Hero's Evil Predecessor YKTTW Discussion

Hero's Evil Predecessor
The guy who used to have the hero's job is evil and the hero has to deal with him.
(permanent link) added: 2011-11-05 00:01:20 sponsor: NoirGrimoir (last reply: 2015-10-30 15:32:18)

Add Tag:
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 hero's Evil Predecessor. This 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 often shows 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 this character to be a Knight Templar or Wellintentioned Extremist who either didn't think his position allowed him to go far enough in whatever his office does (see also The Paragon Always Rebels), 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 involving the Evil Predecessor being A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil to the hero's mentor, and the hero being the Mentor's New Hope.

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. For this reason the Hero's Evil Predecessor plot is good fodder for drama.

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. Compare also Redeeming Replacement when a new hero is put into an established villain's identity and power; in this trope it's the hero who's established first.

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.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, Meijin Kawaguchi II had a winning-at-all-costs attitude, which is why Julian MacKenzie dislikes Yuuki Tatsuya/Meijin Kawaguchi III for carrying on the name (although Yuuki says he did it to honor the first Meijin Kawaguchi).
  • In Fairy Tail, the leader of the dark guild Grimoire Heart, Hades, was formerly the guild master of the titular Fairy Tail guild, Pretch Gaebolg. His successor, Makarov, was shocked to learn the mentor he looked up to turned to the dark side and tried to defeat him.

Comic Books
  • 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.
  • In The Authority, one of Doctor Jeroen Thornedike's predecessors, known only as the Renegade Doctor, was an Omnicidal Maniac. After Jeroen suffered a heroin overdose during a crisis, the Authority was forced to restore his predecessor's powers in order to fix the crisis. Luckily for them, in the intervening years, the Garden of Ancestral Memory had added "empathy with all living things" to the list of powers that came with the job, which overwhelmed the Renegade Doctor, distracting him long enough for the Authority to finally kill him.

  • 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.
    Payne: (over the phone) "Why are they messing with me, Jack? Do they think I'm doing this for fun and games?"
    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."
    Payne: (pissed) "Oh, I earned it. See, I was like you once. They gave me a medal too. A medal, a pinkslip, and a, 'sorry about your hand!!"
  • Madison in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. ZCE (at least I know she was a former angel but I need more context)
  • Kungfu Panda: Downplayed; Tai Lung, Master Shifu's former personal pupil was a talented kungfu fighter who trained since his early age, and Shifu thought he would take the legendary Dragon Scroll and become the legendary Dragon Warrior. Master Oogway didn't agree, though, leading to Tai Lung rebelling against the masters and then gets imprisoned for his troubles. Some years later, our hero Po is made the Dragon Warrior and then he's informed that he's fated to defeat Tai Lung, the former candidate for the scroll.
  • The Bad Guys from Night at the Museum are the three previous night guards of the museum before the protagonist Larry.

Live-Action TV
  • Knight Rider: KARR, the predecessor of KITT. ZCE
  • 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.
  • Angel: In season five Angel & Co. are given the LA branch of the Evil Corporation Wolfram & Hart to run as they see fit. Their objective is to do good with this company that used to be in the evil business.
  • In an episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series David comes across a man who had been changed into a Hulk-like creature years and years ago, and had been cured. He has one vial of the cure left. However, the man (now an old man) desperately wants the power again in order to gain revenge on his enemies, so he reexposes himself to gamma radiation. The other man Hulks Out and David is forced to use the cure on the other man lest he start a killing spree.
  • In the 2007 version of Bionic Woman the Arc Villain is the previous bionic woman Sarah Corvus, who is trying to teach Jamie about how uncaring the Berkut Group is by attacking her and being generally evil.

Video Games
  • Saren the Big Bad 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.
  • The Arbiter in the Halo series is a title given to a shamed Sangheili who becomes the Prophets' exclusive hitman. The Arbiter of Halo 2, set towards the end of the war, is a noble former commander who wants to atone for his errors and even is a bit of a Death Seeker. The previous Arbiter, seen in Halo Wars towards the beginning of the war, was a bloodthirsty General Ripper who was cruel to humans and his own soldiers alike, and who didn't care at all about repenting for his crimes.

Replies: 51