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Stupid Evil

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Richard, you really, really Didn't Think This Through...

"I am compelled to do evil, regardless of its utility."
Dmitri Noumenon, Dresden Codak

An exaggerated form of For the Evulz, where a character feels the need to do evil things even at times when such actions are clearly not in their best interests, sometimes to the point where it goes against basic self-preservation. Such characters will betray allies, kill team-mates, threaten or harm people who were previously willing to give them what they wanted, be petty, piss off all the wrong people, attack fellow villains to prove they're eviler, sabotage their leaders, treat underlings like pig shit, throw their weight around at every opportunity, engage in utterly pointless acts of cruelty, reward kindness with cruelty, spurn plans and start fights that they absolutely should not have started, rub salt in the wound even when it would destroy an already-present advantage, and generally be suicidally stupid simply because it's eeeevil.


This, along with Chaotic Stupid, is also often one of the reasons the forces of evil never manage to destroy the forces of good: it's not particularly evil to work with others, or acquire wealth and power through legal means, and so forth.

In video games, this often results from poor implementation of a Karma Meter. These games need to provide the player with the opportunity to be evil, but their evil actions usually can't go too far without either breaking the game's narrative or going over the line into uncomfortable territory. Thus, most "evil" options in games take the form of random Kick the Dog or Video Game Cruelty Potential moments, most of which offer little to no gain (extorting a quest-giver to slightly increase a meager reward) or are even harmful to you (killing off a potential ally). In games where having very low karma provides some kind of benefit, it turns into players aiming to get the lowest as quickly as possible, which invariably leads to this trope in terms of how their character will act.


Compare with Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Neutral, and Stupid Good. Contrast with Pragmatic Villainy, when a villain only does evil things for practical reasons and refrains from doing them when they would be counter-productive. Also compare Sanity Has Advantages. If an antagonist momentarily becomes Stupid Evil, they've caught a Villain Ball. See also Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat, where a villain sabotages their own scheme by doing evil when they could've won by playing fair, and Cut Lex Luthor a Check, where a villain uses something for evil when their goal could have been accomplished with it legally. If a character becomes aware of this trope and switches sides, see Moral Pragmatist. For this trope's Good Counterpart, see Good Is Dumb.

Not to be confused with Stupid Crooks.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Typically their reputation, as they have a well-earned rep for being gigantic liabilities that you don't want to be anywhere near.
  • Ax-Crazy: A villain is too unstable and/or irrational to make good decisions, and consequently becomes a pariah among fellow villains after they gain a rep as a liability and/or a ticking time bomb who is just as likely to attack you as they are the enemy.
  • Bad Boss: Mistreating the people that work for you while thinking the fact you sign the checks gives you free license to kill or torture them doesn't breed loyalty.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: There is nothing quite as dumb as telling the hero how to stop your plan just because you're so certain that they're going to die and therefore can't do anything about the scheme.
  • The Brute (with The Hero as The Smart Guy)
  • Bullying a Dragon: The villain repeatedly antagonizes and torments someone who is far above their weight class because they think that they won't do anything about it.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The villain is so determined and proud to be Obviously Evil (even literally having cards printed out) that he absolutely refuses any kind of pragmatic options because he doesn't believe that's what villains do.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Villains don't care much about maintaining loyalty, but this villain really doesn't know how to do anything else but betray whenever he thinks he can get away with it... emphasis on "can".
  • Chronic Villainy: A villain goes back to their villainous ways despite being taught that doing villainy will bite them in the rear.
  • Complete Monster: When their particular breed of idiocy involves one unspeakably vile and cruel act after another, with zero redeeming value and often zero forethought.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The villain uses their powers and gadgets to commit crimes for profit when they could easily be using their gifts to get money the legal way.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Many villains have lost the fight because for many, literally kicking a dead horse is considered too damn much to tolerate.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: The villain cheats in a competition even though their opponent has no chance at beating them, which often ironically leads to the opponent being able to beat them because the villain's cheating allowed them time to catch up.
  • Dirty Coward: It’s hard for bad guys to find assistance to help them with their Evil Plan if they have a reputation of throwing said assistance under the bus to save their own skin in times of danger. And if said lackeys survive the betrayal, they’ll likely seek retribution for it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The villain punishes someone for a relatively minor offense, no matter how minor the offense, and said punishment runs the risk of making the villain cross the line.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: A villain decides to piss off a Physical God, no matter how dumb it is.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The usual result of needless, pointless cruelty.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The bad guy doesn't understand why the heroes do what they do or is unable to conceive of a reason for the heroes' actions that isn't selfish, cruel or otherwise immoral.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The villain decides to toy with dark, hellish powers beyond his understanding, and ends up screwing himself over because either the power source is too much for him to handle, or it decides it doesn’t want to play second fiddle to said villain and promptly kills him or worse.
  • Evil Is Petty: Bad guys are willing to commit the most heinous of atrocities just because they're pricks.
  • Evil vs. Evil: When villain internecine is due to one villain needlessly starting trouble with another just to try and flex.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The villain is determined to prove he's more evil, even if that means doing stupid decisions.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The villain repays the person helping them out by being evil to them.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: This is when "foot stomping on humanity's face" supersedes "the trains run on time", even if the trains running on time is very important to keep stepping on humanity's face.
  • For the Evulz: Committing evil deeds solely for the sake of doing them, to the point that they jeopardise their own plan simply because they cannot restrain the urge to be a sadistic, unnecessarily cruel moron. This is the core trope.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: For the same reasons as 0% Approval Rating.
  • Glory Hound: Deliberately endangering people in the pursuit of glorifying their ego isn't going to breed loyalty.
  • Hate Sink: Most Stupid Evil characters are this, as their needless cruelty and sadism cement their loathsomeness.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: What many, many examples of Stupid Evil behavior often result in.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: When a villain has a level of restraint so minuscule that he ends up Blinded by Rage and blows their master plan because someone insulted him or he thinks they did.
  • Irrational Hatred: A villain that hates someone so much that they don't bother to question the origin of that hatred (hating someone because they killed your family makes sense, hating them because they are gingers doesn't) or whether or not the actions taken for the sake of destroying them are actually useful for anything.
  • It's All About Me: A villain is self-centered to the point of making poor decisions because he cares more for himself than everything else.
  • Jerkass: A villain goes out of their way to be an asshole to people they meet, and as a result ends up bringing more harm than good upon their head.
  • Just a Gangster: The villain has a desire for street rep and "thug life" to the point he will actually undermine any attempt at getting more money or reputation that, even slightly, requires legitimate channels or label anybody who does as a "gone soft sell-out" and try to kill them, no matter how stupid that is.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: If a villain keeps pushing their luck just because they can, they'll find their warranty expiring much sooner than they would want them to.
  • Karmic Death: Frequently the fate for these villains. More often than not, their needlessly cruel acts lead to their demise.
  • Kick the Dog: Many villains of this type just cannot resist doing evil crap, even when it isn't in their best interest.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: A villain impulsively starts or joins fights that are way out of their league.
  • Lethally Stupid: When a dumb villain is dangerous solely due to the repercussions of their own bad decisions.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: What mistreating your minions ends up leading to.
  • Mook Depletion: The villain has executed so many of his minions and/or sent so many of his minions to their deaths that he has none left to assist in his schemes or defend him when the heroes come calling.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The one bad deed a character does that erases any chance there was of redemption.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: When villains that rule by fear escalate things to the point that they either self-sabotage themselves or their evil scheme by being said fearmongering asshat, or their minions grow to hate them more than fear them and either promptly desert them or rebel.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The villain attempts to do something to harm the hero, but their actions instead shift things toward the hero's favor.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Villains who believe this rarely have a better plan than "backstab, grab, and run". Most don't even think that doing it after the plan is well and truly over and they are 100% sure the loot won't get lost, or that their colleagues won’t catch on and preemptively off them are good ideas.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: It's very hard to find reliable allies when your goal in life is "kill all life, things that annoy me the most first" and make no attempt to hide it.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A villain goes out of their way to be bigoted, and as a result brings more harm than good upon their head.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: A villain committing wanton destruction (and rape, which most people (and even some villains) consider one of the worst crimes a villain can perform) will do nothing but earn them a bunch of enemies.
  • Revenge Before Reason: A villain is so consumed with revenge against whoever wronged them that it either hampers their performance because they’re too wrapped up finding a way to savagely murder the offender to think clearly, or the target in question has proven themselves to be the type of person the villain doesn’t want to ever screw with, retribution or otherwise.
  • Sadist: A villain is so consumed with their joy for harming others that they spend too much time making their enemies suffer when they could have just simply finished them off.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Villains with mental health issues often make incredibly poor choices that sane, stable villains would likely not make, and even end up vulnerable to being taken advantage of by others.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Calling out foolish, low-life cynics.
  • Smug Snake: A character becomes so overconfident and arrogant that their own hubris sabotages their plan, or their attempts to rub their sense of superiority in the faces of others ends up not having the desired effect.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: In cases where the villain manages to either put themselves out of commission or kill themselves because of their own boneheaded decisions.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: A villain decides to vandalise someone else’s property for shits and giggles, only to have their target end up causing trouble for them in the long run, or being promptly caught by the police and arrested.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Congratulations, now the hero is so pissed off that nothing less than the villain's complete defeat/death will be accepted as a resolution, and will be driven to utilize tactics that he would never think of doing otherwise because assholes like these must be eliminated as soon (and as effectively) as possible. All because the villains decided to paint themselves as utterly irredeemable. Because they're idiots.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A dumb character ends up killing or endangering themselves because of their idiocy.
  • Villain Ball: The result of a normally-competent villain doing something extremely stupid for no good reason, usually out of cruelty or greed.
  • You Monster!: A villain is rebuked for being particularly cruel.
  • You're Insane!: A villain is called out for doing or attempting to do something that proves they are completely out of their gourd.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Lagoon:
    • Hansel and Gretel, the insane twins. After being hired to perform an assassination, they proceed to abduct and torture a bunch of random mooks for sport, and then murder the person who hired them, not because he was planning on betraying them, but because they just felt like it. They then decide to go through with the assassination anyway, even after it's pointed out to them that they are no longer being paid (in fact, they already took the money in the process of killing their employer). It should also be noted that their target makes a policy of surrounding herself with some of the most deadly soldiers in the world, is a world-class markswoman in her own right, and is justifiably considered within the series to be the most dangerous woman alive...and the twins try to take her out armed only with an axe. It turns out exactly how you'd expect. Balalaika even lampshaded this, stating that the only way that such an obvious trap would work would be for the target to be so blinded by bloodlust that they would obliviously walk right into it.
    • Chaka, a low-level enforcer for the Washimine Clan, was so needlessly and gratuitously cruel and sadistic that it's truly a wonder that he didn't piss off the wrong people and get himself killed earlier. Among other things, he kidnapped the daughter of his employers with the intention of selling her into sexual slavery (and decided to strip her down to her underwear just for extra humiliation), tried to start a fight with someone who was way above his level just because he really wanted a duel, beat her non-combatant colleague just to try and get her to fight him after she made it clear that she couldn't care less about him, took the person he was going to sell and used her as a human shield, ran off and left a bunch of his men to get slaughtered by Revy and Ginji, shot several of his men just to vent his anger, and then tried to fight Revy yet again. That last one wound up being what got him killed, as while she still had absolutely no intention of fighting him, she was all too happy to turn him over to Ginji, who had every reason to go after him and wound up killing him swiftly and brutally.
  • The Apostle Wyald in Berserk, a berserker who put so much effort into being a vicious sadist that he tried to kill Griffith, the one person he was absolutely not supposed to kill. When he's called on it, he mouths off to his superior, Zodd, who tears Wyald in half for being such a moron.
  • One Piece:
    • Bellamy was little more than a sociopathic bully who terrorized an entire town with his crew with no real reason or goal; he just wanted to push his weight around and be as much of a dick as possible. Of course, he was also operating under the flag of the Warlord of the Sea Donquixote Doflamingo, who was not pleased to find out that he was being associated with Bellamy's idiocy, which led to Bellamy getting stabbed and kicked out of Doflamingo's gang. He got much better over the Timeskip after he Took a Level in Badass and Took a Level in Kindness, to the point Luffy actually considered him a friend and went to town on Donflamingo after the Warlord played Bellamy for a fool and forced him to fight Luffy to the death.
    • Don Krieg is one of the premiere examples of the series. Most of his arc would have never occurred if he hadn't decided to terrorize the staff of the Baratie just to be a dick, and he probably would have kept far more of his crew if he hadn't decided to continue to go after Mihawk just to save his wounded pride even after it was made very clear that Mihawk was light years above him.
    • Caesar Clown embezzles research funds from Big Mom of all people, trusting in his indirect connection to Kaido through Doflamingo to keep him safe. Big Mom is one of the Four Emperors and has a reputation for being inventively gruesome to people who defy her. When Doflamingo goes down, Caesar winds up having to produce the gigantification serum she wanted in two weeks... or else get turned into candy by Perospero's Lick-Lick fruit powers.
    • Jack, a commander under the pirate Emperor Kaido, one of the most powerful men in the world, possesses both an insatiable bloodlust and extreme confidence in his (admittedly impressive) strength that leads him to make many costly decisions that could have been mitigated or avoided entirely if he utilized a little something called "tact":
      • Introduced in the Zou arc, he comes to Mokomo Dukedom, the country on Zou, looking for a specific individual their info said would be there. The residents state outright that they don't know the person he's asking for, but are willing to cooperate with his search in order to avoid trouble. Jack responds by siccing his underlings on them, destroying the country, and torturing them for information that, by all indications, they did not have. In truth, they did know where to find who Jack was looking for, but were determined not to give it up, but Jack never discovered that nor had any hint to it.
      • He goes on to attempt to bail out a newly-arrested Donquixote Doflamingo even after being informed that the odds are objectively hopeless, since Doflamingo's transport fleet is guarded by people who could give his boss trouble, let alone him, and gets beaten to a bloody pulp for his trouble, though he gets away alive.
      • Jack finishes by attempting to kill Zunisha, the gigantic (think particularly huge Turtle Island) elephant for which Zou gets its name, and a single sweep of its trunk later he loses his ship and only survives dropping into the ocean because he's a fishman, while still utterly paralyzed at the bottom because he's a Devil Fruit user.
      • Ironically enough, the Wano arc shows he's also capable of playing Only Sane Man to Kaido... at least, when Kaido is drunk.
  • Ribbons in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 blows up his own allies, and replaces them with worthless kamikaze machines that are a complete waste of technology and time and seem to serve no purpose other to make him look even eviler for using such weapons. Most of the atrocities his puppets committed early in the second season, including blowing up a country or two, were committed for no solid reason.
  • Duke Otho von Braunschweig from Legend of Galactic Heroes is an example when you put together a corrupt nobility with a futuristic military. An example? When a protest breaks out on one of his planets, Westerland, he immediately declares the order to nuke the whole planet of 2 million people to death, rendering it uninhabitable. Luckily, Oberstein has the whole thing recorded and broadcasts it to the whole Empire. Even soldiers once loyal to him immediately abandon him, resulting in his eventual death by being force-fed poisoned wine and the downfall of the Lippstadt League.
    • What further increases his stupidity is that he's advised by Ansbach to provide a more proper punishment. His justification is that since it's his planet, he has the right to do it. His reckless actions are even lampshaded by the same adviser, stating how the Goldenbaum dynasty can't survive when it cuts itself apart.
      • This is debatable since Braunschweig lost a beloved nephew in the same protest, which made him very unstable and thirsty for revenge.
  • Bleach: Loly Aivirrne. "Let's beat up the human girl our boss told us to specifically not hurt as she is useful to "the plan" for no reason other than we're jealous!"
  • The buffoonish Genma of Darker Than Black has a scene where he uses his Instant Armor powers to dismantle a truck and then amuses himself by beating up the protagonist while transformed into a human mech. This wasn't the brightest idea for two reasons: First, the protagonist was interested in the MacGuffin in one of the trucks, and Genma showed him which one was the decoy. Second, when the protagonist starts escaping, Genma's first reaction is to get in the truck to pursue him, but then he does an Oh, Crap! when he remembers he just disassembled his mode of transportation.
  • Zorin Blitz in Hellsing, a brute who put so much effort into being a vicious sadist that she tried to target and destroy the Hellsing HQ headfirst without reinforcements (believing that her Vanguard alone can handle the job) despite being explicitly told not to do so until the regular forces meet up with her's as Seras and Integra are untested variables and thus deserve the same scrutiny as Alucard, and spent her time toying with Seras as opposed to outright killing her off and then gloating after having killed Pip right in front of a grieving Seras, failing to stop her from drinking his blood and becoming a full-fledged vampire and subsequently obliterating what remains of her forces. When she's called out on her disobedience by the Major via Schrodinger, he chooses to let Seras eviscerate her, not even giving her a dignified death with a suicide chip activation, for being such a moron.
  • Pokémon:
    • Team Rocket, oh so very much. They're so dumbly obsessed with stealing valuable Pokémon that they haven't taken the time to even think about Meowth. A Pokémon that speaks human language fluently could be the single most valuable and useful Pokémon in existence: He could solve countless problems between humans and Pokémon, and could give priceless insight on the behavior and mental abilities of every Pokémon to have ever lived (which, in a world with a culture so heavily ingrained with said creatures, would be a big deal). They would go down in history and be amongst the richest people on the planet if only they put Meowth to proper use instead of blindly chasing some kid and his Pikachu.
      • In fact, James and Jessie would probably succeed if they just quit Team Rocket altogether. It seems the only time they succeed at anything or do anything right are the brief times they call a truce with Ash for one reason or another. But they never learn.
      • Moreover, you'd think the rest of the Team Rocket organization would stop giving the bumbling trio so many exotic, expensive gadgets after maybe the fiftieth time they proved too incompetent to catch any valuable Pokémon with them (although it's implied it may be money from James' estate since he's the son of apparently the richest people in the world).
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, both Lust and Envy fall into this, loving to inflict pain so much that they can't resist "twisting the knife" and antagonizing the heroes, even when it is foolish to do so. This backfires on both of them when they do it to Mustang; while he kills Lust as cleanly as he can, he makes Envy suffer so much that they're running and begging for their life before he's done with it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Doing at least one thing that ultimately screws them over and would have easily been avoided had some common sense been applied to the equation seems to be a prerequisite for a Yu-Gi-Oh! bad guy to deserve to be called such:
    • Yami Marik has a few bouts of this, most notably when he sabotages Noah's computer system during the Virtual Nightmare Arc, not seeming to realize that destroying it would kill both Yugi and Kaiba, ruining the most vital part of his master plan: gaining their two Egyptian God Cards. (To make things worse, he laughs like a lunatic while doing it.)
      • The regular Marik does something very stupid too (which was the biggest reason his Super-Powered Evil Side took over in the first place). First, he puts a counterfeit copy of The Winged Dragon of Ra in Rishid/Odion's deck (given the fact that every other minion who tested it died, it really wasn't smart to have such an important minion have one). Rishid is smart, knows that it would likely be dangerous to use it, and would have beaten Jonouchi/Joey without it, but when it seems likely that everyone will figure out that Rishid is acting as Marik's stand-in, Marik orders him to use it in order to cover up Marik's true identity. Rishid complies, and... it turns out Marik really should have listened to Rishid because the real Ra ended up destroying the fake copy along with both the duelists and Jounouchi managed to win when he shouldn't have...
    • Yami Bakura shows this in his duel against Yugi in one of the final episodes of the series. He uses a card which forces Yugi to discard the same number of cards from his deck as the number of monsters that are on the field, and combines this with another card that eliminates his own graveyard, making him immune to the effect and allowing his monsters to remain on the field as phantoms (without the ability to attack or defend, but still counting as monsters) to cause Yugi to lose the duel by completely depleting his deck. It eventually gets to the point where Bakura could win the duel simply by ending his turn without making a single move, something he even points out, but he decides instead that watching Yugi squirm would be more fun and continues the duel. Yugi is left with only one card left in his deck, but it just so happens to be the exact card needed to defeat Yami Bakura's strategy, which costs him the duel.
    • Amon in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. His ace cards are Exodia the Forbidden One and Exodius the Forbidden Lord. The first grants an automatic win if you can get all five pieces in you hand, while the second is almost completely indestructible and immune to all card effects, and grants an automatic win if it attacks five times. But he becomes so Drunk with Power because of them, he challenges Yubel... Completely forgetting that Yubel was the one who gave them to him. You'd think if anyone would known weaknesses in these cards, they would, and they do. It ends badly for Amon.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Divine deserves special mention here. After having been tricked into revealing he was responsible for the death of Misty's little brother, he mocks his death. While Misty has her Earthbound Immortal (a lizard-demon the size of a skyscraper in plain view) summoned. Cue Divine getting Eaten Alive as payback.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
      • Tron has a habit of giving his henchmen who are his sons, by the way cards that are too powerful for them to control, which cause disasters when played. The first example is when he gave IV a Spell Card called Flaming Hell Blessing to use in a duel against Rio Kamishiro; it won the duel for him, but it also caused a raging fire that destroyed the building they were in. Rio was in the hospital for months recovering; IV managed to get out (carrying Rio to safety before she was killed), but not unscathed. The accident left a scar on his face that never healed.
      • Even worse is the card he gave III to use against Yuma, Angolmois. The true effect of this card is to open a portal to the Barian World, which will basically do the same thing that a black hole does. If it works, it will kill everyone, Tron included (and he doesn't even seem to care; he's laughing his head off as he watches the duel). Fortunately, III came to his senses before that happened, and Yuma was able to win the duel before the full effect occurred.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: When Sora gleefully gloats about invading and decimating the Xyz Dimension, a.k.a. Kurosaki/Shay's homeworld, instead of playing the game like he should, this angers Kurosaki to the point where he almost kills Sora. Note that at this point, Kurosaki has a monster on his field that's the equivalent to a B-52 Bomber!
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: During the Dark Tournament, Elder Toguro could've killed Kuwabara with one attack and the latter wouldn't have even seen it coming. However, like so many other examples on this page, he decides to partake in a bit of sadism first by taunting Kuwabara about the death of Genkai. This angers Kuwabara and gives him the strength boost needed to win the match.
  • Naruto:
    • Orochimaru tends to pick up the Villain Ball because of this trope. Case in point: he manages to persuade the Kazekage to help him invade Konoha... and then randomly decides to kill him anyway.
    • Hidan is a bloodthirsty, impulsive idiot whose combination of immortality and Kakuzu's ability to bail him out of compromising situations gives him free rein to indulge in his love of overly long and complicated Ritual Magic that is incredibly impractical for anything other than making people die as painfully as possible, as well as his other love of long-winded shit-talking and boasting before he actually even gets to the killing part. A living, breathing example of For the Evulz, Hidan does a great job at demonstrating just how much he relies on Kakuzu to save him from himself, as each and every time that Kakuzu wasn't directly involved in a fight he started, he got his ass whooped and was rendered helpless until Kakuzu intervened and pieced him back together.
    • Danzo does this as well. We find out he's being Kabuto's tragic backstory — Kabuto's adoptive mother was one of Danzo's best spies. Kabuto offered to act as his spy as well. Danzo used his safety to guarantee the mother's loyalty... while subtly altering the photographs he sent her of Kabuto so when she met her son as an adult, she didn't recognize him. Why didn't he want her to recognize him? Danzo hoped they'd kill each other because they were too knowledgeable as spies. Keep in mind that both were still totally loyal at this point and he had leverage on Kabuto's mother. Instead, he just set off Kabuto's Start of Darkness. So, in the end, he's out two spies and one has turned on the village.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Holy Emperor Souther specifically seeks after children to be slaves in the construction of his ostentatious Holy Cross Pyramid, even though he has absolutely no reason to exclusively pick weak, frail, and malnourished kids (who are explicitly left to starve, sometimes while forced to watch him eat and waste entire fancy dinner banquets) for all the heavy work involved (while his mooks are just standing there, flailing the kids every once in a while) other than to nail down the message that he's an evil asshole.
  • Fairy Tail: During the Nirvana arc, Cobra almost killed Natsu after their battle, despite his injuries and was set to deliver a fatal blow then and there. And yet Brain still pulled a You Have Failed Me on him, even though he didn't fail, apparently just because he didn't succeed well enough against a "real" Dragon Slayer. Granted, Brain made it clear he intended to brainwash Natsu to his side, but that was nothing that could have been accomplished just by telling Cobra "hey, stop". Mentally gloating about how Cobra and the rest of Oracion Seis were just pawns to him didn't help matters either, and seven years later Cobra paid him fatally back after he got them all out of prison, with the rest of the guild saying "good riddance".
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Frieza simply cannot resist an opportunity to Kick the Dog or toy with his enemies no matter what. This bites him in the ass when he collects all the Dragon Balls but doesn't know how to summon the dragon to wish for immortality, and all but three Namekians who could tell him how have been killed under his orders. This is taken Up to Eleven in Dragon Ball Super, where Frieza goes out of his way to hurt Goku's friends right in front of him and put a bounty on Krillin's head since he knows that killing him would cause Goku great pain. This is despite knowing exactly what happened the last time he pushed Goku to his breaking point. Luckily for Frieza, Goku maintained his cool even after he murdered Piccolo. And then there's him killing Paragus in order to make Broly angry enough to defeat Goku in Dragon Ball Super: Broly. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • Babidi has a very bad habit of killing anyone he thinks he doesn't need anymore. This leads to him killing Spopovich and Yamu when they succeeded in their mission to collect energy. When he learns that they managed to gather enough energy to fill Majin Buu up by half, he has no clue how they did it since he killed them. He also gleefully allows Buu to fight and eat Dabura when he tries to warn him that Buu wouldn't remain loyal and will eventually kill him. To top it all off, he constantly demeans and threatens to reseal Buu, despite having no other protection since he no longer has Dabura around. It leads to his well-earned demise when Buu finally gets sick of taking his bullshit and crushes his skull. It's strongly implied he only lived that long because Buu is smart enough to know rebelling openly would get him resealed but not quite smart enough to figure out how to prevent this. Once Goku points out how much stronger and faster Buu is, "Bye bye Babidi!"
    • Anime-only character Mr. Shu already had successfully prevented Chi Chi from finding out about his sadistic acts towards her son Gohan while acting as a strict teacher by making himself out as the victim and Gohan supposedly the perpetrator when the latter decides to fight back. But rather than continue capitalizing on this, immediately afterward, he decides to insult Goku — Chi Chi's husband, mind you — mocking him as a failure and how he never acts like a father to them. He also decides to whip Gohan right in front of his mother, which ended up making him obviously the guilty one. No mother would want anyone who insults their family like that to stick around, and that includes Chi Chi, who promptly drives him out of her house and tells him to never come back again.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • PoH is far too sadistic and bloodthirsty for his own good and simply can't resist "twisting the knife" or opportunities to Kick the Dog, actively antagonizing Kirito and his friends even when doing so ultimately a not good idea. This backfires on him during the Alicization arc, where, after being curb-stomped by a newly-empowered Kirito, he decides to openly mouth off to Kirito that once he logs out of the Underworld, he won't stop coming after Kirito and Asuna until he manages to brutally murder them in real life; in response, Kirito traps him in a tree and leaves him to rot in Underworld, swearing that he will never log out from Underworld.
    • Quinella of the Alicization arc is an utter Control Freak, which bites her in the ass when it's revealed that humanity is doomed because she refuses to allow the existence of any military force that isn't under her complete control. This realization is what convinces Alice to turn on her in favor of Kirito.
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]: Caster's first Master, Atrum Galliasta, brags about his alchemy workshop where he sacrifices several kidnapped girls to create magic crystals. Caster points out how inefficient and wasteful this is, demonstrates she can create much larger and more powerful crystals at will and requests that he close down the workshop and release the prisoners. He instead beats her up and mocks her, repeatedly calling her a witch (her Berserk Button). Although he was smart enough to use a Command Spell to order her not to kill him, she simply used her Rule Breaker to undo their contract, then she killed him.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo: Diavolo's insane paranoia and obsession with absolutely nobody knowing anything about him leads him to direct Team Bucciarati to bring his newly discovered daughter to him. While this is pragmatic (as his hit squad had gone rogue and was looking for her), his hit squad had gone rogue because he'd denied them a pay raise and then had two members very brutally killed for trying to find info on him. Then he just had to kidnap Trish from Bruno literally moments before he would've delivered her normally, and in the process driving Bruno to fight back and go rogue, bringing Team Bucciarati with him.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: Princess Malty Melromarc is pretty much the human personification of this trope. A Compulsive Liar with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and a bad habit of kicking the dog either out of petty spite or for the fun of it, Malty tends to ruin the lives of anyone she comes in contact with, even when this ends up backfiring in the long run. A truly smart villain would Know When to Fold 'Em after suffering from the humiliating punishment of having their name legally changed to Bitch after their lies are exposed, but Malty still continues to backstab and ruin other people just to get the last laugh, even if some of those people were her allies. Naturally, this earns her a 0% Approval Rating, and by the time she's foiled in her schemes a second and third time and about to receive her punishment, nobody is willing to come to her aid no matter how much she begs since they all know her true nature.
  • In My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, Catarina Claes was this in the original game. She repeatedly bullied Maria Campbell, the original game's protagonist, for getting close to Catarina's fiance or adoptive brother, depending on the route, even though she has nothing to gain from it. In fact, Catarina's bullying Maria results in her getting exiled in Geordo or Keith's good endings, while her trying to murder Maria gets her killed in their bad endings. When Catarina regains her Past-Life Memories as someone who played the game and realizes what's in store for her, she immediately goes to great lengths to avoid this, even though all she needed to do was not be so pointlessly cruel.
  • Elfen Lied has this as a hat for the Diclonii, though its unclear how much is the result of instinctive behavoir and the result of terrified humans making their lives a living hell. Lucy's personality born from instincts and the Diclonii who chose to be evil qualify, as they seek to spread the DNA to cause more of them to born, and to Kill All Humans. The "stupid" part comes from the fact that aside from Lucy, Diclonii are incapable of reproducing so if they actually suceeded in replacing humanity it would only lead to their extinction.

