Let me go! Let me go, please! Don't hurt me! I'll do anything! ANYTHING!!
~ Gaston LeGume begging the Beast to spare him.
Simba, Simba. Please. Please have mercy. I beg you.
~ Scar cowardly begging Simba for mercy.

Cowards are villains who are very prone to run away from a fight or confrontation or even their own problems, or who pick on those who they know are weaker or who have less authority (It usually goes after kids because they don't know any better than adults).

They usually beg the hero to not kill them when overpowered by them and will try to kill them if they let their guard down, or are desperate to take the hero with them if they know that they are about to be defeated or killed (Gaston LeGume and Scar are excellent examples of this). More often than not, they would also threaten to kill the hero's loved ones or use them as hostages to stop the hero from attacking them, rather than fighting the hero themselves (Agnus and Sanctus are good examples for this).

Sometimes, being a coward motivates evil as they will do anything to save only their own hides and do not care if others get hurt (providing they don't get harmed themselves); other times, it serves as a comedic relief side while at still other times, it simply makes a villain unlikable and/or weak in the eyes of a viewer or protagonist (and sometimes other villains as well).

They will also not hesitate to use cheap and dirty tactics if they deem it necessary to win a battle. Due to the fact that most Cowards will try to run away if they are in danger or even surrender entirely, they are rarely the leading antagonist (though exceptions do exist), tending instead to be bumbling sidekicks or henchmen. In addition, should these villains die, it is often disgraceful, unless they redeem themselves to die with honor.

Please note, however, that cowards are often extremely dangerous, powerful, or intelligent characters who have fear as a fatal flaw, as opposed to a basic personality trait (for example, Napoleon is a coward, but is nonetheless a serious threat to the other animals, since he is constantly making plans and revising the Seven Commandments, while the Dark Lord, while a coward, is still the most serious threat in the franchise, since it tried to cause worldwide destruction). Not to mention, it can also make them seem even more heinous, considering they might just escape saving themselves and betraying others (e.g. Peter Pettigrew was James and Lily Potter's secret-keeper, but he revealed their location to Lord Voldemort, resulting in their deaths. Scorpio did not hesitate brandishing a gun against an unarmed man or threatening defenseless women and children but when Harry beats him, he instantly called his lawyer).

Cowards are the very polar opposite of Nihilists as the former really value their life while nihilists don’t care. This means those two categories are completely different and a villain cannot be both, however, a coward CAN be Suicidal in the event where they know they are in a situation where they have no power over, hence them weaselling their own way out by taking their own lives as a very last resort (e.g. Viktor Zakhaev). Also, cowards can never be One-Man Armies because they will only fight if they feel they have a significant advantage or know the other is weaker (Alessi makes his opponents younger, because children are easier to defeat and Tighten fights only with people who are weaker than him).

Just because a villain is scared a few times doesn't make them a coward. Dr. Facilier, William Afton, Bill Cipher, Syndrome, Judge Claude Frollo, Chief McBrusque and Zamasu are all examples of this, as their reactions are reasonable to the situations they were in (being literally dragged to Hell, seeing the ghosts of your own victims, being erased from existence, getting shredded to death by a jet turbine, seeing someone stand up against you, being attacked by a tribe while running for cover, and getting attacked by a Supreme Being).

Also showing fear in life or death situations or when confronted by stronger individuals or unfamiliar situations does NOT make a character a coward either as only the insane are completely without fear - cowards are marked by the fact they are excessive in their fear and allow said fear to dominate their actions, often to the point of harming others.

However, there are some instances where a villain cannot be considered a coward, or at least a complete one:

  • When a villain is afraid of something or even many things, but has the ability to overcome it and resume potentially harmful activities over and over again (e.g. Scar, Emperor Palpatine and Caesar Clown who are good examples of this.).
  • When they do their best not to show that they are afraid of something, masking it with overconfidence, emotionlessness, rage etc. (e.g Hopper deep down fears ants, but he hides it with his angry demeanor.).

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