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[[quoteright:350:[[Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HijackedByGanonC_6941.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:What? Were you expecting someone else?\\
[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Maybe that Zant guy?]]]]

->'''Prologue:''' Hey! Did you know that in the last game there was this nutty computer that tried to kill everyone?\\
'''Yahtzee:''' No, I did not know that. Why did you bring it up?\\
'''Prologue:''' [-Errrmmm, [[BlatantLies no reason]].-] Here's a totally unrelated plot. Also [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil try not to look at the box art]].
-->-- '''''WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation''''', ''VideoGame/SystemShock 2''

An inverted form of TheManBehindTheMan. Rather than a new evil being behind an old villain, an old villain is behind a new one.

This is common for iconic villains (such as many of the ones from Creator/{{Nintendo}} games) with JokerImmunity -- no matter how many times the hero beats them, they keep coming back in the next game. Frequently, they even retry the same evil plot.

This can be a [[SubvertedTrope subversion]] of OutsideContextVillain, in that the OutsideContextVillain (the original) is actually subordinate to a villain who is ''not'' outside context. Similarly, it could be that the original OutsideContextVillain is not actually the BigBad, but instead the replacement. See also BiggerBad.

Nothing to do with HijackedByJesus.

Inverse of MakeWayForTheNewVillains.

''Keep in mind that this is about {{plot twist}}s,'' '''''so EXPECT SPOILERS!'''''

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:The Legend Of Zelda (Ganon[=/=]Ganondorf)]]
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%%Seriously, it's just this: Ganon in Four Swords Adventures and Twilight Princess and Twinrova/Ganon in Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons. That's all.
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Several times in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' series the hot new BigBad turns out to simply be a pawn of Ganon or is [[SealedEvilInACan trying to revive him]]. Notably, most of these games also feature the Master Sword.
* ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link to the Past]]'' features an odd, ambiguous situation due to the fact that main villain Agahnim is said, depending on version, to be either a pawn of Ganon or purposely working for him,[[note]]It's also stated fairly early on that his goal is to free Ganon, rather than being a plot twist[[/note]] yet Ganon directly refers to the dark wizard as his own alter ego right before the final battle (which is supported by an image of Ganon's shadow popping out of Agahnim's body, turning into a bat, and then flying into the Pyramid of Power). If such a claim is indeed true, Ganon quite possibly hijacked ''[=ALttP=]'' from ''himself''.
* In the ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames Oracle]]'' games, [[spoiler:the Twinrova sisters, Kotake and Koume, are the real {{Big Bad}}s. Ganon is the FinalBoss, but he does not directly have a hand in the plot, making him more of a BiggerBad.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaFourSwordsAdventures Four Swords Adventures]]'' is a odd mixture of this and TheManBehindTheMan. Vaati is a reccurring villain from the [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaFourSwords prequel game]], and is further established in [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheMinishCap an earlier prequel]], but about halfway into the game we find out that Ganon is the true villain of the story, just using Vaati as a decoy. In this case, Ganon hijacks the game from the newer villain Vaati, but Vaati was already an established villain as an alternate to Ganon, so Ganon becomes TheManBehindTheMan as well.
* Then there was Zant of ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'', who, after being built up as "The Twilight King", became the victim of yet another twist hijack by Ganon. While this caused a lot of debate, it was already known before the game came out that Ganon was going to be in the plot and Zant ''does'' allude to Ganon being behind him the ''first time you encounter him.''
* Played with in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'', as [[spoiler:Ganon doesn't appear in person, but the ending reveals that the spirit of Ganon that keeps pursuing Zelda and Link's descendants is the incarnation of the hatred of Demise. [[{{Irony}} Thus in an ironic twist, everything Ganon has done has been essentially hijacked by Demise.]]]] Also counts as FridgeBrilliance as [[spoiler: Demise doesn't mention Ganon by name. This not only explains how Ganondorf can be the same character in multiple games yet sport different visual designs, and have different Ganon forms, but also implies that other, unrelated Zelda villains could also be Demise, most likely Malladus from ''[[TheLegendofZeldaSpiritTracks Spirit Tracks]]''. It also adds an extra layer of intrigue to possible future Zelda villains who ''don't'' lose out to Ganon that game/timeline.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'', [[spoiler: it's actually inverted. Yuga first appears to be the BigBad, but then Ganon enters the picture, revived by Yuga. Just as you expect him to take the position of BigBad, Yuga absorbs Ganon's power and merges with him before he can do anything. ''Then'' Hilda is revealed to be the [[TheManBehindTheMan woman behind the man]] all along, and you think Yuga's role as BigBad is going to to stop there, but he actually betrays Hilda, turns her into a painting and absorbs her power, once again keeping his position. Hijacked by [[FanNickname Yuganon]], indeed.]]
* In ''VideoGame/HyruleWarriors'', the apparent BigBad at the start of the game is Cia, a corrupted witch and AntiVillain. However, [[spoiler:the driving force behind her corruption was none other than Ganondorf, replacing her as the FinalBoss. In an amusing twist from the usual, the game lets you ''play as him'' as he performs the hijacking. ]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/CodenameSailorV,'' some of this happens once ''Manga/SailorMoon'' begins to run concurrently. Suddenly the Dark Agency was a branch of the Dark Kingdom all along.
* ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'' has Vamdemon/Myotismon who manipulated Oikawa into the apparent BigBad of the series who in turn, manipulated Ken into the digital emperor, the villain of the first season.
* Played with in the Cell Saga of ''DragonBallZ'': Freeza and his father King Cold appear to the main villains at the very beginning, but they're instantly killed by Trunks who warns them of the real threat: the artificial humans created by Dr. Gero, a former member of the original series' villains The Red Ribbon Army, and whose cyborg Cell serves as the main villain. Gero, however, never made any appearance, nor was he ever mentioned in the original arc.
* The manga based on the ''VideoGame/GalaxyAngel'' gameverse changed the entire plot of ''Moonlit Lovers'' so that Eonia, who was [[SchrodingersCat already dead in the game]], could be behind it again.
* The ''Manga/HeavensLostProperty'' manga [[spoiler: Introduces a new evil Angeloid called Siren...who gets killed in about 3 pages by earlier villain [[CreepyChild Chaos]], who then absorbs her powers. Ow.]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''
** Orochimaru does this during part one of the anime's interminable filler seasons - they even retcon Mizuki, from the first chapter, into having been operating under the orders of the aforesaid baddie.
** Zig-zagged with Akatsuki. First it was revealed that it was all the doing of [[spoiler: Jiraiya's former student]]. But wait, it was actually Tobi, who is actually [[spoiler: Obito Uchiha]], it was actually [[spoiler: Madara, who manipulated both of them to resurrect him so he could become god.]] Then, rather abruptly, it's revealed that [[spoiler: ''Zetsu'' is doing this to Madara. In fact, he's been manipulating pretty much everything connected to the Uchiha and Senju clans since before their founding as part of a ploy to resurrect Kaguya. This includes leading Madara around by the nose, starting Akatsuki and having Kabuto discover Madara's body.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'' it's almost inevitable that whoever the heroes are fighting next is really a pawn of [[BigBad Naraku]]. However, to their credit the heroes are almost always [[GenreSavvy aware of this]], increasingly so as the series goes on. [[spoiler: And then it turns out Naraku was being manipulated all along by the Shikon jewel.]]
* The US dub of ''Anime/PokemonHeroes'' made Annie and Oakley agents of Team Rocket when in the original they had no association with them.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'''s SpinOff ''Manga/PuellaMagiKazumiMagica''. [[spoiler: [[ChekhovsGunman And everyone thought Kyubey's appearence was just a cameo...]]]]
* A key plot element in ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'', also [[spoiler:inverted.]] Most of End of the Golden Witch involves [[spoiler:Battler trying to keep the role as protagonist]] and [[spoiler:Bernkastel]] doing the hijacking.
* In ''Manga/ZatchBell'', Riou serves as the main villain for the Faudo arc -- [[spoiler:until Zeon and Dufaux invade the control room and absolutely crush him]]. And it happens right after [[spoiler:Riou defeats Gash and [[OnlyMostlyDead murders Kiyomaro]]]], too.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Taken UpToEleven in ''ComicBook/AmazonsAttack''. A brainwashed Queen Hippolyta has led the Amazons of Themyscira to wage war on the United States! BUT WAIT! It turns out that Queen Hippolyta's attack was actually all a SecretTestOfCharacter by the goddess Athena! BUT WAIT! It turns out it was all a convoluted plot masterminded by Granny Goodness of the NewGods while ''disguised'' as Athena and keeping the other Greek gods imprisoned! BUT WAIT! The entire miniseries was actually a tie-in to ''CountdownToFinalCrisis'', where Granny Goodness is training hundreds of women to be female furies in connection to the Death of the New Gods! BUT WAIT! [[FourLinesAllWaiting The Death Of The New Gods/Jimmy Olsen's superpowers plotline]] from ''Countdown'' was actually all part of Darkseid's evil plan involving the Anti-Life equation, and Granny Goodness was just working for him! [[KudzuPlot WHAT.]]
* ''ComicBook/TheAvengers'' robotic villain Ultron has this as pretty much his trademark plot. In every single issue he EVER shows up in, he ''never'' appears to be the main antagonist the Avengers will be up against, rather evidence will point it to being someone else, before Ultron dramatically reveals himself. Even in his very first appearance as a villain, he wore a disguise and diverted suspicion to Jarvis of all people (successfully at that) before it was revealed it was he.
* NormanOsborn's revival at the end of ComicBook/TheCloneSaga definitely counts. We in the real world know he was brought in because the story had long since gotten out of hand, and the best way to resolve it neatly was to have one mastermind behind everything. Osborn, a notorious {{Chessmaster}}, was judged the only Spidey villain with the oomph to pull it off (even if they had to bring him back from the dead).
* The finale of the ComicBook/DarkwingDuck comic, "Dangerous Currency" has Magica [=DeSpell=] and the Phantom Blot using a corruptive inky substance (which brings ''VideoGame/EpicMickey'' to mind), only for the substance to be Negaduck after a LiteralSplitPersonality experience that transformed him into a GrayGoo. He regains physical form, hijacks the story and takes the Blot's offer of an AssimilationPlot that merges the other villains into Negaduck.