    Comic Books 
  • The Devil in the Deal with the Devil tends to do this a lot, but Mephisto is one of the worst. He tends to be both a Literal and Jerkass Genie to anyone he makes deals with, fulfilling the letter of a deal but then screwing the dealer in the process; this frequently costs him the soul he'd otherwise be able to easily get. Probably the example that most backfires for him is when he made a deal with Johnny Blaze to save his adoptive father from an unspecified disease, only to get said father killed anyway. This ended up turning Blaze into his Arch-Nemesis.
  • Supergirl villain Blackflame is able to come up with good revenge schemes but she's also prone to ruin them with unnecessary drama and convoluted death traps.
  • Superboy-Prime also goes from Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds to this, as he's a psychotic teenager with the Hair-Trigger Temper to end them all, though with a very strong Freudian Excuse. That notwithstanding, he flies off the handle at the slightest provocation and responds by destroying everything in sight and killing anyone who looks at him funny. Everything in sight, by the way, includes entire planets and a future version of himself, though the latter wasn't bright enough to know that provoking and ordering your younger self (a younger self that he had to have known was extremely unstable and prone to responding with violence to any and all slights) would have consequences.
  • Norman Osborn had the world as his oyster during Dark Reign, with him in charge of the US security, the Avengers replaced with a team of villains loyal to him, and all the regular heroes incapacitated or wanted fugitives. But he just had to defy the President and go rogue and attack Asgard for some reason, losing everything and getting the good guys back in power in one day. You know a plan is bad when Bullseye tells you that you're out of your fucking mind.
    • The fact that the Norse god of mischief tricked him into doing it explains but does not excuse his behavior.
    • This is Norman's entire M.O.. While he can be The Chessmaster when he is at his best, he always falls back into this. Throughout Dark Reign, everyone, from Spider-Man to Doctor Doom, continues to hang a lampshade on the fact that he's a ticking timebomb who will implode and cause his own downfall. Largely justified given that Norman is also genuinely nuts; his Chessmaster side is continually struggling against the Chaotic Evil Goblin identity, and eventually the Goblin is going to get out and start blowing shit up.
    • Also among Spidey's enemies, the reason no-one particularly respects Max "Electro" Dillon is that for all his incredible power, he's a rampaging, short-tempered idiot incapable of hatching a plan lasting beyond next Tuesday. Even overlooking legitimate uses for his electrical powers, instead of using control over electricity to deactivate security systems or otherwise commit low-risk, high-reward crimes, he invariably puts on his Bob the Angry Flower costume, picks either Spider-Man or Daredevil, and heads over to start shit with them, or, if not that, commits an extremely risky and visible crime with few actual benefits that mostly just attracts a bunch of unnecessary attention, in a process that invariably ends in a humiliating defeat and a return to whichever Cardboard Prison he'd just escaped, usually within a day or two.
  • Mystique is the poster child for pointless, self-defeating treachery and cruelty in the Marvel Universe. It doesn't matter how good a shot she had at getting everything she wanted just by doing things in the most straightforward way possible that anyone with a normal, rational thought process would zero in on. If literally anyone else would have done it that way, Mystique would instead go out of her way to be as cutthroat and underhanded about it as possible, then would take a detour to fuck over an ally for no good reason, kill someone, or ruin someone's life, only to have it blow up in her face and ruin the entire opportunity. Mystique will then inevitably blame someone else for this latest loss and will add it to her list of grudges, which she will likely act on when she next gets the chance, ensuring that she sinks herself again and the cycle repeats.
  • The Monitors in Countdown to Final Crisis, whose plan makes no sense, accomplishes jack shit other than pissing off a bunch of other villains, and involves grandstanding to cover for The Mole even though there's no one for them to grandstand for. Then again, this is Countdown to Final Crisis.
  • Mammoth of the Fearsome Five:
    Psimon: So who do we blow up first?
    Mammoth: I want to destroy the United States for putting us in jail all those times!
    Psimon: Shimmer, please explain to your brother that it's a bad idea to nuke the United States. Where we are.
  • Green Lantern: Mongul II, while certainly capable of formulating and carrying out fairly complex schemes (and he sometimes does), tends to waste far too much of his time trying to go further and further beyond the pale by way of being a horrifically sadistic and cruel bully for no real good reason other than because he thinks it's funny or amusing, or just because he feels like being a dick. It's the cause of his many, many Hoist by His Own Petard moments, the last one of which more or less put him away for good.
  • Iznogoud, while generally intelligent (and much smarter than both most people around him and the Caliph), occasionally falls into this trope: a lot of his plans backfire precisely because he made idiotic mistakes, or couldn't resist the temptation to Kick the Dog at the wrong time.
  • In The Punisher MAX story arc "Up is Down and Black is White", Nicky Cavella tries to make The Punisher angry(er) by digging up the bones of his family, urinating on them, and filming it. It works.
  • In Wanted, the Big Bad Mr. Rictus is proud to be this. When he takes over control of the Fraternity to blow the League of Supervillains' cover and start a new campaign of unremitted slaughter, the rest of the organization's heads warn him that it will bring the weight of every superhero in the multiverse to bear down on them. Rictus is delighted at this, for even if they lose, he will have enjoyed the carnage.
  • Adolf Hitler is depicted as this in Über, due to having been mostly crazy anyway by the close of the war. Upon obtaining Super Soldiers, his first official command with them is to order them to execute hundreds of thousands of Soviet POWs - not only would this probably result in the Soviets doing the same with their German POWs, but it ensures that the Soviets aren't going to be surrendering anytime soon. He then has the inventor of the program's brain melted for keeping the soldiers in reserve until they were ready, rather than deploying them half-finished - something Hitler himself acknowledged was a good idea; he just objected to the guy making the decision on his own. He sends one of his most powerful soldiers almost completely unsupported into London, where she risks her life and accomplishes little besides Monumental Damage and killing a figurehead. This culminates in him insulting another of his strongest soldiers for retreating from a battle where he was outnumbered a hundred to one and had lost an arm... at which said soldier, who already had a grudge, decides to fast-track his plans and gives Hitler a heart attack.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): In issue 35, Summer and Morty realize that the workers that Rick once abandoned just want to get off the island, and convince Rick to negotiate with them. But when the workers try to sedate him and fail, he starts bragging about his Acquired Poison Immunity, so they just shoot more darts at him until he does pass out. He then continues to taunt them when he wakes up.
  • In East of West, it is a combination of this and Too Clever by Half that gets Archibald Chamberlain killed. To recap, he managed to arrange things so his final encounter with the Ranger and Solomon would be a The Good, the Bad and the Ugly-style three-way Mexican Standoff, then he improved his chances by unloading Solomon's pistol way in advance. He knew he had this set, he knew who was a priority target and who was and wasn't a threat, and in the subsequent Blast Out, he shoots Solomon first, out of sheer spite. The result: the Ranger blows him away.
  • The demon Malus from Rachel Rising is frequently a victim of his own short-tempered... maliciousness. An Intangible spirit that possesses people and is working towards his goal of creating The Anti-Christ, Malus would be able to pull off his plan without being detected or suspected if he could go more than five minutes without his utter loathing for humanity causing him to lash out and commit some new atrocity. At one point Malus literally murders a woman in a hospital simply because he was annoyed by the woman expressing sympathy one too many times for a child who nearly died in the hospital. Even the one time Malus does try to really hide his evilness while possessing someone and acting as an Evil Mentor/The Corrupter to Zoe, his act is still pretty transparent and Zoe quickly catches onto him.
  • The Avengers: During Heroes Return, Morgan Le Fay manages to re-write reality so she's in charge, but every time her nephew Morded points out the flaws in her plans, or that things are going wrong, she tells him to shut up. Morded gets the last laugh when he turns out to be completely right. Morgan's plan of turning the Avengers into her brainwashed goons means that, when the brainwashing inevitably wears off, she's got an army of very angry superheroes facing her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: After Priscilla Rich (Cheetah) has already ensured two women are working for her despite their misgivings she abducts and tortures them for a day for her own amusement, which ensures they both betray her to the heroes at the first opportunity and clues Diana into the fact that something is going on when the women are abducted.
  • Doctor Doom despite being a widely recognized Magnificent Bastard frequently suffers from this, especially in his feud with the Fantastic Four. Doom's petty vendetta with Reed Richards means that he can never be content to simply kill the Fantastic Four and has to win in a way he feels proves his superiority over Reed, which inevitibly leads to him losing a number of confrontations he would have otherwise won.
    • Emperor Doom sees Doom successfully Take Over the World by harnessing the mind control powers of the Purple Man. He is aided in his goal by Namor in exchange for giving him rule of the seas. Rather than keeping his end of the deal, Doom reduces Namor to a mind controlled slave for no reason other than because he felt like it. This means that later when some of The Avengers manage to break of Doom's mind control, they free Namor in the assualt on the machine that controlled humanity and he turns on Doom as well. Not that that mattered because at the last minute Doctor Doom realized how bored he was as the uncontested ruler of the world and let the Avengers break his machine. In essence Doom showed if he succeeds in any of his goals he will render his victories meaningless.

    Fan Works 
  • Lila in BURN THE WITCH (Miraculous Ladybug) continues lying and attempting to throw Marinette under the bus for her own gain... when there's an angry mob, Torches and Pitchforks and all, coming after her, led by an Akuma with the power to reveal her crimes as they happen and turn anyone who gets angry at Lila into mob members. All the while thinking that she's in no danger and she can escape her predicament with the lies and schemes that have been all blowing up in her face.
  • Megami no Hanabira: Brother Chick of the Flock is an utter slave to his bloodlust and cruelty, and it comes back to bite him several times: he sadistically drags out his fight with Mai and her friends, letting them formulate an escape plan, and then later tries to outright kill a fellow Flock member right in front of Phillips. This gets him Blown Across the Room, and he's almost immediately back on his feet and clearly ready to attack Phillips himself! Luckily for him, Phillips manages to scare him into backing off at that point.
  • This is Queen Celestia's alignment in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure. It's exemplified when she impales King Gilda for no reason beyond "Because... I'M EVIL BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  • Belluzub in Star Wars: Paranormalities. He's too intent on making his victims suffer to kill them quickly by simple means such as depressurizing a room when he can survive in vacuum. Zolph Vaelor lampshades this both after trapping him in a force cage and after he gets out of it.
  • Many Naruto fanfics point out Gato's incredible stupidity for bleeding Wave dry. It's an island country with easy access to almost half the continent. He's a shipping magnate. With a little imagination and money, he could have made the country incredibly prosperous, made himself richer, and gained a boatload of goodwill.
  • In Mega Man Recut, Wily would be much more successful if he resisted the urge to be a dog-kicking jerk all the time. It's repeatedly lampshaded by Elec Man, who notes that Wily and the Robot Masters could easily just build weapons for the mob rather than trying to Take Over the World, and they would be much more well-off.
  • The Lucky Star fanfic Cries Unheard involves a few Yakuza boys who want to profit from an international arms deal that they need the company of Miyuki's father in order to carry out. They could have kept things as simple as taking Miyuki herself hostage, somewhere where her friends would never find her or her captors when it was time to extort important information, and then eventually releasing her and disappearing without a trace once their goods were shipped out. Instead, they try to get said information from her, as if she would even have that or know what goes on in the company and abuse her friends (at least the ones they don't kill outright) until they either commit suicide or stay hidden from society. Way to create more work, leading to causing more people to break down lest they go to jail until they'd have practically all of Japan to keep divided as they try to maintain their freedom (at least had Miyuki and Kagami not killed them first). How they even pulled off earlier operations using this convoluted and increasingly risky method is anyone's guess.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Strange House, Patrick Ferron, Riley's father and the president of Canalave Industrial, hates Pokémon and refuses to allow the workers in the Oreburgh Mine to work with them. As a result, when the ceiling of the mine caves in, without any Pokémon to help patch it up, the whole thing collapses and ninety miners suffocate.
  • In The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor, Naruto remarks on the Goa'uld as being incredibly stupid to use inefficient slave labor instead of mining asteroids for resources (which allows ships to simply destroy the asteroids and grind away anything that isn't useful). This shows up again when the Goa'uld finally find the Celestial Empire's location and think them pathetic for "being forced to rely on asteroid mining".
  • In Cubic Zirconia, Diamond Tiara plays a downplayed Deadly Prank on the Cutie Mark Crusaders that ends with Apple Bloom breaking both of her hind legs so badly that she may never walk again. As her furious father Filthy Rich points out, this was not only pointlessly cruel but a completely stupid move because Apple Bloom's family owns Sweet Apple Acres, the biggest supplier to the business that he owns, Rich Enterprises. He points out that Apple Bloom stands to inherit Sweet Apple Acres when she grows older and, because of Diamond Tiara's actions, it is very possible that she will decide to permanently sever ties with Rich Enterprises in the future.
  • Dumbledore, in Harry Potter and the Something Something, openly rambles to people about his "evil plans", goes out of his way to antagonize Harry, and orchestrates ridiculous schemes that seem to benefit nobody, himself least of all. This is entirely deliberate, being a parody of how Dumbledore is frequently written as absurdly evil in fanfic (the Ron the Death Eater page mentions him over 150 times as of this writing), and often by people who don't actually understand why Dumbledore could frequently get up to morally ambiguous stuff in canon, and so write him as being a Manipulative Bastard for no reason other than the story needing a villain.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Frieza manages to up his canon counterpart in some respects. While his canon counterpart wiped out the Saiyans out of fear they were becoming too powerful too quickly and would rebel against him, in the abridged series he has not stated a reason. As far as what has been revealed to the audience, Frieza wiped out an entire planet that was loyal to him for no reason other than because he thought it was fun. His treatment of his common men is also much worse as he kills a minion to get out of an awkward conversation, a minion who was warning him that Vegeta had escaped.
    • Kochin's entire character is built around this, going out of his way to be evil even when it's a bad idea. His boss Doctor Wheelo has died and has been reduced to a Brain in a Jar. Wheelo isn't picky about what body he is given, but Kochin wants to give him the strongest body possible. Wheelo multiple times expresses disgust at Kochin's actions, as well as pointing out easy solutions to getting a body; he could use Bulma, which Kochin rejects because she's a woman, or one of the Bio Warriors, which Kochin didn't simply think of. Kochin's entire plan attracts the attention of Son Goku whom Kochin wants to use as Wheelo's body ignoring how dangerous he is, and in fact had the body of Piccolo for a week, but refused to use him as a body for Wheelo because he had no penis. Kochin's stupidity gets him killed when Wheelo discovers the exoskeleton Kochin left for him.
  • Bequeathed from Pale Estates:
    • Joffrey. The problem with the idea of him being king isn't that he's evil, it's that he's a stupid, insane kind of evil. At least if he were competent like his grandfather, he would run the kingdom well, which is all the nobility and the smallfolk really care about.
    • He gets it from his mom. Despite being told, repeatedly, by everyone who has a stake in the succession about how tenuous her position as queen is (and therefore the hold the Lannisters have on the throne), and that the only way to secure it is by having another child, Cersei still takes moon tea and aborts a pregnancy all because she can't see beyond Robert being the father. It never occurs to her that she can just have the kid to secure her position and then ignore it.
  • In Kallen Stadtfeld, Countess of Britannia, Kallen has shown that hiring the most qualified workers regardless of race is far more profitable than hiring incompetent Britannians over more skilled Numbers, making her one of the richest nobles in Britannia. Despite this, no Britannian nobles follow her example.
  • The Weaver Option:
    • When the Imperium attacks Commorragh, the Dynasts (the leaders of the Dark Eldar) and Asdrubael Vect (who is planning to take over with a plan that did succeed in canon Warhammer 40,000 but doesn't here) immediately accuse each other of letting the Imperials in and start a massive Enemy Civil War that not only ends up killing nearly 10 billion (yes, billion) of them in a few days, but ties up large amounts of military resources that could have been used against the Imperium. Most of their weaponry, well suited for the act of raiding poorly defended planets to claim slaves, is completely useless in the face of an actual army, their architecture is incredibly bad for the formation of defensive positions and they have no plans for an attack on their city because they simply did not believe they would be needed.
    • Chaos, as per canon, is this Up to Eleven, but Slaanesh takes the cake during the aforementioned attack on Commorragh. When Slaanesh learns of the Imperium's attack on Commorragh (which is the source of a large percentage of its power)... Slaanesh, rather than seeking an alliance with the Dark Eldar leaders that could allow her to take over Commorragh, sends her Legions to attack Khaine's Gate, forcing the Dark Eldar into another front and making them easier prey for the Imperium. Never mind that Slaanesh over-committing opens the door to the other Chaos Gods attacking it in the moment of weakness.
  • Orochimama: Most of Orochimaru's researchers and officers engage in pointless sadism for seemingly no reason. One researcher asks for permission to start human testing for her research... which involves using chakra to stimulate plant growth. Orochimaru finds herself pondering why said research would ever need human testing at all. Another one is so incredibly reckless with his experiments that he goes through his entire supply of a hundred pigs (for test subjects) in a single week. Still, others have to be stopped from testing a new fire jutsu on a live target, rather than just using a wooden post. Finally, despite Orochimaru stating she's changing policies to increase manpower, most of her officers decide all forms of punishment towards misbehaving subordinates should be fatal.
  • Shinra operates under this trope in Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged. The company is largely run by complete idiots who are more interested in making life miserable for everyone else than they are making money. This is best highlighted when Sephiroth calls Meteor to impact the planet, and the executives are shocked when Rufus states in the face of the crisis that he plans to save the world instead of conquering it.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, Ozai is portrayed this way. He's described as an incompetent Fire Lord who's better at manipulating people than ruling, and his plan to incinerate the Earth Kingdom is treated as the shining example of how his cruelty overrides his rationality.

    Films — Animation 
  • Rourke from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. For the first part of the story, he comes off as a Reasonable Authority Figure for the expedition, until he displays his true side to Milo in Atlantis, revealing that he wants to take the Heart of Atlantis with him so he'll sell it to the highest bidder. Even though being part of the team which discovered friggin' Atlantis would already have made him rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams. Even if all he wanted was money, he had the king at gunpoint and could have just ransacked the vaults and walked away with more priceless treasure than he knew what to do with, without needing to commit genocide (hell, his former comrades end up getting paid in exactly that by the end of the movie). Or, hell, just ask the fabulously-wealthy Whitmore to add a couple of zeros onto his paycheck, which would undoubtedly be a rounding error compared to building the physics-defying, battleship-sized submarine used for the expedition. Too bad Rourke wants more, even at the expense of quite literally everyone else, from his own team right down to the Atlanteans themselves.
  • Hans's betrayal of Anna in Frozen isn't just cruel; it's unnecessary, given that Anna is frozen solid and is going to die anyway. All he needs to do is kiss her, and if it doesn't work, he could just claim that he sincerely believed it was True Love. He could also have convinced her to stay in the room willingly while he pretended to get help, actually letting her freeze to death as he went to kill Elsa. But because he decides to be a dick and refuses to kiss Anna when she needs it, and to gloat about his plans, Anna ends up escapingnote  and proves to be the Spanner in the Works by throwing herself in front of Hans's sword just when he goes to execute Elsa, saving Elsa and exposing Hans's lies, which gets him deported back to the Southern Isles in disgrace for trying to murder the two sisters.
  • Sunset Shimmer from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, a unicorn that is exceptionally skilled in magic to the point where she could've probably rivaled Twilight Sparkle at some point, seems to think that staying in a world where her unicorn magic is useless, being the Alpha Bitch of a local high school for a couple of years, and eventually hatching a scheme that involves bringing Twilight Sparkle's Element of Harmony to said world will get her closer to becoming an Alicorn than simply staying in Equestria (with or without Princess Celestia as her teacher) and working on improving her own magic.
  • Captain Qwark in Ratchet & Clank (2016) has the motivation of being jealous of Ratchet's newfound popularity as a hero. To accomplish this, he decides to betray Ratchet in the process of stopping a planet from being blown up. This is despite the fact that betraying the Galactic Rangers and assisting in the destruction of a planet would be far more damaging to his own career as a hero, and indeed, gets him sent to prison even after his rather hasty Heel–Face Turn. In the original game, he was merely employed by the villains to begin with.
  • The opening of the Rainbow Brite movie has the Dark Princess being told that stealing Spectra will drain all color and life from the universe, destroying it. She doesn't care and later attempts to shatter Spectra when stealing it becomes impossible.
  • Played for Drama in Megamind with Tighten. Before gaining superpowers he was somewhat creepy bumbling loser. After gaining powers and being rejected by the object of his affections, he decides to become a supervillain and terrorize the city. The fact that he is an idiot actually makes him dangerous, he is a petty Psychopathic Manchild who will lash out at the world and live out all of his dark fantasies because he knows that nobody can stop him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Kill Bill, Elle Driver is the most needlessly vindictive person of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, which is saying a lot since Bill tried to kill The Bride for trying to leave the team. Elle needlessly complicates things by killing Pai Mei, even though she was ordered not to, just to provoke The Bride into coming after her. (Well, that and he ripped out her eye. That would make almost anyone want to kill.) The stupidest part, though? Gloating about it to The Bride (who didn't even know about said death until Elle told her) in the middle of their Duel to the Death.
    • Pai Mei himself qualifies. He is an egotistical martial artist without peer and will assault or kill anybody for the slightest offense. This is in fact what led to his death as after he tore out Elle's eye when she insulted him, she killed him by poisoning his food.
  • Resident Evil:
    • The Umbrella Corporation in the film series seems to live and breathe Stupid Evil. The company's actions are geared entirely towards nothing more than propagating the existence of a deadly, uncontrollable virus that has no discernible practical applications.
    • Particularly by the third film, wherein the whole planet has been reduced to an arid desert by the Zombie Apocalypse (somehow) and money no longer matters to the roving bands of survivors. Yet Umbrella keeps making new strains of the T-Virus to sell to... actually, the films never explain who they hope will buy the damn thing. It could at least be shakily justified in the previous films by concluding that, as in the games, Umbrella planned to sell the virus to bioterrorists, insurrectionists, or even warring nations, but who's left at this point? And even if such parties did still exist, who would want to Take Over the World in its current state? They do explain at one point that they intend to refine the virus so that it can turn those that are already zombies into something resembling domesticated workhorses and stop them from eating people, which makes some sense. However, they are far too incompetent to ever pull that off.
    • In a film series full of evil Umbrella leaders, Dr. Isaacs probably takes the cake in terms of this Trope. His obsession with Alice leads to him disobeying direct orders from Wesker to leave her be and falsifying orders of his own to release (already pretty scarce, both because of general wasting and his lousy experimentation method) resources in order to hunt her down, which leads eventually to the destruction of the only other Umbrella facility in North America (and to not mention constantly cloning Alice and leading the clones into an endless massacre of a Death Course, which not only provides an immense number of cadavers that (being improperly disposed of) leads to the Umbrella facility being surrounded by a humongous swarm of zombies but doesn't really seems to be of any use other than Isaacs' sick amusement). When the original Dr. Isaacs appears in The Final Chapter, he turns out to be both this (because he's the one leading the little plot twist mentioned below) and a Smug Super, to boot. This also gets him killed — he decides to keep his entire focus on Alice without thinking what the clone Isaacs he just told is an Expendable Clone would do as a response to that bombshell being dropped on him.
    • The premise of Resident Evil: Retribution involves Umbrella perfectly recreating sections of major cities in underground facilities, cloning large numbers of humans, and implanting them with false memories of living in a real city — all for the sake of infecting the mini-city with the T-Virus and showing the footage to potential buyers. Not only would all three of the steps taken cost Umbrella more money to pull off than they could ever hope to make off selling the virus, but any one of these innovations would make Umbrella rich if they didn't waste them on furthering their T-Virus initiative. And again, it's worth reminding they're still running these experiments and demonstrations for no clear reason.
    • And then it turns out in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter that, not unlike the original game series, they produced the T-Virus and funded all of the crazy stuff that had appeared throughout the series (genocidal Artificial Intelligences, a virus with the capacity to destroy the world, cloning technology, cryogenics) in an attempt to take out mankind and have it be reborn for the corporation's executives to lord over as "gods." Considering how much crazy tech they had going around, they could have probably managed to rule as gods over a populated Earth instead of a Death World. Their plan also involves freezing themselves in a place that could very easily be turned into zombie chow. It says a lot that Umbrella's CEO (who was the woman that Alice was cloned from) was not OK with the plan at all, so they froze her unwillingly so they would have free reign to execute it, and she accepted Alice's Roaring Rampage of Revenge as justice even if it meant getting killed herself.
    • Resident Evil: Damnation finally shows BOWs being used in the context of mildly conventional war. Lickers and other creatures are depicted as being very, very effective weapons in the right context. Damnation, though, is made by Capcom and is canon with the games; their characterization of the villains is somewhat less recklessly stupid compared to their film counterparts (to wit, Umbrella Inc. had already collapsed under the weight of its many blunders by the time someone got around to using their B.O.W.s in a military context).
  • Weyland-Yutani in the Alien series was pretty clearly looking over Umbrella's shoulder in business school (or maybe Umbrella was looking over its shoulder...?). In the first few movies, you could probably brush off their attempts to harness the aliens as simple curiosity, but once you take a look at the EU (prequels and Predator-related stuff included), it quickly becomes clear that Weyland-Yutani's entire corporate strategy is based on xenomorphs. You'd think after the seventh overrun research facility, they'd start looking into something besides an uncontrollable monster with no sane military applications that couldn't be fulfilled by pretty much anything else. In at least one case, they even betrayed their own government in the hopes of nabbing a few.
  • Jurassic Park's In-Gen Corporation, Bio-Syn Corporation and anybody related to them at an administrative level is composed of pure stupid; starting with cloning the dinosaurs (including the ones that are incredibly lethal — the novel even has Doctor Wu pointing out to Hammond that they could have just gone for the herbivores and mutated them further to make them extra-mellow and still gained a lot of money but Hammond wanted his park to be a "realistic" experience), too blind by seeing what could be done For Science! to think if it was a good idea at all, and then spending multiple movies trying to recoup the monetary loss of all of this whiz-bang going horribly wrong; to the point that by Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom they have gone to full-blown Weyland-Yutani/Umbrella levels of evil and try to sell these incredibly dangerous and unreliable things as military weapons and pets for the ultra-rich.
    • Special mention goes to their Jurassic World-era policies, which had a profitable theme park and seemingly managed to finally shake off the stigma of Hammond's first failure. Nonetheless, they still try to make money on the side with a military contract that involved deliberately creating a psychotic Ax-Crazy dinosaur, which promptly escapes and lays waste to the theme park. Guess they just aren't satisfied if they aren't crashing and burning in the evilest way possible...
  • Mortal Kombat: Shang Tsung's strategy for conquering Earth appears to largely depend on this trope; despite tricking Sonya into entering the tournament, which he must win fairly to conquer Earth, he still repeatedly sends henchmen after her to kill her both before she gets there and after she arrives.
  • Aguirre's followers in Aguirre, the Wrath of God betray their commander Ursua and go downstream on the Amazon in search of El Dorado. They all die. Turns out that taking orders from a raving Chaotic Evil lunatic wasn't a very good idea.
  • The Wishmaster films, in a big way. The Jerkass Genie actually has motivation for his job: once the person who releases him makes three wishes, genies will be freed from the hell-dimension they're trapped in and rampage across the Earth. He time and again proves not just to be Obviously Evil, but also a unique combination of Stupid Evil and Chaotic Stupid. He could simply trust that the person who released him would have three things that they wanted to wish for (and odds of that are pretty high), but instead, he insists on causing mayhem and destruction whenever someone makes a wish (particularly random people who aren't the person who can free the genies with three wishes), ensuring that whoever actually did free him will never make their three wishes. Of course, he does have some justification. When the titular genie grants a wish to anyone other than the one who frees him, he gets to own that person's soul, which boosts his magical power exponentially. After gaining enough souls, he probably can either personally break his fellow genies out of their hell-dimension, or compel the one who freed him to ask for three wishes, a tactic he has tried several times with varying levels of success.
  • The family in, er, The Family are walking embodiments of this trope. Despite being in witness protection, in fear of their very lives, and despite having left all hope of the mob life behind them ages before, they engage in vicious violence against anyone and everyone who crosses them, no matter what the slight, including beating a slightly late plumber to death with a bat and blowing up a snarky local grocery store with everyone in it.
  • In The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, the Sorceress (despite her player claiming to be Chaotic Neutral) has a tendency to incinerate peasants just because The Roleplayer of the party wants to talk to them.
  • The made-for-TV Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness has the evil adventuring party acting like this. At one point, they slay a dragon and the undercover paladin just barely convinces them not to raze the nearby village so they can treat them like heroes instead, and the evil adventurers still murder some of the villagers offering them hospitality for no discernible reason.
  • Roderick from Jack the Giant Slayer does a lot of actions just to show what an evil Jerkass he is; he has his sidekick send four soldiers to their death, which in turn leaves the group with barely any rations. And then he goes out of his way to throw another one off a cliff for literally no reason, despite knowing he's in hostile territory and could use the protection until he seized control. It's a bit of a relief when he pans out to just be a Big Bad Wannabe and Fallon reclaims his position.
  • Ax-Crazy prisoner Hydell in Lockout is pretty much the poster child for this trope, as he tries to rape the damsel or kills multiple people simply For the Evulz no matter what the consequences (although he may not be naturally this stupid, as it is stated that the stasis used to contain prisoners on the station can have detrimental effects on some prisoners' mental states). He undermines his brother Alex's Pragmatic Villainy in taking hostages and keeping technicians alive to keep the space station in orbit just to satisfy his bloodlust, even though it would doom him. Hydell even kills his brother in a moment of anger when he again doesn't allow him to rape Emilie, depleting his own options even further, and then concludes by killing all but one of the hostages.
  • In The Dirty Dozen, the dozen are proceeding with the infiltration of the German-occupied chateau in France, staffed by dozens of soldiers and generals and more reinforcements waiting nearby. Maggot, the most murderous member of the group, purposely sabotages the mission to take the opportunity to kill a German woman and tries to kill the rest of his team. He even urges the woman to scream in fear, alerting the Germans to his presence.
  • Paparazzi: The titular paparazzi are pretty much all cackling, over-the-top supervillains, but one in particular stands out. After the quartet of paparazzi that serve as the film's villains cause a car wreck that cripples the celebrity protagonist's wife and puts his son in a coma and then proceeds to hound the two for more photographs, the protagonist gets in a motorcycle accident with one of them that leaves him hanging off of a cliff overlooking a fatal drop onto a rocky shore. Despite all the crap they pulled, the protagonist is still willing to pull him up... until he starts bragging about how he's going to ruin his life even more with this accident. Three guesses as to what happens next.
  • In Predators, while on the run from the titular alien hunters, Edwin steps on a Bear Trap, so Isabelle helps him walk. Out of nowhere, he stabs her in the back and reveals he's a Serial Killer who has decided to make her his next victim, even though she is his only hope for survival. Fortunately, Royce shows up before he can finish her off, and Edwin is killed when he tries to stab him in the back.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Dark Side — and the Sith philosophy in particular — are prone to this. The Sith encourage selfishness and not controlling your emotions, which meant that pretty much all Sith were too impulsive to get anything really done. Any time they actually tried to get a complete order together, they were done in by the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder that pretty much all Sith had, necessitating the Rule of Two just to keep the order alive. Making things worse, any Sith steeped enough in the Dark Side to become truly powerful tends to become blind to the Light Side, which tripped Darth Sidious up when he couldn't sense Luke at a critical moment and didn't notice that his apprentice Darth Vader still had some good in him.
    • There is also Grand Moff Tarkin. When he destroyed the populated planet Alderaan as a show of force, he guaranteed that many of the population of the Empire would realize the pure evil of its government and the Rebel Alliance would have a surge in support, especially when it proves a credible military force by destroying the Death Star a few days later. In general, Tarkin's beliefs were steeped in the idea that as long as you were negotiating from a position of power (which the Empire was), you could do pretty much whatever you wanted and nobody would even try to stop you... an idea that could only exist if the Death Star were truly indestructible. Which it wasn't.
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, an evil pharmaceutical company that doesn't want anyone (even themselves and their own families) to have a cure for a deadly disease that has infected half of the entire world went through all the trouble to spend their resources on creating a working cure just for the sake of having to suppress it. If they didn't want the world to have a cure or risk it slipping into the public's hands, they didn't need to invent it in the first place.
  • In Descendants, Maleficent's Villain Song classifies merely undesirable traits like laziness as "evil" and goes on to describe "evil" as an ideal that should be striven for, a way of life. This is presumably why she achieved nothing for 16+ years after her defeat until a total stranger's choices serendipitously dropped a priceless opportunity into her lap.
    Maleficent: But when you're evil, doing less is doing more!
  • The villains of Train are organ and body-part thieves, which you'd think would deter them from damaging the "merchandise" via gratuitously sadistic and pointless brutalization and mutilation.
  • Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War Zig-Zags this. When it comes to fighting and scheming, The Mad Titan is as cunning as he is strong and makes creative use of his strength and power against the heroes. However, his goal falls under this trope in light of his motivations. He wants to kill half of all life in the universe for fear that life will snuff itself out if allowed to grow unchecked, as it did on his homeworld. However, the items he plans to use to resolve this, The Infinity Stones, would make him a Reality Warper par excellence. He could easily use them to create an endless supply of resources to preserve life, yet single-mindedly uses them for destruction. There's a reason he's known as the "Mad" Titan, after all, even if he is sick to death of being called that. The creators have stated that he's more of a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist desperately trying to prove that his previous plan could work to the point where it blinded him to all better options. His past self, upon realizing that all his plans will come to nothing as the Avengers will kill his future self and re-create the Infinity Gauntlet using time travel, just drops all pretense and wants to remake the world so people will be forced to be grateful to him.
  • Let Me In Kenny, the bully who torments the main character Owen. While he is part of a trio who regularly assaults and humiliates Owen, the other two at least have the sense to restrain themselves so they'll get away with it. Kenny, on the other hand, scars Owen's face, threatens to rape and drown him when a teacher was watching and at the end of the film, Kenny and his brother attack Owen by throwing him in the school swimming pool and planning to either kill him or blind him, with no idea how they were going get away with leaving a dead body or mutilated boy in a public area.
  • In Superman II, Lex Luthor betrays Superman for the continent of Australia, then is betrayed himself when he tries to collect, twice. Despite this proof that he will not be rewarded for his behavior, when faced with the chance to save himself (and everyone else) by luring General Zod and his lackeys into a trap, he again betrays Superman instead because he just can't stand to not betray Superman. Luckily, Superman actually took this into account, and rigged the device to depower everyone outside the chamber.
  • Waterworld: The smokers own all the world's guns, ammunition, and fuel, so they could easily rule the world and force traders and atolls to pay them tribute. Instead, they kill everyone they see, take everything that's useful, and burn everything else. If the hero didn't kill them, they would eventually die because of a lack of people to steal from.
  • Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road has it emphasized many a time that his methods are, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Conspicuous Consumption personified. His Establishing Character Moment is basically him dumping water from a massive underground reservoir onto his subjects, wasting thousands of gallons while lecturing them about how they can't grow dependent on water and wasting it is weakness. In his case, though, his irrational wasting of resources actually makes him even more dangerous; he simply doesn't care if he has to toss aside his vast supply of water, gas, bullets, and lives by the truckload if it means getting what he wants, which is why he's completely comfortable with mobilizing an entire army in the name of getting his wives back.

