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Sycophantic Servant

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Now you're just embarrassing your boss. note 

Cruella De Vil: What kind of sycophant are you?
Frederick: I, uh... what kind of sycophant would you like me to be?

A worshipful, perfectly willing slave of the Big Bad. Generally he's of only marginal usefulness, due to his incompetence and/or obsessions — or due to his fear of the boss' ire robbing him of all initiative.

An example of Happiness in Slavery; The Igor is a variation of this. If the Big Bad is a vampire and he's "promised" the same fate to his loyal servant, may overlap with Vampire Vannabe and The Renfield. More generally, liable to a Pretender Diss both from those they (hope to) serve and their enemies. See also Dirty Coward (for reasons why someone would become this trope)

Contrast with the Battle Butler and Yes-Man. Sometimes overlaps with Crusty Caretaker and Professional Butt-Kisser, though the latter is in it only in order to look out for his own status while the sycophant has a genuine amount of admiration and adoration for his boss. If the character endures endless abuse at the hands of their master, then they're a Bumbling Sidekick. May overlap with Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey if their boss is a noticeably more serious villain. Just about the polar opposite of The Starscream, although it's not uncommon for The Starscream to pretend to be this trope. See also Transhuman Treachery.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Vanilla Ice, the Sycophantic Servant of Big Bad Dio, does manage to kill off two of the main cast. Ice was such a sycophant that when Dio asked him if he would kill himself for him, Ice not only IMMEDIATELY did so, but did so by CUTTING OFF HIS OWN HEAD. Dio, averting Bad Boss (somewhat, as he did it because he was amused), rewarded him for his loyalty by turning him into a vampire, which allowed Ice to return to (un)life. His devotion to Dio is so fanatical that merely destroying a statue of Dio sends him into a rage.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Toad lived down to his name in this manner for Magneto for much of the original 1960s X-Men run. In an alternate future, the Earth's poles shifted, somehow causing Toad and Magneto's powers to be switched. Toad took the opportunity to turn Mags into a slave for his enjoyment as payback for the mountains of abuse he'd suffered at his hand.
    • Magneto in his earlier days liked these kinds of bootlickers. He also had Peeper in the second Brotherhood/Mutant Force and Amphibius in the Savage Land Mutates.
    • Also, Nightcrawler encountered an alternate self who served this purpose for Belasco. In an alternate future, it's determined Nightcrawler -becomes- Belasco. So, um.
  • Mephisto had one of these in his first appearance in Silver Surfer. Ironically, Mephisto was himself forced to be this to Thanos during the The Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Batman: Ever since his first appearance in the '70s, Ra's al Ghul has a completely loyal hulking manservant named Ubu, who worships the ground he walks on. After a couple of apparent deaths the character is still around, so it is revealed that there's an entire Ubu clan, and they all serve Ra's.
  • Superman: The Lowlies of Apokolips; Darkseid's reign has produced an entire race of bootlicking slaves, who will "die for Darkseid" if requested. In "Secret Six", for example, Scandal Savage employs a nameless Lowlie as a servant. Who gleefully begs for all kinds of abuse, as if torture is as necessary as food for its well-being.
  • New Avengers (2015): The Maker has the insect men who make up his organization WHISPER, who pretty much worship him for giving them life. On occasion, they're a little too sycophantic for his tastes, declaring how proud they are to record his enemies on the can for him. That their creation appears to involve the Maker removing peoples' brains might have something to do with this.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction Queen of All Oni, Ozeki has fanatic Undying Loyalty to Jade (to the point even she is a little unnerved), that apparently is meant to mirror the relationship between Megatron and Inferno (though he seems to have a bit of Lugnut as well).
  • Earth and Sky has Doctor Insanity and Professor Destiny's Beleaguered Assistant Otto, who sucks up to his bosses constantly until he finally takes too much of their Ax Crazyness and quits.
  • Webwork: Jumper, one of the biker girls that Jade forcibly recruits and transforms to serve as her new Quirky Miniboss Squad, immediately latches onto her new leader. Widow, the former leader of the gang, isn't surprised; she describes Jumper as a "chronic ass-kisser", and admits that it makes perfect sense for her to switch loyalties from Widow to Jade like that, since she apparently did the same thing when Widow took over the gang. It gets to the point where even Jade herself is disturbed at the utter devotion, and wishes that Jumper would show a little more independence.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Black Cauldron, the Sycophantic Servant was the Horned King's goblin sidekick, Creeper and one that had the mannerisms of a true lap-dog if his body language and tongue sticking out is of any merit as a sign. Note that in the book, this character did not exist.
  • Gaston's sidekick, LeFou, in Beauty and the Beast is constantly sucking up and telling Gaston how great he is even when Gaston makes a habit of throwing him around. Then he tells him how great he is at throwing him around.
  • Being a send-up of the traditional Disney model, Enchanted naturally has one of these in Nathaniel, who eventually wises up to the fact that his boss doesn't care about him in the slightest and decides to become his own person.
  • Tabaqui the jackal in the Soviet adaptation of Adventures of Mowgli. See the page image.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beni from The Mummy, although it's more fear and greed that are holding him, not genuine devotion. Baltus Hafez from the sequel is a straighter example.
  • The only character to come out of Manos: The Hands of Fate with any pop cultural significance at all is Torgo, the villain's acid-crazed satyr janitor of marginal loyalty.
  • Peter MacNichol has played two Sycophantic servants: Janosz in Ghostbusters II as a straight example, and Renfield himself in Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
  • Arte Johnson does a similar Renfield parody in Love at First Bite.
  • In the 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians (1996), Cruella De Vil has a fair number of people loyal to her, but her PA Frederick takes the cake with the page quote.
  • Sgt. Proctor is this to the villains Mauser (movies 2 and 3) and Harris (movies 4 to 6) in the Police Academy franchise. He also has this function but only to Harris in Police Academy: The Animated Series.
  • Eli Turnbull is this to Big Bad and INS agent Seedling in Coneheads, however this comes handy when he's left behind in an alien planet and turns into the planet's emperor's new Yes-Man.
  • Downplayed with Agent Stone from the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie; while he is entirely devoted to Robotnik and kind of a butt-kisser, his admiration towards the Doctor is genuine and he follows him not out of fear or ambition, but rather out of sheer loyalty.

