History Main / DiminishingVillainThreat

22nd Oct '12 11:49:20 AM FastEddie
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[[quoteright:300:[[Franchise/FridayThe13th http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/villain_decay_1229.png]]]] [-[[caption-width-right:300:Used by permission: [[http://www.suedeheadcomic.com suedeheadcomic.com]]]]-] %% Used with permission (see Image Pickin' thread): suedeheadcomic.com %% Image Pickin' conversation: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=lhxpsx1kvbvspoh7pe09okg3 ->'''Sideshow Bob''': ''Hello, Bart...''\\ '''Bart''': Oh, it's you, Bob. How' ya doin'?\\ '''Sideshow Bob''': No screams? ... Not even... an "eep"?\\ '''Bart''': Hey, I'm not afraid of you. Every time we tangle you wind up in jail! -->-- ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' The process by which a villain who is extremely scary on first appearance becomes a joke after a few more appearances. In most shows, FailureIsTheOnlyOption [[TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin for the]] {{Villains}}, because [[TheBadGuyWins success]] would mean that the villains [[TakeOverTheWorld conquer the world]], [[KillEmAll kill all the good guys]], and otherwise do things that make future episodes impossible. Inevitably, the viewers start to wonder why the heroes act concerned about an enemy that they've beaten six times already. Note that this does not apply to shows where the villains are supposed to be [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain incompetent jokes]] from the start. Most writers will try to stop this decline in menace, which sometimes helps and sometimes makes the VillainDecay worse, but the fastest way to decay a villain is to [[HeelFaceTurn make him switch sides]]. Of course, you can prevent this by ''not'' having [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption failure be the only option]] for the villain; let them win battles, but not the war, or let their EvilPlan [[YouCantThwartStageOne come closer and closer to completion while the heroes race to prevent its final success]]. Or, for the ''really'' cunning villain, [[UnwittingPawn dupe the heroes into doing what they wanted all along]] or [[XanatosGambit benefit from them foiling the plan.]] Note that VillainDecay is almost never caused by a lack of OffscreenVillainDarkMatter, a difficulty in recruiting Mooks, or even injuries from battle with the heroes -- which is to say, they don't become worse off because they have ''lost''. Also note that a VillainousBreakdown is not a guarantee of VillainDecay. Decay will only happen quicker if their entire VillainPedigree is replaced. If you have an InvincibleHero - especially one who shouldn't be capable of winning [[InvincibleIncompetent but somehow always wins anyway]] - VillainDecay is almost assured, even for characters who haven't fought yet. Tends to be particularly hard to avoid for villains who manage to survive the heroes' climb up the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil. See also IneffectualSympatheticVillain, GoldfishPoopGang, HarmlessVillain, LoweredMonsterDifficulty and MotiveDecay. Contrast VillainSue, InvincibleVillain, and OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow, where a villain is '''too''' effective or scary. Believe it or not, those tropes suck the tension out of the villains even worse than this one. Also contrast AdaptationalVillainy, where a relatively non-villainous character in a work becomes dramatically more villainous in an adaptation. Compare and contrast FailureHero. Same concept--repeated failures [[InformedAbility ruins their credibility]]--different role. See also DegradedBoss. ---- !!Examples [[foldercontrol]] [[folder: Anime and Manga]] * In the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime, the Team Rocket trio started out being more dangerous and effective before they became... well... [[TerribleTrio Team Rocket]] (although this may have been intentional, since the writers likely didn't know what direction to take the characters in the beginning, and chose the more comical route). [[spoiler: As of Best Wishes, they have gone back to being more dangerous, leaving all of their comical Pokémon at the base similar to Ash leaving his team. Half the time, they won't even bug Ash and co. anymore due to their missions.]] ** The games have actively tried to [[AvertedTrope avoid this]]. Team Rocket only appeared in the first two sets of the main series of games, decaying in the second one due to their leader, Giovanni, not organizing them. Since then, almost every spin-off and main-series game that includes criminal organizations includes entirely different ones. They've also [[PlotLeveling upped the ante for their plans each time]]. The team in the third tried to modify the landscape of the earth (or at least the area they were in), [[WellIntentionedExtremist believing that this would be for the good of humanity]]. The leader in the fourth wanted to use the powers of a legendary {{mon}} to ''[[AGodAmI become a god]]''. * Beck from ''Anime/TheBigO'' is the world champ of VillainDecay: the writers put him through almost every one of the gimmicks mentioned above. First he got a cool new weapon, then he got played as a buffoon (complete with a comically grotesque hairdo), then the hero was put into an AlternateUniverse where Beck was a real threat, before he finally ended up just being an underling working for BigBad Alex and his PsychoForHire, Alan Gabriel. ** Well, that's all true, assuming you believe he was set up to be a competent villain in the first place. In the manga, that's perfectly true, and he is a competent villain. In the anime, it's fairly obvious that he was intentionally turned into comic relief. He starts out being effective because he's actually smart enough to dial down his own ego and commence his plans intelligently. Unfortunately, his ego takes control in later episodes, and his decay is quite noticeable. Also, it's rather blatantly implied that he really isn't fit to be a villain, and that his true genius is in building robots and neural {{AI}}s (which he remains shockingly good at, as lampshaded by Gabriel, and later by SuperRobotWarsZ). That said, the decay of the anime Beck is quite possibly justified. * The Knights of the Rounds in ''Anime/CodeGeass R2''. In their first appearance, they were shown as Britannia's elite force. Lelouch and the Black Knights were struggling when fighting only three of them (Suzaku, Gino, and Anya). But as episodes passed, they became easier and easier to incapacitate. Then, the show introduced more Knights, and after that, one of them is killed. Later, when [[spoiler:Suzaku does a HeelFaceTurn and gets a stronger robot, he becomes able to slice down his superiors in mere seconds.]] However, it's probably justified due to the LensmanArmsRace being in effect, where the {{Super Prototype}}s quickly become reverse-engineered and dated in the space of a few episodes. The Knights' demise could be explained because they didn't [[CantCatchUp upgrade their Knightmares enough]], but the fact that [[PluckyComicRelief Tamaki]] was shown to be more competent and badass, however, is ''not'' justified. ** This is an ironic example, as the rest of ''Anime/CodeGeass'' is quite good at avoiding Villain Decay. Any given battle is generally a toss-up, with the protagonists winning and losing a roughly equal number of battles, and almost every major villain getting in a victory or two. Cornelia is portrayed as both a highly competent tactician and fighter, the Glaston Knights are a force to be reckoned with, and Suzaku manages to win a ton of battles and lose very few. The climactic battle at the end of the first season is in fact ''[[TheBadGuyWins won]]'' [[TheBadGuyWins by the villains of the series]], while the protagonist is defeated, captured, and has his memories erased. ** They don't really decay all that badly. The only one that was actually slaughtered was number 12 (weakest) in a standard Vincent Knightmare rather than an AceCustom, and that was by Suzaku - higher ranked, geass sumper-charged to be able to push the normal human limits and in a *deep breath* Super-super-super-super prototype of superness that took the entire budget of the R&D department to develop, twice. The knight of one fights the same person, and holds his own very effectively until Suzaku's Lancelot just starts moving to darned fast for him to keep up. He previously managed to defeat the other Super-Prototype ace in a machine equal to the first lancelot, Xing-ke, without much effort. Anya never decayed so much as we didn't get to see her final fight, though it was against something that wasn't so much a knightmare as a small battleship, and her motivation to fight for brittania is the loss of her memories caused by geass, something her opponent could negate. Gino never really decayed in the slightest, managing to fight against the Lancelot Albion in a far inferior machine for a while. * Subverted in ''Anime/YuGiOh'' with Yami Bakura. Initially he's really just a side-villain, nowhere near a main threat, and no one really spends a lot of time on him - in fact, in the first season he's defeated by the sidekick in a sideplot while Yugi is busy with the BigBad. As it turns out, this works to his advantage, since it allows him to lurk around setting up his evil plans with no one noticing. By the time the final season rolls around, he puts all those puzzle pieces to work and becomes the season's Big Bad. * ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'': Viral was designed for this trope. In his first appearance, he nearly hands the heroes their asses, but in every further appearance he's defeated with less effort. Despite showing up with a new upgraded mecha each time, [[spoiler:he's eventually beaten by the humans' mass-produced mecha whose pilots don't even break a sweat. The reason for this, in-show, is because non-evolving beastmen can never match the constantly growing power of the spiral-powered humans. He [[RedemptionPromotion gets better]] after his HeelFaceTurn.]] * Interesting metaexample: in the ''Manga/SailorMoon'' anime the {{Quirky Miniboss Squad}}s, and MonstersOfTheWeek, grow less menacing and more comedic with each passing season. This did not hold to the manga. ** StarterVillain Jadeite started off a competant threat. He had powerful minions, [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomped]] Sailor Moon during their first meeting, and actually managed to succeed in getting away with human energy in one scheme, earning Queen Beryl's compliments. But right after that last event, things began to go downhill for Jadeite. [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Very downhill.]] Once he got HoistByHisOwnPetard for the last time, Queen Beryl [[YouHaveFailedMe "decommissioned" him for good.]] The rest of the [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Shittenou]] avoided the trope, with Nephrite and Kunzite never ceasing to be threats (though Kunzite slips when he gets his own arc), and Zoisite never being much of one to begin with so that he couldn't possibly decay (he always relied on [[DirtyCoward dirty tricks]] in order to be dangerous.) ** The Ayakashi Sisters in the manga are murderous maniacs, while in the anime they were merely misled and are granted a chance to live free in modern day Tokyo. The manga also had them capable of killing the Sailor Senshi with ease, something they struggled with in the anime. *** Having said that, the Akayashi sisters did display the ability to form plans in the anime, in the manga, all they did was show, beat their Senshi counterpart and then get killed by Usagi. [[TooDumbToLive They never seemed to pick up the fact they should AVOID fighting her when she kept killing them.]] ** Queen Nehellenia was still evil in the anime, but only because she was misled, and she was eventually redeemed and granted a second chance at life in ''Stars''. In the manga, she was evil incarnate (a spawn of Chaos), responsible for the death of the Moon Kingdom ''and'' the current calamity, and was destroyed by Usagi and Mamoru. *** Though Nehellenia does put up more of a fight in the anime than she does in the manga, though could mostly be attributed to the heroes being much weaker in the anime, and at the start of ''Stars'', she still manages to be a threat when she lures the Sailor Senshi into her mirror and nearly kills them. ** Inverted from manga to anime with the side story villain Princess Kagua. In the manga, she's briefly beaten after a fight that lasts one panel, in the movie adaption of the side story, she nearly annihilates the Sailor Senshi and actually beats Usagi's SuperMode. * The Gillian in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. When one makes its first appearance, it is a genuine threat, very scary, and only barely driven off by Ichigo and Uryu double-teaming it. By the start of the Arrancar arc, we've learned that [[spoiler:the Menos which Ichigo drove off is a mere soldier, and while dangerous, no threat to a captain class [[{{Shinigami}} Soul Reaper]]. There also exist the higher order Menos, the Adjuchas and Vasto Lordes, the latter of which far exceed any captain in ability. By the time of the Captain Amagai arc (possibly filler, or possibly a deleted storyline like the Forest of the Menos), the giant Gillian is a threat that can be destroyed by only five or six ordinary Soul Reapers; generally without even using their Shikai. (if they even have one)]] Sorta pathetic for a creature which requires the Special Royal Guards Squad to defeat. ** Plain ol' hollows were only dangerous for the first 15 episodes or so. Once Uryu shows up, it's shown that he and Ichigo can each take them on four at a time without much trouble. In the beginning of the Captain Amagai filler arc, Ichigo is up against over 50 hollows and uses his bankai (no mask, just bankai). Rukia chides him for unnecessarily wasting his spirit energy, though this mostly because Ichigo's grown much stronger over time. Hollows that were a threat in the beginning wouldn't stand a chance against him after that. ** Aizen picks this up in a different way than the Hollows do; when he first appears, he is a bona fide MagnificentBastard, having manipulated everyone for over a century to get his hands on the MacGuffin and pulverizing all opposition easily once it's time for him to make his move. When the Hueco Mundo arc rolls around, however, Aizen's lost most of his mojo and slid into SmugSnake territory. That said, he ''did'' manage to achieve CompleteImmortality before being beaten, so his ultimate fate was simply imprisonment as nobody knows ''how'' to kill him. * Orochimaru from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' suffers from some Villain Decay over time. In the Chunin Exam arc, he's too strong for any of the heroes to defeat, forcing the Third Hokage to sacrifice himself to save the village (which doesn't even kill him entirely). Then it's revealed that he lost to Itachi in the past while trying to claim his body, and in most of the battles after that, he's defeated easily or forced to retreat. This is partly because he [[WorfHadTheFlu he isn't always at full strength when he fights]], but it shows that he's lost much of his original threat. This was worst when he fought against Itachi (while fighting Sasuke) in the manga, and was defeated in merely a few pages. ** Also his minions from the Sound Village suffer from this, in Part 1, even the weakest of them including FillerVillain was a serious threat, and the Sound Four were so powerful that it took two of their opponents to give everything they had to kill them; in fact their leader was so strong that he would've won his fight if not for a terminal disease. when Part 2 comes around most of them (excluding those who join Hebi) are whiny wimps dependent on Kabuto. * Tarant Shank, the arguable BigBad of ''TenchiMuyoGXP'', decays very fast. In his first appearance he's portrayed as an extremely dangerous and unstable villain who nearly kills Seina, Mitoto, and Kiriko, and leaves Seina traumatized from the experience. However, his next appearance has him appear with a broken arm (revealed later to be from [[spoiler: fighting Tenchi and company off screen]]) and he quickly goes downhill from there; his plans are easily foiled by Seina's group, his ship is utterly destroyed, and his role as BigBad is supplanted by [[spoiler: Seiryo]] of all people. He makes a minor comeback in the final few episodes, but never quite manages to regain the same threat level he had in his original appearance. * The Trinity Siblings in ''{{Gundam 00}}'' may qualify. Their first appearance sets the group up as a very skilled fighting force, with them single-handedly rescuing the other Meisters from certain capture, and obliterating most of the Union's and Human Reform League's ranks. However, following this, they're systematically defeated time after time, even, in part, by faceless EliteMooks, until it culminates in [[spoiler: the resident CompleteMonster shooting one of them dead and effortlessly defeating the second, the third being handily saved by a timely intervention of her enemy.]] This can, somewhat, be justified, as they were caught off guard by both the Trial System's effects and the GN-X models, which were on par with Gundams, but the fact that they put up so little of a fight is still surprising. ** The other antagonists of the second season decay pretty badly by its second half. First, A-LAWS and then Ribbons' personal squad of personality-lacking bishonen initially appear as very threatening antagonists, repeatedly pushing the Celestial Being to the brink of destruction, but then decay to {{Elite Mook}}s, with A-LAWS eventually being demoted all the way to the status of normal {{Mook}}s that die ineffectually by the dozens in the final episodes. If we count things beyond sheer combat potential, Ribbons himself decays very badly as well: after being presented as a cunning MagnificentBastard who manipulated everyone for his own gain in the first season; in the second season he can't come up with anything better than making his puppets commit massive atrocities for no apparent purpose. This culminates with firing a WaveMotionGun in the midst of a space battle that wipes out his own A-LAWS fleet while doing little damage to the enemy, and then using a bunch of SuperMode-powered Mobile Suits piloted by {{Super Soldier}}s as suicide weapons. ** Ali Al-Saachez in Season 2, despite having become Ribbon's Dragon. It culminates in him getting shot in the face while attempting to pull an ISurrenderSuckers on Lockon II. This actually makes sense though, as most of the people he defeated in Season 1 were fighting at some sort of disadvantage, or, in Setsuna's case, were trained by Ali. * In ''MacrossPlus'', the X-9 Ghost Unmanned Fighter is a terrifying threat, capable of fighting off ''two'' {{Ace Pilot}}s, even though each is using their respective SuperPrototype against it. When the mass-production model of the X-9, the Ghost V-9 shows up in the GrandFinale of ''MacrossFrontier'', [[spoiler:under the control of the ''Galaxy'' fleet,]] they are reduced to mere EliteMooks, which can easily be taken on one on one by SMS's {{Ace Pilot}}s. They ''do'' slaughter the RedshirtArmy however. ** It helps that the [=VF=]-25 is far, ''far'' more advanced than the [=YF=]-21 and [=YF=]-19. Also the V-9s were under Slave control of the [[spoiler:Battle Galaxy (that is, Grace herself)]]. When Luca [[spoiler:released his own V-9 escort drones via the [=JUDAH=] System]], he made specific mention of them having become just as deadly as the prototype Ghost X-9. * ''GGundam'' has [[spoiler: Wong Yun Fat, the Neo Hong Kong Premier and sponsor of the Gundam Fight]]. He's an intelligent AffablyEvil MagnificentBastard with dashes of TheChessMaster, but as the plot advances and we get into the Battle Royale arc, [[spoiler: he gets [[DroppedABridgeOnHim two very undignified deaths]] that reduce his MagnificentBastard points so he can give space for the ''true'' mastermind, TheStarscream Urube Ishikawa.]] * A particularly jarring example is [[spoiler: The Shinigami Grell Sutcliffe]] from ''Manga/BlackButler''. Starts off as a supernatural serial killer with a magic chainsaw who also happens to be Jack The Ripper’s [[TheDragon Dragon]]. But once they took away his chainsaw he quickly devolved into the ButtMonkey. So much so that after a handful of episodes none of the characters view Grell any differently from the rest of the comic relief. * Hao from ''ShamanKing'' gets hit by this hard at the very end. A thousand years old, and controls the fundamental spirit of fire (That eats souls), willing to wait a long time for his plans to succeed and very calm and calculating. There was no way for our heroes to succeed in the final showdown, even with superior numbers. So at the end he loses his cool, calm and collected demeanor and loses largely because of that. ** In the ''ShamanKing'' manga, Hao really was unbeatable [[spoiler: and became the titular Shaman King.]] The anime had to pull a stock shonen ending instead of that, though, since the manga ending hadn't come out at the time, so they needed to make him lose, somehow. * Envy in the later parts of the ''FullmetalAlchemist'' manga. The guy who [[spoiler: killed Hughes]] and generally made life miserable for every protagonist, and he's kicked Ed's ass at least once. His last two fights are against [[spoiler: Marcoh, who uses his knowledge of philosopher's stones to decompose him (and before that he was just getting jerked around by [[BadassAdorable May Chang]], including [[AssShove getting a rock hand shoved between his ass cheeks]]), and Roy, who puts him through one of the worst [[CurbStompBattle curb stompings]] in manga history.]] ** Gluttony, after a brief moment of UnstoppableRage after learning that [[spoiler:Roy killed Lust]], is left on the brink of death after the first battle in Father's inner sanctum, forcing Father to restore him. In his next appearance in battle, Lan Fan is easily able to cut him to pieces, [[spoiler:and Pride decides that he'd be more useful if he ate him and absorbed his sense of smell]]. * Buggy the Clown and his crew from ''OnePiece'' spent their first appearance as a serious threat. In the manga, Buggy's first scene is him brutally killing one of his own crew members (he actually spares the guy in the anime.) But after Buggy's defeat, in all subsequent appearances he is portrayed as incompetent and having lost much of the "monster" in his status as a MonsterClown. ** What's worse is that he was once an apprentice pirate with Shanks in [[spoiler:The ''Roger'' Pirates]], and while they would seem to be of equal power or potential, Shanks seems even stronger each time we learn more about him (like being compared to Mihawk, and turning out to be one of the Four Emperors), while Buggy couldn't defeat one of Impel Down's [[EliteMook Blugori]] while Luffy effortlessly takes down five. *** A [[LampshadeHanging lampshade is hung on this]] when Luffy and the group of big-name former prisoners he was with him finally escaped Impel Down. At about this point, Buggy's past on the Roger Crew was revealed, causing [[WholesomeCrossdresser Emporio Ivankov]] to muse that Buggy is likely the 'disgrace' of the Roger Pirates. ** The Pacifistas. They're initially capable of fighting against the entire Straw Hat crew and more than a match for each of the Supernovas. Then, in the Paramount War, Boa Hancock is able to take down many of them, and large groups of Whitebeard Pirate {{Mook}}s can fare well against them. On the other hand, these groups ''are'' very experienced pirates (New World veterans, in fact), as opposed to 'rookies' like Luffy, and Hancock is [[spoiler:or probably was at the time]] much stronger than him. [[spoiler:After the TimeSkip, Luffy, Zoro and Sanji almost effortlessly defeat two of them. Then it gets subverted when Sentomaru mentions that those two were outdated models, and the Pacifista project has advanced even further in the last two years]]. ** Sir Crocodile, on the other hand, averts this hard. He is defeated by Luffy fairly early in the story, and despite the Straw Hats having become significantly more powerful since then, he remains a very dangerous and powerful man throughout - even in spite of being removed from Alabasta, where his element, sand, was abundant. His NumberTwo, Daz Bones, counts as well. ** Mihawk also averts this, mostly. His first appearance has him cutting ships in half with his {{BFS}} and blocking katanas with a pocket knife. The next time we see him, while Whitebeard and the Admirals appear to much stronger than he is, he has a brief fight with Luffy which Luffy quickly runs away from seeing that Mihawk is still too strong for him. * ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' has Kuno, who, in the very earliest portions of the story, is represented as some sort of deadly, even lethal threat to Ranma...up until his first defeat, after which, he was little more than a ButtMonkey even on his best of days, with Ranma BadassBack attacks leveling him. They don't even ''mention'' Kuno as being in any way threatening even to the untrained civilians of the cast. In fact, Kuno actually managing to disrupt the status quo and gain the advantage over Ranma via some PlotDevice is usually such a big deal as to be the focus of the episode. * Arguably, Giriko from ''Manga/SoulEater''. That is, the idea of a mad git with a chainsaw as a Weapon form does start out as a dangerous prospect, especially when he defeats the kids with no effort whatsoever meaning Justin Law had to step in (cue convenient example of the skill of a Death Scythe). Afterward, he spends too much time getting drunk and womanizing to be any kind of threat. ** Until Chapter 75 where [[spoiler:he shows up in the book of Eibon to [[CurbStompBattle beat seven shades out of the recently Death Scythe'd Soul Eater.]]]] * All those evil corporations, organizations and elite hacker groups seem pretty daunting at first in ''SerialExperimentsLain''. The knights were particularly presented as being high-level hackers. It has you rather worried for Lain, that is until we find out (MAJOR SPOILER) [[spoiler:that Lain has complete control of the Wired, which in its merging state with the real world, makes her God. Sayonara, Eiri! Knights: DELETED.]] * Kagura in ''Manga/InuYasha'' suffers this. She nearly overwhelms Inuyasha on her own in his first two fights with her, but a big contributor to that was his inability to use his Wind Scar supermove on her because she could control the air. When he gained the ability to use it whenever he wanted, he could take her easily. She was, however, still a tough enemy for the rest of the cast. What really killed her as a threat was [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil the constant popping up of villains stronger then her]]. * Minor example: Misa Amane in ''Manga/DeathNote'', who starts out as a typical GenkiGirl {{Moe}} {{Yandere}} PerkyFemaleMinion with moments of sinister AxCrazy creepiness. After she has her Death Note stolen (twice), she becomes a GenkiGirl {{Moe}} {{Yandere}} PerkyFemaleMinion ''without'' any moments of AxCrazy creepiness, and stays that way for the rest of the series. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that having one's Death Note taken away erases all memories that the owner had ever since owning it. ** Possibly played straight. In her first few episodes she's seen as a competent villain and legitimate threat even managing to [[spoiler: kill a member of the Kira investigation team and finding out Kira's identity]]. Once she [[LoveMakesYouDumb met up with Light]], she began to decay fast. * From Manga/RurouniKenshin, Isurugi Raijuta, as admitted by [[WordofGod the author himself]]. A fearsome swordsman possessed of [[GeniusBruiser "macho intelligence"]] and a [[SocialDarwinist belief]] that's on the opposite spectrum of the hero's...but in the final battle, he's revealed to be a cowardly fake, who's never actually killed anyone and gets taken out with one blow (and [[VillainousBreakdown completely broken]] afterwards). * In [[VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi Higurashi]] [[spoiler: Miyo Takano]] went from trying to kill Rika, and [[AGodAmI become God]], to [[spoiler: trying to use the real Hinimzawa Syndrome to become "Queen of the World."]] Though given that it was an OVA episode... * Manga/{{Haruhichan}} parodies this in episode 3 with Achakura leaving Nagato's apartment to kill Kyon. Her result for attempting such thing? A cat attack which causes Achakura to change her mind. * ''Manga/DragonBall'' has this trope, and it has happened within the series on ''numerous'' occasions to the point that it's practically procedural after a villain's initial defeat; To list every instance would need its own trope page. Within the span of episodes, villains can fall from being ridiculously lethal and dire threats to being utterly outclassed in every possible way. Likely [[JustifiedTrope justified]] by the fact that the protagonists' strength grows enormously throughout the series, while most other characters stay at around the same level. A rule of thumb is that after a villain has been defeated once before, they're chopped liver. It's taken to its extreme ''twice'': once in the Dragon Ball Z movie Fusion Reborn when entire scores of previously-killed villains from the original and Z series (and even a couple from the movies!) manage to escape from Hell and are effortlessly defeated by the much more powerful cast. Even Frieza, who was offed in a single attack. ** Frieza and Cell get hit the hardest by trope in filler episodes and the non-canon ''DragonBallGT''. Each of them took an entire saga to be defeated, and at the time they were more threatening and powerful than the rest of the cast by a ridiculously large margin. But after their time in the story's limelight ended and new threats took their place, Frieza and Cell would be handed their asses effortlessly. Frieza, on FOUR separate occasions, ate vicious curbstomp defeats, two of which were decided by a single devastating strike. Cell fares slightly better, but not by much; Pikkon one-shot him in Hell, and Goku effortlessly and simultaneously made Cell and Frieza look like clowns. [[/folder]] [[folder:Comic Books]] * Generally speaking, this has been a big problem for American SuperHero comics for a long time, due to their serialized nature and the constantly recurring villains. This was ''[[TropeCodifier especially]]'' a problem during the SilverAge, where writers like StanLee would have the villains openly say "'''This''' time my '''brilliant plan''' will '''work perfectly!''' And those '''pesky heroes''' will be '''unable''' to '''''[[NothingCanStopUsNow stop me!!!]]'''''" and whatnot without any sense of irony after having been clobbered multiple times already (and the reader was supposed to take the threat to the hero at straight face value, to boot). A lot of the accomplishments - and problems - surrounding American comicry from the 1970s onward can be traced in large part to attempting to combat Villain Decay while keeping the now-decades-old continuity running without having to constantly invent [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil new villains]]. * The Franchise/{{Predator}} extraterrestrial embodies this trope after being trounced by virtually every other comic book character in the industry. Despite the incredible awesomeness of the original ''AlienVsPredator'' comics, it later became a check-the-block for every character from {{Superman}} to JudgeDredd beat up a Predator at least once in their career. This trope is somewhat rationalised by the fact that the Predator's code of honor means they must look for a "fair fight." But let's face it: if someone wrote "Aliens vs. Predator vs. Terminator vs. Robocop vs. SquirrelGirl," [[CaptainObvious Squirrel Girl would win]]. * By far, SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker from the ''{{Batman}}'' comic book series. [[http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/comics101/46.html This page]] nicely details his periods of decay. Arguably, the same thing can be said for any other villain featured in the 60's show. 1973's "The Joker's Five Way Revenge" returned him to his original personality of scary sadistic madman. [[BronzeAge From]] [[DarkAge then]] [[ModernAge on]] there have [[TheKillingJoke been]] [[ADeathInTheFamily certain]] [[{{DCAU}} story]][[Film/TheDarkKnight lines]] that will ensure that the Joker may never suffer VillainDecay again if we keep going in this direction. ** Said decay, depending on which continuity you follow, has become a part of Joker's character: He can go from complete goof ball to CompleteMonster in an instant and, according to GrantMorrison, went through the decay because he likes to "reinvent" his act every so often. ** As to the 60's show, it actually ''reversed'' the Villain Decay of a lot of villains; it didn't cause it. Riddler and Mister Freeze in the show might seem goofy today, but prior to the show both characters had only appeared in a handful of issues and the TV series is actually what established them as major rogues. They might have been silly, but that's better than being forgotten and forgettable, plus no bad guy on the show was quite the HarmlessVillain they have been remembered as- it may have been light-hearted entertainment, but they ''did'' nearly kill Batman and Robin in various horrible and sadistic ways at the end of every other episode, after all. * Many villains of {{Crisis Crossover}}s suffer this if they are ever seen again. The Beyonder of Marvel's ''SecretWars'' is a good example. Presented as a mysterious and powerful cosmic being in the original maxi-series, he assumes human form and becomes mostly a joke in ''Secret Wars II''. One memorable scene involves {{Spider-Man}} teaching him how to use the bathroom. It doesn't help that his character was portrayed inconsistently throughout the second maxi-series and the [[RedSkiesCrossover tie-ins]]. In one tie-in, he's murdering the NewMutants (only to bring them BackFromTheDead later), in another he's consoling the Human Torch over the accidental death of a fan. It's little wonder that ''Secret Wars II'' is considered 'drek' by many comics fans. * The Marvel supervillain Abomination has probably lost more bad boy status than almost any other. Originally a {{Hulk}} villain, he started out up-powered even by the Hulk's standards, whomping him down in their first encounter. He then had some gamma power stripped, which was added to the Hulk, thus losing in their next encounter. He then suffered a series of beatdowns at the hands of the Hulk, leading to humiliating exposition as his character developed a fear of even encountering the Hulk anymore. But that was not the end of it. Over subsequent years, he became a chew toy to show how badass the lower bricks in the Marvel universe could be, taking solo beatdowns at the hands of both Wonder Man and She-Hulk. Oh, true, they ''pulled out all the stops'' in their demonstration of badassery, but the Abomination just can't get any respect, in spite of still remaining perhaps the physically strongest character without some quasi-infinite trick up their sleeve. ** He got a slightly better treatment in the ''Chaos War'' [[IncredibleHercules Herc]] [[BatFamilyCrossover family crossover]], where, after having been killed off a couple years ago by the RedHulk, he [[LikeABadassoutOfHell comes back]] as a servant for the BigBad [[EldritchAbomination Chaos King]]. After tearing through a team of Hulks, Comicbook/DoctorStrange states that he was "the Underworld's strongest prisoner". He's still dead again by the end of the story, but he definitely got some cred back. * Colonel Olrik of ''BlakeAndMortimer'' fame fits this trope to a tee. In his first appearance, he aided TheEmpire in bringing about WorldWarThree and successfully conquering the world. Understandably, his later appearances as a smuggler/thief/spy are not as impressive. ** Even when [[spoiler:said Empire's bloodthirsty dictator was brought BackFromTheDead via TimeTravel and Olrik joined him once more]] in ''The Strange Encounter'' he was little more than a thug. * The Hobgoblin from ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}''. [[http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/SquanderedLegacy/SquanderedLegacyPart1.html This page]] tells it all. ** Also, ComicBook/{{Venom}}, whose career as a psychotic murderer and Spider-Man's most frightening enemy ended the minute he decided to become "the Lethal Protector". *** It's so much worse than that. In Venom's early days, he was able to tango with both Spidey AND the Human Torch. Remember, he's weak to fire. In his first appearance, he almost KILLED Spider-Man. Fast forward about seven years. Spider-Man, in a bored nonchalant manner, sends him running scared WITH A LIGHTER. * In his first appearance, Doomsday was an ImplacableMan who weathered the combined attacks of numerous superheroes without much effect before he and {{Superman}} tore up half the city killing each other. In his second appearance, they were only able to stop him by [[spoiler: sending him to the end of time]]. Also, Doomsday has the ability to come back from the dead, now immune to whatever killed him in the first place. Apparently, Superman is now easily capable of defeating him alone, because he decided he needn't be afraid of him anymore. Or something. ** If we're thinking of the same instance, it was a one-off because [[spoiler: Doomsday had become intelligent, rendering him able to fear death. The intelligence was later removed, rendering him his previous un-psych-out-able self]]. ** This is actually about PowerCreepPowerSeep. When Superman fought Doomsday in 1992, he was in his least powerful incarnation since the late 40's/early 50's. Fans thought they had gone too far {{DePower}}ing him in the late 80's and wanted him to have some of his awesomeness back so Superman learned over the past several years that he had been [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech holding back,]] not allowing himself to be as powerful as he could be. If you read everything from 1992 through the early 2000's, it actually makes sense. There is even a reference to it in the story where Pa Kent reaches out to Superman spiritually during his near death experience and convinces Superman that he should stop artificially imposing human limitations on himself. His soul had not returned to it's intact body because he thought he was supposed to die. * The zombie Comicbook/FantasticFour from ''MarvelZombies'' were capable of overpowering Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Thor, and Doctor Strange. Later, all we needed was Ultimate Doctor Doom (controlled by Ultimate Reed Richards) to [[spoiler: kill them all]]. ** It's clearly established that they had surprise on their side at least partly -- plus a handy ability to [[ZombieApocalypse turn anyone they bit into zombies]], which evened the odds somewhat. * Marvel Comics' {{Onslaught}} initially appeared as beyond godlike and it took every superhero on Earth to defeat him. He made a recent return in which he was [[spoiler: defeated far more easily and sent to the Negative Zone.]] ** When he did come back, he was the subject of a low-selling mini where he was defeated by CaptainAmerica and some of the author's PetCharacters. Not very fitting for a guy who took on the Marvel Universe at one point. * Dr. Light in TheDCU. At first, he was tough enough to take on the whole Justice League, and then declines through the 1980s to the point where he is beaten by the kid ''non-powered'' superhero team, Little Boy Blue and his Blue Boys. ** This was explained/{{retcon}}ned in the infamous ''IdentityCrisis'' storyline as the League having given him what amounted to a psychic lobotomy via {{Zatanna}}'s magical powers after he had sneaked aboard the Watchtower and [[MoralEventHorizon raped Sue Dibny]]. He later recovered and went back to his threatening self...until TheSpectre turned him into a candle. *** After getting his memories back, most of his appearances gave him a faster variety of villain decay. ''IdentityCrisis'' was intended to turn him into a serious and intelligent foe for the JLA once more, but instead, he became a serial rapist who went on about how much he liked rape. **** His constantly reminding us of the rape thing is apparently intended to make him seem more evil, but it actually makes the decay worse: he used to be a C-list villain, but now he comes off as a C-list villain who ''desperately'' clings to having managed to hurt ''non-powered civilians'' in a way non-powered thugs in reality do with (very sad) regularity hoping someone will take him seriously. * Gepetto, the evil mastermind of ''{{Fables}}'' contracted a bad case of villain decay. He'd conquered and ruled countless realms for centuries, but after he lost the first couple battles of the new war, he became depressed and sat about moaning while his Empire fell to pieces, until the heroes came and took him to live in a nice new apartment in New York City. * {{Justice League|OfAmerica}} villain Prometheus was originally created by GrantMorrison to be the [[DiabolicalMastermind JLA's Moriarty.]] He was a [[CrazyAwesome psychotic]] [[CrazyPrepared anti-Batman]] who used a high-tech helmet to [[NeuralImplanting load information and fighting skills directly into his brain.]] He had an [[StartOfDarkness exceptional origin story]], [[HomemadeInventions built his own unorthodox weapons]], and he killed an [[EldritchAbomination evil interdimensional alien monk]] to steal his teleporter. Prometheus took down the Justice League in his first appearance (even Batman) and then...He became a {{Mook}}. [[RetCon Much later]], it was revealed that these appearances were his never before mentioned sidekick [[CostumeCopycat using his gear]] while the real Prometheus was imprisoned in his own mind (and, you know, prison). When he finally escapes, he [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge tracks down his sidekick]] and [[KillItWithFire lights him on fire.]] ** This was Lampshaded by the [[TortureTechnician Crime Doctor]] in ''ComicBook/BirdsOfPrey'' #94: -->'''Crime Doctor''': You know, Prometheus, I'm almost disappointed...When you first appeared on the scene, we were all mighty impressed. You carry the knowledge of the world's thirty greatest fighters in your helmet, Right? The point is, we thought you'd be a world beater. Then we heard Catwoman tore your manhood. We heard Hush made you his punk. ** Although that issue uses his VillainDecay to make it that much more shocking when he destroys [[FishOutOfTemporalWater Lady Blackhawk]], Huntress, [[{{Invisibility}} Mirage]], and [[BadAss Lady Shiva]]. ** James Robinson made him a real threat again in ''CryForJustice''. However, he was surprised when [[spoiler:Green Arrow shows up to kill him, despite Green Arrow having been a killer for years in continuity.]] * The recurring ''{{Tintin}}'' villains are ineffectual and ridiculous in their last appearance in ''Flight 714''. Former BigBad Rastapopoulos is reduced to playground banter ''with his intended victim'' over which of them is nastier, ''and loses''. According to WordOfGod, Rastapopoulos ''would'' have been more menacing...if only [[FashionVictimVillain his outfit hadn't ended up looking so utterly daft]]. Herge apparently took one look at his own sketches and was unable to see him as a serious threat ever again. * Herr Starr, in ''{{Preacher}}'', was actually genuinely menacing in his first appearance (and again in his StartOfDarkness). [[ButtMonkey That didn't last very long at all.]] Not even the fact that he [[EvilerThanThou frequently defeats other villains]] does anything to stop the decay - mostly because poor Starr just can't seem to stop losing body parts... * A rare example of a character suffering this at the hands of their own creator: Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, AKA The General, was an EnfanteTerrible that could have passed for the son of the Joker in his first appearance. His backstory has him ''burning down a building'' at the military academy where he was educated, not because the academy's bullies lived there, but because he was bored. He then proceeds to run away to Gotham with a bunch of guns, shoot rival gang members and law enforcement alike in cold blood, and lays siege to a police station with an ''army'' of gang members armed with ''rocket launchers''. Oh, and he also had the balls to ''smack Batman in the back of the head with a shovel, sending the Dark Knight plunging three stories down'', [[UngratefulBastard after Batman had just saved his life.]] All done at the tender age of 11. Later, when creator Chuck Dixon reused him in the LighterAndSofter ''Robin'' ongoing, he started acting more his age, began to incessantly quote military figures, and was generally PlayedForLaughs a lot more. * Allegedly CarlBarks of DonaldDuck fame claimed that Magica de Spell "demanded a strong plot", but later writers have had her go after [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck's]] lucky dime, again and again. She is now a VillainProtagonist in many stories focusing on new trinkets and gadgets she obtains for this purpose. As a result, her character has mellowed considerably over the years, moving into IneffectualSympatheticVillain territory. * In ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'', we get a good example of this trope in the EvilSorcerer Ixis Naugus. When originally introduced, he was an extremely powerful wizard with power over the elements and who sent Sonic and Tails on a wild goose chase around the world before being [[SealedEvilInACan banished to the Void]]. When he came back a few years later, he soon found himself reduced to Mammoth Mogul's [[TheDragon Dragon]], but was still threatening...at least, until his time as Dr. Eggman's prisoner destroyed his mind, leaving him a mindless beast Mogul kept as a pet. [[spoiler: But as of issue 220, Nagus has had his mind and powers restored by a Chaos Emerald wielded by his [[TheDragon apprentice]] [[FaceHeelTurn Geoffery St. John]], and has set himself up as the BigBad of the current arc. And so far, he's been doing pretty well for himself.]] ** Series BigBad Eggman himself goes through several instances of this--sometimes in-universe--he'd finally lost his marbles completely and stayed that way for most of a nearly year long story arc. He's largely recovered--both from the in universe decay and the meta version--by becoming the go-to 'event' villain. The last five years or so have involved Eggman launching tremendously huge attack that significantly alters the status quo--only barely being beaten--then hiding out or otherwise removing himself from direct conflict for a while while Sonic and co. deal with other, lesser (for the most part) villains, then launching an attack that once again significantly alters the status quo. *** Part of this is due to the writers taking away one of the main reasons he was a threat - his ability to turn people into robots. Then came Sonic Genesis where he [[spoiler:hit a "reset" switch that made it possible to roboticize again.]] While his whole plan didn't pan out [[spoiler:he got a consolation prize in the form of [[HeroicSacrifice Mecha Sally]]]] and the villain decay seems to be wearing off. * It's been brought up in-universe that Marvel villain Arcade has never succeeded in killing a superhero, even though that's actually [[CareerKillers his job]]. ** Justified though, as Arcade doesn't do it for money or out of spite, he does it because he loves the thrill of seeing the superheroes fighting out of his Murderworld amusement park. Now as to why anyone still bothers to hire him remains an untold story. ** The upcoming AvengersAcademy "Murderworld" event has Arcade frustrated by this. He decides to reclaim some cred by trapping a bunch of young heroes in Murderworld and force them to kill each other in a tournament ala TheHungerGames or BattleRoyale. [[/folder]] [[folder:Fan Fiction]] * In the beginning of ''FanFic/SnowAngels'', Disaster is introduced as an [[PhysicalGod almighty being]] capable of [[EldritchAbomination driving people to madness just by seeing it]]. For a short while the heroes (who include a [[TimeTravel time traveler]] and SufficientlyAdvancedAlien) actually have trouble fighting Disaster, but by the end of the first arc, Disaster has decayed so much that it's beaten up by perfectly-mundane schoolgirls. Ironically, Disaster is the same entity as [[spoiler:Sasaki]], so [[spoiler:she]] actually received an upgrade before the decay. [[/folder]] [[folder:Film]] * General Grievous in ''Franchise/StarWars''. Viewers' first look at Grievous occurs during the ''StarWarsCloneWars'' animated series, in which the cyborg took on six Jedi at once [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXQx_QLY8XM and completely destroyed them]] without much effort, [[EstablishingCharacterMoment establishing him]] as an unstoppable killing machine. However, the series' production team developed the character independently from the films' team. For Grievous's live-action appearance, Lucas wrote him as a significantly lower threat. The live-action Obi-wan faces a significantly weaker Grievous and dispatches him fairly quickly all by himself. The second season of the animated series attempts to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the discrepancy by revealing more of Grievous's evasive nature and showing how he received the injuries he displays in the live-action film. ** Just to give you an idea of the difference, in the movies Grievous was killed by being shot a few times by Obi-Wan while in the cartoon Mace Windu used his force powers to '''collapse Grievous's torso in on itself''' and Grievous ''lived''. * Grievous's decay has reached a new rock bottom in Season 4 ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars. [[spoiler: After not being able to tell that [[TheScrappy Jar Jar Binks]] [[IdenticalStranger wasn't the Gungan Boss]], he engages Captain Tarpals in single combat and though he kills him, he gets stabbed THROUGH by him, then pelted with the Gungan Armies weapons...and is finally captured.]] ** He manages to subvert this sometime, most noteably near the end of Season 4. [[spoiler: Dooku sent Grievous after his former [[TheDragon apprentice]], Asajj Ventress, who had earlier tried to [[MistreatmentInducedBetrayal take revenge]] on [[TheDogBitesBack him]] for betraying and almost killing her. Arriving on Dathomir, Grievous and his droid army tore through the [[AmazonBrigade Nightsisters]] and their ArmyOfTheDead. 'Though Grievous lost in his one-on-one fight with Ventress, when he realised he can't defeat her, he [[DirtyCoward had]] [[CombatPragmatist his droid army]] [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy shoot]] at her while he kept her lightsabers in a BladeLock.]] ** You know you're not the BadAss you used to be when one of your more impressive feats is [[CombatPragmatist pulling out a gun and shooting a Jedi]] while they were in a BladeLock. [[MultiArmedandDangerous With you.]] * BigBad [[{{Godzilla}} King Ghidorah]] went from being the most feared creature in the universe his VERY film debut to being TheDragon for a variety of evil aliens in the sequels (As well as being the result of [[BiologicalMashUp being three mind-controlled pets fused into one monster in one alternate universe]]). To make matters worse, he went from being a monster that took 2-3 other monsters to defeat and over 6 to kill to being EASILY blown apart by Godzilla with little effort. ** It doesn't help that he was portrayed as a '''hero''' in the film ''Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack''. That was due to ExecutiveMeddling more than anything else. ** And then there is Godzilla himself, who has suffered from this trope to an unbelievable degree, starting as a devastating monster representing the terrors of nuclear radiation, and was later portrayed as a child-friendly defender of the earth. * Film/JamesBond nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his SPECTRE minions were pretty threatening [[Film/DrNo the]] [[Film/FromRussiaWithLove first]] [[Film/{{Thunderball}} 5]] [[Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice times]] [[Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService that]] Bond fought them. But in ''Film/DiamondsAreForever'', Blofeld is reduced to stealing the identity of [[CaptainErsatz Howard Hughes knockoff]] Willard Whyte and hijacking Whyte's company to continue his plans. It's probably for the best that legal issues prevented Blofeld and SPECTRE from showing up again, although he does get a LawyerFriendlyCameo in ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', where he's dispatched in the unrelated opening teaser. Blofeld and SPECTRE also undergo VillainDecay in IanFleming's [[Literature/JamesBond original books]], but in a completely different fashion. ** In ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', Jaws is an unstoppable beast worthy of a slasher film. In ''Film/{{Moonraker}}'', he's a cartoon character. * Aliens in the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' series. [[Film/{{Alien}} The first installment]] was a horror film in space, with a single, nearly invincible alien stalking and killing the helpless crew of a spaceship. However, the sequel ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' was an action film, where a swarm of xenomorphs overwhelm a squad of space marines by virtue of sheer numbers. Since then, xenomorphs have increasingly been depicted as cannon fodder. The merchandise has further stripped the Alien of its mystique and creepy sexual undertones, being produced in all kinds of increasingly parodic forms (plush, Lego, superdeformed). ** The key thing to remember about the first ''Alien'' movie was that the body count was more due to the crew being helpless (having no guns, worrying about the Alien's acidic blood eating through the hull of the ship) than anything else. In ''{{Alien 3}}'', there was a similar situation to the first movie because the people again, had no guns. ** The swansong of the Alien came in ''AliensVsPredatorRequiem'', which featured a gigantic Predator-Alien hybrid engaging in a ridiculous, rubber-suited kaiju battle with a Predator. At that point, it was no longer a horror icon -- it was a cartoon character like Wile E. Coyote. *** ''Requiem'' displays this throughout, with the lone Yautja dispatching both hordes of Aliens and single Aliens (so ConservationOfNinjutsu is not in effect) with ridiculous ease. This may be due to the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, not exactly being big fans of the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' half of the AVP equation. At one point, the Yautja slices up an Alien, and then finishes it by squashing its head under his foot ([[FridgeLogic which should have cost him his foot, what with the acid blood and all]]). On the commentary track, the Brothers Strause snark "I bet all the ''Alien'' fanboys whined over '''that''' one!" [[SarcasmMode Way to respect your source material, guys.]] * Freddy Krueger of ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet''. In [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984 the original film]], he was the menacing personification of evil; over the course of the various films that followed he gradually became an increasingly camp wise-cracking court jester. This was reflected in his [[MisaimedMarketing marketing]] -- he cut an album of cheesy pop songs, guest-rapped on a hip-hop track about his antics, was rapped about in a different WillSmith track, and was subject to all kinds of tie-in merchandise including yo-yos. It took years and the return of Creator/WesCraven (in ''Film/WesCravensNewNightmare'') to address and attempt to reverse his decay. ** And in ''Film/FreddyVsJason'', he is completely upstaged by Jason as he only gets a single kill. *** Which brings up the hilarious irony that the film actually managed to make him scary again. *** FridgeBrilliance in that Freddy was weakened by no one dreaming and remembering him, so he resurrects Jason to spread fear. It works, he starts getting stronger (and helps in his single kill, he doesn't outright kill the guy). When he's finally at peak power and ready to relish his first true kill in years...Jason steals it, which makes Freddy ''VERY'' angry. * Megatron from the ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' live-action film series was the menacing SealedEvilInACan BigBad of the first movie, destroying whole cities and causing the only on-screen casualty of the movie. By the sequel, he's just TheDragon to the ''real'' BigBad, The Fallen, and more or less just argues with Starscream for the second half of the movie. This particular case of VillainDecay occurs over the course of one movie, as he is still pretty menacing at the beginning of ''Revenge of the Fallen,'' and [[spoiler: kills Optimus Prime]]. But then when the final battle scene rolls around, he doesn't even attempt to fight Prime to the finish, and pulls a VillainExitStageLeft. Presumably, the '''real''' final fight is reserved for the inevitable third movie. ** It doesn't help that in the novelization of ''Revenge of the Fallen'', he actually has a ''reason'' for working with The Fallen. And there's ''also'' a reason for his lack of fighting Prime, which is related to his reason for working with The Fallen. In the novelization, The Fallen promised to make Megatron a Prime, then when Optimus said that Primes are born, not made, Megatron swears off his allegiance to The Fallen and vows to never serve anyone again. It's one of the many reasons that the novelization (based on an earlier script with less jokes and more actual SENSE) is more well-received than the movie. *** ''Dark of the Moon'', full stop. [[JustifiedTrope Megatron is injured for the entirety of the film]], and spends most of his time commanding Decepticon {{Mooks}} from the sidelines while trying to peacefully watch [[spoiler:Cybertron about to be rebuilt]]. It takes [[spoiler:Carly, of all people,]] to spring him back into action, and while he does severly cripple (and almost kill) the film's BiggerBad, [[spoiler:Optimus Prime defeats him ''and'' said BiggerBad in a matter of seconds]]. Megatron doesn't get a single legitimate kill ''in the entire movie'', though this may have been because he knew that the {{Mooks}} were doing the job for him, and [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy he didn't want to risk worsening his physical state even further]]. ** The movie version of Starscream also suffers from this. He easily defeats two of the Autobots in the movie, and the prequel and expanded material made him out to be a very threatening character, beating the shit out of, sometimes killing, Autobots and other Decepticons. But in ''Revenge of the Fallen'', he spends most of the movie reduced to being a joke. *** Like Megatron, in the third film Starscream does not fare well at all, though he arguably got better than in the second movie, having ripped the Autobot rocket to shreds and completely obliterating an escort of Ospreys. **** This trope might as well be applied to the Decepticons as a whole. In the first film the underling Cons are clearly much more powerful than any Autobot that isn't Optimus Prime, taking tons of punishment and keeping on going. Brawl only goes down after taking concentrated fire from all the Autobots and the US military at once for at least 15 minutes, while Blackout is only downed by Lennox managing to get him point bank in a weak spot in his armor. Starscream is undamaged, despite taking on Ironhide and Ratchet and several Air Force jets at once, and simply leaves once his objective can't be completed. Prime meanwhile easily kills a regular Con, but is overpowered by Megatron. In the sequels Prime can suddenly hold his own against Megatron and fight off Starscream and Grindor at the same time, while the other Autobots can down Cons single handedly. The only Decepticons that seem to be serious threats are Devastator and Shockwave's snake thing. * The first time around in ''{{The Mummy|Trilogy}}'' Imhotep is a walking plague, causing fire to fall from the sky, hordes of locusts and rivers to run with blood. In ''The Mummy Returns'', he's just some guy with telekinesis who trades banter with an eight-year-old. * The Agents in ''Film/TheMatrix'' may qualify on the surface. They went from being the scourge of the virtual world and the most dangerous entity that could be encountered, to suddenly being little more than cannon fodder in the two sequels. ** Justified in that any Agents ''are'' cannon fodder, to Neo at least, now that [[spoiler: he gained EnlightenmentSuperpowers that assure victory against anyone other than [[OnlyICanKillHim his opposite]]: [[ImplacableMan Smith]], now rogue and different from any other foe]]. Trinity and Morpheus (among other rebels) scored draws, at best, against Agents in ''Reloaded'' and ''Revolutions''--and ''only'' when they had help and were very, very fortunate. ** Inverted when, in fact, you figure in Smith and his Agent origins. [[spoiler: [[AnyoneCanDie No one was safe]] inside the Matrix during Smith's RoaringRampageOfRevenge as a super-Agent, assimilating anyone, even ''other Agents''. ''Every sentient in the Matrix'' was believed to be corrupted by Smith, right down to his final opponent, Neo.]] But the Oracle's [[BatmanGambit deliberate manipulation]] of [[NietzscheWannabe Smith's nature]] ([[ThanatosGambit by sacrificing herself]]) coupled with [[ScrewDestiny Neo's persistence]], created a victory. * Some ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' fans felt the revelation in ''Film/HalloweenII1981'' that [[spoiler:Laurie was Michael Myer's sister]] took away the menacing mystery that made Michael such an effective villain. ** Michael himself also went from a mysterious, always-in-the-shadows lurker to a generic [[Franchise/FridayThe13th Jason Vorhees]]-esque slasher villain by the end of the series. In the first films, he killed only a handful of people, and only because they got in the way of him and his main victim. But in the later films, he was killing over a dozen people in each movie, seemingly for no reason at all. And often doing it with uncharacteristic flair and violence. *** Michael's SingleTear moment in ''Film/Halloween5TheRevengeOfMichaelMyers''. A perfect example of VillainDecay, if ever there was one. * In the first ''Franchise/JurassicPark'' movie, the T-Rex is an unstoppable monster, who can't be fought and only run from. He takes on the other villains of the piece in the final scene and kills them with ease. His face is the symbol of the franchise. In [[TheLostWorldJurassicPark the second film]], more of the same, only with a much higher body count. [[JurassicParkIII Third film]]? Hit by TheWorfEffect: Killed unceremoniously by a dinosaur most dinosaur experts say he should have been able to take apart with ease, even being replaced on the franchise symbol. Villain decay indeed. * The first bug we see in action in ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' withstands the combined fire of four mobile infantry before going down. Later on bugs are seen taken down by just a few rounds. Justified by in-universe research into how best to direct rifle fire; we even see a clip of a training film. * Discussed in-universe in ''Film/TheGodfather'' -->'''Sollozzo:''' [[WithDueRespect All due respect]], the Don, rest in peace, was slippin'. Ten years ago could I have gotten to him? * Admiral Zhao from ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' is a case of ''adapational'' decay. In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Zhao is shown as a DangerouslyGenreSavvy FourStarBadass. In TLA, he's a SmugSnake, needlessly antagonistic towards everybody (including [[BullyingADragon General Iroh]]) and seemingly desperately in over his head in his war plans (the scene where he [[spoiler: kills the Moon Spirit]], he seems more desperate than determined.) [[/folder]] [[folder:Literature]] * The CthulhuMythos: Once August Derleth got his hands on it, the greater {{Eldritch Abomination}}s started appearing everywhere personally and being repelled just as easily. Cthulhu was once sent back by ordinary explosives, for goodness' sake. Admittedly It did remain fundamentally BadAss enough that even a nuclear bomb couldn't actually kill It. But do you really need to, when you can [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu punch It out]] with anything every time it returns? ** With Cthulu, to be fair, in the original story he appeared, he's defeated by getting rammed with a boat. Needing a bomb to banish him is a big step up. * D.Metria the Demoness from the ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' series, started off as a fairly malevolent seductress, but with each subsequent appearance became less threatening, to the point that by the time she was "replaced" by her insane doppleganger, D.Mentia, she was Xanth's version of Mr. Mxyzptlk (The Superfriends version, at that). ** In more recent books this is justified by her having acquired half of a human soul, which gives her a conscience. She can still be mischievous, but is no longer malevolent. ** This is an example in part, I think, of someone the fans liked being made nicer in response. * In ''{{Tales of MU}}'', Puddy and Sooni start out as the ManipulativeBastard and the AlphaBitch, respectively, but are eventually reduced to being pathetic losers who struggle to keep even a couple people under their control. The worst aspects of the transition are probably a result of WebcomicTime: the change takes several months of real world writing time, but just a couple weeks story time. * ''HarryPotter'': ** A notable subversion of this trope occurs when Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy are presented as mere {{Jerkass}}es who like giving Harry and company hell for the first five books of the series, but at the beginning of book six, both are presented as high ranking members of Voldemort's army, the Death Eaters. [[spoiler: It does turn out however that Snape was a DoubleAgent for the Order of Phoenix, and Malfoy was incapable of coping with actually being evil.]] ** A straight VillainDecay happened to Lucius Malfoy. He is introduced as a sinister and cunning master-manipulator, who, while maintaining a benevolent and charitable public image, actively and ruthlessly pursued his ambitious goals, descending to threatening whole families and unleashing an ancient monster on a school. Next time he's just TheDragon, and after his failure and consequent fall-from-grace, he's reduced to an unnerved bystander with little to no involvement in the action. ** Voldemort. Initially described as a chilling evil Mastermind, following his official return in Book 4, his actions really caused a lot of readers to question how exactly he became the dark lord "Who shall not be named." His own paranoia was what made Harry TheChosenOne in the first place, he continued to use "the killing spell" on Harry in hopes of killing him, even though it failed to kill him each and every time, [[spoiler: and after finally having Harry at his mercy, he was somehow convinced by a simple lie that Harry really was dead by one of his minions who he had been treating like crap.]] * ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series features significant villain decay with regards to the Forsaken, the 13 most devoted human servants of the Dark One. Initially presented as uber-badasses from the Age of Legends wielding powers most modern people could not begin to comprehend and being trained as scientists, generals and geneticists, the Forsaken get defeated repeatedly by the present-day heroes. Partly, this is because the Forsaken's reputation got exaggerated during the 3000 years the spent [[SealedEvilInACan imprisoned]], partly it's because they lack the support network they had in their prime, but whatever the reason, there's still a big gap between their myth and the reality, which was one of Jordan's more anvilicious points in his series (the gap between hearsay and reality, specifically). ** Which is not to say that they're any less dangerous than the legends said. Their reputations were well deserved in the first place. Part of it comes from the fact that the present day heroes learned quickly that the Forsaken, for all their power and knowledge, are still only human. * The ''YoungWizards'' series averts this rather neatly, because a), the Lone Power has been defeated without great sacrifice a grand total of...once (and in a subsequent encounter, another aspect commented that that version of Itself was just plain ''stupid''), and b) because It exists [[PlaceBeyondTime outside of time, dipping into our universe wherever and whenever It pleases]], It can be decisively defeated in one place and simultaneously be an active threat elsewhere. * Sang-Drax from the ''DeathGateCycle'' series was introduced in the fifth book as a MagnificentBastard manifestation of the BigBad that could play [[AntiHero Haplo]] like a fiddle. While he's still cunning in the next two books, he gets a whole lot sloppier, downgrading him to a literal SmugSnake. He finally dies when [[spoiler: a room caves in on him. This isn't as lame as it sounds because said room was filled with magic that was antithetical to him, but still -- he really should have seen it coming]]. * [[Creator/JRRTolkien Tolkien]] often does this deliberately in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', but still puts the less-powerful villains in situations where they can get the upper hand. [[spoiler:Saruman]] goes from needing a massive army, a wizard, and more to stop him, to being somebody who could be defeated by a mob of angry Hobbits. Gollum is another example - he finds the One Ring to Rule Them All, and first uses it for murder and theft, but eventually crawls into a cave and uses the Ring's power to ''catch fish''. The Ring doesn't particularly care for this. In fact, this is one of the core themes of the stories, because EvilIsPetty it eventually loses everything that once made it great and noble. * In TheSilmarillion, this is explicitly canon for [[GodOfEvil Melkor/Morgoth]]. He starts out out-powering everything else in the universe except for {{God}} and being quite cunning to boot, but as the book progresses he is drastically weakened after squandering his power and getting {{Shapeshifter Mode Lock}}ed, and his cunning goes down the drain as he goes increasingly AxCrazy. * In ''TheLegendOfDrizzt'' there's Artemis Entreri after the first few encounters with him, as Drizzt no longer wishes to fight him, and at one point refuses to kill him despite the perfect opportunity. Also, Entreri is getting old, whilst Drizzt is still in his prime. * The ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series plays this trope intentionally with the overarching BigBad, Ma'ar. He starts out in the ''Mage Wars'' prequels as a frighteningly powerful, ruthless WellIntentionedExtremist who can rival Great Mage Urtho in sheer power. Even worse, he conceives of an amazingly effective MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning gambit involving hiding his soul in a pocket of the nether plane until a blood descendant learns to wield magic, at which point he [[GrandTheftMe steals the body]], destroying its original soul in the process, and embarks on a new plan to TakeOverTheWorld. As he is constantly thwarted over the centuries, however, his spirit becomes increasingly petty and narcissistic, and eventually he grows careless enough to sow the seeds of his defeat when he fails to destroy the soul of his latest possessee, An'desha. Also a case of divine intervention, as it turns out that the Gods were tacitly abetting his scheme because they needed his knowledge to avert a repeat of the Cataclysm 3000 years later. * Deliberately invoked and deconstructed with Cersei from ''ASongOfIceAndFire''. She started out as the puppet master behind King Robert and became one of the most feared characters in the series when she declared herself Queen Regent after his death...but promptly ran herself straight into the ground the second the checks on her power were removed. As the power went to her head, her schemes became less competent and more deranged over time, and while she was still somewhat feared it was more because she was psychotically unstable and overly trigger happy. Tyrion and Tywin managed to restore her somewhat, [[spoiler: but when the former removes the latter in a permanent way Cersei's schemes spiral completely out of control and end with her being imprisoned by the Swords and Stars, awaiting trial for adultery, incest, murder, and treason.]] ** This trope is played with when it comes to Cersei. At first she seems like the Big Bad skillfully manipulating everything, but we start to see the cracks quite quickly. Later books point out that the things attributed to her weren't her doing at all or were the result of a lucky break when more skilled people took the helm. In short, she had retroactive villain decay. * Matthew Luzon in the {{Petaybee}} book, ''Power Play''. Though he was supposed to do a live-to-fight-another-day sort of thing, he ended up just hiding and sending other people to do his dirty work. [[MegaCorp Intergal]] counts as well, especially in the [[SpinOffBabies Twins Of]] part of the series. Their attempts to reclaim Petaybee become less about Petaybee and more about [[ItsPersonal payback for losing it in the first place.]] * Happens to [[LivingShadow Lord Ombra]] in the series ''PeterAndTheStarcatchers''. In ''Peter And The Shadow Thieves'', all Ombra has to do is have his shadow overlap with yours, and immediately he [[YourSoulIsMine steals your shadow]], giving him full access to all your memories and turning you into an [[MindControl utterly obedient slave]] with no further effort or maintenance on his part required. In "Peter And The Secret of Rundoon" onward, he...can't. Being as Ombra in his first incarnation was ludicrously overpowered, it was a choice between Villain Decay or OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow. * ''InDeath'': This is mostly avoided by having a new murderer in each book. This still happened with Isaac [=McQueen=] in ''New York To Dallas''. He started out as a cunning pedophile who had never been caught and he seemed to avoid even being noticed in the first place...until Eve took him down as a rookie. She wasn't even out to arrest him, she was just questioning him on a matter that was not really related to him, and he attacked her when she wouldn't leave. Twelve years later, he escapes from prison trying to get {{Revenge}} on Eve and still seems untouchable. However, by the end of the story, he turns out to be a pedophile who has lost a lot of his intelligence, and his ability to make even ''basic'' decisions. Dr. Mira even explains that the 12 years in prison, having the power to make decisions taken away from him in that time, and breaking most, if not all, of his patterns in illogical ways have ''devolved'' him! * Series/{{Ewilan}}: when the Ts'liches were first introduced, they were described as the "ultimate predators" that only one man ([[BadAss Edwin]]) was able to defeat in a fight. As the story goes, Edwin goes from being able to defeat one of two of them in a fight, to defeat ''six'' of them at the same time. After that, their last appearance ends with the last of them being exterminated with ridiculous ease, with almost all character getting to kill one. [[/folder]] [[folder:Live-Action TV]] * Multiple instances show up in the various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series: ** The Borg are probably the most infamous example: they went from once-a-season super menace to routine issue over the course of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''.\\ \\ The truly interesting thing about the Borg, to begin with, was not so much their threat level (though that was high) as the existential challenge they presented to the mindset and worldview of the complacent characters. In their first appearance, Picard and the other Federation personnel seem to have trouble even ''comprehending'' the idea that this foe cannot be reasoned with, that there's ''nothing'' they can say or do that will move them, or that an enemy would ever be an enemy if he really understood them. The Borg '''did not care'''. Later they watered this down with the infamous 'Hugh' episode that reduced the Borg to just another alien race that can be persuaded by good will and proper effort. The Borg were supposed to be ''inexorable'', absent that they're boring. Several of the episodes focused on Seven of Nine in ''Voyager'', however, ''help'' this issue. Yes, Borg can get cute and cuddly again when separated from The Collective...but there are ''billions upon billions'' of Borg. And you'd have to free them ''all'' to beat The Collective. And at first a lot of them might not '''want''' to stop being Borg...so it isn't just as easy as "Hugh"ing them all.\\ \\ The VillainDecay of the Borg really began in earnest with ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'', with the introduction of the Borg Queen. The reason they were so tough to beat was because they were absolutely decentralized - there was no central locus. The Borg Queen served mainly as a way to personalize the borg threat (the producers recognized that it wasn't very thematic to have the ''Enterprise'' crew interact with an abstract HiveMind voice as the villain), but also as a quick fix to the movie's Borg problem.\\ \\ Oddly enough, before they started to decay, they actually got more dangerous, once they start desiring to assimilate everything and not just civilizations. Before a single ship had very little to fear from a passing cube. But of course, Voyager being only a single ship (and without a civilization to defend), this had to change, otherwise they could just fly through Borg space just fine, as long as they didn't settle any planets or develop superior technology. And with this desire only for large scale assaults out the window, Voyager had to deal with them constantly. Thus, they had to get easier.\\ \\ That's why TNG only had 6 episodes that dealt with the Borg - it was just too tough to keep the Borg a terrifying enemy and yet still come up with ways to defeat them. And since 4 of those episodes were in pairs of 2-parters, 1 of them didn't even require defeating any Borg, and in 1 of them they were introduced to the Borg by Q and thus only saved from destruction/assimilation by Q's intervention as well (a ''literal'' DeusExMachina), only twice in 7 seasons did the ''Enterprise'' actually defeat the Borg[[note]]In fact, of the two listed 2-parters, only one of them featured the actual Borg collective (the Borg in the other were part of a wussy, de-powered break-away group that had become infected with an Individuality Meme), so in all seven seasons of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', the Borg at full power were defeated precisely once, and then only barely, and on a technicality, to boot![[/note]]. Voyager had to beat them in about 15 different episodes and they quickly became paper tigers.\\ \\ The decay is later turned on its head in the later ''The Next Generation'' and ''Voyager'' relaunch novels, when the Borg effectively reestablish their handle as one of the greatest threats to the galaxy since...well, ''ever.'' In the span of approximately six months, they [[spoiler:kill Captain Janeway, destroy the planet Pluto, and launch a massive invasion in an attempt to completely annihilate every spacefaring civilization of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, the end result of which was over [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale 63,000,000,000 casualties]]. That's 63 billion for those of you who have trouble with zeros.]] *** A small justification is that the Borg aren't the only ones who can learn and adapt -- and Starfleet had so much more to learn and adapt to from Wolf 359 than the Borg did. It doesn't explain Voyager's ease, but it ''does'' help explain why Starfleet did so much better against the Borg cube in ''First Contact'' than what happened at the Battle of Wolf 359[[hottip:*:Listen to the comm traffic. The Borg cube in ''First Contact'' had notable damage ''before'' the Enterprise showed up, while the one at Wolf 359 plowed through a Federation fleet virtually unharmed]]. ** Likewise Species 8472, who were ScaryDogmaticAliens until "In the Flesh". ** The Ferengi were downgraded from serious threats to comic-relief pests after only two appearances. The Ferengi were ''intended'' to be major recurring villains, but over the course of several makeup revisions, the Ferengi went from impressive to goofy-looking. This probably has as much to do with the fact that when the Ferengi were introduced early on in ''Next Generation'', Gene Roddenberry was still involved with the production, and was trying as hard as possible to recreate the old series. However, characters that would have worked as villains in the much cheesier era of the original series just [[{{Narm}} inspired laughter]] in modern audiences. Also, all else being equal it's easier to make [[TheGiant tall guys]] look threatening than short guys. Roddenberry really wanted to have villains who are small in stature yet still dangerous, but it just didn't work out. Not that their status as [[StrawmanPolitical Strawman Capitalists]] helped much either. ** The non-canon TNG novels have {{retcon}}ned this in a rather interesting way by having the Ferengi intentionally disseminate rumors of the Ferengi's bloodthirsty nature as a calculated response to a perceived threat from the United Federation of Planets. Essentially, the Ferengi were so worried about first-contact with moneyless society that they hoped give themselves a fearsome image before the first meeting took place. In universe, when first-contact actually occurred, each side underwent almost total VillainDecay from the perspective of the other. ** Q turned from a frivolous yet dangerous omniscient being who nevertheless delivered some important {{Aesop}}s to Captain Picard, to a lovesick puppy who goes to Captain Janeway for advice on parental relationships and conflict resolution in the Q Continuum. Q really was one of those characters who were a case of DependingOnTheWriter, especially in TNG. He's creepy and borderline sadistic in "Encounter at Farpoint", then campy and unwittingly annoying in "[=QPid=]", then he's back to being sinister in "True Q". It's debatable whether or not he was even actually a villain, considering how many times he (sometimes indirectly) helped Picard and the crew. ** The Dominion in ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' suffer heavily from this trope as well. In Starfleet's first military encounter with them, three of the weakest Dominion fighters [[spoiler:destroy the ''Galaxy''-class USS ''Odyssey'', ostensibly one of Starfleet's most powerful ships, with relative ease]]. However, by the end of the show we can see ''Galaxy''-class starships destroy the Dominion fighters ''in one shot''. By the time of the Dominion War, Starfleet ''had'' developed defenses to the phased polaron beams that the Dominion Ships use, and [[TookALevelInBadass upgraded their weapons]]. They turned the ''[[GlassCannon Galaxy]]''[[GlassCannon -class Explorer]] into the ''[[MightyGlacier Galaxy]]''[[MightyGlacier -class Battleship]]. Precisely why the Dominion belong on the VillainDecay page, and not on FridgeLogic. The Dominion continued to be a serious threat right up until the final battle of the Dominion War. Often, however, one side in an all-out conflict undergoes villain decay as the natural result of a long, drawn-out struggle. Vichy France, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany all underwent their own separate decay at different points in the war. * After seeing how much respect the Borg lost during his writing stint on ''Voyager'', Ronald D. Moore rather neatly avoided the trope in his remake of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''. The villainous Cylons are only sparingly used as a direct threat to the heroes, and typically when the heroes do beat them there's some kind of price. However, one particular Cylon, Caprica-Six has [[BadassDecay decayed rather badly]]. Given she was only in one episode (the miniseries), where she performed one {{mercy kill}}ing and lectured Baltar and that was it, and then wasn't seen again until the late second season where she followed through on being sad at taking a baby's life by regretting the holocaust in its entirety and missed a man she from the beginning cared about, or why else bother to save him, she didn't have much badass to decay anyway. ** During the "Pegasus" arc and the second-season episodes that followed it, the basestars in particular were almost completely downgraded (to the point that, if the Pegasus launched a head-on attack with its cannon, it would utterly destroy one). This removed a lot of the series' tension. In a late season 2 episode, the Pegasus destroys one Basestar and holds out against ''two'' more for several minutes while the acting captain waits for a critical system to be fixed. This decay makes the Pegasus' [[spoiler:sacrifice]] in season 3 all the more illogical. *** Not really; aside from the fact that both ships are very clearly undermanned, due to most of the crew colonizing New Caprica, it was also explicitly mentioned that the Pegasus left its entire fighter complement behind to protect the civilian ships. This would be like an aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Add to that there were a lot more than just three Base Stars. And the fact that in the aforementioned episode, the captain wasn't exactly waiting patiently for the ship to be fixed---it was an emergency situation that they needed to get out as soon as possible because they were losing the battle and minutes away from being completely destroyed. * Almost every season of ''PowerRangers'' begins with the villain being replaced by a new one -- because after forty episodes of losing, the old villain doesn't seem as cool. ** Special mention goes to Serpentera who goes from destroying a planet, to being ineffective because the bad guys don't know how to keep it powered, to destroyed by a motorcycle (albeit a motorcycle from god). * Pretty much inevitable for any of the recurring villains on ''Series/DoctorWho''. ** This was the fate that befell the Doctor's greatest enemies the Daleks after 16 television stories, four cameos and countless appearances in other adaptations, especially when their creator, Davros, began to dominate the stories. They were later made more menacing again; in 1988 they were given the ability to fly, and for their 2005 return in "Dalek", they were given new abilities, such as a [[DeflectorShields force field]] and the ability to crush a man's head using the plunger arm. However, they may be falling back into this, going in their more recent appearances from one being defeated by its own self-loathing, to a fleet being defeated by a DeusExMachina, to millions being defeated by [[ReversePolarity reversing the polarity]]. On the other hand [[spoiler:three Daleks, later two Daleks and a Dalek-Human hybrid take two episodes to destroy.]] Because of this, it seems the Daleks suffer from some variation of [[ConservationOfNinjutsu the Inverse Ninja Law]]. The more there are, the easier they are to defeat. *** The numbers of the Daleks making it more likely for the Doctor to figure out a way to stop mostly occurs because a few individual Daleks can be let to run around for an episode or two and kill [[RedShirt red shirts]] before the Doctor finds a way to stop them. If there's a lot of them, they'd destroy the Earth if left around. Consider that when we have a fleet of Daleks at the end of season 1 of the 2005 series, the nearly destroy the Earth, and at the end of a season 2, we see an army of them would have leveled London at the very least if the Doctor took any longer than he did. ** This was even lampshaded by Steven Moffatt, who commented that they had lost to the Doctor "400 times" (this was probably exaggeration, but he does have a point as the Daleks have only won ONCE over the past few years). For this reason he is temporarily retiring the Daleks, probably for a good couple of seasons. Considering that they have appeared ten times since the show's revival, it's certainly fair enough. ** Also in ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Master particularly suffered from this, with many writers simply using him as a convenient bad guy with little motivation beyond being "eeeevil". The trend arguably started from his very first appearances, since he appeared as the BigBad in every episode of Season Eight of the classic series, which arguably diluted his effectiveness right from the off. He always allied with another evil power, which then betrayed him, forcing him to work with the Doctor. Over his many appearances in both classic and new series, writers have tried most of the tricks above to avert Villain Decay, including threat escalation, frequent EnemyMine plots, AlternateUniverse victories, and having him murder the family members of series regulars. Probably for the same reasons that the series itself has been so long-lived, despite succumbing to VillainDecay several times over, the character somehow keeps bouncing back as a MagnificentBastard. [[spoiler: The new series attempted to correct this both by giving him a plausible motivation - complete insanity - and by showing how BadAss he could be; not least by stranding the Doctor at the end of time itself, becoming [[PresidentEvil Prime Minister of Great Britain]], massacring a tenth of the population of Earth and all in all being a rather MagnificentBastard before the Doctor managed to [[ResetButton undo everything]].]] ** The Cybermen were ''Doctor Who'''s most {{egregious}} victim of this trope. In Second Doctor Cybermen stories, they were powerful, some might say too powerful. That may be a good reason they weren't used for the entire Third Doctor run. When they were brought back at the beginning of the Fourth Doctor era, they were given a weakness: gold dust would clog their chest units and suffocate them. All well and good, until someone misinterpreted that to mean that gold itself was their weakness. In ''Earthshock'' it wasn't so bad, as only one was killed, and that weapon (Adric's badge) broke and was unusable. Despite their gold weakness not coming up in ''The Five Doctors'' and ''Attack of the Cybermen'', they were still killed in heavy droves by Rassilon's tower's defenses, the Raston Warrior Robot, and even human weapons. The weakness returned with a vengeance in ''Silver Nemesis'', however, treating us to the wonderful sight of Ace killing Cybermen with gold coins fired from a slingshot. The Cybermen seen that come from a parallel Earth do not have this weakness, and the ones from this universe that returned in the new series were no longer defeated that way (although one flagship was entirely destroyed by the Doctor as part of TheTeaser of "A Good Man Goes to War"). ** This trope was one of the reasons why the Mandragora were not used in a story in ''TheSarahJaneAdventures'' as it was felt they would be defeated "too easily" (and so were replaced with the Ancient Lights). * In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', the Turok-Han (ancient ugly vampires) of Season 7. The first one that shows up beats Buffy all by itself, but by the end of the season everyone is hacking them down left and right. [[BadassDecay Spike starts out as one of the most feared and dangerous vampires Buffy has ever encountered. By season 4 he's a joke -- he's the actual butt of the joke in many scenes.]] He becomes less of a joke over seasons 6, 7, and Angel season 5, but never reverts back to being a villain proper. ** Plus the Vampires themselves, who constitute a major threat in the first season, becoming progressively weaker until finally they're just a bunch of wussy mooks that even ''Xander'' has roughly even odds of killing in a fair fight. This was briefly ZigZagged in later seasons where Riley had to become a SuperSoldier just to keep up, but overall in both Buffy and the spinoff, ''Series/{{Angel}}'', Vampires went from "Major threat that requires an incredibly superhuman girl to be born every generation just to deal with them" to "A random passerby can take one out with a pencil". They're still treated by the characters like they're a major threat, but the actual quality of the threat tends to be far inferior to how much they act like it's a threat, as exemplified by their strength being wildly inconsistent; sometimes being portrayed as being far above any normal human's and at other times they can be easily overpowered and restrained by a young (non-Slayer) woman who can't weigh more than 120 pounds. * Nicole Wallace of ''LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' started off as Moriarty to Bobby Goren's SherlockHolmes, which made her getting nailed in her return appearance so satisfying. Then she was brought back in increasingly ridiculous ways, to the point where she was closer to a supervillain than her original anti-Goren persona. ** The Villain Decay reaches its nadir in her final appearance, in which [[spoiler:she's just a RedHerring for the real villain, who ''kills her offscreen'']]. * The Source of All Evil in ''Series/{{Charmed}}'' went from an angel-winged, black cloaked, seemingly omniscient entity, to a big guy in a black cloak who tried to kill the Charmed Ones with about as much success as every enemy before [[spoiler: although he did become the only character to succeed in having one of the sisters permanently murdered, but that may have been defined above as during his first phase]], and being severely wounded by one renegade demon throwing fireballs at him. Eventually he lost not just the wings but the menacing hood as well and revealed a goofy face before dying, and it was revealed that The Source of All Evil is a transferable title. The new ones? Were ''never'' threatening. ** Any and all demonic threats in general suffered from villain decay; early demons, albeit being a MonsterOfTheWeek in most cases, were a threat to the sisters individually; later on, when all-purpose vanquishing potions were produced by the gallon, they were mere nuisances most of the time. Perhaps this is why villains in later seasons consisted of [[spoiler:one of the Elders who supposedly oversaw all "good magic," beings capable of removing people from reality at their whim, and finally, other witches.]] * Scorpius in ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' managed to remain a MagnificentBastard throughout the second and third seasons, thanks in large part to the writers letting him achieve total victory in the second season finale. The third season thus became about the heroes trying to reverse their earlier loss. However, by the end of the third season the show introduced a new villain who served as Scorpius' superior, and the first few episodes of the fourth season saw him apparently lose all his fearsomeness, [[spoiler: with Grayza and Braca dragging him around on a leash like a dog, occasionally forcing him to lick Grayza's boot!]] For a time, he even looked as though he was becoming one of the heroes, with the only concession towards his original [[MagnificentBastard magnificence]] being somehow able to get himself (begrudgingly) accepted as a part of the hero's crew ''even though'' he freely admits that his goals and motivations haven't changed a jot since when he last tried to kill everyone. And then the whole descent into mediocrity turns out be a subversion: [[spoiler: not only does he backstab Crichton so masterfully that it takes him two episodes to figure out what happened, but he manages to neatly counter Crichton's attempt to backstab him back. He's even pretending to be a double-agent for the Scarrans, fooling ''the Emperor himself'' into believing that Scorpius had been employed by him for years. For good measure, it turns out that Braca was on his side after all, and the "dragged around on a leash" thing was just another part of Scorpy's masterplan.]] ** In the first season, the early-on BigBad was Bialar Crais, the senior local Peacekeeper who was chasing them because he blamed Crichton for his brother's demise. He is usurped (and ruined, professionally) by Scorpius at the end of Season 1 but reappears later and becomes (uncomfortably for all) a semi-crew member due to his symbiotic relationship with Moya's child. *** Harvey (the neural clone of Scorpius inside Crichton's head) was specifically introduced to avoid this trope. This way Scorpius could appear as a constant threat without downgrading this menace by having Crichton escape at the end of the episode. *** The clone itself was subjected to extreme villain decay when the chip that generated it was removed from Crichton's head. While it did survive this, it lost all ability to control Crichton, and its personality degenerated from an exact clone of Scorpius to something that bore at least as much resemblance to Crichton. *** Grayza began to suffer decay as the Scarrans became the main villains of season four- and ended up kidnapped by them due to her own gullibility. Particularly blatant was the revelation that [[MauveShirt Captain Braca]]- who she'd supposedly enslaved with her infallible pheromone glands -- was actually still working for Scorpius; he went on to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome personally remove her from command]] to prove it. And just to rub it in, her command carrier was retaken by Scorpius, who'd recovered from ''his'' bout of villain decay. * Shows up quite a bit in the ''StargateVerse''. In the interest of fairness, it does have to be granted that there's a [[JustifiedTrope justification]] for aliens suffering some decay, in that part of the SG teams' ''missions'' is to ''promote'' Villain Decay; that is, a large part of the purpose of the Stargate program is to go forth and find out what's out there, and ways to defend Earth ''from'' those threats. If they were at all successful, Villain Decay was simply the logical extension of their success. ** ''Series/{{Stargate SG-1}}'' fits this trope like a Goa'uld hand device. The Goa'uld were introduced as merciless, brutal and could effortlessly obliterate Earth as well as having a firm grip on much of the galaxy, held back only by in-fighting caused by their lust for power. When our heroes encounter just a small group of Jaffa, they manage to escape in one piece if lucky. But as the series progressed they became a bunch of arrogant, scheming, childish fools with a [[TheNapoleon Napoleon complex]] and their mighty Jaffa armies become [[LoweredMonsterDifficulty P90 fodder]]. Their flanged voices sounded cool and creepy when spoken slowly and calmly, but sounded ridiculous when they put any real emotion into it. By the end of the series, a Goa'uld encounter is just an inconvenience as our heroes have bigger fish to fry.\\ \\ In the original movie, the heroes only fought one Jaffa one-on-one (well, two or three on one, really) and then only really survived because Daniel ringed down in the exact right place at the exact right time. Since that's not exactly a viable tactic for an ongoing series, the Jaffa get progressively wimpier as the show goes on. Free Jaffa, however, seem much more badass than their enslaved counterparts, partially because there are fewer of them, and therefore the writers don't have to worry about tipping the scales too much. ** The Replicators, on the other hand, largely avert this trope, as each time the heroes meet a bunch of those things, it has required an even more insane plan than the last one to merely stall them. Trapping them in a time-stop bubble (they escape), sending then into a black hole (escape too), finding a ancient-made BFG specially designed to destroy them (become immune) and friggin' finally, using a weapon that can fry the entire Milky Way to destroy them all at the same time once and for all. Their Asuran brethren in ''Atlantis'' required a similarly insane plan to put them down once and for all. ** The Wraith in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' also went the way of the Goa'uld, as first the Atlantis Expedition develop a retrovirus to turn Wraith into humans, but then get reduced to in-fighting amongst themselves over dwindling food (read: human) resources. The Wraith lost their powers to cause hallucinations after their first appearance. Even though they can regenerate from wounds quickly, their scab-masked grunts quickly become just so much [[LoweredMonsterDifficulty cannon fodder]]. Back around "The Lost Boys" (season 2), it was a difficult prospect for a small team to infiltrate a Wraith hive; by the later seasons ("The Queen" or "The Shrine"), the good guys are almost nonchalant about walking into Wraith territory. This wasn't helped by the introduction of the new {{Big Bad}}s on the block, the Asurans (who were really just the Replicators, but ''less'' threatening). ** Among their human opponents, Harry Maibourne starts as a menacing KnightTemplar, then winds up doing a semi HeelFaceTurn and eventually just gets PutOnABus. * Adam Monroe, formerly BigBad of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' season 2. When he returned in Season 3, he was downgraded from a MagnificentBastard to comic relief. ''Then'' he was killed off by the new villain, [[spoiler:Mr. Petrelli]], in an EvilerThanThou moment. Oh, and all this took less than ''two episodes'', possibly setting a new record for 'fastest villain decay ever'. ** Likewise, Maury Parkman was originally toted as "The Nightmare Man", someone ''worse'' than Sylar. As an experienced psychic, he managed to [[KickTheDog put a little girl into a coma]] and [[MindRape continually mess with the heroes' heads]], until he was defeated in a [[CallingTheOldManOut close confrontation with Matt]]. Come Season 3, he is passively following the BigBad's orders, right til he [[spoiler: objects to Petrelli ordering Matt's death]], and has his neck unceremoniously snapped in ''another'' EvilerThanThou moment. * Mr. Sweeny on ''NedsDeclassifiedSchoolSurvivalGuide'', to the point where [[spoiler:he doesn't rat Ned out in the finale for sneaking along on the field trip. He leaves him stuck in that tree...]] "but do tell me how your day turns out." ** This is somewhat justified by the fact that Sweeny was never really "evil" in the first place. Ned just thought he was, and as the series progresses, Ned stops portraying him as an evil scientist and more as a strict teacher who helps him out from time to time. * Dr. Smith on ''LostInSpace'' may be one of the most iconic examples of this trope. He was originally a dangerously intelligent saboteur attempting to kill the Robinsons, but by a few episodes in he had deteriorated to complete pest/buffoon status. Early attempts at character development soon puttered out, and he became simply annoying comic relief. * ''WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'': [[spoiler: The mummy wasn't nearly as badass in "Wizards vs. Werewolves" as he was in the "Chronicles of Moises" arc, and his defeat was ridiculously easy.]] * Ben Linus from ''Series/{{Lost}}'', through a mix of SortingAlgorithmOfEvil and CharacterDevelopment. In seasons 2 and 3, he comes across as the ultimate in [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastardry]] (and he's still got most of those skills), but season 4 saw the introduction of his arch-nemesis, Charles Widmore, a guy that Ben is actually afraid of, and the conclusion of season 5 reveals that Ben [[spoiler:has been the [[BigBad Man in Black]]'s unwitting pawn all along]]. Adding to that, circumstances saw Ben becoming the Losties' TokenEvilTeammate from season 4 onwards. But in this case, VillainDecay doesn't preclude being awesome, thanks to Ben's always-entertaining approach to solving problems and Michael Emerson's award-winning performance, and despite working with the Losties for three seasons he doesn't actually make a HeelFaceTurn until [[spoiler:season 6's "Dr. Linus"]]. * Brad Bellick of ''PrisonBreak''. CorruptCop and SmugSnake in season 1, he serves as the main antagonist there and was quite cunning. He becomes much less of a threat in season 2. When season 3 sets in, he's completely ''pathetic'', being the lowest of the low in Sona prison and being treated like shit by everyone. In season 4, he joins the protagonists and pulls a HeroicSacrifice. Everyone mourns for him, apparently having completely forgotten what an utter bastard he was in the first season. * Partly due to SeinfeldIsUnfunny, Jerri Manthey in ''{{Survivor}}''. She was seen as the original survivor villain mostly because she was the first to be called that. (Richard Hatch is probably more of the "original" survivor villain) She was actually booed off the stage in ''All Stars'', yet years later after the likes of Boston Rob controlling the game, Russell Hantz sociopathically pushing his way to the finals and ''admittedly'' griefing his fellow players, Jonny Fairplay lying to get a sympathetic advantage, [[StrawFeminist Ami Cusack]], and players like Naonka, Corrine, and Randy just being a JerkAss...When Jerri showed up on stage in ''Heroes vs. Villains'' and wasn't like ''any'' of those, people actually ''applauded'' for her. ** Coach in between ''Tocantins'' and ''Heroes vs. Villains'', although that was more of realizing what he did wrong in ''Tocantins'' and improving in ''Heroes vs. Villains'' into a legit threat. Also helped that [[SpotlightStealingSquad people were actually surprised he was there in Heroes Vs. Villains cause the camera was just perpetually on Russell.]] ** Jonny Fairplay went from the notorious liar of ''Pearl Islands'' to first voted out in ''Micronesia'' because he wanted to be with his wife and daughter. (He wasn't lying!) * Omen on ''DarkOracle''. In Season 1 he managed to be TheBigBad, even with his powers sealed. In Season 2 he returns with his powers unlocked...and is demoted to being a flunky of Blaze and Violet. He's still dangerous, but Lance and Cally have bigger fish to fry, and simply aren't scared of him anymore. In the end, he's reduced to a rather pitiful figure who [[spoiler: pulls a HeelFaceTurn to help Cally and then dies]]. * A brilliant example of TropesAreNotBad from ''TheWire''. In the first season the Barksdale crew ruled the West Side of Baltimore. By the third season, they were in a tit-for-tat and being matched by independent drug lord who had no backing and was young and inexperienced. Marlo's ruthlessness surprised even Avon but it went beyond that, particularly with the collapse of Avon and Stringer's friendship where the cracks could be seen as early as the beginning of the second season. ** It was also thoroughly justified since most of Barksdale's muscle and key lieutenants were put in jail at the end of season 1. Without them, Barksdale has to try to run a criminal empire only using guys that were lucky enough to avoid the mass arrests, too unimportant for the police to bother with, or inexperienced newcomers replacing the old guys. [[/folder]] [[folder:Professional Wrestling]] * JohnBradshawLayfield. Remember when JBL was the longest-reigning WWE Champion in the history of ''[=SmackDown=]!''? Yup, nobody else does, either. * Averted with The Great Khali. Although he ''was'' marginalized a bit following the loss of his World Heavyweight Championship to {{Batista}} late in 2007, Wrestling/{{WWE}} managed to keep him sufficiently menacing up until his HeelFaceTurn a year later....and ''then'' [[RedemptionDemotion the decay set in]]. * Also averted with Umaga. Although he did lose three consecutive pay-per-view matches in early 2007 after having previously gone undefeated for nearly nine months, he managed to remain a dangerous (if hardly ever successful) villain right up until his death in 2009. * Vladimir Kozlov. Like Umaga, he managed to go for the better part of a year without being pinned until ShawnMichaels finally defeated him in early 2009. Within months, however, he and Ezekiel Jackson were playing second fiddle to William Regal, who was ''himself'' a pretty pathetic villain. His standing eventually fell so far that [[RedemptionDemotion by the time he turned face, he was spending most of his time with Santino Marella in a comic-relief (if occasionally successful) tag team]]. * Played straight and then subverted with Montel Vontavious Porter. He was the longest-reigning United States Champion in the title's 33-year history until MattHardy finally won it from him in 2008. From there he began a long slide into irrelevancy, until by the fall of that year he was stuck in a months-long losing streak that made you forget he had ever been at all competent. But this eventually proved to be a blessing when [[FailureHero the crowd began to cheer him out of sympathy]], resulting in a HeelFaceTurn and a long-denied victory when he won a match that enabled TripleH to participate in the 2009 Royal Rumble. He then went on to be just as successful as before, even defeating Shelton Benjamin to become United States Champion once again. * [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] with {{Edge}}. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship in December 2007 (which he had never lost, as it had been stripped from him earlier that year due to an injury), he decided to safeguard his title by forging a strategic relationship with ''[=SmackDown=]!'' General Manager Vickie Guerrero. Although at first he only ''pretended'' to fall in love with her, as time went on he [[BecomingTheMask genuinely became enamored with her]] and transformed into a [[SissyVillain slightly effeminate character]] who swooned over Vickie every chance he got. In any event, the strategy was an enormous success: Edge had Vickie set up numerous scenarios in which his chief rival, TheUndertaker, couldn't possibly win, and persuaded her to have 'Taker banished from WWE entirely. Edge proposed marriage to Vickie in the summer of 2008, but the ceremony ended in disaster after it was revealed that he had been cheating on Vickie with AliciaFox, the wedding planner. Vickie told Edge that she hated him, which led to a brief period of CryForTheDevil as Edge begged Vickie for forgiveness. But Vickie would have none of it, and decided to avenge herself further by having Undertaker reinstated to WWE and booking him against Edge in a Hell in a Cell Match at [=SummerSlam=]. This turned Edge into a wild-eyed coward who didn't believe he could win the match without help, and so he sought advice from MickFoley on how to win a Hell in a Cell Match. Foley flat out told Edge that he was going to lose the match, because ever since he had fallen in love with Vickie he had been a complete sissy.... ** ....which briefly galvanized Edge into regaining some of his {{Badass}} status by murmuring [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech "I....understand"]] - and then [[HesBack climbing a ladder and elbow-dropping Foley through a table]]. * For the Divas, Molly Holly. This two-time Women's Champion was forced to undergo a protracted HumiliationConga that lasted almost a year after WrestleMania XX, when Victoria defeated her in a match, strapped her to a barber's chair, and shaved off all her hair. Eventually her hair grew back, but things only got worse for Molly when [[FauxActionGirl Stacy Keibler (of all people!)]] pinned her in ''three consecutive matches''. This was truly the beginning of the end for Holly, because if someone so inexperienced could pin a former champion [[RuleOfThree three times]], then who ''couldn't''? It wasn't long before "Mighty Molly" wasn't so mighty anymore - indeed, was a complete joke, losing ''every single match'' more or less regularly before finally leaving WWE. ** Her problems began back in 2002. When she did her Heel Face Turn, she totally revamped herself as a self-righteous prude and never got any heat because she was always easily silenced by the hot girls she ranted at by them just taking their tops off, leaving her with her jaw hanging open in shock. It didn't help that Molly wanted to play it as a comedy character, intentionally wearing the most matronly-looking outfits possible in situations where something sexy was called for. It got still worse when WWE unleashed the infamous "Molly's got a big butt" angle and was made into a complete joke, even though she was Women's Champion. WWE eventually realized they made a mistake and had her temporarily Take A Level In Badass in 2003. * Happened at an alarmingly fast rate with the recently returned Tensai. He went from a true menace, defeating John Cena AND CM Punk(In a handicap match, but still...), two of the WWE's top stars, but within a matter of months, became nothing more than a big man for underdogs to prove themselves against. [[/folder]] [[folder:Tabletop Games]] * The Necrons of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are an interesting case of this. When first formally introduced, they were supremely enigmatic horrors serving even more horrific beings, known for mysterious harvests of life, unknown plans, and ridiculously advanced technology. Fan perception of them quickly made them {{Omnicidal Maniac}}s to the public eye, and they began to be perceived as a race-wide CreatorsPet. The 5th Edition Codex has resulted in a serious hit to the Necrons' previously unknown and unstoppable nature in favor of shifting the focus towards the Tyranids and Chaos as the greatest threats facing humanity. ** This happens all the time in W40k. Whenever a new army is introduced, they start as existential threats to the entire setting for a year or two and then decay into just another faction. The orks started off as a galaxy wide tide of death and destruction but degenerated into pub brawlers over time. Tyranids also started off as unstoppable, galaxy-devouring horde of alien locusts but their impending, full-scale invasion and eating of the galaxy kept getting delayed and delayed and then the tyranids inexplicably adopted an "attack in small numbers" strategy that made them less of a threat to the setting. ** This is invoked half-deliberately and half-facesave. When introducing the new armies, they were very excited and wanted to pump them up, even if it didn't make any sense. However, if they actually took their own word seriously, it would atomically spell the end of the game: there's only so many times you can say "Uh...the Eldar fixed it with an ancient artifact" before the fans start to look elsewhere. Thus, they simply damp down the new kids once they get established. ** Then on a smaller scale you have some of the lords of Chaos. Abbadon the Despoiler is probably the number one offender. He is supposedly the heir to Horus and carries the title of Warmaster of Chaos, as well as the favor of all four Chaos Gods. However his Black Crusades seem to end in defeat more often than not, or at best as a stalemate. One can argue on whether or not it's his fault but the community at large now looks at him as a bit of a joke, earning him the nickname [[FanNickname Failbaddon]]. ** The Chaos Space Marines themselves have been suffering from this. The BigBads of the setting are meant to come off as being SuperSoldiers that also possess powers granted by [[GodOfEvil Gods of Evil]] and are the Imperium greatest and most feared enemies. Problem is, writers trying to find ways to make the setting "darker" generally consist of making the Imperium increasingly StupidEvil, which makes taking the Chaos Space Marines seriously harder as to why they beaten it, leading to more reasons why that ultimately make the reason why they can't beat the Imperium is because they're even more StupidEvil in addition to being massively ChaoticStupid. * In general [=RPG=]s manage to avoid this problem by having a chance the heroes will die in any appropriate conflict, and will generally kill or otherwise completely defeat the villain. On the other hand, any game with leveling up will see a great many enemies go from a serious threat early on, to being completely ineffective in a few levels. [[/folder]] [[folder:Video Games]] * Bowser of the ''[[SuperMarioBros Mario]]'' series does this depending on the type of game. In most of the main platformers, he is shown as a genuinely powerful threat to the Mushroom Kingdom (and in ''[[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy Galaxy]]'', the ''entire universe''). In the sports spinoffs, he is the TropeNamer for GoKartingWithBowser who is actually on friendly terms with Mario. In the [=RPGs=], barring the first ''VideoGame/PaperMario'', he is upstaged by another BigBad while he provides comic relief. Played with in ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story]]''. He goes through his usual VillainDecay like he always does in the [=RPGs=], but it establishes him as a legitimate {{Badass}} at the same time. ** King Boo. LuigisMansion: BigBad. Most other Mario games: average villain serving Bowser. LuigisMansion2 might reverse this though. ** The Big Boo got less impressive (and sometimes less ''big'') over time, so the series kept having to make up new Boos (YoshisIsland included relatively ''tiny'' Big Boos, and a new boss called [[UpToEleven '''BiggerBoo''']]. NewSuperMarioBros2 introduced us to Boolossus, who not only takes up half the screen, but still feels the need to '''cheat''' by peeking through his hands when you're facing him. * [[SonicTheHedgehog Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik]] went through this starting with ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', which is when he started to get into his habit of releasing [[SealedEvilInACan sealed evil in cans]] and constantly [[AesopAmnesia failing to learn]] that EvilIsNotAToy. In nearly every game since ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', he started to be constantly upstaged by the game's BigBad while he is forced to help the heroes defeat him. ''VideoGame/SonicColors'' managed to get him back into the spotlight by having him refrain from trying to unseal an evil and made him go back to using his MechaMooks to destroy Sonic [[spoiler:and attempting to mind-control the entire Earth]]. * VideoGame/SonicGenerations plays with this: At first, the BigBad just seems to be a pretty generic EldritchAbomination, and Eggman's role is reduced to being a mere victim. [[spoiler: But in the end, it turns out the Time Eater was really a robot piloted by the Eggmen all along. Yes, Eggmen, [[MyFutureSelfAndMe plural.]]]] * The Space Pirates from the MetroidPrime series get hit ''hard'' with this in ''Echoes''—after being the [[BigBad driving menace ]]of the first game, they are abruptly downgraded into a [[GoldfishPoopGang recurring nuisance]] to Samus— but this can be justified by the game wanting to play up the threat of the Ing and Dark Samus, and the fact that the Pirates on Aether were a small, marooned colony that got many of their crew killed or Ing-possessed. * [=LeChuck=] from the ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland'' series. In the first game he is quite creepy, as is his ship and crew, a bit very LaughiblyEvil. By the third game he has been Flanderized into a rather humorous albeit sadistic character who enjoys hurting Guybrush for the hell of it. * TalesOfMonkeyIsland furthers this even more, and after the intro he's transformed into a genuinely nice guy who Guybrush is suddenly worried about Elaine legitimately falling for. [[spoiler:Then the end of chapter four manages to reverse four games worth of decay in a few scenes, and [=LeChuck=] manages to revert into the evil bastard he used to be and makes him more of a threat by having him actually kill Guybrush.]] * Wily and Sigma of the original ''VideoGame/MegaMan'' and ''[[VideoGame/MegaManX X]]'' series. They started at world domination and thus couldn't up the ante, they were obligated to never win a single token victory except perhaps during the intro mission, every game had them unleash a new wave of greatest minions ever who would fall like dominoes, and the biggie is that they used roughly the same approach (8 robot masters and a fortress, give myself a robot body, and maybe try to [[HijackedByGanon make it look like someone else is the villain at first]]) in every game in the entire series and were defeated singlehandedly by the same person every time. On the plus side, they got a new "more evil" true form every time. ** In ''X6'', Sigma can barely string together coherent sentences ("JUSDIE, Zelllllllloooooo!!!!!"), and is more of a robotic hunched-over zombie who can actually be knocked ''down'', not just back. On the flipside, prior to X6, Simga's schemes seemed to get more evil each game. In X3, when Dr. Doppler comes up with a cure for the Maverick Virus, Sigma turns him evil, along with Mavericks he cured. In X4, he causes the Maverick Hunters and an army called Repliforce to go to war with eachother, creating a very morally ambiguous plot. To top it all off, he comes close to destroying the Earth with a big laser weapon, which X and Zero fail to stop, and is only stopped by the leader of Repliforce, General sacrifice himself. In X5, he makes a scheme to turn Zero maverick by crashing a Maverick Virus infect space colony into that Earth that would cause KT impact esc damage in the process, and depending on the plot of the game, he succeeds and also wipes out most life on Earth in the process (X6 goes assuming the colony did crash into that Earth, but Zero not going Marvick). In all endings, he nearly kills X, and appears to kill Zero. ** Wily's decay was {{lampshaded}} by Mega Man at the end of ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'': Wily, defeated, begs for his life as usual, and Megs shows him a hologram of Wily doing the same thing for the past ''9'' times: -->'''Mega Man:''' ''[[VideoGame/MegaMan1 This is where you first went wrong!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan2 Then this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan3 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan4 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan5 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan6 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan7 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan8 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaManAndBass And this time!]]'' ** Wily may actually be a subversion, though, considering he creates [[spoiler:TheVirus]], which plagues the X series long after his death. Plus, in the current timeline, his robots have gotten harder to defeat. * The ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi Mario & Luigi]]'' games bring us Fawful. [[TheDragon Right Hand]] of the main villain in the first game, in the second...he sells badges in a semi-secret shop ranting about how he'll have his revenge on Mario and Luigi one day, which happens in the next game in the series. ** Notably Fawful completely averts this trope by the next game as he returns as the BigBad, becoming more a threat than he was before. * Dracula in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series has been thrashed by the Belmonts and their friends more times than can be [[JustForPun Counted]] ([[Series/SesameStreet vun hundred and fifty two! Vun hundred and fifty three! Vlah ah ah...]]), usually only a brief time after his resurrection, meaning he rarely has ''time'' to do anything particularly evil. He was finally, perhaps wisely, retired in the ''[[CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Sorrow]]'' series...and ironically replaced with new villains who seem a whole lot more inept and ineffectual than Dracula himself ever did. After all, they are ''canonically'' Dracula wannabes. ** There's also Slogra and Gaibon, which debuted as powerful bosses in ''VideoGame/SuperCastlevaniaIV'' (albeit made waaay too easy by all the food between them) then had found their way down to [[DegradedBoss mid-range Mook status]] by ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin Portrait of Ruin]]''. Before that, they were a weak boss pair in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight Symphony]]''. * In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', Sephiroth was an extremely menacing BigBad - a phantom, unstoppable killing machine cutting a swathe of death across the world, always one step ahead of the heroes, and all while manipulating Cloud into a TomatoInTheMirror from within his own mind; all so he can simply [[MoreThanMindControl mind control]] him into giving him the ArtifactOfDoom ''right after'' putting six feet of steel clean through his ally in a single strike. With a smirk. [[ManipulativeBastard What a bastard!]] But in subsequent appearances, all he seems to do is appear out of nowhere with [[OminousLatinChanting his theme song blaring]] to deliver a HannibalLecture and kick the hero's ass for a while before he gets owned. Again. What really makes this worse is that in the original game, Sephiroth didn't care about Cloud beyond his use as a puppet. In fact, he didn't even ''recognize'' him when they met. Then in later appearances, he's completely obsessed with Cloud to the point of having no other motive than to defeat him (save for the ''KingdomHearts'' series, in which ''Cloud'' is the obsessed one, though with the lack of motivation from his original game.) ** ''DissidiaFinalFantasy'' seemed to play around with this. He actually starts out wanting to control Cloud as a puppet...and it grows into a FoeYay-tastic obsession by the last time you fight him. For that matter, all the villains in ''Dissidia'' suffer a decay in one way or another. They go from being the ultimate evils in their universes to just servants of another slightly more ultimate evil. Plus the chaotic storyline really limits their plot roles. Sephiroth, for instance, doesn't seem interested in doing much of anything beyond just taunting Cloud. He has the goal to become a god but his mindscrewing with Cloud seems to have nothing at all to do with that, yet it takes prominence for him. * ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' has a strange example. After confronting the party in Bevelle and revealing his motives, Seymour becomes a [[ThatOneBoss more powerful threat]] gamewise. But storywise, the party brushes him off as completely nuts and [[GoldfishPoopGang stops taking him seriously]]. In the end, Tidus' reaction to Seymour's final appearance inside of Sin is a simple annoyed "Don't you EVER give up?" * [[spoiler:Ashura]] of the ''SaGa'' series. In the first game, he is the penultimate boss. In the second game, he is the first major boss of the game, and it can be a pretty challenging fight. By the third game he's just a normal boss. * The HK-50 droids in ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic 2''. In Peragus, one droid was able to make the entire mining colony its bitch over a few days. Than a squad of three of them showed up at Telos and jobbed against the hero, before finally three more were defeated by [[NonActionGuy T3-M4]]. * The original Big Core of the ''{{Gradius}}'' series has undergone significant Villain Decay; while the original game's bosses were almost nothing ''but'' Big Cores, bigger and more powerful Bacterian technology in subsequent games slowly phased this boss out until, in ''Gradius V'', it became a regular, if large and heavily-armored, enemy. * [[spoiler:Vizier Khilbron]] (a.k.a. the [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Undead Lich]]) and Shiro Tagachi were the {{Big Bad}}s in the first two chapters of ''GuildWars'', and each of them made a challenging opponent at the time. But when they show up again in Chapter 3, ''Nightfall'', even the two of them teamed up are merely just another speedbump on the way to the new Big Bad, Abaddon. * Maleficent from Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' was [[TheManBehindTheMan to a degree]] the main villain of the original ''Franchise/KingdomHearts''. She was also a very respectable villain in the prequel, ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]]'', which showed how she begun her rise to the power she had in the original game. When she is revived in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' she only can control Heartless, is left plotting in a wreck of a castle as opposed to the magnificent one she had in the original game, and has only one loyal servant left... ''[[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Pete]].'' However, this is often {{lampshade|Hanging}}d, and by the end of the game she seems to recapture her former glory by [[spoiler: conquering Organization XIII's castle once Xemnas is destroyed.]] ** Sadly, ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsCoded coded]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance 3D]]'' set her back even ''further''. She at first ''looks'' imposing in ''coded'', breaking Data Sora's digital Keyblade even! But her plan then ends up easily thwarted, she gets crushed by a superpowered Darkside, and she retreats alongside Pete with the main characters hardly caring about letting her go like that. In ''3D'', she's a blatant BigBadWannabe, who only appears in one scene before being driven away, and it's clear no-one's scared of her anymore. ** Even Maleficent had it easy compared to Jafar. In the original ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'', he had a notably prominent role in the Disney Villain group, often interacting with Maleficent directly. In ''Kingdom Hearts II'', he gets ONE scene and an ensuing boss battle, and then dies. ** Ansem and Xemnas, {{Big Bad}}s of ''Kingdom Hearts'' and ''Kingdom Hearts II'' respectively, are reduced to mere pawns of Master Xehanort in ''3D'' and now {{retcon}}ned as having followed his plan all along. *** Considering that they're various incarnations of the same guy and Master Xehanort himself states that [[spoiler:him [[GrandTheftMe bodyjacking Terra]]]] [[CrazyPrepared was just one of many roads]] [[GambitRoulette he could choose to take]], the duo being {{Demoted to|Dragon}} CoDragons is quite justified. * In ''VideoGame/SystemShock 2'', SHODAN went through this trope herself. After the hacker "destroyed" her in that showdown on Citadel Station, SHODAN hibernated on the computer system within the garden grove on Citadel where her experiments, the Many, were created. Her pod was ejected from the Station, and after three decades, it crash landed on Tau Ceti 5. Then, SHODAN's creations thrived, and since she was out of commission at the time, while they were thriving, they grew rebellious and plotted to turn against their own creator: SHODAN herself. So, she aids you as you dispose of the Many, even though she threatens and insults you. SHODAN, however, stopped fitting into this trope after you finally exterminate the Many. Then, she plans to merge her power with the Von Braun's Faster Than Light travel drive, so that she could combine the cyber world with the real world, allowing her to change reality as she sees fit. SHODAN leaves you for dead, and then you fight her. And once you think you've defeated SHODAN for good... * In {{Capcom}}'s ''ResidentEvil'' franchise, Oswell E. Spencer is the prime example of this trope. In the beginning, he was the one pulling all the strings. He was the leader of Umbrella Corporation. He was the one who was responsible for all the terror and destruction that the T-virus caused. But after the constant thwartings of Umbrella's schemes, and the deaths of some of its most prominent workers, and especially after Chris and Jill destroyed Umbrella's T-ALOS project, Umbrella went bankrupt, and the authorities were aware that Umbrella was behind it all. Spencer then became a fugitive, losing everything. ** From a gameplay standpoint, this applies to [[RecurringBoss Nemesis]] in ''ResidentEvil3''. He's at his worst during the first fight, where you don't have much to go with in terms of items, and he's in the form that has the fastest and hardest-to-dodge attacks from the start. Subsequent forms have him with his trademark rocket launcher, which can attack at a distance, but makes him unable to grab Jill, and repeated shooting at him throws his aim off, and if they hit, the rockets don't hurt as much as his grab. By that point, you already have access to the Magnum or the Grenade Launcher, too. This is actually a recurring process, where he gets progressively slower in his attacks and you amass more powerful weapons and ammunition, making each fight easier than the last. By the end of the game, [[AnticlimaxBoss poor Nemmy is a joke]]. * ''VideoGame/BubbleBobble'': Super Drunk, the FinalBoss of the first game, returns, [[DegradedBoss degraded and easier]], as the first boss in a sequel, ''Bubble Symphony'' (aka ''[[OddlyNamedSequel Bubble Bobble II]]''). He even has a patch on his hood to show for it. * Arthas in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. In ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} III'', he starts out as a paladin with potential who is the only person to really beat the Scourge (he was supposed to, but the guy in charge of them didn't know that). Then he turns into a death knight and is presumably even stronger. Kicks some ass in Frozen Throne while fighting with some rather major handicaps. Merges with Nerzhul to become the Lich King, making him even smarter, stronger and upping his magical abilities. Apparently Blizzard realized this made him an [[VillainSue unstoppable one man army who could probably take the world over by HIMSELF,]] so all throughout the latest ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' expansion he makes one huge mistake after another, looks like a total moron and kills his followers who are actually rather competent (one took down the Drakkari empire by manipulating you) instead of you. Oh, and he's also done nothing of importance over the last...what, ten official years? Something like that. He's really good at making himself lose. ** He seems to keep you alive simply out of his own amusement. He kills the troll guy whom you've already defeated and pretty tells you "Good work tricking the guy that tricked you. I'm gonna let you live now because that amused me. Come up with something like this again and I may let you live." ** In the cinematic after defeating Arthas in Ice Crown Citadel, Arthas reveals the whole point of allowing the players to live and defeat his lieutenants and defeat HIM was so he could kill/resurrect them as his NEXT batch of lieutenants. What, the Ling King doesn't have enough power - he can only support enough Big Bads to fill a raid with? ** [[spoiler:And apparently, this was "intended". In the next raid, [[TheObiWan Uther]] speculates that Arthas' piss poor attempt at war is the only thing keeping the Scourge from rolling over Azeroth.]] ** Kael'thas in ''Magister's Terrace''. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that he's been resurrected since killed in Tempest Keep and the process didn't go too well for him. It still feels weird to be fighting such a big name character with five people and then cut off his head to hand in to a quest NPC, but it feels even weirder that [[FlunkyBoss Priestess Delrissa]], [[TurnsRed Vexallus]], and [[ScrappyLevel every trash pull in Magister's Terrace]] were by far trickier affairs than the prince -- much less that his second phase could be soloed by any self-healing class ([[BladderOfSteel given enough time]]). ** Happened to the entire race of Ogres. In VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} they were {{Lightning Bruiser}}s who beat things to death with [[ElementalPunch firey fists]]. They could even be upgraded into Ogre-mages, [[MagicKnight magical powerhouses]] with [[GeniusBruiser super intelligence]] and the gamebreaking spell Bloodlust. By VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft ogres were slow, almost always used weapons instead of GoodOldFisticuffs, and the super intelligent Ogre-mages were speaking in YouNoTakeCandle. *** It sort of got better as World of Warcraft progressed. Burning Crusade featured the Ogre clans united under Gruul the Dragonkiller, himself a horrifyingly powerful and nearly God-like figure amongst the Ogres. His names comes from the time he killed off dozens of Black Dragons(a previous big deal enemy to the player) by picking them up and slamming them into the spiked landscape. Cataclysm features the return of Cho'Gall, who puts the Magi in Ogre Magi as an insane cultist leader with a ton of eldritch abomination powers. He also makes good use of the remaining Ogres as muscle. *** Speaking of black dragons, their leader Deathwing, avert this trope completely. He's initially just a minor character in in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, and the Day of the Dragon novel elevates him by giving him a backstory that says he's a fallen demigod and gives him ChessMaster qualities. By the time he actually makes a return to the games in Cataclysm, even though it's made clear he's TheDragon to a the [[BiggerBad Old Gods]], he becomes even more a threat since they made him even stronger and allowed him to nearly destroy the world. *** The Burning Legion are arguably hit worse than Arthas. Formerly set up as the BigBads of the whole series, WoW has them DemotedToExtra and rarely to do we see anything they do perceived as a big threat. Somewhat justified since a bunch of their high ranking members are dead, but to put this is in perspective, they're overshadowed by the Undead Scourge, an army they created. * ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'': ** Magus. The first time you fight him is a complex affair of constantly shifting [[SuperEffective weak points and debuffing his defenses]]. He lasts long and hits hard enough that you will probably have to actually reference the inventory you probably only previously used to chug potions out of combat. The second time, he -- with none of his stats changed since then save a slight drop in Defense -- [[DuelBoss gets soloed]] by Frog, Lucca, or Marle. He joins your party later, and since GoodIsDumb, has been dropped down to your stats and has to relearn all his spells. He still arguably manages to remain a {{Badass}} in spite of this. *** To be fair though, he did just get much of his power drained by [[EldritchAbomination Lavos]] by the time you get the chance to solo him. Hence, having to regain things like his nuke-level spell Dark Matter. ** The Tyranno. It's called Black Tyranno when you first meet it, but if you find it again in the InfinityPlusOneSword search quests, it has decayed into Rust Tyranno. Actually a subversion, though, as this version is somewhat stronger than the previous one. * All the final bosses from the ''FatalFrame'' series could fall under this category. Through all three games the {{Big Bad}}s will come chase you down every once in awhile, during which the player can't even get an option to attack them and it's an instant kill if they so much as touch you. Suddenly though in the end you can fight them back. Rather easily even. ** The Kusabi suffers this a bit in the third game, where he returns as a boss but loses his OneHitKill abilities. On the other hand, he gained flight and a huge amount of speed, making him a much more terrifying opponent, so...maybe it evens out. ** Reika from ''III'' [[SNKBoss laughs at this trope]]. She actually got a fair bit ''more'' powerful for her final fight. * In ''Left4Dead'', the Tank was something you ran from. With the introduction of melee weapons in ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'', a creature that once required a ''huge'' amount of lead to bring down can be taken out much more rapidly with cricket bats. Thanks to the fact that his melee only hits one survivor at a time, if all survivors gang up on him, he'll die ''in no time''. Later fixed in a patch. It now takes about twice as long to kill a Tank with melee weapons, long enough that unless you have absolutely perfect team coordination, at least one of you is still going to get pummeled before you bring him down. [[KillItWithFire And molotovs still work just fine.]] ** The Witch also gone through similar changes. When she was first introduced in ''Left4Dead'', she was a huge threat because she has the ability to instantly incapacitate you in a single hit and then finish you off quickly. Playing on Expert? [[OneHitKill She will kill you instantly]]. The only way to kill her quickly before she went berserk was to head shot her with a shotgun and you better hope your first shot landed the first time. As time went on, many players gotten very good with the "head shot with a shotgun to the Witch" technique, making Witches nothing more than a hurdle in your path. People also discovered that a head shot with the hunting rifle would stumble the Witch before she would go into her rage mode, giving other players enough time to mow her down. *** The sequel made Witches even easier to kill thanks to several new game mechanics. Wandering Witches are Witches that can slowly walk around in their passive state, but unlike the sitting Witch, Wandering Witches have one second freak out if she is startled, which means she will scream first and then goes into her typical rage mode. This makes it easy enough to blast her with shotguns quickly even without a head shot. Explosive ammo also stumbles her so it's possible to kill her by just using explosive ammo with any gun besides shotguns. * Summerill the [[spoiler: {{DiscOne|FinalBoss}}]] FinalBoss of ''AgarestSenki'' gets turned ''into a WarmUpBoss'' in Agarest 2. Can't get any lower than that. * Zant in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' looks like a pretty cool villain. Sure, his outfit is a bit weird, but it has a creepy vibe and he acts like a true MagnificentBastard. He also walked right into Hyrule Castle and forced Princess Zelda to surrender, and he's nigh untouchable the first few times you see him. He [[spoiler:stole the fused shadows from Midna, and nearly killed her.]] Plus the one time you see a part of his face, he has a very nasty looking smile. Once you reach him, he turns into something below a VillainousHarlequin, and his actions (and attack animation) take away any shred of dignity he might have had left. At the same time, we find out that [[spoiler: all his power was given to him by Ganon, and without that, he was just a whiny and batshit-insane Twili chancellor who wanted to be king.]] Perhaps this is just so we won't miss him after he gets inevitably HijackedByGanon. * Rodrigo Borgia from ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' starts out as the menacing BigBad in the game by slyly walking around Italy making sure everything is going according to plan and has a [[BuffySpeak cool dark reddish-black]] [[BlackCloak hooded robe]], but at the end [[spoiler:he ditches the cloak for not as cool majestic Pope robes and shows off how much of a fat bald guy he is. Then he ditches his MagnificentBastard demeanor and rambles about religion. If that's not enough he gets the stuff KNOCKED out of him by a bare handed Ezio. And finally the next game has him being upstaged by his kids with them disobeying orders and is eventually killed by an apple]] To be fair it is [[ShownTheirWork based on history]]. ** Consider: For nearly the entire game, Ezio wants to kill him. After killing everyone else involved in his foul conspiracy, he gets a chance to kill him, and fails. He gets another chance, then, when he finally has Rodrigo completely at his mercy...he spares his life. Why? Because it would do ''more'' harm to the Templar cause to have him live on as a meaningless figurehead whose master plan achieved nothing. It don't get much harsher than that! * Kerrigan from ''{{Starcraft}}''. In the original she was little more than an AxeCrazy PsychoForHire EliteMook to the Overmind. In Brood Wars she ascended into a MagnificentBitch of her own right, manipulating ALL the other sides against each other, [[HeroKiller eliminating one key figure after another]] and eventually crippling her enemies and proclaiming herself Queen Bitch of the Universe. And it WAS NOT an empty boast. Then...came Wings of Liberty. Sarah suffered from a sever case of [[OrcusOnHisThrone "Arthas Syndrome"]], and for the whole Terran campaign stayed in the background, being repeatedly thwarted by the humans, spurting some cliched villanious trites interlaced with some fatalistic emo crap, and finally being rescued by the hero, who carried her on his arms into the sunrise. All the hopes now lie in the upcoming Zerg campaign which is supposed to rehabilitate our beloved FemmeFatale. * In ''CommandAndConquerRedAlert'', the [[RedsWithRockets Soviets]] are fear-inspiring Nazi replacements who want to TakeOverTheWorld and cross the MoralEventHorizon several times. Over the course of the games, they become increasingly goofier and sillier, eventually becoming [[HarmlessVillain Harmless Villains]] in ''RedAlert3'', compared to the new antagonist, the [[KatanasOfTheRisingSun Empire of the Rising Sun]]. * ''StreetFighter's'' M.Bison has fallen as hard as it's possible for a fall to be. You will recall that in SF2 Champion Edition, he ''conquers the world'' if he wins the tournament. And as late as Alpha 3, he can wipe a city completely off the map. Unfortunately, by the Capcom vs. SNK games, he's reduced to nebulous {{plan}}s, and by SF4, the only consequence of him triumphing is a somewhat unpleasant conversation with Juri. ** That said, the plot in SF4 also heavily hints towards the current BigBad Seth as being nothing more than an UnwittingPawn for Bison that he easily kills and removes when he's getting a bit too hard to control. * ''MortalKombat's'' Shang Tsung has also fallen hard. Remember when he was the final boss of the first game? He was then revealed to TheDragon to the real BigBad Shao Kahn and still remained an activate player in the plot. In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, he teams up with Quan Chi and manages to kill both Liu Kang and Shao Kahn. However in the quasireboot ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', Shang Tsung's role is greatly diminished in favor of Quan Chi who takes most of Shang Tsung's old role during the MK3 part of the story and is given a rather awkward [[DroppedABridgeOnHim death]]. * Most of Batman's rogues in [[VideoGame/LegoAdaptationGame Lego Batman 2.]] While it takes the entire game to bring them down in the original, most of them are curb stomped in the first level of the sequel. It doesn't help that all of them have tiny health bars and Freeze and Croc don't even make it out of their cells. The only execeptions are Joker who [[spoiler:manages to destroy the Batcave]] and Scarecrow who takes a level to catch, has a big health bar and a NightmareFuel filled boss battle where he turns into a giant. * The ''Film/SpiderMan 2'' tie-in game has Mysterio, who starts out demolishing a theatre, staging an alien invasion, and holding the Statue of Liberty hostage. Shortly afterwards, once you've beaten his "Funhouse of Death", he resorts to sending out small parties of useless robots that break like fine china when you hit them, and is eventually defeated with one punch while holding up a convenience store. [[/folder]] [[folder:Web Comics]] * See TheRant of [[http://www.bmoviecomic.com/?cid=266 this]] ''BMovieComic'' strip. * Jacob of ''DominicDeegan'' is all over this trope. In the Visions of Doom arc, he was introduced as a near-unstoppable necromancer who fought a powerful spellwolf to a standstill, out-maneuvered his seer brother and manipulated an evil cult into conducting a dark ritual before killing them with ease so he could use their body parts to make a necromantic golem. Later, he and his golem tries to team up with the Chosen to unleash the [[SealedEvilinaCan Storm of Souls]], but their plans are ultimately defeated and his own creation turns on him. He gains a bit of credibility by tearing off his own flesh, but never really regains the Badass status that he once held. In the most recent arc, he gets owned by Huk Thak/Roki, is murdered by the Shintula Chief and is finally betrayed once again by his servant Neilen and left to rot in the orc version of the afterlife. The character's future is uncertain but it's clear he'll never attain the coolness that he once had. * Happens in-universe to the [[FluffyTheTerrible Vampire Lord Fluffy]] of ''AModestDestiny'', turning him from an unstoppable {{Necromancer}} to [[WeirdTradeUnion a freelance contractor for people looking to fill their dungeons with pre-made monsters]]. [[spoiler: Later subverted when it turns out he's as FauxAffablyEvil as ever, just [[TheChessmaster more patient than he looks]].]] * ''TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob''-- In their first appearance, the [[SpacePirates Pirates of Ipecac]] were goofy, but they had big guns and a spaceship and came across as a credible threat. In the current storyline, Fructose Riboflavin has taken a bit of a [[TookALevelInBadAss Level In Bad Ass]] and forced them to become his cringing [[{{Mooks}} lackies.]] * This was done (probably deliberately) to Faz in ''Webcomic/{{Shortpacked}}!'' In his first appearances, he was an insufferable SmugSnake who managed to become Galasso's favorite employee via manipulation and undermining his coworkers all while rubbing it in their faces. Now he's the most pathetic member of the cast and treated as little more than a nuisance. * After Kelelder from ''Webcomic/{{Jix}}'' was killed the first time by Jix (though, this term is used loosely since he's an immortal), he's become somewhat of a Kenny type character. The creator didn't want him to be seen like this, so Kelelder made an agreement with another character to back off from the main character and stop trying to kill her. * Subverted in Webcomic/GirlGenius: DeliberatelyDistressedDamsel and general MagnificentBastard Zola has habit of ''recovering'' from VillainDecay and becoming stronger and smarter than she was before in the process. * In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' the Partnership Collective came within a hair's width of killing off Tagon's Toughs three times in the comic's first year, the second two times with [=WMDs=]. But the third time they wrecked the Lunar SpaceElevator and the government put a bounty on the Collective's Attorney Drones, now that the Toughs are paid to shoot them on sight they've become nothing more than comic relief. [[/folder]] [[folder: Web Original ]] * Blood Boy, a big antagonist in the early stages of ''SurvivalOfTheFittest'' version 3 had this occur in the last topic he appeared in, becoming an almost [[{{Batman}} Jokeresque]] figure (to the point of almost directly quoting from ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' at one point). This does, however, have a fairly good reason: a different handler took over the character for that scene, one who, needless to say, had a rather different take on the character. * The Necromancer, in the WhateleyUniverse. Starts out as one of the top 60 supervillains on the Interpol rating scale. He's now oh-for-two against Team Kimba, who are ''high schoolers''. Even with his team of supervillains working for him. Now one-for-two, making out like a bandit in the process, excluding one goal failing due to a [[DidntSeeThatComing Unknown Unknown]] * The CC Corporation in FlandersCompany started out as a relatively competent organisation who actually succeeded in taking over Trueman's company without him even noticing, and their leader Carla Brunelle was a PsychoElectro and MagnificentBitch who could handle the whole team of protagonists of her own. Come season 3, the arrival of [[KnightOfCerebus Aegis]] cause Carla to suffer a VillainousBreakdown, leading her to a GenreBlind decision. Her group is even worst, as most competent members are either KilledOffForReal or PutOnABus, leaving her more and more SurroundedByIdiots. * On TWGTG, we have the MadScientist Dr. Insano that first appeared on TheSpoonyExperiment, whose early appearances depict him as a LaughablyEvil, but none the less dangerous character. Later appearances, however, have him attempting no evil plans and just have him acting comedic. Averted with AT4W's villain Mechakara, who is presented as a KnightOfCerebus that almost kills Linkara in his first appearance, and when he later reappears, despite being DemotedToDragon for the new BigBad Lord Vyce, he's become even more a threat due to being upgraded, shown most notably in that his re-match with Linkara he {{No Sell}}s the the methods used to defeat him the first time. (And then in ''ToBoldlyFlee'', he not only takes out Linkara in five seconds, but comes within an ace of killing ''the entire TGWTG cast''.) [[/folder]] [[folder: Western Animation ]] * The first ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|1987}}'' animated series used heavy LampshadeHanging ("at last, Shredder, you've done something right!") to underscore how completely the Shredder had become a joke villain. While he was mildly threatening in the first season (although to what extent this is the case is cause for debate), villain decay set in very quickly after that, as it did with most of the series' villains. * The Shredder of the '''second''' ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}}'' cartoon series, on the other hand, managed to emerge seven seasons mostly unscathed by villain decay, growing more powerful to the point where the turtles stopped being able to defeat him with martial arts alone, and ''always'' portrayed as both [[MagnificentBastard scarily competent]] and pure evil. However, not all the series villains are so lucky--the Shredder's [[TheDragon dragon]], Hun, in particular, vent from "tough" to "joke" in the space of one season, before regaining some measure of respectability during the last third of the show's second season, which he retains--mostly by not featuring him in any extended battles with the turtles--until the end of the show...[[spoiler: and gains a considerable power upgrade upon becoming a BadassAbnormal in ''WesternAnimation/TurtlesForever'']]. Karai went from beating all four turtles and Casey Jones (easily) in her first appearance to Leo and Mike making a complete mockery of her in her own base when all they were there to do was steal an AncientArtifact. * Sideshow Bob from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' didn't suffer from this until many seasons into the show. His subsequent appearances always outdid the last and became a lot more violent and heinous, but he still never won. Around his fifth or sixth appearance he lost it though. Even worse, Mr. Burns used to be a greedy, heartless, megalomaniac CorruptCorporateExecutive, the villain of many episodes. He was regularly depicted as decrepit and with the mindset of a more reactionary era, but that didn't stop him from being entertainingly pure evil. Come Season 10 and beyond, he was inexplicably transformed into an inoffensive old man, most of the jokes about whom revolved around his senility and physical frailty. In other words, yet another victim of the terrible case of {{Flanderization}} which has plagued the series. ** Burns also showed a very dynamic sympathetic side, where he's almost a Scrooge like figure feeling the effects of a plentiful...but empty life. This is still shown occasionally but in a lighter manner. ** This trope is invoked in-universe in the Halloween special's ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'' parody. [[spoiler: after Groundskeeper Willie (in the Freddy Kruegar role) is defeated, Bart and Lisa contemplate his return. He appears moments later, but has been reduced to an ineffectual villain whose bufoonery is even accompanied by jaunty music]]. * Cobra Commander, the main villain of ''Franchise/GIJoe'', follows other aforementioned 80s cartoon villains' example but he's worth special mention because in parallel to his bumbling persona in the cartoon, his original comic book persona remained a ruthless MagnificentBastard all throughout to its final issues. This Decay was probably intentional because his bloodthirsty ways needed to be toned down for the Sunbow series. Though also worth mention is that while the cartoon Commander was mostly inept by the end of GI Joe's second season, at least he was a part of the sub-plot concerning an internal civil war within Cobra where Commander and a few others made up the secret sub-group Coil in an effort to slowly wrestle control of Cobra away from Cobra emperor Serpentor, giving the villain at least some credibility by the end. However in the [[WesternAnimation/GIJoeTheMovie animated movie]], Coil is never mentioned and Cobra Commander goes beyond becoming everyone's ButtMonkey for the film in a literal sense, in a way decaying the character in two different ways. Fans of GI Joe tend to not like the movie very much based on this, and the fact the movie attempts to retcon what is known about the Commander's past to something beyond ludicrous...even by 80s cartoon standards. * On ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'', it took an age-ified Nigel and the rest of the team to take Father down in his first appearance (Op GROW-UP). Then a few cadets took him down in his next appearance (Op TRAINING), making him more of a comic-relief pest. Then the writers escalated his crimes by turning the KND into animals (Op GRADUATES), and after that was taken care of, they had him extend school hours to 8:25 p.m. (a big deal, since the protagonists are school-hating children - Op PRESIDENT). In Operation ZERO, he was reduced to being completely ineffectual when faced with his father. ** Z.E.R.O. actually plays with this however. [[spoiler: after his father banishes him for not being competent enough, he goes into a state of depression which takes his moral opposite brother to pull him out of. Together they face their father and though Father is still afraid he tries to stand up for himself. Soon after he gets sucker punched and Grandfather begins to rag on him a bit and sets off his BerserkButton. His unstoppable rage is so fierce that it makes his heroic brother, who was previously shown to not be afraid of anything, step back and makes Grandfather, the unstoppable evil who has conquered the world, afraid. But before he can do anything he gives up because he's too depressed.]] This shows that it's not the lack of ability that holds him back but rather the lack of self-confidence. * ''WesternAnimation/SpeedRacerTheNextGeneration'' had Zile Zazic, the main villain of the show, oil tycoon and trustee of the Racer Academy...who went through every possible process in which decaying villains could go through! It didn't help that he only carried out his plans first-hand two-thirds of the way through the season. By the end of the show, his plans became boring and predictable. * ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'': ** Jack Spicer became full-on comic relief with the emergence of Chase Young. Chase himself became less of a threat ''to the Xiaolin monks'' when Hannibal Roy Bean was released, moving more into EvilerThanThou and EnemyMine plots against Bean, but he is still a BadassAbnormal MagnificentBastard to the end. *** Jack still gets a few impressive moments though, and the monks sometimes pay for underestimating him. In the GrandFinale, he hits Chase, Hannibal ''and'' Wuya with this when he is revealed to be the ruler of a BadFuture who has imprisoned all three of them in small cages, all because Omi wasn't around to stop him. ** Wuya too. Starting off as a fairly credible mentor to Jack, she eventually regained her magical power and managed to take over the world off-screen. Upon her return in the second season however, she was reduced to nothing but a loud, obnoxious whiner, and by the end of the season she was reduced to being nothing more than a cheering fangirl for Chase Young. She regained some of her villainous grativas in the third season, but even then, she was just never as cool as she was in the In the Flesh 3-parter. * Valmont in ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''. Just ''look'' at the guy. In the early seasons, he was a charismatic, refined, [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney rich-out-his-ass leader of a worldwide criminal organization]] who could very well be mistaken for a MagnificentBastard (He was even able to hold his own against (and get the better of) Jackie in their personal confrontations.) Then take a gander at the later seasons...knocking over convenience stores, living in an apartment no bigger than your bathroom (seriously), and leaning on the three goons he has left to pay for the bill at a pancake shop. The last time he's ever seen, in the show's final episode, he's become a ''bus driver''. ** The Dark Hand, the criminal organization in question, went with him, going from a NebulousEvilOrganization with an army of {{Mooks}} to Finn, Ratso and Chow. Until they decide to retire because, after being repeatedly beaten up by Jackie Chan and enslaved by evil sorcerors and demons with nothing but pain to show for it, they decided BeingEvilSucks. ** The Shadowkhan are a good example. They were quite potent in seasons 1 and 2, but in the Oni Mask saga, they go "poof" if someone so much as ''trips'' them (though they ''are'' central to a NearVillainVictory and WorldDomination scheme). Also, when the Enforcers became Dark Chi Warriors, who initially could survive falling off a cliff, but towards the end of the season, couldn't survive a fall of 10 feet. ** Shendu also suffers from this. Early on, he's an ominous and threatening figure, despite being stuck as a statue. During the end of the 1st season, when he's finally regained his powers, he's a vastly powerful and menacing evil dragon. During the 2nd season, however, because he's stuck sharing bodies with Valmont, he's largely a joke, except during the finale, and when he later returns during the finale of the 3rd season. During the series finale, however, he's stuck helping the heroes, and is largely a joke when fighting his son Drago. * The Decepticons of ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' suffer this in most versions. ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' and ''[[WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated Animated]]'' each had different methods to avoid them becoming ineffectual: ** ''Beast Wars'' avoided it by being more [[StoryArc arc]]-based with the Predacons often winning. ** Inferno, unfortunately, decayed so quickly that to anyone who's only seen the first season, his supposed power comes off as more of an InformedAbility. ** Rampage is a [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] example. When he first appears, he's TheJuggernaut. Having his spark torn out and forced to serve Megatron made him the ImplacableMan. That's how {{Badass}} he was. ** And yet, almost any episode where Rampage didn't have a major role in the plot will have him either get [[CurbStompBattle curb stomped]] or hand him TheWorfEffect. Often in a really silly way. ** From the Transformers Wiki, regarding the first episode of the show, re: [[ButtMonkey Waspinator]]: "In a stark contrast to his later career, he actually proved to be a serious threat and had the advantage over the inexperienced Cheetor, pinning the young Maximal down in a canyon." Somewhere between blowing himself up with his own missiles in episode 4 and Rattrap kicking him in the nuts at the end of season 1 his true destiny came to fruition. Amazingly, [[spoiler: in BeastMachines he suffered villain decay all over again as Thrust.]] ** ''Animated'' on the other hand doesn't always have them as the villains. They also reverse the TookALevelInBadass the Autobots as a whole went through by having a crew that was never meant for battle with tools that had primarily non-combat purpose in mind, so it takes the whole team to take down just one or two of the armed-to-the-teeth Decepticons. ** ''Animated'' started out with the Autobots requiring all hands on deck to stand a chance against any of the Decipticons but by the end of season 3, Optimus Prime is able to take on Megatron single handed. ** Starscream took a level up in badassery when he first fought the Autobots and was too strong for them (making up somewhat for the stupidity he displayed earlier), but later he's largely a joke because of how he keep getting his ass kicked by Megatron. Two other Decepticons, Blitzwing and Lugnut also suffered from this. Initially they would be considered NotSoHarmless. They were dumb, but either of them could take all the Autobots on his own. But as time went on, they kept on getting beaten by plot devices and largely become jokes. ** Even the films have done this. The Decepticons were nearly unstoppable g, being in Icy mode most of the time, manages to out maneouver the autobotsin the first film, in the sequel they get thrown around. Although the extent of decay is hard to tell since [[spoiler: the Autobots and humans from around the globe have been fighting for two years now as a specialized task force. They're better prepared this time. Plus the fights aren't in crowded cities, so the Autobots can cut loose, especially Optimus.]] *** The Cons always sucked in those films, sure Starscream and Brawl could do some damage, but they were defeated rather easily, as well as most of the other cons. Look at the body count: Autobots lost one guy of five, Decepticons lost 5 out of 8. ** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', following tradition, hands this to Starscream (again). He went from surprisingly competent in the pilot to standard [[TheStarscream Starscream]] near the end of the season. And while he dealt Arcee a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown in ''Partners'' and later [[spoiler:went rogue]], it's not been entirely undone yet. Admittedly it is justified with Megatron returning and things generally not going his way. So far Megatron hasn't been hit with this (yet), clearly being the most competent of the Cons (Soundwave perhaps being the close second). If [[spoiler:the season 2 three-part premiere]] and "Operation Bumblebee" are to be believed, however, Starscream is getting back on form, particularly when he killed [[spoiler:a dozen Vehicons in a row.]] And then he found the [[spoiler:Apex Armor]]... ** Averted with Knockout. Undoubtedly the least dangerous Decepticon character by default, two seasons in and he's remained consistent with his early appearances. * The Commando Droids of 'WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars' went from EliteMooks in their first appearances to almost as ineffectual as their ridiculously ineffectual cousin, the B-1 Battledroid. ** Also, somehow, at some point, Cad Bane went from being the biggest BadAss in the galaxy to finding a new home in a CardboardPrison. * Vlad from ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' was once a MagnificentBastard and a very competent arch-foe with an often [[DracoInLeatherPants sympathetic side]]. But in the third season, he became a shallow crook with little redeeming qualities; his final plan was to force the world to let him save it from a giant meteor in exchange for world domination (an agenda that was poorly conceived) and 500 billion dollars...as if he wasn't already filthy stinking RICH! Skulker is another example. In his first appearance he was genuinely menacing, and had Danny looking over his shoulder scared. Fast forward to "Micro Management", where Danny could defeat him in a few blasts, and only became a threat when Danny lost his powers. It reached its peak in "Girls Night Out", where a ''bird'' chased him off. * In his first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/YinYangYo'', Kraggler is an incredibly elderly gargoyle who is discounted by the siblings due to his age, then proves to be a very powerful and capable villain, who, rather than being defeated, is convinced to stop because of an apology for his mistreatment. From then on, he's treated as a joke villain (even moreso than the other villains, this being a comedy series) who's only a threat if he uses magic to reduce his age. * Ra's Al Ghul himself suffered from this in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' and later {{DCAU}} canon. Introduced as the leader of a global secret society, whose first villain plan involved wiping out 99% of the human race to save the planet, and once described by Batman himself as "a criminal mastermind more dangerous than LexLuthor and SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker combined", Ra's would end up spending EVERY SINGLE ONE of his episodes trying out various wacky schemes to cheat death and expand his already 600 year long lifespan, instead of doing anything productive to menace the human race. In his last ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' appearance Batman ends up saving him from a 2000 year old Egyptian mummy girl. ** Ra's al Ghul's Villain Decay is still debatable, considering how even in the ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode "The Demon Reborn," Batman himself declared that Ra's al Ghul was more dangerous than both The Joker and Lex Luthor combined. Later in the canon, though, they refer to something called "The Near-Apocalypse of '09," which Ra's was behind, and apparently took the whole Justice League to stop. ** Ra's says in "The Demon Reborn" that he realized the Lazarus Pits effects were becoming shorter and shorter, so perhaps he was concentrating on finding out a way to live longer before trying another [[TakeOverTheWorld world domination effort]]. ** His diminished threat is cemented in ''BatmanBeyond'' where not only has he pulled a GrandTheftMe on his own daughter in yet another plan to avoid death, he suffers an epic TheReasonYouSuckSpeech from Batman himself who tells him "You don't cheat death, you cower in fear of it....[[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And you hit like a girl.]]" ** Also from BTAS, Killer Croc. In his first appearance he came up with a pretty good plan to frame Harvey Bullock, and gave Batman a pretty good fight. After that, he was mostly treated as DumbMuscle comic relief, and [[TheWorfEffect was used to demonstrate how awesome Bane and the Judge were by getting his ass kicked]]. *** He actually does have a couple of decent showings after that, and wasn't always portrayed as stupid; ironically, his DumbMuscle characterization started with (and was worst in) the episode ''Almost Got 'Em'', the irony being "Croc" was actually Batman in disguise. Unfortunately for Croc, this was his ''most famous'' "appearance", so this is how he is remembered. ** In his second appearance, while the ClockKing did gain a device that actually let him control time, he also didn't show a lot of what made him such a formidable opponent in his debut episode (his ludicrously precise timing and planning). This resulted in the man who was able to physically match Batman in combat being taken out the instant his device broke. * Carface, the BigBad of ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'', was legitimately menacing in the original film (it was his henchmen who were [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain incompetent jokes]]). The scene where he and his gang threaten Itchy at Charlie's Club may indeed be NightmareFuel for some. However, in ''All Dogs Go to Heaven 2'', he loses several IQ points, and becomes the idiot henchman. The VillainSong, 'It Feels So Good to Be Bad', sung by Satan to Carface, seems to be about reversing VillainDecay and going in the complete opposite direction, but nothing ever comes of it. Carface never really regains the menacing quality he had in the first film, and ends up being sent to FireAndBrimstoneHell because he made a really stupid DealWithTheDevil. While this plot point seems to be retconned in the series, he seems to only get worse, ending up playing a Scrooge archetype in "An All Dogs Christmas Carol". This was a chain-smoking, [[EvilSoundsDeep gravel-voiced,]] ManipulativeBastard BadBoss that waits until Charlie's wasted and [[NoKillLikeOverkill rolls a car into Charlie that if he didn't die from the impact would drown,]] took everything Charlie had, manipulated an orphan for gambling tips, beat Itchy with a gang of Mooks within an inch of his life then almost killed Charlie ''again'' until he himself was eaten by King Gator. Essentially '''if you're a Creator/DonBluth villain in a sequelized franchise, prepare to be decayed.''' The only way out of that is to never appear in the sequels at all, which many Bluth villains do not. * Sharpteeth in ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'' [[{{sequelitis}} sequels]]. The original Sharptooth was an unstoppable killer and a true force of nature who had seemingly supernatural stamina. As the series continued (and became progressively more kiddy), all the carnivorous dinosaurs in general have decayed to the point of no return. It got so bad in ''The Land Before Time'' TV series that Littlefoot and the other kids were able to chase off two raptor-like Sharpteeth and one Tyrannosaur just by throwing fruit at them. It's especially bad considering how Red Claw is constantly referred to as the "biggest, meanest, most scary Sharptooth ever". Yes, the Tyrannosaurus rex that runs from some fruit is supposed to be more big, bad and gruesome than the Tyrannosaurus rex who violently ended the life of Mama Longneck and terrified both the dino-kids and real kids. * Magnacat from ''ComicBook/MonsterAllergy'' is a serious threat to the Tamers, but not anymore when his plans kept on failing, [[spoiler:he becomes bankrupt]]. Hector Sinistro becomes this as well. * While never particularly smart, the Trix sisters from ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'' were competent enemies, acting on their own in the first season. They still were more than decent during the second season, even if by then, they were already reduced to the main villain's henchwomen; notable was their fusion into a single, powerful entity in the last episode. Then the third season came, and they became [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain little more than a joke]] - they even received some power-up at some point, but it turned to be useless. ** Subverted at the very end of the first movie when [[spoiler: they team up with their ancestors, the Three Ancestral Witches]], promising to ''rip the Faeries' wings off''. ** Valtor eventually suffered from this at the end of season 3. Even when he was well on his way to becoming the supreme sorcerer of the Magic Dimension, he began to grow mopey and whiny about how he was always hiding and that the Trix losing to the Winx meant that his defeat at the hands of the Company of Light years before was starting to repeat himself. When the Winx managed to hit him with the [[KryptoniteFactor Water Stars]] he became reluctant to even fight them. Even his [[OneWingedAngel demon form]] that removed his weakness to the water stars didn't save him, as he ended up letting the Winx free all of his spells that he had stolen, was abandoned by the Trix, and nearly frowned himself when recalling his water spell. In the end he fell under the control of the Three Ancestral Witches before being single-handedly killed by Bloom. * The Hive kids from ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' started out in the first appearance as a well-organized elite fighting force that proved to be an even match for the titular heroes (even taking them down in their first encounter when they had the element of surprise), but by the last season they had decayed so badly a single Titan (Kid Flash) could trounce them all fairly easily (except for Jinx, who had a HeelFaceTurn anyways). ** Even when they were badass, they hardly liked each other, and weren't all that bright, save Jinx and Gizmo (who was too immature to put his brains to effective use on more than one occasion). One could argue that without Brother Blood to scare them into competence, they just really didn't care about working in tandem anymore. They probably only stuck together at ''all'' by that point because they had nowhere else to go. ** There's also the fact that since ''Teen Titans'' played a speedster near their full potential, Kid Flash was probably more effective alone than the main five whre in most cases. This is kinda re-enforced by the fact they got just one person to watch their city for the five of them. ** Brother Blood himself got this pretty bad. His ''fighting ability'' never really went down- it was his intelligence and ability to make effective use of his other powers that suffered. In "Deception", for example, he seems to know almost everything that's happening in the HIVE from the start (including that Cyborg was TheMole), and he was only beaten in the end because Cyborg's half-mechanical brain was able to reject him. In "Wavelength" and "Titans East", he somehow ''give Cyborg his own powers by mistake'', is completely oblivious to when someone with no mental enhancements at all is capable of completely resisting him, and blows his top at the first opportunity. There's more to decay than just a decrease in power, after all. * In ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'', Clancy the bug man was a sadistic psychopath in his first appearance. When he appears in the Grand Finale he has been turned into a generic bug monster for no reason. In fact, most of the villains that returned in the finale were decayed, with the exception of Charmcaster, who stuck to her role as EvilCounterpart to Gwen. ** Vilgax. In the original series, Ben was never able to truly defeat [[BigBad Vilgax]] on his own [[spoiler:at least, before he became Ben 10,000]], only beat him badly enough that Ben and friends have enough time to get away. Fast forward to Alien Force, the Galactic Conqueror now has a less intimidating design and appearance, and, while he still displays a degree of badassery on occasion, gets notably defeated by Ben several times (one of the most infamous example being when [[spoiler:Ben defeated him as Diamondhead, an alien that couldn't even scratch him before and actually broke his hands punching him]]). To be fair, Ben TookALevelInBadass during the TimeSkip, but it's still infuriating to see his ArchEnemy not being seen as a serious treath anymore. It was fortunately corrected in the finale of Ben10UltimateAlien, where Vilgax, while still lacking his former look and fighting skills, compensate by being an incredibly competent ManipulativeBastard and [[spoiler:end up [[DidYouJustScamCthulhu scamming]] an ''EldritchAbomination'']]. ** Even worst with the Forever Knight, who went from a mysterious evil organisation to ridiculously weak villains who served as the heroes' punching ball (to the point in one episode, Gwen felt like it was more important for Ben to assist his girlfriend's tennis match than keeping an eye on them). Fortunately corrected in season 2 of Ben10UltimateAlien. ** Charmcaster may not have suffered any decay in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'', but she was hit by it pretty hard in her second ''Alien Force'' appearance, where she killed Gwen of an alternate timeline and kept on boasting about it to the present Gwen...[[AntiClimaxBoss only to get her ass kicked by Gwen several times afterwards]] [[FauxActionGirl despite her claims of power.]] Her first appearance in ''Ultimate Alien'' then made it worse, turning her into a mook who barely held off Kevin, the team [[TheWorfEffect Worf]], for a few minutes, and needed the help of two other bad guys to stand a chance against the heroes. So, at this point, it's probably for the best that her next appearance had her as an AntiVillain who makes a HeelFaceTurn. ** Darkstar was fairly threatening in ''Alien Force'', being a superpowered ManipulativeBastard, but was hit by decay when he reappears in the first season finale of ''Ultimate Alien''. He is so starved for energy that he's been reduced to skulking in alleyways preying on stray animals just to survive. He has also become predictable in his treachery -- the heroes stop his attempt to backstab them in the very end with a [[AntiClimaxBoss literal push of a button and he gets taken out with a single punch.]] And in his final appearance, "Couple's Retreat", he's a [[WhatAnIdiot flat-out moron.]] * In ''WesternAnimation/GormitiTheLordsOfNatureReturn'', this was the fate that befell Orrore Profondo (Deep Horror), who, in the [[AllThereInTheManual backstory narrated in the toyline]], was a terrifying opponent, feared by all the Gormiti siding with the Wise Old One. He even managed to [[spoiler:trick the Air Gormiti into doing a FaceHeelTurn]]...but in the series (which takes place many millennia after the toyline story), he seems to play second banana to EvilOverlord Magmion and doesn't really show the competence a villain of his caliber should. However, this only seems to apply to his anime self: in the comics, as of now, he has retained all of his credentials and Magmion is just one of his underlings. * Satan was big and scary in his first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', but he's become "a whiny little bitch" in God's own words ever since he was first established as the lover of Saddam Hussein. It's arguable that he started out pre-decayed, though. He LOOKED intimidating, but his master plot in his first appearance was conning the city out of a lot of betting money, rather than, you know, the End of Days or anything like that. * Mandark's first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' established him as clearly superior to Dexter in terms of brains, to the point where he could read minds, and saying his name invoked TheScottishTrope. He was quickly brought down to being Dexter's equal, with his telepathy disappearing. In fact, "[[TheMovie Ego Trip]]" even stated he had to resort to stealing Dexter's ideas to get ahead. Justified in that Mandark was badass until meeting [[AchillesHeel Dee-Dee]] in that very episode, so as long as she's around, he's too lovestruck to do anything, even while she wrecks his lab. The '''real''' VillainDecay for Mandark came in the final season where he [[RetCon has a Flashback episode, revealing his birth name was "Sue," an innocent flower child that met Dexter years ago, taking the name Mandark after being refused friendship by Dexter,]] despite the fact that his debut ep introduced his real name as Ivan Astronomonov with the aforementioned nickname [[TheScottishTrope Mandark.]] * Metallo from ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' became less and less of a credible threat with each appearance. Probably intentional, too. Metallo's appearance over the episodes maintained the damage he suffered from each prior appearance, implying that he wasn't getting internal repairs, either. ** Kalibak was perhaps the most obvious example. His first appearance was a whole-episode slugfest where he stood toe-to-toe with Superman (who, to be fair, had to take care of his father and innocent bystanders who were being threatened by the crossfire). In every subsequent appearance he's little more than a doorstop: Superman punches him out in less than a minute in "Legacy", and he loses to Batman during ''Justice League''. In his final appearance he finally got to do something useful... Because he was in an EnemyMine situation with Scott Free and The Flash. * While ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'''s Heinz Doofenshmirtz has always been a IneffectualSympatheticVillain, Buford was introduced as a truly nasty bully. By the second season he's mostly just cranky and posturing and is in fact a friend of WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb. Also, Tri-State Unification day episode contains both of these elements. He tries to ruin the parade, but is also shown to be VitriolicBestBuds with Baljeet, whom he used to pick on (and still does, but it's pretty blatantly out of love; he even says as much once). * The Diesels and Spencer from ''WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine'' suffered a lot from this trope. Diesel 10 as well. In TheMovie, he tried to have every single steam locomotive destroyed and ended up being thrown off a bridge and onto a barge full of sludge, but in one of the sequels he actually wants to take over the Steamworks because of the Dieselworks' poor conditions, and later trapping Thomas and Percy inside the Dieselworks and setting the entire place on fire only to end up being scolded by Sir Topham Hatt at the last minute and is forced to put out the fire he started and repair the entire Dieselworks as punishment because of this! * All villains from ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' other than HIM suffered villain decay, especially Mojo Jojo, who was actually able to take over Townsville with an army of monkeys in the movie, which takes place before any other event in the series. Even Him suffered a few degrading roles in the show as well (in the writers' defense, he was an insane effeminate crossdresser, how could they resist?), as did Mojo continue having the odd threatening role however. While a lot of other villains got progressively worse, the competence for both former characters was arguably more a case of DependingOnTheWriter. * The '90s ''WesternAnimation/{{X-Men}}'' animated series did an interesting variation on this with {{Magneto}}. While he didn't lose any of his effectiveness or charisma, almost every appearance of his after his first battle with the X-Men ended with an EnemyMine situation, painting him as less of a villain, or even an AntiVillain, and more of an AntiHero who wouldn't join the X-Men for...some unknown reason. So, it wasn't so much his effectiveness that decayed, but more his [[HeelFaceTurn villainous status]] itself. Made even more confusing because every time he appeared, the X-Men still reacted to him as if he were a bad guy, though he almost never attacked them anymore. ** Not entirely true; he ''did'' steal a bunch of nuclear weapons to arm his mutant utopia Asteroid M, if only to protect it from outside attacks (and personally broke into the United Nations to warn them off); later, he teamed up with ''Apocalypse'' of all people and ''did'' attack the X-Men in that appearance, in order to ''kidnap'' someone no less- he later turns against Apocalypse and was suspicious of him from the start, and he and Wolverne end up saving each others lives; but still, its not hard to see why they are suspicious of him. His first EnemyMine situation, for the record, occured ''after'' he abducted a United States Senator and possibly planned on killing him (a JerkAss anti-mutant senator, but thats not the point). * ''WesternAnimation/FantasticFourWorldsGreatestHeroes'' has this happen to Doom, unlike in the comics. By the fourth appearance, his dignity is ''lost''. * Hotstreak from ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' started out as the biggest bully in school and the leader of a local street gang who becomes even more dangerous when he got exposed to the big bang gas with the ability to control fire. He was a genuine threat for his first couple of appearances but as the series went on he became more and more pathetic. He was decayed so badly that on one occasion when one of the heroines gave him a wedgie he ran away crying. What is he now, [[HeyItsThatVoice Jack Spicer?]] ** This is largely due to AdaptationDecay and MotiveDecay largely unique to Hotstreak. In the comics, Hotstreak's status as one of the primary villains is due less to his power levels than to being a racist thug, which presumably [[ExecutiveMeddling the Fox Kids censors didn't like.]] *** There's also the fact that in the original comics, he appeared in a grand total of ''five'' issues, at least one of which was a flashback. The TV show tried to make him into far more of a recurring threat than he ever actually was in the source material. ** Ebon also suffers for this. He's threatening at first, but gets his ass handed to him in nearly every appearance even with help form his henchmen, and loses fights against supporting characters. * Cedric, TheDragon from ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'', was quite menacing and monstrous in his first few appearances. As the series went on, though, his purpose largely became to get his clock cleaned by the heroines every few episodes, quickly robbing him of any serious threat. The series finale even [[YankTheDogsChain yanked his chain]] by [[spoiler: having him become supremely powerful...only to not realize he didn't know how to properly utilize it, and he gets beaten up rather easily AGAIN.]] Lampshaded in the first season finale, when [[BigBad Phobos]] [[YouHaveFailedMe chewed Cedric out for his failures epically]], then used his newly-heightened magic powers to curse him into a pathetically small and weak version of his OneWingedAngel form. * ''WesternAnimation/{{Wolverine and the X-Men}}'' had the Brotherhood of Mutants first appear with a relatively clever plan that framed the X-Men for attempted assassination. As the series went on and on, however, Pietro became more stupid and the effectiveness of them decreased. * {{Disney}} originally had Captain Hook be somewhat dangerous in ''Disney/PeterPan'', with him being decently competent against Peter. However, by ''JakeAndTheNeverlandPirates'', he is now absolutely stupid and has a small ball on the end of his hook. Maybe small children are scared by pointy hooks, but it just seems silly. ** Or maybe he was just so clumsy with the hook that his crew did this so he would stop tearing his face off while grooming his beard. * ''SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'': The Hobgoblin experiences this, being outclassed by the Green Goblin in his last appearance. The story editor John Semper hated The Hobgoblin character and only used him due to ExecutiveMeddling (his predecessor had plans to use the Hobgoblin instead of The Green Goblin and by the time Semper replaced him the toy had been commissioned and it was too late to change plans). So no surprise he became the Green Goblin's bitch. * Robotnik from ''WesternAnimation/SonicTheHedgehog''. Season 1 played him as a genuine threat and a [[KnightOfCerebus serious intimidating character]] opposed to his usual clownish forms in other media, but Season 2 introduced a StoryArc in which his continued failures and increasing irrationality and buffoonishness start to grate on assistant [[TheStarscream Snively]]. His obsession with destroying Sonic also lead to several moments of BondVillainStupidity, something he was [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy far too wary]] about originally. * The Lieutenant, Amon's electric stick-wielding [[TheDragon second in command]] from ''TheLegendOfKorra'', starts out as a pretty effective villain, absolutely crushing Mako and Bolin in his first appearance and giving both Lin Beifong and Korra herself the fight of their lives in his next one. In ''every single episode'' after that, though, he rarely does much more than show up, flail around a little bit, and get launched over the horizon in short order. * Zordrak of ''TheDreamstone'', while he always usually left the dirty work to his mooks the Urpney, he was initially presented as a calculating, reserved villain who tactized a lot of the plans and had the odd moment of physical involvement (where upon things usually got a lot darker in tone). While the second season starts off well with his discovery of the Nightmare Stone, he quickly devolves afterwards, having little role outside something of a demonic PointyHairedBoss for the Urpneys. Since Urpgor and Blob's team were now required to concoct plans themselves, this did lead to a mild subversion in their case however. * Dark Vegan of ''JohnnyTest'' started out as a serious threat, but by his third appearance he had decayed to the point where Johnny frequently thwarted him without even knowing he was there, and is more of a wacky nextdoor neighbor than a real villain. ** Also Eugene aka "Bling Boy Boy", who started as Johnny's ArchEnemy but devolved into a frequent AntiHero friend of his. * Liquidator from ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''. In his first appearance he had a lot of water-based powers, but seemed to lose them after that. ** This is probably because not only he was way too powerful, but there were only a handful of ways he could be truly beaten. [[/folder]] ----
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[[quoteright:300:[[Franchise/FridayThe13th http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/villain_decay_1229.png]]]] [-[[caption-width-right:300:Used by permission: [[http://www.suedeheadcomic.com suedeheadcomic.com]]]]-] %% Used with permission (see Image Pickin' thread): suedeheadcomic.com %% Image Pickin' conversation: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=lhxpsx1kvbvspoh7pe09okg3 ->'''Sideshow Bob''': ''Hello, Bart...''\\ '''Bart''': Oh, it's you, Bob. How' ya doin'?\\ '''Sideshow Bob''': No screams? ... Not even... an "eep"?\\ '''Bart''': Hey, I'm not afraid of you. Every time we tangle you wind up in jail! -->-- ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' The process by which a villain who is extremely scary on first appearance becomes a joke after a few more appearances. In most shows, FailureIsTheOnlyOption [[TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin for the]] {{Villains}}, because [[TheBadGuyWins success]] would mean that the villains [[TakeOverTheWorld conquer the world]], [[KillEmAll kill all the good guys]], and otherwise do things that make future episodes impossible. Inevitably, the viewers start to wonder why the heroes act concerned about an enemy that they've beaten six times already. Note that this does not apply to shows where the villains are supposed to be [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain incompetent jokes]] from the start. Most writers will try to stop this decline in menace, which sometimes helps and sometimes makes the VillainDecay worse, but the fastest way to decay a villain is to [[HeelFaceTurn make him switch sides]]. Of course, you can prevent this by ''not'' having [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption failure be the only option]] for the villain; let them win battles, but not the war, or let their EvilPlan [[YouCantThwartStageOne come closer and closer to completion while the heroes race to prevent its final success]]. Or, for the ''really'' cunning villain, [[UnwittingPawn dupe the heroes into doing what they wanted all along]] or [[XanatosGambit benefit from them foiling the plan.]] Note that VillainDecay is almost never caused by a lack of OffscreenVillainDarkMatter, a difficulty in recruiting Mooks, or even injuries from battle with the heroes -- which is to say, they don't become worse off because they have ''lost''. Also note that a VillainousBreakdown is not a guarantee of VillainDecay. Decay will only happen quicker if their entire VillainPedigree is replaced. If you have an InvincibleHero - especially one who shouldn't be capable of winning [[InvincibleIncompetent but somehow always wins anyway]] - VillainDecay is almost assured, even for characters who haven't fought yet. Tends to be particularly hard to avoid for villains who manage to survive the heroes' climb up the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil. See also IneffectualSympatheticVillain, GoldfishPoopGang, HarmlessVillain, LoweredMonsterDifficulty and MotiveDecay. Contrast VillainSue, InvincibleVillain, and OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow, where a villain is '''too''' effective or scary. Believe it or not, those tropes suck the tension out of the villains even worse than this one. Also contrast AdaptationalVillainy, where a relatively non-villainous character in a work becomes dramatically more villainous in an adaptation. Compare and contrast FailureHero. Same concept--repeated failures [[InformedAbility ruins their credibility]]--different role. See also DegradedBoss. ---- !!Examples [[foldercontrol]] [[folder: Anime and Manga]] * In the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime, the Team Rocket trio started out being more dangerous and effective before they became... well... [[TerribleTrio Team Rocket]] (although this may have been intentional, since the writers likely didn't know what direction to take the characters in the beginning, and chose the more comical route). [[spoiler: As of Best Wishes, they have gone back to being more dangerous, leaving all of their comical Pokémon at the base similar to Ash leaving his team. Half the time, they won't even bug Ash and co. anymore due to their missions.]] ** The games have actively tried to [[AvertedTrope avoid this]]. Team Rocket only appeared in the first two sets of the main series of games, decaying in the second one due to their leader, Giovanni, not organizing them. Since then, almost every spin-off and main-series game that includes criminal organizations includes entirely different ones. They've also [[PlotLeveling upped the ante for their plans each time]]. The team in the third tried to modify the landscape of the earth (or at least the area they were in), [[WellIntentionedExtremist believing that this would be for the good of humanity]]. The leader in the fourth wanted to use the powers of a legendary {{mon}} to ''[[AGodAmI become a god]]''. * Beck from ''Anime/TheBigO'' is the world champ of VillainDecay: the writers put him through almost every one of the gimmicks mentioned above. First he got a cool new weapon, then he got played as a buffoon (complete with a comically grotesque hairdo), then the hero was put into an AlternateUniverse where Beck was a real threat, before he finally ended up just being an underling working for BigBad Alex and his PsychoForHire, Alan Gabriel. ** Well, that's all true, assuming you believe he was set up to be a competent villain in the first place. In the manga, that's perfectly true, and he is a competent villain. In the anime, it's fairly obvious that he was intentionally turned into comic relief. He starts out being effective because he's actually smart enough to dial down his own ego and commence his plans intelligently. Unfortunately, his ego takes control in later episodes, and his decay is quite noticeable. Also, it's rather blatantly implied that he really isn't fit to be a villain, and that his true genius is in building robots and neural {{AI}}s (which he remains shockingly good at, as lampshaded by Gabriel, and later by SuperRobotWarsZ). That said, the decay of the anime Beck is quite possibly justified. * The Knights of the Rounds in ''Anime/CodeGeass R2''. In their first appearance, they were shown as Britannia's elite force. Lelouch and the Black Knights were struggling when fighting only three of them (Suzaku, Gino, and Anya). But as episodes passed, they became easier and easier to incapacitate. Then, the show introduced more Knights, and after that, one of them is killed. Later, when [[spoiler:Suzaku does a HeelFaceTurn and gets a stronger robot, he becomes able to slice down his superiors in mere seconds.]] However, it's probably justified due to the LensmanArmsRace being in effect, where the {{Super Prototype}}s quickly become reverse-engineered and dated in the space of a few episodes. The Knights' demise could be explained because they didn't [[CantCatchUp upgrade their Knightmares enough]], but the fact that [[PluckyComicRelief Tamaki]] was shown to be more competent and badass, however, is ''not'' justified. ** This is an ironic example, as the rest of ''Anime/CodeGeass'' is quite good at avoiding Villain Decay. Any given battle is generally a toss-up, with the protagonists winning and losing a roughly equal number of battles, and almost every major villain getting in a victory or two. Cornelia is portrayed as both a highly competent tactician and fighter, the Glaston Knights are a force to be reckoned with, and Suzaku manages to win a ton of battles and lose very few. The climactic battle at the end of the first season is in fact ''[[TheBadGuyWins won]]'' [[TheBadGuyWins by the villains of the series]], while the protagonist is defeated, captured, and has his memories erased. ** They don't really decay all that badly. The only one that was actually slaughtered was number 12 (weakest) in a standard Vincent Knightmare rather than an AceCustom, and that was by Suzaku - higher ranked, geass sumper-charged to be able to push the normal human limits and in a *deep breath* Super-super-super-super prototype of superness that took the entire budget of the R&D department to develop, twice. The knight of one fights the same person, and holds his own very effectively until Suzaku's Lancelot just starts moving to darned fast for him to keep up. He previously managed to defeat the other Super-Prototype ace in a machine equal to the first lancelot, Xing-ke, without much effort. Anya never decayed so much as we didn't get to see her final fight, though it was against something that wasn't so much a knightmare as a small battleship, and her motivation to fight for brittania is the loss of her memories caused by geass, something her opponent could negate. Gino never really decayed in the slightest, managing to fight against the Lancelot Albion in a far inferior machine for a while. * Subverted in ''Anime/YuGiOh'' with Yami Bakura. Initially he's really just a side-villain, nowhere near a main threat, and no one really spends a lot of time on him - in fact, in the first season he's defeated by the sidekick in a sideplot while Yugi is busy with the BigBad. As it turns out, this works to his advantage, since it allows him to lurk around setting up his evil plans with no one noticing. By the time the final season rolls around, he puts all those puzzle pieces to work and becomes the season's Big Bad. * ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'': Viral was designed for this trope. In his first appearance, he nearly hands the heroes their asses, but in every further appearance he's defeated with less effort. Despite showing up with a new upgraded mecha each time, [[spoiler:he's eventually beaten by the humans' mass-produced mecha whose pilots don't even break a sweat. The reason for this, in-show, is because non-evolving beastmen can never match the constantly growing power of the spiral-powered humans. He [[RedemptionPromotion gets better]] after his HeelFaceTurn.]] * Interesting metaexample: in the ''Manga/SailorMoon'' anime the {{Quirky Miniboss Squad}}s, and MonstersOfTheWeek, grow less menacing and more comedic with each passing season. This did not hold to the manga. ** StarterVillain Jadeite started off a competant threat. He had powerful minions, [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomped]] Sailor Moon during their first meeting, and actually managed to succeed in getting away with human energy in one scheme, earning Queen Beryl's compliments. But right after that last event, things began to go downhill for Jadeite. [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Very downhill.]] Once he got HoistByHisOwnPetard for the last time, Queen Beryl [[YouHaveFailedMe "decommissioned" him for good.]] The rest of the [[QuirkyMinibossSquad Shittenou]] avoided the trope, with Nephrite and Kunzite never ceasing to be threats (though Kunzite slips when he gets his own arc), and Zoisite never being much of one to begin with so that he couldn't possibly decay (he always relied on [[DirtyCoward dirty tricks]] in order to be dangerous.) ** The Ayakashi Sisters in the manga are murderous maniacs, while in the anime they were merely misled and are granted a chance to live free in modern day Tokyo. The manga also had them capable of killing the Sailor Senshi with ease, something they struggled with in the anime. *** Having said that, the Akayashi sisters did display the ability to form plans in the anime, in the manga, all they did was show, beat their Senshi counterpart and then get killed by Usagi. [[TooDumbToLive They never seemed to pick up the fact they should AVOID fighting her when she kept killing them.]] ** Queen Nehellenia was still evil in the anime, but only because she was misled, and she was eventually redeemed and granted a second chance at life in ''Stars''. In the manga, she was evil incarnate (a spawn of Chaos), responsible for the death of the Moon Kingdom ''and'' the current calamity, and was destroyed by Usagi and Mamoru. *** Though Nehellenia does put up more of a fight in the anime than she does in the manga, though could mostly be attributed to the heroes being much weaker in the anime, and at the start of ''Stars'', she still manages to be a threat when she lures the Sailor Senshi into her mirror and nearly kills them. ** Inverted from manga to anime with the side story villain Princess Kagua. In the manga, she's briefly beaten after a fight that lasts one panel, in the movie adaption of the side story, she nearly annihilates the Sailor Senshi and actually beats Usagi's SuperMode. * The Gillian in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. When one makes its first appearance, it is a genuine threat, very scary, and only barely driven off by Ichigo and Uryu double-teaming it. By the start of the Arrancar arc, we've learned that [[spoiler:the Menos which Ichigo drove off is a mere soldier, and while dangerous, no threat to a captain class [[{{Shinigami}} Soul Reaper]]. There also exist the higher order Menos, the Adjuchas and Vasto Lordes, the latter of which far exceed any captain in ability. By the time of the Captain Amagai arc (possibly filler, or possibly a deleted storyline like the Forest of the Menos), the giant Gillian is a threat that can be destroyed by only five or six ordinary Soul Reapers; generally without even using their Shikai. (if they even have one)]] Sorta pathetic for a creature which requires the Special Royal Guards Squad to defeat. ** Plain ol' hollows were only dangerous for the first 15 episodes or so. Once Uryu shows up, it's shown that he and Ichigo can each take them on four at a time without much trouble. In the beginning of the Captain Amagai filler arc, Ichigo is up against over 50 hollows and uses his bankai (no mask, just bankai). Rukia chides him for unnecessarily wasting his spirit energy, though this mostly because Ichigo's grown much stronger over time. Hollows that were a threat in the beginning wouldn't stand a chance against him after that. ** Aizen picks this up in a different way than the Hollows do; when he first appears, he is a bona fide MagnificentBastard, having manipulated everyone for over a century to get his hands on the MacGuffin and pulverizing all opposition easily once it's time for him to make his move. When the Hueco Mundo arc rolls around, however, Aizen's lost most of his mojo and slid into SmugSnake territory. That said, he ''did'' manage to achieve CompleteImmortality before being beaten, so his ultimate fate was simply imprisonment as nobody knows ''how'' to kill him. * Orochimaru from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' suffers from some Villain Decay over time. In the Chunin Exam arc, he's too strong for any of the heroes to defeat, forcing the Third Hokage to sacrifice himself to save the village (which doesn't even kill him entirely). Then it's revealed that he lost to Itachi in the past while trying to claim his body, and in most of the battles after that, he's defeated easily or forced to retreat. This is partly because he [[WorfHadTheFlu he isn't always at full strength when he fights]], but it shows that he's lost much of his original threat. This was worst when he fought against Itachi (while fighting Sasuke) in the manga, and was defeated in merely a few pages. ** Also his minions from the Sound Village suffer from this, in Part 1, even the weakest of them including FillerVillain was a serious threat, and the Sound Four were so powerful that it took two of their opponents to give everything they had to kill them; in fact their leader was so strong that he would've won his fight if not for a terminal disease. when Part 2 comes around most of them (excluding those who join Hebi) are whiny wimps dependent on Kabuto. * Tarant Shank, the arguable BigBad of ''TenchiMuyoGXP'', decays very fast. In his first appearance he's portrayed as an extremely dangerous and unstable villain who nearly kills Seina, Mitoto, and Kiriko, and leaves Seina traumatized from the experience. However, his next appearance has him appear with a broken arm (revealed later to be from [[spoiler: fighting Tenchi and company off screen]]) and he quickly goes downhill from there; his plans are easily foiled by Seina's group, his ship is utterly destroyed, and his role as BigBad is supplanted by [[spoiler: Seiryo]] of all people. He makes a minor comeback in the final few episodes, but never quite manages to regain the same threat level he had in his original appearance. * The Trinity Siblings in ''{{Gundam 00}}'' may qualify. Their first appearance sets the group up as a very skilled fighting force, with them single-handedly rescuing the other Meisters from certain capture, and obliterating most of the Union's and Human Reform League's ranks. However, following this, they're systematically defeated time after time, even, in part, by faceless EliteMooks, until it culminates in [[spoiler: the resident CompleteMonster shooting one of them dead and effortlessly defeating the second, the third being handily saved by a timely intervention of her enemy.]] This can, somewhat, be justified, as they were caught off guard by both the Trial System's effects and the GN-X models, which were on par with Gundams, but the fact that they put up so little of a fight is still surprising. ** The other antagonists of the second season decay pretty badly by its second half. First, A-LAWS and then Ribbons' personal squad of personality-lacking bishonen initially appear as very threatening antagonists, repeatedly pushing the Celestial Being to the brink of destruction, but then decay to {{Elite Mook}}s, with A-LAWS eventually being demoted all the way to the status of normal {{Mook}}s that die ineffectually by the dozens in the final episodes. If we count things beyond sheer combat potential, Ribbons himself decays very badly as well: after being presented as a cunning MagnificentBastard who manipulated everyone for his own gain in the first season; in the second season he can't come up with anything better than making his puppets commit massive atrocities for no apparent purpose. This culminates with firing a WaveMotionGun in the midst of a space battle that wipes out his own A-LAWS fleet while doing little damage to the enemy, and then using a bunch of SuperMode-powered Mobile Suits piloted by {{Super Soldier}}s as suicide weapons. ** Ali Al-Saachez in Season 2, despite having become Ribbon's Dragon. It culminates in him getting shot in the face while attempting to pull an ISurrenderSuckers on Lockon II. This actually makes sense though, as most of the people he defeated in Season 1 were fighting at some sort of disadvantage, or, in Setsuna's case, were trained by Ali. * In ''MacrossPlus'', the X-9 Ghost Unmanned Fighter is a terrifying threat, capable of fighting off ''two'' {{Ace Pilot}}s, even though each is using their respective SuperPrototype against it. When the mass-production model of the X-9, the Ghost V-9 shows up in the GrandFinale of ''MacrossFrontier'', [[spoiler:under the control of the ''Galaxy'' fleet,]] they are reduced to mere EliteMooks, which can easily be taken on one on one by SMS's {{Ace Pilot}}s. They ''do'' slaughter the RedshirtArmy however. ** It helps that the [=VF=]-25 is far, ''far'' more advanced than the [=YF=]-21 and [=YF=]-19. Also the V-9s were under Slave control of the [[spoiler:Battle Galaxy (that is, Grace herself)]]. When Luca [[spoiler:released his own V-9 escort drones via the [=JUDAH=] System]], he made specific mention of them having become just as deadly as the prototype Ghost X-9. * ''GGundam'' has [[spoiler: Wong Yun Fat, the Neo Hong Kong Premier and sponsor of the Gundam Fight]]. He's an intelligent AffablyEvil MagnificentBastard with dashes of TheChessMaster, but as the plot advances and we get into the Battle Royale arc, [[spoiler: he gets [[DroppedABridgeOnHim two very undignified deaths]] that reduce his MagnificentBastard points so he can give space for the ''true'' mastermind, TheStarscream Urube Ishikawa.]] * A particularly jarring example is [[spoiler: The Shinigami Grell Sutcliffe]] from ''Manga/BlackButler''. Starts off as a supernatural serial killer with a magic chainsaw who also happens to be Jack The Ripper’s [[TheDragon Dragon]]. But once they took away his chainsaw he quickly devolved into the ButtMonkey. So much so that after a handful of episodes none of the characters view Grell any differently from the rest of the comic relief. * Hao from ''ShamanKing'' gets hit by this hard at the very end. A thousand years old, and controls the fundamental spirit of fire (That eats souls), willing to wait a long time for his plans to succeed and very calm and calculating. There was no way for our heroes to succeed in the final showdown, even with superior numbers. So at the end he loses his cool, calm and collected demeanor and loses largely because of that. ** In the ''ShamanKing'' manga, Hao really was unbeatable [[spoiler: and became the titular Shaman King.]] The anime had to pull a stock shonen ending instead of that, though, since the manga ending hadn't come out at the time, so they needed to make him lose, somehow. * Envy in the later parts of the ''FullmetalAlchemist'' manga. The guy who [[spoiler: killed Hughes]] and generally made life miserable for every protagonist, and he's kicked Ed's ass at least once. His last two fights are against [[spoiler: Marcoh, who uses his knowledge of philosopher's stones to decompose him (and before that he was just getting jerked around by [[BadassAdorable May Chang]], including [[AssShove getting a rock hand shoved between his ass cheeks]]), and Roy, who puts him through one of the worst [[CurbStompBattle curb stompings]] in manga history.]] ** Gluttony, after a brief moment of UnstoppableRage after learning that [[spoiler:Roy killed Lust]], is left on the brink of death after the first battle in Father's inner sanctum, forcing Father to restore him. In his next appearance in battle, Lan Fan is easily able to cut him to pieces, [[spoiler:and Pride decides that he'd be more useful if he ate him and absorbed his sense of smell]]. * Buggy the Clown and his crew from ''OnePiece'' spent their first appearance as a serious threat. In the manga, Buggy's first scene is him brutally killing one of his own crew members (he actually spares the guy in the anime.) But after Buggy's defeat, in all subsequent appearances he is portrayed as incompetent and having lost much of the "monster" in his status as a MonsterClown. ** What's worse is that he was once an apprentice pirate with Shanks in [[spoiler:The ''Roger'' Pirates]], and while they would seem to be of equal power or potential, Shanks seems even stronger each time we learn more about him (like being compared to Mihawk, and turning out to be one of the Four Emperors), while Buggy couldn't defeat one of Impel Down's [[EliteMook Blugori]] while Luffy effortlessly takes down five. *** A [[LampshadeHanging lampshade is hung on this]] when Luffy and the group of big-name former prisoners he was with him finally escaped Impel Down. At about this point, Buggy's past on the Roger Crew was revealed, causing [[WholesomeCrossdresser Emporio Ivankov]] to muse that Buggy is likely the 'disgrace' of the Roger Pirates. ** The Pacifistas. They're initially capable of fighting against the entire Straw Hat crew and more than a match for each of the Supernovas. Then, in the Paramount War, Boa Hancock is able to take down many of them, and large groups of Whitebeard Pirate {{Mook}}s can fare well against them. On the other hand, these groups ''are'' very experienced pirates (New World veterans, in fact), as opposed to 'rookies' like Luffy, and Hancock is [[spoiler:or probably was at the time]] much stronger than him. [[spoiler:After the TimeSkip, Luffy, Zoro and Sanji almost effortlessly defeat two of them. Then it gets subverted when Sentomaru mentions that those two were outdated models, and the Pacifista project has advanced even further in the last two years]]. ** Sir Crocodile, on the other hand, averts this hard. He is defeated by Luffy fairly early in the story, and despite the Straw Hats having become significantly more powerful since then, he remains a very dangerous and powerful man throughout - even in spite of being removed from Alabasta, where his element, sand, was abundant. His NumberTwo, Daz Bones, counts as well. ** Mihawk also averts this, mostly. His first appearance has him cutting ships in half with his {{BFS}} and blocking katanas with a pocket knife. The next time we see him, while Whitebeard and the Admirals appear to much stronger than he is, he has a brief fight with Luffy which Luffy quickly runs away from seeing that Mihawk is still too strong for him. * ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' has Kuno, who, in the very earliest portions of the story, is represented as some sort of deadly, even lethal threat to Ranma...up until his first defeat, after which, he was little more than a ButtMonkey even on his best of days, with Ranma BadassBack attacks leveling him. They don't even ''mention'' Kuno as being in any way threatening even to the untrained civilians of the cast. In fact, Kuno actually managing to disrupt the status quo and gain the advantage over Ranma via some PlotDevice is usually such a big deal as to be the focus of the episode. * Arguably, Giriko from ''Manga/SoulEater''. That is, the idea of a mad git with a chainsaw as a Weapon form does start out as a dangerous prospect, especially when he defeats the kids with no effort whatsoever meaning Justin Law had to step in (cue convenient example of the skill of a Death Scythe). Afterward, he spends too much time getting drunk and womanizing to be any kind of threat. ** Until Chapter 75 where [[spoiler:he shows up in the book of Eibon to [[CurbStompBattle beat seven shades out of the recently Death Scythe'd Soul Eater.]]]] * All those evil corporations, organizations and elite hacker groups seem pretty daunting at first in ''SerialExperimentsLain''. The knights were particularly presented as being high-level hackers. It has you rather worried for Lain, that is until we find out (MAJOR SPOILER) [[spoiler:that Lain has complete control of the Wired, which in its merging state with the real world, makes her God. Sayonara, Eiri! Knights: DELETED.]] * Kagura in ''Manga/InuYasha'' suffers this. She nearly overwhelms Inuyasha on her own in his first two fights with her, but a big contributor to that was his inability to use his Wind Scar supermove on her because she could control the air. When he gained the ability to use it whenever he wanted, he could take her easily. She was, however, still a tough enemy for the rest of the cast. What really killed her as a threat was [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil the constant popping up of villains stronger then her]]. * Minor example: Misa Amane in ''Manga/DeathNote'', who starts out as a typical GenkiGirl {{Moe}} {{Yandere}} PerkyFemaleMinion with moments of sinister AxCrazy creepiness. After she has her Death Note stolen (twice), she becomes a GenkiGirl {{Moe}} {{Yandere}} PerkyFemaleMinion ''without'' any moments of AxCrazy creepiness, and stays that way for the rest of the series. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that having one's Death Note taken away erases all memories that the owner had ever since owning it. ** Possibly played straight. In her first few episodes she's seen as a competent villain and legitimate threat even managing to [[spoiler: kill a member of the Kira investigation team and finding out Kira's identity]]. Once she [[LoveMakesYouDumb met up with Light]], she began to decay fast. * From Manga/RurouniKenshin, Isurugi Raijuta, as admitted by [[WordofGod the author himself]]. A fearsome swordsman possessed of [[GeniusBruiser "macho intelligence"]] and a [[SocialDarwinist belief]] that's on the opposite spectrum of the hero's...but in the final battle, he's revealed to be a cowardly fake, who's never actually killed anyone and gets taken out with one blow (and [[VillainousBreakdown completely broken]] afterwards). * In [[VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi Higurashi]] [[spoiler: Miyo Takano]] went from trying to kill Rika, and [[AGodAmI become God]], to [[spoiler: trying to use the real Hinimzawa Syndrome to become "Queen of the World."]] Though given that it was an OVA episode... * Manga/{{Haruhichan}} parodies this in episode 3 with Achakura leaving Nagato's apartment to kill Kyon. Her result for attempting such thing? A cat attack which causes Achakura to change her mind. * ''Manga/DragonBall'' has this trope, and it has happened within the series on ''numerous'' occasions to the point that it's practically procedural after a villain's initial defeat; To list every instance would need its own trope page. Within the span of episodes, villains can fall from being ridiculously lethal and dire threats to being utterly outclassed in every possible way. Likely [[JustifiedTrope justified]] by the fact that the protagonists' strength grows enormously throughout the series, while most other characters stay at around the same level. A rule of thumb is that after a villain has been defeated once before, they're chopped liver. It's taken to its extreme ''twice'': once in the Dragon Ball Z movie Fusion Reborn when entire scores of previously-killed villains from the original and Z series (and even a couple from the movies!) manage to escape from Hell and are effortlessly defeated by the much more powerful cast. Even Frieza, who was offed in a single attack. ** Frieza and Cell get hit the hardest by trope in filler episodes and the non-canon ''DragonBallGT''. Each of them took an entire saga to be defeated, and at the time they were more threatening and powerful than the rest of the cast by a ridiculously large margin. But after their time in the story's limelight ended and new threats took their place, Frieza and Cell would be handed their asses effortlessly. Frieza, on FOUR separate occasions, ate vicious curbstomp defeats, two of which were decided by a single devastating strike. Cell fares slightly better, but not by much; Pikkon one-shot him in Hell, and Goku effortlessly and simultaneously made Cell and Frieza look like clowns. [[/folder]] [[folder:Comic Books]] * Generally speaking, this has been a big problem for American SuperHero comics for a long time, due to their serialized nature and the constantly recurring villains. This was ''[[TropeCodifier especially]]'' a problem during the SilverAge, where writers like StanLee would have the villains openly say "'''This''' time my '''brilliant plan''' will '''work perfectly!''' And those '''pesky heroes''' will be '''unable''' to '''''[[NothingCanStopUsNow stop me!!!]]'''''" and whatnot without any sense of irony after having been clobbered multiple times already (and the reader was supposed to take the threat to the hero at straight face value, to boot). A lot of the accomplishments - and problems - surrounding American comicry from the 1970s onward can be traced in large part to attempting to combat Villain Decay while keeping the now-decades-old continuity running without having to constantly invent [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil new villains]]. * The Franchise/{{Predator}} extraterrestrial embodies this trope after being trounced by virtually every other comic book character in the industry. Despite the incredible awesomeness of the original ''AlienVsPredator'' comics, it later became a check-the-block for every character from {{Superman}} to JudgeDredd beat up a Predator at least once in their career. This trope is somewhat rationalised by the fact that the Predator's code of honor means they must look for a "fair fight." But let's face it: if someone wrote "Aliens vs. Predator vs. Terminator vs. Robocop vs. SquirrelGirl," [[CaptainObvious Squirrel Girl would win]]. * By far, SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker from the ''{{Batman}}'' comic book series. [[http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/comics101/46.html This page]] nicely details his periods of decay. Arguably, the same thing can be said for any other villain featured in the 60's show. 1973's "The Joker's Five Way Revenge" returned him to his original personality of scary sadistic madman. [[BronzeAge From]] [[DarkAge then]] [[ModernAge on]] there have [[TheKillingJoke been]] [[ADeathInTheFamily certain]] [[{{DCAU}} story]][[Film/TheDarkKnight lines]] that will ensure that the Joker may never suffer VillainDecay again if we keep going in this direction. ** Said decay, depending on which continuity you follow, has become a part of Joker's character: He can go from complete goof ball to CompleteMonster in an instant and, according to GrantMorrison, went through the decay because he likes to "reinvent" his act every so often. ** As to the 60's show, it actually ''reversed'' the Villain Decay of a lot of villains; it didn't cause it. Riddler and Mister Freeze in the show might seem goofy today, but prior to the show both characters had only appeared in a handful of issues and the TV series is actually what established them as major rogues. They might have been silly, but that's better than being forgotten and forgettable, plus no bad guy on the show was quite the HarmlessVillain they have been remembered as- it may have been light-hearted entertainment, but they ''did'' nearly kill Batman and Robin in various horrible and sadistic ways at the end of every other episode, after all. * Many villains of {{Crisis Crossover}}s suffer this if they are ever seen again. The Beyonder of Marvel's ''SecretWars'' is a good example. Presented as a mysterious and powerful cosmic being in the original maxi-series, he assumes human form and becomes mostly a joke in ''Secret Wars II''. One memorable scene involves {{Spider-Man}} teaching him how to use the bathroom. It doesn't help that his character was portrayed inconsistently throughout the second maxi-series and the [[RedSkiesCrossover tie-ins]]. In one tie-in, he's murdering the NewMutants (only to bring them BackFromTheDead later), in another he's consoling the Human Torch over the accidental death of a fan. It's little wonder that ''Secret Wars II'' is considered 'drek' by many comics fans. * The Marvel supervillain Abomination has probably lost more bad boy status than almost any other. Originally a {{Hulk}} villain, he started out up-powered even by the Hulk's standards, whomping him down in their first encounter. He then had some gamma power stripped, which was added to the Hulk, thus losing in their next encounter. He then suffered a series of beatdowns at the hands of the Hulk, leading to humiliating exposition as his character developed a fear of even encountering the Hulk anymore. But that was not the end of it. Over subsequent years, he became a chew toy to show how badass the lower bricks in the Marvel universe could be, taking solo beatdowns at the hands of both Wonder Man and She-Hulk. Oh, true, they ''pulled out all the stops'' in their demonstration of badassery, but the Abomination just can't get any respect, in spite of still remaining perhaps the physically strongest character without some quasi-infinite trick up their sleeve. ** He got a slightly better treatment in the ''Chaos War'' [[IncredibleHercules Herc]] [[BatFamilyCrossover family crossover]], where, after having been killed off a couple years ago by the RedHulk, he [[LikeABadassoutOfHell comes back]] as a servant for the BigBad [[EldritchAbomination Chaos King]]. After tearing through a team of Hulks, Comicbook/DoctorStrange states that he was "the Underworld's strongest prisoner". He's still dead again by the end of the story, but he definitely got some cred back. * Colonel Olrik of ''BlakeAndMortimer'' fame fits this trope to a tee. In his first appearance, he aided TheEmpire in bringing about WorldWarThree and successfully conquering the world. Understandably, his later appearances as a smuggler/thief/spy are not as impressive. ** Even when [[spoiler:said Empire's bloodthirsty dictator was brought BackFromTheDead via TimeTravel and Olrik joined him once more]] in ''The Strange Encounter'' he was little more than a thug. * The Hobgoblin from ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}''. [[http://www.spideykicksbutt.com/SquanderedLegacy/SquanderedLegacyPart1.html This page]] tells it all. ** Also, ComicBook/{{Venom}}, whose career as a psychotic murderer and Spider-Man's most frightening enemy ended the minute he decided to become "the Lethal Protector". *** It's so much worse than that. In Venom's early days, he was able to tango with both Spidey AND the Human Torch. Remember, he's weak to fire. In his first appearance, he almost KILLED Spider-Man. Fast forward about seven years. Spider-Man, in a bored nonchalant manner, sends him running scared WITH A LIGHTER. * In his first appearance, Doomsday was an ImplacableMan who weathered the combined attacks of numerous superheroes without much effect before he and {{Superman}} tore up half the city killing each other. In his second appearance, they were only able to stop him by [[spoiler: sending him to the end of time]]. Also, Doomsday has the ability to come back from the dead, now immune to whatever killed him in the first place. Apparently, Superman is now easily capable of defeating him alone, because he decided he needn't be afraid of him anymore. Or something. ** If we're thinking of the same instance, it was a one-off because [[spoiler: Doomsday had become intelligent, rendering him able to fear death. The intelligence was later removed, rendering him his previous un-psych-out-able self]]. ** This is actually about PowerCreepPowerSeep. When Superman fought Doomsday in 1992, he was in his least powerful incarnation since the late 40's/early 50's. Fans thought they had gone too far {{DePower}}ing him in the late 80's and wanted him to have some of his awesomeness back so Superman learned over the past several years that he had been [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech holding back,]] not allowing himself to be as powerful as he could be. If you read everything from 1992 through the early 2000's, it actually makes sense. There is even a reference to it in the story where Pa Kent reaches out to Superman spiritually during his near death experience and convinces Superman that he should stop artificially imposing human limitations on himself. His soul had not returned to it's intact body because he thought he was supposed to die. * The zombie Comicbook/FantasticFour from ''MarvelZombies'' were capable of overpowering Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Thor, and Doctor Strange. Later, all we needed was Ultimate Doctor Doom (controlled by Ultimate Reed Richards) to [[spoiler: kill them all]]. ** It's clearly established that they had surprise on their side at least partly -- plus a handy ability to [[ZombieApocalypse turn anyone they bit into zombies]], which evened the odds somewhat. * Marvel Comics' {{Onslaught}} initially appeared as beyond godlike and it took every superhero on Earth to defeat him. He made a recent return in which he was [[spoiler: defeated far more easily and sent to the Negative Zone.]] ** When he did come back, he was the subject of a low-selling mini where he was defeated by CaptainAmerica and some of the author's PetCharacters. Not very fitting for a guy who took on the Marvel Universe at one point. * Dr. Light in TheDCU. At first, he was tough enough to take on the whole Justice League, and then declines through the 1980s to the point where he is beaten by the kid ''non-powered'' superhero team, Little Boy Blue and his Blue Boys. ** This was explained/{{retcon}}ned in the infamous ''IdentityCrisis'' storyline as the League having given him what amounted to a psychic lobotomy via {{Zatanna}}'s magical powers after he had sneaked aboard the Watchtower and [[MoralEventHorizon raped Sue Dibny]]. He later recovered and went back to his threatening self...until TheSpectre turned him into a candle. *** After getting his memories back, most of his appearances gave him a faster variety of villain decay. ''IdentityCrisis'' was intended to turn him into a serious and intelligent foe for the JLA once more, but instead, he became a serial rapist who went on about how much he liked rape. **** His constantly reminding us of the rape thing is apparently intended to make him seem more evil, but it actually makes the decay worse: he used to be a C-list villain, but now he comes off as a C-list villain who ''desperately'' clings to having managed to hurt ''non-powered civilians'' in a way non-powered thugs in reality do with (very sad) regularity hoping someone will take him seriously. * Gepetto, the evil mastermind of ''{{Fables}}'' contracted a bad case of villain decay. He'd conquered and ruled countless realms for centuries, but after he lost the first couple battles of the new war, he became depressed and sat about moaning while his Empire fell to pieces, until the heroes came and took him to live in a nice new apartment in New York City. * {{Justice League|OfAmerica}} villain Prometheus was originally created by GrantMorrison to be the [[DiabolicalMastermind JLA's Moriarty.]] He was a [[CrazyAwesome psychotic]] [[CrazyPrepared anti-Batman]] who used a high-tech helmet to [[NeuralImplanting load information and fighting skills directly into his brain.]] He had an [[StartOfDarkness exceptional origin story]], [[HomemadeInventions built his own unorthodox weapons]], and he killed an [[EldritchAbomination evil interdimensional alien monk]] to steal his teleporter. Prometheus took down the Justice League in his first appearance (even Batman) and then...He became a {{Mook}}. [[RetCon Much later]], it was revealed that these appearances were his never before mentioned sidekick [[CostumeCopycat using his gear]] while the real Prometheus was imprisoned in his own mind (and, you know, prison). When he finally escapes, he [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge tracks down his sidekick]] and [[KillItWithFire lights him on fire.]] ** This was Lampshaded by the [[TortureTechnician Crime Doctor]] in ''ComicBook/BirdsOfPrey'' #94: -->'''Crime Doctor''': You know, Prometheus, I'm almost disappointed...When you first appeared on the scene, we were all mighty impressed. You carry the knowledge of the world's thirty greatest fighters in your helmet, Right? The point is, we thought you'd be a world beater. Then we heard Catwoman tore your manhood. We heard Hush made you his punk. ** Although that issue uses his VillainDecay to make it that much more shocking when he destroys [[FishOutOfTemporalWater Lady Blackhawk]], Huntress, [[{{Invisibility}} Mirage]], and [[BadAss Lady Shiva]]. ** James Robinson made him a real threat again in ''CryForJustice''. However, he was surprised when [[spoiler:Green Arrow shows up to kill him, despite Green Arrow having been a killer for years in continuity.]] * The recurring ''{{Tintin}}'' villains are ineffectual and ridiculous in their last appearance in ''Flight 714''. Former BigBad Rastapopoulos is reduced to playground banter ''with his intended victim'' over which of them is nastier, ''and loses''. According to WordOfGod, Rastapopoulos ''would'' have been more menacing...if only [[FashionVictimVillain his outfit hadn't ended up looking so utterly daft]]. Herge apparently took one look at his own sketches and was unable to see him as a serious threat ever again. * Herr Starr, in ''{{Preacher}}'', was actually genuinely menacing in his first appearance (and again in his StartOfDarkness). [[ButtMonkey That didn't last very long at all.]] Not even the fact that he [[EvilerThanThou frequently defeats other villains]] does anything to stop the decay - mostly because poor Starr just can't seem to stop losing body parts... * A rare example of a character suffering this at the hands of their own creator: Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, AKA The General, was an EnfanteTerrible that could have passed for the son of the Joker in his first appearance. His backstory has him ''burning down a building'' at the military academy where he was educated, not because the academy's bullies lived there, but because he was bored. He then proceeds to run away to Gotham with a bunch of guns, shoot rival gang members and law enforcement alike in cold blood, and lays siege to a police station with an ''army'' of gang members armed with ''rocket launchers''. Oh, and he also had the balls to ''smack Batman in the back of the head with a shovel, sending the Dark Knight plunging three stories down'', [[UngratefulBastard after Batman had just saved his life.]] All done at the tender age of 11. Later, when creator Chuck Dixon reused him in the LighterAndSofter ''Robin'' ongoing, he started acting more his age, began to incessantly quote military figures, and was generally PlayedForLaughs a lot more. * Allegedly CarlBarks of DonaldDuck fame claimed that Magica de Spell "demanded a strong plot", but later writers have had her go after [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck's]] lucky dime, again and again. She is now a VillainProtagonist in many stories focusing on new trinkets and gadgets she obtains for this purpose. As a result, her character has mellowed considerably over the years, moving into IneffectualSympatheticVillain territory. * In ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'', we get a good example of this trope in the EvilSorcerer Ixis Naugus. When originally introduced, he was an extremely powerful wizard with power over the elements and who sent Sonic and Tails on a wild goose chase around the world before being [[SealedEvilInACan banished to the Void]]. When he came back a few years later, he soon found himself reduced to Mammoth Mogul's [[TheDragon Dragon]], but was still threatening...at least, until his time as Dr. Eggman's prisoner destroyed his mind, leaving him a mindless beast Mogul kept as a pet. [[spoiler: But as of issue 220, Nagus has had his mind and powers restored by a Chaos Emerald wielded by his [[TheDragon apprentice]] [[FaceHeelTurn Geoffery St. John]], and has set himself up as the BigBad of the current arc. And so far, he's been doing pretty well for himself.]] ** Series BigBad Eggman himself goes through several instances of this--sometimes in-universe--he'd finally lost his marbles completely and stayed that way for most of a nearly year long story arc. He's largely recovered--both from the in universe decay and the meta version--by becoming the go-to 'event' villain. The last five years or so have involved Eggman launching tremendously huge attack that significantly alters the status quo--only barely being beaten--then hiding out or otherwise removing himself from direct conflict for a while while Sonic and co. deal with other, lesser (for the most part) villains, then launching an attack that once again significantly alters the status quo. *** Part of this is due to the writers taking away one of the main reasons he was a threat - his ability to turn people into robots. Then came Sonic Genesis where he [[spoiler:hit a "reset" switch that made it possible to roboticize again.]] While his whole plan didn't pan out [[spoiler:he got a consolation prize in the form of [[HeroicSacrifice Mecha Sally]]]] and the villain decay seems to be wearing off. * It's been brought up in-universe that Marvel villain Arcade has never succeeded in killing a superhero, even though that's actually [[CareerKillers his job]]. ** Justified though, as Arcade doesn't do it for money or out of spite, he does it because he loves the thrill of seeing the superheroes fighting out of his Murderworld amusement park. Now as to why anyone still bothers to hire him remains an untold story. ** The upcoming AvengersAcademy "Murderworld" event has Arcade frustrated by this. He decides to reclaim some cred by trapping a bunch of young heroes in Murderworld and force them to kill each other in a tournament ala TheHungerGames or BattleRoyale. [[/folder]] [[folder:Fan Fiction]] * In the beginning of ''FanFic/SnowAngels'', Disaster is introduced as an [[PhysicalGod almighty being]] capable of [[EldritchAbomination driving people to madness just by seeing it]]. For a short while the heroes (who include a [[TimeTravel time traveler]] and SufficientlyAdvancedAlien) actually have trouble fighting Disaster, but by the end of the first arc, Disaster has decayed so much that it's beaten up by perfectly-mundane schoolgirls. Ironically, Disaster is the same entity as [[spoiler:Sasaki]], so [[spoiler:she]] actually received an upgrade before the decay. [[/folder]] [[folder:Film]] * General Grievous in ''Franchise/StarWars''. Viewers' first look at Grievous occurs during the ''StarWarsCloneWars'' animated series, in which the cyborg took on six Jedi at once [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXQx_QLY8XM and completely destroyed them]] without much effort, [[EstablishingCharacterMoment establishing him]] as an unstoppable killing machine. However, the series' production team developed the character independently from the films' team. For Grievous's live-action appearance, Lucas wrote him as a significantly lower threat. The live-action Obi-wan faces a significantly weaker Grievous and dispatches him fairly quickly all by himself. The second season of the animated series attempts to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the discrepancy by revealing more of Grievous's evasive nature and showing how he received the injuries he displays in the live-action film. ** Just to give you an idea of the difference, in the movies Grievous was killed by being shot a few times by Obi-Wan while in the cartoon Mace Windu used his force powers to '''collapse Grievous's torso in on itself''' and Grievous ''lived''. * Grievous's decay has reached a new rock bottom in Season 4 ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars. [[spoiler: After not being able to tell that [[TheScrappy Jar Jar Binks]] [[IdenticalStranger wasn't the Gungan Boss]], he engages Captain Tarpals in single combat and though he kills him, he gets stabbed THROUGH by him, then pelted with the Gungan Armies weapons...and is finally captured.]] ** He manages to subvert this sometime, most noteably near the end of Season 4. [[spoiler: Dooku sent Grievous after his former [[TheDragon apprentice]], Asajj Ventress, who had earlier tried to [[MistreatmentInducedBetrayal take revenge]] on [[TheDogBitesBack him]] for betraying and almost killing her. Arriving on Dathomir, Grievous and his droid army tore through the [[AmazonBrigade Nightsisters]] and their ArmyOfTheDead. 