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Faith: Thanks, sugar daddy!

The Mayor: Now, Faith, I don't find that sort of thing amusing. I'm a family man. Now, let's kill your little friend.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Dopplegangland"

Some villains have standards. They might have no problem gunning cops down in cold blood, but they aren't going to do anything to children. Or they might be willing to blow up a city for a holy cause, but not for money. Somewhere they have to draw the line - because, if that line doesn't exist, good and evil cease to have any meaning at all.

And for a handful of villains, that line is, "Anything the Brady kids learned An Aesop about." Yes, these are bad guys who believe in good old fashioned family values. Being a kingpin in the international drug trade might be fine, but giving alcohol to minors, most certainly not! It's their duty as a loyal citizen to show respect and admiration for the local police, but nothing says they can't do that and bribe the cops into murdering their enemies. And, of course, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is strictly prohibited ... unless it's non-consensual, then they can just go wild.

Not all examples of this trope are as self-contradictory as the ones above, though. In some cases, promoting family values may be the reason the villain is doing all these horrible things, making them a Knight Templar. And in other cases, the family (wo)man routine might simply be an act, designed to ensure that they remain a Villain with Good Publicity.

But then again, some just don't seem to see anything odd about speaking an arcane ritual to summon horrific demons into the mortal plane, then lecture some kids about saying "darn" instead of "damn." [1]

Needless to say, the trope carries its own dose of Unfortunate Implications, especially in a society that is still learning to accept non traditional gender roles and relationships. When used badly, it could lead to the conclusion that supporting family values is a bad thing. Unless that is the author's actual intention.

Compare Straight Edge Evil and Evil Virtues. Contrast with Moral Dissonance or Values Dissonance, where an ostensibly family-friendly character can unintentionally appear villainous to some.


Examples of Family Values Villain include:


Anime and Manga

  • Claude "Torch" Weaver, one of the Carnival of Killers in Black Lagoon is a religious man who won't touch alcohol and is pretty much the only person in the entire cast who never swears. He's also a completely insane Pyromaniac.

Comics

  • In contrast to his mostly depraved and foul-mouthed supervillain colleagues, the Doll-Master in Wanted is very much a Family Values Villain. He's always polite and well-spoken and never swears, and to his family, maintains the image of a normal and wholesome suburban father. Granted, his wife interprets his absences for villainous activities as signs of adultery, and he actually did cheat on her in an expedition to another dimension, but his wholesome persona is pretty much genuine. Shame that he's a ruthless criminal who kills without remorse.
  • While their styles of parenting range from hands off to strict/abusive, the supervillain parents in Runaways maintain normal upper middle class lives when not involved in villainy and have typical expectations of their children being successful and want to make the world a better place for them, and believe they are doing what is best for them... by letting the Gibborim destroy and remake it so their kids can live in paradise. The series is practically the poster child for Even Evil Has Loved Ones / Evil Parents Want Good Kids.

Film

  • A popular trope in gangster movies like The Godfather and Goodfellas. The people involved are murderous assholes of the highest order, but they have a code, and nothing is more important than family.

Literature

  • In Under the Dome Second Selectman Big Jim Rennie is a born again Christian who has refused to swear or drink since his conversion, and believes highly in family unity. That doesn't stop him from being a Complete Monster who plots a hostile takeover of the town, fills the police force with rape-happy Mooks, sets up the largest meth lab in the country, and kills members of his family. It's for "the good of the town," afterall.
  • Dolores Umbridge of the Harry Potter novels seems to be this type of person. No lying, no swearing, and so on. Of course, it's okay for her to lie and so forth because then it's for the greater good.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer villain Mayor Richard Wilkins III is really the pinnacle of this trope. He's made deals with dozens of different demons, founded a town specifically so he could lure in people to be killed by monsters, orders numerous thefts and assassinations (including against newborn infants), and his master plan is to become a giant demon that will devour everyone in sight. But he still believes in setting a good example for the children, is disgusted by "immoral liasons" at the local motel, and his last words to his vampire army before the final battle are, "And boys? Let's watch the swearing."
    • Really, what makes the Mayor interesting is that there's never really any hint that his personality is the mask--it remains consistent throughout, except for a brief, understandable Villainous Breakdown after Buffy puts his Morality Pet Faith into a coma. Unlike many examples of this trope he's not really a Knight Templar or a hypocrite--he's just a generally nice guy whose chief ambition, incongruously, is turning into a gigantic demon snake.
    • In one episode he celebrates an evil scheme well done with a hearty "Gosh I'm feeling chipper! Who's for a root beer!?"
    • When he realizes his plan's gone amok after ascending to demonhood and finding himself face-to-face with a room full of high explosive, his last words and only response is, "Well, gosh."
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine Gul Dukat is this.
  • René Benoit in NCIS.
  • Gustavo "Gus" Fring in Breaking Bad is this to a T. Since nobody save for a select few even knows that he's the biggest meth kingpin in the Southwest, it allows him to put on a perfect Villain with Good Publicity act.
  • The Addams Family aren't really villains (though they do enjoy torturing, and allude to lots of rather nasty things) they are just dark and WEIRD (and kooky and spooky...), but they are very big on family values in almost all media in which they have appeared (values like family, friends, love, mayhem, manslaughter...)
  • In the Japanese series Kamen Rider Double, this was the Nazca Dopant's redeeming quality. He was perfectly willing to sell self-destructive and addicting superpowers to greedy and corrupt adults, but was horrified to find them being given to children as test subjects! Despite being The Dragon at the time, he teams up with Double to save the children. However, Redemption Equals Death his own wife, who remains evil throughout the whole series, kills him.
  • While there is some serious variability in how good they are at it, most of the mobsters in The Sopranos at least attempt to do this.
  • In The Straits, Harry is fine with drug-dealing and creative murder, but draws the line at arranged marriage for his daughter, and dealing in sex-slaves.
  • In the first season of Leverage, a gang boss is very angry when he learns one of his men took a job beating up a priest. He gets the guy to give the heroes the information they want before saying this man's path to atonement is about to begin.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Mob boss "Diamond Jim" Colosimo had no problems running prostitution rings and illegal gambling in Chicago, but when Prohibition went into effect he refused to have anything to do with bootlegging. (Within five months Colosimo was shot to death and his second-in-command Johnny Torrio had moved into alcohol smuggling, but that would be another trope.)
  • A lot of mob bosses are like this. Little Italy in New York used to be one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, because people knew what would happen to anyone dumb enough to knock down a little old lady and steal her purse. A particularly noteworthy example would be Joseph Profaci, the namesake of the Profaci crime family, who once allegedly had a man strangled to death with a rosary for stealing a chalice from Profaci's church.
  • La Familia Michoacana could be the best Real Life example. One of the most brutal drug cartels, obsessed with control of the Mexican state of Michoacán, fond of beheadings, and headed by "El Mas Loco" ("The Craziest One" or "The Maddest One"), they forbid their members from doing drugs themselves and heavily promote (their atypical version of) Christianity. El Mas Loco is also a fan of John Eldredge from Focus on the Family.
  • Mob hitman Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski, who claimed to have committed more than 250 murders over the course of his criminal career, hated working on holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving because he felt it was important to spend them with his family.

Notes

  1. Granted, it could be because they know a thing or two about damnation firsthand and are insulted to hear those young whippersnappers refer to it so triflingly...
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