The Sissy Villain, as his name would suggest, is a man whose heart is as twisted as his wrist is limp.
Due to social stigmas against male femininity and "unmanliness", there's a strong tendency in fiction to assign effeminate traits to villains: flamboyant mannerisms, delicate voices, light builds, prissiness, femininely pretty looks, grandiloquent speeches, giggling, love for poetry and opera, impeccable fashion sense (not always in men's clothing), fondness for Persian cats, etc. Evil, it seems, is swishier than a silk skirt.
Frequently, The Hero pitted against the Sissy Villain is either a manly man (any feminine traits he has are merely there to underscore his masculinity) or a tomboy, and making the villain "unmasculine" is intended to emphasize this. After all, there's nothing manlier than beating up a sissy. It doesn't even matter that the limp-wristed villain is powerful, he looks weak and homosexual and that's what matters.
The Sissy Villain is probably the second most common portrayal of Camp Gay men (besides "one-dimensional joke character") but is not necessarily synonymous with Depraved Homosexual. While Sissy Villains are frequently gay or bisexual, most of them are merely sexually ambiguous or seemingly asexual, and some of them are straight. The Sissy Villain isn't intended to creep out the audience just because of the implication that he might like men (although this occasionally factors in), but because he acts like a real wimp. Either way, he's Always Camp.
There is a weird bit of irony to this: regardless of what the villain looks or acts like, Evil Is Cool, and these villains (assuming they're worth their salt) will wreak just as much havoc as any other archetype. So, overexposure to this trope may lead kids to see this personality as badass in its own way, even leading boys to imitate their behavior and mannerisms.
This trope shows up mainly in Western works and those Japanese works aimed at a male audience; if the villain is presented as certain kinds of swishy, female fans are likely to declare him utterly fabulous.
Sissy Villains show up frequently in anime, where they often have white hair. Two common subtropes are Creepy Crossdresser and Eunuchs Are Evil. See also Fashion-Victim Villain, Gorgeous George, Depraved Homosexual, Depraved Bisexual, and Psycho Lesbian. May sometimes overlap with misogynistic views in the context of the Effeminate Misogynistic Guy. Contrast Real Men Wear Pink, and occasionally, Evil Sounds Deep. When his ambiguous (nor not so ambiguous) sexuality is Played for Laughs, that's Queer People Are Funny. Not to be confused with Non-Action Big Bad, although they can overlap. If the villain in question is either Satan himself, or one of his minions, he's a Flaming Devil.
Note: An Agent Peacock is considered badass, even though you wouldn't expect it at first. A Sissy Villain emphasizes his viciousness through feminine behavior. The tropes can overlap, especially when Agent Peacock is evil.
Since quite a few women actually find effeminate men attractive, this can also lead to Evil Is Sexy.
- Xerxes in 300 was also one. Frank Miller likes this trope.
- The Joker is sometimes portrayed like this, perhaps most famously in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. One fan theory about Joker's murder of Jason Todd (Robin) is that after he beat Jason bloody with a crowbar, he sexually molested his unconscious form. His leering, ogling expression as he's swinging the crowbar makes this theory uncomfortably plausible.
- Flamingo, who is introduced in Batman (Grant Morrison), is a Gayngster sent by The Cartel. He loves to wear pink, has quite the flamboyant personality, and eats his victim's faces.
- Captain Klutz's Sissyman is a fairly... blatant example.
- The galactic emperor from an in-universe Fan Fiction (read by Empowered) who forces Major Havoc and Syndablokk to have sex together.
- Hardcore, one of Luke Cage's enemies in The Dark Age of Comic Books, wore a purple outfit, appeared to be wearing red lipstick in some of his appearances, and constantly quoted poetry. One of his weapons was also a hyper-sharpened fingernail.
- How much of it is based on historical behavior and how much is writer embellishment is debatable, but King James I is well on his way to this in Marvel 1602 and definitely this in 1602: New World.
- The Mighty Thor: Loki is a somewhat deconstruction of this. He actually became villainous because he was too sissy for Asgardian standards. Being a scrawny human-sized ice giant living in a land that ranks brute force and power above intellect and magic, with a brother who is the personification of the former is his Freudian Excuse. Loki's later incarnations have actually come out as bisexual and genderfluid, and have generally become more Anti-Hero than a villain, underscoring this and supporting the idea that internalized homo/biphobia and transphobia are also part of Loki's problem.
