Villain Ball

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"Rule one: good supervillains never leave the heroes alive, dummy. Rule two: countdown clocks are for hacks!"
The Joker, who has learned from his mistakes, in Batman the Brave And The Bold
"For all you aspiring villains, remember: When victory is just a push of a button away, you are required to complicate the matter in the most ridiculous way possible."
Cracked.com, The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Super Villain Strategies.


Evil sows the seeds of its own destruction. At least that's what every Aesop and fortune cookie says, anyway. There seems to be some truth to it, though, at least in fiction, because regardless of Genre Savvy, villains tend to inherently draw the kind of heroic attention to themselves that leads to their demise, or at least the demise of their Evil Plan. Basically, they're saddled with carrying their own version of the Idiot Ball: the Villain Ball.

Maybe their attempt at averting attention has the opposite effect, or (often due to Pride) they insist on taking a loved one of the heroes hostage in exchange for the MacGuffin and busting the deal, and make it personal for the hero, perhaps they feel insecure without Bauer involved in their most sensitive operations or maybe they just can't help threatening the innocent puppy to show that they really are the Villains, no really!

Inevitably, it's their own inherent Fatal Flaws that lead to their downfall, possibly even an apropos Karmic Death or Cool and Unusual Punishment.

Villains who are likely to carry the Villain Ball:

Related Plots:

Can lead to:


Sub-Trope of Evil Will Fail. See also Contractual Genre Blindness, often a choice when Evil Is Stylish. For villains who pass the Villain Ball, see Dangerously Genre Savvy. For those who pick it up and run with it, see Stupid Evil. Contrast Flaw Exploitation, No-Nonsense Nemesis and Pragmatic Villainy.

Also see and contrast The Villain Makes the Plot.

Examples of the Villain Ball in action include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Light in Death Note does this a disproportionately high amount of times for someone who is also Genre Savvy.
    • He kills "L" out of spite for calling him a criminal, leading to L knowing exactly where he is
    • He kills the FBI agent, unknown that the agent already came to believe that Light was innocent.
    • He admits he is Kira to Misora, when he's written down her name in the notebook in front of her, in broad daylight on a city street. Had Mogi been paying slightly more attention before he walked out of earshot, or had Mogi not been using an umbrella due to the providencial rain, Light would've been caught.
      • Again, when he believes that he killed the task force. Leading to his complete reveal that he is Kira when they didn't die.
  • Sasuke Uchiha during the Five Kages Arc in Naruto. Instead of, you know, acting like a shinobi and keeping himself hidden, he decides to meet the investigating Samurai head on. And kills most of them brutally. When the Raikage and his bodyguards C and Darui arrive, he doesn't try to hide. Again, meeting three powerful ninjas head on alone. He gets soaked and electrocuted by Darui for his troubles. Any other ninja would start trying to cut their losses. Not Sasuke. He gets himself caught in C's blinding genjutsu, but even though he can see through it A and Darui nearly blitz him and Suigetsu and Jugo have to save him. Rise, rinse, repeat for the rest of the arc. The biggest ball he grabbed as when Karin was taken hostage by Danzo. Instead of going for a headshot...he decides to impale both of them with his Chidori Spear, because having been taken hostage somehow translates in Sasuke-logic to having outlived her usefulness.
    • Orochimaru had a tendency to do things that were counterproductive towards his goals for no real reason other than that he likes being a dick. The best example is probably when he killed the Kazekage... after the Kazekage had agreed to attack Konoha. So Orochimaru killed off a powerful ally, pretty much just because he could.
      • Same goes for Tobi when he released the Kyuubi upon the Leaf Village. Granted, he didn't expect the Fourth Hokage to seal away his control over the Kyuubi, then seal it inside the newborn Naruto.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Given Yugi's Duel Monsters track record, just shooting him sure would be an easier way of killing him than challenging him to a duel every time! They would also accomplish any other goals like destroying/ taking over the world much faster if they didn't let it all rest on a one-on-one duel with him, a tradition Saiou finally breaks in GX.
    • The series do what they can in terms of justifying it; most of the MacGuffin collections can only change hands in a duel and so forth. Then there was that time one of the "Player Killers" in the Duelist Kingdom arc decided to protest his defeat by Yugi... using a pair of flamethrowers. It didn't work. Yami's Mind Crush on the other hand worked just fine.
      • This is how Saiou breaks the tradition. He pretends to be playing along with this, and then while the hero is bound in the fight, he sets off The Plan. Because all he needs to do is press a button, he can do it during the match. Judai/Jaden and his duel spirits can't leave the match. Of course, he started to break it when Juudai first challenged him to the duel and Saiou's reaction was, paraphrased, "No. I've got what I need. I don't need to duel you." The only reason he did duel Juudai was because Neos manifested to keep Saiou from getting the keys to the SORA satellite. *THEN* he used the duel in order to weaken Neos, which allowed him to steal the satellite keys and give them to his nearest brainwashed flunky, who could and did run off to get the satellite going while Juudai was tied up in the duel. Saiou (or more precisely, the Light of Ruin) didn't count on Kenzan and Mizuchi, Saiou's own sister, teaming up to put a halt to things.
    • Naturally, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series has a field day with this issue.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's', all Jean has to do to defeat Yusei after a long and extensive duel is end his turn since Yusei has no cards left in his deck and would automatically lose once his turn began, however he gets caught up in the thrill of the duel and attacks Yusei who defends with a card in his hand and depletes Jean's life points.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Incumbent Tamaki and Masaharu are contesting the class election. This divides the class into two. Masaharu can't stand it, and decides to concede the election to Tamaki. In response she says, "How can a candidate back out? We need to have a righteous contest, right? I'd rather you do that." Her (main) reasoning comes across as even more idiotic: "My pride won't allow a win without a fight", rather than "No one will vote for someone who wants us to clean the room 3 times a day [1]". It's supposedly awesome that Tamaki's attempt to whitewash Masaharu in the election ends up backfiring, but then he announces his intention to have a neighborhood cleanup, and that has everyone freaking.
  • Dragon Ball Z had Cell intentionally hold the villain ball during his fight with Gohan. After cryptic words from Goku, describing Gohan's hidden potential, Cell goes through extreme measures to draw it out for the sake of having a challenge. This included creating clones of himself to beat the living hell out of Gohan's True Companions and finally killing Android 16 in front of him. Considering how much of a Martial Pacifist Gohan had become now since his year-in-a-day in the Room of Spirit and Time, this could be considered a Deconstruction of this trope because of everything Cell had to do to finally find Gohan's Berserk Button.
    • Garlic Jr. holds one of these in the movie Dead Zone. He obtains the Dragonballs and succesfully uses them to wish for immortality, allowing him to utterly dominate the heroes in combat since they can't kill him. Instead of just killing them like this, Garlic Jr. opens a portal to the Dead Zone, hoping to suck the heroes in. Of course, the heroes instead knock him into the portal, trapping him forever. At least untill an anime Filler arc where he escapes... and makes the exact same mistake again.
  • The antagonists of Ookamikakushi have a tendency to incapacitate their victims in a manner that would guarantee death within minutes, then leave them alive long enough to warn someone else of their plans. Ironically, it's what one, Sakaki, does to the other, Kasai. Aferwards, it is now Sakaki's turn to carry the Villain Ball around like a child carries a lollipop. From the aforementioned leaving his victim alive long enough to warn someone of his plan, to leaving the control station unguarded right after doing what he came to do, to his sudden inability to shoot anyone while also gaining the ability to rant and rave and just stand there...
  • Byaku at the end of the Kekkaishi anime. Yoshimori had willingly come to the Kokoboro and was demanding they bring him Kaguro. Byaku had never shown any particular loyalty to his lieutenants thus far, and had particular reason not to be attached to Kaguro. But instead of trying to make a deal with Yoshimori, he orders Shion to try to break Yoshimori's spirit and weaken his powers.


