Follow TV Tropes


Sinister Shades

Go To
"Syme's eye always caught the black glasses and the blind grin. [...] They took away the key of the face — you could not tell what his smile or his gravity meant. Partly from this, and partly because he had a vulgar virility wanting in most of the others, it seemed to Syme that he might be the wickedest of all those wicked men."

Sun never sets on an asshole.

This trope is where Scary Shiny Glasses meets Cool Shades. Quite a bit of villains wear shades for some reason. Usually they hide the malice from the eyes of the one wearing them. If you're Making a Spectacle of Yourself, invoking this trope will fail horribly.

Examples are numerous, including The Men in Black, members of secret societies, CIA agents, mafiosi, Yakuza, sinister police officers, Agent programs in the Matrix... you get the picture. Not always associated with villainous characters but usually a deliberate attempt to intimidate, so chances are that if a hero wears these, they're an example of Good is Not Nice if not a full Anti-Hero. May overlap with Specs of Awesome. Compare Four Eyes, Zero Soul. Gas Mask Mooks takes this a few steps further.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ubik from Berserk has a pair of round shades that he wears when he's scaring the piss out of those intended to be sacrificed.
  • The Black Organization members, Vodka and Korn from Case Closed are never seen without them; the only time when Vodka doesn't wear his shades is when he was masked in a costume party. Their colleague, Calvados, wore sunglasses, too, but We Hardly Knew Him.
  • Yamaki of Digimon Tamers, even after he finishing his Heel–Face Turn. It's kind of telling that they either come off or lighten up when he's doing something good.
  • Jerk Jock Agon Kongo from Eyeshield 21 sports some nifty sports goggles, helps that they're opaque most of the time.
    • The shades in question are also nefariously expensive (they're Oakley Juliet sports goggles). Shades of evil indeed.
    • Subverted with Akaba, who even combines these with red eyes, but is actually a nice, if eccentric person.
  • Smith from Future GPX Cyber Formula is never seen without them, even when he dies after his helicopter crashes.
  • Alucard in Hellsing has these as part of his initial look, but, strangely enough, as he becomes more threatening, he loses them.
  • Char Aznable, originally of Mobile Suit Gundam, sports these in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. He and his Clones tend to alternate between these and Cool Mask.
  • Shino from Naruto is rarely, if ever seen without his shades. The same goes with his dad, or anyone from the Aburame family, for that matter. Given they host insects inside their bodies, this has lead to some unpleasant speculation as to why, exactly, we never see their eyes.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gendo Ikari practically revels in this. He's only shown without them in flashbacks; their lack doesn't make him any less scary though.
  • Colonel Franklin and his men wore Sunglasses at Night at the beginning of Transformers: Cybertron. He wore them less after he was revealed as a good guy rather than a sinister government agent.
  • Trigun gives us the little shiny sunglasses Vash puts on when he's about to kick someone's ass.
    • Remarkably the same Cool Shades invoke Bishōnen. In fact, because of the starkness of the character change from the goofball, simply shifting to Stoic Spectacles reaches the border of this trope. The shades can change in the same situations where, if his shades didn't go Sinister, we'd probably see the Glowing Eyes Red Eyes Of Doom instead.
  • Kemo (a.k.a. the Hair Guy) from Yu-Gi-Oh!. Bandit Keith as well, where they really enhance the sense of both menace and douchebaggery that he gives off.
    • Don't forget Croquet, Pegasus's right-hand man.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Younger Toguro, the antagonist of the Dark Tournament arc, wears an intimidating pair of triangular shades that enhance his stoic, merciless attitude. It's shown in flashbacks that he didn't wear them before he became a demon and underwent a Face–Heel Turn.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: The morality of Peter Gyrich, Obstructive Bureaucrat par none of the Marvel U, can be determined by the opacity of his glasses. If they're completely dark, as they are in Avengers: The Initiative, that's a sign he's going to be a complete bastard. (Not that he's Mr. Cuddles the rest of the time, mind. It just means he's going to be worse than usual.)
  • In Chassis, Chassis' main rival Covergirl wears a reflective visor that she never takes off. Given her body had to be reconstructed are after a near-fatal crash, it is possible the visor is permanently attached to her face.
  • Plastic Man's, while usually falling into Making a Spectacle of Yourself, turned into this when he, along with the rest of the JLA, gained a Literal Split Personality.
  • Evil Sonic a.k.a. Scourge from Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) wears these.
  • Superman: Post-Crisis General Zod's wife, Ursa, sported a pair of shaded goggles to protect her eyes from excess light. She was also one of the most demented of all the Kryptonians.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus wears a pair of shades, to hide that his eyes were badly scarred by the disaster that made him Doc Ock.
    • Ultimate X-Men: Mastermind always use those, and is rarely (if ever) seen without them.

