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Snakes Are Sinister
aka: Snakes Are Evil

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It's even worse when you're a snake's natural prey.
"Never trust thöse whö slither."
Wigfrid, Don't Starve

Snakes are associated with evil.

We've seen lots of evil snakes. Now how many times have you seen a good snake in fiction? None? Very few? That's because of this trope. Aversions of this trope are rarer than aversions of Reptiles Are Abhorrent in general—heroic turtles and lizards are fairly common and good crocodilians, while rare, are not unheard of, but heroic snakes much less so.

So why do snakes in particular get such a bad rep? Well, out of all the different groups of reptiles, their lack of limbs makes them the least anthropomorphic and thus harder to sympathize with, and a lot of them have venom, one of the nastiest methods to get yourself killed. In the case of constrictors that lack venoms, they tend to be huge and have another nasty method to kill you: squeezing you to a slow, painful death before swallowing you whole.

People tend to fear snakes more than other crawling creatures. This is not an ordinary phobia, but an instinctive Primal Fear. Other mammals besides humans share it. Several hypotheses have been put forth, with the most popular thus far being as a defense strategy against venomous snakes: animals that are hard to spot and whose warnings can easily be missed. Snakes in general also embody qualities that most social primates dislike, like unblinking eyes and "unnatural" legless movements. Do note that studies on monkeys show this phobia to be something of a learned behaviour. Many mythologies also tend to associate snakes with water and darkness (not inaccurately due to many species being aquatic), so they are easy to symbolically digest as a "degenerate" form of life opposite to humanity.

Because of their primeval scariness, it does not take much imagination to portray these animals as monsters or harbingers of death in fiction.

Aside from literal serpents, this also works metaphorically. Thus, many of the examples below aren't really snakes but humans or other creatures that use snake symbolism as an evil motif. Smug Snake characters can play with this, even if they aren't literal snakes.


Sub-Trope of Reptiles Are Abhorrent. In antiquity, snakes are the inspiration for dragons and giant serpents, so they inform the oldest Dragon Tropes (including Dragons Are Demonic). Thanks to the serpent from Genesis, snakes are forever associated with Satan, the Satanic Archetype, Forbidden Fruit, and The Corrupter.


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  • In The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Hades' club has an Ouroboros snake as a symbol, and both he and Aristaeus are associated with the snake that bites and kills Eurydice.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Discussed in Ayakashi Triangle: Ayakashi are created and empowered by human belief, which Matsuri warns makes snake ayakashi especially dangerous.
    Seigen: Since long ago, snake spirits have been among the hardest to handle. That is how deep fear of their form lingers in human hearts.
  • Berserk has a very serpentine Apostle serving as the main antagonist for the first episode of the manga and 1997 anime. He looks very snake-like in his humanoid form, wears a cobra-themed suit of armor to go with it, and transforms into a massive cobra-like monster. He's also unapologetically cruel in how he tortures, slaughters, and even eats people purely out of sadistic amusement. His death at Guts' hands is both very painful and very deserved.
  • Snakes are featured in the second chapter of Heaven's Design Team, and they serve as an antagonist to the helpless birds, whose eggs they like to eat. The entire chapter is dedicated to finding ways for the birds' egg to stop itself from being eaten without having to change its design too much.
  • The Jungle Book averts this with Kaa, whose characterization is true to the books. However, it plays this straight with Buldeo's pet cobra.
  • Subverted with the snake Friends in Kemono Friends. Some of them are rather touchy, especially if they're venomous, but none of them are evil.
  • Early gag-strips of the Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club cast had a cartoonishly aggressive and violent Ayumu own a large snake named Sasuke, that often tried to eat Ai.
  • Played with in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Emily having a snake familiar marks her as being a bully towards Shouta, but the snake itself appears rather benign.
  • Naruto:
    • Orochimaru, the initial Big Bad has a snake theme and abilities, including an ability to elongate his neck and tongue and heal injuries by shedding his skin. He can summon snakes to do his bidding as well, ranging from those of average size to the colossal Manda. His students Kabuto and Sasuke inherit this love of everything serpentine from him.
    • Later, in Boruto we have Orochimaru's son, Mitsuki, who has white snake motifs, but is a close friend of Boruto. We are also introduced to good summoned snakes like Aoda and Garaga.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater is another nasty manga/anime villain with a snake motif.
  • Professor Cobra, the Big Bad Wannabe from season three of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX; his deck used venomous snake-like monsters.
  • Pretty Cure:
  • In Fairy Tail, one of the Arc Villains, aptly named "Cobra" (though that turns out just to be an epitaph) is described as a Poison Dragon Slayer with the ability to grow snake-like scales over his arms. As an added bonus, he has a large pet snake that can produce wings to fly, and breathe venom for him to draw power from. It's later downplayed when he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
    • The sequel series has Lucy get transformed into a nure-onna, a kind of snake Youkai, giving her a snake body from the waist down. While like this, her otherwise sweet personality turns cruel and sadistic, as she ruthlessly brutalizes Natsu.
  • Ranking of Kings: Subverted. One of the heroes most recurring and kind allies is Mitsumata, a gigantic and monstruous snake with two heads. He is the one that taught Bojji how to have his freakish speed, and spends the series as an ally to the heroes.

  • In Laocoön and His Sons, sea-serpents are the bad guy in this narrative, and The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The Sin: The painting depicts the snake that first tempted Eve in Genesis, the snake is Obviously Evil in design.
  • Sistine Chapel: In addition to the Serpent from Genesis, a large snake can be seen coiling around Minos in “The Last Judgement” to let the viewer know he's one of the big dogs in Hell.

