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Villain in a White Suit

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With that suit, he's got nothing to hide about his crimes.
"[Tom Wolfe] has said that the outfit disarms the people he observes, making him, in their eyes, 'a man from Mars, the man who didn't know anything and was eager to know.'"
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Villains who are in management positions, such as mob bosses and aristocrats, can often be found wearing formal clothing. Wearing bright white suits draws a stark contrast against their villainy, just as their display of culture and wealth contrasts against the teams of low-brow grunts who enforce their will.

Due to their role in the organization (near, if not at the top), these characters tend not to be very hands-on, planning things out and ordering mooks to carry out the plans. During a Mob-Boss Suit Fitting, both their organisational skills and taste in clothing can be emphasized. Don't be surprised if the fancy suit also symbolizes their ability to beat up their own thugs. Then again, it can also be used to foreshadow their inevitable (and bloody) downfall.

Not technically gendered, as a woman in a tailored white dress or pantsuit and similar position in a villainous organization would still apply, but this list skews heavily towards male examples.

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Sub-Trope to Light Is Not Good (subverting the association of white/light with Good), Man of Wealth and Taste (classily-dressed villain), and Wicked Cultured (villains with an interest in consuming and sharing high-class culture). Super-Trope to Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit, where the villain has political control of a rural area, obesity/gluttony, and a white suit (that typically needs cleaning). Speaking of baddies in hot climates—where lighter-colored clothes, which absorb less heat, come in handy—another character likely to dress like this is an Evil Colonialist in the tropics. Contrast with Evil Wears Black (villainy is associated with black clothing) and Fashion-Victim Villain (villains with flamboyantly bad/weird taste in clothing).

See also The Rich Have White Stuff, where characters are shown to be rich by having possessions (including homes and clothing) ostentatiously white. Can lean towards White Is Pure when the villain is obsessed with keeping their suit clean.

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach tends to associate the color white with evil or at least antagonistic forces. Byakuya was the main antagonist for most of the Soul Society arc and, as with the other Gotei 13 Captains (most of which are this trope as well for this arc) wore a white haori over his black Shinigami uniform. Sōsuke Aizen and his cohorts all wear variations of fancy-looking all-white clothing in contrast to the dark uniforms of the Gotei 13. The Wandenreich, the villains of the final arc, also wear all-white uniforms.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Solf J. Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist, always wears a spotless white suit and hat after his release from prison.
  • Gundam:
  • Sherlock Hound: Sherlocks criminal Nemesis Moriarty wears an all white suit with cape.

    Comic Books 
  • Acts of Vengeance: While hiding his identity, Loki dresses in a business suit, rather than his usual Asgardian outfit. It is, naturally, white.
  • Oxymoron: Oxymoron uses an all-white suit with a red tie, hinting at his Ax-Crazy nature.
  • Preacher: All the active agents of the Knight Templar Ancient Conspiracy the Grail have a dress code of white suits and red ties.
  • Gideon Graves from Scott Pilgrim (both the movie and the comics) wears a pristine white suit. He's an evil music executive and final boss who was secretly behind much of the conflict, as he set up the League of Evil Exes.
  • Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. the Kingpin) from Spider-Man, Daredevil, and other Marvel Universe comics usually appears in a white blazer or business suit. It's used to reinforce his Villain with Good Publicity status in-universe.
  • The Ultimates: Gregory Stark, the older twin brother of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, wears a white suit, and is described as having his brother's genius, and none of his morals. He turns out to be the Big Bad of the Ultimates vs. New Avengers crossover, and when he activates his powers, the suit turns into pure white light.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Angle Man was originally a thief with ties to organized crime who wore a light suit and matching fedora, before being suited up in green spandex in the Silver Age. He returned to his white suit and fedora and became a Gentleman Thief Post-Crisis.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The appropriately named White Magician wears a white suit and cape ensemble and is a former hero turned villain.
  • X-Men: Arcade's fashion style is nothing if not consistent. From his first appearance to this day he's worn white zoot suits exclusively. That, compounded with the fact that he's a Psycho for Hire and the inventor of Murderworld, makes it this trope.

    Film — Animated 
  • Coco: The Big Bad, Ernesto De La Cruz, the Hidden Villain who killed his partner Hector, the protagonist Miguel's great-great-grandfather, and stole his songs, wears a shining white suit with a matching sombrero.
  • Frozen (2013): Hans wears a blazer atop otherwise blue inner vestments, as well as distinctive white gloves and a full-white suit during Elsa's coronation party. Contrary to traditional Disney expectations, this doesn't affect his morality one bit — he's actually a cruel usurper who has no qualms about murdering his way to a throne, breaking an innocent girl's heart along the way.
  • Lex Luthor, the wealthy criminal mastermind in Superman: Doomsday, spends most of the movie in an all-white suit.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Lucifer, the smooth manager of Hell in Constantine (2005), wears an old-fashioned ensemble in the style of a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit.
  • Coup de Torchon: Vanderbrouck, the obnoxious Jerkass who delights in insulting Lucien, wears a crisp white suit. This makes him stand out in tropical Africa. It also sets up a gag where Lucien saws through the wood panels of the outhouse, causing Vanderbrouck to fall through them. When they fish him out, Vanderbrouck's formerly white suit is covered in human waste.
  • Big Daddy, a plantation owner from Django Unchained, is seen wearing a pretty nice white suit. He likes to think of himself as a sophisticated aristocrat, but he's actually a barbaric thug who engages in violence, slavery (including sex slavery), and bloodsports, although he behaves genteelly for much of the movie.
  • In Eat A Bowl Of Tea, the wife has an affair with a Smug Snake who wears a white suit — probably to show how flashy he is.
  • Gate of Flesh: In this film set in the rubble-strewn slums of Tokyo soon after the end of World War II, Ishii the crime boss strolls around in a crisp white suit. This is especially notable because the little band of prostitutes the film centers around all wear bright primary colors, and all the rest of the Japanese men in the Wretched Hive are generally dirty and sweaty and wearing more humble clothing.
  • The second film in The Godfather trilogy had Don Fanucci, a freelance extortionist who was the padrone of Hell's Kitchen, who would often wear white suits with black overcoat and a white panama hat.
  • In The Grand Duel, Sissy Villain Adam Saxon is the baby of the Saxon brothers, a dressed-all-in-white dandy, and a psychotic killer to boot who goes into near orgasmic delight whenever he gets to kill someone.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Starter Villain wears a full white suit including a trademark white panama hat.
  • James Bond:
    • Sometimes, whenever Bond is wearing his black (or midnight blue) tuxedo, the villain will wear a white dinner jacket to contrast.
    • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Francisco Scaramanga is usually seen wearing an all-white suit.
  • Kill Bill: O-ren Ishii's pure white, formal kimono, while it also makes for some nice visual symbolism during her eventual defeat, it also fits with her role. She's a mob boss, the head of the yakuza, and a polite, dignified, yet ruthless leader who makes herself scarce when combat begins, only reappearing once all her minions have been killed.
  • The Ladykillers (2004): Caper Crew leader Professor Dorr wears a fine white suit in several scenes, adding to his Southern Gentleman appearance.
  • Saruman the White from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings wears a white robe. Unlike in the books the films are based on, it doesn't seem to be able to change its colour.
  • Lord of War: Andre Baptiste, Sr., the brutal dictator of Liberia who uses drugged-up child soldiers and rules with an iron fist, favors a pure white uniform, except on ceremonial occasions.
  • The villains in both El Mariachi and Desperado wear white suits, contrasting with the hero's black mariachi suit.
  • The Muppet Movie: The main villain Doc Hopper, who's most commonly clad in an old-fashioned, white pinstriped suit. He's a greedy corporate executive/restaurant owner who's out to force Kermit to be his spokesman by any means necessary but relies on his minions, especially his Beleaguered Assistant Max to do everything for him, including driving him around.
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising: Liwen Shao is introduced as a coldly imperious corporate executive in an elegant white suit, who refuses a handshake and exploits a tragedy to promote her business. Subverted when she joins forces with the protagonists to help save the world from the actual villain and defrosts a bit.
  • Pitfall (1962): An ominous fellow in the white suit stalks the protagonist, an unfortunate miner. The villain's crisp, neat suit stands in dramatic contrast to the filth and dirt and sweaty, desperate people that surround him in Japanese mining country. He gets away with multiple murders.
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy: Al G. Rhythm.
  • As in the aforementioned Superman: Doomsday, wealthy criminal mastermind Lex Luthor wears a white tie and overcoat in Superman Returns, plus he spends a lot of time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wearing a white jacket and pants.
  • The Untouchables (1987): Aside from the infamous Batter Up! dinner scene and when he impersonates an officer, Psycho for Hire Frank Nitti wears a white suit for almost every scene he's in, contrasting the dark suit worn by his opponent Eliot Ness.
  • Most of John Woo's villains, who tend to be mob bosses, (Shing from A Better Tomorrow, Ko Ying Pui from A Better Tomorrow II, and Mr. James Wong from the game Stranglehold among others) wear white, the better to show off the blood from the bullets they receive. The main heroic Woo example, of course, is Ah Jong from the final showdown of The Killer (though then again, he is the one out of the two heroes of the movie to die.)

    Literature 
  • Baccano!: Ladd Russo is the nephew of the Russo Family Don. He suggests a plan where he and his buddies kidnap a train for ransom. His uncle agrees because Ladd is nuts, but asks why they're wearing fancy suits if they plan on killing everyone on the train. Ladd explains that he wants to see the white suits covered in red blood, Later in the novels, he then comes back to his uncle and murders him by surprise, which effectively puts him in charge of the family business.
  • In Blood Fever, Big Bad Count Ugo Carnifex is in his 60s, and has white hair and a gaunt face. He is exceptionally clean; this stems from a traumatic incident where he had to hide from enemy soldiers in a septic tank. He usually wears a white Roman tunic and pants, further symbolizing his cleanliness.
  • Judge Holden in Blood Meridian appears in white suits whenever he's come into money. He's heavily implied to be a Devil in Disguise.
  • The Illuminati in Duumvirate all wear white, and their servants wear black. The bioengineered title characters are white for the same reason.
  • In the books of The Lord of the Rings, the wizard Saruman continued to wear white robes after his Face–Heel Turn; however, by the time of the War of the Ring, he had exchanged the white robe for a rainbow-colored one and called himself "Saruman the Many-Colored".
  • While Mr. Charles from Race to the Sun wears a black suit, his two bodyguards, Mr. Rock and Ms. Bird, wear white suits — and they are both implied to be shape-shifting, man-eating monsters, too.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Demon Lord Clayman wears an all-white ensemble suit and is one of the more malevolent Demon Lords whose constantly scheming for his own ends with no regards to who gets hurt. His subordinate Gelmund wears a similar white ensemble and was the one tasked by Clayman in creating a puppet Demon Lord to rule the Forest of Jura, which involved manipulating and slaughtering the monster races there without a care in order to literally feed the growth of the Orc Disaster, himself a manipulated being who just wanted to save his people from a famine. This in turn ends up foreshadowing the white-clad Yuuki Kagurazaka as a villain, who is in fact the man Clayman himself is working for.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Blake's 7, the classy but vicious and ruthless Supreme Commander of the Space Force (and later President of the Federation), the Big Bad Servalan, dresses entirely in white for most of the first two seasons (until they changed the costume designer).
  • Daredevil (2015): Wilson Fisk wears a white shirt as a new inmate upon his arrival in prison. Midway through season 3, after his release from prison, he's able to upgrade his wardrobe to the fancy white suits he wears in the comics.
  • The Defenders (2017): One of the Hand leaders, Sowande, is known on the streets of Harlem as "White Hat" because he wears a white Panama hat and suit, which sharply contrast with his black skin.
  • In Gotham, Jerome Valeska wears a striking white or very light grey suit coat on the last day of his life. He generally tends to favor white, yellow, and red in his clothing, in contrast to his identical twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska, who is much more fond of purple and green.
  • Kamen Rider: Underneath his black Ominous Opera Cape, Dr. Shinigami wears a white tuxedo.
  • Kidou Keiji Jiban: The executive members of Criminal Syndicate Bioron all wear white uniforms. This was done as a deliberate choice by the character designer so it would be a departure from the typical villain attire.
  • Members of unscrupulous Dyad Institute from Orphan Black frequently wear white, but the best example is Rachel Duncan, who is rarely seen wearing anything other than business-wear.
  • Jim Moriarty of Sherlock dresses in a white suit at one point in The Reichenbach Fall, ironically clothed in the Western color of purity and virtue, when he is in fact a complete psychopath who's rotten to the core. The color fits with his status as a villain who is a sophisticated, intelligent schemer.
  • Various Bad Future episodes of Smallville show President Evil future-Lex in a pure white suit. Combine this with the black-gloved right hand and the effect is really unsettling. On Clark's trip inside Lex's head, bad Lex is shown dressed in the exact same way. The finale also shows him wearing it on a TV screen right after he's won the election.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode "The Royale" the main antagonist Mickey D briefly appears at the Hotel Royale wearing a white suit, staying just long enough to kill a bellboy who was far too interested in Mickey's girlfriend.
  • Supernatural:
    • In a Bad Future where most of humanity has been wiped out by a Zombie Apocalypse engineered by Hell, Lucifer takes to wearing a white suit in his strongest vessel, Sam Winchester. After all, his name means "Lightbringer".
    • Asmodeus, the fourth Prince of Hell, and one of the Big Bad Ensemble of season 13, wears an immaculate all-white suit.
  • The White Violin in The Umbrella Academy (2019) wears an all-white suit while performing a concerto that will end the world. She's Vanya Hargreeves after she becomes a Fallen Hero; the white suit is a side-effect of her powers bleaching her clothes and skin the more powerful she gets.

    Music 
  • The Stupendium, for their Evil Genius 2 song, wears a glitzy white 1970s-style suit with an orange shirt, orange-tinted glasses, and several pieces of jewellery, for their character as a flamboyant evil genius.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, white represents Ultraviolet security clearance, reserved for the High Programmers entrusted with maintaining The Computer. Plays on both aspects of white; High Programmers are considered by The Computer and many citizensnote  to be beyond reproach, but players know that most of them are unspeakably corrupt and that their manipulations are partly responsible for The Computer's insanity.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck: Doc Scratch not only wears a white suit, he is pure white himself (with a blank white face to match) and types with white text. Doc Scratch is sophisticated, polite, and an excellent host, but he's also a villainous chessmaster who manipulates everyone into making a home for the Eldritch Abomination he gives rise to.
  • John Henry Hunter, the villain of Next Town Over. His white suit is Awesome, but Impractical as well, since the outfit, uncharacteristically pristine and fancy for the West, makes it easier for Vane Black to locate his whereabouts.

    Web Video 
  • Rare female example in Anime Crimes Division. Mrs. Prestige, an executive in Prestige TV City, wears a white suit and has white hair, showing her sophistication and well, prestige, as well as her nefarious intentions. She's the leader of TOXIC and the Big Bad of Season 2. She takes over Neo Otaku City as part of a scheme to convert all the anime fans into Prestige TV fans. She's rarely involved in hands-on fighting.
  • In The Eleven Little Roosters, the saboteur, Gavin the 3rd, aka Mavin due to having a Split Personality with Michael, wears a white suit while manipulating the other agents into killing each other.

    Western Animation 
  • Black Mask wore a white suit in The Batman and he hasn’t taken it off since.
  • Played for Laughs in DuckTales (2017). Glomgold normally wears a stereotypically Scottish outfit as part of his whole schtick to try and outdo Scrooge at everything, but when Scrooge fakes his own death he shows up to the funeral in a white, sequinned suit and top-hat (along with an absolutely legendary display of Last Disrespects) just so he can rub it in his hated rival's face that he outlived him.
  • Star Wars: Rebels: Grand Admiral Thrawn wears a white Imperial uniform with gold trim and has the Wicked Cultured attitude to match.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters has Malcolm Kane, who wears a white suit for most of the show before he is revealed to be a villain with ulterior motives.

 
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Emperor Nefarious

The true main antagonist of Rift Apart. After being impersonated by his alternate self while he was away researching the means to bridge worlds, the Emperor returns with a vengeance and forcefully reclaims his throne, dragging Dr. Nefarious along as he seeks the ultimate prize - to conquer every dimension imaginable.

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