  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Forsaken pretty much ran the areas they were in charge of during the Age of Legend into the ground because the only thing they were capable of doing was fighting. Asmodean, a relatively weak Aes Sedai, was made one of them because he only did things like kill all of his musical rivals, instead of feeding everyone to trollocs. When they were released from their prison, they didn't do much better. Most of the times they are seen holding the Idiot Ball because they don't seem to understand that they can hold off on being evil for one day. Rahvin allows Morgase to escape because he's too busy brainwashing people so he can have sex with them, and Sammael does such a poor job running Illian that the nobles hand the country to Rand as soon as he kills Sammael. There are implications that they were picked by the Dark One precisely for being people with huge issues.
    • And all the less important Darkfriends (anyone who pledges himself to serve the Ultimate Evil) are even stupider. They spend slightly less time committing evil than their Forsaken masters, but only because they're too busy dying like flies. If they're not being ordered off into suicide missions or being executed for failing other impossible tasks, they're being stabbed in the back by their rivals or casually tortured and killed just for being in the wrong place when somebody important has a temper tantrum. And to add to the Stupid Evil of it, they all earnestly believe that they'll get the immortality and infinite power they were promised even though the Ultimate Evil hasn't given that to anyone in over three thousand years.
    • Jordan himself noted that much of the Forsaken's behavior and group dynamics are based on Nazi internal politics, a group notorious for being really good at out-backstabbing one another and not so good at running things. Of the Forsaken, only Ishamael cum Moridin has a deeper, more philosophical understanding of the nature of oblivion and the Dark One's seeming true goals; arguably, he is the most dangerous because he isn't selfishly evil and is much more deeply nihilistic. Also worth noting is that most of the Forsaken mentioned above got killed off fairly early in the series, the handful who remain by the last book include some of the most dangerous villains in the series, most obviously Demandrednote  and Graendal.
    • Played interestingly with the Dark One itself. It isn't really a person so much as the idea of evil, and as such has next to no capacity to learn from its mistakes or change its behavior. Word of God from Brandon Sanderson (who took over the series after Jordan's death) indicates that the Dark One barely even has a personality, being more an aspect of the universe than anything. Because of this, for all its cunning, it's essentially blind to all that is not itself, and tends to seek out those humans who most resemble it to serve it — hence the rogues gallery of spectacularly unstable people mentioned above.
    • Elaida, the Amyrlin Seat after she betrays and stills Siuan, is an incompetent Knight Templar who sees herself as the ultimate good in the world but is too much of a spoiled brat to actually act like it. She has a hilariously bad track record of misinterpreting her own prophecies, is absolutely ineffective as a ruler, and through her stupidity, allows the entire White Tower to become infested with Darkfriends. Egwene sums it up:
      Egwene: I dare the truth, Elaida. You are a coward and a tyrant. I'd name you Darkfriend as well, but I suspect that the Dark One would perhaps be embarrassed to associate with you.
  • Draag, the Dark Paladin in Game Night by Jonny Nexus, plays Stupid Evil to the hilt, as his answer to nearly every problem is either A) Pull out his evil sword DeathSinger and stab it or B) Pull out his evil sword DeathSinger and torch it. The opening chapter has the GM/God of the world having to rewind time several times as Draag first stabs a gatekeeper before he can tell them the riddle they need to solve to get past, and then stabs the gatekeeper after he delivers the riddle, but before they can answer. Then, once they do solve the riddle, he kills the gatekeeper anyway.
  • The scorpion in "The Scorpion and the Frog" is the Ur-Example, stinging the frog ferrying him across the river even though it leads to them both drowning. Subverted in the Legend of the Five Rings take on it.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The series is basically an epic devoted to showing the realistic consequences of what happens when you act this way. Being vile can actually get you ahead in Westeros, but being stupid will get you killed.
    • Joffrey Baratheon. Crown Prince and later king of Westeros, and a Royal Brat with way too much power. Throws his royal weight around whenever he possibly can, openly mocks everyone regardless of their standing or authority, has a friend of Arya's killed as vengeance for Arya making him look like an idiot, sends an assassin after Bran Stark armed with a Valyrian steel blade that no common assassin would have, which leads the Starks to start suspecting the Lannisters of treachery, and orders the execution of Ned Stark, sparking off a gigantic Civil War. When confronted with an angry mob of hundreds of unruly peasants with only a handful of guards to protect him, he responds by ordering the guards to behead the peasants and only survives because his guards are too smart to listen. All of this leads to a ruler that both the rich and the poor openly despise. This all ends up getting Joffrey killed at his own wedding through the use of poison, and turns the identity of his killer into a big mystery simply because there are so many people who want him dead.
    • Prince Viserys, who at least has the excuse of being half-mad through years of exile, begging merchants and city rulers for support in retaking Westeros from The Usurper. When his sister comes of age, she is married off to a Dothraki horselord with a huge army in exchange for his aid, but Viserys endangers the agreement by failing to understand Dothraki culture and continuing to abuse his sister, who is now, in fact, a powerful queen. He goes too far when he threatens her unborn child while in a Truce Zone, thinking the Dothraki can't harm him as they're not allowed to spill blood there. They get around this with some handy Loophole Abuse, pouring a pot of molten gold over Viserys' head while his sister calmly looks on.
    • Also Ramsay Bolton. His father, Roose, discusses this trope in A Dance with Dragons; though Roose is a sadistic psychopath himself, he at least has self-control, and points out the foolishness of his son's openly cruel ways.
    • Cersei Lannister as well. She does such things as dismissing the idea of paying the money that the realm owes to the Iron Bank of Braavos (an institution that has a reputation of replacing rulers that don't pay debts), as well as spending a very large amount of money building an entire fleet of warships, then handing it over to a man of questionable integrity and reliability, just because he vaguely resembles her childhood crush. As soon as she's imprisoned in A Feast For Crows, the guy makes off with every ship — naturally. Or, how about empowering a group of religious zealots who have had a long history of rebelling against the Crown, and who clearly still hate the noble elite? The only thing she succeeds at during her stint as a ruler after Joffrey dies in A Storm of Swords is running the Seven Kingdoms into the ground at an impressive speed, in the process amusing Littlefinger greatly and making the realm that much easier for Varys to help Prince Aegon Targaryen VI — the lost son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (there are question marks) — take for his own. In fact, when Cersei's competent uncle, Kevan Lannister, takes over the Regency, Varys kills him, as he was actually beginning to stabilise the realm.
    • Rorge threatened to rape Arya while trying to get her to free him. For some strange reason, she declined — leaving him to get out by a more difficult, undisclosed way. He keeps up the good work by getting most of the Seven Kingdoms to agree to just end him for the gratuitously over-the-top Rape, Pillage, and Burn he later commits at Saltpans, pseudonym or not. To manage to offend the very jaded sensibilities of Westeros takes acute dedication to Evil and/or just plain idiocy.
    • Historically, a fair few kings, lords, and Hands proved to be this and do get called out for it in the books by other characters. Here are a few highlights: Maegor "the Cruel" focused so much on being... well... cruel, that he wound up getting eviscerated by the Iron Throne under mysterious circumstances. Then there's Aegon "the Unworthy": the Blackfyre Rebellions that rolled through Westeros and Essos for over 80 years of slaughter were, basically, entirely his fault. Just because he hated his siblings (one of whom was his wife), hated his son, hated hard work, and jumped into any bed or plate of food he could fit into his itinerary or mouth. Aerys "the Mad" grew so Ax-Crazy, slovenly, and jumpily paranoid that one of his own Kingsguard took it upon himself to put the poor, deranged, mess of a man out of everybody's misery during the civil war he helped cause.
    • The Ironborn show shades of this as well. A culture that prides itself on pillaging and raiding, they have little plans other than Attack! Attack! Attack!, thus leaving them underprepared for anything else. Theon Greyjoy, for example, manages to take Winterfell in a sneak attack but forgets to realize that in order to hold it from being retaken, he needs men, hundreds at least, and he only has a few dozen. He has the added problem of not understanding that the whole point of Ironborn tactics is raiding; if he'd taken prisoners, looted the place, and skedaddled like his crew advised, it would have been a flawless victory.
    • House Frey manages to out-Stupid most examples on this whole page. All the while most in the House (not all, though) erroneously believe they're being both highly cunning and playing the Pragmatic Villainy card with their (over)reliance on naked opportunism and nose-rubbing trolling. They're very much neither of these things collectively; and, it shows. Painfully. Why all this going big with the multi-directional backstabbing in the most dishonest way imaginable? Because they're sick of everybody belittling them for being petty, opportunistic, dishonest weasels!
  • Lampshaded in Douglas Adams's novel Life, the Universe and Everything, when Trillian points out to the Omnicidal Maniac Krikkiters that they don't appear to have noticed that their plan to destroy the universe would also destroy them as well.
  • LaMOEs (pronounced "Lame-os") in World War Z fit this description. Short for "Last Man On Earth", LaMOES are people isolated for years by the Zombie Apocalypse, so used to living by themselves that they attack any and all people who threaten their "happy" lives, even soldiers attempting to bring back civilization, running water, and central heating.
    Todd Wainio: Those were the ones who were a little too used to being king. King of what I dunno; Gs, Quislings, and crazy F-critters, but I guess in their mind they were living the good life.
  • Discussed in Stephen King's novel Desperation. The demonic being Tak murders an entire small town for kicks, despite needing a fresh supply of human hosts in order to survive. (To make this even more absurd, the town in question is in the middle of the desert.) When questioning Tak's actions, the characters come to the conclusion that, as a being Made of Evil, being evil is what it does, even if it means it's sabotaging itself.
    "Evil is both fragile and stupid, dying soon after the ecosystem it's poisoned."
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The faction of State Security is ruthless and murderous to the point of convincing nearly every citizen of the post-Legislaturalist People's Republic of Haven that they're the bad guys, rather than an essential part of the new government. Excepting the People's Commissioners, who merely "disappear" people who don't take up the party line, State Sec at large tortures, humiliates, and rapes almost all their prisoners just for fun, rather than merely being highly effective executioners. They are so complacent and incapable of rationalizing other human beings as being more skilled than they are at certain things that they are relatively easy to outsmart, outmanoeuvre, or kill.
    • The planet of Mesa spends untold amounts of money on genetically engineering clone slaves, and treats them so horribly, that abolitionists notice that there is no way that it could be profitable and start to dig deeper, unraveling that it's merely the cover for a generational strategy of galactic conquest.
  • In The Hunger Games, Panem orchestrates a killing game in order to terrorize and cow down its poverty-stricken districts, while at the same time keeping the Capitol residents entertained. This ritual is basically a brutal instance of Make an Example of Them, as the games were set up in response to a failed rebellion against the Capitol. However, by the end of the first book, the Capitol have clearly mismanaged things, and President Snow rightly fears that another rebellion may be simmering. In response, he visits Katniss and implores her to keep the peace, and that's the smart decision. The stupid part is when he simultaneously initiates a violent crackdown against the Districts, and people are brutally and publicly punished and executed for showing any sort of dissidence against the Capitol. Given that Katniss is out touring the Districts while this happens, the people get a convenient figurehead to rally behind. The Capitol's decision to orchestrate a Quarter Quell specifically to screw over the victors of the Hunger Gamesnote  doesn't help matters, but President Snow is so convinced that it will succeed that he fails to notice the conspiracy to oust him that's brewing right under his nose.
  • The Party in 1984 seem to have raised Stupid Evil to the level of philosophy, if not a deity. They seek out power, total and complete, over all other humans, for no reason other than, well, power. One of their slogans is "God is Power". Power over a blasted, war-ravaged, Crapsack World in permanent 1940s technological stasis, but whatever floats your boat. O'Brien proudly lampshades this at the end of the novel:
    O'Brien: The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power."
  • Nikolai Carpathia of the Left Behind series shows some hysterically poor planning, considering he's supposed to be both a mastermind and the Antichrist. His entire plan to win out over God basically boils down to following a prophecy that is guaranteed to lead to his defeat to the letter, then deviating from it and trying to shoot Jesus at the very last possible second. The only reason Carpathia even succeeds as much as he does is that everyone else on earth is an even bigger idiot than he is.
  • Evil Harry Dread from The Last Hero is one of these, and indeed all true "Dark Lords" are, as part of an ancient covenant with the heroes. Actually, he is a deconstruction of the trope, as he KNOWS what the stupid decisions will lead to, but makes the mistakes anyways out of a sense of honor. He also does it so that the heroes will make similarly stupid mistakes (out of a similar sense of honor) that let him get away, among other things. We're also told that this is the reason he's the last Dark Lord; modern heroes that don't follow the old Code are much more pragmatic, take precautions like blocking villain escape routes, and just kill them off when they have the chance.
  • The Dune series offers several examples:
    • In the first book, Rabban brutally mistreats the Fremen at every opportunity with very little provocation. Of course, unbeknownst to him, his uncle, the Baron Harkonnen, is deliberately letting Rabban abuse his power so that he can eventually be deposed by his brother Feyd, with the expectation that Feyd will be hailed as a savior. Unfortunately for Harkonnen, Feyd is also prone to stupid evil — he tries to have the Baron killed before the plot has played out.
    • In Children of Dune, Wensicia tries to have Leto and Ghanima — a pair of nine-year-old twins with genius-level intellects and the collected military experience of all their ancestors combined — killed with tigers (sure, they're specially trained and have little devices in their brains that allow them to be remotely controlled, but they'll still dumb animals against genius kids). And she sets this plan into motion for no other reason than petty revenge for the overthrow of her father — since the kids have not yet ascended the throne, their deaths won't actually bring down House Atreides or the Cult of Muad'Dib. The plan fails, of course, and her own son is so disgusted by her stupidity that he forces her to give up her power and then has her exiled.
  • BKR, the Big Bad of Rod Albright Alien Adventures. It's outright stated that as long as he can make life miserable for other people, he doesn't give a damn what happens to himself.
  • The Tamuli: Invoked, discussed at length, and ultimately subverted in the case of Cyrgon. Cyrgon's a god of stagnation, and despises change and innovation, causing his people to idolise stupidity and execute anybody intelligent. Cyrgon himself refuses to admit the world has changed, confusing Trolls for Dawn-Men and arming himself and his people with bronze instead of iron or steel. That said, when push comes to shove, he's not actually deficient in IQ, and when he finds himself in a life-or-death situation against Sparhawk, he proves himself capable of innovating.
  • In The Gap Cycle, Angus Thermopyle is so stupid and evil that it's a wonder that he's had any success as a pirate. Nowhere is this more aptly demonstrated than when he kidnaps Morn Hyland and fixes her with a zone implant, intending to force her to do labor on his ship, but then keeps rendering her useless by repeatedly beating and raping her so that she's too injured to work.
  • Dragonlance: In an alternate timeline in which he becomes a god, Raistlin quickly Jumped Off The Slippery Slope into this trope. He wages war against the other gods and turns the world into a lifeless wasteland, all because he's pissed off about... stuff. The things and people he liked best as a human live the longest, but that just means that their misery is prolonged. He claims that he's merely destroying a flawed creation so that he can build a better one in its place, but it's pretty clear that "creation" isn't really in his divine wheelhouse and he will ultimately wind up alone in the universe with only his self-loathing for company. Fortunately, after being shown this Bad Future, main-timeline-Raistlin opts for a last-minute Heel–Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice to avert this.
  • Vicar Zhaspahr Clyntahn is the Grand Inquisitor of the corrupt Church of God Awaiting in Safehold, and he pulls moments of Stupid Evil with alarming regularity.
    • One of his earliest such moments is in By Schism Rent Asunder, ordering his Inquisitors to turn what was intended to be a seizure of Charisian shipping on one of their ports into a bloodbath later known as the Ferayd Massacre. He goes on to lie to his three fellow members of the Group of Four about how the massacre began, so they're blindsided and forced to acknowledge they were in the wrong when Charis sends the Temple proof of what really happened.
    • How Firm a Foundation: His long-standing automatic suspicion of the Republic of Siddarmark prompts him to instigate the Sword of Schueler, a plan that starts unrest within the country quickly turning into outright civil war and nearly destroying the Republic from the inside out. He does this despite being told repeatedly by the others in the Group of Four to leave Siddarmark alone, since they still give tithes and are, at worst, neutral in the conflict. After the Sword of Schueler, Siddarmark's leaders ally with Charis just to survive and provides the naval-based Charis with a mainland ally it desperately needed.
    • In Hell's Foundations Quiver, during the overland war in Siddarmark, he refuses to allow troops of the Army of God to be pulled back, despite the advice of the army's supreme commander. One reason is that he refuses to give up ground won from the heretics. However, that captured land also contains numerous concentration camps that are used to sort through captured heretics that he does not want to see liberated.
  • Satan in Paradise Lost freely admits that he would be happier serving God than ruling Hell, but refuses to repent anyway. He wants everyone to be miserable, and he includes himself in that.
  • In Warrior Cats, Brokenstar forces young kits to start training as apprentices when they are three months old (around age five in cat years) instead of the standard six (age 10 in cat years), which leads to them dying in battle because they're not old enough to fight properly. When all of ShadowClan's kits are dead, instead of doing the smart thing and changing his tactics, Brokenstar reasons that the kits must have died because they were "too weak" and decides to refill the nursery by kidnapping kits from other Clans, which predictably pisses them off. By then, he has become so hated by his own Clan that they not only help ThunderClan recover their missing kits but team up with them to drive Brokenstar out of ShadowClan for good.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: The Empire during the events of the books as it becomes increasingly repressive. As Han reflects, tax people to death paying for your war machine, then you massacre them just for peacefully protesting this, and naturally many will find armed revolt is the only option (plus Imperial officers that retain a conscience will defect).
  • Shades of Magic: The Veskan twins in the third book try to break a century-old peace treaty, assassinate the royal family of Red London, and stage an invasion, all while Red London is desperately trying to hold off the Eldritch Abomination that destroyed the world of Black London and is trying to do the same to their world. For bonus Stupid Evil points, the invading army's presence would actually feed the entity and make it stronger.
  • In Saint Augustine's Confessions, he argues from his personal experience that real evil people can be this trope. As a boy, he stole pears from a neighbour's tree: what he liked was not the taste of the pears themselves, or the feeling of sating hunger, or any other façade of logic that humans have invented to justify their sins, but the psychologically masochistic knowledge that he was corrupting himself more and more every time he did it. Augustine concludes that sin itself was desirable, solely because it was sin. Yet even sin's pleasurable nature did not justify the importance he assigned it, because the love and awe of God is more pleasurable, and Augustine is happy to have been converted to it... Basically, Stupid Evil is realistic because people being stupid is realistic. A truly smart person wouldn't commit sin in the first place.
  • Justified in Perelandra. C. S. Lewis wanted to make the point that, having renounced the source of all good, Satan has to renounce all good things, intelligence being one of them. Ransom comes to the realization that for demons, intelligence is a trait that they can put on or remove at will — it's like clothes they wear rather than an innate characteristic. And based on the Un-Man's petty behavior whenever he isn't "working", it's clear he would rather be intelligent as little as possible.
  • In The May Night, or the Drowned Maiden by Nikolai Gogol, the Wicked Stepmother disguises herself by turning into one of the rusalki and stealthily continues to plague her stepdaughter's posthumous existence. Seems very cunning, but then she gives herself away in the most idiotic manner possible – by volunteering to play the villain in a game and obviously reveling in doing so. However, since it takes a living man to realize it, while the stepdaughter remains clueless, probably rusalki aren’t too clever in general.
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover: While he is capable of planning and pragmatism, Bingham is also rather impulsive and lets his emotions get the better of him. Also he's on a power trip as the Blood Spider and thinks Spider-Man should use his power to lord over others.
  • Chris Hargenson of Carrie. When she and her classmates are serving detention for throwing tampons at Carrie during her first period, she protests the punishment and genuinely thinks that all her classmates will walk out in solidarity with her, even after they've been threatened with suspension and getting banned from the prom. And she gets her father to try and sue the school for this, not considering that she was put in detention for leading a bullying incident of another girl and the principal has practically a whole drawer centered on the other times Chris has harassed her fellow students. This is ratcheted up in the 2013 film adaptation - where she uploaded a video of the incident to YouTube, didn't tell her father this before he threatened to sue, and when confronted with the fact that she may have the video on her phone, tries to claim it's an invasion of privacy to ask her to show it to them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gotham:
    • The Penguin is an obvious Dirty Coward, and he makes very little effort to hide that he is obviously playing both Falcone and Maroni. Of course, he gets away with it.
    • The other mob bosses aren't any better either. Mooney and Maroni plot to overthrow Falcone, but their plans would leave too many dead bodies that will result in disorder. Also, when they do have Falcone in their hands, they quickly turn on each other for full control over Gotham's underworld.
    • At least Fish tried to feign team spirit with Maroni, but he insisted on mocking her and insulting her at every sentence, becoming the straightest case of this among the mafia.
  • Heroes:
    • Sylar and Elle: Elle is bored on their first mission date and decides it would be fun to kill the rental car guy. Sylar gets one after killing four people in broad daylight and then not even trying to hide all that blood.
    • Also, Peter Petrelli during his brief Face–Heel Turn phase after absorbing Sylar's ability and its corresponding psychosis. In comparison, Sylar, for his part, is perfectly capable of faking normality if it will advance his long-term goals, or even of occasionally showing mercy if the mood strikes him. Evil Peter, on the other hand, had No Indoor Voice and was instantly compelled to decapitate every single person that he met after he gained Sylar's craziness.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Web of Fear", the Great Intelligence's vessel turns out to be Arnold, who we learn is actually dead due to being killed by the Yeti, the Intelligence's foot soldiers under its direct command. This means that the Intelligence murdered its own vessel with its own weapons for no apparent reason (by the end of the story, Arnold is clearly beginning to rot). This got a bit of a Fix Fic in the novelisation, which established that Arnold was dead and under the Intelligence's control the whole time.