    Fan Works 
  • Manehattan's Lone Guardian has Glintlock, an Evil Poacher willingly working for someone who plans to take over Equestria, favoring a pair of shield-type sunglasses at all times. This is less out of intimidation than it is to protect his eyes, which have increased sensitivity to sunlight for reasons unknown.
  • In the James Bond Fan Film Property Of A Lady, an unnamed enforcer sent to spring the trap on Bond wears these alongside the black suit.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Peter Cook as the Devil in Bedazzled (1967) wears sinister looking 'mod' sunglasses along with a tuxedo, cape, and red socks.
  • The antagonist of The Book of Eli is Carnegie, the tyrannical ruler of a small town in post-apocalyptic America. He has a pair he wears to cover his eyes from the UV light.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    • Seen in the "police" ambush of Nick Fury where the patrol cops are all wearing sunglasses and peaked caps to hide their identities, while the SWAT officers have their helmets and goggles on.
    • Also the Winter Soldier himself during daytime operations until Black Widow cracks one of the lenses with a well-placed shot.
  • Bryan Cranston's kidnapper character wears particularly sinister orange-shaded glasses in Cold Comes the Night.
  • The prison guard in Cool Hand Luke wears a pair of sinister shades while watching the prisoners in the hot sun.
  • Fender Tremolo in Cyborg (1989) is nearly all the time sporting his pair of 80's vintage black, dirty shades. And believe it or not, he's much better on with these however creepy he is. You really don't want to see what lies behind them.
  • Discussed in In the Line of Fire; Frank Horrigan is asked why he doesn't wear shades, like the rest of the agents, while standing post. He replies that he likes to get a good look at people's eyes. Given that he has the classic Clint Squint in his arsenal, adding shades might actually make him less intimidating. The other agents in the film all follow right along with this trope, though.
  • Paul Yau, the hitman hired to replace the title character of John Woo's The Killer (1989), had a pair of these.
  • In 1945's Leave Her to Heaven, the pathologically jealous and evil Ellen Harland (Gene Tierney) dons a pair of these just prior to letting her husband's disabled kid brother drown in a lake.
  • The black-clad Bone, the most brutal of the bank robbers in The Lookout, is never seen without without his sunglasses.
  • From The Matrix:
    • Agent programs sport these by default
    • Morpheus has them, when, to Neo, he's still mysterious and vaguely threatening. They're deliberately shed whenever the character's meant to be vulnerable.
    • Neo and Trinity get their own when they go Storming the Castle in the first movie.
  • In Napoléon (1927), Maximilien Robespierre dons a pair from time to time.
  • Sheriff Cooley from O Brother, Where Art Thou??. He's implied to be the devil, and in close-ups on his face firelight is often reflected in his shades.
  • Parodied in Out of Sight where the two protagonists drive around and spot a number of undercover FBI agents watching them... due to the fact they all wear identical sunglasses.
  • In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Ms. Norman wears these, as does Roger Clifford during the PCL scenes. This is because Ms. Norman is actually a Ditto, and the same Ditto is impersonating Roger during the aforementioned scenes. Ditto cannot mimic human eyes, so the shades are necessary to hide its true nature.
  • The cop who wakes up Marion Crane from sleeping in her car in Psycho dons a pair of these.
  • In Six Gun Savior, the Devil wears a pair of black-lensed glasses that completely conceal his eyes.
  • Soultaker stars Martin Sheen's brother as a Cool Shades-wearing Grim Reaper who falls in love with the leading lady/scriptwriter. The SOL Crew insisted upon singing "Sunglasses At Night" to mock this.
  • Spider-Man 2: Doctor Octopus dons a pair of shades after the freak accident that made him turn evil. This is explained away in the novelized version, as Octavius was left with very light-sensitive eyes after the tritium exploded.
  • The T-1000, Big Bad of Terminator 2: Judgment Day wears mirrored aviator sunglasses, per his disguise as a Highway Patrol officer.
  • Terminators are fond of wearing sunglasses, started by the T-800 donning a set of Ray-Bans to hide his missing eye in the first movie. It's used as symbolism in Judgment Day where the T-1000 wears sleek shiny chrome shades in contrast to the T-800's black ones to highlight how more technologically advanced it is. Later in the film the T-800 loses his his shades as he becomes more human, while Sarah Connor dons a pair to go assassinate Dyson to symbolize how she's losing her humanity and acting like a Terminator.
  • The Warriors: Masai is the sinister leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the toughest gang in New York City, and he's never seen without his sunglasses on.

