Evil twin

Evil twin

Evil twins are antagonists found in many different fictional genres. They are physical copies of protagonists, but with radically inverted moralities. In filmed entertainment, they can have obvious physical differences with the protagonist—such as facial hair, eyepatches, scars or distinctive clothing—that make it easy for the audience to visually identify the two characters. Sometimes, however, the physical differences between the characters will be minimized, so as to confuse the audience. Both roles are almost always played by the same actor, generally allowing for producers to save on the expense of hiring a guest actor.

Though there may be moral disparity between actual biological twins, the term is more often a misnomer. In many cases, the two look-alikes are not actually twins. In others, the so-called "evil" twin is more precisely a dual opposite to their "good" counterpart, possessing at least some commonality with the value system of the protagonist.


Mythologic precursors

The concept of evil twins is ancient. One of the earliest may be in the Zurvanite branch of Zoroastrianism. This sect distilled the general abstract duality of Zoroastrianism into a concept of manifest twins "born" of a monist (first) principle Zurvan "Time." In this cosmological model, the twins — Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd) and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) — were co-eternal representatives of good and evil. Ahura Mazda, representing good, was eventually expected to win the battle. The doctrinal foundation of Zurvanism lies in its interpretation of the Zoroastrian precepts of Free Will: Like Mazdaism (the other, and still extant branch of Zoroastrianism), Zurvanism emphasized that mortals always "have a choice between good and evil, and that one is always free to make the choice one way or the other. Zurvanism took this one step further and considered Angra Mainyu "evil" by choice, rather than by nature. This characterization is important to modern uses of the "evil twin", as most examples are in fact opposites of their "good twin", rather than wholly evil.

Amongst the Mandika of southern Mali, the origin of the world is also attributed to twins, albeit fraternal ones. According to this legend, Mangala, or God, twice tried to create the world with seeds. The first attempt failed because he had but one seed. On his second attempt, Mangala used four sets of twin seeds. This expermient was more satisfactory, and soon a universe was growing within a cosmic egg. Ultimately, however, one of the male twins, Pemba, grew tired of being confined. In attempting to escape, he proved himself treacherous. The rip he caused in the cosmic egg begat the Earth. It also compelled Mangala to seek a sacrifice of atonement. For this, Mangala killed Pemba's innocent fraternal twin, Faro. When Faro's remains were scattered on the newly formed Earth, fertile land was formed. Thus the Earth as we know it is the result of the treason of the evil twin and the sacrifice of the good one.

Many Native American creation myths likewise provide for the role of dualistic twins.

Early fictional appearances


In literature, Beowulf has been cited as an early example of the evil twin story. Although it does not feature biologic twins or even characters that seem to have similar appearances, the precise language suggests that the monsters are evil reflections of the hero.


A notable early use of the modern concept of evil twins in film is 1939's The Man in the Iron Mask. This adaptation of a part of the novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas made a key change to the source material by suggesting that the plot's central twins were in fact opposites of each other. Louis XIV is portrayed as the evil twin of Philippe, a boy raised by d'Artagnan and The Three Musketeers. The movie contains many of the common tropes of the evil twin plot, such as the fact that Phillippe is unaware of his twin's existence, differences in upbringing being important to the twins' adult temperaments, facial hair as a way for the audience to distinguish between the twins, one twin impostering the other, and the eventual triumph of the good twin.

Evil twins were also staples of serial films. They were crucial plot devices in the initial 1937 Dick Tracy storyline and the 1941 Jungle Girl serial. In the 1937 serial, Gordon Tracy was introduced as Dick's twin brother. Gordon underwent an evil scientist's procedure which rendered him evil and physically transformed. For the majority of the story he and Dick were played by different actors, but it is understood that he was intended as a twin. In the case of Jungle Girl, it is not the titular character who has the twin, but her father. She is raised in the wilds of Africa, according to the narrative, because her uncle drives her father into exile there when she is a young girl. Later, after, she has grown into a young woman, she stops her uncle's plan to illegally remove diamonds from the continent.

However, just as in the modern era, early film usages were not confined to action-adventure stories. Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator was a 1940 comedic evil twin story that worked on two levels. In the narrative itself, Chaplin played both a good, simple barber and his evil counterpart, a Hitler-esque dictator. But it was also borne of the notion that Chaplin himself actually looked like Hitler. As a modern reviewer has noted:

Comic books

Comic books contain some other early appearances of evil twins. One such example is found in September 1948's Kid Eternity #11. The final story in the work revolves around "Handsome Harry", the evil twin of Kid Eternity's mentor, Mr. Keeper. Handsome Harry is the archetypal evil twin in that he's both evil and a biological twin.

