Big Bad/Comic Books

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"The ultimate villain of the story, who's causing the problem the heroes must solve."

Note that Big Bad is not a catch-all trope for the biggest and ugliest villain of any given story. The Big Bad is the one who turns out to be behind several other seemingly independent threats.


  • The DCU has a couple of common big bads:
    • Darkseid, a Galactic Conqueror as well as a Physical God.
    • Lex Luthor, a Corrupt Corporate Executive Magnificent Bastard as well as the arch-nemesis of Superman. If there's ever a Legion of Doom anywhere, you can bet top dollar he's the boss of it. In some continuities he's a Mad Scientist.
    • The Joker plays Big Bad less frequently as he usually prefers getting right up close and personal to a certain someone. He did hijack reality one time, and when he was tricked into thinking he was dying he decided to quit kidding around and just gas the whole world.
    • Brainiac, an evil robot and a being that seeks to control all information.
    • The Anti-Monitor, responsible for starting the Crisis on Infinite Earths as well as the Sinestro Corps War. An Omnicidal Maniac.
    • In Justice League: The New Frontier, the Centre is revealed to be an historical Big Bad, responsible for mass extinctions throughout history. The use of the atomic bomb makes him decide it's our turn.
    • Nekron, Lord of the Unliving, who commands the dead to drag the world of the living into death. He usually confronts Green Lantern characters, and is arguably their most powerful recurring foe.
    • Some of the more prominent Big Bads that L.E.G.I.O.N. faced were Mr. Starr and Lyrl Dox.
    • In Infinite Crisis, the Big Bad was a three-way tie between Alexander Luthor (overall), Superboy Prime (for the Superman family), and Brother Eye (for the Batman family).
    • 52 had several villains, as it was about several heroes. However, each of the seven main storylines had its own main villain.
      • The Metal Men's story: Chang Tzu (formerly Egg Fu). He's also the power behind the Religion of Crime (antagonists of The Question's story) and the Four Horsemen of Apokolips (antagonists of Black Adam's story) and can thus be considered the Big Bad of these, as well.
      • Steel's story: Lex Luthor.
      • The space heroes' story: Lady Styx.
      • Elongated Man's story: Neron.
      • Booster Gold's story: Skeets, of all people, Brainwashed and Crazy courtesy of Mr. Mind.
    • Krona, whilst primarily a Green Lantern villain, is ultimately pretty much the biggest bad of the setting, or at least one of, in terms of the reach of his influence. The Anti-Monitor, and thus Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and Brightest Day, along with the later Monitor problems that led to Final Crisis? Exists because of what Krona did In The Beginning that created Anti-Monitor. Manhunter rebellion, and thus the Red Lantern problem as well as the horde of killer robots? All Krona. Entropy responsible for ensuring that the universe is running on borrowed time and will eventually die? You can blame Krona for that.
      • And now he's also the Big Bad of the War of the Green Lanterns story, where he shows just how bad he is by getting Parallax and the other Emotional Entities to serve him and effortlessly taking over the Green Lantern Corps.
  • Dr. Doom has a big habit of being this, as does Magneto, and the Red Skull, in the wider Marvel Earth. The Kingpin is sometimes this when it comes to more purely criminal scales.
    • Thanos. He took Eternity's place. Twice. He had Mephisto kowtowing to him, and Mephisto is the Devil. He's basically Marvel's designated "Big Bad that other Big Bads worry about". The kicker: he does it all for love... of Death.
      • In his most recent storyline, however, he's in an Enemy Mine situation with Marvel's cosmic heroes to combat an even bigger Big Bad: the Fault.
      • Which means the Big Bad of this event is essentially Life without Death.
    • Mephisto himself is nothing to snuff at, either. The nearest equivalent Marvel has to Satan, he has taken the time to torment nearly every hero in the Marvel Universe. Aside from giving Spider-Man fans One More Day (thus proving himself the epitomy of evil), he has made efforts to take the souls of pure hearted heroes like Black Panther and the Silver Surfer, messed with the Fantastic Four on several occasions (one of which got him destroyed, leading to a convoluted chain of events that led to him accidently kicking off the process that drove the Scarlet Witch insane), and just generally causes havoc. He's strong enough to at least tussle with the likes of Odin and Galactus, created the demon Blackheart as a son who has proved to be every bit as evil as his dad, turned Johnny Blaze into the Ghost Rider, abducted the mother of Doctor Doom, and helped to create Daimon Hellstorm.
    • In recent mini-crossover event "Chaos War", former Ares and Hercules baddie Amitsu Mikaboshi upgrades to the Chaos King, nominally the ultimate Marvel villain ever - he scares Eternity, has Death on the run and knocks Galactus on his ass. His beef: He is the darkness from before the universe was created and he wants to go back to that.
    • He's more of a Bigger Bad because of his handful of actual appearances, but few forces are as responsible for as much evil as the Elder God Chthon. An ancient demon native to Earth and perhaps the first and oldest sorceror to ever live, Chthon is the creator of the race of demons known as the N'garai and the author of the Darkhold, the first and most powerful book of Black Magic on the Marvel Earth, which he left on the planet as a conduit for his eventual return and which is responsible for the creation of vampires and, by extension, the fall of Atlantis. A piece of his essence is sealed in Mount Wundegore in Eastern Europe, from where the Puppet Master gets his magical clay and where he encountered a young Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Chthon placed a piece of his power inside her so that he might one day use her as his host, so the reason she is so powerful, and therefore the reason she became such a threat to the universe, is entirely his fault. And of course, being an Elder God, he carries some of the blame for the existence of Mephisto and the rest of The Legions of Hell as well.
    • For about a year during Dark Reign, the biggest bad in Marvel was Norman Osborn, with Baron Strucker being a close second now that HYDRA has been upgraded to a full-on Ancient Conspiracy.
    • In the Captain America (comics) comic the Red Skull almost always plays the role of the Big Bad. Whenever there is an evil plot in the Captain America comic, there is 80% chance that the Red Skull is behind it.
      • And if it's not Red Skull, it's Baron Zemo.
    • The X-Men usually have Enemy Mine moments with their main nemesisMagneto (and his followers, the Acolytes and/or Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) when confronting Apocalypse, so he could count, too.
    • Mr. Sinister was the X-Men's Big Bad for a couple of years, until he was demoted to disciple of Apocalypse.
    • During the "Dark Phoenix Returns" arc, Mystique recieved horrible dreams about being hunted by Mastermind and Jean Grey (the titular Dark Phoenix), the Phoenix effect appeared in the sky over Tokyo, Wolverine's bride-to-be was hypnotised into saying "no" at the altar, and Emma Frost, White Queen of the Hellfire Club, was put in a coma. This all seemed to be the leadup for Phoenix to return, and culminated in Xavier being left in a coma and Phoenix's apparent resurrection. In reality, it was all a sham, orchestrated by Mastermind, the arc's real Big Bad.
    • The biggest bad of Grant Morrison's much-beloved run on the book, although he personally didn't do much, was John Sublime. He created the Weapon Plus Program (which included the Weapon X Project, making him arguably Wolverine's Big Bad too), wrote the book that inspired the U-Men, and the drug Kick, which drove Xorn and Kid Omega insane, is made from his substance. He is partly responsible for the phenomenon of anti-mutant prejudice itself, subtly compelling humanity to be hostile to the emerging sub-species, making him arguably the Big Bad for the entire X-Men franchise.
    • If someone is making The Hulk's life hell, it's The Leader.
    • Ultron is the ultimate robotic Big Bad in Marvel. These days, when he pops up it's invariably on the final page of the build-up issue, usually after a few horrified whispers of the "Oh no - not him!" - "It can't be!" - variety.
    • The Big Bad of the Doctor Strange title tends to be Dormammu, a Dimension Lord Eldritch Abomination who is the source of most of the conflict in Dr. Strange's life, either directly or through minions like Baron Mordo. If its not him then its likely to be Shuma-Gorath, who killed Strange's mentor and is an even more powerful demon than Dormammu himself, and ruled the Earth twice in the distant past.
    • In Runaways Alex's parents, Katherine and Geoffrey Wilder were the leaders of The Pride, and the major antagonists of the first arc, with The Gibborim in back of them. In the second arc, the writers go out of their way to imply that the Big Bad is Alex Back from the Dead; in reality it's a version of Geoffrey brought from 1985 to the present.
  • WITCH comics has the following Big Bads:
    • Part I: Phobos
    • Part II: Nerissa
    • Part III: Ari
    • Part IV: Endarno aka Phobos
    • Part V: Jonathan Ludmoore
    • Part VI: Tecla Ibsen
    • Part VII: Dark Mother
    • Part VIII: Takeda
      • However the most popular is Phobos as the Big Bad for the entire series.
  • Dreadwing and Gothwrain from Gold Digger both fit this trope to a T. Tirant also qualifies by most standards but it's hard to top just how much evil the first two have caused The most recurring Big Bad is Phobos.
  • In the Image series Lullaby, provider of the page quote, the Big Bad is, indeed a book. A mesmerizing book that uses a powerful wizard (who appears to be a male version of the Wicked Witch of the West), captivated by its majesty, to gather power and enforce its will.
  • Winnowill from Elf Quest. She's not behind all the misery in the series (Humans Are Bastards, after all), but close.
    • Once the humans get technologically advanced enough to become a real threat for the heroes, Winnowill starts manipulating them as well.
    • In the early series Two Edge would be one of these, he manipulates even his mother, Winnowill but is too sympathetic, more of an Anti-Villain, turning to Anti-Hero after his sanity is restored
  • In Fables the Adversary turns out to be GEPPETTO. FUCKING GEPPETTO! Better yet it was originally planned to be Peter Pan but the rights weren't available.
    • After Gepetto's defeat, the role shifts to Mr. Dark although Kevin Thorn serves as Big Bad in the spin-off, Jack of Fables, and is defeated in a cross-over with the main series.
  • The Star Wars comics have at least one for each storyline:
    • Marvel Star Wars stories: Varied, but the Tagge family and Lumiya were always popping up.
    • Dark Empire and Empire's End: The cloned Palpatine.
    • Tales of the Jedi: Naga Sadow, Exar Kun.
    • Boba Fett: Orko the Hutt.
    • X Wing Series: Ysanne Isard for Rogue Squadron. Warlord Zsinj for the Wraiths.
    • Shadows of the Empire: Prince Xizor.
    • Crimson Empire: Carnor Jax, though Burr Nolyds and Xandel Carivus took over for very short periods. The Man Behind the Man for the latter two was Nom Anor of the Yuuzhan Vong.
    • Leviathan: The titular creature.
    • Mara Jade: Dequc
    • Republic: Palpatine overall, with Iaco Stark, Volffe Karkko, Sora Bulq and Count Dooku filling in for stories based on the non-movie characters.
    • Darth Maul: Alexi Garyn.
    • Jedi Council: The Yinchorri Council of Elders manipulated by Palpatine.
    • Jedi vs. Sith: Lord Kaan, Darth Bane.
    • Underworld: Jabba.
    • Empire: Grand Moff Trachta.
    • Obsession: Asajj Ventress, Durge.
    • Rogue Leader: General Weir.
    • General Grievous: The title character.
    • Purge: Darth Vader.
    • Knights of the Old Republic: Haazen for the Covenant arc and Demagol for the Crucible arc.
    • Rebellion: The Empire as a whole.
    • Legacy: Darth Krayt.
    • Dark Times: Vader again.
    • Vector: Karness Muur.
    • The Clone Wars: Palpatine.
  • Arguably Rastapopolous from Tintin, if simply for his sheer number of appearances and the subordinate relationships that many other recurring villains (Allan, M?r, Dawson, etc.) have with him.
  • In Next Men, Aldus Hiltop appears to be this, but the true Big Bad is Sathanas.
  • Not sure if it counts as a comic or toy line first, but Bionicle has the Brotherhood of Makuta (an entire race of Big Bads), led by Teridax. Taken to the extreme when Teridax steals Mata Nui's 40-million-foot body and banishes him to the depths of space sealed in a mask.
  • In Beast Wars: The Ascending, Big Convoy notes that the building they're about to go into has that "Big Bad ambiance."
  • Ozymandias of Watchmen is an interesting example as, while his deeds are certainly worthy of proper Big Bad status, he's occasionally a sympathetic character.
  • President (That's right, President) Gary Callahan AKA The Smiler of Transmetropolitan. In their first meeting, he promises to place Spider Jerusalem's misery as top priority, and backs up that claim with gusto (while trying to kill him every once in awhile). He is the personification of everything Spider hates in the Crapsack World, and so everything Spider does in the series traces back to his efforts to take down his Arch Nemesis.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has a few borderline examples, but the clearest-cut is probably Moriarty.
  • Max in The Losers
  • Cronos in The All New Atom
  • Bane in the original Batman: Knightfall storyline orchestrated a mass breakout at Arkham to weaken Batman.
  • Henry Bendix in Ellis's Stormwatch and Brubaker's The Authority.
  • Alan Moore's WildC.A.T.S. run had TAO
  • Psychotic mobster Black Mask was the Big Bad of the last Catwoman series.
  • The Mekon in Dan Dare. While not the main villain in every storyline, he turned up often enough to qualify for the role here.
  • Herr Wallenquist could likely be considered the main villain in Sin City since he has had a hand in many of the storyarcs. He was Maxwell Lord's main business partner in A Dame To Kill For, sent Manute to retrieve Jackie Boy's head and take over Old Town in Big Fat Kill, and was the Colonel's boss in Hell and Back just to name a few. But he's a bit of a Noble Demon in a world of complete monsters, so he rarely comes across as this.
  • In the American Sonic The Hedgehog series, Sonic's Arch Enemy Dr. Robotnik/Eggman has always been the overall Big Bad of the series, but occasionally the series has had other villains being the driving force behind events:
  • In the Anthology Comic The Beano Baby Face Finlayson is used as a Big Bad in a number of the longer strips by the artist Kev F Sutherland.
  • Gideon Gordon Graves from Scott Pilgrim who single-handedly founded the League of Evil Exes.
  • The Big Bad of 100 Bullets was for the entirety of the comic's run Augustus Medici. This was in doubt for a while; there was a point where Megan Dietrich seemed to be manipulating him, and toward the end it appeared he'd been Out-Gambitted by her and the rest of the younger Trust members, but the final issue reveals they were playing into his hands the whole time. In the end, though, the one thing he didn't count on was his Dragon, Agent Graves, having standards.
  • In the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, the two most frequent Big Bads are Pete and the Phantom Blot, who on ovvasion form a Big Bad Duumvirate—though Pete sometimes (especially in alternate-continuity series like Wizards of Mickey) gets the role as The Dragon.
  • Don Rosa established that the biggest bad of the Donald Duck (and family) comics is Blackheart Beagle, who eventually recruits all the other recurring villains into his Legion of Doom. None too shabby for a guy who's probably pushing 100.Also Magica De Spell and Flintheart Glomgold can qualify.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Has Lord Hijaki
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Has The Shredder in many versions
  • Hellboy: Has the Ogdru-Jahad
  • Savage Dragon: Has the Overlord, Damien Darklord, and Cyberface.
  • Spawn:In the Spawn universe it Has Malebolgia,Mammon,and Satan.
  • Valiant Comics: Toyo Harada is the most prominent villain in this universe.
  • Vampirella:The Mad God Chaos and Dracula.
  • The Walking Dead: The Governor,Negan,and Alpha.
  • Witchblade: Kenneth Irons and The Curator/Suvivor
  • The Darkness: The Angelous.
  • Invincible: Thragg and Robot.
  • Kick-Ass: Chirs Genoverse also known as Red Mist in the original trilogy.
  • Judge Dredd: Judge Death leader of the Dark Judges.