Follow TV Tropes


Unsexy Sadist

Go To

This character thinks or behaves in ways that would have made them a Fetishized Abuser if the author had been on their side and built their narrative on Rule of Cool or Rule of Sexy. However, the narrative is not on their side; their position in it is built on the Rule of Creepy instead. May be combined with Rule of Funny or Rule of Scary. In either case: This is the same kind of sadist as a Fetishized Abuser, or at least they would like to be. Unlike them, however, this character is the inversion of sexy- an Unsexy Sadist.

Being unsexy doesn't necessarily mean unattractive. A handsome person can be unpleasantly creepy, just like a physically ugly person can be portrayed as sexy in a weird kind of way. Yet, a character in this role is very likely to also be extremely unattractive. Often in a nerdy or gross kind of way.

At best, this character is a harmless person with unfulfilled dreams of From Nobody to Nightmare. At worst, a Wrong Genre Savvy perpetrator of crimes that will never ignite Stockholm Syndrome or anything else he might have hoped for. Likely to fill the role of Straw Loser. If the author tries to explain them psychologically, it will often be in the form of a Freudian Excuse or diagnosis. In older works, the latter is often "sexual sadism," sending a message that Bondage Is Bad and often failing to make a distinction between play and abuse. In modern works, it's usually something else — averting Bondage Is Bad by making a distinction between abuse and consensual sadomasochism. Sexual sadism is still likely to come into it, although in combination with The Sociopath or other trope that makes a similarly unhealthy mix. If this character wear glasses, they are not sexy. The Depraved Dwarf, who often behaves sadistically to exert power over others (in compensation for their unimposing physical stature) and/or to satisfy sexual perversions, can also overlap with this trope.

While this character can be female (perhaps overlapping with the Psycho Lesbian, the "Rosa Klebb" variety of The Baroness, and/or the more genuinely dangerous Abhorrent Admirers), he's usually male and often a nerd, depending on how pathetic they're supposed to be seen. In the same way that the trope can be used to play or avert Bondage Is Bad, it can be used to play or avert The Unfair Sex: On the one hand, it portrays men as destructive creeps; but on the other hand, it can be used to show the difference between this kind of man and all other men, making the regular man look great in comparison—and maybe give him a chance to be heroic.

Note that this character isn't necessarily a villain — they may have the ethics and self-control to keep their desires in check. In either case, the character comes across as a very small person with a total lack of greatness. Finally, please note that this trope has two criteria, and both need to be filled for a character to be an example. Simply being unattractive doesn't qualify as unsexy, and simply being a jerk or having violent tendencies doesn't qualify as sadist.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • In one issue during the Brief Lives arc, one ancient guy is thinking about a movie he saw last night, a horror movie featuring Marquis de Sade as an athletic Romanticized Abuser villain. This is contrast with the real De Sade he used to know, a frail and obese little man who wrote obsessively about acts he never dared to perform.
    • The attendants at a Serial Killer convention are shown to be rather pathetic individuals who kill, rape, and torture largely for reasons relating to their own self-image. Morpheus takes away their fantasies and delusions and leaves them to see themselves as they truly are.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thornes contains an illustrated list of dominant and submissive archetypes to stay the hell away from. Most of the dominants on that list fit this trope, especially the self-proclaimed "True Master".
  • In Slave Jade, the villain is a wannabe BDSM dominant who fails to understand the difference between how sadomasochism works in fiction and in real life. Ironically, his victim is a beautiful submissive masochist who was even in love with him at first - his dreams of being her "Master" would have come true for him if he had just known how to handle it. Instead, she ends up shooting him, getting him locked up in jail and then moves on to find herself a master who knows what the hell he's doing.
  • Both villains of the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are this trope personified. As they abuse women sexually, they try really hard to construct themselves as manly or powerful, and they both fail miserably at that. The original title of the novel in question is "Men Who Hate Women", a line that is used in the story: Mikael Blomkvist, the male hero, is shocked to learn about the horrible crimes the villain has done. Lisbeth Salander, the female hero, dismisses the whole thing as the villain simply being "one of those men who hate women".
  • Corlant of The Witchlands is a Smug Snake who lusts after Iseult's mother and her previously made advances to her, turning to stalking when she brushed him off. He comes off as a lecherous creep, especially when it turns out he's not above blackmailing Gretchya to get what he wants.
  • Ramsay Snow from A Song of Ice and Fire, a depraved serial killer and serial rapist who's sadistic both sexually and in general, and invokes No Yay wherever he goes. He's also described as hideously ugly. His actions range from the easily fetishiseable (eg. making Theon wear a collar and referring to him as his 'dog') to things even the most hardened kinksters would blanch at (eg. keeping Theon on the edge of starvation, knocking half his teeth out so he can hardly eat, flaying then amputating his fingers and toes and possibly other things, forcing his wife Jeyne Poole to perform unspecified sex acts with his dogs...)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest characterises Nurse Ratched as a mannish, repulsive "ball-cutter" who takes out her sexual repression by terrorising male patients at Bedlam House into subservience. More explicitly perverted are her orderlies, three Scary Black Men who exploit their authority in order to sexually abuse patients — although one orderly, a Depraved Dwarf, at least has the Freudian Excuse of having seen his mother gang-raped.
    Nurse Ratched: If Mr. McMurphy doesn't want to take his medication orally, I'm sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don't think that he would like it.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 

  • Goblins: Dellyn Goblinslayer rapes the Yuan-Ti Kin every night and has some very depraved fetishes, plus heals her every time so he can keep her looking good. This isn't fetishized at all: Minmax, who used to think monsters are worth nothing but XP while he learned it and once admired Dellyn, throws him out of the window and nearly beats him to death with Forgath's help, and Kin herself sees an opportunity and finishes him off brutally.
  • Unsounded: Delicieu was a large man worn cruel and detached who would pimp out his apprentices, grab and restrain them near emotionlessly as they struggled and distill memories from them to sell.