Hannibal British Accent
Credit: Orion Pictures

Have you ever wondered why basically all evil characters in movies and TV are British? Well, according to a one expert there is a specific reason why villains tend to have British accents.

While we might all be suckers for a British accent, there are loads of other things from across the pond that we’re pretty obsessed with, like The Great British Baking Show, Downton Abbey (rip sweet prince), and Helen Mirren (who has the greatest Instagram account of ALL TIME).

However, it appears that there’s one common theme running through a lot of TV shows and movies: the villains are always British.

Well, according to Chi Luu, a New York linguist, people who speak in the Queen’s English (or in Received Pronunciation) make the best villains because regional accents, especially in the U.K., are seen as too friendly. In an article for JSTOR, Luu said:

Hmm…so bad guys are British because we can’t trust them. Interesting… *strokes white cat*

As Luu suggests, “many of us believe, often without realizing it, we can predict social and personal traits about a person, simply by the accent they use. We may be wrong, but we do it anyway.”

Luu’s essay comes after Helen Mirren criticized Hollywood for typecasting British actors as villains back in 2010.

Indeed, Mirren suggested that instead of assuming that all British people speak like the Royal Family, Hollywood delve deeper into the idiosyncrasies of the British people.

However, as The Telegraph notes, Luu has suggested that we’re beginning to see a change in British actors being typecast as the bad guy. Indeed, she suggests, part of the appeal of the British accent for American audiences is that it’s different. Furthermore, many view RP as the ideal form of language, from which other accents deviate.

“Speakers of the standard form are considered the ones that ‘have no accent’ and any dialect that strays from from that is stigmatized in one way or another,” Luu said. “Believing in this concept legitimizes the institutional discrimination of those who don’t use or didn’t grow up with the standard language. The reality is of course that everyone has an accent.”

And here was us thinking that anyone who had grown up speaking the Queen’s English was automatically entered into a prize draw to become either a super villain, a serial killer, or the leader of an intergalactic fleet destined to destroy the universe.