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Megamind: Oh, you're a villain alright. Just not a super one.

Titan: Oh yeah? What's the difference?

Megamind: PRESENTATION!

In many conflicts between good and evil, who is going to be doing the lion's share of Chewing the Scenery? The villain(s) more likely than not. It's one way they are Obviously Evil and Drunk on the Dark Side.

As for why, it's not known for sure. Maybe it's a reflection of their total lack of inhibitions. Maybe they've decided that since they've already punted a few puppies, called down the lightning, and donned the Spikes of Villainy, they may as well have fun with it. And maybe the moral depravity of their act is balanced by how much fun they are to watch. Or this is used to indicate how Power and Evil feel Good. Whatever the reason, scenery is an important part of every villain's daily balanced breakfast.

That isn't to say the heroes never get to have such moments, but the villains will get the clear majority of them. Of course, when they both do, the awesomeness factor increases tenfold. A Genre Savvy Villain Protagonist will act hammy just because it's expected.

Also, when the villains are pretending to be good guys in some stories, they don't really act hammy, but when they show who they really are, they let loose, almost as if being a Large Ham is their true nature.

Often overlaps with Ham and Cheese.

Contrast Soft Spoken Sadist (the villain is the calmest one in the room).

But if a hero is a Large Ham, or there is a World of Ham, it's not this Trope (unless the villain manages to still out-ham everyone).

Examples of Evil Is Hammy include:


Anime & Manga

  "Why won't you love me?!"

  • General rule in One Piece: The hammier the villain, the more likely they are to be curb-stomped by the Straw Hats. More difficult opponents aren't as hammy. Crocodile wasn't hammy at all (Evil Laugh aside), and was one of Luffy's hardest enemies. Subverted with Oars. Since, well, he was Luffy.
  • The Espada from Bleach were a mixed bag since some (Barragan, Grimmjow, Yammy, Nnoitra, Szayel, Drunk with Power!Aizen) were very hammy and others (Ulquiorra, Halibel, Stark) were much calmer. But once the Vandereich appeared, they started to put on the pork with total and unapologetic gusto.
  • Piedmon, in the dub of Digimon Adventure/


Comicbooks


Fan Fiction


Film

 Lois Lane: But millions of people will die!

Lex Luthor: BILLIONS! Once again, the press underestimates me.

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: "I'm just a Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvaniaaaaaaa..."
    • Come to think of it, 90% of Tim Curry's roles fall under this. If he's playing a villain, it's a good chance it'll be a an awesomely hammy performance. Tim Curry does not know any other way to act other than completely over the top, chewing every piece of scenery in sight. And we love him for it.

 "Excuse me, sir!! Do you have Prince Albert in a can?? YOU DO?? Well, ya better let the poor guy out!"

  God... is an absentee landlord!

 "You Fool!! You fail to realize that, with your armor gone, my ship will tear through yours like tissue papaer."

"Prepare a tear-harness! For the Female."


