So The Hero
has a spiffy office, title or position, probably with lots of cool benefits, like powers, technology or inside knowledge. He's been doing it for a while, so he's thinking he's pretty Bad Ass
at this point.
Enter the Evil Predecessor.
The Evil Predecessor is the guy who had that cool office, title, position, what have you, along with all its perks, before
the hero probably even heard about it, and he just loves to show up right when the hero thinks he's got this thing figured out.
He's more Bad Ass
and more experienced and the only reason he doesn't have said job anymore is because somewhere along the way he Turned To The Dark Side
. And what's more, now our Hero has to attempt
to take him down, a guy that knows all his moves, probably better than he does, knows the hero's organization inside and out, and probably has a fearsome reputation to boot. This will not
be easy, he's probably one of the most difficult villains the hero will ever face.
The Evil Predecessor is a common villainous archetype who often acts as the Evil Counterpart
to The Hero
. Along with sharing a position with the hero automatically making them Not So Different
, they tend to share certain abilities and powers the hero might have learned for his job, as well, and what's more he tends to be way better at them. While some of these characters were evil to begin with or seduced to evil out of their own weakness, it's also very common for the Evil Predecessor to be a Knight Templar
or Wellintentionedextremist who either didn't think his position allowed him to go far enough
in whatever his office does, or he rebelled against his organization after finding out some terrible secret about them. Very often this character gives some kind of Join Me
or Not So Different
speech to The Hero
, sympathizing with the hero based on having held the same position. Alternatively they may just think The Hero
sucks at their job and doesn't even come close to equaling the Evil Predecessor in his day, and may dismiss him entirely.
Often the Evil Predecessor is one of the more complex villain-roles, challenging The Hero
to examine his own abilities, actions and morals and make his own decisions on right and wrong.
Compare Fallen Hero
, which it often overlaps with. See also Psycho Prototype
, for when the predecessor is also the prototype to an experiment. May be the result of Expose the Villain, Get His Job
. When the protagonist
is the Evil Predecessor, then he might be a Rogue Protagonist
. Doesn't actually have anything to do with a Predecessor Villain
Anime and Manga
- Sensui Shinobu from YuYu Hakusho, who was the Spirit World Detective before the main character Yusuke Urameshi took the job. Seeing humans committing evil deeds against the demons he was fighting against, he had a Face-Heel Turn and started fighting for the demons instead.
- Kugo Ginjo from Bleach who was the Substitute Shinigami before the hero Ichigo, and his Face-Heel Turn prompted the anti-substitute law in Soul Society.
- The Pretear anime. The Princess of Disaster is the previous Pretear, fallen to darkness, and it's suggested it may have also happened before and could happen to any Pretear.
- Inverted in Rurouni Kenshin. The Big Bad Shishio was actually the successor to Kenshin and is definitely more evil than him (though Kenshin was more ruthless as a hitokiri).
- In Dragon Ball Z, the super saiyan before the protagonist Goku was Bardock. Not a nice guy.
- Black Adam from Shazam was previously empowered by Shazam but turned evil, meaning Captain Marvel was recruited to replace him.
- Sinestro in Green Lantern is the Evil Predecessor to either Hal Jordan (greatest Lantern) or Soranik Natu (Lantern of Sector 1417). Also, the Manhunters were basically robots that were built to police the galaxy before the Green Lantern Corps were founded. They decided to try to kill everyone.
- The wearers of the Darkhawk armors were Space Pirates and quite evil. Darkhawk was basically the only good guy to wear one.
- Speed: Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) to Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), a former member of the LAPD bomb squad, turned mad bomber. This becomes central to the plot as Payne not only uses his extensive knowledge of explosives and police procedure to stay two steps ahead of Jack and his friend, Harry. He tries to convince Jack that they're Not So Different. It doesn't work.
Jack: "Aren't you?"
Payne: (offended) "Oh! That's not fair, Jack. You don't know how I feel. You don't even know me."
Jack: (seething) "I know you want a shitload of money you didn't earn."
- Madison in Charlies Angels Full Throttle.
- Knight Rider: KARR, the predecessor of KITT.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Gul Dukat, the main Big Bad of the series used to run DS9 before the Federation took over
- There was an episode of Seven Days where the villain was a former test chrononaut, believed dead for years. Another has a man who wanted to be a chrononaut, and cracked after he learned he does not qualify. The problems started when he got out of madhouse early.
- Windom Earle in Twin Peaks is Agent Cooper's former mentor, an FBI agent gone rogue, possibly possessed by evil spirits, and definitely murderous.
- The protagonist in the first The Librarian Made-for-TV Movie was replacing the Big Bad.
- Saren in Mass Effect has his specter status revoked during the same meeting where Shepard is made a specter.
- Ulysses in Fallout: New Vegas is the original Sixth Courier. He's pretty darn evil, while your character may or may not be evil, depending on how you play.
- Ares is the titular God of War in the first game of the series. He's so bad that the other Greek gods recruit Kratos to kill him. When Kratos ultimately succeeds, his reward is to become Ares's replacement, though YMMV on how much of an improvement he is.