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The heroes have defeated the BigBad, and as they step out of the ashes and rubble, they congratulate themselves on a job well done. Now that the day is saved, they can relax and have a nice evening at home, knowing that the world is [[BlatantLies once again a safer place]].

But wait! TheDragon rises from the rubble, filled with determination and [[AvengingTheVillain a thirst for vengeance]]. Maybe he was loyal to his [[EvilMentor former master]], or now he's free to fulfill [[TheStarscream his own ambitions]] without a pesky overlord in the way. He might even [[DragonInChief turn out to be worse than his predecessor]].

This is often a SequelHook.

Compare and contrast DragonTheirFeet, DragonWithAnAgenda, TheStarscream, and BastardUnderstudy. TakeUpMySword is the heroic equivalent. Sometimes overlaps with AsLongAsThereIsEvil. While they are very similar, there's a crucial difference between this trope and being The Starscream: the Dragon was not directly involved with the Big Bad's downfall. There is a grey area with this, as sometimes the Dragon "drags his feet" or has his own agenda, but so long as he displays at least nominal allegiance to the core leadership, he's not the Starscream. The opposite of this trope is DemotedToDragon, where a character who was previously BigBad in their own right becomes TheDragon to a new BigBad.

'''There will be spoilers ahead.'''

----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Kabuto in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' [[spoiler: fused some of Orochimaru's remains into his own body following the latter's death, and this act seems to have given him access to Orochi's 'Impure World Resurrection' jutsu. Which, displaying an absurd level of GenreSavvy (and showing that in a matter of months at most he's surpassed both Orochimaru and the creator of the technique in his mastery of it), he immediately used to revive and place under his control ''dozens'' of extremely powerful deceased ninja (including most of the previous {{Big Bad}}s, [[SealedInsideAPersonShapedCan the tailed-beast hosts]], at least 3 {{Standard Evil Organization Squad}}s, a number of Kages, [[OverlyLongGag any dead Main Characters]].. making him one of the most powerful people on the planet.]] However, he is almost instantly dropped to BigBadDuumvirate status when [[spoiler:Tobi gets the Rinnegan back. Both of them have the means to completely screw the other over, with Tobi's Rinnegan being fully capable of wiping out the army of undead ninja and Kabuto being able to wipe out the army of Zetsu. Kabuto expressly states that he wants to avoid making an enemy out of Tobi at all costs, at least [[MagnificentBastard for now...]]. The two of them currently have a mutually profitable alliance, but neither one trusts the other at all. It's a fairly interesting dynamic.]] [[spoiler:Kabuto's new Sage Mode transformation makes the "dragon" part of this trope rather literal. It's not enough to save him from a Sasuke-Itachi team up.]]
** Former DragonWithAnAgenda [[spoiler: Tobi/Obito became this when he became the host of the Ten-Tailed Beast, temporarily supplanting BigBad Madara. Unfortunately for Obito, Madara had enough pieces in place to reverse this]].
* After [[spoiler:Beld is killed by Karla]] in ''Roleplay/RecordOfLodossWar'', his Dragon [[BlackKnight Ashram]] takes over and continues the original plan the same way as before.
* Father Pucci in ''Manga/{{Jojo'sBizarreAdventure}}'' worked closely under Dio in part 3, even though he's not seen there. Later on in part 6, he goes to finish Dio's plans to reach heaven.
* ''LightNovel/{{Slayers}}''
** Valgaav of ''Slayers Try''. ''Literally'' a dragon. Although so was his boss.
** The five demon lords of the setting are actually the former CoDragons of the dead Dark Lord, Shabranigdo, and are planning to resurrect him in preparation for destroying the world.
* In ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'', Quamzin/Kamjin (aka Khyron) embodies this trope when he shows up (late in the series) after a long absence. The last of the baddies and seemingly more un-hinged than even before, he plans to end the post-war peace by finally destroying the Macross.
* In ''Anime/TransformersHeadmasters'', Scorponok becomes Decepticon Emperor of Destruction after Galvatron dies. Twice.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Fate and Dynamis both qualify for this, though it's unclear who of them is currently the BigBad and who is TheDragon.
* Schneizel has aspects of this in ''Anime/CodeGeass'': [[spoiler: after Lelouch erases Charles, Marianne and their Thought Elevator from existence, his scheming, plotting brother becomes the biggest threat to his plans to establish a peaceful world - and, in fact, the entire world itself, thanks to the stockpile of FLEIJA warheads he's installed aboard his flying fortress.]] Not ''entirely'' played straight, though, as Schneizel is arguably a far greater direct threat to Lelouch's plans than Charles is even ''before'' their confrontation. Especially considering that Schneizel [[spoiler:was planning to have the Emperor assassinated]] and Lelouch just got to him first. Considering the old man had nothing going for him other than his bizarre [[spoiler:{{Instrumentality}}]] scheme, it's no wonder that both Schneizel and Lelouch saw offing the old man as a big step forward.
* ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha''
** [[BigBad Toredia Graze]] in ''AudioPlay/StrikersSoundStageX'' [[spoiler:is revealed to have died four years ago. The person behind the events of this mini-arc is his loyal subordinate [[DetectiveMole Runessa]], who plans to finish the work he started]].
** After MadScientist [[BigBad Jail Scaglietti]] is captued by [[TheLancer Fate]], [[HollywoodCyborg Quattro]] steps up to take his place. For a double whammy [[spoiler:she, like all the other cyborgs, carried a clone of Scaglietti in her womb, and was in command of the Cradle, so leaving her unaccounted for would have made all the other triumphs the heroes had garnered in the final battle meaningless.]]
* In the [[PostScriptSeason post-script]] season of ''Anime/MonsterRancher'', Mu's lead Dragon/Starscream tries to pick up where he left off.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' had an interesting variant: [[FillerVillain Muramasa]] spends almost the entire season of {{filler}}s orchestrating and escalating the [[EmpathicWeapon Zanpakuto]] Rebellion to its peak, and was assumed to have been the BigBad for a while, until towards the end, where he reveals he's just TheDragon for his master... who promptly leaves him half dead. BiggerBad killed shortly after, and Muramasa was all that was left of the opposition, who promptly [[spoiler:turns uber-hollow and subconsciously summons an army of Menos]].
* Prince Lotor from ''Anime/{{Voltron}}''.
* In the GrandFinale, Baldez from ''FutariWaPrettyCureMaxHeart'' is revealed to be [[spoiler:[[BigBad Jaaku King]] himself. He's one of the seperated parts of Jaaku King and transforms back to his old self]].
* [[JojosBizarreAdventure Enrico Pucci]] becomes this after [[BerserkButton hearing that his friend]] [[BigBadFriend [=DIO=]]] [[VillainousFriendship Brando]] is killed and [[ResetButton nearly pulls off Dio's wish]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/StarWars''
** The ''ComicBook/{{Legacy}}'' comic series has [[spoiler:Darth Krayt killed by his [[TheDragon Dragon]] Darth Wyyrlok (who actually ''is'' loyal up to that moment, but that's another story); Wyyrlok places his dead master in stasis to hide the truth and decides to fulfill Krayt's "united under the Sith" goal in a rather more literal way -- ''everyone in the entire galaxy will be Sith''.]]
** It almost happened in ''Star Wars: Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'': "Together we could rule the galaxy!"
** The Sith's system is based around a subversion of this; it's tradition for the apprentice [[TheStarscream to kill off the master and take their place]]. Darth Maul was the only Sith apprentice who ''didn't'' buy into this system; WordOfGod has stated that he would have been perfectly content to wait for Sidious to die of natural causes before taking his place. He never got the chance to do that, but still, that makes him more of a BastardUnderstudy than a Starscream.
* Grimer from ''ComicBook/SonicTheComic'' is loyal to his master until the very end, but when he realises that Robotnik is insane and unfit to serve, he quits and retreats to the shadows. [[spoiler:In SonicTheComicOnline, he chessmasters his way into discrediting Sonic, leaving Mobius to the mob, and starting a destructive chain reaction of volcanoes before escaping to another universe. He appears near the end to gloat to Sonic as a hologram.]]
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog''
** Meanwhile, in the American ''Sonic'' comics, we have the [[DarkActionGirl Bride of Conquering Storm]] -- she was the closest thing the Iron Queen had to a [[TheDragon Dragon]], and following the Queen's recent defeat [[spoiler: and imprisonment]] by the Freedom Fighters, Conquering Storm's taken over as the main villain in the Dragon Kingdom (insert pun here). This isn't the straightest example, as Conquering Storm is still subservient to [[BigBad Eggman]].
** A better example would probably be [[TheStarscream Snively]] after he succeeded in [[KilledOffForReal killing]] the original Robotnik and [[KlingonPromotion taking over his empire]], or the period after [[spoiler: Eggman's VillainousBreakdown]] when he allied with the Iron Queen; however, both these times, Eggman eventually showed up/[[spoiler: recovered]] and put him back in his place.
* ''Franchise/GreenLantern'': After {{Sinestro}} [[spoiler: [[HeelFaceTurn Heel Face Turned]] and rejoined the Green Lanterns]], his Dragon Arkillo took control of the Sinestro Corps.