    Comic Books 
  • "Atlantis Attacks" was a Marvel Comics Crisis Crossover where the Big Bad was Set, a gigantic six-headed serpent-demon.
  • Darna: The titular heroine's Arch-Enemy is Valentina, the goddess of snakes.
  • The DCU has a villainous "Cult of the Cobra" running around.
  • Nnewts: The Snake Lord, a giant red snake, is the Big Bad who leads an army of evil lizards.
  • Xenophobic Robin (1993) villain Sir Edmund Dorrance invokes the evil snake concept through his large snake tattoo and using "King Snake" as his code name.
  • Lord Hebi from Usagi Yojimbo is an ally of the main villain, Lord Hikiji.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Golden Age Big Bad Mars has snakes painted on his armor.
    • Villain Circe generally keeps an array of Bestiamorphs about, but the only constant in their visual theme is snakes, especially large poisonous ones.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Vengeful fear god Deimos has venomous snakes in place of hair, and when he possesses The Joker it changes his hair into snakes.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): The twisting snake theme of Ares' helm is kicked up a notch by having a live snake twisted around the horns on each side of the helmet. While this "Ares" is actually Deimos and Phobos merging their powers to impersonate their father rather than the real Ares their father does maintain his tie to venomous snakes.
    • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Fear god Phobos who is part of a plan to destroy civilization and entangle humanity's remnants in a forever war has a snake motif, with a relief of Medusa's head on his helmet and snake-like fangs.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • Averted by San — he's originally a decapitated head of Ghidorah who ultimately goes through a Heel–Face Turn after merging with Vivienne Graham to form Monster X, and he retains his old head's serpentine qualities when Monster X metamorphoses into its second form.
    • With MaNi/Elder Brother, however, this trope is in full effect. If his relation to Ghidorah isn't enough, there's also the fact his new body incorporates both a Skullcrawler and a Warbat into it. Maybe Ghidorah just favors serpentine creatures as worthy pawns because of their resemblance to it?
  • Danganronpa: Komm Susser Tod: Iori Jabami, who is able to control snakes through his talent as the Ultimate Snake Charmer, turns out to be the resident "unsympathetic Chapter 3 killer", displaying delusions of godhood and a willingness to laugh at Nanae as the students are forced to execute her. Naturally, many of the students agree he had it coming when he's killed the following chapter.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Smurf Village Revival", the unassuming preacher named Benedictus is actually a serpentine creature called a Viperion who is working for his true master, Lucifer. He disguises himself as a preacher to deceive the Smurfs into receiving a false spirit that he calls "the Holy Spirit".
  • Old West is set after the events of Rango (see the Western Animation section below), and it averts this trope by featuring snakes who come from both sides of the morality spectrum. The canonical Rattlesnake Jake is portrayed as an Anti-Hero, and he shows once in a while that he is capable of compassion. Another main character, Grace Glossy, is a law-abiding and honest boar-farmer and a devoted single mother for her only child Teddy. One of the antagonists includes a kingsnake named Henry, who's explicitly stated to be the Expy of Frank. There's also Grace's cowardly con artist husband Benjamin Hares who ends up on the villainous side for self-serving reasons. Unfortunately for good snakes like Grace and Teddy, most of the Mojave Desert's inhabitants fear and despise snakes in general. The wariness can be partly explained by the fact that snakes are predators, but the bad apples make people scorn the more well-meaning snakes.
  • Entirely averted with the various prehistoric snake species rescued in Prehistoric Park Reimagined. The most prominent snake in the story, a Dinilysia named Kaa, is even portrayed as one of the friendlier park creatures, bonding quite closely with Jack Denham.
  • In Twinkling in the Dark, Majorina's evil magic sends a mean snake into the Pretty Holic Salon. However, once Majorina leaves and the Cures are able to purify the salon, the snake turns out to be friendly (Homare identifies him as an African egg-eating snake, a type that doesn't bite), and Manatsu names him Biscuit.
  • Defied in War Games. When Tom morphs into a cobra, he comments that they're actually very chill and spend most of their time sunbathing.
  • In the crossover The Hater Good Pele, Sanjay's adopted brother is the leader of the Doom Demons and claims to be the most evil of his siblings.
  • In Pokémpanions Serperior murdered a Mimikyu couple and tried to kill their son for five years.
  • A Waterbending Quirk features Kobura, a member of a ruthless mercenary group known as the Hunters, and he has a "Spitting Cobra" Quirk that makes him a snake-person.
  • Vow of Nudity: Subverted on two occasions. One of the slaves Haara rescues on the Isle of Slimes is a friendly yuan-ti pureblood, and Kay'la's familiar is a viper named Trowser who acts dopey and doglike.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, Jafar uses snake motifs throughout the movie, and when he wants to amp up the evil, he turns into a giant cobra.
  • Back to the Outback: Played with, but ultimately averted with Maddie the taipan, as while the humans see her as a threatening monster, Maddie is one of the sweetest snakes you could ever meet.
  • Played with regarding Mr. Snake in The Bad Guys (2022). Just like his colleagues, he embraces the criminal lifestyle and negative stereotypes associated with his species because the world saw nothing else in a "scary, good for nothing, monster" like him. However, his morality is tested when his friends attempt to break free from their old stereotypes while he doubles down on it, even pulling a Judas by working for the Big Bad. Then he turns out to be a Double Agent as he foils the true villain's masterplan and assures his friendship with the others.
  • The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue averts this with Murgatroyd, who is a good-natured and polite friend of Toaster and the others.
  • An interesting case was Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967), a python who, in the movie, tries to prey on Mowgli. A clear case of Adaptational Villainy (Kaa was Mowgli's friend, though a rather frightening one, in the book version) he was made a villain here because of this Trope. As in, Disney didn't think audiences would accept a benevolent snake character. However, this is downplayed with his younger self in Jungle Cubs.
  • Koati:
    • Played straight with Zaina, a coral snake who takes over after Balam's death. She leads the residents of Xo on a Fatal Forced March to "not Xo".
    • Jithu is an anaconda who is fully aligned with Zaina's plans and does what she tells him. Upon her defeat, however, he quickly allies with the winning side and appears to live peacefully with them in the future.
  • Kung Fu Panda has a notable aversion with Viper, who is one of the nicest members of the Furious Five. Also averted in the short film Secrets of the Furious Five with Grand Master Viper, Viper's father, a heroic snake who protects his village from the bad guys and loves his daughter.
  • Subverted in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. During the song "One of Us", a few African rock pythons menacingly hiss and snap at Kovu, but this is because they are outraged by the Outsiders' ambush on Simba as the other animals are, which technically makes them good guys (even if their blame on Kovu is one-sided). Which becomes ironic in that one of the scrapped characters in The Lion King (1994) was a python who was going to serve as The Dragon to Scar, thus playing this trope straight.
  • Averted in Magical Ring and the fairy tale it's based on. The snake that Ivan buys from a cruel owner turns out to be Scarapea, the daughter of the Snake King. She gifts Ivan with a magical ring that can grant whatever he wishes.
  • Pinchcliffe Grand Prix. The antagonist is running for an oil Company called "Snake Oil". Do the Math.
  • Ju-Ju in The Princess and the Frog is an aversion, a friendly and good-natured assistant to the benevolent voodoo priestess Mama Odie.
  • Quest for Zhu has Mazhula, a cobra-dinosaur hybrid, for a villainess.
  • While Rango averts Reptiles Are Abhorrent overall with several heroic reptilian characters (including the protagonist, a chameleon, and his Love Interest, an iguana), it features Rattlesnake Jake, a gigantic, terrifying, gunslinger snake as one of its main villains. However, he is only The Dragon to the Mayor, and turns against him in the end, while he starts respecting Rango as his equal. Interestingly, the Mayor himself is a subversion of the "Turtles are good" trope.
  • Sir Hiss in Robin Hood (1973) is a Butt-Monkey servant to Prince John, and his hypnosis is implied to be the reason why the King went on his crusade in the first place
  • Averted in Sahara note , where most of the main characters, including The Protagonist Ajar, are snakes. (Ajar in particular is a cobra). Also an inversion if you count that the Big Bad Omar is a cruel human.
  • Lutador in Vivo is an intimidating Burmese python who bullies everyone into silence. He attempts to eat Vivo, and later Gabi and the Sand Dollars.
  • Subverted with Larry in The Wild. He's an anaconda, which is part of the good guys, although he is friendly and kind, he is also a Cloudcuckoolander.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Numerous monster movies where the villain is a giant snake, such as Anaconda, Python, and King Cobra (1999). They tend to be portrayed as a Super-Persistent Predator who eat entire towns for breakfast. One of the monsters in The Cabin in the Woods was a send-up to this genre.
  • The Cell: In the final showdown in Catherine's mind, Demon Carl manifests as a black snake swimming in a small pool before emerging as a snake-like man, with tattoos on his head and a massive cape clearly resembling scales. The white peacocks in the dream also react with terror to his presence.
  • Subverted with DJ Herzogenaurach from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. At first, Chip and Dale think he is a mean and menacing snake, but it is later revealed that he is a Nice Guy and a huge fan of Chip 'n Dale.
  • In Conan the Barbarian (1982) the Big Bad is the head of a snake-worshipping cult, and in the climax turns into a snake himself.
  • Nancy is paralleled with snakes in The Craft. In fact, right before her Face–Heel Turn into the movie's antagonist, she's seen telling Sarah "the serpent is a very powerful being, you should respect it."
  • The Taiwanese martial arts film, The Evil Karate, has one of its villains, the Dark Action Girl assassin, carrying a poisonous live snake as her main weapon just to emphasize the "Look I'm eeeeeeeeeeevvvvilll" aspect every time she shows up onscreen. She notably uses this snake to kill the main character's mentor.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn - Satanico Pandemonium does a sexy dance with a snake draped around her. It's around this point that things go quite bad for the protagonists, and she herself turns into a snake-featured vampire.
  • Carla Rainer - the scheming murderess in Exception to the Rule - really has a thing for serpents. Besides injecting two men with sea snake venom and wearing a glove bearing a shiny snake-like motif, she leaves a live snake as a 'present' for another of her victims.
  • In Five Deadly Venoms, all of the title characters have Animal Theme Naming based around venomous creatures. Snake is one of the bad guys, a cunning Manipulative Bastard whose style of kung fu revolves around using one hand to deliver fast, carefully-targeted strikes (the snake's "fangs"), and using the other hand (the "tail") to redirect his opponent's attacks. He's also extremely flexible and, if knocked onto his back, can slither away with incredible speed and get back up. Unusually, he is the only one of the movie's three villains to express any remorse for his crimes, realizing that Being Evil Sucks. The other two bad guys are named after bugs - Centipede and Scorpion, specifically - and have no conscience whatever.
  • Gamera: One of Gamera's scrapped enemies is Garasharp, a cobra kaiju with two horns who was meant to be the turtles' nemesis akin to King Ghidorah and Godzilla, curiously her offspring would avert this as they were meant to be innocent and spared by Gamera who takes them to an island to live in peace away from humanity. Her movie was scrapped but she ended up having a canonical appearance in the fan-made comic, "The Last Hope", which was later canonized.
  • A Cold War-era Royal Air Force Instructional Film, narrated by an animated cartoon snake with a faux Russian accent, warned of the dangers of HISS (Hostile Intelligence ServiceS).
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has the highly venomous black mambas as hazardous obstacles that the main characters must face. The sequel Jumanji: The Next Level adds a giant anaconda that eats Fridge at the start of the game, costing him one life.
  • Kaa is a sinister villain in the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book and intent on eating Mowgli, unlike his portrayal in the books. She's also absolutely huge: at one point she's visible in a long-range shot in both the background and the foreground and her head is big enough that she could easily swallow Mowgli without stretching her jaws.
  • In Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent, Lockjaw is a giant snake with the head of an alligator. As a magical spirit of vengeance, it will not stop once it has been summoned until it has killed those it was summoned to punish.
  • MonsterVerse: There have been several instances of snake-themed kaiju, and all of them are malevolent. The closest to a heroic snake-themed Titan we've gotten so far is the crocodilian-looking Godzilla.
    • The Skullcrawlers featured in Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong are essentially built like giant snakes with just two forelimbs for locomoting. They're also described as particularly nasty creatures, they're driven by Horror Hunger to hunt and eat anything they come across relentlessly, and among the creature kingdom on Skull Island, the Skullcrawlers are an invasive species that will destroy the entire ecosystem if they aren't kept in check. They're even described as the local devils to Kong's God.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): King Ghidorah's serpentine traits are much more emphasized in this version, including how he has forked tongues that occasionally flick, and how his tail occasionally produces rattle sounds. In his third and final clash with Godzilla, his heads actually constrict Godzilla in a fashion similar to pythons.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: The Warbats are huge winged serpents, described by the official merchandise as being easily capable of ripping through armored vehicles with their fangs, and they're not friendly.
  • Being Truer to the Text, Mowgli averts this with its portrayal of Kaa, who is a wise ally of Mowgli just like in the books. She is, however, still creepy and terrifying.
  • Taken to the extreme in Once Upon a Warrior. The villain, Sorceress Irendri, has snake-themed powers, including her poisonous touch, abilities to fire hundreds of flying, poisonous snakes from her hands to pursue her targets, and her lair being a snake-shaped citadel, her dungeon's bars being modeled after snakes (that can come to life and attack intruders) as well as her final One-Winged Angel form in the finale: turning into a Medusa-like snake-human hybrid to pummel the heroes.
  • Primal: When Loffler releases Walsh's animals after he escapes, the thing that most worries the passengers and crew—after the 400 lb jaguar—is the two bushmaster snakes. The crew point out that a ship has countless small spaces they could hide in, and Walsh says they will head for the warmest, moistest pace on the ship: the engine room. Later, Captain Morales gets bitten on the leg in the engine room.
  • In the new version of The Shaggy Dog. Has a notable aversion to the snake, due to the dog serum, which made him go from a dying old snake to a strong young snake, but which had side effects, such as having a dog's tail and canine behaviors. The snake is very good, nice, and friendly. He helps Dave out of his cage when Dave asks him to find the keys.
  • Shanghai Grand: The film's main villainess has a pet boa constrictor which she feeds her enemies to.
  • One of the omens of Bughuul, the pagan god in Sinister is a snake, along with a scorpion and an enormous dog.
  • White Mamba in Space Jam: A New Legacy is a Snake Woman very bad.