Film -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Aladdin, everything would have worked out fine for Jafar if he'd simply tossed Aladdin a few coins and sent him on his way rather than double-crossing him after Aladdin retrieved the lamp.
    • In fairness to Jafar, given the sequence of events, he may've been unaware that Aladdin had found Carpet in the Cave of Wonders. Carpet was pinned under a rock before having a Big Damn Heroes, so sending Aladdin falling to his death in a collapsing mystical cave isn't so crazy. (Plus, Jafar thought he had the lamp at the time.) Still, the Villain Ball is definitely in play when Jafar tries sending Aladdin "to the ends of the Earth." By that point, everyone had seen Carpet. Coupled with also knowing that Aladdin had escaped death twice already, Jafar really should've thought his actions out.
    • In the end Jafar was already the most powerful sorcerer on Earth, he was more than strong enough to defeat Aladdin. Instead he had to be the most powerful creature and wished to be a genie, with all that entails.
  • At the end of The Lion King, when Simba, still blaming himself for his father's death, is dangling from the edge of a cliff, Scar can't resist doing some Evil Gloating and says "I killed Mufasa." Big mistake.


Film -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • In Revenge of the Sith, this is exactly what happens to Anakin after being warned by Obi Wan that he can´t win because of the higher ground.
  • In True Lies, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is under the effect of truth serum and tells the men interrogating him exactly how he is going to escape and kill them. He succeeds. In the poor Mooks' defense, he really didn't give them a chance to do anything else. The second he finished explaining, he went right to it.
  • Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan escaped exile, stole a starship, and marooned its crew in his place. As his right hand man points out, they can do anything they want. But Khan is determined to have his revenge on Kirk, an agenda which of course leads to his own death.
  • The sheriff in First Blood could have avoided a lot of death and bloodshed had he simply let the wandering Vietnam veteran get something to eat, but instead chose to throw his weight around and treat the guy like a criminal. Not a smart thing to do to John Rambo...
  • In Dream House, Jack Patterson clutches the villain ball during the climax. First, he shoots his accomplice Boyce without making sure that Not Quite Dead he was dead. Second, he ties up Ann instead of killing her. Not only does Peter Ward rescue Ann, Boyce pours a flammable liquid onto Jack's escape path, resulting in Jack getting burned.
  • Willy Bank and Terry Benedict in Ocean's Thirteen. The former's outright betrayal of Reuben leading to Ocean and co. seeking justice is the impetus for the plot; knowing full well their reputation as capable of beating the odds. The latter in his insistence to betray them and get several diamonds.
  • It does not always happen to the Big Bad: In the James Bond film Thunderball (1965), Count Lippe alias "sub-operator G", was handed the ball and attacked an unsuspecting off-duty Bond, tipping him off about what was happening in the fitness center. As a result, he was properly dealt with by his boss.
    • The novel version, at least, has Count Lippe trying to kill Bond because he (mistakenly) believed that Bond had penetrated his cover and was there to take him out. However, like the movie version, he fails and is "properly dealt with" for his failure. Ironically, Bond never figures out that Lippe was working for SPECTRE at all, although Felix Leiter eventually puts the pieces together.
      • Lippe attacks Bond because Bond recognised his tattoo as linking him to the Tongs, a Chinese criminal syndicate. Bond was indeed investigating him (calling Moneypenny to relay his suspicions) so his cover really was blown, just to a lesser extent. Also remember that SPECTRE is about "Revenge" and Bond is marked for death by them for foiling their earlier schemes (in fact, the entire second movie was about their plan to murder him). So really, killing Bond was'nt all that unreasonable.
      • Lippe didn't know he was dealing with James Bond; he was simply protecting himself.
    • In another Bond film, Octopussy, Bond finds himself trapped in a Knife Outline by Grishka, the remaining half of a pair of knife-throwing twins, whose brother Mishka had been killed by Bond earlier. Grishka has one knife remaining, so what does he do? He tells Bond "And this is for my brother!", and charges towards Bond! Bond manages to take one of the knives out of the outline and throws it at Grishka, adding "And that's for 009!".[2]
  • The only reason Han Solo could shoot first in Star Wars was because Greedo took the time to gloat instead of shooting when he had the chance.
    • And as Irregular Webcomic points out, Luke might very well have turned to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi if the Emperor hadn't kept snapping him out of it.
      • Let's not forget how Palpatine died in the first place. He decides to kill Luke slowly while Vader is standing right behind him, knowing full well that Anakin never took too kindly to people hurting his family and was unwilling to kill his own son to begin with. Why would he let Palpatine do the deed? It also doesn't help that he had spent the past twenty minutes telling Luke to kill Vader since he was past his prime, making sure Vader knew he wasn't needed anymore. He might as well have asked Vader to kill him on the spot instead.
        • Perhaps it's not entirely justified but it's worth nothing that the Sith aren't supposed to care about their family or friends as anything but tools once they've given themselves over completely to the Dark Side. Given Vader hadn't seen his son until twenty years after he was born and had been trying to turn him to the Dark Side, it's not completely unreasonable for the Emperor to have expected him to stand by and do nothing, given the circumstances. Similarly, the Emperor didn't expect Vader to become offended about the Emperor's instructions to Luke - if anything the Emperor in Vader's place would, by his own admission, have been offended if Vader hadn't instructed Luke to kill him (again, way of the Sith and all that). So really what it comes down to is that the Emperor thought Vader was more of a true believer Sith than he turned out to be.
          • To be fair, Vader did openly ask Palpatine if they coud avoid killing Luke. He should have at least suspected something was up, especially since the Sith are inclined to stab each other in the back (literally, in many cases). Also, considering Palpatine had the ability to sense emotions, one would think he would take a look at Anakin's to make sure he wasn't having second thoughts.
    • In the third movie, Palpatine almost got hit by one of the senate platforms during his battle with Yoda because he was busy laughing maniacally.
  • The plot of each of The Transporter films basically doesn't kick-off until someone higher in the criminal food-chain than the Protagonist grabs the Villain Ball and doesn't let go until they've done something horribly cliche'd.
  • In The Untouchables, Mafia hitman Frank Nitti murders Jimmy Malone by writing his apartment address on a matchbook. Unfortunately for him, he forgets to dispose of it after his hit. When he bumps into Eliot Ness, he offers the matchbook to light his cigarette with. Ness sees the address, and putting two and two together, chases Nitti and pushes him off a roof into a car.
    • Nitti also can't leave well enough alone! Ness pulls him up to the roof after considering shooting him when he's hanging by a rope but then Nitti starts gloating about killing Malone, saying that he "died screaming like a stuck up pig" which is what finally makes Ness throw him off the roof.
  • In George of the Jungle 2, Beatrice and Lyle's plan probably would have worked if they thought of hypnotizing Junior too.
  • In Drillbit Taylor, Filkins finally got caught only because he attempted to murder the protagonists with a samurai sword right in front of the police.
  • In the film adaptation of James and the Giant Peach, James' aunts attempt to take him back by pretending to be kind guardians, but it doesn't take them long to drop the act and attempt to kill James with axes right in front of a large crowd, including at least one cop.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Judge Doom had a perfect chance to stab incapacitated Eddie with his Sword Cane, but he just had to go for the slower and more gruesome road roller option, which gave Eddie time to escape.
    • The Reveal regarding Doom should tell you exactly why he went for the more Looney Tunes-esque manner of taking him out as opposed to the quick way.
  • In Hancock, every character who refers to the title superhero as an "asshole":
    • When Hancock voluntarily admits himself to prison, he's surrounded by most of the inmates he helped bring in. All of these people know firsthand what he's capable of, and yet two of them persist in impeding him when he threatens to shove an inmate's head up the ass of another. Why were the other inmates surprised, anyway?
    • The French boy, Michel (who continually bullies Ray's son), has already seen Hancock demonstrate his powers on several occasions when he lands in front of Ray's home. When Michel keeps calling Hancock an asshole, he gets thrown miles up into the sky for his trouble.
    • The bank robber who attempts to threaten Hancock with a dead man's switch detonator connected to C4 placed on all the hostages. He plainly sees Hancock taking off the metal shade off a lamp and turning it into a makeshift sawblade while he's calling the guy sent to stop him an asshole. Is it any wonder that he got his hand lopped off after ignoring repeated warnings?


