Bigger Bad

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As the page description for Big Bad notes, that character may be the one who is directly responsible for the plot, but is not necessarily the most powerful or significant evil presence in the setting. That's where this trope comes in - the setting has a villainous presence that is more significant than the Big Bad in the setting as a whole, but isn't causing the conflict of the story (and may have little to do with it at all). Perhaps it's an important Sealed Evil in a Can that never gets released, is simply unconcerned with current events, or is a mindless force that can't by any realistic stretch of the imagination be considered a character. Sometimes the real Big Bad will seek to exploit or make use of it, or may pay lip service to it, though this doesn't always happen. If the Big Bad tries to harness the Bigger Bad for his own gain, he'll likely learn the painful lesson that Evil Is Not a Toy.

Note that despite the name, this is not a subtrope of Big Bad. A Bigger Bad is a more threatening force of evil in the setting and overshadows it, but due to mindlessness, imprisonment, lack of interest, or other factors it is disconnected on a personal level from the main plot, which is caused by the Big Bad. A being can be a Big Bad in one story and later be Kicked Upstairs to Bigger Bad (or the reverse), however. Contrast: The Man Behind the Man, where a villain directly tied into the story is revealed to be controlling or manipulating the apparent Big Bad. In this case, the Man behind the Man is the actual hidden Big Bad (not a Bigger Bad).

A being who fits this trope is likely a demon lord, archdevil, God of Evil or Eldritch Abomination with a Religion of Evil and/or Path of Inspiration built around him/her/it. He/she/it is probably Made of Evil and will probably exist As Long as There Is Evil. Satan is likely to be portrayed this way in stories where he appears. Overlap with Ultimate Evil is also likely. The plot role can also overlap with MacGuffin, though this is less common. In more mundane cases, this role can be taken by a distant dictator who, like the supernatural version, overshadows a work but doesn't enter it directly. Sometimes is a Diabolus Ex Nihilo or (in video games) a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere. In either case, likes to hijack the plot.

As a general rule of thumb if you're uncertain whether a character counts as Big Bad or Bigger Bad- if you can remove the character from the story or replace them with an impersonal force without dramatically affecting the plot, they're probably this trope. Do not confuse with The Man Behind the Man.

Examples of Bigger Bad include:


Multiple Media[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In any work set during World War II, it's a virtual given that the antagonists' marching orders will ultimately come from the leaders of the Axis Powers, and especially Adolf Hitler, even if they don't physically appear. Rare exceptions include Catch-22, where the antagonists are corrupt Allied commanders.
  • Likewise, it seems to be an unwritten rule for any Star Wars work (novels, comics, video games, etc.) set within Palpatine's lifetime that he is the source of everything bad that's going on, even if he hardly even appears.

Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • When compared to Medusa's villainous progress against the protagonists, this may be the role of Asura in Soul Eater. He is one of a group of Eldritch Abominations who personify and provoke in humans various forms of madness. So far, his only influence as a threat has been indirect, as upon his release Asura's mere existence empowered a growing group of chaotically dangerous antagonists. That said, he is certainly a character, albeit a rather sketchy one. Medusa is also trying to harness his power, Arachne wanted to destroy/usurp him, and Noah/Tables of Contents is trying to collect him (For the Book's index's will to teach the world it's madness). Lord Death appears to want his old friend recaptured, but with him it's very hard to tell.However In The Story Arc on the Moon makes Asura the Big Bad in that arc so this time Asura is the Main Villain in this Arc.Asura is considered to be the entire series's big bad due to being the first Kishin and the DWMA was founded to defeat Kishins.
  • Naruto has the Ten-Tailed Beast, the original tailed beast, of whom the other nine are pieces of its chakra divided. The Big Bad wants to reform the Ten-Tails and become its Jinchuriki, so he can enslave everyone with his Mangyeko Sharingan.
  • The Overdevil in Overman King Gainer.
  • Chaos in Sailor Moon.
  • The Emperor of Darkness from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger -who fit the bill like God of Evil-. The Humongous Mecha Big Bad Dr. Hell found were ancient -and severely outdated- weapons of his army. During the first series he did not directly interfere with the plot, and he remained in his underground empire, watching the war between Kouji Kabuto and Dr. Hell as one of his underlyings schemed to bring both of them down. After causing the end of Dr. Hell's army and Mazinger-Z he became Big Bad of the next series.
  • In Outlaw Star, the Big Bad is a Kei Pirate named Hazanko who seeks to overthrow the Tendo King, an unseen Bigger Bad. But there is an even bigger bad above the Tendo King called the Tenpa Emperor, who is only mentioned once. The identity, powers, and position of these characters is never explained.
  • In Berserk, that would be The Idea Of Evil which also doubles as the story's actual Big Bad in a way.
  • Kardis, the goddess of destruction in Record of Lodoss War.
  • Master Hades of Fairy Tail is indirectly responsible for half of the Big Bads of the entire series. He's the Big Bad of his own arc later, when his guild attacks Fairy Tail directly.
    • After Hades' defeat, a new enemy appears in the form of Acnologia, although it's not apparent of he's a true Bigger Bad or just an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Zeref is also a Bigger Bad. It's been 400 years since his death, and people are still fighting against demons and other evil artifacts he made back then. And it turns out he's still alive, but dormant.
  • Millenniumon in Digimon Adventure 02. Kicked Upstairs variety.
  • The World Government is the Bigger Bad of the One Piece, since they're in direct control of the Marines, and ostensibly the Seven Warlords of the Sea, which the Straw Hat Pirates have come into conflict with at least three of its members, serve under the Government. They also directly, or indirectly affected the lives of at least three of the main characters because they considered their parental figures or family members as too dangerous. They even stopped the Marines from putting bounties on several dozen global criminals because it would hurt their image.
  • Primal Dialga was portrayed as one in the anime adaptation of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky. Granted, as he wasn't even the villain of the game.
  • In Higurashi, we have the Takano Miyo, but Tokyo seemed to be more of the antagonists, since in reality, they didn't give a crap about the Hinamizawa Syndrome, or they have even said to Miyo that she had outlived her usefulness after she lost to Rika and her friends.
    • Takano was seeking for a way to succeed with her goal anyway, Tokyo just used her and her goals to further their own plans. Since those plans are not the focus of the story, they are the story's Bigger Bad.
  • In Code Geass R1, Cornelia is the one making decisions about how Britannians in Area 11 will deal with Japanese rebels, while The Emperor of Britannia is far away and sets national policies but gives his children some free rein (within certain boundaries) in how they govern their territories. (This leeway is to see which child can achieve results and prove their worthiness to succeed him.) There are only two scenes in the entire R1 series in which The Emperor has more than a cameo-like appearance—one of them is a speech he gave, and the other is a Backstory flashback.
  • The main antagonist of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the ever-adorable Kyubey, plays a role like this in the spin-off Puella Magi Oriko Magica. In another spin-off, Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, he decides to emulate Ganon.
  • In a similar function to Sailor Moon's Chaos, Black Hole of Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3 was this for not only the separate villains, but for those who showed up in even the team up movies. Note, though, that it only applied for the All-Stars movie series.
  • In Inuyasha, Magatsuhi, the spirit of evil in the Shikon Jewel. Does nothing for 90 percent of the show, then shows up and causes trouble. Dangerous, evil, ancient, but its still Naraku driving the Evil Plan.
  • Jesei is spoken of in the third to last episode of Inukami! and only after that does he affect the plot directly. The rest of the time he was just an observer and instigator of an unknown part of another character's backstory.
  • Each of the three completed Yu-Gi-Oh! series has one:
    • The first series has Zorc Necrophades, the demonic being originally defeated by the Pharaoh. He's both Ultimate Evil and The Corruption, and was literally born of slaughter and genocide. Thief King Bakura works for him, and at the very end of the final arc Zorc finally takes center stage as a Big Bad in his own right.
    • The Light of Ruin in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. The second season's Big Bad was serving it, and the third season's Big Bad turned to evil because of it.
    • The King of the Underworld in the Dark Signers arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, being the force behind the Earthbound Gods and the reason that the Dark Signers can make a Deal with the Devil and return Back from the Dead. This one may not qualify, though, as there's no indication it's even sentient and it, along with its Good Counterpart the Crimson Dragon, is being played like a violin by the straight Big Bad, Rex Godwin.
  • In much the same way that Adolf Hitler will be this by default in almost any story set during WWII, the Zabi family and Gihren Zabi in particular become this in the various sidestories set during Mobile Suit Gundam's One Year War. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team and Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket are both examples of this.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the Here Comes Tomorrow story arc of Grant Morrison's New X-Men, it's suggested that the biggest overarching threat permeating the X-mythos is not Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Mojo, or even Apocalypse, but rather Sublime. A sentient colony of bacteria almost as old as the Earth itself, Sublime was revealed to have orchestrated many events in the X-Men's past, including the creation of the Weapon X program, all in a bid to wipe the mutant race from the Earth (as they are the only species immune to his mind control). It's implied that he may have even manipulated humanity and created the very idea of anti-mutant prejudice in the first place.
  • The Ogdru Jahad tend to be behind most villains in Hellboy stories.
  • The other-dimensional demon Zom is an almost literal example of this: When insanely powerful evil sorceress Umar comes to Earth, Doctor Strange uncorks (almost literally) something which is even far worse than she is to scare her off. It works perfectly. And the consequences of that turn out a lot worse than Umar would have been. Groan.
    • Not learning his lesson, Strange does it again in World War Hulk. Hulk still defeats him, however Zom then inhabits Iron Man's Hulk buster armor, but Hercules took care of him.
    • Umar's brother Dormammu usually fills this role as well.
  • The Liege Maximo, founder of Jhiaxus's Decepticons (and, possibly, all Decepticons) in Marvel's Transformers: Generation 2.
  • The Lord of the Locusts in Bone
  • The Anti-Monitor probably counts, as it/he is so powerful that he can be implied to be in a form of Sealed Evil in a Can at any given moment, especially given the nature of death in comic books.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: One could make an argument that Mammoth Mogul is this. Thousands of years ago, he founded the Order of Ixis, which eventually led to the creation of Ixis Naugus, whose actions, which may include starting the Great War, in turn led to Robotnik's rise to power, who's death ultimately led to nearly every villain in the book today, with Naugus responsible for the ones that aren't Mogul. Naugus and Robotnik are still quite active (and are, in fact, the current top two villains of the series), whereas Mogul has semi-retired from active villainy, running a casino and deciding to use his immortality to outlive the heroes and make his move then.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Discord in the second and third parts of the Pony POV Series, while he was the Big Bad proper in the first part. While Loneliness and then Princess Gaia/Nightmare Whisper are the Big Bads for the second and third parts, Discord's actions in the first part (and the actual show) are the reason one, possibly both, of them even exists at all and everything in the entire fic can be traced back to Discord, even though he's been Sealed Evil in a Can the entire time. He is set free and becomes the Big Bad for the final arc, however.
    • Arguably, Discord's father Havoc for the series as a whole. After all, he created Discord in the first place, plus he's more or less directly responsible for Discord's original reign over Equestria, as he fed Discord his own brother and Havoc's avatar in order to increase his power, then sent him to Equestria.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures story Queen of All Oni (an AU retelling of the fourth season), as Jade is serving as the story's Big Bad proper, the canonical Big Bad Tarakudo has been reduced to this, as he's still trapped in the Shadow Realm. However, he's still subtly manipulating events in his favor, and is slowly building up his power until he can escape and resume the Big Bad position.
  • Jewel of Darkness: As the story is building towards Raven/Midnight's birthday and his preordained release, plus the fact that the climax of the Jump City arc shows that he's manipulating events via his pawns, it's safe to say Trigon holds this position.


Films - Live-Action[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Morgoth was always the ultimate evil presence in Middle-Earth, but after his defeat and imprisonment at the end of The Silmarillion, Sauron took over the role of the active Big Bad, overlapping with Dragon Ascendant. Morgoth was not destroyed, however, and Tolkien's writings indicate he will free himself in time to command the forces of darkness once again at the Last Battle.
    • Sauron himself as the Necromancer during The Hobbit - he definitely exists and will later be revealed as the canonical ultimate evil, but has no direct role in the story's plot, except as a device to give Gandalf a reason to leave the group for chapters at a time to go get information on him.
  • In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the ultimate enemy is Perimal Darkling (think The Corruption on a cosmic scale), which appears to be largely mindless and is in no sense a "person", nor does it seem to have desires beyond consuming the whole universe. Master Gerridon, nominally The Dragon, generally serves as the primary anatagonist.
  • The Lords of Norsunder are the ultimate malevolent force in the Inda books, but during the timeline of the series are largely uninterested in human affairs. Erkric, the Big Bad, came up with his schemes on his own but bargained with one of them for his powers, but when he failed to live up to his end she killed him and then departed.
  • The Black Council in The Dresden Files, who have been behind everything, Books one to thirteen inclusive, and are big enough that it warrants Uriel's direct (if sneaky and subtle) intervention.
  • Several of Tad Williams' works feature an entity called Unbeing or Old Night, which is the representation of entropy and ultimate decay. It's never any of the Big Bads, but is portrayed as being tied to their actions, and at least one (Hellebore of The War of the Flowers) planned to deliberately unleash it.
  • In The Belgariad and The Malloreon, the King of Hell is mentioned several times as a demon god Sealed Evil in a Can who controls the single nastiest faction in existence, but because he isn't part of the conflict between the Light and Dark Prophecies, he to all practical intents and purposes sits the series out. A couple of his top minions do show up in supporting villain roles, but were likely acting independently.
  • In Animorphs the Council of Thirteen are the political heads of the Yeerk Empire, but only appear in one book, a Villain Episode where they're more focused on judging Vissers One and Three than the conquest of Earth per se. Visser Three is the commander of operations on Earth and consequently functions as the Big Bad. The main plotline ends with his defeat.
    • Also, Crayak is a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who plays The Chessmaster throughout the galaxy to encourage mass genocides of entire species for no reason; in a series full of shades of grey he's one of only a handful of characters who qualify as totally evil. However, he only becomes directly involved in the story a handful of times and isn't terribly invested in it. The implication is that he and his Good Counterpart, the Ellimist will continue their long "game" millennia after the Animorphs' series has ended.
  • The Black Thing in A Wrinkle in Time. IT is the Big Bad, and the Man with the Red Eyes may be ITs Dragon. The Movie states that the Black Thing was created by IT, making IT the biggest villain of that adaptation.
  • Azathoth in the whole of Cthulhu Mythos, the mad demon-sultan who sort of rules all cosmos or something but never does anything except listens to music. Most of the other powerful Eldritch Abominations (Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth...) also take a very distant role in most of Lovecraft's stories, a notable exception being "The Call of Cthulhu". Nyarlathotep is a bit more hands-on, and August Derleth's Mythos stories frequently feature the likes of Cthulhu and even Yog-Sothoth about to personally emerge everywhere before being halted by a Deus Ex Machina or explosives.However his power is only surpassed by Yog Sothoth.
    • Azathoth is not only the Bigger Bad, but is the one who created the universe and is so far beyond human conception he exists without a mind and something that might not even be a real body, but some kind unspeakable living black hole; a proper description is never given, all we know is that Azathoth is a formless blight that bubbles and blasphemes at the centre of creation - and that's from a Dreamland story. A literal manifestation of perfect amoral chaos who creates and destroys. Is being kept asleep by the Ultimate Gods with 'pipes and drums' so he doesn't eat the universe.Also Yog Sothoth would also count as a Bigger bad.
  • The Crimson King was presented as the central evil in Stephen King's metaverse; however, in an example of The Devil Is a Loser, when he's finally confronted in the Grand Finale of the Dark Tower series he's revealed to be nothing more than an insane old man armed with nothing except suspiciously familiar flying grenades, who is promptly defeated in one of the most ignoble manners possible. It's later revealed he had relied on ancient technology to give him most of his seemingly multiverse-spanning omnipotent powers, and when he lost that through the efforts of various heroes on various realities he was -reduced to the pathetic wretch confronted by Roland.
  • Nalar, Raymond E. Feist's God of Evil, is slowly revealed to fill this role, and being imprisoned in another dimension, can do little more than be the influence for the various Big Bads in his books. Leso Varen, his minion, fills this role as well (making Nalar an Even Bigger Bad).
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians Kronos is the Big Bad. But in its Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus Kronos' mother starts to awake call her last children, the giants, to kill her grandchildren for hurting her evil baby boy. Gee what a nice lady.
  • In Gone (novel), Caine is the Big Bad, the counterpart to the hero, and the one who usually drives the plot. The Gaiaphage is an Eldritch Abomination that arrived via meteorite, crashed into a nuclear power plant, Mind Rapes several main characters including Caine, and looks at the whole situation as a game, but rarely shows up and is usually just a vague threat in the background.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, Arawn Death-Lord arguably plays this role in the first 2 books. By Book 5 he's just the Big Bad. There's also Gwyn the Hunter's unnamed lord. Even Gwydion doesn't know his name or identity, but believes that he's greater in power than Arawn.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, Tash, the chief Calormene god, plays this role until The Last Battle. Interestingly, we don't even know he's a real being until he enters the story and steps down to Big Bad status.
  • In Dragonlance, the evil deities frequently play this role in the novels, such as Hiddukel in the Taladas Trilogy, or Takhisis in Chronicles. There is also Morgion in the Minotaur Wars Trilogy.
  • The Void of The Word and The Void is the Bigger Bad to each of the trilogy's respective villains. Due to its status as an All Powerful Bystander it never intervenes in the plot, and as such, has little impact beyond merely existing.
  • The Warren of Chaos in The Malazan Book of the Fallen, chiefly opposed by Anomander Rake and the Warren of Darkness.
  • The post-World War III novel Malevil has Vilmain, a rogue military commander with a small roving army. Most of the attention and conflict is focused on Fulbert, a Sinister Minister abusing a local town. Vilmain's forces simply hadn't entered their region for most of the book but they're the real evil powerhouse when they march in.
  • Set in Robert E. Howard's Conan and Kull stories.
  • Dominator in the first Black Company book. It's hard to tell who exactly is supposed to be the Big Bad of it, but no one wants him to get free from his imprisonment, because he's much worse than any of them. He actually sets a plot to make all parties defeat each other and set him free, but it's hijacked by Soulcatcher. One may argue that in Shadows Linger he gets upgraded to Big Bad, but with The Company turning on Lady, it might be said that she takes the role, leaving him to be the Bigger Bad again. In The White Rose he starts as a Bigger Bad and slowly takes the role of Big Bad from the Lady as the story progress. There is also being imprisoned under The Old Father Tree, from The White Rose, who is apparently Dominator's counterpart from acient times and tries to break free at one point, becoming new Bigger Bad once Dominator gets promoted to Big Bad status.
  • The Bellon-Tockland Institute in Dean Koontz's False Memory, a semi-fascistic psychology think tank. The main villain of the book, Mark Ahriman, is a psychologist who develops a form of mind control and employs it both on behalf of the Institute and for his own deviant amusement; the trouble he causes for the main characters stems from his grudge against the stepfather of two of them, another academic who spammed Amazon with with negative reviews of Ahriman's work. Although we do see Ahriman manipulate a patient into biting off the nose of the U.S. President as a "message", and the Institute's connections are used in the Backstory to explain how he has escaped any accountability for his murderous pasttime, the Institute's plans have no direct bearing on the novel's events and they are ultimately cleared of any connection to Ahriman after the protagonists break his control on them and another one of his unstable pawns randomly kills him.
  • The Otherness from the Repairman Jack series is a perfect example of this trope: a vast, impersonal cosmic force locked in an endless war to conquer the multiverse. In our world, its goals are carried out by the immortal Rasalom and his disciples.
  • Quinn Dexter is the Big Bad of The Night's Dawn Trilogy; behind him and threatening the entire universe is the Dark Continuum.
  • Florence de Peyser in Peter Straub's Ghost Story.
  • The Shard God Odium is shaping up to be the most powerful evil in Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere universe, taking the role of Big Bad proper in The Stormlight Archive.
  • In Warrior Cats, the Dark Forest serve this role during the Power of Three arc. They are recruiting an army to destroy the Clans, and are made up of the most powerful villains the heroes have ever faced. However, this is mostly going on in the background, as the main driving point of the arc is uncovering the secrets of the past and defeating the villain Sol, who is trying to make the Clans destroy each other.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The First Evil from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, introduced as the ultimate evil in the third season but not taking on a direct Big Bad role until the seventh (and even then its lack of physical presence meant it had to work through others).
    • While Angel acts as Big Bad in Season 2, he seeks to release a Bigger Bad called Acathla in order to destroy the world.
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 has out big badded all the big bads with the next universe trying to end ours so the natural cycle of universes can continue. It fails, but makes Angel kill Giles.
    • From his own show, Angel, from season 1 to 5 the law firm of Wolfram & Hart play the role of Big Bad; however the unseen Senior Partners are always portrayed as the Bigger Bad.
  • Supernatural: Lucifer, up until Season 5 when he stepped down to Big Bad.
  • In Smallville's fifth season, Brainiac is the Big Bad. He's behind every nasty thing that goes down that season, and is one of the greatest threats Clark ever encounters. His goal, however, is to release General Zod, a Bigger Bad who was trapped in the Phantom Zone on Jor-El's orders. Since Zod can't do anything—and in fact is unable to even communicate with Braniac—it's very much this trope. General Zod's status as the series' Bigger Bad is further emphasized due to him being the ultimate source of the Big Bads from almost all later seasons; his son Doomsday and his younger clone Major Zod. Darkseid steps in as the final villain of the series in the last season, though.
  • It is implied that the Blue Sun Corporation was going to end up like this for Firefly, essentially being the true power behind the Alliance. We all know the rest of that story...
  • For the first season-and-a-half of Nikita, Oversight was this to Division, officially giving Percy his orders even as he was recognized as series Big Bad. As time went on, and Percy started overstepping his boundaries, Oversight grew more wary of him, and by the time Season 2 started, they had Percy locked up and replaced by Amanda. And now, as of the midway point of the season, Oversight is defunct, the Guardians having killed most of them in a (successful) plot to free Percy; this has resulted not only in Amanda taking Division rogue, but in the last remaining Oversight member to join forces with Team Nikita.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lord Zedd was originally a Bigger Bad as Big Bad Rita Repulsa was trying to take over the Earth under his orders while he was conquering other worlds. Once he decided to step in, the Rangers had to upgrade their Zords and he became a Big Bad.
  • Power Rangers SPD: Big Bad Emperor Gruumm was the leader of the Troobian Empire but was just collecting power for the Omni.


Mythology & Religion[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • This is the role the Demon Lords and Archdevils and Gods Of Evil in the Dungeons & Dragons world are likely to play in most games.
  • The Deathlords of Exalted are Omnicidal Maniac ghosts granted power by the Neverborn in the name of destroying Creation. The Neverborn themselves, however, aren't much a threat; they're busier spending time coping with the pain of being eternally-dying-but-never-truly-dead and sending strange messages to their servants.
    • Averted with the Ebon Dragon, who would desperately like to convince everyone that there is evil and he is the ultimate source of it, but ultimately he's just kind of pathetic.
  • The Exarches from Mage: The Awakening, who stormed the supernatural realms and broke reality in the distant past. Together all 11 of them form the main villains of the setting, responsible for both the Abyss and the depressing state of the world.
  • The Chaos Gods serve this role in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 (they'd probably be the Big Bad if they weren't so focused on the struggle for dominance among themselves).
  • Blue Rose has the seven Exarchs of Shadow, though it's never stated explicitly whether they actually exist or are just a myth.
  • The Darklords in Ravenloft can play this role, or even the Dark Powers themselves depending on what type of game the GM is runing.
  • Kazavon in Pathfinder's Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign. A monstrous Blue Dragon and Psycho for Hire who once served as Zon-Kuthon's Champion, Kazavon was killed long before the story began. His evil persists however, in the form of seven Artifacts Of Doom made out of his bones, which are so contaminated by the Pure Evil of his soul that they corrupt all they touch, exacerbating the evil that is already there in the human soul. Queen Illeosa, The Big Bad of the setting, is wearing the Crown of Fangs carved out of his teeth; with her defeat the story is over, but the possibility of someone else picking up the Crown (or one of the other six items) remains a very real threat.


Trading Cards[edit | hide]

  • The Supreme Monstrosity in Dinosaurs Attack!, also named by fans, "Dinosaur Satan."
  • The Eldrazi in Magic: The Gathering, until Rise of the Eldrazi when they actually show up.
    • Magic previously had Yawgmoth, who had a similar treatment. For most of the original storyline, the various Evincars of Rath were the setting's primary antagonists, especially Volrath. Rath and its Evincars were essentially satellites to Phyrexia and Yawgmoth, it's ruler. While Phyrexia turned up quite a bit throughout the game's history (going at least as far back as Phyrexian War Beast in Alliances), Yawgmoth Himself didn't take center stage until the Urza's Block and then not again until Invasion.
      • In regards to Yawgmoth's power level, "Yawgmoth's" is one of three words found in the title of the majority of banned/restricted card names, prompting the joke that "Yawgmoth's Time Mox" would be the most banned card ever. Note that neither "Time" nor "Mox" are characters in the setting, and you get the idea.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • The Patriots in the Metal Gear saga. A faceless, all-powerful of power brokers that rule America from the shadows, the Patriots are the biggest overarching threat pervading the series, though Snake doesn't directly come into conflict with them until the final game. Ironically, most of the Big Bads that he faces before then are actually battling the Patriots themselves for their own reasons. The Patriots simply stay in the shadows and don't get involved personally. The label becomes a lot more appropriate when you learn that they're not even human: they're a nebulous system of AIs that are far beyond any one person's control.
  • The Legend of Zelda has several ones that the Big Bad wants to unseal or resurrect:
    • Ganon in Zelda II the Adventure of Link is the force motivating all the other bad guys rather than an actual character in the game but he didn't actually tell anyone to do anything. Who the Big Bad in Zelda II is, is up for debate.
    • Ganon is this in the first part of A Link To The Past, until Agahnim succeeds in unsealing him and leaves the spotlight to him (Agahnim isn't mentioned again until encountered in the final dungeon).
    • Ganon again in The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games only appears as a boss in a linked game, and the plot is driven by Twinrova trying to resurrect him.
    • Malladus from Spirit Tracks. The plot is actually driven by Chancellor Cole trying to resurrect/unseal him.
    • Demon King Demise from The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, and arguably the whole series. Hyrule's Ultimate Evil, Sealed Evil in a Can, and Ghirahim's master, he is also the source of the continued returns of the series' Big Bad, Ganondorf, having cursed Link and Zelda for imprisoning him. You get the picture.
  • The One Being in the Mortal Kombat series.Although Onaga the original ruler of Outworld and Shinnok the former Elder God would also count.
  • The Nightmare in Kirby's Adventure is merely a Sealed Evil in a Can- the actual leader of the villains is King Dedede.
  • Sargeras in the Warcraft universe. He's the founder of The Burning Legion and the most powerful being ever (save perhaps the Old Gods), but has never directly appeared in any of the games as of yet, due to his physical body having been destroyed when he attempted to access Azeroth as part of a Thanatos Gambit gone wrong. At present he's a trapped spirit in the Twisting Nether, and the Burning Legion instead is under the command of Kil'jaeden. Based on the text files it appears that Varimathras was acting under orders from Sargeras when he betrayed the Forsaken, and was attempting to summon him back to the world in some form.
  • The Mysterious Man in House of the Dead series.
  • Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III and Necron from Final Fantasy IX are both world-devouring final bosses who don't actually affect the plot before their last-minute appearances.
  • Enuo from Final Fantasy V was the evil wizard who was originally responsible for the world being split into two separate dimensions, and though he is never seen in-game due to the fact that he's been dead for a thousand years, he is implied to have been a much more fearsome villain than Exdeath, requiring the use of the Twelve Legendary Weapons to defeat. A sub-plot involving his return and a battle with him appears as a bonus area in FF 5 Advance.
  • Final Fantasy VII. Word of God confirms that Sephiroth is in control, but all of his powers, most of Shinra's military might, and the reason for the Weapons' creation is Jenova.
    • Professor Hojo is the person responsible for infecting Sephiroth with Jenova cells, and the reason Jenova is even a threat again in the game proper. He's also why Cloud has amnesia. Various other games in the The Verse elaborate on his deeds and feature him as a Big Bad in his own right. He comes close to forming a Bigger Bad Duumvirate with Jenova.
  • Hector is like this in Yggdra Union and Knights in The Nightmare; he is the Big Bad proper of Riviera: The Promised Land.
  • In the Baldur's Gate series, as revealed near the end of the first game, the dead god Bhaal pushed the plot into movement in the backstory, but being dead, takes no active part in the story of the games other than as semi-impersonal power scattered among his mortal children. All the three Big Bads in the series are after this power in some way or another. (Of course, since the setting is an established Shared Universe -- multiverse, even --, there are plenty of other at least equally powerful Bigger Bads in the setting in general. You can even kill one in passing later on, and chat with another. But the above holds in the context of what's relevant to the main story.)
  • Phantasy Star has The Profound Darkness. The series protagonist's struggle against the Dark Force/Falz, the recurring Big Bad, basically amounts to Fighting a Shadow of a fraction of the Profound Darkness' own evil and hatred. DF himself is a threat to the entire universe, so nobody wants to find out what the Profound Darkness can do if left unchecked.
  • Gerald Robotnik from Sonic Adventure 2 serves as the bigger bad of the story. The main conflict of the story is against Eggman, but it was Gerald's actions 50 years in the past that caused many of the problems in the game. However, he only appears in the game posthumously and has a rather indirect effect on the story in general. The story doesn't revolve around stopping him (he's already dead by the time the game roles around) and his machinations are only revealed after Eggman accidentally sets off the Colony Drop at the end.
  • The really nasty, powerful vampires and other beings referenced in Tsukihime never really progress beyond that. Roa may be the big bad, but he wasn't even invited to the 27 dead apostle ancestors, the top five or so of which could destroy the world.
  • In Starcraft I and II, the Big Bads are the Zerg Overmind, Sarah Kerrigan and (in Wings of Liberty) Arcturus Mengsk. The Zeratul side missions (starting in Brood War and continuing in Wings of Liberty) reveal a nebulous Bigger Bad looming in the horizon: the Dark Voice.
  • In Resident Evil, Ozwell E. Spencer is one of the founders of the Umbrella Corporation, who murdered his rivals to gain total control. He was also into world domination. However, he never interacts with or even takes notice of the protagonists, and the various biohazards of the games are instigated by underlings with their own motives.
  • Kalibaar's Master from Heroes of Might and Magic 4 is set up to be this. But it's never really explained what happened to him.
    • The Creators served as this between Might and Magic I and V, but might have been retconned out by VI - in the early games, they were an enemy race to the Ancients, stated to be evil and of fairly equal power to the Ancients (who created both the Big Bad, the Big Good, and the worlds the games take place on), but with absolutely no relation to the games whatsoever except possibly the war with them being the reasons the Ancients doesn't put more effort into correcting the Sheltem situation. The exposition of the backstory in VI contradicts their existence, or at least the war with them, however.
    • The Kreegan were sort-of this in Might and Magic VII - as far as the game is concerned, the Kreegan are just hanging out in the Land of the Giants, being a threat greater than the ones that comes closest to being the Big Bads for the game and keeping someone they kidnapped before Might and Magic VI with them. Their king gets killed, but before and after that he has no relation to the plot of the game, and Armageddon's Blade showed his death did little to slow the Kreegans.
  • In Opoona the Big Bad is an Artifact of Doom and the sages under The Corruption. Said artifact was created by The Dark Emperor, the setting's ultimate Big Bad, however he never appears in the game proper.
  • In Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow, Dracula is this, since the only time he ever comes out to play is a Nonstandard Game Over.
    • Chaos is pretty much this for the entire series.
  • In the first Sly Cooper game, the Big Bad is a mechanical owl named Clockwerk. but in the second game Clockwerk becomes the Bigger Bad because he is now destroyed, shut down, and seperated into several pieces, but still a very dangerous potential threat if he were to be rebuilt (which is what the villains of the game are trying to do).
    • Not quite. Most of the bad guys are just using pieces of Clockwerk for their own small-time schemes. It's only Arpeggio that intends to fully rebuild Clockwerk to take Clockwerk's body for himself to be immortal. Until Neila backstabs him and takes Clockwerk's body for herself.
  • Cubia in .hack//GU. The Big Bad is Ovan... sort of. After he is dealt with though, Cubia reappears as a side effect. Where AIDA was merely causing some comas, violence, and graphics glitches, Cubia comes pretty close to crashing the whole of the Internet... which, in a world where Everything Is Online, would be incredibly devastating.
  • In Cave Story, Ballos is the inventor of the demon crown and is the True Final Boss, but that doesn't change the fact that the Doctor was the main villain up until he was defeated.
  • Dragon Age Origins has the Archdemon as the Big Bad; Dragon Age II has Meredith. Side quests for Morrigan and the downloadable content Witch Hunt suggest that Flemeth may be the Bigger Bad of the Dragon Age universe.
    • The first Archdemon, Dumat, may also fit. Corypheus revealed that Dumat promised him and the other Magisters the Golden City, but was "betrayed" and returned as one of the first Darkspawn. Further more Corypheus frequently commands "Dumat, grant me your powers!" during battle to which a power is always granted. The quest Altar of Dumat can result in an amulet if sacrifices are made. Both of these events suggest that Dumat still has some form of presence in the world despite being slain.
  • In Bully, Mr. Harrington, the father of Derby Harrington, fills a role like this. He doesn't make a personal appearance in the story and is only referenced in a few lines of dialogue, but his money and meddling in school affairs are one of the root causes of a lot of the corruption at Bullworth Academy.
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 has Teikun_Ō, who not only took the identity of the president of Zheng-Fa but also had powerful associates in the Prison and Legal systems of Japan/USA. However, his actions also lead to his death at the hands of the Big Bad: Sōta Sarushiro
  • Prime Minister Bill Hawks in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Aside from being a Dude in Distress, he doesn't play much of a role in the conflict of the story, but he was responsible for the incident that served as the Start of Darkness for the game's two main villains.
  • The main villain of Stinkoman 20X6, due to the game not having a final level.
  • The Shadow Queen from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door takes this role, being a Sealed Evil in a Can, and is most likely the catastrophe that destroyed the ancient town. Grodus, the actual Big Bad, seeks to free her so he can use her for his own ends. This proves unfortunate.
  • Final Fantasy XI enjoys this trope immensely.
    • The six slumbering Celestial Avatars Ifrit, Shiva, Garuda, Titan, Ramuh, and Levithan could destroy the world easily if they ever woke up, fortunately, they don't feel like it. Part of Carbuncle's reasoning for spreading the Summoner job is to show those Avatars that people are actually pretty nifty and that they shouldn't destroy the world when they eventually do wake up.
    • The return of the Shadowlord the Big Bad of the game's original story arch was orchestrated by the Zilart princes Kam'lanaut and Eald'narche. They become the Big Bads of the first expansion Rise of the Zilart, but their plans unwittingly (though perhaps they were influenced by him) to allow the Big Bad from the second expansion Chains of Promathia back into the world.
    • Ultimately, pretty much all of the troubles that happened in the game stemmed from the pact made by the Shadowlord with the Celestial Avatar Odin. Odin gave Raogrimm the power to get revenge for his murder in exchange for releasing Odin from his slumber, this revenge and its consequences nearly lead to the destruction of Vana'diel at least half a dozen times since then, but none of that was ever part of Odin's goal. Odin is also not too bad of a guy if you get to know him.
  • In In Famous 2, the Beast is the Bigger Bad of the game (and you do end up having to confront him), but for much of the plot of the game, the Big Bad is Joseph Bertrand III, who leads the Militia and is responsible for the creation of both the Corrupted and the Ice Soldiers.
  • Myth has the Leveler, a malevolent force that is responsible for turning a hero to darkness every thousand years.
  • As told by Tekken 6's Scenario Campaign mode, Jin Kazama is the one who set the world into chaos (and thus the actual antagonist) but only did so in order to awaken the monster Azazel. This is most apparent in the story mode, where Azazel is taken out almost casually a short while before the true final battle against Jin.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories had hints of this when it ultimately was revealed that Marluxia, the game's Big Bad, was a Starscream trying to overthrow the leader of Organization XIII (simply called the Organization back then).
  • In Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, the player is likely to assume earlier that either Gig or on the World Eaters (not those World Eaters) will be the Big Bad, but as the game goes on we eventually find it be Drazil, the guy that sent Gig and the World Eaters to destroy the world in the first place.
    • However this trope get's played interestingly in the Demon Path, Drazil is the Big Bad however Revya turns out to outdo him and be an even greater threat so much so that Drazil pulls a Heel Face Turn.
  • Gears of War. In the third game it turns out that Imulsion is actually a planet-wide parasite that infects both Locust and Humans and turns them Lambent.
  • Shows up in Pokémon Gold and Silver (and their Expansion Packs, remakes, etc.) of all places. Giovanni, the Big Bad of the original Pokémon Red and Blue games, is AWOL in this entry but his organization is still committing crimes and experiments in his name. The Big Bad of these games is the Dragon Ascendant, who went nameless in the original Gold and Silver editions but was named Archer in the remakes.
    • And in the remakes, it's possible to encounter and battle Giovanni, but you need an event Celebi to do so. You travel back through time to the period where Team Rocket was taking over Goldenrod City so you can fight him while your past self fights Team Rocket.
  • Darkrai from the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers games (as mentioned above, Primal Dialga isn't the villain).
  • In the Mega Man X series, Sigma is the Big Bad. His actions are tied to the Maverick Virus, which was created by Dr. Wily. He only interacts with the plot directly in X5.
  • Mega Man Zero has this in spades. First, we have Well-Intentioned Extremist Copy X and the Four Guardians at the helm of the plot. After the first game, the Big Bad is defeated and Phantom has pulled a bungled Suicide Attack. The remaining three Guardians go on the warpath with Zero and the Resistance, which causes its new leader, Elpizo, to snap and use the powers of the Bigger Bad, the Dark Elf, for vengeance. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg: the next game introduces Dr. Weil, who actually created the Dark Elf and shows up with his own ultra-Nigh Invulnerable version of Zero: Omega. It gets much, MUCH worse. Weil rebuilds Copy X and uses him as an Unwitting Pawn, along with the children of the Dark Elf, Crea and Prea, who never intentionally did anything evil because they're mere infants. When his first world domination scheme fails, he comes back to power with Ragnarok, a space station armed with a Wave Motion Gun with the actively-demonstrated power to cause mass-scale destruction - even The End of the World as We Know It, plus his own squad of personal Reploid warriors, led by Craft. In short, the title of Bigger Bad changes hands with each new game, save for the conclusion.
  • Bass.EXE from Mega Man Battle Network. He appears in each game at least once as an optional boss that outranks all the other bosses in sheer difficulty and intense power, dealing far more than any other enemy in the franchise can (and has the biggest possible health bar). He does appear as a main plot point in BN 3, where he's still threatening, but even then he appears again as an optional boss in post game with entirely new powers. Even after BN 3, he goes on to appear in BN 4-6 and also appears in Network Transmission, although in Network Transmission he isn't actually killed, he just leaves, although he's still the strongest opponent in the game.
  • The Infocom game Enchanter has a Cosmic Horror sealed up directly below the castle of the evil warlock Krill; the player needs to stop Krill without freeing the entity, lest it destroy the world.
  • Solatorobo has Baion, who sees no need to learn to control Lares (since Nero and Blanck can do that for him already) or chase the protagonists as Bruno did; instead, he just wants to summon Tartaros and bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
  • The Golden Spider from Asura's Wrath, who is revealed to be God, allowed the Deities of the game to use Mantra to begin with, and was the reason the Gohma were rampaging in the first place, so he could test the power of the Deities.
  • In Mass Effect, The Reapers are the Bigger Bad, since they are in dark space, and the entire goal of the Big Bad (who is an individual Reaper) is to bring the rest of them to the galaxy. In the second game, the Reapers are controlling the Collectors, but don't really come into play until Arrival, and are still in dark space. In the third game however, the Reapers have arrived, and serve as the Big Bad this time.
    • The third game still has a bigger bad. An AI known as The Catalyst, who created the Reapers to ensure the preservation of the genetic material and experiances of each race harvested.
  • Implied in Portal. GLADoS, the game's Big Bad (and only other character besides Chell), makes a few references to the state of the outside world before explicitly stating that she is the only one keeping "them" out of the Enrichment Center. "They" are strongly implied to be the Combine, the Big Bad of Half-Life 2.
  • Easily Yami from Okami, who's existence creates all of the evil beings you face in the game, being the root of all evil and all. Doesn't appear till the very final battle and is barely hinted at before, also doesn't seem to be a very intelligent being either since it doesn't talk.
  • Most of Borderlands is spent righting injustices and being guided towards The Vault. You end up at odds with the Crimson Lance and especially their leader, Commandant Steele. Eventually Steele gets to the vault first and opens the doors. Only to be stabbed through the belly and eaten by The Destroyer, an extra-dimensional creature that was lurking in the vault and waiting to be let out.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's, either the Purple Guy who murdered all those children and stuffed them into the costumes or the Puppet who is implied to be somehow behind whatever is influencing the animatronics qualifies as this.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • The Snarl from Order of the Stick is the most powerful and malevolent presence in the series, and the whole reason everything is happening, but appears to have no real mind or personality of its own; there are some hints as of this comic (major spoilers ahoy) that this might not be the case; but regardless, the actual Big Bad is Evil Sorcerer Xykon. Furthermore, the Dark One can be seen as this, but it's almost certainly an iffy issue; it's hotly debated on the webcomic's forums to boot.
  • Similar to the Order of the Stick example: Lord English from Homestuck is the most powerful character in the setting, but remained The Unseen until very recently, despite a great impact (mostly in the form of his chief servant, Doc Scratch) on the plot. The Big Bad is Physical God Jack Noir, stab-happy treacherous Archagent, who the protagonists have much more motivation to destroy.
    • On the other hand: Jack rebelled because John prototyped the clown doll; he got the clown doll because of the clown scribblings on his wall; he scribbled them because of the doll that Gamzee rage'd into existence next to his dream self; Gamzee did it because Dave sent him the prerelease of Miracles; Dave had it because Betty Crocker 'tweeted' him it; Betty Crocker is Her Imperial Condescension, under the employ of Lord English. So, LE MAY have masterminded the whole thing. Maybe.
  • Chaos of 8-Bit Theater is an evil Eldritch Abomination and embodiment of decay that is the whole reason behind the Light Warriors' quest. Although he does desire to end (and eternally torment, however that works) existence for no real reason, he does not come into play until the real Big Bad, Sarda accidentally brings him about.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the Demon King of the Dimension of Pain generally plays this part in Dimension of Pain arcs. The demon lord Horribus serves as Big Bad. Presumably Psykosis will be replacing him in future Dimension of Pain appearances.
  • Cocoon Academy reveals that, behind all the villainous plans Nintendo villains have come up with was Dark Matter, who possessed them all.}}
    • Of course, this conflicts with the official Zelda plot. In Skyward Sword, Demise was the Bigger Bad behind Ganondorf. If Dark Matter was the one that possessed him, where did Ganon come from then?
      • Possibly Ganon saw the evil forces (DM) inside of Ganondorf and decided that he would be a good pawn.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Nameless Evil, which later took over the god Dreamweaver's body and became known as Death, has been behind all atrocities which have taken place in various eras, subtly influencing events to its liking.
  • In the Creepypasta the Burgrr Entries, the big bad seems like it's the character Harmburger, as he's controlling the whole factory, but Word of God and the semi-sequel Awful Hospital confirms that the true mastermind is the horrible green doors.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • A handful of episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series feature Baron Mordo as the Big Bad, who is trying to unseal his demonic master Dormammu. Dormammu is a presence in the episodes, but the sorcerer is the primary villain.
  • Unicron of Transformers is the ultimate evil in the metaseries, but is usually a distant figure, with Megatron (or his replacement as Decepticon leader) being Big Bad. The exception is Transformers Armada, where Unicron is the Big Bad all along, orchestrating the conflict for his own purposes.
  • In the Dungeons and Dragons animated series, one episode featured Big Bad Venger's master, an insanely powerful Eldritch Abomination that appears and starts destroying the entire realm. Even at the end, when it's banished with the combined efforts of Dungeon Master, Venger, and the Heroes, DM still remarks that what they've accomplished is but a temporary victory.
  • Horde Prime served this role in the universe of the 80's He-Man and She Ra Princess of Power series (mainly She Ra Princess of Power since the Horde was her primary enemy). The master of both Hordak and Skeletor, Prime almost never played a direct role, but would occasionally appear to berate Hordak for his constant failures.
    • Hordak himself is the Bigger Bad in the 2000's series. He plays a prominent role in the backstory as the Arch Enemy to King Greyskull (and oddly enough to fellow archvillain King Hiss as well) and the one who transformed the dying Keldor into Skeletor. In the series proper he is a Sealed Evil in a Can who only briefly appears as gigantic cloudlike apparition during an attempt to release him only to fade away once the attempt is foiled. Had the series continued Hordak would have been freed and become the Big Bad proper for an entire season before being defeated by Skeletor.
    • Bravestarr used the exact same format, with Big Bad Tex Hex answering to an entity called Stampede.
  • On Invader Zim, Zim could probably be seen as the Big Bad focusing on Earth, with the Irken Empire itself (including the Tallests and Control Brains) as the Bigger Bad out to conquer the rest of the universe. (Especially since technically, Zim conquering Earth wasn't even part of the Empire's plans.)
  • Lucius Heinous I on Jimmy Two-Shoes. So far, he's always been frozen, but every subsequent member of the Heinous line fears him, including the current Big Bad, Lucius VII. Edward Kay has stated he might get unfrozen one day...
  • Arawn is actually portrayed as one in Disney's The Black Cauldron, since the role of the Big Bad is now taken by the Horned King, who was originally The Dragon in the books.
  • The Lich serves as this in Adventure Time. He's the most powerful villain in the entire show, the Knight of Cerebus, and a Complete Monster. He's also an Omnicidal Maniac whose sole purpose for existing is to destroy all life. However, he didn't have a direct role because the legendary hero Billy sealed him in amber inside a great tree, until he managed to escape in the season 2 finale.
  • Mr. Wilter from ChalkZone is an Ax Crazy Drunk with Power teacher who apperes to be more powerful than Scrawl.
    • The Red Chalk may count. It's not entirely clear whether or not it's sapient.
  • Nester's Mother from Scaredy Squirrel.
  • Grandfather from Codename: Kids Next Door. He doesn't appear until The Movie, where he's the Big Bad.
  • Ixis Naugus from Sonic Sat AM, who was originally going to be the villain of the show's would-been third season.
  • The Friends on the Other Side from The Princess and the Frog.
  • The Nightmare Prince's mother from Potsworth and Company.
  • Ninjago The Great Devourer is the one who turn Lord Garmadon evil
  • The Big Bad Mumm-Ra of Thundercats and ThunderCats (2011) is a servant of the Ancient Spirits of Evil, who grant him his power in exchange.
  • Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shredder was the antagonist for most of the series, but the ultimate mastermind he worked with was the evil alien brain.