Tweet of the Day: Dragons, Wild Men and Bigfoot
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there is no more corrupting power than one given to you by a simple accident of birth. Ergo, aristocrats, whose power comes from the position they were born to and (at least in the past) held absolute power over the people they ruled are corrupt and hence evil. Something about being born without any of the burdens of the lower orders yet have near absolute power over screams untrustworthy if not outright evil. Most characters who invoke this trope suffer from a form of petty entitlement due to their inherited wealth/power. In other words, they deserve the power they have because they already have the power. Throw in a bit of greed and lust of power and you really have some nasty characters.
“What do you give somebody who has everything?”
“I don’t have everything! Not yet but I soon will.”
If that is not evil, I don’t know what is. Of course, we are still in love with the fantastic middle ages, so the evil aristocrat serves as the perfect foil for the good one(s). Often the evil one is a petty baron or other minor official, lording over a square foot of nothing while scheming to take over the kingdom from the good King or Queen. It is often up to the heroes to defeat this little rapscallion before things get out of hand. Or maybe they are the evil adviser behind a good but otherwise naive ruler. A crueler world will be ruled by nothing but evil aristocrats, and maybe one of them will buck the trend and join the heroes in their quest to overturn the system. In the end this trope is less about titles and more about power, who wields it and who covets it.