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister tells Tywin that if he uses a certain word, he will shoot him. Of course the word is uttered. Given Tywin's utter contempt for his son it is quite likely he used the word on purpose, never thinking Tyrion would actually shoot him especially while on the privy and is quite in character. In A Dance with Dragons, Janos Slynt insults Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, in front of the entire Night's Watch, and flat-out refuses to obey his orders. So Snow chops off his head. It's even more satisfying to the readers because Snow doesn't know how Slynt's betrayal contributed to his father's death. It's probably one of the most satisfying Karmic Deaths in the entire series.
  • Alt-history novelist Robbie Taylor came up with a wonderful subversion of this idea: at the moment of defeat, the Antichrist accepts Jesus as his personal savior and therefore qualifies for admission to Heaven.
  • Lampshaded in Much Fall of Blood. The Evil Sorcerer plans to trap and sacrifice the heroes in a location where magic doesn't work. Of course, this means the Evil Sorcerer has no access to magic either, and the heroes are better in a physical melee.
  • The leader of the Psychlos from the Battlefield Earth novel and film does a lot of things that make the viewer/reader shout, "What an Idiot!!" In an especially stupid move, the leader teaches the hero, Jonny "Goodboy" Tyler, everything about Psychlos in a matter of seconds, in an attempt to get him to assist their enslavement of Earth. Naturally, it comes back to bite him in the ass at the end in a big way.
  • Lord Voldemort, amusingly enough, suffered from being more evil than needed and less evil than he could've been at the same time. If he'd just killed Lily Potter without offering her a chance to step aside or if he'd deigned to toss her aside when she refused, instead of killing her, he would've won. But in doing things that exact way he provided the conditions for her Heroic Sacrifice, which eventually led to his doom.
  • In the Everworld series, Senna Wales was a Magnificent Bastard up until the series was to be cancelled. At this point in the story, she had become allies with a whole pantheon, killed or weakened several gods, arranged the downfall of an entire nation, removed the one species that was a serious threat to her from Everworld, built a small army for her personal use, was still successfully blackmailing and manipulating the other main characters despite them wising up to what she was doing, outmaneuvered Merlin twice and laid a trap for him, become so powerful that no man could bring himself to lay a hand on her, had plans laid down to build her position that went entire years in advance, and needed only one more object in order to complete her master plan and become the absolute, godlike Dimension Lord of Everworld. How can this high-threat, universe-threatening witch be defeated in a quick, cheap manner? Give her the Villain Ball of course!
  • K. A. Applegate likes saddling her truly formidable villains with this: Senna is an Expy of Animorphs's David, who is also manhandled into carrying the Villain Ball to facilitate a quick defeat. At the point in the story he starts to carry it David has defeated four of the six Animorphs in a single night (almost killing two of them), acquired an Animorph for impersonation, made the team's resident Blood Knight afraid for her life, and strongarmed the Animorphs into a position where they have no choice but to give him the Morphing Cube. So how does the team effectively defeat David in the span of a few short chapters? Why, the Villain Ball, dear boy.
  • Lestat passes off the Villain Ball between books in The Vampire Chronicles; he retcons into Yet Another Good Vampire when he takes on the mantle of narrator.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Jonathan's father Lawrence strange was a sure-handed holder. The narration mentions that he let petty maliciousness overcome his long term benefit, and suffered a Karmic Death when he opened a window on a cold night to further torment a fevered servant who had annoyed him - forgetting that he was much less healthy than the other man. He was found to have frozen to death during the night.
  • Graham Coates in Anansi Boys gleefully picks up the Villain Ball and runs with it starting in his own backstory. He's been embezzling money from his clients for years, and he fires most of his employees after a year or so, both to avoid having to pay too much in raises and to make sure that none of them have time to cotton on to what he's doing. This bites him in the ass when someone finds him out-he rearranges accounts to make it look like Fat Charlie, his most senior employee by a full year, was the one doing it, but the person he's trying to convince knows that it's been happening for much longer than Fat Charlie's two-year tenure. This ultimately leads to a murder, some attempted murders, and also slicing his own femoral artery with a poorly-chosen place to hold a knife. Of course, he may or may not have been possessed along the way.
  • In the Dune Prequel trilogy Legends Of Dune, Erasmus spreads dissent among the human slave population to win a bet with Omnius that even the most loyal humans are inherently untrustworthy. While all of this would've probably resulted in an easily-crushed revolt, he then goes ahead and kills a helpless child right in front of his mother and thousands of riled slaves. Cue the Butlerian Jihad - a century-long conflict that results in the destruction of all Synchronized Worlds. To top it off, he then raises a human child to be a human with the mind of a machine, who later betrays his "father" and joins the humans to found the Mentat school, giving humans living computers.
    • Omnius isn't much better. His attempts to finish off the hrethgir (free human) once and for all leaves him open to attack by determined humans, leaving him with one world out of hundreds in a matter of weeks.
  • In the Dale Brown book Plan of Attack, Russian president Gryzlov would have avoided death if he had not used nukes against the ABF-taken Russian airbase and prompted an Even Evil Has Standards Redemption Equals Death moment. In Edge of Battle Comandante Veracruz would not have been stopped either if he did not double-cross Zakharov and cause him to carry out Enemy Mine.
  • In The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil owned more than 80 dalmatian puppies. Owned, as in had legally bought and paid for. There were no police, human owners, or frantic canine parents looking for these puppies. One would think that would have been plenty to start her dalmatian fur farm. If not, she could have waited until there was another litter for sale and just bought more puppies. Instead, she kidnapped the Dearly puppies (paying far more to the dog thieves than she had for any litter), thereby bringing the police, human reward-seekers, and Pongo and Missus down on her head, permanently putting a stop to her plans.
  • Everything the Capitol does in The Hunger Games seems to be based on how evil it is than whether or not it would be beneficial. Shooting an old man in a crowd just for singing a song, reducing District 12 into utter poverty to the point the protagonist wanted to rebel, rounding up a chunk of the victors of the games (people the public cherish and revere as heroes) into another game with the intent to kill, elminating any good will between Katniss by brutally killing Cinna in front of her, eliminating the good will of pretty much any major character by brutally firebombing District 12 and killing civilians on TV. Combined with the Hunger Games itself, it makes you wonder how the nation lasted for 75 years without any form of outward rebellion which the districts are too happy to do in the span of a few months.
    • Aside from the central extravagance of the hunger games (and even that is in some ways an inspired form of repression in that it forces people to become complicit in it through starvation, quite stalinesque actually) the tactics the capital uses to repress the districts are actually a fairly realistic representation of the terror methods that Real Life regimes use, and just like in Real Life but unlike in most stories: They work, to a point. In 75 years of power the capital had almost certainly weathered minor uprisings that it had been able to quell through force, control of information, and playing disctricts off against each other. What's tips the scale in the period of the plot is: military support from district 13, inter-district organizational and information support from district 13 and rebels in the capital, and a unifying symbol for all the districts in the form of Katniss and Peeta that had already been helpfully broadcast through the capital's own propaganda machine.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, US President Earl Warren grabs it hard when he orders a nuclear missle launched at the Race's colonization fleet, at literally no possible gain for himself (it only kills enough of the Race to seriously piss them off) and everything to lose if he's found out.
  • Drake from Gone (novel) seems to be aware that hurting Diana would be pushing a Berserk Button of the Big Bad, Caine, and, while he openly hates her, he saves most of his taunting of her for when Caine isn't around, even though she often provokes him. But then in Hunger, he picks her up with his whip-hand and bashes her head open against a rock because she yelled at him, all in front of Caine. This does not go over well. Of course, he's not exactly mentally stable, so...


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Ba'al, from Stargate SG-1 should get a mention here. He can't seem to make up his mind if he wants to have the Villain Ball or not. Half the time he's charging around like an idiot coming up with ridiculously complex and stupid plans to DESTROY THE UNIVERSE or somesuch nonsense, and then the other half of the time he's acting as the CEO for a major company and fully intends to just live on earth peacefully. It then gets even more ridiculous when SG-1 force him to take action and the entire thing dissolves into a massive I-don't-know-what-the-fuck-is-happening with the end result revealing Baal actually really likes the Tau'ri and would probably quite happily be a fairly good ally, if we'd just stop shooting him. Then when the SGC realises this and attempts to join forces with Ba'al, he backstabs them. I've never seen a villain juggle the Villain Ball quite so obsessively as Baal does. Half the time I was thinking he was one of the best genre savvy villains I've ever seen, the other half of the time I was wondering who'd been hitting him with the idiot stick lately.
    • I assume you mean "the Villain Baal"?
    • Scary thing is, compared to the other System Lords, Ba'al is the smart one.
    • In general, Goa'Uld communication orbs double as villain balls. Since only the bad guys use them, they are an easy way to make distinctions. Once a spy in Tok'Ra was uncovered because Jack O'Neil had seen him with such an orb.
  • Pick a Doctor Who villain. Any Doctor Who villain. Special mention must go to the Master however, who even originally had a Beard of Evil!
  • Every villain on Supernatural. All of them. Except Crowley who, in his own words, is the only one to not "Underestimate those denim wrapped nightmares!" And is therefore the only one thus far still walking around unharmed.
  • iCarly: Missy in iReunite With Missy. Missy tries to her old "best friend" position off Sam, by treating her nicely around people, but indirectly attacking her in ways that force Sam away from Carly. Sam herself is unsure if Missy is trying to hurt her, or if she's jealous of Missy. The evil plot is ruined when Missy gives Sam a Motive Rant for no reason. This pushes Sam to ask Freddie for help. Carly has no clue until she overhears Missy gloating about the cruise Freddie gave up to get rid of her.
  • The Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future episode "The Mirror in Darkness" has Dread using a fake Power to trick survivors into unwitting digitization. The first time we see him, it's convincing to us. But the second time, we know the plot, and the real Power is waiting for him. The fake then suddenly yells his head off, and generally acts like a dick, before the real Power shows up.
  • Peter Fleming (AKA Chess) hires a duo of assassins to kill The Cape. They fail but find out his Secret Identity. When one of them meets with Fleming, he is about to give him a flash-drive with their research, when Fleming loses his temper and fires them. Being a professional, the assassin is no longer obligated to help Fleming, so he gives the flash-drive to the Cape. All Fleming had to do was wait 2 seconds, and he would've had the Cape by the balls.
  • Brennen of Burn Notice is generally quite Dangerously Genre Savvy, except that he can never quite figure out that leaving Michael unattended for any length of time is a bad idea.
    • Larry however seemed to have learned from this, even lampshading in the new episode that he wasn't letting Michael out of his sight because he knew he would do something to sabotage his plan.
  • In 90210 Jeremy catches Annie breaking into his house to steal a necklace he bought after she had had to pawn it (the necklace is a key part of the contested inheritance Jeremy's grandmother left to Annie in her will and she needs it to prove she deserves the money). Rather than simply call the cops and have Annie arrested there and then (he hadn't broken any laws while she definitely had) Jeremy locks her in his bedroom and indulges in Evil Gloating about how he hated his grandmother allowing Annie to record him on her Blackberry and send the message to her lawyers.


Print Media[edit | hide]

Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Wicked Witch of the West passes off the Villain Ball in Wicked to The Wizard. Of course he's always been a Nazi! And Dorothy was his unwitting dupe! At least until HE gets to narrate and pass the Ball...


Toys[edit | hide]

