Stupid Evil

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"No Muttley, we can't win fairly. We are villains, ergo we have to cheat!"

– Dick Dastardly, while the finish line is right behind him.

"If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you'll be treated as a mad dog; taken out back and slaughtered for pig feed."

– Roose Bolton to his son Ramsay, on why Stupid Evil is such a terrible idea.

Yes, Lawful Stupid has its Evil counterpart. A general trait of Stupid Evil is doing evil things for the sake of being evil, rather than because they are (morality aside) easy or viable paths towards wealth, power, revenge, or whatever the villain's goal is. This is especially true when a non-evil, or less evil way of doing things would work better.

A villain who is truly insane can get away with this sort of thing since what compels them to act in an evil manner is the fact that they have some screws loose, and likewise comedic villains can get away with it because their evil-ness is just a plot device to cause funny things to happen. However, "serious" nemeses and long-term, high-threat villains are usually expected to have a goal and some capacity for rational planning; a villain who takes time out of a busy day to kick a puppy or eat a kitten just to establish evil credibility will probably be treated with derision by players. By the same token, a villain who presents an otherwise seemingly insurmountable threat being undone by a massive fatal flaw - such as pride or hubris - can make for quite a compelling yarn.

Compare to Chaotic Stupid. They're not quite the same, but there's often a lot of overlap due the tendency of bad players and writers to mistake "chaotic" with "act like as big of an obnoxious asshole as physically possible".

Examples of Stupid Evil[edit]

A Song of Ice and Fire[edit]

The amount of retarded villains in this series is truly staggering. And yet despite all of the stupid evil committed by them, they are still winning, even if only because the good guys are either more Lawful Stupid or Stupid Good. Joffrey and Gregor got offed painfully, as did the Boltons in the TV series, while Cersei got publicly shamed, but compared to what happened to the good guys in the story, it's a slap on the wrist. Of course, A Song of Ice and Fire is known for its grey morality at time, and most Stupid Evil characters have something of an explanation. Even then, you'd be inclined to wonder how far ahead some of them were really thinking, especially in the adaptations.

  • Joffrey Baratheon is overall far too impulsive and sadistic for his own good, which is an already disastrous pairing of personality traits to combine with the fact that he's 12 or 13 years old in the books. On the note of not-even-really-excuses, there's also possible mental instability resulting from the fact that he's inbred and his mother is Cersei (more on her in a moment).
    • He sends an assassin armed with a Valyrian Blade (one of only a few hundred such weapons in all of Westeros, and an unusual weapon for a common hitman when a common dirk would have sufficed) to kill Bran Stark, and when that fails, it causes the Starks to suspect the Lannisters. He also kills Eddard Stark, therefore sparking an unnecessary and very costly civil war that went against what his family had planned. Despite that, they still came out on top since they are still standing while the Starks are scattered, due mainly to Tywin and Tyrion being tactical genii and strategic masterminds.
    • He also chooses to ignore his duties and the welfare of his people in favor of satiating his sadistic behavior, even abusing his people when they're seeking his help. He regularly abuses Sansa in particular, and threatens to have her killed despite the fact it will reduce her value as a political hostage and (in their eyes) could cause the Starks to kill their political hostage, Jamie Lannister.
    • Even his family isn't safe from his viciousness, occasionally to the point of team-killing fuckery: he has one of his Kingsguard try to murder his uncle Tyrion in the middle of the Battle of Blackwater instead of just simply poisoning him (as Tyrion pointed out). He even calls Tywin a coward. Out loud. In front of other people. To his face. Luckily for Joffrey they were related, or he would have been struck down. And as what turns out to be a final hurrah at his wedding, he insults his in-laws and his bride at their wedding reception and subjects Tyrion to petty tortures in front of everyone.
  • Cersei Lannister, while not as dumb as her son Joffrey (hardly something to be proud of) is egotistic and paranoid as fuck; if she, for any reason, thinks you might threaten her or her children, even for something as minor as telling her her latest idea is a bad one, you're in trouble. At best, she will view you as an enemy and will be a passive-aggressive bitch to you, and at worst she'll have you brutally tortured to death, even if you're one of House Lannister's allies to whom good relations are vital. On top of all that she's a contender for Worst Mother in Westeros, and her cruelty drove away even her incestuous lover, Jamie Lannister (which happened much earlier into the books than in the TV show).
    • She invited Gregor Clegane (see below) to King's Landing at the same time Oberyn Martell is visiting, despite the fact that Gregor is the reason there's bad blood between house Lannister and House Martell, and the Martells know it.
    • After Joffrey died, she went out of her way to rig the trial for his death against Tyrion, despite the circumstances already being against him, which made him more determined than ever to survive and tips off Oberyn that Tyrion is innocent of killing Joffrey. This led to the duel between Oberyn and Gregor that ruined the Lannister/Martell alliance and cost the Lannisters their pet beast.
    • She also responded to a satirical puppet show about House Lannister being evil tyrants by having anyone who saw it either sharply fined (up to half of all their money if they're rich) or mutilated (an eye cut out if they're too poor to pay) and ordering the puppeteers executed. She didn't even mind the play at first; she only took offence because the ending had the Lannisters getting their comeuppance at the hands of a Targaryen. Then, instead of the headsman, she did something worse and handed the puppeteers over to her resident mad scientist for deadly experiments at his request.
    • Cersei encouraged the worst aspects of her kids; in the case of Joffrey, this is like attempting to put out a forest fire with napalm. Her atrocious parenting, combined with conceiving Joffrey with her brother Jamie AND Robert's own negligence, is the reason Joffrey's such a repulsive asshole. She ignores the numerous acts of cruelty and stupidity of her eldest son and brushes off any criticism of him as being a personal attack.
    • She was an overbearing mother to Tommen - her actually half-decent person of a second son - to the point of trying to make him more like Joffrey, and when that inevitably failed, she inadvertently made him a gullible yes-man of a momma's boy in trying to stop him disagreeing with her, leaving them vulnerable to the ambitions of Margaery Martell, who tries to drive a wedge between them and threatens her plans to rule as queen regent until Tommen was of age.
    • She killed a high septon because he was a cat's paw Tyrion put into power to keep the faith in House Lannister's pocket, being a decent but easily manipulated man, because Cersei's paranoia meant she feared that Tyrion was out to get her and that guy was in on it. This leads to a more competent and devout high septon getting into power with ambitions of his own. She then let him raise his own army, creating another player to threaten House Lannister's precarious position and one unbeholden to politics, which leads to her arrest (though he was smart in the books and played Cersei like a fiddle, not to mention Cersei's undoing is a good thing - especially for everyone not allied with House Lannister).
    • In the TV show, as revenge for the High Sparrow imprisoning her and Margaery taking her place as Queen (which is partly her fault in the first place, she makes the perfectly rational decision to blow them all the fuck up using magical napalm while they were at church for a trial. The end result: Pissing off nearly every person in the Seven Kingdoms who followed the Faith; driving Tommen (who was friends with the High Sparrow and loved Margaery dearly) to commit suicide via jumping out a window; pushing a pissed Olenna Tyrell withdraw all Tyrell support from King's Landing and declare for the resurgent House Targaryen alongside Dorne. Cersei and House Lannister now literally have no major allies left in Westeros sans the Freys, who aren't at all reliable and in the process of being destroyed by Arya. Unfortunately, she was still one step ahead and easily took out Houses Tyrell and Dorne, despite their efforts in backing the Targaryen, by using the Iron Bank to buy herself a mercenary force and recruiting Euron at the cost of losing Casterly Rock to her rivals (though this was helped by some internal team-killing from Oberyn's widow, you'd swear it's a bloody epidemic in that show).
    • Also in the TV show, when Daenerys and her supports come to parley with Cersei's forces for help against the White Walkers and their zombie armies (bringing a captured zombie to Cersei's court as proof and cutting it up with all the pieces still attacking), Cersei did the stupidest possible thing and refused to support them, deciding she'd rather "let the dead eat them all". She ignored the fact that this would leave her on the receiving end of a curb-stomp battle from either the aforementioned (who would be bolstered by the dead from Daenerys' forces) or Daenerys' forces AND everyone still living in King's Landing who's had enough of her tyranny.
  • Gregor Clegane is a serial killer with severe anger control issues, having gone through three wives who died under suspicious circumstances. At his keep there's a high turnover rate among the servants, and even animals avoid his chambers. Before this, he maimed his brother Sandor - and would've killed him if three other people didn't intervene - and he's heavily implied to have murdered his sister and father, despite the father doting on him even when his evil started to become apparent.
    • The circumstances surrounding him and his brother are as such: Gregor once caught his brother playing with one of Gregor's discarded toy soldiers when they were children. He took the logical next step of holding his brother's face over the fire, permanently disfiguring half his face and mentally scarring him, and from that point he's arguably stagnated into a phase of prolonged "adult childhood", based on this and his other actions.
    • Before the story starts it's an open secret that he raped and murdered Rheagar's wife Elia Martell, even though he hadn't been ordered to do so. He also killed a baby, and though he'd been ordered to do so, the fact remains that he had no qualms about the deed and went so far as smashing its head against a wall. This bites him and the Lannisters in the ass BIG TIME later on, though he deserved it.
    • After losing a jousting match, Gregor decapitates his own horse, then tries to kill his opponent, Loras Tyrell, and his own brother when the latter intervenes. Had Gregor succeeded, it's likely the Lannisters would've kiss any hope of an alliance with the Tyrells goodbye.
    • The men who Gregor recruits as his hand-picked warriors aren't chosen for their intelligence or resourcefulness, just their fighting skills and sadism (not even loyalty, as they serve Gregor out of fear and plunder); the group essentially rape and torture random peasants to death for the lulz. This includes the prisoners from the taking of Harrenhal, many of whom were nobility and could be used as leverage in the war.
    • Arugably when, before killing Oberyn, Gregor shouts a confession to his crime of murdering and raping Elia in front of all of the nobles in King's Landing. This would've put House Martell and House Lannister at open war if the Martells hadn't been already secretly plotting to destroy them, though this does push their schedule forward.
    • For all that, there is at least some "justification" as to why this guy is kept around by House Lannister. He's a brutal warrior in every sense of the word who has an aura of fear and for all his butchery, rapine, rage and blunt cruelty he's never threatened House Lannister directly and is (for want of a better word) content to be their pet beast.
    • The logical conclusion of this and the damage from fighting Oberyn makes it painfully literal: he is now kept permanently addled by a powerful cocktails of painkillers and other drugs, likely on purpose, to keep him useful as a warrior, albeit an effective husk of one. It is mentioned that milk of the poppy (opium in all but name) has basically no effect on him any more due to consuming it so much.
  • Ramsay Bolton is the son of Roose, a cunning general who manipulated and back-stabbed his way into rulership of the North; unlike Roose, Ramsey lacks any strategic foresight and critical thinking, and is totally fearless and reckless with his actions, which Roose correctly points out will be his downfall if they are not curbed. This ends up coming across as more of an informed attribute due to the TV show's writing, but the result is ultimately the same.
    • He killed his half-brother, despite the fact that this also deprived his father of another heir which in medieval-type societies is important as the more offspring they have the more like the noble family is to survive.
    • His savage exploits are known across Westeros, and he continuously pisses off the other Northern lords by hunting down their subjects for fun. This is part of the reason why half of the Northern Houses rebel against Bolton overlordship. He chooses to flay Ironborn captives alive despite promising them clemency if they surrendered, along with turning Theon Greyjoy into his personal eunuch slave. This has ensured that the Ironborn will now fight to the death rather than sue for peace, and contemplate a full invasion of the North instead of merely raiding its settlements.
    • In the books, after marrying the fake-Arya Stark (who everyone else thinks is the real one) he tortures her, threatens her and tries to make her do certain things to his hunting dogs. This sets off the Northerners' Powder Keg of Justice, causing an uprising against the Boltons that will likely end with Ramsay's and Roose's heads on spikes.
    • The TV version actually murdered his father in the middle of the war, fed his step-mother and infant half-brother to his dogs, and he'd also raped Sansa Stark beforehand after manipulating an arranged marriage between them. Yet he somehow manages more (often downright insane) successes than his book counterpart in spite of acting like little more than a rabid dog raised in nobility (the infamous "twenty good men" scene where trained killers' armor and expertise suddenly become useless against a half-naked Ramsay comes to mind). Unfortunately (for him), his fortune doesn't last, as he ultimately got his own army wiped out through sheer team-killing fuckery before being beaten to near-death by Jon Snow before Sansa fed him to his own dogs -- who were only hungry enough to turn on him because he'd starved them for a week beforehand in anticipation of feeding them the Starks.