  • Damane in The Wheel of Time are forced to become this after some hard core Mind Rape from the Seanchan. There's a scene in the first book where they appear when Nynaeve frees one out of pity, and the damane without missing a beat starts screaming, begging her slaver to put back on her leash. It's a little creepy.
  • Wormtail in the Harry Potter series. First he latched onto James and his friends because they were some of the most popular boys in school, and later he sought out Voldemort because he was likewise powerful. Unfortunately, the only skill Wormtail has that make him at all valuable is his ability to take abuse.
  • In the Sword of Truth universe, this is essentially what happens to anyone who gets confessed — they are made completely, unconditionally loyal to their Confessor, to the point where they no longer have any sense of self.
  • Journey to Chaos: When pretending to recognise Eric as Dengel, "Asuna" tailors her speech to appeal to her teacher's vanity and slanders his enemies.
  • The Mental State: Paul Sorrell's main tactic for surviving in prison is ingratiating himself with whichever gang-leader happens to be in the most control at the time. This is originally Bones, until Zack usurps him.
  • In theory, the Igors of Discworld should be like this, since that's part of the Igor tradition. In practice, most of the ones we've seen are either rebellious, or working for such an un-traditional master that the Code of the Igors doesn't quite count. In particular, Igor in Carpe Jugulum exaggerates his Igorness because he knows it winds up the modernist vampires, while continually muttering against them — the Old Count treated him like dirt, which he approved of, but the new ones treat him like an embarrassment, which is worse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Knox is a follower of the ancient demon Illyria before he resurrects her and even more of a slavish follower after her resurrection. Having been dead to that point Illyria had no direct contact with him before her return.
    • Also Harmony, who lampshades her efforts when describing herself as "extremely sycophantic" when introduced as Angel`s new secretary.
  • The final season of Blake's 7 has Slave, the Master Computer of Scorpio, programmed with a cringing servile personality in contrast to the snarky and superior Orac. We do get some hints however that the servility is just an act.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Big Bad Glory evidently has an entire species of Sycophantic Servant demons enthralled.
  • True to the original, the Sycophantic Servant in Dark Shadows - Willie Loomis - was also an unwilling servant who couldn't quite overcome his master's unnatural charisma.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When the Sixth Doctor encounters the alien Sil for the second time, it is on his home planet where he also meets Sil's superior, Lord Kiv. The slimy obsequiousness that Sil demonstrates at every opportunity becomes too much even for Kiv at one point.
    • "New Earth": Chip, Lady Cassandra's specially-grown clone servant, is utterly devoted to her despite her rather apathetically abandoning him at one point in the episode. He cheerfully donates his body as a host for her at the end, even scolding the Doctor for objecting.
  • Another example who's actually named Renfield is Turnbull from Due South. However, neither Turnbull nor his boss are villains, although Thatcher is, appropriately, quite intimidating, and Turnbull himself is highly eccentric.
  • The Weasel-like Tim Stamper from House of Cards (UK) is Francis Urquhart's Sycophantic Servant. Subverted in that in the sequel To Play the King he attempts to double-cross his boss after feeling his efforts aren't appreciated. Sadly for Tim, Francis is far and away the more Magnificent Bastard of the two.
  • Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes does this to pretty much every officer that walks in the door, General Burkhalter especially. To a man, they find it annoying.
  • Every Villain of the Week on Leverage seems to have one. Averted in "The Miracle Job", where the servant's conscience gets to him and he betrays the bad guy.
  • Loyal student servant Frank Lemmer is this to Ms. Russo in Parker Lewis Can't Lose, helps that he seems to have a crush on her and he's implied to be not totally human.
  • The Vorta of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were genetically altered to regard the Founders of the Dominion as living gods. They are well aware of this, and take it in stride. "What's the point of being a god if there's no one to worship you?"
  • In the fifth season, Meg of Supernatural is presented as one to Lucifer. Of course, he's planning to kill her, along with every other demon in existence, once he's done with humanity.
  • A non-villainous example (depending on what your definition of villainy is) are Cory, Trevor, and Jacob Collins in Trailer Park Boys to Ricky and Julian. In seasons 1-7, Cory and Trevor are Those Two Guys who hero worship Ricky, whereas Jacob Collins has a mancrush on Julian to the point where he starts dressing and acting like him. Ricky and Julian, meanwhile, see them as little more than jail cover and goons to do their bidding in their various schemes (though in Ricky's warped perception, he thinks of how he treats Cory and Trevor as how one would a best friend/family, and Julian does care about Jacob). Cory and Jacob eventually become Those Two Guys together from season 8 onward, where Ricky gains more respect for Jacob as he becomes Ricky's son-in-law.

    In the season 8 finale, Cory and Jacob are dressed as Ricky and Julian respectively as a diversion. Cory is shot and the two are eventually sent to prison; the two gush that they've earned more of the boys' respect for doing their job well and Cory mentions that being shot and sent to jail "as Ricky" is one of the better moments of his life.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe to "Mr. MacMahon". What makes them different from most of the other people working closely with Vince was Pat and Gerald legitimately thought Vince was the light of their lives and never aligned themselves with him out of greed, power, or fame. Even Vince's own kids back-stabbed him on occasions, but not the stooges.

    Video Games 
  • Wheeler from Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is the short and stumpy Yes-Man to Altru Inc.'s president, Blake Hall. While the others in his circle often utilize high-power Pokemon, Wheeler always attacks with...Bidoof.
  • Kael'thas has become this to Kil'Jaeden in World of Warcraft due to a mix of Fel Magic taint and his own hunger for power. His blind, zealous and borderline loving devotion to the Legion Lord is very creepy. Though it might have something to do with the fact that he was brought back from near-death by Kil'jaeden's demons. Before that he seemed quite sane.
  • Ishida Mitsunari from the third game of Sengoku Basara is implied to have been one of these to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the prequel manga. Unfortunately for anyone who shows the slightest sign of wanting to oppose Hideyoshi, Mitsunari is terrifyingly good at his job.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this tends to be a trait of the members of the Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil dedicated to Sithis, the embodiment of the primeval force of chaos. They are led by the Night Mother, an unholy matron said to be the "wife" of Sithis who communicates targets for assassination to the Listener. In Skyrim, Cicero is the Keeper of the Night Mother, to whom he is slavishly devoted. He constantly begs to hear her voice call to him, something that only happens to the Listener (in this case, the Dragonborn). Also, if you decide to spare him, he returns in the end of the questline and becomes this to you.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • The Jedi Knight deals with a cult of fanatical Emperor-worshiping Imperials. They're fully onboard with the Emperor's plan to destroy Belsavis and the rest of the galaxy, even though they're not meant to survive it, because he's promised to bring them back afterwards.
    • All Imperial characters get the droid 2V-R8 as a servant on their ship and as a companion (thought not an especially useful one). Anytime you walk by it will start singing your praises and talking about how great you are.
  • In Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Viscount Fenja spends most of her limited screentime sucking up to Duke Aegir, partially out of a genuine desire to help him overthrow Edelgard as emperor, and partially to increase her own status by becoming one of his ministers if his plan succeeds. Fenja only turns against the duke after being defeated and captured on Azure Gleam, but only because she thinks that the Kingdom army will release her if she tells them what she thinks they need to hear.
  • Michael Anders from Dead Island 2 is a rare heroic example of this trope. Loyal to Emma up until his death and just can’t help himself but to kiss Emma Jaunt’s ass.

