The villain the heroes face is a loser, but his boss is a serious threat
In many series, especially ones geared toward children, the heroes come out on top every time they face the villains. If this kept happening, it would make you wonder if the heroes are really facing a genuine threat. That doubt goes away immediately when you see that these repeatedly-defeated villains are working for a villain who is a genuinely intimidating threat. Bonus point is this serious villain (who is often the BigBad and sometimes OrcusOnHisThrone) constantly yells at and punishes the loser bad guy for his/her/their failures (who is often, but not always, TheDragon. The Serious Villain may be a KnightOfCerebus if he/she/it comes into contact with the heroes more often later in the series, but is not a TheManBehindTheMan or a HiddenVillain, since those characters appear later in the series: the Serious Villain is generally visible from the beginning. The Serious Villain may consider himself to be SurroundedByIdiots, but that differs from this trope in that the Loser Villain often acts as a barrier, allowing the heroes to keep winning against a villain, while still keeping the threat believable with the Serious Villain's presence. The Loser Villain may be a MinionWithAnFInEvil or an IneffectualSympatheticVillain, but neither is required: all that is required is that the Loser Villain is in more contact with the heroes than the Serious Villain, and that the Loser Villain usually loses encounters with the heroes: it's not required that the Loser Villain be kind or sympathetic. Also note that the Loser Villain need not be just one character; a QuirkyMinibossSquad, TerribleTrio, or GoldfishPoopGang can be a Loser Villain. Compare SortingAlgorithmOfEvil. This trope is sometimes what happens when SortingAlgorithmOfEvil meets StatusQuoIsGod. Needs more examples.