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Joe Coyne demonstrates the rationality and levelheaded demeanor typical of this trope as he begins his career as the Penny Plunderer.
"I used to be somebody in this town... now everybody's got a gimmick."
The Riddler, Batman: Hush

id-i-o-syn-cra-sy: a characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual.

cra-zy: mentally deranged; demented; insane.

The type of Supervillain who can only commit a crime a certain way. This goes way beyond the Calling Card. These villains will fixate on one idea, one thing that they will continue to use over and over, which eventually becomes their entire philosophy. Everything becomes about this thing.

In real life, this is called monomania, an obsessive fixation on one idea or thing or person. It's particularly common in Superhero fiction, where villains often only have one gimmick to establish their identity.

Compare Beat It by Compulsion. See also Calling Card, Criminal Mind Games, The Gimmick. Frequently coincides with Steven Ulysses Perhero, with the villain's destiny apparently set from birth.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle: Everything the Princess does is in the name of getting a good night's sleep. Escaping? Getting rescued? Making friends? She couldn't care less. She just wants a nice comfy sleep.
  • Rare heroic example: All that the Goblin Slayer gives a damn about is killing goblins. All goblins must be wiped out with extreme prejudice. All goblin stragglers must be purged. All nests must be burned to the ground, flooded, gassed, whatever will get the job done. Even the slightest hint of goblins must be investigated. If a mission isn't about killing goblins, it isn't worth even a glance. Goblins today, goblins tomorrow, goblins 24/7.
  • Erika from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is obsessed with Kaguya, and her spin-off series shows that just about everything she does is motivated by her desire to be just like Kaguya or get closer to her. One prime example would be when she studied really hard for the end of semester exams specifically so she could get third place and have her name listed right after Kaguya's on the score list.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash: Rainbow Raider (real name Roy G. Bivolo), a failed artist who became obsessed with colors as a result of his colorblindness.
  • The pre-Paperinik New Adventures Paperinik villain Inquinator makes you happy that Garth Ennis never will write Disney comics: he is a musophile, obsessed with dirt, filth and garbage, and his crimes are invariably littering and vandalism made out to be something special by the sheer scale. He later tried to rain black ink down on the White House.
  • Spider-Man: Norman Osborn's Green Goblin suit is patterned after Halloween fright masks, his first flying device was a witch's broom before he switched to a bat-shaped glider, his arsenal is mostly jack-o'-lanterns, ghosts, and more bats... Osborn must really like Halloween.
  • Superman: Bizarro feels compelled to do the opposite of everything normal people do. This leads to some truly strange behavior, such as building a basement on top of his house.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Evidently hounded by her own name, Tigra Tropica finds a way to use tigers in all of her crimes, no matter how much they make her schemes far more complicated and convoluted.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Guild of Gamblers has risen up the wealth and prestige ladder and can now afford to employ its own in-house enforcers, the Dealers and Croupiers. Used as debt collectors who will call round to politely explain that a person of honour and decency does not try to evade or wriggle out of a gambling debt, sometimes they are used to perform more emphatic tasks to explain to somebody that the Guild is concerned about their behaviour. Given the unique ethos of Ankh-Morpork and to spare the City Watch an un-necessary investigation, they leave a single Caroc card next to the body so as to signal to the Watch this is a Guild matter. From the point of view of Sam Vimes, discovering the Ten of Swords next to the body means he can then call the matter a case of Attempted or Actual Suicide, and close the case. note 

    Films — Live-Action  
  • The Jigsaw Killer from the Saw movies is compulsive about his sadistic torture games, which he becomes infamous for, and his whole life seems to have revolved around them ever since he began making them. In fact, a major plot point in the later movies is being able to tell Jigsaw's Death Traps from those of an apprentice or copycat by using this trope; he always has to give the victim a means of freeing themselves from the trap (as he firmly believes he's "helping" them appreciate life by facing their sins through the games), whereas the apprentices/copycats usually make the traps inescapable.
  • Invoked but subverted in Home Alone. Every time Marv and Harry rob a house, Marv plugs a sink and leaves the water running so it floods, because he says that they need to have a sort of gimmicky calling card; he wants them to be known as the Wet Bandits. Subverted because Marv's not really crazy so much as he is just an idiot, and when Kevin's efforts lead to them being caught by the police, the officer even mentions that it's because of what Marv did that they'll be able to trace all their criminal activity. In the second movie Marv wraps tape around his hand to try and establish a new gimmick as the Sticky Bandits; the only use he finds for this is to slightly more easily steal loose change from a charity donation bin, which Harry mocks.
  • In 7, the murderous John Doe has a low opinion about humanity, but is specifically obsessed with the notion of the Seven Deadly Sins. In his own words, "We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it." Doe specifically targets individuals who are guilty of one of the seven sins: for example, the Gluttony victim is an extremely fat man, while the Greed victim is an Amoral Attorney who only cares about money.

