Alongside from its Batman-esque influences of film noir, the Sly Cooper series tends to have an edge of levity and goofiness to it... which makes it all the more effective whenever things really decide to get dark, as seen with several of the settings, a few of the themes, and, uh, Clockwerk.
- Clockwerk himself is absolutely terrifying. To elaborate, imagine a being (a huge owl, to be specific) who has spent years replacing his body with robotic parts just so he can be immortal. And why does he want to be immortal? A fear of death? Nope. A God Am I? Not even close. The only thing that fuels Clockwerk's desire to live forever is that he absolutely hates the Cooper family and wants nothing more than to see them utterly wiped out. Imagine someone that hates not only you, but your entire family so much, that he is willing to turn himself into an immortal robot fueled by pure rage (i.e. the "Hate Chip") just to kill you.
- How much rage we're talking about? The decoy Big Bad of the second game, Arpeggio, wants to become immortal by combining himself with Clockwerk's body and fuel it with other people's hatred - specifically, the entirety of Paris after it has been drugged and hypnotized into a zombie-like frenzy. Clockwerk managed to generate at least that much hatred by himself.
- According to Thieves in Time, Clockwerk has been alive much, much longer than we previously thought. If the game's easter eggs are canon, then he has been alive since at least the ice age.
- And more on those easter eggs: in pretty much every level of Thieves in Time, you can find Clockwerk perched somewhere in the scenery, just watching you. When you remember that his goal was to wipe out the Coopers...Bottom line: you may have been playing as Sly's ancestors only a short time before their deaths.
- However his dialogue in the first game seems to indicate that every attempt to face a Cooper has been met with failure, further fueling his hatred. The only thing that failed in the death of Sly's Father was Clockwerk not killing Sly himself before he grew to be old enough to continue on the Family's legacy. Which he only did because he wanted to prove that without the Thievius Raccoonus, Sly would not be able to live up to the Cooper's legendary skills. In short, it's not his success that makes him horrifying; it's the fact that he's been trying for centuries, even millennia to wipe out the bloodline, and was dangerously close to ending it each time but ultimately underestimating them each time.
- Considering how seemingly thorough Clockwerk is, one would think he would have been able to extinguish the Cooper line already, seeing as how all he'd need to do is kill off all current living ones. Sure, they hid from him, but they can't have ALL evaded him entirely. It's possible that he simply allowed them to breed a new generation, then killed off the elder ones. He doesn't want to eliminate the Cooper lineage, he just wants to personally execute every Cooper, for eternity.
- During the intro of Sly 2 when Sly mentions Clockwerk, for a moment it's not Sly the thief talking, it's Sly the child from over a decade ago, who is clearly still living in fear of the demonic steel bird.Sly: Clockwerk. He was consumed with jealousy for the Cooper clan's thieving reputation. Is it inappropriate to refer to him as a monster? No, not at all. What kind of person lives for hundreds of years with the sole intention of wiping out a rival's family line? Imagine the hatred feeding that first decision to replace his mortal body with soulless machinery. Ultimately, it did the trick. Clockwerk lived on.
- Clockwerk's voice is borderline frightening as well, being incredibly low and having just a bit of Uncanny Valley to the mix as well as you can outright hear the robotic tone of his voice, pretty much indicating that he removed and replaced his own vocal chords as well as everything else.
- Also in the end of the final battle, as he's trapped in the lava and incapacitated just long enough for Sly to land the finishing barrage of blows on his head, he begins saying random strings of code, numbers, and throwing out electric arcs and laser grids in a last-ditch attempt in his fading electronic brain to defeat you, but in the very end, his head turns 180 degrees to stare right at you- fitting for both a robot and an owl but nightmare-inducing nonetheless- and with his sanity snapping back one last time he vows to Sly that he will never be rid of him, and he will always be superior, as you wail away on his head, sending huge chunks of it including his right eye flying, until you knock his head off and send it sailing into the lava. Although by Sly 2 it turns out that these were pretty much Blatant Lies, as the Hate Chip that fuels him is destroyed, rendering him unable to come back. Nonetheless, Bentley's crippling by Clock-La serves a permanent reminder of Sly's enemy. In a sense, Sly didn't fully get rid of Clockwerk.
- If you pay close attention to just what Clockwerk is saying, bits of it begin to paint a picture of a maddened rant about the inevitability of death for Sly and his family, scrambled by the damage the owl's taken alongside his exposed circuitry getting boiled by magma.
- Clock-La's attitude in the final battle makes Clockwerk even more scary. Neyla is a soft-spoken backstabber, while Clockwerk is a force of pure hate and malice. The personality in control is the latter.
- The Fiery Joker confirms that Clock-la is so out of place in the game because she's an embodiment of how hatred can be just as ongoing and everlasting as love itself.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
- Tide of Terror core features quite terrifying elements.
- Raleigh's level hub is an enormous boat in the center of several abandoned Welsh islands. The metal blimp hovering above emits permanent rainstorms. Seems harmless until you see the wrecked remains of several smaller ships scattered through the area. All of them victims of Raleigh's storm machine hovering overhead, which means at least hundreds of lives lost. The area had become an urban legend of death for those at sea similar to The Bermuda Triangle, solely because of one band of pirates with a weather machine.
- Worse yet, there's a level in the boat's hull made up of planes and ships destroyed by Raleigh's storm. The malicious frog keeps them as trophies, hanging or floating in what amounts to a water tank for dead men's ships to float in.
- Considering the capacity for planes and ships, along with Raleigh's proud claim to have sunk fifty ships, this first boss could have the highest death count in the entire series. And once more, Raleigh became a pirate and caused all these vehicles to crash out of sheer boredom.
- Mugshot's level is less unpleasant but still inherently creepy. Rather than cause a city-wide massacre, Mugshot drove out all of Mesa City's citizens. As such, the once proud desert city is just a large dilapidated slum swarmed with thugs, gangsters and jailbirds.
- The Mz. Ruby level is deliberately pretty disturbing, filled with bad voodoo, the creepy looking guards, the giant monster thing that chases Sly through one of the levels, and the green river filled with severed body parts. Bentley lampshades everything.
- The guards in her level fire blobs of pure black magic at you, shrinking your head!
- There's also the Beast. His appearance Both of them is a major Jump Scare. His appearance is that of a large, multi-colored, Uncanny Valley snake. And the worst part? His appearance occurs when the camera is aimed in the opposite direction, with only the sound of breaking stone to tell you the monster is right behind you. The section also has clue bottles, meaning it's entirely possible to not notice him until it's too late.
Bentley: What's with that large, industrial-strength voodoo gate? Mz. Ruby must really be trying to keep something out!
- The build-up to that level is pretty bad too. Sly pulls up his binocu-com and observes the elaborate front door, while this exchange happens:
Sly: Or maybe she's trying to keep something in.
Bentley: Whoa. Did you see those reeds move? There's something huge down there! You'd better get going!
- There are zero guards in this level, and the only enemies other than the Beast itself are spiders and such. A well-done example of Nothing Is Scarier.
- Not to mention the music steadily getting more ominous and intense until the moment the Beast explodes out of his cage to run you down.
- Fire In The Sky, while more pleasant visually than Mz. Ruby's turf, is still horrifying because of what the local Fiendish Five member is doing. Panda King's operation consists of him extorting money from Chinese villages, with him setting off avalanches upon the ones that refuse to pay up. Sickeningly, Panda King regards the villages and the people in them as worthless, either way.
- The level's opening implies that the Panda King killed many noblemen with his rockets once he refined his humble fireworks into lethal techniques and explosives.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves
- The chapter select artwork for "The Predator Awakes" lives up to its name: after being portrayed as overall calm and collected during the previous episode, Rajan's now flashing a horrifying Nightmare Face with a demented Slasher Smile, dark shadows and crazy eyes. And to make things worse, he's clutching a beating heart in his claws! Granted, it's Clockwerk's heart, so it's entirely mechanical, but it still looks disturbingly close to a real human heart.
- The Contessa is a pretty nasty piece of work herself. She's a red-eyed spider-humanoid that has been playing Interpol so as to get the whereabouts of thieves' treasures via her "therapy". In "A Tangled Web", we see her attempting to hypnotize a strapped-down Carmelita while saying that she will break her will so the two of them will be "the best of friends". And what's the first thing the Contessa will do to her new "best friend"? Make her take the fall for her at Interpol. Not to mention, she makes a living drugging patients with what is essentially narcotics and uses Mind Rape to force them into being model citizens while stealing their loot. She even tries to do this with Sly and nearly mentally breaks Murray with her drugs. The fact she's been doing this for years only shows how much of a Crapsack World the Sly Cooper verse is.
- Her prison level is unnerving as well with its Gothic architecture, red skies, red lightning, creepy music, vicious-looking wolf, bat, and vulture guards, and the constant webs everywhere. Then there's the statues, which enemies will occasionally burst out of for a Jump Scare as they attack.
- Her castle stronghold is no better. According to Sly, it's a heavily fortified Gothic nightmare that would make any thief run in terror, filled with ghosts and monstrous creatures created by Black Magic at the Contessa's command. Not to mention she has Carmelita locked away in her tower and tries to Mind Rape her into being her patsy for Interpol. Poor Sly is horrified by this and has to be begged by Bentley to retreat or risk capture.
- Once you manage to shoot down Clock-La, you still have to destroy the hate chip. So, in order to do so, you have to open up Clock-La's beak, revealing a blue holographic projection of Neyla's head, which is likely the only remains of her soul at this point, who threatens to kill you in your sleep.
- Neyla/Clock-La: I hate you, Cooper Gang! I will find you in your sleep and I will destroy you. You will never know a moment's peace for the rest of your short, miserable lives. The Clock-La will know revenge... I am revenge... I am the Alpha and the Omega. Clock-La!
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
- Don Octavio is a pretty vicious villain. Not only does he join the mob after losing his career as an opera singer but he takes revenge on the people of Venice by polluting the environment with tar in order to be capable of sinking buildings, that may or may not have had people in them. Yikes!
- While mostly played for laughs, the final mission in "Rumble Down Under" where Carmelita grows large after wearing the Mask of Dark Earth can be pretty nerve wrecking especially when she talks in such a deep voice.
- "Flight of Fancy" has an invincible giant wolf lurking around the woods beneath the Black Baron's castle. He has a pretty savage appearance and will attack anyone he sees, usually killing guards in one hit. The Cooper Gang even takes advantage of this and uses it (by tranquilizing the wolf and having the Guru possess it) to kill a lot of guards in order to reduce the amount of enemy pilots facing Sly for the final mission... which is a pretty brutal plan by the Gang.
- The intro cinematic has a flashback to the murder of Sly's father, only this time it is much more clearer, in that in the Shadow Discretion Shot, we can clearly see Clockwerk's beak going straight through the chest of Sly's father. This means that Sly saw his father get Impaled with Extreme Prejudice while he was only eight, and the insinuation is that it did not kill him immediatly.
- Sly's voice tone during the whole cutscene, from the second Bentley makes the proposal. You can clearly tell that Sly is still genuinely angered over what the Panda King did all those years ago, and the vindictiveness when he describes the Panda King as a monster is extremely obvious, and Kevin Miller's voice acting really sets it.
- The mission "Vampiric Demise" in "A Cold Alliance" has you playing as the Panda King and fighting off against deadly hopping vampires...
- General Tsao is also a pretty dark antagonist. Unlike other Sly villains (barring Clockwerk and Penelope) who have a sense of goofiness or affability to them, Tsao is completely ruthless and is mostly played dead straight, forcing a woman to marry him and killing anyone who gets in his way. Not to mention the fact he managed to get into the gang's hideout and taunted them by leaving images of himself stealing Bentley's laptop for them to discover during their mission briefing, forcing the gang to rework their entire plan to rescue Jing King. Bentley even heard a rumor that he actually kicked a puppy. Twice!
- Dr. M also has his moments of pure dark villainy. The fact that, in the prologue, he literally kills off one of his employees after asking how his wife and children were doing should be enough.
- His mutant henchmen even have scary attributes, like cobras with mutated arms and legs!
- The intro cutscene to the final level ends with Sly, helplessly struggling against the claws of Dr. M's giant beast, unable to endure the crushing pain any longer and wishing it would stop. Or, to put it another way: a kid friendly version of Sly begging for death, if only to end his agony.
- If Carmelita dies during the fight with Dr. M's giant beast, it will eat Sly alive!
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
- Toothpick, the second boss, has such moments because of how Ax-Crazy he is, such as carelessly shooting a guard (who instead just drops dead rather than vanishing into smoke) and turning into an even more deformed-looking monster when stressed. Basically, just picture Ren Hoek as a Sly Cooper character with firearms and you'll get the general idea.
- The ice age level; seems nice enough unless you're unnerved that much of the layout are enormous dinosaur and mammoth skeletons.
- The flashlight guards from "Of Mice and Mechs". They wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for their creepy, mechanical voices. The first mission actually involves having to listen to their conversations with each other.
- Those conversations are so similar to how people would speak and indicates they're aware of life outside their guard duties...so Penelope programmed them to have lives, memories and names but not personalities or free will. She apparently never grew out of her Black Baron control freakiness.
- The cutscene after Bentley finds out that Penelope is working for Le Paradox. His reaction is to tuck himself inside his shell and look on at his photo of her in despair. We cut to Penelope with a photo of Bentley. She just casually tosses it in the flames of Hell behind her to burn, a sign that she's just a ambitious Gold Digger who doesn't care about Bentley, one bit.
- And just the fact that the background is literally Hellfire says a lot about Penelope's true morality. Penelope was never the sweet girl she set herself up as in the third game, but instead, she's a manipulative sociopath who's trying to mold Bentley into a weapon designer. Her ultimate goal in life is to make billions of dollars through illegal weapon trades (read: she wants to profit from terrorism) and Take Over the World. And she's quite The Unfettered in her goals, and even comes to see Sly and Murray as obstacles that need to be destroyed. It's hard not to feel sorry for Bentley for giving his heart to such a vile scumbag who likely never loved him, either.