  • Averted in the Ashtown Burials series with Nolan/Nikales, who is cursed with snakelike attributes, often referred to as "little snake" by other characters, looks generally creepy, prefers to sneak around and stay out of sight...and is a loyal and brave ally of the protagonists. Arachne does the same thing with Spiders Are Scary.
  • Mr. Snake in The Bad Guys series is one of the villains attempting to atone from the beginning of the series. Unlike the others, he is still a bit slow on fully becoming good, and is very sour on the situation, often screwing up situations by his irritation and eating people he shouldn't.
  • Hank Hissler, aka, the Hisser, from Cape, has the power to turn into a giant snake.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian franchise, anything and anyone related to snakes are Always Chaotic Evil without fail. Of note is the nation of Stygia. It uses a lot of serpent imagery, it's home to the Cult of Set, which worships a snake-like god and practices all manner of human sacrifice, and the land is ruled by numerous iron-fisted Evil Sorcerers.
    • In the short story, The God in the Bowl, a massive snake-like thing turns out to be responsible for the murders in Kallian Publico's Temple. It's unknown what it is, but just seeing it is enough to nearly drive Conan mad and force him to leave the city in a fright, even though he just decapitated it.
    • In The Scarlet Citadel, there is Satha, the giant white snake that ranks chief among Tsotha-Lanti's "pets". Ironically though, Conan admits he actually likes Satha the most, as of the monstrosities in Tsotha's dungeons at least Satha offers only a swift physical death.
  • The Cthulhu Mythos is home to Yig, a serpent god who came out of H. P. Lovecraft collaborating with Zealia Bishop. Yig, in his first story, isn't so much "evil" or "alien, inhuman and maddening" as he is "fiercely protective of snakes, and extremely vengeful"; kill snakes in Yig's territory, and madness, death, and giving birth to snake/human hybrids await. Yig is generally considered to be one of the more reasonable of the Great Old Ones, but he's definitely not cuddly.
  • The Little Grey Men Series: The Big Bad from Down the Bright Stream is a treacherous, sadistic adder with a fondness for eating baby birds.
  • Harry Potter zigzags this:
    • The Big Bad Voldemort has snakes as his Animal Motifs. He is a Parselmouth (which means he can talk to snakes), he has a pet snake called Nagini, he was sorted into Slytherin House (see below), and his appearance (especially his eyes and nostrils) is often compared to snakes.
    • Slytherin House's name sounds like "slithering", and has a snake as its mascot. This house has a reputation for raising the most dark wizards, including Voldemort himself. The House's founder, Salazar Slytherin, was a Parselmouth too.
    • It is noted that being a Parselmouth is often seen as a sinister and evil trait in the Wizarding World. The power itself is not evil, and most snakes are just ordinary animals, but due to Voldemort being a well-known Parselmouth, as well as a long history of ill-famed historical figures, the ability is tainted in the public eye.
    • The Basilisk is a monstrous snake that has been placed in the Chamber of Secrets under Hogwarts by Salazar Slytherin, and only can be controlled by the Heir of Slytherin. Its task is to rid the school of muggle-borns.
    • Averted with the boa constrictor that Harry Potter accidentally releases in the first book. It just wants to leave the zoo and go to Brazil.
    • Also averted with a snake seen in a flashback in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to which Morfin is crooning in Parseltongue, "Hissy, hissy little snakey / Slither on the floor / You be good to Morfin / Or he'll nail you to the door!" This is just a harmless random snake that twisted Morfin is taking a sadistic pleasure in torturing.
    • In The Film of the Book for Chamber of Secrets Lucius Malfoy carries a cane tipped with a silver snake's head that conceals his wand, as well as having snake-motif cloak clasps.
    • Averted with the Horned Serpent, one of the four houses of Ilvermorny (the magic school of North America). Despite the similar imagery, its closest counterpart in Hogwarts is actually Ravenclaw, being a house renowned for producing scholars and thinkers. Its founder, Isolt Sayre, was descended from the infamous House of Gaunt, but she's a White Sheep who sought to establish harmony between Majs and No-Majs, and even married a No-Maj to boot.
  • Averted in the children's book The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. While Jimmy's boa scares the farmer's wife and the chickens, it doesn't mean to cause any harm and is fairly non-aggressive. The Stinger even shows that the farmer's wife took a liking to it, keeping it inside with them in the winter and knitting it a long sweater.
  • The Jungle Book:
    • Mowgli's story (the original, not the Disney version): Mowgli falls into a cobra pit, but thanks to animal speak is able to ask them not to attack. Kaa the python is actually a heroic character and a mentor to Mowgli. He's feared, yes, but also respected and portrayed as very wise, even referred to as "all-knowing". Disney's adaptations of the Mowgli stories tend to completely ignore this.
    • A later story has Mowgli fall into an ancient treasure trove guarded by a cobra... whose venom sacs have shrivelled up a long time since.
    • In Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, another story in the book, the hero is a mongoose, a cute furry predator of snakes among other prey, so of course he encounters not only evil cobras (who plot to kill the humans who've adopted him out of spite) but a smaller snake called Krait.
  • Every single snake that's appeared in the Redwall series is pure evil. The first one ever seen is a monstrous adder named Asmodeus, while others include a Treacherous Advisor grass snake living on a huge raven's head, a blind and insane adder descended from Asmodeus, a gigantic lake-dwelling snake known as the Deepcoiler, and three conjoined adders that basically function as a hydra.
  • Averted in A Series of Unfortunate Events with the Incredibly Deadly Viper. Despite its name, it's actually stated to be one of the friendliest animals in existence. It also becomes very good friends with Sunny in the second book.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • In "The Speckled Band", a fictional snake is used as the villain's murder weapon (albeit with lots of Artistic License – Biology). Holmes turns it against the murderer.
    • In another story, Holmes compares a particularly odious blackmailer to a snake.
      "Do you feel a creeping, shrinking sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents at the zoo and see the slithering, gliding, venomous creatures, with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that's how Milverton impresses me. I've had to do with fifty murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion I have for this fellow."
  • The titular ship and crew of The Ship That Sailed to Mars are nearly swallowed by the massive "Snake of Eden" on their interplanetary travels.
  • In the Oscar Wilde short story The Star Child, the titular child is a beautiful boy who is innerly cruel and evil. He suffers a karmic punishment to be transformed into a snake hybrid to reflect how he is on the inside.
  • The novelisation of Superman Returns plays with this: in this adaption, Superman's famous S logo is explained to not only be his ancient family crest but in the shape of a serpent coiled inside a diamond shield, a warning not to return to the violence of war. So while Superman is unambiguously heroic, the snake still represents a dangerous motif.
  • In the second Time Out of Time book "The Telling Stone", Balor rides on a giant snake in the battle at the Travelers' Market. The snake appears again near the end of the book in Dunsinane to kill Timothy to keep him from being the next keeper of the market.
  • Louise the Larger in A Wind in the Door is a complete aversion — she's completely harmless and, as a Teacher, is a benevolent figure in her own right.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed (1998):
    • "That Old Black Magic" featured the evil witch Tuatha, who had a snake for a familiar. The snake could be summoned at will, sent for recon, and regenerated into two separate snakes when cut in half. There was also a spirit who protected an Egyptian urn that could summon animals to kill those who'd stolen it; one of those animals was a cobra.
    • In "Animal Pragmatism" three college girls use a spell to turn a snake, a rabbit, and a pig into human men. The "Snake" wants to stay human and is willing to kill people to achieve that goal.
  • Game of Thrones: The Sand Snakes (Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene), which is the collective name for Prince Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell's bastard daughters, received Adaptational Villainy where they committed Revenge by Proxy on Princess Myrcella Baratheon by poisoning her and killed their own uncle and cousin who do not support their plans in avenging their father despite that it's a lawful trial by combat. Averted with the Red Viper himself who did want revenge for his dead sister, niece, and nephew, but didn't want to hurt innocent people.
  • Kamen Rider: The franchise uses a snake motif for the Monster of the Week fairly often. However, in more specific examples regarding Riders themselves:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki has the Mirror Monster Venosnaker, who's shown to be vicious and animalistic; appropriately enough its partner Kamen Rider Ouja (Takeshi Asakura) is a Serial Killer, meaning they get along just fine.
    • Kamen Rider Build has the cobra-themed villain Blood Stalk a.k.a Souichi Isurugi a.k.a Evolt/Evolto and later Kamen Rider Evol, who is a part of a terrorist/scientist cabal Faust, who is in reality is an alien invader. Evolt's monster form also resembles a humanoid alien cobra.
    • Kamen Rider Revice is the one that averts this. Kamen Rider Jeanne (Sakura Igarashi) is heroic and has a cobra theme. Even her Inner Demon, Lovekov, looks more like a cute anthropomorphic plush snake and is fairly docile and willing to help her.
  • Monster Warriors: The Monster of the Week in "Anaconda of the North Woods" is a giant anaconda.
  • Power Rangers:
  • While less often than its sister series and adaptation, Super Sentai uses snake-themed monsters occasionally.
    • Averted with GoseiBlack (Agri) from Tensou Sentai Goseiger, who for a while was the sole snake-themed Ranger in the franchise.
    • Hebitsukai Silver (Naga Ray) from Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger has a snake motif to him and gets temporarily brainwashed into evil as Hebitsukai Metal for a number of episodes, though he still can turn into Hebitsukai Metal as a power-up after returning to good.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Narek pilots a Snakehead, a Romulan scout ship, which reinforces the theme of Romulan culture identifying itself with predatory animals (the most famous being the raptor) to reflect its history of violence and conquest. The curved "wings" of his vessel are somewhat reminiscent of the hood of a cobra. In a Space Battle with La Sirena, Narek proves to be a dangerous adversary, and Rios would later nickname him "snakehead" to express his disdain for the Zhat Vash spy, which is appropriate because Narek did try to murder Soji with a poisonous gas (his "venom," so to speak).
  • The Ultra Series have various kaijus modeled after snakes,and NONE of them are friendly.
    • Ultraman 80: One of the most powerful and dangerous Monster of the Week is Gamos, a cobra-headed monster that is said to have destroyed entire planets in its rampage, as well as killing Alien Zuckal's family and disintegrating several innocent people with its Acid spit (including a child!) ONSCREEN during its rampage on earth.
    • A similar planet destroyer called Bogarl shows up in Ultraman Mebius; modeled after cobras her main trait is her ability to eat other Kaiju swallowing them whole like a snake, she destroyed the peaceful Planet Aarb prior to the series by eating all of its inhabitants, and can regenerate injuries to fight Ultraman Mebius several times. Her offspring, Lesser Bogarls, follow her example.
    • From Ultraman X there is Gargorgon, a reptilian kaiju based on a gorgon, with three snake-like heads. Yes, once again, this one is also responsible for wiping out an entire civilization in the past, specifically by turning its inhabitants to stone, and is one of the first Wake-Up Call Boss kaiju of the show.
    • The ultimate Big Bad of Ultraman Orb is Maga-Orochi, which, much like its namesake, is an unstoppable juggernaut of a kaiju with a snake-looking appearance.
    • Ultraman R/B has another serpent-themed kaiju, Snake Darkness, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It serves as one the strongest kaiju opponents in Ultraman R/B The Movie: Select! The Crystal of Bond.
  • V (2009): Anna, the leader of the Visitors in the reboot, has some noticeable serpentine features, such as very short hair, a long neck, and a very slender frame. Of course, underneath her human skin, she's really a lizard person.

