Used to be a moderator here. Retired long ago. I'll swing by once in a blue moon to remove a bad category or so.
Leaving my ground rules for the Complete Monster trope (although this wiki seems to have a replacement of sorts with the "Pure Evil" category; do note that I'm assuming this trope and that category may have different qualifcations than what I'm leaving here) as I'd like it to be somewhere:
My Complete Monster ground rules. Read these well, please.
|“||I cast about for a man to aid me, and chose the Falcon, because of his utter lack of all characteristics men call good.||„|
|~ Salome about Constantius The Falcon and summing up the Complete Monster|
- Excuses only work if they paint the character in a tragic light or invalidate themselves. Complete Monsters with excuses have to invalidate them somehow (Koba, Drago Bludvist) as Monsters are not tragic.
- A single crossing of the Moral Event Horizon makes a character irredeemable, but, with certain exceptions (Steele, Shou Tucker, The Piper, Grand Moff Tarkin *as portrayed solely in A New Hope*) does not automatically warrant the descent into a Complete Monster (Smaug, Rasputin, Max Hudson, really, there's too many to count). It may seem vile, but a crossing of the MEH is by definition vile. Remember that.
- Attempted murder (Lotso, anime!Cyrus) is just as bad as the result; a villain can count with a body-count of zero but with an attempted body count of several dozen or potentially several hundred or above. However, it is difficult to qualify with attempted murder alone (Scarlett) unless the intended body count is very high.
- A Complete Monster can have no mitigating factors. Even villains with the most minor redeeming qualities (Trevor Phillips, Ghetsis, Jason Wynn) cannot count, as that would take the Complete out of them.
- Self-preservation (Bagul, Chaos Kin, and all animal predators) is still a sympathetic factor. If it's done for a selfish reason (The Beast, although to be perfectly honest I still don't see him as a Monster) it does not mitgate.
- Torture, rape and other such non-lethal actions can be worse than murder if pulled off correctly (Le Tenia, Jev, The Coachman).
- Murder through inaction, driving someone to suicide (Nurse Ratched, if you believe she is a Monster), or manipulating events to arrange death (Louis Bloom) is still a valid qualifier for murder.
- A villain must be in control of their moral decisions and must be at least somewhat understandable by humans. Cosmic horrors (Cthulhu) and forces of evil (Hoshi no Kaabii Lord Nightmare, Hexxus, Chernabog, Soul Edge) by definition cannot count unless humanized to an extent where their evil acts paint them as explicitly malign/in control of their moral factor (One-Eye, Nyarlathotep).
- Omnicidal Maniacs are strong candidates for Complete Monsters (The Lich, Owlman, Galvatron) even if one intends to recreate the universe afterwards (Dimentio), but is not automatically a catch for Complete Monsters (Ommadon, game!Cyrus)
- A villain must be heinous by the standards of their own universe (Fabius Bile from Warhammer 40K, Grings Kodai from Pokemon) in comparison to other villains, as well as being heinous by the general standard, which is much higher than most people think. Being second place means you're dwarfed by other villains and therefore fail the heinous test (again, Ghetsis)
- Offscreen villainy can work for villains in which the deeds have a visible effect, but can not work for villains in which the deeds are merely glossed over (Vigo). In the same effect, serial killers who have established a clear pattern even if one victim is only shown/attempted to be killed can still be counted if it is clear their body-count is high enough.. However, being a serial killer is, again, not an automatic tag for a Monster (Jason Voorhees, several movie slashers).
- Non-sentient animal villains do not and cannot count.
- Villains have to actually have a character. Generic Doomsday Villains (Doomsday) and, with rare exception (The Alice Killer), unseen villains (The Purple Man, The Blair Witch) cannot count due to the enigma/lack of their character and motives.
- A villain is defined by character. A villain can be horrible in deeds, but what makes a Monster is their attitude towards their evil. A Complete Monster is evil, and they will most often take pride in this or at least lack remorse about it; those who don't (Judge Claude Frollo) will still have an viewpoint and motive that is skewed to the point where it is not meant to attract sympathy.
- A villain can count in one continuity, but not in the other (President Snow), ala movie villains. This also works for villains who have various incarnations (The Joker, Megatron, Braniac, King Ghidorah).
- With rare exception (Bill Williamson, Griffin, Not Important) protagonist villains do not count (most GTA characters) as we're still supposed to be rooting for them, no matter how depraved. This can be twisted if said protagonist villain is explicitly shown as A. a villainous protagonist with no clear sympathy for their character and B. if in a video game, have no alternative paths to their evil. If a player character has alternative paths or a "morality system" affecting their character (Renegade Shepard, any "open world" with freedom of a character's choices, ala Fable, Fallout, or The Elder Scrolls) they do not count.
- Groups (The Combine, Thalmor, Daleks) can't count, as independent moral agency cannot be applied to entire factions/species.
- Comedic Monsters only work if the comedy goes hand-in-hand with their evil deeds (The Joker, Hades, Yuuki Terumi) rather than detracting from it (Aku, Abridged Frieza). Almost all villains are taken seriously for a reason, and the plot will always treat a comedic Monster seriously. If not, they are a non-example.
- The level of villainy cannot depend on the writer by any means (Peter Griffin, Mr. Krabs). Monsters have to be 100% evil with no "breaks" in their villainy. However, a villain with multiple incarnations interpreted different through several writers is another case; see above.
- Enemy Mines can work (Slade, Hades again) if the villain does it for a self-serving reason.
- Monsters from "kids' shows" (My Little Pony and the like) have to have their crimes be explicit and jarring by the nature of the setting (G1 Tirek threatening to decapitate Spike, Dick Hardly trying to torture children to death, Verminous Skumm peddling deadly drugs and attempting to activate nuclear bombs, the Dark Princess willingly attempting omnicide and having it clarified as such). Villains who's crimes are otherwise glossed over or left to implication/speculation (G4 Tirek) for the safety of the setting cannot count; Monsters in family-friendly media have to go well beyond the pale to stand out.