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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Who is the best dark lord?

Now, I may be biased, but I have long contended that dark lords don't get a fair shake in literature. I mean, they are often portrayed as failures, but if they were historical figures, they would be legends who compare favorably to the likes of Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon.

So, who is your favorite dark lord from literature and why? The Black Rider? Arawn Death Lord? Sauron or Morgoth? The Warlock King or Torak the Half-Burned? The Night King or the White Witch? Or some other, less well-known dark lord.

Present company excluded, of course.

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152 Comments:

Blogger wreckage December 16, 2017 6:34 AM  

Best name goes to
"The Witch-king of Angmar"

Blogger S1AL December 16, 2017 6:35 AM  

Morgoth was a chump scared to come out of his fortress and fight a solitary, depressed Elf. Definitely out.

Sauron got his ass handed to him by a glorified talking dog, then was killed by a Hobbit. Also definitely out.

Ancalagon is a contender - unlike the above two, it took more than a single eagle to ruin his day, not to mention a Silmaril and a flying ship captained by a half-Elf who was later known as the freaking Morning Star. Loses points for being Morgoth's pet, though.

I'm partial to Raistlin Majere. In one future he ascended and overthrew both pantheons of Krynn, but decided he'd rather save the world than rule a dead universe. Props for the epic heel-face turn, but loses points for chickening out.

The Night King, solely because Westeros deserves to die.

Alternate version of Darth Revan, who conquered the galaxy and died satisfied with the peace and stability he'd granted to his vast empire, even if it meant the occasional slaughter of a rebellion. Probably my choice for #1.

Anonymous Anonymous December 16, 2017 6:43 AM  

Just re-read the Belgariad - Torak was all angst and feelings of loss. In the final battle he was a cypher for the Dark Prophecy, so no.

Good call on Raistlin Mejere, he was motivated and kicked the Gods in the teeth.

Quite enjoyed Murmandamas in Darkness at Sethanon, but he was a Pantathian in disguise. Still, carnage.

Anonymous VFM0265 December 16, 2017 6:43 AM  

S1AL, I'm in agreement concerning Raistlin Majere, especially upon his decision to save the world vs. ruling a dead universe. But I think Lord Soth should also be given a fair shake, concerning the tragedy of his story. Hard call, but either way -- I vote KRYNN. Raistlin or Soth. Either would be an excellent choice.

Anonymous Imperator December 16, 2017 6:44 AM  

The Cruel Overlord, from Black star, 1982(?) . Hey, I was at an impressionable age.

Anonymous E Deploribus Unum December 16, 2017 6:46 AM  

Jadis in Charn was amazing. Not as scary in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but she'll always get my vote. Of course, I was six or seven when it was first read to me, and that first scene in her doomed world in The Magician's Nephew remains absolutely incredible.

Anonymous Imperator December 16, 2017 6:47 AM  

OK, a kids' book based on a cartoon might not strictly be literature, but I was 2.

Blogger Jake December 16, 2017 6:48 AM  

white witch from narnia. Feminine, manipulative while still having power. She evoked dread in 12 year old me reading those books. Sauron was too in the shadows to really place, but ring wraiths were terrifying. I forget their leaders name but could have made it on his own as just a raw power dreadful force.

Brent weeks lightbringer series has a strong modern contender in the color prince. I honestly feel he's telling a story a bit beyond his capabilities and doing a reasonable job of it. Again very powerful while manipulating people. Bit animu visually.

If you pretend episode six didn't exist emperor palpatine is very good. You have this supposed bad ass vader kneeling and scraping to some old dude in a robe. It's disappointing to find out it's because he's capable of wrecking vaders face honestly.

Anonymous VFM0265 December 16, 2017 6:54 AM  

Alright, Jake....you reminded me of someone. Grand Admiral Thrawn in the Timothy Zahn Heir to the Empire series. Thrawn would study an entire planetary culture & their art to figure out how to subjugate and totally defeat them. Evil, style AND grace! Thrawn for the win.

Anonymous FisherOfMen December 16, 2017 6:55 AM  

King Haggard from The Last Unicorn! He wasted an entire land out of his own selfish quest to not be bored, and then tragically perished via the only thing that could make him happy.

Blogger Ken S. December 16, 2017 7:03 AM  

Bertie Wooster lol!

Anonymous kHz December 16, 2017 7:16 AM  

In scale and deviousness, for me it's a toss up between The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant's Lord Foul, and Jar Jar Binks.

Not the best aesthetically though, and very inhuman.

Blogger Skyler the Weird December 16, 2017 7:20 AM  

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was a good villain but he was just a minion of the true darklord the Emperor Shaddam IV.

I think the Messiah of the purple haired wenches MaRey Suewalker will be a good candidate too. The New Hope of SJW secret queens everywhere.

Anonymous ZhukovG December 16, 2017 7:24 AM  

Bram Stoker's, Count Dracula.

Also the 'Dark Lords of the Sith', who should be commended for their ongoing struggle against SJW Jedi.

Blogger David Paglia December 16, 2017 7:31 AM  

The Dominator's Lady. It says something when your victorious enemies build a graveyard for you and yours the size of Rhode Island, complete with its own military garrison, a regiment of angry ghosts, and a full-bore dragon, all to keep you from returning from the grave... and you do it anyway.

Blogger Koanic December 16, 2017 7:32 AM  

Best dark lords:
1 Sephiroth - Final Fantasy
2 The Morrigan
3 Dracula / Alucard in Bram Stoker / Hellsing
4 Darth Vader
5 Thanos
6 Jadis the White Witch

Anonymous phen uk December 16, 2017 7:40 AM  

Murmandamus in Darkness at Sethanon. Even though he was a Pantathian he fit the job description.

Torak was an angst filled mama's boy.

Good call on Raistlin Majere.

Anonymous LF December 16, 2017 7:42 AM  

Lord Soth also turns into a Disney princess every full moon: also out.

Blogger McChuck December 16, 2017 7:49 AM  

Emperor Ming the Merciless, galactic overlord. Style, class, a seemingly infinite supply of redshirts and toadies, and most importantly, a valiant opponent. There was a man who understood the villain's code.

Blogger L' Aristokrato December 16, 2017 7:51 AM  

Dracula, depending on the work he's in. Not so much the original novel though.

Darkseid, provided you have a good writer who knows what to do with the character.

Anonymous Alice De Goon December 16, 2017 7:51 AM  

Wow. There's probably a dozen iterations of the Devil that could belong on this list. Chernobog from Disney's "Night on Bald Mountain" certainly looks the part, but all it takes is a little sunlight to send him scurrying. One Devil that really stands out to me is Pitch from the Mexican Christmas movie "Santa Claus" (featured on MST3K) -I think Pitch is effective mainly because of his meanness and pettiness - he doesn't want to destroy the world or kill people, he just wants to break the spirit of young, poor children and bring them to despair. The only thing that disqualifies him is that he's a minion of Lucifer (who himself doesn't have enough screen time to really make an impression.)

I'd say the only Devil I know of who really qualifies as a Dark Lord in the literary sense is Darkness from the movie "Legend", as played by Tim Curry. Awesome look and voice, and very charismatic. He does get punked by Tom Cruise and a bunch of other fairies at the end, but at least he makes them work for their victory.

Anonymous billo December 16, 2017 8:01 AM  

Not so much a dark lord, but an antihero, I remember reading Othello for the first time as an assignment in my English literature class in high school. When I read the book I thought Iago was the tragic hero, not that buffoon Othello.

I was very disappointed when I was told Iago was the bad guy. I thought he was wronged by those in power, was seeking justice, and had a good plan.

Blogger dtungsten December 16, 2017 8:10 AM  

Since others are mentioning characters not strictly from literature, I have to mention Davros.

Blogger OGRE December 16, 2017 8:11 AM  

Supreme Leader Snoke


no just kidding. Saw the movie last night, it was much worse than I thought it would be.

I'll throw the Witch King of Angmar out there if just for one of my favorite quotes from the LoTR:

"Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye"

Blogger pyrrhus December 16, 2017 8:14 AM  

Pelias the Magician in Conan, liked his style...

Blogger Manach December 16, 2017 8:21 AM  

Lord Ruler of Mistborn series, he did have his reasons.

Blogger sconzey December 16, 2017 8:25 AM  

Voldemort as depicted in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. A magnificent portrayal of the logical conclusion of rationalist materialism.

Blogger tweell December 16, 2017 8:28 AM  

The Old Demon from Moeller's Demonsouled series. Expert at the Thanatos gambit, raised up and brought down empires for his entertainment, fathered thousands, watched them grow strong and devoured them.

Blogger sconzey December 16, 2017 8:29 AM  

Although Harry Potter from the same series is also in the running. I chose Voldemort because HP has this annoying whiney gamma thing going on.

Anonymous David of One December 16, 2017 8:30 AM  

Who else could be the poster child of evil "Dark Lord" of Science Fiction and Fantasy?

Ray Guns, Swords, Rockets, other-worldly men and species, good and evil hot babes, "SCIENCE" ... like McChuck, none other than ... Ming the Merciless.

Blogger Resident Moron™ December 16, 2017 8:33 AM  

Azrahn, Night’s Master, from Tanith Lee’s work of the same name.

Nicely encapsulates the fundamental contradiction of regnant evil.

Anonymous David of One December 16, 2017 8:33 AM  

tweel ... yes, I had forgotten Jonathan Moeller's "Old Demon".

Anonymous VFM #6306 December 16, 2017 8:38 AM  

Satan, Paradise Lost.

Anonymous VFM #6306 December 16, 2017 8:40 AM  

Marion Zimmer Bradley, as the Marysue of Avalon.

Blogger marco moltisanti December 16, 2017 8:42 AM  

@7 "Sauron was too in the shadows to really place, but ring wraiths were terrifying."

Give the Silmarillion a read. Sauron actually appears in multiple parts of it and his character is developed quite a bit. Makes you appreciate his role in the LOTR and his pure, terrifying evil a lot more.

Either Sauron or Jadis for me. Not surprising that it would be the great Christian geniuses of fantasy to create the best Satanic figures.

I considered a vote for Vader because of how frightening he was to me as a little kid back in 1977 but then remembered Palpatine was the actual dark lord.

Anonymous TD December 16, 2017 8:47 AM  

Torak had the magic power and setup, but I always thought that the portrayal of Zakath was more impressive. A man petting a tabby cat commanded the mightiest armies in the world.

Some of my favorites are
- Folken from Vision of Escaflowne, especially since they played "Shadow of Doubt" during his scenes.
- Vader minus the back story for style.
- if we're talking the best at his job, Lord Foul.

Anonymous Looking Glass December 16, 2017 8:47 AM  

I agree that "Witch King of Angmar" is a brilliant name for a villain. Tolkien's naming sense was normally on point. Minus Saruman & Sauron.

This is a hard one, as actually good villains are hard to come by, and maybe the answer is actually some of the "heroes" of a lot of works.

I'll give a shout out to "Agent Smith" from the Matrix Trilogy. For all of the problems that the series got itself into (because the directors were slowly losing their minds), Agent Smith is a computer-age approach to the "force of nature" style enemy. And a pretty effective one.

Darkseid, in a number of incarnations, has been good. He's also one of those dark lords you can get a voice actor to really dig into with a gravely voice.

Though I do think Ming the Merciless is probably going to win this discussion, if for no other reason than being just the right amount of memorable and over-the-top.

I'm going to make an argument for "The One Ring of Power". A manipulative force that rend the ages within Middle Earth and was only taken down because of his failure of a host, Sauron. The Ring was able to manipulate everyone it ever encountered, except for some stupid Hobbits that it almost was able to deal with. But, like too many Dark Lords, the Ring's biggest problem was always incompetent subordinates.

Anonymous Mister M December 16, 2017 8:49 AM  

Not quite the right literary vein, but General Woundwort from Watership Down is right up there. But for 1 or 2 minor things, he wins, and even after death, lives on as the prime Evil Guy hiding under every warren scaring the little baby rabbits for all time. A psychopath of the first order, unfeeling and malicious. I'd put my guy Woundwort up against anyone listed above.

Blogger marco moltisanti December 16, 2017 8:55 AM  

@36 Agent Smith and the One Ring are great choices for pure evil, but I'm not sure they qualify as actual dark lords (the Ring was created by a dark lord but isn't a dark lord itself, for example). Kind of like how I immediately thought of Vader in his original 1977 incarnation as the obvious choice but then realized he doesn't technically qualify.

Ming does though, and that's an excellent choice.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 16, 2017 8:59 AM  

I think I have to go with Palpatine. The Emperor just loved being evil. He was cackling with the pure evilness of being all the freaking time. What was not love about his single minded pursuit of being completely bad?

Although, I suppose I should give a shout out to Palpatine's progenitor. Helmuth who “speaks for Boskone”. I'm pretty sure that's who Lucas ripped off.

Blogger The Lizard King December 16, 2017 9:02 AM  

Can I nominate the Lich King and Arthas as portrayed in Warcraft 3 and its expansion? Sure the stories they were in may not be high art like that of Tolkien, but for video games WC3 remains one of the best in my opinion, and the presence of the scourge and Arthas's downfall is part of that reason. Warcraft 3 actually takes time to develop the Scourge as a threat by dedicating 2 of the campaigns to that story (you don't see that in games anymore IMO). The expansion even ends with the scourge victorious, having completely broken free of their demonic overlords and the Lich King having merged with Arthas into a new being ready to conquer the world in their own name.

Let's not talk about the mistake that was WOW and how it handled WC3's legacy.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 16, 2017 9:09 AM  


Here's an unpopular choice: Set from Gods of Egypt.

The plot for GoE is one of the oldest that there is. The Just King struck down by his Usurping Younger Brother and the usurper is in turn lawfully struck down by the Just King's Son who takes his rightful place in his father's stead.