  • It is Bionicle's Grand Finale, and the Big Bad Makuta Teridax is standing right above Mata Nui, in the Humongous Mecha body that he stole from him. Mata Nui's weaker robot body is falling apart, malfunctioning, and barely has any power left. Makuta's body is, on the other hand, fully powered and quite capable of finishing off the only being who could ever hope to stand in his way. Even if he just stood there, Mata Nui would have fallen apart eventually. Instead, he of course has to make a show, so he uses his gravity power to fold the planet into itself, just to make sure Mata Nui would witness the end of his allies. Seemingly having forgotten about those two moons orbiting at head-level, and that using this power requires him to lift up his arms, giving Mata Nui the opening he needed.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Eternal Sonata, your party is forced to surrender party member (and MacGuffin Girl) Polka to Card-Carrying Villain Count Waltz. Waltz successfully convinces Polka that if she surrenders peacefully then no harm will come to the party or her, and he will call off his army. Polka (in turn) successfully convinces the rest of the party to allow her to go with Waltz and sacrifice her freedom for the greater good. Waltz's plan would have worked perfectly... if he hadn't decided to punctuate his victory by slapping Polka in clear view of everyone, proving he was a lying prick and prompting Polka (and the rest of the party) to attack.
  • Arthas in Wrath of the Lich King. So hard. Any dumb thing that the evil guy can do just to prove his credentials, he does. Like telling the most important part of his army (who, by a strange coincidence, are one of about three parts of his army who have free will) that they were BAIT for a guy who was supposed to mow them down in seconds, but didn't even show up for said fight until they already lost. Did we mention he laughed at them, too? Oh, and he delivered the weapon that can beat him to said guy in this ploy. OH, and it turns out that after betraying and alienating his officer corps, he's having a tough time finding commanders. Whoops! And that's just one example.
    • There's also his tendency of finding his few surviving commanders in mortal danger and deciding that if they can't survive the battle then too bad. You'd think after losing every single known lieutenant he has he'd stop throwing their lives away.
      • Well, he is the Lich King. It's not like when they die he can't just bring them back anyway. But really, why waste the time? Kill the snots that are screwing with you and just be done with it already.
    • Face it, with the kind of power Arthas can throw around, if he hadn't swallowed the Villain Ball there's no way in hell anyone would ever be able to even slow him down.
      • And then subverted magnificently when it turns out this was a massive Xanatos Gambit on his part-he actually wanted to find a group of heroes capable of standing up to him, at which point he could kill them and reanimate them as his Co-Dragons of a new, more powerful army (because, hey, they're undead. Just kill a few dozen people and you're on your way). He nearly won too, were it not for unforeseeable circumstance.
      • That was a Villain Ball in itself. At the same time we learn Arthas was building us up to be his champions, we also learn that if the Lich King dies, the mindless Scourge will be left uncontrolled and wipe out all life on Azeroth in a Zombie Apocalypse... Which means the Scourge, as it was, was already powerful enough to defeat the Alliance and the Horde. Why Arthas felt he needed the heroes when he already possessed an unstoppable army is anyone's guess.
    • Deathwing was even worse in Cataclysm. In the Dragon Soul raid, after Thrall shoots him with the titular object, Deathwing flies back to the Maelstrom and tries to cause another Cataclysm. He apparently could have done this at any time, yet inexplicably waited until his enemies had killed all of his lieutenants, united the other Dragon Aspects, retrieved one of the few weapons powerful enough to kill him, and attacked him with it a couple times to try. At least Arthas had the somewhat flimsy excuse of wanting to make the player characters his champions, with Deathwing the writers didn't even try to justify it.
    • I'm sorry, but nearly EVERY end raid boss that was based in some sort of lore apparently selected the ball crafting profession and specced "villain ball". Only a few bosses don't seem that out of place.
  • The artifact Illidan stole in Frozen Throne although named "The Eye of Sargeras" was in fact a Villain Ball of titanic proportions. See for yourself: he wants to use the said ball to destroy the Frozen Throne - the seat of the Lich King and thus eliminate the Undead army that threatens the world. Unfortunately, the side effects of the ball's operation include severe earth tremors hence Illidan's brother Malfurion jumps to conclusion that Illidan is up to destroying the world and sets forth to stop him. Does Illidan bother to clarify the situation and explain his plan which would without doubt be backed by Malfurion? He does, but only AFTER Malfurion destroyes the Eye. That is a prime example of what happens when a Villain Ball collides with a Hero Ball.
    • Not really. While Illidan can be blamed for not explaining what he was doing, the reason Malfurion was trying to stop him is because the Eye was tearing the world apart. Not much point in stopping the bad guy if you break the world in the process, huh?
    • On the other hand Illidan was doing it for Kil'Jaeden had he succeded, we can quite imagine what he might have rewarded Illidan had he finished the deed.
  • In the game NBC Oogie's Revenge, if Oogie had not left Jack a trail of breadcrumbs to follow and skipped to cutting Halloween off from the Hinterlands and killing Santa he would have succeeded. Heck, if he didn't make his presence so well known to Jack he might have been able to lull him into a false sense of victory and captured him (he even already had a cell for him), making room for him as the Seven Holidays King in the absense of all the other leaders.
