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For some reason, capital E Evil and most villains just don't get humor. And we don't just mean in a "doesn't understand the joke" sense, they're usually completely humorless or they're cackling because they're complete lunatics and "Eeeeevil!" Maybe it's because of some implicit assumption that "laughter heals the soul", so someone who doesn't laugh or laughs at the wrong things can't be right in the head. Perhaps it's that humor requires perspective, which villains usually don't have in abundance.
This manifests in two different ways.
- Type 1: The first is as a complete lack of humor, the villain is either incapable of understanding humor (like an evil Tin Man) or can, but they're so stone hearted and taciturn they find nothing funny, never even cracking witty remarks or exchanging repartee with the hero. While there are plenty of stoic Anti Heroes, heroes as a whole can generally at least laugh at least once in a while. Understandably, they often get placed opposite a wise cracking hero who uses them as an unwitting Straight Man.
- Type 2: The second is as an especially sick and twisted sense of humor, where a "good joke" to them is either not funny to normal people at all, way past Dead Baby Comedy, or a horrifying torture to the pranked. At times so horrifying it drives them insane. These villains tend to have quite a bit of dark wit to them, and if they embrace a "prankster" motif may occasionally actually be funny, in a dark sort of way. You can expect these deranged comedians to face especially straight laced heroes who "never get the joke", say "You're Insane!", and get thanked for it.
- Death Note, with L and Light. Light, being the Villain Protagonist, really lacks any sort of sense of humor. And although L isn't exactly the funniest person in the world, he does have more of a sense of humor.
- In the anime, L has more of a sense of humor than in the manga. He's actually a bit of a Deadpan Snarker.
- In Hikaru no Go, although they're definitely not evil, Touya Akira and Touya Koyo-meijin are Hikaru and Sai's main rivals for most of the series. And both Hikaru and Sai definitely have much more of a sense of humor than those two. Especially noticeable in the beginning. For Hikaru, however, after Sai disappears and he gets more serious, it follows this trope less.
- In the Houshin Engi manga, the ultimate Big Bad, Jyoka, has absolutely no sense of humor. Taikoubou at this point now known as Fukki even Lampshades it at one point. A huge contrast to Taikoubou, who tends not to take many things very seriously.
- In Berserk, pretty much all the big villains have absolutely No Sense of Humor. Granted, Berserk is not known for its rip roaring comedy... but the protagonist, Guts, is a Deadpan Snarker that has a habit of making fun of his enemies. Even Griffith had (has?) less of a sense of humor than him.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, just try to name one of the Seiryu Seishi that had any sort of sense of humor (or even just having any sort of funny moments). All of them (definitely including Yui) are always so dead serious, and never find humor in any situation. Now contrast them with the Suzaku Seishi, who all had several moments where they joked around.
- Creed from Black Cat, most notably in the manga. Sure, he laughs maniacally quite a few times, but it's always because he's just crazy like that and is just showing his appreciation for watching other people die. Train, on the other hand, loves to make good-hearted sarcastic jabs at everyone - villains included. Especially noticeable during their final battle, where Train still has the energy to make fun of Creed (Train: "Eeeh? then I guess that makes you more like a zombie!" Creed: "No, it makes me a GOD!"). Creed tends to take all of Train's comments literally, and the jokes tend to go over his head.
- Father, the Big Bad of Fullmetal Alchemist. It seems when he removed all the sins from himself, he also removed any sense of humor as well.
- With some exceptions, Spider-Man villains have often been typically as humorless as Spider-Man is frivolous, making remarks like, "Let's see how funny you think you are now!"
- Deadpool tends to run into this as well; some will play along at first but get sick of it when they realize he a) isn't going to shut up. Ever. and b) has no intention at all of taking anything seriously (unless he's using Obfuscating Insanity, but it's hard to tell). The Taskmaster was not at all amused when Deadpool defeated him by doing the Macarena.
- A clever early scene in Titanic hints at the likability of several of the key characters. As Ismay brags about the size of the vessel, Rose (a likable character, of course) comments on how Ismay might be interested in the works of Sigmund Freud, and in Freud's opinions on men and their fascination with size. Mr. Andrews and Molly Brown (both likable) are amused, Cal, Ruth, and Ismay (all varying degrees of unlikable) are either appalled or confused.
- In The Screwtape Letters, none of the devils have any sense of humor at all, but they are played for laughs. In fact, being laughed at seems to be Screwtape's Berserk Button. "She's the sort of girl who would find me funny! ME!"
- In Max Beerbohm's Deal with the Devil story Enoch Soames, Satan is a very well-dressed (or even over-dressed) and respectable looking guy who is deeply offended when the narrator (Beerbohm himself, who wrote humorous fiction) laughs out loud when he announces his identity, and gives him the cold shoulder in a later meeting and seems to be completely humorless. Ironically, Soames, who is tricked by the Devil, is the kind of Satanist who is a decent guy but thinks that Satan Is Good (or at least cool).
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, when Jacen Solo loses his sense of humor and stops being a Pungeon Master, it's a sign that he's becoming evil.
- In This Rough Magic, it is revealed that beings of pure evil cannot understand humor and therefore cannot imitate it. This is the only way to be sure you aren't dealing with one, as they are otherwise perfect illusionists.
- Averted with the Mayor on Buffy, who despite being the consummate Affably Evil villain of the series, nonetheless horrified viewers with his white-humor jokes after planning or doing something horrifyingly evil. Other times, his joking remarks that he could just "eat [a troupe of boy-scouts] up" were just possibly true enough to jar viewers into not knowing whether to laugh or cringe.
Glory: "You hit me! You can't go around hitting people. What, were you born in a barn?" Said with indignation as Buffy continues to pummel her. She barely notices the blows.
- Often appears on Doctor Who, especially with the Fourth Doctor — the villains have No Sense of Humor, the Doctor does. The Master is an exception, especially during the 3rd Doctor-- he doesn't really take himself seriously.
- The first time the Master showed up in the Fourth Doctor's run he didn't have much of a sense of humour either. But then, dying will do that to you.
- Delgado's Master was practically a walking stalactite of iciness. Watch how he kills a man with . . . just watch.
- Pick a scene where SG-1 is captured by a system lord, any episode. Jack will snark at the Goa'uld and they'll just glower, perhaps flaring their eyes in irritation.
- A choice SG-1 scenes: "You have no idea what Lord Ba'al is capable of." "You ended that sentence in a preposition! Bastard!"
- Ba'al himself is something of a subversion, as he is perfectly willing to engage in witty banter with Jack.
- However, one of the funniest moments in the series is when Teal'c tells a Goa'uld joke about Setesh's emblem (and breaks down into roaring laughter). Apparently, they save their sense of humor for mocking each other.
- A Serpent Guard, a Horus Guard and a Setesh Guard meet on a neutral planet. It is a tense moment. The Serpent Guard's eyes glow, the Horus Guard's beak glistens, the Setesh Guard's... nose drips. That's funny.
- A choice SG-1 scenes: "You have no idea what Lord Ba'al is capable of." "You ended that sentence in a preposition! Bastard!"
- Major Neuheim of Private Schulz is a Pointy-Haired Boss, not to mention a Nazi, who is totally lacking in warmth and anything resembling a sense of humor. However, his humorlessness is itself a source of comedy.
- In Homestuck, recurring villain Jack Noir sits between Type 1 and a subdued Type 2. His most competent sidekick, the Draconian Dignitary sits firmly in Type 1 as embodied by this conversation over the status of two missing heroes:
- Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender starts off as type one, as the only time he laughed was out of spite for the pirates he was arguing with having their ship stolen. Azula is a type two, though she has Type 1 moments as well ("It's okay, you can laugh. It's funny.")
Examples of Type 2
- Gauron from Full Metal Panic fits Type 2 to a "T." He's basically an Ax Crazy villain that takes jokes to the point of being Dead Baby Comedy. He's definitely made to be a stark contrast to Sousuke, who is the most Comically Serious Straight Man in the world. He really is a lot jollier than a bunch of other characters in the series... but his sense of humor is certainly disturbing, to say the least. He laughs maniacally when he kills people (or whenever Sousuke is involved), and the jokes he cracks to Muggles aren't received well. One particular example that stands out is when he "joked" with the airline stewardess (of an airplane he eventually hijacked):
Gauron: It's troublesome, isn't it? Having so many high schoolers on board?
- And then there was the "joke" in TSR, where he confessed to Sousuke that he really wanted to "fuck his dead body up the ass" back in Khanka. Sousuke's reaction to this is, predictably, to act absolutely horrified. Gauron was laughing like a maniac while he said it, and then told Sousuke he was just kidding. Except right after he said that, he immediately negated it by confessing that what he said was true and serious. In other words, he loves having fun screwing around with poor Sousuke. However, an especially interesting thing to note about Gauron's jokes is that pretty much all of them are actually things he truly means.
- Ladd Russo's sense of humor is probably right up (down?) there with Gauron's, but replacing the rape jokes with extra Gorn and hamminess. Things that Ladd finds hilarious include: killing people; killing innocent people; killing not-so-innocent people; killing people when they least expect it; killing ten-year-olds when they least expect it; freaking the shit out of his uncle by shooting an empty shotgun into his face (and then in the manga, coming right back to his office to do it for real); punching people's skulls in while rambling on about champion boxers; dancing around like a five-year-old in a pool of a friend's blood; getting his shiny new white tuxedo stained with the blood of his victims; and using someone's corpse as a hand puppet.
- Whether November 11 from Darker Than Black really counts as a true villain is up for debate, but what isn't up for debate is that a) he's technically a sociopath and b) he has the weirdest sense of humor in the series, usually consisting of delivering violent or disturbing Breathless Non Sequiturs before insisting that he was just kidding.
- Genma seems to take over November 11's role in the second season in this respect, although he goes for disturbing sexual innuendo rather than gallows humor. For instance, in episode 8, he walks into a cafe where Kirihara is eating and she asks him sarcastically if he's taken up stalking as a hobby. He replies that his taste is for "budding" targets, and he looks out the window at young schoolchildren who are outside. Like November 11, he claims to be kidding, and like other examples of this trope, his "jokes" seem more like confessions than anything. He also seems very amused when doing things like running people down with a train he hijacked and armoring himself and beating up Hei.
- In Threads of Time, Sali Tayi does laugh... when he's raping women and mass slaughtering people. Of course, when there are situations and things that are actually... well, humorous to a normal person, he doesn't find any humor in it. Contrast him with Moon-Bin, who likes to make light-hearted, good natured banter and teasing. And Sali Tayi wonders why Atan Hadas hates him and likes Moon-Bin...
- Black Lagoon: apparently blowing up someone's apartment is Balalaika's idea of an "incredibly funny joke"
- To be fair, that guy really had it coming.
- Nagato/Pain shows shades of being a type-2er, most of his jokes are very grim and sardonic in nature. Presumably, this is what happens to one's sense of humor if one is so powerful, people who aren't you consider you as a Physical God, yet you are left completely powerless in the face of the horrible events that caused your Start of Darkness.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, things that Envy has found hilarious include pulling a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip on people and trying to kill them while transformed into their loved ones, and setting off a genocidal war by murdering a child. Envy also gets some type 1 moments though, being a character who "can dish it out but not take it", leading to circumstances where Envy is the butt of a joke from the heroes and reacts with hypocritical outrage.
- The Joker is built around this trope, though Depending on the Writer, he can be Actually Pretty Funny, such as in The Killing Joke.
- Depending on the Writer, The Green Goblin falls in this trope.
- Same thing with Cletus Kasady, a.k.a. Carnage.
- In an issue of Hellboy, a woman tells a story to residents at a Japanese tavern that amounts to nothing more than a man suffering a horrible misfortune, which the other residents treat as a hysterically witty joke. This is the first tip-off that they're all evil spirits.
- The Joker (again), especially in The Dark Knight.
- Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series is constantly making bad jokes. A lot of the time it keeps Freddy from being too scary, but other times it just makes him even more terrifying. When Freddy Kreuger turns you into a roach and makes a bad bug-related pun, what are you going to do about it, tell him he's not funny?
- The Kurgan of Highlander is one, which isn't surprising when his native culture (as Ramirez claimed) threw children to the dogs for fun.
- The Hellboy animated film Sword of Storms recycles a moment from a graphic novel in which a Japanese woman tells a story about a man suffering a horrible misfortune, which the other tavern residents treat as a terribly witty joke. This is the first tip-off that they're all evil spirits.
