Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks, and you can set your own hours. However, every Evil Overlord I’ve read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I’ve noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists, or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an Evil Overlord:
1. My legions of terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face-concealing ones.
2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
3. My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.
6. I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.
7. When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, “Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?” My reply will be, “No, just sensible.”
8. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?” I’ll say, “No” and shoot him.
9. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks’ time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
12. One of my advisers will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
13. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.
14. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.
15. I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he’s caused.
16. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
17. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero’s rugged countenance and she’d betray her own father.
18. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
19. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock- offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
20. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way — even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless — my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.
21. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line “No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!” (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
22. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
23. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.
24. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
25. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.
26. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
27. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
28. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
29. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.
30. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also shoot his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.
31. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.
32. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.
33. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.
34. I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.
35. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.
36. If the beautiful princess that I captures says “I’ll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!”, I will say “Oh well” and kill her.
37. I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero’s party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.
38. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local
39. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
40. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.