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Soft-Spoken Sadist

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"Just her poise and the way that she speaks. So freaking creepy, dude. So calm. Y'all ever notice how the calm villains, they really be the scariest?"
CoryxKenshin, on Mama Bear from Dark Deception

Not every villain has to sound like one. Perhaps, instead of having a malevolent rasp, a gloating shrill, or a booming bass, the villain's voice is instead light and low. They don't yell or intimidate, and might not even be impolite — instead, they speak with a soft tone that seems unassuming, meek, or even kind, with a soft chuckle and a sort of warm energy... hiding the menace within. The end result is something dissonant and creepy, a monster who might describe just how horribly they're going to mangle you while speaking in a voice that's anything but monstrous.

Of course, this can possibly also go in quite the opposite direction, with the villain's gentle voice highlighting their willingness to commit atrocities out of schadenfreude, their enjoyment of combat, their total lack of shame towards their actions, their casual disregard for human decency, or even their refusal to back down when confronted.

Keep in mind this doesn't always mean the character in question is a Sadist—it's just an Alliterative Name.

See also Affably Evil, Faux Affably Evil, Dissonant Serenity, Creepy Monotone, and Creepy High-Pitched Voice, and compare Wicked Cultured and Polite Villains, Rude Heroes. Note that if and when they eventually drop this soft-spoken demeanor, then that's a surefire sign things are going to get worse. Blends very well with Creepy Monotone and Evil Sounds Deep, as is uses up the low end of the voice register more so than the high end. Contrast with Evil Is Hammy, though a Cold Ham can cover both. Fairly likely to look disturbingly normal.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kanzaki from the Area 88 TV anime is a Manipulative Bastard who betrayed his best friend. In contrast to his ominous voice and mannerisms in the OVA, his voice comes across as reserved and completely normal in the TV series — which makes his villainy all the more chilling.
  • Black Lagoon has Torch Weaver. He's a constantly grinning, overweight blond man who looks like a stereotypical suburban dad. He's even a teetotaler and prefers using "shucks" and "golly" instead of actual cursing. He is also a bounty hunter and a professional pyromaniac who has little reservation using his flamethrower on defenseless targets. According to him, he even burned his wife and child alive.
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard: Picture it, a boy with Aichi's unfailing politeness and Ren's sadistic personality. That's how Aichi acts under the manipulation of Ren.
  • Date A Live: Unlike all other villains like Kurumi Tokisaki (who is a homicidal maniac who has no composure when her crazy-side breaks out) and Minerva Liddell (who is a psychotic soldier who loses her cool when she is torturing someone), Isaac Westcott is fully capable of causing pain in other people without losing his clarity and calm.
  • Light Yagami, Villain Protagonist of Death Note, who stays cool and calm even while delivering his judgments face-to-face. Poor Naomi Misora.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: In the anime, Rui's voice rarely rises above a murmur and shows barely any emotion, regardless of what's going on - even when he's talking about how furious he is at Tanjiro and Nezuko. He's also, for most of his time onscreen, an abusive monster who tortures and kills other demons to force his chosen "family" to go along with his twisted familial roleplay scenario, and that's not even going into how viciously he goes after Tanjiro when they fight.
    • Enmu the main villain of the Mugen Train Arc. He's very feminine and serenely blissful, even when he's torturing his victims. Unfortunately, his chances of surviving Tanjiro and co, are merely a dream.
  • Digimon Adventure: Of the four Dark Masters, Machinedramon is easily the most prolific killer, effortlessly slaughtering dozens of Numemon with no hesitation whatsoever and being willing to bring down entire cities to capture his targets. He also barely raises his voice above a cold, robotic whisper and has little interest in idle banter. It truly is something to hear him call his Giga Cannon in a completely lifeless, quiet voice.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Freeza from Dragon Ball Z, in all but the Brazilian dub, where he had a baritone voice instead.
    • His brother Cooler is also this, especially in the Latin dub. Not only that, he never raises his voice in any of his appearances. Though it's subverted in his fifth from, which gives him a deep, gravelly, growling voice.
    • Same for Abridged Cell, but he plays the Sadist part moreso than most people.
    • In the Japanese version of Dragon Ball GT, Baby initially starts with a very soft and young-sounding voice that makes him sound very creepy. He keeps that voice from his child form all the way as Baby-Vegeta. His voice changes to a more raspy voice after he becomes Super Baby 1 and beyond, and it stays that way in his adult form even after he has left Vegeta's body. His raspy voice becomes the standard for Yusuke Numata's voice acting as Baby in various video games, since Super Baby 2 and his Golden Oozaru form are Baby's most recurring forms.
    • Goku Black from Dragon Ball Super speaks in a soft polite tone even as he is committing genocide across multiple worlds or if he is about to murder Future Trunks in great delight.
  • For the most part, Russia from Hetalia: Axis Powers. Despite being a huge man who finds it amusing to bully, he usually speaks in a soft, high, childlike voice and he has a sweet, gently smiling, blushing face to match.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • Shou Tucker never raises his voice, and he is an evil alchemist who turned his family into chimeras.
    • Dante, both as an old woman and in Lyra's body. She's got a polite speech pattern, a gentle voice and never shouts, only very rarely raises her voice. However, she's also got the ability to say horrific and monstrous things with that same gentle tone.
    • Dietlinde Eckhart from The Conqueror of Shamballa is soft-spoken and gentle, but was a Nazi.
  • Due to Character Exaggeration, the Galaxy Angel anime turned Mint Blancmanche into this. She always speaks in a polite and gentle voice, even during her most vicious and cruel moments when she's enjoying someone else's misfortune.
  • Akeno Himejima of High School D×D is a heroic example. She's a Combat Sadomasochist who enjoys inflicting and receiving pain in battle, but rarely drops her cheerful and flirtatious disposition.
  • Illumi Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter is very serene and rarely emotes at all, but he's just as (if not more) sadistic as Hisoka. Chrollo Lucifer is the same way.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Dio Brando has a calm tone when speaking with Polnareff or Kakyoin, at least, in the Playstation 3 game, the anime approaches more to an Affably Evil route. Interestingly, Takehito Koyasu is the same voice actor in both versions, it's amazing how he can voice the same character with different tones and still sound menacing, albeit in different ways.
    • Yoshikage Kira is a rarity among Jojo villains in that he's no Large Ham (his ham is cold at best)- he acts like a normal office worker and rarely raises his voice above a conversational tone, even in battle or when committing murder. The effect is... freaky, to say the least.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Mahito, the Human Disaster Curse appears as a friendly, though odd looking young man and has a gentle, playful voice. If given the opportunity, he is going to take his sweet time to talk about all the Nightmare Fuel, Mind Rape and Body Horror he just inflicted/is about to inflict on someone in the same manner he talks about games or the quirks of his co-villains.
  • Kagerou Project: The series' Big Bad, the Wide-Open Eyes Snake, is like this so long as he's possessing Kenjirou, but if he's on his own or possessing Konoha, all bets are off.
  • Johan Liebert, the eponymous Monster. He speaks in the quietest and most innocent-sounding voice possible.
  • William James Moriarty of Moriarty the Patriot is far from a sadist, but he's a quiet, polite, softspoken Serial-Killer Killer voice by the soft-voiced Soma Saito, who is hardly known for a deep voice.
  • One Piece: Jack "The Drought", one of the most dangerous pirates alive and a gigantic hulking brute that can transform into a mammoth and is known for being completely immune to bargaining (to the point his response to any attempts to reason with him seems to just be "sever a limb and move on") and rampages so bad places struck by him look like an actual drought's ground them down over the years. All of this would lead one to think of a bloodthirsty, bombastic man, but he never raises his voice, just speaking like he's relaxed or even bored at all times even when torturing people for information or for fun.
  • Vincent Nightray from PandoraHearts, though not exactly evil, has done quite a few morally ambiguous things and takes any chance he gets to act needlessly sadistic. This picture sums it up quite nicely.
  • Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica was voiced by the same woman as Kagami Hiiragi and Mayoi Hachikuji and shares their high, thin voices, and seems to be like another cutesy Magical Girl series mascot. This is not the case.