- Tangled: As if we didn't have enough evidence that she was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Mother Gothel proves herself to has a immensely caustic and sarcastic sense of humor...against her own adoptive daughter (that she kidnapped, admittedly, but still, you would think she would give the girl some respect).
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars, John Carter of Mars observes that Green Martians consider hitting a helpless prisoner the height of jests.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in The Moonlight", in Olivia's dream, when torturing a demigod to death, the torturers laugh at him. Afterwards — Daddy shows up, not pleased.
The black warriors laughed at him, jeered and taunted in a strange tongue.
- Apparently, the early interlude with Verna Zee in Tribulation Force is meant to be funny.
- The Dasati from the Riftwar Cycle find pain in and of itself to be amusing (or at least other people's pain). They are depicted as laughing hysterically while watching other Dasati torn to pieces by the local equivalent of wolves, for example.
- The Gamemakers in The Hunger Games have an incredibly dark sense of irony. Case in point: The Main character has had a bit of a "Fire" motif going on throughout the book, so they set a fire trap just for her.
- Dragon King of Arms from the Discworld novel "Feet of Clay" is a herald (and a vampire) who loves to include groanworthy wordplay in the family mottos and symbols he creates for Coats of Arms. Most of these are merely stupid, but one turns out to be an important hint to the story's mystery. Lord Vetinari is being poisoned with arsenic, and nobody can tell how it's getting into his system. One of the Coats of Arms Dragon created had the motto in Morporkian (English) rather than Laotian (Dog Latin): "Art Brought Forth the Candle". Turns out when translated it would be "Ars Enixa Est Candelam". There's also a fish-shaped lamp: "lampe au poisson". The arsenic was in the candles being burned in Vetinari's room. Dragon just couldn't resist the pun.
- Shagwell from A Song of Ice and Fire is an Ax Crazy mercenary who dresses as a jester, and most of his jokes involve his love of rape and murder. Roose Bolton conveys his sadism through an amusingly dry sense of humor. For instance, he scolds his illegitimate son Ramsay by telling him, "Don't make me rue the day I raped your mother."
- The Ghiscari cities of Slaver's Bay also have a pretty bad sense of humor. Some of their ideas for follies (comic interludes during their Gladiator Games) include coating children in blood or honey or fish guts and then throwing them in a pit with a bear and betting on which one the bear will maul first. Or giving a pair of dwarves wooden weapons, having them fight a mock combat, and loosing some hungry lions on them midway through. Hilarious, right?
- In Animorphs, Visser Three can get into this. In the first book he eats Elfangor, then makes a joke about "taking a bite" out of his enemies.
Live Action Television
- On Doctor Who, the version of The Master who interacted with the Tenth Doctor is an example of this, a result of him being specifically an Evil Counterpart to Ten's manic personality.
- The Queen of the Racnos appeared to enjoy terrible jokes and puns and insisted one of her victims rephrase his pleas so she could finish him with a bad joke. She's older than many planets, and this stuff still amuses her.
- Alpha from Dollhouse. I had a blast!
- Moriarty from the BBC series Sherlock finds it hilarious to make the hostage he's forcing to parrot his demands say "gottle o' geer."
- The Queen from Blackadder II. She's not an outright villain, but does have shades of The Caligula about her. She'll frequently joke about cutting her courtier's heads off (and her courtiers are expected to laugh as though they find it funny.)
- The Riddler in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Literal Dead Baby Comedy. And of course The Joker.
- Twisted Metal is rife with this, some of the characters have it as their background, and then of course there's Calypso and, in Twisted Metal 4, Needles Kane. A minor subversion however, due to Needles simply being in it For the Evulz occurs when General Warthog wins. Warthog wishes for a world of eternal warfare so he can play wargames all the time. With both possible wish granters being vicious bloodthirsty curs, it seems like such a dream wouldn't end well for the rest of us, as they tend to reward selfish or savage wishes by playing them straight, but in his Twisted Metal 4 incarnation, Needles is more like The Joker. And so, his wish is granted...Warthog is turned into a talking toy a la Tommy Lee Jones in Small Soldiers and dropped into a sandbox full of toy vehicles.
- Caesar in Fallout: New Vegas gives this gem
Courier: "You guaranteed my safety."
- Also, if you tell him you're taking in the glory of seeing him, he'll remark that he should put out your eyes so that he's the last thing you ever see. Then again, he's the only guy in the faction with a sense of humor.
- In Poker Night At the Inventory, the Heavy tells the story of how an Engineer massacred his team, so he massacred the Engineer. Painfully. And with lots of blood. While laughing uproariously. Tycho is visibly disturbed. Max looks slightly ill. Strong Bad sums it up:
Strong Bad: That is some BLEEPED-up BLEEP, man.
- Or then there's the time when Strong Bad asks for a funny story, and instead Heavy tells the story of the day he watched an injured sparrow die in the cold when he was a boy. Strong Bad insists that that wasn't a funny story at all. Heavy agrees that no, it wasn't funny in the slightest. All are baffled at how that question led to that answer.
- Ridley's debut trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has him, upon bursting underneath the floor and likely giving Samus a panic attack while roaring, proceeding to smirk while spinning Mario's cap around his finger.
- Caligula was once dining with the consuls, who were theoretically Rome's heads of state, when he burst out laughing. The consuls asked if they could share the joke. "You wouldn't find it funny," said Caligula. "I was laughing because I just realized that with a wave of my hand, I could have you both executed!"
- Could've been worse. He might have expected them to laugh, too.
- As the campiest emperor of Rome, Elagabalus did things which only Hard Gay could have understood.
- Ante Pavelic, fuhrer of Croatia, seemed to think it was pretty goddamn funny to have his soldiers deliver him baskets of eyes from those they killed. They, of course, were usually removed while the victims were still alive.
- Sometimes little kids can be like this; ill fortune befalling people they dislike is uproariously funny to them. The idea of being the one to inflict said misfortune, even moreso.
- The Dark Eldar/Elves in Warhammer 40000
- In Dungeons and Dragons, Asmodeus and Demogorgon are noted as both having senses of humor; though they find humor in the fact that their underlings(or in Demogorgon's case, chief rivals) are constantly plotting/fighting amongst themselves instead of uniting against them.
- In Sweeney Todd, Todd himself is something of a type I, given his grim and saturnine personality, but he also has elements of this, such as promising enemies "the closest shave you'll ever know". His partner-in-crime Mrs. Lovett is consistently a type II example, and their gleeful duet "Little Priest" embodies this trope, as they gleefully sing about all of the people they plan to make into pies.
- In Dragon Ball Abridged, Vegeta has type 2 in spades. When he's called on it by Goku, he acknowledges that his sense of humor is in bad taste, but he doesn't care, because he's evil.
- In Goblins, Dellyn Goblinslayer thought fellow adventurer and XP whore Minmax would appreciate the humour found in owning an unwilling slave Yuan-Ti and raping her to and from the brink of death nightly. He judged...poorly.
- Xykon of Order of the Stick, an affably evil sort, is this in his universe. Considering how many lines he crosses to make his snarks, the trope doesn't quite hold true for those of us reading his exploits, however.
- While he's more restrained about it than Xykon, the Evil Overlord Tarquin has shades of this. For example, when shrugging off the dangers involved in forcing a woman to marry him, he comments that previous brides have also had cold feet- cut to a flashback image of Tarquin torturing a woman into marrying him with cold spells. You also have to give credit in his ability to simultaneously do something nice for his son and brutally crush a slave revolt, which he accomplishes by tying the captured slaves to posts arranged to spell out his son's name, then setting them alight.
- Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
- The Joker, in Batman the Animated Series.
- The Joker, in The Batman.
- The Joker, in Batman the Brave And The Bold. (Observant readers will have noticed a pattern forming.)
- Codename: Kids Next Door: The Delightful Children usually gloat and make jokes about how their enemies are going to meet their demise or be humiliated by them.
Delightful Children: "So Kids Next Door, what do you say about a trip to Pluto? Have a 'delightful' flight! *Cue Evil Laugh*"
- The Monkey King in Jackie Chan Adventures, whose sense of humor ranges from absurd concepts like West Side Story-esque greaser frozen chickens to Joker-esque delight at running someone through a sawmill. He lets loose the nasty part of his personality very quick.
Jade (trying to stop him from mutilating Jackie): "You can't! It's... not funny!"
- On The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Green Goblin tends to do this, giggling insanely and occasionally cracking rhymes about his various schemes.
- Earlier in the trailer, he killed Mario by crushing his face.