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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]]. And this is assuming he was not [[TheManInFrontOfTheMan the real villain all along]], with you just having destroyed his puppet.

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 are many a Starscream who will become this if they outlive the BigBad, but most examples of this trope were not obsessed with becoming the BigBad in the first place, they merely [[OpportunisticBastard and opportunistically]] took the role because it was offered to them by fortune on a silver platter. They just get as much as they can so to say. 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.'''



[[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. He did not waste time in vain, 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, and immediately used to revive and place under his control ''dozens'' of extremely powerful deceased ninja (including most of the previous villains, [[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 [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder 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. 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 and Itachi team up.]]
* 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.
* [[UltimateLifeForm Gotou]] of ''Manga/{{Parasyte}}'' was always the most person threat to Shinichi and Migi but answered to [[NonActionBigBad Hirokawa]]. When the police raid the parasite's headquarters, they are able to kill everyone, including Hirokawa, with only Gotou escaping because of how powerful he is. After this, he spends the rest of the series pursuing Shinichi and Migi on his own and becomes the final obstacle before they can rest.
* Father Enrico Pucci in ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'' worked closely under [[BigBadFriend [=DIO=]]] [[VillainousFriendship Brando]] in part 3, even though he's not seen there. Later on in part 6, after [[BerserkButton hearing that his friend is killed]], he continues [=DIO=]'s plan to create Heaven, and [[ResetButton nearly pulls it off]].
* ''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:AssimilationPlot]], 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}}'': [[FillerVillain Muramasa]] spends most of the [[{{filler}} Zanpakutou Unknown Tales Arc]] orchestrating the [[EmpathicWeapon Zanpakuto]] Rebellion before it's revealed to be a distraction that allows Muramasa to achieve his real goal: freeing his master, Kouga. Kouga betrays Muramasa before being defeated by his own nemesis, leaving Muramasa as the main villain to be defeated by Ichigo.
* Prince Lotor from ''Anime/{{Voltron}}''.
* In the GrandFinale, Baldez from ''[[Anime/FutariWaPrettyCure Futari wa Pretty Cure MaX Heart]]'' 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]].
* In the ''Anime/SaberMarionetteJ'' saga, specifically in J to X, we have [[spoiler:Dr. Hess, who once was the right hand of Faust in J. When he was defeated, we saw how Hess dissapeared within the shadow. An then, in J to X he became the man behind all the evil plans, just to take revenge on the Earth.]]

[[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''.]]
* 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 ''Webcomic/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 is a downplayed example, as Conquering Storm is still subservient to [[BigBad Eggman]].
** Another example is [[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 [[ComicBook/SinestroCorpsWar he formed the Sinestro Corps]], only to then take over the Sinestro Corps himself after the Anti Monitor was killed.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/TheParselmouthOfGryffindor'', Voldemort is permanently incapacitated in First Year with no casualties… but by the Third Year, Barty Crouch Junior has taken up the mantle of fear, and what he lacks in raw magical power he makes up for in stealth, intelligence, and unpredictability.
* 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]].]]
* In ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'', [[MagnificentBastard Lucius Malfoy]] goes from being one of Voldemort's former chief lieutenants to the mastermind of an alliance between the remaining Death Eaters, HYDRA, and [[EvilSorcerer Gravemoss]], setting him up as the BigBad of the first book, a position eventually solidified by [[spoiler: [[KlingonPromotion killing Von Strucker and taking over HYDRA]]]].
** Yelena Belova has vague ambitions towards becoming this. If anything, she's more of a MookLieutenant, however.
* In ''Fanfic/TheBridge'', it's eventually revealed that [[spoiler:Discord, Lord Tirek, Queen Chrysalis, and King Sombra]] were disciples of [[spoiler:[[GodOfEvil Grogar]], the Shadow King, and became BigBad threats in their own right after his was [[SealedEvilInACan sealed away]] by [[GodOfGood Harmony.]]]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'': BigBad Syndrome's plan is [[spoiler: using the Omnidroid, a battle robot with AdaptiveAbility A.I. that learns from any tactics used against it, as a villain so that he can swoop in and play the hero. However, he programmed it a little [[GoneHorriblyRight too well]], and it managed to defeat him and become the final boss.]]
* 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. Granted, he was already a DragonInChief.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Subverted in ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesIITheSecretOfTheOoze''. 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]]. [[spoiler:Megatron returns as Galvatron in ''Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction'']].
* ''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]].
* 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.
* [[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.
* Mr. Joshua from ''Film/LethalWeapon'' attempts to kill Riggs and Murtaugh after the latter had killed his boss while he was attempting to escape.
* In ''Film/ToKillADragon'' , when the Titular Dragon has been slain, the Burgomaster takes over the city, becoming a new ruler and ontinuing the oppression.
* While Darth Vader was definitely Tarkin's subordinate in ''Film/ANewHope'', ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'' has him not just as TheHeavy who initiates the attack on Hoth and the trap in Cloud City, but the BigBad who is fought at the end of the movie; while the Emperor is in this film, he's the BiggerBad and wouldn't take an active role in the plot until ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', which sees Vader DemotedToDragon.

* 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 pretended that he had a HeelFaceTurn after the battle, and that he wanted to help rebuild. It's stated that he honestly did decide to give up... 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 always 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 Creator/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]].]]
* [[spoiler:Very literally]] in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards''. For the first half of the book, the plot is driven by a [[SecretCircleOfSecrets secret society]] summoning a dragon to terrorize the city, with the leader's goal being to install a puppet king under his control. Except that then when he thinks he's pulled his plan off without a hitch, [[spoiler:the dragon comes back on its own, kills the new king, and sets ''itself'' up as the ruler of the city]].
* In ''Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday'', a prequel to the [[Film/{{Transformers}} 2007 film]], Starscream takes over as the leader of the Decepticons after Megatron's disappearance. After the Cybertronians encounter the ''Ghost-1'' in 1969, Starscream rightly determines that the technology of the primitive human spacecraft is too similar to Cybertronian tech to be a coincidence (even though, to his subordinates, he insists that it's a natural evolution of all technology in the universe), which must indicate that Megatron is on Earth. Unwilling to relinquish his position, he does everything possible to delay the discovery of Earth by his kin, [[spoiler:including destroying the ''Ghost-1'' and her crew in order to deny the same opportunity to the Autobots]]. While he obviously fails in the long term, it does take another four decades for them to find Earth. Note that the sequel films pretty much render this storyline non-canon.
* In ''Literature/TalesOfTheMagicLand'' Urfin Jus begins as a tax collector of sorts for Gingema the WickedWitch. He would still have been not much of a threat after her death had he not accidentally discovered the Powder of Life. Later, upon conquering the Munchkins, he lampshades the trope telling them that while Gingema has perished, her magic powers went to him, her loyal servant.
* In ''Literature/{{Victoria}}'', the heroes' NoNonsenseNemesis General Wesley plays this role, beginning as the corrupt President Warner's military hatchet man. Promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he then seizes power after an improbably successful lone-wolf terrorist strike (that [[FalseFlagOperation may or may not]] have been what it looked like) kills Warner and most of the Cabinet and senior legislators, proclaiming an outright military dictatorship [[EmergencyAuthority for the duration of the emergency.]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': The Anointed One is this, until Spike kills him, of course.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': The Starks were vassals of the Barrow Kings but they took on a more active leadership position during the Long Night. They eventually supplanted the Barrow Kings after a thousand years of war.
* 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 TrueFinalBoss.]]
** 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]].
* ''Series/{{Supergirl 2015}}'': After [[BigBad Astra]] is killed by [[ShootTheDog Alex to save J'onn]] halfway through the first season, her husband and second-in-command, Non, takes control of their forces and continues the progress of their EvilPlan with an even more aggressive stance.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* After dealing with Abismo Negro's [[TheStarscream constant efforts]] to takeover Los Vipers, Cibernético actually relented and [[InvokedTrope gave ownership of the group to him]], leaving to form a larger group called Lucha Libre Latina, [[OutGambitted who would then use Los Vipers]] to help him takeover Wrestling/{{AAA}}.
* Wrestling/TheRock ousted [[Wrestling/RonSimmons Faarooq]] from Wrestling/TheNationOfDomination when Faarooq [[StillTheLeader grew jealous]] with the Rock's success after winning the Intercontinental Championship and disrespect. The Rock still acknowledged Faarooq as leader, but where The Rock gifted every other member of the nation a Rolex watch, he gave Faarooq a big blown up picture of said championship belt. After the Rock took over, he moved the nation in a completely different direction and brought in Wrestling/OwenHart. He had already gone behind Faarooq's back and brought back Wrestling/MarkHenry.
* Muerte Cibernética usurped control of Cibernético's Secta while the latter was benched with an injury by blaming him for their collective failure against La Parka Jr. Muerte becoming Mesias of La Secta, he would in turn be ousted by his own dragon, Ozz. When Cibernético would reform La Secta to defend Wrestling/{{AAA}} against Los Perros Del Mal, he [[HorribleJudgeOfCharacter mistakenly]] allied himself with Ozz's group, which had now become the Black Family, leading to Ozz once again taking over La Secta after the dogs were defeated.
* Act Yasukawa quickly advanced through the ranks of Kimura Monster Gun after betraying [=Trouble2Maker=] to them in World Wonder Ring STARDOM, eventually getting Kyoko Kimura herself to voluntarily submit to her takeover.
* Allysin Kay took Valkyrie by the horns in SHINE Wrestling, determined to undo its VillainDecay after previous leader Radiant Rain was forced into retirement by [[DragonWithAnAgenda stable oddball]] Wrestling/IvelisseVelez and Rain's replacement, Serena Deeb, was injured while taking a detour on Valkyrie's path of revenge against Ivelisse for betraying them(read:refusing to participate in a FingerPokeOfDoom match).[[/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.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' likes to play with its SortingAlgorithmOfEvil in a way that often invokes this trope.
** Subverted in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'': after the heroes kill the Emperor, the Dark Knight tries to take his place...[[spoiler:but then the Emperor returns from hell to take back his throne]].
** ''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]].
*** Later, as a result of [[spoiler: Rufus' apparent death and Professor Hojo's defection to Sephiroth's faction]], Shinra board members [[ThoseTwoBadGuys Scarlet and Heidegger]] attempt to do this, [[TheCoup staging a hostile takeover of the company]], placing Reeve, the sole [[HonestCorporateExecutive honest]] member of the board, under arrest, and taking the field personally in a [[HumongousMecha giant robot]] with the intent to wipe out all the opposing factions. [[spoiler: They don't even get out of the city before they're offhandedly killed by the heroes, because the robot wasn't nearly as strong as they thought it was]].
* 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. After Gul'dan's death Cho'gall went into hiding with the remaining members of the Twilight Hammer Clan. By the time of ''World of Warcraft'' he is head of the rebuilt Twilight Hammer Cult and leads them in a quest to unleash the Old Gods on Azeroth. In ''Cataclysm'' he lost his leading role when Deathwing returned.
** 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 the mercenaries he hired and their leader Colonel Masako.
* ''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 Drac comes back anyway) and [[HijackedByGanon Dracula is once again the final boss.]]
** The plot of ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight'' turns out to be an attempt by Shaft, Dracula's magician from ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaRondoOfBlood'', to corrupt Richter Belmont as revenge for killing his master... and him... twice. Once Alucard and Maria expose his involvement, he switches to Plan B and revives Dracula again.
* 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 from a certain point of view 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 way 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.
* In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', when Connor [[spoiler: kills Haytham, Charles Lee, his second-in-command, takes over the Colonial Templars]].
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRow''
** In [[VideoGame/SaintsRow1 the first]], the protagonist is "Playa", a new recruit into the Third Street Saints street gang, who eventually rises to become second-in-command to its founder, Julius Little. In [[VideoGame/SaintsRow2 the second game]], 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.
** In ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'', [[spoiler:Killbane takes over the Syndicate after Phillipe Loren is killed off surprisingly early on]].
* 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]].
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' BigBad Darth Malak was originally apprentice and subordinate to Darth Revan. After Revan's defeat Malak took control of the Sith forces. Unfortunately where Revan was [[PragmaticVillainy pragmatic about his war efforts]], thus limiting collateral damage, Malak [[DrunkOnTheDarkSide savored the opportunity to cause mass destruction]].
* Dalton from ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' [[DragonTheirFeet wasn't present at the climactic scene in the Ocean Palace]] (to be specific, [[DirtyCoward he ran for it one battle earlier]]). Accordingly, after Zeal's destruction, he's the highest-ranking Enlightened One left, and remains in full control of his powers, so it's no surprise that he asserts his authority over the survivors of 12,000BC.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyAdventure'': Dark Lord is defeated, and the [[MacGuffin mana pendant]] recovered from his body. Except it's a fake. Dark Lord's archmage Julius has the real one, and has brainwashed the heroine who can unlock it's powers.
* ''VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles'':
** TheStinger for Sonic's or Tails's ending with all Chaos Emeralds, but not all Super Emeralds, shows an Eggrobo (presumed to be the one Knuckles fights in his story) rising out of a pile of wreckage.
** TheStinger for Knuckles's ending without all Chaos Emeralds shows Metal Sonic waking up and jumping onto the Master Emerald. This being the bad ending, what happens next is uncertain (and non-canonical).
* ''Franchise/{{Kirby}}'': While ''VideoGame/KirbyTripleDeluxe'' is a self-contained plot during the main story, in the extra mode, this is revealed to be the case. The Dragon in question is [[spoiler:Dark Meta Knight from ''Amazing Mirror''. The boss descriptions and multiple Word of God statements, taken together, reveal that while Kirby killed Dark Mind, Dark Meta Knight somehow survived his final battle, took control of the Dimension Mirror, and had been plotting revenge since. He corrupted Sectonia, the Big Bad of the main story, and turned her into a beauty-obsessed tyrant out to conquer Pop Star, not having to lift a finger while she went crazy. While gets away with it in the main story, he later confronts King Dedede during his attempted conquest of Sectonia's lands, revealing himself after Dedede defeats everyone else]].
* ''VideoGame/CapellasPromise'' has Felcira, the strongest Hute created by Mother. After the Mother is destroyed, the party learns that her previous restoration also caused Felcira to break its seal, allowing it to attempt to kill all life on Mother's order.
* ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'':
** In the ''Mortal Kombat X'' comic, Mileena takes over Outworld after [[VideoGame/MortalKombat9 Shao Kahn's death]], but she proved to be an [[TheCaligula incompetent ruler]] (due to her AxCrazy [[PsychopathicWomanchild homicidal]] nature) and pushed it to the brink of ruin. She is later dethroned by Kotal Kahn, but she then starts a civil war, further plunging Outworld into chaos. [[spoiler:She is finally KilledOffForReal at the hands of D'Vorah, thus bringing the civil war to an end.]]
** [[spoiler:After Shinnok is reduced to a mere living head by Raiden at the end of the game, Liu Kang and Kitana [[HellHasNewManagement become the new rulers of the Netherrealm]].]]

[[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 all 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: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.

[[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 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 WesternAnimation/CaptainSimianAndTheSpaceMonkeys used this as a cliffhanger.
* ''WesternAnimation/RainbowBrite'': The pilot had a dark, sinister, magical villain simply called "The Evil One". It wasn't established whether he was a demon or simply a SorcerousOverlord, but either way, he had a [[VileVillainLaughableLackey bumbling minion]] named, we kid you not, ''Murky Dismal''. The pilot ended with The Evil One killed, so Murky filled the BigBad slot for the remainder of the series.