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
The following types of Names To Run From have their own trope pages:
- Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards)
- A Beast in Name and Nature
- The Butcher
- Name of Cain
- "Darkness von Gothick" Name
- Doomy Dooms of Doom
- Dr. Fakenstein
- The Group
- Gunman with Three Names
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
- Louis Cypher (Lucifer)
- The Master
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate
- My Hero, Zero
- One Bad Mother
- Red Baron
- Spell My Name with a "The"
- A Villain Named Khan
- A Villain Named "Z__rg"
- "X" Makes Anything Cool
- Xtreme Kool Letterz
- [C] - Control: The Midas Bank is named after a king who destroyed everything he cared for due to his own short-sighted, greedy wish. It should not be hard to guess the odds on a loan from them having unpleasant, unexpected outcomes.
- magico: Shion's older brother's name is Faust. It really explains everything you need to know about him.
- Reiko the Zombie Shop: Roses Killmister is technically just a flunky, but she does her best to justify her name.
- Happy Heroes: Season 8 episode 3 makes fun of the trope when Big M. asks Little M. to search for a character in the magic book for Huo Haha to transform into. Little M. first suggests a character named the Killer King, but Big M. wants one that even the Killer King would be afraid of. Little M. then suggests the King of the Killer King, but this doesn't cut it either, so Little M. comes up with one last idea - the King of the Killer King's wife.
- In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, the wolves have an ancestor called the Slayer of a Thousand Goats whose greatest achievement is summed up right in his name. Suffice it to say that if you're a goat yourself and you see this guy, you'd better get running.
- Astro City: The Deathwalker robots, made by mad South Korean scientists in the 50s. Steeljack dryly notes that even if they weren't lumbering, entirely black death-robots, the name would still be a hint as to what they're like.
- In Batgirl story arc The Attack of the Annihilator, a seriously disturbed and self-centered scientist called Kenneth Anderson is transformed into a psychic mutant, whereupon he renames himself "The Annihilator" to show off both his destructive powers and his intention to obliterate Gotham.
- Invincible: As more and more Viltrumites enter the story, we're introduced to Conquest, a sadistic, hulking Blood Knight who, up to the point he met Mark, had never failed to conquer a world. What's more, he loves causing destruction and cutting loose as much as possible, given how he felt hampered in past missions where he got orders to spare or capture certain targets and not be allowed to go all-out. He badly mauls Oliver, Atom Eve, and Mark, only narrowly being defeated at the end. And Cecil even stated there were maybe six heroes on Earth at max who could probably last more than one minute against Conquest.
- Spider-Man: Every single Symbiote has names such as Venom, Carnage, Toxin, Riot, and Scorn, and have a tendency to turn those bonded to them into murderous psychopaths.
- In Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom: The main antagonist is called "Maelstrom", a Darkseid's soldier who tends to cause chaos wherever she goes.
- A Frozen Flower: The word "lambero" is Latin for "disrupt, tear or sliver", which is quite a fitting meaning for the name of people of mass destruction that can cause natural disasters and blow up planets and suns from the time they're born from a Crack in the Sky to the time they die.
- The Night Unfurls:
- Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil, so it is not a surprise that several infamous orc war-chiefs that Kyril had killed prior to the series have names like this, including the Defiler, Ozgriz the Mighty, and the Arsonist.
- The list is altered a little in the remastered version. The very first chapter has Kyril finding the head of the Arch-Arsonist, one of the many orcs that he has slain including Ozgriz the Defiler, Gruzbad the Warlord, and the Eater of Men. He would later kill another orc chieftain named Thurog the Tall with his bare hands in Chapter 4.
- Olga's last name, Discordia. She's set up as the Evil Overlord who has engaged in war, or rather, sown discord for centuries.
- For the remastered version, the many names of The Rat (e.g. King-Spawn of All Vermin, He Who Feasts on Ambition, etc.) sound anything but pleasing. Fitting for someone with an In-Universe reputation as a malicious entity.
- Orcs are Always Chaotic Evil, so it is not a surprise that several infamous orc war-chiefs that Kyril had killed prior to the series have names like this, including the Defiler, Ozgriz the Mighty, and the Arsonist.
- Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises has a villain named The Nightmare King barge in at the end of chapter 15. Need we say more?
- In Risk It All, Ren becomes known as "the Breaker" on the internet for leaving his opponents with broken bones that will never heal properly. The threatening label along with accusations of him being a villain stings when he's risking his life trying to stop an evil mobster and his gang.
