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Video Game / Overlord

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"Evil always finds a way..."

Once again, it's time to put on your (evil-looking and spiky) villain-hat... as might be suggested from the name, Overlord is a series that lets you step into the flower-stomping, minion-kicking, heavily-armored shoes of an Evil Overlord. With such a premise, it can hardly come as a surprise that the games use or subvert half the entries in the Evil Tropes index...

Written by Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of Terry Pratchett.

Due to the series' playstyle, it's often seen as a Darker and Edgier Medieval Pikmin, though they don't clash as much as you would think.

Games in the series include:

  • Overlord: The Overlord goes after the heroes that defeated his predecessor, who have each since been corrupted by one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Overlord II: Follows the son of the first game's Overlord. The Glorious Empire is on the march in its quest to stomp out everything magical - pfft, like an Overlord is gonna let that happen.
  • Overlord: Dark Legend: A Wii prequel centered upon teenager Lord Gromgard, a previous Overlord in a Fairy Tale setting.
  • Overlord: Minions: A spinoff for the Nintendo DS. A cult called the Kindred is trying to raise the Dragon Kin so they can rule the world. Obviously, the Overlord won't stand for any competition, so he sends a squad of Elite Minions to stop them.
  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil: A co-op Hack and Slash in which four dark champions are revived from the dead and must work together to raise hell and become true Overlords in their own right.

Not to be confused with the similarly named 1975 film, 2018 film, or Japanese Light Novel series.

The entire Overlord series contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: As per the page quote, Evil always finds a way...
  • And I Must Scream: Oberon Greenhaze actually begs for you to kill him so the tree keeping him captive in a nightmare will die.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Tower Heart, the magical orb that powers the Dark Tower.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: A recurring theme in the games is that "Evil Always Finds A Way" and that there will always be someone to fulfill the position of Overlord, no matter how thoroughly the Tower has been trashed or how long it's been since the last one came to power.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: According to Word of God, this is what happens to the Third Overlord after the completion of the Infernal Abyss and the killing of the Forgotten God.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Subverted in the beginning, where the player characters tend to be fairly weak and dependent on the Minions in a fight, in spite of what their intimidating appearance would suggest. However, with the proper upgrades the player character becomes a powerful Mighty Glacier Magic Knight armed with an Infinity +1 Sword.
  • Backstab: The Green's special attack is to jump upon an enemy's back and stab 'em until they die, and it deals much more damage in a single blow than the other Minions can.
  • Big Bad: The entire series is based around the premise of being one of these. All of the games also has a major villain who rivals the current Overlord.
  • Black Knight: In the first game, your armor gets blacker the closer you get to 100% corruption, with Spikes of Doom sprouting from your skin. You're more a Knight in Shining Armor at lower corruption levels.
  • Canon Identifier: In the first game you play as, appropriately enough, the Overlord. The final boss of the game is also the Overlord (the real Overlord, who wiped the PC's memory so he'd reconquer the land for him) and the protagonist of the second game is a new Overlord, initially named the Overlad while he's still a child.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: And how. Mostly, Gnarl carries the card for you (since you are a Villainous Mime) and takes great pleasure in expanding on the 'evilness' of things.
  • Catchphrase: Gnarl's catchphrase is "Evil always finds a way."
  • Character Model Karma Meter: The appearance of the Overlord's armor changes based on their Corruption (steel-grey with a red cape at 0% corruption, dark grey with a black cape and Spikes of Villainy at max corruption). Some aspects of the tower lair also change, such as the color of the sky and how many spikes jut out of the ground around it.
  • Colonel Bogey March: The Minions will sometime whistle this while on the move.
  • Crapsack World: This is the default state of the Overlord's world. The conceit is that an efficient evil Overlord is likely preferable to well-intentioned (or not so well-intentioned) incompetent rulers. Genuine heroes eventually rise to fight the Overlord and temporarily make it a decent place to live... until they fall to Evil or tyranny in turn, starting the cycle anew.
  • Cutting the Knot: In the Mother Goddess Temple, you're meant wait for the guardian elf ghosts to wander behind these doors attached to special cranks, and then send minions to those cranks to shut the doors, which will only remain shut for as long as you have minions allocated to those cranks... or you could just detour to heaven's peak to grab the blues, return, and order them to attack the ghosts directly.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The game teeters back and forth on this option. Some games present options for being a good guy with scary armor while Overlord II has you merrily massacring hippies while slaughtering stadium crowds. The sequel suggests that darkness is somewhat necessary for when Light Is Not Good and becomes its own evil, however.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: One way to leave yourself a crumb trail is to smash everything to splinters. You know you've already been down a passage when the furniture is splintered, feast tables are empty, and the Minions have pissed on the carpet.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Overlord's Tower in every game, because the Tower Heart gets dismantled and its pieces stolen, the Minion Hives (except for the Brown Hive) get moved in the absence of an Overlord, and the Tower's Artifacts get lost or looted by treasure hunters. You start out too weak to survive without Browns backing you up in each fight, but the more Tower Objects you recover, the more powerful you become until you're able to take out an arena full of Battler Beetles single-handed.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Among others, the Minions, the halflings, and some of the human farmers are barefoot.
  • Dueling Games: Basically the Evil Counterpart of Pikmin.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Minions are this, especially the Brown ones that serve as fighters and guards. Gnarl even comments in one of the games that "Thinking only slows them down".
  • Evil Chancellor:
    • Gnarl serves you in this regard. Fortunately, you're evil too, so it's a rather amicable working relationship. Not that that stops him from betraying you the moment your predecessor turns up, though this is depicted as merely a duty and encourages you to defeat the Old Overlord so that he can rejoin you.
    • The ending of Overlord II implies that Gnarl may be planning to pull an Eviler than Thou and backstab the Overlord.
  • Evil Minions: Of the Laughable type.
  • Evil Overlord: So much so that the series is named after it and the player is the title character.
  • Evil Redhead: Both Overlords have a thing for redheads. The last mistress in Overlord II, the Dark Fay, is likely an intentional play on this trope. However Rose and Kelda, the main mistresses are generally non-evil and support the Overlords for their own reason (Rose because she thinks he'll bring order and Kelda because she's the Childhood Friend of the Witch-Boy).
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Although the Overlord doesn't talk, he does grunt and growl occasionally. That's some deep-sounding grunts.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Where you park your armour after a hard day's smiting and pillaging. The Dark Tower of the first game changes tone drastically depending on where the Overlord's Karma Meter is. By the second game the original Tower's been obliterated, with your new Tower being located in the Netherworld.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Pretty much the premise of all the games. Overlord formerly provided the page quote for that article. Save for the Elves (who are portrayed as largely ineffectual), it's all you fight since they're trying to get in the way of your schemes.
  • Expy: All Overlords are essentially parodies of Sauron, and the minions themselves are basically bigger Gremlins (minus of course the three rules).
  • The Extremist Was Right: A possible justification for the Overlord's quest for world domination. Every game starts with the world being oppressed and terrorized by former forces of Good, with them ruling with an even more iron-clad fist than villains would. Gnarl often discusses how necessary the Overlord is for the state of the world, or how true Evil villains don't pretend to be virtuous while committing Evil.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Quite the big one, in fact. It turns out that you were the "eighth Hero" that suddenly showed up on the original Seven Heroes' journey to help defeat your predecessor. You, the eighth Hero, killed your predecessor and were gravely injured after falling from the Tower. The Old Overlord before you hitched a ride in the Wizard's body, caused the other Heroes to turn to Evil and serves as the game's final boss.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • The elves in the temple call themselves "watchers", even as they fail to notice thieves sneaking in right behind them.
    • The Green Minions are repeatedly stated to smell incredibly awful, but that never gets them caught while sneaking up on someone.
  • Fallen Hero: A staggering portion of the NPCs you fight.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The minions types are melee bashers, fireballers, sneaky backstabbers, and revivers.
  • Flunky Boss: If you were a boss, this is what you'd be. As for actual bosses; Oberon, Sir William, Khan, the Wizard, and the Forgotten God. Especially Khan - good luck trying to beat him with multiple beholders spitting out enemies and insta-killing you if you accidentally get run over by one. The Spider Queen and the Devourer in the sequel also count. The Devourer periodically summons just about every non-boss enemy in the game.
  • Genre-Busting: The games are Action RPGs with RTS elements.
  • Glass Cannon: The Reds and Greens, who are quite fragile but are pretty deadly when used right.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom:
    • The Overlord. Interestingly, in Dark Legend and Overlord II the respective candidates have glowing eyes even before they become full-fledged Overlords, though the Overlad is justified since he is actually a Enfante Terrible. Gromgard is apparently just destined for evil.
    • Seeing how the Overlad's skin seems to be blue, it might be a mutation.
    • It's also worth noticing that the Minions also have glowing eyes, though their glow is not strong enough to make their pupils invisible.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: If your chaos level is high enough villagers will offer you a virgin (actually the town's harlot) to calm you down. Gnarl will come up with the idea of capturing women as maids and will dress them in skimpy outfits.
  • Heroic Mime:Inverted, as of course your character is hardly heroic.
  • Immune to Fire: One of the special abilities of the red minions is immunity to fire.
  • Interface Screw: The first game took hits in reviews over poor responsiveness and awkward camera tracking. The second game boasted smoother controls, but still retained the wonky camera, incomprehensibly capricious sweep controls, and negative criticism.
  • Justified Tutorial: You can rest assured that every time you acquire a new Minion type (and Mount in the sequel) you'll be pitted against a series of puzzles and enemies that require you to master the abilities of that exact Minion type. The series is pretty good at setting up the tutorials without breaking the flow, for example, in Overlord II, an ambush by a squad of soldiers proves the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your new tamed wolves' ability to break enemy formations.
  • Karma Meter:
  • Karmic Death:
    • According to Word of God, all Overlords end up in the Abyss one way or another. That's not so bad for the canonical Noble Demon protagonist of the first game since he's also its new ruler. This can lead to Karma Houdini, what with an Overlord now ruling the Abyss, it's unlikely he's going to play by the rules that would've screwed him over had he went there naturally.
    • Considering the aforementioned points, it probably won't suck all that much for his son, either, considering the aforementioned canonical Noble Demon behavior, he'll most likely cut his own flesh and blood some slack for following in his Evil footsteps.
  • Large Ham: For a decrepit old minion, Gnarl indulges in quite a bit of this.
  • Laughably Evil: The entertainingly destructive antics of the Minions, coupled with their tendency to stick just about anything on their head. This is lampshaded by Gnarl in the second game, "I remember my days as a young minion. Oh the things I used to put on my head."
  • Legacy Character: The title of Overlord has been passed around by several individuals. So far, at least four characters have been the Overlord, three of which were playable. Subverted in Fellowship of Evil, in which the four Netherghúls are not actually Overlords and are explicitly Gnarl's subordinates.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The potential queens fall into this. In the second game, the first two mistresses fall into Tomboy and Girly Girl - but also serve as a collective "Light Feminine" to the third.
  • Light Is Not Good: A running theme alongside Dark Is Not Evil. You can invoke it yourself by changing your flag/cape color to White and your insignia to a castle, and have a flower garden growing all over your doom fortress, but you're still the villain of the picture.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: As bad as the Overlord may be in a given game, he is still usually better than the Seven Heroes or their enemies in later titles, especially if you go down the Anti-Villain path.
  • Mascot Mook: The Minions.
  • Magic Knight: The Overlord is capable of casting magic, either to kill his enemies or to power up his army by driving them into a frenzy and his alignment in the Karma Meter can influence how his spells will work. In the second game, the Overlord's status as a magical being puts him at odds with the magic-hating Empire.
  • Magikarp Power: At the start of the game, the Overlords themselves are heavily reliant on Minions in combat due to their lack of abilities and stiff animations. With sufficient upgrades however they become powerful enough to take enemies on themselves.
  • The Medic: The Blues. They are the most fragile Minion and rather useless in battle. They make up for it by being able to revive dead Minions within seconds and by being able to swim. They also have the most magical nature out of all of the Minions; in the first game, there are some supernatural enemies that only Blues can attack, and in the sequel, they're the only way to clear away the glowing blue magical fallout; any other Minion trying to touch that stuff gets warped into an even-more-homicidal Mutant Minion and turns aggressive towards you.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Overlord himself. He's somewhat sluggish in combat and tends to swing his weapon awkwardly, but he carries really big weapons and hits really hard. Khan the Warrior also counts, as you can easily run circles around him while he's lugging around that giant morning star of his. Note that the Overlord is really only slow compared to his Minions, who are quite happy to scramble along as fast as their little legs can carry them in order to get to the thing that needs smashing, bashing, looting, or killing.
  • The Minion Master: Also the Overlord. You're pretty much reliant on your Minions for everything, including combat and puzzle-solving.
  • Mook Maker: They tend to pop up from time to time; Halfling huts spit out halflings until you send in Minions to wreck the place, and Beholders summon enemies until you take them down. On your side, any Minion Pit you can reach in combat functions as an effective Mook Maker as long as you have lifeforce to fuel it.
  • Mooks: For once, they're on your side. Dispensable, cheap, and with strength in numbers.
  • Necessarily Evil: Another running theme in the games.
  • No-Gear Level: An original variation, since the Minions are the Overlord's weapons. This is expanded on in Overlord II, when the Overlord has to recover each Minion individually after a shipwreck.
  • Oop North: Most of the characters have northern accents which is best shown by the villagers of Spree, Melvin Underbelly and his halflings.
  • Our Elves Are Different: While the Elves are usually less evil (being at the worst Jerkasses) and are the closest thing to Hero Antagonists that the Overlord has, they are still generally ineffectual and just as dumb as anyone else. For the record, they're whiny emos in the first game and hippies in the second. Fellowship of Evil has the Dark Elf prince Cryos as a playable protagonist.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: The Minions are fairly standard goblin-like critters - some of which are immune to fire, poison, drowning, and have natural affinity with various beasts.
  • Physical God: This is what becomes of the Third Overlord after the completion of the Infernal Abyss.
  • Playing with Fire: The Reds can toss fireballs and set your enemies on fire.
  • Poke the Poodle: Several such pastimes are provided that don't even nudge the Karma Meter, such as slaughtering sheep and stomping sunflowers. The early parts of Overlord II feature a lot of killing of baby seals, which also doesn't cause you to become more Evil.
  • Polyamory: Averted in the first game with the choice of mistress. Gnarl says that you must choose either Velvet or keep Rose as there is only enough room in the Dark Tower for one mistress. Played straight in the sequel where you collect three mistresses over the course of the game, are allowed to keep them and choose any one to be your primary one at any point in the game.
  • Portal Network: You travel to the stages through magic portals opened up by your base.
  • Pyromaniac: If you use your fireball spells to set scenery on fire in the first game, all of your Minions get way too excited about it (especially the pyromaniac Reds).
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Essentially your modus operandi if you're more focused on Destruction (though less of the first and more of the latter two). Otherwise you're encouraged to keep conquered citizens alive and content to some extent so that they can continue serving you.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Minions, surprisingly enough. According to the developer's FAQ, no one knows how old Minions get because no Minion has ever died of natural causes. Gnarl, in particular, is by his own account old enough to remember what the long-extinct dragons were really like, and Giblet has served at least three different Overlords.
  • Red Right Hand: The spiky helmet that leaves your face as a mass of shadows with pinpricks of light for eyes, pretty much SCREAMS 'villain' from the moment you boot up the game. Not that you need the hint. The Overlad was creepy-looking from birth, having blue skin and glowing eyes that caused him to be viciously bullied by the children of Nordberg. On the other hand, in the first game it turns out that you were actually the last Hero, one that joined in defeating the previous Overlord. So really, this is what you looked like then as well.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Justified, since your character is an Evil Overlord.
  • Sand Worm: Enemies in the Ruborian Desert. If you want to kill one, Feed It a Bomb.
  • Sex God: The Overlords have to be this in order to have sex that shakes an entire monolithic tower with the force of an earthquake. Doubly so for the Fourth Overlord as, not only does he do it multiple times, he has a four-way and does it for an implied hour.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Elves are generally a race of either idiots or jerkasses who continually get shafted throughout the series, either by the Overlord's antagonists or the Overlord himself if he so wishes.
  • Shoulders of Doom: You grow spikes in many places as you get eviler, but your shoulders are where they get REALLY big.
  • Shout-Out: In Raising hell:
    Gnarl: Oh great, a Labyrinth. Sire, if you see any goblins or rosy-cheeked maiden, just ignore them, if there's singing, kill them all.
  • Silent Protagonist: The Overlord never speaks, which actually raises his intimidation factor considerably during cutscenes. Compare the Wizard possessed by your predecessor in the first game who never shuts up.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: The Fourth Overlord, for the The Third. Despite him not technically being dead, the fact that Rose discovers she's pregnant with the Overlad after his father ends up permanently trapped in the Dark Abyss means it qualifies.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Depends on how you want to play the character in combat, since you look mostly like the warrior type and rule over your kingdom like a sorcerer with magical Artifacts. No matter what however, the Overlord is always a Magic Knight.
  • Squad Controls: The game has the commands Sweep (the whole cluster of Minions follows your cursor, smashing, killing or looting anything they find along the way), Send (Minions charge either straight ahead or towards a selected target, again smashing, killing and looting) and Return. These commands can be used for anything from a single minion, to one tribe, to the whole horde.
  • Squishy Wizard: Generally the Blues and specifically the Wizard, whose health drops like an anvil if you can just get past his magical shielding.
  • Stupid Evil: The minions. Especially the Brown variety. See them grinning and laughing like a Psychopathic Man Child whenever they're causing destruction. They'll do just about anything For the Evulz.
    Gnarl: There's nothing a minion likes more than breaking things. ...Well, except killing things.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Any Minion that aren't Blues will instantly drown. The Overlord will simply wade through waist-high water and will not enter anything deeper, probably because all that armor would make him sink like an anvil chained to a boulder.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Your Minions are loyal to the point of willingly embracing death at your merest whim. They're also dumber than a sack of particularly dull hammers. Ah well, you can't have it all...
    • Kelda in II has this opinion of the citizens of her hometown, to the point that according to her, the Minions are actually an improvement because "They can at least think and act at the same time."
  • Take Over the World: Your main goal.
  • Tin Tyrant: All Overlords are tall, scary-looking fellows covered in intimidating-looking armor.
  • Toilet Humor: If you order your Minions to go drink up the booze that someone left lying around, then after downing it all in a few seconds, a short moment later the Minions will step aside a bit and openly piss it all out.
  • Troperiffic: Look at these pages!
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: You get more and more titles the more heroes you kill, hives you obtain, and missions you complete. The Jester Minions rattle off your accolades while you hang out in your throne room.
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: Invoked as a sign of how bad things have gotten in the Elvish Forests during the first game; the whole forest is tainted by evil and you can (and should) mercy-kill them.
  • The Unintelligible: The Overlords never speak; they just make a sound like an organ chord or gesture imperiously.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Evil always finds a sequel hook, sire.
  • Villainous Harlequin: All the games feature a jester who's there to sings of your deeds and to be kicked around by you after malicious annoyance sets in.
  • Villain Protagonist: You are the titular Evil Overlord.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: If you terrorize the people in the first game, the villagers will offer a virgin for you, amidst loud protestations from the girl that she's not called 'Haystack Harriet' for nothing.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: But without the hardware. Gnarl, and sometimes one or more mistresses, can communicate with the Overlord over any range through the Tower Heart. Later, Rose can talk to you directly using her mind... somehow. Gnarl uses the classic Is This Thing On? line as he fires up the spell in the first game.
  • Waterfront Boss Battle: One boss is a large Sea Serpent that sticks its head out of the water and attacks you while you're on land.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Minions are your first and last resort to anything. Halfing wobbling towards you with a pitchfork? Send Minions. Empire tries to Take Over the World? Send Minions. Emperor tries to kill you and become a god? Send Minions. Forgotten God tries to regain his powers? More Minions! You can count the problems you can't solve with use of Minions with one hand. Which you'll then clench tightly around the handle of your weapon of choice, and pound said problem out of existence. So really, all you have are two hammers for all your problems.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • Your typical attitude to the Minions. Dark Legend has you throttle Minions to turn them into suicide bombers, but subverted in II where you can resurrect fallen ones that you've taken a liking to... by sacrificing lots of Minions you don't like.
    • ...or sacrifice them to regenerate your life.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Almost everyone in this game who is supposed to be "Good" is actually pretty corrupt. Ironically, despite the fact that your character is the Evil Overlord, he can be played with more redeemable traits than almost anyone. This is a plot point in the first game; the former Overlord corrupted the Seven Heroes so they accumulate enough evil such that when the eighth Hero — namely you — kill them, they release the enough energy for the Old Overlord to resurrect himself. All possible because the Seven Heroes left you for dead when the Tower collapsed.
  • Zerg Rush: Really, there are few situations you can't solve just by employing more Minions. For those, you have to find the right way to employ them ...or just employ even more Minions.