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"That's why you'll never surpass me. Since when did people start expecting science to be humane? To study the body, you cut it open. To study the mind, you isolate it by crushing the heart. Historically, that's how science has advanced."
Serph Sheffield, Digital Devil Saga 2

Shin Megami Tensei has been around since The '80s, so it is no surprise that, among its many characters, we find some truly heinous villains.

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!

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Literature (Digital Devil Story)

  • Reincarnation of the Goddess (first book): Loki is the catalyst for the trilogy as a whole. A demon summoned by Akemi Nakajima to get revenge on two students, Loki orders Nakajima to procure female sacrifices as compensation, including Nakajima's teacher Ohara, whom he impregnates. Initially following the terms of the deal, Loki has a teacher murdered against Nakajima's wishes. Lusting after Yumiko Shirasagi, Loki demands her as a sacrifice and betrays Nakajima when he refuses. He then manipulates the brainwashed Ohara into summoning him into the real world, and goes on a killing spree by devouring countless students and other innocent civilians. He attempts to rape Yumiko, and was only thwarted by the goddess Izanami's intervention, but nonetheless manages to fatally wound Yumiko in the process. In pursuit of the protagonists, Loki murders the loyal Cerberus and Yomotsu-Shikome, and tries to rape Izanami as well. A demon solely driven by his wanton lust for rape and blood, Loki sets the standard for future Shin Megami Tensei villains.
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  • Warrior of the Demon City (second book): Set and Isma Feed are the main antagonists. Having heard of Nakajima summoning Loki, Isma heads for Japan after forcing an FBI agent to shoot himself. Meeting Ohara, Isma learns of her contact with Set and proceeds to make a contract with the god. With Ohara useless and demonizing as a result of her unborn child with Loki, Isma sends her on a suicide mission to take out Nakajima and Yumiko, resulting in the slaughter of the latter's family and Yumiko having to incinerate Nakajima's possessed mother in front of him. After Ohara's death, Set takes over her child's body and takes Yumiko, who he and Isma use as a cornerstone for Set's new body—one made out of countless people compelled to sacrifice themselves to become part of Set. When Isma is killed in a battle with the heroes, Set rapidly speeds up the process until the final battle, where he tortures Nakajima with images of his and Loki's victims from the first book, before finally attempting to drop a spaceship on the Earth.