  • The Tonton Macoutes wear these in Graham Greene's The Comedians.
  • Depending on the person wearing them and the reader's point of view, the sports glasses Daemon operatives use are this, Cool Shades or maybe even both. Not to mention having a number of functions besides looking cool and/or intimidating.
  • In the Diogenes Club series, The Men in Black invariably wear dark glasses in all circumstances. In "Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch", it's stated that there's something unpleasantly strange about their eyes that the glasses conceal (the character who's seen what's under there doesn't wish to dwell on the details). On the other hand, in "The Gypsies in the Wood", the leader of the group has a private meeting with the protagonist in which, as a show of good faith, he removes his glasses to reveal apparently normal and "surprisingly humorous" eyes.
  • The Jennifer Morgue plays this for laughs with the sunglasses-wearing security agents of the villainous Bathory PaleGraceTM makeup company. One agent grudgingly admits that they're required to wear enchanted eyeliner that enables the Big Bad to see through their eyes — the sunglasses are optional, but they hide the fact that the big beefy guards all have makeup on.
  • Johannes Cabal: The titular Necromancer's blue-tinted sunglasses are a constant throughout the series, though their sinister connotations are zig-zagged as he progresses from Villain Protagonist to Anti-Hero.
  • The Ankh-Morpork banking community wear these in Making Money, as seen on the cover.
  • One of the anarchists in G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday wears a pair of them. Deliberately. With them, he's terrifying to behold. Without them, he's cheerful and ordinary.
  • In Joyce Carol Oates' short story Where Are You Going Where Have You Been, Arnold Friend, a creep who forcefully persuades The Protagonist to accompany him in his car for unknown-but-probably-nefarious purposes wears a pair of mirrored aviator shades that hide his true self, and true age; he's much older than he appears, and much less innocent than Connie thought...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica. The Brother Cavil Cylon interrogating Saul Tigh while he's imprisoned on New Caprica wears one of these.
  • The Spider People from Big Wolf on Campus.
  • Breaking Bad: Early on, when Walter White is cultivating his "Heisenberg" alias, he does so with sunglasses and porkpie hat to intimidate and somewhat hide his real identity. In later seasons he just uses transparent glasses, as he's already intimidating.
  • Community: in "Intro to Politics", Secret Service agent Robin Vohlers is always wearing dark glasses, attempting a Four Eyes, Zero Soul level of intimidation, but Abed sees into her soul anyway.
  • Mr. Eldritch in Dark Season.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015): On occasion, Matt Murdock will invoke this trope when he has to act in his Daredevil persona while out-of-costume.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Hernan "Shades" Alvarez wears his namesake Ray-Bans almost all the time, even at night, and makes it known that he means business when he takes them off, so any scene where he's not wearing them is usually a serious and pivotal one. Theo Rossi has commented in interviews about taking a few cues from Charlie Cox's portrayal of Matt Murdock, as the role similarly required him to act without using his eyes to express emotion.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita's fake Rangers from "A Bad Reflection On You" wear these in civilian guise.
  • Twin Peaks : Thomas Eckhardt's reappearance in Double Play (Episode 21), especially when the fireplace reflects on his sunglasses.

     Professional Wrestling 

  • Commander Khashoggi, the head of the Secret Police in We Will Rock You.
    • In the Toronto version of the musical, he is also shown to have two different colored eyes, which might explain why he wears them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Being a clan of corrupters who are highly sensitive to any form of bright light, Followers of Set in Vampire: The Masquerade, often wear these, to the point that it's become a stock accessory for Setite player characters.