    Comic Books 
  • Kurt Gerhardt in The '90s Foolkiller series. He was said by a drug kingpin to be crazier than The Punisher, yet he was not the boiling angry man with a gun that was Frank Castle. His modus operandi was always to have a Socratic debate with his intended target, just so that he could uncover a logical fallacy or hole in their argument. The coda of each debate always being his bottom line followed by "I think you're a fool. I kill fools". It was always important to Gerhardt that his targets knew why they were being killed; equally important that witnesses understood as well.
  • Spider-Man's enemy Tombstone is a large albino mobster whose teeth have been filed to points. He's vicious enough to hold his own against Marvel's other colorful gangsters (Hammerhead, Silvermane, the Kingpin, etc.), strong enough to fight Spider-Man, and his dialogue balloons are always edged with a dotted line to underscore how soft his voice is.
  • Tarn from The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye uses "Weaponized Conversation" where he can literally talk someone to death.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Temeraire fanfic Black Wings, Black Sails, the "Gentleman Pirate" William Laurence speaks in a perpetual cool tone, with the gentleman's accent he was raised with. He raises his voice exactly once: to call out to his former dragon.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Gravemoss, who's responsible for the resurrection of ancient Asgardian undead nightmares, wields the Darkhold and routinely conducts horrific experiments on people, has a voice that is regularly described as soft and disturbingly lulling. Apparently this is either an affectation or a natural talent because Gravemoss actually notes to Lucius Malfoy that it's far easier to sacrifice people if they're nice and calm. However, those who get past the lulling effect note that it's strangely... dead.
    • The sequel has Sinister, who's arguably even worse. Most of the time, he sounds like a fairly ordinary, if somewhat distracted, scientist and you can count on the fingers of one hand the times he raises his voice. He's also a prime example of The Sociopath and a one-man production line of solid gold Nightmare Fuel, who carefully arranged for his Hound, Maddie Pryor a.k.a. Rachel Grey, Jean's stolen-at-birth twin sister, to be utterly broken to his will and certain in her belief that she was literally created to serve him and act as an instrument of his will, with any deviation from that being a 'flaw'. He also ensured that Harry stayed with the Dursleys, solely so he could study him up close, and convincingly played the part of the pleasant family doctor to gain Harry's trust.
  • Kyril from The Night Unfurls is a rare heroic example. Cool, polite and serene, he barely raises his voice whenever he commits bloodshed. Sometimes, he can be affable to his foes, not that it stops him from killing them afterward. To him, killing anyone or anything is synonymous with talking to someone about the weather.
  • In the Turning Red fic Turning Red: Secrets of the Panda, Jason Vaugn generally keeps a calm demeanour, but is still a complete Ax-Crazy sociopath.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire has the Big Bad Commander Rourke, who always speaks pleasantly no matter what heinous things he's discussing. Even when the chips are down and he's finally be pushed to anger, he still talks quite calmly:
    Rourke: Well, I gotta hand it to ya, you're a bigger pain in the neck than I would have ever thought possible. I consider myself an even-tempered man. It takes a lot to get under my skin, but congratulations, you just won the solid-gold kewpie doll!
  • The Bad Guys (2022): Mr. Wolf, leader of the gang, always talks in a smooth, polite, laid-back tone, even while committing crimes. This is best demonstrated in the opening sequence, when he and Mr. Snake casually stroll into a bank and he calmly announces his intention to rob it.
  • Bradley Uppercrust III in An Extremely Goofy Movie has a light, mild voice, and is so evil he has life-threatening assault, arson, and attempted murder under his belt. The vast majority of the other series antagonists are saints compared to him.
  • Disney's The Jungle Book (1967):

