Thousands of years ago, the world was ruled by darkness, and at the hub of this evil was the all-powerful Dark Lord, himself. The forces of good had resisted for centuries, but the Dark Lord was not to be defeated. Or so it seemed, until the Ancients expended all of their energy to finally seal the Dark Lord forever with unbreakable magic, thus returning peace to the kingdom and allowing the Sun to shine again.
By now, the people of the world know not terror, and the Age of Darkness has long been forgotten. But wise men have noticed that evil has begun to reappear all throughout the land, evident darkness that has not been seen since the days of the Dark Lord. Could it be that the force of evil incarnate still holds some power—that someone or something is trying to revive him in the present?
There are several variations on this traditional position, but the Dark Lord plays an important part in literature and beyond as a stock character. He is an all-powerful being of absolute evil whose goal is either world-domination or world-destruction, which are not mutually exclusive in his case. Traditionally, he wants to reclaim in the present the power that was taken from him in the past; in any case, a revival of the Dark Lord would be considered the ultimate bad.
In the event of the Dark Lord’s return, the world would have absolutely no chance of survival; people simply do not possess the power they did when they sealed him away the first time. However, there is always one underdog, a chosen one, who possesses some key, who may have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding, who is humanity’s last and only hope. Often, this hero-figure is a child or a character with no experience in war.
The chosen one usually embarks on a quest to prevent the resurrection at any cost. He (or she) overcomes many obstacles along the way and finally makes it to his destination only to fall into the trap and see the Dark Lord revived at the last minute (often the hero inadvertently catalyzes the revival). The hero then overcomes all odds and somehow manages to achieve what even the Ancients could not: to destroy the Dark Lord forever.
The Dark Lord concept is seen in many aspects of mythology, literature, film, and even video games. The details always vary to maintain some originality, but the character is the same. I am constructing a metanode here of Dark Lords and Dark Queens from each genre. It is forever a work in progress, so if you know of more, please /msg me and I’ll add it.
Dark Lords/Queens from literature:
Dark Lords/Queens from mythology*:
Dark Lords/Queens from television/anime/movies:
Types of Dark Lords:
*I have included modern religions with mythology for the sake of simplicity
**The Titans are portrayed as Dark Lords in spinoffs of Greek Mythology but not really in actual mythology.