The concept was brought to the more iconic superhero, Superman, about a decade later. Superman had two important early twins. One was 1958's Bizarro, who was at first Superboy's evil twin. This twin was easily distinguishable both in physical appearance and manner of speech. Bizarro, more anti-Superman than evil, nevertheless "represented Superman's Jungian shadow, his dark side". While Bizarro has endured, a one-off 1960 "bad" Superman allowed for a rare, early psychological study of the evil twin. In May 1960's Superman #137, a story called "The Two Faces of Superman" first appeared. After contrasting the lives of the two Supermen from birth to adulthood, it concludes that "good" Superman's nature is ascribed largely to his upbringing by Ma and Pa Kent. The other Superman is evil because he has had no such human models of decency. In DC Comics, evil doppelgangers live of various superheroes reside on Earth-Three, such as Superman's evil counterpart, Ultraman.

Although the Kid Eternity story has had the term retroactively applied to it, none of these examples originally used words "evil twin" explicitly. 1968's Wonder Woman #175 is thus important for being an early case of the term appearing on a comic cover.


While evil twins are inextricably linked to the soap opera, they have appeared in most televised genres. Some of the earliest usages were in fact in westerns. Two episodes entitled Deadly Image appeared within a year of each other on two different westerns. Maverick's version appeared in March 1961, followed swiftly by The Rifleman's take in February 1962. Beyond the coincidence of name, both offered similar plots: the hero becomes confused with a look-alike criminal, and the guilt of the hero must be cleared by demonstrating that the evil twin is a separate individual.


The evil twin has now been used with great enough frequency to become viewed with cynicism as a hackneyed concept. As the character of Kate Austen remarked in a deleted scene from Lost: "It's not a soap opera until somebody's evil twin shows up. However, within the concept of the evil twin there are characteristics which are themselves tropes.

The goatee

The biggest of these distinguishing traits is the goatee. Famously used by the "Mirror Universe" version of Star Trek character Spock, in the episode Mirror, Mirror, it was an easy way for audiences to tell "good" Spock from "evil" Spock. The presence of a goatee on a familiar character is now seen as an immediate clue that the character is an evil twin. Even writers not discussing evil twins in their literary sense have occasionally made reference to the goatee through quick metaphor: It should be noted that only two of three Vulcans males to appear in an episode set in the Mirror Universe, Spock, Soval, and Tuvok sport a goatee (Tuvok, a freedom fighter, does not, and that may be due to this fact). The goatee is referenced in Futurama by Bender's 'evil twin' Flexo, who is constantly accused of being the bad Bender because of his goatee.

Identifying the imposter

In cases where the "evil twin" is not physically distinguishable from the "good twin", a typical plot resolution will involve another character having to choose between the two. At some point, in other words, the evil twin must be killed, jailed, banished—or at least unmasked. While this has been accomplished in a variety of different ways, the basic idea of a third character having to choose between the two twins is common to most plots involving evil twins.

General usage

Type of doppelgänger

In modern use, "evil twin" and one sense of the word "doppelgänger" have come to be virtually interchangeable. While "evil twin" does not connote the sense of "supernatural harbinger of death", it can be used to mean "a physical copy of one's self who has an altered morality".

As metaphor

The term "evil twin" has also passed into general usage in a variety of different contexts. In computer technology, it describes a faked wireless access point designed to appear like a genuine one, for the purpose of phishing information from unsuspecting users. It has also proven a popular name for musical groups, as well as a wide range of media providers. The term is further used in contemporary journalism and non-fiction as a convenient label. In astronomy, Venus is often called Earth's "evil twin", in deference to the similarity, yet opposition, of the two bodies.

Fictional evil twins

Evil twins have found their enduring niche in comic books, video games, and television shows.

  • Liquid Snake, the antagonist of Metal Gear Solid, is the twin brother of protagonist Solid Snake. Both are genetically-altered clones created from a secret government project.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, Mileena is the evil "twin" of Kitana.
  • In Max Payne, Mona and Lisa Sax are identical twins. Upon appearing, Mona, a hired gunwoman, describes herself as Lisa's evil twin.
  • In the animated TV show South Park, the second-season episode "Spookyfish" features versions of the main characters with goatees (in a parody of the famous evil Spock from Star Trek) that come from what is referred to as an "Evil Parallel Universe". In this universe, however the so-called "evil" version of the normally obnoxious and belligerent Cartman is actually a kind and caring friend, causing the real Cartman's friends to prefer the twin. Meanwhile, two evil versions of Stan and Kyle (minus Kenny who is rich) arrive through the dimensional gateway to bring back their Cartman.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV series, there is an episode in which Sabrina finds out everyone in the Spellman family has a twin. She soon finds Katrina, her twin, and they had to find out who was the evil twin and who was the good twin. It was soon found out that Katrina was the evil twin. In a later episode they discover Zelda's evil twin, Jezebelda, shares a prison room with Katrina.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the android character Data, has an evil, identical twin brother named Lore whose mannerisms and ideas, not just his morality, are the polar opposite of Data's. He made several appearances, the first being in the episode "Datalore".
  • In the movie Army of Darkness, Ash has to deal with little evil twin duplicates of himself that sprung out of a broken mirror. One of the mini Ashes gets himself swallowed by Ash, and effectively grows into an evil twin, "Bad Ash". Ash kills his evil self, but after burying him, his evil twin returns as "Evil Ash". (See Evil Ash)
  • RoboGadget is the evil twin of Inspector Gadget in the 1999 Inspector Gadget film.
  • Elizabeth Montgomery often played Samantha Stevens' evil twin cousin, Serena on the television series Bewitched.
  • In the television series I Dream of Jeannie Jeannie had an evil twin sister known only as "Jeannie's Sister." Both characters were played by Barbara Eden.
  • In the Futurama Episode "The Lesser Of Two Evils", the character of Flexo is introduced who is effectively the twin of Bender (complete with goatee). As it turns out, Bender is actually the evil one out of the two of them.
  • The Justice League of DC Comics has an evil counterpart in a parallel universe, where evil supplements good. As such, the heroes of the comic are feared villains in that reality, and archcriminal Lex Luthor is a kindly hero. In the Justice League animated series, an evil version of the title characters (minus their version of the Flash) called the Justice Lords, sought to take over the normal dimension. Similarly, Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series featured an evil version of the Freedom Fighter hero team from an alternate reality, led by a totally amoral hedgehog named Scourge (formally known as Evil Sonic). The traditional nemesis of Sonic, Dr. Eggman, was rendered a harmless veterinarian.
  • In the Godzilla films, Mechagodzilla was first introduced as Godzilla's evil, robotic counterpart. Another of Godzilla's evil twins was SpaceGodzilla, introduced in the 90s. King Kong also had a robot counterpart in the form of Mechani Kong.
  • In the anime The Big O, it is revealed that R. Dorothy Wayneright has an evil twin named Red Destiny (more commonly known as R.D.), who is similar to Dorothy in appearance only: she wears a red hooded cape that covers most of her face and speaks in a colder, more "metallic" voice than her civilized counterpart. Her personality is also drastically different: while Dorothy is calm and peaceful, R.D. is violent and confrontational. She murders several people before she confronts Roger Smith in an abandoned railway tunnel, and is destroyed by Big O when she is about to kill Roger.
  • The Doctor Who episode, Inferno features a parallel universe similar to that of Star Trek. The Doctor has no evil parallel but all of the human characters do. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has no goatee, but sports a sinister eyepatch.
  • In Metroid Prime 2 and 3, Dark Samus is the evil twin of Samus Aran
  • In Rich Burlew's webcomic Order of the Stick one of the main characters, Elan, has an evil twin named Nale (complete with goatee). Nale formed the Linear Guild, a group of evil opposite characters, to oppose the Order of the Stick.
  • In the "Treehouse of Horror VII" episode, Bart discovers he was separated at birth from a conjoined twin brother by Dr. Hibbert. His "evil twin," Hugo has been consigned to living in the attic of the Simpson home and is given a bucket of fish heads to eat once a week. He also does experimental surgery to prepare for his eventual reattachement to Bart, and created a "pigeon-rat" in the process. They discovered at the end however, that Bart was the evil twin. So they switched places.
  • The Kamen Rider Series had multiple evil counterparts starting which the Shocker Riders (which were based on Kamen Rider Ichigo/Takeshi Hongo. Other Rider with evil twins included Riderman and Kamen Rider Amazon. Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider Kabuto had evil clones in the form of Kamen Rider Ryuga and Kamen Rider Dark Kabuto.
  • In the Earthworm Jim animated series based on the games, a radioactive waste brings Evil Jim to life from a disfigured photocopy of the hero, framing Jim.
  • In the TV-show Charmed, the two-parter episode "It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World" features a parallel world with Good and Evil inverted. Thrown in by accident, Paige, Phoebe, Leo and Chris encounter their evil selves and a good version of Barbas, the Demon of Fear, which turns out to be a good Demon of Hope in this world.
  • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Dark Link, an all-black sprite rip of Link, is the final and most difficult boss of the game. Dark Link reappears as a mini-boss in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
  • In the Darkwing Duck animated series, the title hero has an evil twin named NegaDuck, hailing from an opposite universe. This version is a complete villain as compared to Darkwing, and his outfit is almost entirely a contrasting colour to Darkwing's own (yellow instead of purple). Darkwing later visits the Negaverse, NegaDuck's home dimension, and meets evil twins of his friends and neighbours--and good twins of four villains from his home universe.
  • In the Blood+ anime, Diva is the evil twin of Saya. Her eye colour is blue instead of red. Her skin is paler than Saya, her lips are redder than Saya and her hair is longer than Saya.
  • In Shaman King the protagonist Yoh has a twin brother which is his previous incarnation. They both share one soul, his brother being the evil part.
  • In the manga Fairy Cube the main protagonist Ian, has another personality that also is his evil twin brother, that died before he and Ian were born.
  • In Devil May Cry 3, the protagonist, Dante, must fight his Evil Twin, a Doppelganger, depicted as a dark demonish version of him. In addition, his real twin, Vergil, is the main antagonist of the game, thus there are two instances of the Evil Twin concept present.
  • In the Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones game, the antagonist is none other than the prince himself. As a result of coming into contact with the cursed Sands of Time, a darker, evil entity formed within the prince and constantly took control of the prince in order to release his evil side. Both want to put a stop to the evil Vizier's plans, but unlike the Prince who's main goal is to save his people, the dark prince's main objective is to slaughter the Vizier. The dark prince also seeks to completely gain control of the prince, whereas the prince tries harder and harder to break free from his curse.
  • In the video game Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, Kirby and his other 3 selves must travel to another dimension, where they meet Dark Kirby and Dark Meta Knight. Dark Meta Knight is defeated, but the Dark Kirby turned out to be good as the other Kirbys.
  • In the Crash Bandicoot series, the character Aku Aku has an evil twin named Uka Uka.
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants entitled Frankendoodle, Spongebob unintentionally creates an evil twin-like copy of himself called DoodleBob. DoodleBob also makes an appearance in the game Nicktoons Unite!, where he can be deployed in the form of an airplane, then unfold and distract enemies.
  • In the Mexican telenovela La Usurpadora, the heroine Paulina (played by Gabriela Spanic) is forced to change places with her evil twin Paola (also played by Gabriela Spanic). In a few scenes, Paola was played by Gabriela's real life twin sister Daniela Spanic.
  • In the Brazilian telenovela Paraíso Tropical, the heroine Paula (played by Alessandra Negrini) is the twin of the primary antagonist, Taís (also played by Alessandra Negrini). While Paula is kind and lovely, Taís is wicked and greedy. At one point, when Paula marries Daniel (played by Fábio Assunção), Taís tries to kill her in order to pretend her own death and take her sister's place.
  • On the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, Michael Tylo played twins Alex and Rick Bladeson. While on his honeymoon with new wife Ashley Abbott, Alex (known simply as Blade) was kidnapped and imprisoned by his presumed dead twin brother. Rick then assumed Alex's identity and his place in Ashley's bed. Rick's true identity was only fully revealed after Alex was killed in a train accident.
  • In the video game Jimmy Neutron vs. Jimmy Negatron, the main protagonist has an evil twin named Jimmy Negatron. Evil Jimmy, as he is called in the series, first appeared in two episodes. In one episode entitled Send in the Clones, he was one of six clones of Jimmy to help him run errands. In another episode entitled The Trouble with Clones, Evil Jimmy returned to clone the earth and destroy it.