- An American Werewolf in London: "The Slaughtered Lamb," with a grisly picture of a severed wolf's head on the sign. Old British pubs do tend to have rather blunt names, though.
- Blade Trilogy: "Blade" is actually his hero name (birth name Eric Brooks), but here it's obviously being milked for sounding scary.
- Killin' Jim Jackson, The Dragon to "Black" Jack Pickett in Ghost Rock.
- Epic (2013): Mandrake, which otherwise refers to a magical plant with human-shaped roots that emitted a deadly scream upon being picked and the leaves of which were poison.
- One of the cats featured in Kedi, a documentary about street cats in Istanbul, is called "Psychopath" because she beats the crap out of other cats, not to mention dogs bigger than her. Humans do better not approach her either. She is characterized as the "neighborhood terrorist".
- Sleeping Beauty has the evil sorcerer Maleficent, which is downright an adjective for evil and harmful. The live-action adaptation says it's her birth name, making it weird to see this scary name applied to her innocent child self.
- The 2002 sci-fi film, The Wesley's Mysterious File, have the two main villains being a pair of ruthless, parasitic alien bounty hunters named "Kill" and "Rape". They live up to their name as well — both of them are responsible for millions of deaths across the galaxy, and during the film itself both of them left behind entire piles of dead bodies in San Francisco and Hong Kong in the aftermath of their rampage, many of their victims being killed via tentacle penetration.
- In The Running Man, is it really a mystery that a man with a name like Damon Killian grew up to be the host of a gameshow where unjustly convicted criminals are forced to run a gauntlet while being chased down and brutally murdered by colourfully violent and psychotic hunters?
- Bazil Broketail:
- Mach Ingbok, a cruel despot, was known as the Demon Lord.
- Waakzaam, the series' Satanic Archetype, is called the Dominator of Twelve Worlds and Lord of Evil.
- Beesong Chronicles: The monster sealed under the Duchy is called an Apocalypse Spider. The queen of the Shimmerwood apis hive notes that she doesn't want anything to do with a monster with "apocalypse" in its name, and since they're Bee People they're not too fond of the "spider" part either.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
- Mr. Wonka's corrupt rivals are Prodnose, Ficklegruber, and Slugworth. Prodnose suggests someone who is prodding and nosy — all three were this, utilizing spies to steal recipes from the Wonka factory. The latter two have names that bring disgusting creatures to mind (grubs and slugs) and also have a K sound and a TH ending, respectively. (Also counts as Mister Descriptor.)
- The Punny Name of the Golden Ticket forger? Charlotte Russe (pronounced ruse), which is also a Shady Name.
- In Cursed World, the big bad is ultimately revealed to be named Lord Orochi, after the giant eight-branched serpent of Japanese Legend.
- The Empirium Trilogy: Big Bad Corien (whose angelic name was Kalmaroth) is a genocidal maniac who has no compunctions about using anyone and anything in any way he sees fit so long as doing so benefits him in some way.
- Ghost In The Noonday Sun: One of the pirates, a Fiji islander, is called Cannibal and is said to be a Scarily Competent Tracker who can trail someone by the smell of meat.
- If you're wielding a sword in Grent's Fall, you do NOT want to fight the Bladecleaver, as Duke Abel Marnhull found out the hard way.
- Knaves On Waves has Carnage, Captain of the Bloodbath. He's about as pleasant as you'd expect.
- Laszlo Hadron And The Wargods Tomb: The ominousness of the name "Wargod's Tomb" is repeatedly acknowledged.
"Now, I don't know what that might have meant to the Sagittarians, but to me it means trouble."
- The Lord of the Rings:
- Mordor the Black Land, for one, ruled by the the Dark Lord Sauron, guarded by the Morannon, the Black Gate, and Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery.
- Deliberately evoked by Tolkien when he designed Orcish and the Black Speech: he wanted everything (including names) to seem furious, discordant, and threatening.
- A more minor example: Gríma Wormtongue. Appropriately, more creepy and insinuating then a direct threat.
- Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded: Franklin, the Marauder boy that Chantel, Anna, and Bowser meet outside Seven Buttons is apparently on the run from a Marauder known as "Karl the Bloody".
- Space Glass: The World Eater, a monster many times larger than the average planet that eats, well, planets. Also, the Marauder, Marvelous Dagon's nigh-invincible and extremely dangerous machine companion.
- Bones: Subverted with series protagonist Bones (she's a forensic anthropologist, it's her father who's the murderer in the family, and he answers to plain, ordinary "Max Keenan"). Played straight with a variety of criminals including The Gormogon, Arthur Graves, and The Gravedigger.
- Capadocia: Inmate La Saiko. Her name is the word "psycho" in Spanish phonetics. She stalks another inmate, a madam who had been involved in human trafficking, as she reminded La Saiko of her own past. Eventually, la Saiko attacks the madam and bites off a piece of her ear.
- Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders: The final episode was named after the villain of the week, "The Ripper of Riga," who was a sadistic kidnapper who tortured his victims and even severed one's toe and sent it to the investigators.
- Doctor Who: The title character has dozens of nicknames given him by his enemies, many of which fall under this trope, including "Fate's Accomplice", "The Vessel of the Final Darkness", "The Evil One", "The Great Scourge", "Shadow-thief", and "The Beast". While the Doctor isn't evil, he's certainly dangerous enough to deserve many of them (especially if you're evil).
- Grey's Anatomy: The doctors have nicknamed the hospital "Seattle Grace Mercy Death" because of their awareness of one's inexplicably likely chances of dying or being seconds from death if you work there. Thankfully it doesn't extend to the patients, who actually have a pretty good survival rate because the (remaining) doctors are really good at saving lives. After the plane crash, Cristina curses it, and Alex refrains from asking a girl out with this excuse, completely seriously.
Alex: She works here at Seattle Grace Mercy Death. So I'm sure she's pretty much going to go crazy, or get cancer, or be shot by a gunman, or hit by a truck.
- Grimm: If you know German (and can get past the "Blind Idiot" Translation pain/giggles), then names like Blutbad and Daemonfeuer are this in spades. (Means "Blood Bath" and "Demon Fire" respectively). Some of the other Wesen names are none too cuddly sounding as well.
- Hex: Azazeal and most of the Nephilim (Baraquel, Araquiel, Sariel, Ramiel). On the good side, Ella Dee, daughter of John Dee.
- Kamen Rider will often give their villains, including villainous Riders, very intimidating names:
- In the original Kamen Rider series, the Shocker executives included Dr. Shinigami (aka "Dr. Death"), Ambassador Hell, and General Black.
- Kamen Rider X fought an organization called the Government of Darkness. Which would be bad enough, but they commonly abbreviated the name to GOD. And two of the group's leaders qualify as well, Apollo Geist and King Dark.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki, the first series to have villainous Riders, includes Kamen Riders Ohja ("King Snake"), Ryuga ("Dragon Fang", an Evil Counterpart to Ryuki's "Dragon Knight"), and Odin. Ohja also had some of the Mirror Monsters Fusion Dance, creating a beast called Genocider. When adapted for America as Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, most of the replacement names weren't as strong, but Odin's counterpart was named Kamen Rider Wrath.
- Kamen Rider Den-O included villains in tie-in movies named Kamen Riders Gaoh ("Fang King") and Yuuki ("Miasma"). Yuuki has different forms that aren't named very nicely either, called Skull Form and Hijack Form.
- Kamen Rider Decade's Sixth Ranger is Kamen Rider Diend, pronounced similar to "the end" and spelled with "die". That said, he's not evil, just a Jerkass.
- Kamen Rider Double features "Dopant" monsters based on different random concepts, with the Terror Dopant as the Big Bad and the Taboo Dopant as one of his main Dragons. Plus there's the show's Final Boss the Utopia Dopant and tie-in film villain Kamen Rider Eternal, who both have way-too-grandiose A God Am I-style names.
- Kamen Rider Gaim has several one-shot villainous Riders in tie-ins, including Mars (a war god, and can also be read in Japanese as "Malus", Latin for "evil"), Jam ("Evil Warrior"), Tyrant, and a stage show has Maja ("Demon Snake").
- In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, the Big Bad is Kamen Rider Cronus, named for the leader of the Titans and father of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology, as well as Chronos the personification of time. In addition, the nastiest monster at his disposal is Gamedeus ("Game God"). The series also has Parado aka Kamen Rider Para-DX; with both his names based on "paradox" as something that shouldn't exist.
- Kamen Rider Build: The main villains at the beginning went by the names Blood Stalk and Night Rogue. And then later on, Utsumi went insane and became a Kamen Rider with a variation on Night Rogue's powers; and he was aptly named Kamen Rider MadRogue. A post-series movie also features the Omnicidal Maniac Kamen Rider Killbus.
- The evil future self of Kamen Rider Zi-O is Ohma Zi-O, with "Ohma" directly invoking Maou the Demon King.
- Kamen Rider Zero-One:
- The main villains are the group MetsubouJinrai.net ("DownfallThunderclap.net"), and each of its members takes one of the kanji in the name as their personal and Rider name. While the ones named after "Thunderclap" aren't so bad (Jin and Ikazuchi, meaning "Quick" and "Thunder"), the other two members have the names Horobi and Naki — "Destroy" and "Death".
- A post-series movie uses heavy religious imagery, with Kamen Rider Eden as the main threat leading an army of Kamen Rider Abaddon Mooks ("Abbadon" being either a bottomless pit, or an angel who commands a locust swarm). One of the Abaddons then goes rogue and steals Eden's powers, becoming Kamen Rider Lucifer.
- Kamen Rider Revice has a particularly on-the-nose name with Kamen Rider Evil, though to be fair it's part of a Sdrawkcab Name pun — it's a Jekyll & Hyde situation, and his good side is named Kamen Rider Live. And while all the Riders in this series make use of demonic powers, one is called Kamen Rider Demons. Ironically, Demons is completely heroic, but there's a reason he has such a dark name: the powers were designed for, and later claimed by, a villain. The hero Demons was just a test subject.
- Killing Eve: The show's antagonist is a female villain, a psychopathic assassin, who answers to the codename Villanelle.
- Leverage: The Butcher of Kiev.
Hardison: Have you ever been to Kiev? The Cakemaker of Kiev could whoop all our asses! This is the butcher.
- One Foot in the Grave: Victor is justifiably nervous about performing a cheesy ventriloquist's act for the same audience that came to watch rock bands such as 'Anthrax Attack' and 'Orphanage Explosion'. Subverted when the audience and even the grungy band-members themselves are shown enjoying his act immensely.
- A lot of them exist, but Totentanz comes to mind most readily. Translated from German, his alias means "The Dance of Death". Fitting, considering he's a Nova mercenary with absolutely monstrous fighting abilities.
- Divis Mal means something along the lines of "Wicked God".
- Lancer has many mechs and weapons with names that are disconcerting: the Balor, a giant mech made of a massive swarm of nanites; the Barbarossa's Apocalypse Rail, a weapon made for capital ships being used on an infantry/mech scale; and, most concerning, the TBK, a weapon system so horrific that its only implied via flavor text, and stands for Total Biome Kill.
- Planescape features The Lady of Pain. She is every bit as terrifying and vicious as the name implies, but not in a malicious or sadistic way—she simply doesn't want your worship, your gratitude, or your attention. You still don't want to cross her, because at best she will place you in an endless maze of corridors...alone, for centuries. If she feels compelled to do worse, she will simply employ her other preferred method of solving problems: peeling you like a banana. As infamously stated by Noah Antwiler, "Thou Shalt Not Fuck with The Lady of Pain."
- Shadowrun gives us the Deathspiral Butterfly. In short, it injects its eggs into living people, who then proceed to eat them from the inside out. To make matters worse, it injects a painkiller that masks its presence, so you don't know they're there until it's too late.
- Action 52: Satan Hosain, the apparent main antagonist of Storm over the Desert.
- AI War: Fleet Command features the Hunter/Killer as one of the strongest units that the AI will deploy against you. It can quickly destroy any static defenses you set up, and can just as easily demolish most super-weapons you can bring to bear upon it. The sequel introduces its more powerful brothers, the Hunter/Seeker, and the Hunter/Annihilator.
- Awakening: Dreadmyre. It's a twist, though, in that the original Dreadmyre - Patrick Dreadmyre, the royal magician - was a really nice guy.
- Drakensang: The game's plot revolves around the elder dragon Umbracor The Destroyer, a name that'd certainly qualify for this trope even if it wasn't attached to a near godlike dragon of nigh-infinite destructive power. It's a subversion, though...while Umbracor is certainly capable of world-ending destruction, he is actually a force of balance and only strikes down those whose power becomes so great that it threatens the fabric of reality itself. His actual role in the game is that of Sealed Good in a Can.
- The Elder Scrolls: The Daedric Prince, Molag Bal. His name in old Almeris means "Fire Stone", in addition to his other titles; "The Hated One", "The Lord of Brutality", and "The King of Rape".
- The Final Boss of Kirby Star Allies and Greater-Scope Villain of the whole franchise is named Void Termina, with Termina commonly meaning to end. On top of that, his Boss Subtitles call him the Destroyer of Worlds.
- World of Horror has a fair number of Eldritch Abominations with names befitting their terrifying nature, including "Goizo, the Thing Forsaken by God" and "Ithotu, the Devouring Flame". Special mentions goes to a unique enemy encounter known simply as "Something Truly Evil".
