Created By: longWriter on November 30, 2013 Last Edited By: longWriter on December 8, 2013
Nuked

Loser Villain Serious Villain

The villain the heroes face is a loser, but his boss is a serious threat

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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.


Examples:

Anime:

  • Digimon Adventure: during the Myotismon arc, Demidevimon was constantly interacting with the heroes, and they generally left his plans in shambles, prompting hilarious reactions from him. Myotismon, his employer, was not amused, and berated and eventually punished him for his repeated failures

  • Pokemon: Team Rocket loses nearly every fight they have with Ash and Co., but their boss Giovanni seems like a serious threat.

Film:

  • The Big Bad in 3 Ninjas sends three loser teenagers to kidnap the three boys. They boys dispatch the kidnappers pretty easily. However, they have a much harder time when they actually face the real bad guys.

Western Animation:

  • Care Bears: Shreeky and Beastly are constantly and hilariously getting their butts handed to them by the Care Bears, but Lord No-Heart, their boss, is a genuinely looming threat.

  • Get Ed: Crouch, a hunchbacked robot (who appears to be made from a toaster) is TheDragon and comical, and frequently loses his encounters with Ed and the heroes. Bedlam, the BigBad, is his boss, and is more menacing.

  • Rainbow Brite: Lurky is hilariously dumb and not even that evil, but his boss, Murky, while clumsy and often hilarious, is genuinely capable of posing a threat. Interestingly, they both served the Loser Villain role in the chronologically first episode to a one-shot Serious Villain simply called "The Evil One"

  • Sonic Satam does this often, with Robotnik the Knight of Cerebus overlord, while his bumbling surbordinate Snively does most of the grunt work.
    • To a lesser extent Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog did this as well. While Robotnik was a lot more buffoonish in this interpretation, he often appeared following his cohorts Scratch and Grounder's pathetic attempts to catch Sonic, usually acting as at least a slightly more imposing threat.

  • The Dreamstone: They Urpneys were constantly being beaten by the heroes, but their boss was a serious threat.

Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • November 30, 2013
    MonaNaito
    A senior villain with incompetent underlings is Surrounded By Idiots. We also have Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain for the loser villains in general. Small groups of said loser villains working for the Big Bad, like the aforementioned Team Rocket, are a Quirky Miniboss Squad, Terrible Trio and/or Goldfish Poop Gang. If it's only revealed later that the loser bad guys are working for someone who's an actual threat, it's The Man Behind The Man or Hidden Villain.

    Suffice to say, I think you'll find what you're looking for in one of these tropes.
  • November 30, 2013
    longWriter
    It's the juxtaposition of the two kinds of villains (loser and serious) and the fact that it's the comical loser villain that the heroes routinely face that makes me feel like those tropes aren't quite what I'm thinking of.
  • November 30, 2013
    DAN004
  • November 30, 2013
    longWriter
    Also compare Knight Of Cerebus, a darker villain that is specifically designed to appear after a series of lower key threats to give a more intense climax to the story.

    Zordrak of The Dreamstone is arguably a played with example. Outside the First Season, he's pretty much an Orcus On His Throne and relies on his minions to do everything, even the basic plotting. Similarly we almost never see Giovanni doing antagonist work in Pokemon, only the very recent episodes actually having him directly challenge the heroes. As such both cases usually exist solely as a Hate Sink to add some legitimately diabolical undertone to their sympathetic minions' schemes (and resultingly make sure you don't feel too bad when they get their asses whooped by the heroes).

    • Sonic Satam does this often, with Robotnik the Knight Of Cerebus overlord, while his bumbling surbordinate Snively does most of the grunt work.
      • To a lesser extent Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog did this as well. While Robotnik was a lot more buffoonish in this interpretation, he often appeared following his cohorts Scratch and Grounder's pathetic attempts to catch Sonic, usually acting as at least a slightly more imposing threat.
  • November 30, 2013
    longWriter
    The Big Bad in Three Ninjas sends three loser teenagers to kidnap the three boys. They boys dispatch the kidnappers pretty easily. However, they have a much harder time when they actually face the real bad guys.
  • December 1, 2013
    Snicka
    The loser villain may also be a Minion With An F In Evil.
  • December 1, 2013
    longWriter
    Added the Sonic and 3 Ninjas examples.

    I realize that we have a lot of villain tropes already, but I think this one is different:

    Knight of Cerberus / The Man Behind The Man / Hidden Villain: This is a villain who appears later in the series; the Serious Villain is usually present and visible from the beginning.

    Minion with an F in Evil: The Loser Villain doesn't necessarily have to be too polite or kind to be a Loser Villain; it's more like the heroes can and generally do repeatedly hand him/her/them their keesters, and it's often hilarious (making it acceptable for, say, a kid's show).

    Quirky Miniboss Squad / Terrible Trio / Goldfish Poop Gang: The Loser Villain can be just one villain or a group.

    Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Loser Villain doesn't necessarily need to be sympathetic to the audience; he/she/they just need to be repeatedly defeated by the heroes.

    Surrounded by Idiots: ...This one is the closest to what I'm proposing, but there are differences: it doesn't necessarily need to be stupidity that gets the Loser Villain(s) beaten by the heroes regularly. Plus, Surrounded By Idiots seems to describe the Serious Villain's reaction more than the fact that the Loser Villain serves as a kind of a barrier, keeping the heroes (and by extension, the audience) mostly away from the Serious Villain.
  • December 1, 2013
    Snicka
    ^ I think you should add these to the description (maybe in less detail), to make it clear how this one is different from them and related to them.
  • December 2, 2013
    DAN004
  • December 4, 2013
    longWriter
    Added the related tropes to the description.
  • December 5, 2013
    longWriter
    Added another example, Get Ed, fixed a typo, and added Sorting Algorithm of Evil.
  • December 8, 2013
    longWriter
    Added a minor edit, comparing Orcus On His Throne.

    If I don't get more replies and more examples, I'm probably going to discard this one. I feel like I've seen it a thousand times, yet I can't think of more examples where a lesser, comical villain works for a more serious, threatening villain, and acts as a kind of a barrier so the heroes can come out on top repeatedly while still dealing with a real threat.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=giqwzgdkyspss78c402hc0eh&trope=DiscardedYKTTW