Difference between revisions of "Big Bad"

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{{trope}}
 
{{trope}}
[[File:star_wars_emperor_throne_room_7256.jpg|link=Star Wars|frame|[[Gambit Index|Everything that has transpired in this trope has done so according to my design.]]]]
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[[File:star wars emperor throne room 7256.jpg|link=Return of the Jedi|frame|[[Gambit Index|Everything that has transpired in this trope has done so according to my design.]]]]
  
 
{{quote|''I've learned that, in every story, there is a big, bad something. An evil force that, no matter the size, corrupts the world of the story, and tries its best to destroy the hero. A wolf, a witch, a giant, a dragon, a knight... or an idea, a desire, a temptation... or even a book.''|'''[[Lullaby]]'''}}
 
{{quote|''I've learned that, in every story, there is a big, bad something. An evil force that, no matter the size, corrupts the world of the story, and tries its best to destroy the hero. A wolf, a witch, a giant, a dragon, a knight... or an idea, a desire, a temptation... or even a book.''|'''[[Lullaby]]'''}}
  
A Big Bad could be a character with [[Evil Plan|Evil Plans]] or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. It is behind all of the other bad happenings. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season.
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A Big Bad could be a character with [[Evil Plan]]s or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. It is behind all of the other bad happenings. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season.
  
 
Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The [[Badass]] leader of the [[Quirky Miniboss Squad|outlaw gang]] that the heroes face once or twice is ''not'' the Big Bad. The [[Corrupt Corporate Executive|railroad tycoon]] who turns out to be ''using'' the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. In general, if there is a constant [[Man Behind the Man]] story going on in order to reveal the big bad, then whoever [[The Chessmaster|is behind it all]] is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.
 
Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The [[Badass]] leader of the [[Quirky Miniboss Squad|outlaw gang]] that the heroes face once or twice is ''not'' the Big Bad. The [[Corrupt Corporate Executive|railroad tycoon]] who turns out to be ''using'' the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. In general, if there is a constant [[Man Behind the Man]] story going on in order to reveal the big bad, then whoever [[The Chessmaster|is behind it all]] is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.
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If a show has a series of Big Bad jeopardies, they can function like a series of [[Monster of the Week|Monsters of the Week]] that take more than a week to finish off. If there is a [[Legion of Doom]], you can expect the Big Bad to be involved somehow. They're probably sorted by power, with the strongest for last, following the [[Sorting Algorithm of Evil]].
 
If a show has a series of Big Bad jeopardies, they can function like a series of [[Monster of the Week|Monsters of the Week]] that take more than a week to finish off. If there is a [[Legion of Doom]], you can expect the Big Bad to be involved somehow. They're probably sorted by power, with the strongest for last, following the [[Sorting Algorithm of Evil]].
  
[[Evil Overlord]], [[Diabolical Mastermind]], [[The Chessmaster]], [[Arch Enemy]], [[The Man Behind the Man]], and often [[Manipulative Bastard]] are specific types of villains who are liable to show up as Big Bads. If he's a [[Magnificent Bastard]], [[Complete Monster]], or [[Hero-Killer]], the good guys are in ''big'' trouble. The heroic counterpart of this character is the [[Big Good]], who will very often be the focus of this character's attention over [[The Hero]] at the beginning of a series. If a work of fiction is conspicuously lacking a [[Big Bad]], it may be a case of [[No Antagonist]].
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[[Evil Overlord]], [[Diabolical Mastermind]], [[The Chessmaster]], [[Arch Enemy]], [[The Man Behind the Man]], and often [[Manipulative Bastard]] are specific types of villains who are liable to show up as Big Bads. If he's a [[Magnificent Bastard]], [[Complete Monster]], or [[Hero-Killer]], the good guys are in ''big'' trouble. The heroic counterpart of this character is the [[Big Good]], who will very often be the focus of this character's attention over [[The Hero]] at the beginning of a series. If a work of fiction is conspicuously lacking a '''Big Bad''', it may be a case of [[No Antagonist]].
  
