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Weasel Mascot, Chaotic Neutral version. The Imp is tons of vices rolled into one, with the baggage that something about him totally destroys him as a threat: sheer laziness, apathy or just being very tiny. The Imp looks like he's trying too hard, intentionally or because of the designers. So whether or not they have delusions of grandeur, Imps just end up behaving very practically, wanting mostly to have fun and to wallow in their vices.

While commonly in a sidekick role to a stronger character, you often see the Imp with heroic characters as much as with villainous ones. Aside from heroes being less likely to beat on them, the Imp can function as the hero's "Bad Angel". But in this case, it mainly ends up showing off how decent and good-hearted the hero is, because he doesn't take the Imp's advice seriously.

They can occasionally cause a great deal of havoc on their own, making them Not So Harmless. Frequently overlaps with the Snarky Non-Human Sidekick. They are sometimes prone to Dark Is Not Evil.

Examples of The Imp include:

Anime & Manga

  • Demidevimon from Digimon. He also proves to be quite the Manipulative Bastard.
  • Impmon from the sequel, Digimon Tamers, started this way, but like many tropes in that series, became something else.
    • Worth noting that Impmon was still a jerk even after his Heel Face Turn. In an episode of the second arc, he greets Calumon with a kick on the butt just a little bit after getting over killing Leomon.
  • Onsokumaru from Ninin ga Shinobuden is a mild form of this, as there is nothing in that series remotely serious enough to be evil.
  • Kere Ellis, the hand puppet through which Yata the channeller from Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service talks to aliens (yes, I know; it's that kind of manga) is a foul-mouthed yet curiously independent example.
  • Nyanko-sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou. Just as long as you don't make him angry.
  • Soul Eater's title character has a red, oni-like imp that plagues his mind and encourages him to use the Black Blood that runs in his veins, thus consuming him and his technician Maka into madness. Soul often ignores the Imp's suggestions for fear of being entirely overtaken by insanity.
  • Gankutsuou has Peppo as an Imp to Albert, although he's not really malicious in part because he's in love with him, but just loves to screw wit Albert's naiveté.


Comics

  • Mr. Mxyzpltk from Superman comic books -- especially the late 1950s though the 1960s.
    • And of course Batman's imp Bat-Mite.
      • Although in Batman: RIP, Bat-Mite is the opposite of an Imp He's the tiny bit of sanity and morality the Batman of Zurr-En-Ah has.
    • And Quisp from Aquaman.
  • Flip from Little Nemo in Slumberland, actually referred to as "that imp" in one strip. (However, the character known as "the Imp" is not this trope.)
  • After being caught by Empowered with the help of power-draining alien bondage gear, the Caged Demonwolf counts.
  • Varkias from Thieves and Kings.


Films -- Live Action

  • Salacious Crumb, the cackling monkey-lizard perched on Jabba the Hutt's tail, in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.


Television

  • Tyrion from Game of Thrones is even nicknamed "the Imp," and fits this trope to a tee.


Video Games

  • Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. With a half-twist. And lots of Not So Harmless.
  • Pete, from Kingdom Hearts 2. The contrast between him and Maleficent is as sharp as an edge between chessboard squares.
  • In the main plotline of Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Gig spends most of the game as The Imp due to the fact that he's stuck in the main character's head and needs permission to actually use any of his various powers. Alternate endings and plotlines let Gig shed this trope through Grand Theft Protagonist.
  • Gnarl in Overlord is a Card-Carrying Villain who often talks of praising evil and such, but since he's too old to go out on the field he's delegated to being the Evil Chancellor.
  • Murray from The Curse of Monkey Island has delusions of evil grandeur, which is somewhat undermined by the fact that he's only a skull.
  • The "Evil Conscience" in Black and White looks the part and encourages naughty behavior. Usually seen squabbling with his angelic counterpart.
  • Despite the name, imps from Doom don't qualify, instead being a particularly pitiful variety of Mooks.
  • Overlord Zetta, the most powerful badass in the cosmos, from Makai Kingdom. All that power and cunning means little when he's a book who can't even defend himself.


Web Comics


Western Animation

  • Experiment 625 (aka "Reuben") from Lilo and Stitch: The Series, who was supposedly as powerful as Stitch, but was so lazy he instead spent all of his time as sidekick to one of the villains, doing little more than making wisecracks (and sandwiches) and eating.
  • Any WWII era-cartoon will likely play an Italian as this against a more serious and intimidating German Foil.
  • Puck, in Disney's Gargoyles, serves as this to no less than three villains (Demona, Oberon, and Xanatos in guise of Owen Burnette.. All three are credible threats and Puck chose to ally himself with the third villain only because the other two were too serious and all he really wanted was to have fun. And he's an imp to boot.
    • However, when he does cut loose on Oberon he actually manages to kick his ass for a short time, so Not So Harmless.
  • Imp from She Ra Princess of Power, despite having both the power and (multiple) opportunity(ies) to simply sneak in and assassinate the heroes, seems more content to simply eavesdrop and cause mischief, causing everyone but his "boss" nothing but grief. Despite this, he has proven to be a credible threat by framing Kowl for being a Horde spy. The fact that he has an overly inflated, yet still somewhat justifiable, ego when it comes to his accomplishments tends to add to the humor of his character.
    • Interestingly enough, in most Fanfiction wherein Hordak performs a Heel Face Turn, Imp follows closely behind but, whereas Hordak is suddenly portrayed as an Anti-Hero, Imp tends to retain all of his evil (or at the very least undesirable) characteristics.
  • Imp from the animated series Imp. His "accomplishments" include coming up with the world's most evil ringtone.
  • From Wakfu, Grufon the minor Shushu qualifies as the harmless kind as long as he's sealed in a map... and the Not So Harmless kind when he gets free and possesses an arachne in episode 13.
  • Iago from Disney's Aladdin is a villainous example in the initial movie, and a heroic example after his Heel Face Turn in the sequel and subsequent TV series. (For his appearances in House of Mouse he tended to switch between being a good guy and a bad guy, depending on the episode, but he remeined The Imp throughout.)
  • Wuya from Xiaolin Showdown. She's easily one of the most powerful (and evil) villains on the show, but since she's an intangible ghost for most of the first season and much of the second, she can't affect the physical world, rendering her completely harmless and dependent on her human partners until she is restored to a mortal form.
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