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A Masked Mystery Villain is a stock character in genre fiction. The Masked Mystery Villain was frequently used in the adventure stories of Pulp magazines and Movie Serials in the early twentieth century. They can also appear in Crime fiction to add to the atmosphere of suspense and suspicion. The "Mask" need not be literal (although it often is), referring more to the subterfuge involved.
He or she is the often main antagonist of the story, often acting behind the scenes with henchmen confronting the protagonists directly. Usually, the protagonists must discover the villain's true identity before they can be defeated. Often the Masked Mystery Villain will turn out to be either one of the protagonists themselves or a significant member of the supporting cast. The author may give the viewer or reader clues, with many red herrings, as to the villain's identity - sometime as the characters find them and sometimes for the audience alone. However, the identity is not usually revealed to the audience before it is revealed to the characters of the story. Even the villain's henchmen rarely know the truth about their master.
The archetype tends to be a popular one to be parodied, often using a literal mask and breaking into a stereotypical evil laugh.
- The Black Ace from The Mystery Squadron.
- The Tiger Shark from The Fighting Marines.
- The Lame One from Dick Tracy.
- The Dragon from Ace Drummond.
- The Lightning from The Fighting Devil Dogs.
- Don Del Oro from Zorro's Fighting Legion.
- The Wasp from Mandrake the Magician.
- The Black Tiger from The Shadow.
- The Scorpion from Adventures of Captain Marvel.
- The Octopus from The Spider's Web.
- The Gargoyle from The Spider Returns.
- The Master Key from The Master Key.
- The Crimson Ghost from The Crimson Ghost.
- Captain Mephisto from Manhunt of Mystery Island.
- The Wizard from Batman and Robin.
- Mr. M from The Mysterious Mr. M.
- Dr. Vulcan from King of the Rocket Men.
Anime and comics
- Anokata from Detective Conan.
- The Octopus from The Spirit.
- Tobi from Naruto.
- Gideon G. Graves from Scott Pilgrim.
- "All For One" from Boku no Hero Academia
- The Hooded Claw from The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
- The Carver from Nip/Tuck.
- Amon from The Legend of Korra.
- Red Devil and Green Meanie from Scream Queens.
- A from Pretty Little Liars.
- Lakewood Slasher from Scream.
- Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget.
- Erik from The Phantom of the Opera
- Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects
- The Blank from Dick Tracy - (1990 film)
- Darth Sidious from the Star Wars prequel trilogy (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones)
- Evil Masked Figure from Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
- Jigsaw from the horror movie saga Saw.
- Yokai from Big Hero 6.