- World of Warcraft: Given the game's love of ham and cheese, you can find plenty of names like this.
- Archlich Kel'Thuzad. After being rejected by the Kirin Tor for studying necromancy, he discovered the recently-created Lich King and formed the Cult of the Damned, a group that worshipped the Scourge and sought to become undead themselves. He would later be killed then resurrected as a powerful lich. It does get a bit weird when you learn that his actual birthname really is Kel'Thuzad, no surname or anything.
- Deathwing the Destroyer, the Aspect of Death. He used to be known as Neltharion, but gave that whole elaborate title to himself after going insane and betraying his fellow dragons. For bonus points, the night elves call him Xaxas.
- Black dragons in general tend to have needlessly evil names, like Onyxia, Nefarian, and Sinestra. They're almost always servants of the Old Gods, but even good guys follow this, so apparently that's just their MO. Hearthstone even berates you for trusting a guy calling himself "Lord Victor Nefarious", who was actually Nefarian in disguise.
- Ragnaros the Firelord, the Elemental Lord of Fire whose both an Omnicidal Maniac and a Bad Boss to the minions he has. After being killed, he was replaced by the (comparatively) heroic and nicer-sounding Smolderon the Firelord.
- Out of all the normal-sounding places in Stormwind, there's one rundown pub in the Magic Quarter named "The Slaughtered Lamb". This is where all the Warlock trainers practice in secret.
- There's a hundred thousand one-note Dungeon bosses that have badass names to let you know how serious they are. Bloodmage Thalnos? Admiral Ripsnarl? Mutanus the Devourer? None of these bosses are higher than level 30.
- Shrapnel: Reznyas name means massacre in Russian.
- El Goonish Shive has Pandora Chaos Raven. "Younger" immortals tend to give themselves pretentious names, which, given that she's not young, says a lot about her personality. Although in her defense, she did originally want to call herself "Box", but no one got the reference.
- Gaia: Bhaal, a Demon God. Seemingly subverted with Lili—her full name is Lilith, but to all appearances she's the nicest person in the comic. At least until we learn she's destined to destroy the world. And then it's subverted again when it turns out that both Bhaal and Gaia are Jerkass Gods and Lilith's destruction of their influence is a good thing.
- Kill Six Billion Demons has a few characters. Mathanga Ten Meti's proper name is "Murder The Gods And Topple Their Thrones", an angel named "6 Juggernaut Star Scours The Universe" and Allison's proper name, "Kill Six Billion Demons".
- The Fairly OddParents:
- W.I.T.C.H.: The Big Bad of Season 1 (and the last few episodes of Season 2), Prince Phobos, the evil ruler of Meridian who usurped the throne from his sister. His name comes from the Greek God/Personification of Fear, Phobos. And his people fear him, that's for sure.
- Ugly Americans: Twayne Boneraper, despite considered being wimpy for a demon, is scary and dangerous whenever he's angry (or horny). He's even perfectly capable of using the forces of Hell to conquer the world with the proper motivation.
- Military leaders will often get a nickname that can fit this, like Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf or Mad Dog Mattis.
- Finnish allround badass and hero of the Battle of Kollaa Aarne Juutilainen earned the nickname "The Terror of Marocco" after serving there with the French Foreign Legion.
- Oda Nobunaga obtained the sobriquet Demon King of the Sixth Heaven. Works featuring him will sometimes make him a literal demon or other supernatural being.
- Particularly beloved military vehicles will also often get a dangerous nickname - for example, the highly-agile, extremely well-armed General Dynamics F-16 is officially called Fighting Falcon, but its pilots almost universally refer to it as the 'Viper.'
- A vehicle whose nickname is more of a warning than an intimidation is the NASA airplane used for zero gravity training, "Vomit Comet", meaning the easily nauseated better not even apply.
- Quite a few names of dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals) count as this, including Deinonychus ("terrible claw"), Deinosuchus ("terrible crocodile"), Megalodon ("great tooth") and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex ("tyrant-lizard king").
- While most poisonous plants and mushrooms get a Fluffy the Terrible name, some of them get names that reflect their toxic nature. Some prime examples:
- Cerbera odollam, known as the suicide tree for the use of its seeds in homicide and suicide.
- Galerina marginata, known as the funeral bell or deadly skullcap for containing the same liver and kidney destroying amatoxins found in the Death Cap, Amanita phalloides and the Destroying Angel, Amanita bisporigera. Yes, those two mushrooms fall under this trope as well.
- An alternative name for Anatoxin-a is "Very Fast Death Factor". Predictably, it's a neurotoxin that kills you within minutes.