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Villains Wiki
Screw our country! I WANNA LIVE!
~ Kent Mansley trying to run away from the missile he launched at the Iron Giant.
Seokbong, I'm sorry. Seokbong! Damn... It's my fault! No... I've sinned to die! It's my fault! My... I... I... I... It's my fault! I'm not saying let's just skip it! Please save me! I'll turn myself in! I'll pay for the crime! God damn it! God damn it! Please save me!
~ Hwang Jang-Soo's Cowardly moments.

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 and because they are easier prey,).

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 (Scar and Gaston LeGume 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). Often, they will even go as far as to abandon their fellow villains.

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 (e.g. Kokichi Oma). However, some villains can be feared if they will be defeated or otherwise their plans will be ruined.

Please note, however, that some cowards are often extremely dangerous, powerful, or intelligent characters who have fear as a fatal flaw, because despite them being cowards they still have the guts to kill someone without hesitation, as opposed to a basic personality trait (for examples, 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, Hadrian is a coward as well, but was still able to rig the Games into an excruciating torturing method for his own sadistic pleasure and there's also Samuel Norton, who despite being a coward, made the prisoners lives at Shawshank miserable, even committing suicide when he was caught in the act). Not to also mention, it can also make them seem even more heinous, considering they might just escape saving themselves and betray 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 and even framed Sirus, 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 and Bogs Diamond and his Sisters gang are cowards, but are also a group of depraved serial rapists who prey on the weak).

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 that they have no power or control over, hence them weaseling their own way out by taking their own lives as a very last resort (e.g. Viktor Zakhaev and Samuel Norton). 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 always make them a coward (e.g. Dr. Facilier, William Afton, Agatha Trunchbull, Bill Cipher, Judge Claude Frollo, Lord Shen, Chief McBrusque, Enmu, Professor Ratigan, Dr. Robotnik, Hopper, Katz, Koba, Plankton, Terrie, Zamasu, Gabriel Miller, Rattlesnake Jake, Eramis, Kell of Darkness and Ego) as their reactions are reasonable to the situations they were in (such as being literally dragged to Hell, seeing the ghosts of your own victims, being erased from existence, eternal damnation and seeing your foster son stand up against you, being defeated by a legendary dragon warrior, being attacked by a tribe while running for cover, falling off of a clock tower that is the height of a building for giants compared to you, getting eaten alive by giant birds, getting attacked by a living wrecking ball, getting attacked by a supreme being, being attacked by a much more dangerous creature they know they can't take on and being defeated by your arch-enemy, and having a nuclear-level bomb in your brain that can no longer be stopped) rather than them just being scared because they are very easily scared. They may even have moments showing them to be fairly brave otherwise.
  • Also, showing fear in life or death situations or when confronted by stronger individuals or unfamiliar situations (e.g. Cat R. Waul, Enmu, many Looney Tunes villains, and Mr. Jones) 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.
  • Villains who always run away from battle and fight another day (e.g. General Grievous, Oogie Boogie, Professor Ratigan, Joker, Victor Perkins, Aku, Burger-Beard, Brûz the Chopper, Red Skull, Frieza, Dr. Eggman, Queen Grimhilde, The Intruder, Khotun Khan and The Miller Family) do not count to be a coward as they try to avoid being submitted or killed by a hero with little or no fear. They usually succeed in escaping, but others are to no avail.
  • There are other instances where a villain cannot be considered a coward (mostly in cases where villains have phobias), or at least a complete one:
    • When a villain is afraid of something or even many things, but has the ability to overcome them and resume potentially harmful activities over and over again (e.g. Scar (2019), Emperor Palpatine, Muzan Kibutsuji 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 and demeans them.).
    • When a villain is frightened or paranoid of scary places (for examples, haunted houses or abandoned areas or buildings) to the point they have to rely on other people's help (e.g. Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr. is reasonably scared of abandoned hotels and curls up to Porky Pig in fear of danger, to which the latter calls him out on).

See Also

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