    • The Master in his first season has this as a character trait. Most of his stories involve the Doctor pointing out to him that if his own plan succeeds, he's doomed — usually due to basic logical oversights like not considering the fact that he's trying to blow up the planet he's currently living on and can't leave, or that the villains have Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, or that the telepathic death machine has no way of not killing him too, and so on — and the Master panicking and agreeing to help the Doctor fix his own mess. This is a lot of how he can remain a Friendly Enemy — the implication is that he's just so stupid, and his plans are so pointless and convoluted, that the Doctor can't even take him that seriously. This rather pathetic characterisation is partly why the Hinchcliffe regime decided to drastically reinvent him as a psychotic, murderous, and genuinely hateful lich-like creature.
      • In "The Deadly Assassin", we get this exchange:
        Doctor: The Master is consumed by hatred. It is his only weakness.
        Master: Hatred is a strength.
        Doctor: You'd delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly.
      • In "Logopolis", he not only accidentally kills octillions of people, but he also draws attention to himself by randomly killing a policeman and Tegan's aunt.
      • The Rani calls him on this: she just wants to rule one planet, beneficently if she can get away with it — but what are you going to do with the whole universe?
        Joe Ford: I'm not sure what happens to the Rani between this and "Time and the Rani" because she develops from a (relatively) sensible character into a panto ice queen. The only explanation I can think of right now is that she has now experienced how much fun it is to toss logic aside and indulge in grandiose master plans. The Master has a lot to answer for.
      • The new series attempts to rectify this by making the destruction of his homeworld and his species in the Time War the motivation to take over the universe and giving him a Freudian Excuse as motivation for his more psychotic actions — a sound of drumming imprinted in his brain by the Time Lords. This excuse was an Actor Allusion to John Simm's previous role as Caligula and has yet to be mentioned by any subsequent incarnations. Big Finish Doctor Who suggests that the Master was chosen to be Death's Champion.
    • Nyder in "Genesis of the Daleks" has a brilliantly illogical moment where he opens fire on the Doctor, Harry, and his own boss, risking his general's life just to kill a couple of people out of racism. This actually works to enhance how much of a psycho he is.
    • The Weeping Angels know who the Doctor is, and are completely aware of what he's capable of, and know what happens when he's pissed. They still go out of their way to make him mad just for the sake of being dicks.
  • In the CSI episode "Bad to the Bone", the killer is close to this (he's shown to have a short temper and be extremely violent). He steals poker chips (and never cashes them in despite having thousands of dollars worth), starts fights (in which he beat a man several times his size to death with his bare hands) and then walks into a diner covered in blood to wash his hands and order a sandwich. He's killed when he decides to try and strangle Grissom when he's swabbing his hands for blood residue and dies in the ensuing brawl with the police (his sister, and only surviving family member, is relieved he finally got himself killed). The rest of the episode is devoted to the team finding the remains of one of his victims in his garden. While he's not the only example in the series, he's one of the only ones who doesn't have the excuse of being on drugs or a stupid kid (though it is implied that he has some kind of neurological disorder or is simply some kind of psychopath with next to no impulse control whatsoever).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • What makes Joffrey Baratheon so dangerous to everyone including himself is that he isn't just cruel, he's stupid and cruel. This starts with his execution of Ned Stark which triggers a war with the North, leaving his regime vulnerable to Robert's brothers, who want to usurp his rule (and they quickly put on an appearance) when the smart thing to do (and what Cersei and others wanted) would have been to keep Ned alive and negotiate a truce or alliance with the North. In a world of Magnificent Bastards practicing Pragmatic Villainy, no-one's very impressed with him engaging in pointlessly evil acts just for the sake of being a bastard heedless of the consequences. He's compared negatively to the Mad King at a few points. It reaches a peak in "The Old Gods and the New" when Joffrey triggers a riot in King's Landing by ordering the crowd of starving smallfolk put to death because one of them threw cow dung at him, as per the novel. His uncle Tyrion does not hesitate to express his distaste when he all but invokes the trope by name with this splendid description:
      Tyrion: We've had vicious kings, and we've had idiot kings, but I don't know if we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!
    • It must be genetic because Cersei (and Jaime, to a slightly lesser extent) tend to default to killing people and pissing people off even when it blatantly conflicts with their interests, something which Tywin and Tyrion separately note about Cersei. Both Cersei and Jaime suffer from no one particularly liking them, and neither seems to understand the true reasons why. It gets to the point where Tywin is quick to empower his much-disparaged son Tyrion to mitigate Cersei's calamities. Cersei related examples:
      • She cares nothing about public sentiment and doesn't realize that throwing people out of her city will draw their ire and how the ire of the mob is dangerous for kings and queens.
        Tyrion: Listen to me, "queen regent". You're in danger of losing the people.
        Cersei: The people? Heh. You think I care?
        Tyrion: You may find it difficult to rule over millions who want you dead.
      • Her understanding on the actual military threats posed by Stannis Baratheon and Robb Stark is likewise tenuous at best, to the point that Tyrion's victory at Blackwater is almost in spite of her efforts, rather than because of it (her only contribution is getting the wildfire made, a plan Tyrion co-opted because she likely would have burned King's Landing to the ground by accident). Of course, a lot of these may be due to her rapidly becoming a not very functioning addict.
      • Once the sensible influences or restraints of Tyrion and Tywin are gone, Cersei goes one step further and engages in one petty, short-sighted scheme after another, culminating in her empowering the Faith Militant as a petty revenge scheme against the Tyrells with zero regards for the potential blowback. She's called out on this one multiple times.
      • She takes it another step further when she decides to gather all of her enemies at the same time at the Great Sept of Baelor with what was supposed to be her trial, and has the building blown up, killing Kevan Lannister, Margaery, Loras, and Mace Tyrell, the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, and heavens know how many people, leaving her alone with Tommen in the political arena of King's Landing. She then happily skips off to torture the septa who beat her and mouthed off to her... leaving a despairing Tommen, knowing that his mother was responsible for the blast that killed his wife, family and countless people, to take a leap off a very high window.
      • Cersei takes it Up to Eleven in the Season 7 finale. She lies about joining Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen in an Enemy Mine against the Army of the Dead, saying she'll let the two sides weaken each other and then finish off the winner. Jaime incredulously points out if they don't help, they'll die. Either the dead win, absorbing Jon and Daenerys's armies into their ranks before attacking them, or Jon and Daenerys win and take their revenge on them for not helping, and Daenerys's forces are already more powerful than Cersei's. When Cersei refuses to budge, Jaime gets fed up and abandons her to join Jon and Daenerys.
      • Cersei finally does the absolutely stupidest thing she could do in the last two episodes of the series, killing one of Daenerys's dragons and personally executing Dany's best friend right in front of her just to see her suffer, and lets her go afterwards. Cersei probably thought that the trauma would weaken Dany, but unfortunately all that it did was make her finally embrace the Targaryen madness and order her armies to take over King's Landing and kill everything in it. Cersei doesn't survive. To be fair, neither does Daenerys herself, but Cersei wasn't alive to see that.
    • Ramsay stands out as being incapable of restraining his sadism at great cost to his cause, though unlike Joffrey, he is intelligent and street-wise when he needs to be. The problem is that he mainly uses his intelligence to devise ways to torture and torment people for kicks, often without considering the long-term consequences of his cruel acts.
      • When Roose returns to the Dreadfort, he's quick to chastise Ramsay for how he's managed to destroy any chance of making a badly needed alliance with the Greyjoys just because he wanted to have a bit of pointless fun breaking a man.
      • Ramsay then needlessly massacres the Greyjoy garrison at Moat Cailin, flaying them alive and publicly displaying their corpses... after they had surrendered in good faith on the promise of safe passage!
      • This is pushed to new heights in Season 5 after Ramsay gets cocky from being legitimized as "Ramsay Bolton". Everyone (from Jon Snow in the Night's Watch to Stannis to the Small Council in King's Landing) is starting to get concerned that winter is finally coming in a matter of weeks, and to worry about food supplies. Ramsay, in contrast, is messily enjoying a private feast for himself — animals he should have kept alive for the winter.
      • When Lord Cerwyn (one of the top dozen lords in the North) refuses to acknowledge the Boltons as the new rulers of the North, Ramsay publicly flays him alive - along with his brother and his wife — while forcing Cerwyn's son to watch. Ramsay is outright proud that afterwards, the son paid his taxes. Ramsay barely listens as his father tries to explain to him that such wanton brutality hurts them in the long term — instead, he continues to shove food in his mouth. Roose then gets so annoyed at Ramsay's oblivious stupidity that he comes the closest he ever has in the entire TV series to outright shouting at someone. note 
      • In Season 6, his father coldly points out that "playing his games" with Sansa, i.e. raping and torturing her repeatedly and causing her to run away, may well have cost him the support of the North. Without Sansa, the Boltons have no hold over the Northern lords. In the following episode, Ramsay correctly surmises that Sansa is running away to her brother Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at Castle Black, and suggests they wage war against Castle Black to reclaim his bride. However, Roose believes the Northern lords would rise up against him for murdering the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
      • All of this comes to a head in "Battle of the Bastards". He uses his own men as a trap in the titular Battle of the Bastards, discounting the possibility of reinforcements and ending up killing his entire Karstark-Umber-Bolton alliance more or less to a man. When finally cornered inside Winterfell, he at least has one chance to kill the enemy leader while surrounded but wastes it by finishing off the giant Wun Wun (who was going to die anyway) instead of killing Jon when he is distracted. His actions have left House Bolton with no heirs, dooming it to be forgotten by history as the Starks retake Winterfell and he is fed to his own dogs.
    • Gregor Clegane, aka the Mountain, is Ax-Crazy, but he's so Ax-Crazy that he has virtually no impulse control or strategic thought and will simply lash out at anyone who irritates him, and, given his massive strength, usually kills them. He's really only alive because almost no-one is willing to take him on, and Tywin Lannister protects him from the people who are, and even Tywin is getting tired of his liability.
      • Lord Tywin reproaches the Mountain for wasting able-bodied prisoners by torturing them to death.
      • In his first appearance, Gregor tries to straight-up murder a son of one of the Great Houses of Westeros in front of the King.
      • In his fight with Oberyn Martell, Clegane publicly confesses to killing Elia Martell and her children. That was an Open Secret, but as long as he kept his mouth shut, Doran Martell could justify not starting a conflict with the crown. Once Gregor destroyed the Lannister's Plausible Deniability, Ellaria Sand's coup and subsequent declaration of war went off almost completely unopposed.
    • Viserys Targaryen. Provoking his superiors is not a wise idea.
    • House Greyjoy tend to attack whenever they think they can gain anything from it, even if they can't actually hold onto it because they aren't very effective on land against trained soldiers. If you have other enemies to deal with this can actually make them dangerous to be around because though they may be doomed to fail and are too short-sighted to be initially reasoned with they could still end up taking you down with them in the process.
      • Evident from Balon's very first appearance. Balon always does the stupidest, most evil thing he can think of. He could have joined the Starks (as Theon advises) or (probably, since they were still nominally loyal to the Iron Throne before attacking the North) the Lannisters and achieve his objectives of independence for the Iron Isles — but his insistence on acting independently means his uprising is doomed to failure once the War of the Five Kings is resolved. Then again, given his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, few people would be prepared to deal with him anyway.
      • Theon displays poor leadership and favours unnecessary violence. He's shortsighted and doesn't seem to grasp the concept of Pragmatic Villainy, being more interested in seeming tough. Luwin is unable to convince him that Ser Rodrick is more valuable alive than dead, and Theon repeats this mistake again with the Stark boys, as Yara points out. A rare example in which his Stupid Evil comes from trying to adhere to PR where the Ironborn are concerned. The worst part is that he's stupid from an Ironborn perspective too; he understands the "hit hard and fast" part of their way of war, but refuses to do the "take the loot and captives and run" part. The result is that his masterful raid on Winterfell with a handful of men rapidly degenerates into an insane attempt to hold it with a handful of men, who promptly abandon him at the first opportunity.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld can be like this. In "In the Line of Duty", Teal'c explains that he has seen certain victory turn to defeat simply because the Goa'uld cannot rein in their gloating or pointless sadism. There were really only three Goa'uld who managed to avoid this: relatively non-evil Yu, No-Nonsense Nemesis Anubis, and Magnificent Bastard Ba'al.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • It is shown that the previous Dark One was under the control of the local Duke, who was having children conscripted into the army to go fight against the ogres. The question is why? The duke had the power of the Dark One at his disposal, which is later shown to be more than enough to drive back the ogres (as Rumpelstiltskin did). There were plenty of adults around, so why pointlessly throw away children in the war? It seems that the only reason to squander that magical power and get children killed for no point or purpose was to get Baelfire involved so that Rumpelstiltskin would have a reason to grow a backbone and kick off his character arc. Or, being a feudal lord, as a way to keep the peasant population in check. Some fans theorise that the Ogres didn't even start the war and that the Duke keeps the war in the current unwinnable state in order to justify exorbitant taxes and martial law.
    • Regina qualifies as well. Emma is all set to just walk away after dropping Henry off in the pilot, but Regina manages to act so incredibly evil, for no real reason, that Emma is forced to question whether Henry is better off there.
  • Reacher Gilt is this in the TV adaptation of Going Postal. Having taken the clacks system away from the Dearheart family thanks only to the happy coincidence of Moist Von Lipwig's bank fraud, which ruined the family enough that they were forced to sell the clacks, he basically runs it into the ground, allowing the towers to break down, treating the employees like shit, and making business decisions based solely on what will profit him the most in the short term. And when he's actually forced to compete with someone, he automatically resorts to criminality. After Vetinari decides to force Moist Von Lipwig to resurrect the post office, Gilt responds by hiring a banshee to try and kill Lipwig and burn down the post office. When Lipwig manages to keep the postal service running anyway, Gilt hires bandits to intercept the carriages. It never seems to occur to him that the clacks could have easily crushed the postal service if he'd actually bothered to maintain and improve the towers. This is a particularly regrettable case of this given his characterization in the book, where he is a full-blown Magnificent Bastard who is suggested to have little liquid wealth and is simply extremely savvy with financial tricks and showmanship. In the book, it is explained that he is fully aware that the clacks are nearly unusable (and are constantly getting worse), but he is still making a fortune from them, and when they (inevitably) completely fail, he will make an even larger fortune by selling them, regardless of their condition, making his cheapskate management a solid case of Pragmatic Villainy (and he is implied to have done this to other businesses in the past). The only reason Moist and the post office are a genuine threat to him is because Boxed Crook Moist is equally clever at showmanship, and can make the post office appear a viable (and divinely supported) institution, even though he is fully aware that a functional clacks is a better system by any sane standards. This is largely thanks to company board of directors (who he was manipulating into doing the stupid stuff and taking all the risks while he was robbing them blind in the background) being Adapted Out.
  • Anslo Garrick in The Blacklist. He's given the task of capturing Red and no shortage of resources, and yet he barely pulls it off because he can't control his temper and becomes entirely focused on trying to force Red to open the cell in which he's trapped himself.
  • Bomber Adrian Bale from Criminal Minds. The man is a textbook sociopath who only cares about blowing people up to the exclusion of all else, including his own well-being. One year before the start of the series, he held a group of people hostage in a warehouse until Gideon was able to talk him down; Bale gave himself up but held on to the remote for his bomb, and detonated it when six FBI agents went in to do a sweep, ensuring he was imprisoned for life and destroying any chance of parole. In Season 1, he was called in to advise the BAU on how to disarm a necklace bomb on a hostage that was copied from one of his designs — in exchange, he managed to negotiate a transfer to a secure hospital and forces Gideon to make a written statement that Bale was smarter than him. When it came down to a Wire Dilemma, he lied about which wire to cut (fortunately, Gideon didn't believe him), invalidating his deal and getting himself put back in prison, now branded as a snitch.
    • A number of other UnSubs also qualify, but unlike Bale, they have the excuse of being desperate or crazy. Adrian was 100% in control of himself and understood the consequences of his actions; he just wants to pull a Taking You with Me on Gideon, then go back to jail.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Angelus can be guilty of some really moronic acts. Lashing out at allies and preferring torture For the Evulz instead of just killing those in his way is Tuesday for him. Killing the demon that would have allowed him to win for keeps, on the other hand, is just Chaotic Stupid.
    • Harmony tries to convince people she's not evil, even as she's betraying them to their faces.
    • Spike himself, in his early days. In his debut episode, he teams up with the Order of Aurelius, planning to attack Buffy on the Night of St. Vigeous when a vampire's powers are enhanced. Unfortunately for the Order, Spike "couldn't wait" and leads an attack on Buffy at Sunnydale High a few nights early, which results in several vampire deaths. May not be stupidity; one of his defining traits is that he's in it for the thrill of a fight that might end with him getting killed. Attacking when he's got the advantage would actually diminish that thrill.
  • In The Musketeers, Athos is perfectly willing to hand over his land and feudal responsibilities to his neighbour Baron Renard, because they just remind him of his tragic past. So Renard tries to have him flogged to death, and starts boasting and gloating about how he rapes and murders peasants For the Evulz, not to mention actually trying to do the same.
  • In The Making of the Mob, Vito Genovese is consistently portrayed this way. His great feats include murdering a former associate in broad daylight to get out of paying the guy (which ultimately resulted in his having to leave the country); murdering another guy so that he could marry his widow; stealing supplies from the United States Army during World War II (when he was already under suspicion for having close ties to Mussolini); and the Apalachin Conference, in which he invited La Cosa Nostra leaders from around the country to a farm in Upstate New York in order to celebrate the establishment of his own crime family — and drew the attention of the New York State Police, resulting in dozens of arrests.
  • Stranger Things: Agent Connie Frazier is this. Had she kept pretending to be a social worker and not blown poor Benny's brains out while trying to recover Eleven, Connie could very well have easily recaptured Eleven in the very first episode, thus saving her group a lot of time and effort with no real downside. Instead, it leads to Eleven psychically killing Connie in retribution for killing the first human being who had been genuinely kind to her, inadvertently attracting the attention of the Demogorgon, who kills the other government agents. Oops.
  • In the Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, the crew of the Mirror-NX-01 Enterprise eagerly betray one another and generally act cruel and petty even when it goes against their self-interest or would hurt them in the long run.
    SF Debris: [after some sabotage wrecks the ship] This again is why evil equals stupid: Because the crew is so fractured, they can't even keep the damn ship running! I can't believe that in evil Starfleet this kind of bullshit is tolerated; it's one thing to be evil, it's another thing to be so evil that you're gonna wind up screwing yourself over because everyone will stab everyone else in the back at the first opportunity.
  • When the Homeguard is introduced in Babylon 5, the cell on the station is preparing a coordinated set of assassinations on all four ambassadors, which in turn is a signal to other cells to set their own plans in motion. Do they keep their heads down in the meantime, so as to remain undetected until they're ready to strike? Nope! They repeatedly attack random non-humans all over the station and leave their calling cards, quickly getting Station Security on the hunt for them. These attacks don't play any part in the big plan, they just really wanted to beat up aliens.
  • Doctor Smith has such a bad case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder in Lost in Space (2018) that she seems compelled to put herself at risk in order to betray someone even when she gains nothing from the betrayal.
  • Agatha Cackle in the 1998 series of The Worst Witch. While an Adaptational Badass who comes close to taking over the school in the Season 1 finale with a fool-proof plan - impersonate her twin sister the headmistress to get inside and then sneak in her two associates with powerful magic, planning to take control when the entire school is at an end of term assembly - she blows her entire plan from her own idiocy. She goes out of her way to be a Stern Teacher, which immediately makes others realise something is up with the usually friendly Miss Cackle. She in turn is horrendously abusive to Mildred - locking her in her room and announcing she'll be expelled on the last day of term - which immediately makes Millie suspect that Agatha has switched places with Amelia. And once they find the real Miss Cackle, it turns out Agatha "couldn't resist" gloating about her plan; giving everyone an easy way to stop her.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Satan is definitely this: Revolting against omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God, taking third of angels with him, and deceiving God's supreme creation, who are considered to be His children (Humans). Yeah, how's that a good idea?
  • Orthodox Christianity states that sin (i.e. acting against God's love and His will) is inherently stupid (basically Evil Is Dumb). It brings His wrath upon you, totally ruins your soul, mind, and body, makes you want to sin more, and eventually, brings you to a Fate Worse than Death. (Not to mention that the whole universe has changed for the worse after Adam and Eve's first sin.) In fact, the only reason that we exist now, according to saints, is that He wants us to repent (feel guilt, ask God for forgiveness and stop sinning, and live by His Commandments (Old and New Testaments)). At the same time, however, it recognizes the concept of Necessarily Evil (killing in wars while protecting your country, for example). It's still a sin, and should be avoided and repented if committed, but it's allowed. It also makes an above-mentioned statement about Satan even more outlined.
  • Zoroastrianism argues that evil is self-defeating because it is inherently stupid. This is why Angra Mainyu is fated to lose compared to the intelligent Ahura Mazda, and indeed in mythology, most of his "plans" (read: spiteful decisions) backfire horribly one way or the other.