* ''ComicBook/TheDeathOfSuperman'' did this with its final storyline ''Reign of the Supermen'', the story starts out normally with the first two issues of each title attempting to endear us to the four Supermen. Then come the halfway point of the third month when [[spoiler:the Cyborg Superman decides to ventilate the Eradicator and allow Coast City to be destroyed by Mongul. Then, it turns out the Cyborg Superman was actually a very minor character who was an {{expy}} of [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]]!]]
* European Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comics did a story arc about an evil wizard who brainwashed Beagle Boys, Magica and Phantom Blot to serve him and keep the protagonists busy while he will carry on his evil plan. Phantom Blot however turned out to be just pretending to be brainwashed so he could stike at him and take over his scheme. In the end it was subverted, because the wizard ran away right after that, keeping his status of the BigBad for the final part of the story.
* A flaw in the later seasons of the ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' series is that the main villainess Winnowill turns out to be the one behind the machinations for ''every single plot''. Shards? Yeah, that was her, shapeshifted. Wavedancers? Yup, her again. Forevergreen? Oh look, it was her insane minion. Hidden Years? Guess who made all those mutant monsters? It gets old. In the [[CanonDiscontinuity distant future]], residual taint from her evil magics at Blue Mountain is the focus of a major subplot.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Grendel}}'', [[spoiler:Pope Innocent XLII, the BigBad of the 26th century arc, turns out to be Tujiro, the vampire serial killer from the 21st century arc.]]
* The bizarre, surreal and hilarious -- as with everything else in the book -- reveal of the Comte de Rochefort as the ManBehindTheMan in Jason's ''The Last Musketeer''.
* ''Century: 1969'', the penultimate volume of ''ComicBook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', ends with the revelation that the BigBad Oliver Haddo survived his confrontation with the League by escaping to the astral plane and possessing the body of a young [[Literature/HarryPotter Thomas M. Riddle, aka Voldemort]] (the most well-known literary villain of the 21st century). Sure enough, ''Century: 2009'', the final installment, has the League facing off against Haddo inhabiting Voldemort's body.
* During the "Dead End Kids" arc, the {{Runaways}} end up in New York City in 1907. While there, they are told that the criminal underworld is supposedly run by Maneater (a sort of predecessor to the Kingpin) and the Sinners. Chase and Xavin later discover that the Sinners are actually answering to [[spoiler:Dale and Stacy Yorkes, the parents of Chase's dead girlfriend, and enemies to the Runaways. They are understandably displeased when they find out that Gert's dead in 2007...]]
* In the ''SinCity'' tale ''Hell And Back'', [[spoiler:Wallenquist was revealed as the Colonel's boss with the Colonel's main assassin answering directly to him.]]
* Rastapopoulos makes a few surprise return appearances as the BigBad in a few ''{{Tintin}}'' albums (although not as many as fans seem to think).
* In ''UltimateMarvel'', Dr. Doom has pulled this '''twice''' to date: in [[spoiler:the ''Ultimate Power'' miniseries and in ''TheUltimates'' vol. 3 '']]. Which is weird, because he doesn't have nearly as much cred as his [[MarvelUniverse 616]] counterpart, and except for those two instances, no one besides the Fantastic Four has dealt with him...but there you have it. The former kind of worked, the latter...[[AssPull not so much]].
* GreenLantern Rebirth: The [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere newly introduced Parallax Entity]] was directed by Sinestro.
* ''ComicBook/TheChildrensCrusade'' retroactively paints Doctor Doom as the one behind the Scarlet Witch going insane, leading to ''ComicBook/AvengersDisassembled'' and ''ComicBook/HouseOfM''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Fiction]]
* In Part 2 of Fanfic/ClashOfTheElements, The [[spoiler:[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Dark Star]] appears to be doing this]], but it is {{subverted}} a couple chapters later when [[spoiler:Chaos Alex regains control of his body from him.]]
* While not technically an example, this trope is referenced in the {{Crossover}} [[http://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/fate-stay-hijacked.237641/ Fate/Stay Hijacked]] [[spoiler:By Ganon]].
* Twice in ''Fanfic/MyLittleUnicorn'', in fact. Towards the end of Season 1, Nightmare Moon is built up as the final antagonist, when suddenly Titan re-appears. [[spoiler: He then returns in ''My Brave Pony: The Movie'', hijacking the role of main villain from Distraught.]]
* Even in [[FanFilm fan-films]] Ganon is true to form. [[WebVideo/TheLegendOfZeldaTheSageOfDarkness The Sage of Darkness]] has an original villain: Etregun, who is a descendant of Ganon. [[GrandTheftMe Guess what happens?]]
* Double subverted in ''Fanfic/PerfectionIsOverrated''. Near the end of the fic, the Usurper, in a last bid at defeating the Himes and ruling the world, possesses the Obsidian Lord, who had initially seemed to be the final antagonist the Himes would face. When the Usurper's remaining minions are defeated and the Obsidian Lord is forced out of Reito's body, the Obsidian Lord breaks free of the Usurper's control, killing him, before having one last confrontation with the Himes.
* Princess Jody, the BigBad of [[http://alaxr274.deviantart.com/gallery/33810717 Super Milestone Wars]], becomes the TrueFinalBoss in [[http://alaxr274.deviantart.com/gallery/36864527 Super Milestone Wars 2]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' fan season ''FanFic/TotalDramaLuxuryTour'' briefly sets up Alejandro, who was the BigBad of the season immediately before it, as the main antagonist for the first few chapters. Then he's voted off pretty early thanks to Noah, and for the majority of the story following that, Duncan is geared towards being the villain. And ''then'' Alejandro simply ''bribes'' his way back on the game, [[TookALevelInJerkass takes a serious level in jerkass]], and takes over as the main villain, especially after Duncan himself is eliminated near the end.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/SpiderMan3'' has a form of this. Turns out the guy Spidey killed in the first movie didn't kill Uncle Ben after all, The Sandman did! We never see Uncle Ben getting shot in the original, but it still gives no indication that there was more than one robber involved.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', [[spoiler:HYDRA has actually been ressurected amongst SHIELD's ranks ever since the agency's own formation, the mastermind this time being the Red Skull's right-hand man in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', Arnim Zola.]] This also puts into light certain events in the ''Film/IronMan'' films, such as the deaths of Tony's parents and Senator Stern wanting to get his hands on Tony's tech. [[spoiler:The former is actually a MakeItLookLikeAnAccident engineered by HYDRA (since Howard Stark was one of SHIELD's founders) while Stern is in fact one of many HYDRA agents.]]
* ''Film/XMen'':
** {{Magneto}} pulls it twice in the films.\\\
In ''Film/X2XMenUnited'', he works with the X-Men without much protest or animosity to save mutant-kind, [[spoiler:but once he foils Stryker's plan, he reminds us that he is the BigBad of the series and turns Strkyer's Cerebro on normal humans]].\\\
In ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'', [[spoiler:he hijacks the Sentinels to try and kill both Bolivar Trask ''and'' RichardNixon. The other BigBad from the movie, Mystique, stops him.]]
** In ''Film/TheWolverine'', [[spoiler:Ichirō Yashida was alive all along and was the real mastermind behind weakening Wolverine and kidnapping Mariko. Shingen was nothing in the end.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Literature/ArtemisFowl: The Time Paradox'', the apparent villain-of-the-day (or yesterday) Damon Kronski turns out to be the pawn of [[spoiler:Opal Koboi]].
* ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' plays with this:
** About half the books introduce a new character that turns out to be Count Olaf in disguise; however, the Baudelaires see through it early on and [[CassandraTruth spend the rest of the book trying to convince]] [[AdultsAreUseless the bumbling adults in charge.]]
** Also used for Olaf's many minions, at least one of whom always accompanies him in his schemes. Weirdly, the children never really are able to recognize ''them'' until the very end, despite the fact that the children are usually told that said minions just showed up in the area recently and they quickly notice suspicious characteristics about them. [[spoiler:For example, the Foreman with the bad wig turns out to be the Bald Man With The Big Nose, the doctor with the "unusually solid hands" turns out to be the Hook-Handed Man, and Officer Lucinda with her "lipsticked smile" turns out to be Esme Squalor]]. It's not until the end of the book that the identities are revealed, which leads to the siblings inevitably trusting the newly-captured Olaf into the hands of the kind, innocent doctor or police officer that they just met.
** In the last book, [[spoiler:there is Ishamel, a man the siblings never heard about from anyone on the vast V.F.D. organization (where everyone seems to know everyone) and was able to seemingly defeat both the Baudelaires and Olaf - and Kit Snicket. In the end, it also looked like he is the only one of the original people on the island to make it alive to the continent.]]
* In the first three ''BlackCompany'' books, Dominator is a well-known BiggerBad to Lady's BigBad, so when he [[spoiler:tries to hijack the plot in every book]], it's this trope in-universe. Subverted later in the series with new BigBad [[spoiler:well, BigBadWannabe]] Longshadow. It's heavily hinted he's someone the protagonists have faced before, supported by one of his minions turning out to be a previous antagonist and his own habit of going around in a mask and cloak that completely conceals his appearance. When they finally capture him, however, he turns out to be a complete stranger whose history is entirely unconnected to the previous books.
* ''Literature/BooksOfBayern'': In the fourth book, [[spoiler:Selia]] shows up again after having supposedly been executed at the end of the first book...and as if that wasn't enough, the same character claims to have been indirectly responsible for the events of books 2 and 3 as well.
* In ''The Crystal Prison'', the second book in the ''Literature/DeptfordMice'' trilogy, Nicodemus, the spirit controlling Madam Akkikuyu, turns out to be Jupiter, the evil god from the previous book.
* Substitute Ganon with Takhisis and you have the entire ''War of Souls'' trilogy in the ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' series.
* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets'' plays out like this. So a monster controlled by the Heir of Slytherin has been attacking students. At the end, we discover that [[spoiler:-surprise!- Voldemort]] was behind the entire thing.
* {{Subverted}} in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban''. [[spoiler:Everyone said Sirius Black was a Death Eater, so an appearance of Voldemort was expected.]] It is the only book where Voldemort isn't the BigBad. [[spoiler:Although, the events in the climax of Book 3 lead to Voldemort's reincarnation in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', so it's a sort of remote hijacking.]]
* ''Literature/HonorHarrington'': The genetic-slavers (and DesignerBabies) of Mesa and [[EvilInc Manpower Inc.]] have basically been [[TheChessmaster puppeteering]] [[TheKingdom the Star Empire of Manticore]] and the [[strike:People's]] Republic of Haven since near enough the beginning of the series. Their {{plan}}s are almost [[StarWars Palpatine]]-esque in their intricacy.
* ''[[KittyNorville Kitty Takes a Holiday]]'' is an interesting example in that "Ganon" is a [[spoiler:non-personified antagonist. The opening chapters are about Kitty trying to keep Ben's new lycanthropy infection from [[DrivenToSuicide driving him to suicide]]. After the initial crisis is resolved, the resultant RescueRomance is a B-plot through the remainder of the book. Meanwhile, the A-plot eventually leads Kitty and Ben to TheManBehindTheMan. It turns out that neither party can beat the other, so the good guys have to KnowWhenToFoldEm. The stress of failure causes Ben to wolf out, and the climax of the novel is Kitty chasing Werewolf-Ben through the woods, trying to find him and calm him down.]]
* At least from the perspective of the majority of the world, this is what [[spoiler:Satan]] does to the {{Antichrist}} in the LeftBehind series.
* In-universe example -- the main threat for most of ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' is [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds the Crippled God]], but in the last few books, his power is usurped [[spoiler:by the Forkrul Assail, a KnightTemplar race of AbusivePrecursors, who intend to use it to scour the world of humanity, which they see as unsalvageably corrupt]]. While [[spoiler:the Forkrul Assail]] hadn't previously appeared as villains in the books themselves, they were a threat from the world's prehistory, so many of the characters, particularly the immortals, see it as this trope.
* Pick any ''SherlockHolmes'' story, and you'll find a scholar who holds that Moriarty was behind it. Of course, the opening of "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" more or less declares open season on this behavior, but that still doesn't account for such theories for stories that [[StayingAlive take place after Moriarty is supposed to have died.]]
* In the ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'', ''The Vor Game'' is a good example. The entire plot is Hijacked by Cetaganda.
* ''Literature/WarriorCats'': Sol is probably the only villain in the entire series that isn't somehow connected to Tigerstar. And it's still unclear if he actually was or not.
* The original novel of ''Literature/YouOnlyLiveTwice''. So James Bond needs to get his mojo back after Blofeld got away and murdered his wife out of spite last time. Well, through a complicated series of events, Japan tosses him a relatively easy one: Some loon named Doctor Shatterhand is running a poisonous garden and encouraging suicide. Investigating that should jump-start him out of his funk... dum-da-da-da! It's Blofeld again! And he's ''crazy!''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'': Lindsey works alongside his lover, Eve, to play Angel and Spike against each other, with the hope of usurping Angel's position at the firm and (if we're aiming high) buying his way into the Circle of the Black Thorn.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** It turns out the source of various nasty events happening around and to Buffy's circle of friends, not to mention the forces of good around the world, are the work of The First, who appeared in Season 3 as a MonsterOfTheWeek and is now the final villain of the show.
** In the Season Eight comics, it turns out Twilight is actually [[spoiler:Angel]].
** Dark Willow reappears in the ''Time of Your Life'' arc of Season 8.
* Happens in the fifth season of ''{{Chuck}}''. Clyde Decker is set up at the beginning of the season to be operating a conspiracy by a faction of the CIA intent on destroying Chuck Bartowski, his friends, and his family. Midway through the season it's revealed that Daniel Shaw, who underwent a FaceHeelTurn halfway through the third season and tried to take over the CIA before the team stopped him, has been pulling Decker's strings (via blackmail over Decker's corrupt past) all along. And then ''that'' gets hijacked by Quinn, who it's revealed was behind ''everyone'' Chuck had been dealing with out of spite because Chuck "stole" the Intersect from him (Quinn was selected to be the Intersect agent, but after Bryce stole it and sent it to Chuck, Quinn was sent into the field without it, captured, and tortured. Yes, there was a bit of SanitySlippage involved).
* The majority of new villains introduced on ''Series/DaysOfOurLives'' in the past 15 years have been revealed to be working for Stefano Di Mera.
* One loses track of how many ''Series/DoctorWho'' serials open with a seemingly original villain who turns out to be a pawn of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, or the Master. Or sometimes more than one of them (and sometimes they hijack each other). The production team would later admit that they overdid it in the eighth series (which introduced the Master), making him the primary villain in ''all five serials.''
** Done '''twice''' in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS10E3FrontierInSpace Frontier in Space]]", in which the Ogrons are quickly revealed to be working for the Master (in Roger Delgado's last story before his death), who turns out in the final episode to have been working for the Daleks.
** In the new series, it turns out the Daleks were leading the Mighty Jagrafess into manipulating the Human Empire's population. Subsequently, they were behind the Gamestation's gathering of humans for their deadly game shows. Then the Cybermen hijacked Torchwood, the Master hijacked Harold Saxon (by ''being'' him), and the Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans, and a few others hijacked the Pandorica. Yup, still going strong.
** In Season 7, the Great Intelligence being behind everything would count as this. Turns out the villains in the Christmas special and the Bells of Saint John were just TheDragon to him.
* The second, third, and fourth volumes of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' were hijacked by Sylar, who, while not the mastermind of the first volume, was the unwitting means to Linderman's end, and much more deadly. The volumes set up their BigBad as, in order, [[spoiler:Adam Monroe, Arthur Petrelli, and Emile Danko]], only for them to be dealt with a couple episodes before the end of the volume, generally unceremoniously. Sylar's MO is to pop out of nowhere at around that time and catch everyone with their pants down, brewing some mayhem for an episode or two until the heroes get him under control... at least until the next volume begins.
** This is made all the more predictable by each volume's insistence on having a major plot thread centering around Sylar regaining his powers, deciding he'd rather be evil, or remembering who he is.
** Ultimately subverted in the final volume, where Samuel Sullivan is established as the BigBad fairly early on and keeps that title right up until the finale. Not only does he [[CurbStompBattle easily defeat]] Sylar the one time they fight, but [[spoiler:Sylar has a HeelFaceTurn that actually seems to ''stick'' this time.]]
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'':
** Whenever the series pulls off a MassiveMultiplayerCrossover, you can be sure that the [[Series/KamenRider series' original]] NebulousEvilOrganisation, Shocker, would have its name all over the plot.
** And in the old days, Shocker's Great Leader turned out to be behind any number of evil organizations. At least now it takes an ''actual revival of Shocker'' for this kind of thing to happen; in the old days, it'd be Creator/GoroNaya popping up to say "[[Series/KamenRiderBlade Undead]]? [[Series/KamenRiderHibiki Makamou]]? [[Series/KamenRiderOOO Greeed]]? All my plan even if there's ''no freakin' way.''" at the end of a series that never seemed to have anything to do with him or those others.
** It seems ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'', ''[[Series/KamenRiderOOO OOO]]'', and ''[[Series/KamenRiderFourze Fourze]]'' are getting hijacked by Foundation X.
* In ''Series/TokusouSentaiDekaranger vs. Series/BakuryuuSentaiAbaranger'', the villain's plot was revealed to be to resurrect not only all the Alienizers and Trinoids that have been slain in battle, but Dezumozorlya (the Abarangers' EldritchAbomination BigBad) as well. Fortunately, [[spoiler:it was the dead [[SixthRanger AbareKiller]] who was resurrected in Dezumozorlya's stead, and Killer proceeds to team up with his fellow Sentai to defeat the various villains.]] It is played straight, however, in ''Series/EngineSentaiGoOnger vs. Series/JukenSentaiGekiranger'', [[spoiler:the villains are after the Dōkokugan, the sphere that the Gekirangers' BigBad Long is sealed in, and he later breaks free of the seal in order to exact his revenge.]]
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', [[spoiler:the first antagonist encountered in the series is the Smoke Monster, which had been terrorizing the survivors since they first crashed on the Island, long before we even know about the Others. Early on, it was assumed that it was a raging beast, but later, we learned it was much more than that when it was discovered that it could assume the form of deceased characters. However, it only appeared in a few episodes and seemed to take a backseat to other antagonists such as Ben, the Others, Widmore, etc. After seasons of debating who the BigBad would be, the season five finale introduced an unnamed man, The Man in Black, who is Jacob's enemy, vowing to kill him, and at the end of the episode, we learn he was manipulating everyone, especially Ben and Locke, the whole time in order to accomplish this. It is revealed in the season six premiere that this man was none other than the Smoke Monster, making him the BigBad since the very first episode.]]
* The first series finale to ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' reveals a certain someone to have been behind every mystery ([[BritishBrevity all three of them]]) up to that point, in some way or another. The same happens in episodes 1 and 3 of series 2. He wasn't behind any of the events of series 3 ([[spoiler:likely due to his being dead]]), but he does [[spoiler:reappear at the end of the series 3 finale, in such a way to [[JokerImmunity make everyone doubt whether he actually died at all]].]]
* The Grenada adaptation of the SherlockHolmes mystery "The Red-Headed League" ultimately connects its mastermind with Holmes' archnemesis Moriarty. No such connection exists in the original story. However, the real-life crime that inspired "The Red-Headed League" was masterminded by the man who inspired Moriarty.
* In season 8 of ''Series/StargateSG1'', Ba'al takes control of Anubis's remaining forces after the destruction of Anubis's fleet during the invasion of Earth, and uses his superior [[SuperSoldier Kull Warriors]] to succesfully wage war on all the other Goa'uld combined. Anubis reappears on Earth, but gets stuck on a frozen planet in a dying host body. At the end of the first part of "Reckoning", Ba'al reveals to O'Neill that Anubis is back in command of the largest Goa'uld faction, and that he was serving him for a while now.
* More obvious was in the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "Descent", when the rogue Borg the ''Enterprise'' has been chasing turned out to be led by [[EvilTwin Lore]].
* In ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', the revelation that the Breen were working for the Dominion was done in a similar fashion. And that the Orion Syndicate had been working with the Dominion too, in an earlier episode.
* The conclusion of ''Series/TinMan'' reveals that the BigBad [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Princess Azkadellia]] is actually a descendent of [[Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz Dorothy Gale]], who was possessed by the spirit of the original Wicked Witch as a child. D.G. (who's actually Azkadellia's sister) frees her from the Witch's influence in the last episode's final act, and she reverts to her original personality.
* In one episode of ''Series/TheTwilightZone'', a neo-Nazi campaign is hijacked by a mysterious phantom who delivers excellent advice on public speaking. It turns out that the phantom is none other than [[spoiler:AdolfHitler. When Hitler reveals his identity to the neo-Nazi leader, he stops giving advice and starts giving orders.]]
* In the tokusatsu series ''Series/UltramanNexus'', there is a constant reference of "The Unknown Hand" being the mastermind behind everyone of the Space Beasts actions, as well as reoccurring baddie, Dark Mephisto. [[spoiler:Once the final monster is destroyed, the unknown hand reveals himself to be an entire evil Ultra known as "Dark Zagi".]]
* ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun'' gives a humorous example. Dick is outraged when he discovers Mary has been getting love letters from a mysterious admirer, and discovers that it's actually his ArchEnemy Liam, who seduced Mary and tried to destroy Earth once before and is back to give both another shot.
* In the final season of ''Series/TwentyFour'', [[spoiler:the Russians, who were behind the deaths of Omar Hassan and Renee Walker, were hijacked by Season 5's BigBad, [[PresidentEvil Charles]] [[ManipulativeBastard Logan]]. Season 7 had teased Logan pulling this by constantly referencing him and having Tony go on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge, but unfortunately, it turns out that some [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere random guy]] named Alan Wilson was Tony's target and the one behind multiple conspiracies. ]]
** Also, in The Game, [[spoiler:Max, the man behind Season 2's events, is the BigBad.]]
** Subverted in season six; [[spoiler:it seems like the Chinese are pulling this, but Phillip Bauer turns out to be the actual antagonist.]]
** In the ''Live Another Day'' miniseries, [[spoiler:Cheng Zhi returns and pulls this properly, taking over the BigBad position from hacker Adrian Cross almost immediately after he appeared to step into it.]]
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'': In a major bit of ArcWelding with the main Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse, when [[BigBad The Clairvoyant]]'s identity is finally revealed, he turns out to be [[spoiler: one of HYDRA's many moles inside SHIELD]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Throughout Literature/TheBible, everyone who commits an act of sin can be said to be tempted by Satan, directly or otherwise. However, the Book of James doesn't buy blaming Satan (or God, for that matter) as a FreudianExcuse:
---> When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
* In NorseMythology, everything in creation (even the flora) have to shed tears to bring the God Baldr back to life, but there is one Frost Giantess who refuses, and as a result, he can't. The Frost Giantess turns out to be Loki, who killed Baldr in the first place, in disguise.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/{{Christian}} did this to WWECW upon his 2009 return. In fact, one could argue that he and [[Wrestling/TheWorldsGreatestTagTeam Shelton Benjamin]] were the only reason anyone would watch the show by that point.
* Wrestling/MollyHolly tried to hijack [[Wrestling/LisaMarieVaron Victoria]] by giving her further training and direction, but it didn't work, as she really couldn't control Victoria at all. She later did gain the servitude of Wrestling/GailKim by threatening to beat Gail up until she got it.
* In early 1993 Wrestling/{{WWE}}, manager Wrestling/HarveyWippleman was not happy about how Wrestling/TheUndertaker had defeated Wippleman's man Wrestling/{{Kamala}} in the Casket Match at ''Wrestling/SurvivorSeries 92'', leading to [=Kamala=]'s [[HeelFaceTurn face turn]] and siding with Reverend Slick. On the January 16, 1993 (taped December 14, 1992) episode of ''WWF Superstars'', Wippleman announced that the [=WWF=] would never be the same after he dropped "the big bomb." At the ''Wrestling/RoyalRumble,'' January 24, 1993, Wippleman revealed what "the big bomb" was: the 7'7" (billed as 8'0"), 400 lbs.+ [[Characters/WWENewGeneration the Giant [=Gonzales=]]] (real name Jorge Gonzales, formerly Wrestling/{{WCW}} [[{{Face}} babyface]] El Gigante), who interfered in the match and eliminated the Undertaker! May he rest in peace.
* In Wrestling/{{TNA}}, [[Wrestling/JamesMitchell "Father" James Mitchell]] took the Gathering (CM Punk and Julio Dinero) away from Wrestling/{{Raven}}.
* Wrestling/TheNexus was a group of scorned rookies out for revenge against the mainframe of the WWE...only for them to eventually becomes lackeys of the already well-established Wrestling/CMPunk.
* In 2003 WWE, [[Characters/WWETagTeams Sean O'Haire]] was starting a [[TheCorrupter Corrupter]][=/=]Devil's Advocate gimmick, where he would tell people to do unusual or outrageous things, topping it off with his CatchPhrase, "I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know." On the February 6th ''[=SmackDown!=]'' he convinced Brian Kendrick to streak after [[Characters/WWEAttitude A-Train]] {{Squash|Match}}ed Shannon Moore. On the March 13th show, he convinced [[Characters/WWEDivas Dawn Marie]], a {{Heel}} herself, to "flash" the crowd[[note]]This was the same night that Wrestling/TorrieWilson, Wrestling/StacyKeibler, and [[Characters/WWEDivas Nidia]] all appeared on the ''Girls Gone Wild'' [=PPV=], though none of them actually got naked. Dawn had tape over her breasts and the rope was in the way.[[/note]] Then [[Wrestling/RoddyPiper "Rowdy" Roddy Piper]] returned to WWE during the Wrestling/HulkHogan vs. Vince [=McMahon=] match at ''Wrestling/{{WrestleMania}} XIX'' on March 30th as a heel, attacking both guys. O'Haire got turned into Piper's lackey as part of the whole ridiculous feud with Hogan[=/=][[Wrestling/StephanieMcMahon Stephanie [=McMahon=]]][=/=][[Characters/WWEBrandExtension Zach Gowen]] vs. Vince[=/=]Piper[=/=]Wrestling/{{Sable}}[=/=]O'Haire[=/=]A-Train[=/=]Wrestling/TheBigShow and maybe some other people. Even after Piper was fired in June, O'Haire never really got any kind of chance to revisit the gimmick and left in 2004.
* In Wrestling/{{WCW}}, there was the infamous Wrestling/{{Sting}} vs. the Black Scorpion angle. In August 1990, after wrapping up another chapter in his on-again/off-again feud with Wrestling/RicFlair, Sting started being harassed by a mysterious masked man who spoke with a heavily altered voice. The standard "masked wrestler" plotline quickly got out of control, incorporating bizarre promos, "messengers" that attacked Sting at house shows, and ringside stage illusions. After four months of this nonsense, the Black Scorpion was finally revealed to be...Ric Flair. Behind the scenes, this was an AuthorsSavingThrow -- WCW constantly alluded to the Black Scorpion actually being [[Wrestling/UltimateWarrior the Ultimate Warrior]] in an attempt to get Warrior to jump ship from WWF[[note]]Sting and UW started their careers together in California before going to Memphis as the Freedom Fighters and then to "Cowboy" Bill Watts' Mid-South/UWF as the Blade Runners, Flash and Rock, before going their separate ways.[[/note]] When it didn't work, they shoehorned Flair in instead.
* Another WWE mystery: "Who ran over [[Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin "Stone Cold" Steve Austin]]?" Well, the man driving the car was revealed to be Wrestling/{{Rikishi}}, whose lame MotiveRant killed any potential heat. Rikishi was so ill-fit for the {{Heel}} role that after one month the much better established Wrestling/TripleH was revealed to be TheManBehindTheMan. In reality, the mastermind couldn't have been anyone BUT Triple H. Triple H assaults Austin backstage, runs off, lures Austin out into the parking lot, where Rikishi just randomly happens to be in a car in the parking lot ready to run him over. Despite Triple H's insistence right before Rikishi's reveal that he was planning to lead to Austin to a beatdown, the variables are just too unlikely for it to be anybody but Triple H.
* In 1999, ''Wrestling/{{WWE}}'' featured a long and convoluted storyline about Wrestling/TheUndertaker and his Wrestling/MinistryOfDarkness attempting to seize control of WWE from [[HeelFaceTurn former bad guy]] [[Wrestling/VinceMcMahon Vince [=McMahon=]]] under the orders of a mysterious figure known only as "The Higher Power". This "Higher Power" turned out to be... Vince [=McMahon=]. The Ministry Of Darkness then merged with Wrestling/TheCorporation to become the Corporate Ministry, and about five months of storyline were thrown out the window.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* In the BigFinishDoctorWho story "[[Recap/BigFinishDoctorWho030SeasonsOfFear Seasons of Fear]]" it turns out that Sebastian Grayle's masters are the Nimon.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* After the release of Infernals in the second edition of {{Exalted}}, the Ebon Dragon seemed to have his hand in everything. He created the Unconquered Sun (Okay, that had been there since early first edition). He made contact with the Neverborn for the purposes of creating the Infernal AND Abyssal Exalted. He abducted the Scarlet Empress. He contacted the Viator of Nullspace and set him on his current quest to remake the Great Maker. Certain lines in Return of the Scarlet Empress -- the storyline in which one has at least four other Yozis to worry about, along with their own forces and those with the Realm, and he still manages to arise as the clear dominant villain of the entire game -- even strongly suggest he was behind the Great Curse.
* TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings Gold Edition story arc introduced Daigotsu, the mysterious new lord of the Shadowlands. Daigotsu was able to dispatch the venerable powerhouse characters Toturi and Kyoso no Oni with ease and brought with him never-before-seen monsters such as the Tsuno and Onisu. He even managed to level Rokugan's capital city of Otosan Uchi...at which point he released [[GodOfEvil Fu Leng]], the setting's de facto BigBad from the realm of the dead and who then took on the role of the arc's FinalBoss. Interestingly, Daigotsu played an indirect role in Fu Leng's defeat thanks to [[MagnificentBastard Hantei Naseru]] running a successful BatmanGambit on the latter regarding the former's loyalty.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* Teridax, the main Makuta from ''{{Bionicle}}'', got into the habit of this. The first two years after Teridax was first defeated, it was known he orchestrated the new antagonists to fight the heroes, but the two year after that it was part of TheReveal, the year after that not so much but did involve his cronies setting him free, then after that it was again revealed he had basically been behind it all. The next year Teridax was a major player, and then the last year was the culmination of his master plan to take over the universe. [[spoiler:It worked.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games (Excluding Ganon)]]
* Played as an InternalReveal in ''VideoGame/AceCombat5TheUnsungWar'': the masterminds behind the war between Osea and Yuktobania turn out to be the same [[spoiler:rich Belkan nationalists]] who sponsored the Belkan War fifteen years earlier. However, this was the first time that the Belkan War was even mentioned in the ''AC'' canon at that point, and the prequel expanding on it, ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'', wouldn't come out for another two years.
* In the ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamSeries'', SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is always the real BigBad.
** In ''Asylum'', it's fairly straightforward; Joker engineered the prison break at the titular Asylum.
** In ''City'', while trailers did feature the ensemble, it seemed that Hugo Strange and TYGER would be much more the overarching threat, [[spoiler:Strange ended up being a pawn of Ra's, who you already beat earlier in-game, and both of them died in the same cutscene, before the final confrontation with Joker]].
** In ''Origins'', trailers hyped up a relatively unknown to non-comic fans villain, Black Mask, as the BigBad who hired eight assassins to kill Batman. [[spoiler:It was really Joker pretending to be Black Mask the whole time]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'', the first part of the game focuses on you hunting down and killing Andrew Ryan, only to learn [[spoiler:that all the events guiding you to kill Ryan were crafted by MissionControl, who is the supposedly-dead Frank Fontaine]].
* The ''VideoGame/BubbleBobble'' {{spinoff}} ''Bust-A-Move'', AKA ''Puzzle Bobble'': In the VS CPU modes of installments 2 through 4, an enemy named Drunk (the green hooded beer-drinking enemy from Bubble Bobble) has been inside, respectively, a giant robot {{Mecha}} named Bubblen (one letter shy of Bub's ''long'' bubble dragon name), a giant fake bubble dragon named Debblun, and a spaceship face named Madam Luna.
* The ArcadeGame ''VideoGame/CaptainAmericaAndTheAvengers'' openly presents Red Skull as the BigBad. The NES version [[ReformulatedGame isn't exactly based on it]], but it's not hard to guess who the "Mystery Big Boss" is.
* Dracula ''loves'' to do this in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' games. He's the final boss almost every time, whether he's been visibly in play from the start or not. ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOftheNight Symphony of the Night]]'' is a classic example; [[spoiler:Richter Belmont ''seems'' to be the villain, until you find out he was possessed by Shaft from ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaRondoOfBlood Rondo of Blood]]'', who orchestrated this as another raising-Dracula ritual.]]
** You only get to know this if you explore the castle thoroughly, though, and equip the Holy Glasses you get by doing so. Then you can see what's possessing Richter, and kill it. If you don't free Richter from his curse, you get the BadEnding by killing him. [[spoiler:And you miss the Inverted Castle, which makes up another half of the game to get to Dracula.]]
** Subverted in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Aria of Sorrow]]'' with [[spoiler:a TomatoInTheMirror -- you can't expect to ''fight'' Dracula if you're ''playing'' him, right?]]
** ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaPortraitOfRuin Portrait of Ruin]]'' has another vampire, Brauner, take control of the castle. After you beat him, Death kills him and Dracula is revived once again.
** And in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaHarmonyOfDissonance Harmony of Dissonance]]'', which had, as a "novelty" that Dracula ''didn't'' appear... he kind of just appears anyway. As a wraith, but still.
** ''VideoGame/{{Castlevania 64}}'': [[spoiler:You know that kid Malus? The one who claims he was kidnapped by Dracula's followers along with the other children? ''That's'' Dracula. That vampire you fought earlier in the game was a faker.]]
** In both ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaCurseOfDarkness Curse of Darkness]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaOrderOfEcclesia Order of Ecclesia]]'', Dracula yet again comes out of nowhere at endgame. [[spoiler:This time, it's thanks to GrandTheftMe, although the former is a {{plan}}[=/=]ThanatosGambit carried out by Death, while the latter is an unintended aftereffect of Albus absorbing one of the pieces of Dominus (i.e. Dracula's power), although [[TreacherousAdvisor Barlowe]] has a hand to play in Drac's revival as well.]]
** More or less, the ''Castlevania'' series ''runs'' on this trope. If Dracula is not directly mentioned, heard from, or seen, or it is not specifically stated that his followers (most likely [[DragonAscendant Death]], although others have taken up the helm before) are attempting to resurrect him, then there's at least a 90% chance Dracula is ''still'' behind it all. In fact, as ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaLamentOfInnocence Lament of Innocence]]'' can attest to, [[spoiler:Dracula was hijacking the plot ''[[BatmanGambit before he even]] [[BigBadFriend canonically became Dracula]]''.]]
** The entire plot of ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaJudgment'' is preventing Dracula from being Hijacked By Galamoth (of ''VideoGame/KidDracula'' and ''[=SotN=]'' fame).
** ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow Lords of Shadow]]'': [[spoiler:Gabriel Belmont was the man who would become Dracula the entire time. Congratulations player! You just hijacked the BigBad title from the Lords of Shadow and {{Satan}}.]]
* After switching primary villains a dizzying number of times in the first place, the final boss of ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' ends up being Lavos (or, at least, a version of Lavos), just as in [[VideoGame/ChronoTrigger its predecessor.]]
* In ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'', [[MemeticMutation it's all a Nemesis plot]]; he orchestrated the [[AlienInvasion Rikti invasion]] and possibly the [[NoSwastikas Council overthrow of the 5th Column]]. However, the events in [[AncientRome Cimerora]] were started by a different group of villains: [[spoiler:the Nictus, including Requiem and the 5th Column]].
** The [[AncientRome Cimerora]] zone was only introduced after the appearance of [[TimePolice Ouroboros]] [[spoiler:whose chief has a SignificantAnagram]].
** True veterans of the game know it's only a matter of the time until the writers make Nemesis responsible for [[spoiler:all of the Nictus and Kheldian plots entirely]] as well. The game [[LampshadeHanging pokes fun at this]]. "It's all a Nemesis plot", "Not everything is a Nemesis plot", and "If it wasn't a Nemesis plot already, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one" are all tips on loading screens.
** The Nemesis version is subverted in the Issue 19 med-porter arc: Your contact realizes the two enemy groups wouldn't work together on their own, and both groups have canonical ties to Nemesis, so he'd be the natural suspect even if he weren't behind everything else. However, it turns out to be [[spoiler:Malta]] pulling the strings.
* ''VideoGame/CommanderKeen'' does this with both major trilogies -- it turns out the "Grand Intellect" manipulating the Vorticons is actually Mortimer [=McMire=], Billy Blaze's rival from school. Then it turns out the ruler of the Shikadi, the "Gannalech", is just [=McMire=] again (the Shikadi heard "Grand Intellect" but couldn't pronounce it). Also, his babysitter Molly from ''Aliens Ate My Babysitter'' turns out to be Mortimer's sister.
* In ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar II Chaos Rising'', Eliphas was revived by Abaddon to serve Araghast as his 2nd in command. But when the Blood Ravens finally defeat Araghast, he leaves him to die, and takes command of the Black Legion forces. In ''Retribution'', it is revealed that the whole assult on the sub-sector Aurelia was orchestrated by [[spoiler:the daemon, inadvertently released by Gabriel back in the end of the first game]].
* Who is and isn't a villain in ''VideoGame/DeusExInvisibleWar'' is subject to some interpretation, but it's a major [[WhamEpisode Wham]] to find out that [=ApostleCorp=] is led by [[spoiler:JC Denton, the player character from the original ''VideoGame/DeusEx'']].
* Though it was obvious judging by the cover and the title, Diablo turns out to be the real final boss in ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'', despite being apparently dead in the second opus and the third one focusing essentially on demonlords Belial and Asmodean for all the first part of the game.
* King K. Rool (or, as he preferred to be called in this game, [[MadScientist Baron K. Roolenstein]]) in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry3DixieKongsDoubleTrouble'' hijacks the antagonist slot from evil robot KAOS... who was, in the end, just a puppet leader for the Kremlings, controlled by him and possessing zero free will.
* In ''VideoGame/EndlessFrontier'', there's a whole lot of new characters and villains, but [[spoiler:[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsCompact2 The Einst]]]] are the real enemies.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/EscapeFromMonkeyIsland'', where after a lot of buildup for the anti-pirate business tycoon Ozzie Mandrill as the new villain, [[BigBad LeChuck]] appears... and it turns out he's working for Mandrill, who really ''is'' the new villain.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'', while not actually a character, the Forced Evolutionary Virus, a mutagenic serum used by the first game's BigBad, was brought back in the end stages of the second game as part of the new villain's plan to wipe out the wasteland. The villain of the third game was essentially repeating his plan but with a few tweaks.
* In the [=PS2=] video game ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist: Curse of the Crimson Elixir'', the game's BigBad is a former state alchemist named Crowley who uses an army of alchemical Golems throughout the story which he controls through a Philosopher's Stone in a ruined nation. In the post-credits scenes, [[spoiler:Envy, Lust, and Gluttony talk about the situation, revealing they manipulated Crowley toward finding the stone to bring back his dead lover, although unlike most of their meddling they underestimated Crowley and lost control of the situation. However, they (and as a result likely Dante) still served as the BiggerBad and the true instigator of the events.]]
* Zig-zags in ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'', since the [[TheChessmaster recurring]] [[EvilGenius baddie]] is openly hanging out with the new baddies, in a PaperThinDisguise, for much of the game. However, all the characters believe ''that'' character to have been dead since [[VideoGame/GoldenSun the first two games]], so it's a shock to ''them'' when his identity is revealed. He laughs. [[spoiler:And this being Alex, [[HiddenAgendaVillain we still don't even know what he's after]], [[TheUnfought nor do we get to beat him down for it]].]] In a sense, it's played straight. At first, it seems like you're going to stop the Psynergy Vortexes and get the roc feather, but the Vortex subplot is dropped after Konpa Cave [[spoiler:until TheStinger]], and the roc feather quest takes a backseat to stopping the Grave Eclipse.
* In ''VideoGame/Jak3Wastelander'', it's revealed [[spoiler:that [[DragonAscendant Errol]] was turned into a cyborg and is working with the Dark Makers.]]
* Implied in an ending illustration in ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters 2002'' (which was a plotless DreamMatchGame featuring several characters from different story arcs, some of them already dead). Rugal gets to be the final boss in that one, just like in the previous dream match (''KOF '98''), but the illustration curiously shows [[http://www.vgmuseum.com/end/neogeo/c/kof2k2.htm him sitting in a throne surrounded by boss characters from the NESTS Chronicles story arc,]] implying he may have been behind it all. Plausible, as his last canonical appearance in -the series (''[='95=]'') had a version of him with cybernetic implants, white hair, and a darker skin tone compared to his previous appearance in ''[='94=]'' - darker skin and white hair aren't uncommon features of clone characters in the NESTS saga, as isn't cyborg/robotic technology, so the Omega Rugal from ''[='95=]'' could have been a clone, and the real one might still be around.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'', thanks to its [[MindScrew confusing]] [[KudzuPlot cosmology]], has a rather weird example: the BigBad of the entire series is Xehanort, but he appears in many different incarnations over the series, and these incarnations repeatedly pull this trope on the other villains. Maleficent was presumed to be the BigBad of the first game, until the original villain Ansem was revealed to be the true mastermind manipulating her. The next game ''Chain of Memories'' introduced the villains Organization XIII, and ''II'' revealed "Ansem" was actually Xehanort's [[TheHeartless Heartless]], and his [[EmptyShell Nobody]], Xemnas, was the leader of Organization XIII. Xemnas thus served as the villain of ''II'' and ''358/2 Days''. Then ''Birth By Sleep'' revealed the ''original'' Xehanort was Master Xehanort, who became the Xehanort that was split into Ansem and Xemnas when [[spoiler:he committed GrandTheftMe on Terra's body]]. ''Dream Drop Distance'' then had a new Xehanort as the villain, who turned out to be [[spoiler:a younger Master Xehanort traveled forward in time from the past]]. The bottom line of all this, a Xehanort incarnation has been the true mastermind of almost every game, and his connection to the villain of the latest game is always played as a plot twist. Promotional materials for ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsIII'' say that Master Xehanort is the main villain for the game, making it the first time WordOfGod doesn't try to hide his involvement. The only game Xehanort isn't behind is ''re:coded'', where the antagonist has nothing to do with him, and to a lesser extent ''Chain of Memories''; while Xemnas leads Organization XIII, the members encountered in that game were working on their own agenda.
* Done retroactively in the ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' series. The first game, ''Blood Omen'', has the BigBad "Hash'ak'gik", while the villains of ''Blood Omen 2'' (actually the [[NonLinearSequel fourth game in the series]]) are the Sarafan, but it's eventually revealed the Sarafan Lord who leads them is a Hylden General. The fifth game, ''Defiance'', revealed that Hash'ak'gik and the Hylden General were the same being all along. [[spoiler:He then partially hijacks that game as well, possessing Janos in the penultimate level and revealing that Raziel's game-long search for how to revive Janos is something he had set up]].
* ''VideoGame/LittleBigAdventure 2: Twinsen's Odyssey''. Turns out the aliens are just dupes of good ol' Doctor Funfrock.
* In a way, this is played with during the final boss fight of ''VideoGame/MadWorld''. After getting to the final area, you're set to fight the previous champ, and it is never revealed who that is, so one would expect a powerful new face that may reveal something about [[spoiler:Jack's past in the games]]. Then, get ready for this, [[spoiler:'''IT'S THE BLACK BARON.''' Yes, the guy who died multiple times as a joke character to explain how minigames work is the final boss and has no clue who Jack is.]] Oh, and [[spoiler:he]]'s surprisingly {{Badass}}. While the main plot continues as expected, the final boss fight is with the least expected person...but one that has been previously established as a villain of sorts.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'': Although it was always pretty obvious, Shepard and co don't confirm the Collectors are working for the Reapers until halfway through the game. Though everyone pretty much shrugged and said "It's probably Reapers" in the first conversation about the Collectors.
* This is Dr. Wily's trademark tactic in the ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' series. He pretended to reform in ''VideoGame/MegaMan3'', and in all subsequent main series games except ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'' and ''VideoGame/MegaMan8'', he turns out to be using the initial villain or some other phenomenon as a decoy. The reason he doesn't in ''7'' is that the game begins with Wily being arrested, but his robots activate themselves and free him. Also does it in ''VideoGame/MegaManV'' for the Game Boy with the Star Droids [[spoiler:though in a bit of a twist, he is ''not'' the final boss of this game]]. Amusingly, the game doesn't even ''try'' to hide that he's the final boss of ''VideoGame/MegaMan9'' or ''VideoGame/MegaMan10'', as the achievement for beating each game is named "Whomp Wily!".
** In the ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' games, Sigma hijacks all the main villains from ''VideoGame/MegaManX2'' onwards, to the point it's a twist that he ''isn't'' the BigBad of ''VideoGame/MegaManX8''. It gets {{lampshaded}} in ''VideoGame/MegaManX4'' when Split Mushroom responds to a demand to reveal the mastermind behind the game's plot with his [[MemeticMutation meme-tastic]] CatchPhrase "Take a wild guess", after which his lifebar appears, blatantly carrying [[GratuitousGreek Sigma's]] [[BroughtToYouByTheLetterS logo]], unlike previous bosses. It's also subverted in ''VideoGame/MegaManX6'', when the BigBad was ''not'' Sigma, it was Gate, and Gate resurrected Sigma to use him to destroy X, but Sigma CameBackWrong and was obviously not the controlling force behind the plot.
** ''VideoGame/MegaManX5'' reveals that the Maverick Virus was originally carried by Zero before it was transferred to and bonded with Sigma, thus meaning Wily hijacked the ''entire'' ''X'' series, because he was the creator of Zero and the original "Zero Virus" that turned Sigma evil. ''X5'' was originally intended to be the final game of the ''X'' series, and WordOfGod has stated that yes, Wily was still alive and was working with Sigma during the game. There's also fan theories that Serges and Isoc, each originating from different games in the ''X'' series, are either Dr. Wily somehow, or that like Sigma, Wily's consciousness endures and finds host bodies to act through.
** Due to his hand in the creation of the Maverick Virus and Zero, Wily also indirectly set up the events of the ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' series that acts as a continuation of the ''X'' series, so he could be considered to have hijacked that too, especially when Dr. Weil, the BigBad of the third and fourth games, uses a robot ([[spoiler:Zero's original body, specifically]]) that Wily likely designed or built. And of course, there's another theory that Dr. Weil is Wily.
** Finally, the ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' series that continues the ''Zero'' series, the original Biometal W is a part of the Ragnarok space station from ''Zero 4'' and somehow has Weil's consciousness possessing it, driving other Reploids Maverick. It's also implied to have driven the major antagonists of the games into BrainwashedAndCrazy territory by compelling them to carry out its will.
** In the ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' games (which are an AlternateUniverse from the rest of the series), Wily hijacks ''2'' when the main villain of that game reveals in the third he was working under orders from Wily. ''4'' and ''5'' do ''not'' have him, [[spoiler:making it actually effective when he appears in ''6'' and reveals his EvilPlan]]. However, the villain of ''4'' and ''5'' is the organization Nebula, lead by Wily's son.
* Inverted in the second ''VideoGame/MetalSlug'' game, where [[BigBad Morden]] is hijacked right at the end by the [[TheStarscream Martians]] introduced in that game. Similarly inverted in the fourth game, where the plot appears to be Morden's work but it ultimately turns out to be a clone created by a new BigBad unrelated to any of the previous games, and in the sixth game, where the Martians' plot (working once again with Morden) is hijacked by a Martian-eating race of aliens.
* In ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'', the events aboard the Bottle Ship are the fault of [[spoiler:MB, who is essentially a resurrected Mother Brain]]. The postgame is a more jarring and unexpected example. [[spoiler:Remember Phantoon? A boss who only appeared in ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' and was never heard from again? He takes control of the Bottle Ship in the postgame and, considering the creatures are still out to kill you, he may have helped MB cause the uprising from the background, making him the BiggerBad.]]
* In ''VideoGame/NarutoClashOfNinja Revolution 2'', the player spends most of the game fighting against Kagura, an evil ex-ANBU agent who wants revenge on Tsunade. It turns out that Kagura was seemingly manipulated into attacking the Hidden Leaf Village by [[TheDragon her Dragon]], Bando, who in turn was manipulated by [[spoiler:Kabuto]] for unknown reasons (it's unclear whether he did it on his own, or for [[spoiler:Orochimaru]]).
* ''VideoGame/NinjaGaiden II'' on the NES spends a lot of time building up Ashtar, the self-proclaimed "Emperor of Darkness," as the BigBad. Your showdown with him occurs only halfway through the game though, and after you kill him, Jaquio, the villain of the previous game, returns from being NotQuiteDead to become the main villian.
* In the first four ''VideoGame/PhantasyStar'' games, the BigBad revealed early on might be an [[EvilOverlord evil king]], an [[AIIsACrapshoot evil intelligent computer]], a [[HumansAreBastards scorned and now vengeful half-human monster]], a [[WeAREStrugglingTogether fabricated war]] [[CainAndAbel between the heroes']] [[EnemyMine civilizations]], or an [[OmnicidalManiac omnicidal]] EvilSorcerer, but they're all revealed to be pawns of [[EldritchAbomination Dark Force]]. In the fourth game, [[spoiler:even Dark Force is revealed to be the millennial incarnation of [[SealedEvilInACan Profound]] [[UltimateEvil Darkness]].]]
* When they say that darkness [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin cannot be killed]], they aren't kidding. ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarOnline''? Dark Falz. Episode II? Dark Falz' corruption. Episode III? Dark Falz fragments. Move on to ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarUniverse'', and what's the source of the [=SEED=]? Dark [[SpellMyNamewithAnS Falkis]]. Episode II, III, and Portable all have Illuminus essentially side-by-side with Dark Falz. {{Averted|Trope}} with Portable 2, then ultimately PlayedStraight with Portable 2 Infinity and the OneHundredEight fragments of Dark Falz. It's not even a surprise when the supposedly defeated Dark Falz ends up returning in ''VideoGame/PhantasyStarOnline2''.
* ''Franchise/SlyCooper'' subverts this.
** [[VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves The second game]] centers around the robotic body parts of previous BigBad Clockwerk, and Sly's attempts to destroy them and make sure he can never threaten anyone again. Clockwerk's body is reassembled in the final level...and it turns out that Arpeggio doesn't want to resurrect the old owl, just use his body to become immortal. Even when Clockwerk comes alive again, it's not his mind in the metal body, but [[spoiler:Neyla's.]] Just to drive the point home, the final scene has Carmelita destroy a vital component that renders Clockwerk DeaderThanDead.
** Clockwerk's appearances in ''VideoGame/SlyCooperThievesInTime'' also subverts this; they have nothing to do with the plot, simply serving as Easter Eggs to observant players.
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'':
** [[spoiler:Dr. Eggman and Eggman Nega]] in ''VideoGame/{{Sonic Rush|Series}} Adventure''.
** In an unusual example of one previously-established villain hijacking ''another'', the "Eggman" faced in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'' turns out to actually be a disguised Metal Sonic.
** ''Both'' Classic and Modern Dr. Eggman in ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations''.
** Some inversions, in that once the ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure''-era titles started rolling out, Eggman had a bad habit of getting upstaged when it came time for the FinalBoss fight, something that's only being rectified with more recent games.
** ''VideoGame/SonicLostWorld'' has Sonic and Eggman team up for an EnemyMine early in the game, Eggman looking upstaged by the game's villains for the bulk of the game, [[spoiler:but at the start of the last area, Eggman fakes his death and sneaks off to complete his final mech in time to be the game's final boss.]]
* In Steve Meretzky's ''[[TheSpellCastingSeries Spellcasting 201]]'' (an InteractiveFiction game published by Legend Entertainment), the villain of the game turns out to be the villain of the previous game, ''Spellcasting 101'', (the evil stepfather of the protagonist) in disguise. The same trick is pulled in the sequel, ''Spellcasting 301'', and it's done with an even more heavy-handed joke: it turns out that the father disguised himself [[spoiler:as a ridiculously hot woman]]. Talk about having it in for your son...
* [[spoiler:Andross]] also pulled this one in ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures''. [[spoiler:You even have to beat him the same way as in ''64''.]]
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''
** Bowser in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioSunshine''. It turns out he's the father of Shadow Mario, a.k.a. Bowser Jr.
** Averted, but attempted in ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', where Bowser is not the main antagonist. He and Kammy Koopa appear in several cutscenes seeking the [[StarShapedCoupon Crystal Stars]], but always arrive after Mario and company have left with the Stars. In the climax, Bowser drops in... [[DynamicEntry literally]]... during the confrontation between Mario and Grodus (the essential main antagonist), and then the player has to fight Bowser and Kammy. But once the player defeats Bowser and Kammy, it turns out that Grodus took advantage of the distraction to grab Peach and take her to the next chamber. So in the end, Bowser doesn't hijack the plot. He never even finds out what's going on, and ends up being little more than comic relief in the otherwise serious endgame.
** In ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam'', the supposed BigBad, Antasma, forms an [[BigBadDuumvirate alliance]] with Bowser. Bowser ends up betraying him and replacing him as the BigBad.
** ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'' subverts this. The final boss, King Boo, only fights in a Bowser costume, but Bowser himself has no part in it.
** In ''VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon'', this trope is how the story must appear to Luigi and Professor E. Gadd. They don't know who broke the Dark Moon, end up fighting off a bunch of Possessors, and only in the last mansion realize that recurring villain King Boo was behind everything. [[DramaticIrony The player, on the other hand, knows this from the start]].
** In ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolutionMarioMix'', the first world sets Waluigi up as a main antagonist for the first time ever, then Wario and ''then'' Bowser jack the later parts of the plot.
* Although Master Hand is the flagship FinalBoss in the ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' series, it subverts this trope in The Subspace Emissary. After Bowser, Wario, and the Ancient Minister have been causing most of the trouble, Ganondorf is revealed to be in charge of them behind the scenes. However, Ganondorf is himself taking orders from Master Hand, only to find that [[ThirtyXanatosPileup yet another villain was controlling Master Hand the whole time]].
* In ''VideoGame/SystemShock 2'', you initially believe that Xerxes is the BigBad, wreaking havoc on the Von Braun. [[spoiler:Then you realize that he was a pawn of SHODAN's creation, The Many. After you wipe out The Many, SHODAN becomes the villain, though the [[SpoilerOpening box art and intro]] [[LateArrivalSpoiler might have given it away.]]]]
* The ''[[Franchise/RatchetAndClank Ratchet & Clank Future]]'' trilogy builds up a lot of backstory and introduces new villain Percival Tachyon. Tachyon is taken out in the first game, ''[[VideoGame/RatchetAndClankFutureToolsOfDestruction Tools of Destruction]]'', and in the sequel, ''[[VideoGame/RatchetAndClankFutureQuestForBooty Quest for Booty]]'', Slag from the last game gets an upgrade to become the new villain. All of that, however, is thrown right out the window when the end of the game reveals that the entire subplot regarding Clank and the Zoni (which turns out to be the ''real'' plot of the game) was actually set up by Dr. Nefarious, from ''[[VideoGame/RatchetAndClankUpYourArsenal Up Your Arsenal]]''. This trope would then be inverted in ''All 4 One'', however.
** In ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankGoingCommando'', our heroes are offered a job by the CEO of [=MegaCorp=], one of Gadgetron's competitors in the Bogon Galaxy. Their job is initially to recover a stolen prototype, and as the game unfolds, we learn that the CEO is not as kindly as he first appears, and that the prototype will spell doom for the entire universe if unleashed. After fighting their way into his headquarters and confronting him, it's revealed that [[spoiler:the CEO was Captain Qwark, the bumbling FakeUltimateHero who served as one of the first game's antagonists, in disguise. Turns out he'd engineered the whole thing in order to save the galaxy from a menace he created in order to be taken seriously as a superhero. Ratchet ends up having to save the galaxy instead after he screws it up.]]
* With no real buildup[[note]]he appears on the box art, and that's it[[/note]], Carnage randomly appears as the final boss of ''Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' with [[Characters/SuperRobotWarsAlpha Euzeth Gozzo]]. In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'', the player is led to believe [[Characters/SuperRobotWarsAlpha Laodecia Judecca Gozzo]] and [[spoiler:[[Characters/SuperRobotWarsAlpha Ingram Prisken]]]] are the {{Final Boss}}es, but Euzeth enters and states the former two serve him, making Euzeth the actual endgame opponent. [[spoiler:In the ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration Second Super Robot Wars Original Generation]]'', Euzeth returns via MesACrowd through his AlternateUniverse proxy [[Characters/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration Arteil Steinbeck]] and usurps the FinalBoss to become the TrueFinalBoss of the game]].
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland'', [=LeChuck=] is [[BroughtDownToNormal depowered]] and [[HeelFaceTurn turned good]] at the start of Chapter One, and the Marquis De Singe is built up as the main villain, endlessly pursuing Guybrush so that he can use his unique strain of the Pox Of [=LeChuck=] to create the immortality-granting Jus De Vie. However, at the end of Chapter 4, [[spoiler:The Marquis suffers DeathByIrony, and [=LeChuck=] reveals that his "good" act was just that, an act, and ''kills Guybrush'']].
* Boss Cass, the BigBad in ''VideoGame/TyTheTasmanianTiger 1'' and ''2'', is presented as TheQuisling (though, like [[Webcomic/EightBitTheater Black Mage]], this would imply he'd never been on "Team Evil") with [[TheHeartless the Quinkan]] in ''Ty 3''. He's the one who invited them over for a nice cup of tea and a spot of global domination.
* ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile2Silmeria'' is hijacked at the end by [[spoiler:Lezard Valeth, who had been a party member for most of the game, thus giving the impression he was a different person entirely from the first game's incarnation. Turns out that the only reason he exists in that timeline is that he decided to use a time travel device to go back, so that he can steal the power of Silmeria and Odin and become powerful enough to do what he wanted to do in the first place -- steal Lenneth Valkyrie's soul and force her to merge with him.]]
* The TrueFinalBoss of ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'''s ''Burning Crusade'' expansion is Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, one of the arch-demon lords of the Burning Legion and the mover behind most of the events of the expansion. However, his appearance in the final content patch came as a surprise to almost everyone, since all of the promotion for ''BC'' was focused on the confrontation with Illidan. Even the mighty Kael'thas Sunstrider was seen as something of a throwaway boss -- a stepping stone to Illidan -- until it was revealed that he was acting as a SycophanticServant for Kil'jaeden.
** Kil'jaeden and Archimonde were also behind most of the events of the {{RTS}} ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}'' games. Horde invasion? That was them. The Scourge? Yep. Illidan? Kil'jaeden again.
** The Burning Legion does have local competition in the form of the [[EldritchAbomination Old Gods]], who control two of the four elemental lords, the Qiraji, living Nerubians, the Watchers of Ulduar, the Twilight's Hammer cult, ''[[ExpansionPack Cataclysm]]'''s BigBad Deathwing, and yet-to-be-seen Queen Azshara. This is subverted in the ''Mists of Pandaria'' expansion. Garrosh manages to steal some power from a dead Old God, but apparently his ever-increasing aggression and megalomania were not influenced by them. He was just a {{Jerkass}}.
* On ''Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel'', the mastermind behind Jaques Le Sheets' scheme is [[spoiler:Edgar Ektor]].
* A complicated quadruple example in the Metal Gear series. In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', Revolver Ocelot (already a villian from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'') reveals himself to be a spy for [[AncientConspiracy The Patriots]], but then gets possessed by the hand of Liquid Snake, the BigBad of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', and goes rogue. Then in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'', Liquid seizes control of the SOP system from The Patriots, becoming the BigBad. [[spoiler:Then Ocelot reveals that Liquid wasn't possessing him, and that he was working against The Patriots all along.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'', Khrima was the first villain, only to later be hijacked by Eternion. This is parodied, like everything else in ''Adventurers!'', when Khrima and Eternion have an election campaign on who gets to be the FinalBoss. Eternion got his boss fight, but Khrima afterward comes from out of ''nowhere'' with a VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon and the FinalBoss fight.
* The "Army Of One" storyline in ''[[WebComic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja Dr McNinja]]'', where the antagonist(s) seem to be a bunch of sky pirates who have kidnapped a clone of Doc, but the whole thing is really a plot by [[spoiler:Frans "I was pretty sure you were dead" Rayner, the main villain of the D.A.R.E. plotline from years ago.]]
* In ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', [[spoiler:the "wraiths" attacking the [[AnotherDimension other dimension]] in the "[[http://beta.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=070205 Aylee]]" arc are actually members of Aylee's species, who, not counting Aylee's evil clone, hadn't appeared since Aylee was introduced 10 years previously]].
** Not to mention several dangerous situations set up by [[spoiler:demons who appear to be fragments of K'Z'K', the demonic BigBad from several early arcs]].
** And then there's [=HeretiCorp=], which at least usually has its logo on everything, except during its man-behind-the-man-who-was-actually-behind-the-first-man-anyway plots. Really, it's getting less "Is this _____ or a new enemy?" and more "Is this ____ or ____?"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''WebAnimation/ArbyNTheChief'', [[spoiler:Chaos Theosis, the main antagonists of Season 6, were actually working for Trent Donnovich, who was the main antagonist of Season 5.]]
* In ''WebAnimation/ChaosFighters II''-Chemical Siege, after the true villain is revealed as [[spoiler:Etphan Signis]], when Enrei and Gareia finished him, it was revealed that [[spoiler:Thanic Snader]], the BigBad of ''Cyberion Strike'', did everything, including [[spoiler:mind-controlling Etphan so that he can leave Etphan doing the dirty work]].
* In ''WebAnimation/{{Ducktalez}} 7'', The Beagle Boys were run by [[spoiler:Julia Roberts, who was reconstructed by Eric Roberts after the sun nearly killed Julia in 3]].
* At the conclusion of ''Blog/{{Moonstuck}}'', [[spoiler:the "Nightmare Woona" who has caused most of the trouble is revealed to actually be Discord.]]
* In ''WebVideo/ThereWillBeBrawl'', we do end up getting a non-Zelda example for the TropeNamer, Ganondorf. [[spoiler:Then given another example in-universe when ''he'' is hijacked by ''[[SerialKiller Kirby]]'', who had been a problem to the kingdoms in the past.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* More than one ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' plot has turned out to have the Ice King behind it, occasionally nonsensically. This was likely parodied in the season 2 finale, where all he did for the first part was hang around annoying everyone and trying to be involved in the story, even though there was a bigger villain around.
* Season 2 of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' played up [[ChessMaster Long Feng]] as the Season's BigBad. But then [[MagnificentBastard Princess Azula]] came along and took center stage. Long Feng, on his part, was GenreSavvy enough to actually see this trope coming and attempted to betray her, but unfortunately for him [[OutGambitted Azula managed to turn his own soldiers against him.]]
** {{Downplayed}} in Book 3 of the SequelSeries, ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'': [[spoiler:It's revealed in "The Stakeout" that Zaheer and his gang are part of a group called the Red Lotus, which [[EvilUncle Unalaq]] (TheDragon in Book 2) was initially part of.]]
* Season 3 of ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'' introduced in one episode an werewolf-like alien who was seemingly killed at the end of his episode, but was revealed to have built a machine as a SequelHook. A mummy-like alien is then introduced in a later episode. Both come back and are revealed to work for a new villain named Dr. Vicktor in the first part of the season finale...and then it turns out Dr. Vicktor himself was TheDragon to Ghostfreak/Zs'kayr, a villain who had been introduced in a previous season 2 episode.
* Both seasons of ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'' used this trope:
** Season 1 featured MagnificentBastard Aggregor as the main antagonist, whose scheme remained unstoppable for most of the season...then, when it was about to succeed, [[TheAtoner Kevin]] sacrificed his sanity by using [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity the part of his power that would cause him to go crazy again]] to stop him. After he is defeated, Kevin, now back to being a psycho, serves as the main villain for the remaining episodes of the season.
** Season 2 is even more complex; it starts with a BigBadEnsemble involving a war between the Forever Knight and a new, mysterious sect that turns out to be manipulated by Ben's ArchEnemy Vilgax. Then an EldritchAbomination Vilgax had been impersonating shows up and takes Vilgax as his Dragon, apparently becoming the new BigBad... until Vilgax [[TheStarscream betrays]] him, absorbs him and becomes the final villain of the season.
** ''WesternAnimation/Ben10Omniverse'' has an in-universe example; in the first episodes, it seems like [[EgomaniacHunter Khyber the Huntsman]] is the BigBad. However, it's eventually revealed he actually is working for [[TheManBehindTheMan Malware]], a PredecessorVillain who was introduced in this series, but whose first appearance chronologically happened between [[WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}} the original series]] and ''[[WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce Alien Force]]'', and who had only been seen in flashback at this point.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', for a large chunk midway through the series a group of [[PowerTrio three god-like beings]] [[TheFairFolk called the Weird Sisters]] pop up from time to time, manipulating the main cast for their own ends. It turns out in the epic three-part episode "Avalon" that they were answering to [[EvilSorcerer the Archmage]], a previous villain who was believed to be dead, and all their plotting had been to help him conquer the titular island (or at least that's what they told ''him'' they were doing...) It would probably be better to say they were [[DragonWithAnAgenda Dragons With An Agenda]]. The trope still stands, however.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Hurricanes}}'': In "Escape to Freedom", the Hurricanes were captured by a soccer-obsessed General of a BananaRepublic and forced to play against his soccer team. It was revealed to the viewers but not to the Hurricanes (albeit it's implied the team's owner suspects) [[BigBad Stavros Garkos]] made an agreement to keep them from showing up for an upcoming game so Garkos' own team, the [[OpposingSportsTeam Garkos Gorgons]], would win by default.
* Season 3 of ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' has the Season's BigBad, Daolon Wong, [[spoiler:resurrecting Shendu in order to obtain the wayward [[PlayingWithFire Dragon Talisman]] power]]. [[EvilIsNotAToy The results are obvious.]]
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague Justice League Unlimited]]'', it's revealed that [[spoiler:Lex Luthor was being manipulated by Brainiac to build him a new body. Luthor had been infected by a copy of Brainiac's programming after Brainiac had exploded the last time he and Luthor had met]].
** More to the point, [[spoiler:Luthor and Brainiac took over the BigBad post from GovernmentConspiracy Cadmus by showing Luthor had manipulated Cadmus, gaining access to their technology so he could build a new AMAZO [[BrainUploading and upload his mind]] (or, rather, Brainiac's mind) into it.]] The writing staff [[WordOfGod admitted on the DVD commentary]] that they had no idea how to make the plot of season 2 untangle on its own due to the GreyAndGrayMorality situation that had arisen, so they went with an "old reliable" and let an BlackAndWhiteMorality villain take over [[InvokedTrope so they could have a proper fight finale]].
** However, the trope is then subverted when said Hijacker fuses with the Hijackee, except the Hijackee seems to be the dominant personality as seen in the ending of the Arc, thus creating a BigBadDuumvirate. In many ways, it just gave a shocking way for [[spoiler:Luthor]] to fight on even footing with the Justice League.
** And in the subsequent story arc, this happens ''twice''. [[spoiler: Gorilla Grodd's leadership of the Legion of Doom is usurped by Luthor, then Lex's plan to reassemble Brainiac is throttled when he accidentally brings back Darksied instead]].
* {{Double Subver|sion}}ted. When vines from the Everfree Forest started invading Ponyville and the princesses went missing in the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' epsisode "[[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E1PrincessTwilightSparklePart1 Princess Twilight Sparkle]]", everyone assumed it was a new threat or villain causing all this. In [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E2PrincessTwilightSparklePart2 Part Two]] it seems to be because of Luna becoming Nightmare Moon again, when it's revealed that it was all a flashback. Then it gets double subverted at the end. It turned out that it was caused by [[spoiler:seeds that the recently reformed villain [[MadGod Discord]] planted right before his defeat by Celestia and Luna over a millennium before. The Tree of Harmony's power managed to keep them from growing for that long.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'': It doesn't matter who or what's causing trouble in Frostbite Falls or anywhere else in the world. In the end, either Boris is ''always'' going to be the one causing all the mayhem, or if he ''isn't'' the antagonist of the episode, they're going to bring him in to help them out. The exception is "The Ruby Yacht", where he does not get involved at all.
* In ''Tintin and the Lake of Sharks'' (1972) based on an original story, Tintin and friends faces a criminal organization specializing in making art forgeries lead by the mysterious "Shark King". It turns out "Shark King" is [[spoiler: Roberto Rastapopoulos, Tintin's most recurring villain.]]
* In second season of ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' first season's BigBad, Phobos, escapes in one episode and takes over team of recurring vilains, Knights of Vengeance, from this season's BigBad, Nerissa. Justified in that they were [[TheRemnant Remnants]] of his army and still loyal to him and that Nerissa didn't need them anymore anyway. He was quickly defeated by Eylon and Nerissa reclaimed position of BigBad by tricking her into giving up her powers. After Nerissa later aquired powers of another dimensional Heart, girls grew desperate and decided to [[EnemyMine ally themselves with Phobos]] who is the only person in TheMultiverse capable of taking powers of the Heart against the owner's will. Which of course ended with him stealing Nerissa's powers, taking over his army and deciding to start [[MultiversalConqueror multiversal conquest]]. [[spoiler: At least until Cedric tricked him into giving him all his powers]].
* In the second season finale of ''WesternAnimation/LegionOfSuperHeroes'', [[spoiler: Imperiex, the season's BigBad, teams up with Brainiac 5(Who had been taken over by the programming of Brainiac 1.0). Just as Imperiex broadcasts their alliance to the Legion, Brainiac 5 [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice impales]] and disintegrates Imperiex, then takes control of Imperiex's forces himself.]]
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