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Whether you consider it short for villain credentials or villain credibility, it's a measure both of how much respect a villain gets among his fellow rogues and of how credible a threat the do-gooders and the authorities consider said villain to be. It's earned through successful completion of bold, daring and devious deeds; in other words, nothing so pedestrian as robbing bank or holding up a liquor store will suffice. It can also be lost in a heartbeat if one runs afoul of meddling kids and their talking dog.

A specific villainous version of a Karma Meter. Often a major motivation factor for a Card-Carrying Villain or Noble Demon.

Examples of Villain Cred include:


Comic Books

  • One Silver Age Flash story has the Mirror Master get upset that he's only ranked as the third most successful criminal in the prison newspaper, so he breaks out to commit more crimes in the hope of raising his standing.
  • A Silver Age Batman story has the Joker and Clayface commit crimes using each other's M.O.s so that each can claim the title of Public Enemy #1.
    • The same basic gimmick was used in Poison Ivy's debut story in the 1960s, where she arranges the capture of three other female criminals -- Public Enemy numbers 1, 2, and 3 -- so that she can step forward and take credit for various previously unsolved crimes.
    • And used again in a story in the 1970s where rumors of Batman's murder sweep through the underworld, prompting the villains to assemble a Joker Jury of their own to evaluate the Villain Cred of the various supervillains (ranging from The Joker to Lex Luthor to Catwoman) claiming to be Batman's killer.


Live Action Television

  • A consistent element through Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The Watcher's Council records the exploits of demons and vampires, and the underworld community in general seems to have pretty good word of mouth. Angelus had particularly good cred, something Angel occasionally traded off of. At one point Darla and Drusilla managed to attract a group of demons to serve them simply by introducing themselves (and de-earing one person who'd never heard of them). Spike had a particularly good reputation for having killed two slayers despite being barely two hundred - or 126, or a vampire for 120 years. Several enemies come to town specifically because killing a Slayer would be good for their reputation.


Videogames


Web Original

  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, Dr. Horrible's primary goal through Act I and Act II is to earn enough cred to get into the Evil League of Evil. He eventually succeeds...but at a horrible price.


Western Animation

 Kim: Because if you don't help, I'll tell the the world you used to be a good guy.

Shego: You wouldn't!

Kim: I've got a website, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Shego: Ugh, my evil reputation would be shot!

  • After much evil perpetrated around the Tri-State Area, Dr. Doofenschmirtz rescues one kitten from a tree, and risks the complete loss of his evil-genius status.
    • His worst Christmas is also his best because it was the first Christmas bad enough to give him an excuse to hate the holiday. Apparently, not hating Christmas, even if you don't like it either, is nearly as harmful to Villain Cred than rescuing a kitten.
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