Video Games

Main Series
  • Shin Megami Tensei I & II: The original incarnation of YHVH is a self-centered and fascist dictator with a malignant need for attention. As the supreme leader of the demons associated with Law, YHVH's ultimate goal is to create his own totalitarian definition of the Thousand Year Kingdom on Earth, an ultra-collectivist society ruled by him where freedom of thought is a crime and only those who are willingly obedient to him shall thrive. In the first game, YHVH spearheads a global nuclear holocaust to pave the way for his kingdom to become a reality, allowing the militant Messian gangs to roam the streets in the post-apocalypse, and years later, YHVH summons a massive flood to destroy the suburbs around Tokyo. With the Messians gaining political support in the sequel and rising in power to become the dominant faction, YHVH succeeds in creating his kingdom, Tokyo Millennium, but ultimately abandons its people and decides to build an Ark for a select few that were chosen by him before activating a Kill Sat within the city to eliminate all unworthy life as his form of divine judgement to rule over a "new world filled with my thralls".
  • Shin Megami Tensei II:
    • The twisted versions of Archangels Uriel, Raphael, and Michael are overlords of the theocratic dictatorship that has overthrown Tokyo After the End. While they allegedly divided the city into five districts in accordance to the division of labor, it is clear they favor the wealthy Central District and feel free to neglect, abuse, and slaughter outright the residents of the other four. When signs of rebellion appear in the Valhalla district, they order the Demon Lord Abaddon to devour it whole, promising to restore his angelic status if he did so; when he is finished, they cast him back into the demon world. The entirety of the Arcadia district has been lobotomized and plugged into Lotus Eater Machines, causing them to believe they live in an idyllic paradise while their physical bodies waste away; Aleph is subsequently informed the the Archangels intended to do the same to the entire planet. The workers of the Factory District have been brainwashed into slavery by the song of a Siren, who is routinely tortured by the Archangels' henchmen to keep her singing. Finally, they attempt to get Aleph and his comrade Zayin to surrender to them by holding the entire Holytown district hostage, threatening to cut off their air supply and slowly suffocate them to death.
    • The Center Bishop, as revealed by the Visionary Items in the remakes, is the Archangels' top enforcer. As leader of the Temple Knights, the Bishop orders the execution of all captured rebels, even killing children without offering them a second chance. Also overseeing the Messiah Project, the Bishop provides Mekata with a supply of infants to test his rapid aging procedure on; when Mekata protests that the Bishop's requests could kill them, the Bishop responds that he'll keep providing Mekata with babies to replace the dead ones and to put it out of his mind. Also in charge of the education of the children born from the project, the Bishop ensures their only desire is to follow their assigned role, taking a particularly sadistic delight in tricking Daleth into believing he's the Messiah. When Aleph resurfaces, the Bishop turns a Jack Frost into King Frost and lets him ravage Holytown, but leaves out his true role as a sacrifice for the Messiah's rise to power.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: Gozu-Tennoh is the leader of the Mantra Army, an iron-fisted kraterocracy of demons that rule over Ikebukuro in the Vortex World. Waging war against the Assembly of Nihilo, many "enemies" of his regime are made to prove their innocence by fighting to the death in Gladiator Games. Gozu-Tennoh is known for capturing Manikins and forcing them into slave labor or using them as a disposable source of Life Energy, even having an entire prison filled with Manikins to slowly drain them of life. Willingly merging with Chiaki Hayasaka, Gozu-Tennoh enables her to launch a genocidal campaign against the Manikin race and create the Reason of Yosuga, an ideology that, if implemented by Kagutsuchi, would reshape the world into a giant slaughterhouse where people kill each other on a daily basis and those deemed too weak to survive are purged en masse.
  • Strange Journey: The greedy Captain Jack proves that even in the demon world, sometimes the worst monster is humanity. A Private Military Contractor loyal to nothing but his own pocketbook, Jack is hired by an unnamed client corporation to pillage the demon world of its natural resources, a job he takes a twisted pride in. Though initially appearing as an uneasy ally to the protagonists, it is eventually revealed that he plans to manufacture a demon army for his client and himself, regularly performing painful amputations on any demon unfortunate enough to fall into his clutches and fusing them together into unstable forms that leave them in constant pain. When the protagonist's ally Jimenez tries to stop the experiments, Jack sends him to be tortured and fused with his demon friend Bugaboo to use him as a slave. When finally confronted by the protagonist and Jimenez, Jack's only action is to scold them for costing him valuable men and equipment before engaging them in a final battle.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV:
    • The original game: Mr. Tayama began as a small-time Yakuza leader in Tokyo, but in the power vacuum following an apocalyptic war he seized control of the city via commandeering the Yamato Perpetual Reactor, Tokyo's main source of power. He thus established himself as the unquestioned leader of the city. While Tayama protects the citizens from the hordes of demons ravaging the city, he does so mainly for the sense of power it gives him; anyone who questions his rule is killed or worse. Tayama invented a Fantastic Drug, Red Pills, that can be used to pacify demons, but unknown to the people of Tokyo, the drug is made from human brains extracted from innocent people his Ashura-kai periodically kidnap and raise in a "human farm" until they die. Tayama is also breeding child slaves for this purpose. Though Tayama claims this is for the benefit of the greater population, he has also hypocritically cornered the market on smartphones, through which demons can also be tamed without causing harm to either them or humans, even demolishing an entire neighborhood to maintain his monopoly.
    • Apocalypse: Defense Minister Tamagami may not be a demon, but, despite him not appearing for long, his actions are responsible in a large part for the dystopian setting of the game. A deranged Japanese Ultranationalist who believed only his country was worthy of superpower status, Tamagami called upon demonic power to realize his dream. Tamagami forcibly removed the souls of prisoners and replaced them with demon souls to create the National Defense Divinities, which he intended to use to conquer Japan's rivals such as China. Tamagami overwrote his personality onto the mind of an innocent woman to allow himself to cheat death, and he created the Yamato Reactor, a perpetual energy device fueled by demonic magics, through which demons entered the human world and ignited World War III. As his last gambit, if his new body were ever killed, Tamagami performed a ritual to summon Izanami to exterminate his own people and remake Japan from scratch in his image.

Persona sub-series

  • Persona 2:
    • Innocent Sin: Ginji Sasaki, aka Prince Taurus, is a member of the Masked Circle and easily one of the most depraved. A record producer, Ginji became infamous for his sexual advances toward his female artists, especially those underage. Out of a desperate attempt to regain his fame, Ginji made a deal with Joker in exchange joining the Masked Circle and helping them absorb Ideal Energy, using inspiring artists. Working with King Leo, Ginji, using the power of the rumors, started a new music group called MUSES, forcing Lisa Silverman to join by using her friends, with the intent of trying to bring her to their side and arrange a giant concert so he could absorb the Ideal Energy of the audience and then blow up the evidence with the bombs he help set up. When his plans were thwarted by Lisa and the party, Ginji tries to kill them, and when's he defeated, he decides to absorb the life energy of Lisa's friends in front of her out of spite before retreating. Ginji would commit atrocities without remorse just so he could keep his fame.
    • Eternal Punishment:
      • Tatsuzō Sudō is the tyrannical Japanese Foreign Minister and leader of the New World Order, a cult planning to reach the world of the Gods. Tatsuzō, however, has more selfish ambitions. Using his own group to conduct crimes, which include framing the father of two of the main characters; unethical experiments resulting in humans turning into monsters; and attempted murder to Baofu, which resulted in his assistant's death, Tatsuzō furthers the ambition of New World Order while hiding it from the public. To this end, Tatsuzō also sends his insane son Tatsuya Sudō to a mental hospital in order to lock him up from the public eye, and when he finds out he escaped sends the Taiwanese Mafia to kill him. Once the New World Order succeeds in their goal in activating Torifune to reach God, this also causes endanger the world outside the spaceship from a natural disaster that can wipe out humanity, something Tatsuzō is aware of. After reaching this far, Tatsuzō betrays his loyal companions by mutating or killing them, while sending out demons to take down the heroes.
      • General Sugawara is the military leader of the New World Order, in charge of its covert operations and experiments. Working with Tatsuzō Sudō, Sugawara helps his plans for godhood in hopes of becoming immortal due to his failing health. Sugawara uses his military might to invade areas, gun down opposition, and lead the group's experiments on Personas, abducting people and turning them into demons by fusing them with Personas, all the while uncaring when his men end up as collateral damage to further his agenda. Ultimately self-serving, nobody felt pity for him when he ends up being turned into a demon by Tatsuzō as his so-called reward of immortality.
  • Persona 3:
    • Kouetsu Kirijo is the man behind the terrible events of the game. Ten years prior to the events of the game, Kirijo tried to harness the power of shadow after stumbling upon them as a source of energy. During this, he discovered the Fall, an apocalyptic event where Nyx would be summoned to bring death to humanity, and became so entranced by it that he resorted to numerous unethical actions to make this happen. These include experimenting on children; giving machines sapient life, and treating them as weapons which killed many of them. He also corrupted many of the scientists under him to embrace death, and they nearly succeeded in calling out Nyx.
    • Shuji Ikutsuki, the Chairman of S.E.E.S., is in actuality a psychotic dedicant of the god Nyx, with a fervor to match his predecessor Koutetsu Kirijo. Playing the part of the hero's quirky ally, Ikutsuki took part in the catastrophic attempt to revive Nyx in the past and used his own adopted son Sho in the experiment. The subsequent explosion killed hundreds, very nearly killed Sho himself, and brought about the Shadow-infested Dark Hour upon the city. Ikutsuki tricks S.E.E.S. into slaying the Shadows under the pretext of undoing the Dark Hour, all in preparation to secretly restart his attempt to bring Nyx to Earth. Ikutsuki tries to sacrifice all his pawns and manages to kill Mitsuru's father before he's sent plunging off a building, laughing to the end with the belief he's managed to doom humanity to Nyx.
  • Persona 5: While Yaldabaoth may have set the plot in motion, these two villains prove that Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • Masayoshi Shido is behind the atrocities of the game, profiting off the other villains. Using his abandoned and illegitimate son, Goro Akechi, Shido has him assassinate both his enemies and allies who have outlived their usefulness to work his way up to becoming Prime Minister of Japan. Stealing the research of Wakaba Isshiki before having her killed, Shido also uses his influence to ruin peoples' lives, driving Isshiki's daughter into depression and getting Joker placed on probation for trying to stop Shido from harassing a woman. Using Akechi as a mole within the Phantom Thieves, Shido plans to have them arrested for getting in his way and for the Protagonist to be tortured and murdered. After Akechi is defeated by the Thieves, Shido is revealed to be planning to dispose of his son, and pins his own crimes on him after killing the mentally unstable boy. When defeated, Shido's final action is to destroy his own Palace in an attempt to take the Thieves down with him. While Shido claims to be acting for Japan's greater interests, in reality he values only power and glory for himself.
    • Suguru Kamoshida is a gym coach and a dangerous sexual predator. Protected by the school administration due to his past fame as an Olympic gold medalist, Kamoshida perversely extorts sexual favors from his female students. He also forces his male students into brutal training regimes and often beats them, resulting in students of both genders living in constant fear of him. Seeking to shut down the track team, Kamoshida provokes their star athlete into punching him and breaks the boy's leg in "self-defense". When his "favorite" victim refuses to sleep with him, Kamoshida rapes her best friend Shiho Suzui in petty vengeance, resulting in Shiho attempting suicide. While only a minor threat in the grand scheme of the plot, Kamoshida's heart is among the most vile stolen by the Phantom Thieves.

Sub-Series spinoffs

  • Last Bible III: Banipal, aka the Soul Eater, is a sorcerer who experiments on humans and sapient beasts, leaving them in a state of constant agony, in his pursuit of immortality. In the present, Banipal hunts the Shadow Walkers in orders of Ben-Shoah in exchange for the Necronomicon. When the people of Baruch, home of a Shadow Walker, found and took care of a disguised Banipal, he used the opportunity to massacre the town and create monsters that would brutally murder children, sometimes as sacrifices, of nearby towns that Banipal plans to destroy as well, devouring the souls of their last guardians to send a message. Killing Miss Carol when she tries to stop him, Banipal survives the destruction of his lair and continues his atrocities, killing Jonathan's beast partner and performing lethal experiments on Harry before trying to experiment on the protagonists.
  • The Devil Summoner series has two Big Bads:
    • Original Game: Sid Davis is a foreign occult specialist and a sadistic agent of the Phantom Society sent to Hirasaki City with the task of triggering the apocalypse. A human Serial Killer with an enthusiastic desire to end all of mankind, Sid manipulates the boss of the Yakuza into helping him and eventually leaves him to die, orchestrating an outbreak of demons for innocent civilians to be massacred. Searching for a book that would allow him to summon the wrathful spirit of an ancient princess to destroy Japan and then the world, Sid murders both the protagonist and demon hunter Kyouji Kuzunoha, kidnapping the former's girlfriend, Kumiko Hatano, for being a descendant of the princess. Sealing Kumiko's soul inside an astral plane and threatening to torture her if she doesn't give him information, Sid promises the protagonist that he's willing to exchange Kumiko for the book and fulfills his part of the agreement by showing the protagonist that Kumiko is under a spiritual influence and will only follow the path to the sacred tomb where the ritual would take place anyway. Preparing to use Kumiko's body as a vessel for the princess and leave her soul to be consumed, Sid spends his last moments gloating about his success and how the protagonist will inevitably be defeated.
    • Soul Hackers: Kadokura is the CEO of technology giant AlgonSoft and one of the most influential men in Japan. Though beloved by the public for his useful products and philanthropy, this masquerade hides a twisted man devoted to world domination. Prior to the start of the story, Kadokura had discovered Manitou, supreme god of the Native Americans, and decided to use his power for his own ends. Kadokura founds Amami City, a state-of-the art seaside metropolis, and Paradigm X, a totally-virtual city that can be accessed by Amami's computers, as an excuse to get millions of people into one place to sacrifice their souls to Manitou; the chips that run the virtual city are infused with demonic power, sending the souls of the players via cyberspace to feed the sleeping god. By the end of the game, most of the city's population has had their souls removed. When Kadokura meets the heroes for the first time, he falsely blames everything on his demon partners Azazel and Satanael, then after the heroes kill them, Kadokura thanks them for saving him the trouble of doing it himself. When the heroes finally corner Kadokura, he swallows a number of souls himself to power himself up. Willing to exploit everyone from ordinary citizens to a creator god, Kadokura has no place in his heart for anything other than his own rise to the top.
  • Devil Survivor: Belberith is a Demon Lord and the cause of almost all disasters in the game. A demon who inherited the power and memories of the original King of Bel, Belberith swore revenge against God. To do this, Belberith waged war against other demons who inherited the power of Bel and manipulated the Founder of the Shomonkai, making him believe that he was going to protect humanity from God's Ordeal. Under his orders, the Shomonkai causes the weakening of the Barrier between worlds leading to demons to escape to Tokyo, forcing the Japanese Army to lock the city to prevent a worldwide demonic spread, something which causes the death of hundreds of civilians. When Belberith is summoned to the Human world by the Founder sacrificing his own life, he confesses his real intentions, taking revenge on God by killing "all his children" and mocking the Founder for believing in him. In Yuzu's 8th day in Overclocked. Belberith shows his sadism by killing his newest servant after he asked when Belberith would revive his family and then gloating about how he truly did " reunite him with his family".
  • Digital Devil Saga duology:
    • Serph Sheffield, when placed in charge of the Karma Society's God Project, began using everyone and anything around him in his quest to attain the power of God for himself. Serph uses Sera's growing love for him to push her Psychic Powers into further maturation, only to express disgust at Seras creation of a virtual paradise consisting of AIs she uses to escape the pain of his experiments. When Colonel Beck proposed to change Seras paradise into a training simulation for creating stronger AIs, Serph overrides Heat O'Brien's warning against destroying Seras mental condition and tells Beck to proceed. After a desperate Heat pulls a gun and demands the project to stop, Serph tells Heat that a human's mind is no different than a machine, and that his subjects, including Sera, were expendable and could be replaced, before manipulating Argilla into killing Heat. After being turned into a demon by a heartbroken Sera, sending a massive data surge into the now black Sun, Serph goes on a killing spree starting with Beck and Argilla before being killed offscreen. Refusing to accept that he is dead, Serph reappears at the EGG facility as Solar Data and tries to kill the AI Serph and Heat while proclaiming to have the power of God. A cruel and manipulative young man, his actions are largely responsible for the disasters plaguing the series.
    • In the war-torn Junkyard, the traitorous Bat stands out as one of the most despicable inhabitants. Serving as a recurring antagonist, Bat starts off as the right-hand man of Jinana, leader of the Maribel. After suffering defeat by the main characters to secure an alliance with Jinana, Bat became a traitorous schemer. Bat betrayed The Maribel and Embryon alliance by informing Mick of their incoming invasions and arranged the ambush against Serph's team and the annihilation of Jinana's forces, resulting in the death of most of Jinana's group and Jinana going berserk and having to be put down. Bat then diverts Serph's group so that Mick's forces can invade the Embryon main base to kill its members and kidnap Sera after learning of her powers. When Serph's group came to rescue Sera, Bat tried to force Heat to kill Serph by taking Sera hostage. When this failed, Bat left Mick for dead in the hands of Serph's group and defected to the Brutes, leading the invasion to get Sera from the Embryon, not realizing it was a trap to finish him off. Ambushed by Argilla, Bat managed to overpower her and bragged that he ate Jinana's body and that she was no different from him, before trying to eat her. Even after his death, Bat still left a dark scar on Argilla, making her believe she is a monster just like Bat.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

  • Gharnef and music producer Yatsufusa Hatanaka are the duo responsible for the turmoil in the story. After Gharnef is banished following his attempt to destroy the world with the Shadow Dragon Medeus, he meets the equally vile Hatanaka, and the two sacrifice an entire opera house full of people to Medeus. Seemingly beaten back, the two attack present-day Tokyo with their monstrous Mirages, attempting to revive Medeus again, Hatanaka laughing as they sap people of energy for their plot. When encountered for the final time, both eventually give their souls to power Medeus, intent on destroying the world at all costs.

Anime & Manga

  • Devil Children manga, by Fujii Hideki: Demon King Azazel, Driven by Envy, usurped the throne from his benevolent brother Lucifer. Sparing Lucifer's life to humiliate him, Azazel orders the massacre of the Cerberus Clan, children included, considering them traitors; allows the fracture of the Demon World into warring factions; and banishes his own daughter Elegy after seeing his past self in her. Receiving news of the invasion of the Angels, Azazel abandons his subjects and sends his spy to fight the heroes in the Fire Land, destroying it in the process. When the Devil Children arrive to his palace, Azazel promises to kill Setsuna in front of his father Lucifer and mocks the death of Elegy's loyal servants. Realizing the Devil Children have the Rainbow Key, Azazel claims a desire to create a paradise, only to be mocked by Lucifer, who reveals that Azazel desires to use the Rainbow Key to dominate the world. In his battle against the heroes, Azazel causes notorious destruction in his own capital, which he justifies by saying that now that the apocalypse is near, it doesn't matter.
  • Devil Survivor manga, by Satoru Matsuba: Beldr proves to be far worse than his game counterpart. A Bel that feeds off grief and despair, Beldr introduces himself by draining the souls of a group of innocents that the heroes previously saved. When Atsuro finds out that Beldr is seemingly invulnerable, Beldr attempts to slowly burn him alive in response. After Kazuya buys time for the others to escape, Beldr tortures him to near death, talking about the pleasure he takes in Kazuya's hopelessness. When Kazuya escapes, Beldr goes on a killing spree for the next day before going to the cemetery. Beldr then attempts to drain the souls of over 300 innocent civilians to fully revive himself, intending to escape the Yamanote circle and turn the rest of the world into an apocalypse so that everyone will feel grief.
  • Persona: Be Your True Mind, by Shinshu Ueda: Nyarlathotep, unlike in the game continuity, isn't the shadow of all humans, but rather a part of Takahisa Kandori's mind born out of his own misanthropy, influencing him into desiring the extinction of humanity without his knowledge, leading to the tragedies throughout the series. When Kandori starts to doubt his own actions and has a breakdown after being called on his flaws by Kei Nanjo, Nyarlathotep uses his rage to take control of him, forcing Kandori to stab his beloved daughter before fully possessing him and turning him into a hideous creature that tries to kill the protagonists, enjoying their fear and trying to break Nanjo's will. Despite being a shadow and his short screen time, Nyarlathotep's sadism, lack of loved ones and omnicidal ambitions make him stand out from the other shadows seen throughout the series.
  • Persona -trinity soul-: Keisuke Komatsubara, studying the Persona phenomenon, used his own daughter, Ayane, for painful experiments until she committed suicide. Apathetic to her death, Keisuke intends to revive her to study the links between the Sea of Souls and the human world. After Ayane's spirit caused a disaster in Ayanagi City, Keisuke poses as an altruistic doctor, convinces Ryo Kanzato to sacrifice his injured little sister to save his brother Jun, and uses the operation to experiment on Jun, intending to use him later and to get revenge on the already-deceased Kanzato for leaving his investigation. Fusing with his own Persona and changing his name to Kujou Mareya, he creates the Marebito by inserting artificial Persona inside orphans, making them dependent on drugs to survive and limiting their lives, with the intention to sacrifice them in the future. Convincing them to steal the Persona of other teenagers, in a brutal method known as the Reverse Cases for outsiders, Keisuke also creates an android to spread the Shadow Extraction Ritual in order to keep a suitable reserve of potential Persona users to attack. Lacking empathy, Keisuke saw everyone—even his own children—as tools to be used in his quest for knowledge.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Tokyo Revelation OVA: Gagyson is a low-ranking demon contracted by Akito Kobayashi to assist in his mission to unleash President Ose in the human world, but shows no loyalty towards his human boss and sees him as his puppet. Establishing himself as Ose's faithful servant who wishes to annihilate the human race, Gagyson allows Akito to destroy an airplane to use the passengers as human sacrifices, sending a demon to assassinate his best friend, Kojiro Souma, when Akito's love for him begins to disturb their plan. After fatally injuring Kojiro, Gagyson assumes control over Akito's operation and orders his demons to beat him. Killing Saki Yagami by impaling her with a sword and using her massive amounts of Magnetite in a ritual, Gagyson successfully summons Ose to wreak havoc around Tokyo, and ultimately sacrifices his own body to make the damage even worse.

Alternative Title(s): Persona