  • In an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door entitled "Operation P.O.O.L.", Numbuh 4's pool is a gateway to an alternate universe, in which the Kids Next Door is the Destructively Nefarious Kids (reversing the KND's initials) and is led by Negative Numbuh 4 (who has a goatee similar to evil Spock and is intelligent but cowardly), Numbuh 1 is a wimp, Numbuh 2 makes better jokes, Numbuh 3 is self-centered, Numbuh 5 is a geek, Numbuh 86 is timid, the Delightful Children are rebels, and Father is always Benedict Uno.
  • In the anime and manga Trigun, protagonist Vash's plant brother Knives is the antagonist of the series, who aims to destroy the last of the human race that are living on planet Gunsmoke.
  • Shadow Mario is Mario's evil twin from Super Mario Sunshine, just as Wario is his evil twin who first appeared in Super Mario Land 2. Wario's brother Waluigi is Luigi's evil twin as well.
  • In the 2006 season of Australian primetime soap opera Neighbours, three triplets Elle Robinson (played by Pippa Black), Cameron Robinson and Robert Robinson (played by Adam Hunter) were living in and around Erinsborough. While triplet Cameron was in a coma, his identical triplet Robert stole his identity in an attempt to murder the third triplet in the family Elle and their father Paul Robinson (played by Stefan Dennis).
  • In Hannah Montana, Miley has a cousin Luann, who is her evil "twin". They look very much alike, but Luann is always trying to get Miley's Hannah fame.
  • In The Fairly OddParents TV Show there are three evil twins Cosmo has the Anti Fairy Anti-Cosmo, likewise Wanda has the Anti Fairy Anti-Wanda, and Comic Book Hero The Crimson Chin has Comic Book Villain The NegaChin.
  • In Shoebox Zoo, Los Contrarios are Toledo's black, evil clones of the original four Zoo members. They are linked to their originals, so that if the original dies, so does the evil twin.
  • In the anime movie Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, Turles is the evil "twin" of Goku.
  • In the anime/manga Fushigi Yūgi, the twins Amiboshi and Suboshi are both members of the Seiryuu Seven. While Amiboshi is first portrayed as evil, he really is good-natured and even at one point wished to have been born a member of the Suzaku Seven. So to speak, Suboshi is the evil twin.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode 'The Wish' we see a parallel universe in which Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale. This includes evil vampire versions of Willow and Xander. In the subsequent episode 'Doppelgangland', the vampire Willow is transported to the 'real' Sunnydale for a classic evil twin plotline. In the Season 5 episode 'The Replacement', a demon's spell splits Xander into two identical Xanders. Each is convinced that the other is the evil twin - but in fact one has simply received Xander's stronger traits, and the other the weaker. When this is found out, the gang prepares a spell to splice the two Xanders back together. When asked 'what if it doesn't work?' both Xanders respond together: 'Kill us both, Spock', a reference to the famous 'Enemy Within' Star Trek episode.
  • In the Legend of Zelda cartoon episode 'Doppelganger' Ganon uses a magic mirror to create an evil twin of Zelda. The twin then tricks Link into taking the Triforce of Wisdom to Ganon. Once Link and the twin meet the real Zelda, there is a scuffle between Zelda and her twin, in which they both fall into a mud pit and Link must identify which one is which.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion expansion pack "The Shivering Isles", the player character must fight an exact, evil duplicate of him or herself in order to obtain an artifact necessary to complete the game.
  • In the manga series Ranma½, by Rumiko Takahashi, Ranma stands (as a girl) in front of a cursed mirror, which releases a duplicate of herself. This is more an "Horny Twin" than an evil one, since she starts chasing pretty much every guy in sight. However, she's surprised by the fact that no one accepts her advances (as everybody knew of Ranma's curse and thought she was him pulling up some strange plan). Then Ranma tries to show her the reason, by tossing both of them into a hot bath. The clone, however, does not change to a guy, and then focuses only on getting Ranma's affection, bringing havoc to the Tendo family (especially Akane). By the end of the story arc, Ranma stands in front of the mirror again, which releases yet another clone, but this time he was a guy. Bot clones set their eyes in each other, thus ending the "menace".
  • In the manga series Monster, by Naoki Urasawa, the main female protagonist's (Anna Libert/Nina Fortner) twin brother, Johan, becomes a serial murderer, whom she pursues throughout the series to help bring to justice.
  • In the Silent Hill (film), Alessa Gillespie creates an "evil twin" of herself, Dark Alessa, containing the dark side of her soul. A second doppelganger, Sharon DaSilva, is also created; carrying the remaining purity of the soul. Dark Alessa eventually recombines with Alessa's second doppelganger, Sharon, to create a reborn version of Alessa.


Search another word or see evil twinon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature