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15 Subtle Ways Tom Nook Shows His Cruelty

Side by side pictures of Tom Nook in a portrait and in Animal Crossing


Villains in video games can be highly nefarious; Bowser is always kidnapping Princess Peach, Doctor Eggman always tries to take over the world, and, in Animal Crossing, one of the most wholesome video games ever created, there is a villain who is crueler than perhaps all the aforementioned antagonists.

RELATED: Animal Crossing: 10 Features In The GameCube Original That Are Missing In New Horizons

When compared to any other video game villain, Tom Nook is vastly most subtle in his cruelty. His villainy represents a real-world antagonism that is always more dangerous than the outlandish, cartoonish tendencies of some other, more prominent foes in the video game world. What makes Tom Nook cruel, though, is how his worst behavior is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Updated on May 6th, 2021 by Tanner Fox: Is Tom Nook evil? Perhaps we were being a bit hyperbolic, but it’s certainly true that Tom Nook isn’t as nice as his caring, cuddly exterior would have payers believe. Though he’s no supervillain, he seems eager to keep players and islanders alike in a perpetual state of servitude, endlessly working to rid themselves of a nearly-unfathomable amount of debt. Beyond that, he’s worked to ensure that every aspect of island life operates in service of his goals; from paying islanders in credits only redeemable at his own store to forcing his apprentices to work apparently unpaid in perpetuity, there can be no doubt that Tom Nook is one of the most villainous creatures in the Animal Crossing series.

15 Store Upgrades

Animal Crossing New Horizons Nook’s Cranny Upgraded

While Animal Crossing avatars are always hustling to make money and friends, Tom Nook is off doing his own thing in his shops. In many versions of the game, he’s alone in the shop, and, when he upgrades it, it’s not always clear how.

Nook clearly has some side channels that fund his shop so that he can keep expanding into a pseudo-chain. Considering how many residents bemoan the lack of stories in their homes, it’s easy to wonder why Nook hogs all of the town’s expendable resources for himself.

14 He Won’t Buy Turnips On Sundays

Buying turnips from Daisy Mae in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

We understand why Nook won’t buy turnips on Sundays; if the price were right, the player could essentially sell an infinite amount of them and become a multi-millionaire within a single day.

That said, the fact that Nook makes his customers essentially gamble on the price of turnips is slightly cruel. Since he dictates the prices of everything on the island, he could fix it so that turnips are never bought for more than what the player paid for them. Fortunately, he doesn’t go out of his way to rob players of their bells in that way, but we get the feeling that his turnip prices are guided more by his greed than any actual market.

13 Moving Out – Constantly

Winnie moves out of the village in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Speaking of the other residents in the villages shepherded and funded by Tom Nook, it always seems like they’re trying to move out. Sometimes, it takes some real convincing to get them to stay.

RELATED: Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 10 Ways To Obtain New Furniture

The villages are marked by pristine beaches, bucolic rivers, and a quaint museum filled with dreams. So, why else would they want to leave if not for the cruelty demonstrated by Tom Nook? He’s always showing polite contempt for their way of life, and they’re desperate to be free of his control.

12 His Treatment Of Timmy And Tommy

We understand that someone has to be there to run Nook’s Cranny during operating hours, but why is it always Timmy and Tommy? These poor tanookis must be run ragged, and, given how Nook thinks of them as apprentices rather than employees, we’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t even pay them.

They work every day from 8 am to 10 pm with no breaks, and Nook doesn’t even care enough to have the two work in shifts, instead forcing them both to spend almost every waking minute buying and selling wares at Nook’s Cranny.

11 Labor Or Else

obscure locations for animal crossing island designs shovel

Some might argue that Tom Nook is a benevolent soul, considering that he provides residence and occupations to strangers who step off a train with high expectations and low funds.

RELATED: Animal Crossing’s 2021 May Day Maze Explained

In actuality, he is trapping them. He smiles and offers a job at his store to the new residents, but, really, there’s no choice but to work for him, especially in Wild World—and he always takes a cut of what everyone owes him. It seems like a highly questionable system dressed up in all sunshine and butterflies.

10 No Negotiations

shop in animal crossing new horizons

Whenever players enter Nook’s Cranny and other such Nook enterprises intent on purchasing or selling items, it’s Tom Nook who sets the terms. He acts like he’s being fair, but, in actuality, he’s unreasonable.

Sure, it’s hard to determine the value of a bell, but, when Tom Nook is the only one dictating that value, he really determines the entire economy. It’s an economy that works mostly for himself, and he never allows for any bargaining. It’s a stranglehold and a monopoly.