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10 Rillington Place: Christie is very calm and mild-mannered, and uses this to reassure his victims, further luring them into his traps. This was a major reason why Christie was able to elude capture for so long, and makes his story all the more frightening.
  • Richard Burton's portrayal of O'Brien in the film release of Nineteen Eighty-Four. He never raises his voice and, in his own creepy way, actually seems to think he is being kind in torturing Winston.
  • HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey has this, overlapping with Creepy Monotone.
  • Dr. Jonathan Crane is easily the most softspoken character in Batman Begins. He also sprays people with a toxin designed to cause intense panic attacks, tries to burn people alive, and gives his fear toxin to someone who supposedly told him the plan was to hold the city to ransom.
  • Coming Home in the Dark: Mandrake never seems to raise his voice above casual conversation, and is a psychopath who kills people indiscriminately, even teenagers.
  • Garland Greene from Con Air almost always have a dissonant smile on his face, takes time out of their criminal escape to have a tea party with a cute little girl, and is more than happy to pleasantly talk to whoever sits by him. At the same time, he gets the full Hannibal Lecter treatment when being transported, has nearly all the other hardened criminals on the plane terrified of him for the atrocities he's committed, and the things he talks about? He calmly discusses his murders and his twisted views on semantics and human psychology without a shred of regret for the things he has done. And he gets away in the end.
  • Top Dollar from The Crow is amazingly charismatic and calm almost all the time. Though he does have a couple of moments where he loses his temper and hollers, even when being outright insulted and disrespected by a low-level Mook he keeps his cool and even agrees maybe he's "not as big as he thinks." Then he tosses the mook someone else's torn-out eye and, still being chillingly calm, tells the man that's what happened to the last guy who talked back to him like that. Then he runs him through the throat with a sabre for the hell of it, without ever once breaking composure.
  • Ajax (also known as Francis) from Deadpool (2016) speaks with a gentle British accent in every appearance he has in the film, save for once raising his voice to get Wade’s attention; his voice is at odds with his role as a slaver and torturer.
  • Hans Gruber, the leader of the gunmen from Die Hard, speaks with a smooth, even tone of voice for the majority of his screentime, whether he is intimidating the hostages, or issuing orders to his thugs. Hans' manner of speaking actually highlights his casual willingness to sacrifice the lives of his hostages for his own personal gain.
  • Dracula (1931): The titular Dracula often speaks in a genteel, albeit theatrical, tone of voice, as befitting his aristocratic persona.
  • Dredd: Ma-Ma, a ruthless drug lord, seems too tired and strung out to raise her voice.
  • Quentin Tarantino apparently likes this trope. His character Richie in From Dusk Till Dawn is a sadistic rapist with a soft, calm voice.
  • Gaear Grimsrud from Fargo, when he is not snapping randomly.
  • Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens has many fans of his oddly relaxing and mesmerizing voice. His behavior is hardly timid.
  • The Godfather:
    • Don Vito's voice is so quiet it's sometimes hard to tell that he's actually saying words. He's also probably the most powerful criminal in New York.
    • Michael Corleone, the series' Villain Protagonist, is polite, icy, and ruthless. He remains totally calm even as he gives the order to murder his own brother. The only time in the first two movies that he raises his voice is when Kay reveals that she got an abortion to spite him. He's... decidedly less collected in Part III.
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer: Henry rarely raises his voice, and his apparent shyness almost comes across as endearing. Trusting him, however, will get you killed, as Becky finds out the hard way.
  • Inglourious Basterds: Col. Hans Landa acts very softspoken and polite, all an act to keep people off guard as he interrogates them.
  • James Bond:
  • The Killers (1964): Jack Browning is a vicious, murderous criminal, but he's always calm and collected and never raises his voice. When Sheila refuses to stop caressing Johnny, saying simply "I like it here" when Jack tells her to leave, he calmly says "Well, I can fix that." Then he slaps her across the face.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Loki in Thor and The Avengers (2012), when he isn't being a zealous would-be ruler, is overwhelmingly cool and polite. When the Avengers are all gathered on the flying aircraft carrier, the imprisoned Loki actually seems to be the calmest of them all. And even though, when things stop going his way, he breaks that pattern, he's right back to it at the very end.
      Loki: If it's all the same to you, I'll have that drink now.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Ebony Maw, Thanos's Number Two, always speaks softly and regally, which can distract from how cruel and sadistic he can be, as demonstrated by torturing Doctor Strange.
  • Solomon Lane from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation never raises his voice above a whisper, but that doesn't hide the callousness in his words and actions. Even after being imprisoned for two years under constant interrogation, causing his Sanity Slippage and ravenous desire for revenge by the time of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, he still has the same quiet pattern of speech.
  • Nightbreed. A major contributing factor to how creepy the psychotic Dr. Decker is is how calm and collected he always remains even during his hands-on murders.
  • Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men embodies this trope to a disturbing degree.
  • Esther from Orphan is soft-spoken and very rarely raises her voice, even if she's threatening your life with a gun.
  • Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace sees much, says little, and says it calmly and quietly.
  • Lord Cutler Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean. Especially when compared with Barbossa, Davy Jones, and Blackbeard, who are all loud, hammy villains, he's very calm, and rarely shows any extreme emotion.
    "You can fight, and all of you will die. Or you can surrender, in which case only most of you will die."
  • Christopher Guest's portrayal of Count Rugen in The Princess Bride is a particularly scary example, because almost the entire rest of the film falls soundly in the Large Ham category.
    "As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Well, really, that's all this is. Except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest — how do you feel?"
  • Toht (the bespectacled Nazi) from Raiders of the Lost Ark is usually smirking and speaks with a halting, breathy delivery as if he's on the verge of chuckling.
  • Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs is a very cool-headed, soft-spoken individual who always exudes a casual aura. This makes it all the more unnerving when he slaughters a store's worth of people after the alarm goes off, or when he calmly describes to a captured cop how much he will enjoy giving him a slow, painful death.
  • John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer from the Saw films. Regardless of his actions, he always speaks in a low, calm voice. The only time he raises his voice in the series is in an argument with Detective Mark Hoffman while blackmailing him.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, notorious cannibal and serial killer, is a soft-spoken man who never raises his voice.
  • In Sneakers, Marty finally comes face to face with the Big Bad, Cosmo, who he's thought long dead. Cosmo speaks casually of crashing entire countries' economies. Plus this little gem:
    Cosmo: I cannot kill my friend. [to his henchmen] Kill my friend.
  • The Thief of Bagdad (1940) has Jaffar, an Evil Vizier and Evil Sorcerer who raises his voice once, in order to cast a spell at sea. It sort of gets rid of the common "who would trust that guy" Fridge Logic about more Obviously Evil viziers: he sounds extremely trustworthy. Too bad he isn't.
  • Collins, the mercenary leader with balls of steel, from Triple Threat (2019), delivers many of his lines in a casual tone befitting a psychopath who is desensitized to violence.
  • Sir from Truth or Consequences, N.M. is an icy, calm Professional Killer who never raises his voice, even when he's cutting off someone's fingers or in a massive shootout wielding a shotgun.
  • Dr. Stevens, the evil prison Psychologist in Trust No 1 usually speaks with a gentle voice which highlights his lack of empathy.

  • Lord Vetinari of Discworld, in his scarier moments, though he's at least nominally a good guy.
  • Dragon Bones: Bastilla talks to Ward in the same soft voice like she always did even after betraying their True Companions and murdering one of them. Ward notes how much this creeps him out.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Nicodemus is two thousand years old and in a willing partnership with a Fallen Angel who feeds off pain and suffering. His demeanor is usually completely calm, reasonable, and friendly, and, when he (only occasionally) slips, he quickly regains control. Harry specifically notes that when Nicodemus laughs, it is with the rich laugh of the supremely confident, rather than the typical sadistic Evil Laugh of a Card-Carrying Villain (and Harry's had enough experience to tell the difference). The fact that most of Harry's enemies are Drunk on the Dark Side to one degree or another makes Nicodemus' reserve all the more noticeable.
    • Harry's earlier encounters with Gentleman Johnny Marcone led him to think of Marcone this way, but it becomes apparent that Marcone cannot really be considered "evil", nor is he in any way sadistic, being far too pragmatic to be anything other than ruthlessly efficient.note 
  • "In the Deathroom", a short story from Stephen King's collection Everything's Eventual, features a bland and soft-spoken Torture Technician (with hints of Mad Scientist) named Heinz, who's described as looking and sounding like the pitchman from an Excedrin commercial.
  • Vireka in The Forges of Dawn can definitely be quite soft-spoken as he muses aloud all the horrible ways he's going to torment you.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Snape is described as being able to keep a whole class at attention without going much louder than a whisper in the first book, and though his speech often contains contempt and sarcasm, he rarely ever does anything but speak softly - which serves to make the times he does outwardly show his rage all the more significant. Demonstrated when he and Sirius have an argument; as they both get closer to violence, Sirius loses his indoor voice while Snape gets tenser and more waspish.
    • Umbridge's fluttery, girlish, high-pitched voice belies her true nature, though most everyone sees through it immediately as shown in book 5.
    • Voldemort speaks in an almost snake-like whisper, especially shown during the first chapter of Book 7. He rarely raises his voice, and when he does, it is supposedly extremely terrifying.
    • Crabbe and Goyle spend so much time serving as Malfoy's Dumb Muscle that Harry hardly ever hears them speak. When he finally does in book seven, he's surprised by how soft Crabbe's voice is. By this point, Crabbe's had plenty of lessons on torture from the Carrows, so he definitely fits the "sadist" part.
  • Holes: After the Warden slashes Mr. Sir's face for wasting her time, she speaks to him in a soft and casual tone while he writhes in pain.
    […] Mr. Sir screamed and clutched his face with both hands. He let himself fall over, rolling off the hearth and onto the rug.
    The Warden spoke softly. "I don't especially care about your sunflower seeds."
    Mr. Sir moaned.
    "If you must know," said the Warden, "I liked it better when you smoked."
  • In Masques, the ae'Magi. He is universally considered a very nice and kind man, and his mild-mannered behaviour contributes to this. He even murders people with a kindly smile on his face.
  • Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is described as having a very gentle and friendly tone of voice, despite being a ruthless Battleaxe Nurse who treats the patients horribly. This adds to her being Faux Affably Evil as well.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: When Mevolent finally speaks, his voice is described as very quiet and gentle. He's an eight-foot-tall psychopathic warlord who tried to enslave the mortal world, and in the alternate dimension succeeded.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire Lord Roose Bolton is mild-mannered, courteous, and speaks so softly that others have to listen closely to hear anything he says. He's as cold-blooded a lord as the Seven Kingdoms can offer, with no qualms whatsoever about murder, rape and betrayal. However, he's very careful to avoid developing a reputation of being Ax-Crazy, unlike his son Ramsay who has no such restraint.
  • After decades of being the very face of Ax-Crazy and Evil Is Hammy for the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, the Horus Heresy series has revealed that Kharn the Betrayer's voice was once "soft, low, and measured" before he became the herald of Khorne.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5 Captain Sheridan gets captured and is brought to a Torture Technician to be physically and mentally broken until Sheridan disavows his cause and publicly supports the fascist regime of President Clarke. The torturer is a skinny, balding, older man with glasses who looks and sounds as if he should be teaching math to children.
  • Arnold Rothstein from Boardwalk Empire is polite and soft-spoken - but he's a ruthless gangster, who once tricked a man into choking to death just for his own amusement.
  • Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a kingpin who rarely ever raises his voice, to the point that he's a lot more menacing when he does raise it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Adam never ever loses his cool or faux affability, yet he kills a child for the hell of it in his first few minutes.
  • On Burn Notice, Anson Fullerton, the Diabolical Mastermind behind Michael's burning, affects this, in keeping with his Psycho Psychologist persona. It's not the first or last time Jere Burns played this sort of role, as he also played Wynn Duffy from Justified.
  • Emmett Milbarge from Chuck. Imagine the gentle-voiced Buster Bluth of Arrested Development, only he's a sociopath and has delusions of authority. That's Emmett, and both characters are played flawlessly by Tony Hale.
  • Cluedo: Some of those who set out to ruin the residents of Arlington Grange (and then ended up murdered for it) were like this, especially Jack Peacock in series 2.
  • The Reaper from Criminal Minds. He's condescendingly soothing while stabbing Hotch in "Faceless, Nameless". In "100", he uses a cool, conversational tone to taunt Hotch on speakerphone while calmly playing toy soldiers with Hotch's son. He even covers the kid's ears and spells out "D-I-E-S". He plays it so well, the kid isn't even sure if he's a bad guy. This is seconds before he murders Hotch's ex-wife while he listens.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Wilson Fisk always speaks quietly, sometimes even awkwardly, and can come across as a man not used to speaking publicly... until he's pissed and is about to let loose on someone he wants to destroy for personal reasons.
    • James Wesley manages to top his boss, always using a polite, strictly business tone while threatening people's loved ones to get them to do jobs for him.
  • Fargo: Lorne Malvo, the sociopathic Big Bad of the first season, speaks in a soft, very soothing tone, and never raises his voice.
  • Farscape introduces Scorpius in this mode — torturing Crichton almost to death without ever raising his voice or showing strong emotion.
  • Adelai Niska, Firefly's resident psychotic crime lord, can be very soft-spoken in the tone of a kindly old man. The fact that he does this while he's zapping the living daylights out of you, cutting off your ear, or even worse things makes him utterly rutting creepy.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Bolton family uses a flayed man as their sigil and has a legendary reputation for torture. Roose Bolton is as calm and courteous a lord as Westeros can offer, but in his very first scene, he advocates torturing prisoners for information as if it's the only logical course of action, even while acknowledging that few if any of them will have any useful intelligence. He also betrays Robb at the Red Wedding. Bolton doesn't actually whisper his lines as he does in the books (it's McElhatton's usual deep voice) but his dialogue stands out because of how impeccably enunciated it is, in stark contrast to the Oop North brogue often exhibited by the other Northern lords. And then there's his bastard son Ramsay. In every sense of the word.
    • In Cersei's monstrous actions during "The Winds of Winter," she keeps a very soft tone of voice. This is especially apparent in her treatment of Sister Unella.
    • The Tickler never raises his voice while conducting his interrogations.
    • Euron speaks in a surprisingly emaciated tone when outside of the battlefield, but he remains just as sadistic.
  • Gotham: Surprisingly, the Joker starts out as this, not becoming the Laughably Evil Monster Clown he is famous for being until he undergoes considerable Sanity Slippage between the show's fourth and fifth seasons. He makes a big deal in the fourth season about being much more reasonable and sane than his brother, the show's first Captain Ersatz of the Joker, but his calm demeanor only serves to highlight just how unhinged he is, and actually makes him creepier.
  • In NBC's 2013 Hannibal series, serial killer Hannibal Lecter speaks calmly and softly at all times.
  • Haven: The final season has William Shatner Playing Against Type as a very calm, Affably Evil Absolute Xenophobe. It's sufficiently unsettling.
  • Luther Mahoney from Homicide: Life on the Street is a murderous yet perpetually soft-spoken drug lord who at times lowers his voice to a whisper to make a point.
  • Imposters: The Doctor is a cruel man who enjoys tormenting anybody who crosses him. He almost never raises his voice, speaking mostly in mild, even tones.
  • Wynn Duffy from Justified, played by Jere Burns, is a ruthless Dixie Mafia henchman, but he has a very soft, almost meek voice.
  • Kamen Rider thrives on all manners of Card-Carrying Villains, Mad Scientists and the like, who in turn run on meat and dairy. It does have outliers, though.
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga: N·Daguva·Zeba speaks softly, never yells, acts arrogantly, or trash talks anyone unlike his subjects, despite being the most evil and sadistic of the Grongi, a group that hunts humans for sport.
    • Kamen Rider Saber: Storious mantains a professionally polite attitude, ominous little smile and a pleasant, yet icy tone even when letting his co-villain take a shot at I Am a Humanitarian. This makes him a particularly unsettling addition to Saber's Cast Full of Crazy and villain factions that go from unhinged to absolutely nuts.
  • Kiss Me First: Adrian, whose voice is always a very soothing, even tone, never rising in anger or alarm, yet he also enjoys manipulating people to kill themselves or others at his bidding.
  • The killer in the Law & Order episode "Hubris". McCoy tells the jury that he's going to ask them to realize that this "nicely dressed, soft-spoken young man" is a murderer.
  • Wyatt from Prison Break. He sounds like he's telling his son a bedtime story, just as he's about to kill you.
  • The Nightmare Man of The Sarah Jane Adventures is a classic example of this trope, with a very soft, quiet voice and an absolutely unnerving presence.
  • Desaad from Smallville, who never loses the creepy, even tone as he kills tons of people by making them bleed to death from the inside.
    Desaad: When is the last time you had a good, hard cry?
  • The Goa'uld Tanith in Stargate SG-1. Unlike most of his kind, who are very much of the Large Ham variety, Tanith preferred to coldly taunt his enemies before utterly destroying them. Politely wiped out a civilization.
    • Ba'al, after spending too much time on Earth, eventually stopped using his Goa'uld-voice entirely, with his later interaction with SG-1 was conducted in a rather pleasant, if sardonic, tone of voice. No one is fooled that he's not still the same guy who repeatedly used a Sarcophagus to revive Jack after torturing him to death.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Wolf in the Fold", John Fiedler plays a serial-killing alien, and he speaks in the same tremorous, timid voice he used when he was playing Piglet.
  • Strangers From Hell: Moon-jo rarely raises his voice and speaks calmly even when telling a victim he's about to tear out their teeth.
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer is very calm, collected, and acts in a casual and gentle manner. He also tortures and kills anyone to get what he wants.
  • Deucalion in Teen Wolf is like this whether he's exhorting someone to murder, scheming, or disciplining his subordinates. Except for the time he screamed "I AM THE DEMON WOLF!" at the top of his lungs, but that's very much the exception.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "What's in the Box", Sterling Holloway (his second time on this list!) plays a mysterious but malevolent television repairman who acts the role of the friendly old blue-collar worker, who gives an exasperated man some extra perks in his cable, and then gets to watch, smile, and subtly gloat as his "product" ruins two lives, never dropping the benign facade.
  • In the third season of The Walking Dead (2010), the Governor very rarely raises his voice, but he definitely enjoys killing.
  • Marlo Stanfield from The Wire. He's very soft-spoken and almost never raises his voice — even when ordering the murder of a man and his family.
  • In The X-Files:
    • The Cigarette-Smoking Man has a pleasant, avuncular New England accent. (Except for the times he has a pleasant, avuncular Canadian accent.)
    • The death fetishist Donald Pfaster from the season 2 episode "Irresistible" has an unsettling soft voice.

  • From the Harold Pinter play One For The Road, Nicholas is an extremely genial person who happens to be in charge of torture for his government.
  • In Margin for Error, the Consul speaks calmly and unctuously so long as he feels assured of himself, especially when he's issuing veiled threats.
  • Sweeney Todd, in his Sondheim incarnation.
    Inconspicuous Sweeney was,
    quick, and quiet and clean he was.
    Back of his smile, under his word,
    Sweeney heard music that nobody heard...
    • Which makes it fantastically ironic that Hearn was cast as Sweeney, really.

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal's Halloween Horror Nights has two examples.
    • The Caretaker is generally perfectly polite and soft-spoken, even when he autopsies people alive. Sometimes he gets a bit excited though.
    • The Usher is very calm about murdering people who break his movie theater's rules. It wouldn't do to interrupt the movie after all.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
  • BioShock: Subverted with Atlas (alias Frank Fontaine), who spends a good two-thirds sounding friendly, jovial and humane before The Reveal gives us his actual voice. Sofia Lamb plays it straight (ala her Tautological Templar personality). Both were designed to contrast Andrew Ryan's Large Ham persona.
  • Hazama of BlazBlue. He is a quite handsome Faux Affably Evil man, who is always polite and soft-spoken to everyone despite creeping them all out at the same time. (To further emphasize this, the Japanese version of the game has him referring to himself with "watakushi", a very humble pronoun, and call everyone with the formal albeit somewhat distant "anata".) However, it's soon revealed that he's a Sadist who happily trolls the hell out of everyone until their mind breaks. He cares about nobody but himself and will happily kill you if he wants to, all the while sporting a Psychotic Smirk.
  • The Boogie Man: Brendon Dumont, aka the titular Boogie Man. Normally, he's more bombastic because Keith imagines his voice as hammy, but when we see him outside of Keith's perspective, he's instead very soft and quiet when talking about cruelly killing people.
  • Yurina of Bullet Girls Phantasia is very sweet, motherly, and soft-spoken. Her voice does not change one bit when she outright tortures her friends and enemies to discipline them, gain information, or get revenge for previous slights.
  • Yuri from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 never raises his voice or lose his composurenote , which contrasts with his plans to psychically enslave all of humanity and his habit of disposing of Soviet leaders he's done using.
  • Ingun Black-Briar in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim fits this trope quite well. She's always very polite, happily greets and thanks you for your hard work on her behalf and rewards you nicely. However, she also reveals herself to be a Nightmare Fetishist with a penchant for alchemy and mixing poisons, largely because she finds glee in the horrors these poisons can inflict on a person.
  • Mad Scientist Dr. Dala in Fallout: New Vegas Old World Blues speaks in low, sultry tones in stark contrast to the loud, boisterous (occasionally incomprehensible) speaking voices of her colleagues, while having a penchant for mutilating human subjects and harvesting their organs.
    Dala: Shh, little organs. Go to sleep in your tanks. Dala loves you.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII have Sephiroth as this. He never raises his voice beyond a calmly smug tone, even as he's mocking Cloud over his failures.
    • Final Fantasy X have Seymour as this. At the beginning, he seems like a Reasonable Authority Figure, although perhaps a bit of a jerk due to his high position as a Maester. It's not until The Reveal and his death when he hams up everything.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Circus Baby speaks with a quiet and polite voice to Michael in Sister Location, while she admires her father and wants to kill more children to impress him. This also applies to The Puppet, she has a soft voice, while she killed many night guards to protect the children.
  • Friday Night Funkin' gives us the Monster, also known as Lemon Demon, the only character in the game whose songs have actual lyrics that, despite their usually upbeat instrumentals, talk about dark themes such as eating the protagonist and his girlfriend or otherwise mutilating them, which he often sings about in a quiet tone unless excited.
  • War God Ares is given a soft and deep voice in Hades, and is one of the least hammy of the Olympians. He is always cordial and polite to Zagreus when contacted, even as he delights in Zagreus' destruction on his way out of the Underworld.
  • Agent 47 of Hitman is always polite, never gets agitated, and can mimic friendship quite well despite feeling very limited emotions. He has also killed hundreds of people, including inconvenient witnesses, bodyguards, ex-mobsters who turned state's witness, targets' spouses, clients' business rivals, and people whose misdeeds were due more to incompetence than to true malice. While he's a capable sniper, he prefers killing up close, in calculated, gruesome ways, such as strangulation, drownings, elaborate poisoning schemes, shoving a pen into a target's eye, impersonating a surgeon and deliberately botching an operation (twice!), and burning targets alive. In fact, the friendlier he's being to you, the more likely it is that he's plotting your murder.