'Though Grievous lost in his one-on-one fight with Ventress, when he realised he can't defeat her, he [[DirtyCoward had]] [[CombatPragmatist his droid army]] [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy shoot]] at her while he kept her lightsabers in a BladeLock.]] ** You know you're not the BadAss you used to be when one of your more impressive feats is [[CombatPragmatist pulling out a gun and shooting a Jedi]] while they were in a BladeLock. [[MultiArmedandDangerous With you.]] * BigBad [[{{Godzilla}} King Ghidorah]] went from being the most feared creature in the universe his VERY film debut to being TheDragon for a variety of evil aliens in the sequels (As well as being the result of [[BiologicalMashUp being three mind-controlled pets fused into one monster in one alternate universe]]). To make matters worse, he went from being a monster that took 2-3 other monsters to defeat and over 6 to kill to being EASILY blown apart by Godzilla with little effort. ** It doesn't help that he was portrayed as a '''hero''' in the film ''Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack''. That was due to ExecutiveMeddling more than anything else. ** And then there is Godzilla himself, who has suffered from this trope to an unbelievable degree, starting as a devastating monster representing the terrors of nuclear radiation, and was later portrayed as a child-friendly defender of the earth. * Film/JamesBond nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his SPECTRE minions were pretty threatening [[Film/DrNo the]] [[Film/FromRussiaWithLove first]] [[Film/{{Thunderball}} 5]] [[Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice times]] [[Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService that]] Bond fought them. But in ''Film/DiamondsAreForever'', Blofeld is reduced to stealing the identity of [[CaptainErsatz Howard Hughes knockoff]] Willard Whyte and hijacking Whyte's company to continue his plans. It's probably for the best that legal issues prevented Blofeld and SPECTRE from showing up again, although he does get a LawyerFriendlyCameo in ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', where he's dispatched in the unrelated opening teaser. Blofeld and SPECTRE also undergo VillainDecay in IanFleming's [[Literature/JamesBond original books]], but in a completely different fashion. ** In ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', Jaws is an unstoppable beast worthy of a slasher film. In ''Film/{{Moonraker}}'', he's a cartoon character. * Aliens in the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' series. [[Film/{{Alien}} The first installment]] was a horror film in space, with a single, nearly invincible alien stalking and killing the helpless crew of a spaceship. However, the sequel ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' was an action film, where a swarm of xenomorphs overwhelm a squad of space marines by virtue of sheer numbers. Since then, xenomorphs have increasingly been depicted as cannon fodder. The merchandise has further stripped the Alien of its mystique and creepy sexual undertones, being produced in all kinds of increasingly parodic forms (plush, Lego, superdeformed). ** The key thing to remember about the first ''Alien'' movie was that the body count was more due to the crew being helpless (having no guns, worrying about the Alien's acidic blood eating through the hull of the ship) than anything else. In ''{{Alien 3}}'', there was a similar situation to the first movie because the people again, had no guns. ** The swansong of the Alien came in ''AliensVsPredatorRequiem'', which featured a gigantic Predator-Alien hybrid engaging in a ridiculous, rubber-suited kaiju battle with a Predator. At that point, it was no longer a horror icon -- it was a cartoon character like Wile E. Coyote. *** ''Requiem'' displays this throughout, with the lone Yautja dispatching both hordes of Aliens and single Aliens (so ConservationOfNinjutsu is not in effect) with ridiculous ease. This may be due to the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, not exactly being big fans of the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' half of the AVP equation. At one point, the Yautja slices up an Alien, and then finishes it by squashing its head under his foot ([[FridgeLogic which should have cost him his foot, what with the acid blood and all]]). On the commentary track, the Brothers Strause snark "I bet all the ''Alien'' fanboys whined over '''that''' one!" [[SarcasmMode Way to respect your source material, guys.]] * Freddy Krueger of ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet''. In [[Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984 the original film]], he was the menacing personification of evil; over the course of the various films that followed he gradually became an increasingly camp wise-cracking court jester. This was reflected in his [[MisaimedMarketing marketing]] -- he cut an album of cheesy pop songs, guest-rapped on a hip-hop track about his antics, was rapped about in a different WillSmith track, and was subject to all kinds of tie-in merchandise including yo-yos. It took years and the return of Creator/WesCraven (in ''Film/WesCravensNewNightmare'') to address and attempt to reverse his decay. ** And in ''Film/FreddyVsJason'', he is completely upstaged by Jason as he only gets a single kill. *** Which brings up the hilarious irony that the film actually managed to make him scary again. *** FridgeBrilliance in that Freddy was weakened by no one dreaming and remembering him, so he resurrects Jason to spread fear. It works, he starts getting stronger (and helps in his single kill, he doesn't outright kill the guy). When he's finally at peak power and ready to relish his first true kill in years...Jason steals it, which makes Freddy ''VERY'' angry. * Megatron from the ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' live-action film series was the menacing SealedEvilInACan BigBad of the first movie, destroying whole cities and causing the only on-screen casualty of the movie. By the sequel, he's just TheDragon to the ''real'' BigBad, The Fallen, and more or less just argues with Starscream for the second half of the movie. This particular case of VillainDecay occurs over the course of one movie, as he is still pretty menacing at the beginning of ''Revenge of the Fallen,'' and [[spoiler: kills Optimus Prime]]. But then when the final battle scene rolls around, he doesn't even attempt to fight Prime to the finish, and pulls a VillainExitStageLeft. Presumably, the '''real''' final fight is reserved for the inevitable third movie. ** It doesn't help that in the novelization of ''Revenge of the Fallen'', he actually has a ''reason'' for working with The Fallen. And there's ''also'' a reason for his lack of fighting Prime, which is related to his reason for working with The Fallen. In the novelization, The Fallen promised to make Megatron a Prime, then when Optimus said that Primes are born, not made, Megatron swears off his allegiance to The Fallen and vows to never serve anyone again. It's one of the many reasons that the novelization (based on an earlier script with less jokes and more actual SENSE) is more well-received than the movie. *** ''Dark of the Moon'', full stop. [[JustifiedTrope Megatron is injured for the entirety of the film]], and spends most of his time commanding Decepticon {{Mooks}} from the sidelines while trying to peacefully watch [[spoiler:Cybertron about to be rebuilt]]. It takes [[spoiler:Carly, of all people,]] to spring him back into action, and while he does severly cripple (and almost kill) the film's BiggerBad, [[spoiler:Optimus Prime defeats him ''and'' said BiggerBad in a matter of seconds]]. Megatron doesn't get a single legitimate kill ''in the entire movie'', though this may have been because he knew that the {{Mooks}} were doing the job for him, and [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy he didn't want to risk worsening his physical state even further]]. ** The movie version of Starscream also suffers from this. He easily defeats two of the Autobots in the movie, and the prequel and expanded material made him out to be a very threatening character, beating the shit out of, sometimes killing, Autobots and other Decepticons. But in ''Revenge of the Fallen'', he spends most of the movie reduced to being a joke. *** Like Megatron, in the third film Starscream does not fare well at all, though he arguably got better than in the second movie, having ripped the Autobot rocket to shreds and completely obliterating an escort of Ospreys. **** This trope might as well be applied to the Decepticons as a whole. In the first film the underling Cons are clearly much more powerful than any Autobot that isn't Optimus Prime, taking tons of punishment and keeping on going. Brawl only goes down after taking concentrated fire from all the Autobots and the US military at once for at least 15 minutes, while Blackout is only downed by Lennox managing to get him point bank in a weak spot in his armor. Starscream is undamaged, despite taking on Ironhide and Ratchet and several Air Force jets at once, and simply leaves once his objective can't be completed. Prime meanwhile easily kills a regular Con, but is overpowered by Megatron. In the sequels Prime can suddenly hold his own against Megatron and fight off Starscream and Grindor at the same time, while the other Autobots can down Cons single handedly. The only Decepticons that seem to be serious threats are Devastator and Shockwave's snake thing. * The first time around in ''{{The Mummy|Trilogy}}'' Imhotep is a walking plague, causing fire to fall from the sky, hordes of locusts and rivers to run with blood. In ''The Mummy Returns'', he's just some guy with telekinesis who trades banter with an eight-year-old. * The Agents in ''Film/TheMatrix'' may qualify on the surface. They went from being the scourge of the virtual world and the most dangerous entity that could be encountered, to suddenly being little more than cannon fodder in the two sequels. ** Justified in that any Agents ''are'' cannon fodder, to Neo at least, now that [[spoiler: he gained EnlightenmentSuperpowers that assure victory against anyone other than [[OnlyICanKillHim his opposite]]: [[ImplacableMan Smith]], now rogue and different from any other foe]]. Trinity and Morpheus (among other rebels) scored draws, at best, against Agents in ''Reloaded'' and ''Revolutions''--and ''only'' when they had help and were very, very fortunate. ** Inverted when, in fact, you figure in Smith and his Agent origins. [[spoiler: [[AnyoneCanDie No one was safe]] inside the Matrix during Smith's RoaringRampageOfRevenge as a super-Agent, assimilating anyone, even ''other Agents''. ''Every sentient in the Matrix'' was believed to be corrupted by Smith, right down to his final opponent, Neo.]] But the Oracle's [[BatmanGambit deliberate manipulation]] of [[NietzscheWannabe Smith's nature]] ([[ThanatosGambit by sacrificing herself]]) coupled with [[ScrewDestiny Neo's persistence]], created a victory. * Some ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' fans felt the revelation in ''Film/HalloweenII1981'' that [[spoiler:Laurie was Michael Myer's sister]] took away the menacing mystery that made Michael such an effective villain. ** Michael himself also went from a mysterious, always-in-the-shadows lurker to a generic [[Franchise/FridayThe13th Jason Vorhees]]-esque slasher villain by the end of the series. In the first films, he killed only a handful of people, and only because they got in the way of him and his main victim. But in the later films, he was killing over a dozen people in each movie, seemingly for no reason at all. And often doing it with uncharacteristic flair and violence. *** Michael's SingleTear moment in ''Film/Halloween5TheRevengeOfMichaelMyers''. A perfect example of VillainDecay, if ever there was one. * In the first ''Franchise/JurassicPark'' movie, the T-Rex is an unstoppable monster, who can't be fought and only run from. He takes on the other villains of the piece in the final scene and kills them with ease. His face is the symbol of the franchise. In [[TheLostWorldJurassicPark the second film]], more of the same, only with a much higher body count. [[JurassicParkIII Third film]]? Hit by TheWorfEffect: Killed unceremoniously by a dinosaur most dinosaur experts say he should have been able to take apart with ease, even being replaced on the franchise symbol. Villain decay indeed. * The first bug we see in action in ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' withstands the combined fire of four mobile infantry before going down. Later on bugs are seen taken down by just a few rounds. Justified by in-universe research into how best to direct rifle fire; we even see a clip of a training film. * Discussed in-universe in ''Film/TheGodfather'' -->'''Sollozzo:''' [[WithDueRespect All due respect]], the Don, rest in peace, was slippin'. Ten years ago could I have gotten to him? * Admiral Zhao from ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' is a case of ''adapational'' decay. In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Zhao is shown as a DangerouslyGenreSavvy FourStarBadass. In TLA, he's a SmugSnake, needlessly antagonistic towards everybody (including [[BullyingADragon General Iroh]]) and seemingly desperately in over his head in his war plans (the scene where he [[spoiler: kills the Moon Spirit]], he seems more desperate than determined.) [[/folder]] [[folder:Literature]] * The CthulhuMythos: Once August Derleth got his hands on it, the greater {{Eldritch Abomination}}s started appearing everywhere personally and being repelled just as easily. Cthulhu was once sent back by ordinary explosives, for goodness' sake. Admittedly It did remain fundamentally BadAss enough that even a nuclear bomb couldn't actually kill It. But do you really need to, when you can [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu punch It out]] with anything every time it returns? ** With Cthulu, to be fair, in the original story he appeared, he's defeated by getting rammed with a boat. Needing a bomb to banish him is a big step up. * D.Metria the Demoness from the ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' series, started off as a fairly malevolent seductress, but with each subsequent appearance became less threatening, to the point that by the time she was "replaced" by her insane doppleganger, D.Mentia, she was Xanth's version of Mr. Mxyzptlk (The Superfriends version, at that). ** In more recent books this is justified by her having acquired half of a human soul, which gives her a conscience. She can still be mischievous, but is no longer malevolent. ** This is an example in part, I think, of someone the fans liked being made nicer in response. * In ''{{Tales of MU}}'', Puddy and Sooni start out as the ManipulativeBastard and the AlphaBitch, respectively, but are eventually reduced to being pathetic losers who struggle to keep even a couple people under their control. The worst aspects of the transition are probably a result of WebcomicTime: the change takes several months of real world writing time, but just a couple weeks story time. * ''HarryPotter'': ** A notable subversion of this trope occurs when Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy are presented as mere {{Jerkass}}es who like giving Harry and company hell for the first five books of the series, but at the beginning of book six, both are presented as high ranking members of Voldemort's army, the Death Eaters. [[spoiler: It does turn out however that Snape was a DoubleAgent for the Order of Phoenix, and Malfoy was incapable of coping with actually being evil.]] ** A straight VillainDecay happened to Lucius Malfoy. He is introduced as a sinister and cunning master-manipulator, who, while maintaining a benevolent and charitable public image, actively and ruthlessly pursued his ambitious goals, descending to threatening whole families and unleashing an ancient monster on a school. Next time he's just TheDragon, and after his failure and consequent fall-from-grace, he's reduced to an unnerved bystander with little to no involvement in the action. ** Voldemort. Initially described as a chilling evil Mastermind, following his official return in Book 4, his actions really caused a lot of readers to question how exactly he became the dark lord "Who shall not be named." His own paranoia was what made Harry TheChosenOne in the first place, he continued to use "the killing spell" on Harry in hopes of killing him, even though it failed to kill him each and every time, [[spoiler: and after finally having Harry at his mercy, he was somehow convinced by a simple lie that Harry really was dead by one of his minions who he had been treating like crap.]] * ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series features significant villain decay with regards to the Forsaken, the 13 most devoted human servants of the Dark One. Initially presented as uber-badasses from the Age of Legends wielding powers most modern people could not begin to comprehend and being trained as scientists, generals and geneticists, the Forsaken get defeated repeatedly by the present-day heroes. Partly, this is because the Forsaken's reputation got exaggerated during the 3000 years the spent [[SealedEvilInACan imprisoned]], partly it's because they lack the support network they had in their prime, but whatever the reason, there's still a big gap between their myth and the reality, which was one of Jordan's more anvilicious points in his series (the gap between hearsay and reality, specifically). ** Which is not to say that they're any less dangerous than the legends said. Their reputations were well deserved in the first place. Part of it comes from the fact that the present day heroes learned quickly that the Forsaken, for all their power and knowledge, are still only human. * The ''YoungWizards'' series averts this rather neatly, because a), the Lone Power has been defeated without great sacrifice a grand total of...once (and in a subsequent encounter, another aspect commented that that version of Itself was just plain ''stupid''), and b) because It exists [[PlaceBeyondTime outside of time, dipping into our universe wherever and whenever It pleases]], It can be decisively defeated in one place and simultaneously be an active threat elsewhere. * Sang-Drax from the ''DeathGateCycle'' series was introduced in the fifth book as a MagnificentBastard manifestation of the BigBad that could play [[AntiHero Haplo]] like a fiddle. While he's still cunning in the next two books, he gets a whole lot sloppier, downgrading him to a literal SmugSnake. He finally dies when [[spoiler: a room caves in on him. This isn't as lame as it sounds because said room was filled with magic that was antithetical to him, but still -- he really should have seen it coming]]. * [[Creator/JRRTolkien Tolkien]] often does this deliberately in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', but still puts the less-powerful villains in situations where they can get the upper hand. [[spoiler:Saruman]] goes from needing a massive army, a wizard, and more to stop him, to being somebody who could be defeated by a mob of angry Hobbits. Gollum is another example - he finds the One Ring to Rule Them All, and first uses it for murder and theft, but eventually crawls into a cave and uses the Ring's power to ''catch fish''. The Ring doesn't particularly care for this. In fact, this is one of the core themes of the stories, because EvilIsPetty it eventually loses everything that once made it great and noble. * In TheSilmarillion, this is explicitly canon for [[GodOfEvil Melkor/Morgoth]]. He starts out out-powering everything else in the universe except for {{God}} and being quite cunning to boot, but as the book progresses he is drastically weakened after squandering his power and getting {{Shapeshifter Mode Lock}}ed, and his cunning goes down the drain as he goes increasingly AxCrazy. * In ''TheLegendOfDrizzt'' there's Artemis Entreri after the first few encounters with him, as Drizzt no longer wishes to fight him, and at one point refuses to kill him despite the perfect opportunity. Also, Entreri is getting old, whilst Drizzt is still in his prime. * The ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series plays this trope intentionally with the overarching BigBad, Ma'ar. He starts out in the ''Mage Wars'' prequels as a frighteningly powerful, ruthless WellIntentionedExtremist who can rival Great Mage Urtho in sheer power. Even worse, he conceives of an amazingly effective MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning gambit involving hiding his soul in a pocket of the nether plane until a blood descendant learns to wield magic, at which point he [[GrandTheftMe steals the body]], destroying its original soul in the process, and embarks on a new plan to TakeOverTheWorld. As he is constantly thwarted over the centuries, however, his spirit becomes increasingly petty and narcissistic, and eventually he grows careless enough to sow the seeds of his defeat when he fails to destroy the soul of his latest possessee, An'desha. Also a case of divine intervention, as it turns out that the Gods were tacitly abetting his scheme because they needed his knowledge to avert a repeat of the Cataclysm 3000 years later. * Deliberately invoked and deconstructed with Cersei from ''ASongOfIceAndFire''. She started out as the puppet master behind King Robert and became one of the most feared characters in the series when she declared herself Queen Regent after his death...but promptly ran herself straight into the ground the second the checks on her power were removed. As the power went to her head, her schemes became less competent and more deranged over time, and while she was still somewhat feared it was more because she was psychotically unstable and overly trigger happy. Tyrion and Tywin managed to restore her somewhat, [[spoiler: but when the former removes the latter in a permanent way Cersei's schemes spiral completely out of control and end with her being imprisoned by the Swords and Stars, awaiting trial for adultery, incest, murder, and treason.]] ** This trope is played with when it comes to Cersei. At first she seems like the Big Bad skillfully manipulating everything, but we start to see the cracks quite quickly. Later books point out that the things attributed to her weren't her doing at all or were the result of a lucky break when more skilled people took the helm. In short, she had retroactive villain decay. * Matthew Luzon in the {{Petaybee}} book, ''Power Play''. Though he was supposed to do a live-to-fight-another-day sort of thing, he ended up just hiding and sending other people to do his dirty work. [[MegaCorp Intergal]] counts as well, especially in the [[SpinOffBabies Twins Of]] part of the series. Their attempts to reclaim Petaybee become less about Petaybee and more about [[ItsPersonal payback for losing it in the first place.]] * Happens to [[LivingShadow Lord Ombra]] in the series ''PeterAndTheStarcatchers''. In ''Peter And The Shadow Thieves'', all Ombra has to do is have his shadow overlap with yours, and immediately he [[YourSoulIsMine steals your shadow]], giving him full access to all your memories and turning you into an [[MindControl utterly obedient slave]] with no further effort or maintenance on his part required. In "Peter And The Secret of Rundoon" onward, he...can't. Being as Ombra in his first incarnation was ludicrously overpowered, it was a choice between Villain Decay or OnlyTheAuthorCanSaveThemNow. * ''InDeath'': This is mostly avoided by having a new murderer in each book. This still happened with Isaac [=McQueen=] in ''New York To Dallas''. He started out as a cunning pedophile who had never been caught and he seemed to avoid even being noticed in the first place...until Eve took him down as a rookie. She wasn't even out to arrest him, she was just questioning him on a matter that was not really related to him, and he attacked her when she wouldn't leave. Twelve years later, he escapes from prison trying to get {{Revenge}} on Eve and still seems untouchable. However, by the end of the story, he turns out to be a pedophile who has lost a lot of his intelligence, and his ability to make even ''basic'' decisions. Dr. Mira even explains that the 12 years in prison, having the power to make decisions taken away from him in that time, and breaking most, if not all, of his patterns in illogical ways have ''devolved'' him! * Series/{{Ewilan}}: when the Ts'liches were first introduced, they were described as the "ultimate predators" that only one man ([[BadAss Edwin]]) was able to defeat in a fight. As the story goes, Edwin goes from being able to defeat one of two of them in a fight, to defeat ''six'' of them at the same time. After that, their last appearance ends with the last of them being exterminated with ridiculous ease, with almost all character getting to kill one. [[/folder]] [[folder:Live-Action TV]] * Multiple instances show up in the various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series: ** The Borg are probably the most infamous example: they went from once-a-season super menace to routine issue over the course of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''.\\ \\ The truly interesting thing about the Borg, to begin with, was not so much their threat level (though that was high) as the existential challenge they presented to the mindset and worldview of the complacent characters. In their first appearance, Picard and the other Federation personnel seem to have trouble even ''comprehending'' the idea that this foe cannot be reasoned with, that there's ''nothing'' they can say or do that will move them, or that an enemy would ever be an enemy if he really understood them. The Borg '''did not care'''. Later they watered this down with the infamous 'Hugh' episode that reduced the Borg to just another alien race that can be persuaded by good will and proper effort. The Borg were supposed to be ''inexorable'', absent that they're boring. Several of the episodes focused on Seven of Nine in ''Voyager'', however, ''help'' this issue. Yes, Borg can get cute and cuddly again when separated from The Collective...but there are ''billions upon billions'' of Borg. And you'd have to free them ''all'' to beat The Collective. And at first a lot of them might not '''want''' to stop being Borg...so it isn't just as easy as "Hugh"ing them all.\\ \\ The VillainDecay of the Borg really began in earnest with ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'', with the introduction of the Borg Queen. The reason they were so tough to beat was because they were absolutely decentralized - there was no central locus. The Borg Queen served mainly as a way to personalize the borg threat (the producers recognized that it wasn't very thematic to have the ''Enterprise'' crew interact with an abstract HiveMind voice as the villain), but also as a quick fix to the movie's Borg problem.\\ \\ Oddly enough, before they started to decay, they actually got more dangerous, once they start desiring to assimilate everything and not just civilizations. Before a single ship had very little to fear from a passing cube. But of course, Voyager being only a single ship (and without a civilization to defend), this had to change, otherwise they could just fly through Borg space just fine, as long as they didn't settle any planets or develop superior technology. And with this desire only for large scale assaults out the window, Voyager had to deal with them constantly. Thus, they had to get easier.\\ \\ That's why TNG only had 6 episodes that dealt with the Borg - it was just too tough to keep the Borg a terrifying enemy and yet still come up with ways to defeat them. And since 4 of those episodes were in pairs of 2-parters, 1 of them didn't even require defeating any Borg, and in 1 of them they were introduced to the Borg by Q and thus only saved from destruction/assimilation by Q's intervention as well (a ''literal'' DeusExMachina), only twice in 7 seasons did the ''Enterprise'' actually defeat the Borg[[note]]In fact, of the two listed 2-parters, only one of them featured the actual Borg collective (the Borg in the other were part of a wussy, de-powered break-away group that had become infected with an Individuality Meme), so in all seven seasons of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', the Borg at full power were defeated precisely once, and then only barely, and on a technicality, to boot![[/note]]. Voyager had to beat them in about 15 different episodes and they quickly became paper tigers.\\ \\ The decay is later turned on its head in the later ''The Next Generation'' and ''Voyager'' relaunch novels, when the Borg effectively reestablish their handle as one of the greatest threats to the galaxy since...well, ''ever.'' In the span of approximately six months, they [[spoiler:kill Captain Janeway, destroy the planet Pluto, and launch a massive invasion in an attempt to completely annihilate every spacefaring civilization of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, the end result of which was over [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale 63,000,000,000 casualties]]. That's 63 billion for those of you who have trouble with zeros.]] *** A small justification is that the Borg aren't the only ones who can learn and adapt -- and Starfleet had so much more to learn and adapt to from Wolf 359 than the Borg did. It doesn't explain Voyager's ease, but it ''does'' help explain why Starfleet did so much better against the Borg cube in ''First Contact'' than what happened at the Battle of Wolf 359[[hottip:*:Listen to the comm traffic. The Borg cube in ''First Contact'' had notable damage ''before'' the Enterprise showed up, while the one at Wolf 359 plowed through a Federation fleet virtually unharmed]]. ** Likewise Species 8472, who were ScaryDogmaticAliens until "In the Flesh". ** The Ferengi were downgraded from serious threats to comic-relief pests after only two appearances. The Ferengi were ''intended'' to be major recurring villains, but over the course of several makeup revisions, the Ferengi went from impressive to goofy-looking. This probably has as much to do with the fact that when the Ferengi were introduced early on in ''Next Generation'', Gene Roddenberry was still involved with the production, and was trying as hard as possible to recreate the old series. However, characters that would have worked as villains in the much cheesier era of the original series just [[{{Narm}} inspired laughter]] in modern audiences. Also, all else being equal it's easier to make [[TheGiant tall guys]] look threatening than short guys. Roddenberry really wanted to have villains who are small in stature yet still dangerous, but it just didn't work out. Not that their status as [[StrawmanPolitical Strawman Capitalists]] helped much either. ** The non-canon TNG novels have {{retcon}}ned this in a rather interesting way by having the Ferengi intentionally disseminate rumors of the Ferengi's bloodthirsty nature as a calculated response to a perceived threat from the United Federation of Planets. Essentially, the Ferengi were so worried about first-contact with moneyless society that they hoped give themselves a fearsome image before the first meeting took place. In universe, when first-contact actually occurred, each side underwent almost total VillainDecay from the perspective of the other. ** Q turned from a frivolous yet dangerous omniscient being who nevertheless delivered some important {{Aesop}}s to Captain Picard, to a lovesick puppy who goes to Captain Janeway for advice on parental relationships and conflict resolution in the Q Continuum. Q really was one of those characters who were a case of DependingOnTheWriter, especially in TNG. He's creepy and borderline sadistic in "Encounter at Farpoint", then campy and unwittingly annoying in "[=QPid=]", then he's back to being sinister in "True Q". It's debatable whether or not he was even actually a villain, considering how many times he (sometimes indirectly) helped Picard and the crew. ** The Dominion in ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' suffer heavily from this trope as well. In Starfleet's first military encounter with them, three of the weakest Dominion fighters [[spoiler:destroy the ''Galaxy''-class USS ''Odyssey'', ostensibly one of Starfleet's most powerful ships, with relative ease]]. However, by the end of the show we can see ''Galaxy''-class starships destroy the Dominion fighters ''in one shot''. By the time of the Dominion War, Starfleet ''had'' developed defenses to the phased polaron beams that the Dominion Ships use, and [[TookALevelInBadass upgraded their weapons]]. They turned the ''[[GlassCannon Galaxy]]''[[GlassCannon -class Explorer]] into the ''[[MightyGlacier Galaxy]]''[[MightyGlacier -class Battleship]]. Precisely why the Dominion belong on the VillainDecay page, and not on FridgeLogic. The Dominion continued to be a serious threat right up until the final battle of the Dominion War. Often, however, one side in an all-out conflict undergoes villain decay as the natural result of a long, drawn-out struggle. Vichy France, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany all underwent their own separate decay at different points in the war. * After seeing how much respect the Borg lost during his writing stint on ''Voyager'', Ronald D. Moore rather neatly avoided the trope in his remake of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''. The villainous Cylons are only sparingly used as a direct threat to the heroes, and typically when the heroes do beat them there's some kind of price. However, one particular Cylon, Caprica-Six has [[BadassDecay decayed rather badly]]. Given she was only in one episode (the miniseries), where she performed one {{mercy kill}}ing and lectured Baltar and that was it, and then wasn't seen again until the late second season where she followed through on being sad at taking a baby's life by regretting the holocaust in its entirety and missed a man she from the beginning cared about, or why else bother to save him, she didn't have much badass to decay anyway. ** During the "Pegasus" arc and the second-season episodes that followed it, the basestars in particular were almost completely downgraded (to the point that, if the Pegasus launched a head-on attack with its cannon, it would utterly destroy one). This removed a lot of the series' tension. In a late season 2 episode, the Pegasus destroys one Basestar and holds out against ''two'' more for several minutes while the acting captain waits for a critical system to be fixed. This decay makes the Pegasus' [[spoiler:sacrifice]] in season 3 all the more illogical. *** Not really; aside from the fact that both ships are very clearly undermanned, due to most of the crew colonizing New Caprica, it was also explicitly mentioned that the Pegasus left its entire fighter complement behind to protect the civilian ships. This would be like an aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Add to that there were a lot more than just three Base Stars. And the fact that in the aforementioned episode, the captain wasn't exactly waiting patiently for the ship to be fixed---it was an emergency situation that they needed to get out as soon as possible because they were losing the battle and minutes away from being completely destroyed. * Almost every season of ''PowerRangers'' begins with the villain being replaced by a new one -- because after forty episodes of losing, the old villain doesn't seem as cool. ** Special mention goes to Serpentera who goes from destroying a planet, to being ineffective because the bad guys don't know how to keep it powered, to destroyed by a motorcycle (albeit a motorcycle from god). * Pretty much inevitable for any of the recurring villains on ''Series/DoctorWho''. ** This was the fate that befell the Doctor's greatest enemies the Daleks after 16 television stories, four cameos and countless appearances in other adaptations, especially when their creator, Davros, began to dominate the stories. They were later made more menacing again; in 1988 they were given the ability to fly, and for their 2005 return in "Dalek", they were given new abilities, such as a [[DeflectorShields force field]] and the ability to crush a man's head using the plunger arm. However, they may be falling back into this, going in their more recent appearances from one being defeated by its own self-loathing, to a fleet being defeated by a DeusExMachina, to millions being defeated by [[ReversePolarity reversing the polarity]]. On the other hand [[spoiler:three Daleks, later two Daleks and a Dalek-Human hybrid take two episodes to destroy.]] Because of this, it seems the Daleks suffer from some variation of [[ConservationOfNinjutsu the Inverse Ninja Law]]. The more there are, the easier they are to defeat. *** The numbers of the Daleks making it more likely for the Doctor to figure out a way to stop mostly occurs because a few individual Daleks can be let to run around for an episode or two and kill [[RedShirt red shirts]] before the Doctor finds a way to stop them. If there's a lot of them, they'd destroy the Earth if left around. Consider that when we have a fleet of Daleks at the end of season 1 of the 2005 series, the nearly destroy the Earth, and at the end of a season 2, we see an army of them would have leveled London at the very least if the Doctor took any longer than he did. ** This was even lampshaded by Steven Moffatt, who commented that they had lost to the Doctor "400 times" (this was probably exaggeration, but he does have a point as the Daleks have only won ONCE over the past few years). For this reason he is temporarily retiring the Daleks, probably for a good couple of seasons. Considering that they have appeared ten times since the show's revival, it's certainly fair enough. ** Also in ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Master particularly suffered from this, with many writers simply using him as a convenient bad guy with little motivation beyond being "eeeevil". The trend arguably started from his very first appearances, since he appeared as the BigBad in every episode of Season Eight of the classic series, which arguably diluted his effectiveness right from the off. He always allied with another evil power, which then betrayed him, forcing him to work with the Doctor. Over his many appearances in both classic and new series, writers have tried most of the tricks above to avert Villain Decay, including threat escalation, frequent EnemyMine plots, AlternateUniverse victories, and having him murder the family members of series regulars. Probably for the same reasons that the series itself has been so long-lived, despite succumbing to VillainDecay several times over, the character somehow keeps bouncing back as a MagnificentBastard. [[spoiler: The new series attempted to correct this both by giving him a plausible motivation - complete insanity - and by showing how BadAss he could be; not least by stranding the Doctor at the end of time itself, becoming [[PresidentEvil Prime Minister of Great Britain]], massacring a tenth of the population of Earth and all in all being a rather MagnificentBastard before the Doctor managed to [[ResetButton undo everything]].]] ** The Cybermen were ''Doctor Who'''s most {{egregious}} victim of this trope. In Second Doctor Cybermen stories, they were powerful, some might say too powerful. That may be a good reason they weren't used for the entire Third Doctor run. When they were brought back at the beginning of the Fourth Doctor era, they were given a weakness: gold dust would clog their chest units and suffocate them. All well and good, until someone misinterpreted that to mean that gold itself was their weakness. In ''Earthshock'' it wasn't so bad, as only one was killed, and that weapon (Adric's badge) broke and was unusable. Despite their gold weakness not coming up in ''The Five Doctors'' and ''Attack of the Cybermen'', they were still killed in heavy droves by Rassilon's tower's defenses, the Raston Warrior Robot, and even human weapons. The weakness returned with a vengeance in ''Silver Nemesis'', however, treating us to the wonderful sight of Ace killing Cybermen with gold coins fired from a slingshot. The Cybermen seen that come from a parallel Earth do not have this weakness, and the ones from this universe that returned in the new series were no longer defeated that way (although one flagship was entirely destroyed by the Doctor as part of TheTeaser of "A Good Man Goes to War"). ** This trope was one of the reasons why the Mandragora were not used in a story in ''TheSarahJaneAdventures'' as it was felt they would be defeated "too easily" (and so were replaced with the Ancient Lights). * In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', the Turok-Han (ancient ugly vampires) of Season 7. The first one that shows up beats Buffy all by itself, but by the end of the season everyone is hacking them down left and right. [[BadassDecay Spike starts out as one of the most feared and dangerous vampires Buffy has ever encountered. By season 4 he's a joke -- he's the actual butt of the joke in many scenes.]] He becomes less of a joke over seasons 6, 7, and Angel season 5, but never reverts back to being a villain proper. ** Plus the Vampires themselves, who constitute a major threat in the first season, becoming progressively weaker until finally they're just a bunch of wussy mooks that even ''Xander'' has roughly even odds of killing in a fair fight. This was briefly ZigZagged in later seasons where Riley had to become a SuperSoldier just to keep up, but overall in both Buffy and the spinoff, ''Series/{{Angel}}'', Vampires went from "Major threat that requires an incredibly superhuman girl to be born every generation just to deal with them" to "A random passerby can take one out with a pencil". They're still treated by the characters like they're a major threat, but the actual quality of the threat tends to be far inferior to how much they act like it's a threat, as exemplified by their strength being wildly inconsistent; sometimes being portrayed as being far above any normal human's and at other times they can be easily overpowered and restrained by a young (non-Slayer) woman who can't weigh more than 120 pounds. * Nicole Wallace of ''LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' started off as Moriarty to Bobby Goren's SherlockHolmes, which made her getting nailed in her return appearance so satisfying. Then she was brought back in increasingly ridiculous ways, to the point where she was closer to a supervillain than her original anti-Goren persona. ** The Villain Decay reaches its nadir in her final appearance, in which [[spoiler:she's just a RedHerring for the real villain, who ''kills her offscreen'']]. * The Source of All Evil in ''Series/{{Charmed}}'' went from an angel-winged, black cloaked, seemingly omniscient entity, to a big guy in a black cloak who tried to kill the Charmed Ones with about as much success as every enemy before [[spoiler: although he did become the only character to succeed in having one of the sisters permanently murdered, but that may have been defined above as during his first phase]], and being severely wounded by one renegade demon throwing fireballs at him. Eventually he lost not just the wings but the menacing hood as well and revealed a goofy face before dying, and it was revealed that The Source of All Evil is a transferable title. The new ones? Were ''never'' threatening. ** Any and all demonic threats in general suffered from villain decay; early demons, albeit being a MonsterOfTheWeek in most cases, were a threat to the sisters individually; later on, when all-purpose vanquishing potions were produced by the gallon, they were mere nuisances most of the time. Perhaps this is why villains in later seasons consisted of [[spoiler:one of the Elders who supposedly oversaw all "good magic," beings capable of removing people from reality at their whim, and finally, other witches.]] * Scorpius in ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' managed to remain a MagnificentBastard throughout the second and third seasons, thanks in large part to the writers letting him achieve total victory in the second season finale. The third season thus became about the heroes trying to reverse their earlier loss. However, by the end of the third season the show introduced a new villain who served as Scorpius' superior, and the first few episodes of the fourth season saw him apparently lose all his fearsomeness, [[spoiler: with Grayza and Braca dragging him around on a leash like a dog, occasionally forcing him to lick Grayza's boot!]] For a time, he even looked as though he was becoming one of the heroes, with the only concession towards his original [[MagnificentBastard magnificence]] being somehow able to get himself (begrudgingly) accepted as a part of the hero's crew ''even though'' he freely admits that his goals and motivations haven't changed a jot since when he last tried to kill everyone. And then the whole descent into mediocrity turns out be a subversion: [[spoiler: not only does he backstab Crichton so masterfully that it takes him two episodes to figure out what happened, but he manages to neatly counter Crichton's attempt to backstab him back. He's even pretending to be a double-agent for the Scarrans, fooling ''the Emperor himself'' into believing that Scorpius had been employed by him for years. For good measure, it turns out that Braca was on his side after all, and the "dragged around on a leash" thing was just another part of Scorpy's masterplan.]] ** In the first season, the early-on BigBad was Bialar Crais, the senior local Peacekeeper who was chasing them because he blamed Crichton for his brother's demise. He is usurped (and ruined, professionally) by Scorpius at the end of Season 1 but reappears later and becomes (uncomfortably for all) a semi-crew member due to his symbiotic relationship with Moya's child. *** Harvey (the neural clone of Scorpius inside Crichton's head) was specifically introduced to avoid this trope. This way Scorpius could appear as a constant threat without downgrading this menace by having Crichton escape at the end of the episode. *** The clone itself was subjected to extreme villain decay when the chip that generated it was removed from Crichton's head. While it did survive this, it lost all ability to control Crichton, and its personality degenerated from an exact clone of Scorpius to something that bore at least as much resemblance to Crichton. *** Grayza began to suffer decay as the Scarrans became the main villains of season four- and ended up kidnapped by them due to her own gullibility. Particularly blatant was the revelation that [[MauveShirt Captain Braca]]- who she'd supposedly enslaved with her infallible pheromone glands -- was actually still working for Scorpius; he went on to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome personally remove her from command]] to prove it. And just to rub it in, her command carrier was retaken by Scorpius, who'd recovered from ''his'' bout of villain decay. * Shows up quite a bit in the ''StargateVerse''. In the interest of fairness, it does have to be granted that there's a [[JustifiedTrope justification]] for aliens suffering some decay, in that part of the SG teams' ''missions'' is to ''promote'' Villain Decay; that is, a large part of the purpose of the Stargate program is to go forth and find out what's out there, and ways to defend Earth ''from'' those threats. If they were at all successful, Villain Decay was simply the logical extension of their success. ** ''Series/{{Stargate SG-1}}'' fits this trope like a Goa'uld hand device. The Goa'uld were introduced as merciless, brutal and could effortlessly obliterate Earth as well as having a firm grip on much of the galaxy, held back only by in-fighting caused by their lust for power. When our heroes encounter just a small group of Jaffa, they manage to escape in one piece if lucky. But as the series progressed they became a bunch of arrogant, scheming, childish fools with a [[TheNapoleon Napoleon complex]] and their mighty Jaffa armies become [[LoweredMonsterDifficulty P90 fodder]]. Their flanged voices sounded cool and creepy when spoken slowly and calmly, but sounded ridiculous when they put any real emotion into it. By the end of the series, a Goa'uld encounter is just an inconvenience as our heroes have bigger fish to fry.\\ \\ In the original movie, the heroes only fought one Jaffa one-on-one (well, two or three on one, really) and then only really survived because Daniel ringed down in the exact right place at the exact right time. Since that's not exactly a viable tactic for an ongoing series, the Jaffa get progressively wimpier as the show goes on. Free Jaffa, however, seem much more badass than their enslaved counterparts, partially because there are fewer of them, and therefore the writers don't have to worry about tipping the scales too much. ** The Replicators, on the other hand, largely avert this trope, as each time the heroes meet a bunch of those things, it has required an even more insane plan than the last one to merely stall them. Trapping them in a time-stop bubble (they escape), sending then into a black hole (escape too), finding a ancient-made BFG specially designed to destroy them (become immune) and friggin' finally, using a weapon that can fry the entire Milky Way to destroy them all at the same time once and for all. Their Asuran brethren in ''Atlantis'' required a similarly insane plan to put them down once and for all. ** The Wraith in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' also went the way of the Goa'uld, as first the Atlantis Expedition develop a retrovirus to turn Wraith into humans, but then get reduced to in-fighting amongst themselves over dwindling food (read: human) resources. The Wraith lost their powers to cause hallucinations after their first appearance. Even though they can regenerate from wounds quickly, their scab-masked grunts quickly become just so much [[LoweredMonsterDifficulty cannon fodder]]. Back around "The Lost Boys" (season 2), it was a difficult prospect for a small team to infiltrate a Wraith hive; by the later seasons ("The Queen" or "The Shrine"), the good guys are almost nonchalant about walking into Wraith territory. This wasn't helped by the introduction of the new {{Big Bad}}s on the block, the Asurans (who were really just the Replicators, but ''less'' threatening). ** Among their human opponents, Harry Maibourne starts as a menacing KnightTemplar, then winds up doing a semi HeelFaceTurn and eventually just gets PutOnABus. * Adam Monroe, formerly BigBad of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' season 2. When he returned in Season 3, he was downgraded from a MagnificentBastard to comic relief. ''Then'' he was killed off by the new villain, [[spoiler:Mr. Petrelli]], in an EvilerThanThou moment. Oh, and all this took less than ''two episodes'', possibly setting a new record for 'fastest villain decay ever'. ** Likewise, Maury Parkman was originally toted as "The Nightmare Man", someone ''worse'' than Sylar. As an experienced psychic, he managed to [[KickTheDog put a little girl into a coma]] and [[MindRape continually mess with the heroes' heads]], until he was defeated in a [[CallingTheOldManOut close confrontation with Matt]]. Come Season 3, he is passively following the BigBad's orders, right til he [[spoiler: objects to Petrelli ordering Matt's death]], and has his neck unceremoniously snapped in ''another'' EvilerThanThou moment. * Mr. Sweeny on ''NedsDeclassifiedSchoolSurvivalGuide'', to the point where [[spoiler:he doesn't rat Ned out in the finale for sneaking along on the field trip. He leaves him stuck in that tree...]] "but do tell me how your day turns out." ** This is somewhat justified by the fact that Sweeny was never really "evil" in the first place. Ned just thought he was, and as the series progresses, Ned stops portraying him as an evil scientist and more as a strict teacher who helps him out from time to time. * Dr. Smith on ''LostInSpace'' may be one of the most iconic examples of this trope. He was originally a dangerously intelligent saboteur attempting to kill the Robinsons, but by a few episodes in he had deteriorated to complete pest/buffoon status. Early attempts at character development soon puttered out, and he became simply annoying comic relief. * ''WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'': [[spoiler: The mummy wasn't nearly as badass in "Wizards vs. Werewolves" as he was in the "Chronicles of Moises" arc, and his defeat was ridiculously easy.]] * Ben Linus from ''Series/{{Lost}}'', through a mix of SortingAlgorithmOfEvil and CharacterDevelopment. In seasons 2 and 3, he comes across as the ultimate in [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent Bastardry]] (and he's still got most of those skills), but season 4 saw the introduction of his arch-nemesis, Charles Widmore, a guy that Ben is actually afraid of, and the conclusion of season 5 reveals that Ben [[spoiler:has been the [[BigBad Man in Black]]'s unwitting pawn all along]]. Adding to that, circumstances saw Ben becoming the Losties' TokenEvilTeammate from season 4 onwards. But in this case, VillainDecay doesn't preclude being awesome, thanks to Ben's always-entertaining approach to solving problems and Michael Emerson's award-winning performance, and despite working with the Losties for three seasons he doesn't actually make a HeelFaceTurn until [[spoiler:season 6's "Dr. Linus"]]. * Brad Bellick of ''PrisonBreak''. CorruptCop and SmugSnake in season 1, he serves as the main antagonist there and was quite cunning. He becomes much less of a threat in season 2. When season 3 sets in, he's completely ''pathetic'', being the lowest of the low in Sona prison and being treated like shit by everyone. In season 4, he joins the protagonists and pulls a HeroicSacrifice. Everyone mourns for him, apparently having completely forgotten what an utter bastard he was in the first season. * Partly due to SeinfeldIsUnfunny, Jerri Manthey in ''{{Survivor}}''. She was seen as the original survivor villain mostly because she was the first to be called that. (Richard Hatch is probably more of the "original" survivor villain) She was actually booed off the stage in ''All Stars'', yet years later after the likes of Boston Rob controlling the game, Russell Hantz sociopathically pushing his way to the finals and ''admittedly'' griefing his fellow players, Jonny Fairplay lying to get a sympathetic advantage, [[StrawFeminist Ami Cusack]], and players like Naonka, Corrine, and Randy just being a JerkAss...When Jerri showed up on stage in ''Heroes vs. Villains'' and wasn't like ''any'' of those, people actually ''applauded'' for her. ** Coach in between ''Tocantins'' and ''Heroes vs. Villains'', although that was more of realizing what he did wrong in ''Tocantins'' and improving in ''Heroes vs. Villains'' into a legit threat. Also helped that [[SpotlightStealingSquad people were actually surprised he was there in Heroes Vs. Villains cause the camera was just perpetually on Russell.]] ** Jonny Fairplay went from the notorious liar of ''Pearl Islands'' to first voted out in ''Micronesia'' because he wanted to be with his wife and daughter. (He wasn't lying!) * Omen on ''DarkOracle''. In Season 1 he managed to be TheBigBad, even with his powers sealed. In Season 2 he returns with his powers unlocked...and is demoted to being a flunky of Blaze and Violet. He's still dangerous, but Lance and Cally have bigger fish to fry, and simply aren't scared of him anymore. In the end, he's reduced to a rather pitiful figure who [[spoiler: pulls a HeelFaceTurn to help Cally and then dies]]. * A brilliant example of TropesAreNotBad from ''TheWire''. In the first season the Barksdale crew ruled the West Side of Baltimore. By the third season, they were in a tit-for-tat and being matched by independent drug lord who had no backing and was young and inexperienced. Marlo's ruthlessness surprised even Avon but it went beyond that, particularly with the collapse of Avon and Stringer's friendship where the cracks could be seen as early as the beginning of the second season. ** It was also thoroughly justified since most of Barksdale's muscle and key lieutenants were put in jail at the end of season 1. Without them, Barksdale has to try to run a criminal empire only using guys that were lucky enough to avoid the mass arrests, too unimportant for the police to bother with, or inexperienced newcomers replacing the old guys. [[/folder]] [[folder:Professional Wrestling]] * JohnBradshawLayfield. Remember when JBL was the longest-reigning WWE Champion in the history of ''[=SmackDown=]!''