  • There's a Playground Song based upon a Shel Silverstein poem called "I'm Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor", which exploits the fear of a snake being able to eat a person.
    Oh, heck! He's up to my neck!
    Oh, dread! He's up to my *GULP*
  • Many heavy metal bands ranging from Alice Cooper to Soundgarden to Symphony X use snakes as symbols of fear, and this translates to heavier music.
  • Paula Abdul: HE'S A COLD-HEARTED SNAKE! Look into his eyes, he's been tellin' lies.
  • "Attacked by Snakes!" by The Aquabats!, where a hapless fellow finds his front lawn infested with thousands of angry snakes that are after him for some reason:
    Attacked by snakes, by snakes
    So many snakes it would take a thousand rakes
    To contain the snakes after me
    I'd rather be burned at the stake than be
    Attacked by snakes!
  • Poets of the Fall's Hamartia, the Monster Clown Slasher Smile wearing jester mascot of Twilight Theater's album art, sports a Happy Harlequin Hat with a flap that turns into the silhouetted, coiling head of a serpent.
  • The Belgian synthpop group Telex are probably best remembered for their song "Raised by Snakes", which goes thus:
    I was raised by snakes
    I lie all the time
  • The primary villain of Captain Beaky and His Band by Jeremy Lloyd is "Hissing Sid, an evil snake". (Although a meme of the period insisted "Hissing Sid is innocent, OK?")

