For added atmosphere, play the music from this track while reading on.
Like a few other types of music, tango music is often used in fiction for creepiness. Unlike genres such as jazz and rock, tango music isn't exactly "rebellious".note In fact, the reason it is played for creepiness in fiction may be because of how elegant it sounds. The tune itself is tantalizing, captivating, and decadent within its melancholic vibe. It has a syncopated march rhythm, which gives the air of mystery and uncertainty. It helps that it's usually played in a specific chord progression making use of minor chords, which are generally associated with negative things (see the "Multiple Ensemble" section in Mood Motif).
The music is typically associated with Wicked Cultured characters, due to its elegant mood. But because the dances are usually intimate, it is also often associated with seductive characters, such as Femme Fatales.
- Addams Family Values has Gomez and Morticia doing a Tango that is equal parts sinister and sexy.
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus features a brief tango between Mister Nick (played by Tom Waits) and Valentina (played by Lily Cole).
- Once Bitten opens with a Tango number as Sebastian gets his vampire mistress all done up for an evening of hunting virgins.
- Sunset Boulevard: Tango music plays as Norma Desmond forces protagonist Joe Gillis to dance with her.
- True Lies plays with the trope. Arnold's character has a weakness for the Tango and dances it with his sexy but evil target. At the end, he dances another with the wife he loves, inconveniencing their partner in the van.
- In 12 Monkeys, the title theme is also the leitmotif of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, the Animal Wrongs Group believed responsible for causing the apocalypse. It's written and performed by legendary tango musician Astor Piazzolla.
- Waking Life: Most of the soundtrack is tango music—and so when The Dreamer starts to become more and more unhinged and the visuals become (literally) more nightmarish as the movie nears its climax, this Trope is pretty much in play.
- In Galavant, when Galavant attempts to win back his former lover Madalena, (who has undergone a Face–Heel Turn and become an evil queen) his declaration of love is accompanied by heartfelt, swelling chords while Madalena's reply ("I love you... as much as someone like me could love anyone") is a hot and heavy tango number and Madalena goes into full seduction mode as she tries to win Galavant over to her side.
- There are shades of this in Ares' seductive song in the Xena: Warrior Princess Musical Episode Bitter Suite.
- PBS's Mystery! series used to have an animated opening based on the gothic art of Edward Gorey. The opening has an overall creepy atmosphere, with constant rain, a Deliberately Monochrome color scheme, and several murders occurring at what looks like a Haunted House. The whole thing is scored to a tango tune, and features a shot of sombre people dancing the tango.
- The "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago is a Villain Song sung by the female prisoners about their motives for committing murder.
- In Pokémon Live!, Jessie, James, and Meowth get a tango Villain Song called "The Best at Being the Worst." Unusually, the song is about the villains berating themselves, yet at the same time, they seem to take pride in how incompetent they are.
- In The Threepenny Opera Macheath and Jenny have a "romantic" tango song about their past relationship when he used to pimp her, which is mildly sinister in the traditional but bowdlerised Blitzstein English translation. The German original and later more accurate translations go even further by referring to violent abuse and back-street abortion.
- In Turnabout Musical, Dee Vasquez's testimony song, "Battle of Wits," is in the form of a tango.
- Captain Hook has "Hook's Tango" in Peter Pan (1954)- an In-Universe tango in which he plots to kill all the Lost Boys.
- Dark Chronicle: Moonlight Tango, which plays when Maximilian is on the run from Flotsam and his Monster Clown mooks.
- Earthworm Jim 2: The stage "Utterly Abducted" features ominous tango music in the background, which helps contribute to the vibe of frustration as Jim seeks to prevent oblivious bovines from being beamed into alien saucers.
- In Nightmare Ned, the Rat Tango is sung by the evil rats in the bathroom level, about they like to kill people by electrocuting them.
- Senran Kagura: Haruka, Hebijo Academy's Omnidisciplinary Scientist and sadistic puppetmaster, has a new piece of ominous tango music associated with her with every new appearance. Word of God has it that her character makes the composer think of "France and Piazzolla".
- The opening sequence of The Adventures of Figaro Pho, which shows Figaro being frightened and chased by some of the monsters that appear in the show, is accompanied by a classy-sounding tango tune.
- Littlest Pet Shop (2012) has an episode wherein Pepper and Blythe duet "The Guilty Tango" and the animation goes all dark and gloomy.
- The Villain Song "A Better Way to be Bad" from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is done in this style.
- In the Disney short Lorenzo, a Mime and Music-Only Cartoon, tango music is used as the background for a story about a gluttonous, prideful cat with a beautiful bushy tail. After failing an Old Beggar Test, Lorenzo's tail is enchanted into sentience and sweeps him into a tango around town. He tries various, increasingly dangerous methods to quiet it, including electrocution and having it run over by a train, until the old beggar cat returns and suggests he cut it off. Lorenzo is reluctant, but eventually relents, only to have the tail grab the knife to defend itself. Lorenzo is eventually successful in cutting off as the song reaches its triumphant end.