** Sinestro himself was {{Demoted To Dragon}} by the Anti Monitor when [[SinestroCorpsWar he formed the Sinestro Corps]], only to then take over the Sinestro Corps himself after the Anti Monitor was killed.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Any ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' fic that takes place after the fourth film and features the pirates will show Squint leading them after [[spoiler:Gutt's death]].
* The ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'': [[spoiler: near the climax of the [[BadFuture Dark World]] arc, Discord is mortally wounded by [[SixthRangerTraitor Rancor]], and transfers his remaining power to [[DaddysLittleVillain Fluttercruel]], allowing her to become [[OneWingedAngel a full Draconequus]].]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Prince Charming in ''WesternAnimation/ShrekTheThird'' takes over the Kingdom of Far Far Away, carrying out the plans of his mother, the FairyGodmother, who was destroyed at the end of the second film.
* Zira from ''Disney/TheLionKingIISimbasPride''. Although we do not see her in the first film, it's heavily implied that she was [[BigBad Scar's]] second in command and possibly [[UnholyMatrimony his former mate]]. When [[spoiler: the hyenas kill Scar]] at the end of the film, Zira actually put the blame on Scar's nephew and arch-nemesis, Simba, and since then, vows to destroy not only him, but also his pride as revenge.
* Nigel from ''WesternAnimation/{{Rio}}'' takes the position of villain of the second film after Marcel is arrested.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Subverted in ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles II: Secret of the Ooze''. After the apparent death of Shredder in the first movie, his right-hand man Tatsu steps up to lead the Foot Clan, seconds before Shredder busts through the door to take his old position back.
* In ''Film/GIJoeTheRiseOfCobra'', [[spoiler:after Destro is badly burned, The Doctor takes over and takes the name Cobra Commander. Also, Zartan has infiltrated the White House by impersonating the U.S. President.]]
* The BigBad of ''Film/TheLongKissGoodnight'', Daedalus, is unseen until about halfway through the film -- up until then, TheDragon (Timothy) was the main onscreen villain. Daedalus is killed about ten minutes after first appearing, after which Timothy becomes the new BigBad.
* While he served as [[TheManBehindTheMan The Fallen's]] lackey throught the film ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'', [[BigBad Megatron]] actually went back to being the leader of the Decepticons in ''Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon''. Only for as long as it took [[spoiler:Sentinel Prime to reveal his true colors]], at which point he becomes [[spoiler:Sentinel]]'s bitch. At the end, he decides to take back the position of leadership, which [[spoiler:gives Optimus the opening to kill both villains]].
* ''Film/RocknRolla'': It's heavily implied that Archy took over things for Lenny after his untimely demise. (Having Lenny's old driver, Johnny calling him a real [[TitleDrop rock n' rolla]], the bit with [[AnArmAndALeg The Russian]] and so forth.) Kind of a subversion as [[spoiler:Archy was the one to kill Lenny. Not out of a HeelFaceTurn so much as [[BerserkButton really not appreciating]] being lied to or sent to jail]].
* Subverted by ''Franchise/StarWars Episode III: Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', where everyone believes Grievous to be the Dragon Ascendant of the Droid Army after the death of Count Dooku. The viewers are aware, however, that the true mastermind is the Sith Lord Sidious and both men were merely Dragons.
* In the first ''Film/SpyKids'' film, Floop appears to be the main BigBad. Then TheDragon Minion deposes him and starts calling himself Mr. Minion[[note]][[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep Partly because his name is Alexander Minion]][[/note]]. Floop quickly makes a HeelFaceTurn. By the second film, so does Minion.
* In ''Film/{{Banlieue 13}}'', when Taha is [[spoiler:killed by his own men]], his Dragon K2 takes over [[spoiler: and does a much better job running things]].
* SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker starts out ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' as the mob's DragonWithAnAgenda, then gets bored with that (and with them), kills most of them, and takes over for himself.
** In the final movie of the Dark Knight trilogy, the big bad is actually [[spoiler:the daughter of the first movie's big bad]], out for revenge.
* Bennett from ''Film/{{Commando}}'' starts out as the typical Dragon to Arius. However, he's obviously a DragonWithAnAgenda and a DragonInChief because he honestly doesn't care about Arius rising to power, he only cares about fighting Matrix. He also much more dangerous than Arius and his army.
* [[spoiler:Kruger]] from ''Film/{{Elysium}}'' becomes fed with [[spoiler:Delacourt]]'s scolding, [[spoiler:kills her and goes on a rampage through Elysium.]]
