A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusions that following laws, traditions, or codes would
make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conf lict that a chaotic evil villain has. Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies. Neutral evil represents pure evil without honor and without variation.
What does this mean to me?
There are 4 styles of Meutral Evil.
- Type 1 characters are amoral and commit evil for self-serving, but not necessarily malicious purposes. They tend to be in it for money and power but (generally) eschew motives like revenge or sadism, viewing them as barbaric or simply unprofessional, if they regard them at all; that does not mean they’ll always, or ever, stop their bosses, partners or lackeys from indulging in such behavior, though, and they are usually prepared to Kick the Dog or perform Cold-Blooded Torture as a means to an end. Perhaps they are a Punch Clock Villain, or maybe they believe there is Better Living Through Evil, or perhaps they are Blessed with Suck and their talents happen to lend themselves to evil (like, say, a talent for professional hits). Essentially, this is anyone who would be a True Neutral if not for the lack of conscience or empathy, or their practice of putting either aside to further their own ends. A type 1 will either not understand the difference between right and wrong, or understand but choose wrong anyway, perhaps justifying it with Necessarily Evil, or perhaps simply not viewing the whole Good and Evil thing to be of any special importance in the first place. On the other end of the scale, this can ramp up to Scary Dogmatic Aliens or Eldritch Abominations and anyone else operating on Blue and Orange Morality or Above Good and Evil, but who are just culpable enough to still qualify as evil.
- Type 2 characters, in contrast, are immoral and deliberately evil. Egotistical, selfish, malevolent and sadistic, they recognize the difference between right and wrong (at least superficially) and wilfully and gleefully choose wrong. But this does not make them Chaotic Evil, since they get the same amusement from using orderly or chaotic techniques. They are likely to do bad things just For the Evulz. Some are made of Jerk Justifications and try to justify their actions with insincere What Is Evil? or Above Good and Evil arguments; many others are Card Carrying Villains who revel being the bad guy and will boast about all the horrible things they have done or plan to do.
- Type 3 characters on the other hand are egomaniacal; they believe that they are the good, or even The Hero, and evil either doesn’t exist or is whatever they don’t like. These guys might recognize that the rest of the world has different ethical standards from them, but those standards are for lesser mortals and they will obey them only when it is convenient to do so. Often elitist and smug with a grandiose sense of entitlement and self-worth, they often think The Hero thwarts their plans out of jealousy, ignorance or spite and often fail to understand altruism or selfless behavior. They treat the bulk of humanity with indifference if not utter contempt, even if they regard themselves as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, believing themselves to be the center of the world, perhaps sharing it with a handful of semi-worthy competitors and everyone else exists to serve their needs or glorify them. Others don’t care about the common person at all except as means to an end, while some are simply the Misanthrope Supreme and will shut themselves off from the trash that is mankind; or, worse, take a Kill ‘em All approach to Put Them All Out of My Misery. A Type 3 is fully capable of doing heinous or petty things For the Evulz and can be extremely sadistic and vindictive; they just won’t consider such acts to be evil (at least, in general) because they feel they are entitled to do them.
- Type 4 characters are devout- they are actually devoted to the cause of Evil (or similar sinister concept, eg. the Dark Side, Crime, Death etc.) and seek to spread it wherever they go. A Type 4 serves the resident God of Evil, seeks to open the Sealed Evil in a Can, or is the most fervent and sincere follower of the Religion of Evil, as well as actively opposing the forces of Good and going out of their way to do so. Others are more philosophical or political and advocate destructive, bigoted or Straw Nihilist creeds. The nuttiest of this type even believe Good Is Bad And Bad Is Good and think that normal or heroic characters are the true villains while applying Insane Troll Logic to demostrate that the “villains” are actually good. In spite of this servile approach, most are just as selfcentred and egotistical as any other Neutral Evil type; this often manifests in the real or delusional belief that they are “special”- perhaps The Chosen One, the Dark Messiah or even The Antichrist-, and they might view other followers as useful pawns or hated rivals. Some simply become addicted to Black Magic or assign religious meaning to torture and death; others are more mission orientated and come to serve as agents of dark powers or simply try to spread as much misery or death as possible. Though sometimes portrayed as cartooshily evil, the most serious of this type make very dangerous villains, as they truly do Evil for its own sake, and not (just) evil for the sake of themselves.
Examples from media
- Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars.
- Biff Tannen from Back to the Future
- Emperor Commodus as depicted in Gladiator.