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Snakes, serpents, and other similar creatures that crawl on their bellies are often identified as being evil and unclean in The Bible, starting all the way back in the Book of Genesis, in which Satan disguises himself as a serpent to tempt Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. Because of this, not only does God curse the serpent for it deceiving Eve and Adam to sin, but almost all snakes and serpents throughout the rest of the Bible are regarded as symbols of evil and immorality.
    • On the other hand, Jesus tells his followers to "be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves."
    • Moses also turned his staff into a snake to show the power of God; likewise, during the 40-year Exodus trek, the Israelites set up a copper snake as a healing symbol for those who were bitten by fiery serpents. Historians argue that this snake was the original totem connected to the tribe of Dan. By the time of King Hezekiah, the copper snake was being worshiped as an idol, and the king ended up destroying it, calling it Nehushtan ("a thing of bronze") to mock the Jews for their idiocy in worshiping a lifeless object.
    • There are also the Biblical Seraphim, while not outright described as snake-like, are associated with snakes/serpents throughout Jewish and early Christian texts and are now thought to derive from the concept of the uraeus, an Egyptian symbol of royalty/sovereignty. On the other hand, they do obliterate anyone who looks at them to cinders.
    • And then there's St. Patrick, who according to legend cast the snakes out of Ireland (assuming there ever were snakes in Ireland to begin with).
  • The snake is associated with the deadly sin of Envy and its patron demon Leviathan is usually depicted as a giant serpentine sea monster. Leviathan in general is an example of this, even before the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins came about.
  • Orochi, the eight-headed serpent of Japanese Mythology. It preyed on a family's daughters for seven years simply because it could (what it ate before it coerced the couple into feeding it their daughters is never stated).
  • In Greek Mythology: Greek mythology is full of this. There are a lot of snake or dragon monsters roaming about that are killed or otherwise defeated by a hero or god.
    • Apollo slew Python to gain control of the Delphic oracle. Typhon was Zeus' Arch-Enemy and the greatest threat faced by the Olympians. Zeus also slew Campe to free the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires from Tartarus. Andromeda was to be fed to a sea serpent known as Cetus. Scylla was portrayed as being part serpent.
    • Hera sent two snakes to kill Hercules just after his birth. This failed, however, when he strangled the snakes to death in his crib. Later in life, Hercules would slay the Hydra as one of his Twelve Labors.
    • Though subverted by Asclepius, a healing god who's associated with snakes due to the Serpent of Immortality trope; his signifier was the caduceus, a rod with a snake entwined around it that's still a medical emblem today, and one of his temples even encouraged the local harmless snakes to take up residence on the grounds.
  • Apep/Apophis in Egyptian Mythology is the God of Evil known as the Snake of Chaos or the Serpent of Rebirth, with the resident good god Ra constantly battling him and making sure he doesn't win because if he does, he will consume the whole world. At the same time, however, snakes were also associated with protection and wisdom. Wadjet and Nehebkau are benevolent snake gods, with the former representing and protecting Lower Egypt whose symbols were worn by the Pharaoh, while the latter is a wise judge and Ra's advisor.
  • Norse Mythology: This is a recurrent theme throughout, although examples are less numerous than that of Greek mythology. Jormungandr, aka the Midgard Serpent, is an evil serpent so huge that he can wrap himself around the world. He's Thor's Arch-Enemy and the two are fated to kill each other at Ragnarok. Nidhogg is a vile serpent/dragon that lives at a root of Yggdrasil and chews on it. Unlike Jormungandr, he'll survive Ragnarok. There are also several instances of heroes slaying poison-spewing dragons in all branches of Germanic mythology.
  • The Eastern Zodiac designates the Snake as the sixth year, because the Snake hid himself on the Horse's foreleg, then slithered to the finish line just to scare her!
  • Some versions of the Arthurian Legend feature this as the final step in the downfall and death of King Arthur: When Arthur leads his vastly outnumbered army against the traitor Mordred's troops, he has his knights negotiate a temporary truce, hoping this will give some much-needed reinforcements time to arrive. As the terms of the agreement are to be finalised, an adder bites one of the knights, who draws his sword to kill it in retaliation. This, interpreted as an act of aggression on neutral ground by onlookers, triggers the massive Battle of Camlann that claims the lives of almost everyone there, including Arthur himself.

