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Stock Evil Overlord Tactics

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Edwin: Can you tell me a little bit about your business plan?
Dr. Loeb: World domination!!!
Edwin: That's really more of a goal than a plan, isn't it?
Dr. Loeb: Domination!!!
Edwin: I'll just put down "Mergers and Acquisitions".

So you're a villain with an Evil Plan that you want to accomplish, good for you! However, a plan is nothing without a, well, plan with which to execute it. This trope is about the Stock Evil Overlord Tactics used to accomplish the Evil Plan.

Be sure to consult the Evil Overlord List for more in-depth help on the topic. I Control My Minions Through... shows different means of getting and controlling underlings.

Brute Force

  • Mook Armies: The classic tactic, overrun with sheer numbers and institute whatever form of dictatorial ego-centric control you like. Criminal mafias, world-conquering, or 'mere' mayhem; a Mook army can do all this and more.
  • World of Me: Clone yourself. Then have your clone do the same. Then have the clones of the clones of your clones, and so on. The hero wouldn't have his work cut out for him if you weren't a formidable opponent in your own right, so why not make a whole lot more of yourself? If you have the magic or the technology to pull it off, an even more effective tactic is using the bodies of your enemies as hosts. The main disadvantage of this tactic is that your clones tend to get ideas above their station, specifically every single one may decide they should be the one in charge. There are two ways around this: Either make your clones hardwired to be subservient to you alone, or let your narcissism run its course so every one of you will naturally conform to your awesome, intelligent, good-looking authority.
  • Doomsday Device: Why get a huge army when all you need is nasty Death Ray, Weather-Control Machine, or Colony Drop to bully the world into submission? Good for money, domination, or sheer misanthropic laughs.
    • Unless you have secure means to comfortably survive, show a little restraint in this department. Unless your specific stated goal is to destroy the world (in which case, go nuts), then limit your doomsday device to mere "regional catastrophe" level. You don't want your Doomsday Device to accidentally go off, and then get forced into an Enemy Mine situation with the hero in order to save the world. It's undignified.
  • Gain Massive Magical Power: Then again, doing the conquering/destroying yourself is so much more satisfying! Just steal a Ring of Power, Amplifier Artifact, magic lamp, and presto!
  • Unseal The Evil In A Can: Why get a huge army or waste resources on building a doomsday device when you can just take an already-existing monster and set it loose on the world? You just can't top the Neglectful Precursors in the entity of doom department. Take note that unsealed evils are 100% guaranteed to either turn on their liberator or try to destroy the world/universe, so make sure you've got the means to control it before touching the can.
    • Corollary tactic: If controlling the evil isn't possible or too risky, your best bet is to deliberately unleash it within stomping distance of a powerful force of good, while keeping yourself well out of harm's way. Ideally, the good guys will be crushed, and the unsealed evil weakened sufficiently during the battle that you can destroy it yourself, or vice-versa.
    • Guile Corollary: Simply getting to the point where the evil could be unsealed is often enough to make some real demands on the forces of good. Hold an auction between various key players, and you can be set for life. It can be especially useful if you figure out a way to make yourself part of the seal: do-gooders will be extra hesitant to off you if they know that doing so will only unleash a worse evil.
    • Guile Corollary combining the two above: Get to the point where the evil could be unsealed, hold an auction between various key players, but set things up such that whoever eventually gets the can will inadvertently unseal it. Wait until one side is crushed and the other weakened, then destroy those players who remain. Gloat to taste.
  • Unseal Yourself From the Can: The good news is that you already have massive magical power. The bad news is that those annoying Precursors already sealed you up where you can't do anything fun with it. If you have underlings trying to free you, then give them any advice and assistance you can, but make sure to play down the fact that you'll likely eat their souls as soon as you're free. If you've managed to fool the heroes into unwittingly freeing you, then for badness' sake wait until you're well out of range of your old prison before revealing your true form.
    • Guile Corollary: As counter-intuitive as it may feel, it may be worthwhile to treat your liberators well and not destroy them right away. After all, if they did enough research to uncover your existence and release you, they probably know about any weaknesses you may have or means of stuffing you back in your can.
    • Corollary tactic: Lead the summoner to (mistaken) information that makes it seem they can compel your obedience, then play along once released until they or you have properly destroyed the Can. For extra fun, make the hero believe that if they get a hold of your leash they could also command you.


