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Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey

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These cookies aren't evil enough! Add more children's screams to it!
Artwork by AmyClark

The unhinged man began to speak, in a phony accent. "I've got a delivery for a Mr. Bludvist, is there a Mr. Bludvist here?"
Drago groaned, already tired of this foolishness. Even after ten years, his deranged lackey never got any less annoying.

In a great deal of media aimed at children or families, there will be more than one villain working together against the hero, and one or more of these villains will be in charge over the other(s). However, the lower-ranked of these villains is meant to be taken far less seriously than the higher-ranked, whether due to being more cowardly, more comical, less powerful, less competent, or even simply less motivated than their dark superior.

This can have a lot of benefits to the writers, such as averting Villain Decay: no matter how many times the heroes triumph over the lesser villain(s), the fact that a more serious villain (or group of more serious villains) is still part of the same organization means there's still a credible threat that the heroes still need to deal with. Also, for works aimed at especially young children, this also allows the writers to make the lesser villain goofy and funny, thus keeping a work lighter and softer and generally less frightening for the kiddies.


A common, but by no means the only, way to show that the higher-ranked villain is serious is to display the lower-ranked villains afraid of him/her, or show that the higher-ranked villain is a Bad Boss who will Shoot the Messenger when brought bad news, or who punishes his minions for failure or for otherwise ceasing to be useful. It's not really necessary for the higher-ranked villain to be cruel to his or her underlings for the trope to apply, though; it's only really needed for the higher-ranked villain to be played noticeably more seriously than his or her underling(s).

The laughable lackey can be an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, but it's not necessary for the lackey to be sympathetic at all for this trope to apply, nor is it necessary for the laughable lackey to be ineffectual or a Harmless Villain: they can even win at times, as long as they're noticably less serious than their superiors. It's not even necessary for the higher-ranked villain(s) to be out-and-out devoid of comedy for the trope to apply, either; a noticeable difference is all that's really needed. A Bumbling Henchmen Duo, a Quirky Miniboss Squad, or a Goldfish Poop Gang can also fill in the loser villain slot as well as a single villain can. It's also common for the laughable lackey to have an unpleasant, demeaning, or dumb-sounding name.


The Laughable Lackey can also be The Igor, The Renfield, The Imp, a Minion with an F in Evil, a Sycophantic Servant, and/or a Punch-Clock Villain who only Pokes the Poodle, or possibly The Dragon, depending on his/her/their specific role in the evil organization—and in cases where The Dragon is comical due to ineptitude, this overlaps with Number Two for Brains. The Laughable Lackey is often the Butt-Monkey or The Chew Toy, as well, and can also be a Bumbling Sidekick to the serious villain, though there are more ways of being laughable than just clumsiness.

They often form a Red Oni, Blue Oni duo. If the villain is also Laughably Evil, he will usually be the red to the lackey's blue. If the villain is played completely seriously, he will usually be the blue to the lackey's red.

Compare Abusive Parents, Big Bad Wannabe, Brains and Brawn, Evil Duo, Eviler than Thou, A Lighter Shade of Black, The Man Behind the Man, My Master, Right or Wrong, Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness, Sorting Algorithm of Evil, Surrounded by Idiots, The Starscream, What Measure Is a Mook? A Terrible Trio can have this dynamic if one of them is in charge and meant to be taken more seriously than the other two, though the three of them together can act as the laughable lackey if they have a more serious boss, or they can even together act as the serious villain if they're not Played for Laughs have have one or more underlings who are. Sometimes overlaps with Vile Villain, Saccharine Show and Perky Female Minion. Contrast Hypercompetent Sidekick and More Despicable Minion, where it's the Big Bad that's humorous and/or sympathetic and the main minion that's fearsome.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Animal Detectives Kiruminzoo: Misa Hatori is the leader of the animalian revolution and she always does the effort in doing what she must to complete it, but her henchmen, the Kibagumi squad, are a team of Casanova Wannabes who can hardly bite at least one woman.
    • And then there's Keiko. Whenever Kanon asks her a favor, or whenever they team up as the Beauty Bat duo, all she does is screw up her plans.
  • Digimon Adventure:
    • Demidevimon fills this role for Myotismon. While he keeps the Chosen Children/Digidestined separated while Tai is away, as soon as he comes back, Demidevimon begins comically failing and getting punished by Myotismon for his failings.
    • The two Hagurumon working for Machinedramon fit this bill too; Machinedramon has incredible firepower and is willing to devastate his own city to get to the heroes. His gear-like minions cower before that plan, even though they aren't even the targets!
  • The title heroine of Excel♡Saga is her boss Il Palazzo's biggest obstacle on the path to Take Over the World, by the "virtue" of being a worthless (if fiercely devoted and energetic) underling. When Il Palazzo finally drops his Orcus on His Throne act towards the end of the series and fires Excel, he immediately proves himself a scarily efficient villain on his own (with a little help from Hyatt, who also proves a much more competent minion as soon as Excel is out of the picture).
  • Mon Colle Knights has Ruthe, a smart-alecky, whiny-voiced imp, to the fallen angel Zaha, and later to his superior Reda.
  • Pokémon: While Team Rocket members aren't always competent, only the Terrible Trio, and later Butch and Cassidy due to characterization changes, are actually goofy. Most members are some level of dangerous. Their boss Giovanni has a case of Adaptational Villainy as he is more violent than in the games.
    • Inverted in the Sun & Moon season where Jessie captures a Mimikyu who is always portrayed as a fairly competent opponent to Pikachu. Instead of capturing Pikachu, Mimikyu wants to kill him, making it a case of the Vile lackey to the Team Rocket Trio’s Laughable villains.
  • Team Galactic's boss Cyrus in Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! is a Knight Templar Omnicidal Maniac. The Galactic executives — Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars — are intimidating but this ability does not extend to grunts. B-2 is a near literal Butt-Monkey who is constantly getting attacked on the butt and isn't a real threat. Subverted with some other Galactic grunts though when they try to bomb a tournament.
  • Sailor Moon: Sailor Iron Mouse wasn't a very serious villain, but when she failed, she was rightly terrified of how her boss would react. Naturally, when Galaxia decided she’d had enough of Iron Mouse's failures, she promptly appeared before her and removed her bracelets, killing her.
  • The Namek Saga of Dragon Ball Z introduced the audience Frieza, a Galactic Conqueror who exterminates the populations of entire worlds and has destroyed a number of planets as well. His minions for the most part are as evil as one would expect, except, ironically, his strongest warriors the Ginyu Force. They are a Quirky Mini Boss Squad whose first onscreen action is to go into a "Super Sentai" Stance, and before a fight play Rock–Paper–Scissors to determine who fights. Despite their comedic quirks, the Ginyu Force do prove that they are Frieza's strongest warriors, nearly killing the main characters before Goku arrives.
  • Superwomen in Love! has villains that, for the most part, are utterly harmless. One is a yuri fetishist willing to interrupt her own allies when she sees it, one is an otaku, and one is functionally the otaku's caretaker. Only two villains are legitimately threatening: the co-protagonist who went Defecting for Love in the first chapter, and X, the leader of the organization. Unlike the others, X is cunning and ruthless, constantly having the upper hand, willing to get her hands dirty, and very willing to play the long game. Even when she loses, she appears to take it completely in stride and is more amused by it than upset. Even when she just shows up to take the main character on a dinner date to learn more about her and has no ulterior motives, she's significantly more threatening than the other three villains while fighting.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The Dragon and the Butterfly: Whiteout: Drago and Dagur seem to have this type of dynamic, Drago being the glower brute that sucks all whimsy from a room while Dagur tries acting all chummy and start small-talk around him (as fruitless as that would be).
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf is a huge, terrifying Champion of Chaos spearheading an invasion of Westeros by the Ruinous Powers. His henchman Einarr is a Butt-Monkey who gets yelled at in every chapter, and even the prospect of death doesn't seem to faze him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Carface is the main villain of All Dogs Go to Heaven, and he operates a crooked canine casino. When Carface discovers that his former partner has escaped the dog pound and survived an assassination attempt, Carface almost disposes of his henchman, Killer (even though Killer was not responsible for the attempts). A myopic, neurotic, weakling of a dog, Killer gets one last chance to avoid the Shark Pool: by killing Charlie Barkin with a Flash Gordon thermo-atomic ray gun.
    • Carface himself becomes the laughable lackey to other villains in the sequel media, like Red in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 and Belladonna in the animated series. Neither character is devoid of comedy, but they are unambiguously wicked and threatening in comparison to the incompetent buffoon Carface has become.
  • The villains of the An American Tail films have these to varying degrees. Warren in the first film has the bumbling accountant Digit. In the case of Cat R. Waul's lackey Chula in the second film, he only really becomes laughable in the TV series, being Axe-Crazy in the film.
  • In Chicken Run, the main villain is Mrs. Tweedy, a dead serious, totally merciless farmer who abuses her chickens (the protagonists) just because she can. Her Henpecked Husband, Mr. Tweedy, is a Butt-Monkey who provides some of the funniest lines in the movie.
  • Despicable Me: The cute and hilarious minions are this for the Villain Protagonist, Gru. While Gru isn't devoid of comedy, he's very competent, unlike the minions who are mostly silly and childish.
  • Disney loves this trope:
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Grubber is a comical, cowardly, un-threatening hedgehog. But he works for the dead-serious Tempest Shadow and her threatening-but-not-quite-so-serious Storm King boss. Tempest's utter humorlessness, when contrasted with the Storm King's more comedic nature, could be considered an inversion.
  • The Prince of Egypt: The egyptian priests Hotep and Huy, being voiced by Steve Martin and Martin Short respectively, have their funny moments. Neither of the two Pharaohs that they work for do.
  • Don Bluth's Rock-A-Doodle has the Grand Duke as the main villain, whose weather machine clouds out the sun and floods the valley, making the small farm animals easy pickings for himself and his owl mooks. His diminutive but eager nephew Hunch is tasked with intercepting the party of heroes seeking to retrieve Chanticleer, Hunch is woefully outclassed, as even Patou narrates: "He's more a hoot than horrible ..." and he's voiced by the late Charles Nelson Reilly.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie: Aunt Figg is the primary antagonist: fat, abusive, ill-tempered and wants nothing more than to claim Robyn's inheritance. Her dog, Ferdinand, is just as evil as she is and also quite competent. However, his weight is played for laughs, needing a skateboard to get around because he can't use his legs.
  • Max, from Yellow Submarine, is usually at the end of a bitch slap from his boss, the Chief Blue Meanie, especially when Max says "yes" instead of "no".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 102 Dalmatians: This Disney live-action sequel sees Cruella's butler Alonzo taking the role of the laughable lackey instead of Jasper and Horace. He has repeated Butt-Monkey moments where his hand gets hurt in slapstick moments, particularly during his heists of puppies for Cruella's latest fur coat idea that requires the eponymous 102 dalmation puppies' skins, and it almost seems like his injured hand was intended to be symbolic of his villainy, as he throws his sling off just as he's cementing his Heel–Face Turn near the film's climax.
  • Beethoven:
    • In the first movie, the veterinarian's goons' bumbling and cowardice were Played for Laughs, but the veterinarian himself was not.
    • In the second movie, Floyd's stupidity was Played for Laughs, but his greedy girlfriend Regina was much more cruel and intentional than he was.
  • Carrie (1976): While Chris Hargensen is even more horrible here than in the book, her boyfriend Billy Nolan has been Demoted to Dragon in this version, and is a dim-witted buffoon who is mainly comic relief, and who Chris plays like a fiddle throughout the whole movie.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Played With by King Ghidorah's Multiple Head Case. Ghidorah overall is extremely malevolent and dangerous, but the head named San/Kevin (the left-side head) is generally a goofball and a dunce, and for it he gets bitten and pushed around by the central head Ichi (who acts more serious and much more sadistic).
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: The Master of Laketown is uncaring about his people, enriching himself while the people starve and become poorer. He has a more comical lackey, Alfrid, who is cowardly enough to use a Paper-Thin Disguise, pretending to be a woman to avoid going into battle.
  • In Krampus, the eponymous villain is a terrifying and satanic figure, the Evil Counterpart of Santa Claus. His minions, on the other hand, are evil spoofs of things traditionally associated with Christmas, up to and including crazy killer gingerbread men. Justified since it is a horror/comedy movie.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The film's version of Ginnabrik, Jadis's dwarf lackey, is a downplayed example of this. He's a lot more petty and taunting than Jadis is and has a few Butt-Monkey moments, though he Would Hurt a Child and is still as cruel as his book counterpart.
  • Moonraker: Although widely viewed as the campiest film of the James Bond franchise, its Big Bad Hugo Drax is possibly the most chilling villain in Bond's rogues gallery. As a cold, snobbish, understated executive, Drax wishes to exterminate the human race, except for those he considers "superior beings". He hires Jaws, The Dragon from the previous film to be his own. However, this time, Jaws is much less menacing, almost going into Wile E. Coyote levels of ineptitude, and even performs a Heel–Face Turn towards the end.
  • Mowgli: The Big Bad Shere Khan is an enormous tiger who is genuinely threatening despite his crippled foreleg, and is a sadist who breaks the Jungle Law just for his own pleasure. His minion Tabaqui is a snivelling, cowardly hyena who always stays in Khan's shadow and runs at the first sign of danger.
  • Ready Player One (2018): I-R0k qualifies, and is a downplayed example in that, despite being a Hypercompetent Sidekick for all things in-game in the OASIS, I-R0k's neck issues and occasional immaturity are Played for Laughs, but his ruthless Corrupt Corporate Executive boss Sorrento is never funny.
  • Return of the Jedi: Salacious Crumb is a tiny bird/monkey creature that laughs at Jabba's victims. He's no threat, himself, and gets a Butt-Monkey moment when R2D2 electrocutes him, but Jabba is a powerful and wealthy Hutt gangster who keeps Crumb around for no other reason than because he finds him amusing.
  • Tricky People: Reginald Charming is a ruthless, manipulative pedophile who uses pictures of his victims to blackmail them into silence. His sidekick Wendell is the cheerful, clumsy Plucky Comic Relief who exists mostly to provide slapstick. Given the film's deadly serious treatment of Charming and his victims, Wendell's presence seems downright bizarre.

  • In Peter Pan, Captain Hook is a calculating and menacing foe. His sidekick, Smee, while desiring to be evil, is so genial that the captive children are said to not have the heart to tell Smee that they find him lovable instead of frightening.
  • In the New Jedi Order, Supreme Overlord Shimrra is the monstrous and tyrannical God-Emperor of the Yuuzhan Vong, and his sidekick and constant companion is Onimi, a capering, absurd jester who speaks in Rhymes on a Dime. However, it gradually becomes apparent that Onimi is much smarter than he looks and this is ultimately subverted when it turns out he was secretly controlling Shimrra all along, meaning that all of Shimrra's vile acts were really on Onimi.
  • Redwall loves this trope. Even the more competent and threatening of the Mooks aren't above getting involved in physical comedy; see Fangburn and Sela telling Blatant Lies about Redtooth's mysterious death, or Ripfang and Doomeye struggling to break into the hares' cell, in particular.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm:
    • The Social Justice Warriors are comedic bumblers who serve to parody Tumblr misandrists and make silly quips whenever you fight them- even Anita and Laci aren't taken too seriously. Their leader Mother, however, is never played for comedy, instead being a terrifying Draconic Abomination who seeks to vaporize all men and almost succeeds in her goal.
    • The Phishers, a gang of minor villains lurking in an area of the Deep Web, kidnap and attempt to impersonate your party members but are comically bad at it. The Phisher King is more threatening and creepy.
  • Bug Fables: The Wasp King is a vile tyrant who is unfailingly brutal to his allies and enemies alike, and darkens every scene he appears in. His right hand man General Ultimax is a shrill goofball who thinks he's tougher than he really is, and when his boss fights go poorly for him, he's reduced to a cowering wreck who can only fight by frantically slapping the heroes in a mad panic.
  • Cave Story: Dr. Fuyuhiko Date has this dynamic with Balrog. The Doctor is a Mad Scientist out to Take Over the World by turning the cute Mimingas into his personal zombie army, while Balrog is an anthropomorphic soap bar and a one-man Goldfish Poop Gang who's pretty friendly to the heroes.
  • Final Fantasy V has Exdeath and Gilgamesh, the Big Bad and The Dragon respectively. While Exdeath is an amalgamation of evil spirits and is a serious enough villain to kill one of the main characters, Gilgamesh is presented as a comical villain who brags about his abilities only to embarrass himself in front of the heroes.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Fandaniel is The Gadfly and a playfully flamboyant hooded underling of Zenos yae Galvus, a Bad Boss and an imposing and violent schemer who's not afraid to hurl weapons at Fandaniel when he annoys him.
  • Freddi Fish: The main antagonists in the first couple of games are two sharks named Spongehead and Boss. Their names tell you a lot about the dynamic between them, but interestingly, they both answer a larger and even more sinister-looking villain called Squidfather, who ticks the Bad Boss checkbox on top of being Large and in Charge!
  • Freedom Planet has Serpentine, a barely competent cyborg snake, to Lord Arktivus Brevon, a cruel badass whose first act onscreen is to slay the king of Shuigang, and who demonstrates his power rather effortlessly when Lilac confronts him for the first time before torturing her.
  • Heart of Darkness: The Master is a terrifying figure, but his most direct underling is a pink trunk-nosed servant, who looks and sounds comical, cowers in fear before the Big Bad or the hero, and ends up helping Andy defeats his boss.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: The Petty Thugs are, as their name suggests, a group of petty thugs who mainly engage in Poke the Poodle acts like shaking people. Their employer, the titular Pulsating Mass, is a genuinely terrifying Eldritch Abomination who aims to destroy the world and single-handedly takes the game into Surprise Creepy territory.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Maleficent again. She's just as dangerous as in her original film, and significantly more ambitious. Her sidekick? The bumbling Pete. To a lesser extent, the Gullwings also count but they quickly switch sides.
  • Klonoa: Joker is definitely evil and cruel and more than willing to kill to get what he wants, but he has his comical moments. His Omnicidal Maniac boss Ghadius, however, is utterly devoid of comedy.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Yiga Clan and their leader Master Kohga are shown to be fairly goofy due to their obsession with bananas, their silly dialogue even when ambushing Link, and Kohga's Fat Bastard design. They all serve Calamity Ganon, an Animalistic Abomination trying to break its seal so it can destroy Hyrule.
  • Pokémon games love to do this with their villain teams. The grunts are almost always low-leveled, bumbling Stupid Crooks with humorous dialogue, while the leaders are dead-serious and present a genuine threat to the region.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal: An interesting variation where the villain is truly evil and a threat, but is nevertheless the target of the jokes from his lackey: Dr. Nefarious wants to exterminate all organic life, but he has a henchman named Lawrence who isn't afraid to snark at him.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Team Fortress 2: Downplayed with The Administrator and Miss Pauling. The Administrator is an Iron Lady who is controlling everything the RED and BLU teams are doing, whereas Miss Pauling, while not exactly laughable, and is in fact very competent, is much more of a Punch-Clock Villain.
  • World of Warcraft: a few boss encounters have this dynamic:
    • The dialog after the Krick is defeated in Pit of Saron shows Krick as a coward, ready to give out information on his dead-serious Lich King superior.
    • Koramar, the captain of the ship at the Iron Docks, is confident in his army, even as they players slaughter them while working their way through the instance. His first mate Zoggosh is much savvier than his captain and is thus afraid of the players. As justified as his fears are, Zoggosh's cowardice is Played for Laughs, giving the two of them this dynamic.

    Western Animation 
  • The Bluffers: Clandestino is a greedy, polluting executive, and has a guard dog named Glum who is a Minion with an F in Evil and is frequently mistreated.
  • In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the alliance between NOS-4-A2 and XL in the episode "Revenge of the Monsters" plays out like this. XL is a comical villain who usually gets the most laughs in any episode he's in, while NOS-4-A2 is one of the most dangerous and seriously taken villains in the show, along with Evil Universe Buzz. They insist to each other they're actually partners throughout the episode, but it's clear who is calling the shots and who is probably going to be betrayed. In the end, the fear of being turned on causes XL to have a Heel–Face Turn and join Star Command.
    • Also Zurg, while having comedic traits, is quite evil and sinister compared to his Brain Pod and Grub henchmen, who, while having moments of competence, are almost purely comical.
  • In Captain N, Mother Brain may not be as dangerous as her Metroid counterpart, but she is treated as a genuine threat by the characters. Her minions, Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo however, are total failures whose antics provide most of the show's slapstick humour. Mother Brain both verbally and physically abuses the pair constantly.
  • Care Bears (1980s): Beastly and Shreeky function as Laughable Lackeys who bicker with each other and consistently lose to the Care Bears, but Shreeky's uncle Lord No Heart remains a credible threat.
  • Darkwing Duck: Taurus Bulba is a pretty intimidating and uncomical villain, whilst his trio of henchmen, Hammerhead, Hoof and Mouth, are depicted as pretty goofy.
  • Dragamonz: Wormskull is a comical young Grimwrath who is the servant to Grimserver, the evil leader of the Grimwraths. He is often on the receiving end of Grimserver's abuse, which soon results in him pulling a Heel–Face Turn during the final battle.
  • Clumsy and fearful Toad was often at the receiving end of abuse from his Diabolical Mastermind boss, Dr. Dred, in Drak Pack.
  • The Dreamstone: The Urpneys are comical. The Big Bad they work for, Zordrak, looks like an Evil Sorceror T-Rex, and, while supplying much Surrounded by Idiots humour, is played deadly seriously as a villain.
  • Flying Rhino Junior High: Earl P. Sidebottom is an Evil Genius with a Reality Warper machine at his disposal, capable of putting the students in life-threatening situations. Though he fails pretty much Once an Episode, he's still far more of a threat than his Minion with an F in Evil, Ratticus.
  • Get Ed: Crouch is a robot minion that often fails against Ed and his friends, and who is easily frightened into launching toast out of his head. Bedlam, his employer, is a more serious villain who has admitted that he mainly keeps him around because he likes the toast.
  • In Filmation's Ghostbusters, Prime Evil, the undead robotic skeleton overlord of the evil ghost afterlife, has two direct subordinates Bratarat, who's a small, bulbous, rat/worm hybrid that flies that only snarks at things, and Scared Stiff, a lesser robot skeleton who routinely falls apart out of fright. They sometimes have to perform menial tasks for Prime Evil. They tend to muck it up a lot.
  • Green Eggs and Ham (the Warner Bros. Animation series) has the BADGUYS be like this through and through, with the Serious Business McWinkle and his partner the optimistic Cloud Cuckoolander Gluntz. Subverted by the reveal that the BADGUYS are not the bad guys, although they still have this dynamic.
  • With minions like Dr. Claw's who consistently lose to the hapless Inspector Gadget (or his niece), who needs enemies?
  • Invader Zim is an unusual case in several ways. Zim is a Villain Protagonist and an underling for The Empire, and characters from The Empire higher up than him are indeed far, far more capable, competent, and serious than Zim is. However, they don't actually care about conquering Earth: sending Zim to Earth is their idea of making him Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Throughout the five seasons, the Dark Hand Enforcers serve as easily beatable Comic Relief henchmen for the Arc Villains.
  • The Copycats are the typical cartoonish slapstick villain (like the Coyote) in Kidd Video and serve this role for the much menacing Master Blaster.
  • Kim Possible: Inverted. Drakken is the apparent Big Bad, but given his immaturity and tendency to go off on tangents, he's not a very serious villain. His dragon Shego, however, is an intelligent, competent combatant and is either a supervillainess in her own right or wields powerful fist weapons. Either way, she gives Kim Possible a real fight. (They maintain their respective roles by mutual preference: Shego lacks vision and ambition, and would rather be a well-paid dragon who can snark at her boss than have to pay somebody else to do the planning for her - as well as that worked the one time she tried it.)
  • Lady Lovely Locks: Hairball is the Laughable Lackey to Duchess Ravenwaves. While not incompetent, his voice, cough-like laugh, and appearance make him less of a threat than she is.
  • The Legend of Zelda (1989): Ganon was a competent, cruel villain, exasperated by his idiotic, bumbling moblin minions. It even got to the point where, when they invaded Link's bedroom in Hyrule Castle, Link didn't even need to get up from his bed: they managed to off each other with their clumsiness!
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Experiment 625, AKA Reuben, works for the series' main villain Gantu. While Reuben has all of Stitch's abilities, he has zero motivation and isn't serious at all. Played around with since Reuben's laziness often led to Gantu being the sole Butt-Monkey of all their failed schemes, with a lot of the former's snark stemming from it.
  • Mad Jack the Pirate: Jack is a Villain Protagonist, and is generally more threatening than his dense Funny Animal first mate, Snuk.
  • The Magician: Downplayed with Spade and Diamond. They're armed, dangerous, and generally competent, but their back-and-forth with each other is occasionally Played for Laughs, whereas their scheming mobster boss Black Jack is never funny.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: Many of the show's villains have a lackey with whom they share this dynamic:
    • The witch Hydia is a scheming, calculating and evil, and has two inept daughters with no motivation for villainy who tend to serve as the butts of jokes and the target of their mother's abuse.
    • The catwoman sorceress, Catrina, is a vicious, violent slave driver whose overall behavior reeks of drug addiction and domestic abuse, but her lackey, Rep, is a Nice Guy who loses a fight to a filly.
    • Squirk is an immortal squid monster who wants to flood Dream Valley, who is assisted by the much smaller and less effective Crank, a miniature lobster, who spends most of his time on air getting punched about by his boss and their enemies.
    • Arabus is a greedy and corrupt cloud wizard who likes to eat pony shadows, thereby removing the happiness from the pony in question. However, he is aided by a stupid and lazy zebra named Zeb.
    • The very dangerous and competent Grogar, ruler of the evil kingdom of Tambelon, has as a minion the bumbling and cowardly donkey Bray.
  • My Little Pony: Make Your Mark: Both Opaline and her lackey Misty have comical moments, given Opaline's tendencies to start Chewing the Scenery and Misty's Bumbling Sidekick moments. But considering Opaline is an out-and-out alicorn implied to have lived long enough to have met Twilight, and Misty's a unicorn without so much as a cutie mark, it's no surprise Opaline is a far more serious threat!
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • Episodes with villains were few and far between, but one had a giant monster made of goo named "Crud", who had a hyper, overenthusiastic, comical lackey named Smudge.
    • Similarly Stan and Heff, a Heffalump and Woozle duo appeared in a couple of episodes. While both of them were bungling crooks, Stan was far more of a devious Card-Carrying Villain than Heff, an agreeable Dumb Muscle Heffalump with several phobias.
  • Smee, as in all other representations, to Captain Hook in Peter Pan & the Pirates.
  • Pinky and the Brain: While neither one is very threatening physically (what with being lab mice and all), the Brain, with his serious demeanor and great intellect, is far more of a threat than the spastic, dimwitted Pinky, who isn't even aware that he's a villain.
  • The incompetent pig henchmen of the determined Corrupt Corporate Executive Cyril Sneer in The Raccoons fill the trope entirely.
  • Rainbow Brite: It's often hard to take Murky Dismal seriously, even if he is Rainbow Brite's nemesis through the series. In the premiere, he was working for an evil sorceror only known as "The King of Shadows" and while this setup lasted, Murky and the King of Shadows had this dynamic. After the King of Shadows' death and Murky's promotion to Big Bad status, Murky's idiotic assistant Lurky is even harder to take seriously than Murky, so he ends up creating this dynamic with him.
  • ReBoot: Megabyte could be a dangerous villain when he wanted to be, but his bumbling robotic henchmen Hack and Slash provided some of the show's best comedy.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Boris Badinov and Natasha Fatale often fail against Rocky and Bullwinkle, but their Potsylvanian superiors, Fearless Leader and Mr. Big, stay more believable as a threat.
  • Rose Petal Place: Horace is the laughable lackey to Nastina's vile villain. While not incompetent, his voice and mannerisms make him much less of a threat than she is.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Hordak and Shadow Weaver are cold, cruel and menacing, and Catra is self-destructive in ways that can be uncomfortable to watch. However, the bad guys also have Scorpia (who's big, kind and ditzy) and Entrapta (a Genki Girl Mad Scientist) to lighten the mood a bit.
  • Silverhawks has Mon*Star, his gang consisting of hardened, monstrous badasses with lethal machinery, all dangerous. Except for Mon*Star's Yes-Man (actually named Yes-Man), a timid, snake-like humanoid whose sole purposes seems to be operating the machine that exposes the Moon Star of Limbo's energy conveniently to Mon*Star's throne, and agreeing with everything Mon*Star says.
  • Scruple, a snarky, delinquent wizard-school dropout, is this to the vengeful Gargamel in The Smurfs. Gargamel himself is not without his comical moments, and acts as a laughable lackey to his abusive godfather Balthazar in every episode the latter is in.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Scratch and Grounder have this dynamic with Dr. Robotnik. The pair are cartoonishly gormless goons, unlike Robotnik who, while comedically conceited and blundering, can be very a dangerous and worthy foe for a superhero like Sonic.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Snively was comical compared to his ruthless and evil uncle, Dr. Robotnik, who was treated as a clearer threat as a ruthless Evil Overlord in this take. However, Snively was known for insulting Robotnik behind his back and did have plans to overthrow him.
    • Sonic Underground: Dingo was childish Dumb Muscle, and far less intelligent than his clever, backstabbing partner mercenary Sleet. Both of them played comic relief lackeys to Robotnik however, who retains the same Evil Overlord role as in Satam.
  • The cowardly Blub Blubs are this to the always-hungry warlord Momo in Star Street: The Adventures of the Star Kids
  • TaleSpin: Ivanod Spigot and Dunder, the two bumbling Thembrian air force men, they are very comedic. Spigot is much more cruel than Dunder, but they both contrast with the much more threatening High Marshal.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) has Shredder and his henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady. Shredder is usually portrayed as competent, though he can provide comic relief, while his henchmen, a menacing anthropomorphic boar and rhino, are actually clumsy and cowardly.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?: A one-off villain from the past named Maelstrom had a lackey with a strange name: Bilge. Downplayed, in that Bilge's only comical aspects were his name and the fact that he is afraid of a giant squid kept in the ship's hold who attacks the heroes at one point.
  • Winx Club:
    • In Season 1, the Trix act as the Serious Villain, with their ogre Knut a more comical villain who eventually underwent a Heel–Face Turn.
    • In Season 2, the Trix were Demoted to Dragon and the status stuck, but they weren't laughable until Season 3, when they repeatedly lost battles immediately upon engaging the Winx and began some minor infighting.
    • In Season 7, Brafilius is a comical, bumbling villain who acts as a lackey for his more serious sister, Kalshara. He eventually ends up having this dynamic with the Trix, who are once again serious.


Video Example(s):



Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares, has a very deep, growly voice courtesy of Gary Martin. Despite the wacky antics of his henchmen, he still has quite the intimidation factor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilSoundsDeep

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