  • In Castlevania 64, Dracula spends most of the game disguised as a kid named Malus. This is not none to the player or the game's characters, though there is this bizarre moment where you come across Malus and suddenly appears evil, but you character ignores that the next time they see him, depending on the ending. In the bad ending, Dracula will actually have a clever plan for a change and not reveal himself, though both endings give some that Malus is really him, his eyes turn red, and in Carrie's he gets her to promise to marry him, and mutters that now they have a binding contract. Either way, he had a good plan going. Stay disguised and kill the hero when he least suspects it in one, or in the other apparently using some curse to force her to one day marry you. In the good ending, however, he throws that out the window and just reveals himself and reveals in his supposed invincibility, forgetting that he's been defeated, oh I've lost count how many times in the past, leading to his temporary death ( Dracula has more extra lives then you do).
    • In the good ending he does have a moment of cleverness after being defeated the first time. He reverts to his child form and tries to pretend to be an ordinary kid who was possessed. Right when your character reaches out to him, Vincent the vampire hunter (who only survives in the good ending) saves you by exposing the ruse with holy water. Cue Final Boss fight.
  • Fate/stay night example: Gilgamesh. If you just stopped playing around with the heroes and just Babylowned them to death then you wouldn't keep dying. This happens in both the Fate and the Unlimited Blade Works routes: in Fate, he gives Shirou the time he needed to project Avalon by using a charge attack when he can bladespam anyone to death in an instant. In UBW, he insists on dueling Shirou one-on-one sans armour while in Shirou's Reality Marble rather than just equiping his Nigh Invulnerable armour or using Ea right off the bat. This results in a very literal disarmament and being shoved into a space-time rift. Then again, if he didn't have the constant Pride Villain Ball he would be completely unstoppable.
    • Not completely. He could still potentially be taken out by a particularly well-executed ambush. Like the one Sakura pulls in Heaven's Feel. Though you could argue that not immediately going out and unleashing his full power at the very beginning of the war is already holding the Villain Ball, since he could probably easily win in an hour or less if he were smart enough to try that.
    • It's grown to such a point that fans are starting to joke that one of Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasms in the Gate Of Babylon is either a Villain Ball or an Idiot Ball. That, or he has a hidden Passive Phantasm.
  • In the more recent Sonic games, Dr. Eggman has (on numerous occasions) either unleashed or sought to unleash a creature of extreme power (thre|e gods and one prototype of the ultimate lifeform for starters). For a while, his plans go great, and he usually is a step or two ahead of his nemesis, Sonic. However, just when his plans are at their highest, everything goes horribly wrong. The god reaches its highest potential, and then Eggman realizes that he made a huge mistake and ends up having to work with Sonic to get rid of his own mess. The villain ball part comes when you realize something: Given his past experiences, why in the hell would he continue this pattern just to be embarrassed and defeated? Also, he constantly blabs about his schemes to the one guy who always defeats him, even going so far as to have a worldwide broadcast about his plan when Sonic and his gang didn't have an idea of it before then. The only thing you can't accuse Eggman of is not trying to kill Sonic with his godlike creatures, because that is just something he naturally fails at, but is in no control of whatsoever.
  • Bowser, archfoe of Mario, just can't stop kidnapping Princess Peach, even when doing so is actually a hindrance to his plan. This is most blatant in Super Mario Galaxy, where Bowser's plan is to steal all the power stars in space, then use them to power a huge machine at the center of the universe that will give him control of every galaxy there is. When the game opens, he seems to be pretty far into his plans, and Mario has no idea they're even happening. The only reason Mario finds out is because Bowser decides to kidnap Peach right in front of Mario, setting the plumber on his trail with just enough time to stop his schemes.
    • Bowser also does this in Super Mario Bros 3 where his plan is actually pretty clever: have his kids turn the seven kings of the Mushroom Worlds into animals, forcing Mario and Luigi to travel far and wide to help them. While they're distracted, Bowser kidnaps Peach. This one worked like a charm—until Bowser sends Mario a taunting letter telling him exactly where to find the Princess.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution: "Wake-Up Call" Boss Barrett tells you the exact address of his co-conspirators (right down to the specific apartment) for no reason before he attempts to kill the both of you. This was, in fact, Jensen's only lead to Shanghai to continue the plot, otherwise the villains' plan would have gone off without a hitch.
  • Lampshaded by a Team Plasma grunt in Pokémon Black and White, in N's Castle. He states that the reason why other villain teams (Rocket and Galactic being mentioned in particular) failed was because they made themselves and their plans public. Plasma on the other hand had been secretly building and preparing for their ultimate plan while masquerading as PETA-esque Pokemon liberators.
  • Osmund Saddler's evil plan in Resident Evil 4 would have stood a much better chance of succeeding if he hadn't decided to monologue about it in front of Leon Kennedy and inject him with the parasite while he was conscious. Then there's the fact that he keeps around a machine that can kill the parasite without harming the host, without any previous experience at using it or the need of a password or other lock-out mechanism
  • Matt Engarde in the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All would have been able to get away scot-free if he didn't betray the assassin he hires simply because he doesn't trust other people and believes that not even assassins are above blackmails. Said action allows the titular character to trap him into a Morton's Fork situation.
  • In StarCraft, Arcturus Mengsk decides to not send Kerrigan the requested dropship when the Zerg overrun Tarsonis for apparently no reason at all. She's been his most important lieutenant who had never shown any sign of not being completely loyal to him, and there seems to be no reason at all why saving her would have been impossible. The result of this is that Kerrigan gets captured alive and turned into a general and eventually supreme commander of the Zerg and Raynor deserting him, both becoming his most dangerous enemies. Up until that point, there has been no indication that he would have wanted to get rid of her or that she even contemplated turning against him. All it does is create two powerful armies that want to kill him.
    • Justified by the sequel and the novel I, Mengsk. It was revenge: Kerrigan was the Ghost that assassinated Mengsk's family, so the moment She Outlived Her Usefulness as a soldier, he left her for dead. However that justification gives the Hero Ball to Kerrigan: she probably shouldn't have ever trusted the son of a man she decapitated.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Hereti Corp should have realized that, when they turned Aylee into a man-eating monster bent on world domination, it was probably a bad idea to leave Riff, one of her friends with a penchant for Saving The World, not only alive, but on their payroll. That's got conflict of interests written all over it.
    • Hereti Corps carries the Villain Ball less idiotically now that Dr. Schlock has taken over. But in that instance at least, Riff was 'one of her friends' who wanted kill her, so if anything, they should've been alert to the possibility of attacks from him.
  • In Bob and George, Bob seemed like your perfectly reasonable villain, driven to extremes by the world he was forced into. Then he decided to go kidnap the world's creator... who let himself be captured for the sake of a minor bet with the REAL Big Bad. Bob never did get beat down, though... or so it seems.
  • Fans: The Order of the Dragon first appear as a group of near omnipotent individuals with supernatural powers and represent the greatest threat AEGIS has encountered so far. Members include Robert, a cunning illusionist and conman, or Keith, Rikk's former nemesis. Then there's this guy. And you can rest assured that the others are no better. The fact that their plan involved literally KILLING the alphabet and eliminating all written forms of comunication doesn't help.
  • In the comic Pearls of Mer. The more senior agent of the Evil Organization tells the new comer to sit back and watch Arra the mermaid until they get word from High Ups. So what does the guy do? He runs out, tries to kidnap her and ends up shooting her human boyfriend. Things did end well from her wrath.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Batman strands Owlman on an Earth without any life, with a bomb about to explode in front of him. He is presented with the option to abort the countdown or get out of the dimension thanks to a spare portal device, but instead says "It doesn't matter" and waits for it to blow him up. In this case it's because of his belief that an infinite number of universes make all choice meaningless, because no matter what he does, the other him will make a different choice.
  • The Evil Chancellor Long Feng in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Had he simply directed them to the nearest general outside the city after explaining the whole "No talking about the war here" thing and sent them on their way, they would have been out of his hair right there and he'd still be The Man Behind the Man. But instead, he tried to play Big Brother and threaten them about Appa, and thus made an enemy out of Aang, eventually leading to his arrest, then losing even the Dai Li to Azula in an attempt to break out and take over.
    • In the episode "The Deserter", if Zhao hadn't gotten so angry at Aang's taunting, he wouldn't have burnt his entire fleet down to cinders. And then, he kills the moon spirit in the season finale.]] If he HADN'T done that, he wouldn't have been killed by Koizilla, and might have actually succeeded in conquering the Northern Water Tribe.
    • Even normally Dangerously Genre Savvy Azula isn't immune to this. Though she manages to avoide holding the Villain Ball for the first two seasons, she finally ends up holding it in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2," when she threatens to kill Zuko for starting a prison break. Fortunately, Mai and Ty Lee arrive just in time to teach her that dissing your ally's boyfriend, especially if said boyfriend is your own brother for crying out loud, is not a very good idea.
  • In the Grand Finale of Transformers: Beast Wars, Megatron decides to use the Fusion Cannon on the entirely helpless proto-humans when he should have attacked the Maximals first, who could actually do something to stop him.. To make it even worse all of the proto-humans survived somehow and he only succeeded in killing Quickstrike and Inferno, his own minions.
  • By being the Genre Blind Harmless Villain he is, Dr. Drakken from Kim Possible is by no means immune to this trope. In one episode he created the awesome plan of disrupting the Kimmunicator so that he could pretend to be the Techno Wizard Wade in order trick Kim into stealing the Phlebotinum from Professor Dementor. Twice. Which got Kim's suspicions up and let to his defeat. When he has Shego, who is more than capable of stealing the Phlebotinum by herself...
    • Then there is Señor Senior Senior, who literally read the book on how to carry the Villain Ball, because he's obscenely rich and only commits villainous acts out of boredom. It's more fun for him to do it like a Bond villain.
  • The supervillains (or "antagonists" as they prefer) in The Venture Brothers that work for the Guild of Calamitous Intent carry the ball as part of the Guild's strict regulations for "Controlled Costumed Aggression", in effect literal Contractual Genre Blindness. Low level troublemakers use tranq guns, whereas hand guns and the like are reserved for more threatening opponents. Likewise, "protagonists" need to carry the Idiot Ball because, to borrow a quote:

Brock Samson: Hey, no disrespect Jonas, but it isn't so easy. These guys like their system; it's what they do. You take that away, and you are dealing with a bunch of pissed off nutbags with rayguns and giant, I don't know, a giant octopus/tank with laser eyes.

  • Slade in Teen Titans would be a full-time Magnificent Bastard if he'd just learn not to give in to his sadistic impulses unnecessarily. As it is, this has gotten in the way of his plans by providing an out for one minion and turning another against him (which got him lava fried). Of course, this does mean that for a Smug Snake, he's still very effective and creepy, but he could be so much more...
  • The Archmage of Gargoyles grasps the Villain Ball hard due to his hatred of Goliath. He makes two big mistakes: he doesn't wait until sunrise when the gargoyles are all helpless before starting the attack, and he opts to torture Goliath for amusement rather than simply killing him instantly with his incredible power. This leads directly to his defeat and rather nasty death.
    • In fact, Word of God explicitly notes this as his undoing- for all his power, at heart he's a walking (though effective) cliche and cannot escape genre conventions.
  • Winx Club: The 4K dub provides an example of a Dub-Induced Villain Ball in the S1 finale, which has Icy telling the other Trix, "Give me your share of the Dragonfire, I need it to take care of this uppity pixie (Bloom). Don't worry, you won't need more than your regular powers to take on those four poseurs (the other Winx)." She doesn't tell them this in the original, but the result is the same anyway. Video. Plus, a little bit of discussion concerning this.
    • The Trix's other two seasons each have a major non-Dub-Induced Villain Ball: S2 sees them burying the Winx and the Specialists' plane under snow and an icy deathtrap... and then simply leaving, so they're not there to shoot them down again when they escape. S3 has Icy de-powering Bloom in a one-on-one (the other fairies are away in a crystal labyrinth, while the other Trix are taking on the Specialists) and not making her history immediately, allowing the other Winx to return in time to take the Trix out.
  • In Samurai Jack, Aku grabs the Villain Ball big-time in "Jack and the Zombies". While Jack is busy fighting off a horde of zombies, Aku manages to steal Jack's sword, which is the only thing in the world that can harm him. He then proceeds to do some Evil Gloating, which is acceptable, given how Jack is absolutely powerless at this point. But then, he announces that he'll destroy the sword to become completely unstoppable after he kills Jack with it, to give him a "fitting" death by the hands of his own sword. Of course, after an epic but one-sided battle, an Ass Pull comes in at the last second to prevent Aku from succeeding, thereby allowing Jack to reclaim his sword, forcing Aku to retreat. Had Aku just destroyed the sword first, BEFORE going after Jack, he would've won.
  • Dr. Doofenschirmtz from Phineas and Ferb is one of the worst examples, as illustrated in the episode "Candace Gets Busted" where a building is blocking his view of the theater. He remarks that he could just move his chair, but decides to build a machine to zap the building out of the way.
    • If the True Colors of Smile Away are a secret from parents, why would you show the victimized kids getting tortured beyond compare on a daytime TV show?


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Nazi Germany fortunately held on to the villain ball through much of WWII. Their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder put them at war against the entire Atlantic world at once, forcing natural enemies like the Soviets and the Western allies to unite against them. Their racist ideology caused them to mistreat or ignore potential allies, like the Ukrainians and other Slavs who hated Stalin. They invested absolute power in a Fascist but Inefficient dictator who turned out not to be a very good military leader, (at least not when facing an enemy who wasn't easily cowed - his understanding of the military psychology of Continental Western Europe was flawless). They engaged in atrocities to such an extreme degree that there was no way left for them to negotiate their way out of the war when it turned against them, and, indeed, by the end were just spending resources committing atrocities that could otherwise have been used to prevent complete annihilation.
    • Not to mention that if they had curbed their ambitions and stopped right after the Munich Agreement, Adolf Hitler may have been more fondly remembered in Germany.
      • This is unlikely, since a major motivation for Germany's war of conquest was that Hitler's powerbase was built on a higher standard of living for common workers than in any other European nation at the time, and this in turn was entirely built on the wealth stolen from the minorities, not on any sound economic system. They needed to conquer more territories, enslave more "subhumans" and steal more resources to keep this up.
      • It wasn't so much "stealing from minorities" that kept the standard of living up for the normal German - there wasn't nearly enough money. They stole from minorities out of malice and out of racism - they could have made a lot more revenue by befriending the Jews (who owned a lot of shops and banks) and helping them grow the economy. It was re-armament (in 1935, the Army couldn't spend it's budget) and socialized work programs that drove employment up - except they borrowed like crazy to fund it. So they either had to cut or go to war. They went to war.
      • The Nazi economic model has been described as a "conquest" or "looter" economy because of that. Its cartelization of businesses along with making them attain the government bureaucrats' approval for every step of production, coupled with price controls that severely disrupted things, made it extremely inefficient.
  • Josef Stalin, to a much lesser degree. He had a doctor who told him to take some time off arrested and tortured. So when he had a massive and undignified stroke, nobody wanted to diagnose him. Even his fellow Politburo members were terrified of calling help in case he recovered and had them shot. His guards were also afraid to go in to help him or call a doctor. It doesn't help that he also had recently killed many supposedly for being in a "Doctor's Plot" against him. So, rather than survive to retire or even continue to lead, he died on the floor of his bedroom, soaked in his own urine. There are certain theories which say he was poisoned too, which is not surprising if true.
  • The Ottoman Turkish Empire in the lead up to and during World War I. Fullstop.
  1. not when my policy is to clean once every 3 days
  2. the Double-0 agent killed at the start of the movie