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Not every villain has to sound like one. Perhaps, instead of having a malevolent rasp, a gloating shrill, or a booming baritone, the villain's voice is instead light and low. They don't yell or intimidate, and might not even be impolite - instead they speak with a soft tone that seems unassuming, meek or even kind, with a soft chuckle and a sort of warm energy... hiding the menace within. The end result is something dissonant and creepy, a monster who might describe just how horribly he's going to mangle you, while speaking in a voice that's anything but monstrous.

See also Affably Evil, Faux Affably Evil, Dissonant Serenity, and Creepy Monotone and compare Wicked Cultured. Note that if and when they eventually drop this soft-spoken demeanor, then that's a surefire sign things are going to get worse. Contrast with Evil Is Hammy. OOC Is Serious Business.

Examples of Soft Spoken Sadist include:

Anime and Manga



  • Roose Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire is mild mannered, courteous, and speaks so softly that others have to listen closely to hear anything he says. House Bolton also has a flayed man as their sigil, and has a legendary reputation for torture.
  • Snape's outward Sadist Teacher personality is described as managing to keep the whole class at attention without going much louder than a whisper in the first book, and even though his speech often contains contempt and sardonicism, he rarely ever does anything but speak softly - which serves to make the times he does outwardly show his rage all the more significant. Also, Voldemort who speaks in an almost snake-like whisper, especially shown during the first chapter of Book 7. He rarely raises his voice, and when he does, it is suppossedly extremely terrifying.
  • Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
  • In Vernor Vinge's Fire upon the Deep, Flenser is described as having a voice like this.
  • Lord Vetinari of Discworld, in his scarier moments, though he's at least nominally a good guy.

Live Action TV

  • The Reaper from Criminal Minds. He's condescendingly soothing while stabbing Hotch in 'Faceless, Nameless'. And in '100', he uses such a cool, conversational tone to taunt Hotch on speakerphone while calmly playing toy soldiers with Hotch's son. He even covers the kid's ears and spells out D-I-E-S. He plays it so well, the kid isn't even sure if he's a bad guy. This is seconds before he murders Hotch's ex-wife while he listens.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "What's in the Box", Sterling Holloway plays a mysterious but malevolent television repairman who he acts the role of the friendly old blue-collar worker, who gives an exasperated man some extra perks in his cable, and then gets to watch, smile, and subtly gloat as his "product" ruins two lives, never dropping the benign facade.
  • In The X-Files, the Cigarette-Smoking Man has a pleasant, avuncular New England accent. (Except for the times he has a pleasant, avuncular Canadian accent.)
    • Most villains from The X-Files, but in particular the death fetishist who kidnapped Agent Scully in season 2.
  • In the Star Trek TOS episode "Wolf in the Fold," John Fiedler played a serial-killing alien, and he spoke in the same tremorous, timid voice he used when he was playing Piglet.
  • Adelai Niska, Firefly's resident psychotic crimelord, can be very soft-spoken in the tone of a kindly old man. The fact that he does this while he's zapping the living daylights out of you, cutting off your ear, or even worse things makes him utterly rutting creepy.
  • Marlo Stanfield from The Wire. He's very soft spoken and almost never raises his voice -- even when ordering the murder of a man and his family.
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer is very calm, collected, and acts in a casual and gentle manner. He also tortures and kills anyone to get what he wants.
  • The Goa'uld Tanith in Stargate SG-1. Unlike most of his kind, who are very much of the Large Ham variety, Tanith preferred to coldly taunt his enemies before utterly destroying them. Politely wiped out an entire civilization.
  • Wynn Duffy from Justified is a ruthless Dixie Mafia henchman, but he has a very soft, almost meek voice.


  • From the Harold Pinter play One For The Road, Nicholas is an extremely genial person who happens to be in charge of torture for his government.
  • CLAUDIUS. Dear God, Claudius.

Video Games

Western Animation

 Pythor: Humbly, I am Pythor P. Chumsworth.

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