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Reminiscing About Your Victims

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"Do you have a brother? I shot a man once who looked like you. In Kiev. In... '93, I think. I'm sure you heard about it. The Spetsnaz team that tried to sell a warhead? Nobody ever saw them again. *breaks into slightly psychotic laughter* That was a good winter for me!"
Michael Weston from Burn Notice deliberately plays up his Shrouded in Myth/Psycho for Hire image.

We know that Evil Feels Good. So, it's also natural that evil people can get nostalgic for times that felt particularly good, such as an especially fun victim or a favorite city you destroyed. Sometimes the character does it in such a way that it would be cute if not for the monstrous deeds being talked about.

Most commonly, this is done with a Serial Killer thinking about their kills, a Blood Knight recalling a Worthy Opponent, with the villain intentionally trying to hurt or provoke a hero they might be talking to, or to show the villain having an attachment to a victim such as a Villainous Crush or a touch of Lima Syndrome.

Would You Like to Hear How They Died? and the Post-Rape Taunt are common parts of this. Contrast But for Me, It Was Tuesday, where the villain doesn't remember their victims. Compare and contrast Antagonist in Mourning. Can be an excellent Establishing Character Moment, particularly if a character is meant to be established as Ax-Crazy. See also Writing About Your Crime, when the past atrocities are committed to paper instead.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Tiger & Bunny three criminals sharing a jail cell swap stories of their misdeeds, one of them remarking that he loves kidnapping, because you can get a bunch of money and then kill the kid afterwards. They immediately then get incinerated by Lunatic.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, during his interrogation Barry the Chopper talks about his various kills this way, reminiscing about how beautiful the moonlight on the pools of blood was, treasuring the memories of such halcyon days. He also instantly spots the one bogus incident they mentioned to test him.
  • Generally averted with Death Note's Villain Protagonist Light, who often seems completely unconcerned with his victims' identities beyond their being Acceptable Targets and/or being convenient to kill... However, he does seem to do this quite a lot in reference to one particular victim during the series' second half.
    Light: In the end, L is indeed the greatest detective on earth...
  • Bleach: Mayuri reveals to Uryuu that he had studied the Quincies by launching into a long speech about all the things he did to the Quincies he'd captured in order to study responses to mental and physical stimuli. It's a speech that reveals just how far down the road of Mad Scientist he's willing to go For Science!.
  • In K, the Colorless King appears in the cell where Mikoto, the Red King, is being held, and taunts him about the murder of his closest follower, Totsuka. He then goes on to say he'll kill all of Mikoto's followers, one by one, and make him watch.

  • A typically creepy issue of Swamp Thing has a Serial Killer who calls himself the Bogeyman and remembers his victims by number...and their eyes. Every time he hears a number, the panel shows a disembodied pair of eyes and his description of same.
  • In The Sandman, an imposter Bogeyman at a "Collector's Convention" is found out when someone blurts out a number and he doesn't immediately talk about eyes. Things do not go well for him afterwards.
  • In an issue of Uncanny X-Men around the 200's, Selene is confronting Rachel (Phoenix) because Selene killed a man who was helping Rachel, and Selene taunts her by pointing out that she knows all about the man she killed while Rachel doesn't even know his name.
  • The Judge Dredd story "Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend" serves as Judge Death's Origins Issue. It's basically one long use of this trope as Death, being interviewed by a terrified journalist, happily recalls all the people whom he gruesomely murdered during his long career of killing every living thing.
  • Les Innommables has a pair of panels where the ghosts of Chinese victims are surrounded by fire, then cut to Colonel Lychee, who's dozing happily at the memory.
  • Robin Vol 1: Sir Edmund Dorrance starts describing in loving detail the way he killed Clyde Rawlins' wife and children while beating him to death, and the last words Rawlins hears in life are Dorrance saying the only thing he regrets about the whole affair is that his blindness means he won't be able to actually watch Rawlins himself die.

    Fan Fiction 

  • In Rob Roy when Rob and Cunningham finally meet face to face, Cunningham teases Rob about how good it felt to rape Rob's wife. "Your wife was far sweeter forced than many are willing."
  • In Gangs of New York, Bill Cutting considers Priest Vallon a Worthy Opponent and does an Antagonist in Mourning type of celebration of their fight every year.
  • Hannibal Lecter seemed to really enjoy that memory of the census worker whose liver he ate with fava beans and Chianti.
  • The Joker does the Would You Like to Hear How They Died? version in The Dark Knight.
    Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the ... little emotions. In ... you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?
  • In The Princess Bride, while talking with Buttercup, the Man in Black tells her how Westley pleaded for his life before he killed him. Here it's used in a more respectful way, since the Man in Black hints at being moved by Westley's sincerity and devotion. Ultimately subverted in that the Man in Black did not in fact kill Westley...he is Westley!
  • Con Air. About midway through the film, convicted serial killer Garland Greene strikes up a conversation with Cameron Poe during which he happily recounts how he once killed a girl, then drove through three states while wearing her head as a hat.
  • In Return to Cabin by the Lake, Stanley Caldwell recalls Kimberly, his last succesful victim before his crimes were found out, quite well. He relays to Allison, a curious script writer, that she gave him "a good fight" and clawed at his arm as he daydreams about Kimberly.
  • Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit gives Eddie Valiant a truly terrifying version of Would You Like to Hear How They Died?:
    Remember me, Eddie? When I killed your brother, I talked JUST...LIKE...THIIIIIIIIIIIS!
  • Thrax the virus does this in Osmosis Jones, complete with DNA bead souvenirs and the twist that he's gotten faster with each victim. His endgame is to kill a human in 48 hours and set a record, ensuring he goes down in medical history.
  • El Indio of For a Few Dollars More sometimes listens to the chime from his pocket watch and reflects on its previous owner, a young woman (bounty hunter Col. Mortimer's sister) whom killed herself with his gun after he murdered her lover and raped her. He wistfully dwells on her as if she were "the one that got away," a touch of humanity that ironically makes him seem even more loathsome than if he were recalling his evil deed with the sadistic glee of a Card-Carrying Villain.