It's a story that has been retold everywhere from camp fires to Hamlet to The Lion King, yet the story of righteous vindication against an Evil Dark Lord has never lost it's appeal. Credit where it's due the Egyptians pretty much invented it, in the story of Osiris, his brother Set and Horus.

I would say that 90% of film critics are bottom feeding SJWs. Consequently when the SJW Hivemind denounced Gods of Egypt for the unspeakable and incomprehensible crime of "cultural appropriation," they knew they had to find some reason to condemn it. What they settled on was that the special effects were overblown. That was the only thing they could find wrong with it. The special effects were too good. I'll grant the possibility of sensory overload on the big screen, it has been an issue lately but the only place you can see GoE now is on your TV, so not an issue now.

The acting is good, nobody was phoning it in. They all went for it. Gerard Butler made for a great villain in Set, I liked the inner conflict that he had. Set did love his sibling gods and striking them down caused him pain but pain and the stoic endurance of pain was pretty much all Set knew anyway. Pain was the price of doing business for him and he needed to do business.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime) did a great job with Horus, the wastrel prince who grows up to be a good king. He brought the goods and sold it. I enjoyed Geoffrey Rush's turn as the Old Titan Ra. I honestly can't say I found any of the performances to be weak. I suppose I should stress that this is a good rather than a great film. It's just that it is one that I and a few of my like minded friends with a taste of cinematic incompetence decided to watch and make fun of. Instead we saw a movie that was unjustly vilified by SJW critics. You'll either have to rent from a video store (if you can find one) or buy as download from Amazon, (although you might have luck digging through the five dollar bin at Walmart).

And I'll tell you one more thing it is fucking light years better than The Last Jedi Seriously, save your money there.

Blogger Daniel Paul Grech Pereira December 16, 2017 9:13 AM  

SOROS

Anonymous E Deploribus Unum December 16, 2017 9:17 AM  

Here's an unpopular choice: Set from Gods of Egypt.

Maybe only because nobody's seen it ...

Anonymous Looking Glass December 16, 2017 9:18 AM  

@38 marco moltisanti

Agent Smith actually won, was completely victorious, then lost because...Jesus. A sign the writers really had put themselves into a corner. While the long discourses on Philosophy were kind of interesting, ending on an actual deus ex machina was a tad sad.

As for the One Ring, my argument is that while Sauron created it, it was clearly its own force. Yet, no one truly understood that aspects. It was calling out to Sauron because it was bound to him, to fully manifest its powers in the physical realm, but it was manipulating everything around it for its own purpose.

Being the ultimate manipulative force of its world, it ran into the problem that all Dark Lords that operate from the shadows do: your minions can be your undoing. The Ring could operate so differently than other Dark Lords because it was functionally immortal. Stupid Hobbitses.

Blogger wreckage December 16, 2017 9:20 AM  

Screwtape sorta doesn't fit "dark lord" status, does he?
I'll admit there's a lack of memorable dark lords in my reading of late.

Shadowthrone from the Malazon book of the Fallen isn't quite a Dark Lord, but he sort of is. The Broken God of the same series does a nice job of being both a parody of a Christ-figure and an actual Christ-figure. The Lord of Tragedy just turns out to be a gamma little shyte.

Blogger Laramie Hirsch December 16, 2017 9:20 AM  

I know this is not from literature...but I've always ADORED Tim Curry's role as Darkness in that 80s movie, Legend.

Blogger Akulkis December 16, 2017 9:21 AM  

Blackwolf from Wizards (Ralph Bakshi, 1977). Not only did he rule half the planet, ruled the nuclear-scorched half of the planet, and terrorized the rest of the planet with his radiation-mutant army or orcs, etc.

Blogger Akulkis December 16, 2017 9:23 AM  

Ooops, literature only. Wizards is only in movie form.

Blogger FALPhil December 16, 2017 9:29 AM  

I would have to go with Dr. Fu Manchu. While the books are no longer in print, they are available electronically, and represent state-of-the-art superintelligence pulp fiction from the early 20th century. Because Sax Rohmer wrote it from a British point of view during the height of the Empire, it would read today like an alternate reality.

Anonymous AbuDhabi December 16, 2017 9:30 AM  

Lord Foul is my go-to for dark lords.

Anonymous LF December 16, 2017 9:49 AM  

Grant Morrison allways gets him perfectly, like he "got" superman in All Stars Superman.

Anonymous 2106 things I Hate December 16, 2017 9:51 AM  

The Lady Dorotea Senjak from the Black Company.

Close second to Raislin Majere.

Anonymous Roundtine December 16, 2017 9:54 AM  

@32

Satan, Paradise Lost.

+1

Blogger Brad Matthews December 16, 2017 10:01 AM  

Always liked Raislin Majere

Anonymous Post Alley Crackpot December 16, 2017 10:01 AM  

Ah, that would have to be "Karla" from John le Carré's "Smiley" novels.

"According to one legend ... Karla caused the Germans to shell their own forward line ..."

When it's not enough that you've swiped your adversary's cigarette lighter, one with an engraving from his wife, you then order one of your doubled agents to cuck the adversary himself.

Is this dark enough for you?

Plus it's quite amusing to see Patrick Stewart in that role. :-)

Blogger tz December 16, 2017 10:04 AM  

Lord Foul from the Thomas Covenant Chronicles.
He ran a brilliant chess game, but ultimately he was defeated in the end twice (I didn't do the third series) by his own internal contradiction.

Blogger Gunnar von Cowtown December 16, 2017 10:06 AM  

1. Thulsa Doom. The only villain in cinematic history who never even thought about explaining his evil scheme to the protagonist.

2. Rasalom from F. Paul Wilson's Adversary Cycle. He came closer to pulling off world-wrecking domination than any dark lord before or since. Bonus points for literally drawing sustenance from human misery.

Blogger RobertDWood December 16, 2017 10:08 AM  

Movie, not book, but Khan has staying power and is compelling because he is unflinching in loyalty to hia people and the ones who trust in him. A disingenuous dark lord is a weasel and is no dark lord at all.

Blogger GK Chesterton December 16, 2017 10:09 AM  

So many mentions of Lord Foul. Based on Vox's recommendation I started reading Lord Foul's Bane and only made it about 150 pages in. The main character seems interesting but "sucked into magical world" tends to make me cringe and the Fantasy Hippies with underage daughter are inducing more cringe. Should I just work through it then?

Blogger tz December 16, 2017 10:09 AM  

Demon Possessed Weston in Perelandra. The evil seems more like amorality, like he merely wishes to destroy the seed of a new ensoulled species for the lulz. No angry hatred, demonic rage, just petty torture and vandalism.

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 16, 2017 10:12 AM  

I'd have to think this one over more to be sure, but I think my favorite might be General Tarquin of The Order of the Stick. He knows exactly what he's doing and, instead of being the one titularly on top and getting all the glory (who will also inevitably lose his head when things go wrong), he's deliberately behind the scenes manipulating multiple figureheads.

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 16, 2017 10:13 AM  

@60 The Un-Man is a villain, definitely, but is he a "dark lord"? In the context of the story, he doesn't rule over anybody.

Blogger Zaklog the Great December 16, 2017 10:13 AM  

@59 I tried reading Lord Foul's Bane a few years back. Couldn't even get halfway. The main character is a whiny git.

Anonymous Paul December 16, 2017 10:28 AM  

Literature: Brandin King of Ygrath. Not really a dark lord but such a tragic ruler to me when reading Tigana at a young age.

Video Games: Master Mirror.

Blogger BassmanCO December 16, 2017 10:30 AM  

Iago as the hero? Seriously? He was an evil, manipulative shit.

Anonymous Gr8_Again December 16, 2017 10:33 AM  

Does The Terminator count? Not really a "dark lord" but definitely a great villain. The single-mindedness of his goal made him terrifying.

Blogger Conor Foran December 16, 2017 10:39 AM  

Seconding several reccomendations. In no particular order:

1. Sauron. What he did to Numenor should land him in at the very least the top ten Dark Lords of all time.

2. General Woundwort. Given the cosomology of Watership Down, just as Hazel earned his place in El-ahrairah's Owsla through his service as one of his Prince's many avatara, so too General Woundwort probably earned his place at the side of the Black Rabbit of Inle.
Besides, awesome last words for a rabbit. "Come back, you fools! DOGS AREN'T DANGEROUS!"
AND then he kick's the dog's ass and saves his people. AND his body was never found. One kick-ass rabbit.

3. Sheev Palpatine. Not only did the guy manage to do what the Sith had - unsuccessfully - been trying to do for almost five thousand years - take over the galaxy and destroy the Jedi - he did it right under the Jedi's noses. He destroyed the Republic by becoming the Republic. The chutzpah is astonishing.
Furthermore, Palpatine was always capital-E Evil. He not only sought power through evil means, he revelled in death and destruction. He was very like the Devil - promising everything, but leaving his victims with nothing; and there was no act of evil too small for him to revel in.
That quality of "rejoicing in evil" always reminded me of the Un-Man, in Perelandra. Sure, he's looking to damn the world and condemn souls to Hell. But if he doesn't have anything better to do he'd be equally as "happy" pulling the wings off butterflies.

Just my two cents.

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 16, 2017 10:45 AM  

The Authority of M3 in John C. Wright's Count to the Eschaton.

Blogger Nate December 16, 2017 10:51 AM  

Black Company. The Lady.

Anonymous Patron December 16, 2017 10:52 AM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:I think I have to go with Palpatine. The Emperor just loved being evil. He was cackling with the pure evilness of being all the freaking time. What was not love about his single minded pursuit of being completely bad?

Although, I suppose I should give a shout out to Palpatine's progenitor. Helmuth who “speaks for Boskone”. I'm pretty sure that's who Lucas ripped off.


Palpatine must surely qualify, given what he gets up to in the movies. Vader is an excellent right hand man / black knight (see TVTropes) for him as well.

I'm not sure about Helmuth - he was after all merely speaking for Boskone (though to be fair, when he encounters the Arisians, it's made clear he definitely got up to some nasty stuff). Gharlane of Eddore might qualify though... sure he's technically not the #1 Eddorian, but he may as well be from the story perspective.

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 16, 2017 11:00 AM  

In real life I'd probably go with Tom Kratman.

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 16, 2017 11:01 AM  

Plz check spam. Jeebus.

Blogger Revelation Means Hope December 16, 2017 11:03 AM  

The Lady Dorotea Senjak from the Black Company. Actually, her husband The Dominator was even more evil, but while he had some cunning, didn't really display much smarts.

Drakula - scourge of the Turks, terror in the night for centuries.

Marc Remilliard of Julian May's Pliocene history of the Many Colored Land. Killed billions, yet still ready to conquer other worlds from exile and still charming and had fanatically loyal followers.

Baron Harkkonnen had no redeeming qualities, was a pedophile evil and fat fag, was cruel just for fun, and ruled multiple planets with such an impact that millenia later, his home planet still retained the miasma of wrongness.

Jack of Shadows from the Zelazny story, although he was the protagonist, at one point he was the ruler of the dark magic side of the planet and was pretty cruel.

Blogger Amos Bellomy December 16, 2017 11:12 AM  

What, no Voldemort vote?

I kid, I kid. The White Witch is a good choice.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky December 16, 2017 11:16 AM  

Satan from Paradise Lost seconded (or is it thirded?). He practically steals the epic (naturally, of course).

Pop culture ultimate Dark Lord: Darth Vader - the greatest villain in film, easily.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother December 16, 2017 11:27 AM  

The psychic control guy in Jessica Jones played by Dr Who. He was so evil and cruel I had to stop watching it. Made me nervous.

OpenID bernardbrandt December 16, 2017 11:36 AM  

Ming the Merciless (Flash Gordon). I quite agree with #18 here. This is a dark lord who would deep fat fry a podunk planet like earth. Just for the lulz.

And, I must say that VD is going to have to up his game, if folk like those here start comparing him with the Eee-vil Lords mentioned above. I mean, really: all he's done so far is cause the butt-hurt of a bunch of SJW losers. Not much in comparison with, say, the destruction of a planet, or a multi-generation reign of terror. Just sayin'.

Anonymous Critically Bent December 16, 2017 11:37 AM  

@61

Tarquin is actually a great choice, though he is rather self-aware and while that lends to the humor, it damages the seriousness of the role of Dark Lord.

@68

Is the Authority of M3 actually evil? I can't tell in the series yet. Unless another book has come out since I last checked. ACK! I've got to go check...

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 16, 2017 11:41 AM  

Sauron and on his own the Witch King of Angmar. Nobody could create names like Tolkien. And they have some of the best lines and most evil plots in literature.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 16, 2017 11:43 AM  

Randall Flagg from The Stand<. The way King wrote him, I could never be sure whether he was just a supremely evil man with sorcerous powers, or an actual demon. Either way, he fit the idea of a dark lord to a T: his control over his minions, his ambition to rule the world, and his plan to carry it out.

Note that this only applies to this particular appearance of Flagg. I'm aware that the same character has appeared in other King works, but I have not read any of them to make that determination.

Blogger Josiah Litle December 16, 2017 11:47 AM  

My vote would be for the Patrician from Discworld.

Anonymous kHz December 16, 2017 11:49 AM  

So many mentions of Lord Foul. Based on Vox's recommendation I started reading Lord Foul's Bane and only made it about 150 pages in. The main character seems interesting but "sucked into magical world" tends to make me cringe and the Fantasy Hippies with underage daughter are inducing more cringe. Should I just work through it then?

It's the best "sucked into a magical world" in fantasy. The hippie elements are short-lived and not the focus of the story. The beginning is a hurdle for almost everyone, yet it's used to strong thematic effect.

If you're not put off by the beginning, my advice is to read until you meet Saltheart Foamfollower and decide then, (in the first third of LFB I believe). Yet it's the Second Chronicles where Lord Foul really surpasses himself in the depths of his vision (haven't finished Third series).

Satan, Paradise Lost +1.

Blogger Brett baker December 16, 2017 11:52 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Brett baker December 16, 2017 11:55 AM  

Do not mention his name.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 16, 2017 12:02 PM  

I'm no fan of Stephen King, but, I gotta give it to him and say Randall Flag was quite the candidate from The Stand. My apologies if that's a repeat. Other than that, I'd have to say The Shadow, as described by Razorfist. The Shadow is the evil that evil doers real and their just rewards all rolled up into one.

Blogger marco moltisanti December 16, 2017 12:07 PM  

@62. Zaklog the Great

"The Un-Man is a villain, definitely, but is he a "dark lord"? In the context of the story, he doesn't rule over anybody."

A lot of people are giving answers that yes, while great bad guys (e.g. Darth Vader or the One Ring) are not dark lords.

Flagg from Dark Tower was a great answer someone just gave, by the way. I loved the first book but didn't quite make it through the second because I wasn't into it enough to commit to another 10,000 pages. Still, Flagg stood out. He was awesome and cast perfectly in the TV mini series they did for The Stand back in the 1990s too. Some of the best dark lords are the charismatic ones who are charming and beautiful 95% percent of the time, yet satanically evil when the mask slips.

Props for the mention of Baron Harkonnen too. Great dark lord.

Blogger Lance E December 16, 2017 12:07 PM  

My vote goes to Gul Dukat from DS9. I know, we hate Star Trek... but he is a brilliant strategist, effective negotiator, fiercely protective of his people, merciless toward traitors and cucks, unflinchingly polite even toward enemies, doesn't gloat, and isn't afraid to slaughter thousands of uppity rebels and communists who threaten national stability.

It's amazing that the studios allowed them to write such a character, even a few decades ago.

Blogger marco moltisanti December 16, 2017 12:09 PM  

Would Mason Verger from the Hannibal Lecter books and movies count, I wonder? He's as loathsome as they come. Utterly degenerate sexual sadist who lives for the suffering of the objects of his affection, and pretty similar to a dark lord, with his wealth and power.

Blogger Sean Anderson December 16, 2017 12:16 PM  

Arawn Death-Lord!! I first read Prydain when I 12-now i give the set to nephews and sons of friends. He may not be the best, but he was my first.

Blogger Ingot9455 December 16, 2017 12:18 PM  

@4 +1 to The Overlord, from Blackstar. Always played as a competent villain, a threat, and by definition more powerful than the heroes because he had the 'Power' half of the Power Star and Blackstar had the 'Star' half.

Which leads of course to an honorable mention for Skeletor. Best portrayed in the more recent, more serious series where he has victories and failures but is always a primary threat. His minions, also, are much more brutal.

Blogger SirHamster December 16, 2017 12:25 PM  

Cao Cao from Romance of the Three Kingdoms deserves a mention, though he's something like 70% historical.

He was a fugitive from the imperial government and found refuge with the family of a close friend of his father, an "uncle". When said uncle left on a journey, he overheard family talk that indicated they would betray him. The family was keeping him occupied while uncle contacted government agents.

Not one to be the victim, he ambushed and killed the family, only to find them innocent. What he overheard was for a pig they were slaughtering for dinner.

He quickly left the estate, and ran into uncle returning home.

"Is all well?"
"It is fine, I'm ready to travel on."

As uncle continues on his way home, Cao Cao turns around and kills him. He had made an enemy, and he could not afford extra enemies.

Ruthless ambition and competence - key traits of a Dark Lord.

Anonymous Azimus December 16, 2017 12:29 PM  

Captain Nemo/Prince Dakkar

John Galt, also his pirate friend whose name escapes me for the moment

Professor Moriarty

For Best Dark Lady: "She-who-must-be-obeyed" from the H. Rider Haggard story of the same name.

Blogger Dire Badger December 16, 2017 12:33 PM  

What Shocks me is that no one has mentioned "Khan" played by Ricardo Montalban. Not the later version, he was a punk, but the Original Khan? Pure Dark Lord Magic, especially were he not stopped so early.

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2017 12:34 PM  

No votes for Victor von Doom? Oh well.

Of those already mentioned Ming, Dracula, and Fu Manchu are all good choices.

Blogger Revelation Means Hope December 16, 2017 12:36 PM  

Two more, one a real person, one fictional:
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Conqueror of the known world. Ruthless to those who displeased him. Cast his enemies into fiery furnaces. Yet wise enough to inspire fanatic loyalty and also wise enough to elevate Daniel and his friends to high positions (after he had them castrated).

And the Chairman from the Grimnoir chronicles by Larry Correia.

Anonymous JAG December 16, 2017 12:44 PM  

Nyarlathotep

Blogger Phelps December 16, 2017 12:45 PM  

Nicodemus Archleone from The Dresden Files. Literally shares his body with a fallen angel, leads an entire organization of fallen angel Denarians (who get the names from the 30 tarnished denarii that contain the Fallen that possess the humans.)

Anonymous Screwtape December 16, 2017 12:48 PM  

O'Brien from 1984.

Hanna Arendt style Dark Lord, stomping on a human face, forever.

Martin Fletcher from The Last Family.
Amoral Praying Mantis..


Hannibal Lecter. Peeling a face off a deputy to wear as an escape mask. Breaking a nurse's jaw to eat her tongue...and a nice Chianti with it all..


Blogger lowercaseb December 16, 2017 1:03 PM  

James Dixon wrote:No votes for Victor von Doom?

Fools! Doom's regal majesty is beyond the comprehension of simple herd. Doom's mastery of the intellect is legendary, so much that he is respected by all men in this area (even by that fraud Richards!)

Seriously...if Marvel can bring this version of Doom to the screen for once (third person boasting and everything) then almost everything will be forgiven in the cinematic world.

That said...everyone else has great choices...Gul Dukat, Baron Harkonnen, Morgoth for his raw bestial power and Sauron for his subtle manipulations.

...and the poster above reminded me of another that I keep forgetting would make a great dark lord. The ever-so-helpful and doting Uncle Screwtape.

Anonymous VFM 9914 December 16, 2017 1:05 PM  

I've got to concur with the nomination of General Woundwort. Because he was a legitimately talented leader who lead from the front and wasn't truly defeated either. He even maintained a legendary and respected status amongst his officers after he vanished. The only thing that divides him from Hazel is his desperate need for control, which is what leads him to make the few foolish choices he does and leads to the misery of those under his rule.

If he were human his empire would easily rival those of the other human(oid) characters listed.

Blogger marco moltisanti December 16, 2017 1:05 PM  

@98 O'Brien and Lecter are awesome villains but not even remotely dark lords. Big Brother would be the dark lord in 1984 (whether or not he actually exists). Mason Verger is probably the closest you get in the Lecter universe.

Blogger Were-Puppy December 16, 2017 1:23 PM  

@91 SirHamster
Cao Cao from Romance of the Three Kingdoms deserves a mention, though he's something like 70% historical.
---

2nded

Blogger Were-Puppy December 16, 2017 1:24 PM  

@96 JAG
Nyarlathotep
---

2nded.

Will also throw in Thoth Amon and anyone from Stygia.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 16, 2017 1:28 PM  

BTW, if we expanded this beyond literature and into cinema, then I would go with Lord Marshal, leader of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick.

Yet another iron-fisted ruler who seeks to destroy (or convert) all humanity. He even has the Dark Lord Armor to go with it.

Anonymous Simon in London December 16, 2017 1:34 PM  

I'll go for Jadis the White Witch. Great in the Magician's Nephew as queen of ruins, great in her earlier/later appearance seducing a pubescent boy with Turkish Delight in The Lion The Witch & the Wardrobe.

Anonymous Ashes December 16, 2017 1:59 PM  

I'll definitely throw my bid in for the Warlock King.
Even having been usurped, he has backup after backup to ensure he's in control at the end of the day.
Not the Letherii, not the Malazans, not the Crippled God.
Mosag's tribe belongs to him and him alone, he's just more clever than the average at knowing when to step back from the limelight.

Befits shadow, I suppose.

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2017 2:12 PM  

> Seriously...if Marvel can bring this version of Doom to the screen for once (third person boasting and everything) then almost everything will be forgiven in the cinematic world.

The villains who run Disney are too penny ante and amoral to begin to comprehend Doom's magnificence or his code of ethics.

Blogger Koanic December 16, 2017 2:15 PM  

Woundwort is more of a fate-defying Napoleonic giant than a dark lord. Cao Cao isn't really a bad guy in the Chinese context. Prince Nuada is the white nationalist Dark Lord we need, but not the one we deserve.

Anonymous Adlow December 16, 2017 2:48 PM  

Arawn was great, but his skull-headed, horned deputy on the cover of the first Prydain novel was even better.

Blogger Rashadjin December 16, 2017 3:01 PM  

Lord Ruler from Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy. The guy who succumbs to evil tyranny and the evil he unleashed (I think, vague distant memory now) while trying to keep the whole planet from completely falling apart before he gets a chance to try and fix his ancient, cataclysmic mistakes. Quite good buildup with the guy.

I'm going to have to disqualify Sephiroth as a deeply troubled moma's boy who, while leaving a trail of fire and destruction (of mostly corporate/government mooks), failed before really accomplishing anything. Never was the Dark Lord of anything either. Oh, Squaresoft played a masterful psychological trick with him, don't get me wrong. They had the poor gamer geek playing the game associate themselves into the empty shell that was Cloud, gave them the perfect waifu in Aeris, and then had Sephiroth rip her away from them by shoving his massive sword through her (entendre intended). Perfect geek forever rage that seared Sephiroth into their minds as something he never actually was. (Let the fan flame wars commence.)

Kefka from FFVI however... He started as the comically evil, semi-literal clown (sort of a proto Heath Ledger Joker) stooge of the evil empire that tried to burn down an allied castle and (gleefully) locked the residents inside to flush out his quarry, then later poisoned the water supply of a capital city because facing their armies on the field of battle would be a chore. He was just the guy designed to be hated. And then he betrayed his emperor, usurped control of the world's magic, rearranged the face of the planet, and ascended as a petty, tyrant god that ruled the dying world with an iron fist. If a town annoyed him, he sent his Light of Judgement (mystical version of orbital laser) and burned the place down. Everyone the world over lived in terror of him.

Which was a lot of why Sephiroth didn't quite have the magic on me that he did on everyone else, spoken as someone who put well over 200 hours into FFVII anyways.

Raistlin Majere sounds very promising, but I made the mistake of ending up with Dragonlance Chronicles rather than Legends (and never finishing the former).

Blogger Geoarrge December 16, 2017 3:05 PM  

'Vice-Councilor' Dupont in Equilibrium deserves a few points. For impersonating a servant of a higher authority who is actually himself in disguise.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( the Original Militant Apathist ) December 16, 2017 3:14 PM  

Morgoth is in an ENTIRE class of being higher than Sauron. everything he accomplished and everything he destroyed and everything he fought was a higher order than Sauron ... and Sauron was simply one of his Lieutenants.

the White Witch is ... well, you know ... White. can't very well be a DARK Lord when you are White.


VD
Present company excluded, of course.


well, you don't even have your first Skull Throne yet.

Blogger David Hoffman December 16, 2017 3:37 PM  

Lord Foul the Despiser of the Thomas Covenant series, especially in the Second Chronicles. Other Dark Lords destroy their enemies. Foul manipulates them into destroying themselves

Anonymous Bruce December 16, 2017 3:42 PM  

No love for Kane? Karl Edward Wagner deliberately wrote him as the Ultimate Studly Evil Dude.

Blogger Koanic December 16, 2017 3:44 PM  

> I'm going to have to disqualify Sephiroth as a deeply troubled moma's boy who, while leaving a trail of fire and destruction (of mostly corporate/government mooks), failed before really accomplishing anything. Never was the Dark Lord of anything either.

Failing to destroy the world is the defining dark lord accomplishment. Becoming an immortal demigod in the process is superlative.

Try to find a method of signalling your superiority that doesn't require intellectual dishonesty.

"Through his control over Jenova's cells he can construct avatars in his likeness, as well as other eldritch entities; this enables him to have a physical presence in the world of the living and attain a sort of immortality. By extension, he can remotely control Jenova cells inside living organisms. If a human has a sufficiently high concentration of Jenova cells in their body, Sephiroth can control their thoughts and actions, and in severe cases can outright puppeteer their bodies."

Magical puppeteer dark lord is quintessential.

Blogger Shimshon December 16, 2017 4:01 PM  

Evil in Time Bandits.

Anonymous CC December 16, 2017 4:11 PM  

billo wrote:Not so much a dark lord, but an antihero, I remember reading Othello for the first time as an assignment in my English literature class in high school. When I read the book I thought Iago was the tragic hero, not that buffoon Othello.

I was very disappointed when I was told Iago was the bad guy. I thought he was wronged by those in power, was seeking justice, and had a good plan.


I remember doing Othello in school and our English teacher told us that Iago was an unrealistic character as his motivations made no sense and I was prepared to accept that. But once I learned about psychopathy then Iago made perfect sense. It's not necessarily true that psychopaths are evil, but when they're motivated by malice then they are happy to burn it all down. I think Shakespeare got it right with his characterisation and my teacher was wrong.

All the same, he was a really smart guy; he was only 10 years older than us students. We called him the grim reaper because of his interpretation of the various poems and literature on the curriculum; he had an obsession with death.

Blogger Rashadjin December 16, 2017 4:41 PM  

@115 Koanic

Magical puppeteer dark lord is quintessential.

Yeah, sometimes you have to look past the post-hoc, mumbo-jumbo rationalization of something for the thing staring you right in the face.

Yes, Sephiroth was the Jenova cell experiment that went wild and tried to burn the world down via magical super meteor because the ants were annoying Mom. But beside all that, what, exactly, did he puppeteer? Some of the random battle monsters that tried to slow you down?

Let me translate Sephiroth into Vox Popoli speak.

Sephiroth is the dark triad pretty boy who stole the perfect, magical girlfriend (Aeris) from a bunch of gamma/omega gaming geeks (Cloud). Nevermind that said girlfriend was never theirs and doesn't exist. Sephiroth is the dark god of the adolescent school yard, and the intense emotional reaction he generated for doing such to our poor gammas/omegas is the main reason he became The Baddest Villain Ever™ of that gaming generation.

And I'm not signalling my superiority here. I said it was a masterful psychological play, and I'll admit it, I wasn't exactly immune to that play either. Even so, that doesn't make Sephiroth a Dark Lord in the vein of Palpatine. Light Yagami from Death Note was more a Dark Lord than Sephiroth ever was.

But you are sounding very butthurt about it, Koanic.

Anonymous Bellator Mortalis December 16, 2017 4:42 PM  

The Lady - Dorotea Senjak. Powerful sorceress. Built the Tower at Charn. Ran an empire. From the Black Company series by Glen Cook in: Books of the North, Books of the South, and Books of the Glittering Stone. Ten books so far (counting the Silver Spike). Covers a period of 40+ years.

So powerful she actually rose from the dead and escaped a massive graveyard prison warded by ghosts, monsters, mages, and a military guard force.

Blogger Daniel D December 16, 2017 5:00 PM  

Vetinari, hands down.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 16, 2017 5:03 PM  

I would vote for Victor von Doom, but he's actually a good guy, bringing peace prosperity and freedom to the lands he rules, and having to constantly fight against Reed Richards and his agents of chaos.

So, it has to be Ming the Merciless.

Although, if we want to expand the category a wee bit, George Soros is a prime candidate.

Anonymous Lckychrmsrr December 16, 2017 5:23 PM  

Thomas Covenant Chronicles are some of the whiniest books ever. The protagonist ties with Rand al Thor for most uninteresting lead characters. I don't recommend finishing the series. I regret the time I wasted on them hoping they would go somewhere and improve.

For dark Lord, I vote for The Lord Ruler from the mistborn books or Odium from the Stormlight Archives.

Anonymous Carlsonal December 16, 2017 5:41 PM  

The Judge from Blood Meridian. Darkest lord ever.

Blogger Koanic December 16, 2017 5:59 PM  

Rashy, you just want to talk about a theory on why Sephiroth made an impression on Millennials. I have no problem with that point. Unfortunately, you decided to try to make it topical rather than tangential, via a passive-aggressive confrontation with me. You are exhibiting textbook gamma traits such as flippancy, posturing, projection and intellectual dishonesty.

> But beside all that, what, exactly, did he puppeteer? Some of the random battle monsters that tried to slow you down?

From the wiki I already quoted: Cloud, the Advent Children, the Geo-stigma children, multiple avatars

"Hojo has injected Zack, Cloud and the survivors of Nibelheim (save for Tifa who was rescued by her mentor Zangan before Shinra found her) with Sephiroth's cells, turning them into Sephiroth Clones: people whose wills have been over-ridden with Sephiroth's will. Hojo believes the Jenova cells within Sephiroth would call for a "reunion" of those who share its cells, and wishes to see his theory put to test."

> I said it was a masterful psychological play, and I'll admit it, I wasn't exactly immune to that play either.

Ok. I didn't even remember Aeris' death until you brought it up. My main reaction was that the graphics sucked and I couldn't believe they actually killed my built-up healer. Maybe this theme is important to you because it is relevant to you.

> Light Yagami from Death Note was more a Dark Lord than Sephiroth ever was.

Anyone can rank supervillains by power scale. What's interesting is to rank them by subjective resonance. Obviously you have no appreciation for the transcendent warrior values displayed in Sephiroth's lonely Luciferian ascent. Your choice reveals what you DO value - clever passive-aggressive idealism. Gay.

Anyhow, congratulations on figuring out that you were emotionally manipulated by a videogame.

Blogger Daniel December 16, 2017 6:20 PM  

Plancton is an awesome dark lord. Lol

Blogger James Dixon December 16, 2017 6:28 PM  

> I think Shakespeare got it right with his characterisation and my teacher was wrong.

Shakespeare > English teacher. Those who can do, those who can't...

> I would vote for Victor von Doom, but he's actually a good guy,

While I don't disagree that Doom has his good points, he is at the very least overly cavalier with the lives of others.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 16, 2017 6:56 PM  

Kane rarely qualifies as a dark lord. He's usually pulling strings behind the curtains until he pulls the wrong one. Although he's a great anti hero.

Blogger Hen December 16, 2017 7:09 PM  

My fav is Del Azarchel/Exarchel in the Eschaton Sequence, John Wright. Greatly bad and dark.

Blogger Meng Greenleaf December 16, 2017 7:43 PM  

My vote is for King Agamemnon.
He earns a title Dark Lord for the murder of his daughter Iphigenia. Her sacrifice is made to the goddess Artemi so that his fleet can sail safely to Troy, where the killing fields get real.

Blogger Vlad December 16, 2017 7:48 PM  

Infested Kerrigan from the original Starcraft. She was very devious and cunning as she backstabbed her allies for her personal gains. And she enjoyed doing it. Too bad her character was ruined in Starcraft II

Blogger Joseph December 16, 2017 10:03 PM  

+1 on Thrawn. And regarding that bit about a culture’s art, remember the one time that tactic failed him, he wiped that entire culture out of existence.

Now THAT’S dark.

Blogger tz December 16, 2017 10:04 PM  

Other than Alcazan, Fairy Hardcastle from "That Hideous Strength".

No one has mentioned Baron Harkkonen from Dune, but I think he's up there.

Blogger Aeoli Pera December 16, 2017 10:15 PM  

Kefka from Final Fantasy 3/6. Light of Judgment, plus his techno-Mordor black tower was badass.

Also the Storm King from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams.

Meier Link from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

Anonymous Bruce December 16, 2017 10:25 PM  

@Brick Hardslab- 'Kane rarely qualifies as a dark lord. He's usually pulling strings from behind the scenes until he pulls the wrong one. Although he's a great antihero.'

Not how I remember Bloodstone. But yes, he's usually too much of a hands-on guy to be the Supervisor of Evil sitting in his tower.

Hmm. Julius Caesar in the Tros of Samothrace stories. Busy raping Gaul and betraying the Republic, but he's definitely supervisory and evil geniusy about it.

Blogger Rashadjin December 16, 2017 10:42 PM  

@124 Koanic

From the wiki I already quoted: Cloud, the Advent Children, the Geo-stigma children, m
ultiple avatars

"Hojo has injected Zack, Cloud and the survivors of Nibelheim (save for Tifa who was rescued by her mentor Zangan before Shinra found her) with Sephiroth's cells, turning them into Sephiroth Clones: people whose wills have been over-ridden with Sephiroth's will. Hojo believes the Jenova cells within Sephiroth would call for a "reunion" of those who share its cells, and wishes to see his theory put to test."


....Seriously? You do realize that Hojo is the principle actor there? That Hojo is your puppeteer? By that one paragraph, you only proved that Sephiroth is just another puppet, albeit one that can control other puppets, all in Hojo's grand experiment on *Jenova's cells*. You do realize you're blind for not seeing that, right? Or at least delusional for attributing any of that to Sephiroth's qualifications. We don't look to the Empire's clone army captains when thinking Dark Lord here, no matter how badass they happen to end up being. (Although I'm just begging the internet to prove me wrong on this point, because that's actually kind of a good idea...)

And suddenly you think I'm talking power levels in a topic about who makes a good Dark Lord? Holy crap, man. And since when did Light Yagami become a contender with Sephiroth in terms of raw power? He's a teen with a notebook (that happens to kill people, but only if he knows their real name). I put him above Sephiroth on the Dark Lord o'meter because Light tried to control people via fear of death like a 'Lord' in our talk about Dark Lords. Sephiroth boils down to being emo-cool while slaughtering everyone who stands in his way, before turning into an emo-cool god...thing that tries to obliterate nearly all life on the planet. No underlings, no worshipers, no army, no ruling, barely a plan. He's entirely missing half of this equation.

Which, yes, means I'm ignoring all the nonsense Squenix tacked onto Sephiroth's lore post-FFVII to appease the fans and milk the franchise.

Talk about projecting.

But I do feel suitably ashamed for not mentioning Kerrigan from the original Star Craft + Brood War expansion. She was one of my three K's of evil back in the day. Kane, Kefka and Kerrigan.

Speaking of, Kane from Command & Conquer was good fun in the Dark Lord sense. (Until they ruined him at C&C3 or so)

Gul Dukat was awesome too, although I have a hard time thinking of him as purely evil a la Dark Lord. Something closer to the Putin mythos with him - a ruthless and conniving leader of his people for his people.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 16, 2017 10:43 PM  

@134 Bruce, in Bloodstone he played both sides to set up his toad empire but in the end he found he was the puppet. He's been a dark lord according to his backstory, more than once. None of the stories really cover the whole dark lording it. He's more hands on like you said.

Blogger dtungsten December 17, 2017 12:00 AM  

@RobertDWood

A disingenuous dark lord is a weasel and is no dark lord at all.

Excellent point. If most writers these days are gammas, their villains are as well, and are therefore painfully unconvincing.

This compliments what Vox was saying about judgement of the artist by the art.

I'd say that conceivably makes the God Emperor the best dark lord in literature, for an admittedly stretched definition of literature (and perhaps dark lord).

Blogger dtungsten December 17, 2017 12:11 AM  

Darth Vader is LITERALLY a Dark Lord of the Sith.

Anonymous 10900209 December 17, 2017 1:14 AM  

Vecna, the lich god of secrets in Greyhawk is my fav. Born a filthy peasant, illicitly studied magic and achieved mastery unrivaled by other mortals, cheats death by using profane rituals to turn himself into an undead horror, eventually becomes an evil god.

Blogger IreneAthena December 17, 2017 1:42 AM  

First response that popped into my mind: "Who's most dark lordy, I can't say for sure, but plenty of eye-kohl is de rigeur. Apparently the bad boy I'd fall for is a pirate. Fore-warned is fore-armed.

Blogger Koanic December 17, 2017 5:18 AM  

What a delicious fighting retreat! Allow me to nail the last shred of your retreating dignity to that door you're trying to slip through.

> You do realize that Hojo is the principle actor there?

You are shifting ground. Here is your original lie:

"Never was the Dark Lord of anything either."

As I have shown, he is the Dark Lord of the goddess Jenova and those those injected with her cells, and wields considerable influence over the Lifestream at times, as well as the apocalyptic Meteor.

"That Hojo is your puppeteer? By that one paragraph, you only proved that Sephiroth is just another puppet, albeit one that can control other puppets, all in Hojo's grand experiment on *Jenova's cells*."

Now you are claiming that a Dark Lord must be created entirely by his own machinations and no one else's, which is patently false.

"Or at least delusional for attributing any of that to Sephiroth's qualifications."

More lying. Creating a false equivalency between being the result of an experiment and not having independent puissance. He becomes independent from his Shinra manipulators when he discovers their deceptions and then surpasses them in power completely.

"We don't look to the Empire's clone army captains when thinking Dark Lord here,"

More false equivalency. Clone army captains are under command, minor characters, of low power, of little dramatic significance, fungible, and not malign. Minions, not Dark Lords. The diametric opposite of Sephiroth.

"And suddenly you think I'm talking power levels in a topic about who makes a good Dark Lord?"

No. There are more people in this thread than you.

"No underlings, no worshipers, no army,"

All false. He is a commander from his time in Soldier. The Advent Children are his underlings and worshippers.

> Which, yes, means I'm ignoring all the nonsense Squenix tacked onto Sephiroth's lore post-FFVII to appease the fans and milk the franchise.

Yes, because you're a liar. The gamma will always twist definitions until he's right.

> Talk about projecting.

Whereas I have detailed the specific instance and psychological implications of your projection, you allude briefly and ambiguously to mine because you are lying.

Blogger James Dixon December 17, 2017 9:41 AM  

I should note that both Marvel and DC have lots of Dark Lords within their own domains. Lex Luthor is the primary example in DC. In Marvel the Red Skull, the Kingpin, and Dormammu are all examples. Dormammu actually qualifies as a "Dark Lord" in most ways.

Blogger Scott Birch December 17, 2017 9:43 AM  

Lecter defeated Verger easily while being in his captivity. Verger was a loathsome squirt who inspired no loyalty from anyone.

Blogger Scott Birch December 17, 2017 10:09 AM  

An honourable mention should go to Archimandrite Luseferous, warrior priest of the Starveling Cult of blah blah blah and effective ruler of 117 stellar systems etc etc. A highly imaginative sadist with apparently no moral qualities whatsoever. Ian M. Banks wrote him well in The Algebraist.

Blogger el diablo loco poco December 17, 2017 11:09 AM  

Josef Stalin. Ooops.....you wanted one from literature. Never mind.

Blogger Were-Puppy December 17, 2017 12:10 PM  

Gargamel

Blogger Allen Skeens December 17, 2017 5:37 PM  

Gul becomes a complete loser at the end.

Anonymous FitzRobert December 17, 2017 7:42 PM  

Dudley Smith.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 18, 2017 12:55 AM  

That's because he's been leaving the skulls scattered about his yard instead.

Anonymous Gecko December 18, 2017 10:26 AM  

Soulcatcher from the Black Company series should make the top ten, I would think.

Glaurung holds a special place in my heart for what he did to the children of Hurin. While his reign was relatively short, I cannot think of a better tragedy.

Sauron was more conniving, nefariously vengeful, and underhanded than Morgoth. The ways he wiped out Barahir's men and later Numenor are testaments to this. The battle with Aragorn was the resolution of this conflict with men that began with Beren. Sauron just has to get my vote.

Honorable mention: Aragorn the Necromancer.

Anonymous GregMan December 18, 2017 12:34 PM  

Cthulhu. I mean, he's dead and he still causes trouble among humans!

If not ol' squid-face, then Morgoth. He's Satan for crying out loud.

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