  • Averted with Shannon's pet in the Cool Kids Table Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class, a piebald ball python named Sekhmet who cuddles up to her chest as soon as she purchases her.
  • This trope is subverted in Sibylline Sounds with the characters Sage and Calister. Sage is a snake who uses the hypnotic abilities that snakes normally use for evil in fiction for good by working as a hypnotherapist. Calister is also a friendly snake who only uses his hypnotic abilities recreationally. Although it is played straight with Jajuka, who is a Faux Affably Evil predator, and Cypdes, who is a dragon god who can shapeshift into a snake to eat or enslave those who intrude into his temple.
  • Trials & Trebuchets gives us two snake-themed villains: the Progenitor, who has the head of a cobra, and Neska, who has a giant snake form.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: Subverted. When Robin expresses a fear of snakes, Kermit yelps in fright, then checks the room for snakes. Robin says this isn't helping, but then Kermit assures him that snakes can be beautiful. After an Imagine Spot with snakes dancing to "In a Persian Market", Robin sees his point, and a group of friendly snakes have joined them.
    Robin: You know, Uncle Kermit, snakes are really very nice.
    [The camera zooms out to reveal snakes in the room.]
    Snakes: [in unison] Thank you.
    Kermit and Robin: [in unison] Uh... you're welcome.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In all editions, the yuan-ti are a race of Snake People who are Always Chaotic Evil.
    • Elder Evils: Taking after the serpent of Eden, the snakelike demon lord Setrous is a primal liar and corrupter, the source of heresy and the one who first lured mortals away from the gods. He's served by serpentine monsters, such as nagas, hydras and yuan-ti, and as he rises the earth becomes covered by great tides of writhing snakes. Notably, he wasn't always a serpent — his original form isn't known — but adopted his current aspect when he possessed a regular snake in order to hide from his enemies.
    • Forgotten Realms: Dendar the Night Serpent is an ancient, evil being who delights in the nightmares of others and dreams of the day when she will be strong enough to end the world.
  • Necromunda: House Delaque incorporates a snake into its heraldry and is considered to be the creepiest of all the Clan Houses, due to its membership consisting of spies and assassins. The models for the 3rd Edition of the game take things even further with the high collars of their stormcoats resembling a cobra's hood, their armour having a segmented scale-like look, and the models themselves being tall and sinuous.
  • Pathfinder shares many monsters with Dungeons and Dragons, but one monster unique to Pathfinder is an Ouroboros. This astral beast is an embodiment of eternity and its form is not just a snake eating its own tail but it's actually made of smaller snakes which in turn are made of a Matroska doll of endlessly smaller snakes. An Ouroboros isn't "evil" but it considers anything in its sight a threat and it deals with threats by attacking. Given that an Ouroboros is mightier than an ancient dragon, weighs hundreds of tons, regenerates 50 HP per round(!!!) and bleeds poisonous snakes plus it's so bewildering to look at - few creatures stick around to confront a raging Ouroboros.
  • Ponyfinder: Apep, the most dangerous, feared, and evil of the gods, takes the form of an immense cobra.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000, snakes are often associated with the Chaos God Slaanesh, the god of pleasure and pain. Many daemon princes of Slaanesh adopt a serpentine appearance, notably Dechala from Fantasy and Fulgrim from 40,000. Slaanesh is even called "The Serpent" in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Venom and Reptilianne archetypes.
      • Venom combines this trope with Swamps Are Evil, since the main card of the deck is Venom Swamp, which slowly weakens all non-Venom monsters and destroys them when their ATK drops to 0. The two boss monsters of the archetype are DARK-attribute Snake People, one of which is pretty much The Juggernaut if you manage to summon her.
      • And should Vennominaga somehow fail, the deck's final trump card is usually Ananta, a monster based on the Lernaean Hydra.
      • All of the Reptilianne monsters are DARK-attribute gorgons in one way or another, and their effects revolve around reducing the ATK of opposing monsters to 0, emulating the whole Taken for Granite aspect of gorgons.
    • The aptly named Sinister Serpent. It used to have a powerful effect that placed it squarely in the forbidden list until an errata greatly nerfed it.
    • Divine Serpent Geh, a God of Evil that rules over a dark dimension. In the anime, it's an embodiment of pure evil and possibly the most broken card to be ever invented. The real-life counterpart looks intimidating but is more of a case of Awesome, but Impractical.
    • The Cyber Dragon monsters are apparently based on Chinese dragons, but look more like mechanized snakes. They are used by Ryo Marufuji in the anime, who is an Aloof Ally at best and an Ax-Crazy sociopath at worst.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: The CO Adder is one of the members of the antagonistic Black Hole army, and many of his mannerisms are based off of a snake. His CO Powers, Sideslip and Sidewinder/Snakebite boost his movement speed, invoking a sense of Evil Slinks, and he has a tendency to Hiss Before Fleeing when he loses.
  • Bio Lab Wars: One of the enemy types you encounter in the game is snakes. To shoot them, you need to get on your belly.
  • Blazblue: Big Bad, Yuuki Terumi's entire motif are, you guessed it, snakes. And this holds true for all of his alternate forms (Hazama and Susanno) all of them sharing the same dark and green color scheme. Terumi plays this so straight to the point where all of his moves are named after some form of snake or something related to them. (i.e. Venomous Bite, Serpent's Infernal Rapture, Unholy Wrath of the Basilisk, etc etc).
  • In Brain Dead 13, there is a giant snake that can wrap around Lance and eat him up at the maze if you're not quick enough.
  • Bubble and Squeak: Snakes roughly as big as Bubble are an enemy you face in the game.
  • Cassette Beasts: Carniviper is based on venomous snakes, and its bestiary entry says it's very territorial and will attack anything and anyone.
  • Cave In: Snakes are an enemy you face in the game. One shot from your gun usually does the trick.
  • Colossatron: Massive World Threat, where the titular character is a Daikaiju-sized robotic Segmented Serpent. This Mechanical Abomination is seen by Earth from the far reaches of space and upon nearing our planet, the world's government figures out it's purpose is to wreck our world, which it does by adding various weapons to its segments and attacking.
  • Both non-networked Dark Sun games have something:
    • Shattered Lands has the snakeman statue in Gedron. You sense its evil from the start. Then a defiler (evil wizard) moves his soul in it and it becomes one of the bosses. Then he joins the army of Tectuktitlay for the final battle against you.
    • Wake of the Ravager has Yuan-ti (see in Tabletop Games above) and an unrelated Kartang — a sentient magical mutant snake commanding a pack of its animal brothers. Both are evil and eat humans.
  • Elden Ring: Rykard, who is in the running for most evil Shardbearer in the game (with competition including Mohg and Godrick, so this is no easy feat), is a giant serpentine abomination. He used to be a normal demigod but then fed himself to a primordial entity called the God-Devouring Serpent to fuse with it and gain power, losing what few scruples he had beforehand in the process.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, both Keito and Ibara are associated with snakes (in fact, one of the characters in Keito's surname Hasumi means 'snake', and in the Eastern Zodiac set he takes the snake), and both are antagonists to the main characters during part of the story, calculating and ruthless at their worst. However, though the symbolism is stronger with Keito he is ultimately an Anti-Villain at best during the main story and a fully-fledged protagonist in his own right once the story hits its Rotating Protagonist phase.
  • According to Far Cry 4's survival guide Pagan Min, the Big Bad, loves pit viper meat, has a chef specially trained in preparing pit viper meat, and often adds pit viper meat to his crab rangoon.
  • Fire Emblem Engage: Sombron is the first dark dragon whose draconic form takes form of a gigantic cobra, especially from the head to neck. He's also considered as one of the vilest dragon antagonists within the whole franchise.
  • Freedom Planet has General Serpentine, Lord Brevon's Trigger-Happy top general and a literal Smug Snake who constantly appears to give Lilac and co. hard time. Of the lesser variety, Hunter Snake is a giant snake-like robot who appears as the first boss fight in the game, and Chomper Snake is a monstrous mutant resembling a mix of a snake, an anglerfish and an eel, and it serves as the first stage boss in Milla's story.
  • Goblin Sword: One of the enemy types is snakes.
  • Gradius: Absolutely Averted with the Vic Viper, a heroic, snake-themed Gradian star-fighter whose pilots dedicate themselves to protecting the galaxy from Bacterion forces. Played Straight with Zelos, a malevolent Planet Eater who's portrayed as a serpentine Draconic Abomination, at least based on the Salamander/Life-Force art cover.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass features a giant snake as the Optional Boss of a surprisingly creepy level.
  • The Jungle Book Licensed Game both plays this trope straight with Kaa, who serves as a boss, and other snakes who serve as regular enemies, as well as inverts it with the Trampoline Tummy snakes, who actually aid Mowgli.
  • Kid Baby Starchild: One of the enemy types you encounter in the game is giant snakes.
  • Kirby: Triple Deluxe has Coily Rattler, the fourth boss. It is a living snake statue that's made of 12 segments, including its head, which is its weak point. Its pause descriptions imply that it used to be a symbol of peace revered by the People of the Sky, but Taranza animates it with his black magic and commands it to attack Kirby.
  • In Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, snakes serve as common enemies in the first stage, The Forest. At the end of the stage, a giant snake that resembles Kaa from The Jungle Book (1967) serves as an obstacle. Mickey will need to feed it an apple to get it to close its mouth so he can cross it. Otherwise, he gets eaten and takes damage. Later in the game, a snake serves as the boss of the Desert. Mickey has to defeat it in order to recover the Cloud Shoes, which he will need to walk across the clouds on the Island.
  • In Lara Croft GO, snakes are one of the common enemies. They normally just stay curled up in one spot but will attack Lara if she moves in front of them (unless she has a torch). Additionally, there's the Queen of Venom, a giant snake who pursues Lara from across several levels and is the game's only "boss".
  • Several types of monstrous snakes appear as enemies in Miitopia: the gigantic Cobras, the deadly Orochis (which look like serpentine dragons with magical balls they use as weapons), and the I, Medusas.
  • Nioh: Edward Kelley, a bald, British sorcerer and alchemist who has enough snake motifs to make Voldemort jealous, from the scale-patterns that appear when he casts magic to his loyal Guardian Spirit Uroboros.
  • Pokémon:
    • Although anyone can train them, Ekans, its evolution Arbok, and Seviper are all owned by villains such as Team Rocket. All 3 are Poison types and can be rather mean.
    • Onix and Steelix, Dunsparce, and the Snivy line pretty much avert it, although Snivy's family are all Smug Snake characters.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: The monsterous Serpents of the Darkwoods.
  • Primal Rage has Vertigo, a Kaiju resembling a mix between a theropod dinosaur and a cobra-like snake. She's one of the most evil characters in the game whose mere presence drives people insane and who intends to trap all of humanity in a World of Chaos for her own amusement.
  • One of the bosses in Princess Peach: Showtime! is a giant, pale green snake named Light Fang, a Darkla summoned by Grape to stall Peach and Stella in the Sparkle Theater's second floor. It can summon miniature snakes and has the ability to rewind time upon spotting Peach.
  • Downplayed with Elliana in Rivals of Aether. She originally only wanted to fly, but being humiliated and exiled by the Air Armada due to Fantastic Racism toward her being a snake despite proving herself capable led to her becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds hellbent on destroying them.
  • Runescape:
    • Subverted with Juna. She's an ancient serpent resembling a gigantic python, but is a loyal guardian of the god of balance Guthix and not at all hostile towards the player.
    • Played straight with the enemy snakes the player may come across.
  • In Sengoku Basara 4, Kyogoku Maria has two red and black striped snakes which serve as her familiars.
  • Senran Kagura has the Hebijo Academy who has snake as their symbol (the students of Hebijo are sometimes called "Serpent Girls") and train "evil shinobi" (though the term "evil" can be a bit loose). And then there is the snake-like demon Orochi, who is born from the dead souls of the school's students and wants to destroy everything.
  • Subverted in Shadowgate: upon walking into one room, you come across a large, threatening snake that turns out to be a harmless statue. Moreover, the statue can then be transformed into the Staff of Ages, an artifact that is necessary to defeat the Big Bad.
  • Skinwalker Hunt: There are snakes in the game that will bite and poison the Player Character if he gets close to them.
  • Discussed, but averted, by Rattle Shake in Skylanders. His enemies, and even some of his friends, see him as creepy, and he does have a case of Bad Powers, Good People with his ability to launch venom projectiles, throw skulls with snake allies inside them, and even summon tombstones or giant bone snakes. Despite this, he is firmly on the side of good and is a "virtuous viper", willing to defend an innocent village from literal cowboys even despite being outnumbered.
  • Smite has a lot of snake-based deities and most of them come in different flavors; Nu Wa is a benevolent goddess with snake lower body, Kukulkan is serpentine and can look like a callous jackass but actually works on Blue-and-Orange Morality and is usually just being Creepy Good, Medusa also has snake lower body but as the myth goes, she's a malevolent monster. Additionally, there's the aforementioned Apep/Apophis; while he's not shown with a lot of personality by the virtue of being an Optional Boss, everything that has been said about the Snake of Chaos are all true in this game. Finally, there's Jormungandr, who's a towering piece of malevolence who is eager to bring down Ragnarok to the realm.
  • Lyric, the main antagonist of the Sonic Boom video games, Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal, is a snake cyborg. In Rise of Lyric, Sonic and the gang accidentally free him from an ancient prison, and he immediately resumes his plot to activate an army of giant, killer robots with the Chaos Crystals. In Shattered Crystal, he kidnaps Amy Rose and forces her to seek out the pieces of the titular crystal for nefarious ends.
  • In Stray Gods, Medusa is first mentioned as Athena's spymaster, and there is a brief span of time where Grace believes Medusa might have attacked Calliope. When you finally meet her, she was about to sink her teeth into a human and swiftly attempts to take Grace for dinner instead, admitting that hero's blood is a particular weakness of hers in a way that implies an addiction.
  • Cobrats in Super Mario Bros. 2 lurk in the desert sands and inside vases and attack the player character when they get close. Tryclyde, one of the major bosses of the game is a fire-breathing three-headed snake.
  • Super Ninja Meow Cat: The boss of level 5 is King Cobra, a giant cobra who actually wears a crown.
  • Snakes are an enemy in Sydney Hunter and the Shrines of Peril. They just stay where they are, but touching them results in Sydney Hunter losing a life.
  • In Them's Fightin' Herds, one of the Predator mooks is a venom-spitting cobra named Cuddles.
  • The Trails Series has the Society of Ouroboros. Their name and logo is 'the snake that eats its own tail', the high-ranked members are called Anguis, which is Latin for snake, and are sometimes scornfully referred to by certain characters as "(a) den of snakes". Needless to say, they're not particularly nice people.
  • Ultima has the silver serpents. These truly colossal serpents have a venom that can be used as an extremely addictive narcotic and while they can be fought in Ultima 6, they practically have unlimited health making fighting one a futile endeavor.
  • Venture Kid: Snakes are a kind of enemy encountered in the game. They're a different colour depending on the level they're in, and can be taken down in one hit.
  • The Naga of Warcraft III's expansion were Night Elves turned into undersea snake-men by a cataclysmic magic explosion.
  • The Way of Cinnamon: Cinnamon can encounter snakes as enemies. They stick up out of holes in the ground and spit venom at him.


