Why do bad guys always laugh

«Muhahaha»: That's why film villains laugh the way they laugh


Film buffs recognize film bastards immediately - by their laugh. A psychologist knows why they all sound the same.

Even if you have no idea what a movie is about, you will immediately recognize the villains in it. Responsible for this is their laughter, which not only sounds nasty, but also gets through the audience's marrow.

That Joker, Cruella de Vil and Dr. Evil all sound the same despite all the differences, is no coincidence, as psychologist Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen from the Danish University of Aarhus writes in the Journal of Popular Culture.

The stereotypical laughter makes it immediately clear to every viewer that there is no other motive for the deeds of the villains than the pure lust for evil. It also underscores the wickedness of their intentions.

According to the psychologist, the baddie laugh makes sense from a narrative point of view. So leave it in no doubt who is good and who is bad.

It also helps to free the viewer from moral scruples. This sometimes goes so far that he even wishes the villain death in the end.

According to Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, by the way, it's not the nasty laughter itself that disturbs the audience, but the negative context in which it takes place. In real life, on the other hand, laughter is typically associated with “good and pro-social interactions”.

Laughing as a stylistic device is not a Hollywood invention, as Orf.at quotes the psychologist. There are indications that "even in Greek tragedies villains broke out into hearty laughter at the damage inflicted on the heroes."

Nevertheless, the US film industry has contributed to the typical villainous laugh, according to Kjeldgaard-Christiansen: that a villain speaks out his plan and then laughs maliciously at it.