See also [[Big Bad Duumvirate]] for two (or more) Big Bads working together ([[Evil vs. Evil|or not]]). Sometimes a [[Big Bad]] will get his start as a servant to another villain -- if that's the case, he's a [[Dragon Ascendant]]. If the character who fills the role of [[Big Bad]] in most meaningful ways is nominally subordinate to someone else (someone significantly less menacing by comparison), he is a [[Dragon-in-Chief]]. If the story has many Big Bads, see [[Big Bad Ensemble]].
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See also [[Big Bad Duumvirate]] for two (or more) Big Bads working together ([[Evil vs. Evil|or not]]). Sometimes a '''Big Bad''' will get his start as a servant to another villain—if that's the case, he's a [[Dragon Ascendant]]. If the character who fills the role of '''Big Bad''' in most meaningful ways is nominally subordinate to someone else (someone significantly less menacing by comparison), he is a [[Dragon-in-Chief]]. If the story has many Big Bads, see [[Big Bad Ensemble]].
  
Note that the [[Big Bad]] of a story is not always the most powerful or oldest existing evil force. Perhaps an evil presence along the lines of an [[Eldritch Abomination]] overshadows the work's setting, but is mainly divorced from the story's events -- that would be the [[Bigger Bad]]. The [[Big Bad]] is distinct from that by being the main obstacle that the hero must contend with, though the Big Bad might try to harness the [[Bigger Bad]] in some way as part of their plan. (Whether or not [[Evil Is Not a Toy|this backfires]] may vary.)
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Note that the '''Big Bad''' of a story is not always the most powerful or oldest existing evil force. Perhaps an evil presence along the lines of an [[Eldritch Abomination]] overshadows the work's setting, but is mainly divorced from the story's events—that would be the [[Bigger Bad]]. The '''Big Bad''' is distinct from that by being the main obstacle that the hero must contend with, though the Big Bad might try to harness the [[Bigger Bad]] in some way as part of their plan. (Whether or not [[Evil Is Not a Toy|this backfires]] may vary.)
  
'''[[No Real Life Examples, Please]]'''
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{{noreallife|real life just isn't narratively straightforward enough to define people as Big Bads. [[Godwin's Law|Not even Hitler.]]}}
 
 
{{examples}}
 
  
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{{notableexamples|page=Big Bads}}
 
* [[Big Bad/Anime and Manga|Anime and Manga]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Anime and Manga|Anime and Manga]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Comic Books|Comic Books]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Comic Books|Comic Books]]
* [[Big Bad/Fan Fiction|Fan Fiction]]
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* [[Big Bad/Fanfic|Fan Fiction]]
* [[Big Bad/Live Action Films|Live Action Films]]
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* [[Big Bad/Live-Action Films|Live Action Films]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Literature|Literature]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Literature|Literature]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Live Action TV|Live Action TV]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Live Action TV|Live Action TV]]
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* [[Big Bad/Video Games|Video Games]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Video Games|Video Games]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Web Animation|Web Animation]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Web Animation|Web Animation]]
* [[Big Bad/Webcomics|Webcomics]]
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* [[Big Bad/Web Comics|Webcomics]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Web Original|Web Original]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Web Original|Web Original]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Western Animation|Western Animation]]
 
* [[Big Bad/Western Animation|Western Animation]]
  
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{{Featured article}}
 
{{reflist}}
 
{{reflist}}
 
[[Category:Authority Tropes]]
 
[[Category:Authority Tropes]]
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[[Category:Villains]]
 
[[Category:Villains]]
 
[[Category:Older Than Feudalism]]
 
[[Category:Older Than Feudalism]]
[[Category:index]]
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[[Category:{{PAGENAME}}]]
[[Category:Big Bad]]
 
[[Category:No Real Life Examples, Please]]
 
 
[[Category:Alliterative Trope Titles]]
 
[[Category:Alliterative Trope Titles]]
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[[Category:Pages with working Wikipedia tabs]]

Latest revision as of 16:18, 6 April 2018

I've learned that, in every story, there is a big, bad something. An evil force that, no matter the size, corrupts the world of the story, and tries its best to destroy the hero. A wolf, a witch, a giant, a dragon, a knight... or an idea, a desire, a temptation... or even a book.

