Harmless Villain

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The fiends![1]

"And when she arrives, I shall squirt her...With CITRIC ACID!"

Villains are vile, ruthless, merciless, and bloodthirsty; any pretension of civility is just a smokescreen to hide a really twisted Big Bad. Not exactly kid-friendly, is it? So what are kids shows and movies supposed to do, if the original source's baddy eats babies? Why, make them a Harmless Villain of course!

Their goals can be as grandiose as any other villain's, but the way they go about their plans makes one wonder what they'd do if they ever win. Instead of putting the heroes through a Death Course, it'll merely be an obstacle course strewn with riddles. Rather than threatening to use Anthrax in the heart of London, they'll use sleeping gas to get away with a heist. If they capture the hero, expect only the most benign of Death Traps (usually with a tub of Mr. Pibb instead of a Shark Pool); and instead of outright torture, they'll use feathers to tickle the hero into submission. Or, they may say they're trying to do something truly evil, but they will fail, every time.

Specific evil plots will usually include amazing MacGuffin devices that mildly inconvenience people and get the hero involved; often, these plots are of such a scale and intricacy that if someone Cut Lex Luthor a Check, they'd be so rich, they wouldn't need that giant Gold-only Orbital Magnet to steal the world's supply of gold.

But, then again, where's the fun in that?

The only people "seriously endangered" by them are the Innocent Bystanders and Damsel in Distress that they occasionally capture, and they end up no worse for wear than if they'd spent the afternoon in a Time Share seminar, which is usually far less entertaining at that, and the villain will probably even provide far better snacks, along with room and board!

The Harmless Villain might possess an impressive array of powers, but they'll end up using it with all the effectiveness of Misapplied Phlebotinum, or have a glaring and easily exploited weaknesses that bring them to their knees just in the nick of time.

Basically, they aren't saddled with a bag of Villain Balls so much as they're expert jugglers, using them to entertain rather than as signs of stupidity (it is a kid's show, after all). A few of them are even Genre Savvy enough to be aware of this, and are pretty easy-going about it. These amiable villains will more often than not show that Even Evil Has Standards when that Very Special Episode rolls around. Out of all the villains, they're the likeliest to enjoy a good time with Villains Out Shopping, or even be Friendly Enemies with the hero!

A Harmless Villain will never Kick the Dog, much less cross the depravity line. However, they will Poke the Poodle...a LOT.

Their minions are as often as not Faceless Goons and comically good Mauve Shirts, both of which tend to do kooky and funny things when their boss isn't looking. These villains often have a degree of Karmic Protection because of the small scale of their "evil", especially when there are more serious villains around.

Keep in mind, though, that sometimes they become a Not-So-Harmless Villain later on. Even Team Rocket Wins every once in a while.

Compare Big Bad Wannabe, where the Harmless Villain tries one shot to prove his harm and accidentally succeeded, and later, the more harmful villains quickly snuff him/her and make him/her know his place. Contrast Beware the Silly Ones, where an apparently Harmless Villain is only so because, as Fridge Logic reveals, The Hero is just that good. Also contrast Vile Villain Saccharine Show, which is when a genuinely nasty villain appear in a work that would normally merit this trope. See also Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.

Examples of Harmless Villain include:


  • Most villains who appeared in the old McDonalds commercials - like Hamburglar, Captain Crook, and the Goblins - fit the description, easily outwitted by Ronald and his child-friends. Eventually, they were made "cuter" and even less villainous.

Anime and Manga

  • ACROSS from Excel Saga is probably an example (until the Gainax Ending), although that's because it would lapse into Dead Baby Comedy if they seemed genuinely villainous, as opposed to any censorship keeping them that way.
    • In the manga, Il Palazzo is genuinely villainous and is actually really creepy at points, particularly when he's suffering from multiple personality disorder or laughing weirdly, but Excel, Hyatt, and Elgala remain utterly useless at their villainous tasks.
    • Similarly, depending on whether you think ACROSS is right or not (and given the Crapsack World that Excel Saga takes place in, it's hard to argue that they're wrong about the world being corrupt), Kabapu's group is very bad at what they do as well, especially Iwata who, ironically, is the one who takes his job the most seriously.
  • The Team Rocket trio from Pokémon, no doubt about it. They're actually much better at being good than they are at being bad.
    • They've always been blunderers, but they did provide genuine conflict in the early episodes. By Johto, they'd gone through complete Villain Decay and reached their current status as comic relief. The original creator of the characters, Takeshi Shudo, had, by that point, lost control of them, and stated his dissatisfaction with how the characters have devolved on his blog.
    • In the new series, however, they've risen up to levels that make them seem more fearsome than when they first appeared, making them Not So Harmless Villains.
    • How I Became a Pokemon Card, a manga full of one-shots, has a protagonist named Hiroshi. He's a kid who wants to be a part of Team Rocket, but he's always accidentally doing good things. Team Rocket, in that manga, is also this, though they're depicted as being a menace for some reason.
  • Florsheim from Tentai Senshi Sunred has tried a few villainous schemes from time to time, but they always get caught up in helping Sunred with his love life, or saving a stray cat, or doing things that seem out of character for an evil organization. They're still fairly powerful, considering they're sentai villains, but they aren't villainous by any stretch of the imagination.
    • To put it in perspective, Florsheim's "Big Bad", Vamp, favours a special brand of imported detergent for cleaning, because it's made from ecological coconut oil and is completely biodegradable. He's so harmless, he won't even resort to littering.
    • Of course, when a new evil group comes to town, Sunred tells them to wipe out Florsheim if they want the job. He has full confidence in Florsheim being Not So Harmless, and it turns out he's completely right. Just because he curbstomps them every since time they fight, doesn't mean they aren't strong on their own. Cut to Florsheim completely wiping the floor with the new enemy like they're weaklings.
  • Emperor Pilaf and his two henchmen in Dragon Ball. He was the series' first Big Bad, but he later becomes an incompetent git who's plans are always easily foiled by Goku. Of course, he also freed King Piccolo and, much later in GT, accidentally made Goku young again at the cost of the Earth with the Black Star Dragon Balls.
  • Kurotowa in the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind anime. In the manga, he only briefly appears to be one of these, before proving to actually be dangerously competent.
  • The pirates in Porco Rosso are positively polite:

"Do you really want to take all fifteen of them hostage?"
"Of course I do! It wouldn't be nice to separate them from their friends."

  • Tom and Tab from Kimba the White Lion are too stupid to carry out orders and too weak to pose an actual threat to Kimba.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: Hayate Ayasaki starts his manga series like this: after having been left by his Abusive Parents with a debt he could only pay by unwillingly donating his organs, he thinks of kidnapping Nagi when he first sees her and ask for the debt value as ransom (over 150 million yen, by the way), but he does nothing but being kind to her, and never outright states his intentions...Only to turn into her savior when some thugs, well, beat him to it.
  • In the pilot episode of Samurai Pizza Cats, The Big Bad threatens to not invite his henchmen to his birthday party if they don't follow his orders (at least in the German dub).
  • He may be more malicious in the anime than in the games, but King Dedede is still pretty much as harmless in Kirby Right Back At Ya as he is in the game franchise. The only time he does threaten to hurt someone (other than Kirby or Whispy Woods) is when he orders the Dedede Stone to stomp Tiff - which would've resulted in her death if it weren't for her knight in shining armor, Meta Knight, coming to her rescue.
    • Speaking of Meta Knight, some of Dedede's Demon Beasts / monsters actually managed to hurt him - which was not what Dedede wanted.
  • Happosai of Ranma ½ may be this. Overeating, invoking Panty Shots, stealing underwear, and scaring girls hardly makes him the demon-in-human-form Soun and Genma claim him to be. Happosai is a very powerful martial artist, but Ranma can defeat him with ease through distraction, with only a bucket of cold water and the Jusenkyo curse, or even just an item of ladies' underwear.

Comic Books

  • The Hack Slash storyline Super Sidekick Sleepover Slaughter featured an entire "secret society" of them. Some members include:
    • Doctor Devil, who has been stealing random bits of machinery from work with the intention of building "some kind of gun" that he will call The Devil Ray.
    • Crime Biker, who has mapped out the best possible escape routes to take after snatching purses.
    • Black Ghost, who intends to hang out at his ex-wife's house and "scare the shit out of her and her new asshole boyfriend, Doug."
    • Digital Demon, who has been hacking adult websites - "Can you imagine? Porn--for free!"
    • Crime Wave, who intends to become a terror of the high seas, having successfully stolen a yacht.
    • Thief of Hearts, who has seduced at least four rich guys...one of them is bound to die, eventually.
    • Doctor Spy, who has completed his x-ray telescope, and, after he finds an apartment across from the girl's dorm, intends to put it to good use.
    • The Mugger
  • Spider-Man has his share, though given that he's got the largest Rogues Gallery in Marvel, you'd expect as much. From the 80s British punk and punctuation-themed Typeface to the even more pathetic Grammar Nazi Spellcheck to ditzy Playboy Bunny the White Rabbit, who's so stupid that she had to hire actors to pretend to work for her, because nobody would for real. The Walrus is also pretty notable here: Spider-Man actually almost got his ass kicked by him because he couldn't stop laughing.
    • The Walrus is a subversion actually. He's a deadly killer, but his costume and MO is so lame that people constantly think he's this. So he's more a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
    • Though a special prize has to go to Spidey villain the Spot, until he got a revamp to make him a major threat. During his first appearances, he was so pathetic that Spidey couldn't even be bothered to fight him, and instead, he falls over laughing at the mere sight of him.
  • Daredevil arguably has it worse. The Matador (not to be confused with the other guy)? His entire gimmick is about obscuring your vision with his cape, which, for Daredevil, doesn't do anything. Stilt-Man? Exactly what he sounds like. The Gladiator? Just a musclehead with anger management issues who happened to have a costume lying around. Daredevil basically has three legitimately threatening villains (one of them transplanted from Spider-Man's rogues gallery), and about 30 or so total losers.
    • The Stilt Man. The Leap Frog. In the early days of his comic, Daredevil was the Mystery Science Theater 3000 of comic book super heroes.
    • The Gladiator got turned into a Not-So-Harmless Villain when they started playing his early ramblings and characterization, which by more modern and mature standards sound silly and slightly delusional, very seriously and turned him into a violently unbalanced crazy person with an unhealthy love of buzz saws and ancient Roman culture.
  • Bafflerog Rumplewhisker of "The Wizard's Tale" is the latest in a long line of really unpleasant people serving the forces of evil that keep their world in a state of permanent twilight (because they haven't yet found the MacGuffin to make it permanent night). Unfortunately, Bafflerog's spells tend to be much less evil than he intends, such as trying to call up a huge storm and getting a pleasant rain that breaks the drought on the town, summoning a hail of locusts and getting a shower of roast chickens instead, and making friends with the creature he's supposed to be torturing for the location of the MacGuffin. He also phrases his spells in the form of limericks.
  • Killer Moth from Batman: he started out as a pathetic bank robber who got apprehended very easily and eventually got tired of being picked on all the time and not being taken seriously. He made a Deal with the Devil and became Charaxes, a deadly cannibalistic moth creature that spits acid.
    • Also the R** Also the Riddler...sometimes. Nowadays, the Riddler is often portrayed as a fiendishly clever yet endearingly incompetent villain.
      • Unlike some, he actually stresses out over this, frustrated with how he is compelled to give Batman clues due to his neuroses—and is kept from revealing Batman's secret identity (which he managed to puzzle out) by the fact that a riddle everyone knows the answer to isn't a very good riddle at all.
        • Recently though, the Riddler, due to a year long coma, has lost his compulsion, and gone into business for himself as an extremely successful (if not always correct) private detective.
    • The Joker is notable for occasionally playing with this, likely for his own amusement. On any given day, you don't know if the Joker that Batman is facing is a sadistic Monster Clown who'll hold the city ransom and threaten to burn down the whole place, or a loony who concocts an elaborate (*ahem*) Batman Gambit just to hit Batman in the face with a pie.
      • Like everything else about him, this just adds to the Joker's disturbing qualities. He's the only villain listed in every villain trope page who could GENUINELY be all those at once. He's just that friggin' bonkers. Deadpool comes close to being Marvel's answer, however. If you read some of Deadpool's best fights, while turning to THAT IMAGE of him WEARING JEAN GREY'S OLD COSTUME, you readily see it.
    • And then there's Calendar Man, a guy with a bunch of ridiculous costumes and no powers who performs crime sprees related to dates. Despite an attempt to turn him into a Hannibal Lecter-esque figure in The Long Halloween (which later influenced his really creepy appearance in Batman: Arkham Asylum), he never accomplished anything other than showing up at the top positions of many "Worst Batman villains" lists. Most mentions of his name are nothing more than cheap punchlines. Meanwhile, the Holiday killer used a similar modus operandi and became one of the most feared and impacting figures of the criminal underworld.
  • One of the villains mentioned in Watchmen is "Captain Carnage", who pretended to be a super-villain because he got pleasure from being beaten up. This backfires badly when he tries it with Rorschach...who dropped him down an elevator shaft.
  • Marvel's alternate-universe Squadron Supreme has Pinball, a guy whose power consisted of inflating his green jumpsuit into a ball and rolling into people.
  • Back in the 80's, The Avengers had occasional skirmishes with Fabian Stankowicz, AKA The Mechano-Marauder, a lottery winner turned power-suit-wearing supervillain. From the very beginning, the Avengers never took him seriously: in his first assault, Iron Man considered him so low a threat that he turned down several offers of assistance from the other Avengers. However, Fabian's definitive low point was when he attacked them during a taping of Late Night With David Letterman and briefly managed to gain the upper hand...only to be knocked out by Letterman himself. Eventually, Captain America (comics) offered him a spot on the Avengers support crew, mostly to keep him from endangering himself further.
  • Jarvis Poker, the British Joker in Knight & Squire, is a Harmless Villain to the extent that he doesn't really qualify as a villain. He appreciates and duplicates his American counterpart's sense of style, but finds actually committing crimes to be terribly gauche. However, the Knight does have genuine (if silly-seeming) villains to deal with, such as Morris Major and his Nazi Morris Dancers, and the Bad Kings of England.
  • Zodon from PS238. He is an Evil Genius, and is both intelligent and competent...But he's also seven years old, too cynical to ever be truly malicious (possibly because comparatively victimless crimes like insider trading and 'tampering in god's domain' means less detention time), and most importantly, is the comic's Chew Toy. Almost everything he tries his hand at will, at one point or another, fail horribly. Ironically, Zodon has proven himself much better at aiding the 'good' children (usually unwillingly or very reluctantly), and also saved the world against an Alien Invasion at one point.
  • Bolphunga the Unrelenting goes back and forth on this. Sometimes he's an inept blowhard, sometimes he's actually a skilled fighter and was actually needed when there was a jail break on Oa.
  • Baby Face Finlayson from The Beano was originally a harmless villain, with his uselessness being Played for Laughs, but his later appearances in Kev F Sutherland's strips were as a Not-So-Harmless Villain.


