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Although clowns are originally comic performers and characterized to humor and entertain people, the image of the evil clown is a development in popular culture, in which the playful trope of the clown is rendered as disturbing through the use of horror elements and dark humor.
The modern archetype of the evil clown has unclear origins; the stock character appeared infrequently during the 19th Century, in such works as Edgar Allen Poe's Hop-Frog, which is believed by Jack Morgan, of the University of Missouri-Rolla, to draw upon an earlier incident "at a masquerade ball," in the 14th Century, during which "the king and his frivolous party, costumed—in highly flammable materials—as simian creatures, were ignited by a flambeau and incinerated, the King narrowly escaping in the actual case." Evil clowns also occupied a small niche in drama, appearing in the 1874 work La femme de Tabarin by Catulle Mendès and in Ruggero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (accused of being a plagiarism of Mendès' piece), both works featuring murderous clowns as central characters.
It is believed[by whom?] that the modern stock character of the evil clown was popularized by Stephen King's novel "It", which was the first to introduce the fear of an evil clown to a modern audience. Another one of the first appearances of the concept is that of John Wayne Gacy, an American serial killer and rapist who became known as the Killer Clown after it was discovered that he performed as Pogo the Clown at children's parties and other events. The public nature of his trial made the imprint of his character on American culture noteworthy, including his association with his clown persona.
The evil clown archetype plays strongly off the sense of dislike caused by inherent elements of coulrophobia; however, it has been suggested by Joseph Durwin that the concept of evil clowns have an independent position in popular culture, arguing that "the concept of evil clowns and the widespread hostility it induces is a cultural phenomenon which transcends just the phobia alone". A study by the University of Sheffield concluded "that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable." This may be because of the nature of clowns' makeup hiding their faces, making them potential threats in disguise; as a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge stated, young children are "very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face". This natural disliking of clowns makes them effective to use in a literary or fictional context, as the antagonistic threat perceived in clowns is desirable in a villainous character.
The concept of the evil clown is related to the irrational fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia. The cultural critic Mark Dery has theorized the postmodern archetype of the evil clown in "Cotton Candy Autopsy: Deconstructing Psycho-Killer Clowns" (a chapter in his cultural critique The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink).
Tracking the image of the demented or deviant clown across popular culture, Dery analyzes the "Pogo the Clown" persona of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy; the obscene clowns of the neo-situationist Cacophony Society; the Joker (of "Batman" Fame); the grotesque art of R.K. Sloane; the sick-funny Bobcat Goldthwaite comedy Shakes the Clown; and Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King's It.
Using Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque, Jungian and historical writings on the images of the fool in myth and history, and ruminations on the mingling of ecstasy and dread in the Information Age, Dery asserts the evil clown is an icon of our times. Clowns are often depicted as murderous psychopaths at many American haunted houses.
Wolfgang M. Zucker points out the similarities between a clown's appearance and the cultural depictions of demons and other infernal creatures, noting "[the clown's] chalk-white face in which the eyes almost disappear, while the mouth is enlarged to a ghoulish bigness looks like the mask of death.".
Notable evil clowns 
For more Evil Clowns see: Evil Clowns from Villains.wikia.com
- The Joker, a notable enemy in the Batman franchise whose key features are a clown-like disguise, clown-like disfigured face, and permanent smile.
- Gamzee Makara, a soporific-abusing alien who when sober is a homicidal maniac, notable for kissing his best friend's severed head, and who follows a religion based on the Insane Clown Posse's songs and juggalo culture.
- Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a common form taken by the mysterious monster in Stephen King's novel It and its film adaptation. He often uses corny humor as he taunts his victims.
- Shakes the Clown, a depressed, alcoholic clown framed for murder and coming into conflict with other clowns, in the eponymous film by Bobcat Goldthwait.