? Yup, nobody else does, either. * Averted with The Great Khali. Although he ''was'' marginalized a bit following the loss of his World Heavyweight Championship to {{Batista}} late in 2007, Wrestling/{{WWE}} managed to keep him sufficiently menacing up until his HeelFaceTurn a year later....and ''then'' [[RedemptionDemotion the decay set in]]. * Also averted with Umaga. Although he did lose three consecutive pay-per-view matches in early 2007 after having previously gone undefeated for nearly nine months, he managed to remain a dangerous (if hardly ever successful) villain right up until his death in 2009. * Vladimir Kozlov. Like Umaga, he managed to go for the better part of a year without being pinned until ShawnMichaels finally defeated him in early 2009. Within months, however, he and Ezekiel Jackson were playing second fiddle to William Regal, who was ''himself'' a pretty pathetic villain. His standing eventually fell so far that [[RedemptionDemotion by the time he turned face, he was spending most of his time with Santino Marella in a comic-relief (if occasionally successful) tag team]]. * Played straight and then subverted with Montel Vontavious Porter. He was the longest-reigning United States Champion in the title's 33-year history until MattHardy finally won it from him in 2008. From there he began a long slide into irrelevancy, until by the fall of that year he was stuck in a months-long losing streak that made you forget he had ever been at all competent. But this eventually proved to be a blessing when [[FailureHero the crowd began to cheer him out of sympathy]], resulting in a HeelFaceTurn and a long-denied victory when he won a match that enabled TripleH to participate in the 2009 Royal Rumble. He then went on to be just as successful as before, even defeating Shelton Benjamin to become United States Champion once again. * [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] with {{Edge}}. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship in December 2007 (which he had never lost, as it had been stripped from him earlier that year due to an injury), he decided to safeguard his title by forging a strategic relationship with ''[=SmackDown=]!'' General Manager Vickie Guerrero. Although at first he only ''pretended'' to fall in love with her, as time went on he [[BecomingTheMask genuinely became enamored with her]] and transformed into a [[SissyVillain slightly effeminate character]] who swooned over Vickie every chance he got. In any event, the strategy was an enormous success: Edge had Vickie set up numerous scenarios in which his chief rival, TheUndertaker, couldn't possibly win, and persuaded her to have 'Taker banished from WWE entirely. Edge proposed marriage to Vickie in the summer of 2008, but the ceremony ended in disaster after it was revealed that he had been cheating on Vickie with AliciaFox, the wedding planner. Vickie told Edge that she hated him, which led to a brief period of CryForTheDevil as Edge begged Vickie for forgiveness. But Vickie would have none of it, and decided to avenge herself further by having Undertaker reinstated to WWE and booking him against Edge in a Hell in a Cell Match at [=SummerSlam=]. This turned Edge into a wild-eyed coward who didn't believe he could win the match without help, and so he sought advice from MickFoley on how to win a Hell in a Cell Match. Foley flat out told Edge that he was going to lose the match, because ever since he had fallen in love with Vickie he had been a complete sissy.... ** ....which briefly galvanized Edge into regaining some of his {{Badass}} status by murmuring [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech "I....understand"]] - and then [[HesBack climbing a ladder and elbow-dropping Foley through a table]]. * For the Divas, Molly Holly. This two-time Women's Champion was forced to undergo a protracted HumiliationConga that lasted almost a year after WrestleMania XX, when Victoria defeated her in a match, strapped her to a barber's chair, and shaved off all her hair. Eventually her hair grew back, but things only got worse for Molly when [[FauxActionGirl Stacy Keibler (of all people!)]] pinned her in ''three consecutive matches''. This was truly the beginning of the end for Holly, because if someone so inexperienced could pin a former champion [[RuleOfThree three times]], then who ''couldn't''? It wasn't long before "Mighty Molly" wasn't so mighty anymore - indeed, was a complete joke, losing ''every single match'' more or less regularly before finally leaving WWE. ** Her problems began back in 2002. When she did her Heel Face Turn, she totally revamped herself as a self-righteous prude and never got any heat because she was always easily silenced by the hot girls she ranted at by them just taking their tops off, leaving her with her jaw hanging open in shock. It didn't help that Molly wanted to play it as a comedy character, intentionally wearing the most matronly-looking outfits possible in situations where something sexy was called for. It got still worse when WWE unleashed the infamous "Molly's got a big butt" angle and was made into a complete joke, even though she was Women's Champion. WWE eventually realized they made a mistake and had her temporarily Take A Level In Badass in 2003. * Happened at an alarmingly fast rate with the recently returned Tensai. He went from a true menace, defeating John Cena AND CM Punk(In a handicap match, but still...), two of the WWE's top stars, but within a matter of months, became nothing more than a big man for underdogs to prove themselves against. [[/folder]] [[folder:Tabletop Games]] * The Necrons of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are an interesting case of this. When first formally introduced, they were supremely enigmatic horrors serving even more horrific beings, known for mysterious harvests of life, unknown plans, and ridiculously advanced technology. Fan perception of them quickly made them {{Omnicidal Maniac}}s to the public eye, and they began to be perceived as a race-wide CreatorsPet. The 5th Edition Codex has resulted in a serious hit to the Necrons' previously unknown and unstoppable nature in favor of shifting the focus towards the Tyranids and Chaos as the greatest threats facing humanity. ** This happens all the time in W40k. Whenever a new army is introduced, they start as existential threats to the entire setting for a year or two and then decay into just another faction. The orks started off as a galaxy wide tide of death and destruction but degenerated into pub brawlers over time. Tyranids also started off as unstoppable, galaxy-devouring horde of alien locusts but their impending, full-scale invasion and eating of the galaxy kept getting delayed and delayed and then the tyranids inexplicably adopted an "attack in small numbers" strategy that made them less of a threat to the setting. ** This is invoked half-deliberately and half-facesave. When introducing the new armies, they were very excited and wanted to pump them up, even if it didn't make any sense. However, if they actually took their own word seriously, it would atomically spell the end of the game: there's only so many times you can say "Uh...the Eldar fixed it with an ancient artifact" before the fans start to look elsewhere. Thus, they simply damp down the new kids once they get established. ** Then on a smaller scale you have some of the lords of Chaos. Abbadon the Despoiler is probably the number one offender. He is supposedly the heir to Horus and carries the title of Warmaster of Chaos, as well as the favor of all four Chaos Gods. However his Black Crusades seem to end in defeat more often than not, or at best as a stalemate. One can argue on whether or not it's his fault but the community at large now looks at him as a bit of a joke, earning him the nickname [[FanNickname Failbaddon]]. ** The Chaos Space Marines themselves have been suffering from this. The BigBads of the setting are meant to come off as being SuperSoldiers that also possess powers granted by [[GodOfEvil Gods of Evil]] and are the Imperium greatest and most feared enemies. Problem is, writers trying to find ways to make the setting "darker" generally consist of making the Imperium increasingly StupidEvil, which makes taking the Chaos Space Marines seriously harder as to why they beaten it, leading to more reasons why that ultimately make the reason why they can't beat the Imperium is because they're even more StupidEvil in addition to being massively ChaoticStupid. * In general [=RPG=]s manage to avoid this problem by having a chance the heroes will die in any appropriate conflict, and will generally kill or otherwise completely defeat the villain. On the other hand, any game with leveling up will see a great many enemies go from a serious threat early on, to being completely ineffective in a few levels. [[/folder]] [[folder:Video Games]] * Bowser of the ''[[SuperMarioBros Mario]]'' series does this depending on the type of game. In most of the main platformers, he is shown as a genuinely powerful threat to the Mushroom Kingdom (and in ''[[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy Galaxy]]'', the ''entire universe''). In the sports spinoffs, he is the TropeNamer for GoKartingWithBowser who is actually on friendly terms with Mario. In the [=RPGs=], barring the first ''VideoGame/PaperMario'', he is upstaged by another BigBad while he provides comic relief. Played with in ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story]]''. He goes through his usual VillainDecay like he always does in the [=RPGs=], but it establishes him as a legitimate {{Badass}} at the same time. ** King Boo. LuigisMansion: BigBad. Most other Mario games: average villain serving Bowser. LuigisMansion2 might reverse this though. ** The Big Boo got less impressive (and sometimes less ''big'') over time, so the series kept having to make up new Boos (YoshisIsland included relatively ''tiny'' Big Boos, and a new boss called [[UpToEleven '''BiggerBoo''']]. NewSuperMarioBros2 introduced us to Boolossus, who not only takes up half the screen, but still feels the need to '''cheat''' by peeking through his hands when you're facing him. * [[SonicTheHedgehog Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik]] went through this starting with ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', which is when he started to get into his habit of releasing [[SealedEvilInACan sealed evil in cans]] and constantly [[AesopAmnesia failing to learn]] that EvilIsNotAToy. In nearly every game since ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', he started to be constantly upstaged by the game's BigBad while he is forced to help the heroes defeat him. ''VideoGame/SonicColors'' managed to get him back into the spotlight by having him refrain from trying to unseal an evil and made him go back to using his MechaMooks to destroy Sonic [[spoiler:and attempting to mind-control the entire Earth]]. * VideoGame/SonicGenerations plays with this: At first, the BigBad just seems to be a pretty generic EldritchAbomination, and Eggman's role is reduced to being a mere victim. [[spoiler: But in the end, it turns out the Time Eater was really a robot piloted by the Eggmen all along. Yes, Eggmen, [[MyFutureSelfAndMe plural.]]]] * The Space Pirates from the MetroidPrime series get hit ''hard'' with this in ''Echoes''—after being the [[BigBad driving menace ]]of the first game, they are abruptly downgraded into a [[GoldfishPoopGang recurring nuisance]] to Samus— but this can be justified by the game wanting to play up the threat of the Ing and Dark Samus, and the fact that the Pirates on Aether were a small, marooned colony that got many of their crew killed or Ing-possessed. * [=LeChuck=] from the ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland'' series. In the first game he is quite creepy, as is his ship and crew, a bit very LaughiblyEvil. By the third game he has been Flanderized into a rather humorous albeit sadistic character who enjoys hurting Guybrush for the hell of it. * TalesOfMonkeyIsland furthers this even more, and after the intro he's transformed into a genuinely nice guy who Guybrush is suddenly worried about Elaine legitimately falling for. [[spoiler:Then the end of chapter four manages to reverse four games worth of decay in a few scenes, and [=LeChuck=] manages to revert into the evil bastard he used to be and makes him more of a threat by having him actually kill Guybrush.]] * Wily and Sigma of the original ''VideoGame/MegaMan'' and ''[[VideoGame/MegaManX X]]'' series. They started at world domination and thus couldn't up the ante, they were obligated to never win a single token victory except perhaps during the intro mission, every game had them unleash a new wave of greatest minions ever who would fall like dominoes, and the biggie is that they used roughly the same approach (8 robot masters and a fortress, give myself a robot body, and maybe try to [[HijackedByGanon make it look like someone else is the villain at first]]) in every game in the entire series and were defeated singlehandedly by the same person every time. On the plus side, they got a new "more evil" true form every time. ** In ''X6'', Sigma can barely string together coherent sentences ("JUSDIE, Zelllllllloooooo!!!!!"), and is more of a robotic hunched-over zombie who can actually be knocked ''down'', not just back. On the flipside, prior to X6, Simga's schemes seemed to get more evil each game. In X3, when Dr. Doppler comes up with a cure for the Maverick Virus, Sigma turns him evil, along with Mavericks he cured. In X4, he causes the Maverick Hunters and an army called Repliforce to go to war with eachother, creating a very morally ambiguous plot. To top it all off, he comes close to destroying the Earth with a big laser weapon, which X and Zero fail to stop, and is only stopped by the leader of Repliforce, General sacrifice himself. In X5, he makes a scheme to turn Zero maverick by crashing a Maverick Virus infect space colony into that Earth that would cause KT impact esc damage in the process, and depending on the plot of the game, he succeeds and also wipes out most life on Earth in the process (X6 goes assuming the colony did crash into that Earth, but Zero not going Marvick). In all endings, he nearly kills X, and appears to kill Zero. ** Wily's decay was {{lampshaded}} by Mega Man at the end of ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'': Wily, defeated, begs for his life as usual, and Megs shows him a hologram of Wily doing the same thing for the past ''9'' times: -->'''Mega Man:''' ''[[VideoGame/MegaMan1 This is where you first went wrong!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan2 Then this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan3 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan4 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan5 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan6 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan7 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaMan8 And this time!]] [[VideoGame/MegaManAndBass And this time!]]'' ** Wily may actually be a subversion, though, considering he creates [[spoiler:TheVirus]], which plagues the X series long after his death. Plus, in the current timeline, his robots have gotten harder to defeat. * The ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi Mario & Luigi]]'' games bring us Fawful. [[TheDragon Right Hand]] of the main villain in the first game, in the second...he sells badges in a semi-secret shop ranting about how he'll have his revenge on Mario and Luigi one day, which happens in the next game in the series. ** Notably Fawful completely averts this trope by the next game as he returns as the BigBad, becoming more a threat than he was before. * Dracula in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series has been thrashed by the Belmonts and their friends more times than can be [[JustForPun Counted]] ([[Series/SesameStreet vun hundred and fifty two! Vun hundred and fifty three! Vlah ah ah...]]), usually only a brief time after his resurrection, meaning he rarely has ''time'' to do anything particularly evil. He was finally, perhaps wisely, retired in the ''[[CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Sorrow]]'' series...and ironically replaced with new villains who seem a whole lot more inept and ineffectual than Dracula himself ever did. After all, they are ''canonically'' Dracula wannabes. ** There's also Slogra and Gaibon, which debuted as powerful bosses in ''VideoGame/SuperCastlevaniaIV'' (albeit made waaay too easy by all the food between them) then had found their way down to [[DegradedBoss mid-range Mook status]] by ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin Portrait of Ruin]]''. Before that, they were a weak boss pair in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight Symphony]]''. * In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', Sephiroth was an extremely menacing BigBad - a phantom, unstoppable killing machine cutting a swathe of death across the world, always one step ahead of the heroes, and all while manipulating Cloud into a TomatoInTheMirror from within his own mind; all so he can simply [[MoreThanMindControl mind control]] him into giving him the ArtifactOfDoom ''right after'' putting six feet of steel clean through his ally in a single strike. With a smirk. [[ManipulativeBastard What a bastard!]] But in subsequent appearances, all he seems to do is appear out of nowhere with [[OminousLatinChanting his theme song blaring]] to deliver a HannibalLecture and kick the hero's ass for a while before he gets owned. Again. What really makes this worse is that in the original game, Sephiroth didn't care about Cloud beyond his use as a puppet. In fact, he didn't even ''recognize'' him when they met. Then in later appearances, he's completely obsessed with Cloud to the point of having no other motive than to defeat him (save for the ''KingdomHearts'' series, in which ''Cloud'' is the obsessed one, though with the lack of motivation from his original game.) ** ''DissidiaFinalFantasy'' seemed to play around with this. He actually starts out wanting to control Cloud as a puppet...and it grows into a FoeYay-tastic obsession by the last time you fight him. For that matter, all the villains in ''Dissidia'' suffer a decay in one way or another. They go from being the ultimate evils in their universes to just servants of another slightly more ultimate evil. Plus the chaotic storyline really limits their plot roles. Sephiroth, for instance, doesn't seem interested in doing much of anything beyond just taunting Cloud. He has the goal to become a god but his mindscrewing with Cloud seems to have nothing at all to do with that, yet it takes prominence for him. * ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' has a strange example. After confronting the party in Bevelle and revealing his motives, Seymour becomes a [[ThatOneBoss more powerful threat]] gamewise. But storywise, the party brushes him off as completely nuts and [[GoldfishPoopGang stops taking him seriously]]. In the end, Tidus' reaction to Seymour's final appearance inside of Sin is a simple annoyed "Don't you EVER give up?" * [[spoiler:Ashura]] of the ''SaGa'' series. In the first game, he is the penultimate boss. In the second game, he is the first major boss of the game, and it can be a pretty challenging fight. By the third game he's just a normal boss. * The HK-50 droids in ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic 2''. In Peragus, one droid was able to make the entire mining colony its bitch over a few days. Than a squad of three of them showed up at Telos and jobbed against the hero, before finally three more were defeated by [[NonActionGuy T3-M4]]. * The original Big Core of the ''{{Gradius}}'' series has undergone significant Villain Decay; while the original game's bosses were almost nothing ''but'' Big Cores, bigger and more powerful Bacterian technology in subsequent games slowly phased this boss out until, in ''Gradius V'', it became a regular, if large and heavily-armored, enemy. * [[spoiler:Vizier Khilbron]] (a.k.a. the [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Undead Lich]]) and Shiro Tagachi were the {{Big Bad}}s in the first two chapters of ''GuildWars'', and each of them made a challenging opponent at the time. But when they show up again in Chapter 3, ''Nightfall'', even the two of them teamed up are merely just another speedbump on the way to the new Big Bad, Abaddon. * Maleficent from Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' was [[TheManBehindTheMan to a degree]] the main villain of the original ''Franchise/KingdomHearts''. She was also a very respectable villain in the prequel, ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]]'', which showed how she begun her rise to the power she had in the original game. When she is revived in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' she only can control Heartless, is left plotting in a wreck of a castle as opposed to the magnificent one she had in the original game, and has only one loyal servant left... ''[[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Pete]].'' However, this is often {{lampshade|Hanging}}d, and by the end of the game she seems to recapture her former glory by [[spoiler: conquering Organization XIII's castle once Xemnas is destroyed.]] ** Sadly, ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsCoded coded]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance 3D]]'' set her back even ''further''. She at first ''looks'' imposing in ''coded'', breaking Data Sora's digital Keyblade even! But her plan then ends up easily thwarted, she gets crushed by a superpowered Darkside, and she retreats alongside Pete with the main characters hardly caring about letting her go like that. In ''3D'', she's a blatant BigBadWannabe, who only appears in one scene before being driven away, and it's clear no-one's scared of her anymore. ** Even Maleficent had it easy compared to Jafar. In the original ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'', he had a notably prominent role in the Disney Villain group, often interacting with Maleficent directly. In ''Kingdom Hearts II'', he gets ONE scene and an ensuing boss battle, and then dies. ** Ansem and Xemnas, {{Big Bad}}s of ''Kingdom Hearts'' and ''Kingdom Hearts II'' respectively, are reduced to mere pawns of Master Xehanort in ''3D'' and now {{retcon}}ned as having followed his plan all along. *** Considering that they're various incarnations of the same guy and Master Xehanort himself states that [[spoiler:him [[GrandTheftMe bodyjacking Terra]]]] [[CrazyPrepared was just one of many roads]] [[GambitRoulette he could choose to take]], the duo being {{Demoted to|Dragon}} CoDragons is quite justified. * In ''VideoGame/SystemShock 2'', SHODAN went through this trope herself. After the hacker "destroyed" her in that showdown on Citadel Station, SHODAN hibernated on the computer system within the garden grove on Citadel where her experiments, the Many, were created. Her pod was ejected from the Station, and after three decades, it crash landed on Tau Ceti 5. Then, SHODAN's creations thrived, and since she was out of commission at the time, while they were thriving, they grew rebellious and plotted to turn against their own creator: SHODAN herself. So, she aids you as you dispose of the Many, even though she threatens and insults you. SHODAN, however, stopped fitting into this trope after you finally exterminate the Many. Then, she plans to merge her power with the Von Braun's Faster Than Light travel drive, so that she could combine the cyber world with the real world, allowing her to change reality as she sees fit. SHODAN leaves you for dead, and then you fight her. And once you think you've defeated SHODAN for good... * In {{Capcom}}'s ''ResidentEvil'' franchise, Oswell E. Spencer is the prime example of this trope. In the beginning, he was the one pulling all the strings. He was the leader of Umbrella Corporation. He was the one who was responsible for all the terror and destruction that the T-virus caused. But after the constant thwartings of Umbrella's schemes, and the deaths of some of its most prominent workers, and especially after Chris and Jill destroyed Umbrella's T-ALOS project, Umbrella went bankrupt, and the authorities were aware that Umbrella was behind it all. Spencer then became a fugitive, losing everything. ** From a gameplay standpoint, this applies to [[RecurringBoss Nemesis]] in ''ResidentEvil3''. He's at his worst during the first fight, where you don't have much to go with in terms of items, and he's in the form that has the fastest and hardest-to-dodge attacks from the start. Subsequent forms have him with his trademark rocket launcher, which can attack at a distance, but makes him unable to grab Jill, and repeated shooting at him throws his aim off, and if they hit, the rockets don't hurt as much as his grab. By that point, you already have access to the Magnum or the Grenade Launcher, too. This is actually a recurring process, where he gets progressively slower in his attacks and you amass more powerful weapons and ammunition, making each fight easier than the last. By the end of the game, [[AnticlimaxBoss poor Nemmy is a joke]]. * ''VideoGame/BubbleBobble'': Super Drunk, the FinalBoss of the first game, returns, [[DegradedBoss degraded and easier]], as the first boss in a sequel, ''Bubble Symphony'' (aka ''[[OddlyNamedSequel Bubble Bobble II]]''). He even has a patch on his hood to show for it. * Arthas in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. In ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} III'', he starts out as a paladin with potential who is the only person to really beat the Scourge (he was supposed to, but the guy in charge of them didn't know that). Then he turns into a death knight and is presumably even stronger. Kicks some ass in Frozen Throne while fighting with some rather major handicaps. Merges with Nerzhul to become the Lich King, making him even smarter, stronger and upping his magical abilities. Apparently Blizzard realized this made him an [[VillainSue unstoppable one man army who could probably take the world over by HIMSELF,]] so all throughout the latest ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' expansion he makes one huge mistake after another, looks like a total moron and kills his followers who are actually rather competent (one took down the Drakkari empire by manipulating you) instead of you. Oh, and he's also done nothing of importance over the last...what, ten official years? Something like that. He's really good at making himself lose. ** He seems to keep you alive simply out of his own amusement. He kills the troll guy whom you've already defeated and pretty tells you "Good work tricking the guy that tricked you. I'm gonna let you live now because that amused me. Come up with something like this again and I may let you live." ** In the cinematic after defeating Arthas in Ice Crown Citadel, Arthas reveals the whole point of allowing the players to live and defeat his lieutenants and defeat HIM was so he could kill/resurrect them as his NEXT batch of lieutenants. What, the Ling King doesn't have enough power - he can only support enough Big Bads to fill a raid with? ** [[spoiler:And apparently, this was "intended". In the next raid, [[TheObiWan Uther]] speculates that Arthas' piss poor attempt at war is the only thing keeping the Scourge from rolling over Azeroth.]] ** Kael'thas in ''Magister's Terrace''. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that he's been resurrected since killed in Tempest Keep and the process didn't go too well for him. It still feels weird to be fighting such a big name character with five people and then cut off his head to hand in to a quest NPC, but it feels even weirder that [[FlunkyBoss Priestess Delrissa]], [[TurnsRed Vexallus]], and [[ScrappyLevel every trash pull in Magister's Terrace]] were by far trickier affairs than the prince -- much less that his second phase could be soloed by any self-healing class ([[BladderOfSteel given enough time]]). ** Happened to the entire race of Ogres. In VideoGame/{{Warcraft}} they were {{Lightning Bruiser}}s who beat things to death with [[ElementalPunch firey fists]]. They could even be upgraded into Ogre-mages, [[MagicKnight magical powerhouses]] with [[GeniusBruiser super intelligence]] and the gamebreaking spell Bloodlust. By VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft ogres were slow, almost always used weapons instead of GoodOldFisticuffs, and the super intelligent Ogre-mages were speaking in YouNoTakeCandle. *** It sort of got better as World of Warcraft progressed. Burning Crusade featured the Ogre clans united under Gruul the Dragonkiller, himself a horrifyingly powerful and nearly God-like figure amongst the Ogres. His names comes from the time he killed off dozens of Black Dragons(a previous big deal enemy to the player) by picking them up and slamming them into the spiked landscape. Cataclysm features the return of Cho'Gall, who puts the Magi in Ogre Magi as an insane cultist leader with a ton of eldritch abomination powers. He also makes good use of the remaining Ogres as muscle. *** Speaking of black dragons, their leader Deathwing, avert this trope completely. He's initially just a minor character in in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, and the Day of the Dragon novel elevates him by giving him a backstory that says he's a fallen demigod and gives him ChessMaster qualities. By the time he actually makes a return to the games in Cataclysm, even though it's made clear he's TheDragon to a the [[BiggerBad Old Gods]], he becomes even more a threat since they made him even stronger and allowed him to nearly destroy the world. *** The Burning Legion are arguably hit worse than Arthas. Formerly set up as the BigBads of the whole series, WoW has them DemotedToExtra and rarely to do we see anything they do perceived as a big threat. Somewhat justified since a bunch of their high ranking members are dead, but to put this is in perspective, they're overshadowed by the Undead Scourge, an army they created. * ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'': ** Magus. The first time you fight him is a complex affair of constantly shifting [[SuperEffective weak points and debuffing his defenses]]. He lasts long and hits hard enough that you will probably have to actually reference the inventory you probably only previously used to chug potions out of combat. The second time, he -- with none of his stats changed since then save a slight drop in Defense -- [[DuelBoss gets soloed]] by Frog, Lucca, or Marle. He joins your party later, and since GoodIsDumb, has been dropped down to your stats and has to relearn all his spells. He still arguably manages to remain a {{Badass}} in spite of this. *** To be fair though, he did just get much of his power drained by [[EldritchAbomination Lavos]] by the time you get the chance to solo him. Hence, having to regain things like his nuke-level spell Dark Matter. ** The Tyranno. It's called Black Tyranno when you first meet it, but if you find it again in the InfinityPlusOneSword search quests, it has decayed into Rust Tyranno. Actually a subversion, though, as this version is somewhat stronger than the previous one. * All the final bosses from the ''FatalFrame'' series could fall under this category. Through all three games the {{Big Bad}}s will come chase you down every once in awhile, during which the player can't even get an option to attack them and it's an instant kill if they so much as touch you. Suddenly though in the end you can fight them back. Rather easily even. ** The Kusabi suffers this a bit in the third game, where he returns as a boss but loses his OneHitKill abilities. On the other hand, he gained flight and a huge amount of speed, making him a much more terrifying opponent, so...maybe it evens out. ** Reika from ''III'' [[SNKBoss laughs at this trope]]. She actually got a fair bit ''more'' powerful for her final fight. * In ''Left4Dead'', the Tank was something you ran from. With the introduction of melee weapons in ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'', a creature that once required a ''huge'' amount of lead to bring down can be taken out much more rapidly with cricket bats. Thanks to the fact that his melee only hits one survivor at a time, if all survivors gang up on him, he'll die ''in no time''. Later fixed in a patch. It now takes about twice as long to kill a Tank with melee weapons, long enough that unless you have absolutely perfect team coordination, at least one of you is still going to get pummeled before you bring him down. [[KillItWithFire And molotovs still work just fine.]] ** The Witch also gone through similar changes. When she was first introduced in ''Left4Dead'', she was a huge threat because she has the ability to instantly incapacitate you in a single hit and then finish you off quickly. Playing on Expert? [[OneHitKill She will kill you instantly]]. The only way to kill her quickly before she went berserk was to head shot her with a shotgun and you better hope your first shot landed the first time. As time went on, many players gotten very good with the "head shot with a shotgun to the Witch" technique, making Witches nothing more than a hurdle in your path. People also discovered that a head shot with the hunting rifle would stumble the Witch before she would go into her rage mode, giving other players enough time to mow her down. *** The sequel made Witches even easier to kill thanks to several new game mechanics. Wandering Witches are Witches that can slowly walk around in their passive state, but unlike the sitting Witch, Wandering Witches have one second freak out if she is startled, which means she will scream first and then goes into her typical rage mode. This makes it easy enough to blast her with shotguns quickly even without a head shot. Explosive ammo also stumbles her so it's possible to kill her by just using explosive ammo with any gun besides shotguns. * Summerill the [[spoiler: {{DiscOne|FinalBoss}}]] FinalBoss of ''AgarestSenki'' gets turned ''into a WarmUpBoss'' in Agarest 2. Can't get any lower than that. * Zant in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' looks like a pretty cool villain. Sure, his outfit is a bit weird, but it has a creepy vibe and he acts like a true MagnificentBastard. He also walked right into Hyrule Castle and forced Princess Zelda to surrender, and he's nigh untouchable the first few times you see him. He [[spoiler:stole the fused shadows from Midna, and nearly killed her.]] Plus the one time you see a part of his face, he has a very nasty looking smile. Once you reach him, he turns into something below a VillainousHarlequin, and his actions (and attack animation) take away any shred of dignity he might have had left. At the same time, we find out that [[spoiler: all his power was given to him by Ganon, and without that, he was just a whiny and batshit-insane Twili chancellor who wanted to be king.]] Perhaps this is just so we won't miss him after he gets inevitably HijackedByGanon. * Rodrigo Borgia from ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' starts out as the menacing BigBad in the game by slyly walking around Italy making sure everything is going according to plan and has a [[BuffySpeak cool dark reddish-black]] [[BlackCloak hooded robe]], but at the end [[spoiler:he ditches the cloak for not as cool majestic Pope robes and shows off how much of a fat bald guy he is. Then he ditches his MagnificentBastard demeanor and rambles about religion. If that's not enough he gets the stuff KNOCKED out of him by a bare handed Ezio. And finally the next game has him being upstaged by his kids with them disobeying orders and is eventually killed by an apple]] To be fair it is [[ShownTheirWork based on history]]. ** Consider: For nearly the entire game, Ezio wants to kill him. After killing everyone else involved in his foul conspiracy, he gets a chance to kill him, and fails. He gets another chance, then, when he finally has Rodrigo completely at his mercy...he spares his life. Why? Because it would do ''more'' harm to the Templar cause to have him live on as a meaningless figurehead whose master plan achieved nothing. It don't get much harsher than that! * Kerrigan from ''{{Starcraft}}''. In the original she was little more than an AxeCrazy PsychoForHire EliteMook to the Overmind. In Brood Wars she ascended into a MagnificentBitch of her own right, manipulating ALL the other sides against each other, [[HeroKiller eliminating one key figure after another]] and eventually crippling her enemies and proclaiming herself Queen Bitch of the Universe. And it WAS NOT an empty boast. Then...came Wings of Liberty. Sarah suffered from a sever case of [[OrcusOnHisThrone "Arthas Syndrome"]], and for the whole Terran campaign stayed in the background, being repeatedly thwarted by the humans, spurting some cliched villanious trites interlaced with some fatalistic emo crap, and finally being rescued by the hero, who carried her on his arms into the sunrise. All the hopes now lie in the upcoming Zerg campaign which is supposed to rehabilitate our beloved FemmeFatale. * In ''CommandAndConquerRedAlert'', the [[RedsWithRockets Soviets]] are fear-inspiring Nazi replacements who want to TakeOverTheWorld and cross the MoralEventHorizon several times. Over the course of the games, they become increasingly goofier and sillier, eventually becoming [[HarmlessVillain Harmless Villains]] in ''RedAlert3'', compared to the new antagonist, the [[KatanasOfTheRisingSun Empire of the Rising Sun]]. * ''StreetFighter's'' M.Bison has fallen as hard as it's possible for a fall to be. You will recall that in SF2 Champion Edition, he ''conquers the world'' if he wins the tournament. And as late as Alpha 3, he can wipe a city completely off the map. Unfortunately, by the Capcom vs. SNK games, he's reduced to nebulous {{plan}}s, and by SF4, the only consequence of him triumphing is a somewhat unpleasant conversation with Juri. ** That said, the plot in SF4 also heavily hints towards the current BigBad Seth as being nothing more than an UnwittingPawn for Bison that he easily kills and removes when he's getting a bit too hard to control. * ''MortalKombat's'' Shang Tsung has also fallen hard. Remember when he was the final boss of the first game? He was then revealed to TheDragon to the real BigBad Shao Kahn and still remained an activate player in the plot. In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, he teams up with Quan Chi and manages to kill both Liu Kang and Shao Kahn. However in the quasireboot ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', Shang Tsung's role is greatly diminished in favor of Quan Chi who takes most of Shang Tsung's old role during the MK3 part of the story and is given a rather awkward [[DroppedABridgeOnHim death]]. * Most of Batman's rogues in [[VideoGame/LegoAdaptationGame Lego Batman 2.]] While it takes the entire game to bring them down in the original, most of them are curb stomped in the first level of the sequel. It doesn't help that all of them have tiny health bars and Freeze and Croc don't even make it out of their cells. The only execeptions are Joker who [[spoiler:manages to destroy the Batcave]] and Scarecrow who takes a level to catch, has a big health bar and a NightmareFuel filled boss battle where he turns into a giant. * The ''Film/SpiderMan 2'' tie-in game has Mysterio, who starts out demolishing a theatre, staging an alien invasion, and holding the Statue of Liberty hostage. Shortly afterwards, once you've beaten his "Funhouse of Death", he resorts to sending out small parties of useless robots that break like fine china when you hit them, and is eventually defeated with one punch while holding up a convenience store. [[/folder]] [[folder:Web Comics]] * See TheRant of [[http://www.bmoviecomic.com/?cid=266 this]] ''BMovieComic'' strip. * Jacob of ''DominicDeegan'' is all over this trope. In the Visions of Doom arc, he was introduced as a near-unstoppable necromancer who fought a powerful spellwolf to a standstill, out-maneuvered his seer brother and manipulated an evil cult into conducting a dark ritual before killing them with ease so he could use their body parts to make a necromantic golem. Later, he and his golem tries to team up with the Chosen to unleash the [[SealedEvilinaCan Storm of Souls]], but their plans are ultimately defeated and his own creation turns on him. He gains a bit of credibility by tearing off his own flesh, but never really regains the Badass status that he once held. In the most recent arc, he gets owned by Huk Thak/Roki, is murdered by the Shintula Chief and is finally betrayed once again by his servant Neilen and left to rot in the orc version of the afterlife. The character's future is uncertain but it's clear he'll never attain the coolness that he once had. * Happens in-universe to the [[FluffyTheTerrible Vampire Lord Fluffy]] of ''AModestDestiny'', turning him from an unstoppable {{Necromancer}} to [[WeirdTradeUnion a freelance contractor for people looking to fill their dungeons with pre-made monsters]]. [[spoiler: Later subverted when it turns out he's as FauxAffablyEvil as ever, just [[TheChessmaster more patient than he looks]].]] * ''TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob''-- In their first appearance, the [[SpacePirates Pirates of Ipecac]] were goofy, but they had big guns and a spaceship and came across as a credible threat. In the current storyline, Fructose Riboflavin has taken a bit of a [[TookALevelInBadAss Level In Bad Ass]] and forced them to become his cringing [[{{Mooks}} lackies.]] * This was done (probably deliberately) to Faz in ''Webcomic/{{Shortpacked}}!'' In his first appearances, he was an insufferable SmugSnake who managed to become Galasso's favorite employee via manipulation and undermining his coworkers all while rubbing it in their faces. Now he's the most pathetic member of the cast and treated as little more than a nuisance. * After Kelelder from ''Webcomic/{{Jix}}'' was killed the first time by Jix (though, this term is used loosely since he's an immortal), he's become somewhat of a Kenny type character. The creator didn't want him to be seen like this, so Kelelder made an agreement with another character to back off from the main character and stop trying to kill her. * Subverted in Webcomic/GirlGenius: DeliberatelyDistressedDamsel and general MagnificentBastard Zola has habit of ''recovering'' from VillainDecay and becoming stronger and smarter than she was before in the process. * In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' the Partnership Collective came within a hair's width of killing off Tagon's Toughs three times in the comic's first year, the second two times with [=WMDs=]. But the third time they wrecked the Lunar SpaceElevator and the government put a bounty on the Collective's Attorney Drones, now that the Toughs are paid to shoot them on sight they've become nothing more than comic relief. [[/folder]] [[folder: Web Original ]] * Blood Boy, a big antagonist in the early stages of ''SurvivalOfTheFittest'' version 3 had this occur in the last topic he appeared in, becoming an almost [[{{Batman}} Jokeresque]] figure (to the point of almost directly quoting from ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' at one point). This does, however, have a fairly good reason: a different handler took over the character for that scene, one who, needless to say, had a rather different take on the character. * The Necromancer, in the WhateleyUniverse. Starts out as one of the top 60 supervillains on the Interpol rating scale. He's now oh-for-two against Team Kimba, who are ''high schoolers''. Even with his team of supervillains working for him. Now one-for-two, making out like a bandit in the process, excluding one goal failing due to a [[DidntSeeThatComing Unknown Unknown]] * The CC Corporation in FlandersCompany started out as a relatively competent organisation who actually succeeded in taking over Trueman's company without him even noticing, and their leader Carla Brunelle was a PsychoElectro and MagnificentBitch who could handle the whole team of protagonists of her own. Come season 3, the arrival of [[KnightOfCerebus Aegis]] cause Carla to suffer a VillainousBreakdown, leading her to a GenreBlind decision. Her group is even worst, as most competent members are either KilledOffForReal or PutOnABus, leaving her more and more SurroundedByIdiots. * On TWGTG, we have the MadScientist Dr. Insano that first appeared on TheSpoonyExperiment, whose early appearances depict him as a LaughablyEvil, but none the less dangerous character. Later appearances, however, have him attempting no evil plans and just have him acting comedic. Averted with AT4W's villain Mechakara, who is presented as a KnightOfCerebus that almost kills Linkara in his first appearance, and when he later reappears, despite being DemotedToDragon for the new BigBad Lord Vyce, he's become even more a threat due to being upgraded, shown most notably in that his re-match with Linkara he {{No Sell}}s the the methods used to defeat him the first time. (And then in ''ToBoldlyFlee'', he not only takes out Linkara in five seconds, but comes within an ace of killing ''the entire TGWTG cast''.) [[/folder]] [[folder: Western Animation ]] * The first ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|1987}}'' animated series used heavy LampshadeHanging ("at last, Shredder, you've done something right!") to underscore how completely the Shredder had become a joke villain. While he was mildly threatening in the first season (although to what extent this is the case is cause for debate), villain decay set in very quickly after that, as it did with most of the series' villains. * The Shredder of the '''second''' ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}}'' cartoon series, on the other hand, managed to emerge seven seasons mostly unscathed by villain decay, growing more powerful to the point where the turtles stopped being able to defeat him with martial arts alone, and ''always'' portrayed as both [[MagnificentBastard scarily competent]] and pure evil. However, not all the series villains are so lucky--the Shredder's [[TheDragon dragon]], Hun, in particular, vent from "tough" to "joke" in the space of one season, before regaining some measure of respectability during the last third of the show's second season, which he retains--mostly by not featuring him in any extended battles with the turtles--until the end of the show...