“Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust.” - Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rules 5th Ed.
We all know that in pop culture, our antagonists can be relied upon to think evil thoughts, say evil words, and do evil things, all for evil reasons. In the world of conventional storytelling, it’s safe to say that needing something, or more commonly someone, for the protagonists to pit themselves against, is of utmost importance- making “good bad guys” are essential.
Poorly executed bad guys can ruin a story, and completely derail the lead and their struggle, creating a hot mess of a forgettable tale. In the world of Role Playing Games (RPGs), and Dungeons and Dragons in particular, chaotic evil player characters are frowned upon, or even banned from play completely because of the disruption and discord they bring to the table. In reality, when played properly, chaotic evil characters can bring a reality and random element to a campaign that’s hard to find otherwise.
They do the same in modern comics, TV and movies. The truth is that chaotic evil characters can be great fun, as they are often far more interesting and complex than the protagonist. These are the top fifteen characters you never realized are chaotic evil.
The idea of chaotic evil existing only as obtuse engines of death and destruction fail to see the alignment in terms of a man like Hannibal Lecter. First seen on film in Dino De Laurentis’s Manhunter, Lecter is unquestionably a man of distinction, taste, and intellect. He’s also been known to have his victims slice the flesh of their own face to ribbons, and then make them feed it to pigs.
Completely disregarding mundane conventions, like good and evil or law and order, Lecter plays his own game every time, and the feelings, needs, and lives of others are never more than just pawns on the board. Hannibal Lecter’s chaotic evil alignment means he sees the world with the fascination of a brilliant, homicidal child - everything, even his own physical confinement, is amusing. He can do anything he wants, and the only thing to be afraid of is boredom.
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The Matrix Trilogy’s Agent Smith hates existence in all its forms and wants only for it to end. He thinks humans are a plague and the machines he was once controlled by are a prison. Smith refuses to accept what is around him, and yearns to tear it all down by hand if need be. Brutal, efficient, and possessed of a dry, dark wit, Agent Smith is chaotic evil because he doesn’t care who he hurts or whether doing so is right or wrong. Smith only knows the confinement and agony of sensation and being, and he feels compelled to nullify the existence of everything around him, no matter what the cost.
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Latverian dictator Victor Von Doom looks out at the endless universe and thinks one thing and one thing only- “This should belong to me.” The reasons for his actions, when he bothers to explain them at all, revolve around one central theme: the will of Doom is absolute and everything should belong to him. All lives are Doom’s to take or spare. All things, known or unknown, are Doom’s to bequeath or repossess. Contrary to his assertion, Victor Von Doom positively screams chaotic evil by virtue of his indifference to the existence of all things living, except for how they may better serve him.
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Throughout all of his many incarnations, the constant of Brainiac’s character has been his insatiable lust for knowledge. Brainiac has proven himself indifferent to the wishes and desires of the specimens he collects, and if he must destroy life to preserve the sanctity of his findings, so be it. Brainiac is a chaotic evil character because he will do anything, even destroy entire cultures and worlds, just to possess and preserve their history.
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Alonzo Harris from Training Day is one of the scariest characters on the list. Whereas most of the entries feature characters who are unabashedly what they are, Alonzo Harris claims to be one of the good guys and operates with the latitude afforded to all of the officers in Law Enforcement nationwide. It makes it all the more chilling when it is revealed that Alonzo’s supposedly unconventional tactics are not meant to make the streets of his community safer, but rather simply the actions of a character completely removed from empathy, ethics or compunction. Alonzo’s ability to pretend to be honorable and upright even as he uses anyone to get what he wants, even his own children, mark him as undeniably chaotic evil.
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As one of the most classically chaotic evil characters on the list, the former Anakin Skywalker epitomizes the seductive nature of evil and its ability to drive people to commit the most unspeakable acts. Even as Anakin tells himself he’s slaughtering a school full of children out of noble reasons, his actions are those of someone who cares only about themselves and their own desires.
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Keyser Soze plays his chaotic evil nature to the hilt in 1995’s The Usual Suspects. Manipulating everyone from his henchmen to the cops interviewing him to the viewing audience themselves, Keyser Soze is perpetually whatever he needs to be, even as he kills indiscriminately and without compunction. In the end, Keyser eclipses the darkness of the criminals he rubbed shoulders with, and shows Customer Agent David Kujan what real evil looks like.
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Lex Luthor wants to be the savior of the people he looks down on, if only Superman would stop hogging all the glory. Lex Luthor reveals an interesting facet of chaotic evil mindset in that he’s more than willing to side with the forces of good, but only when it suits his purposes. As President of the United States of America, he was an accomplished diplomat and tactician, but also conspiring with enemies of country and planet. At the heart of chaotic evil lies ego, and Lex Luthor has an ego the size of Krypton.
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