* [[spoiler: Arnim Zola]] in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier''. [[spoiler: After HYDRA fell with the defeat of the Red Skull, Zola was recruited to SHIELD as a part of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip Operation Paperclip]], along with other HYDRA agents. Zola used this opportunity to reform HYDRA from within SHIELD without anyone being the wiser and orchestrated several conflicts in order to increase SHIELD's influence]]. While he is ''technically'' [[PosthumousCharacter dead]] by the beginning of the movie, it's [[spoiler: Zola's]] actions that resulted in the main conflict of the story.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Sauron, the BigBad of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', was actually TheDragon to Morgoth in the First Age. Morgoth was defeated and locked away in the void, but Sauron was [[DragonTheirFeet AWOL]] for that battle, and took up the mantle himself afterwards. He actually had a HeelFaceTurn after the battle, and genuinely wanted to help rebuild... [[FaceHeelTurn but the]] [[HeelFaceRevolvingDoor temptation to abuse his power and status]] was too strong to resist. It's stated that he honestly did repent... though only out of fear of being punished. When he was told that he wouldn't be given a blanket-amnesty but would have to stand trial to be forgiven, Sauron feared (probably correctly) that he would lose, so he ran.\\\
Sauron's fundamental loyalty always seems to lie with himself, with a healthy dose of self-preservation -- he's more than willing to work with whoever the most powerful being currently around is [[DragonWithAnAgenda while advancing his own goals in the process]]. It seems to be the realization that after the armies of the Valar depart ''he's'' the most powerful entity active in Middle-Earth that sets him on the path towards the throne of BigBad and EvilOverlord.
* Subverted in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban''. [[spoiler:Sirius was introduced as Voldemort's former Dragon who was out to avenge his boss, but this turned out to be completely untrue. The real villain responsible for the crimes he'd been accused of was not TheDragon, being very low-ranked in Voldemort's organization, and he explicitly [[DirtyCoward didn't have the guts to try things on his own]]]]. Later we find out that the real [[TheDragon Dragon]], Bellatrix Lestrange, tried to be the AvengingTheVillain flavor of this, but was caught within days of Voldemort's downfall (though not before she had the chance to cross the MoralEventHorizon, unfortunately).
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', Visser Three ascends to the role of Visser One when the previous Visser One is killed and its host freed from Yeerk control.
* In ''Literature/TheSundering'', Ushahin takes [[MacGuffin Godslayer]] and runs off after [[BigBad Sartoris]] dies and his forces are broken. Several characters muse that he might be even more dangerous than Sartoris, as while he lacks raw power, he is not limited by Sartoris's sense of honor.
* In the DaleBrown novel ''The Tin Man'', Gregory Townsend, who was TheDragon to Henri Cazaux from the [[CanonWelding previously non-continuity title]] ''Storming Heaven'', is the new BigBad. Also, Sun Ji Guoming from ''Sky Masters'' who becomes BigBad by ''Fatal Terrain''.
* [[spoiler:Trent]] in Creator/UrsulaVernon's ''Literature/BlackDogs'' is a love-interest-turned-Dragon. The story's BigBad is killed by the demon he summons due to the Dragon's EvilPlan, and the protagonist is left to face him instead.
* Subverted in the ''Franchise/{{Mistborn}}'' trilogy. After [[spoiler: the Lord Ruler dies]], it appears that his CoDragons, the Steel Inquisitors, have taken over as the {{Big Bad}}s. [[spoiler: They've actually just transferred their allegiance- or rather, had it forcibly transferred- to [[OmnicidalManiac Ruin]], who was actually the ultimate BigBad all along]].
* ''Literature/HonorHarrington'': Oscar St-Just, Rob S. Pierre's loyal lieutenant and friend, takes over Haven after the death of Pierre in an attempted coup. His ascendency doesn't last all that long, [[spoiler:ending the [[BoomHeadshot second time he meets Thomas Theisman in person]].]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': The Anointed One is this, until Spike kills him, of course.
* Franchise/SuperSentai does this sometimes.
** In ''Series/TensouSentaiGoseiger'', [[spoiler:Buredoran is this seemingly. He is the Dragon for all three villain groups but he's simply just using them for what he wants once they are out of the way he becomes the the BigBad.]]
** In ''Series/TokumeiSentaiGobusters'', [[spoiler:after Messiah is basically reduced to a DiscOneFinalBoss battle after the Go-busters dispatch of him, Enter takes over as the new BigBad]]
* Cigarette Smoking Man after the [[spoiler:destruction of the first Syndicate]] in ''Series/TheXFiles''.