    Web Original 
  • In the CollegeHumor sketch "Adam and Eve in the Friendzone," Eve tells Adam that she doesn't want to start a relationship with him because "she's just out of a really long relationship and wants to keep her options open." As Adam wonders who this alleged ex could possibly be, the snake (a puppet) pops up from behind a log, wearing a leather jacket and a red mohawk, and invites Eve to the Tree of Knowledge. She accepts his invitation, leaving Adam behind to sulk. God tells Adam that He can make him a new partner, but that He will need another rib to do it. Adam declines, saying that he and Eve will make it work somehow.
  • In A Conspiracy of Serpents, most of the antagonists are snake-like deities or monsters who are all trying to destroy the universe.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Evil Luddite Michael can summon and manipulate venomous snakes.
  • Dreamscape: Ethan's Badass Longcoat has snakes on it.
  • The Evil Overlord List includes the line "I will not turn into a snake. It never helps."
  • Kowabana tells the story of Kankandara, a malevolent entity with the torso of a woman and body of a snake.
  • Averted by the popular "Snek" internet meme, in which snakes are portrayed in a cute LOLCats-esque fashion.
  • Subverted with the memetic "Badger Song"—the singer sounds completely horrified to encounter a snake, but the snake in question is mostly just slithering about minding its own business and is actually kind of cute.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with, but ultimately subverted by Adder from The Animals of Farthing Wood. She is the most reluctant of the animals to uphold the Oath of Mutual Protection, and often terrorizes or threatens to eat the smaller animals of the park's group. However, she does prove herself to be a bit more noble than she lets on, even saving Vixen from the hunting party in episode 8. She does also soften a bit as the series goes on, as a hallmark of her Character Development.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: Ssserpent is an anthropomorphic alien snake villain and he is quite arrogant and smug, even though in his first two appearances he was not much of a threat and his defeats are Played for Laughs, however in his third and final appearance in Ultimate Alien, he proves to be smart enough to set a trap instead of fighting Ben head on, and almost manages to kill him. Later in the same episode, he manages to escape the police by throwing himself and leaving his skin behind to distract them.
  • Brandy & Mr. Whiskers averts this with Lola Boa, who is one of the more likable characters and often helpful to the main duo. In fact, she's the first friendly character the two encounter in the Amazon, although Whiskers was initially terrified of her due to his fear of snakes. That said, there are cases in the show where snakes play this straight, namely as menacing predators who try to eat the main cast.
  • Castlevania (2017): Ratko keeps a pair of snake-like Night Creatures around as pets and attack animals.
  • Chaotic: While the franchise averts Reptiles Are Abhorrent since the Mipedians (a tribe of Lizard Folk) are a mixed bag morality-wise, the snake Underworlder Pyrithion is evil and duplicitous.
  • One of the villains Cool McCool faces is the Rattler, who hisses his S's when he talks. His only weakness is snake charmer music.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • Averted in "Serpent of Evil River", in which a salty sailor is hunting a large serpent named Carmen to bring her in for a bounty — the fact that she dwells in Evil River, and one look at the giant, one-eyed, sharp-toothed serpent would make you think she's a monster, but it turns out she just wants an audience to listen to her opera singing.
    • In "Watch the Birdies", Courage accidentally grabs a snake while digging for worms to feed a trio of baby vultures Muriel's been tasked to babysit, and upon seeing the babies, the snake decides to eat them, with Courage and Muriel trying to fend him off.
    • Played Straight in "The Uncommon Cold", in which Big Bayou is an incredibly vain snake who has enslaved a colony of slugs to make statues of him to admire stuffed in his own shedded skins; he's also a magician — he enslaved the slugs under his magic, and only his magic can free them as well.
  • Danger Mouse had Mac the Fork as an adversary. Mac, a Scottish snake from the Clan MacViper, hires evil scientist Dudley Poyson to build an earth-shattering device from blueprints stolen from a government facility.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • In the series premiere, several rattlesnakes are a hazard in Atlantis, and they end up biting Launchpad who gets all loopy from their venom.
    • In "Quack Pack!", Gene mentions that Louie is going get a pet rattlesnake in the next sitcom episode. That rattlesnake later attacks Louie (who wouldn't even consider getting a pet snake in reality) when the wish system starts to act against the family, but it's later used by Webby as weapon against the maddened human audience.
    • The world-encircling serpent Jormungandr is mentioned in "Last Christmas!", apparently kept at bay by Scrooge McDuck. Jormungandr finally appears in the episode "The Rumble For Ragnarok!" where he takes the form of a four-limbed snake man that Scrooge and his family must defeat in a wrestling match or else he will destroy the world.
  • Final Space: Werthrent is a gigantic fire serpent and perhaps the vilest creature in the entire show (aside from the Lord Commander and Invictus).
  • Godzilla: The Series: The DNA Mimic uses the form of an anaconda to nearly kill Monique and absorb her DNA. After merging with its mate, its anaconda form is large enough to battle Godzilla.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe the Snake Men are just as evil as Skeletor and far more feared.
  • Inspector Gadget: In the episode "Snakin' All Over", the M.A.D. Agent of the episode, Professor Venom, has a variety of snakes that do his bidding. One of them is a cobra that hypnotizes people into a helpless, stupefied state wherein they don't move. In the climax of the episode, Gadget's niece, Penny, defeats the cobra by showing it a mirror, causing it to hypnotize itself.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness addresses and subverts this trope. Master Viper is generally popular and well-liked in-universe, however the Valley of Peace becomes suspicious and fearful of her when the snake hero Fu-xi goes rogue and starts terrorizing non-snakes. Fu-xi embodies the sinister snake trope to a tee and spends the episode seducing Viper to his cause. Subverted further when it turns out Viper was playing Fu-xi the whole time, in order to save the entire valley from being poisoned by him.
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, snakes are generally hostile towards Tarzan and others. One of the one-time villains is Hista, a gigantic python who hunts gorillas.
  • Zig-zagged in The Lion Guard:
    • On one hand, we have Ushari the Egyptian cobra. While starting off as a rather normal albeit irritable snake, he ends up becoming one of the chief villains in Season 2 where he helps Janja in bringing back Scar, in a plot to get even with the Lion Guard and take over the Pride Lands, and then serves as Scar's second-in-command. Season 3 escalates this by revealing that not only did Scar get his scar from a random cobra, but that cobra venom can remove your morals.
    • By contrast, African rock pythons are not shown as more menacing than the other predators in the show and have been the one large predatory reptile to never cause trouble, inverting the trope. However, this is invoked in "Baboons!" where Baby Baboon gets scared by a python on a branch, although the snake doesn't make an attempt to attack him.
  • Little Bear averts this with Nofeet, a friendly and gentle garden snake who is good friends with the titular character.
  • The Loud House both invokes and subverts this with Lana's pet snake El Diablo, who has the tendency to scare newcomers (by wrapping his coils around them and squeezing them as a greeting) but is generally inoffensive. And the many other snakes Lana befriends are often an aversion.
  • Max Steel: Bio-Constrictor is a human/snake mutant who was once a scientist known as Dr. David Klemlow, an N-Tek agent, before he ended up mutated by his own vat of reptilian genomes he had engineered. He can transform his body parts into snakes, divide into multiple ones, shed his skin, and even turn into a human-faced snake. Other snakes in the franchise also tend to be evil-aligned or very aggressive.
  • Mummies Alive!:
    • The main villain Scarab has a snake familiar/talking staff named Heka.
    • Apep appears as the Villain of the Week in "Desert Chic". He seeks revenge on Rapses for his ancestor banishing him to the desert. However, his love for Nefertina is something of a redeeming quality.
  • Slips in My Gym Partner's a Monkey' is an aversion — he's lazy and The Stoner, but not evil or sinister.
  • Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • On the one hand, cobras specifically are usually portrayed as, if not evil, then dangerous creatures — in particular, they're a common feature of the Death Traps that the Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do has to deal with.
    • On the other, common garden snakes are not depicted as any more dangerous than the rest of the show's small woodland critters, and one makes semi-regular appearances in Fluttershy's roster of animal friends. This is however Invoked in "Winter Wrap-Up" when Twilight, who has severe herpetophobia, awakens a den of hibernating snakes.
    • Zigzagged with Antoine the python from "She Talks to Angel". While he has intentions of eating Muriel the elephant calf, he is willing to negotiate with Fluttershy and is content with eating other treats. Unfortunately, taking away said treats leads to him actually eating Muriel, so the others have to free her from his belly.
  • Zig-zagged throughout Ninjago:
    • In the first season, the enemy is a race of humanoid snakes called the Serpentine, who plot to revive a gigantic snake called the Great Devourer to, well, devour the entire world so they can rebuild their society afterward. Said Great Devourer also carries a venom that turned Lord Garmadon evil in the backstory.
    • After the Great Devourer is defeated, the Serpentine pull a Heel–Race Turn and become recurring allies, with the exception of one.
    • The villain of season four is human, but features a snake motif and his ultimate goal is to turn himself and his followers into snakes. Ironically, this disgusts Pythor (the remaining Token Evil Teammate of the Serpentine) enough to pull an Enemy Mine to stop him, putting snakes on both sides of the moral spectrum at once.
    • Season six features only one Serpentine character, who sides with the villain but doesn't do anything outright villainous himself, and outright says he's joined up just because he's an outcast and doesn't belong with the other Serpentine.
    • Season seven ignores the Serpentine race, but makes use of snake-mooks called Vermillion Warriors.
    • And season eight introduces the Sons of Garmadon, a biker gang with a snake motif, thanks to Garmadon's connection to the Great Devourer.
  • Cy Sly in Ovide and the Gang is an arrogant, sneaky python who is easily the nastiest character on the show. On the other hand, Cy's Egyptian cobra cousin isn't a villain at all (which subverts the "non-venomous snakes are good, while cobras and other venomous snakes are evil" stereotype), and an anaconda villain of the week pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Owl House opens with Luz acting out a scene from The Good Witch Azura where the title character is shown doing battle with a giant snake monster. That said, the show inverts this more often than not. Pretty much any time a snake or general snake imagery shows up after this point (with one minor exception) it's in a wholly positive context. Luz herself even has a very strong snake motif, making this a rare example where snakes are used to symbolize a Messianic Archetype.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has the Gangreen Gang member Snake, who, like the rest of the members of the gang, often commits sordid crimes, such as picking on smaller children, vandalizing property, stealing from others, and so on. Slightly downplayed, however, that aside from the fact that the gang only commit typical street crimes rather than sinister schemes, Snake acts more as a yes-man to the gang's leader Ace, who often punches Snake across the nose whenever the latter speaks out of line.
  • Rick and Morty introduced a race of sapient snakes, identical to Earth snakes but with humanlike societies and their own equivalents to Abraham Lincoln (who ended up becoming a Nazi) and Hitler. When Morty steps out of the car to help Rick change their tire (in space), one of their astronauts goes out of its way to bite him and he beats it to death. Feeling guilty, he replaces it with an Earth snake which bites him several more times in the process. Once the alien snakes figure out how to communicate with it and learn about humanity, they then wage war on Earth and send robotic assassins back in time to kill the Smiths.
  • The Serpent King, a massive cobra, in Rupert subverts this. Despite Podgy's (initial) fear and distrust of him, when Rupert rescues him he turns out to be an honorable and helpful ally, later helping to save them from a gang of hungry crocodiles.
  • One of the antagonists of The Penguins of Madagascar is a giant boa constrictor named Savio.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Averted in "Whacking Day", in which Lisa and Bart try to save a bunch of snakes from being killed by the townspeople, due to the titular holiday being based around this trope as well as existing just to give people an excuse to beat and kill snakes. The snakes themselves are also docile and harmless.
    • Played straight at the ending of "Blame It on Lisa" when Bart gets Swallowed Whole by an anaconda (not that it distresses him).
    • Also averted in "Stop or My Dog Will Shoot" with Bart's one-off pet python "Strangles". Its instruction manual declares it's pointless to name them because "snakes have poor hearing and live only to strangle", but Strangles is actually friendly to and protective of Bart (the one time he strangles anyone is Homer... to defend Bart from being strangled). In the end, Bart is forced to choose between Strangles and Santa's Little Helper, and when he picks the latter Strangles is heartbroken:
      Strangles:note  If he breaks your heart again, don't bother calling me! ...Oh, who am I kidding? I'll always be there for you.
    • Played with in "Pranks and Greens", in which legendary prankster Andy Hamilton keeps a live cobra as a twist of the old "snakes in a can" gag. He explains it's de-fanged albeit still capable of releasing venom, which ends up making Milhouse woozy.
  • TaleSpin: Thaddeus E. Klang, a cobra with a mechanical body who kidnaps the archaeologist Katie Dodd, forcing her to find the lost city of Tinabula for his so he can use the weapons hidden there.
  • Played with by Karai's mutation into a snakelike creature in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) — while an antagonist at first, she is one of the more sympathetic villains. She ultimately pulls a Heel–Face Turn, and by the time she is transformed she has become more-or-less an ally to the Turtles.
  • In The Wild Thornberrys, every snake Eliza encounters has been menacing. The most prominent example is an Indian cobra kept at a palace in "Darwin Plays the Palace".