A Big Bad could be a character with Evil Plans or it could be a situation, such as a comet heading towards the Earth. It is behind all of the other bad happenings. The Big Bad can (and often does) exert effect across a number of episodes, and even an entire season.

Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The Badass leader of the outlaw gang that the heroes face once or twice is not the Big Bad. The railroad tycoon who turns out to be using the gang as muscle is the Big Bad. In general, if there is a constant Man Behind the Man story going on in order to reveal the big bad, then whoever is behind it all is the Big Bad, not every major villain in the lead-up. At other times, if a new enemy shows up to replace the previous Big Bad, then they are the Big Bads of their individual storylines.

The Big Bad may be confronted frequently, but is too powerful to finish off until the last episode of the sequence. The Big Bad character may work through Evil Minions and will almost certainly have The Dragon protecting him, to keep interest up and provide something for the good guys to defeat. When you look at a season-long story or a major Story Arc and you can identify that one villain as being the one in control of everything, that is the Big Bad. In many cases, you will find that while the Big Bad may be in control, the Dragon-in-Chief would still be the greater threat.

The term "Big Bad" was popularized in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was characteristic of Buffy's Big Bads for their identity or nature, or even the fact that they are the Big Bad at all, to remain unclear for considerable time. Occasionally, characters would even refer to themselves as "the Big Bad", whether or not they were; this is a Big Bad Wannabe.

A Big Bad character is also an integral part of the Five-Bad Band dynamic. The role remains largely the same, but it should be noted that they are the Big Bad of that particular organization. They are not just the leader of a Quirky Miniboss Squad, but is a set group to counter the roles in the heroes' Five-Man Band. Whether or not they turn out to be the Big Bad of the entire work of fiction is not set in stone (although more often than not, they will be).

If a show has a series of Big Bad jeopardies, they can function like a series of Monsters of the Week that take more than a week to finish off. If there is a Legion of Doom, you can expect the Big Bad to be involved somehow. They're probably sorted by power, with the strongest for last, following the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.

Evil Overlord, Diabolical Mastermind, The Chessmaster, Arch Enemy, The Man Behind the Man, and often Manipulative Bastard are specific types of villains who are liable to show up as Big Bads. If he's a Magnificent Bastard, Complete Monster, or Hero-Killer, the good guys are in big trouble. The heroic counterpart of this character is the Big Good, who will very often be the focus of this character's attention over The Hero at the beginning of a series. If a work of fiction is conspicuously lacking a Big Bad, it may be a case of No Antagonist.

See also Big Bad Duumvirate for two (or more) Big Bads working together (or not). Sometimes a Big Bad will get his start as a servant to another villain—if that's the case, he's a Dragon Ascendant. If the character who fills the role of Big Bad in most meaningful ways is nominally subordinate to someone else (someone significantly less menacing by comparison), he is a Dragon-in-Chief. If the story has many Big Bads, see Big Bad Ensemble.

Note that the Big Bad of a story is not always the most powerful or oldest existing evil force. Perhaps an evil presence along the lines of an Eldritch Abomination overshadows the work's setting, but is mainly divorced from the story's events—that would be the Bigger Bad. The Big Bad is distinct from that by being the main obstacle that the hero must contend with, though the Big Bad might try to harness the Bigger Bad in some way as part of their plan. (Whether or not this backfires may vary.)

No real life examples, please; real life just isn't narratively straightforward enough to define people as Big Bads. Not even Hitler.

The following works are especially notable for featuring Big Bads.
This trope is ubiquitous; examples playing it straight need not apply.