* Santana Lopez in ''Series/{{Glee}}'' seemed to be en route to this, taking over Quinn's role as the AlphaBitch when Quinn's status as a FallenPrincess (she suddenly became unpopular when her pregnancy was revealed) made her do a HeelFaceTurn. After Quinn had her kid, though, she first regained her status in the Cheerios and then half a season later both of them ended up quitting.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'''s tenth season features the Vigilante Registration Agency (VRA) led by [[GeneralRipper General Slade Wilson]]. Slade and his group provide a great deal of the conflict in the early half of the season, with Slade himself finally going down in the eleventh episode. That isn't the end however, as episode twelve's VillainOfTheWeek is [[SociopathicSoldier Lieutenant Trotter]], Slade's aide de camp, who has taken over the VRA and directed it towards her mentor's agenda of taking down all the heroes. Only her defeat ensures the end of the persecution.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' season five, and its spin-off ''Series/{{Crusade}}'', has the Drakh, former servants of [[UltimateEvil the Shadows]] who were abandoned when their masters agreed to stop interfering with the younger races and decided to take over as BigBad. Their name even resembles many Romance languages' words for "dragon".
* The final episode of ''Series/TheShadowLine'' has [[spoiler:DragonInChief Gatehouse killing his bosses and becoming the BigBad proper]].
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'':
** Subverted in ''Series/PowerRangersRPM''. After [[AIIsACrapshoot Venjix]] is seemingly destroyed in battle, his CoDragons decide to fight over who gets to assume the role of BigBad. Tanaya 7 wins, but Venjix comes back online directly after that. He isn't too mad though.
** In ''Series/PowerRangersMegaforce'', when the Rangers simultaneously defeat both Admiral Malkor and Vrak by hurling Malkor into his flagship while Vrak is piloting it, Malkor doesn't survive the resulting explosion but Vrak does and is subsquently rebuilt as a cyborg, becoming the BigBad for the last stretch of the season. Similarly, in ''Super Megaforce'' the Rangers defeat Prince Vekar and Argus, leaving Vekar's other Dragons Damaras and Levira to avenge him, though in Damaras's case [[EvilOverlord Emperor Mavro]] has him arrested for failing to protect Vekar, then he gets defeated by the Rangers when he attempts to redeem himself.
* At the end of Season 1 of ''Series/TheWire'', BigBad Avon Barksdale is convicted of drug trafficking and sent to prison, but his right-hand man, Stringer Bell, who managed to avoid being caught on tape doing anything illegal, is left out on the street. Since Stringer is a lot smarter than Avon was, he proves to be even tougher to catch.
* A mild example in ''Series/DoctorWho'' with the Cybermen of Cybus Industries. When the Cyberleader is killed, another Cyberman immediately upgrades himself to Cyberleader. It's not made clear if there is any hierarchy in place to determine succession.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': After Gul Dukat is captured, Gul Damar steps into this role for a while though ultimately pulls a HeelFaceTurn and becomes the hero of a Cardassian resistance against the Dominion.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'': Regina becomes this in season 2 when she is [[UnwittingPawn manipulated into helping]] Snow kill Cora and wants revenge.
* Alaric Saltzman of Series/TheVampireDiaries becomes this to BigBad Esther in season 3 after his FaceHeelTurn. Ester's plan to commit Vampire genocide by killing her children, The Original Vampires, and all vampires sired by them rested on her possessing Bonnie after she's killed to complete Alaric's transformation into an [[SuperiorSuccessor "Enhanced" Original Vampire]] armed with an indestructible White Oak Stake that she intended to have defeat The Originals.
* On ''{{Series/Alias}}'', BreakoutVillain Mr. Sark moved up the ranks from MouthOfSauron in Season 1 to Dragon in Season 2 to finally becoming part of the BigBadDuumvirate in Season 3. Unusually for this trope, he eventually went back to being the Dragon again in Season 5 when [[spoiler:his original boss completed her circuit of the HeelFaceRevolvingDoor and decided to be a villain after all]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Revolver Ocelot from the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' serves as [[TheDragon the henchman]] to not one, not two, but ''three'' [[BigBad main antagonists]] [[note]] Liquid Snake in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', Solidus Snake in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', and Colonel Volgin in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3''[[/note]]. He manages to outlive them all due to his ChronicBackstabbingDisorder, and ultimately becomes the final boss in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4''.
* [[spoiler:Dimentio,]] in ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario''. [[spoiler:He manipulated both sides for his own personal ends, for his own goal to remake the multiverse. What reason? None. He's just [[AGodAmI a crazy psychopath who thinks he is a god]].]]
* At the end of ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}'', after you defeat [[BigBad Giygas]] [[spoiler: Porky/Pokey, the bratty little kid from earlier in the game escapes to another time - specifically, Nowhere Island, where the events of ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'' take place.]]