9 Remarks From Others

Animal Crossings cutest villagers new horizons Molly Judy Diana

Given that much of the dialogue in the Animal Crossing series is non-essential prattle spouted from villagers who are a little too eager to tell their life stories to anyone who will listen, Tom Nook and his shady dealings aren’t brought up all that often.

RELATED: Animal Crossing: 5 New Special Characters (& 5 That Are Missing)

Yet, that doesn’t preclude them from making offhanded remarks about how they detest Tom Nook and how they wish they could better circumnavigate him. If even the NPCs are upset, then it’s clear that Nook is the villain.

8 Trailed Off Comments

Tom Nook Animal Crossing Evil Look

Tom Nook’s subtle cruelty goes a lot further than the grip he has on the respective villages across the games and platforms. He’s also a passive-aggressive “boss” type figure who would infuriate real-world people, too.

Whenever he feels the need to make some snide comment, he hardly has the courage to state it directly. It’s either some convoluted statement that condemns the audience or it’s a trailed-off comment with a pale ellipsis at the end. The passive-aggression is insufferable.

7 Running The Town

Animal Crossing New Horizons Tom Nook Stalk Market

There would be no villages without Tom Nook, and this makes him above everyone else and, perhaps, above the law. If Nook ever spun out of control, the mayor and law enforcement staff members would be beholden to his wishes, or else their livelihood would falter.

It’s never good when a small businessman has so much sway over the town. It’s subtle, as Nook acts like a kind figure, but in reality, our Animal Crossing villages and islands are in serious jeopardy of being overtaken by a tanooki tyrant.

6 The Rescue Service Has Service Fees

A player using the resuce service in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

In previous games, Mr. Resetti would show up to scold the player about their saving habits. However, given that New Horizons can save automatically, his services aren’t necessary.

Instead, he can now rescue players if they somehow find themselves stuck with no way to escape. That said, he charges a fee for his services, which can be paid in—what else—Nook miles. In a sense, Tom Nook is essentially holding stranded players for ransom. We understand that this fee is to prevent players from abusing the system, but it’s still a sly money-making tactic on Nook’s end.

5 How To Make Money

A player fishes off the Pier in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

There’s a key aspect of the Animal Crossing gameplay that can easily go unnoticed, and, considering how subtle it is, gamers might play the game for years and not even realize it.

RELATED: Animal Crossing: New Horizons — The 15 Best Normal Villagers

The only way to make legitimate amounts of money in Animal Crossing is to purchase tools from Tom Nook, like a fishing rod or a net. So, players cannot pay back their debts without getting even further in debt to Tom Nook. Makes sense, Mr. Raccoon.

4 Payment Plans

Animal Crossing New Horizons Dug up Bells

The payment plans someone devises when they owe Tom for their homes and subsequent upgrades are downright crooked. It’s rugged capitalism at its worst, and Tom Nook is nothing but subtly cruel throughout the process.

For one, he often sends other creatures to do his dirty work when collecting the money. For another, he even makes the Town Hall staff jump for joy when someone pays off a debt to him. Even the government employees know how corrupt Nook’s policies are.

3 He’s Got A Monopoly On Your Island

We’ve made mention of this previously, but Nook’s awful moneymaking schemes really can’t be understated. Why is it that there aren’t any stores competing against Nook’s Cranny?

RELATED: 10 Things To Do In Animal Crossing Most Players Never Discover

Nook essentially has a monopoly on your island or village, allowing him to fix the prices of just about everything. Of course, the Abel Sisters, pop-up vendors like Kicks, and New Horizon’s crafting system do help to subvert this, but who is to say that Nook doesn’t rig the entire town’s economy to benefit himself?

2 Housing Upgrades

Lastly, there would be no payment policies if Tom Nook wasn’t preying on the video game villagers to always be competing for more space in their homes and bigger housing structures for no other reason than to buy more stuff from him and fill their houses with it.

It’s a vicious cycle, one that Nook is all too eager to endlessly perpetuate. That’s the way things go in Animal Crossing games, but only because of Tom Nook. It doesn’t have to be this way. The game can still cut out its last bastion of cruelty, however subtle it may be.

1 The Entire Concept Of Nook Miles

A player browsing their Nook Phone in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

Nook initially makes Nook Miles out to be something of a kindness, using them to incentivize players to spruce up and maintain their island. However, given that they can only be spent at Tom Nook-approved retailers, he’s essentially forcing players to work in return for tokens that can only be spent at the company store.

This ensures that Nook and minimize his operating costs and gauge as much as he possibly can from those under his thumb. He would never admit it, but his motivations behind the concept of Nook Miles were anything but virtuous.

NEXT: Animal Crossing New Horizons: 5 Villagers We’d Love To Go Camping With (& 5 We Definitely Wouldn’t Invite)

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