Literature

  • Visser Three in Animorphs. While thought-speak can be directed at one, several, or even everyone in range, the Visser is CONSTANTLY BROADCASTING HIS PRESENCE to all, including his enemies. In fact, in the whole series (when in an Andalite body), he speaks to one person at a time a grand total of ONCE.
  • Averted by Lily Weatherwax in Witches Abroad; she's actually somewhat menacingly toned down. What makes this instance notable, though, is the way her sister, Esmerelda "Granny" Weatherwax, reacts; the very fact that Lily isn't Chewing the Scenery enrages her as much as all the damage she's done to innocent lives over the years. Lily went off to be the bad sister, leaving Esme to be the good one, but Lily spent the whole time deluding herself that she was the good one, so even though there was no doubt which sister she was, she never took the opportunity to enjoy it. To Granny this is almost as bad as denying Esme the choice in the first place.
  • Venandakatra the Vile in the Belisarius Series. He is a devotee of every vice known to man, and some that haven't been discovered to this day. He loves hurting people, except when they fight back. He wages war by pitching an array of tents that are more ostentatious and less tasteful then the palaces of more Modest Royalty and then makes guarding his comfort a primary objective of his campaigns. He has the most expensive feasts constantly dumped into his mouth and he treats slave girls much like food, to be consumed and the husks discarded; and sex to him is no fun unless combined with torture. The book also makes a point of mentioning that he is called The Vile and not The Cruel because the latter might imply respect. In general, the chief pleasure a reader takes in his character is that it is almost impossible to imagine someone so extravagantly and flamboyantly evil - even if we know such people exist in Real Life.
  • Kerrigor in The Old Kingdom. "Blood for the breaking!"
  • Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune.
    • Ian McNeice definitely shows it in his portrayal of the baron in the miniseries.
  • Invoked in The Tamuli when the normally restrained Sir Bevier goes undercover at the villain's camp as a mercenary. He attempts to appear "dangerously competent" but his stage training takes over, and as a result he ends up looking like a homicidal maniac and leaves the entire camp terrified of him.


Live-Action TV

  • Although William Shatner usually negates this trope since he's the hero, when Captain Kirk was split into good and evil selves in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within", the evil side was much hammier.

  "I'm Captain Kirk! I'm Captain Kirk! IIIIII'M CAPTAIN KIRK!"

    • He does it again when we briefly see the evil Mirror Universe Kirk in "Mirror, Mirror".
    • Same goes for every character in the mirror universe episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. Most of the actors were at near-Shatner levels of hamminess even during the normal episodes, but their evil counterparts take things Up to Eleven.
    • Mirror Universe episodes of Deep Space Nine were the same, and "Our Man Bashir", had Avery (Sisko) Brooks making a meal of the holographic scenery as a James Bond-style Super Villain.
  • Any Doctor Who villain worth his or her salt. But DAAALEKS ARE-SUPERIOR-HAMS-TO-THEM-AAALL!.
    • NO ONE! OUT HAMS! DAVROS!!!
    • The Eighth Doctor, in the Big Finish audios, functions as almost a controlled experiment in this trope. When he's himself, he's quite soft-spoken (so you turn up the volume). Then if he gets turned evil, he has No Indoor Voice (and you scream and fling your mp3 player of choice as he assaults your ear drums when he turns up the volume too).

 I AM BECOME ZAGREUS![1]

  • Most incarnations of The Master serve up large slices of ham, notably John Simm, Anthony Ainley, and (in spoof "The Curse of Fatal Death") Jonathan Pryce.
      • Although he only plays The Master for a few minutes, Derek Jacobi manages to be pretty hammy himself. Quite the change from the mild mannered Professor Yana.
    • The Racnoss Empress in "The Runaway Bride" is truly one of the largest hams the series has ever seen. Catherine Tate, in her first appearance as companion Donna Noble, counters with Ham-to-Ham Combat.
    • The Beast, when he possessed human form in particular, was hammy beyond belief.
    • A villain called Androvax from a species whose hat is Grand Theft Me pays our heroes a visit on The Sarah Jane Adventures. Elisabeth Sladen was clearly having a lot of fun as a possessed Sarah Jane.
    • She's always been brassy, sassy, and flirty, but Brainwashed and Crazy River Song from "Let's Kill Hitler" could stock a deli counter all by her lonesome.
    • Soldeed from The Horn's of Nimon is infamously campy. So much so that his confrontation with Romana has a dance remix. "MY DREAMS OF CON-QUEST!"
    • BY ALL THE MOONS OF CALLUFRAX, YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR FAILURE TO NOT MENTION THE PIRATE CAPTAIN FROM THE CLASSIC SERIES SERIAL THE PIRATE PLANET! MR. FIBULI! MR. FIBULI! WHERE IS THAT NINCOMPOOP, MR. FIBULI?!?
  • The Goa'uld of Stargate SG-1 pretty much had hammy-ness as a species trait. This was justified because all the Goa'uld were egotistical, bought into their own act of playing gods, and based their entire civilization on ruling through fear. Their Cool but Impractical technology, their outfits, and their behavior all went along with this trope. Nothing like a booming "KNEEL BEFORE YOUR GOD!" accompanied with some Glowing Eyes of Doom to get the peasants in line.
    • A Goa'uld could tone it down if it ever needed to pretend to be human, but the hammy-ness returned the instant its true nature got discovered.
    • Case in point:

 Anubis: I am Anubis. Humans of the Tau'ri! Your End Of Days finally approaches! There will be no mercy!

Jack O'Neill: Aw, c'mon. Who talks like that?!

    • The Priors could also ham it up occasionally, especially when quoting the Book of Origin.
  • Invoked in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Duet". A Cardassian assumed the identity of another Cardassian who ran a death camp to make Cardassia admit to the crime. He acted hammy when pretending to be that man, but acted normally when the ruse was revealed.
    • Also, an early episode where Dr. Bashir came down with a bad case of Grand Theft Me thanks to a dying evil space criminal gave Alexander Siddig the chance to let his ham flag fly.
    • And let's not even get started on the holodeck Bond villain played by Captain Sisko, which allowed Avery Brooks to chew up every bit of scenery around him in ways taken Up to Eleven (and obviously had the time of his life doing it.)
  • Invoked in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, where Kimberly is kidnapped, by Zed's minions. They try a failed Hypnotize the Princess spell on her, but she fakes it working by acting like Rita, in all her scenery chewing glory.
    • And let's not forget Rita herself, as her line in the opening of the show proves it:

  Rita Repulsa: AAAAHHH!! After 10,000 years, I'm FREE! It's time to CONQUER EARTH!

      • It's basically required for any Power Rangers villain to be hammy enough to reach Camp status.
    • In addition, Tokusatsu villains in general tend to be like this.
  • Nevel on ICarly.
  • In the 2006 BBC production of Robin Hood, NO ONE chews more scenery than the Sheriff of Nottingham. NO ONE.
  • In Red Dwarf, any of the characters from WaxWorld's "Villain World" qualify. Among the villains are the particularly hammy Caligula and Napoleon.
  • Russell Edgington, Vampire King of Louisiana, in the third season of True Blood. *rips news anchor's spinal cord out, waves it around* "We! Will EAT YOU. AFTER we eat your children! [[[Beat]]] And now for the weather. Tiffany?"
  • In the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer The Master had moments of incredible ham.

  Yes, shake, Earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time is come! Glory! GLORY! *pause* What do you think? 5.1?"

    • And Glory was just made of ham. Seriously, she might not have had a single scene that wasn't gloriously hammy. Overcompensating for your lost hell-empire will do that to you.
  • Babylon 5 invokes this in the Season 4 finale. A future propagandist is using holographic versions of several main characters to engage in some historical revisionism. When Evil Capitan Sheridan is making a speech in front of a group of about-to-be-executed prisoners, Bruce Boxleitner hams it up for all he's worth.
  • In CSI, Nate Haskell hams it up no end at his trial for stabbing Langston. It's clearly the character being hammy, as the actor can do a very good subtly creepy when he wants to.
  • In Kamen Rider OOO, Kougami (an extremely Large Ham as is) makes a Kamen Rider movie in-universe. Everyone playing a villain in the film suddenly becomes a gigantic ham, especially Ankh as the Big Bad, who gives Kougami a run for his money. Of course this might be because he's still kind of a villain anyway.
  • In Smallville Clark would become far hammier whenever he was under the influence of Red K, or switched out for an evil doppelganger. And that's without getting into the series' villains. Between John Glover as Lionel Luthor, James Marsters' terrifyingly cold performance as Brainiac, Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor, Steve Byers' as the ungodly slimy Desaad, and Callum Blue's scenery chewing as the horrifically unstable Major Zod, the show had this trope covered.

