Created By: Nemmington on December 15, 2012 Last Edited By: Nemmington on August 13, 2016

Lame First Villain

A hero has an impressive rogues' gallery, but their first antagonist was anything but.

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Any long-running fictional hero will notch up at least one major antagonist. But if we look at the character's earliest appearances, we may find that their first major villain - even if we discount disposable mooks used as warm-ups - was forgettable at best.

Distinct from Starter Villain, in which a lesser antagonist is specifically intended to pave the way for bigger fry. Arguably the opposite of Breakout Villain.

  • Superman's first superfoe (he spent his earliest appearances tackling relatively down-to-earth crime) was the Ultra-Humanite, a generic mad scientist who was quietly dropped when Lex Luthor turned up. Later reintroduced in radically redesigned form.
  • Batman's first major antagonist was not a member of his famous rogues' gallery, but another generic mad scientist: Dr. Death.
  • You may expect The Mighty Thor to have fought his first battle against Loki, a Frost Giant or some other Norse mythological nasty, but instead he fought a bunch of aliens resembling Easter Island statues.
  • Tweety Pie first appeared in a cartoon entitled A Tale of Two Kitties. Sylvester was nowhere to be seen - instead, Tweety was chased by two cats based on Abbott and Costello. They didn't last.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • December 15, 2012
    • The Hiruma Brothers Kihei and Gohei from Rurouni Kenshin are the very first villains to show up in the manga (the anime adaptation removes Kihei), and are pathetically weak. Furthermore, the earlier story arcs before the Kyoto Arc tend to zig-zag between serious, important villains (Sanosuke, Jinne, Aoshi, Saito) and total wusses who, after their defeat, are never seen again (Kanryu Takeda and Raijuta Isurugi).
  • December 15, 2012
    Another one: in Journey To The West, the first obstacle met by Sun Wukong and Tripitaka are six bandits who try to mug them. Of course, Sun Wukong squash their heads like rotten eggs with a single swing from his cudgel.
  • December 15, 2012
    How about Forgotten First Villain to sound a little less compaining.
  • December 15, 2012
    You could also add those Thor foes were later named Krogans, and appeared as allies in Planet Hulk.
  • December 15, 2012
    Digimon has 1 a season.

    Season 1: Kuwagamon Season 2: Monochomon Season 3: Lynxmon Season 4: Cerebusmon Season 5: Kokatorimon Season 6: Mammothmon Season 7: Metaltyrannomon
  • December 16, 2012
    ^How does that count?

    Regardless, this is going to be YMMV.
  • December 16, 2012
    Hmh... how exactly? Most of the so-called Lame First Villain so far in the list are a lot weak and less remarkable than the one appearing later, is a matter of fact. By the way, does this trope have something to do with a Sliding Scale of something?
  • December 30, 2012
    Might mention that most early comics were simply too short to have a good origin and a good villain, when the origin is a one-issue storyline. Compare to movie-length superhero stories that include a major villain, even wedging it into the origin mythology (the Tim Burton Batman's parents were killed by the Joker).
  • December 31, 2012
    Subverted in every videogame where the first boss is either the last boss and you can't win (A la Chrono Trigger), relevant to the plot (A la Demon's Souls), or otherwise scripted (A la Megaman X)
  • December 31, 2012
    Spider-Man's first villain, the Burglar who killed Uncle Ben, has never even been named, and was certainly no monstrous foe. May count as a subversion, however, as the actions of this one nameless burglar have haunted Peter for his entire crime-fighting career.
  • January 3, 2013
    I think this trope can only apply to a series of stories instead of just a single story. From what I gather, this trope is when the Big Bad of the first story is significantly less known than Big Bad of later stories.

    • In Touhou series, the first game's Big Bad is either Sariel, Angel of Death or Astral Knight Konngara, depending on the route you choose. Neither of the two ever get referenced again in later games. Of course, this happens before the PC-98 to Windows Continuity Reboot.
  • January 4, 2013
    ^^ I don't think you can count the burglar who killed Uncle Ben as the first villain fought by Spider-Man, since the whole point of the incident is that Spider-Man didn't bother to fight him.
  • August 13, 2016
    Agreed, title is too complainy. Forgotten First Villain sounds better.
  • August 13, 2016
    ^ "forgotten"...?

    I dunno how this isn't Starter Villain anyway.
  • August 13, 2016
    There's a case to be made that this is more "retconned Starter Villain"... which might be The Same But More Specific.
  • August 13, 2016
    In Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Master, the Big Bad of the first season, is one of the least popular among fans.