    Other Media 
  • Interesting subversion (and later zig-zag), a 13-banded rattlesnake is seen on the "Don't tread on me" flag used in the American Revolution and much more recently incorporated into the USN naval jack. The rattlesnake was chosen because rattlesnakes don't strike unless provoked, and, unlike the vast majority of animals, issue a warning even if they are. There was serious consideration to make rattlesnakes the national animal of the United States but it was decided to use a bird and from there a Bald Eagle was selected. Presumably this trope was involved in the selection process.
  • There's a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin that depicted the colonies as a snake that had been cut into thirteen pieces. This was to evoke a common belief that snakes could be put back together (usually by dragonflies) if they were cut up, and the intention was to show that he felt this was happening to the colonies. The goal was to urge the colonies to work together, thereby becoming a whole snake.
  • Another notable cartoon from 1861 by J.B. Elliot, "Scott's Great Snake", depicts the Naval Blockade of the Confederate States during the American Civil War as an anaconda wrapping its coils around the territory. Although Elliot lived in Cincinnati, Ohio (a pro-Union state), he was mocking the plan drafted by Union general-in-chief Winfield Scott for a slow war of attrition.
  • The Snake card in the Petit Lenormand. It usually suggests someone is false, toxic, and just unpleasant all around. In some cases, it can symbolise the mistress or a female lover who is unreliable, at best.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Snakes Are Evil, Evil Snake, Sinister Serpent


Coily Rattler

Coily Rattler, the boss of Wild World, is an inanimate snake statue that was brought to life by Taranza in order to stall Kirby's progress throughout Floralia.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SnakesAreSinister

Media sources: