- For other senses of the word "overlord", see overlord (disambiguation).
Dark Lord (also known as an Evil Overlord) is a name often used in fiction to talk about a powerful villain with evil henchmen, especially when pronouncing the real name is thought to bring bad luck. Such a villain usually seeks to rule or destroy the world, galaxy, or universe.
In "religious orders" (as opposed to entertainment literature) contexts, it usually means Satan or other similar entities who hold power over lesser fiendish creatures and seek to disrupt the comfort and lives of people, sometimes tragically, and definitely maliciously.
Many of the clichés of a dark lord came from totalitarian states with a fascist propaganda and ideology. In a modern setting, they are sometimes megalomaniac dictators whose minions are depicted in outfits resembling Nazi troop uniforms, and the architecture is often in the geometric, modernist style common in the former Soviet Union.
In fantasy novels, Dark Lords have become something of a cliché following the success of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in which the Dark Lord is Sauron. The case of Sauron also started the habit of characters being too afraid to mention a Dark Lord by name: the Gondorians of Middle-earth as a rule never refer to Sauron by his name, because they are afraid it will bring Sauron there: they always call him either "The Enemy" or "The Nameless Enemy", even though they know he has a name. In the prequel "The Silmarillion", it is revealed that Sauron is the second Dark Lord; he was the lieutenant of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth, until the latter's defeat. Morgoth brought original evil to the world and created the Orcs by torturing and mutilating Elves.
Following the example of Sauron, Dark Lords in fantasy are always depicted as immensely powerful, implacably evil creatures with an insatiable lust for power, who cannot be reasoned or bargained with. Only by their ultimate destruction can peace be restored.
Dark Lords often do not actually engage in direct conflict with the heroes; frequently, they are dark gods or demons, exist in other dimensions, and/or maintain a dark, inaccessible fortress. They usually rely on a vast, shadowy network of minions, often with an extremely hierarchical structure.
The frequency in which these cliches occur spawned the Evil Overlord List, a popular web site satirizing the mistakes Dark Lords make.
Kinds of Dark Lords
Among the Dark Lords in fantasy and science fiction are:
- Dark Lord from Flint the Time Detective.
- Apocalypse is the ideal Dark Lord for the Marvel Universe. His epic storyline depicts him as being the very incarnation of evil since the begining of civilization. Doctor Doom, Mephisto, The Mandarin, Loki, Galactus and Magneto can also be seen as Dark Lords from the Marvel Universe.
- Stephen Donaldson's Lord Foul, in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, has physical form but is apparently immortal; he seeks the wild magic contained within Covenant's white gold wedding ring so that he can smash the Arch of Time and escape the Land.
- The black-robed femme fatale Winnowill fulfils the role of a Dark Lord in the comic book series Elfquest.
- Shai'tan is the Dark Lord in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. (See Characters in the Wheel of Time series)
- The Keeper serves the role of Dark Lord in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, similar in role and situation to Shai'tan.
- Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter books is a Dark Lord, and "Dark Lord" is also a name used for him by Death Eater.
- Skeletor in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, he is an evil skull-faced warlock who tries to invade castle Greyskull in order to rule the land of Eternia. He is He-Man's archnemesis.
- Hordak in She-Ra: Princess of Power, a sinister white-faced warlord who used to assist Skeletor, now tries to rule the land of Etheria on his own with an evil Horde of armed soldiers. He is the arch-enemy of She-Ra, He-Man's sister.
- In Blizzard's Warcraft series, the greatest Titan, Sargeras, went mad and gathered an army of demons called the Burning Legion to spread chaos throughout the universe. Since his destruction, his lieutenants Kil'jaeden and Archimonde took over as Dark Lords of the Legion, however only Kil'jaeden truly believed in the Legion's mission. Archimonde was killed during the second invasion of Azeroth, though Kil'jaeden's servant, the Lich King Ner'zhul, grew too powerful and betrayed its master; still leaving two Dark Lords, albeit competing ones.
- Aku in Samurai Jack (voiced by Makoto Iwamatsu), a shape-shifting black green-faced Japanese demon with fiery eyebrows who rules the world.
- Evil Harry Dread in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett; Harry started out with just two henchmen and his Shed of Doom; he is now a well-known villain on the Disc. He does every stereotypical Dark Lord thing imaginable, from henchmen as dumb as possible to building escape tunnels in his evil mountains so that when he escapes the 'heroes' will have 'something to fight tomorrow'. He laments, alongside former adversaries such as Cohen The Barbarian, the loss of such practices in a new, less heroic, age.
- In the fantasy RPG video game Okage: Shadow King, the main character Ari's shadow is possessed by Stan, the defeated lord of darkness, who accompanies Ari as his wise-cracking companion throughout the game. For most of the game, Ari bumbles across the world trying to bring Stan back to power so Stan can conquer the world and leave Ari alone. The game is a light-hearted parody of the cliches of fantasy RPG games.
- Torak in David Eddings' Belgariad and its successive novels is the Dark God, or rather embodies this title, which is later passed on to someone else.
- Sarevok in Baldur's Gate. Sporting a heavy spikey armor, a booming voice and sending various henchmen towards the hero, he seeks to become the successor of god Bhaal, Lord of Murder.
- Myotismon, was refered as a dark lord in digiworld and three times he attempted to take over both his world and the human world, though he was defeated twice by the DigiDestined. But the title of "dark lord" was better suited to The Seven Great Demon Lords such as Lucemon for their infamous background stories.
- The Dark Overlord of the Universe, from the movie Howard the Duck.
- In Max Barry's Nationstates, the term could be and has been applied to a variety of prominent players or moderators, usually the heads of some major dictatorial district.
- Morkhan, an all-black red-eyed ghost-like overlord, villain in the French cartoon "Le Fils de l'Etoile" (Son of the Star).
- The Evil Horned King as he was portayed in the animated film The Black Cauldron.
- The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer has various characters fulfilling the role of Dark Lord, but the character that most closely resembled the archetype was the first season's The Master, an ancient vampire, and the only villain to have successfully killed Buffy (she got better, of course). Glory, the insane god, was a Dark Lord character, complete with bumbling henchmen who worshipped her. The shapeless and immaterial First Evil was another notable Dark Lord character, and served as the main antagonist and Buffy's final enemy in the last season of the show.
- In its spin-off show, Angel, the Dark Lord role is taken by the largely invisible, but all-powerful Senior Partners at the law firm Wolfram and Hart.
- The Overlord (played by John Steiner) in the Italian movie Yor: the Hunter of the Future. He is an Emperor-Palpatine-like war leader wearing a dark hood who builds Darth-Vader-like robots in order to carry on his plans to create a robotic race.
- Dark One (played by Donal O'Brien), neonazi dictator of a post-apocalyptic world in the Italian movie 2020 Texas Gladiators.
- In the British children's series The Dreamstone, the Dark Lord is Zordrak, also called the Lord of Nightmares.
- In the Key to Time storyline, the BBC series Doctor Who introduced a Dark Lord called the Black Guardian. Other villains, such as the Master, have occasionally shown Dark Lord elements.
- Darkseid, the Lord of Apokolips in Jack Kirby's New Gods comic book has become the archetypal Dark Lord in the DC Universe. Also the Lord of Chaos, Mordru is often referred as the Dark Lord and battles both the Justice Society of America in the present and the Legion of Super-Heroes in the future.
- Ra's Al Ghul, the most "epic" of Batman's foes, fits the Dark Lord role quite well; he is several centuries old, the head of his own worldwide evil organization, and has the stated goal of exterminating 80% of humanity.
- In the Lone Wolf gamebooks, the Darklords are twenty minions of the Dark God Naar. The individual leaders of the Darklords (especially Vashna), as well as Naar himself, fill the singular "Dark Lord" role.
- The comedy film Time Bandits featured a Dark Lord called, simply, Evil. The ending credits, however, list him as Evil Genius, and the novelization claims his full name is Gordon Evil.
- Sigma in the Megaman X video game series. Sinister, evil, bald, eyebrow-less, white-eyed, hefty-armoured and often wearing a cape, he is the leader of the Mavericks, the antagonists.
- Dr. Funfrock from the Little Big Adventure video game series. He is a fat sharp-teethed dictator who builds geometric grey modernist buildings and employs robotic clones of the Twinsunian people to maintain his reign of terror. He plans to become the ultimate Dark god by taking over the planet core power according to the prophecy.
- In the 1985 movie Legend, Tim Curry plays a Satan-like Dark Lord named, straightforwardly, Darkness.
- Ineluki the Storm King in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a Dark Lord. Unusually, (but typical of the book's attitude to fantasy clichés) he has some justification for his hatred, beyond simply being evil.
- In Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, the mysterious Shadow of the Abyss serves that role as the secret leader of the Magog.
- The rogue Goa'uld Anubis from the TV series Stargate SG-1 has many of the characteristics of a Dark Lord, from his appearance as a black cloaked figure with an echoing voice to the fact that he's an evil spirit-like energy being. Another rogue Goa'uld, Sokar, actually impersonated Satan.
- Much of Kim Newman's fiction features Derek Leech, a modern-day Dark Lord who rules an international media empire from his pyramid in London's Docklands.
- The White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia is also a Dark Lord character even if she does not share the title.
- In the Slayers anime, Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo acts as the Dark Lord for the demon race (mazoku). He is the source of the powerful spell Dragon Slave. He also commands five subordinates: Hellmaster Phibrizzo, Chaos Dragon Gaav, Deep Sea Dolphin, Greater Beast Zelas Metallium, and Dynast Grauscherra. Much of the story in the TV series focuses around Gaav and Phibrizzo.
- Lord Deadcross in the Astro Boy manga, anime and video game. He can roughly be accounted as a Dark Lord character.
- Count Devil and General Machine in the Gate Keepers anime. They are leaders of an alien invasion.
- Cloaked Nightmare and Dark Matter, from the Kirby video games and anime, are known for overpowering many planets, and constantly tries to dominate Popstar as well. Marx, from Kirby Super Star, also shares this trait, but they had been completely defeated, whereas Cloaked Nightmare or Dark Matter cannot be.
- Exdeath(Exodes in anime) from Final Fantasy V is a shadowy Dark Lord working to negate all existence with the Void's power. Golbez from Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy II in American edition) would also count, though he was controled by a being named Zemus.
- Makuta of Lego's Bionicle was responsible for putting the Great Spirit Mata Nui into eternal slumber in a attempt to rule over the Matoran people.
- Slade in the Teen Titans animated series could be likened to a Dark Lord, although in Season Four he is merely a servant of Trigon.
- Ganon, or Ganondorf, from the Legend of Zelda video game series is refered to as a Dark Lord, but not always depending on the form he takes in every title he appears.
- Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog is portrayed as a Dark Lord who has taken over the world in Sonic's saturday morning TV series and US comic series.
- The Collector in the Bonkers cartoon, is a Dark Lord archetype.
- Lord Ilpalazzo in Excel Saga is a parody of the stereotypical anime and manga overlord who wishes to conquer the world, starting with a typical Japanese city, Fukuoka, Fukuoka. The catch is that his evil organization consists solely of himself and two rather incompetent and incapable teenage girls. He fights the Municipal Force Daitenzin.
- Lord Tedd is the Evil Dark Lord Dimensional Alternate of one of the main characters of El Goonish Shive.
- The Lord of the Locusts from the comic series Bone by Jeff Smith is a Dark Lord type character reminiscent of Sauron, a banished incorporeal nightmare creature trying to return to the world again.
- In the Star Trek universe, the Borg Queen has several notable Dark Lord characteristics, including immortality and countless Borg drones as minions.
- The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord - An amusing compilation of Evil Overlord stereotypes
- Evil Overlord A short film based on the list above. Bittorrent file