[[spoiler: and gains a considerable power upgrade upon becoming a BadassAbnormal in ''WesternAnimation/TurtlesForever'']]. Karai went from beating all four turtles and Casey Jones (easily) in her first appearance to Leo and Mike making a complete mockery of her in her own base when all they were there to do was steal an AncientArtifact. * Sideshow Bob from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' didn't suffer from this until many seasons into the show. His subsequent appearances always outdid the last and became a lot more violent and heinous, but he still never won. Around his fifth or sixth appearance he lost it though. Even worse, Mr. Burns used to be a greedy, heartless, megalomaniac CorruptCorporateExecutive, the villain of many episodes. He was regularly depicted as decrepit and with the mindset of a more reactionary era, but that didn't stop him from being entertainingly pure evil. Come Season 10 and beyond, he was inexplicably transformed into an inoffensive old man, most of the jokes about whom revolved around his senility and physical frailty. In other words, yet another victim of the terrible case of {{Flanderization}} which has plagued the series. ** Burns also showed a very dynamic sympathetic side, where he's almost a Scrooge like figure feeling the effects of a plentiful...but empty life. This is still shown occasionally but in a lighter manner. ** This trope is invoked in-universe in the Halloween special's ''Franchise/ANightmareOnElmStreet'' parody. [[spoiler: after Groundskeeper Willie (in the Freddy Kruegar role) is defeated, Bart and Lisa contemplate his return. He appears moments later, but has been reduced to an ineffectual villain whose bufoonery is even accompanied by jaunty music]]. * Cobra Commander, the main villain of ''Franchise/GIJoe'', follows other aforementioned 80s cartoon villains' example but he's worth special mention because in parallel to his bumbling persona in the cartoon, his original comic book persona remained a ruthless MagnificentBastard all throughout to its final issues. This Decay was probably intentional because his bloodthirsty ways needed to be toned down for the Sunbow series. Though also worth mention is that while the cartoon Commander was mostly inept by the end of GI Joe's second season, at least he was a part of the sub-plot concerning an internal civil war within Cobra where Commander and a few others made up the secret sub-group Coil in an effort to slowly wrestle control of Cobra away from Cobra emperor Serpentor, giving the villain at least some credibility by the end. However in the [[WesternAnimation/GIJoeTheMovie animated movie]], Coil is never mentioned and Cobra Commander goes beyond becoming everyone's ButtMonkey for the film in a literal sense, in a way decaying the character in two different ways. Fans of GI Joe tend to not like the movie very much based on this, and the fact the movie attempts to retcon what is known about the Commander's past to something beyond ludicrous...even by 80s cartoon standards. * On ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'', it took an age-ified Nigel and the rest of the team to take Father down in his first appearance (Op GROW-UP). Then a few cadets took him down in his next appearance (Op TRAINING), making him more of a comic-relief pest. Then the writers escalated his crimes by turning the KND into animals (Op GRADUATES), and after that was taken care of, they had him extend school hours to 8:25 p.m. (a big deal, since the protagonists are school-hating children - Op PRESIDENT). In Operation ZERO, he was reduced to being completely ineffectual when faced with his father. ** Z.E.R.O. actually plays with this however. [[spoiler: after his father banishes him for not being competent enough, he goes into a state of depression which takes his moral opposite brother to pull him out of. Together they face their father and though Father is still afraid he tries to stand up for himself. Soon after he gets sucker punched and Grandfather begins to rag on him a bit and sets off his BerserkButton. His unstoppable rage is so fierce that it makes his heroic brother, who was previously shown to not be afraid of anything, step back and makes Grandfather, the unstoppable evil who has conquered the world, afraid. But before he can do anything he gives up because he's too depressed.]] This shows that it's not the lack of ability that holds him back but rather the lack of self-confidence. * ''WesternAnimation/SpeedRacerTheNextGeneration'' had Zile Zazic, the main villain of the show, oil tycoon and trustee of the Racer Academy...who went through every possible process in which decaying villains could go through! It didn't help that he only carried out his plans first-hand two-thirds of the way through the season. By the end of the show, his plans became boring and predictable. * ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'': ** Jack Spicer became full-on comic relief with the emergence of Chase Young. Chase himself became less of a threat ''to the Xiaolin monks'' when Hannibal Roy Bean was released, moving more into EvilerThanThou and EnemyMine plots against Bean, but he is still a BadassAbnormal MagnificentBastard to the end. *** Jack still gets a few impressive moments though, and the monks sometimes pay for underestimating him. In the GrandFinale, he hits Chase, Hannibal ''and'' Wuya with this when he is revealed to be the ruler of a BadFuture who has imprisoned all three of them in small cages, all because Omi wasn't around to stop him. ** Wuya too. Starting off as a fairly credible mentor to Jack, she eventually regained her magical power and managed to take over the world off-screen. Upon her return in the second season however, she was reduced to nothing but a loud, obnoxious whiner, and by the end of the season she was reduced to being nothing more than a cheering fangirl for Chase Young. She regained some of her villainous grativas in the third season, but even then, she was just never as cool as she was in the In the Flesh 3-parter. * Valmont in ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''. Just ''look'' at the guy. In the early seasons, he was a charismatic, refined, [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney rich-out-his-ass leader of a worldwide criminal organization]] who could very well be mistaken for a MagnificentBastard (He was even able to hold his own against (and get the better of) Jackie in their personal confrontations.) Then take a gander at the later seasons...knocking over convenience stores, living in an apartment no bigger than your bathroom (seriously), and leaning on the three goons he has left to pay for the bill at a pancake shop. The last time he's ever seen, in the show's final episode, he's become a ''bus driver''. ** The Dark Hand, the criminal organization in question, went with him, going from a NebulousEvilOrganization with an army of {{Mooks}} to Finn, Ratso and Chow. Until they decide to retire because, after being repeatedly beaten up by Jackie Chan and enslaved by evil sorcerors and demons with nothing but pain to show for it, they decided BeingEvilSucks. ** The Shadowkhan are a good example. They were quite potent in seasons 1 and 2, but in the Oni Mask saga, they go "poof" if someone so much as ''trips'' them (though they ''are'' central to a NearVillainVictory and WorldDomination scheme). Also, when the Enforcers became Dark Chi Warriors, who initially could survive falling off a cliff, but towards the end of the season, couldn't survive a fall of 10 feet. ** Shendu also suffers from this. Early on, he's an ominous and threatening figure, despite being stuck as a statue. During the end of the 1st season, when he's finally regained his powers, he's a vastly powerful and menacing evil dragon. During the 2nd season, however, because he's stuck sharing bodies with Valmont, he's largely a joke, except during the finale, and when he later returns during the finale of the 3rd season. During the series finale, however, he's stuck helping the heroes, and is largely a joke when fighting his son Drago. * The Decepticons of ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' suffer this in most versions. ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' and ''[[WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated Animated]]'' each had different methods to avoid them becoming ineffectual: ** ''Beast Wars'' avoided it by being more [[StoryArc arc]]-based with the Predacons often winning. ** Inferno, unfortunately, decayed so quickly that to anyone who's only seen the first season, his supposed power comes off as more of an InformedAbility. ** Rampage is a [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] example. When he first appears, he's TheJuggernaut. Having his spark torn out and forced to serve Megatron made him the ImplacableMan. That's how {{Badass}} he was. ** And yet, almost any episode where Rampage didn't have a major role in the plot will have him either get [[CurbStompBattle curb stomped]] or hand him TheWorfEffect. Often in a really silly way. ** From the Transformers Wiki, regarding the first episode of the show, re: [[ButtMonkey Waspinator]]: "In a stark contrast to his later career, he actually proved to be a serious threat and had the advantage over the inexperienced Cheetor, pinning the young Maximal down in a canyon." Somewhere between blowing himself up with his own missiles in episode 4 and Rattrap kicking him in the nuts at the end of season 1 his true destiny came to fruition. Amazingly, [[spoiler: in BeastMachines he suffered villain decay all over again as Thrust.]] ** ''Animated'' on the other hand doesn't always have them as the villains. They also reverse the TookALevelInBadass the Autobots as a whole went through by having a crew that was never meant for battle with tools that had primarily non-combat purpose in mind, so it takes the whole team to take down just one or two of the armed-to-the-teeth Decepticons. ** ''Animated'' started out with the Autobots requiring all hands on deck to stand a chance against any of the Decipticons but by the end of season 3, Optimus Prime is able to take on Megatron single handed. ** Starscream took a level up in badassery when he first fought the Autobots and was too strong for them (making up somewhat for the stupidity he displayed earlier), but later he's largely a joke because of how he keep getting his ass kicked by Megatron. Two other Decepticons, Blitzwing and Lugnut also suffered from this. Initially they would be considered NotSoHarmless. They were dumb, but either of them could take all the Autobots on his own. But as time went on, they kept on getting beaten by plot devices and largely become jokes. ** Even the films have done this. The Decepticons were nearly unstoppable g, being in Icy mode most of the time, manages to out maneouver the autobotsin the first film, in the sequel they get thrown around. Although the extent of decay is hard to tell since [[spoiler: the Autobots and humans from around the globe have been fighting for two years now as a specialized task force. They're better prepared this time. Plus the fights aren't in crowded cities, so the Autobots can cut loose, especially Optimus.]] *** The Cons always sucked in those films, sure Starscream and Brawl could do some damage, but they were defeated rather easily, as well as most of the other cons. Look at the body count: Autobots lost one guy of five, Decepticons lost 5 out of 8. ** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', following tradition, hands this to Starscream (again). He went from surprisingly competent in the pilot to standard [[TheStarscream Starscream]] near the end of the season. And while he dealt Arcee a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown in ''Partners'' and later [[spoiler:went rogue]], it's not been entirely undone yet. Admittedly it is justified with Megatron returning and things generally not going his way. So far Megatron hasn't been hit with this (yet), clearly being the most competent of the Cons (Soundwave perhaps being the close second). If [[spoiler:the season 2 three-part premiere]] and "Operation Bumblebee" are to be believed, however, Starscream is getting back on form, particularly when he killed [[spoiler:a dozen Vehicons in a row.]] And then he found the [[spoiler:Apex Armor]]... ** Averted with Knockout. Undoubtedly the least dangerous Decepticon character by default, two seasons in and he's remained consistent with his early appearances. * The Commando Droids of 'WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars' went from EliteMooks in their first appearances to almost as ineffectual as their ridiculously ineffectual cousin, the B-1 Battledroid. ** Also, somehow, at some point, Cad Bane went from being the biggest BadAss in the galaxy to finding a new home in a CardboardPrison. * Vlad from ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' was once a MagnificentBastard and a very competent arch-foe with an often [[DracoInLeatherPants sympathetic side]]. But in the third season, he became a shallow crook with little redeeming qualities; his final plan was to force the world to let him save it from a giant meteor in exchange for world domination (an agenda that was poorly conceived) and 500 billion dollars...as if he wasn't already filthy stinking RICH! Skulker is another example. In his first appearance he was genuinely menacing, and had Danny looking over his shoulder scared. Fast forward to "Micro Management", where Danny could defeat him in a few blasts, and only became a threat when Danny lost his powers. It reached its peak in "Girls Night Out", where a ''bird'' chased him off. * In his first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/YinYangYo'', Kraggler is an incredibly elderly gargoyle who is discounted by the siblings due to his age, then proves to be a very powerful and capable villain, who, rather than being defeated, is convinced to stop because of an apology for his mistreatment. From then on, he's treated as a joke villain (even moreso than the other villains, this being a comedy series) who's only a threat if he uses magic to reduce his age. * Ra's Al Ghul himself suffered from this in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' and later {{DCAU}} canon. Introduced as the leader of a global secret society, whose first villain plan involved wiping out 99% of the human race to save the planet, and once described by Batman himself as "a criminal mastermind more dangerous than LexLuthor and SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker combined", Ra's would end up spending EVERY SINGLE ONE of his episodes trying out various wacky schemes to cheat death and expand his already 600 year long lifespan, instead of doing anything productive to menace the human race. In his last ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' appearance Batman ends up saving him from a 2000 year old Egyptian mummy girl. ** Ra's al Ghul's Villain Decay is still debatable, considering how even in the ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode "The Demon Reborn," Batman himself declared that Ra's al Ghul was more dangerous than both The Joker and Lex Luthor combined. Later in the canon, though, they refer to something called "The Near-Apocalypse of '09," which Ra's was behind, and apparently took the whole Justice League to stop. ** Ra's says in "The Demon Reborn" that he realized the Lazarus Pits effects were becoming shorter and shorter, so perhaps he was concentrating on finding out a way to live longer before trying another [[TakeOverTheWorld world domination effort]]. ** His diminished threat is cemented in ''BatmanBeyond'' where not only has he pulled a GrandTheftMe on his own daughter in yet another plan to avoid death, he suffers an epic TheReasonYouSuckSpeech from Batman himself who tells him "You don't cheat death, you cower in fear of it....[[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And you hit like a girl.]]" ** Also from BTAS, Killer Croc. In his first appearance he came up with a pretty good plan to frame Harvey Bullock, and gave Batman a pretty good fight. After that, he was mostly treated as DumbMuscle comic relief, and [[TheWorfEffect was used to demonstrate how awesome Bane and the Judge were by getting his ass kicked]]. *** He actually does have a couple of decent showings after that, and wasn't always portrayed as stupid; ironically, his DumbMuscle characterization started with (and was worst in) the episode ''Almost Got 'Em'', the irony being "Croc" was actually Batman in disguise. Unfortunately for Croc, this was his ''most famous'' "appearance", so this is how he is remembered. ** In his second appearance, while the ClockKing did gain a device that actually let him control time, he also didn't show a lot of what made him such a formidable opponent in his debut episode (his ludicrously precise timing and planning). This resulted in the man who was able to physically match Batman in combat being taken out the instant his device broke. * Carface, the BigBad of ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'', was legitimately menacing in the original film (it was his henchmen who were [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain incompetent jokes]]). The scene where he and his gang threaten Itchy at Charlie's Club may indeed be NightmareFuel for some. However, in ''All Dogs Go to Heaven 2'', he loses several IQ points, and becomes the idiot henchman. The VillainSong, 'It Feels So Good to Be Bad', sung by Satan to Carface, seems to be about reversing VillainDecay and going in the complete opposite direction, but nothing ever comes of it. Carface never really regains the menacing quality he had in the first film, and ends up being sent to FireAndBrimstoneHell because he made a really stupid DealWithTheDevil. While this plot point seems to be retconned in the series, he seems to only get worse, ending up playing a Scrooge archetype in "An All Dogs Christmas Carol". This was a chain-smoking, [[EvilSoundsDeep gravel-voiced,]] ManipulativeBastard BadBoss that waits until Charlie's wasted and [[NoKillLikeOverkill rolls a car into Charlie that if he didn't die from the impact would drown,]] took everything Charlie had, manipulated an orphan for gambling tips, beat Itchy with a gang of Mooks within an inch of his life then almost killed Charlie ''again'' until he himself was eaten by King Gator. Essentially '''if you're a Creator/DonBluth villain in a sequelized franchise, prepare to be decayed.''' The only way out of that is to never appear in the sequels at all, which many Bluth villains do not. * Sharpteeth in ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'' [[{{sequelitis}} sequels]]. The original Sharptooth was an unstoppable killer and a true force of nature who had seemingly supernatural stamina. As the series continued (and became progressively more kiddy), all the carnivorous dinosaurs in general have decayed to the point of no return. It got so bad in ''The Land Before Time'' TV series that Littlefoot and the other kids were able to chase off two raptor-like Sharpteeth and one Tyrannosaur just by throwing fruit at them. It's especially bad considering how Red Claw is constantly referred to as the "biggest, meanest, most scary Sharptooth ever". Yes, the Tyrannosaurus rex that runs from some fruit is supposed to be more big, bad and gruesome than the Tyrannosaurus rex who violently ended the life of Mama Longneck and terrified both the dino-kids and real kids. * Magnacat from ''ComicBook/MonsterAllergy'' is a serious threat to the Tamers, but not anymore when his plans kept on failing, [[spoiler:he becomes bankrupt]]. Hector Sinistro becomes this as well. * While never particularly smart, the Trix sisters from ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'' were competent enemies, acting on their own in the first season. They still were more than decent during the second season, even if by then, they were already reduced to the main villain's henchwomen; notable was their fusion into a single, powerful entity in the last episode. Then the third season came, and they became [[IneffectualSympatheticVillain little more than a joke]] - they even received some power-up at some point, but it turned to be useless. ** Subverted at the very end of the first movie when [[spoiler: they team up with their ancestors, the Three Ancestral Witches]], promising to ''rip the Faeries' wings off''. ** Valtor eventually suffered from this at the end of season 3. Even when he was well on his way to becoming the supreme sorcerer of the Magic Dimension, he began to grow mopey and whiny about how he was always hiding and that the Trix losing to the Winx meant that his defeat at the hands of the Company of Light years before was starting to repeat himself. When the Winx managed to hit him with the [[KryptoniteFactor Water Stars]] he became reluctant to even fight them. Even his [[OneWingedAngel demon form]] that removed his weakness to the water stars didn't save him, as he ended up letting the Winx free all of his spells that he had stolen, was abandoned by the Trix, and nearly frowned himself when recalling his water spell. In the end he fell under the control of the Three Ancestral Witches before being single-handedly killed by Bloom. * The Hive kids from ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' started out in the first appearance as a well-organized elite fighting force that proved to be an even match for the titular heroes (even taking them down in their first encounter when they had the element of surprise), but by the last season they had decayed so badly a single Titan (Kid Flash) could trounce them all fairly easily (except for Jinx, who had a HeelFaceTurn anyways). ** Even when they were badass, they hardly liked each other, and weren't all that bright, save Jinx and Gizmo (who was too immature to put his brains to effective use on more than one occasion). One could argue that without Brother Blood to scare them into competence, they just really didn't care about working in tandem anymore. They probably only stuck together at ''all'' by that point because they had nowhere else to go. ** There's also the fact that since ''Teen Titans'' played a speedster near their full potential, Kid Flash was probably more effective alone than the main five whre in most cases. This is kinda re-enforced by the fact they got just one person to watch their city for the five of them. ** Brother Blood himself got this pretty bad. His ''fighting ability'' never really went down- it was his intelligence and ability to make effective use of his other powers that suffered. In "Deception", for example, he seems to know almost everything that's happening in the HIVE from the start (including that Cyborg was TheMole), and he was only beaten in the end because Cyborg's half-mechanical brain was able to reject him. In "Wavelength" and "Titans East", he somehow ''give Cyborg his own powers by mistake'', is completely oblivious to when someone with no mental enhancements at all is capable of completely resisting him, and blows his top at the first opportunity. There's more to decay than just a decrease in power, after all. * In ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'', Clancy the bug man was a sadistic psychopath in his first appearance. When he appears in the Grand Finale he has been turned into a generic bug monster for no reason. In fact, most of the villains that returned in the finale were decayed, with the exception of Charmcaster, who stuck to her role as EvilCounterpart to Gwen. ** Vilgax. In the original series, Ben was never able to truly defeat [[BigBad Vilgax]] on his own [[spoiler:at least, before he became Ben 10,000]], only beat him badly enough that Ben and friends have enough time to get away. Fast forward to Alien Force, the Galactic Conqueror now has a less intimidating design and appearance, and, while he still displays a degree of badassery on occasion, gets notably defeated by Ben several times (one of the most infamous example being when [[spoiler:Ben defeated him as Diamondhead, an alien that couldn't even scratch him before and actually broke his hands punching him]]). To be fair, Ben TookALevelInBadass during the TimeSkip, but it's still infuriating to see his ArchEnemy not being seen as a serious treath anymore. It was fortunately corrected in the finale of Ben10UltimateAlien, where Vilgax, while still lacking his former look and fighting skills, compensate by being an incredibly competent ManipulativeBastard and [[spoiler:end up [[DidYouJustScamCthulhu scamming]] an ''EldritchAbomination'']]. ** Even worst with the Forever Knight, who went from a mysterious evil organisation to ridiculously weak villains who served as the heroes' punching ball (to the point in one episode, Gwen felt like it was more important for Ben to assist his girlfriend's tennis match than keeping an eye on them). Fortunately corrected in season 2 of Ben10UltimateAlien. ** Charmcaster may not have suffered any decay in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'', but she was hit by it pretty hard in her second ''Alien Force'' appearance, where she killed Gwen of an alternate timeline and kept on boasting about it to the present Gwen...[[AntiClimaxBoss only to get her ass kicked by Gwen several times afterwards]] [[FauxActionGirl despite her claims of power.]] Her first appearance in ''Ultimate Alien'' then made it worse, turning her into a mook who barely held off Kevin, the team [[TheWorfEffect Worf]], for a few minutes, and needed the help of two other bad guys to stand a chance against the heroes. So, at this point, it's probably for the best that her next appearance had her as an AntiVillain who makes a HeelFaceTurn. ** Darkstar was fairly threatening in ''Alien Force'', being a superpowered ManipulativeBastard, but was hit by decay when he reappears in the first season finale of ''Ultimate Alien''. He is so starved for energy that he's been reduced to skulking in alleyways preying on stray animals just to survive. He has also become predictable in his treachery -- the heroes stop his attempt to backstab them in the very end with a [[AntiClimaxBoss literal push of a button and he gets taken out with a single punch.]] And in his final appearance, "Couple's Retreat", he's a [[WhatAnIdiot flat-out moron.]] * In ''WesternAnimation/GormitiTheLordsOfNatureReturn'', this was the fate that befell Orrore Profondo (Deep Horror), who, in the [[AllThereInTheManual backstory narrated in the toyline]], was a terrifying opponent, feared by all the Gormiti siding with the Wise Old One. He even managed to [[spoiler:trick the Air Gormiti into doing a FaceHeelTurn]]...but in the series (which takes place many millennia after the toyline story), he seems to play second banana to EvilOverlord Magmion and doesn't really show the competence a villain of his caliber should. However, this only seems to apply to his anime self: in the comics, as of now, he has retained all of his credentials and Magmion is just one of his underlings. * Satan was big and scary in his first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', but he's become "a whiny little bitch" in God's own words ever since he was first established as the lover of Saddam Hussein. It's arguable that he started out pre-decayed, though. He LOOKED intimidating, but his master plot in his first appearance was conning the city out of a lot of betting money, rather than, you know, the End of Days or anything like that. * Mandark's first appearance in ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' established him as clearly superior to Dexter in terms of brains, to the point where he could read minds, and saying his name invoked TheScottishTrope. He was quickly brought down to being Dexter's equal, with his telepathy disappearing. In fact, "[[TheMovie Ego Trip]]" even stated he had to resort to stealing Dexter's ideas to get ahead. Justified in that Mandark was badass until meeting [[AchillesHeel Dee-Dee]] in that very episode, so as long as she's around, he's too lovestruck to do anything, even while she wrecks his lab. The '''real''' VillainDecay for Mandark came in the final season where he [[RetCon has a Flashback episode, revealing his birth name was "Sue," an innocent flower child that met Dexter years ago, taking the name Mandark after being refused friendship by Dexter,]] despite the fact that his debut ep introduced his real name as Ivan Astronomonov with the aforementioned nickname [[TheScottishTrope Mandark.]] * Metallo from ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' became less and less of a credible threat with each appearance. Probably intentional, too. Metallo's appearance over the episodes maintained the damage he suffered from each prior appearance, implying that he wasn't getting internal repairs, either. ** Kalibak was perhaps the most obvious example. His first appearance was a whole-episode slugfest where he stood toe-to-toe with Superman (who, to be fair, had to take care of his father and innocent bystanders who were being threatened by the crossfire). In every subsequent appearance he's little more than a doorstop: Superman punches him out in less than a minute in "Legacy", and he loses to Batman during ''Justice League''. In his final appearance he finally got to do something useful... Because he was in an EnemyMine situation with Scott Free and The Flash. * While ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'''s Heinz Doofenshmirtz has always been a IneffectualSympatheticVillain, Buford was introduced as a truly nasty bully. By the second season he's mostly just cranky and posturing and is in fact a friend of WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb. Also, Tri-State Unification day episode contains both of these elements. He tries to ruin the parade, but is also shown to be VitriolicBestBuds with Baljeet, whom he used to pick on (and still does, but it's pretty blatantly out of love; he even says as much once). * The Diesels and Spencer from ''WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine'' suffered a lot from this trope. Diesel 10 as well. In TheMovie, he tried to have every single steam locomotive destroyed and ended up being thrown off a bridge and onto a barge full of sludge, but in one of the sequels he actually wants to take over the Steamworks because of the Dieselworks' poor conditions, and later trapping Thomas and Percy inside the Dieselworks and setting the entire place on fire only to end up being scolded by Sir Topham Hatt at the last minute and is forced to put out the fire he started and repair the entire Dieselworks as punishment because of this! * All villains from ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' other than HIM suffered villain decay, especially Mojo Jojo, who was actually able to take over Townsville with an army of monkeys in the movie, which takes place before any other event in the series. Even Him suffered a few degrading roles in the show as well (in the writers' defense, he was an insane effeminate crossdresser, how could they resist?), as did Mojo continue having the odd threatening role however. While a lot of other villains got progressively worse, the competence for both former characters was arguably more a case of DependingOnTheWriter. * The '90s ''WesternAnimation/{{X-Men}}'' animated series did an interesting variation on this with {{Magneto}}. While he didn't lose any of his effectiveness or charisma, almost every appearance of his after his first battle with the X-Men ended with an EnemyMine situation, painting him as less of a villain, or even an AntiVillain, and more of an AntiHero who wouldn't join the X-Men for...some unknown reason. So, it wasn't so much his effectiveness that decayed, but more his [[HeelFaceTurn villainous status]] itself. Made even more confusing because every time he appeared, the X-Men still reacted to him as if he were a bad guy, though he almost never attacked them anymore. ** Not entirely true; he ''did'' steal a bunch of nuclear weapons to arm his mutant utopia Asteroid M, if only to protect it from outside attacks (and personally broke into the United Nations to warn them off); later, he teamed up with ''Apocalypse'' of all people and ''did'' attack the X-Men in that appearance, in order to ''kidnap'' someone no less- he later turns against Apocalypse and was suspicious of him from the start, and he and Wolverne end up saving each others lives; but still, its not hard to see why they are suspicious of him. His first EnemyMine situation, for the record, occured ''after'' he abducted a United States Senator and possibly planned on killing him (a JerkAss anti-mutant senator, but thats not the point). * ''WesternAnimation/FantasticFourWorldsGreatestHeroes'' has this happen to Doom, unlike in the comics. By the fourth appearance, his dignity is ''lost''. * Hotstreak from ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' started out as the biggest bully in school and the leader of a local street gang who becomes even more dangerous when he got exposed to the big bang gas with the ability to control fire. He was a genuine threat for his first couple of appearances but as the series went on he became more and more pathetic. He was decayed so badly that on one occasion when one of the heroines gave him a wedgie he ran away crying. What is he now, [[HeyItsThatVoice Jack Spicer?]] ** This is largely due to AdaptationDecay and MotiveDecay largely unique to Hotstreak. In the comics, Hotstreak's status as one of the primary villains is due less to his power levels than to being a racist thug, which presumably [[ExecutiveMeddling the Fox Kids censors didn't like.]] *** There's also the fact that in the original comics, he appeared in a grand total of ''five'' issues, at least one of which was a flashback. The TV show tried to make him into far more of a recurring threat than he ever actually was in the source material. ** Ebon also suffers for this. He's threatening at first, but gets his ass handed to him in nearly every appearance even with help form his henchmen, and loses fights against supporting characters. * Cedric, TheDragon from ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'', was quite menacing and monstrous in his first few appearances. As the series went on, though, his purpose largely became to get his clock cleaned by the heroines every few episodes, quickly robbing him of any serious threat. The series finale even [[YankTheDogsChain yanked his chain]] by [[spoiler: having him become supremely powerful...only to not realize he didn't know how to properly utilize it, and he gets beaten up rather easily AGAIN.]] Lampshaded in the first season finale, when [[BigBad Phobos]] [[YouHaveFailedMe chewed Cedric out for his failures epically]], then used his newly-heightened magic powers to curse him into a pathetically small and weak version of his OneWingedAngel form. * ''WesternAnimation/{{Wolverine and the X-Men}}'' had the Brotherhood of Mutants first appear with a relatively clever plan that framed the X-Men for attempted assassination. As the series went on and on, however, Pietro became more stupid and the effectiveness of them decreased. * {{Disney}} originally had Captain Hook be somewhat dangerous in ''Disney/PeterPan'', with him being decently competent against Peter. However, by ''JakeAndTheNeverlandPirates'', he is now absolutely stupid and has a small ball on the end of his hook. Maybe small children are scared by pointy hooks, but it just seems silly. ** Or maybe he was just so clumsy with the hook that his crew did this so he would stop tearing his face off while grooming his beard. * ''SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'': The Hobgoblin experiences this, being outclassed by the Green Goblin in his last appearance. The story editor John Semper hated The Hobgoblin character and only used him due to ExecutiveMeddling (his predecessor had plans to use the Hobgoblin instead of The Green Goblin and by the time Semper replaced him the toy had been commissioned and it was too late to change plans). So no surprise he became the Green Goblin's bitch. * Robotnik from ''WesternAnimation/SonicTheHedgehog''. Season 1 played him as a genuine threat and a [[KnightOfCerebus serious intimidating character]] opposed to his usual clownish forms in other media, but Season 2 introduced a StoryArc in which his continued failures and increasing irrationality and buffoonishness start to grate on assistant [[TheStarscream Snively]]. His obsession with destroying Sonic also lead to several moments of BondVillainStupidity, something he was [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy far too wary]] about originally. * The Lieutenant, Amon's electric stick-wielding [[TheDragon second in command]] from ''TheLegendOfKorra'', starts out as a pretty effective villain, absolutely crushing Mako and Bolin in his first appearance and giving both Lin Beifong and Korra herself the fight of their lives in his next one. In ''every single episode'' after that, though, he rarely does much more than show up, flail around a little bit, and get launched over the horizon in short order. * Zordrak of ''TheDreamstone'', while he always usually left the dirty work to his mooks the Urpney, he was initially presented as a calculating, reserved villain who tactized a lot of the plans and had the odd moment of physical involvement (where upon things usually got a lot darker in tone). While the second season starts off well with his discovery of the Nightmare Stone, he quickly devolves afterwards, having little role outside something of a demonic PointyHairedBoss for the Urpneys. Since Urpgor and Blob's team were now required to concoct plans themselves, this did lead to a mild subversion in their case however. * Dark Vegan of ''JohnnyTest'' started out as a serious threat, but by his third appearance he had decayed to the point where Johnny frequently thwarted him without even knowing he was there, and is more of a wacky nextdoor neighbor than a real villain. ** Also Eugene aka "Bling Boy Boy", who started as Johnny's ArchEnemy but devolved into a frequent AntiHero friend of his. * Liquidator from ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''. In his first appearance he had a lot of water-based powers, but seemed to lose them after that. ** This is probably because not only he was way too powerful, but there were only a handful of ways he could be truly beaten. [[/folder]] ----[[redirect:VillainDecay]]
22nd Oct '12 8:11:28 AM AndarielHalo
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*** Not really; aside from the fact that both ships are very clearly undermanned, due to most of the crew colonizing New Caprica, it was also explicitly mentioned that the Pegasus left its entire fighter complement behind to protect the civilian ships. This would be like an aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Add to that there were a lot more than just three Base Stars.
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*** Not really; aside from the fact that both ships are very clearly undermanned, due to most of the crew colonizing New Caprica, it was also explicitly mentioned that the Pegasus left its entire fighter complement behind to protect the civilian ships. This would be like an aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Add to that there were a lot more than just three Base Stars. And the fact that in the aforementioned episode, the captain wasn't exactly waiting patiently for the ship to be fixed---it was an emergency situation that they needed to get out as soon as possible because they were losing the battle and minutes away from being completely destroyed.
22nd Oct '12 8:08:28 AM AndarielHalo
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*** Not really; aside from the fact that both ships are very clearly undermanned, due to most of the crew colonizing New Caprica, it was also explicitly mentioned that the Pegasus left its entire fighter complement behind to protect the civilian ships. This would be like an aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Add to that there were a lot more than just three Base Stars.
21st Oct '12 3:50:32 PM ImpudentInfidel
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* The first bug we see in action in ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' withstands the combined fire of four mobile infantry before going down. Later on bugs are seen taken down by just a few rounds.
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* The first bug we see in action in ''Film/StarshipTroopers'' withstands the combined fire of four mobile infantry before going down. Later on bugs are seen taken down by just a few rounds. Justified by in-universe research into how best to direct rifle fire; we even see a clip of a training film.
17th Oct '12 3:46:54 AM johnnye
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See also DegradedBoss.
16th Oct '12 10:40:51 PM X2X
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* Maleficent from Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' was [[TheManBehindTheMan to a degree]] the main villain of the original ''KingdomHearts''. She was also a very respectable villain in the prequel, ''KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'', which showed how she begun her rise to the power she had in the original game. When she is revived in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' she only can control Heartless, is left plotting in a wreck of a castle as opposed to the magnificent one she had in the original game, and has only one loyal servant left...''[[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Pete]].'' However, this is often {{lampshade|Hanging}}d, and by the end of the game she seems to recapture her former glory by [[spoiler: conquering Organization XIII's castle once Xemnas is destroyed.]] ** Sadly, ''KingdomHeartsCoded'' and ''KingdomHeartsDreamDropDistance'' set her back even ''further''. She at first ''looks'' imposing in ''Coded'', breaking Data Sora's digital Keyblade even! But her plan then ends up easily thwarted, she gets crushed by a superpowered Darkside, and she retreats alongside Pete with the main characters hardly caring about letting her go like that. In ''3D'', she's a blatant BigBadWannabe, who only appears in one scene before being driven away, and it's clear no-one's scared of her anymore.
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* Maleficent from Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' was [[TheManBehindTheMan to a degree]] the main villain of the original ''KingdomHearts''. ''Franchise/KingdomHearts''. She was also a very respectable villain in the prequel, ''KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'', ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]]'', which showed how she begun her rise to the power she had in the original game. When she is revived in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' she only can control Heartless, is left plotting in a wreck of a castle as opposed to the magnificent one she had in the original game, and has only one loyal servant left... ''[[IneffectualSympatheticVillain Pete]].'' However, this is often {{lampshade|Hanging}}d, and by the end of the game she seems to recapture her former glory by [[spoiler: conquering Organization XIII's castle once Xemnas is destroyed.]] ** Sadly, ''KingdomHeartsCoded'' ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsCoded coded]]'' and ''KingdomHeartsDreamDropDistance'' ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance 3D]]'' set her back even ''further''. She at first ''looks'' imposing in ''Coded'', ''coded'', breaking Data Sora's digital Keyblade even! But her plan then ends up easily thwarted, she gets crushed by a superpowered Darkside, and she retreats alongside Pete with the main characters hardly caring about letting her go like that. In ''3D'', she's a blatant BigBadWannabe, who only appears in one scene before being driven away, and it's clear no-one's scared of her anymore.

** Ansem and Xemnas, [[BigBad Big Bads]] of ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'' and ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' respectively, are reduced to mere pawns of Master Xehanort in ''KingdomHeartsDreamDropDistance'' and now {{Retcon}}ned as having followed his plan all along.
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** Ansem and Xemnas, [[BigBad Big Bads]] {{Big Bad}}s of ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts'' ''Kingdom Hearts'' and ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' ''Kingdom Hearts II'' respectively, are reduced to mere pawns of Master Xehanort in ''KingdomHeartsDreamDropDistance'' ''3D'' and now {{Retcon}}ned {{retcon}}ned as having followed his plan all along.along. *** Considering that they're various incarnations of the same guy and Master Xehanort himself states that [[spoiler:him [[GrandTheftMe bodyjacking Terra]]]] [[CrazyPrepared was just one of many roads]] [[GambitRoulette he could choose to take]], the duo being {{Demoted to|Dragon}} CoDragons is quite justified.

* In {{Capcom}}'s ''ResidentEvil'' franchise, Ozwell E. Spencer is the prime example of this trope. In the beginning, he was the one pulling all the strings. He was the leader of Umbrella Corporation. He was the one who was responsible for all the terror and destruction that the T-virus caused. But after the constant thwartings of Umbrella's schemes, and the deaths of some of its most prominent workers, and especially after Chris and Jill destroyed Umbrella's T-ALOS project, Umbrella went bankrupt, and the authorities were aware that Umbrella was behind it all. Spencer then became a fugitive, losing everything.
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* In {{Capcom}}'s ''ResidentEvil'' franchise, Ozwell Oswell E. Spencer is the prime example of this trope. In the beginning, he was the one pulling all the strings. He was the leader of Umbrella Corporation. He was the one who was responsible for all the terror and destruction that the T-virus caused. But after the constant thwartings of Umbrella's schemes, and the deaths of some of its most prominent workers, and especially after Chris and Jill destroyed Umbrella's T-ALOS project, Umbrella went bankrupt, and the authorities were aware that Umbrella was behind it all. Spencer then became a fugitive, losing everything.
16th Oct '12 6:44:27 PM LordInsane
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*** A small justification is that the Borg aren't the only ones who can learn and adapt -- and Starfleet had so much more to learn and adapt to from Wolf 359 than the Borg did. It doesn't explain Voyager's ease, but it ''does'' help explain why Starfleet did so much better against the Borg cube in ''First Contact'' than what happened at the Battle of Wolf 359[[hottip:*:Listen to the comm traffic. The Borg cube in ''First Contact'' had notable damage ''before'' the Enterprise showed up, while the one at Wolf 359 plowed through a Federation fleet virtually unharmed]].
14th Oct '12 5:12:40 AM FireWalk
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got worse wicks
* [[Creator/JRRTolkien Tolkien]] often does this deliberately in ''TheLordOfTheRings'', but still puts the less-powerful villains in situations where they can get the upper hand. [[spoiler:Saruman]] goes from needing a massive army, a wizard, and more to stop him, to being somebody who could be defeated by a mob of angry Hobbits. Gollum is another example - he finds the One Ring to Rule Them All, and first uses it for murder and theft, but eventually crawls into a cave and uses the Ring's power to ''catch fish''. The Ring doesn't particularly care for this. In fact, this is one of the core themes of the stories, because EvilIsPetty it eventually loses everything that once made it great and noble.
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* [[Creator/JRRTolkien Tolkien]] often does this deliberately in ''TheLordOfTheRings'', ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', but still puts the less-powerful villains in situations where they can get the upper hand. [[spoiler:Saruman]] goes from needing a massive army, a wizard, and more to stop him, to being somebody who could be defeated by a mob of angry Hobbits. Gollum is another example - he finds the One Ring to Rule Them All, and first uses it for murder and theft, but eventually crawls into a cave and uses the Ring's power to ''catch fish''. The Ring doesn't particularly care for this. In fact, this is one of the core themes of the stories, because EvilIsPetty it eventually loses everything that once made it great and noble.

* [[TheLegendOfDrizzt Artemis Entreri]] after the first few encounters with him, as Drizzt no longer wishes to fight him, and at one point refuses to kill him despite the perfect opportunity. Also, Entreri is getting old, whilst Drizzt is still in his prime.
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* [[TheLegendOfDrizzt In ''TheLegendOfDrizzt'' there's Artemis Entreri]] Entreri after the first few encounters with him, as Drizzt no longer wishes to fight him, and at one point refuses to kill him despite the perfect opportunity. Also, Entreri is getting old, whilst Drizzt is still in his prime.

* For the Divas, Molly Holly. This two-time Women's Champion was forced to undergo a protracted HumiliationConga that lasted almost a year after WrestleMania XX, when Victoria defeated her in a match, strapped her to a barber's chair, and shaved off all her hair. Eventually her hair grew back, but [[ItGotWorse things only got worse]] for Molly when [[FauxActionGirl Stacy Keibler (of all people!)]] pinned her in ''three consecutive matches''. This was truly the beginning of the end for Holly, because if someone so inexperienced could pin a former champion [[RuleOfThree three times]], then who ''couldn't''? It wasn't long before "Mighty Molly" wasn't so mighty anymore - indeed, was a complete joke, losing ''every single match'' more or less regularly before finally leaving WWE.
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* For the Divas, Molly Holly. This two-time Women's Champion was forced to undergo a protracted HumiliationConga that lasted almost a year after WrestleMania XX, when Victoria defeated her in a match, strapped her to a barber's chair, and shaved off all her hair. Eventually her hair grew back, but [[ItGotWorse things only got worse]] worse for Molly when [[FauxActionGirl Stacy Keibler (of all people!)]] pinned her in ''three consecutive matches''. This was truly the beginning of the end for Holly, because if someone so inexperienced could pin a former champion [[RuleOfThree three times]], then who ''couldn't''? It wasn't long before "Mighty Molly" wasn't so mighty anymore - indeed, was a complete joke, losing ''every single match'' more or less regularly before finally leaving WWE.
12th Oct '12 4:20:30 PM spankymac
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* Happened at an alarmingly fast rate with the recently returned Tensai. He went from a true menace, defeating John Cena AND CM Punk(In a handicap match, but still...), two of the WWE's top stars, but within a matter of months, became nothing more than a big man for underdogs to prove themselves against.
11th Oct '12 11:18:51 PM nombretomado
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* Subverted in ''{{Yu-Gi-Oh}}'' with Yami Bakura. Initially he's really just a side-villain, nowhere near a main threat, and no one really spends a lot of time on him - in fact, in the first season he's defeated by the sidekick in a sideplot while Yugi is busy with the BigBad. As it turns out, this works to his advantage, since it allows him to lurk around setting up his evil plans with no one noticing. By the time the final season rolls around, he puts all those puzzle pieces to work and becomes the season's Big Bad.
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* Subverted in ''{{Yu-Gi-Oh}}'' ''Anime/YuGiOh'' with Yami Bakura. Initially he's really just a side-villain, nowhere near a main threat, and no one really spends a lot of time on him - in fact, in the first season he's defeated by the sidekick in a sideplot while Yugi is busy with the BigBad. As it turns out, this works to his advantage, since it allows him to lurk around setting up his evil plans with no one noticing. By the time the final season rolls around, he puts all those puzzle pieces to work and becomes the season's Big Bad.
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