  • In his regular editorial for the Role-Playing Public Radio podcast, Tom Church explained that part of his hatred for the Star Wars RPG is the insistence of players on playing Sith while unable to grasp the concept of quiet, calculating menace that makes them such appealing villains in the first place. "Would you like to go out for some babies later this evening?" "Why yes, that would certainly hit the spot."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Kane kept falling into this pattern of behavior when he was trying to get John Cena to "Embrace the Hate" in the course of their recent feud. Although his long-term plan was to poison relations between Cena and the "Cenation" and then between him and his friends Zack Ryder and Eve Torres (and this plan proved partially successful), Kane just could not restrain himself from attacking and maiming Ryder (or further maiming, since he had already put Ryder in a wheelchair) simply because he could, which only shifted attention away from Cena's ambivalent relationships with his allies and motivated Cena to oppose Kane all the more.
  • Bray Wyatt at the start of his feud with Dean Ambrose. His plan to convince Dean Ambrose to become his new follower would have worked a lot better if he hadn't attacked Dean and cost him the match against his Arch-Enemy.
  • When you get down to it, Heel authority figures are often this - insulting the crowd, making decisions against their wishes, etc.... despite said crowd being the company's main source of income.

  • The Dark Dragon in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues originally intends to go after the government agent Travers, but has his plan waylaid when Melissa is able to convince him to attack public civilians instead. Irene, who is listening in, is amazed that he'd be so stupid as to fall for such a blatant manipulation tactic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The forces of Chaos (appropriately enough) make some pretty questionable tactical decisions from time to time. There's a reason that the symbol for Chaos is an arrow that points in eight different directions.
      • They enjoy sacrificing hundreds of their own cultists for purely symbolic reasons (as opposed to sacrificing hundreds of cultists for perfectly practical reasons, like summoning daemons, bigger daemons, and really really big daemons to attack their opponents).
      • Infighting between various Chaos factions has spelled the ruin of more than one attack on the Imperium. This might be an aversion since it seems that the Big Four doesn't want to win their war with the Imperium. If they win the war, the human population will drop drastically, along with human psychic emanations that form their existence.
      • Kharn the Betrayernote  is such a bloodthirsty, frothing Ax-Crazy that even his fellow Ax-Crazies don't want to get anywhere near him. This is because he has a tendency to slaughter friend and foe alike when his blood is up. At one point, when the World Eaters (Kharn's legion of Chaos Space Marines) were attacking an enemy force of Emperor's Children (another Legion of Chaos Space Marines), a blizzard so terrible even the genetically-enhanced and daemonically-powered Super Soldiers couldn't take it descended and forced both sides to retreat into shelter. In a fit of rage, Kharn burned shelters to the ground and proceeded to run around in a psychotic frenzy, slaughtering anyone that came within chainsaw-axe range. Both Legions had to kill their own battle brothers to get inside the shelters and survive, and as a result, they were never again able to take the field as a unified fighting force, and are now reduced to fighting alongside other Chaos warbands as shock troops. This is represented in the tabletop game by Kharn's special rules: if you roll poorly to hit in close combat, where any other character would simply miss, Kharn instead hits someone on his own side. Though he does have a little Justification; Kharn is fanatically dedicated to Khorne, the Blood God, and Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, so long as it flows. Thus, as far as his faith is concerned, he was doing the right thing and all the other world eaters were being cowards.
      • Diverting shock troops in extremely rare and strong armor, even by Space Marine standards, from a strategically important battle to take out an enemy propaganda station run by a dozen unarmed monks, then annihilating it from orbit while the shock troops are still inside. Chaos commanders seem to have a collective inferiority complex or something.
    • The Imperium of Man suffers heavily from this; half the time, it seems like it's done to keep them from completely wiping out the Chaos Marines. Acts done by the Inquisition are the worst case; they don't shy away from committing acts of Necessarily Evil but are infamous for doing things like leveling whole planets just because a few people came into contact with alien technology. The Imperial Guard, Depending on the Writer, will be led by incompetent General Rippers that can't think of any tactics beyond throwing human wave tactics at things that will tear them in half, as opposed to, say, shooting them from a distance with their huge tanks.
    • Dark Eldar love torturing stuff. Technically, they do have a reason, as they do it so that an evil god their ancestors ended up creating won't eat their souls, but let's face it, they just love torturing people for fun (especially when you consider that doing stuff like that created the thing in the first place). So much so, in fact, that their vehicles are designed for swooping in, grabbing prisoners, and zooming off into the sunset at the expense of all else — including armor and crew and passenger protection, though not necessarily firepower. Though the Dark Eldar avert this to a degree. They are backstabbing assholes, yes, but unlike Chaos, they at least understand that turning on each other during a life-or-death battle is absolutely moronic. Of course, once the raid is over, their rivals are fair game again.
    • Orks are done this way on purpose. They pick a fight with anything they meet, including each other if there's nothing else around. But for them, it's part of their appeal, and the fact that they basically reproduce by dying helps cover for their stupidity. The Orks' inability to stop infighting is actually a justification for why there is a setting at all: If the orks, in all their unfathomable numbers, didn't like killing each other as much as everything else and actually managed to work together long enough, nothing in the universe would be able to stop them. Downplayed in that Orks are not really evil so much as Blood Knights: for them, war and violence are nothing more than fun pastimes. In fact, Orks are just as often Chaotic Stupid as "Stupid Violent".
    • The Eldar, of all factions, grab the Idiot Ball almost as often as the Imperium. They will lie, mislead, manipulate, and be jerks just to show off their superiority. They will orchestrate deaths of billions of the Imperium soldiers to save a few hundred of their own kin, despite the fact that the Imperium is the only thing protecting the galaxy from being overrun by forces of disorder.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Drow elves in most campaign settings are like this. Being forced to live in the Underdark, surrounded by swarms of magic-eye-beam-firing, mind-controlling, acid-spewing, nastiness-causing beasties is bad enough. But they also worship an insane demon and turn their own civilization into a Social Darwinist nightmare, to the point that they expend three-quarters of their energy fighting themselves. It helps that in most settings, the drow are watched over by a Chaotic Evil goddess named Lolth, the Queen of the Spiders; Lolth rules the drow society and demands that they constantly double-cross each other. She is specifically described as "constantly watching for signs of too much cooperation."
      • That said, the drow can still go too far into Stupid Evil even for Lolth's social Darwinist tastes. The Starlight and Shadows trilogy sees Lolth sending a divine avatar to command them to tone it down for a while, lest the whole drow race completely destroy itself. The Forgotten Realms also has the "Silence of Lolth", where she simply cut off all access between herself and the drow for seven months; by the time Lolth came back, drow society had collapsed into even worse infighting and cult worship, and was on the brink of destruction before Lolth got everything back in order. At least as much order as a society like the drow elves could ever have with their Stupid Evil tendencies.
    • The Drow are far from alone amidst evil D&D monsters and villains here. In fact, some of the most blatant examples are human (many of the Forgotten Realms's Zhentarim come to mind) — in this case, their individual evilness may be unconsciously or deliberately played up because they have no convenient "monstrous" traits to clearly mark them as Obviously Evil otherwise.
  • Intentionally employed in the Paranoia RPG system, where all of the player characters are supposed to be stupid evil and the "plot" is just an excuse to put them all in one room while they try to out-backstab each other. Not only that, but they're all at the mercy of an omnipresent Lawful Stupid NPC, Friend Computer so that they have to try to get away with being Stupid Evil while acting like they're Lawful Stupid.
  • The Skaven of Warhammer Fantasy are very much Stupid Backstabbers. While this serves a useful purpose in ensuring only the strong survive, this isn't saying much since Skaven take the We Have Reserves and Zerg Rush approaches; on the other hand, their tendency to turn every minor engagement into a five-way leadership battle is pretty much the sole reason apart from sheer troop inadequacy that they haven't taken over the entire friggin' world. Seriously, in one of the Gotrek & Felix novels, Thanquol could have won by page 200 if he hadn't been sending the heroes to eliminate his rivals out of fear for his position. In the setting's grand finale, they took on basically everyone else except the other Chaos factions at once and won on almost every front, only failing to win the entire war outright because some of them decided to blow up a moon over one of the continents while a large portion of their warriors were currently standing on it.
  • World of Darkness as a whole seems to always have a Stupid Evil faction for the players to fight against (or join). In Vampire, we have the Sabbat, who want to rule over humankind openly, ignoring that the Camarilla, their opposing faction, ALREADY basically rules the world. In Werewolf, we have the Black Spiral Dancers, who would really, really like to help the Wyrm destroy the universe. And finally, for Mage, we have the Nephandi, who want to help Demons/The aforementioned Wyrm/Every other otherworldly abomination destroy the universe basically for the lulz.
    • Lampshaded in the Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade supplement Infernalism - The Path of Screams: "Here comes my Dark Lord! Booga-Booga-Booga!" "No, you don't - taste my steel!" SPLAT! End of story, right? Not if you do (Infernalists) justice." That passage goes on to describe complex and intelligent motivations and behaviors for Infernalist antagonists.
    • The New World of Darkness has its share as well, most notably Belial's Brood in Vampire: The Requiem. ...Unless you happen to have their book, which shows them to be more of a Gnostic Religion of Evil that views the chaos they cause as needed for their enlightenment, and quite capable of subtlety and patience if the situation calls for it. In fact, the pneuma (soul-focused) factions are actually all about subtlety and patience — the Nameless are primarily researchers and scholars, while the Mercy Seat regards playing The Corrupter as a holy mission.
  • Exalted:
    • Subverted with the Infernals... most of the time, anyway. Even after offering their souls to the Yozi and merging with a demon, most Infernals are at least practical in their quest to turn Creation into a living hell. That being said, Infernals are expected to be paragons of demonic will while they are in Malfeas, and participate in baby-eating contests and the like.
    • Side note: you can commit super-villain style antics, such as telling the heroes about your magnificent plans, kidnapping maidens (or men), or setting up elaborate death-traps in order to reduce your Limit (and avoid the wrath of your demonic overlords). In other words, the game encourages you to be Stupid Evil, at least some of the time.
    • The Neverborn's punishments of the Deathlords when they don't perform to their satisfaction, mainly, not destroying all of creation, even if they can destroy most of it. The Neverborn's punishments have proven so brutal that the Deathlords actually hesitate to carry out their plans because they're so afraid of their masters that they won't try any plans unless they are absolutely sure they will work. Granted, the Neverborn were not exactly sane even in life as Primordials, and being dead has unhinged them even more. The fact that they aren't too smart is hardly surprising.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Rakdos from the Ravnica bloc are this intentionally. They even draw a great deal of their strength from mindless slaughter, which is also reflected in their representative gameplay mechanic (Hellbent).
    • The Gruul might also be either this or Chaotic Stupid, depending on who you ask. They have good reason to be pissed, though: Backstory tells that when the guilds were first formed, the Gruul were put in charge of "protecting nature." The problem is that Ravnica, their setting, is a planet-wide city, so between having much of their purpose being co-opted by the other Green-based guilds, or just eliminated by urban planning, they were eventually cast down as a guild. They didn't take it well.
    • In New Phyrexia, this seems to be the role of the black mana Phyrexians. Blue, green, and white all seek the creation of a more perfect creature or society, respectively through research, accelerated evolution, or spiritual purity. Red keeps the world running through construction and forging. Black... fights amongst itself over who gets to be in charge of their faction. Anything actually useful they contribute is pretty much just a side effect of their in-fighting.
      • A certain amount of Reality Ensues as a result of this; when last we heard of New Phyrexia, Elesh Norn had taken control of both the Black and Red factions as well as her own white Machine Orthodoxy. The Red Phyrexians have been confused by their feelings of empathy and not sure what to do, while the Black Phyrexians were too divided from all their pointless infighting to resist Norn taking command.
  • Legend of the Five Rings' Sealed Evil in a Can villain, Iuchiban, was eventually revealed to be this. After twice nearly conquering the empire through subtle infiltration, relying heavily on his enemies not even realizing his existence, he trumpets his third return in blatantly evil style by murdering a ki-rin spirit.
  • Pathfinder paints goblins as manic vermin who usually do themselves in by sheer idiocy halfway through their natural lifespan. With nonexistent attention spans, no grasp of tactics, and no regard for each other's well-being, they tend to deal hefty Friendly Fire before they even reach their targets and abandon each other as soon as something spooks them — a poor strategy to pursue a violent grudge against almost every other species.
  • Ars Magica: Demons lack the Seven Heavenly Virtues completely, which often takes them into this territory — for example, they compulsively betray their allies because, lacking Faith or Charity, the idea of cooperating towards a common goal is completely alien to them and they can't bear to act for another person's benefit. Even powerful demons are relatively flighty and gullible by human standards since they're driven entirely by their worst impulses.
  • Happens every so often in BattleTech. The most prominent example is Jinjiro Kurita, whose response to the assassination of his father, the previous ruler of their realm, was to order that an entire planet be executed as revenge, to the point that he had his infantry decapitating civilians with their katanas. This act slowed down their conquest of their rival state, repulsed several other semi-neutral states on moral grounds, destroyed the morale of his troops, caused enemy troops to fight beyond their expected limits due to the intensity of their righteous fury, made his nation an ally-less pariah for generations, and single-handedly undid every single achievement of his father, all in the name of his violent thirst for revenge. When his own generals and even a priest begged him to stop the massacre, he instead killed the dissenters himself.