- The Yellow Bastard from Sin City is a Spoiled Brat with a dose of Dirty Coward.
- Wonder Woman:
- Volume 1: The Silver Age LGBT+ trio of villains THEM! includes the drag queen "Moose Mama".
- Volume 2: The rather effeminate kreel Emperor of the Sangtee Empire turns out to be a woman who is forced to pass as a man in public due to her society but does not want to and overrules the laws that require it following her confrontation with Wondy which she seems to use as an excuse. The governor of the Empire capitol ship the final confrontation occurs on is also rather campy with his ornate robes, gestures, and preference for walking about in open nightgowns, but is the least antagonistic of the Empire's nobles, save his giddiness at getting to witness tortures and executions ordered by his Emperor, and is mostly a villain by proxy due to his position.
- Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv): In which Light Yagami's Transparent Closet is a Running Gag, Mello plays up the Evil Brit Gayngster angle and is frequently mistaken for Lady Gaga, Ryuk who pretty much goes after Anything That Moves and is rather fond of watching Dancing with the Stars, and also Souichiro who becomes a villain in this series and on occasion cosplays as Sailor Moon.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Parodied with Zarbon. His canonical effeminacy is taken to the extreme, and it seems like every other line out of his mouth is some kind of homoerotic Double Entendre. Even Freeza is surprised to learn he's actually straight.
- Voldemort (!) is inexplicably wearing high heels in one scene in My Immortal, and only for that scene. This prompted one dramatic reading to display the caption "VOLDEMORT IS IN DRAG" and pause for a few seconds (complete with Record Needle Scratch) to let this image sink in.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
- Bakura and Marik, who are gay and in the Transparent Closet, respectively.
- Also Pegasus, who is Camp Straight only because we know he had a wife.
Marik: Foolish fools! There are no women in Yu-Gi-Oh! There are only extremely girly men. And I am the most girly of them all!
Pegasus: Keep telling yourself that.
- In Playmobil: The Movie, Emperor Maximus has a high-pitched voice, very campy mannerisms, and appears to be wearing makeup. Pretty much a given with his voice actor.
- The evil Nekron in Fire & Ice is this to a T, but with this being a Frazetta film even he gets a shirtless swordfight scene eventually.
- Disney Animated Canon:
- Scar from The Lion King (1994) is easily the most limp-pawed feline ever to grace the big screen. This becomes a Parental Bonus for the Swedish Viewers where Scar is dubbed by the Very Gay and Very Out Actor/Singer Richard Wolff. How out is he? He penned a song describing his Coming-Out Story titled "Beautiful Boys, Beautiful Men." Don't worry, Scar is still awesome.
- Robin Hood (1973)'s anthropomorphic depiction of Prince John out-swishes Scar to such a degree that The Lion King (1994) villain looks positively Leatherman by comparison.
- Sure, they take the cake for the felines, but what about The Great Mouse Detective's Ratigan? Until he drops the veneer and goes feral during the climactic Clock Tower scene, anyway. (He was still rather imposing even before then, due to his enormous size and strength compared to the other characters. Well, as imposing as a big mouse can get, at least.) His effeminate behaviour adds to the Foe Romance Subtext between him and Basil.
- "Honest" John Worthington Foulfellow in Pinocchio has his moments, though it may be more of a Large Ham persona thing. See the bit where he prances around and mimes throwing flowers while describing Pleasure Island "where every day is a holiday!"
- The Jungle Book (1967): Downplayed with Shere Khan. He's a genuinely feared predator of the jungle (he's mentioned as being stronger than the entire wolf pack combined) but his wrath is hidden by an amusingly flamboyant, playful and soft-spoken demeanor. Averted in the sequel, where he's much more serious.
- Tamatoa the giant crab from Moana. He is vain, shallow, and campy with effeminate mannerisms and a voice like David Bowie.
- The color didn't yet have quite the same significance in the 1940s, when the movie is set, but the weasel leader's pale pink suit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit gives this impression to a number of 21st-century viewers. (It did have that significance in 1988 when the movie was made, though, so one wonders.)
- Disney's human villains aren't immune either. Take Pocahontas's mincing, flouncing, bow-wearing villain Governor Ratcliffe, for one. Most of that façade was forced on him by his assistant, Wiggins, who was extremely effeminate. Ratcliffe had his boisterous and rowdy side on occasion, though it was often just an act as well; when his men stood up to him, he folded.