  "Unlike you I will lead from a throne, not from the shadows. Everyone on Earth, including the woman you love, will Kneel Before Zod!"

  • Dexter seems to be rather fond of this one for the seasonal Big Bad. Season 3 had Jimmy Smits, season 4 had John Lithgow, and season 6 has Edward James Olmos AND Colin Hanks.
  • Sherlock's Moriarty, to a certain extent. He's very hammy when he feels like it, but is just as good at being calm and creepy when that suits him better.
  • Mister Hyde in Jekyll.


Theater

  • Any Pantomime villain worth his salt.
  • The Wolf from The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf requires a Large Ham, to contrast with his lethargic attorney.
  • Cora in Anyone Can Whistle is a first-class scene stealer.


Video Games

  Kyras: BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THROWN...LET THE GALAXY...BUUUUURRRRRRNNNNN!!!

  • Arius from Devil May Cry. "OH! NO! I was going to be KING of this world!"
    • Arkham and his devil trigger Jester also is a rich source of Ham. With the latter it's intentional, as he tried to act like a fool in order to effectively play the sons of Sparda and Lady against each other. And it could also be a way of unleashing his inner goofball beneath that serious facade.
  • Flemeth in Dragon Age is very hammy when she isn't pretending to be simply a batty old lady, and gets much more so in Dragon Age 2. Being voiced by Captain Janeway really helps.
    • Loghain becomes much hammier after his Face Heel Turn.
    • Though averted for the most part in the first game, since the Darkspawn can't, you know, talk. Until Awakening, when they can talk and get their full opportunity to be hammy.
      • Special mention goes to the ham-tastic Mother.
    • Knight-Commander Meredith in Dragon Age 2 is one of the best examples in the entire series.
      • Not to mention Well-Intentioned Extremist teammate Anders; while he's only hammy in combat (actually, he's usually soft-spoken otherwise), his combat taunts (and screaming) are a bountiful platter of ham.
  • Liquid Snake manages to do this every chance he gets in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Xenosaga gives us Albedo Piazzolla, an incurable muncher, complete with rampant evil laughs at any given opportunity.
  • Vice President RIICHAAARD!! Hawk in Metal Wolf Chaos opened his every appearance with an Evil Laugh and gleefully delivered lines such as...

 RICHARD: "This wild dog of war is on the move, Michael! It'll bite you if you don't move it! It's time for my afternoon tea. There's nothing like sipping some delicious Darjeeling tea...and watching you getting your clock cleaned!"

  • Blaz Blue: Hazama/Yuuki Terumi. Part of the reason he's so Laughably Evil is because his voice actors are clearly having a hell of a time.
  • Sir Richard Hawksmoor in Ghost Hunter. Sir Michael Gambon practically introduces himself with "I want FLESH." An incredible contrast with his role of Dumbledore in the movies.
  • Nergal from the 2003 game Fire Emblem Elibe wasn't THAT hammy until we got to see his disfiguring scar by the end of the game. Then, he unleashed his inner ham and let it run wild.
  • In Starcraft, the Zerg Overmind's first line is: "Awaken, my child, and embrace the glory that is your birthright." Every one of its subsequent lines is equally epic and pompous.
    • "Know that I am the Overmind, the eternal will of the Swarm, and that you have been created to serve me..."
  • Dan Green as Mephiles the Dark is one of the very few good points of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 for precisely this reason.
    • Eggman has always showed spades of this, but in more recent games (especially in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations) he's been invoking this full-on.
  • In Portal, once you escape the fire pit, GLaDOS starts along this path. She really goes to town once you you incinerate her morality core.
    • In Portal 2 Wheatley gains several levels in ham when you yank G La DOS out and plug him in. Apparently, a certain amount of hamminess is literally hardwired into the system.
  • The Sengoku Basara versions of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Ishida Mitsunari. The first is absolutely, baby-eatingly, skull-cup-usingly Obviously Evil, and even has ominous background music and Dramatic Thunder to back him up. And he's voiced by Norio Wakamoto. Hideyoshi is the type to surround three armies at war, and demand ALL of their surrenders at once in a loud voice and with an even louder fist. He then goes ahead and obliges some hotblooded heroes. He also parts the seas. Mitsunari really likes shouting about what he is going to do to his enemies, specifically those who side with Ieyasu. Mitsunari does not say "Ieyasu!" He says, "IEEEYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASU!!!!!!!!"
  • The X-Men arcade game introduces us to MAGNETO, MASTER OF MAGNET! Who wants those X-CHICKEN to know that THEY ARE NOTHING and would like to welcome them TO DIE!!
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: If Cesare wants to live, he lives. If he wants to take, he takes. If he wants you to die, you die, and if he wants to ham, he HAAAAAAAAAMS!
  • The cruelest and evilest of all Suikoden villains, Luca Blight, is also the hammiest, with lots of exclamation marks, distinctive Evil Laugh of "HOO HOO HOO HA HA HA HA HA!!!" and of course his famous last words "It took hundreds to kill me, but I KILLED BY THOUSANDS! LOOK AT ME!!! I AM SUBLIME!!! I AM THE TRUE FACE OF EVIL!!!!! *Evil Laughs to death*"
  • Jegran in Crystal Bearers, after he drops pretending to be good.
  • Barlowe in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia normally speaks with a very neutral and verbose tone. However, once his true colours are revealed, he goes nuts with wild abandon, laughing manically the whole time.
    • And Dracula. In pretty much every game with voice acting.
    • Death from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow simply never shuts up in his 5 minutes hammy speech even though he has been quite normal when he stayed as Zobek, your ally.
  • Lord Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, aka Mr. Furious! OUTRAGED! SICK WITH ANGER!! Zant from The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess is similarly hammy, especially during his Villainous Breakdown. Ganon is also somewhat hammy (literally, in certain situations), but he's rather restrained compared to the other two.
  • Geldoblame, of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, is far and away the hammiest character in the game, and (unintentionally) probably the best-voiced character, just because it's so amusing.
  • The Professor Layton series isn't exactly a World of Ham, often going with one hammed line per game, but it is ALWAYS said by a villain.

 Don Paolo: Heeere I come.... READY OR NOT!

Anton: LAAAYTOOOON!!

Clive: This isn't happening... It can't end this way... IT WON'T END THIS WAAAY!!

 I HONOR my LORD! By DESTROYING YOU!

  • Impales helpless bandit*

THERE CAN BE NO OTHER END!

  Galactic Emperor: MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! PUNY HUMANS, JUDGMENT TIME HAS ARRIVED! I'LL FINISH YOU ALL HERE! FIRST THIS PLANET, THEN THE WHOLE GALAXY! YOU AND YOUR SILLY GOTCHA BORGS WILL BE EXTERMINATED!! MWAHAHAHAHA!!


Web Comics


Web Original

 O'Malley: We want something from you, but we're not going to tell you what it is, until we need it! Huhuhuhuahahahaha!

Church: No way! I'm not agreeing to something without knowing what it is!

O'Malley: Huhuhuhuhuhuh Oh yes you will. You will or your little friend Tucker will die, die a most horrible death. And you know his blood will be on your hands. Years from now, you'll drive yourself mad wondering if there was anything you could have done to save him, so you will agree to what I want. You will agree even though what I want is something mysterious, what I want is something frightening, what I want is something PUUUUUUUUUURE EEEEEEEEEEVIL, AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!

 Dark Chaos: Dark Chaos? My power has become far greater than you can imagine. I am Dark Mayhem now!

Chris: A nut by any other name is just as lame.

  • Pathetic from the french Kingdom Heart saga mp3 parody Kingdom Paf is basically the incarnation of this trope. She acts hammy even when washing her hands, preparing her lunch or playing video games.


Western Animation


Other/Real Life

Notes

  1. The Doctor is never too evil and hammy to make highbrow references.
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