* Ramirez in ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia''. His boss, Lord Galcian, wanted to TakeOverTheWorld, but Ramirez really doesn't take his death well and attempts to go [[OmnicidalManiac a teensy bit further]] with the ancient superweapon they awakened together. [[spoiler:He doesn't seem to understand that sacrificing himself to take the world down with him is the last thing Galcian, who thought of Ramirez like a son, would have wanted.]]
* In the original ''VideoGame/TimeCrisis'' the BigBad Sherudo Garo is the boss of act 2. When he is killed, his henchman Wild Dog takes over the plan in act 3.
-->'''Wild Dog:''' How could you?! You killed my boss!! What do I do now... I can't let things end this way!
:: Wild Dog has ''no'' reason to do this, he just feels like it. This becomes a trend for the series -- Wild Dog is always a mercenary, and he's always the last guy you fight.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy''
** Subverted in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'': after the heroes kill [[spoiler:The Emperor]], his sidekick [[spoiler:the Dark Knight]] tries to take his place, until [[spoiler:The Emperor returns from hell, having made a pact with the devil to return to life as a demon]]. NiceJobBreakingItHero.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'': Kekfa murders Emperor Ghestal midway through the game and becomes the real BigBad.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' After President Shinra [[spoiler: is killed by Sephiroth]], his son, Rufus, the Vice President of Shinra Inc. assumes his position. However, this isn't an entirely straight example: though Rufus isn't a good guy, he's more a pragmatist than his father, and [[spoiler: actually attempts to fight against Sephiroth, the real BigBad]].
* Fawful, TheDragon of BigBad Cackletta, was the [[EnsembleDarkhorse fan favorite]] villain of ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga'', thanks to Nintendo's [[{{Woolseyism}} localization]] efforts. His popularity (and the fact that he wasn't seen dead) played a major part in his transformation to a major BigBad in the third game ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Bowser's Inside Story]]''.
** At the beginning of ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPartnersInTime Partners in Time]]'', [[spoiler:the elder Princess Shroob was [[SealedEvilInACan sealed into the Cobalt Star]] by Princess Peach. Her younger sister proceeded to capture Peach and lead the [[AlienInvasion invasion]] in her stead.]]
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty : Modern Warfare'' franchise. Vladmir Makarov was an underling of the Big Bad of Modern Warfare 1, Imran Zakhaev. He was the main villain in Modern Warfare 3.
* In the ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClank'' series, [[spoiler:Captain Qwark]] becomes the BigBad after the game in which he was TheDragon.
* [[MemeticBadass Kyle Katarn]] kills Desann, after beating his apprentice Tavion but allowing her to go, in ''[[VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast]]''. Tavion proceeds to be the Big Bad in Jedi Academy, the next game, seeking revenge for her humiliation, among other things.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Myth}} 2'', Soulblighter returns to try and finish the job that his boss, The Leveler started. Too bad the job is wiping out all human civilization and ushering in a thousand years of darkness.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'', the Supreme Hunter/Hybrid is the final boss; you kill its "Mother" Elizabeth Greene (who was the source and driving intelligence behind the infection) several levels earlier. [[spoiler: The Hybrid may have actually ''facilitated'' Greene's death. At the end of the game, the Hybrid reveals that it had consumed and assumed the form of Specialist Cross. Cross had been secretly advising you; his advice led to Greene's death. It's unclear as to whether the Hybrid consumed Cross before or after this. The hybrid wants to eat Alex in order to grow powerful to survive a nuke and live to spread the infection elsewhere.]] It's actually implied that the Supreme Hunter [[spoiler: consumes and impersonates Cross]] in the cutscene immediately following Greene's death, so it's unlikely that it directly facilitated her demise.
* ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}''
** Cho'gall was the lieutenant of Gul'dan, mastermind of the conflicts in the first two games. When Gul'dan was killed and the Horde dismantled, Cho'gall and the remnants of the Twilight Hammer Clan disappeared. Decades later, the revamped Twilight Hammer Cult has its fingers in every dish of apocalypse-pie they can find with Cho'gall at their lead. Ultimately, though, he takes a backseat yet again. Lacking the power to personally bring about the end of Azeroth, Cho'gall has aligned the Twilight Hammer with the Old Gods and Deathwing.
** Judging by his lines in the Sunwell Plateau raid, Kil'jaeden has taken full command of the demonic army known as the Burning Legion now that Sargeras is just a spirit. Kil'jaeden was perfectly happy serving Sargeras, even easily forgiving minions who failed to carry out his plans, but he definitely took advantage of the absence of Sargeras. His title in Sunwell is even "Lord of the Burning Legion", and fel (demonic) creatures even refer to HIM SPECIFICALLY rather than Sargeras when referencing the Legion.
