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Fig. 1: Game. Fig. 2: Final boss.

Okay, so you have a villain, who is legitimately intimidating and frightening. Maybe he tries to destroy all positive emotions, or maybe he turns people into twisted shambling abominations, or maybe he's plotting genocide. Point is, he's actually a fairly creepy villain. The irony is that he's stuck in a Sugar Bowl.

As one could probably tell, this trope is about villains in normally lighthearted fiction that are so disturbing, or even terrifying, on some level that they kind of clash with the tone of the show/game/whatever. Because of this type of villain's ability to ruin the mood of the story he/she/it is in, this trope can overlap with Complete Monster and Knight of Cerebus. If a series has a lot of villains like this, then it's taking a ride on the Cerebus Rollercoaster.

A major cause of Sugar Apocalypse and Surprise Creepy. Compare and contrast the Crap Saccharine World, where it's not just the villain, but the entire world that is rotten to the core.

Examples of Vile Villain, Saccharine Show include:

Anime & Manga

  • Majokko Meg-chan is a Magical Girl show from The Seventies, a time where some still thought that little girls were unable to cope with actual fictional villains. But the series' Big Bad, Queen Saturn, turns out to be quite more vile than viewers expected in these days.
  • Mon Colle Knights is cheerful and wacky and the enemies usually are the Terrible Trio. When they're not, there's Reda, with his bloodstained wings and a fondness for driving people to suicide and subjecting things to splooshy transformations. The english Gag Dub toned him down and edited some scenes.
  • While One Piece is in many ways an idealistic series, it also has some surprisingly nasty villains. The first example is Captain Kuro, who falsely befriends a girl named Kara and becomes her butler, but was planning to murder her the entire time. And he was also willing to murder his own crew just so he could erase his old life as a pirate and throw the marines off his trail. Generally, he's considered to be one of the vilest villains in the series, and for good reason.
  • The usually light-hearted Pokémon anime (which normally has a goofy and incompetent Terrible Trio composing of two delinquents and a talking Meowth as the primary antagonists) has:
    • The coldhearted Diabolical Mastermind, Giovanni, and the psychic Gym Leader with a split personality, Sabrina, in the Kanto Saga.
    • The merciless Pokémon Hunter J, the Omnicidal Maniac Cyrus and his organization Team Galactic (an even nastier incarnation than his game counterpart), and the abusive Jerkass trainer Paul in the Sinnoh Saga.
    • There are also two HORRIBLE villains, the Iron Masked Marauder and Kodai, in the fourth and thirteenth movies respectively.
    • Oh, and as of Best Wishes? The goofy, incompetent Terrible Trio isn't so goofy and incompetent anymore....
      • Note that Ghetsis was barely seen in that series, as well. That's how absolutely dire he is.
    • Lysandre and his crew in X & Y.
    • The Alola villains ended up being watered down, though.
  • The Bigger Bads in Pretty Cure franchise are usually like this. One of them is an entity that existed before everything and wants to plunge everything into nothingness, another is a life-hating Eldritch Abomination that turns every planet he visits into sand dunes, yet another is a monster born out of humanity's collective negative emotions, etc etc... Mind you, this is a series that is (supposedly) for little girls in elementary schoolyears.
  • Digimon Adventure starts off fairly lighthearted, then we meet Devimon, a cunning, devil-like monster with the power to brainwash friendly and peaceful Digimon into rampaging, savaging berserkers.
    • Myotismon and Machinedramon are even worse. The former is a sinister, Vampiric Digimon with a supremely sadistic streak a mile wide. Myotismon treats his underlings awfully, having taking Gatomon in when she was young and abusing her until she was a killing machine. When his henchmen fail him, he eagerly destroys them. When two harmless minions couldn't bring themselves to harm children, Myotismon killed them on the spot. When he invaded Tokyo, he proceeded to destroy much of it and held a number of children captive to identify the final child connected with Gatomon. He made it clear if it took too much time, he'd simply kill them all. Myotismon also proceeded to attack multiple young women and drain their blood, causing an epidemic through Tokyo. Any minions he hadn't already killed were cannibalized to fuel his Mega transformation. When he was thought destroyed, Myotismon's spirit survived to return as the final villain of the next season as MaloMyotismon. Using a man named Oikawa's sadness and despair to make him a pawn, he proceeded to consume him from within and upon manifesting anew, Myotismon repaid his perfectly loyal ally Arukenimon by sadistically torturing her to death and killing Mummymon when he tried to avenge her. The later is a cold-hearted, brutal and gigantic Killer Robot who speaks, though rarely, with a growling, hateful and metallic voice and mostly acts like a lifeless machine, unless when he's on a murder rampage, which is when his true sociopathic nature is shown, ordering a massive bombing over his own territory and telling the hero's 8-year old sister he's going to kill her as painfully as he can. It makes him one of the scariest villains in the show, and if that wasn't bad enough the Wanderswan games reveal he survives his fight with Wargreymon and becomes Milleniummon.
    • Puppetmon is Laughably Evil, but he still has shades of this. He's a dark version of Pinocchio who thinks he can make friends by killing and enslaving everyone around him, and uses a revolver to "play" a cruel version of hide-and-seek with T.K. and kills his minions, Mushroomon and Blossomon, with it because he thought they lied. Some countries edited the scenes with Puppetmon killing Mushroomon and Blossomon and holding the gun during the TV run of the series. It's a living puppet pointing at an eight year old child!
    • And then there's Piedmon, a Monster Clown who enjoys to toy with his opponents and sadistically inflict pain and fear upon them before finishing them off, which culminates in him transforming the kids and their Digimon into keychains one by one in a series of sequences that seem to come straight out of a horror movie. 
      • Frontier's Lucemon is a manipulative, bigoted hypocrite in a season that was otherwise a return to a Lighter and Softer atmosphere compared to the prior season. His goal is to conquer the Digital World, and enslave both Digimon AND humanity.
      • The biggest example the franchise has had is Leviathan from the Applimonsters spinoff, a vicious AI that overtakes innumerable people to rule over the city. The series is otherwise one of the most lighthearted takes on the franchise.
  • The otherwise cheerful and self-parodic Transformers:Robots in Disguise introduces us to the six-changer Gigatron/Megatron. Kidnapping a scientist and probing his mind is only the start of his creepiness. He also reprograms his Decepticon forces into mindless drones, absorbs the power of the Predacon Brothers, and in the climax, attempts to brainwash every child on the planet. To top it all off, his final form’s name is DEVIL Gigatron.
  • Fruits Basket starts as a comedic show with romantic splashes where Tohru meets the Sohma family and they go through several hijinks due to the curse of the clan. Until she meets the leader of the Sohmas, Akito, a mysterious young man who treats his relatives like crap and rules over them with an iron fist. Then one learns Akito is a young woman, with an absolutely terrible past dealt to her by the Bigger Bad - her own mother, Ren.


Fan Fiction

Films — Animation

  • Were Back a Dinosaurs Story is a cutesy film about dinosaurs being sent to our time to make children happy. Nothing scary about that at all. Well, except for the creepy old scientist Professor Screweyes, who runs a Circus of Fear, believes that the world is an irrational and cruel place, got his eye pecked out by a bird, and was eaten by birds at the end of the film.
  • Charlotte's Web 2 has Farley the Fox, a fox that wishes to eat a newborn lamb named Cardigan. Unlike the title character, he is legitimately malicious, which makes him all the scarier. Additionally, he's responsible for eating many chickens and their eggs, and would have eaten a gosling if Wilbur hadn't gotten involved.
  • The Disney Animated Canon has a disturbingly/wonderfully high occurrence of this trope:
    • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, being one of the few examples of Card-Carrying Villains who isn't played for laughs, has a newborn infant inflicted with a death curse either because she wasn't invited to the christening ceremony or even for her own sick amusement. The scene at Forbidden Mountain even implies that she had been trying to keep tabs on Aurora so she presumably would ensure she suffered that kind of fate long before her 16th birthday, with only her henchmen's incompetence preventing this, and she also engages in outright Mind Rape on Prince Phillip after capturing him. There's a reason why she's generally considered one of Disney's most evil villains.
    • The Disney version of Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is, for all intents and purposes, a medieval stand-in for Lord Cromwell. The movie was already more adult than is normally thought of for Disney, but it was still shocking.
    • The evil Queen from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs is pretty damn creepy. A woman so obsessed with her own beauty that she's willing to let a teenage girl die for being pretty? Yikes. The fact that the teenaged girl is also her step-daughter? Double yikes. Going so far as to painfully transform herself into an ugly old peddler to trick the teenage girl so she can poison her? Yikes to infinity. Her intent appears to be trying to trick her new friends into burying her alive? So many yikes that she sets the standards for Disney villain heinousness.
    • The Princess and the Frog gives us Dr. Facilier, a voodoo witch doctor willing to sacrifice all of New Orleans to pay off his debts to dark voodoo entities. Although he gets in on the light, jazzy theme of the movie with a heck of a cool Villain Song, it's still clear that he's selfish, relentless and bad to the bone. The fact that he murders one of the comic relief sidekicks in cold blood on screen cements this.
    • Another well known example is the Coachman from Pinocchio, who runs an amusement park that magically turns young boys who use the attractions into donkeys. The ones that lose their voices are then sold to salt mines and circuses, and the ones who can still talk... well, they're put in cages, and we don't know what happens to them after that. It seems that none of them are ever human or see their homes again, though. And he gets away with it, too! Which is unique, considering just about every other villain falls to the hero.
      • This may be because of his choice of targets: Bad boys who should be at school, making him some karmic bogeyman.
      • Though the Coachman is far worse, Stromboli & arguably Monstro are pretty bad too.
    • Oliver and Company is a very lighthearted movie, featuring talking, singing cats and dogs. Its villain, Sykes, is a Loan Shark who is played utterly straight. There's nothing funny, sympathetic, or even hammy about him. He's just a cold-blooded thug who wants his money now and doesn't care what he has to do to get it. At one point he even brings up the cement shoes...
    • Wallace and Gromit has had some surprisingly frightening villains over the years.
      • In the full-length film Curse of the Wererabbit, there’s Victor Quartermaine, who hunts rabbits and plans to murder Wallace so that he can have Lady Tottington for himself and look like a hero (as Wallace was the titular Wererabbit).
      • There’s also Preston, who plans to murder a flock of sheep and his own owner Wendolene.
      • Worst of all is Piella Bakeswell, a serial killer who murdered no less than a dozen bakers. She planned to make Wallace her last victim.
    • Though not nearly as frightening as Frollo or the Coachman, Jafar in Aladdin has shades of this. While he doesn't really have any plans beyond conquering Agrabah and becoming sultan (though he eventually decides to become an extremely powerful sorceror in addition to that, then an all-powerful genie after Aladdin persuaded him that the Genie was a threat to him (even though he was incapable of betraying him unless someone else grabbed the lamp, which he safeguarded).), he does lie to Jasmine about Aladdin's execution, which of course devastates her. Because the movie was an action-packed zany comedy, animator Andreas Deja decided to keep Jafar very subtle in contrast. (He also contrasts the art style. Nearly everything else in Agrabah has soft, rounded lines, while Jafar has several sharp angles.)
    • Mulan is the story of a girl who goes into the army to save her father's life. While the movie is comedic much of time (and even has a non-threatening dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy and a cute little cricket), the Big Bad Shan-Yu is implied to kill vast numbers of people. The aftermath of his handiwork makes a Mood Whiplash from a song about getting a girl to seeing the most straightforward example of War Is Hell in a Disney movie. The scene with the destroyed village also has a subtle implication that the Infant Immortality was averted with the appearance of a doll without its owner.
    • Professor Rattigan of The Great Mouse Detective, who spends most of the film as the epitome of the Faux Affably Evil, Evil Is Hammy villain (helped by being voiced by Vincent Price, who is very obviously really enjoying himself), so it's easy to forget that he kidnaps frightened children, has no qualms about threatening them or getting them killed, and a throwaway line in his Villain Song refers to "those widows and orphans you drowned". Then his temper gets pushed that little bit too far, and... Holy Shit.
    • One Hundred and One Dalmatians has Cruella DeVil, who for all her campy vampiness, her basic goal is still to kill and skin a bunch of puppies to make them into fur coats. She's MUCH worse in the live-action remake.
    • Scar, from The Lion King. Simply put, he gets the honor of committing the first onscreen murder in a Disney film, and upon taking over from the guy he murdered, who was his own brother, he also ends up being responsible to reducing the Pride Lands to Mordor, or at least the closest equivalent to such. Zira from the sequel definitely counts too. Even moreso is Janja from The Lion Guard, a purportedly kindergarten-aimed show.
    • Ursula from The Little Mermaid is an arguable example. After being exiled from Atlantica for undisclosed reasons other than maybe attempting to take over the kingdom from King Triton, she ran a con shop where she gives people what they want in exchange for something in return, with the implication that such would result in their souls going to her if they failed in their end of the bargain and them being reduced to sentient and Nightmare Fuel-inducing seaweed, and it is heavily implied that she succeeds by cheating in her deals, either by directly interfering or, in the case of a deleted scene, deliberately leaving out key details on how to succeed in the plan. Oh, and when she does succeed in getting the Trident, she attempts to kill Ariel, despite being implied to have promised not to do so when her father took the deal in her stead. She even brainwashes Eric as insurance that Ariel could not succeed in the deal in time. She's also the closest Disney has to a cannibal due to her opening scene having her eat a shrimp live. She even fakes reform and uses a lot of mental manipulation to get what she wants, which actually makes her very scarily realistic in that regard due to there being quite a few people in real life who have pulled that off.
    • Wreck-It Ralph has the Walking Spoiler that is King Candy/Turbo. He becomes even more vile during his Villainous Breakdown in the climax, and more vile still after getting assimilated by a Cybug. The worst part of all this? He's ruling over a literal saccharine world, making him a villain who seems saccharine at first but just gets viler and viler!
    • Meet The Robinsons is an idealistic movie which encourages people to keep moving forward, since success doesn't happen overnight. The character in question who keeps moving forward is Lewis, who gets progressively better at building inventions even though his early ones have a tendency to backfire, eventually succeeding with the Memory Scanner. While the story has a villain (in this case the Bowler Hat Guy, he tends to have comedic tendencies and has a Freudian Excuse for his behavior...though unfortunately, he chose not to move forward like Lewis did. However, it turns out he's not the REAL villain. That villain happens to be Dor-15, one of Lewis's malfunctioning inventions that he shut down for the safety of humanity. It ultimately turns out that she is plotting the enslavement of humanity...and she throws the Bowler Hat Guy under the bus once she succeeds in her plans. And yes, in one timeline, she DOES succeed in her horrific plans.
  • In a (semi) Live Action example, Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film initially seems like a classical Family movie until we meet him. We discover that not only is the responsible of all bad things that happen in the movie but he's also the same psychopathic murderous toon who killed Eddie Valiant's brother long ago and he was planning the genocide of his own species to profit him.
  • Much like its big brother, Pixar is very fond of this:
    • Toy Story is a lighthearted series where the main conflict is usually within the heroes as opposed to external. Villains tend to be either Obliviously Evil or relatively harmless. Until Toy Story 3, that is, where we meet Lotso, a cold hearted teddy bear overlord of a day care center who subjects new toys to being broken by toddlers so that only the strongest survive and join him, tortures, brainwashes, imprisons, and attempts to murder the heroes, and eventually leaves them to die in an incinerator AFTER THEY SAVE HIS LIFE!