- The Bicycle Doctor, a laughing, malevolent clown disguised as a doctor who destroys the protagonist's beloved bicycle after feigning attempts to repair it in a nightmare experienced by Pee-Wee Herman in the film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. The doctor is assisted by several grotesque clowns who act as medical technicians. Earlier in the film, Pee-Wee chains his bicycle to a smiling animatronic clown statue; when the bicycle is stolen, Pee-Wee imagines the clown's smile changing to a grimace as it utters a menacing cackle.
- Captain Spaulding, a gas-station owner, museum operator, and patriarch of the murderous Firefly family, featured in the Rob Zombie films House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel, The Devil's Rejects. Captain Spaulding is portrayed by actor Sid Haig.
- Violator, a demon from hell who takes the appearance of a balding, middle-aged man with face paint, and an enemy of Spawn in the comic franchise by Todd McFarlane.
- Doink the Clown, a professional wrestling character portrayed by a number of wrestlers. He is frequently depicted as malevolent, playing malicious pranks and cheating in unusual ways to win.
- Kefka Palazzo, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VI, a nihilistic psychopath with the outfit and mannerisms of an insane jester.
- Wiggles the Clown*, a clown portrayed in the YouTube videos of KickThePj, he reached insanity during a rich child's birthday party and is now a psychopathic clown.
- Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the 1988 Midnight Horror comedy monster movie about carnivorous aliens, that resemble clowns from outer space.
- The Ghost Clown, a faux evil supernatural circus clown in an early episode of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! television show episode Bedlam in the Bigtop circa 1970. He actually is a human criminal that used to work in the circus. He has power over people and Scooby by hypnotizing them with a magic pendulum. Most notably he puts in a trance Daphne Blake and has her risk her life on a unicycle and high wire.
- Killjoy, a demonic clown who is summoned to assist revenge plots.
- Clownhouse, three mental patients escape and stalk a young boy home from the circus dressed in clown costumes.
- Odd Bob the Clown, an evil alien clown based on the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin from Sarah Jane Adventures that feeds on children's fears (in the episode The Day of the Clown).
- Craig Russell wrote a novel The carnival master about the hunt after a clown who comes out every Cologne carnival to kill women.
- Shaco, The Demon Jester, A champion and playable character in League of Legends, an assassin of possible supernatural origin who has taken on the guise of a court jester.
- Piedmon, a mega-level Digimon from Digimon franchise and one of the Dark Masters designed based on evil clowns.
- Buggy the Clown, a recurring antagonist from One Piece who desires revenge on Monkey D. Luffy and to become Pirate King.
- Donbalon, One of the bosses featured in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.
- Sideshow Bob, a clown on The Simpsons that constantly tries to kill Bart Simpson but normally ends up failing and back in jail. Unlike traditional clowns, he does not wear any sort of make-up.
- The clowns from The Cabin in the Woods.
See also 
- Poe, Edgar Allen, "Hop-Frog" (1849)
- Morgan, Jack (2002). The biology of horror: gothic literature and film. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0809324712.
- Mendès, Catulle (1904). La femme de Tabarin: Tragi-parade. Librairie Charpentier et Fasquelle. pp. 1–34.
- Dryden, Konrad (2007). Leoncavallo: Life and Works. Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5880-0.
- Sullivan, Terry; Maiken, Peter T. (2000). Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders. New York City: Pinnacle. ISBN 0-7860-1422-9. OCLC 156783287.
- Durwin, Joseph (15 November 2004). 3. "Coulrophobia and the Trickster". Trickster's Way (San Antonio: Trinity University) 3 (1). ISSN 1538-9030. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Health | Hospital clown images 'too scary'". BBC News. 2008-01-15. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- Rohrer, Finlo (2008-01-16). "Why are clowns scary?". BBC News.
- "Trinity.edu". Trinity.edu. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- Dery, Mark (1999). The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink. California: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3670-2.
- "The Clown as the Lord of Disorder". Theology Today, October 1967. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Newsstand on-sale date April 25, 1940 per: "The first ad for Batman #1". DC Comics. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
- King, Stephen (1986). It. New York City: Viking Press. ISBN 0-451-16951-4.