Other general examples[edit]

  • Strawman Villains in poorly written fiction across the board.
  • Villains in Saturday morning cartoons and similar fare (e.g. Wacky Races, Captain Planet).
  • Grimdark as a whole often suffers from characters who make things crappy just for the sake of making things crappy.
  • Edgelord characters by preteens/actual teens (or users with a similar enough mentality) on DeviantArt.
  • The 'villains' of fringe-conspiracy theories would be stupid evil if they existed since their plans undermine their own power bases, have little to no tangible gain or draw attention by plastering their logo on everything. It's also weird that despite how cartoonishly evil they are thought of, they don't bother to kill anyone exposing the conspiracies while making it look like an accident. This is probably because there is some overlap with the Strawman characters.

Other /tg/-relevant examples[edit]

  • Humans in science and fantasy fiction often end up being Stupid Evil when the writer wants to make a statement about discrimination. According to these tales, humans are apparently overly-panicky and violent psychopaths itching for an excuse to murder the shit out of other species. For instance, in Avatar the human army is portrayed as a bunch of jingoist lunatics who want to slaughter the peaceful Na'vi for the resources they need rather than trying to reap long-term benefits by making peaceful contact. The advent of Humanity Fuck Yeah is in part a reaction to this phenomenon.
  • Some followers of Chaos such as Firaeveus Carron can prove to be this most of the time.
Sicks, a pretty stupid evil dude, also a neckbeard. His face should remind you of someone who should not be named.
  • Sicks (yep, that's his name) from Demonic Detective Neuro.
    • Causing unnecessary murder or tragedy on other family for his own satisfaction(he is a sadist btw).
    • Randomly pissing off Neuro, a real demon and starting the most gory and violent arc that Jump had ever published.
    • Claiming his own ideal of evil is the "true evil" but rather just a cheap, rotten flavor of a puzzle in Neuro's tongue.
      • Also, his family has done the same thing as he did for many generations and claiming that this "evil" has evolve them into more human than anyone else.
  • Lolth actually enforces Stupid Evil in her worshipers. Because of her the Drow spend 3 quarters of their energy fighting each other instead of defending themselves, which is a really bad idea since they live in an underground city under constant threat of being raped by Illithids and Beholders. In fact, when things get really bad she literally has to tell them to stop for a short period of time.
  • The Skaven from Warhammer Fantasy, whose rival clans always plan on backstabbing each other even if they're all fighting a mutual (and far worse) enemy. A perfect plan for them involves getting their own enemies and allies to kill each other, until they are the only one left to face the next enemy (keep in mind that "they" doesn't just mean rival clans either, in an apocalyptic scenario even their personal secretary is only barely less of an enemy than the hordes of the undead). As above, it takes the Horned Rat, their god, as well as the invention of instant communication via the Farsqueaker to get their fuzzy little asses united.
  • The Joker. Once merely a criminal mastermind with a chaotic, unpredictable bent, he's devolved as time goes on into a murder-happy rabid dog who kills for the jollies and because he gets off on being punched in the face by Batman.
  • Starscream from Transformers. He's too ambitious and egotistical to realize how good his position as Megatron's second-in-command is, and so spends much of his time trying to usurp his leader with predictable failure. He also tends to do things on the spur of the moment to satisfy his own ego, as demonstrated in Prime where he angrily takes credit for killing Arcee's best friend Cliffjumper while in handcuffs in front of Arcee, simply because he doesn't want Airachnid stealing the credit for things he did.
  • The Sith in the Star Wars universe suffer from this greatly, and it's a major reason they keep losing to the Jedi and failed to keep any of their empires intact long-term. In fact, one could argue that they're a perfect case study on why Stupid Evil is a bad idea:
    • Firstly, whereas the Jedi code encourages understanding yet controlling your emotions (that way you take them into account, but they don't prevent you from doing what is necessary), the Sith code encourages embracing your emotions and indeed, many of the most powerful Sith like Darth Vader are incredibly emotionally damaged. Thus Sith tend to do things in the heat of the moment and often lack the patience needed to be truly effective. Darth Malak can't find Revan and the Ebon Hawk crew on a planet he has control of? Oh well better just level his own planet with Star Destroyers, costing himself thousands of workers and soldiers in his psychotic and desperate rush to off his old master.
    • Secondly, the Sith code is built on a hyper-Darwinist, "survival-of-the-fittest" structure. While this sounds decent enough on paper, in practice it meant that the Sith constantly backstabbed each other in idiotic power plays, often leading to Sith killing each other more often than they killed Jedi. Crossing with the "overly emotional" thing above, their lack of patience often led to them betraying each other way before it was beneficial to do so. Darth Bane was the first major Sith Lord to realize how stupid and unsustainable this lifestyle was and did something about it. His "rule of two" may have led to the Sith population being lower than ever before or after, but at least it kept the Sith order alive and prevented most of them from slaughtering each other in pathetic attempts to gobble up more power.
      • It should be noted that even the Sith themselves violate or weasel their way around the Rule of Two every now and then. Darth Maul was alive at the same time as Dooku & Palpatine. They also have characters like Ventress who aren’t officially Sith Lords yet are trained just like one. So while it decreases their numbers by a lot, they find ways around even when they actually obey said rule.
    • Thirdly and finally, Sith who engage in too much evil and envelope themselves too deeply in the Dark Side often suffer from an inability to properly sense the Light Side. This alienation of the Light is what lead to the otherwise brilliant Palpatine's death. He alienated altruism and good so utterly that he was not only unable to sense Luke Skywalker's presence during a critical moment, but he was also unable to sense that his apprentice Darth Vader still had some morality in him. Thus he attempts to tortuously kill Luke and is killed himself when he fails to expect Vader to attack him out of paternal feelings.