    • Hopper in A Bugs Life is a ruthless tyrant (and abusive brother) who delights in the fear he instills in the ants, openly considering them worthless except as slaves to give him food, and was fully prepared to publically execute their queen to keep them compliant. He even admits to his minions, some of whom he kills in cold blood, that they don't even need the food the ants provide, implying his actions are motivated purely by sadism.
    • Coco has Ernesto de la Cruz, a far darker take on villains like Balthazaar Bratt. murdering his only friend and songwriter to receive full profits from his music, covering his tracks for years, and keeping a strong position in the Land of the Dead to make sure his friend was forgotten?
    • Brave has the terrifying and ultimately sombre monster bear Mor'Du.
    • Up is generally an uplifting film, with the biggest exception being the utterly insane and once-noble Muntz.
    • Even the Cars series has one; Cars 2 features a terrifying, sadistic Mad Scientist named Professor Zundapp, who's despisal of non-lemons and accent evoke a certain other trope. He's got quite the body count, too, and both of his victims die pretty painfully.
  • Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland has the Nightmare King suddenly show up in a world that was just plain Sugar Bowl till then, ruling over a section of Slumberland known as Nightmareland, the place where nightmares come from.
  • Osmosis Jones: For the most part a lighthearted parody of Salt and Pepper cop movies with copious amounts of Toilet Humour for the kids all set inside the human body. Enter Thrax, a Complete Monster who kills cells by making them melt and explode via fire from the inside out, and we learn his goal is to kill his human host, which in this context would be like an alien arriving on Earth and trying to destroy it For the Evulz. He counts his victims on his fingers at one point in the movie, one of them being "A child who didn't wash her hands like she was told."
  • Mrs. Tweedy from Chicken Run is a sadistic chicken farmer who runs her chicken farm like a manner of horrifying prison that contain prisoners that will given penalty anytime, as the chickens' means to survive in there are nothing more than laying eggs or be executed, and while it isn't out of the ordinary for a chicken farmer to do this, she clearly enjoys it. She crosses the Moral Event Horizon by trying to use a pie machine to cook all the chickens alive into pies, just so that the Tweedy farm would have financial success. Another reason to hate her is how she tries to brutally murder all the chickens at the end, even though by this time she's fully aware they're sentient.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has Shen, an evil peacock tyrant who is bent on destroying kung fu with heavy artillery, terrorized many innocent pigs and bunnies with his army of wolves, and he even almost pushed the entire panda species (which includes Po) to the point of extinction! All of this is enough to make Tai Lung, the snow leopard villain of the first Kung Fu Panda film look like a scaredy-cat.
    • The third one has Kai the Collector, who steals the souls of his enemies and uses them against his victims, and threatens to destroy the world.
  • Some of the villains from the later Don Bluth films, including an evil owl sorceror who hates daylight, wears an opera cape and a monocle, and for some reason breathes Lucky Charms; an evil, fat troll queen who hates both nature and New York City; a lustful, hulking brute of a penguin voiced by Tim Curry, and an evil, undead Russian necromancer. Even less so with his darker earlier films, whose villains include an evil rat, a ferocious green Tyrannosaurus Rex with razor-sharp fangs and blood-red eyes, a mean cat running a protection racket with a gold tooth, and a canine crime boss.
  • The Brave Little Toaster is a cute musical film about talking electrical appliances, but then we meet the Junkyard Magnet...
  • Lord Farquadd from Shrek manages to be pretty damn vile despite being largely Played for Laughs in a film that's very much a comedy. As an extreme racist, he has fairytale creatures treated like criminals and exiled to Shrek's swamp, while also having Gingerbread Man tortured in his own version of waterboarding. He never treats anyone around him with respect, and it's implied that he shamelessly masturbates to, or at least gets turned on by, Fiona's reflection in full view of the Magic Mirror! Additionally towards the end, Farquadd declares he plans to have Shrek drawn and quartered and have Fiona locked back in the tower for the rest of her life. Needless to say, watching him being eaten by Dragon is quite satisfying, especially when you consider he's going to get digested alive. It's also indicated that Farquadd's henchmen are afraid of him, seeing how the torturer pulls a Heel Face Turn seconds after the above.
    • The Fairy Godmother in the first sequel and Rumpelstiltskin in the third sequel arguably manage to be even viler than Farquaad. The Fairy Godmother is the only Big Bad in the series who's a true Knight Templar, honestly believing that her villainous actions are justified for keeping the natural order of the Fairy Tale world. She plans for her son Charming to commit martial rape on Fiona by pretending to be Shrek and giving her a kiss that would activate the love potion she'd have drank earlier, making her fall in love with him (which thankfully doesn't happen because King Harold refuses to do that to his own daughter) and one of her spells ends up turning King Harold back into his true form, a frog. Even worse, the second sequel, which has her son Prince Charming take over the reins, has his "rule" of Far Far Away amount to essentially running the kingdom into the ground a'la Scar and forcing the audience to watch a self-praising play he wrote that also acted as a subtle attempt at executing Shrek heavily implies that she was planning on using Charming as a Puppet King due to how he obviously has no real knowledge on how to run a kingdom. Rumple, meanwhile, is the cruelest and most psychopathic of the villains. He deceives Shrek into making a deal that takes the day Shrek was born out of his life, meaning Shrek doesn't exist to the world anymore, and in the alternate reality that's created due to this wish, Rumple tricked Fiona's parents into making a deal that ended up wiping them from existence so that he took over Far Far Away, instilling a tyrannical dictatorship where he enslaved all it's inhabitants while launching a genocidal campaign against ogres purely out of the spite he has for Shrek and his kind. While both of these villains are Laughably Evil characters, their villainy in the plot is actually played dead seriously.
    • Dreamworks has had a number of villains darker than even those; mostly in films dark enough to avert this trope (such as General Mandible and Drago Bludvist), but then there is Galhaxar, almost a proto-Lord Brevon in his creepiness and brutality. The rest of the film was a breather between darker and more ambitious projects. There's also Tzekel-Kan, a maniacal cultist who's willing to kill all of his people with golems and commits bloody sacrifices on a regular basis. He's the main antagonist in a buddy comedy, which was signifigantly lighter than their prior two films.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants was a lighthearted series with an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Then The Movie comes out, where we're introduced to Dennis, a somewhat comedic but still surprisingly terrifying hitman wanting to KILL SpongeBob and Patrick using sharp spiked boots. Worse, Plankton turns out to be Not So Harmless, framing Mr. Krabs for stealing Neptune's crown and getting him frozen, then later coming back to see Mr. Krabs get burned to death. If that's not passing the Moral Event Horizon, brainwashing and enslaving all of Bikini Bottom certainly qualifies, especially since it's implied that the fish that were wearing the bucket helmets were awake and conscious while under control!
    • Also in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, there's the cyclops diver, who captures sea creatures and painfully kills them using the heat of a bright lamp, then he sells them as knick-knacks.
  • Despicable Me has Miss Hattie and Mr. Perkins. Although Big Bad Wannabe Vector ended up getting some punishment of some sort, these two both manage to get away with everything! They aren't even punished in the sequels, though if Vector eventually died on the moon, Perkins may have been punished by losing his son.
  • Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night seems like a lighthearted kid-friendly film, but then we meet the titular Emperor of the Night. Said Emperor is the cruel ruler of a nightmarish dimension, who gains power by trapping souls in his domain, while weakening the Blue Fairy enough so that he can destroy her. Working through his vile human henchman, Puppetino, they lure and tempt numerous victims into signing away their freedoms, and turn them into lifeless puppets for all eternity. One of the countless puppets trapped in the empire of the night includes a woman holding her baby. The Emperor soon targets Pinocchio as his next victim, and has Puppetino lure Pinocchio with a little girl named Twinkle that they captured and turned into a puppet. Using magic from his master, Puppetino then transforms Pinocchio into a lifeless puppet, but not before torturing Pinocchio for his amusement. When Pinocchio is freed by the Blue Fairy, the Emperor manipulates Pinocchio and his friends into entering his domain. He uses Gepetto as his hostage, in order to coerce Pinocchio into signing away his freedom willingly, so that the Blue Fairy cannot save him. Pinocchio submits as long as his friends and father go free, until the Emperor orders Puppetino to take them all into the dungeon anyway. Once Pinocchio fights back, the Emperor turns Puppetino into a puppet for his cowardice, and threatens to harm Gepetto if Pinocchio does not obey. Manipulative, Callous, Sadistic, and Treacherous, The Emperor of The Night set a whole new level of Darkness and monstrosity, in an otherwise lighthearted setting.


  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl, has the sudden intrusion of a Horde of Alien Locusts into an outer space sequence that until then is mostly whimsical.
  • Redwall; it seems like a happy fluffy world full of cuddly talking animals. Then you meet the villains...
  • Tove Jansson's The Moomins take place in Moominvalley which is, at least at a very quick glance, somewhat of a saccharine world in the early novels and some of the adaptations. Then we are introduced to the Groke who, especially in her earliest appearances, is truly horrifying.
  • Harry Potter started out fairly light-hearted as well. As the series progresses it gets increasingly darker by every book however. With the return of Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters, the story becomes a lot more adult and downright disturbing with instances of real life crimes being recreated. From murder to torture and even cases of racism, poor Harry and friends seriously have it rough.

Live Action Film

  • Mr. Potter of It's a Wonderful Life is a smaller scale example of this trope, but he nonetheless fills the criteria for the standards of his setting. Described as being "sick in the mind and sick in the soul", this unpleasant old man is someone who feels he literally has to own everything and thus resents anything he cannot have. He very nearly owns the entire town of Bedford Falls and had George Bailey not been in the way, he might have turned the town into a dark dystopia where crime runs rampant, all the poor folk are forced to live in his slums while the people with money go squander it all on tasteless establishments, with all the profit going back to Potter and his associates who'd control the town. He's also a narcissist of the highest degree, and he feeds his own ego by bringing others down and ruining their lives while simultaneously making himself more powerful. In his office, there is an oil painting of himself on the wall and a bust of Napoleon (presumably his two favorite people.) The chair where visitors sit is deliberately smaller than his desk so that he can lord over them, and on the desk is a paperweight shaped like a skull. What really pushes him into this trope is his actions towards the end of the film: not only does he (unbeknownst to everyone else) confiscate George Bailey's Building and Loans' cash funds in order to make the business go bankrupt and frame George for bank fraud, but when the defeated George comes begging pathetically for a loan, Potter tries to have him arrested. On Christmas Eve! For losing money that Potter himself stole. That really takes something special. This, and Potter's line to Geroge "You're worth more dead than alive!" immortalized him as one of the most hateful villains in cinema history.
  • Even in some of the more comical Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, there still can be quite dark villains featured.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy's Ronan, a genocidal Kree warlord who wants to wipe out the Xandarians off the face of the cosmos. He killed Drax's wife and daughter, betrayed Thanos out of his own selfish desires, and eventually uses his henchmen as suicide bombers in an effort to purge Xandar of ALL life. He's introduced bathing in the blood of one of his latest victims, and his cruelty in combat establishes how loathsome he truly is.
    • All three 2017 MCU entries were largely comedies, and all but one (that one being Spider-Man: Homecoming) introduced some of the cruelest and strongest villains in the MCU to date. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's Ego is a brutal, murdering traitor who seeks the assimilation assimilation of all of creation and has killed millions of his own children. He's the one responsible for killing Meredith. Enslaving Peter as a battery after betraying his trust, he destroys his Walkman and then proceeds to mercilessly attempt to murder the other Guardians, including Groot, who is A BABY. Deeming him a "jackass" would be downright charitable. Thor: Ragnarok has Hela, the Goddess of Death and Thor's estranged elder sister, capable of raining down thousands of blades on her enemies and raising the dead. This allows her to quickly dispose of the Warriors Three, without anyone noticing, and then slaughter most of Asgard. In the past, she conquered the rest of the Nine Realms, killing off much of their populations, including nearly the entire order of the Valkiryor, leaving only one survivor. Surtur, a terrifying lava monster god, is no slouch in this department, either (other than being voiced by Mr. Krabs himself.)
    • To a lesser extent, there's Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, a master thief obsessed with shrinking technology, to the point he kills a henchman using this in a quite disgusting way, along with several innocent sheep. He also plots to sell his technology to HYDRA, grinning all the way. He even threatens to kill Cassie in the end. His death is pretty unpleasant too, but well-earned. The sequel adds the Ghost, who seems to be even viler than Yellowjacket. Emphasis on the "seems" part, as she's actually an Anti-Villain who needs to do what she's doing to survive. Mind you, she Would Hurt a Child and whatever else she has to to accomplish this goal.
      • The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming is a subversion; despite his dark presence, he is ultimately an Anti-Villain, fitting the light-hearted film.
        • Played straight, however, by Mysterio in Far From Home, who torments Peter Parker with visions of a decomposing Iron Man and an entire army of himself, amongst other things, pushes him into the path of an incoming train, orders drone strikes to kill as many people as he can while running a phony Monster Protection Racket to make true superheroes unnecessary, tries to specifically seek out and kill Peter's innocent friends with drones, threatens to dispose of his own minions using the drones as a testing exercise and that's not even going into what happens in The Stinger.
  • Ralph and Ira from Romancing the Stone are quite incompetent... but Zolo is NOT. This sadistic and cruel asshole is shockingly serious and frightening for an 80's family movie.

Live Action TV

  • Even though Seinfeld is not exactly a cheerful show (it's actually quite cynical), Joey "Crazy Joe" Devola still adds a surprising dash of darkness to it. If Elaine continued dating him past the episode "The Opera", he probably would have been a full-fledged Token Evil Teammate.
  • An in-universe example appears on Star Trek: Voyager with the Show Within a Show The Adventures of Flodder, a series of fantasy holonovels for children. One of the titular adventures involves a character called the Ogre of Fire, who shows-up, vaporizes the main character in front of the child's eyes, and then torches the setting to the ground.
  • Yogoshimacritein in Engine Sentai Go-onger. Not only is he more evil than his son, but he's also a very Bad Boss, killing off his two minions once they double-cross him to help the Go-Ongers. He also has access to a device that deletes people from existence. Although, he's nowhere near as dark as his American counterpart Venjix, whom was from an a very non-saccharine show to begin with.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze--a High School version Kamen Rider penned by the same guy who made Gurren Lagann--seems cheerful, right? Wrong. The monsters, known as Zodiarts, are actually fellow students--many of them having lots of psychological issues--alongside the teachers who actively are giving them the means to become evil.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers introduced Lord Zedd in season 2 to pull this off, but he was toned down from there. Season 3 also introduced Master Vile. Many of the later villains (often from seasons that were pretty damn dark to begin with) are darker still. Notable examples include;
    • Darkonda and Dark Specter (the franchises's biggest and most permanent Knight of Cerebus duo coming off the heels of the goofy Turbo).
    • Queen Bansheera was a cruel ruler who obsessed only on restoring her kingdom and punished anyone who failed her, even her own son. When he was seemingly destroyed, she laughed it off, something even the demons who hated him were unsettled by.
    • Master Org hails from a season that featured an armadillo Zord that was used as a soccer ball, a comic relief villain duo reforming, etc. He's also the first villain in the series to get away with onscreen murder of humans that was never undone (And said humans? The Hero's parents. Who once were his friends and companions.).
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder has a breezy reunion show vibe, with Tommy Oliver returning as The Mentor. Its Big Bad Mesogog is one of the most serious villains in the franchise, what with planning to mutate the entire human race into beings like himself and Mind Raping his subordinates for the slightest failures.
    • Madame Odius (from Ninja Steel, a season that featured fart jokes and a game show motif) regularly backstabs every minion and acquaintance she has, leading to all of them dying.


  • Arsenic and Old Lace is mostly a lighthearted "comedy of murders", but more or less treats the character Jonathan Brewster as a completely serious and frightening villain. He's indicated to be a prolific murderer with a love of torture, and it's clear that he's been this way since he was a child, since his hobby then was torturing his brother by putting needles under his finger nails.

Video Games

  • The Kirby series is set in a Sugar Bowl. The main villain, Dark Matter, is an Eldritch Abomination who appears in a multitude of disturbing forms. These include Zero from Kirby's Dream Land 3, the boss of Dark Matter who cuts its own iris and bleeds as an attack, and later it rips its own iris out. It is reincarnated as 02 (pictured) in Kirby 64, a creepy angel thing with a blood-dripping eye.
    • Another is Marx, first appearing to be cute jester-like creature balancing on a ball, he manipulates the Sun and Moon to fight and sends Kirby to stop them as part of a plan to wish for ultimate power. He is killed but his grotesque soul appears as a Bonus Boss.
    • Kirby Mass Attack has Necrodeus, the monster that split Kirby into ten pieces, and the Skull Gang, his minions.
    • It's been pointed out that very disturbing final enemies make a great deal of sense in Kirby: he lives in Dream Land. What would be the villain of Dream Land other than something out of a nightmare? One of them is even called "Nightmare".
  • Earthbound combines this with Mood Whiplash, in the final fight, in what had started as a funny and lighthearted game, with Giygas, a horrible Eldrich Abomination with more than a few similarities to Azathoth that you cannot defeat in the normal manner and whose attacks are so powerful your mind cannot comprehend them, but the fourth wall doesn't protect him from you
    • In Mother 3, there's Porky Minch, who corrupted an entire village's way of life, hideously warped innocent animals into his Chimeras (which by the way were responsible for the death of Flint's wife and Lucas' mom) and killing Lucas' brother and brainwashing him into his puppet. All of that was done so that he could destroy the world BECAUSE HE WAS BORED!
  • Real Overlord Zenon in Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories even has her own ominous leitmotif. She's made even more horrifying in the infamous worst ending, where she body-hops to Adell and devours his little brother and sister off-screen.
  • NiGHTS Into Dreams has a relatively cutesy and bright-colored aesthetic to it (much like Kirby, but to a lesser extent), but the bosses, in addition to being (arguably) the most difficult parts of the game are Eldritch Abominations. that look like something out of a Tim Burton movie.
  • Dragon Quest often uses this trope. While the games are rather cheerful and comedic, there are villains that are legitimately frightening. There are demon lords such as Mortamor, Ogrodemir, and Rhapthorne, and other villains such as the Gloomnivore or Bishop Ladja. Even a human villain King Godwyn is just as frightful as these characters. There are villains that are very much sympathetic and/or change their ways, but this trope is still abundant.
  • All the Mario villains appearing in the RPGs. You've got the Omnicidal Maniac of Dimentio in Super Paper Mario, the super-creepy Cackletta in Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, the weapons crazed Smithy in Super Mario RPG, the force of evil that's Dark Star in Mario and Luigi Bowsers Inside Story, the demonic Shadow Queen in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, the invading Shroobs in Mario and Luigi Partners In Time... That's a fair amount of disturbing villains in the otherwise quite light-hearted series. Even Fawful has his moments in Bowser's Inside Story when he awakens the Dark Star.
    • Smithy in particular set the standards as the villain of the first Mario RPG. After traversing the Mushroom Kingdom which as to be expected is bright, colorful and full of wacky and strange find the portal to Smithy's realm and find it a dark, gloomy, mist-covered factory full of machines and ghosts.
    • Hell, Arch Enemy Bowser sometimes counts underneath all the ham. He is Great Demon King Koopa after all, and can cause major damage when he's actually trying. He tries on two separate occasions to remake the universe in his own image, which is exactly what Dimentio wanted to do, but old Bowser did it by stealing from God with nothing but his Airship fleet and his army. Dry Bowser is him resurrected as a huge demonic skeleton. And of course, there's Giga Bowser....
    • Super Mario Odyssey has the Lord of Lightning/Ruined Dragon, a realistically-rendered dragon who levelled an entire kingdom. The Mecha-Wiggler counts too.
  • Toontown Online takes place in a world of cheerful cartoon characters in an equally cheery setting. The cartoon characters in question are rather comedic. But all is not well with it. The evil Cogs wish to take over Toontown and make it a place of misery. Their headquarters are surprisingly frightening, and their leaders are giant robots without any sense of humor.
  • Cuphead has the Devil, who intends to reap Cuphead and Mugman's souls if they don't help him collect the souls of his debtors. If Cuphead and Mugman decide to hand over the contracts, he'll make them into their servants (as well as Ms. Chalice if you have the DLC). On the subject of the DLC, there's also Chef Saltbaker. One wouldn't expect a chef to be particularly scary, but Cuphead manages to make Chef Saltbaker a legitimately scary villain...once he's revealed to be the villain, that is.
  • Cave Story is a pretty cheery-looking game with Ridiculously Cute Critters, a Quirky Miniboss Squad with a memorable Catch Phrase and a main character who's pretty much Badass Adorable incarnate. And you're facing a Mad Scientist who is irredeemably evil.
    • It gets even creepier when you enter the Brutal Bonus Level. Ballos is not only creepy, but his story is really depressing. He destroys the kingdom because he went insane from torture.
  • Darkrai, the main villain of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series games. Prior to the second game's events, he steals artifacts responsible for the balance of the universe as an attempt to destroy both space and time and in the process, he makes one of the gods evil and crazy, then he wipes the hero(ine)'s memory clean and turns him/her into a Pokémon. Later, when this doesn't work, he decides that the easiest way to get rid of his aforementioned archnemesis is to make him/her commit suicide! Is also a textbook case of Adaptational Villainy as well, as in the main games, it is implied that Darkrai's inflicting nightmares on others was closer to a defense mechanism than genuinely malicious.
    • Not to say the main games aren't proofed against this trope, either. On one hand, you have Ridiculously Cute Critters in beautiful grassy fields. On the other, Jerkass rivals, mafia goons, menacing godlike Legendaries, and... emotionally repressed (and hateful of living spirit in general), omnicidal Cyrus, murderous misanthrope Purple Eyes, and the atrocious cabinet of mind-rapists known as Cipher, who at points almost reach Pokémon Adventures villain levels of harsh; not only in terms of pure evil alone for the latter, but in how willing to not sugarcoat the whole thing the game is.
    • Ein is vile even by Cipher standards! He performs horrific experiments on Pokémon to turn them into Shadow Pokémon and wants to make it impossible to turn them back to normal. His boss Evice isn't too far behind, though. The sequel also features Ardos, a fanatic that advocates blowing up his organization's base along with Michael and all the loyal staff just to escape, and in the post-game he reveals that he plans to revive Cipher and declares Michael his biggest enemy.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon deserves special elaboration, because it is significantly upbeat and happy, even for this franchise, and yet it also contains Lusamine who is a MASSIVE Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and of the most insane villains the series has ever had, even without the possibility of her obsession with the Ultra Beasts leading to the destruction of at least one alternate universe, and their lack of giving a damn. She freezes the Pokemon she loves so they'll stay the same and be on display for her forever. She also abused both of her children (micromanaging every aspect of their lives and declaring she had no children when they ran away with the Pokemon she'd been performing cruel experiments on to achieve her goal of entering Ultra Space), and in the game's climax, tries to crush her daughter Lillie underneath her newfound tentacles when she merged with Nihlego. It's softened somewhat when it turns out she was inhibition-nullified thanks to the aforementioned Nihlego's neurotoxic venom. Guzma and Plumeria, on the other hand, are more of what you'd typically expect in a Pokemon game, as is Faba. In US/UM, Lusamine is toned down, but the game is also overall darker, meaning she fits better there, but this is still played straight with Necrozma below and The return of nearly EVERY SINGLE PREVIOUS VILLAIN Her manga counterpart is even nastier, by the way.
      • The Ultra Beasts themselves are frightening Eldritch Abominations from the depths of Ultra Space with gravely destructive powers. Only ONE kind of Pokeball can safely contain these horrors, and it is inferred that one of them, Guzzlord (an obese dragon with a massive mouth), devoured a Faller. UB-01, Nihelego, in particular is the main reason Lusamine became evil to start with, due to its inhibition-nullifying neurotoxin. They're scary as hell even by Legendary standards.
        • Necrozma is the apparent commander of the Ultra Beasts, and is a parasitic, light-eating monstrosity resembling a twisted and deformed dragon that forcibly merges with Solgaleo/Lunala, and one of the few Pokemon to be portrayed as truly evil, and the only one in the main series. Until the post-game, of course...
      • The prior game's Lysandre as well, to an even greater contrast with the game's tone. His plan is to create a massive death-ray weapon to wipe out everyone he considers imperfect from the planet. He considers humans an inherent plague upon the planet, so his ray is aimed at most of humanity. He writes his victims off as "not being beautiful" as his deadly plan enters motion. Sound familiar? Well, at least he doesn't abuse his children (he doesn't have any), but he still stalks the player's every move using a high-tech communicator, and plans to drain the energy of Xerneas/Yveltal to power his death ray. The rest of the game is a cheerful Breather Episode between the previous and successive generations (bar the whole AZ and Floette subplot) set in an idyllic region and it too is tied into the WWI allegory that emphasizes this madman's fear factor. His henchman Xerosic is no laughing matter either. Lysandre's also the first main series villain to die. His battle theme even starts with the sound of a gun cocking.
    • Hi, Ghetsis. Especially when this child-murdering, abusive, deceitful sack of shit decides that he wants to rule over all of creation and become a god. He's already tried to murder the player by sticking icicles into them, micromanaged every aspect of N's life since INFANCY (Lusamine only did this quite a bit later into her children's lives), froze over Opelucid City in an attempt to make sure the region, and eventually the world, bows to him, and then he goes after the defenseless Lillie to murder her with his bare hands. By the end of it all, he borders on Digimon villain levels of sheer brutality, as even his Pokémon appear to hate him (his Hydreigon knows Frustration, which hits at MAXIMUM POWER). Even his henchmen are intimidating and not very funny, from the cold-hearted scientist Colress, to the creepy, cult-like Shadow Triad. All this without a tragic backstory, unlike several of the others mentioned here. His motives are completely selfish and out of a sick sense of sadism and entitlement to the world. It is little wonder he is considered the single darkest villain in all of the main series Pokémon games, one of the darkest in the entire franchise, and one of the darkest villains in Nintendo history.
    • Let's not let the one who started it all, Cyrus, off the hook. While nowadays he's considered standard-fare for the franchise, his first appearance was quite a shock compared to any past villain. Rewriting the universe? Making yourself king of existence? Killing all emotions? That's FUCKING sick!. Not to mention we also met Giratina, the Pokémon equivalent of the Devil, in that game, which introduces itself through a pretty frightening intro.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series takes place in a dreamlike environment with mostly cute characters...but occasionally has genuinely creepy enemies. The Dark Passage level from the first game is rife with these as is Haunted Towers. The Metropolis level from Spyro 2 is a rather jarring break in an otherwise cutesy game, with its psychotic cows in space suits who stare angrily and shoot you, as well as exploding pigs who come flying at you out of nowhere (and they will always hit you unless you kill them first). The robotic sharks in water levels are horrifying, especially when you try to go in there without a submarine (you are killed instantly). And also there are levels where plants can eat you. There are quite a few bosses who are pretty unnerving as well.
    • The Sorceress in 3, who steals all the baby dragon eggs because she wants to kill them and use their wings for an immortality spell. Yikes! No wonder her Dragon did a Heel Face Turn after she found out! Scorch, the 3rd boss, is pretty damn creepy as well, being solely created for the purpose of brutally murdering the heroes.
    • Granted the manner the Sorceress reveals her evil plan fails to be that terrifying at all...

 The Sorceress: What did you think I was going to do with all those eggs? Put them in a zoo?

  • "Mook in the background giggles quietly"
  • Wario Land 3 has enemies and bosses typical of the series... and then there's Rudy the Clown, who turns this Up to Eleven via Interface Screw and sudden subversion of a core game mechanic. Not only is he a powerful and hideous demon (blood-red teeth and Evil Laugh not shown) who becomes even more disturbing when he Turns Red, but he's the only thing in the game that can actually kill Wario, and the game auto-saves if he does. Fortunately, all this does is let you skip the cutscene before the fight next time, and most consider him an Anticlimax Boss once you know how to dodge his lethal attack.
    • The DS entry "Master of Disguise" introduces us to an even darker villain... Terrorimisu, an evil demon sealed thousands of years ago that brought ruin to an entire kingdom.
  • Kane in Pirate101 might be in a very lighthearted game, but wouldn't be out of place in a M-rated game. He betrays his father and locks him up, uses a mechanical army to control many planets (including Valencia), enslaves the common people on Valencia (and makes the guinea pigs a slave race) in Valencia, GRINDS ISLANDS WITH PEOPLE ON THEM TO DUST FOR RESOURCES FOR HIS ARMY, throws out his own "son" Phule for being a failed creation, shoots his own father and is downright gleeful about it while mocking the protagonist about it, and tries to genocide the ENTIRE SPIRAL out of nothing but a superiority complex and the desire to find El Dorado and make himself a "perfect body". DEAR GOD HE IS DARK.
    • Heck, the whole Armada is this. As a whole, nothing about them is Played for Laughs and their appearance is always a serious problem in the story. Captain Avery calls them "heartless, soulless, ruthless" and the play explaining their backstory shows them BURNING VILLAGES AND CITIES TO THE GROUND. The ones who actually talk have a chilling voice and always give intimidating death threats before they fight you. The way they walk and act without emotion is also rather chilling.
    • Let's not forget about Kane's court of Elites. Deacon is the Big Bad for the first half of the game and is always a Faux Affably Evil and very dark villain due to his narcissism. Rooke (the only one with redeeming qualities) is a terrifying behemoth who is extremely difficult to beat, has a dark voice that makes him the stuff of nightmares, and comes close to killing Admiral Nelson twice. Bishop is the least dark of them, though still counts due to having little care about killing thousands to million of Marleybonians with the Beachhead Station. Phule isn't one and is more of an Affably Evil Woobie.
  • A Hat in Time is the type of game where the enemies wouldn't seem out of place with Mario or Sonic. Then you get to Queen Vanessa's Manor in Subcon Woods and wonder, "When did I start playing Silent Hill?" A thing like Queen Vanessa does not seem like the type who belongs here, being a dark, evil shadow who relentlessly stalks and hunts Hat Kid, her mere presence when she doesn't know where you are being chilling, let alone when she does. Even worse, there's no way to fight her, the only true way for Hat Kid to survive being to run for her life.
  • Puyo Puyo:
    • In Puyo Puyo N Doppelganger Arle is the other half of Arle's soul who seeks to replace her. Her backstory is quite another deal.
    • Puyo Puyo Chronicles repeats this with Rafisol.
    • The original Madou Monogatari series had even nastier villains: Fudoshi, Dark Matter, Phantom God, Yoggus...
  • Clockwerk in the Sly Cooper series. The series is rather lighthearted Science Fantasy world of sentient animals and daring gentleman thieves. Clockwerk, despite having a sci-fi death ray, has a realistic Non Standard Character Design and a full on Knight of Cerebus, being nothing less than a dead serious version of a serial killer.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The 1949 Porky Pig cartoon "Bye, Bye Bluebeard" had a Serial Killer (that's right, a serial killer) named Bluebeard who would likely have given most of today's children nightmares. Forget the fact that he was hideous, stood 6' 11 tall, actually had a long, blue beard, and the most nightmarish Evil Laugh in Looney Tunes history, he nearly decapitated poor Porky using a homemade guillotine; Porky was saved when a mouse (who Porky had been chasing earlier) tricks Bluebeard into eating some bombs disguised as popovers, causing the villain to explode. It's little wonder that this was one of the few times a character's death in Looney Tunes had no comedic postscript accompanying it, like say, an angel or ghost leaving the body. He was that vile.
    • There's also Lawyer Goodwill from "The Case of the Stuttering Pig", another very menacing villain for his era.
  • Care Bears, of all franchises, tends to have this in spades, what with Professor Coldheart, the Spirit in the Book, Dark Heart, No-Heart and others all dedicated to the removal of any ability to feel emotion.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode Cleanliness Is Next To Impossible where a creature named Crud (voiced by Jim Cummings using his Robotnik voice from the Sonic the Hedgehog SATAM show) imprisons Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger and then tries to force Christopher Robin to help him make the rest of the world dirty by saying "If you don't, YOU'LL NEVER SEE YOUR FRIENDS AGAIN!". Granted, by normal standards this hammy cartoon blob is not much worse or creepier than most Disney Afternoon villains, but he's much more so then you'd expect from one of Disney's lightest and softest universes.
  • My Little Pony has such characters as Tirek (a demon centaur who wanted to turn the ponies into an army of demonic dragons with his "Rainbow of Darkness"), Katrina (a catwoman sorceress who plotted to enslave the ponies into gathering ingredients for her Fantastic Drug of choice, "witchweed potion"), Squirk (a tyrannical sea monster who wanted to reclaim part of his undersea kingdom by flooding Dream Valley), and The Smooze (an all-consuming blob monster unleashed by a Card Carrying Villainess and her bumbling daughters). The G1 continuity has a lot of villains who came close to enacting a Sugar Apocalypse.
    • Crunch the Rock Dog, a huge dog made out of stone that hates all things soft, and has the power to turn anything he touches to stone, and turn normal rocks into sharp-toothed monsters to stalk his prey. The way he and his rock minions chased after the Bushwoolies, turning them to stone one by one, seems right out of a horror movie.
    • While most villains in the series turned good, were arrested, or simply fled when defeated, two of them (the aforementioned Tirek and the magma-creature Lavan) were so evil and powerful that the heroes actually had to kill them. This is notable not only because a series based on something as innocent as the My Little Pony toys would probably be the last place anyone would expect to see someone die, but also because characters being killed of was something very rare to see in any TV cartoon in the 1980's.
  • The G4 series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, has Nightmare Moon, sister of Princess Celestia who, in a fit of envy, plotted to bring about The Night That Never Ends (which according to Word Of Faust would have killed all life in Equestria).
  • The Powerpuff Girls
    • Him, one of the scariest (and daring) villains on a Cartoon Network comedy ever, even turned Townsville into a living hell on earth when the girls accidentally traveled forward in time.
    • A soundalike bear from The Teletubbies must be also vile out of universe.
    • At least Him has comedic traits. Dick Hardly, however? Dear GOD.
  • Father from Codename: Kids Next Door. A shadowy figure with control over fire, who brainwashed five children into thinking they were his/being evil? Add that to the fact that he is always beaten by the skin of everyone else's teeth and you've got a very threatening villain for such a harmless show.
    • And then once Father went through massive Villain Decay, The Movie gave us Grandfather, Father's demonic father (and Numbuh ZERO's), who possesses many of Father's abilities as well as the ability to turn all the people in the world into undead senior citizens. It is established he formerly ruled the world with his dark power.
    • A comparatively minor example, but Nurse Claiborne counts too. She shreds Rainbow Monkeys into breakfast cereal and tries to do the same thing to Numbuh 3, with a Slasher Smile on her face.
      • Same with Chester, who is willing to feed children to sharks and trap them in a never-ending dream world. The Galactic KND also count. They perceive adulthood as a disease and deem the Earth expendable.
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries has the shockingly evil Averrici, who made a deal to the devil (as he was a massive shopaholic), who in exchange for having his own desires granted, would provide the Devil with souls of innocent people. He also turned people into mannequins.
  • Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons has always been distinctly darker than anybody else in a cast of hundreds. Especially prevalent in the classic "Cape Feare" episode where he forgoes evil plans and just tries to slice Bart to pieces with a machete, crouched and approaching with dark rings under his eyes...
    • Perhaps to balance it out, the Sideshow Bob episodes were also frequently Denser and Wackier, even during the show's earlier more "down to earth" depiction. In the same above stated episode, Sideshow Bob was driven through a cactus patch, walked through a pile of rakes and trampled by circus elephants. He later sings the entire score of H.M.S. Pinafore as a final wish to Bart before attempting to murder him (complete with makeshift props, costumes, an issue of Playbill with his picture on the cover, and a giant Union Flag unfurling behind him during the grand finale).
    • Ironically, there’s Jebediah Springfield. In the eyes of the public, he’s a hero. But when Lisa decides to research him, she discovers the shocking truth about him. Jebediah Springfield was actually a murderous pirate who was evil enough to be considered one of the most evil men of the 17th century. What makes him particularly notable was that he attempted to murder and rob the president, who at the time was George Washington. Oh, and he abuses animals too. He does apparently have some standards as he was against the idea of marrying his own cousins (and Lisa doesn’t find information that would disprove that), but he’s still shockingly evil.
  • While a few of them do play nice, most of the diesel engines in Thomas the Tank Engine are very vocal about their desire to overtake the steam engines and aren't above trying to hurry that day along. At least twice, they've tried to smelt down other engines and escaped any consequences. Diesel 10, their leader, is especially scary, at least in The Magic Railroad. Most Diesels simply wanted to replace the Steam Engines. Diesel 10 wanted to destroy all the Steamies himself. Splatter and Dodge even flagged how unusual it was to have an engine outright say "destroy."
  • Phineas and Ferb is a show that invokes Rousseau Was Right and usually has a Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, which makes the presence of the unnamed Drill Sergeant Nasty in "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" all the more surprising. He spends the entire episode coldly and sadistically pounding out any creativity and happiness from the duo. He even DIES in the end. He's also a literal nightmare, so the show can get away with this.
    • There was also the version of Doof from the second dimension, his wife Charlene, Aloyse Von Roddenstein, Mittington Random, and the freakin' Red Skull!
  • Cracked presents: 7 Badass Cartoon Villains Who Lost to Retarded Heroes.
  • Teen Titans sometimes has this trope. The show itself is usually lighthearted, and most of the one-shot villains are comical (with a couple of notable exceptions)- but lets take a look at some of the Big Bads. Slade is a creepily emotionless diabolical mastermind who pretty much runs on blackmail, Mind Rape, Hannibal Lectures and Foe Yay, and delivers No Holds Barred Beatdowns to several characters in surprisingly vivid fashion. Then there's Trigon, who's basically Satan and wants to use the show's Dark Magical Girl, who's also his daughter, to bring about The End of the World as We Know It- and he actually succeeds in causing Hell on Earth for two episodes. Fun times.
    • Both villains (as well as Brother Blood) were toned down a lot for the cartoon. For much of the '80s, the Teen Titans was one of DC's darkest books. The fact that they were able to make it a kids' show is a feat for the ages.
  • Adventure Time is more of a Crap Saccharine World than a saccharine one (though the characters inside don't seem to care), but most monsters encountered are easily defeated and the common recurring enemy is an Ineffectually Sympathetic Jerkass Woobie, making Marceline's dad, GOLB, and ESPECIALLY The Lich & Dr. Gross still terrifying regardless of all the other nasty things lurking about.
  • The Transformers Animated version of Megatron, given the show's colorful and cartoonish nature.
    • Shockwave, who murdered Blurr in an incredibly horrifying manner, Wasp, being in a continuity where his insanity isn't played for laughs and is completely terrifying for it, and Lockdown, a freelance assassin Transformer who's caused Ratchet to have war flashbacks.
    • Lockdown's whole body is a Swiss Army Weapon whose left arm and leg don't match his right. Why? He butchers other Transformers for their parts to increase his power.
    • Prometheus Black/Meltdown is a rare human example in the series. While the other human villains in Animated are deliberately used as filler and to exemplify the Decepticons as a greater threat, Meltdown manages to be genuinely depraved and terrifying. Case in point - in his second appearance, he was experimenting on humans to try and create human transformers (he'd already done at least two adult humans, one of them his former lawyer, and was planning to use 8-year-old Sari Sumdac as his next test subject).
  • Transformers: Cyberverse has a similar animation style and cartoon-ish nature but make no mistake, the Decepticons, and the Quintessons, never mess around. Plan A is always genocide.
  • The Classic Disney Shorts have The Mad Doctor, who is an evil doctor bent on cutting up Mickey's dog Pluto as part of a lab experiment. Later, he actually threatens to cut open Mickey Mouse himself! Fortunately, he only exists in one of Mickey's nightmares. And because he is so evil, his picture was once even placed on the Complete Monster page for the Disney villains!
  • Zordrak of The Dreamstone. A gargantuan bellowing Eldritch Abomination with a serious Hair-Trigger Temper that frequently abuses or even exterminates his Slave Mooks the Urpneys for the slightest irritance. While also managing to be rather funny, he's a pretty creepy guy, even when not compared to the cutesy residents of the Land Of Dreams.
  • Gargamel of The Smurfs qualifies for this designation, though not always. Other villains on the show were even darker than Gargamel was.
