People make a big deal out of names, and writers are no exception. Even if they eschew Theme Naming and other Naming Conventions they'll still use names they think are cool and dignified, powerful and appropriate, or sinister and fearsome. This is why there are inevitably certain Names To Run Away From Really Fast. For much the same reason it's unlikely Bob will turn out to be the outrageously stylish villain bent on absorbing the planet's life stream to ascend to godhood note , and someone with a name like oh, say, Hannibal Murder von Uberbastard, probably won't be selling cookies for charity. If he does, don't eat the cookies.
These come in various flavors (not the cookies, the names), some of them used by Anti Heroes from the Dark Age of Supernames and villains of the fearsomely competent and world destroying kind, for whom the mere mention of their name can bring down Dramatic Thunder.
Note that this is different from all those characters who got their names because they are a badass. It's one thing to be called Blade because you use one on vampires; it's another when a deadly fighter has the birth name "Blade" for no in-story reason.
So basically, when the villain's name hints towards some sort of disaster in history, mythological monster, or just means something bad, this trope applies.
Note that a villain having a name like this isn't necessarily a bad idea. Some names like this are downright cool.
Compare Fluffy the Terrible, Tom the Dark Lord, and Just the First Citizen, where the name fails to describe the nastiness, and Deathbringer the Adorable, where the nastiness fails to live up to the name.
Contrast Names to Trust Immediately.
For location names, see I Don't Like the Sound of That Place.
When adding examples, keep in mind: It's not enough when a character just has a name of any of the following types. This trope applies only when the name is an indicator of the character's true nature, and if the character thus described is evil, deceptive, dangerous or (if not evil) in other ways commanding fear or respect. As always, aversions are usually not worth listing, but subversions are probably fair game. Total inversions should go on Unfortunate Names instead.
Also, please provide context as to why the character lives up to their scary name. Just listing the character's name with no explanation is a Zero-Context Example, something we don't want.note
Sub-pages and subtropes:
- Notorious Killers
- Redneck Names
- Religious Names
- Shady Names
Sounds and Letters:
The following types of Names To Run From have their own trope pages:
- Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards)
- The Butcher
- "Darkness von Gothick" Name
- Doomy Dooms of Doom
- Dr. Fakenstein
- The Group
- Gunman with Three Names
- Louis Cypher (Lucifer)
- The Master
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate
- My Hero Zero
- Name of Cain
- One Bad Mother
- Spell My Name with a "The"
- A Villain Named Khan
- A Villain Named "Z__rg"
- "X" Makes Anything Cool
- Xtreme Kool Letterz