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Nepharious Pharaoh

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As far as Pharaohs go, you don't get more nefarious than Nyarlathotep.

"I am your enemy, O Pharaoh – you great monster, lurking in the streams of the Nile!"

The other stock Egyptian-style villain, and a common boss in Shifting Sand Land, alongside the Mummy (which this guy is likely to become in death).

The appearance of this character is pretty recognizable. Chances are, you will see a striped head dress (called a nemes), some sort of ancient-looking robe or kilt (called a shendyt), and a sceptre. And if the work in question isn't set in Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh may be found sealed inside some kind of tomb or pyramid and will vow to curse any explorer who comes near, making the overlap with the Mummy even clearer.

See also Aristocrats Are Evil. Because Egypt is in North Africa, this trope can easily have Unfortunate Implications that, depending on the villain's skin tone, can overlap either with the Scary Black Man trope or with Orientalist stereotypes of cruel, decadent olive-skinned despots. Proceed with caution.


The Trope Maker, Trope Codifier, and Ur-Example is probably found in the Book of Exodus in The Bible, with that nasty pharaoh as one of the villains of the Old Testament, making this Older Than Feudalism. In fact, before World War II made Those Wacky Nazis the most popular shorthand for evil, comparisons to the pharaohs, along with other Biblical bad guys like Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot, were among the strongest insults thrown at politicians, in a predecessor to Godwin's Law (with comparisons to Attila the Hun also popular).



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    Anime & Manga 
  • High School D×D: A first-season OVA sets the Occult Research Club against a pharaoh who had been sealed away in his coffin after insulting a devil he had summoned. When Rias accidentally opens the coffin, the Pharaoh promptly possesses Issei and blackmails the Club into performing three (degrading) tasks that end up breaking the curse on him and reviving him properly... right into a room of the very annoyed, very powerful devils he tried to take advantage of, whereupon his brand-spankin'-new physical form is promptly vaporized by Rias. Not as 'nefarious' as far as some of the other entries on the page, but most certainly a perverted douchebag.
  • Soul Eater: Witch necromancer Samantha tries to summon Wrath of the Pharaoh, a malevolent spirit residing in the Pyramid of Anubis. The sarcophagus of the Pharaoh is perfectly symmetrical, making it impossible for the Super OCD Kid to destroy it. Then the Pharaoh steps out of the sarcophagus to give the final strike, and he is revealed to be horribly asymmetrical. Cue Kid's Berserk Button hitting the floor.
  • Subverted for Dark Yugi/Pharaoh Atem of Yu-Gi-Oh! at first. Initially, he starts out as Yugi's Superpowered Evil Side, an Ax-Crazy Knight Templar borderline sociopath, who challenged the Asshole Victim of the day to a game and punished them horrifically when they lost, especially when they cheated. As it turns out, he wasn't like this in life. Interestingly, Yami Yugi's obsession with enforcing justice (or some form of punishment) is arguably the result of ancient attitudes he still carried, but it's implied he had more mercy for his enemies in Ancient Egypt and his early persona was the result of being sealed in the Puzzle for millennia. Character Development and spending time with Yugi and the gang help him subvert the trope entirely.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series and, on occasion, fanfiction have Yami Yugi play this trope entirely straight.
    • Even when he's mellowed out, Atem still suffers from being a downplayed version of his trope via being too proud to throw a fight or accept defeat, sometimes being worse than Kaiba in that regard. In the non-canon filler Doma Arc, he reaches peak pride when backed into a corner, forcing him to do some very questionable actions and, as a result, slip back into this trope...but this time, he pays for it dearly.
  • Also Subverted with Abidos the Third in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, who despite being an Anti-Villain for the Shadow Riders isn't evil and even has a fun duel with Judai once he learns that his reputation was faked by his servants.
  • The OVA for Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has King Tut trying to take over New York City. During The Roaring '20s. And the only people capable of stopping him are a Magitek Steampunk spec-ops team who masquerade as a theatre troupe.
  • In Inferno Cop, Inferno Cop finds a villainous pharaoh after he travels to Egypt and takes a nap inside a sarcophagus.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Adam in the Shazam (Captain Marvel) comics. After learning how to use the word "Shazam!" to gain superpowers, he overthrew the pharaoh of Egypt and assumed the throne.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • The villain Kang the Conqueror first appeared as the pharaoh Rama Tut; he had gone back in time to ancient Egypt to conquer from there.
    • The Living Pharaoh, an X-Men villain (also in the arcade game) who was later upgraded to The Living Monolith when he learned how to grow to colossal size.
    • There is also the Nova villain, the Sphinx, who physically resembles the Living Monolith, and has some of the same motivations: restoring Egypt to its former glory.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) has supercriminal Pharaoh Phetlock (AKA Phoney Pharaoh) in Power Ponies, most likely based on King Tut from Batman (1966).
  • There is a fantasy-universe equivalent in Emperor Samala of Stygia of Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire. Egyptian architecture, slave labor, a massive tomb containing objects he is taking with him into the afterlife all drive the point home.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight has the Arch-Hierophant, who dresses himself like a pharaoh and is the leader of the archaeologist faction, whom all resemble Egyptian mummies.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Bible:
    • The two Pharaohs from Book of Exodus are notorious for torturing Israelites, from ordering his subordinates to commit infanticide, to denying the existence of God despite acknowledging him.
    • The Pharaoh is even worse in Islam. Besides what he does in the Exodus, he had his magicians cut their hands and feet on opposite sides and crucify them on the trunks of palm trees because they acknowledged Allah. He also had his own wife tortured to death for embracing Moses' faith as well.
    • One pharaoh in the Book of Genesis is furious at Abraham (then known as Abram) for lying about the relationship between him and Sarah (then known as Sarai) as the patriarch had presented her as his sister when she was in fact his wife, fearing that if the truth was known he'd be murdered and an Egyptian would marry his widow. Apparently hosting them and showering them with gifts under this misconception was enough for YHWH to send a plague to Egypt, so he orders his men to deport the couple.
  • In the Secret Series, Lord Pharaoh is a prime example of this: evil, single-minded dedication to living forever and quite possibly taking over the world someday.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Pyramids offers a subversion of this idea, with Dios the High Priest — effectively the ruler of an Ancient Egypt-like country — manipulating a succession of essentially benign but hopelessly confused Pharaohs for seven thousand years.
  • The Armenian national epic David of Sasun has Melik, the evil Egyptian king. He was probably based on the pharaoh from Exodus, and given the fact that Egypt has never actually conquered Armenia, is also probably a sort of No Celebrities Were Harmed Expy of the Arab caliphs or Turkish sultans.
  • Cthulhu Mythos:
  • The main villain of the first novel in the Island Rus series by Sergey Lukyanenko is an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who pursues the Time Traveling heroes throughout history.
  • Curse of the Mummy has Akharis the tyrannical Pharaoh, who worships the Goddess of Chaos, Slithera and attempting to unleash her powers into the world of living, serving as the main antagonist of the picture.
  • In Classical Mythology, the Egyptian king Busiris was heavily into Human Sacrifice - until he tried to sacrifice Herakles, that is.
  • Amenophis from the Dark Reflections Trilogy who despite technically just being a Puppet King, first of the Horus Priests who reserrected him, then of the Sphinx conspiracy, is still a deranged Caligula.
  • A female example is Nitocris in “The Vengeance of Nitocris” by Tennessee Williams. After her brother (the previous pharaoh) is killed by the high priests, Nitocris becomes pharaoh. She decides to get revenge for her brother’s death by killing the high priests in an elaborate death trap that consists of a great underground chamber that can be sealed shut and has behind one of the walls a sluice gate that opens onto the Nile; raising the sluice gate floods the chamber, drowning everyone inside.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible: A straight example and a subversion
    • First we have a supervillain named The Pharaoh, who dresses the part complete with fancy headdress, gold body glitter and make-up. He wields a powerful hammer (either magical or advanced alien tech) that, when he says a word, makes him powerful enough to face off against the resident Justice League expies by himself. He also claims it's his mission to restore the glories of Ancient Egypt and that he is the reincarnation of Ramses. The problem is he doesn't know WHICH Ramses he's supposed to be, can't read hieroglyphics,and barely knows anymore about Ancient Egypt than your average person. Dr. Impossible suspects he's either delusional or outright lying.
    • A second character also calls himself The Pharaoh, but this one is a time traveling superhero who makes it his business to protect history from those who would plunder it. He never really appears in the book, but it can be assumed he's not nearly so hostile as the other one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • King Tut, one of the supervillains from the 1960s Batman (1966), wore clothing appropriate for a pharaoh and liked to use Egyptian-themed dialogue. He was actually Professor William McElroy, an Egyptologist at Yale University. Every time he was hit on the head he developed a split personality that thought he was a reincarnation of the original King Tut (i.e. Tutankhamun). Hitting him on the head again restored his original personality.
  • Stargate SG-1 also uses the general imagery for the Goa'uld, at least the first ones encountered.
  • Doctor Who had Sutekh, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien with an Egyptian theme and robot Mooks disguised as Mummies, in the Fourth Doctor story, "Pyramids of Mars."
  • Electra Woman and Dyna Girl featured a villain known only as The Pharaoh. It was implied by the narrator that he was somehow an actual pharaoh, despite being played by the very American Peter Mark Richman. And despite it being nearly two thousand years after the last pharaoh had ruled Egypt.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Necrons have always had some Egyptian-ish design elements, but as of their 5th edition codex they have embraced this trope. The Necron leaders in the new codex are called "Phaerons" and their armour and headgear has some very obvious Egyptian influences. A lot of the Necron lords also have Egyptian-esque names, such as Imhotek (strangely enough, the ones that don't seem to have Polish names. Go figure).
  • The Tomb Kings of Khemri in Warhammer are this, as the priests who were supposed to grant them entry to a glorious afterlife as immortal god-kings instead brought them back as undead mummies. In an interesting variation, each of them still thinks himself the rightful ruler of Khemri, as he was in life... which doesn't go well with the many predecessors and successors who also believe themselves the rightful rulers of Khemri.
  • In LEGO Games' Ramses' Pyramid, the Mummy King, who wears the stereotypical headdress, is both this and The Mummy.
  • Scion has the specter (Titan-corrupted ghost) of pharaoh Akhenaten as a powerful servant of Aten, the Titan of Light and designated enemy of the Egyptian pantheon.
  • In Pathfinder's Golarion setting, the Ancient Egypt-esque country of Osirion has suffered through several of these. A few notables include several Pharaohs who studied and worshiped various Eldritch Abominations, two who became liches and ruled for centuries as undead monstrosities, one whose decadent lifestyle caused his ancestors to rise as Mummies and tear him apart, two who joined the cult of Rovagug the Great Destroyer, the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues who built a place called the House of Oblivion as a material plane anchor for Ahriman and his Div minions, and the four Pharaohs of Ascension whose golden age was sustained by a horrifically abused slave underclass. The Mummy's Mask adventure path is about one of them rising from the grave (as a mummy, of course), and having to be stopped from taking over Osirion again.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The world of Amonkhet is entirely based on Ancient Egypt, so it's no surprise it would be ruled by a Pharaoh. Unfortunately, the "God-Pharaoh" whose return Amonkhet's inhabitants so eagerly await is Nicol Bolas.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Ankhtepot's drive to become immortal and a great ruler drove him to inflict such cruelties on his people that he was killed, cursed with undeath as a Mummy, and trapped in the Ironic Hell of Ravenloft. There, he is "Pharaoh" of only a tiny nation-state.
    • The classic 1e module I3 Pharaoh includes Amun-Re of the House of Mo-Pelar, who cursed his kingdom upon his death, and whose regretful, wandering spirit implores the player characters to loot his theft-proof tomb in order to lift the curse.

    Video Games 
  • In Age of Mythology, Egyptian players who have access to the worshipping of Osiris gain the Mummy myth unit, undead Pharaohs who attack with swarms of insects and have a One-Hit Kill ability turning the victim into a servile undead. Counts even more if they are enemies.
  • Pharaoh Man is one of the Robot Masters fought in Mega Man 4. He's not an actual pharaoh, though he was originally built to explore pyramids. His stage begins as a Shifting Sand Land and progresses into a Temple of Doom.
  • The main boss of the desertic Neksdor Kingdom in Miitopia is a giant pharaoh mask fought in a pyramid.
  • Tutankoopa in Paper Mario is the boss of Dry Dry Ruins and keeper of one of the kidnapped Star Spirits. He attempts to frighten Mario away from the ruins, even calling himself the "remorseless king of the desert" in his first warning.
  • Poobah the Pharaoh in Wario: Master of Disguise starved his subjects in exchange for a wish from the demon Terrormisu, only for her to double-cross him. 5000 years later, his undead self is Laughing Mad from waiting so long, and fights Wario to prove his worthiness.
  • Vampires Dawn has Pharaoh Ustrah. While he isn't really important in the first game, he becomes one of the main villains of the second game.
  • Dark Pharaoh Tekahn in World of Warcraft is the leader of a faction of very sphinx-like creatures who allied themselves with Deathwing, the Big Bad of the Cataclysm expansion.
  • For the most part, averted in, well, Pharaoh. With one or two exceptions, the current ruler of Egypt isn't too bad, but piss him off too much and he considers it a rebellion and sends his army against you. Once you achieve the title you can't do anything worse than refuse to answer requests, which quickly gets you a Game Over.
  • The main villain of the Egypt section of The Secret World is Akenaten, changed from simply establishing a new religion into an Omnicidal Maniac. His reign is described in this style. Players fight a "sealed in a tomb" version at the end of this storyline section.
  • DeStrega: Raone's outfit is meant to invoke the effect, what with the nemes he wears.
  • DuckTales 2 has the boss of Egypt's stage, a duck pharaoh who's guarding the ancient treasure of Egypt.
  • In Rome: Total War, you may very well end up viewing the head of the Egyptian faction as this; it's the strongest non-Roman faction in the entire game.
  • The Pharaoh Zombie from Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time starts out armored in a sarcophagus (which has a TON of health but makes him walk slow), but once it's destroyed, it reveals the mummy underneath who is extremely fast without the heavy sarcophagus.
  • Assassin's Creed Origins: The DLC "Curse of the Pharaohs" deals with ghosts of pharaohs rampaging around Thebes, murdering everyone in sight before disappearing, because of someone misusing an Apple of Eden. Maybe. The game hints the ghosts are those who previously held the Apple before the current owner stole it for their own purposes, but then Bayek takes a trip into the afterlife and meets them.
  • Pharaoh Rebirth is titled after its villain, pharaoh Sehur I, who curses the game's protagonist to die in a week. He was also the Big Bad of the freeware game Return of Egypt, made by the same developer under another moniker more than a decade earlier; in fact Pharaoh Rebirth is a Stealth Sequel of the latter.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3 has a rare female example with Serpci, the boss ghost of the Tomb Suites. She wears the typical pharaoh outfit, she sleeps in a sarcophagus in a pyramid, and she sends Luigi to die in a sand pit at the bottom of her pyramid before later attacking him with Sand Blaster powers when he escapes.
  • In Warframe shortly after the beginning of the quest The New War, the war ends, with the Sentient under the control of former Orokin Ballas victorious. He proceeds to establish a new empire under the name of Narmer, the pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt into one nation. He even dresses the part.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Bender from Futurama episode "A Pharaoh To Remember" forges an inscription on an Egypt-like planet making him the pharaoh. He immediately goes about devising ways to terrorize his slaves and designing his own monument so that he will always be remembered.
    "Citizens of me! The cruelty of the old Pharaoh is a thing of the past!"
    [crowd cheers]
    "Let a whole new wave of cruelty wash over this lazy land!"
    [crowd cheers, then is confused]
  • The first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Museum Madness" had Bogus come upon a young child-like pharaoh who behaved this way, after he and Ratty accidentally wind up in a secret chamber hidden within the Egyptian exhibit of the museum. Although to be completely fair, the kid pharaoh actually possessed an ancient scarab that had been stolen for many centuries, but Bogus was able to reclaim the scarab and return it back to its rightful place after making quick work of the child.
  • King Bob briefly becomes one of these in one episode of Recess, when he changes his title to Pharaoh Bob and makes the other kids work like slaves to build a mud-brick pyramid in his honor.
  • In the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "King Ramses' Curse", the ghost of the titular pharaoh arrives to haunt anyone who possesses his stolen tomb slab even if it was stolen by someone else, casting three deadly curses on them if they refuse to return the slab; and he doesn't care about collateral casualties...
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Irwin's grandfather was one and during his appearance he convinced his grandson to follow his example with promises that being a pharaoh would win him points with the ladies. Under his tutelage Irwin brainwashes almost everyone into Endsville into becoming his slaves who will do nothing but chant "Long live the Nerd King" and build him a pyramid of his own. But unfortunately for him its not just chicks that dig pharaohs but also archaeologists, after they have been interred that is.
  • Monster High: Ramses de Nile (Cleo and Nefera's father) is shown to be like this, especially in the Aristocrats Are Evil part.
  • Toth-Ra, the antagonist of the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra", is a mummified undead pharaoh that enslaves his people, giving them sunlight only for brief periods of time. However, the mummy is just a puppet controlled by a guard - except it actually comes to life once crossing a sigil.
  • A Pharaoh features as a Monster of the Week in Miraculous Ladybug. He has a myriad of powers, wants to bring his wife back from the dead, and his civilian identity is a museum curator.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nefarious Pharaoh


King Ramses

After finding an ancient slab that was stolen from the museum, Eustace intends to become rich off it. However, the spirit of the pharaoh Ramses appears, demanding he return the slab, or else he'll suffer his curse, unleashing three horrific plagues upon the Baggs' household. Eustace thinks he's just a museum professor, unaware of the costs his greed is about to have.

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Example of:

Main / CurseOfThePharaoh

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