  • Meet the Robinsons has Bowler Hat Guy, who isn't capable of actually committing much harm. The robotic bowler hat, Doris, is manipulating him for her own Evil Plan. And it turns out that he has a Freudian Excuse for his hatred of Lewis, the protagonist--he was Lewis' roommate back at the orphanage, and once lost a baseball game which was very important to him because Lewis' invention building kept him up all night.
  • Gru and Vector from Despicable Me.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Amber Sweet. She's just as nasty as her brothers, but she's usually too high on zydrate to be effectual.
    • And Luigi and Pavi aren't much better, given that Luigi, despite his claims that only he's got brains enough, comes across as a simple minded Knife Nut and Pavi spends most of his time staring at his own face in the mirror he forever carries with him. That being said, Luigi is quite effective in the "stabbing people for no good reason" compartment, which makes him the least harmless of the Largo siblings.
  • Justin Hammer in the live-action Iron Man sequel pretends to be an Evil Counterpart of Tony Stark, but is an ineffectual clown whose products are very poor quality, whose attempts to intimidate the actual villain of the movie would work better on a five-year old, and whose henchmen are incompetent rentacops who carry mace and tasers.
  • Doctor Evil from Austin Powers. "Here's the plan: we get the warhead, and hold the world ransom for...ONE MILLION DOLLARS!"
    • On the other hand, he does win several ransoms and come pretty close to destroying the world. He's even killed people, including Felicity...at first.
      • Of course, the whole ransom thing was more to do with misinformation about global economics after his cryosleep than with being particularly harmless. When he tried to extort $100 billion after returning to the sixties in the second movie, he gets laughed at because that kind of money didn't exist back then. He seems to get the hang of things by the third movie, where he demands a ransom with a number that doesn't exist, but in Yen. The UN doesn't dispute it, considering it a more or less reasonable demand.
      • He's a mix of this, Not-So-Harmless Villain and dark comedy throughout the trilogy really.
    • Scott Evil is very much this. He just can't quite be villainous enough to fit in with the rest of the villains, at least until the third film.

Dr Evil: (while talking down to Scott) You're the diet coke of evil. Just one calorie. Not evil enough!

      • Regarding Scott, it's probably not so much a lack of villainousness that prevents him from fitting in as a lack of Contractual Genre Blindness.
  • "Cactus" Jack Slade from the western parody, The Villain.
  • In Zombie Bloodbath, the zombies seem to be relatively harmless so long as you don't just stand there and let them kill you. In one scene, they had to get pass an army of zombies on a staircase, and they did this by...just gently shoving them aside. The zombies groaned and flailed their arms, but didn't seem to pay much attention to them.
  • William Bludworth in the Final Destination films only serves two functions: to play the part of Death's own personal janitor, and to give the protagonists cryptic clues on how to evade death for as long as they can. Even when Peter takes his advice to "kill or be killed" way too far, that's a matter of responsibility on the part of he who hears the advice, and the other two who use the "kill or be killed" tip aren't nearly as monstrous as Peter was: Nathan uses the advice completely by accident when Roy gets impaled by a hook during a confrontation over a rude remark directed at the former, and Sam uses Bludworth's words responsibly by killing Peter to prevent him from murdering Molly.


  • In the Discworld novel The Last Hero, Evil Harry Dread has such a strong sense of professional ethics that he always chooses his guards for stupidity and designs his dungeons for easy escape. Of course, following the same professional ethics, he betrays Cohen and the Silver Horde at the first opportunity, but they're not too fussed about it. It's just what he does.
  • In The Dresden Files short story Day Off, Harry is confronted by "Darth Wannabee" and his gang of amateur dark wizards. He's angry because Harry removed a curse he'd laid on a woman who'd annoyed him. Normally, this would be black magic, an incredibly serious matter and something the White Council punishes with death; their treatment of warlocks is one of the things Harry agrees with the council on, even if he thinks that they are doing ridiculously little to stop people from becoming them. But the "curse" was so weak Harry thought it had been a result of bad feng shui. They run away after, on telling Harry to defend himself, he pulls out his gun. Later, they chucked a smoke bomb through his window, which at least shows they had the sense not to confront him again.