The Nostalgia Chick: Nothing says sinister like little pink bows on your pigtails!
- King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph, up until the moment when it's revealed that it was an act to conceal his real identity, Turbo. He lives in a salmon-colored castle, has a lisp, hops around with various effeminate mannerisms. The castle's actually a plot-point: it's girly because he stole it from a 10-year old princess.
- Sarousch, the Repulsive Ringmaster from The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, is a textbook narcissist, staring at his reflection constantly and even saying "I could kiss me". In fact, in most Disney films you can tell if a villain is a Sissy Villain based on his eyelids. If they are heavy and almost purple you can be sure that's the intention. This is because their eyelids look like they have eye shadow on them to give the implication they're wearing make up. Disney seems to be quite fond of using this.
- Heavy Metal: the rebel leader Ard in the segment "Den". He's rather puny-looking and talks like a stereotypical Camp Gay (see page quote above) but it turns out he has a Healing Factor which lets him shrug off being plugged multiple times with an automatic rifle.
- Marvin McNasty from Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw has his moments of being flamboyant, particularly when he swings his hips during his performance of "The King of Everything".
- The Pardoner from The Canterbury Tales. He's a rather effeminate guy, and there's a scene where the Host, a Boisterous Bruiser makes a threat which could be loosely paraphrased as "I'd cut off your balls if you had any."
- Valentine Wolfe, evil space aristocrat junkie extraordinaire, from the Deathstalker books. He's more outrageously decadent than feminine, but he does wear makeup and have a rather camp way of expressing himself at times, while remaining an absolute unholy terror in the highest echelons of the Decadent Court.
Vicar Kassar: You look like a degenerate. Wipe that paint off your face.
Valentine: Lick it off.
- The villain of German novel Der Eiskristall is an unusual variation - it is implied that he turned to evil partly because he was bullied about his feminine looks. While he is trying to assert his masculinity with extreme violence, he is not helping his case with the Ho Yay he has with one of the male protagonists.
- Mad Scientist and Big Bad Nirai Kujen in The Machineries of Empire is very pretty, loves his frills, sometimes behaves in a camp manner, and is bisexual. He's also a sadistic psychopath with a body count in the billions, if you count direct and indirect results. Doesn't have the common homophobic implications of the trope as the setting is an Everyone Is Bi Free-Love Future.
- In the self-titled first book in the prose Modesty Blaise series, female Psycho for Hire Mrs. Fothergill is a distaff counterpart, as she is depicted with a lot of Butch Lesbian signifiers but is never explicitly described as such. (She seems to be more into killing people than sex of any kind.)
- Emperor Ublaz Mad Eyes of Redwall. His evil plan, which results in the slaughter and misery of hundreds of creatures by his followers, is to get hold of the Artifact of Death. The Artifact Of Death consists of six pink pearls which he wants to wear in a crown. They don't even have any magical powers (except for bringing horrible luck on everyone who owns them, but he apparently doesn't know that), he just wants a pink pearl crown. Yeah.... He also wears silk robes and perfume and paints his nails.
- Lord Pumphrey, a.k.a "Pumps" in Sharpe. Variously known as "the molly," "that woman," and believed to have a crush on the hero. He is also one of the most effective Manipulative Bastards in the series, even mocking Sharpe to his face when confronted. He is, thus far, a well-earned Karma Houdini.
- Zhong Ye, the eunuch sorcerer Big Bad in the young adult novel The Silver Phoenix: Beyond The Kingdom of Xia. However, while he is dandified and creepy, he's portrayed as a depraved heterosexual - and the heroine is the reincarnation of his lost love.
- Mr. Jones in Joseph Conrad 's Victory is the murderous, amoral ringleader of a group of bandits, and is described as a foppish, homosexual dandy. In spite of (or perhaps because of) his effeminacy, he also hates women and doesn't tolerate their presence.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- The eunuch Lord Varys looks like this trope to an absolute T - he wears fancy robes in non-militaristic styles, indulges in fine perfumes of exceedingly good taste, powders and shaves a lot, swishes quite primly and silently, expresses bemused understanding of other peoples' sexual foibles (while pointing out his lack of same with no subtlety whatsoever) and has a habit of giggling and snarking at both opportune and inopportune moments. And then subverts this trope, being a Master of Disguise and a Master Actor, playing up the "sissy" aspect because that's what people expect to see - behind the perfume and giggles he's a Determinator who isn't afraid to get all up in the hero's grill. Possibly the top Chessmaster in a series notorious for its Gambit Pileup.
- The downplayed Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. In a nation where the ruling class follows a strictly martial lifestyle, Littlefinger is overtly all brains and no brawn. He has a small stature and an immaculately groomed appearance, and he chews mint so his breath is always fresh. He earned his place at court with his head for accounting and exists as a Sleazy Politician, always quick with a quip. He's also a Chessmaster and Devil in Plain Sight whom everyone seems to agree is up to some scheme or another.
- From Tales of Dunk and Egg we get Daemon Blackfyre II. On paper, he's this trope: heads a rebellion that would see Egg and his side of the family dead if it succeeds, has a very Transparent Closet, enjoys dressing up in an overly rich "disguise" a smidge too much and is about as accomplished martially as your average bag of marshmallows. But... he's not much of a villain (malicious and cruel he isn't; somewhat boorish is the most he manages) and he is definitely no mastermind. Those would be his "followers" using him. He pays the price for playing the Game, regardless.
- Loki from Norse Mythology fits this. Several incidents present him as unmanly (particularly when he was impregnated by a horse), and the contrast with the manly hero plays out in his relationship with Thor. However, pre-FaceHeel Turn by Loki, he and Thor are more like Sensitive Guy and Manly Man/Vitriolic Best Buds.
- The effeminate heel, Gorgeous George, is an archetype in wrestling. Didn't actually start with George Wagner, but he is one of the most imitated.
- "Exotic" Adrian Street, the most imitated Gorgeous George, more so than the original Gorgeous George himself. Despite acting like a sissy, he would talk himself up like he was the toughest thing ever.
- On the managerial side of things we have Jim Cornette, best known for cowering with The Midnight Express and crying about his mother up until a video of him getting out of his car to yell at a Dairy Queen worker who did not bring him the meal he ordered started circulating amongst wrestling fans, turning him into a memetic badass.
- Adrian Adonis' gimmick went from tough biker to flamboyant, effeminate gay. Actually, flamboyant is an understatement. In reality, Adonis was given the gay "Adorable Adrian" gimmick as a punishment after he failed to act on Vince McMahon's request to lose weight (Adonis was pudgy, and Vince has a well-documented preference for chiseled, muscular physiques). No one expected Adonis to embrace the gimmick the way he did. He even kept it after he left the WWF in 1987.
- Rick "The Model" Martel, who incidentally feuded with an ambiguously gay but not sissy Shawn Michaels.
- Subversions: Big Dick Johnson is kind of a sissy, but he's never portrayed as villainous; Goldust is pretty effeminate, but he's definitely not a sissy.
- Lacey, a straight woman, later described the early advances of her eventual boyfriend Jimmy Jacobs as being "gay". Jacobs had always been something of a dork but at some point he decided he was "tough", so tough he no longer had to do anything considered "tough" and would in fact go out of his way to do the opposite of tough, such as stripping down and cuddling with a picture of his future girlfriend while singing her praises. Jacobs was such an example it made the Jerk Jock Colt Cabana (who the fans were happy to see Homicide attempt to murder) into a baby face just for opposing him.
- "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, before he Took a Level in Badass. He gave grooming tips and his Berserk Button was being hit in the face.
- Tyler Breeze, who's billed from a different location depending on the season. His Titantron is a live feed of his phone's camera taking selfies.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Fulgrim, following his FaceHeel Turn, starts wearing make-up and perfumes and increasingly lurid clothing. Subverted in that he's still a Physical God: the effect is less sissy and more insane.
- A lot of Slaanesh's male servants fall under this trope, even the eight-foot-tall Space Marines and Warriors of Chaos. Androgynous, fond of garish colors, silks, and perfumes... and utterly lethal.
- King Herod is often portrayed this way in Jesus Christ Superstar.
- Don Dorcha from Lord of the Dance is a subversion. You'd expect a villain who only expresses himself through dance to have at least a shade of sissy, but Don Dorcha and his army are never anything less than foreboding and menacing.
- Farquaad is played up as this in Shrek: The Musical.
- Herbert from Tanz Der Vampire. While the degree of his villainy is debatable and highly dependent on the actor, Herbert still remains a clingy, aggressive and bloodthirsty vampire. A VERY flamboyant bloodthirsty vampire. He's also the responsible for Alfred's nightmare during the "Carpe Noctem" dance sequence.