  • In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, the Big Bad is remembering a girl he took to his bed, and how she laughed at his scars. Since it happens during a situation when he must smile to another, he shifts to recalling what he has done to her in response.
  • In King Solomon's Mines (where Allan Quartermain got his start) the Zulu warrior Umslopagaas says that he wouldn't mind meeting and talking to some of the people he had killed in battle. In this case it isn't to show that Umslopogaas is evil but that though he is a Blood Knight he is also an honorable Proud Warrior Race Guy who respects a Worthy Opponent.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, the vampire Count and Countess Magpyr reminisce about their honeymoon:
    Countess: And we met such lovely people. Do you remember Mr and Mrs Harker?
    Count: Very fondly. I recall they lasted nearly all week.
  • In Hannibal, Mason Verger reminisces about a Christian camp he attended and his fellow campers, some of them disadvantaged youth who "would do anything for a candy bar" which allowed him to molest them. This is meant to mark him out as an Asshole Victim of Hannibal Lecter's and later of his sister Margot's.
  • In The Two Princesses of Bamarre, the dragon Vollys treats her prisoners as "guests" before eating them, letting them live longer with a system of giving and taking away pieces of treasure from her hoard for entertaining her. She reminisces about several of her previous victims fondly, talking about them like they were old friends and mourning the fact that she got bored and killed them. In return, the protagonist Addie later regrets having to kill her to escape.
  • In the Warrior Cats field guide Battles of the Clans, Tigerstar remembers how fun it was when he killed Redtail.
  • Chiswyck's weakness for this trope leads Arya to contrive his assassination in A Song of Ice and Fire; his bragging about his band's rapes and murders proves a little too much for her.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry's last-minute escape from Voldemort in Godric's Hollow triggers a Through the Eyes of Madness vision where Voldemort recounts the night he killed Harry's parents.
  • In The Jungle Book story "The Undertakers", a jackal, adjutant stork, and mugger crocodile chat on a river bank. The crocodile reminisces about the various humans he's eaten over the years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the above quote, Michael Westen from Burn Notice is deliberately using this trope (and playing up the image Russians have of him as the CIA's version of the Boogeyman) to speed along an interrogation by freaking out the guy he, Sam and Fi are interrogating.
  • Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite fond of discussing and reminiscing about the Slayers that he has killed. During his "weepy drunk" phase post-Drusilla breakup, he remembers killing a homeless man on a bench with her...while Buffy and Angel listen in disgust. Post-chip, he tells Dawn a Ghost Story about him killing an entire family.
  • Parodied and subverted in Veronica Mars.
    Veronica: I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
    Dean: Oh, how'd that go?
    Veronica: ...It was kind of a let down.
  • The Kids in the Hall, naturally, play this for laughs with a group of friends gathered to memorialize their dead buddy. Turns out they killed him, of course.
    "It really makes you think about the fragility of life."
    "Not really. Remember how he struggled at the end?"
  • Subverted in The X-Files episode "Paper Hearts", where the villain of the week tries to convince Mulder that it was he who kidnapped and murdered his little sister by describing her last moments. Mulder eventually calls bullshit and is right: the bad guy wasn't Samantha's kidnapper, just a jerkass.
  • On The Mentalist, a man claims to be the Serial Killer Red John and tries to prove this by telling Patrick Jayne how nicely Patrick's wife and daughter smelled right before he killed them. However, it does reveal he's close with the actual Red John, since he couldn't have acquired these specific details otherwise.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Deaths-Head Revisited", a Nazi likes to visit the ruins of the concentration camp where he used to work and reminisce about the suffering he caused.
  • In the Being Human episode "Though the Heavens Fall", MacNair attempts to preface killing Herrick with describing all the vampires he has killed. Taking Herrick on a trip down memory lane proves to be a very bad idea.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit features this in the episode entitled "Quarry." The team believes they've unearthed another victim of a convicted murderer and pedophile. When presented with slew of Baseball Caps that belonged to the victims including the hat that belonged to the recently discovered one, the man is able to recall the full name of each person along with the day and year he committed the crime after giving every hat a momentary sniff. The recent addition is the only exception which is a pretty good indicator that he isn't responsible for that one. It's just as creepy as it sounds.

  • Kamelot's song The Zodiac is inspired by the Zodiac Killer, and in the lyrics he reminisces about breaking the neck of a woman.
  • "The Litany of the Slain" by GWAR.
  • Spike Jones' parody of "My Old Flame" presents the song sung by Paul Frees (imitating Peter Lorre) as a psychotic killer who is trying to remember which one of his victims the song is about.
    "My old flame / I can't even think of her name / (beat) I'll have to look through my collection of human heads."
    "WHAT WAS HER NAME? Doris, Lauranote , Chloenote , Manny, Moe, Jack? (beat) No, it coudn't have been Moe. I can't stand it, I tell you, this is driving me sane!

    Video Games 
  • In Portal, Glados is quite happy to talk about forcing you to kill Companion Cube
  • Invoked by Kefka in Final Fantasy VI:
    Kefka: Say, remind me to show you my Magicite collection someday! You might see a few familiar faces!!!
    • Explained: Magicite crystals are the dead bodies of magical beings, whom Terra was born amongst.
  • At one point in Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack will call you to complain about how you just aren't giving up, which somehow leads into a segue about a man in New Haven who stupidly tried to attack him with a spoon. So he scooped out the man's eyes. With the spoon.
  • An odd example in Hitman (2016) where there's a rumor that Jordan Cross has a recording about the night in which his girlfriend Hannah died. He does have a recording, but he's wracked with guilt over her murder which he is responsible for.

    Web Original 


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