Live-Action TV

  • All of the Batman villains from the 60s television series qualify for this trope. Very much so.
    • Oddly, this is why minor villains from the comics were resurrected (Clock King, a Green Arrow villain, was actually made more competent on the TV show, and the Riddler only had two appearances in the comics, over a decade before the show). Characters from the comics were either too high budget to replicate (the comic having long since taken on sci-fi elements), or else were still too legitimately frightening to be turned camp, like Clayface and Two-Face. The bulk of the show's villains were created expressly for it.
    • Somewhat subverted by, of all people, the Penguin! The Penguin was one of the few Batman villains more closely resembling mob bosses in the Dick Tracy style than murderous psychopaths of pulp era, and writers had been writing such characters for decades on television despite the limits of violence allowed. The Penguin's crimes were still over the top, but he was usually the ringleader in stories with multiple villains, and his crimes, while still campy, were typically more threatening than his fellows', like stealing a nuclear sub or engaging in brainwashing and blackmail. It's telling that the Dark Age Tim Burton appearance of the character surprised so many people, as many fans thought the Penguin needed little such change.
    • Depending on the Writer, they could turn out to be Not so Harmless Villains, especially in those early episodes. Bare in mind most episodes do end with a cliffhanger in which the heroes are placed in a Death Trap of an often quite violent nature; even if they always escape it in the next one, that doesn't mean the villains are harmless, only that Batman and Robin are just that awesome / lucky / invincible. The Riddler in particular is a giggling psychopath worse than even The Joker (who is not as harmless as he is popularly remembered either, though) and is the one who most clearly enjoys his attempts to kill the duo horribly. Rule of Funny and failure is all that stands between most of these characters and The Complete Monster Show.
  • Harmony from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so much so that Buffy outright laughed her ass off when told that Harmony could be a threat to her. ("Harmony has MINIONS?")
    • Warren and his fellow members of the Trio started out this way. They were Big Bad Wannabes that Buffy didn't take all that seriously. Warren's evolution into a genuine villain (so much so that he's now a sinister Mad Scientist type working for the government in the canonical season 8 comics) was a major part of his character arc, while Jonathan remained this trope perfectly and Andrew wound up carrying out a Heel Face Turn (though he was never really all that much of a heel to begin with. It was more of a case of Love Makes You Evil as he was obviously in love with Warren).
    • Also, most vampires. They act tough, and do regularly murder people, but only handful last more than one appearance before being dusted, posing little threat to Buffy.
    • Spike. Oh God, Spike. He was a genuine threat when he first appeared, but after he got the chip in his head, the idea that he might actually do anything that made a difference was laughable.
  • In the early days of Xena: Warrior Princess, Joxer the Mighty tried numerous times, in a single episode, to take Gabrielle prisoner for Callisto. He failed (hard) each time, to the point where Gabrielle felt bad for him and tried to cheer him up. At which point, he lunged again, and she punched him in the face...again.
  • Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
    • And from the same show, the team of villains who commit such dastardly crimes as acquiring valuable watches by paying the exact price for them.

Mook: Look! I don't like this outfit.
Boss: Why not?
Mook: Well, we never break the bloody law!
Boss: ...What d'you mean?!
Mook: Well, look at that bank job we did last week.
Boss: What was wrong with that?
Mook: Well having to go in there with a mask on and ask for £15 out of my deposit account; that's what was wrong with it.

  • Doctor Clayton Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000. He wants to take over the world...but he's not very good at it.
  • BRUTALLY subverted in The Wire, where most cops, lawyers, and other drug kingpins treat Marlo Stanfield as a small threat who isn't much to worry about. By the fourth season, you've got AT LEAST 22 vacant houses filled up.
  • After being demoted to producer in News Radio, Dave decides to become, in his own words, "pure evil", and ruthlessly work his way back up to the top. But not by getting his replacement Lisa fired - oh, no, that would be wrong. His diabolical scheme involves letting Bill make a fool of himself on the air and thus getting himself fired, get Lisa discredited, and have himself put back on as news director. Unfortunately, Bill's antics garner the station's best ratings ever, and Evil Dave was foiled forever.
  • Josh Koscheck was all set to be the villain of The Ultimate Fighter's Season 12, having graduated the first season as a Jerkass who'd defeated the sympathetic Chris Leben and remained perpetually at the top echelon of his division (despite stinging losses to Georges St-Pierre and Paulo Thiago), and even openly admitted that he was playing the villain to hype the eventual title fight with St-Pierre...only to appear as one of the show's worst-ever coaches, gullible enough to abandon his intended first draft pick because he saw another fighter atop GSP's "draft list" in big bold letters, an advocate of "mindless training", unable to impart his own winning ways onto his roster, encouraging his team to behave disrespectfully (culminating in the team banging on the wall separating the teams to taunt the losing Team GSP fighter), and whose attempted insults or pranks were almost always effortlessly brushed off, leaving Koscheck either looking like an inept high school jock stereotype or oddly fixated on GSP's tight short-shorts and body, and wanting to get his hands on GSP's sixth-picked fighter. So much for Older and Wiser...
  • Nevel of iCarly. Starts out trying to steal a kiss from Carly, then upgrades to...trying to destroy iCarly. Great villain.


  • The Tom Smith song "Rocket Ride" has a line about harmless villains, "[villains] used to be angular, sneering and bald. If someone got killed, even they were appalled. They tried to marry the heroine, no thought of rape, and they sure as hell knew how to wear a cape. They never tortured, they never lied, they'd honor a promise if it meant they died."


Video Games

  • The Clockwork King in City of Heroes is probably the closest it gets to Harmless Villain. The worst he might do to normal civilians is send his minions to steal a watch and some scrap metal, or make a mechanic work on his robots. He hates heroes, but given that a hero smacked him around so hard that he had to be turned into a Brain In a Jar to save his life, that's probably justified. Turned slightly to the side of good with the Faultline revamp and his protection and assistance of some civilians, although the crazy kinda gets in the way of helping, too.
  • Bowser in Super Mario Bros. sometimes falls into this trope, mainly in the RPGs and Party games. Even in the mainline games, he doesn't seem to be able to do anything other than kidnap Peach, though.
    • His cartoon counterpart, King Koopa, definitely does. He is regularly incapable of even capturing the princess, never mind taking care of Mario and his friends. The only times he is ever effective is when the plot demands it; the heroes suddenly fall for traps and get defeated by things that they could've easily taken care of before. They always break out and foil Koopa's ridiculous plots in the end, though.
    • So does Mario's rival, Wario, in the Mario Sports games, as well as his partner Waluigi. They mostly just act like jerks while trying to ruin Mario's day. Wario was considerably more threatening—downright scary, even—in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode, though still comical.
  • Pete, as characterized in Kingdom Hearts, is a bumbling oaf who never inflicts any lasting harm on either the characters or the worlds they fight to save, as opposed to Maleficent, who, in the first game, turned the main character and his best friend against one another and led them all down the path that would separate them and the girl they were fighting over for several years, and was likely responsible for the destruction of several worlds. This is also in contrast to his characterization as the Ghost of Christmas Future in "A Disney Christmas Carol", over a decade earlier, where he laughed diabolically as he unmasked himself and sent Scrooge falling into the fiery pits of hell.
    • The tougher Pete is more or less the original concept of Pete, who's often as tough as ever when battling Mickey, Goofy, and others in the comics (even today). He clearly thinks nothing of trying to kill our heroes with swords, guns, clubs, and other weapons, and often is only stopped by dumb luck.
      • Or by Mickey Mouse in rare Badass mode, who, while much smaller than Pete, is a fast and clever (if comedic) fighter.
  • Murray, the Mighty Demonic Skull from Monkey Island. Since Guybrush sort-of-accidentally smashed his body with a cannonball, he's stuck as an immobile skull with a great desire for evil and absolutely no capacity whatsoever to indulge it. He's kinda bitter.
  • Mysterio, the Spider-Man 2 game version. Sure, he's got like a million robots and can successfully kill people from time to time, but man, what a friggin' loser. And he's got a glass jaw.
  • Kirby's arch enemy, King Dedede, depending on the game. The most evil deeds the king performed without being possessed by Dark Matter was stealing the stars from the sky and stealing food from Dream Land for the hell of it.
  • While Touhou "villains" aren't exactly the ambitious sort, and their plots are often silly at best (with the notable exceptions of Tenshi and Utsuho), they are legitimately powerful and highly menacing when they want to be. The Three Mischievous Fairies, however, don't seem to realise that they are dead last in the hierarchy of Gensoukyou, with even the mostly powerless humans dismissing them, and their laughably harmless schemes fail far more often than they succeed.
    • Kogasa Tatara has no special ability of her own that most youkai don't already have, except that she derives nourishment from scaring or surprising people rather than eating them. Her only purpose in life to become the scariest youkai in Gensokyou and surprise people as much as possible to sustain herself - and she's utterly terrible at it.
  • Wheatley in Portal 2, when he becomes evil after being plugged into the mainframe of Aperture Science. He does pose a genuine and intentional threat... briefly, twice. The rest of the time he's dangerous, not from menace but sheer idiocy, with his complete incompetence at controlling Aperture Science threatening to destroy the facility in a nuclear meltdown.
  • In StarCraft II, Donny Vermillion likes to fancy himself as the face of Emperor Mengsk's unstoppable propaganda machine. In truth, he's laughably incompetent at his job; the fact that his star reporter either isn't in on the plan or actually likes Raynor doesn't help. Supposedly, the media is a major weapon for Mengsk, so it's possible Raynor only watches Donny's show because the others are actually good at it.
  • Duc de Puce, a.k.a. "The Rat", from the Stronghold series. Too Dumb to Live, General Failure, Minion with an F In Evil, Small Name, Big Ego. He's more of an entertainer than a real antagonist.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues has The Toaster, an Omnicidal Maniac obsessed with burning the world. He is limited in his evil quest by being a talking toaster (and that alas, unbeknownst to him, the world has already burned. He gets very upset when you point this out). About the worst he can do, should you not suffer an attack of stupid and stick your hand into his bread slot, is threaten to set you on fire.
  • Okage: Shadow King has Evil King Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV, or Stan, the Sealed Evil in a Can who's taken over your shadow. He really likes proclaiming how evil and mighty he is, but with one of his first displays of his terrible might being to rescue a cat stuck in a tree, he is not that good at it. Especially with how a bunch of Fake Evil Kings have stolen his power while he was sealed away.

Web Animation

  • Burnt Face Man has Taps Man, who erodes metal over a period of time, Have A Nice Day Man, who wishes everyone a great day, and Detergent Man, who washes clothes deliberately on the wrong settings. There are many others.

Web Comics

  • As the page quote illustrates, Jokerella has the dubious distinction of being the least competent member of Wonderella's rogue's gallery. As Wonderella herself says on the cast page: "Jokerella would be The Little Villain Who Could if she could do anything."
  • The Dark Warriors in 8-Bit Theater. Ostensibly the greatest adversaries to the cast, they are considerably less threatening than the Fiends, who have consistently proven themselves to be dangerous, or the Light Warriors, who are probably one of the worst things to befall their world (with the possible exception of King Steve).
    • King Steve is a scourge to his citizens and the nations he goes to war with, but the Light Warriors? No one is safe from them.
  • Adventurers!! is so full of harmless villains that it would be easier to list who isn't one.
    • Well, under non-harmless villains there's Eternion and...uh...Argent's more of an anti-hero, so...just Eternion?
  • Demon-Jame in Terror Island, at least in his first series of appearances:

Demon-Jame: Are you enjoying your suffering, mortal?
Aorist: What?
Demon-Jame: Your crops. I blighted them.
Aorist: I don't have crops. I have weeds. Did you blight my weeds?
Demon-Jame: Um. Yes.

    • Completely undone in his second appearance, though. When he first shows up again, he spends a moment thinking about what evil plots he could do. Aorist jokingly suggests that he blight his weeds again, so Demon-Jame rips him in half.
  • The Minion Master from Sluggy Freelance isn't really interested in doing anything bad; he tends to view making people his minions as a way of helping them escape their old lives, more than anything else. And he doesn't even get any minions until Torg and Co. join him, at which point, they promptly start using his resources to battle evil, placating their "Master" by explaining that, as the big picture guy, he doesn't need to know the specifics, or anything at all, about what his minions are actually doing.
  • Wilson and Pickett from Notfunny Cartoons. Sure, they sell a large variety of killbots and genetically engineered killer werewolves, but they all range from being harmless to actively doing good (case in point, one of the killbots works as a kindergartener). They did make a highly-efficient killer virus they regularly deploy through their time machine, but only to make sure that the dinosaurs stay extinct. After a quick brainstorming session about what nefarious purposes they could use their time machine for, the best they can come up with is using it to sleep in on weekdays. It's not that they're reluctant mad scientists - they're just not very good at being evil.

Web Original

  • Lee Phillips of Kate Modern attempts to take revenge on Gavin and Tariq by...forcing them to play a treasure hunt game to retrieve their stolen software. He still manages to be a serious threat because there are other, decidedly less harmless villains who are also after the software.
  • Dr. Poque from Mega 64 is arguably this, while he did kidnap and lock Rocko, Derek, and Sean in his basement, he's to much of a Butt Monkey to be a real threat. Episode six of Version 2 amps this up to Woobie status.
  • Dr. Horrible is pretty much harmless for the first two acts of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Then, Smug Super Captain Hammer steals his would-be girlfriend and taunts him mercilessly about it. This drives Dr. Horrible to get dangerous, with tragic results.
  • Although having a villainous outer appearance, Doctor Steel's goals are really very positive and even kid-friendly. He just wants to make the world a better place (for himself).
  • Marik from Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series tries to be evil, but his evil plans usually involve things like stealing the Pharaoh's leather pants, asking to borrow Yugi's Millenium Puzzle and not returning it for three weeks, and pushing him off a boat. Into the sea. And on top of that, he is very easily distracted.
    • During his first appearances in the Marik's Evil Council Videos, Dartz manages to be even more pathetic. Then, he suddenly becomes an Expy of Coiffio whose unfortunate accent causes both his henchmen and the audience to not be sure of whether his plans are the standard card game shenanigans or something much worse.
  • The Goths at Super-Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Despite serious attempts at summoning Cosmic Horrors and other evil acts, what they mainly manage to do is get their leader dumped into a Fate Worse Than Death and re-uniting Carmilla with her father (who is a Cosmic Horror). They also attack Phase... and get a Curb Stomp Battle because they have no idea what they're facing.

Western Animation

  • Dr. Robotnik on the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog version of the show makes incredibly inept robots, repeatedly has crying fits, and is sometimes too distracted with himself to notice that his plan isn't working.
  • Bling Bling Boy in Johnny Test. Johnny is both his archenemy and his only friend. Most of his evil ambitions are done solely for the purpose of getting a date with Susan.
  • Dr. Drakken in Kim Possible is pretty much the mascot of this trope, if only because that show's Periphery Demographic makes it so self-aware. You get the feeling that he and Shego aren't even trying to harm Kim, just keep her occupied. He becomes a Not-So-Harmless Villain in some cases, especially in The Movie "So the Drama". (In fact, being the most recurring villain, he's all over the scale; sometimes he's so ridiculous that Kim hardly needs to bother, but he's also the one who occasionally comes closest to his Take Over the World goal.)
    • This is because Drakken is an Expy of Doctor Evil, with Shego taking Scott's place as the more competent one who points out the other's ineffectiveness with snarky remarks.
  • Swiper in Dora the Explorer: any villain who can be foiled by saying "Swiper, no swiping!" isn't going to give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. Granted, he becomes repetant whenever he actually does something truly callous, and could perhaps be considered more a Screwy Squirrel than an outright villain. It's commonly theorized that he only bothers Dora for fun.
    • When he does successfully steal something, he usually throws it out of reach with a cackle of "You'll never find it now!", and runs off.
    • There's even a bit of Moral Dissonance that occurs with Swiper during "The Berry Hunt": Dora and Boots sneak onto a hill where Swiper lives', quietly lift a bucketful of berries, then make enough noise that Swiper comes out of his hole... and the heroic duo frown at the thought that Swiper might steal "their" blueberries. "That Swiper!"
    • In one episode, Swiper steals everyone's Friendship Day bracelets. When he found out, he did a Heel Face Turn for the rest of the episode and helped the rest of the cast find all the bracelets. There's also the Christmas Special, where Dora and Boots took a trip to bring a present for Santa. Along the way, Swiper swipes it, but returns it when he's told what he had taken.
  • Glowface from The Xs is one such villain, he even gets upset when his monologues are interrupted, and is perfectly willing to put off villain chores to play video games.
  • The Monarch in The Venture Brothers almost qualifies. When he isn't psychologically damaged, being pushed around by the higher-ups in the Guild of Calamitous Intent, and being inept at commanding his henchmen, he can, in fact, be quite deadly. The trouble is, he's so bad at arching that his nemesis, Dr. Venture, doesn't even consider him a real threat. Later seasons show, however, that The Monarch can, indeed, be a very threatening villain, if he bothered to extend his goals beyond being a pain in the ass to Dr. Venture.
    • In Season 3, Sergeant Hatred better qualifies for this trope. He signs up to be Dr. Venture's arch, but then resorts to extremely minor acts of villainy, such as lighting his front-yard shrubbery on fire. By the end of the season, he even lives on the Venture Compound and acts as an ad hoc bodyguard in the absence of Brock Samson, who is working for an undercover vigilante society. Of course, he only did it to piss off The Monarch, who stole tech from him once.
    • There's also this exchange at the line for Order of the Triad archenemy try-outs:

Torrid: Hey, isn't that Doctor Venture's lab?
The Intangible Fancy: Yes, I believe it is.
Torrid: Save my place in the queue. There's something I feel I must do. Something...torrid.
After the commercial break, it's revealed that Torrid really meant using the bathroom.

  • The Hacker in Cyberchase is usually a harmless villain, though he does occasionally try to destroy Motherboard. Same goes for his henchmen, Buzz and Delete, along with newer villains like Baskerville, Wicked, and Ledge.
  • Duke Igthorn in Adventures of the Gummi Bears was mostly cartoonishly harmless. At one point, he had captured Granni Bear, and was trying to extract the recipe for the Gummi Berry Juice from her. Rather than torture, he actually tickles her with feathers until she gives in. Thankfully, it was an incorrect recipe, proving that the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique (with feathers) is still useless. However, if one looks deeper, one can gain some respect for the man; he seems to keep a legion of superstrong ogres twice his size in line by mere force of personality, is never seen not wearing a suit of chainmail (which is HEAVY), and, at one point, knocks out two armed guards with his bare hands.
  • The Box Ghost ("Beware!") from Danny Phantom certainly qualifies as the resident Harmless Villain, who gets little to no respect from Danny and the other evil ghosts alike. However, his threat level mainly depends on what the boxes he uses to fight with contain.
    • Since the Box Ghost (apart from that time with Pandora) never seems to have plots more complicated than "throw stuff around to scare people", Danny's probably just being a bully by attacking him at all.
    • His Future Badass self from The Movie on the other hand...

Future Box Ghost: Beware.

  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • The Amoeba Boys, pictured above. Their devious plans include crimes such as disobeying a "Keep Off The Grass" sign (*gasp*), jaywalking (*SHOCK*) and... dare we mention it... Littering. They only turned to such crimes after they tried, and failed, to work up the courage to steal an orange from a produce stand. This also applies to them in Powerpuff Girls Z, though to a lesser extent.
      • The first "crime" listed was the focus of the episode "Geshundfight" - The Amoeba Boys stayed on the grass all night through a storm and got colds. Them being giant amoeba, this mutated into a disease that spread to all of Townsville, and would've caused a pandemic proper if the Girls hadn't managed to find the Amoeba Boys and convince them to let a vaccine be extracted. This meant that, for all of one episode, they were one of the biggest threats ever to imperil Townsville - completely by accident.
      • They almost crossed the line to Not So Harmless Villain in one episode, where they were able to create an army of duplicates of themselves using mitosis, and then stole all the oranges in Townsville, resulting in almost all the populace getting sick with scurvy (a clear-cut case of Rule of Funny). It was rather easy for the Girls to beat them to a pulp (Heh-heh, pulp, oranges, get it?), but in the end, that was what they had wanted all along.
  • In Disney's Aladdin sequel Return of Jafar and the TV series, there's Abis Mal. His patheticness is particularly compounded by being an Expy of the legendary loser, George Costanza, on Seinfeld, since Jason Alexander plays both roles.
    • He does get at least one Not-So-Harmless Villain moment in the series, in which he gets a hold of another lamp and wishes that the protagonists get smashed like bugs. When told that genies can't kill, he has a moment of brilliance and asks for the protagonists to be turned into bugs so that he can smash them like bugs.
      • He also went back in time and rewrote Agrabah's entire history in one episode so that he could be Sultan.
    • Aladdin also occasionally had to deal with an inept thief named Amin Damoola (nicknamed 'Butterfingers'). The only time Butterfingers was a serious threat was once, when was using magical artifacts supplied by Mozenrath, who had essentially replaced Jafar as Aladdin's main nemesis.
  • Doctor Light in Teen Titans seems more like the team's punching bag than their enemy.
    • He is also viewed this way in the comics up until Identity Crisis, where he Took a Level in Badass (one that required blatant ignoring of established canon to happen). The same happened to Cat-Man.
    • He doesn't come across as all that harmless so long as Raven isn't around; in his introduction, he's actually winning against the Titans and usually puts up a pretty good fight until Raven talks to him and he falls apart. If she wasn't around, he'd be anything but harmless.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Jack Spicer pretty much fits this trope, to the point where other villains used his name as a slang term to describe this trope. Jack-Bots, indeed.
    • Like others on this list, he becomes a Not-So-Harmless Villain in an alternate future. Without Omi messing up his game, Spicer steals all the Shen Gong Wu, traps the other Big Bads in humiliating circumstances, and conquers the world. His Jack-bots are upgraded to Humongous Mecha and he himself uses Powered Armor that incorporates at least two Shen Gong Wu in its design. Before Omi is able to go back in time to fix things, Spicer actually kills the other Xiaolin Warriors, albeit offscreen.
  • The villain Killface from Frisky Dingo is a good example. He builds a machine that can destroy Earth but freaks out and tries to stop it when someone activates it. Killface also shows some love for Earth, especially its pre-Colombian pottery and literature (but not the hip-hop). Killface becomes best friends with his worst enemy (who is disguised) and refuses to kill him, even after finding out his true identity. Killface has no problem brutally killing his "employees", though. The hero, Xander Crews, actually does more evil and harmful things than Killface.
  • Phineas and Ferb has the completely harmless Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The closest he came to actually harming anyone was building an invention that would destroy anyone who couldn't make up their minds.
    • In his defense, he's facing a Badass Platypus who simply handwaves all of his crazy plots with that awesome purr/growl sound of his.
    • The man was once defeated by a potted plant he hung up because Perry was busy. It doesn't get any more harmless than that!
    • He also once developed a device for insulting whales (because, years earlier, a whale stole his girlfriend). Perry actually left, which caused Doofenshmirtz to chase him around, demanding that his plot be foiled.
    • Most of his plans are self-foiling, though. They ultimately fail even when Perry never shows up, such as in the aforementioned plant episode.
    • All of that said, "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" shows us that without Perry to oppose him, he can be much more dangerous. (Granted, that was a unique situation, since it's implied that the citizens of Danville asked him to rule them out of fear of their own children.)
    • One Episode had him cloning himself not to make it easier to take over the Tri-State Area, but so he could get errands done quicker such as standing in line.
  • It's pretty hard to bring oneself to hate any of the villains in the Scooby-Doo cartoons, because most of the time, their idea of an evil scheme was to put on a monster costume and chase a bunch of hippies and dogs around. Not to mention, nearly all the time, the motive is to "scare people away" for some reason or other, but never kill.
    • There was one episode where they unmasked the villain and were all like "You're going to jail!" only for a police officer to inform them that, seeing as she was on her own property, not actually hurting or threatening anyone, and not covering up for any sort of criminal operation, she hadn't actually broken any laws and so she wasn't going to jail.
    • One villain in What's New, Scooby-Doo? pretended to sabotage a bunch of carnival rides out of jealousy for her sister. They managed to unmask her, but because the rides hadn't actually been sabotaged and she hadn't otherwise broken any laws, they had to let her go.
    • This has been averted in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated as the villains are much more willing to kill, or at least maim, the gang. One even tried arson to stop the door gag. No wonder this Shaggy hates mysteries.
    • On the original series, they weren't out to hurt anybody; almost every one of them was involved in some kind of ludicrous real estate scheme where they really, really wanted to have the rights to some particular land/house, and thought the best way to do that was to put on a monster costume.
  • Grizzle from Adventures in Care-a-Lot is rarely seen as a real threat by the Care Bears, and usually just considered a nuisance or misguided.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has the Toiletnator. He is as threatening as he sounds. Double Subversion when he actually becomes competent in one episode - but destroys his own side with his stupidity.
    • There have actually been several episodes that show that he isn't so harmless, it's just that he really isn't that evil.
  • South Park: Professor Chaos is just about the epitome of this.

Professor Chaos: *Evil Laugh* Oh, the look on their faces, when they got the wrong soup!

  • "The Villain Nobody Took Seriously" on The Secret Show, who was able to rule the world precisely because nobody took him seriously. He was just a clown living in an abandoned circus tent, talking about all the things he would do once he ruled the world...and then managed to get elected World Leader by changing his name to "Mark X Here", making confused voters cast their votes for him.
  • Elmer Fudd, who was so ineffectual that Bugs Bunny sometimes came off as a bully when beating him. Because of this, Yosemite Sam was introduced as a more threatening and less sympathetic foe. Though less sympathetic, Sam wasn't that much more threatening after a few cartoons. Following this, Marvin the Martian was created, who, despite having super advanced planet obliterating technology at his will, was only slightly more formidable.
  • League of Super Evil. They not only Poke the Poodle figuratively, they might do so literally, claiming it to be a villainous deed. Which, considering that their previous plots include Voltar using a giant mech so he could play in a dunk contest, rigging a pet show to win, and selling Turnip-ade under the guise of lemonade, might be a step up for them.
  • Waspinator from the Beast Wars portion of the Transformers franchise often fits this category.
  • Strawberry Shortcake's Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak. In the first two animated specials in the first generation line, he floods Strawberryland to demand its berries as ransom, and cheats to win a bake-off in which the prize is a gazebo. With his associate Sour Grapes, their crimes in the subsequent four shows are: framing Strawberry for taking a bribe as a pet show judge and being complicit in their cheating, stealing a box of recipes, capturing a friendly monster with the intent of selling it to a circus, and trying to use the Berrykins to create a super-perfume. Sometimes, the real dangers to the heroes are unintentional on the villains' part: Lem and Ada are hiding in the recipe box, and the perfume mixing results in a smelly cloud that threatens to stink up Strawberryland. Also, as far as weaknesses go...in the third special, he crumbles under the heroine's threat to annoy him endlessly with her "berry talk".
    • In all fairness, you shouldn't underestimate the potential of a Gazebo.
  • The Copper Cranium in The Fairly OddParents is defeated so easily, the narrator lampshades it.
  • In one episode of The Legend of Zelda, "The Moblins Are Revolting", Ganon's minions grow tired of doing his bidding and manage to get rid of him (temporarily), then conduct their own attack on Hyrule Castle. Link and Zelda don't even stay to defend the castle because it's not in any danger; the monsters wipe each other out in the process of trying to invade, and never get anywhere near the building.
  • Played with in The Batman with veteran Bat-villain Killer Moth. As with his comics version, he started out as some weirdo in a costume. He later got transformed into a giant super-strong mutant moth with the ability to spit acid...but he retains his milquetoast personality, so he's really pretty easy to deal with.
  • Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes is pretty much an incompetent version of Satan. Though, while he's largely ineffective, the fact that he keeps people like Heloise and Molotov under his thumb is probably a sign that he's doing something right.
  • The Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 TV series after the initial story arc of the first season. Only in that one though; the other media tends to show him as a real threat.
  • Finn, Ratso and Chow in Jackie Chan Adventures should qualify. While they are, most of the time, serving the Big Bads of each season, they serve, pretty much, as Jackie's punching bags. Even when Daolon Wong grants them demonic powers. In the only episode I remember them going solo, they even pulled a Heel Face Turn (it didn't stick, though)!
    • Mostly because they were just as bad at being good as they were at being bad.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe villain Skeletor, despite having a face that Standards & Practices must have had fits over, was thoroughly incompetent. He was so feeble at villainy, in fact, that the show resorted to two replacement villains: King Hiss of the Snake-Men, and Hordak, who suffered severe Villain Decay after his introduction. Neither were exactly scary themselves, but miles ahead of Skeletor.
    • Word of God is that the writers felt sorry for him, so they started writing stories where he'd team-up with He-Man against some outside threat, just so he could win occasionally and not look like a complete tool all the time.
    • Subverted in the 2000-era re-imagining. While Skeletor's still a Card-Carrying Villain Surrounded by Idiots, and Evil-Lyn is clearly his mental superior, Skeletor's clearly a threat this time around, having destroyed half of Eternia before the show starts, and twice defeating the Big Bad that the heroes themselves could not. While still sometimes played for laughs, and never shown as even a tenth as threatening as Hordak, Skeletor crossed the line into Complete Monster, at least.
  • Mister Smarty Smarts of Spliced, though there have been a few times that he has been a genuine threat to the other inhabitants of the Island.
  • Harley Quinn of Batman: The Animated Series fits the description of "Villain Ball juggler" so well, you'd think they read the trope description. Occasionally, she can be an effective villain, but most of the time, she ends up creating far more trouble accidentally than on purpose, and uses her status as a Genre Savvy Fluffy Tamer for laughs rather than villainy. In some of her appearances outside The Animated Series, she is a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
    • Subverted in Mad Love where Batman actually admits that Harley Quinn was closer to killing him than the Joker ever was. Considering that this is the Joker, that says a lot!
  • The Ice King in Adventure Time certainly has the potential to be a great threat, being a powerful magic user but constantly thwarted by a boy and his dog doesn't do much for his reputation. His defeats are often so pathetic that they're depressing, and in the end, it's almost always Finn beating up an old man.
  • In Word Girl, pretty much all of the villains qualify...but especially Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy. I mean, just look at his name!
    • At least Chuck was always thiiiis close to possibly killing her, but, of course, not doing so. The Amazing Rope Guy, despite his name, can't even use the rope to his advantage. He even TIES HIMSELF UP when he was trying to get Wordgirl. That's just lame.
  • Plankton from SpongeBob SquarePants. He has moments of competency, but even those don't go too well, mainly due to overconfidence or doing something so mundane, such as putting in a coin operated self-destruct mechanism, that his plans blow up in his face, figuratively and literally. This quip from Karen sums him up best:

"Plankton. One percent evil. Ninety-nine percent hot gas."

  1. Ironically, this inadvertently causes one of the biggest threats on the show
  2. Good times, goooood times...