    Video Games 
  • Machi Tobaye in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney may be a deliberate subversion, as his shades make him come off as creepy when he really isn't.
  • The Doctor character from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood multiplayer has mirrored goggles over a White Mask of Doom. The Engineer has proper sunglasses.
  • From the Bayonetta franchise there's Rodin who wears a pair, he's a Scary Black Man Fallen Angel who is one of the most powerful demons in the entire Trinity of Realities, not to mention a master weaponsmith who forges his wares by sucking out the souls of demons to fuel them. Despite this and evil-looking shades, he's not actually a bad guy... not that it makes him any less sinister.
  • Khaled Al-Asad in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is never seen without his sunglasses.
  • In the first edition of Civilization, when the player was running a modern-age despotism, or their civilization was in "anarchy" between governments, the image of the civ's leaders included a generallisimo-type wearing shades.
  • Cosmic Star Heroine has Dominic Steele, the director of Agency of Peace and Intelligence. He always wears shades, and he is a Knight Templar believing in The Evils of Free Will and tries to create a better world by brainwashing everyone in the galaxy with him ruling over all. As it turns out, he himself was actually mind-controlled by Eternity, the true Big Bad of the game. On lesser note, Groff Brokston, the Starter Villain turned Lone Wolf Boss, also wears shades and he is a leader of a criminal gang known as Chaos Dogs.
  • Jacob Arthur "Danik" in Dead Space 3 wears them "Albert Wesker" style. In other words, he never takes them off. Even when he is in snowy conditions and under the freaking ground, where he would have literally no reason to wear them.
  • Double Switch: The members of the Society of the Scroll and Key all wear sunglasses and are willing to kill people to get an artifact.
  • Rude (his name, not his description) in Final Fantasy VII has these, making him as scary as possible for being a member of the Goldfish Poop Gang.
    • Rude also seems to carry around multiple pairs. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, his shades get stepped on, so he just pulls another one out of this jacket pocket.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach has Monty Gator's shades as the reason he's sinister. One of the mechanics of the game is stunning the animatronics with a camera flash or laser gun. This is explained in-universe as exploiting a glitch in the optic sensors used in the animatronics. Because Monty is wearing sunglasses, he can't be stunned, forcing you to outrun him when he attacks. He loses the sunglasses, and this immunity, when he becomes Shattered Monty.
  • God Hand has Azel, the Devil Hand, probably as a Shout-Out to the aforementioned Albert Wesker, since both characters were created by Capcom and specifically, Shinji Mikami.
  • Hogan's Alley: One of the gangsters wears a pair of sunglasses.
  • In Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, the Dark Crafter has shades that he uses to possess Claycia. They seem to be purely cosmetic otherwise, as its single eye is situated in his mouth.
  • The Pokémon games have the Black Glasses, a pair of sunglasses that heighten the power of Dark-type moves. Krokoroks and Krookodiles have a dark membrane in front of their eyes that act similar to these, letting them intimidate their prey and foes, and allowing them better vision at longer distances.
  • Leon Bronev, boss of the criminal organization Targent (which is essentially the archeology mafia) and Big Bad of Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, sports a villainous pair of Triangle Shades for most of the game.
  • In Resident Evil, Albert goddamn Wesker. Eventually, it's to cover up for bizarrely inhuman eyes, but mostly they're just there to be rockin', especially since he did it before he got them and why he wore them in the lab, so yeah; it's mostly to be badass.
    • Funnily enough, these bite him in the bum during his final appearance in 5. Despite all his mutagenic augmentations by that point in his career, for some reason merely shutting off the lights (in an area that wouldn't even be described as "poorly lit" anyway) can confuse him and leave him vulnerable for no reason other than his choice of eyewear, it seems.
  • Dr. Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog has always worn these, although early Western material tried to pass them off as pitch black eyes.
  • Stardew Valley: Mr. Qi wears purple sunglasses that cover his eyes completely, adding to his already sinister look and vibe.
  • In Splatoon 2, the enemy Octolings have swapped their metal goggles from the first game out for a pair of shades with a single glowing red eye, Terminator-style. During the final boss battle, the Brainwashed and Crazy Callie wears a pair of "Hypnoshades" that do said brainwashing. She's freed after Marie blows the glasses off her face with a well-placed Charger shot.
  • Street Fighter V has newcomer F.A.N.G. wear a sinister pair of round sunglasses.
  • Time Crisis has Wild Dog, Wild Fang and Robert Baxter.
  • The World Ends with You's Big Bad, Megumi Kitaniji, wears a pair of sunglasses and is even nicknamed "Shades"
  • In the Yakuza series, Jo Amon and every member of the Amon clan wears one. You can acquire their shades as an item after beating them, which increases weapon damage.