  • Thresh in League of Legends. Nearly all of his many lines are playful, sadistic mockery spoken in a magnified, echoing whisper. Pretty much the only times he raises his voice are when he's been killed and when he's laughing.
    • Since his rework, Karthus dabbles in this. Most of his lines have a serene calm to them one wouldn't expect from a lich. Once the pops the Requiem though....
    • Vel'Koz, a knowledge-hungry Mad Scientist Eldritch Abomination from the Void, studies things and living beings by dissecting, mutilating, and disintegrating them, but speaks calmly and doesn't take any sadistic pleasure in doing so, merely that he does that to learn what he wants to learn.
    • Jhin speaks almost exclusively like this, musing on the beauty of a perfect death in a gentle, calm tone. He breaks this facade occasionally with "stage directions", his laughing, and his death.
  • Lord Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword frequently swings between this trope and Evil Is Hammy, but even when he has his temper under control, he still threatens to beat Link within an inch of his life and talks rather casually about burning him to a crisp in the Earth Temple.
  • In Octopath Traveler, the Arc Villain of Cyrus' story, Lucia, is one. She never raises her voice once until the final confrontation between the two, where she becomes excited as she offers a We Can Rule Together offer with Cyrus, and loses it when he refuses her offer on the grounds that while they are both passionate in their pursuit of knowledge, Lucia wants to keep the knowledge she discovers for herself for the sake of gaining power, while Cyrus wants to share knowledge with others so that everyone can benefit.
  • Persona 5 :
    • Haru Zigzagged in this trope. Haru is a Friend to All Living Things except enemy Shadows, whose suffering she discovers she revels in.
    • Akechi also count in this. During the third semester, while out of combat, Akechi speaks in a generally calm and serious manner that would hide his true personality if not for his dismissive and blunt speech. In combat, however...
  • Dutch Van Der Linde of Red Dead Redemption has a rather quiet, soft voice, which contrasts sharply with his violently insane nature.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Police Chief Brian Irons in the Resident Evil 2 (Remake) is more calm and collected compared to his original incarnation where he was a Large Ham. In the remake, he rarely raises his voice, but he has no issue with threatening to kill Claire if Sherry doesn't do what he says. The only time he loses it is when Sherry throws acid on his face.
    • Osmund Saddler, the leader of Los Illuminados from Resident Evil 4. This quality makes him all the more creepier, seeing how he managed to convert an entire village to his insane cult with pure charisma, even before they were injected with Las Plagas.
  • Iris Sepperin in RosenkreuzStilette may certainly speak politely, but that doesn't stop her from causing suffering for others for her own entertainment.
  • Akechi Mitsuhide from Sengoku Basara, a consummate Combat Sadomasochist, speaks using a seductive yet sinister purr in both the Japanese and English versions. However, in the Japanese, he tends to turn into a Large Ham when excited.
  • Jamie Washington in Splinter Cell: Double Agent is kind of geeky with somewhat poor social skills and would be the lovable dork in any other story but in this one, he's a cold-blooded Psycho Supporter with absolutely no qualms about killing anyone.
    Jamie: [after shooting a hostage if Sam refuses to] Sorry... [chuckles sheepishly] S-sorry.
  • Leon in Star Fox is implied to be a sadist in more ways than one. Character-wise, however, he fits.
  • Twisted Wonderland:
    • Azul Ashengrotto when he's the Arc Villain; he's a classy and polite gentleman who engages in mafia-like antics, stealing other people's powers and enslaving them via magical contracts.
    • Jade Leech is calm and well-mannered man in stark contrast to his twin brother, but on occasion shows himself to be just as sadistic as his brother and Azul.
  • Asav from Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a quiet man with a voice like he's having a conversation in a library all the time and the face of a college professor... and also a violent terrorist and social darwinist with no qualms about gunning down anybody who gets in his way and a habit of talking about the bloody practices of the Hoysala empire at length.
  • In Welcome to the Game II, the leader of the Noir cult is Adam, that guy with the soft, somewhat-effeminate voice. He continues to speak in a calm voice even as he’s interrogating Clint and, in one ending, orders him killed. Also, the Dollmaker speaks in a low voice even as he’s threatening Clint with a knife.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Carl in Llamas with Hats is comically nonchalant about killing people, though he does raise his voice a bit more often in the last two episodes after he's destroyed all other life on Earth.
    Carl: In that case, I should probably mention I've been filling our luggage with orphan meat.

