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Privilege Makes You Evil

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"Men who look upon themselves as born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance, and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."
Thomas Paine

For some villains, they have a good reason to be evil. Maybe they had a terrible upbringing. Maybe they snapped after they watched somebody they care about die. Maybe they were victims of prejudice and decided to fight back.

However, some villains had everything in life handed to them, and yet they still chose to be evil. Like how "power corrupts", so does privilege.

Characters common of this trope include:

Compare Screw the Rules, I Have Money! and Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!, as well as Entitled to Have You. Contrast Misery Builds Character, Freudian Excuse, and Spoiled Sweet. Also, Ambition Is Evil is not the same as this trope, but can coincide. Also, a character doesn’t have to have been born into privilege to qualify so long as they are privileged now.


No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Akame ga Kill!: Syura, the son of Prime Minister Honest, abuses his father's power maliciously. He torments the citizens of the empire, knowing full well that if anybody tried anything, they'd have to deal with Honest.
  • Blue Exorcist: Reiji Shiratori, the bully from the first episode, comes from a rich family and only got in to True Cross Academy because of his connections. When Rin confronts him for killing birds for fun, he tries to bribe him so that his family's reputation doesn't get threatened. When Rin refused, he tried to brand him. This leads to him getting possessed by Astaroth.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami is popular with the ladies, gets praised for his intellect, and has some of the kindest parents. And yet, when he finds the Death Note, he uses it to be viewed as a god.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Freeza is the heir to an intergalactic empire. His father, King Cold, is overly doting, and as Cooler implies, he spoiled him rotten. He's also a mass-murdering sociopath that has destroyed many planets.
    • Beerus used his power as God of Destruction to bully planets into giving him finer foods.
    • Who can forget Vegeta? Being the Prince of a Proud Warrior Race whom worked under Freeza and shows no remorse with his slaughtering. All with a huge ego to boot. He has mellowed out after his Heel–Face Turn to a degree.
    • Subverted in Resurrection F. After Freeza gets wished back, the Pilaf gang steals the second wish for money. When Pilaf questions why they didn't wish for money, Shu points out that if they ever had kids one day, they'd grow up to be jerks because of their wealth.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Katsuki Bakugou gets blessed with a really powerful Quirk at a young age, leading many to praise him. This causes him to develop a huge superiority complex and become The Bully.
  • Shadow Star: Aki Honda is an Academic Alpha Bitch who torments a girl named Hiromi just for getting better grades than her and many are too scared to stand up to her. One of her offenses includes raping Hiromi with a test tube.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Sakyo admits that he had a great childhood raised by his loving parents and became filthy rich because of his talents for gambling. In spite of that, he chose to be a crime lord that hires demons and gambles in death games.
  • One episode of Kill la Kill had Mako becoming a club president and through her hard work and dedication escalating through the Star ranks of the student class. While this brought up some appreciated benefits (such as her family living in increasingly-better housing), it also made her increasingly more of a jerk, culminating with getting in a fight (which was going to be to the death, but thankfully The Power of Friendship was able to snap her out of it in a crucial moment) with Ryuko because the latter was getting concerned about her. She ended up deciding that her friendship was not worth it, and quit her post.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • Flip-flopped with Dio Brando. He lived a life of poverty and abuse from his alcoholic father, but his evil colors started to show when he was taken in by the wealthy Joestar family.
    • Also flip-flopped with Yoshikage Kira. On the one hand, he had overly loving parents, but on the other, he deliberately avoided privilege and praise so that he could fall under the radar.
    • J. Geil (or "Centerfold" in the dub) is a sadistic serial killer and a rapist. However, his mother, Enya, spoiled him rotten, never held him accountable for his crimes, and treated him like he was a kind saint even after his death.
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • The students in Class-A, particularly the Elite 5, are intelligent and they don't hesitate to brag about it and bully the students in Class-E.
    • Principal Asano is wealthy enough to have built the school himself, and he employs a system that discriminates the less-intelligent students. However, it's later revealed that he was once a Cool Teacher, but became cruel after a former student of his committed suicide from being bullied.
    • God of Death lived in a big fancy house and had a wealthy family. He was also a sociopath that didn't care that his father was murdered and even bagged his father's killer to train him.

    Comic Books 

  • Subverted with Harry Osborn. While he was raised by a wealthy family, and his father is the Green Goblin of all people, he didn't turn evil until after his father died.
  • Kick-Ass: Red-Mist came from a wealthy mafia family and he has plants in the police force that turn a blind eye to his actions.


  • The Goonies: Troy is a Jerk Jock and the son of a wealthy industrialist. He also drags Brand while on a bike with his car and pushes him off the road, which could have killed him.



  • Flip-flopped with Penny from Gone. Despite having a father who sexually abused her sisters, she was the only one he never touched. If anything, she was more upset that he didn't give her that kind of attention. When people started sympathizing with her sisters, she poisoned one of them out of jealousy. When she gains a power that has its heroic uses, she uses it to torture the people in the FAYZ.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Dudley Dursley, Harry's cousin, gets spoiled rotten by his parents and his bullying behavior is slightly enabled, especially to Harry. When he was forced to go on a diet, he starts to gain muscle and starts beating up kids younger than him. Dumbledore actually lampshades this when he notes that Dudley was screwed up by his parents. Dudley does start making amends after Harry saves him from a Dementor attack and the Dementor put Dudley through hell (or rather, made him relieve his life on an outsiders' view), giving him a Jerkass Realization. He and Harry make up in the last book and remain on amicable if awkward terms as adults.
    • Draco Malfoy comes from an incredibly wealthy family, being old money. He's also a bully, a card-carrying racist, and later joins the Death Eaters. Of course, his behavior comes to bite him and he realizes Being Evil Sucks during his tenure in the Death Eaters.
    • Really, the Death Eaters in general are this trope, since almost all of them come from similar backgrounds to Malfoy (and many are his immediate family). The exceptions are Voldemort himself, who grew up in an orphanage, and Snape, who winds up becoming a double agent for the good guys anyway. None of the Death Eaters seem to realize that, by virtue of being a cult that tortures and murders wantonly, they have far less right to be considered “civilized” than their victims.
  • Let the Right One In: Jonny sadistically bullies the protagonist, Oskar. He threatens to leave him on the train tracks, push him in ice, and tried to drown him when he fought back. However, it's implied that he was raised by loving parents.
  • Michael Vey: Dr. Hatch tries to deliberately make it happen with the Glows. With the hopes of making them his loyal killers, he showers them with expensive gifts and constantly reminds them that their powers make them superior to humans.
  • Percy Jackson: A natural given since villains in this series are either gods or the offspring of gods.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Joffrey Baratheon is a spoiled prince Up to Eleven, and is one of the cruelest characters in the series.
  • Carrie: Chris Hargensen is a sadistic bully, and her lawyer father always finds loopholes to get her out of trouble. However, she takes matters into her own hands when her father isn't able to convince the staff to let her go to prom.

    Live Action TV 

  • Stranger Things: Troy, the bully from season 1, has a mother that spoils him rotten and never holds him accountable for anything. He also tried to stab Dustin if Mike didn't jump off a cliff (and the result was that he pissed Eleven off big time).
  • While everybody in the gang in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are vile, reprehensible people, Dennis Reynolds might actually be the worst out of all of them. He is shown to be a manipulative sociopath, a Narcissist dolling out Disproportionate Retribution for minor insults, acts as a twisted subversion of the "Only Sane Man" trope found in most sitcoms, and his actions cluing in that he may be a serial rapist and a murderer. His Freudian Excuse can be traced after his Gold Digger mother Barbara, who's an unapologetic Rich Bitch Jerkass who's Parental Favoritism towards Dennis made a poor example for his upbringing.
  • Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones (the adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire) is a shining example of this. All his life, Joffrey has rarely been told the word 'no' and been raised to believe that he is better than everyone else and entitled to just about everything, because he's the crown prince of the Seven Kingdoms and a Lannister on his mother's side and his father's side too, as it turns out. As a result, Joffrey rarely has to face the negative consequences of his actions or learn from them, expects everyone to serve his whims and lacks empathy for others. This is deconstructed over the course of the series, as Joffrey's bratty behavior and impulsively cruel actions do start to catch up to him, culminating in him being assassinated at his own wedding. The masterminds of his death straight up admit that the main reason they killed him was because of his Stupid Evil tendencies.
  • Ilithyia from Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The root cause of her selfish sense of entitlement and lack of empathy is the fact she was raised by a wealthy and powerful father who let her have anything she wanted, and she never had to face negative consequences for her actions.

    Video Games 

  • Persona 5: Many of the antagonists the Phantom Thieves face embody this. Many of them are prolific individuals who's high lot directly or indirectly influence their actions (namely, the loss of their position makes them go to heinous lengths.)
    • Suguru Kamoshida is a former Olympic Gold Medalist-turned-Gym Teacher who uses his past fame to get away with physically abusing his male students and sexually assaulting his female students. He's a variation since the entire thing is an ego trip as a result of no longer being in the limelight (he ran the track team to the ground and dismantled it since he saw it as a threat to his success, especially Ryuji.)
    • Ichiryusai Madarame is a famous artist who started suffering from Artists Block, so he began stealing his students art projects to pass off as his own. One of his former students committed suicide, and he deliberately let another student, Yusuke's mother, die from a seizure so he can get away with selling her painting.
    • Kunikazu Okumura is the Corrupt Corporate Executive of a food business that went into fast food. He combines this with Ambition Is Evil since we learn he's motivated by his impoverished childhood and a desire to be te opposite of his father (a kind-hearted businessman who was not very successful.) He achieves his success by running his workers to the ground with minimal breaks and tries to achieve political power by marrying off his daughter Haru to the son of a prominent senator.
    • Subverted with Goro Akechi. While he's acelebrity with legions of fangirls, it's revealed he's also the bastard child of Masoyushi Shido. His mother committed suicide after years of Slut-Shaming (remember that being a bastard child is viewed much worse in the East than in the West) and he got bounced around through various foster homes.
    • Masoyushi Shido is a Corrupt Politician who uses his connections to get away with atrocities including murder and rape. When the Protagonist caught him trying to have his way with a woman and he ended up tripping on his own feet, he pressed charges against the Protagonist.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Junko Enoshima, the Big Bad of the series, is also a famous fashion model.
    • Danganronpa 3: Natsumi, Fuyuhiko's sister, is revealed to be a Spoiled Brat who used her father's Yakuza power to bully her way into Hope's Peak Academy as a Reserve Course Student. She was unsatisfied with her class and often threatened Mahiru so that she can be a full Ultimate Student. This leads to her getting killed by Mahiru's friend.
  • Life Is Strange: Nathan Prescott always uses his father's connections to get him out of trouble. One example is shown in the prequel, where if depending on how you played, he severely injures a girl named Samantha who had a crush on him. Sean Prescott can be overheard at the hospital convincing Samantha's mother not to press charges. In the main game, he works with his teacher and famous photographer, Mark Jefferson, to abduct classmates of his, drug them, and have Jefferson take photos of them.
  • Bully: The Prep clique consists of rich Jerkasses that torment the lower class. However, Mr. Hattrick proves to be worse than all of them. He comes from an Old Money family and lives in a nice mansion. Despite having no financial need to be a teacher at Bullworth, he signed up anyway so that he could torment his students.

    Western Animation 

  • Batman: The Animated Series: In the episode The Terrible Trio, the titular antagonists are a group of rich kids who go around committing crimes simply because they think their wealth can let them get away with it. One of them even tries killing his girlfriend when she finds out what he's been doing.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns willingly abandoned his loving parents (and his favorite teddy bear, Bobo) so he can be raised by a more wealthy family, leading him to becoming the Corrupt Corporate Executive that he is.
    • Homer invokes this in A Star is Torn, by becoming the manger of a rival of Lisa's and revamping him into "Johnny Rainbow", a rich kid singing a boastful song about how he uses his wealth to make his life better than everyone else's. It works, and the kid is immediately rejected by the audience.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Antibug", Spoiled Brat Hate Sink daughter of the mayor Chloé Bourgeois ends up akumatized by Hawk Moth and gets upgraded into the titular Antibug, an Evil Knockoff of Ladybug with a burning desire to take revenge on the heroine for calling her a liar and a Mill Stone during their confrontation with Vanisher. Keep in mind that Vanisher wouldn't have even existed if Chloé didn't try to alienate her only friend over an honest mistake. Come to think of it, most people Hawk Moth has akumatized were the result of Chloé's own petty attitude, something he himself lampshades in a Batman Gambit in "Despair Bear."
  • Princess Morbucks from The Powerpuff Girls is a Spoiled Brat who becomes a supervillain when the Powerpuff girls refuse her admittance into their group, completely ignorant of the fact that her utter disregard for other people makes a poor hero. She spends the rest of the series either trying to stage (ironically) morally bankrupt means of proving herself (like convincing a friend of theirs to shoplift just so she could arrest her), enacting petty revenge on them using her wealth to buy a means to do so (like making all crime legal in Townsville) to just flat-out attacking them with advanced, highly-expensive weaponry.


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