  • Buy It All: Favored tactic of the evil Mega-Corp and Corrupt Corporate Executive. Become the supplier of every conceivable good, or one excessively valuable one (even water counts), and you can become rich beyond imagination.
  • Give The Hero A Bad Rep And Replace Him; those lambs who cheered him on will turn to Gullible Lemmings soon enough. This is tricky to pull off since most forget to dispose of the hero thoroughly post replacement.
    • Corollary tactic: Make an Evil Knockoff of the hero. This tactic has numerous drawbacks and limitations and is not to be treated as anything more than an asset for various reasons, but as part of a bigger plot, it can be very effective.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Use a Mind-Control Device, add in a bit of Fake Memories, remove The Evils of Free Will, and voila! The world is your oyster, and no one remembers it ever being otherwise.
  • Start A Religion of Evil: It gets you mooks, money, adoring fans and a harem!
  • Replace The Big Good: Take Fake King to the extreme by killing and then impersonating the supreme leader of the forces of goodness. You'll not only have all the resources you'll ever need to Take Over the World, but you've also effectively rendered your opposition inert.
    • Corollary tactic: Replace the BIG Big Good. Why settle for ruling the world, when you can destroy all the Cosmic Keystones and just remake the whole thing in your own image?
  • Bargain With Unholy Entities: If you need power or the means to gain it fast, you could always bargain with an evil god, demon, or similar entity to get what you want. Just remember a few key steps.
    • Always make sure you have the payment for your powers up front. If the entity requests virgins, make sure they're still virgins. Finally, never sell your own soul. It may not seem important at the time, but it usually ends up biting you in the ass at the very worst possible time (and usually in the very worst possible way).
    • Be wary of entities that might have their own designs on the world (which — let's face it — is true of pretty much any powerful entity willing to cut a deal with a lowly mortal like you, whether they deign to inform you of this or not). They might take a Jackass Genie approach to your requests and end up screwing you over. Literal Genie entities can be problematic too; make sure to have a team of lawyers go through your wish before submitting it, to close every possible loophole that could prevent you from getting what you want.
    • Never, ever accept releasing the entity into the world as terms of payment, it's just as if not more dangerous than releasing the SEIAC considering the entity is both powerful and very wily. For this reason, never leave the summoning portal in a place where any fool might do so by accident. Remember: Evil Is Not a Toy, and while you may shoot people who have outlived their usefulness, these entities tend to eat them. Also, Do Not Taunt Cthulhu if there's any chance it might ever become free or take away your power. Plus, it's tacky.
  • Become Evil Overlord, Savior Of The World: Plant your minions amongst all those squabbling little nations, and manipulate them into going to war. Start enough political machinations to really screw up the world, and let everything go to hell while making sure none of it can be traced back to you. Then, once shit has really hit the fan, step forward in the role of the benevolent unifier, forging peace with all the warring factions and supplying goods from your pre-prepared storage bunkers to sate the suffering masses. The beauty of this plan is that history will regard you as a hero and everyone will bow down to you out of loyalty and gratitude instead of fear, which is such a chore to keep cultivating on a regular basis.

Time Travel

  • Invasion From Tomorrow: Go back a few generations to when your modern weapons are no longer merely formidable but completely unstoppable. Want to crush the Roman Empire beneath your heels? Park an aircraft carrier offshore and start bombing. If from 20 Minutes into the Future just bring a ray gun and a deflector shield, and waltz straight through 20000 centurions.
  • Reverse Time Capsule: Send a package of useful future technology or info of future events to your past self or ancestor. Naturally, this is only useful if the recipient is already of a world-conquering mindset. Take note that it is vitally important that anything sent back in time also contains an explicit warning about strangers with suspicious knowledge or behavior inappropriate for the current time period, due to the persistent likelihood of do-gooders with Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory.
  • Historical Impersonation: Eliminate an important historical figure and take their place, preferably a major military or political leader. With your knowledge of historical events, correct any and all tactical mistakes made by the real leader in order to achieve the world conquest they failed at. A few trinkets of future technology to tip the balance still helps.
    • If you are lacking in the acting skills department, an acceptable alternative is to latch onto the original historical figure and rule from behind the scenes as The Man Behind the Man. Mind control helps here, in order to keep your historical puppet compliant.
  • Screw Up History: You don't always need to conquer the past to rule the present. Sometimes you just need to make a few minor changes to put history on your track. Even if your name isn't Hitler, rest assured that messing with the past always works out in a villain's favour. Just make sure to return to the present early enough to put yourself in the seat of power for the new oppressive totalitarian government you've set in motion. Oh, and kill the hero's ancestors while you're at it.