  • Dr. Blowhole in The Penguins of Madagascar. In his debut episode he planned on flooding the world, just because of all the embarrassment humans put him through when he was a circus dolphin. And in his second appearance, he intentionally meant to drown Skipper when he gave him amnesia. And that, after his first appearance, some of the other episodes went through Darker and Edgier territories.
  • A Finnish Children's show called The Moomins stars a family of cute claymation hippos--occasionally visited by some void/plague/death incarnation that can apparently kill things just by standing near them. It also moves like some kind of demon ghost.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy has Eddy's brother. Sure, the show itself was a Sadist Show, but everything that happens to the Eds up until his appearance is played for laughs and could be considered lighthearted enough. Come the end of the movie, this guy manages to genuinely harm both his own brother and Edd, and he's been abusing the former for years. What all the typical bullies in the show witness him doing is horrific enough for them to redeem themselves and accept the Eds as their friends once and for all.
  • XANA from Code Lyoko: the show takes place in a college that appears to be a rather light-hearted, comical setting, with a ridiculous gym teacher, a Lovable Alpha Bitch and characters making jokes, but as soon as XANA starts acting, we suddenly get stuff such as Killer Wasps/Rats/Birds invasions, Giant Destructive Teddy Bears, place where Everything Is Trying To Kill You, Zombie Apocalypse, cataclysms, Demonic Possession, and the list goes on.
  • Ben 10, especially the original series, is goofy with a Silver Age feeling to it, yet even some of its recurring villains are outright disturbing. (With the exception of Ben 10: Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, which both have creepy sinister villains such as Aggregor and Diagon but are already dark to begin with.)
  • While Courage the Cowardly Dog is pretty creepy and no stranger to Nightmare Fuel, most of the villains have some sympathetic motive or backstory or are otherwise Laughably Evil. But there are some who can take villain level much, much further. In order of appearance:
    • Katz, Courage's Arch Enemy, is simply put one of the most disturbing examples of a sadistic Serial Killer played entirely straight on a kid's show. Never Played for Laughs, his MO is to set up false businesses to lure victims, then murder them in brutal ways when he's done (feeding them to spiders, turning them into appliances and making them fight to their deaths, turning them into candy, etc). And it's heavily implied that the family is the latest in a long line of victims and possibly the only ones to escape.
    • Benton Tarentella, one of the lesser known villains, is a Zombie director who was a Serial Killer when he was alive, murdering people with his partner while pretending to film them. When he died, he still continued his murderous work. His debut episode had him attempt to revive his partner so they could devour Muriel. His second appearance, however, downplayed his vileness.
    • Mad Dog is a vicious gangster who regularly abused his girlfriend Bunny and implied to put her in prostitution. When Bunny's friend Kitty tried to get her away from him, he threatened to kill her. The event traumatized Kitty to the point where she assumed all dogs were evil and took her rage out on poor Courage. Much like Katz, Mad Dog is played completely seriously and is basically a Domestic Abuser played horrifically straight on a kid's show.
    • There's also Fusili, the reptilian carnival magician who's actually a Serial Killer with the MO of transforming victims into puppets. We actually see his body count on-screen and see him do this to Eustace and Muriel. Yeah... Thankfully, he himself is killed by his own trap.
    • King Ramses trumps them all. His hollow, skeletal CGI appearance coupled with a soft, heavenly-toned voice begging for his slab is otherworldly. Just give him the slab already, Eustace for the love of the viewers at least.
    • There are also some other quite intimidating one-off enemies, like the Vikings from the windmill episode and the Queen of the Black Puddle.
  • Dora the Explorer normally only has Swiper, but some of the movie Big Bads qualify. Especially the Witch from "Dora's Fairy Tale Adventure", who put Boots in a never ending sleep (which could have been permanent if Dora hadn’t cured it) For the Evulz and was genuinely evil.
  • In Sonic Boom, Shadow is every bit as brutal as his game counterpart without any of his humanizing traits. In the series finale, he decides to destroy the whole universe over a petty slight. The series is otherwise more or less a sitcom. Metal Sonic also fits to a lesser extent.
  • Lord Dregg in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an alien conqueror played utterly straight with no comedy to offset him. Perfectly willing to set up earthquake machines, destroy countless major cities, teleport pieces of the sun to Earth, turn his enemies into walking nukes, and kill several of his own henchmen.
  • Mega Man Fully Charged, one of the most light-hearted Man of Action programs, presents us with Sergeant Breaker Night, also known as Lord Obsidian, an abusive, manipulative, racist, warmongering, controlling sack of shit for a main villain. His motives are to rile up a war between humans and robots again, via overtaking and overwriting the minds of robots, destroying their personalities, and forcing them to attack mankind, because he believes that humankind has become weak from a lack of warfare, and robots having any purpose other than as tools is an abomination. Every single Robot Master is clearly terrified of him, and he manipulates mankind using his status as a war hero, all while abusing the kidnapped Namagem, turning him against Megaman and traumatizing him for life.
  • IArthur Timothy Read of all shows has a surprisingly scary villain in the episode "To Eat or Not To Eat", which featured Supreme Dog, maker of the highly addictive and possibly even toxic Big Boss Bars (as shown by Dog’s unwillingness to eat one), who ended up getting arrested at the end of the episode.
  • White Diamond in Steven Universe. She's eerily calm and collected and has the horrifying ability to turn someone into a Meat Puppet. When she takes on the role of Big Bad, there's an atmosphere of near-hopelessness and a Near Villain Victory. Hardly something that was expected in a show that preached the values of open communication being able to solve any problem.
  • Horde Prime in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is in a very similar situation as White Diamond. All the other villains had Hidden Depths and eventually made a Heel Face Turn. Prime had none of this, being portrayed as a narcissistic, sadistic sociopath and was the only villain to not be redeemed, being remorselessly killed by She-Ra.
  • Sure, Family Guy is a Sadist Show that revels in Black Comedy but it has some standouts.
    • Jefferey Fecalman. His abuse of Brenda Quagmire is played horrifically straight. As is the fact that he's completely willing to kill Peter, Joe, and Quagmire. Says a lot that some reviewers considered his episode the scariest Halloween Episode of the year.
    • Sonja. The show usually invokes Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male), but not this time. It's made clear that Sonja is a monster who deserves to be locked away for kidnapping, abusing, and torturing Quagmire.
  • Alistair Covax, host of Nighthawks Hideaway, in American Dad!. He plays the horror of being Trapped in TV Land dead straight and is a demon who is fully prepared to kill Stan and Tuttle if they step out of line.
    • Roger, or one of his personas, can sometimes fall into this to move the plot along.