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Appearing most often in less realistic spy/action fiction The Nebulous Evil Organisation is the natural enemy of Heroes-R-Us.
Often led by a Diabolical Mastermind, and sometimes developed enough to have its own bureaucracy, It is a vast, deep-pocketed machine with one apparent goal: The proliferation of evil across the globe, maybe with some personal profit on the side.
Like The Syndicate, it has a hand in every conceivable kind of nefarious dealing, from murder to grand robbery to bad traffic. However, its criminal activities have some grand goal, almost always World Domination or The End of the World as We Know It - which is, by sheer coincidence, nebulous enough that nearly any anti-good act can be shoehorned into it. Price-fixing of consumer goods? Fits. Killing political leaders? Fits. Blowing up buildings? Fits. Stealing the gold from Fort Knox? Fits. Attacking the heroes for no stated reason at all? Definitely fits. Expect vast armies of Mooks, a secret underground lair, immense amounts of advanced technology and a clever name.
See also Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy, which the operations extend beyond one single organization.
Anime and Manga
- Team Rocket in the anime. Though some of its individual members do have concrete goals in mind (usually some sort of money-making scheme), but the organization as a whole, particularly its management, falls under this.
- Team Magma/Aqua and Team Galactic also can be classified as this, but those organizations have shifted from the more Syndicate-like criminal organization that Team Rocket was to outright Well Intentioned Extremism.
- The views of Team Galactic might fit more as Utopia Justifies the Means with the leadership sometimes bordering on Omnicidal Maniac.
- Team Plasma are a band of Well Intentioned Extremists who's leader is N seeks to seperate pokemon from humans, but the true mastermind Ghetsis, plan on using the organization so that he can take control over the region.
- Giant Robo's Big Fire, an evil organisation who's only goal is absolute world domination! "Together, allegiance or death! Big Fire!"
- Mahou Sensei Negima: Kosmo Entelecha, enemies of Nagi's group in the past. It wouldn't be quite so nebulous if it weren't Jack Rakan doing all of the explaining. Whenever he goes into the backstory of anything roughly half of it consists of "and then other stuff happened."
- Liar Game's Liar Game Tournament Office. A shady organization out to make a profit, they manage to secure 100 million yen (about US$1.5 million) for each of the participants in the first round...that's US$1.9 trillion.
- Claymore: The Organization. Yes, yes; they are the ones sending out hunters to kill the Yoma, but they also are the ones behind the Yoma.
- The Cutey Honey franchise has Panther Claw, with innumerable guys in spiffy cat masks and cool hats and all manner of typically-female monsters. The original series gave us their goal early on as "the rest of the world doesn't deserve cool stuff, only us!" Different incarnations are different, though: In Cutey Honey the Live, Panther Claw was about making lots and lots of money through outlandishly evil means (sometimes Crazy Awesome, sometimes Nightmare Fuel, but always with a way to directly profit from the plot of the week.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has Galactor.
- Tentai Senshi Sunred features Florsheim, an evil organization of monsters hell-bent on world domination. Step 1: Take out local hero Sunred. Dozens if not hundreds of fights later, Florsheim remains winless.
- At one point another such group, the Devil Eye Army, tries to take over Florsheim's turf. Cue Curb Stomp Battle; Florsheim isn't weak, Sunred is just too damn strong.
- Yami from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. They have their hands from weapon sales to the military.
- Marvel Comics has several: HYDRA, AIM, U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., S.I.L.E.N.T., the Secret Empire, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine, and the Hand being only a few.
- Note that many of these began as branches of HYDRA: Advanced Idea Mechanics, for example, was their original research & development team before they decided to become independent. Apparently Hydra's motto ("cut off one head and two will take its place") applies to their branches.
- For a supernatural flavor, the comic series Nightstalkers had Hydra's Department of Occult Armaments (DOA).
- Mark Waid's Daredevil depicts HYDRA, AIM, the Secret Empire, Black Spectre, and Agence Byzantine as the five cartels that essentially control the global criminal underworld -- and are constantly fighting each other for dominance.
- The DCU, in turn, has the H.I.V.E, SKULL, Scorpio, Shadowspire, KOBRA, and the 100 (later the 1000).
- The most recent version of the Society (formerly the Secret Society of Super Villains) qualifies; the original was a Legion of Doom.
- Astro City has Pyramid, a recurring worldwide organization with an Egyptian theme.
- Sin City has the Colonel's Guild which mostly trains/supplies assassins but is also revealed to have Black Market offerings and be in league with mob-boss Herr Walenquist.
- Parodied with S.O.N.I.C.X from Archie's Sonic X comic. They try to come off as a schemeing, evil organisation but they're really just some guys who don't like Sonic. As things go on they come off as complete idiots.
- Jet Dream has CIPHER, whose symbol is a zero, making it perhaps the most generic organization of its kind.
- James Bond series: SPECTRE - the SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. In the novels, this role was mostly filled by the real-life Soviet organization SMERSH, but SPECTRE showed up late in the series. Probably the ur-example. QUANTUM has this role in Quantum of Solace.
- M.A.R.S. from G.I. Joe the Rise of Cobra.
- Captain America (1990 film): The Red Skull's secret cabal of Corrupt Corporate Executives, General Rippers, and leaders of The Syndicate. It has secretly run the world since The Fifties, and bumps off anyone who gets in its way (including both Kennedys and King).
- The Umbrella Corporation from the Resident Evil movies seem to do little more than make Super Soldier zombies for no apparent reason... even After the End.
- Following the crippling blow that was dealt to them in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, HYDRA of the Marvel Cinematic Universe became this, manipulating the world through various venues in an attempt to control it.
- In the 1990s, The Hardy Boys introduced "The Assassins," a group of Terrorists Without a Cause with hundreds of Mooks and elaborate bases and cloning technology, whose activities tend to enter Bond territory - for instance, the plot to use nuclear bombs to blow up the Ring of Fire volcanoes, reshaping the layout of the Earth's crust.
- The Dresden Files: The Black Council. So far very little is known about it, but it's certainly organised, evil, and particularly nebulous since there's little direct evidence of its existence yet.
- Mark Walden's HIVE Series: "G.L.O.V.E."' from books 9-15. A council of the leading supervillains controlled by the sinister 'Number One'.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events : Though nothing is explicitly stated, heavily implies that the mysterious letters "VFD" refer to the name of an organization that split down the middle into a Hero Secret Service of firefighters and one of these, dedicated in particular to arson. Count Olaf appears to be the group's enforcer, and later on, we meet the leaders...
- In the Replica series, the evil organization known as "The Organization" is constantly trying to capture Amy so they can breed a master race.
- The Shop in Stephen King's Firestarter seems to fall under this category. One of their goals is to create a drug that will turn humans into weapons, and when two of their test subjects have a child together, they are willing to chase them to the ends of the earth to capture her and use her for their own ends. They are so widespread that they have spies in every single town the protagonists flee to. It seems that they have infiltrated every branch of government and they are completely above the law.
Live Action Television
- KAOS of Get Smart.
- THRUSH, from The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
- The Syndicate on the X Files pretty much counts. They meet in various rooms in New York City (and London in the movie) instead of a central base (though they have a lot of secret sinister research labs).
- Chrysalis from The Invisible Man TV series. They were so nebulous that one of the Agency's main goals towards them was figuring out exactly what their goal was.
- Chuck semi-regularly faces off against the mysterious organization known as FULCRUM.
- And of course, it turns out that FULCRUM is only part of The Ring, whoever they are.
- The fourth season's Big Bad is yet another example of this trope, this time called Volkoff Industries. At least this time it seems to be a private rather than governmental actor.
- This trope appears,sometimes to the point of stretching credulity, on all three of the latter J.J. Abrams shows:
- The Alliance of Twelve (which includes SD-6) from Alias.
- In addition to The Alliance, Alias gives us The Covenant, Prophet Five, K-Directorate, the Triad, The Man, and probably several others.
- On Lost, the Others, the Dharma Initiative/Hanso Foundation, and possibly whatever Charles Widmore is involved in halfway fit this trope. Except that it's arguable whether they are evil, and they become very gradually less nebulous as time goes on.
- Fringe: The Pattern (or rather, ZFT (Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie, which translates to Destruction through Technological Progress), massing civilian collateral damage in an effort to wage war with a parallel universe).
- The Company from Prison Break.
- The Drakh from Babylon 5 roughly fit this criteria as they seek to spread evil for no apparent reason.
- The Drakh follow on from The Shadows: They want to make the young races "stronger" through war and conflict. They just have different means and a lot of hate for the races who defeated their masters.
- Defeated? As far as I recall, they were kindly asked to leave. And they only agreed to it if it meant that Lorien would go with them. Defeating hardly came into it, as they and the Vorlons were strong enough to eliminate all present younger races.
- The Drakh follow on from The Shadows: They want to make the young races "stronger" through war and conflict. They just have different means and a lot of hate for the races who defeated their masters.
- Wolfram and Hart from Angel. While at first they just appeared to be a company evil lawyers with ties to the demonic underworld, it was soon revealed the company was pretty much the personification of evil on Earth. Oh, and possibly every other dimension (in slightly different forms) as well.
- In an interesting twist on this trope, Wolfram and Hart doesn't just cause evil---they actually get their power from it, specifically "man's inhumanity to man."
- Every Showa Era Kamen Rider series had a massive organization with worldwide influence and little evidence of what they really wanted to accomplish (other than the fact that it required a lot of death and destruction.) Namely:
- Shocker from Kamen Rider. In Kamen Rider the First, the organization's name is short for the Sacred Hegemony Of Cycle Kindred Evolutional Realm. After their first major defeat at the hand of the Double Riders, the organization was reformed into Gel-Shocker.
- Destron in Kamen Rider V 3.
- Government Of Darkness, often shortened to simply GOD, from Kamen Rider X.
- Geddon and later the Garanda Empire from Kamen Rider Amazon.
- Black Satan, later replaced by Delza Army, from Kamen Rider Stronger.
- Shocker is once again reformed in the form of Neo-Shocker in Kamen Rider Skyrider.
- Dogma Kingdom in the first half of Kamen Rider Super-1, later replaced by Jin Dogma for the second half.
- Gorgom in Kamen Rider Black.
- Shocker reformed twice more as Dai-Shocker and then Super Shocker in Kamen Rider Decade, and returns in Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Super Hero Taisen.
- Because of time travel hijinks, Shocker (established as the very same one from the original series) exists well into the next century in the 40th anniversary film Let's Go Kamen Riders.
- The latest one has to be Foundation X. This group seems to have an over-arching influence over the subsequent series, being the mysterious backers behind Kamen Rider Double's Museum and the Zodiarts, while researching Core Medals.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson works for the Altru Cell Corporation, and later, Goliath National Bank. Throughout the series he makes references to the shady activities his employers are engaged in.
- The United States Postal Service in Seinfeld. Zip codes are meaningless, mailmen steal mail and have never delivered more than 50% of it, the Postmaster General has great power. And they manage to do this despite no one actually needing mail. If Newman is to be believed, they can bully the NYPD into submission.
- The Old World of Darkness had quite a few of these:
- Pentex, from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, was a faceless multinational holding company whose goals were to perpetuate chaos, spread pollution and devastation, and ultimately prepare the charred remains of the earth for their Cosmic Horror overlords.
- The Technocracy, from Mage: The Ascension, was a conglomerate of Mad Scientists, The Men in Black, and Corrupt Corporate Executives who actually were the secret world government in charge of everything. A bit of a variation in that they already feel they control everything, their main goals are to finally crush all remaining pockets of resistance to their control and to completely quash any lingering belief in the supernatural.
- Slightly subverted in own sourcebook, which had rules for Technocratic Player Characters, implied most of the conflict would come from their own superiors instead of their "Traditional" enemies. It also broke the trend by laying out goals, motivations, and concrete plans that were reasonable *if* you accepted their world view as valid.
- Also from Mage: The Ascension: the Nephandi, a group of corrupt and evil mages united mainly in their servitude to demonic beings. Basically, if it involves corruption, seduction or destruction, the Nephandi want a piece of it.
- A few of these exist in the New World of Darkness as well:
- Vampire: The Requiem has both Belial's Brood and VII. The Brood are demon-worshippers and anarchists who believe the Beast is a fragment of divine consciousness imprisoned by Humanity. The best way to get close to the Beast is to do awful, awful things -- which often makes them a pain in the ass for other Kindred, as those awful things will draw attention to them. VII is even more nebulous -- all anyone knows about them is they kill other vampires for some reason. Even attempts to crack into their heads via telepathy only turn up "VII" branded into their minds. There's even a whole book devoted to VII that offers up three different solutions for their origins, and several others are peppered throughout the line.
- Mage: The Awakening has the Seers of the Throne, mages who follow/worship the Exarchs, all-powerful mages who ascended to the Supernal Realms and screwed things up for everyone else in the Fallen World in the process. They believe that magic should only belong in the hands of the worthy ("worthy" meaning "those whose goals align with the Exarchs"), and work to encourage a generally crappy atmosphere in order to discourage uncontrolled Awakenings, mainly through anti-intellectualism, dogmatism, and paranoia.
- T.A.R.O.T. (replacing SPECTRE for legal reasons) in James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty's Secret.
- VIPER in the Champions universe.
- Evil Genius is all about building this kind of organization.
- The imaginatively-named Himitsu Kessha (lit. "secret society") from the Battle Arena Toshinden series.
- Nozomi Corp from Chaos:Head.
- Inferno from Phantom of Inferno. They're deliberately referring to themselves as "Hell."
- H.A.R.M. from No One Lives Forever.
- H.A.R.M is only one of them. There's also Danger Danger. There are a few more organizations named in the various intel items that can be gathered. It's hinted they have a friendly rivalry and take part into various contests against each other.
- Shadaloo from Street Fighter started out like The Syndicate and ended up like this.
- Wario Master of Disguise alludes to this kind of organisation with the company mentioned as owned by Count Cannoli, International Evil Concerns Inc. Although the only thing it's shown to do is built robots to try and kill Wario.
- Cerberus from the Mass Effect games.
- Arachnos in City of Heroes, which is also the government and standing army of a Caribbean island nation, and has every kind of Mook and villain you can imagine. (not to mention it employs all player-created villains) The Council too. (which has a rivalry with Arachnos)
- Also from City of Heroes, the Malta group and the Council. The Malta group has defined goals, though (draconian restrictions on superpowered individuals, or just eliminating them entirely), so they may not count. The Council, on the other hand, is a pretty generic neo-fascist group with no particular goals beyond "be evil".
- The Spy Fox adventure games has the Society for Meaningless Evil Larceny Lying and Yelling. Or, S.M.E.L.L.Y. This causes a bit of confusion when an important item of theirs is found in a trash can.
- Project 0 has the Lancers
- This organization from Megatokyo.
- Nothing nebulous about them. That's Sony, hence the Play Station 2 thing.
- Hereti Corp from Sluggy Freelance lives and breathes this trope. They've been around for most of the strip's run, and we still have very little idea how they plan to take over the world, other than that it involves Oasis, a Dimensional Flux Agitator, and a chain of fast food restaurants.
- The Minion Master arc introduced an international collection of these organizations, the most significantly featured are NoFun Corporation and Crushtro. The Minion Master is as yet still too nebulous (and perhaps too incompetent) to be identified as evil.
- Winston Rowntree details the typical organisation's structure here, including such positions as "evil publicist" and "evil laundry service" as well as the Five-Bad Band.
- The Evil League of Evil in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, ruled by supposed Hellish Horse Bad Horse.
- TAROT, from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. It also qualifies as an Ancient Conspiracy.
- An unknown number in the Whateley Universes, including The Brotherhood of the Bell, and the Thule Gemeinschaft.
- MAD, from Inspector Gadget.
- F.E.A.R., of the 1960's Birdman cartoons.
- The Venture Brothers' Guild of Calamitous intent, in addition to being a Weird Trade Union.
- Also the original incarnation of S.P.H.I.N.X before they were destroyed by the OSI during the Pyramid Wars of 1987.
- G.I. Joe's Cobra and splinter group The Coil.
- VENOM from MASK would be revealed as part of, or eventually allied with, Cobra. All they care to do is various thefts rather than conquest.
- Darkwing Duck's F.O.W.L.
- Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants with E.V.I.L. a.k.a. "Every Villain is Lemons."
- Kim Possible: The Worldwide Evil Empire from one episode, implied to be involved in all sorts of evil from supervillainy to stealing candy from babies.
- Both the HIVE (which includes a supervillain training center, HIVE Academy) and the Brotherhood of Evil on Teen Titans count.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Foot Clan.
- S.C.U.M from James Bond Jr..
- M.A.V.O. (Monsters And Villains Organization) from The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.
- VILE from Carmen Sandiego.
- In The Simpsons episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", Homer is abducted by the baddies from The Prisoner who act like this. One aspect of their master plan is to lace vaccines, administered just before Christmas, with a drug that drives people into a shopping frenzy.
- Hell is often depicted as one of these. Anything that causes human suffering, The Devil is more than happy to throw his weight behind.
- V.E.V.O stands for Very Evil Video Organisation.
- To some, The SOCIETY.