** Deathwing is the (no pun intended, as he is also a real dragon) Dragon to N'zoth and Yogg'Saron, who both had a hand in his corruption. N'zoth is currently the one "signing his paychecks", but Yogg admitted that he helped corrupt Deathwing in the past. This leads to an awesome YouHaveOutLivedYourUsefulness when those guys get tired of Deathwing and impale him on his own Temple in the BadFuture, thus ending his reign as Dragon.
* At the end of ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 1'', the tyrannical ruler of Neo Arcadia was defeated by Zero. In ''Zero 2'', Harpuia, de facto leader of Copy-X's 4 Guardians, assumes leadership, [[ElCidPloy while keeping it a secret from the Neo Arcadian citizens that Copy-X was dead]].
* ''VideoGame/RedFaction'' has the first half of the game hunting down Capek, after that it's fight against mercenaries and their leader Masato.
* ''VideoGame/StarCraft'': Immediately after Tassadar destroys the Zerg Overmind, Kerrigan ascends to rule the swarm, [[spoiler: although Daggoth initially takes control of half the swarm as well, starting the so-called Brood War]].
* Often in ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games, Dracula isn't always revived for most of the time the castle is around. This leaves Death to try and figure out how to revive him and set some of the plots in motion, such as in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaHarmonyOfDissonance Harmony of Dissonance]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin Portrait of Ruin]]''. Inevitably, he succeeds (or fails but but comes back anyway) and [[HijackedByGanon Dracula is once again the final boss.]]
* An example FromACertainPointOfView happens in ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', where the FallenHero [[spoiler:Duke]] picks up where [[WorthyOpponent Pharoh]] left off; trying to save the world [[WellIntentionedExtremist through questionable means]]. Unfortunately, nobody realizes until it's too late that his {{Necessary Evil}}s include KillEmAll. Oh, and the name of one of his attacks? Dragon Ascendant. It's FromACertainPointOfView because, with a few exceptions, the game runs on WhiteAndGreyMorality.
* [[spoiler:Jimmy Pegorino]] becomes this in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'''s Revenge ending.
* ''VideoGame/TheGodfather''
** Played with. Once Sollozzo's taken down, Bruno Tattaglia seems to be the one pulling the Tattaglias' strings during the mid-point of the war against the Corleones, but he's killed fairly quickly. After ''that'', Johnny Tattaglia (Bruno's brother) tries to form up his own army to take down the Corleones from Brooklyn in one of Tessio's contract hits. Key words: Contract hits, so he's whacked shortly after his existence becomes known.
** Played straight in the sequel [[spoiler: if you take the VillainProtagonist angle - You as Dominic were Aldo's underboss and become the new Don after Aldo gets killed.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Onimusha}} 3'', the game ends with Nobunaga's final defeat. [[spoiler:The game ends with sequel bait showing that his right hand man, Hideyoshi, is ready to make his move. The hell he plays a hand in unleashing in ''Dawn of Dreams'' is war worse than anything Nobunaga ever accomplished.]]
* In ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney'', [[SmugSnake Mastema]] serves as the yes-man for [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness the Three]] [[CouncilOfAngels Wise Men]], the Law authorities of the setting. They intend to use the [[NegativeSpaceWedgie Schwarzwelt's]] powers to [[RewritingReality rewrite reality]] so the Law of the Lord [[WorldOfSilence will forever be in Humanity's heart]]. Problem is, Mastema really doesn't give a shit about the Wise Men's motives. He doesn't believe in human cooperation, bonding or any human activity aside from their blind faith and devotion. What he believes in? Power. For himself. All he ever does is for the possibility of ascending to a higher form. Even after the Wise Men's armies have been mostly junked in the [[MultipleEndings Chaos Path]], he [[WhatAnIdiot tries going himself]] against the protagonist and is ''thoroughly'' humiliated and forced to own up to his own silly pretenses.
* [[spoiler:Killbane]] in ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' who [[spoiler:takes over the Syndicate when Phillipe Loren is killed off surprisingly early in the game]].
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', when Connor [[spoiler: kills Haytham, Charles Lee, his second-in-command, takes over the Colonial Templars]].
* The main character in the ''VideoGame/SaintsRow'' games. In the first, you are "the Playa," a new recruit into the 3rd Street Saints street gang who eventually rises to becomes second-in-command to its founder, Julius Little. In the second game, the Playa awakens from a years-long coma to find Julius missing and the Saints disbanded. Becoming "the Boss," they reform the Saints under their own control and go about conquering the city.
