Knights of Cerebus is a TV Tropes-popularized term to identify wrongdoers who creates a stark contrast by being played completely seriously, changing the tone of the story in the fiction where the said fiction supposedly a comedic or light-hearted media that normally portrayed antagonists/villains that merely a nuisance for everyone rather than an actual threat.
Who are they and what made them apart with comedic villains/antagonists that pose less threat or merely an annoyance to heroes/good guys?
To clarify, when a story portrays usually bumbling, comedic or incompetent villains or even villains who despite posing a credible threat still have comedic moments where these resulting those kinds of villains would be easily dispatched by heroes, those who proved to be a Knight of Cerebus, proved to be very competent, deadlier, sometimes even frightening, and their presence would bring the dark outcome over the story, ranging from affecting heroes or other good guys' character development of worse, cataclysmic events. Even episodes/chapters featuring them focus on the seriousness and drama and not on humor.
Requirements for a villain to be a Knight of Cerebus
A villain can only be considered as a Knight of Cerebus if he/she fulfilled these requirements:
- They are hardly if ever comedic. Of course, there are very rare exceptions namely if their gimmick is that of a clown or a jester in which that is simply part of their gimmick itself. This cannot distract or lighten the mood.
- This is not simply a dark character. It has to be of an unheard level, like a serial killer in My Little Pony or similar very lighthearted media.
- There are very few if any of these within a story or said media, and if you have had one it is much harder to have another one later due to a couple of reasons. After one is introduced, it is harder for another villain to standout enough to truly count. The other reason is that the audience, in general, isn't as easily shocked and at times even expect more like them.
- This villain type must ultimately contrast to the current setting of the story, and their very presence darkens it as a result. This feels strange and is previously unheard of within the setting.
It is true that it is not always the case for a Knight of Cerebus to be a dark character, but the chance that some of them wind up becoming a notorious force to be reckoned with (which sometimes so notorious that simply mentioned them by their name deemed to be taboo) is unmistakable. They would achieve this via commit heinous acts such as crossing, destroying or corrupting innocent people, or other form of evil acts that instilled fear to everyone.