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Intercom Villainy

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Villains in action fiction and especially video games sometimes use an intercom system, radio networks, or some other means of remote communication to relentlessly mock the main character, or simply to make funny comments that amuse the audience and offer some insight into the villain's personality—particularly, that they feel confident enough in their strength to not make greater efforts to stop you, feeling content to merely make fun of you in often clever ways. This almost always overlaps with sinister surveillance, as it demonstrates that your enemy can see your every action.

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You'll usually hear the villain become less confident and more desperate as the hero destroys their Mooks and get closer to them. You might even hear a Villainous Breakdown over the intercom. Also expect a lot of This Cannot Be!.

This is often used to characterize the villain and help establish a relationship with the player while keeping them well out of shotgun range. This is especially true for a Non-Action Big Bad who would be easily dispatched if the heroes met them in person.

Fantasy, sci-fi, and other genres of Speculative Fiction often use this trope without any apparent technology. Most commonly, the villain uses some form of psychic powers or magic to send messages directly into the mind of the heroes.

Compare Enemy Chatter, where video game enemies have dialogue amongst themselves. Villains who use this trope also have a habit of being The Unfought.

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Examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Films 
  • Die Hard:
    • Hans Gruber, the main villain of Die Hard, communicates with him John McClane over walkie-talkies that McClane looted off of Gruber's dead minions. With each talk, McClane manages to get a better idea of why Gruber attacked Nakatomi Plaza and Gruber learns a new tidbit he needs to deduce which of his hostages McClane cares about, all without the two meeting face-to-face.
    • Simon in Die Hard with a Vengeance doesn't use an intercom, but he talks to the main characters on payphones throughout New York City. He smugly commands McClane to do horrendous or dangerous tasks in order to save civilians, making McClane all the more determined to find Simon and knock him down a peg.
  • Greyhound never cuts to the Germans on their U-boats; instead, they're characterized only by the taunts and threats they send over the radio. The audio is distorted, only making them seem more monstrous as they mock the soldier's fallen comrades and go into detail about how their wives will move onto new lovers after the Germans kill them.
  • Jigsaw from the Saw series communicates with his victims exclusively via pre-recorded messages on different kinds of tapes. This prevents the victims from taking their anger out on him while allowing him to instruct them about his traps.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Khan never meets the Enterprise crew face-to-face, and instead menaces them through viewscreens, communicators, and whatever other devices he can use to threaten them with Moby-Dick quotes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Starship Mine" starts with the villains only talking to each other over their hijacked starship's comm systems. Once Picard starts chatting on the same channel, they start to talk to him alone in attempts to demoralize him, scare him into surrendering, and goad him into revealing his knowledge about the ship.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise. Used in "Babel One", to set up The Reveal—when our heroes make it to The Bridge to confront their enemy face-to-face, they discover it's a remotely-piloted drone and the man talking to them is actually light years away.
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    Video Games 
  • Assault on Dark Athena: Revas uses the intercom of the Athena to taunt Riddick from time to time. When he hijacks a Mech suit of armor, she does the same with a one-way video uplink.
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
    • Gruntilda in the first game, possibly the Trope Maker. She harasses you constantly as you traverse her lair, making badass boasts and cracking jokes at Banjo and Kazooie's expense, always in rhyme. She also speaks up the first time you're hurt by specific hazards. Once you beat her, you can still explore her lair, but the intercom is silent.
    • Similarly, the sequel, Banjo-Tooie, introduces the "Eagle-Eyed Foreman", a nameless, faceless corporate goon who informs you of certain goings-on and sics robotic drones on you if he spots you on one of his many security cameras.
  • Villains throughout the Batman: Arkham Series are primarily heard over public intercoms played throughout buildings and neighborhoods they've hijacked. They give their minions advice on how to find Batman, complain about their performances, and threaten them in ways appropriate to their characters. However, the most notable examples of this trope are as follows
    • Throughout all of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the player hears the Joker mocking Batman over Arkham Asylum's intercom and making announcements as if the Joker really was the asylum's warden. He ends up with more dialogue than Batman in the game because of this. This gets a Call-Back in Batman: Arkham Origins and the DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, where the Joker does the same thing in Blackgate Penitentiary and the Seagate Amusement Park.