  • Black Monday Blues of Dead Winter has red-tinted pairs. Yes, multiple, he carries spares.
  • Coach Gordon of Dear Children is always seen rocking a pair of shades. Whether or not his intentions are sinister, one thing's for sure, his glasses only add to his creep factor.
  • Terezi Pyrope of Homestuck wears pointy red ones because she's blind.
    • It's funny how the person who's wearing the shades can affect whether they count as cool shades or sinister shades. Bro's shade's on Bro? Cool. Bro's shades after having been taken from his own bloody corpse by Bec Noir? HOLY SHIT HOLD ME
      • And when Gamzee is seen wearing Terezi's glasses?
    • Also reversed. Nepeta is adorable when wearing Equius' shades. On Equius himself, they come across as more perverted than sinister. Then played straight again when Gamzee gets ahold of those too...
  • Agent Ben and Agent Jerry, The Men in Black from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. Of course, they're ineffectual enough that it's debatable just how sinister the glasses make them.

    Web Originals 
  • Agamemnon Tiberius Vacuum always wears black Willy Wonka-style goggles.
  • The Shadow Men, Chessmasters of Broken Saints, both sport these, as does sleaze ball strip club owner Mars, whose shades are red and glowing.
  • Doctor Steel is never seen without his antique dark welding goggles (which in one of his music videos, reflect flames).
  • Made fun of by the Game Grumps during their playthrough of Resident Evil, when they get to the (not so surprising) reveal that Albert Wesker is the Big Bad:
    Danny: I knew it was Wesker!
    Arin: Obviously! He wears sunglasses indoors!
    Danny: Yeah! No one not evil would do such a thing!
  • Michelle Clore of KateModern wears these, as does Kate when under her influence.
    • Let's not forget "Dr. Specialist", either.
  • lonelygirl15 loves this trope. Lucy, Virgil, and various Shadows, Deacons and hired thugs all wear these.
  • Mike BurnFire: Legion Mike is a die-hard supporter of Ceasar's Legion, the most unambiguously evil faction of the setting, and his standard get-up includes a pair of sunglasses.
  • Bridget in Sorority Forever has worn these on occasion.
  • While in his disguise as a kebab restaurant clerk during the Lovers mini-arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Steely Dan wears a pair of shades.

    Western Animation 
  • In the first G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero miniseries, the Baroness wears sunglasses before switching to regular ones in the next one.
  • Protoman had these in the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon; at a few points, we could see Mega reflected in them as he was about to sneak up on him.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Ace, leader of the villainous Gangreen Gang, wears an angular pair of shades that work both for the coolness factor and the sinister factor. He certainly doesn't look as intimidating without them.
  • South Park: Cartman wears a pair when he's deputized by Officer Barbrady.
  • Heather was introduced with these on Total Drama Island, complete with scary background music.

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, the US Secret Service goes for the Sinister Shades look on purpose, to discourage anyone from messing with their "protectees". They also do it so they can stare at someone without being noticed, i.e. no one knows where they are looking.
    • One additional reason they wear sunglasses is so that their eyes are adjusted to the light when they go indoors. Inside agents almost never wear sunglasses, it’s just that most of the time they are seen they are outdoors and therefore this trope exists.
  • The late Reverend Jim Jones wore them to hide the redness in his eyes that his amphetamines and quaaludes gave him. It became a trademark of his along with his white suit.
  • "Satanic" serial killer Richard Ramirez wore shades in the courtroom.
  • The late Kim Jong-Il, the previous leader of North Korea, wore them to look even more menacing. Well, to try to look the part, anyway — it wasn't all that successful. The shades didn't make up for the fact that he was short, fat, and unbelievably goofy-looking, though. Unless you were actually under his heel, it's pretty hard to find him scary, especially after Team America: World Police.
  • Muammar Gaddafi, the former dictator of Libya, was frequently photographed wearing them. It worked roughly as well for him as it did for Kim Jong-il.
  • This (in)famous photo of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is probably the very definition of this trope.
  • Jimmy Savile was rarely seen without his signature pink sunglasses, which became this in hindsight after he was exposed as a child rapist.
  • Blogger and self-admitted pedophile Jack McClellan claims that he wears the sunglasses because of the studio's lighting. Steve Wilkos makes him take them off.
  • U.S. soldiers in the The War on Terror. Though probably worn primarily for practical reasons (against the desert sun and as ballistic protective eyewear), they were certainly intimidating enough to inspire urban legends, which say that they give their wearers X-Ray Vision.
  • This was one of Lou Reed's visual trademarks, as well as of most of the rest of his bandmates in the Velvet Underground.
  • Gen Urobuchi always wears shades whenever he makes appearances at fan conventions and panels.