    Web Animation 
  • In one of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device's Q&A sessions, one of the letters asks whether the author could become one of those for the Emperor, who upon hearing this orders a restraint order to be put on the man.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Sir Pentious' Egg Brigade are anthropomorphic eggs serving a demon conqueror — except every other sentence that comes out of their cracks is dedicated to worshiping their boss and begging him to shoot them with his ray gun.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • On the animated series Visionaries, Mordred played the Sycophantic Servant role to Darkstorm, leader of the show's villains.
  • In The Simpsons, Smithers fulfills this role. In the Dracula Halloween episode, he was even dressed literally as Renfield (played by Tom Waits!) in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula movie.
    Mr. Burns: Is it wrong to cheat in order to win a million-dollar bet?
    Smithers: Yes, sir.
    Mr. Burns: Let me rephrase that. Is it wrong if I cheat in order to win a million-dollar bet?
    Smithers: No, sir. Who would you like killed?
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn's obsession with The Joker is so bad, that in an episode wherein he is perfectly willing to leave her in the city while he nukes it and she is about to quit, he gets her back in one line. This is completely in character.
    • Mercy Graves is similar toward Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series, although it's somewhat implied that she's in love with him too, her loyalty comes from the fact that he took her out of the streets and that's why she's devoted to him. It's not mutual as the series shows that Luthor doesn't care for her at all.
    • Both of these examples pale before the relationship between the Ventriloquist has with Scarface (a ventriloquist dummy who harbors an evil personality), laughing at every Stealth Insult the Catchphrase Insult Scarface throws at him. Really depressing.
      Scarface: Batman's so hot, let's see him swim Gotham Bay in concrete boots.
      The Ventriloquist: A good idea, Mr. Scarface.
      Scarface: Bet your bow tie I'm right, dummy. Say, who dresses you anyway?
      The Ventriloquist: You're such a kidder, Mr. Scarface.
  • Transformers: Animated:
    • Lugnut is a borderline case, though it's more fanaticism than slavishness: in some episodes he seems to practically worship Megatron... and in others, there's no "practically" about it. He's also more badass than most Sycophantic Servants, ever ready to use his hundreds of missiles, his warhammer, and The Punch of Kill Everything to level Autobots (and the entire city block they happen to be in) in the name of the grand and glorious MEGATRON!
    • Starscream is stated to have put on a sycophantic act prior to betraying Megatron. Later, one of his clones (who each represent different aspect of his character), Sunstorm, embodies this trait, being both outwardly sycophantic but not-so-secretly untrustworthy.
  • In G1 The Transformers:
    • Cyclonus is Galvatron's Sycophantic Servant. His exact level of competence is plot-reliant, but generally he's described as quite powerful and skilled—he could even lead the Decepticons if he weren't so devoted to Galvatron.
    • Ditto for Shockwave's relationship to Megatron, before The Movie (of course this is somewhat in contrast to his role in the comics).
  • In another Transformers example, there's Inferno from Beast Wars, who could probably give Lugnut a run for his money in the obsession department. Perhaps a semi-subversion, as his competence level varies throughout the series (due to being an Ax-Crazy pyromaniac who thinks he's an actual fire ant), but his loyalty never does. Inferno doesn't seem to have a choice in the matter either. It's implied that his ant mode's instincts overpower his programming, leading to his delusion of thinking he's an actual fire ant and his absolute loyalty to Megatron as Queen of the colony.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, all of Lucius' Minotaurs are like this, to the point where they willingly sacrifice themselves to use as bait so Lucius can fish.
  • Toadie from Adventures of the Gummi Bears, true to his name he tried to make up for being tiny for a troll by continually sucking up to his boss the Duke despite the Duke constantly taking his anger out on the little guy. Justified in the sense that while the Duke is a pain, at least associating with him gives him some semblance of authority over the regular ogres who casually abuse him out of fun.
  • In The Emperor's New School (the television spin-off of The Emperor's New Groove), Guaca qualifies as this though Kuzco is the main character and not a villain.