    Web Original 
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses: Ask That Guy's voice tends to remain calm and even cheerful as he goes on about the bizarre murders, rapes, kidnappings, and assorted other crimes he's committed.
  • In Dino Attack RPG, Dr. Carolyne Provencal is known for acting sweet, kind, and polite. She is also one of the most sadistic villains in the RPG.

    Western Animation 
  • Donbot from Futurama never loses his temper or raises his voice above a low, polite, eloquent drawl even when calmly discussing acts of theft, sabotage, and outright murder. The angriest he ever gets is a near-inaudible grumble when Joey Mousepad takes his Deadly Euphemism at face value.
    Donbot: That scab's gonna have a little on the job "accident" tomorrow.
    Joey: With all due respect, Donbot, I don't think we should rely on an accident happening. Let's kill him ourselves.
  • G.I. Joe has depicted Cobra Commander as being this in recent years, particularly in projects where he's voiced by Charlie Adler. Unless he gets seriously pissed-off, in which case he'll start shouting.
  • R'Qazz from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) is an Evil Poacher who speaks in a harsh whisper when he isn't snarling like a rabid animal. When transformed into Beast Man, he loses the whisper in favor of a growling voice. The whisper comes back to near Creepy Monotone levels in season 3 after Beast Man is turned into a skele-drone by Skeletor.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Zaheer may be the prime example. Zaheer is always soft-spoken, polite, and nice to his opponent. But below his affable likable exterior rests a sadistic man who will go to any lengths to secure his goals. His lack of remorse or empathy to his victims is simply disturbing. It also doesn't help that he's a Bomb Throwing Anarchist to boot and will kill anyone who could possibly stand in the way of achieving his goal. It's to the point where the fanbase disliked his voice in the beginning but fully saw him as this in the end.
  • Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes is quiet, soft-spoken, and polite. This makes his frequent attempts to commit genocide all the more unnerving.
    Bugs: 'Scuse me, Doc. Can you direct me to the bus back to Oith?
    Marvin: The Earth? Oh, the Earth will be gone in just a few moments.
    Bugs: Oh, well, never mind then. No point tryin' to get back to da Oith if it — zuh?!
  • Pythor in Ninjago certainly counts since it's a part of his Affably Evil image. Unless he gets angry.
    Pythor: Humbly, I am Pythor P. Chumsworth.
  • The Owl House: The rather quiet, enthralling voice of Emperor Belos is particularly sickening to hear when he emotionally abuses Lilith and Hunter. It's perfectly suitably for a dictator of adoring, brainwashed masses.
  • One of the villains the protagonists of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero encounter is the Milkman, who's voiced by Paul Reubens and speaks in a polite, friendly tone while doing things that are... neither polite nor friendly, to say the least.
  • The supervirus Daemon from Reboot is one of, if not the, most powerful and deadly viruses to ever exist, in that it took Hexadecimal hopped up on the power of Mainframe's core to even fight her on equal ground and she possesses the ability to kill you by simply infecting you and making you count down to zero. She's also a very soft-spoken and sweet-sounding "person", having a soft and innocent French accent and constantly speaking in a warm and welcoming tone even when berating a follower. Even when making said follower kill himself for his repeated failures, and even when battling Hexadecimal. It completely and utterly catches Mike the TV off-guard, as he's used to viruses like Megabyte and Hexadecimal who are covered in spikes and constantly screaming:
    Mike: YOU'RE Daemon?!
    Daemon: Yes. You were expecting something else?
    Mike: I mean, where's the spikey things?! Where's the teeth?!
    Daemon: (Smiles to show her entirely normal human-like teeth)
  • Darth Maul is like this in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He's usually very calm, and even when he's angry, his voice simply gets tenser rather than louder. He is also willing to kill anyone, even kids, if it benefits him in any way, and is also obsessed with making Obi-Wan suffer as much as possible.
  • The Simpsons has Mr. Burns, whose voice is soft, breathy, and elegant-sounding (it was based on Lionel Barrymore and Ronald Reagan), and who is one of, if not the most evil character on the show.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Navy, a Homeworld Gem speaks only in a sort of half-whisper and doesn't seem at all intimidiating. She has a lovely time hanging out with Steven, Lapis, and Peridot until she takes them on a trip with the Roaming Eye and tricks Steven into opening the door, causing everyone but her to get Thrown Out the Airlock. Even when she says she brought them onto the ship (instead of just stealing it when no one was looking) to see the look on Steven's face when he realized he'd been tricked, her voice never raises above a soft, sweet whisper.
    • Blue Diamond speaks with soft, slow deliberateness, contrasting her with her far more forceful counterpart, Yellow. This doesn't make her any less capable of brutal retaliation towards those who would disturb the order of Homeworld (or murder her beloved fellow Diamond).
      Blue Diamond: I want to know what [Rose Quartz] thinks we're going to do with her. Because I want to do something worse.
    • If you thought Blue Diamond was bad, White Diamond, terrifies even the other Diamonds. Unlike the temperamental Yellow or the mournful Blue, White speaks with a genuinely pleasant, calm tone at all times. Her words, even when they're dripping with Condescending Compassion, are always sweet and kind, and her face is always fixed into a smile. Oh, and she also has the power to completely overwrite any other Gem's mind and personality to become an extension of herself, without ever raising her voice or sounding even remotely ruffled.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • Airachnid likes to eviscerate her victims inside-out. She also has a smooth feminine voice and likes to make small talk with her victims in order to torment them psychologically.
    • Shockwave is disturbingly effective at this. Especially when applying the Cortical Psychic Patch.
  • Flug from Villainous (Cartoon Network) rarely raises his voice and is generally a huge Nervous Wreck, but he's still very much a villain, as seen at the end of the The Powerpuff Girls Orientation Files episode; when he has Mojo Jojo strapped to an exam table in his lab, he's clearly having an amazing time calmly explaining how the toxin he's about to inject him with won't kill him, but it'll be so agonizing that he might wish that it would.


Video Example(s):


Malus Thorm

Malus Thorm is the head surgeon at the House of Healing, as well as a devout Sharran who applies his goddess' nihilistic dogma in his medical practices.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MadDoctor

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