* At the end of ''[[VideoGame/ASuperMarioThing A2XT]]'', once Science is defeated, [[spoiler:Pandamona]] destroys the Super Leek machine in order to [[spoiler:remake the universe on her own image]].
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[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Ansem was TheDragon to the FOX director of the first season of ''Webcomic/AnsemRetort'', but has ascended to become his own BigBad, made all too apparent in the newest season.
* Malack of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' planned to be this to Tarquin. His plan was to take over the entire Western Continent after Tarquin and their other companions die from old age. [[spoiler:Malack would outlive them because he's a vampire]]. Tarquin was actually perfectly fine with this, as long as he got a bigger statue. [[spoiler:But Malack's dead so that can't happen.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', [[OmnicidalManiac Yurius]] becomes the next BigBad when his master and father figure [[EvilOverlord Sydney]] is killed in the First Age. [[BadassBookworm Richelieu]] ends up as the lord of Alent when [[WellIntentionedExtremist Jemuel]] is frozen in stasis inside the Beam of Alent in the Third Age.
* In the ''WebOriginal/ProtectorsOfThePlotContinuum'', [[spoiler:the Venomous Tentacula]] replaces the previous leader of the League of Mary-Sue Factories when they are killed during an invasion of PPC Headquarters, though not before having to win an EnemyCivilWar.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* At first, it seems as if Azula from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' will be ascended when her father crowns her Fire Lord. Subverted in that, two seconds later, he crowns himself Phoenix King, removes all power from her position, and makes her stay home instead of fighting in the final showdown.
** Played straight in ''ComicBook/AvatarTheLastAirbenderTheSearch'', when her father is imprisoned and depowered and she becomes the main antagonist of the story.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}}'' (2003)
** The Shredder's adopted daughter Karai takes up her father's mantle and attempts to [[AvengingTheVillain avenge him]] after his defeat.
** Hun also gets this treatment, going from being Shredder's bodyguard to a competent leader of a more black-ops incarnation of the Purple Dragons. While only appearing as the main villain in only a small handful of episodes, he had a tendency to [[KarmaHoudini get away scott free]] at the end of the episode, as opposed to appearances in earlier seasons when it was standard procedure for him to get his ass kicked by the end of every story arc.
* In the FiveEpisodePilot of ''WesternAnimation/ChipNDaleRescueRangers'', the Rangers defeat ruthless mob boss Alden Klordane. He's never seen again, but his RightHandCat became a frequently recurring villain, as did the MadScientist he was employing. Though Fat Cat's status is questionable, since he already had a criminal empire and plans of his own when he was a pet.
* At the end of the FiveEpisodePilot for ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', [[TheStarscream Starscream]] appoints himself Decepticon leader roughly a minute after Megatron disappears in a space bridge explosion. This goes here rather than under the trope he named because, for once, he didn't have anything to do with what happened to the BigBad, [[spoiler: though he's not above worsening the damage once he finds what's left of his former master in the next episode]]. Though when Starscream does take command, you can tell by his voice and the look on his face that he is absolutely ''loving'' his chance at ascension. So rather than [[TheStarscream his usual trope]], this seems to make him more of a BastardUnderstudy.
* Before that, there's [[OneWingedAngel Galvatron]] in the third season of the original ''[[WesternAnimation/TheTransformers Transformers]]'' cartoon, due to [[BiggerBad Unicron's]] body being destroyed at the end of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersTheMovie''.
* Snively at the end of ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' was shown stepping up to this role in the final episode after Robotnik fled, but the series was canceled before he got to do anything.
* Zemerik from ''WesternAnimation/HotWheelsBattleForce5'' was this to Krytus. He used to be Krytus' Dragon but gained free will, betrayed Krytus, and [[SealedEvilInACan sealed him away]]. He proceeded to take over Krytus' role of BigBad over the Sark. Unfortunately for him, Krytus eventually returns and takes said role back.
* ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''
** Black Manta ascends as a main member of [[LegionOfDoom The Light]] after his former boss, Ocean Master, becomes "disgraced" after an unspecified incident during the TimeSkip.
** In "Summit" it becomes clear how much [[NonActionBigBad the Ambassador]] has been OutGambitted by [[OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness the Light]], and immediately after ''both'' of them are OutGambitted by the Team. The Ambassador is captured, but [[TheStarscream Black Beetle]] opts not to help him escape, citing Reach code to prove that he's incompetant enough for him to take over the invasion.
* The finale of ''WesternAnimation/CyberSix'' [[spoiler:has [[BigBad Von Richter]] die, but ends with [[TheDragon Jose]] grinning evilly at the camera.]]
* The final episode of CaptainSimianAndTheSpaceMonkeys used this as a cliffhanger.
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