  • In SilverHawks Big Bad Mon*Star has this in Yes Man, a Snake man who has a combo Verbal Tic and Sssssnake Talk of always muttering "yesss yessss".
  • Subverted with Owen on Gargoyles, as it is revealed that Owen is the magical being Puck, who served Xanatos with absolute loyalty mainly because being a part of his schemes amused him.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Zox is this to Atrocitus, his capabilities as a Red Lantern tend to vary on episodes.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Sabrina is more like this and less like a Beta Bitch to Chloe. The latter bullies the former into doing all her hard labor, from her homework to the dirty work of her schemes to bully others. The poor girl is literally at Chloe’s beck and call, and yet is completely enamored, almost to the point where you start feeling sorry for her.
  • Zim of Invader Zim. Everything he does is for the Tallest, and he goes to ridiculous lengths to try to impress them. It never works, since they originally sent him out in space so he would die and never return to Planet Irk, which he's oblivious to, for the better.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Inspiration Manifestation", the Inspiration Manifestation spell only works so long as Spike acts as this for Rarity.
  • Looney Tunes has Chester who was very much a fawning, drooling lackey to Spike despite being used as a punching-bag by him. He encouraged his hero to beat up a cat to cheer him up. By the end, things get to be a little different... The fact that Spike pays for his bullying ways by getting the snot beaten out of him by an escaped panther and ends up a Nervous Wreck and sucking up to Chester the same way that Chester was a sycophant who was abused by Spike makes for some hilariously ironic Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Igor in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, Dr. Gangreen’s assistant, although is possible that his loyalty to Gangreen is out of stupidity and also because he wants to be a news reporter and only if Gangreen’s conquest the world he will.
  • Shecky the Jester in The Biskitts treats King Max well… like a King, but his loyalty and dependence on Max makes no sense as the kingdom is empty and other than the guardian dogs he’s the only subject.
  • Toad in Drak Pack the loyal lackey of Big Bad Dr. Dredd and the classical suck-up, albeit completely useless and his screw ups cause many of Dredd's plans to fail.
  • Smee in Peter Pan & the Pirates, although Smee is like this in all versions. His loyalty is probably the reason why he is second-in-command (with no other merits on his own).
  • Dudley the hammerhead shark to the Sea Witch Hedwig in Saban's Adventures of the Little Mermaid follows his mistress loyally even though (as most examples of this trope) he is the victim of constant abuse.
  • The Pigs in The Raccoons are devoted to Cyril Sneer. A key difference though is that they are formally his employees, but their faithfulness and how they ignore his mistreatments go beyond any normal or healthy boss-employee relationship.
  • Basil to Rataxes in Babar: he is extremely loyal and faithful, to the point of acknowledging that his job is making Rataxes feel good about himself, he let Rataxes take the credit when he does something heroic (like saving Babar's daughter from drowning) and helps Rataxes in all his schemes without questioning. Nevertheless he does have some fun at the expenses of his boss sometimes and Rataxes shows to be extremely depending of him (and he knows it).
  • Gems loyal to Homeworld in Steven Universe are all created with the express purpose of serving the Diamonds, or at least the Diamond they were created for. When in their presence, they have a habit of showering them with compliments and praise. While they endure it every time, it is pretty clear that Blue and Yellow Diamond have heard it all before.
    Holly Blue Agate: My Diamond. My gracious, wondrous, luminous, lustrous, Diamond [Holly Blue Agate notices that Yellow Diamond is there too] ...s! Ah! Oh my! It's truly an honor to bask in your radiance...s.
    Yellow Diamond: Get to the point, Agate.
  • Muttley bounces between this and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder on both of his shows, first biting Dick Dastardly's hand, then kissing it after insulting him.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sycophant Slave, Villains Bootlicker, Villains Bootlicking Minion, The Lackey


Prosecuting Zircon

The Prosecuting Zircon tries sucking up to Yellow Diamond. Yellow doesn't appreciate it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

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Main / SycophanticServant

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