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Not to be confused with Lord of the Castle.

The Dark Lord (魔王 Maō?), also known as the Prince of Darkness or Demon King, is the ruler of forces of chaos on Earth and in the netherworld. He is an evil counterbalance to "good", without which, there could be no good. He may also be the Lord of the Castle to a demon castle, although the ruler of a demon castle is not necessarily a Dark Lord. If a Dark Lord is ever defeated permanently, a new Dark Lord must arise in order to maintain balance in the world.

Term origin

The word "Maō" literally means "Demon King" or "Adversary"[1] and has its roots on Japanese Buddhism. It was originally used to refer to "Mara",[2][3] a demonic ruler sitting atop the Sixth Realm of Desire in Buddhist cosmology, and personification of the forces that keep one from attaining enlightment. As the myth goes, Mara attempted to prevent Siddhartha Gautama from attaining enlightment by confronting him with a myriad of visions in hopes of throwing off Gautama's deep concentration, including the summoning of an army of demons and using his daughters (themselves personifications of unwholesome thoughts) to seduce him. After consistently defeating Mara's cunning, Gautama attained enlightment under the Bodhi Tree, becoming a Buddha.[4]

The term went on to become ingrained on Japanese culture, and can be used to refer to a religion's greatest personification of evil or greatest obstacle to be surpassed. On the context of Christianity, for instance, Satan (as "The Adversary") is the entity referred to as "Maō".[5][6][7]

Historically, Oda Nobunaga has been noted by his friend and Jesuit priest, Luís Fróis, as sarcastically signing a letter as "第六天魔王" ("Demon King of the Sixth Heaven") in reference to the aforementioned Mara, as an attempt to mock the Buddhist sects opposing his expansion.

The Western translation for the term, "Dark Lord", refers primarily to a specific archetype of villain in fantasy literature that sought to rule and/or destroy the entire world, and who are considered so heinous and infamous that even speaking their name is thought to bring a bad omen, and having access to henchmen with a hierarchal structure, and can also be used in religious texts such as Christianity to mean Satan. Similarly, their mere presence had a noticeable negative effect on the worlds they inhabited. Examples of Dark Lords in fiction include Sauron and Morgoth from The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien, which originated the term, as well as Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise and Ganondorf/Ganon from The Legend of Zelda franchise.

Traditional timeline


Dracula, the only traditional canon Dark Lord.

Possession of a fully powered Crimson Stone may be a catalyst for becoming the Dark Lord in the traditional timeline. Dracula is the only known Dark Lord in the traditional canon, although there are several beings who have the potential to take his place. Soma Cruz possesses Dracula's soul and has the greatest capacity to succeed him if he chooses to, and he does so in the bad endings in both Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. There are several other Dark Lord candidates who were born at the moment of Dracula's demise, who have each inherited one of his powers and thus are alternative candidates to become Dark Lords.

Galamoth is a powerful being from another world who seeks to become a Dark Lord. It seems that in order to do so, he must destroy Dracula along with the entire period of time in which he held the title of Dark Lord.

Powers and abilities

See also: Dracula/Abilities

All Dark Lord candidates have the potential to become the new Dark Lord, each one carrying some of the former Dark Lord's powers. These include:

It is interesting to note that in the English translations, Dracula was a servant of Satan and a Devil worshiper. This concept was mentioned in the early Japanese manuals but Dracula became the Dark Lord through a pact with an unidentified evil deity (probably Chaos), not "Satan". This makes Dracula, for all intents and purposes, the analogue to Satan, as it is said that the Dark Lord is the direct counterpart to God, and Dracula has been referred to as "the root of all evil", "god of evil", and said to "reign at the apex of the dark world".

Lords of Shadow timeline

The Prince of Darkness is the title of a ruler of the forces of evil on Earth and in the netherworld in the Lords of Shadow universe. He is an evil counterbalance and enemy to God, with power surpassing that of the Lords of Shadow, and second only to God's. He may also be the Lord of the Castle to a demon castle, although the ruler of a demon castle is not necessarily a Prince of Darkness (for example, Carmilla). Interestingly, there can be more than one Prince of Darkness, as seen with the rise of Dracula, with Satan being the first.

As the personifications of evil, each Prince of Darkness rules a demonic dominion (Hell for Satan and Castlevania for Dracula). However, motivations can be startlingly different: Satan wishes to rule Earth and Heaven as the new God. Originally, Dracula wanted to avenge himself on the Brotherhood of Light and remake the world in his image; but as time passed, the vampire lord came to view himself as a necessary monster so that worse monsters like Satan and Zobek would be unable to take his place.

See also