  • Doctor Faustus. You made a Deal with the Devil to have magic powers in exchange for taking your soul in a few short years... really, why act surprised? What did you THINK was going to happen? To make matters worse, he repeatedly insists he's beyond redemption despite theologians and an actual angel telling him that's impossible, and even as he's about to be Dragged Off to Hell, all he does is make a speech begging to be given more time to repent, even though he could easily just repent then and there and save himself.
  • The Jew of Malta. Barabas betrays the Christians, who have wronged him, to the Turks, who reward his betrayal. He then betrays the Turks to the Christians, on the ground that he hates them both… and ends up in that boiling cauldron.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The culprit of the very first case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has no reason whatsoever to pin the crime on Larry. He had no connection with him or the victim, he simply needed to silence a witness of another crime. However, he testifies that he saw Larry do it and ends up Saying Too Much when cross-examined, revealing him to be the killer. Had he just left and pretended he had nothing to do with the case, no one would've connected him to the crime.
    • Ace Attorney: Justice For All has Richard Wellington, the culprit in the very first case note . He pretty much went out of his way to give easily disproved excuses, even trying to steal his phone back from Phoenix and not bothering to check it was the right one!
    • Matt Engarde in the final case is an even worse example. Hiring an assassin to kill off someone is one thing. Filming said assassin as he performs the deed so you can blackmail him, especially considering how good the man is at his job and how much he values honor and trust, is putting yourself one big target in your back.

    Web Animation 

  • In Looking for Group, Richard started out like this. In fact, he's still like this a lot. It helped with him being undead and a powerful sorcerer, not having to suffer any real consequences for his actions — although the other party members certainly did. It's later revealed that his Stupid Evil acts do have a point, though. If he doesn't continually kill innocents, he loses his powers. All of his powers. His undeath (i.e. his immortality, inability to feel pain, and ease of regeneration) and his magic. His insane actions are shown to be a bit of a facade, as he's aware he's doing evil things, but he is doing them in hope for the Greater Good. The crazier he acts, the less responsibility he has to take for his actions, and the less clearly he remembers his old self.
    • Later in the comics, he mellows out the evil without drawbacks, since he is supposed to save innocents for power now, but the problem is he is still an idiot and he will still do Jerkass acts for fun or if angered. Turns out he is insane, but it's a question of degree.
  • In Dresden Codak, Dmitri's Dungeons & Discourse character is a Stupid Evil "Dark Kantian" as a parody of Kantian philosophy.
    Dmitri: I am compelled to do evil, regardless of its utility.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar is a great example because he's not just evil in a stupid way, he's evil because he's stupid. When Vaarsuvius cast a wisdom-boosting spell on him, he swore off evil and needless killing. Then V dismissed the spell and he ran off to kill things. However, he had a vision/hallucination of Lord Shojo which has seemingly convinced him to avoid this; if he's a bit more selective with his carnage and act as if he's playing by everyone else's rules (in his word, "faking Character Development"), he can get people to stop hating him and possibly even get them to do what he wants. Considering the setting (Dungeons & Dragons), Belkar is eerily effective at times compared to more intelligent and less stab-happy people. Belkar may also be smarter than he looks, as shown when he did a pretty effective job of dismantling Miko despite her ridiculous combat proficiency. He is defeated off-camera. Of course, then he was just as stupid as you'd expect when the little hole in his resurrection plan is pointed out. There are some hints, however, that his development may turn out to be genuine, such as seeming to lament that hurting people is all he's good at after insulting Roy out of a breakdown due to Durkon's vampirization.
    • The trope is discussed between Roy and the High Priest of Hel when Roy calls him out on why he wants to destroy the world:
      High Priest: Maybe it's because I'm an Evil vampire now?
      Roy: So what? Xykon's an Evil lich. Tarquin's an Evil human. Neither of them wants to actually destroy the world. Heck, Belkar is an Evil halfling and he's like 70% towards wanting to save it. You need to have some kind of underlying reason to support this scheme!
    • Later subverted when it turns out he does have a reason. When the world is destroyed, the souls of all the dwarfs in the world will belong to Hel, which will grant her the power to remake the world as she sees fit, with the High Priest presumably having a favored position at her right hand.
    • Nale. Compulsively boastful of his evil deeds, arrogant, power-hungry, but often doesn't think through the consequences of his actions. He once killed 417 people just to give local law enforcement an obvious clue as to where he was hiding out at (the map of the killings formed an arrow). However, his arrogance came back to bite him, hard, when he plotted and executed the killing of his father's friend Malack, then boasted of it to his father, who then killed Nale and avenged Malack.
  • Subverted in the RPGamer comic Knights of the Dinner Table, where player Sara Felton becomes evil because of a cursed object, but acts, as she points out, definitely not Stupid. And she likes it.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Black Mage, who puts the "sociopath" back into Heroic Comedic Sociopath — and removes the "heroic" for good measure. His apparent solution to every problem is "kill everyone, starting with the people I hate", and it seems the only reason he hasn't put this plan into action is that he doesn't know where to start.
    • He also has a flowchart.
    • Kary is also this, considering she blows up her own minions just for fun and to prove that she is evil, which depletes her supply of them. Later, she blames the Light Warriors for killing her minions despite admitting that it was all her fault.
    • The other Light Warriors can fall into this at points - Thief once sold a fraudulent map to someone they were asking for directions.
  • Minor villain, Jaxon, in Dominic Deegan is in the middle of a chaotic and extremely dangerous wilderness when he decides to stab his boss and go hunting for a monster that completely outclasses him. Later, while wounded, he decides to attack the unscathed main character. He's either classic Stupid Evil or just suicidal.
  • Girl Genius gives us Bangladesh Dupree. Her attempts to follow orders inevitably add a lot of "kill people" between the lines. On a more specific note, she has to be beaten unconscious so she stops trying to kill the guy trying to keep the airship they're on from being destroyed. In all fairness, she was dazed, delirious, and barely awake, and he had recently broken her jaw. And he did that because she attacked him when she saw him dragging her unconscious boss through the halls. Bang also (surprise) sees Klaus as some sort of a father figure, so she might have been trying to protect him. In her case, it's sometimes hard to tell motivated violence from unmotivated. She's the girl who complains about orders to not burn any towns and then adds "even if a town really needed burning".
  • In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, when princess Dewcup tries to join the Drow because Evil Is Cool, she got a thing or two mixed up.
  • Homestuck:
    • Jack Noir (the alpha version, anyway) took a hard right into this trope via a Jail Break-like imprisonment sequence, where he keeps foiling his own escape plans with his compulsive need to stab everything in sight. He ends up beaten senseless by a gang of burly Prospitians.
    • Vriska arguably counts too — she will do everything up to and including prototyping Jack Noir with a Physical God just so that she can influence the story's events in some way.
    • Caliborn starts as this, but we learn that he took a major level in badass and became the Big Bad Lord English.
  • Klonoa: Dream Crusaders: Big Bad Claire creates a bunch of portals that scatter the main characters, including Big Bad Wannabe Tenebrae Hue, to different locations. But then she realizes that she needs Hue for her own plans, so she is forced to track him down. This shows that while Claire is immensely powerful, she is not very good at forward thinking.
    Claire: Maybe I should have thought twice before flinging you into space with my portals...

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • This is the main playing style of the Spoiler Warning crew.
  • The Unexpectables: In "Skycrimes", the engineer of a pirate (air) ship complains after the fact about kidnapping an opera, which has already led to a battle with the title characters who had been attending in the audience, is so in keeping with their captain's behavior that he has no trouble accepting Greckles' cover story, and ultimately sees their ship lost to a disappointed client.

    Western Animation 
  • Almost all the Captain Planet villains seem to have no other desire in life than to pollute the planet for the sake of polluting the planet. It's rare that the villain is actually trying to accomplish another goal with pollution being an unwanted (or even wanted) side effect. Looten Plunder, Hoggish Greedly, Sly Sludge, and (sometimes) Dr. Blight at least try to make money, yet consistently choose those that will lead to a superhero and his teenage hit squad wrecking everything, seemingly just so they can be assholes to the environment. In the crossover with OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, Lord Boxman (himself an avowed Card-Carrying Villain) directly points out that Dr. Blight's plan to pollute the world doesn't really get them anything.
    Lord Boxman: This will surely destroy the plaza!
    Dr. Blight: And the world!
    [both laugh, but Boxman stops]
    Lord Boxman: Oh... why would we want to do that? We do live on the world.
    [Dr. Blight pauses, then resumes polluting]
    Dr. Blight: Who cares! Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha!
  • In an episode of Darkwing Duck where Quackerjack teams up with Megavolt, Quackerjack pulls out a fire truck the size of a bumper car with a hose that acts as a flamethrower. After he uses it, there is this exchange between the villains (in case you missed the point, Quackerjack's stunt had set the entire city block on fire, and they were in the middle of it):
    Megavolt: Not bad... But... Shouldn't a fire engine shoot water?
    Quackerjack: Course not! Then it would be a water engine.
    Megavolt: [looks around nervously] Uh... Got one of those?
  • Transformers
    • In the Grand Finale of Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron picks up the Villain Ball by deciding to kill the entirely helpless human village before the armed Maximals, and was attacked while waiting for it to recharge. To add insult to injury, somehow the attack failed, and it appeared the only ones who died were Quickstrike and Inferno.
      Megatron: I suppose, given my imminent godhood, these primitives should really be beneath my attention. (sighs) Still, "no score is too small to settle", I always say...
    • The Transformers: Prime incarnation of Starscream plays it up with all the arrogant gloating he does and his bad habit of thinking out loud — something which even Megatron has called him out on. He also thinks that every bot should bow down to him because he's in charge (or he thinks he should be), even if those bots tend to be twice his size and strength.
    • Airachnid. Whilst dangerous, her ambitions far exceed her capabilities, something that even Starscream manages to keep some check over. She attempts to take command of the Decepticons in Megatron's absence, despite Soundwave, his most loyal follower and the one Decepticon that everyone else on the ship is wary of, standing no less than 10 feet away from her. When she tries to assert authority by force, Soundwave effortlessly puts her in her place. Later, after breaking away from the Decepticons, she attempts to lure Megatron out alone and then kill him by sicking an Insecticon on him. When Megatron starts fighting back and winning, she panics. Apparently, she forgot there was a reason the guy was in charge. Underestimating Badassery is a flaw of hers that comes back to bite her every single time and she almost never learns from it. Her final humiliation in the series even comes from Soundwave himself.
    • The original The Transformers take on Starscream wants to overthrow Megatron, but often just disobeys him because he can. This leads to Starscream's disobedience often making him into a hindrance; in the pilot, the Autobots wake up because Starscream shoots at their ship, and an Autobot sneaking on the Decepticon ship is aided by Starscream trying to kill Megatron.
    • Galvatron in the show's third season is even worse, thanks to his violent outbursts that lead to attacking his own men for no reason. Of course, he did end up immersed in lava for quite some time after the movie (in which he was fairly competent), and it's pointed out that it didn't do his processors any favors. It's shown that, crazy though he is, he's basically the only leader the Decepticons have by that point with enough charisma and fighting skills to actually keep them together—but even his most loyal servant, Cyclonus, still tried to send him in for psychiatric treatment. It didn't work.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Dr. Robotnik leaned into this in later episodes. The guy savored polluting the earth and was vehement on destroying all sentient life or roboticizing it into a mindless slave, leaving him the only free-willed being on earth, par his nephew and subordinate, who he proved to find rather dispensable as well). He also fell into the other cliched Villain Ball, capturing Sonic frequently and putting him in an easily escapable Cool and Unusual Punishment, and regularly abusing his potentially dangerously skilled minions (in the comic adaption, Snively did indeed alter Robotnik's devices to kill him as revenge).
  • Wacky Races: Dick Dastardly is on the low end of evil, because he's always trying to cheat to win the titular Wacky Races. But despite pulling ahead numerous times in each episode, Dastardly keeps stopping to try and sabotage his opponents' ability to race, despite having a huge lead. What makes this one particularly notable is that his car, the Mean Machine, also seems to be by far the best of the various cars in the race, with its arsenal of gadgets and rocket boosters giving it a massive edge over the ragtag accidents he goes up against. In the unaired pilot for Wacky Races Forever, despite being only a few feet from the finish line, Dastardly openly declares that because he's a villain, he has to cheat. However, all of this is Played for Laughs, because Dastardly is still a Jerkass who has it coming when the other racers blow past him.
  • The titular character from Invader Zim. On one occasion, when Gaz, one of the only two human characters that acknowledge Zim is an alien bent on world destruction, is asked why she never helps to stop his schemes, she points at this trope. He's even this by the standards of his species, the Irkens, who are pretty Stupid Evil themselves. There's a reason the Almighty Tallest sent him on a Snipe Hunt to Earth (which they didn't even think existed); he's so indiscriminately destructive that he's a bigger threat to his own side than the enemy.
    Zim: I put the fires out!
    Tallest: You made them worse!
    Zim: Worse... Or better?
  • Played for Laughs in Justice League Unlimited: The Flash, stuck in the body of Lex Luthor (don't ask), has to keep up the charade of being Luthor in front of a gang of supervillains. The problem is, all-around-good-guy Flash has no idea how to act even remotely like a "bad guy," much less one as suave as Luthor, which leads to this exchange as he's walking out of the bathroom:
    Dr. Polaris: Hey, aren't you going to wash your hands?
    Flash: [in Luthor's body] No! 'Cuz I'm evil.
  • South Park:
    • It has an episode where Satan sends three serial killers from Hell back to Earth in order to get him a birthday cake shaped like a car. Unfortunately, they keep killing the vendors, ruining their efforts.
    • Eric Cartman's sheer selfishness and determination to have something he can rub in the face of Kyle often bites him in the ass. A stand-out example is when he makes a bet with Kyle to make a song that goes platinum. Cartman does a shameless ripoff of a Christian song that becomes a huge hit, but at the end of the episode learns that his song is a type of music that can't get a platinum award. While sales for the song could still make Cartman lots of money, because he was only thinking about his bet with Kyle, Cartman throws a fit and shows what a jerk he is to his Christian audience, costing him his entire fanbase and earning him a well-deserved red-ass beatdown from Token.
    • "Asspen" plays this for laughs when Stan ends up being put in a skiing match against a jock named Tad in a cliche "save the youth center" plot. Tad, being an 80s rival character, decides to sabotage Stan to ensure a win... only Tad is an experienced skier while Stan is nine years old and just learned how to ski that weekend. When Tad gets ahead, he spends several minutes setting up traps (cutting down a tree, laying sawdust) meant to slow Stan down, but Stan is so slow already that the traps don't even change his speed any. This also gives time for Tad himself to get sabotaged and lose. He is also so determined to bully Stan into a challenge that he doesn't acknowledge the fact Stan is constantly telling him he doesn't care about the whole thing and wants to be left alone and if he did, he would be the winner of the competition by default.
  • Played for laughs in the The Simpsons two-parter "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" when Burns decides to fulfill a lifelong dream of blotting out the sun. Even Smithers calls him out for this act of "Cartoonish Supervillainy". Burns does try to rationalize this scheme by pointing out that by denying the people of Springfield solar energy, he'd have a monopoly on energy sources (he's already purchased every oil rig in town) and force everyone to purchase nuclear power, but it's likely that all his potential customers would be so disgusted (or just so creeped out at living under permanent darkness) that they'd just move to another town. At one point, in the midst of gloating about how he has succeeded in bringing the town to heel and ruined many lives, he sees a baby with a piece of candy in a park across town and he decides to drop everything and go get that piece of candy, forcing Smithers to make him focus (this act turns out to be Foreshadowing for the event that gets Burns shot, which is that he decides, in the middle of his gloating about blocking the sun, to steal Maggie's candy, which he has to struggle to perform because he's Laughably Weak, which leads to an accidental discharge of Burns' gun). He also covers up the Heroic Sacrifice of Smithers' father and disposes of his corpse in the sewers because "Cover-ups were all the rage back then."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Plankton, whose own evil schemes keep failing because of his own stupidity. He claims to be an evil genius, yet he doesn't know some of the simplest things like snow and blinking.
    • Mr. Krabs takes his Money Fetish so far that he often actually wastes money on being greedy. For example, in "Penny Foolish", Krabs sees SpongeBob pick up a penny off the street. Krabs wants the penny so badly that he's willing to spend millions of dollars on building a movie theatre just so he can charge SpongeBob one cent for entering.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Diamond Tiara suffers from this in "Ponyville Confidential". Having been appointed the editor of the school newspaper, she attempts to blackmail the Cutie Mark Crusaders into continuing to write their anonymous gossip column, despite the fact that everyone in town has stopped reading the paper due to the hurtful lies the gossip column spread, and they already know who the columnists are.
    • Queen Chrysalis from "A Canterlot Wedding" wants to absorb The Power of Love from all of Equestria, and her Shapeshifting gives her unlimited potential for successful espionage, except that she has a chronic Villain Ball and acts Obviously Evil despite posing as Princess Cadance, attempts a needlessly cruel (more importantly, cover-blowing) Uriah Gambit involving the real Cadance, publicly reveals herself despite not yet knowing the full result of her prior Energy Absorption (as well as currently being cut off from her fellow Changelings). The real Cadance has made herself known by now but a still-disguised Chrysalis could at least try to discredit her, even fearlessly mocking Cadance and Shining Armor for trying to turn The Power of Love against her (despite how she used it to defeat Princess Celestia just a few minutes ago). Chrysalis is ultimately blasted-away in record time.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Lampshaded and subverted in one episode, where Mojo Jojo and Him are each trying to prove to the Rowdyruff Boys that he is eviler than the other (and is thus more worthy of being their father). Him's final attempt is to brainwash two scientists into using a device that starts to move the Earth into the sun. Mojo quickly launches into a tirade about how stupid that is (for obvious reasons). This is a subversion because Him was bluffing. After letting Mojo speak his mind, he simply waves his hand, and it stops. (For all we know, he wanted Mojo to embarrass himself.)
    • Princess tends to do things like this a lot because she's a Spoiled Brat who wants what she wants now, and doesn't think about the consequences of her actions. Her worst instance of this was when she bribed the Mayor into letting her be Mayor of Townsville, and then made crime legal, hoping to put the Girls out of business. She was on cloud nine until someone robbed her father's mansion blind. Princess was quick to revoke the law, but the Girls didn't recover her property, mainly because they were the ones who had robbed her. Princess tries to get them arrested, but the Girls politely explain that you can't be arrested for committing a crime if the "crime" was legal at the time it happened. With this, the Girls are able to "convince" Princess to relinquish the town back to the mayor.
    • Thanks to a deal made by the Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo is allowed to wreak havoc across Townsville over and over with the Girls being allowed to eat 1 candy for each crime they stopped. Yet for no reason aside to be a dick, Mojo decides to betray them by stealing the Mayor's candy just because he finds it more fun than destroying Townsville despite the fact that they are the reason he even managed to get out of prison every time. Unsurprisingly, this leads to Mojo getting the worst beating of his life, and the girls would have even killed him if Blossom hadn't realized what they were doing.
  • Butch from Mr. Bogus occasionally shows shades of this, due to his cowardice and rather low intelligence.
  • Kim Possible has Dr. Drakken, a self-proclaimed evil scientist whose plans mostly involve stealing stuff from other scientists, and there are times that he doesn't even know what the thing he stole does, nor does he know how to use it properly.
  • Played straight by a few of Exo Squad's main characters, as well as a few throwaway characters.
    • Notably general Typhonus, whose irrational evil stupidity and bad timing have actually benefited his enemies more than anything. At one point, sent by Phaeton to sabotage any deal between Exofleet and the Pirate clans to unite them, but his betrayal of the pirate clans and kidnapping of their leader only serve to unite the factions into a new powerful force against his species.
    • One Neo-Sapien human collaborator betrays his fellow operatives and allies for the sake of currency. Considering their now revealed plans to enslave humanity or genocide, it's pretty stupid. The Stupid Evil is enhanced when you realize that he has no way to even use the money he's being paid with!
    • Despite the fact the Neosapiens plan on wiping out the enemy human fleets such as the pirate clans or Exosquad, one Pirate Clan leader still betrays the entire clans, sabotages their fleets, and tries to cause infighting just so he could get in power. His actions get him killed though he was fairly successful as a spy otherwise. Strangely, the Neosapiens recruited him but never seemed to support him with anything other than angry forceful orders, so why did he even work for them when he could've gained leadership through his regular non-traitorous means?
    • Despite Phaeton clearly going insane, and eventually plotting to blow up planet earth along with the majority of the remaining Neosapians, several still serve him unquestionably. Some even bathe in villainous excitement of the plans despite the fact everyone would be dead and their species nearly extinct.
    • Subverted in most of the series, notably one scene where Phaeton continually questions Marsala's switching sides, constantly providing him with tests of loyalty, even nearly turning one ally into a vegetable during interrogation, on top of capturing the rest of the squad and beating up an ally. Even that wasn't enough as Phaeton orders Marsala to kill his allies. Marsala is given a gun and in the last minute finally proves his actual loyalties. Most other villains would have been stupidly evil and accepted his faked betrayal in an instant.
  • All of Von Reichter's plans to kill the titular Cyber Six shove him violently into this territory. Cyber Six needs a chemical called Sustenance to survive, a chemical that only Von Reichter knows how to make and her only means of obtaining it are from vials she recovers after killing his other creations that he repeatedly sends to kill her. If he just took some time off and hit the beach, he could sit back with a margarita while she literally starved to death. Though there is a more justifiable reason in the comics, as there are normal cyborgs that run on Sustenance that inhabit the city.
  • Defied by Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb, who has stated that just because he's evil, doesn't mean everything he does has to be evil, and is annoyed by the fact that Major Monogram and Perry always assume whatever he's doing must be somehow malevolent (although to be fair, they're usually right most of the times). However, several of Doof's schemes are Ambiguously Evil as they don't do any usual harm, such as activating a laser gun that can create mustaches, buying some machinery that only opens and closes a lobster cage, building a country on a floating inner tube, creating a portal to travel to alternate dimensions, or building a governor's mansion on top of City Hall. Technically, anybody would point out the fact, but tell that to a no-nonsense major who usually jumps up to bizarre conclusions over them.
    • Played straight in Phineas And Ferb Save Summer by Rodney and the rest of L.O.V.E.M.U.F.F.I.N.. Doofenshmirtz builds a machine that moves Earth further away from the sun. Rodney is inspired to build a bigger version and use to hold the world hostage with the threat of plunging the world in an eternal winter. When all but one of Rodney's demands is met, he isn't satsified and makes good on his threat, something even Doofenshmirtz objects to. When Doofenshmirtz tries to stop the machine, Rodney uses to move Earth even further away from the sun with the intent of plunging the world into an eternal ice age.
  • While it would be somewhat of a stretch to call Cedric from Sofia the First truly "evil", Cedric's evil plans are this, both in general and in one memorable instance. In general, much of Cedric's plans revolve taking Sofia's amulet, which he plans to use to rule the kingdom. But this amulet gives its wearer gifts or curses depending on behavior. And Cedric knows this, but doesn't seem worried about the possibility of getting cursed if he ever got the amulet. And in one memorable instance, as part of a scheme to take the amulet in the pilot, Cedric casts a spell that puts everyone in the ballroom to sleep. That would be a brilliant plan, if not for him deciding to cast this spell while he's in the ballroom himself, so he falls asleep like everyone else.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Bill Cipher makes a "deal" with Dipper by taking over his body in hopes of destroying the Author's journal. Yet, for no reason other than "pain is hilarious", Bill deliberately tortured his possessed body despite the fact that he needs the body to be in good condition in order to accomplish his goal. This ended up biting him because his weakened body left Bill unable to chase after Mabel, who has the journal in her own hand.
    • Despite the fact that the Northwests simply need to open the mansion gates to break the lumberjack's curse that was placed upon them when they went back on their promise of giving the commoners a grand party as thanks for building said mansion, they absolutely refused to do so simply because they do not want to associate with the "common rabble" in spite of the fact that they are greatly endangering the lives of everyone (including themselves) by doing so. In fact, had Preston successfully convinced Pacifica to hide in the bunker in order to prevent her from fulfilling the 150-year-old promise, his mansion would have been burnt down and with it, all the rich folks, politicians, and celebrities invited, forever destroying his dignity and the reputation of the family name.
  • The Shushu of Wakfu fame have this as a racial trait. For a specific example, Rubilax manages to steal Sadlygrove's body and stumbles upon a way to release his kinsmen into the World of Ten. When he contacts King Rushu to explain, the other demons can't stop berating and belittling him, finally demanding he releases another Shushu and let HER take over the operation (something the other Shushu had been pushing for to get the glory for herself). They genuinely seem surprised when Rubilax gets fed up, cuts communication, and ends the plan. And of course, there's their generally violent behavior which led to the all but destroyed state of their own world.
  • Khyber in Ben 10: Omniverse abandoning his dog for no reason when he makes his escape just so the writers could avert a Draco in Leather Pants scenario counts as this considering that not only is it needlessly dickish but also completely impractical to do so. To elaborate further, the dog he formerly owned is shown to be completely loyal to him and has been personally trained by Khyber himself to use the Nemetrix which works only on non-sentient beings, therefore, he has to waste all the time recruiting and training a new dog for his Nemetrix. Furthermore, Azmuth was also about to use it to track down and arrest Khyber and would have certainly get captured if it weren't for Malware's arrival.
    • Later inverted in the show's final season. Maltruant gets help from Doctor Psychobos to help repair him. Psychobos assumes it's because he's the smartest being in the universe, but is corrected that Azmuth's the smartest being in the universe, but is too smart to be evil, so he went for Psychobos.
  • Chloe Burgeois from Miraculous Ladybug, though it's more like Stupid Jerkass. She's a bully and Alpha Bitch whose constant antagonization of those around her has given her an Akumatization count in the double digits, and yet she keeps displaying Aesop Amnesia after the nth possessed vengeful supervillain comes after her. You'd think she'd figure out that she needs to stop being a jerk out of self-preservation, at least. When she has her Face–Heel Turn in "Miracle Queen", she has all but two of the Miraculous and the entire city of Paris under her control- and manages to lose the lot (plus any chance of getting the Bee Miraculous in the future) through sheer overconfidence and stupidity. Hawk Moth is not happy with her.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Shredder only cares about getting revenge on Splinter, and will do so at any cost, up to and including supporting the Kraang's invasion of Earth. He truly falls into this in the Season 3 finale when he literally stabs Splinter In the Back just as he's about to shut down the Triceratons' black hole generator, killing him and dooming the planet; all the while, Shredder gloats over finally killing Splinter and makes it clear that now that he's finally won, he doesn't care that the world is going to be destroyed, and him along with it.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • In one episode, Aku promises a genius scientist named Exter to spare his village if he will make some super-robots to destroy the title character for him. The scientist does so. After they are done, Aku decides to "test them" by destroying the scientist's village for no reason whatsoever. This naturally leads to said scientist giving Jack the means to defeat these robots. Aku threw Villain Balls around a lot; there were many occasions he successfully caught Jack but ultimately came out short due to his sadistic tendencies, be it stalling his execution in favor of a Cool and Unusual Punishment or double-crossing a Noble Demon that has the means to his escape for the sheer kick of it.
    • It's telling that Aku went for the direct killing blow exactly once, having beaten down Jack, pinned him with a massive claw, and was in the process of skewering with his own blade. Sadly (for Aku, anyway) the blade simply goes 'plink' against Jack's skin, leaving Aku so shocked that his eyeball flames poof out. Turns out that, since Jack's blade was forged to fight the ultimate evil — AKU HIMSELF — it couldn't hurt those who were pure of heart in the hands of evil. Mind you, there was no reason to use that particular method instead of the rest of his lethal arsenal, other than it was kinda ironic. So yeah, even when Aku decides to just kill him, he still does it in a Stupid Evil way. Ultimately, his defeat is brought upon by his own sadistic hubris. Having captured Jack in the penultimate episode, Aku begins the Grand Finale bragging about it to the world, then starts dithering over how he wants to execute his sworn nemesis. This gave Jack's allies just enough time to pull a Big Damn Heroes, setting off a series of events that allows Jack to return to the past.
    • The High Priestess raises her seven daughters to be elite assassins with the sole purpose of killing Jack. However, she trains them to believe that showing compassion -even to each other- is weakness, and has them tortured when they show any pity or regard for their sisters' well being. Ultimately, this robs them of their greatest advantage, as individually the Daughters are no match for Jack, but together they can overwhelm him.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: The Joker sometimes lets his overwhelming cruelty and ego get the better of him. No where is this more apparent than in Mad Love, where Harley Quinn has captured Batman and is going to drop him in a piranha pool. When she tells the Joker about it, he gets mad and shoves her out the window for "ruining" his plan which allows Batman to escape and kick his ass. For a less extreme example: in Harlequinade he steals a nuclear bomb, and immediately plans to nuke Gotham just for fun, and doesn't bother demanding ransom or the like as a saner villain might.
  • DuckTales (2017): While Black Heron's pretty competent when it comes to technology and planning, she seems more concerned with being a Card-Carrying Villain than actually succeeding in her goals, often attracting unnecessary attention because it fits the "Good Guys/Bad Guys" narrative. She ends up exposing Bradford's status as the head of F.O.W.L. in "Let's Get Dangerous" when she flies in on a helicopter with their logo stamped on the side because she just can't fathom why Bradford would want to escape in an unmarked helicopter.
    • The show's version of Flintheart Glomgold lives and breaths this trope. His lying and dirty deals made him the second richest duck in the world, but his obbsession with beating Scrooge leads to him constantly coming up with, largely, idiotic schemes to defeat him that do nothing but waste money. This reaches its peak when Glomgold loses his memory and is actually happy for once when he's not thinking about Scrooge, but when he gets his memory back he returns to his evil ways.

  • Insofar as lying is "evil", then the knaves in Raymond Smullyan's logic puzzles count; they always lie, even if they would give away their being knaves (eg, if you ask them "Is the Pope Catholic?", they will say "No"). The most famous and widely imitated such puzzle is described under Knights and Knaves. In that one and its variants, puzzle solvers are limited in the number of questions they can ask, and there is often a more conventional "Normal" character hidden among the Stupid Evil knaves, who can usually imitate a knight or knave whenever convenient.
  • Many conspiracy theories portray the villains in question as this way, as they are said to do some nefarious deed even though it doesn't benefit them any (and, in many cases, would actively be detrimental towards them).


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