- A Very Potter Musical:
- Lord Voldemort is a Neat Freak who can't sleep knowing there are clothes just lying around in his bedroom, and a fan of romantic comedies like She's All That.
- Professor Quirrell is even more of one, to the point that even Voldemort calls him a sissy.
- Gender Inverted in the sequel, where Dolores Umbridge is the epitome of macho. Dumbledore even mistakes her for a man initially.
- From Ace Attorney:
- Richard Wellington is a mean of wealth, taste and art. He himself is a great con artist. Oh, and a murderer, of course.
- Subverted with Jean Armstrong. He's sissy all right, but not evil, just desperate because of how deep in debt he is.
- Kristoph Gavin pays a lot of attention to his looks, and even wears nail polish. That doesn't stop him from being downright terrifying.
- FINALLY, Florent L'Belle would LIKE to point out that the only VILLAINS here are those UNABLE to comprehend his MAGNIFICENT beauty.
- Miguel Kurashiki in Rose Guns Days fits the trope to a T, with a strong emphasis on the mysogynistic part. He also has a close relationship and plenty of Ho Yay moments with his boss Caleb. Season 2 gives him a good deal of Character Development though.
- Togainu no Chi: Arbitro swishes about in a feather boa, has a cleanliness fetish, collects statues of pretty boys....
- Hazbin Hotel: Downplayed with Angel Dust. While calling him outright evil may be a stretch, he's still a violet gangster and very effeminate in both appearance and demeanor.
- The Blue Laser Commander in the Cheat Commandos section of Homestar Runner has a high-pitched, screechy voice, similar to Cobra Commander. And though his terrorist organization has many plots for world domination, for whatever reason, between the Commandos and their own ineptitude, few are ever actually seen.
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device has this interpretation of Lucius the Eternal, a Depraved Bisexual with a disturbingly high-pitched voice and Camp Gay mannerisms that occasionally resemble those of a high-school girl shrieking about a boy band. As with all Slaaneshi champions, you're lucky if all he does is kill you.
- Nomad of Nowhere has Don Paragon, dandy, pompous, and flamboyant ruler of The Oasis, who forces people to pay a fortune just to get in so they can buy water and other goods from the only water source for miles and is the one trying to catch the titular character.
- TOME has the shapeshifter playing Actor Ravenfreak who generally looks more like a guy stole a female character's gear and it was too small.
- Gerald, one of Nanase's ex-boyfriends from El Goonish Shive is all over the place on this trope (though he's more of a Sissy Jerkass than an outright villain.) He's very muscular (in fact, he's downright massive in one flashback,) but he wears androgynous goth clothing with eye shadow and lipstick. However, it's quickly revealed that he does this deliberately to get people to give him hell for it so he can pick fights with them. And when he first shows up, the people he's antagonizing are three girls (including Nanase) and an androgynous-looking guy.
- Keith Feddyg from Fans!, a minor villain from Book 4 and Big Bad of book 6, probably the most blatant example of a Depraved Bisexual in T's comics, his first arc centering on a sex cult he created.
- Weak Hero:
- As opposed to his partner-in-crime Seongmok, who's quiet and extremely buff, Dongha has long, luscious hair, an equally long build, and giggles madly with every sentence.
- Giju has long hair, eyeshadow, a beauty mark, and black nail polish, and is the resident psycho of Cheongang with an eerie fixation on Wolf that is, at the very least, Foe Romance Subtext.
- Discussed by The Amazing Atheist in his review of Hercules, in which Scotty says that it was obvious that King Eurystheus would turn out to be evil because he had two pet peacocks and acted slightly effeminate. He was right.
- This seems to be a common theme on That Guy with the Glasses:
- The Nostalgia Critic. He's weak, assholish, completely and irreparably fucked up and frequently Screams Like a Little Girl, as well as preferring toppy Action Girl women so much that Chickification is one of his many Berserk Button triggers, but his less-than-masculine aspects are just part of who he is. A bit of a subversion since he's really a good guy at heart and depending on your perspective is either an Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain.
- Ask That Guy with the Glasses, who couples the villainy with being a complete slut. Attempts to come across as Wicked Cultured but once you see through the façade, you realize he qualifies, especially in episodes 61-62 where he has Jerkass Woobie moments.
- Bennett the Sage has moments of this even though he tries to hide it with Testosterone Poisoning.
- The Cinema Snob has moments of this, overlapping with Wicked Cultured as he's a parody of True Art Is Angsty critics.