legend Dump Matsumoto into this territory.
    • Diane von Hoffman from WCW, USWA and many promotions, even German ones. Back in the day anyway, she seems to have given up the ideology by at least the turn of the millennium and is friendly enough with Josie Bynum, who (along with Epiphany) loves being black. Still kept the Von Erich claw though.
    • AAA's Los Spice Boys "band" broke up after Vangelis openly embraced Nazism.
    • In Canada, Stranglehold Pro Wrestling had Nazi Destructor, who finished his opponents with a claw he called the concentration camp.
    • Ron and Don Harris got SS shirts and tattoos for their appearances in NWA-TNA.
    • In 2010, El Imposible briefly teamed up with Dark Devil and Guerrero Nazi in IWRG.

  • This is actually a very popular trope when it comes to Regietheater. In order to make their productions seem more deep, provocative and critical to society, plenty of directors on big and small stages alike like to use this trope on classic plays, for example by turning Shakesperean Mooks into club-wielding skinheads.

    Video Games 
  • The English version of Bionic Commando (1988) accidentally becomes this trope, as Hitler's appearance during the ending was not edited out like the rest of the game. Averted in the original, as the Empire was a Neo-Nazi organization all along.
  • The Final Boss from the second Epic Battle Fantasy game is Lance, a guy who is dressed like a Nazi (though his swastikas are backwards) and trying to Take Over the World. He's the only Nazi in the game.
  • Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures lampshades this as, the game took place in Central America and some of the quests has Indy fighting Nazis, to Indy's own bewilderment on how there is a Nazi regiment in Central America.
  • In Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, the mission "Singapore Sling" has you attacking a secret meeting between Nazi and Japanese officials. In reality, Germany never had a significant presence in Southeast Asia, and Singapore was under total Japanese rule from 1942-1945 with nary a Nazi in sight in the country.
  • Persona 2: Innocent Sin has the Last Battalion, an army of Nazis who were rumored to have survived the war and are looking for the Crystal Skulls in Sumaru City. One could think that, while it is true that some of the Nazis were interested in getting their hands on Public Domain Artifacts, the Last Battalion could easily be replaced with any other treasure-hunting group (even a fictional one), and the plot would still make sense. Then it is revealed that they exist precisely because Nazis were so infamous and surrounded by conspiracy theories. They're basically rumors brought to life by the power of Nyarlathotep, who impersonates Hitler himself.


    Web Original 
  • Invoked with the gag game "The Challenge." Certain "versions" of the game were entitled "Hitler's Revenge" due to an in-universe translation error.
  • Cracked:
    • The Quick Fix article entitled "4 Baffling Ways the Continent of Asia Loves Hitler," which showcases bizarre appearances by the Third Reich in Asian businesses. Besides the Hitler Fried Chicken example above, the article features an Indian clothing store named "Hitler," magnets and key rings of a vampire Hitler in Taiwan, and an SS-themed cake shop in Indonesia.
    • An article about incredibly offensive weddings features a Chinese couple having a Nazi-themed wedding, complete with the groom in an SS uniform and saluting.
    • Seanbaby's banner on Cracked features him kicking Hitler in the face for some reason. As of this time, he only has one article that has anything to to with World War II, and it contains no actual Nazis.
  • This is a common feature of bad Creepypastas, whose authors like to explain the existence of some immoral experiment by saying Nazis are running it, even if set in the Present Day.
  • Notoriously, some "Finger Family Videos" feature Hitler for no apparent reason.
  • The original version of Godwin's Law stated that this trope will eventually happen to any discussion, usually via Hitler Ate Sugar. The popular version discourages people from derailing a debate with this trope.
  • The Ignore Hitler meme. The creator even describes it as adding "gratuitous Hitlers in the drawing with no relevance to the actual answer..."
  • The Nostalgia Critic has made a few out-of-the-blue Nazi jokes:
    • Parodied in his review of Bridge to Terabithia. He criticizes the animation of the fantasy segments as inconsistent, and uses his reviews suddenly changing styles to Frank Miller's as an example. The scene then shifts to a monochrome Sin City-like setting with Samuel L. Jackson standing behind him in a Nazi uniform.
      Nostalgia Critic: Hey...Samuel L. Jackson.
      Samuel L. Jackson: I'm a Nazi for some reason!
      Nostalgia Critic: I will in no way question that.
    • In the review for Sharknado, he and The Cinema Snob are trying to come up with snappy titles for B Movies. One of the titles they think of is "Nazi Cannibal Spiders".
  • What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? featured a Thai fried chicken fast food restaurant decided to call itself "Hitler" complete with Der Fuehrer's face in the logo much to the confusion of the Radio Dead Aire crew.
    Tara: What the fuck does Hitler have to do with chicken?!

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: The guys try to fake Quagmire's death, which involves him being shot (with a Nerf gun) by a Nazi (Cleveland, who is black).
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play the Quest for the Wholly Gruel"note , Mr. Cat dresses as a Nazi to look more "evil".
  • The Simpsons: A Treehouse of Horror segment had Billy the Kid and other infamous Wild West outlaws return as zombies, alongside "the most evil German of them all... Kaiser Wilhelm!"
    Cowboy Zombie: He ain't no cowboy!
    Wilhelm: Sure I am! Yippee, wippee, wippee!
  • Cartman dressing up like Hitler for Halloween in South Park.
  • One of the early villains in The Venture Brothers was "Girl Hitler", a female character who dressed like Hitler and had a toothbrush mustache.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Did Nazi That Coming, Everythings Eviler With Nazis, Everythings Worse With Hitler, Instant Evil Just Add Nazis, Nazis For The Heil Of It, Nazis Outta Nowhere


The Hitler Building

One of the battle scenes in Invasion of the Neptune Men inexplicably contains a building with a large mural of Adolf Hitler that gets blown up. Mike and the bots are understandably very surprised.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / GratuitousNazis

Media sources: