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Punch-Clock Villain

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"There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do."


Like a mercenary, but with none of the sociopathy.

These are characters who have no real grudge against the heroes, but are simply doing a job they're getting paid for. After hours, they're totally personable Joes who go hang out like anyone else. Most Punch-Clock Villains are not even particularly mean. Clear cut cases, will not be bad outside their job as it would undermine the existence of this trope.

Used to be an odd device but has become increasingly frequent due to the popularity of superhero parody, where minions are portrayed as sympathetic employees for unreasonable bosses. In addition, nearly all anime featuring a comedic villain usually has these, who are frequently cute characters.

Conversely, if played seriously, the emotional detachment that the Punch-Clock Villain displays when they knowingly contribute to various atrocities can be chilling, and audiences may see them as a monster. Depending on the nature of the story this trope can make a villain either more relatable to an audience or more hateful. If they're employed in a violent capacity, they may be an Apologetic Attacker or insist that it's Nothing Personal.


Many Punch-Clock Villains may execute a Heel–Face Turn at the very, VERY end of the film, should the Big Bad totally lose it.

If they'd rather Pet the Dog and don't even willingly participate in any criminal activities, they might be the most innocent character on an evil side: the Minion with an F in Evil instead; if they got into evil because the superhero team fired them for misbehavior, they may be a Hero with an F in Good. People using this trope as an excuse for their crimes regardless of the truth of their claims, are Just Following Orders; real-world examples should go there.

Related to Villains Out Shopping and Good All Along. May overlap with Churchgoing Villain or Family Values Villain. Compare Obstructive Bureaucrat. The opposite of Visionary Villain and Psycho for Hire. For the Anti-Hero version, see Punch-Clock Hero. Not at all related to villains who love their clocks, or to villains who punch their clock.


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Alternative Title(s): Punch Clock Villains


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