    • The Riddler hacks into Batman's radio channels in every game to call him stupid and challenge him to collect the trophies he's hid throughout Batman's surroundings.
  • BioShock After a certain point, the tyrannical Andrew Ryan will start communicating with you via the portable radio you picked up at the start of the game, even as you hunt him down. This becomes even more common once you realize Sofia Lamb does the same in the sequel.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: When you go up against Yuri, he will frequently taunt your moves. It's implied he's actually transmitting this telepathically.
  • DeBlob 2: Although he's technically speaking gibberish, Comrade Black taunts you throughout the final level, promising that you can't get to his orbital hypno-ray in time. He even gets kind of meta, telling you to access the menu and quit the level.
  • Duke Nukem I: Dr. Proton mocks Duke in some levels via videophone.
  • In Fable, during fights with Jack of Blades' minions, he constantly taunts you telepathically, with cruel but hilariously accurate imitations of your own Annoying Video Game Helper guildmaster.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Dagoth Ur does this to the player once you enter the final dungeon and prepare to face off with him, taunting that you could not possibly defeat a god.
  • F.E.A.R.: In the third game, a succession of psychic commanders taunt you (they seem to really hate the Point Man, possibly because of his connection to Alma, and thus the highly traumatic "upgrades" they were given).
  • Half-Life 2: You hear Dr. Breen through public address systems throughout the game. In the final chapter, as you approach his office, he talks to you directly through the building's intercom.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: The commanders of nearly every enemy base that you invade magically speak to you and your Mission Control as you progress, questioning your motives, explaining their own rationale, and most often, making small talk. This happens much more often past Chapter 9, when the leaders of the Underworld and goddess Viridi casually chat to you in nearly every level while also sending armies to kill you.
  • Kirby Super Star: In the sub-game Revenge of Meta Knight, the crew of the Halberd airship you're storming would throw threats at Kirby over the intercom while also conversing with themselves. They become increasingly irate the further you go through. In Super Star Ultra, the new sub-game Revenge of the King also has this in Dedede's Castle stage, mainly with Dedede and Bandana Dee.
  • In Manhunt you are trapped in some sort of sick cinematographic experiment and the director follows you around and trolls you through the earpiece.
  • Max Payne: In the final level, Nicole Horne taunts you as you make your way to her in the Aesir Corporate Building.
  • Mother 3: Porky taunts you over an intercom as you travel to every floor of the Empire Porky Building EXCEPT the 100th floor.
  • Mystery Case Files: Escape From Ravenhearst — Charles Dalimar included an audio system in the underground areas specifically so he could tell the Master Detective what she's supposed to learn about him in this area.
  • Portal:
    • GLaDOS is a malevolent supercomputer with a quick wit and a sharp tongue that cracks wise about the player's perfomance almost constantly in her Creepy Monotone. In this case, the fact that she's an actual, malicious character and not just a series of prerecorded messages is a major plot twist, though it's well-known now.
    • Wheatley from Portal 2 attempts to provide the same sort of demoralizing commentary as GLaDOS after he betrays Chell, but without any wit, he just relies on childish insults and insecure boasts about his intelligence.
    "Let's try it her way. Fatty. Adopted fatty. Fatty-fatty-no-parents."
  • In Rocket: Robot on Wheels, Jojo will taunt you whenever you activate ticket switches. He also does this throughout Jojo World.
  • Sonic Colors: Doctor Eggman makes funny announcements over a PA system throughout the game. He occasionally tries to lure our hero, Sonic, into an obvious trap by promising cheap food.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, Colonel Konrad starts giving Walker some Not So Different Remarks / Breaking Speeches over a radio Walker finds soon after the white phosphorus incident. Except it's all actually in Walker's head, who slowly goes insane,—and the radio has no batteries in it.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, the bosses contact you telepatically throughout the final mission.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • The Joker uses televised skits to threaten Gotham's populace and tell Batman jokes without walking into Batarang range. He does this as early as the the second episode and famously does it again in "The Laughing Fish".
    • In one episode, the Riddler broadcasts criticisms of Batman and Robin as they make their way through a labyrinth based on a video game he designed. They expect to find him in the center of the maze, but to their surprise, he's already on a plane out of the city.
  • In his second appearance in Justice League, the Joker hosts a news broadcast covering the Justice League's attempts to disarm bombs he's planted throughout Las Vegas. He even put TV screens on the bombs so they can watch him while they work! This all turns out to be a publicity stunt to get good ratings so he can brainwash as many people as possible.

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