  • In And Then There Were None, the killer "U.N. Owen" ("unknown"), who by their own admission is a sociopath, becomes obsessed with the idea of committing a murder, but they've also been struck by an extreme case of Black-and-White Insanity: only the guilty should be punished. Eventually, they hit upon the idea of killing people who caused various individuals to die, but didn't technically commit murder. Examples include a fundamentalist woman who fired and verbally abused her young housemaid after she became pregnant outside of marriage, leading the poor girl to drown herself, and a doctor who operated while drunk and inadvertently killed his patient. Notably, Owen refuses to touch or harm anyone who is genuinely innocent—their entire focus is on destroying the guilty.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Though The Middleman thinks the Palindrome (Ivan Avi) is like this, it turns out to be a subversion: he only left the mirrors behind because he thought he was a good artist.
  • El Ecoloco (the name means Eco-Crazy in fact) in Odisea Burbujas is a garbage-obsessed villain, who dresses as a homeless man, is always dirty (his Villain Song specifically says he hates water and soap), travels in a flying garbage can and tries to pollute the world as much as possible.
  • Invoked by Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld's episode "The Robbery":
    It's not like Batman, where there's three crooks in the city and everybody pretty much knows, who they are. Very few crooks even go to the trouble to come up with a theme for their careers anymore. It makes them a lot tougher to spot. Did you lose a sony? It could be the Penguin... I think we can round him up, he's dressed like a PENGUIN! We can find him, he's a PENGUIN!
  • Also invoked in The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon is obsessive-compulsive, neurotic, mysophobic and other many disorders that can be easily classified as monomania, prompting Leonard to say in one episode:
    The guy's one lab accident away from being a super villain.
  • Makoto Aizen of Ultraman R/B. While not an actual villain, he is behind all of the monster attacks in Ayaka City and transforms himself into Ultraman Orb Dark (an Evil Knockoff of Ultraman Orb) as part of his Engineered Heroics. As we found out later on, Makoto was possessed by an alien named Cereza, whose extreme fixation on Ultraman Orb and his human form Gai Kurenai started due to being rescued by the real Ultra. Inspired by his act, Cereza created Ultraman Orb Dark as his alter ego under the notion of being an Ultra just like Orb.

    Video Games 
  • The World Ends with You: Sho Minamimoto is obsessed with math and algebraic functions to the point where he uses them in his hints for each day's mission, but when you actually fight him... he kicks you. Over and over and over. No math except the ability to use it to create Taboo Noise, and cast Level ''i'' Flare by reciting pi to a hundred digits.
  • The Corwid of the Free from Zeno Clash are a bunch of insane forest-dwellers who each have a singular obsession that they fixate on to the exclusion of all else, regardless of whether or not it hurts themselves or other people. For example, one guy wants to be invisible, and accomplishes this by reasoning that being invisible means people can't see you, and people need eyes in order to see. Another guy just straight up wants to eat people. The only thing that stops them from fulfilling the "criminal" aspect of this trope is that there's probably no such thing as "crime" in a lawless place like Zenozoik.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, the Cardinal Virtues are unique variations of sin eaters, the Eldritch Abominations plaguing the world of The First. Most sin eaters are base creatures obsessed with gorging on aether, while even the more powerful and intelligent ones have little drive other than to infect victims with corrupted light aether to create more sin eaters: but the Cardinal Virtues, sin eaters created from the Warriors of Light from The First, exhibit unique behaviors that set them apart from the others. These behaviors are later revealed to be a form of Ghost Memory, as each one's behavior is linked to their actions and deeds while living. These include:
    • Andreia is shown to be obsessed with finding and slaying powerful monsters, often reviving nearby corpses to aid in her hunts. This is because, in life, Renda-Rae was scared of being alone.
    • Phronesis creates "hollows", spatial rifts that suck in everything around it. Nyelbert had been specifically bred to have this ability, along with his best friend Taynor, who got sucked into a hollow. Nyelbert regretted losing his friend and spent his life looking for a way to save him.
    • Dikaiosyne specifically hunts down anyone carrying the sacred Othrus treasures. These treasures belonged to the princess of Vorburt, whom Branden served until her untimely passing.
    • Sophrosyne seeks out and resurrects specific sin eaters. These sin eaters are theorized to be members of the dwarven tribe Lamitt belonged to who suffered from a fatal disease that she cured after the tribe's elders condemned them to die in isolation, leading to their subsequent exile.
  • Deltarune: Befitting an anthropomorphized spambot, Spamton G Spamton is a washed-up salesman desperate to relive his glory days; his schemes require him making a "deal" with Kris that entails them purchasing an item from him.

    Web Original 
  • Red Panda Adventures
    • The Red Panda and Flying Squirrel note eponymous themes are a common trait for "sick in the head, wannabe supervillains". It's first seen in the episode "Rabbit Season", where the Red Panda is able to set a trap for that episode's villain, Jackrabbit, after recognizing that the reason for her unusually selective thefts was because she only stole things whose value was measured in karats. He takes the theme to its logical conclusion and has a rabbit statue put on display to lure her in.
    • The Mad Monkey invokes this as much as he falls prey to it. He's motivated to be a villain because he views himself as the ideal arch-nemesis to the Red Panda. To this end, he embraces the theme presented by his power to control baboons by committing monkey related crimes. When, in later appearances, the Mad Monkey is shown to have learned martial arts, the Red Panda notes he's predictable due to having focused on the Monkey Style.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Android 16 is obsessed with exactly two things: birds, and killing Son Goku, with the latter coming up during and after his Heel–Face Turn. It's hardwired into his programming.
  • Parodied by the Barking Glass, a new Batman villain that does everything in their power to NOT have a theme.
    The Barking Glass: Let's list my crimes. One: murder by hot soup! Two: I robbed a pet store! Three: I recently pirated Kelly Clarkson's upcoming album, The Meaning Of Life, due out October 27th, and I plan to release it several days early on October 23rd! Sensing a pattern? You shouldn't be! [pause for audience laughter] I truly don't make sense.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom: Almost all the ghosts are like this about something.
    • The Box Ghost and boxes. At one point, he even steals Pandora's Box.
    • Technus at one point vows to stop announcing his secrets and plans all the time, which is apparently quite difficult for him (he eventually slips up and announces when he's about to make a getaway, which enables Danny to stop him).
  • Most of the villains on Darkwing Duck fit into this. There's Quackerjack, who uses toys, cinematically-inclined Tuskernini, who "directs" his crimes as if he were a movie director, Ammonia Pine, whose crimes invariably involve cleaning things up, and Splatter Phoenix, fixated on paintbrush artistry.
  • Kim Possible: Kim has fought her share of Idiosyncrazy villains: Duff Killigan, the homicidal golfer; Frugal Lucre, the world's cheapest criminal; and so on.
  • Spoofed in Futurama, "Less Than Hero", with the Zookeeper, who commits crimes using a pack of highly trained animals.
    Fry: Pack of highly. Got it.
  • Used extensively in WordGirl. Take as examples:
    • The Butcher, whose attacks all involve calling forth some type of meat.
    • Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy, who uses a condiment gun (also parodied in that he, tired of the same old routine, tried to become the "Handsome Panther").
    • Tobey, who continually uses giant robots to attack and destroy the city.
    • Dr. Two-Brains, who will only ever attempt to steal cheese due to his second brain being that of a mouse. On the rare occasion that he actually steals something valuable, it's only because he plans on turning it into cheese with his Transformation Ray. When his henchmen request that they have their cut of the loot before he turns it into cheese, he berates them for their lack of commitment to the whole cheese gimmick.
    • Lady Redundant Woman, whose crimes mostly revolve around copying and redundancy.
    • Mr. Big, who extensively uses mind control in his schemes.
  • A number of Sushi Pack villains are like this: Oleander's various schemes are (usually) a ploy to eat the eponymous Pack, Paradoxter's crimes have an element of paradox and oxymoron to them (such as using literal jumbo shrimp as henchmen), and The Collector is always involved in collecting something when he shows up in the series, regardless of whether he's committing an actual crime.
  • Parodied on Drawn Together when Captain Hero convinces Xander to pose as a supervillain for him to defeat. The persona they come up with? Two Hands.
    Xander: You'll never defeat me and my... TWO HANDS!!